22nd Parliament · 1st Session
ThePresident (Senator the Hon.
A. M. McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Acknowledgment by Her Majesty The Queen.
– I have received from His Excellency, the GovernorGeneral, the following communication in connexion with the Address-in-Reply : -
I desire to acquaint you that the substance of the Address-in-Keply which you presented to me on the 20th. March, 1.950,has been communicated to Her Majesty The Queen.
It is tin; Queen’s wish that I convey to you and to Honorable Senators Her Majesty’s sincere thanks for the loyal message to which your address gives expression.
Assent to the following hills reported : -
Meat Export (Additional Charge) Bill 1956.
Meat Agreement (Deficiency Payments) Bill 1956.
Fisheries Bill 1956.
– Can the Leader of the Government in the Senate say whether it is a fact that a lottery being run in Tasmania will pay the colossal amount of £500,000 as first prize? Is it a fact that the British Government has.limited the amount of the first prize of any football pool in that country to £75,000? As the offering in Tasmania of such an enormous sum of money as a lottery prize will give Australia much publicity, will the Leader say whether he considers this type of publicity for Australia is desirable? Will he also inform the Senate whether the Australian Government has power to stop or discourage the offering of gigantic and socially undesirable and demoralizing lottery prizes? Is the Government extending full postal facilities to the organizers of this gargantuan lottery? If it is not doing so, what restrictions are being imposed ?
– Having attempted to memorize the five questions asked by the honorable senator, I shall do my best to answer them. The first question was whether there is a lottery of substantial size being conducted in Tasmania. I believe so. The second question was whether there is some limit on the prize money in the football pools carried on in England. Again, I believe so. The third question was whether it is desirable that these lotteries should take place. I suggest that each might let his conscience be his guide in regard to such matters. The fourth question was as to whether the Australian Parliament has power to control or regulate lotteries conducted by the States. I believe that the Australian Parliament has no such power. As far as the fifth question is concerned, I have no reason to believe that the Australian Government is encouraging there lotteries for vast sums of prize money, but I am not aware of the precise facilities that are granted to those who sell tickets.
– Has the Minister for Shipping and Transport fully examined the causes of the recently announced increases of coastal shipping freights, and can he assure the Senate that those increases are fully justified?
– I have had a rather lengthy opportunity to examine the recently imposed increases of shipping freights, and I can assure the honorable senator that on the basis of the increased costs imposed on shipowners those increases are justified. These increased rates spring from three main causes. The first is the increase of margins which took place in 1954; the second is the increase of award rates of pay to masters, officers and engineers which took place in April of last year; and the third is the impact of the new seamen’s award which was made to take effect from the 1st July of last year. Both the Australian Shipping Board and the Department of Shipping and Transport very closely examined the impact vi the three awards that I have mentioned, and it was decided that no increase should be permitted until the actual effect of the increases brought about by the three awards, as reflected in the accounts of the Australian Shipping Board, was disclosed. Honorable senators will note that some of the charges have been in existence for some months, and the effect of the increases lias been revealed to the extent that the recently announced freight increases were made.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for the Army say whether it is a fact that, military bands from practically all States of the Commonwealth are to assemble in Melbourne later in the year - I think on the occasion of the Olympic Games, although I am open to correction on this point? Is it also a fact that the expenses of nil the bauds, except .that from Western Australia, are to be met by the Department of the Army or thu Government? Lf this is so, why is there discrimination against the band from Western Command? Does the Minister consider that, it is in conformity with the dignity of the Army or with the standard of the Western Australian band that collections should have to be taken up from the general public in order to defray expenses of the band in participating in these functions ?
– I find it difficult to understand why there should be differentiation in regard to the Western Australian band, and with respect to the honorable senator, I doubt whether it is likely that that has occurred. I think that, probably, there has been some misunderstanding, but, in view of the importance of the matter, if the honorable senator will place her question on the notice-paper, I shall see my colleague, the Minister for the Army, and make certain of the position.
– Can the Minister for Shipping and Transport say whether it is correct that foreign-owned immigrant ships arriving at Fremantle from overseas have been found to have their lifesaving and fire-fighting appliances in very bad order and condition? If so, have complaints been received from immigrants in this connexion, and what steps are being taken to rectify the matter?
– I do not. know that immigrants actually have complained concerning the condition of th-j equipment carried on immigrant ships, but it is an unfortunate fact that routine inspections conducted by the officers of the Department of Shipping and Transport in recent months have disclosed that life-saving and fire-fighting equipment on a number of these vessels has in fact been deplorable. To the present, it has been the endeavour of the department to ensure that these deficiencies aru made good at Fremantle before the ship-* are permitted to proceed to other ports, thus causing as little delay to the shipping programmes as possible. The department takes a most serious view of thi: position on some of the vessels and both masters and owners have been written t.. in the strongest terms, as also have the consuls-general of the countries in which the ships were registered. The attention of the Department of Immigration also has been called to the matter so that if might notify the Inter-governmental Committee for European Migration. Thiowners have now been advised that nu shi]) will be allowed to leave its first port in Australia, which is generally Fremantle, until these deficiencies have been made good and until the life-saving and fire-fighting equipment comes up U> the standard laid down by the interimtional convention on safety of life at. sea of 1948. Legal proceedings have boon taken against one master, a conviction has been recorded, and the maximum fine has been imposed. Other action will h,taken as required.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Treasurer. In view of the general scare that has arisen as a result of the circulation of counterfeit £5 notes in one State, which, in turn, has caused the loss of thousands of man-hours throughout the Commonwealth by officers checking every £5 note presented, will the Minister inform the Senate whether a fund could be set up .out of the profits of the Note Issue Department of the Commonwealth Bank to compensate the innocent holders of counterfeit notes up to a limited number, and thus restore to the community confidence in accepting £5 notes?
– Recently, I read discussions in the press on this subject by way of letters, and the consensus of opinion in that correspondence - not necessarily the Government view - was that it would not be wise to do as the; honorable senator suggests in his question because, in effect, it would cause people to relax their vigilance when they were proffered £5 notes. If the honorable senator will place his question on the notice-paper I will get an official reply from the Treasury. He is no doubt aware that the issue of notes is under the control of the Commonwealth Bank.
– I desire to ask the Attorney-General a question in connexion with the case of the Yugoslav named Rancic. I do not wish to question what the Government has done in this matter, -but I ask the Attorney-General whether he has read a statement in the press that this man and other Yugoslavs claim to be partisans who once fought under Mikhailovich - who, incidentally, was dropped by the former Prime Minister of Britain, then Mr. Churchill, as not being anti-German. Has the Minister read the press statement in which these men claim that they are still keeping their army intact in Australia? If the Attorney-General has read this statement does he agree with it and if so, will he take action to have this and any other army in Australia - except the Australian Army - immediately disbanded ?
– I have not read the press statement referred to by the honorable senator, but if I had, I would not believe it. A statement may. have appeared in the newspaper about Yugoslavs having an army, but I do not think that such an army exists in this country. The honorable senator has no reason to fear that it does.
– 1 ask the Minister representing the Minister for Health a question relating to the ban on the import of the drug heroin. I understand that this drug is of tremendous value, medically, in advanced cases of cancer, but the import of the drug has been banned at the request of the World Health Organization, which is a specialized agency of United Nations, on the ground that it is habit forming, and is used by drug addicts. The Minister for Health is reported to have said that the decision to continue the ban on this drug was taken on the advice of- the British Medical Association. I ask the Minister whether it is true that at least two State organizations of the British Medical Association are opposed to the continued ban of the drug, and that some State branches of the British Medical Association are reported to have not yet considered the question. If this is correct, will the Minister make a further statement to define the British Medical Association’s attitude to this vital question? If it is found that the British Medical Association has no clear-cut opinion on this subject, will the Minister consider the lifting of the ban, at the same time providing, as a safeguard, heavy penalties for the use of the drug other than on the authority of a certificate issued by a medical practitioner?
– I shall bring .the honorable senator’s question to the notice of my colleague, the Minister for Health, and obtain from him a considered reply.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration whether his attention has been drawn’ to a recent press statement that there is a long waiting list of British immigrants who wish to come to Australia, despite the fact that the Australian immigration authorities claim that they are unable to obtain British immigrants. Does not the Minister agree that the official record is very disquieting as it. discloses that immigrants from the United Kingdom totalled 26,561 while in the same period the arrivals from Italy, Greece and Malta were three times that number, namely, over 70,000? Does not the Minister agree that this unbalanced situation is not in the best interests of Australia?
– The fact, of course, is that we welcome, above all, immigrants from Great Britain. The honorable senator has referred to some delays which are alleged to be taking place in Great Britain. I will make inquiries about that from my colleague, the Minister for Immigration, and find out what the exact position is in relation to the matter.
– In asking my question of the Minister representing the Treasurer, I draw his attention to an anomaly that exists, not through any effect of Government policy, but because- of the recent upsurge of the basic wage in Tasmania. With a view to overcoming this anomaly, I ask the Minister if he is aware that consequent upon the recent large increase in the basic wage in Tasmania the Commonwealth Government is now employing some adult married male permanent public servants at a remuneration less than the basic wage. Will the Minister take the matter up with the Federal Treasurer with a view to having early action taken to rectify the anomaly I have raised?
– I assume that the> honorable senator’s question relates to the fact that there aire both Commonwealth and State wage-fixing bodies. The Commonwealth employees, of course, operate under and would be subject to awards of the Commonwealth tribunal. As to whether the anomaly mentioned by the honorable senator is capable of rectification, I cannot answer offhand. I will make inquiries from the Treasurer and let the honorable senator know.
– I address a question to the Minister for Shipping and Transport. As the Minister has justified the increases in shipping freights ranging from 2s. 6d. to 15s. a ton on interstate cargoes, I ask whether he is aware that these substantial increases will add further to the spiral of inflation in Australia and thus nullify the steps now being taken to stabilize the economy. .Will theMinister give consideration to a further extension of the Commonwealth shipping’ line’s operations so that it may compete with the private shipping combines and. protect the producers and consumers of this country?
– I assure thehonorable senator that the Government isf fully aware of the regrettable effect of any cost increases on the general economicstructure of the country. I point out tohim, however, that this latest cause of a cost increase has been brought about inevitably as the result of decrees of industrial tribunals which have awarded increases to employees. I do not criticizethat; I merely put it on record as the cause, and I say that sooner or later thismust inevitably reflect itself in the end cost. The increases announced have been kept to an amount sufficient only to cover the increases imposed as a result of theedicts of the industrial tribunals. As tcthe condition of the finances of the privateshipping companies, I refer Senator Ashley, and any other honorable senator who is interested, to the disclosed accounts of various shipping companiespublished in recent weeks. They show a. sharp downturn in their earnings and in their profits for the financial year just closed.
– Is the AttorneyGeneral aware that, at the present time, there is no resident special or stipendiary magistrate with legal training in. the Northern Territory south of Darwin? In the light of the great development that is taking place in business and in the mining and pastoral industries in the Northern Territory, especially in the Alice Springs and Tennant Creek areas,, will the Minister cause the early appointment of such an officer to be made, and provide housing and amenities suitable to his status?
– I am aware that the stipendiary magistrate who had been operating in the area to which the honorable senator has referred has retired.
The appointment of a person to take his place is under consideration. Some consideration has been given, also, to obtaining, I believe, the temporary services of the gentleman who has justretired until a permanent appointment can he made.
SenatorO’BYRNE.- I preface a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate bydirecting attention to the plight of age pensioners who, having put away a small amount of money to provide for their own burial, now find that, with the increasing cost of burials, their provision is diminishing quickly. In view of the increasing cost of burials, will the Leader of the Government present to the Cabinet for consideration in preparing the next budget a proposal for the amelioration of the means test to allow for age pensioners to have exempted, from the present maximum of £200 allowed them, an amountsufficient for them to provide for their burial expenses ?
– I believe all honorable senators will agree that the record of this Government proves that it has always shown solicitude for those in advanced years who are in penurious circumstances. I do not know whether the proposition that has been submitted by the honorable senator has been considered, but we have a very sympathetic Minister for Social Services in the person of Mr. Roberton, and I shall have pleasure in submitting the honorable senator’s proposition to him for consideration.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
Will the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral inform me of the total broadcasting periods that were allotted to the respective political parties by the Australian Broadcasting Commission during the recent general election campaign? Where certain broadcasting periods were allotted only in respect of certain States, I should be glad if he would furnish the relevant details. Will the Minister also supply me with details of dates and times at which broadcasts were made by representatives of the variouspolitical parties during the recent federal election campaign?
SenatorCOOPER- The PostmasterGeneral has supplied the following reply : -
Broadcasts by Parties during Campaign.
The broadcasts set out above were given on the national stations in the metropolitan areas and on regional stations.
Australian LabourParty. 9th November, 8-9 p.m. - Dr. Evatt.
Anti-Communist Labour Party. 10th November, 8-8.30 p.m. - Mr. Joshua.
Liberal Party. 17th November, 7.15-7.25 p.m. - The Prime Minister. 22nd November, 7.15-7.25 p.m. - The Prime Minister 24th November, 7.15-7.25 p.m. - The Prime Minister. 28th November, 7.15-7.25 p.m. - The Prime Minister. 2nd December, 7.15-7.25 p.m. - The Prime Minister. 6th December, 7.15-7.25 p.m. - The Prime Minister.
Australian Country Party. 23rd November, 7.20-7.30 p.m. - H. L. Anthony . 24th November, 6.30-6.35 p.m. - Hugh Roberton. 26th November, 7.15-7.20 p.m. - Senator Reid. 29th November, 6.30-6.35 p.m. - P. Lucock. 30th November, 7.20-7.30 p.m. - Sir Earle Page. 3rd December, 7.25-7.30 p.m. - Ian Allan. 6th December, 0.30-6.35 p.m. - L. G. Failes. 7th December, 8.45-9 p.m. - Sir Arthur Fadden.
Australian Labour Party. 16th November, 7.15-7.20 p.m. - Dr. H. V.
Evatt. 18th November, 7.15-7.20 p.m.- Dr. H. V. Evatt. 21st November, 7.15-7.20 p.m.- Dr. H. V. Evatt. 23rd November, 7.15-7.20 p.m. - Dr. H. V. Evatt. 25th November, 7.15-7.20 p.m. - Dr. H. V. Evatt. 29th November, 7.15-7.20 p.m.- Dr. H. V. Evatt. 30th November, 7.15-7.20 p.m.- Dr. H. V. Evatt. 1st December, 7.15-7.20 p.m.- Dr. H. V. Evatt. 3rd December, 7.15-7.20 p.m.- Dr. H. V. Evatt. 5th December, 7.15-7.20 p.m.- Dr. H. V. Evatt. 5th December, 8-8.30 p.m.- Dr. H. V. Evatt. 6th December, 4.15-4.25 p.m. - Dr. H. V. Evatt. 6th December, 7.30-7.40 p.m.- Dr. H. V. Evatt. 6th December, 8.30-9 p.m.- Dr. H. V. Evatt. 7th December, 7.30-7.35 p.m.- Dr. H. V. Evatt. 7th December, 8-8.30 p.m.- Dr. H. V. Evatt. 7th December, 9.15-9.25 p.m. - Dr. H. V. Evatt. 7th December, 10.55-11 p.m.- Dr. H. V. Evatt.
Liberal Party. 17th November, 7.15-7.25 p.m. - The Prime
Minister. 22nd November, 7.15-7.25 p.m. - The Prime Minister. 24th November, 7.15-7.25 p.m. - The Prime Minister. 28th November, 7.15-7.25 p.m. - The Prime Minister. 2nd December, 7.15-7.25 p.m. - The Prime Minister. 6th December, 7.15-7.25 p.m. - The Prime Minister.
Australian Country Party. 23rd November, 7.25-7.30 p.m. - John McEwen. 24th November, 7.30-7.35 p.m. - H. W. Wade. 25th November, 7.25-7.30 p.m.- G. A. C. Perkins. 28th November, 4.15-4.20 p.m. - Mrs. D. Weeks. 30th November, 7.25-7.35 p.m. - John McEwen. 1st December, 7.25-7.30 p.m. - W. G. Turnbull. 2nd December, 7.25-7.30 p.m. - G. H. Bowden. 5th December, 7.25-7.30 p.m. - John McEwen. 6th December, 7.45-7.50 p.m. - H. W. Wade. 7th December, 7.45-7.55 p.m. - John McEwen.
Australian Labour Party. 14th November, 8-8.30 p.m. - Dr. H. V. Evatt. 16th November, 7.15-7.20 p.m. - Dr. H. V. Evatt. 18th November, 7.15-7.20 p.m.- Dr. H. V. Evatt. 2lst November, 7.15-7.20 p.m. - Dr. H. V. Evatt. 23rd November, 7.15-7.20 p.m. - Dr. H. V. Evatt. 25th November, 7.15-7.20 p.m. - Dr. H. V. Evatt. 29th November, 7.15-7.20 p.m. - Dr. H. V. Evatt. 30th November, 7.15-7.20 p.m.- Dr. H. V. Evatt. 1st December, 7.15-7.20 p.m. - Dr. H. V. Evatt. 3rd December, 7.15-7.20 p.m. - Dr. H. V. Evatt. 5th December, 7.15-7.20 p.m. - Dr. H. V. Evatt. 5th December, 8-8.30 p.m. - Dr. H. V. Evatt. 6th December, 7.30-7.40 p.m. - Dr. H. V. Evatt. 7th December, 8-8.30 p.m. - Dr. H. V. Evatt. ] 7th December, 8.35-8.45 p.m. - R. T. Pollard. 7th December, 9.15-9.25 p.m. - Dr. H. V. Evatt. 7th December, 9.30-9.35 p.m. - J. Cain. 7th December, 10.55-11 p.m.- Dr. H. V. Evatt.
Anti-Communist Labour Party. 10th November, 8.30-8.45 p.m. - R. Joshua. 7th December, 7.30-7.45 p.m. - R. Joshua.
Liberal Party. 17th November, 6.45-6.55 p.m. - The Prime
Minister. 22nd November, 6.45-6.55 p.m. - The Prime Minister. 24th November, 6.45-6.55 p.m. - The Prime Minister. 28th November, 6.45-6.55 p.m. - The Prime Minister. 29th November, 8-9 p.m. - The Prime Minister. 2nd December, 6.45-6.55 p.m. - The Prime Minister. 6th December, 6.45-6.55 p.m. - The Prime Minister.
Australian Labour Party. 15th November, 8.45-9.15 p.m. - Dr. H. V. Evatt. 16th November, 6.45-6.50 p.m. - Dr. H. V. Evatt. 18th November, 6.45-6.50 p.m. - Dr. H. V. Evatt. 21st November, 6.45-6.50 p.m. - Dr. H. V. Evatt. 23rd November, 6.45-6.50 p.m. - Dr. H. V. Evatt. 25th November, 6.45-6.50 p.m. - Dr. H. V. Evatt. 29th November, 6.45-6.50 p.m.- -Dr. H. V. Evatt. 30th November, 6.45-6.50 p.m. - Dr. H. V. Evatt. 1st December, 6.45-6.50 p.m.- Dr. H. V. Evatt. 3rd December, 6.45-6.50 p.m.- Dr. H. V. Evatt. 5th December, 6.45-6.50 p.m. - Dr. H. V. Evatt. 6th December, 3.45-3.55 p.m.- Dr. H. V. Evatt. 6th December, 7.10-7.15 p.m.- Dr. H. V. Evatt. 6th December, 7.30-7.40 p.m.- Dr. H. V. Evatt. 6th December, 8-8.30 p.m.- Dr. H. V. Evatt. 7th December, 7.30-8 p.m.- Dr. H. V. Evatt. 7th December, 8.45-8.55 p.m.- Dr. H. V. Evatt.. 7th December, 10.25-10.30 p.m.- Dr. H. V. Evatt.
Anti-Communist Labour Party. 10th November, 8-8.15 p.m. - R, Joshua. 7th December, 7-7.15 p.m. - R. Joshua.
Liberal Party. 17th November, 7.15-7.25 p.m. - The Prime
Minister. 22nd November, 7.15-7.25 p.m. - The Prime Minister. 24th November, 7.15-7.25 p.m. - The Prime Minister. 28th November, 7.15-7.25 p.m. - The Prime Minister. 2nd December, 7.15-7.25 p.m. - The Prime Minister. 6th December, 7.15-7.25 p.m. - The Prime Minister.
Australian Country Party. 29th November, 7.20-7.30 p.m. - Senator A. Robertson. 30th November, 7.25-7.30 p.m. - R. A. Davies. 1st December. 7.20-7.30 p.m. - Sir Charles Latham: 3rd December, 7.20-7.30 p.m. - L. W. Hamilton. 5th December, 7.20-7.30 p.m. - A. F. Watts. 6th December, 7.55-8 p.m. - H. Leslie. 7th December, 7.30-7.50 p.m. - Senator A. Robertson.
Australian Labour Party. 16th November. 7.15-7.20 p.m. - Dr. H. V. Evatt. 18th November, 7.15-7.20 p.m.- Dr. H. V. Evatt. 18th November, 8-8.30 p.m.- Dr. H. V. Evatt. 21st November, 7.15-7.20 p.m. - Dr. H. V. Evatt. 23rd November, 7.15-7.20 p.m. - Dr. H. V. Evatt. 25th November, 7.15-7.20 p.m.- Dr. H. V. Evatt. 29th November, 7.15-7.20 p.m. - Dr. H. V. Evatt. 30th November, 7.15-7.20 p.m.- Dr. H. V. Evatt. 1st December, 7.15-7.20 p.m.- Dr. H. V. Evatt. 2nd December, 7.50-8 p.m. - A. R. G. Hawke. 3rd December. 7.15-7.20 pan. - Dr. H. V. Evatt. 3rd December, 9.15-9.20 p.m. - Senator D. Tangney. 5th December, 7.15-7.20 pan. - Dr. H. V. Evatt. 5th December, 8.30-8.35 p.m. - Senator D. Tangney. 6th December, 4.15-455 p.m. - Dr. H. V. Evatt. 6th December, 7.30-7.40 p.m.- Dr. H. V. Evatt. 7th December,6.35-6.45 p.m.-F. E. Chamberlain. 7th December, 7.30-7.35. p.m. - Dr. H. V. Evatt. 7th December, 8-8.30 p.m. - Dr. H. V. Evatt. 7th December, 9.15-9.25 p.m. - Dr. H. V. Evatt. 7th December, 10.55-11 p.m. - Dr. H. V. Evatt.
Anti-Communist Labour Party. 25th November,8.30-9 p.m. - S. M. Keon.
Liberal Party. 17th November, 7.15-7.25 p.m.. - The Prime Minister. 22nd November, 7.15-7.25 p.m. - The Prime Minister. 22nd November, 8.30-9 p.m. - The Prime Minister. 23rd November, 8-8.30 p.m. - The Prime Minister. 24th November, 7.15-7.25 p.m. - The Prime Minister. 28th November, 7.15-7.25 p.m. - The Prime Minister. 2nd December, 7.15-7.25 p.m. - The Prime Minister.
Cth December, 7.15-7.25 p.m. - The Prime Minister.
Australian Labour Party. 16th November, 7.15-7.20 pan. - Dr. H. V. Evatt. 18th November, 7.15-7.20 p.m.- Dr. H. V. Evatt. 21st November, 7.15-7.20. p.m.- Dr. H. V. Evatt. 22nd November, 8-8.30p.m.- Dr.. H. V. Evatt. 23rd November, 7.15-7.20 p.m. - Dr. H. V.
Evatt. 23rd November, 8.30-9p.m. - Dr. H. V. Evatt. 25th November, 7.15-7.20p.m. - Dr. H. V. Evatt. 28th November, 7.35-7.45 p.m. - Mr. Gosgrove. 29th November, 7.15-7.25p.m.- Dr. H. V. Evatt. 30th November, 7.15-7.20 p.m. - Dr. H. V. Evatt. 1st December, 7.15-7.20p.m.- Dr. H. V. Evatt. 3rd December, 7.15-7.20p.m.– Dr. H. V. Evatt. 5th December, 7.15-7.20p.m.- Dr. H. V. Evatt. 6th December, 6.35-6.45 p.m. - Mr. Reece. 6th December, 7.30-7.40 p.m.- Dr. H. V. Evatt. 7th December, 6.35-6.45 p.m. - Senator McKenna. 7th December,8-8.30 p.m. - Dr. H. V. Evatt.
Anti-Communist Labour Party. 10th November, 8.30-8.45 p.m. - R. Joshua. 7th December, 7-30-7.45 p.m. - R. Joshua.
Liberal Party. 17th November, 7.15-7.25 p.m. - The Prime Minister. 22nd November, 7.15-7.25 p.m. - The Prime Minister. 24th November, 7.15-7.25 p.m. - The Prime Minister. 28th November., 7.15-7.25 p.m. - The Prime Minister. 2nd December, 7.15-7.25 p.m. - The Prime Minister. 6th December, 7.15-7.25 p.m. - The Prime Minister.
Australian Country Party. 23rd November,6.30-6.45 p.m. - Senator Cooper. 29th November, 0.30-6.40 p.m. - Sir Arthur Fadden. 1st December, 6.30-6.40 p.m. - Sir Arthur Fadden. 5th December, 6.30-6.40 p.m. - Sir Arthur Fadden. 7th December, 8.45-9.00 p.m. - Sir Arthur Fadden.
Australian Labour Party. 16th November, 7.15-7.20 p.m. - Dr. H. V. Evatt. 18th November, 7.15-7.20 p.m.- Dr. H. V. Evatt. 19th November, 7.15-7.20 p.m. - Senator Ashmore. 21st November, 7.15-7.20 p.m. - Dr. H. V. Evatt. 22nd November, 6.30-6.35 p.m. - Senator Byrne. 23rd November, 7.15-7.20 p.m. - Dr. H. V. Evatt. 24th November, 6.30-6.40 p.m. - Senator Brown. 25th November, 7.15-7.20 p.m. - Dr. H. V. Evatt. 26th November, 7.1 5-7.30 p.m.-Mr. Gair. 28th November, 7.25-7.30 p.m. - Dr. H. V. Evatt. 29th November. 7.15-7.20 p.m.- Dr. H. V. Evatt. 30th November, 7.15-7.20 p.m. - Dr. H. V. Evatt. 30th November, 9.15-9.20 p.m. - Mr. Edmonds. 30th November, 10-10.5 p.m. - Mr. Edmonds. 1st December, 7.15-7.20. p.m.- Dr. H. V. Evatt. 2nd December, 7.45-7.55 p.m. - Mr. Lawson. 3rd December,7.15-7.20 p.m.- Dr. H. V. Evatt. 3rd December,12-12.10 p.m. - Senator Benn. 5th December, 7.15-7.20 p.m. - Dr.H. V. Evatt. 6th December, 4.15-4.20 p.m.- Dr. H. V. Evatt. 6th December, 7.30-7.40 p.m. - Dr. H. V. Evatt. 7th December, 7.30-7.35 p.m.-Dr. H. V. Evatt. 7th December, 8-8.30 p.m.- Dr. H. V. Evatt. 7th December, 9.15-9.25 p.m:- Dr. H. V. Evatt. 7 th December, 10.55-11 p.m. - Dr. H. V. Evatt.
New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, Tasmania - Australian eastern time.
South Australia - South Australian time.
Western Australia - West Australian time.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The Prime Minister has supplied the following replies : -
The subjects covered by this question are chiefly the concern of educational authorities not directly responsible to the Government, and the answers given here are those within the knowledge of Commonwealth authorities.
It is not possible withoutconsiderable investigation to indicate the extent to which facilities exist for the teaching of Eastern languages in all States at secondary level. Limited provision is made for the teaching of Japanese by the Education Department of one State -New South Wales. In addition, in moire thaw one State, syllabuses are prescribed for leaving certificate or matriculation level for some Eastern languages, for example, Chinese and Japanese, and students may present themselves for examination. At the tertiary level, the Australian National University, the Universities of Melbourne and of Sydney, and the Canberra University College provide certain facilities. Canberra University College has set up courses in Chineseand Japanese. In addition, last year,, the Commonwealth Government, in viewof the importance to Australia of a knowledge of the language societyand customs of our nearestneighbours - the Indonesians - invited the Universities of Sydney and Melbourne and CanberraUniversi sity College to establish courses in Indonesian and Malayan studies. The Commonwealth Government offered to meet the costs involved. Theseoffers have been accepted and steps are now being takento establish courses in the three universities concerned. The Chairof Oriental Languages atSydney, which has been vacant for some years, hasrecently been filled by the appointment of Professor A. R. Davis and this year two language courses arebeing offered. - Elementary Chinese, which doesnot assume any prior knowledge of the language, and Chinese I. The needs of the Services for personnel with special qualifications in particular Eastern languages are toeing met by the provision of special instruction as required at the Royal Australian Air Force School of Languages. Point Cook.
The numbers of studentsenrolledin1956 for the available courses at Sydney and Melbourneare approximately: Sydney. Elementary Chinese 10, Chinese I.12; Melbourne. Indonesian 20. It is not possible to say how many ofthese students willultimately wish to have passes in thesesubjects credited as part of a course for a degree. At Canberra University College the figures for1956 are -
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice- -
With reference to the statement in the annual report of the Public Service Board for the year ended the 30th June, 1955, that “ employment during the year increased by 4.S08 from 147,000 to 151,898”, which the board attributes to the growth of industry and population, will the Minister furnish to the Senate a brief statement of the departments to which the additions have been made, with a brief statement of the reasons in each case?
– The Prime Minister has supplied the following answer : -
Movements in the staffing levels of individual departments between the 30th June, 1954, and the 30th June. 1955, are set out in Appendix E of the board’s 31st annual report. Reasons for the major increases are given on pages 7 and 9 of the same report.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
In view of the high rates of interest charged by hire-purchase companies, resulting in excessive profits, will the Minister inform the Senate why sufficient money has not been supplied to the Industrial Finance Department of the Commonwealth Bank to enable it to compete actively in hire-purchase business, and so prevent excessive rates being charged by private companies?
– The Treasurer has supplied the following answer: -
The Industrial Finance Department of the Commonwealth Bank is continuing to devote a substantial part of its resources to facilitating the purchase of productive goods, such as machine tools, industrial equipment, industrial and agricultural tractors, farm machinery and motor trucks, on hire purchase terms at favorable rates of interest. It is the view of the Commonwealth Government and of the Commonwealth Bank that it would be inconsistent with present overall credit policy for the Industrial Finance Department to increase its hire-purchase business at the present time.
Senator ARMSTRONG (through
SenatorCritchley) asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
Is it a fact that single women over 60 years and single men over 65 years are not taxable unless their net income exceeds £375 per annum?
Is it a fact that the Taxation Department, in arriving at net income for these people, will not allow deductions for medical and other concessional deductions ?
Is this a fair interpretation of net income under these circumstances?
Does it mean, in effect, that these old people are the only ones not to receive these concessional deductions?
Will the Treasurer arrange for a more liberal interpretation by the Taxation authorities in assessing the net income of these old people?
– The Treasurer has supplied the following answers: -
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The Treasurer has supplied the following answers: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
– The Minister for External Affairs has supplied the following answers: -
Si, 4 and 5. See answer to 2 above.
asked -the Minister representing, the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -
I’.. How many war service applicants have been, given, approval to purchase homes from the South Australian Housing Trust? 2.. How many of these, approved, applicants had received their loans to December, 1955, and. have been able to take possession of their homes? 3! How many approved applicants have been unable to receive finance from1 the War Service Homes Department?
What amount is owing to the South Australian Housing Trust by the Commonwealth War Service Homes Department?
When is it expected that, this money will be paid,, so that, waiting- applications will be considered and,, where approved, ex-servicemen will1 be able to avail themselves- immediately of the. opportunity of securing one of the South Australian. Housing. Trust’s fine new homes?
– The Minister for Social Services has supplied the following answers : - 1’. Two- thousand five hundred and fifty-two to the 28th March, 195G. Of these 2,4-84’ have been) completed and’ 68 approved and awaiting settlement in their order of priority. In addition.’, 4G. Applications for loans, under the. War. Service Homes Act to purchase homes provided by the South Australian Housing Trust were herd at the 28th March, 1956, pending investigation.
These figures do not include applications from persons eligible under the War Service Homes Act to purchase homes provided in South Australia under the Commonwealth - State Housing Agreement.- There is no waiting period in respect of these- cases and settlement is effected immediately, the proposal is. ready for- completion!.
Motions- (by Senate O’Sullivan) - by leave? - agreed to -
That leave of absence for two months be granted, to Senator Guy on account of absence overseas.
That leave of absence for two months be granted to Senator Pearson on account of absence overseas’.
Bill received from Che House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by .Senator SPOONER read a first time.
.- I move-
That the. bill he now read- a second time.
In conjunction with the sales tax rates lulls, which will follow, this bill is designed to give effect to the sales tax proposals of the Government, which have already been discussed by honorable senators. As previously announced, the rate of tax on passenger motor vehicles rises from 16$ per cent, to 30 per cent., whilst the rate of tax on motor cycles and on commercial motor vehicles is increased from 12-J per cent, to 16jf per cent. Parts and accessories for all these vehicles, other than tyres and tubes’, will bear tax at the rate of 16f per cent., instead of 12-J per cent. as at present. It will be realized that, parts and accessories are, to a large extent, capable of use either on passenger vehicles or on commercial vehicles. Foi1 this reason parts and accessories for all motor vehicles will bear the same rate of tax, namely 16 per cent.
All other goods which have previously home tax at the rate of 16$ per cent, are now to he taxed at 25 per cent. The goods so dealt with include jewellery, imitation jewellery, plated ware, cut ;glass ware, fur garments, cameras and photographs, toilet preparations and equipment, wireless and television receiving sets, gramophones and records, travelling bags and domestic baskets. Honorable senators may obtain full information as to the goods affected from the statement which is being circulated.
The opportunity is being taken in this “bill to re-express the item relating to wireless receiving sets to make it clear that this provision embraces television receiving sets as well as sets used for sound reception only. These goods have previously borne tax at 16$ per cent, and are now raised to 25 per cent.
The sales tax increases are expected to yield additional revenue amounting to approximately £30,000,000 in a full year. It is provided in the amending legislation that the increases shall take effect on and from the 15th March, 1956. There has been no increase in the rate of tax on household furniture and utensils which remain ‘ subject to the minimum rate of 10 per cent. Furthermore, the wide field of utilitarian goods which are subject to the general rate of 12-J per cent, remains unchanged apart from commercial motor vehicles, motor cycles and motor vehicle parts and accessories, which have been increased to 16f per cent.
The reasons for the sales tax increases have already been fully explained in connexion with the economic statement which has been debated by honorable senators. The increases form part of the Government’s plans to check inflation and to reduce demand for imports. In these circumstances they merit the favorable consideration of honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator CRITCHLEY) adjourned.
SALES TAX BILLS (Nos. 1 to 9) 1956.
Bills received from the House of Representatives.
Motion (by Senator SPOONER) put -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the questions with regard to the several stages for the passage through the Senate of all or several of the Sales Tax Bills Nos. 1 to 0 being put in one motion, at each stage, and the consideration of all or several of such bills together in committee of the whole.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. A. M. McMullin). - There being an absolute majority of the whole number of senators present, and no dissentient voice, I declare the question resolved in the affirmative.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bills (on motion -by Senator SPOONER ) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bills be now read a second time.
These bills are merely machinery measures which are required to implement the Government’s proposals to increase the rates of sales tax on certain goods. They are complementary to the Sales Tax. (Exemptions and Classifications) Bill which has just been brought to the notice of honorable senators. The effect of the proposals has already been fully explained. The sales tax bills determine the rates of tax which will be applicable to the various classifications of goods to which attention has been drawn, and. which are set out in an explanatory statement circulated among honorable senators. I commend the bills to honorable senators as a part of the economic plan decided upon by the Government.
Debate (on motion by Senator Critchley) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator O’sullivan) read a first time.
Senator O’SULLIVAN (Queensland-
Minister for the Navy) [3.58]. -I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill covers amendments to the customs tariff necessary to give effect to the Government’s economic measures. The purpose of these measures was fully explained in thestatement by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), which I tabled in the Senate and read to honorable Senators on the 20th March last. The summary of alterations circulated to honorable senators sets out the proposed rates of duty which have been operating on and from the 15th March, 1956, and those in operation immediately prior to that date.
The increases in duty proposed in this bill represent beer, 2s. Sd. a gallon; spirituous liquors, 15s. 6d. a proof gallon ; manufactured tobacco, 4s. per lb.; cigarettes, 6s. per lb.; cigars, 5s. 6d. per lb; and petrol other than for use in aircraft operating within Australia, 3d. a gallon. The same increases are proposed in both the customs and excise tariff so that imported goods of the classes I have mentioned will bear the same increases as locally manufactured goods. I commend the bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Kennelly) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator O’sullivan) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill is complementary to the Customs Tariff Bill. It imposes the same increases on beer, spirituous liquors, manufactured tobacco, cigarettes, cigars, and petrol other than for use in aircraft operating within Australia, as are provided in the Customs Tariff Bill. The summary of alterations which has been circulated to honorable senators sets out the proposed rates of excise duty and those in operation immediately prior to the 15th March last. As explained in the recent statement of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), the proposed duties continue the special margin in favour of brandy established in the 1954-55 budget. I commend the bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Kennelly) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Spooner) read a first time.
[ 4.2 . - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this short bill is to increase the pensions payable under section 57 of the Superannuation Act 1922-1955 to former State officers transferred to the Commonwealth at federation. Their pension rights, which originated under State law and are preserved to them by section 84 of the Commonwealth Constitution, entitled them to retire on the pension which would be permitted by the law of the State if their service with the Commonwealth were a continuation of their service with the State. State pension rights prior to federation did not include widows’ and children’s benefits. However, provision was made in the Superannuation Act 1922 for former State officers to exchange for their State rights others which included widows’ and children’s benefits. Their new rights represented the actuarial equivalent of the State rights. These pensions have not been adjusted when there have been increases in the contributory pensions provided by the Superannuation Act. 1922-1955. It has been the policy of successive governments, however, to vary the pensions in accordance with increases provided by State legislation.
The majority of the pensioners were transferred to the Commonwealth service-, from the Western Australian State service, and their pension rights flowed from the Western Australian Superannuation Act 1871. Increases were granted by the Western Australian Government in 1948. 1951 and 1954 and the Commonwealth granted corresponding increases in pensions payable under section 57 of the Commonwealth Superannuation Act. Under the Pensions Supplementation Act. Amendment Act 1955 - Act No. 21 of 1955 - the Western Australian Parliament again increased those pensions by a flat rate of £26 per annum with effect from the 12th November, 3955. Consistently with past policy, the Government considers that the former State officers transferred to the Commonwealth, and their dependants, should be granted, the same increases. That is the purpose-: of this bill, which 1 commend to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Tangney) adjourned.
Bil) received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Spooner) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this short bill is to increase the amounts payable under the Transferred Officers’ Allowances Act 1948-1954 to former State officers transferred to the Commonwealth. Their pension rights, which originated under State law, are pre served to them by section 84 of the Commonwealth Constitution and entitle them to retire on the pension which would be permitted by the law of the State if their service with the Commonwealth were a continuation of their service with the State. There are two classes of officers: those who came from the State to the Commonwealth service and joined the Commonwealth superannuation scheme, and those who joined the Commonwealth service but remained under the State superannuation scheme. These pensions have not been adjusted when there have been increases in the contributory pensions provided by the Superannuation Act 1922-1955. It has been the policy of successive governments, however, to vary the pensions in accordance with increases provided by State legislation.
The majority of the pensioners were transferred to the Commonwealth Service from the Western Australian State Service, and their pension rights flowed from the Western Australian Superannuation Act 1871. Increases were granted by the Western Australian Government in 1948. 1951 and 1954 and the Commonwealth granted corresponding increases. Under the Pensions Supplementation Act Amendment Act 1955 - Act No. 21 of 1955 - the Western Australian Parliament again increased those pensions by a flat rate of £26 perannum with effect from the 12th November, 1955.
Consistently with past policy, the Government considers that the former State officers transferred to the Commonwealth, and their dependants, should be granted the same increases. That is the purpose of this bill.
Debate (on motion by Senator Tangney) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Spooner) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to seek parliamentary approval of the making -of arrangements with individual States for, and the setting up of, .integrated statistical services. As honorable senators will know, the Constitution Act of 1901 includes “ Census and. Statistics “ among the functions of the Commonwealth. During the time that has elapsed since federation attempts have been made from time to time to regularize the collection of statistical data, and this bill represents the present culmination of these endeavours.
With the foundation of the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics in 1906 a regular body -of Australian statistics began to .emerge. Ho wever, the necessary development of statistical investigation has been impeded by the absence of effective means of ensuring uniformity of State data required to produce Australian totals and by the difficulty of arranging that six States should collect additional facts on a common basis.
The economic problems that arose after World War I. drew attention to deficiencies in the Australian statistical data. With a view to overcoming these weaknesses the then Prime Minister proposed to the Premiers conference that State statistical offices be transferred to the Commonwealth. Tasmania alone agreed to this proposal.
During and since World Wai- II., a considerable volume of new statistical information has been issued and much of it very promptly. Such items as national income, balance of payments, employment, migration, building, retail sales, banking, hire purchase, company capita.1 raisings and monthly factory output have become increasingly important. Furthermore, improvements in the speed of compilation and detail of most of the pre-existing statistics have been accomplished despite the basic weaknesses in the statistical system. But much remains to be done.
Improvements have been achieved in part by establishing Commonwealth statistical offices in some of the State capitals. This was clone in the knowledge that ultimately steps would have to be taken to consolidate the statistical system by means of formal agreements with the States. This is the more necessary now because the statistical coverage in several States has been deteriorating and there looms ahead the possibility of breakdown in some statistical fields, particularly those of primary and secondary production. The stage has been reached where further improvizations cannot cure the situation.
The emergence of this problem was foreseen during -the war, and in 1949 discussions were initiated with the Premiers of the several States by the late Prime Minister, the Bight Honorable J. B. Chifley, with the .object <of integrating the statistical services of .the Commonwealth and the States by agreement. These negotiations have .been continued by the Prime Minister ‘(Mr. Menzies) and the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) by correspondence.
The present position is as follows: - In Tasmania the amalgamated office is functioning satisfactorily as a Commonwealth office which also serves State statistical needs. The Government of Western Australia recently accepted a draft agreement under which it is envisaged that the statistical offices of the Commonwealth and State will be amalgamated if this enabling legislation is passed.
The Prime Minister has submitted the terms of a similar agreement for consideration by the Premiers of New South Wales and South Australia, in the course of negotiations with those States, and each has accepted the terms in substance subject to negotiations on matters of detail. In each case, an undertaking was given to these ‘States by the Commonwealth to introduce legislation to authorize agreements of .the type to be ma.de concerning statistical administration. The bill proposed honours that undertaking. It is permissive in nature and will enable the Commonwealth to enter into an agreement with a State to effect an amalgamation of Commonwealth and State statistical offices and services.
The objective of the agreements is that in each State accepting them there would be an integrated statistical service operated by Commonwealth statistical officers under the immediate direction of n statistician in the State who would bold office under both the Commonwealth and the ‘State Governments. By this means Commonwealth anc! State will, both be adequately served with statistics.
No State would be required to surrender its existing powers in the field of statistics. It would agree to exercise them in a special way through the integrated service. As is the case at present in Tasmania, it would always have available an officer to function as State Statistician; its Statistics Act would continue in force for use if necessary, and it could appoint a group of statistical research officers to work for it on any special project under the Statistician. In the unlikely event of any of the arrangements or services proving unsatisfactory, procedures are provided for rectifying the position. On the Commonwealth side, it is evident that an adequate Australian Statistical Service is urgently necessary and we believe it can best come into being by agreement with the States.
The bill contains, in addition to the clauses authorizing agreements with the States for, and the setting up of, an integrated statistical service throughout the Commonwealth, the usual machinery clauses defining the rights of officers transferred under any agreement entered into. In any State which accepts an agreement any statistical employee of that State will have the right to decide for himself whether he will transfer to the Commonwealth Public Service or remain a State employee. The procedure would be for the Commonwealth Public Service Board to offer each such State employee a specified statistical position in the Commonwealth Service in the State in which the agreement is made.. Tin’s follows the precedents established in connexion with previous transfers of taxation officers and other groups of officers to the Commonwealth Public Service.
Provision is also made whereby it may be arranged with one State that the Government Statistician of that State may be appointed as Commonwealth Statistician and that this officer may by agreement continue as Government Statistician of the State with appropriate arrangements between Commonwealth and State as to his remuneration. This would make it possible to implement a proposal recently submitted by the Prime Minister to the Premier of New South Wales in respect of the services of the present Acting Commonwealth Statistician, and thus ensure the closest co-ordination between Commonwealth and States during the transition period in which the integrated statistical service is being established. The staff proposed to be transferred from the States of New South Wales, South Australia and Western Australia is estimated to be about 176 persons. The total of annual salaries of the officers so transferred is estimated to be £175,000 and the expenditure on contingencies will amount to about £30,000.
As I have said, the bill authorizes the making of agreements between the Commonwealth and States individually whereby the organization of the statistical services of Australia may be integrated and improved. Statisticians carry a big responsibility to produce the increasing body of statistics upon which we rely in the formulation of governmental policies and business policies alike. If ever Australia needed good and prompt statistics, and more of them, she needs them now. If the present opportunity for agreement with the States is lost it may not be possible to create another for a long time to come. Therefore, I commend the bill to honorable senators as a non-controversial measure that should have general approval.
Debate (on motion by Senator Critchley) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator O’Sullivan) read a first time.
Senator O’SULLIVAN (Queensland-
Minister for the Navy) [4.21].- I move -
That the bill be now read a . second time.
The purpose of this bill is to give legal sanction to the payment of the increased salaries payable as a result of the judgment of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, delivered on the 16th December, 1955, in the appeal against the determination of the Public Service Arbitrator granting marginal increases to public servants in addition to the margins granted by the Public Service Board in December, 1954. The bill also fixes, for the purposes of the Superannuation Act 1922-1955, the date upon which increased superannuation contributions shall be payable by officers as a result of the increased salaries granted by the court.
The bill provides that the Public Service shall be reclassified on and from the10th January,1956. The Public Service Act does not empower the board to make general reclassifications of the type necessitated by the court’s judgment without throwing open some positions and requiring promotions to them and subsequent promotions’ appeal action. Also, the act does not permit adjustment to particular points within an officer’s salary range, so that the date of incremental advancement shall be that provided by the court’s judgment. For these reasons a legislative validation of the salary payments is needed.
Further, this reclassification process was used by the Public Service Board because the judgment of the court did not cover all persons employed in the Commonwealth Public Service. For example, members of the Professional Officers’ Association were not covered, as that association was not a party to the court’s decision. However, it is desired that they should receive the same salary increases as those given to officers who occupy similar positions and who are members of associations who were parties to the appeal. In addition, some positions which have a direct relativity to those covered by the judgment were not included in the judgment but were automatically given the salary increases by the Public Service Board. The departments of the parliament and the statutory authorities listed in the schedule to thebill have powers of reclassification similar to those of the Public Service Board and must be covered in the same way as the board is covered. The bill provides for this cover.
The bill specifies the 16th December, 1955, as the date from which increased superannuation contributions shall be payable, i.e., the date upon which the court delivered its judgment. Thisprovision is consistent with section 13 (4c) of the
Superannuation Act 1922-1955, which now specifies, for salaries determined by the arbitrator, the date of the determination as the date upon which salaries are increased for superannuation purposes. The provision applies to officers of the Public Service, and to certain officers of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization and the Australian Broadcasting Commission, and to certain civilian employees employed under the Naval Defence Act 19.10-1952, all of whom received high salaries consequent upon the judgment. For similar reasons the bill provides that the date from which increased superannuation con tributions are payable by officers of the Repatriation Medical Officers’ Association granted increases in the court’s recent judgment shall be the7th March, 1956. I commend the bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Critchley ) adjourned.
Debate resumed from the 22nd March (vide page 403), on motion by Senator O’Sullivan -
That the following paper be printed: -
Economic measures - Statement by the Prime Minister dated 14th March.1956.
.- When the Senate adjourned, it was discussing the economic statement by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), and I obtained leave of the Senate to continue my remarks. During the intervening period, most of the Government’s measures have been accepted by the people as inevitable. As the picture has been made clear, most of the critics have discovered that the measures are sound andwere necessary to put the Government’s policy into effect. In all the criticism that has been offered, including that put forward by the Opposition, there has been no sub- ‘ mission of an alternative to the Government’s measures. Much of the criticism arose from the fact that public relations between the Parliament and the people on these measures have been poor, but as the measures have been more fully understood, they have been accepted by the people.
One of the principal questions asked by the people as I have travelled about the country, related to the increased amount that is being taken by the Government by way of excise duties and sales tax. The people have asked how the Government’s measures can be deflationary if the Government spends the money instead of leaving it to be spent by the people.
The real question is, what proportion of total government expenditure will be met out of the extra revenue that is to be raised? The people generally do not realize that government expenditure does not come from revenue alone. They do not take into account the fact that a large proportion of capital expenditure comes from loans. Over the past two or three years, the Government has been spending, on ordinary services and on capital works, a total of about £1,200,000,000 a year, of which £1,000^000,000 has been spent from revenue and £200,000,000 from loans. Commonwealth revenue has been used each year to make up deficiencies in loan raisings on behalf of the States. It is well known that the last two loans closed about £65,000,000 short. Even after all Commonwealth surplus revenue has been allocated to the States for capital expenditure, there will still be a gap this year of about £30,000,000 between total commitments and the total funds available. That portion of capital expenditure which cannot be met out of loan money is to be met by increasing the revenue. About £1,120,000,000’ will be expended from revenue and £80,000,000 from loans this year. TI/; total expenditure 1;111 be about the same, but more money will come from revenue and less from loans. The Government’s position was made more difficult by the fact that many of the public works of the States had to be financed by the Commonwealth, and the loans were not filled. What alternatives were there open to the Government? The first alternative was to tell the State governments that, until the 30th June, they must close down their capital works, and consider them again on the 1st July. One can imagine the unemployment that would have occurred in the States if that had been done. No government would ha vo accepted that alternative in the circumstances. The next alternative was to find the money by issuing treasury-bills. That is one of the most inflationary measures that the Government could have taken and, in view of the current inflationary pressures, the Government could not do anything to worsen the situation. Therefore, the second alternative was discarded. The only alternative left was to raise revenue to cover expenditure up to the 30 th June to which the State Governments were already committed. Most of the capital works undertaken by the States are let by contract, and they could not be terminated at this stage. Bearing in mind the alternatives I have mentioned, it is clear that the Government was wise in following its present course. Most people are beginning to understand the position.
Another feature of these measures is th*; fact that they can be altered, mostly at the stroke of a pen. They are fluid. If they are not producing the desired effect, they can be amended accordingly. Most people have already accepted the measures, but I have found that they expect the Government to examine expenditure closely and carefully when it is preparing the next budget. Wherever I have been, I have heard that call from the people for the Government to be watchful of its expenditure. If the people can be assured that the Government will answer that call, the people will feel that the measures now proposed have not been in vain. I do not accept the proposition that most federal expenditure cannot be altered. Most of our revenue is expended upon social services and other more or less fixed commitments, but there is also an immense field for government saving, and there should be a close scrutiny of expenditure when the next budget is being prepared. In particular, savings could be made in our expenditure upon defence, immigration and development. I do not mean that we should slash that expenditure heavily. In all those departments, there has been an amount - I do not say a great amount - of wasteful expenditure which closer scrutiny would have prevented.
– In which departments is this waste?
– If the honorable senator had been awake he would have heard me mention three departments; but for his benefit I repeat that the departments to which I referred were those of Defence, Immigration and National Development. I do not agree that a great <leal of our inflation has been caused by abnormal consumption. I think that expenditure on Federal and State development over the years has been a major cause of the present inflationary pressure. A comparison in respect of the years J.93S-39 and 1954-55 gives a fair indication of the position. Of the total revenue in 1938-39, 78 per cent, went in consumption and 19 per cent, in investment. In 1954-55, consumption represented only 71 per cent, of the national income, a 7 per cent, decrease compared with 1938-39, and investment and capital expenditure represented 25 per cent, an increase of 6 per cent, on 1938-39. Those figures prove that it is not so much on consumption that Australia has been enjoying a burst of spending. A comparison of the years I have mentioned shows a decrease of 7 per cent, in consumption spending. One of the main causes of the present inflation has been the attempt by Federal, State, local government and private bodies to develop everything at the one time. “We have been going too fast. We cannot do everything at the one time. We have gone beyond our labour and material resources. No matter with what goodwill these developmental projects are approached, if the requisite labour and material are not available, an inflationary pressure will be set up. If we call a halt to some of these trends for a year or two we would derive an immense amount ofbenefit.
The institution of a system of priorities has been frequently mentioned in this chamber. It is time that the Government took this matter in hand because a system of priorities of Commonwealth and State works is essential. Immense sums of money have been made available to the States during the last few years and a great deal of that money has been wasted. The States display a lack of appreciation in the spending of the money? that are made available to them by the National Parliament.
– Take Bell Bay for instance.
– I am glad the honorable senator has mentioned Bell Bay. An increase from an estimate of £3,000,000 to an actual expenditure of £10,500,000” is not chicken feed in anybody’s language. One of the reasons for this huge expenditure by the States during the last few years is the fact that they have no responsibility at all for raising the requisite revenue. They take the greatest pleasure in hiding behind the Commonwealth, which levies the taxation or raises the loans and has to take the bla .me. The States ha. ve no responsibility at all in raising revenue and so have become irresponsible in the spending of much of the money that has been made available to them. It is time that a system of proper priorities of Federal and State expenditure was instituted. I know that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has attempted to do this already; but the States have not been interested. The position is so serious that in the coming year I would be quite prepared to say to the States, “ No system of priorities, no money “. That is something the Government should do. If it is to be responsible for raising these huge sums of money which, after all, come from the people, it is entitled to protect the people in the expenditure of those moneys by a proper system of priorities.
– That would bring in unification straightaway.
– The honorable senator thinks that would bring in unification. I cannot see any difficulty in introducing a proper system of priorities by agreement; it is only a. matter of common sense. Only the adoption of a small-State attitude would wreck such a scheme.
The position is serious. This Parliament has been finding millions of moneys for the States and supplying them with more than the proportion of taxation revenue to which they are entitled. The Commonwealth has foregone all its proportion of loan moneys in order to give it to the States, and when the States have been short, it has made supplementary grants to them. It is high time that the Commonwealth took a stand on this matter and conferred with the States to ensure that public works of immediate necessity shall be given first consideration and those of lesser importance shall wait until more money becomes available. That is a simple proposition anc! I think it should be carried out. Having raised this matter, I do .not wish to say any more about it. I conclude, as I commenced, by saying that this interim budget has been accepted by the people of Australia, but with a tag. The people expect this Government, and this Parliament, in the coming year, to watch expenditure closely and to do what it is asking the people to do. It should exert a steadying influence for the next couple of years until revenue catches up with expenditure.
.- T do not propose .for a moment to follow Senator Henty’s lead and advocate confused theories. I propose to deal with -something factual. I recall that at a previous sitting of the Senate, Senator Maher made reference to the shearing -strike in Queensland, and, I understand, in some of the other States. I propose to say a word or two about that strike and also about some members of the Australian Workers Union who are at present in control of that union. It is worthy of note that Senator Maher had this to say when he was speaking upon the subject -
The Australian Workers’ Union has turned its back upon the Arbitration Court, and it would appear to mc, judging by the statement of the present federal president of the union, Mr. Davis, that under its present leadership it is swinging across to the Communist dictum of direct action and collective bargaining.
The honorable senator referred, of course, to the Australian Workers Union. He continued -
The union sold out the principle of arbitration which had been observed since the turn of the present century. That is the sad story of a great union.
Senator Maher also referred to certain deceased gentlemen who, during their lifetime, had been officials of the Australian Workers Union. He mentioned, specifically, the late W. G. Spence, Donald Macdonnell and Clarrie Fallon. It is worth noting that when members of the Liberal party or of the Australian Country party refer to deceased union officials, particularly deceased officials of the Australian Workers Union, they invariably do so in glowing terms. After the demise of Ben Chifley, the tory press throughout Australia described him as a lamented statesman. For the first time, the Australian public was informed by the tory press of this country that the late beloved Ben Chifley was a statesman. Now, long after the death of W. G. Spence, Donald Macdonnell, and Clarrie Fallon, members of the Liberal party and of the Australian Country party refer to them in this chamber in highly respectful terms. It is interesting to reflect on what was the attitude of those honorable senators to the union officials I have mentioned when they were fighting for social justice for their members. They then constituted the No. 1 hate of the Liberal and Australian Country parties, which even traced their ancestry to sec whether they could be deported from Australia. Yet to-day, the members of those parties ask honorable senators to compare the grand union officials of other days with the despicable men who now lead the trade unions.
I shall now deal with the merits of the shearing strike, to which Senator Maher directed his remarks. The Queensland Industrial Court reduced the shearing rate from £1 14s. 3d. per 100, to £6 19s. 6d. per 100. Actually, the rate was reduced by 14s. 9d. per 100. The reduction was made by an ex-magistrate, who had no evidence before him on which to base his decision. There is no economic adviser of any description associated with the Queensland Industrial Court, and no economist functions in that State. Therefore, the ex-magistrate had no information before him to justify a reduction of the shearing rate. Nevertheless, he did effect a reduction. Senator Maher mentioned during his speech that one of the reasons for the reduction of the shearing rate was that the price of wool had declined by 25 per cent, during the previous twelve months. Of course, that statement was untrue. I do not know the source of Senator Maher’s information about the reduction in the price of wool by 25 per cent. Certainly it was not an authoritative source, as is shown in the publication, The Wool Outlook, which was issued by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics in December, 1955.
I have not the slightest doubt that the information contained in that publication is factual. It contains this statement -
The average price paid for Australian greasy wool during 1954-55 was 70.88d. lb., 13 per cent, below the average of 81.50d. lb. received in 1953-54. Most of the decline occurred in the first few months; but the prices were fairly stable in the second half of the season. fu spite of that observation, the shearing rate in Queensland was reduced by 10 per cent. Senator Maher also said that because the union sanctioned a strike in the industry, and encouraged its members to hold out for a continuation of the general rate that had applied during 1955, it was accepting the Communist dictum. Apparently, the honorable senator believes that unionists are Communists if they fight as unionists should to achieve proper social conditions. Of course, that is typical of the old story that we have heard time and again. I am glad that Senator Maher has entered the chamber, because I have used his name freely during the last five minutes and I should like him to hear my further comments on this matter. It is scarcely practicable for me to repeat what I have already said.
– I wonder whether Senator Maher would care to tell the Senate whether his sheep were shorn at the old or the new rate.
– I do not wish to adopt a personal attitude in this matter. However, if Senator Maher paid his men at the old rate, I should like to compliment him on his wisdom, because by so doing he ensured that his shearing wa3 carried out in a workmanlike and expeditious manner. I believe that Senator Maher is regarded as a fairly liberal employer, and therefore I have no doubt that he paid his men at the old rate and provided them with good accommodation, i think that has been is record. I know thaat he does not quibble over a penny or two, and he probably also provided his men with a nip of rum at the end of the day’s work. Of course, I have no proof that he did pay the old rate. Indeed, many small graziers in Queensland are continuing to pay the old rate because they refuse to be dragged at the heels of the big pastoral companies which want to fight the shearers in season and out of season. That is their policy, irre spective of the cost. Now let us consider this situation. Last year the shearers’ rate was £7 14s. 3d. a hundred, and thai rate was reduced to £6 19s. 6d. When we investigate the figures associated with the pastoral industry, we find that the averageprice per lb. paid for wool in 1953-54 was S1.5d., but in 1954-55 it was 70.88d., which was 13 per cent, lower than the average price the previous year. Now, in order to deal with the merits of this strike, let us go a little further. The average weight of wool shorn a sheep in 1954-55 was 8.88 lb., or for practical purposes it may be said to be 9 lb. a sheep. The average price of the wool shorn last year was £2 ]3s. a sheep. The rate for shearing sheep last year was £7 14s. 3d. per 100, therefore three sheep produced more than sufficient wool to pay for the shearing of a hundred sheep. I believe that that matter is important, because in very few industries may wo find operatives capable of producing in nine minutes - the time taken to shear three sheep - sufficient to pay their wages for the whole of the day.
– But the (honorable senator is forgetting that the sheep have to be kept for the whole year.
– At present I am talking about the value of the wool on the sheep and the cost of shearing them. [ know that other costs enter into this matter, but at the present time I am dealing only with wages. The fact is that never in the history of Australia has the shearing rate been lower than it , is at the present time. When AAA wool was ls. per lb., it was necessary for the shearers to shear at least five or six sheep to pay for the shearing of a hundred sheep, but to-day they produce sufficient wool by shearing three sheep to pay for the shearing of a hundred. However, that is by the way, because there may be other ways of animating the value of the shearers’ labour.
I have already indicated that the arbitrator who- heard the shearers’ case in Queensland had no way of assessing the value of shearing work at that time - and indeed he has not at the present time - but he just made, a stab in the dark and reduced the rate. As a result of his action we now have not a general strike, because the majority of employers in
Queensland are at present paying the old rate, but localized strikes. Wool -deteriorates if it is left on the back of the sheep for any length of time, particularly in wet weather such as we have been having lately, therefore most pastoralists in Queensland are getting their sheep shorn at the old rate and are quite happy to do so. Indeed, they did not seek a reduction of the shearers’ rate. Senator Maher has said that the Australian Workers Union is turning its back on arbitration ; and he has said that simply because there is a minor strike in the shearing industry.
– It is a major strike.
– I suggest that it is a major strike only so far as big companies such as Goldsbrough Mort and Company Limited and the Australian Pastoral Company Limited are concerned. Companies like those I have mentioned own nine or ten sheep stations as well as cattle stations in the Northern Territory and, indeed, all over Australia. They are determined to fight the shearers, and I know that this Government will assist them as much as possible to that end. The Government has shown all along that its policy is to assist these hig interests. There are other factors besides wages associated with the wool industry, and it is interesting to turn back and read what the founders of our conciliation and arbitration system had to say when its establishment was being investigated. I shall read what was said by one of the gentlemen who participated in the conferences that were held with a view to establishing a conciliation and arbitration court. He said -
Under the new system - and here is the revolution - a different aim will operate. Might is not to make right. But as soon as it can he discerned and determined right is to make might. The attainment in some measure, and possibly in a rude fashion, of social justice is as absolutely essential as material prosperity. Permanent prosperity can only he based upon institutions which are cemented by social justice. Under the influence of a sense of injustice, of inequality, unfairness and helplessness, the working population of the world cannot be expected to submit to their lot. There must be held out to them a prospect of betterment and advancement for the individual, the family and the class, as well as for the nation as a whole. We do not desire to see a pyramid like that of Egypt reared on the abject misery, ignorance and helplessness of the masses. We feel that the object of our culture and many of the objects of our Government are concerned as a fundamental condition with the well-being of the masses of the people. No measures ever submitted to any legislature offer greater prospects of the establishment of social justice and of the removal of inequalities than do those which are based upon the principle of conciliation and arbitration.
Those words were uttered in 1903, and may I say that the principle contained in those remarks is still adhered to by the Australian Workers Union. That union has fought for social justice for its members. The union has used the arbitration system, and continues to use it. ‘ Evidently, Senator Maher, and perhaps some other honorable senators, hold the opinion that the Australian Workers Union caters only for the shearing industry. In Queensland, the union has a membership of about 60,000, and not more than 10,000 of those members are engaged in the shearing industry. Therefore, 50,000 Queensland members of the Australian Workers Union are engaged in industries such as the mining industry, the sugar industry and a hundred and one other industries. In no industry other than the shearing industry has there been a strike, although those industries include the metalliferous mining industry, local government and the hospital industry where domestics and others are governed by the Australian Workers Union.
Senator Maher raised this matter up, and consequently I suggest that he will not object to my mentioning what a government of which he was a member did in 1931 with respect to an award operating in the pastoral industry, remembering that the members of the Liberal party and the Australian Country party will always look after their own interests - the big business interests, the hig graziers, the big pastoral companies, the shipping companies and the combines and cartels. Senate)1 Maher deplored what he called a strike in the shearing industry in Queensland, but in 1931 there was no strike in the pastoral industry in Queensland. At that time the State government of the day, of which Senator Maher was a member, repealed the station hands award solely by government action. From time to time in this chamber we hear statements made about what the Government can do, and what its conduct should properly be, in respect of awards and their provisions. “When I raised the matter of the C series index being pegged at a certain level since 1953, I was informed by certain honorable senators that that had been done by action of the court, that the work of the court is sacred and the Government should not interfere with it. However, in 1930 the Queensland Government was much bolder than this Government apparently is, because there was an award operating which was called the Station Hands Award, and by an orderincouncil the State government of the day repealed that award entirely.
– And it reduced the rates for shearers.
– It reduced the rates for shearers, not to mention the effect it had on shearers’ costs, such as travelling expenses. That is what happened in L931, and in order that it will go into Ilansard word for word, I propose to read the following extract from volume 16. page 459, of the Queensland Industrial Gazette, under the heading “ Pastoral Industry “ : -
Order in Council (Gazetted 5th September. 1!)31).
At the Executive Buildings, Brisbane, the third day of September, 1931. Present: His Excellency the Governor-in-Council. Whereas by “ The Industrial Conciliation and Arbitration Acts 1029 to 1930 “, it is amongst other things enacted that the Governor-in-Council may, from time to time, by Order in Council, declare that any person or class of persons shall be excepted from the operations of the said Acts and, thereupon while such Order remains unrevoked the said Acts shall not apply to any such persons: And whereas it is expedient to except from the operations of the said Acts the persons or class of persons hereinafter mentioned: Now, therefore, His Excellency the Governor, with the advice nf the Executive Council, in pursuance of th provisions of the said Acts, doth hereby declare that all persons employed in the pastoral industry, other than such persons as are covered by the Shearing Industry Award - State - published in the Queensland Government Gazette of the fourteenth day of November, 1930 - on station property of whatever tenure, shall lie excepted from the operations of “ The Industrial Conciliation and Arbitration Acts, 102!) to 1930 “, from and after the Eleventh day of September, 1931.
And the Honourable the Secretary for Labour and Industry is to give the necessary directions herein accordingly, (Signed) C. PAGE-HANIFY.
Acting Clerk of the Council.
That action was taken when a government of which Senator Maher was a member repealed an award by an order in council. There was no question of the Government approaching the court and obtaining an order for a reduction of” wages. Instead, it took the matter in itsown hands and decided not only that the wages should be reduced but also that theaward should be eliminated. It is to theeternal discredit of that government that the rate of pay under the award forstation hands was then £2 10s. a week and! keep.
The supporters of this Government; have been deploring a strike in the shearing industry, a strike that has been, brought about because the union officials know the class of employer with whom they have to deal. Employers in thepastoral industry are constantly seeking concessions concerning land tenure, leases and tha like. They are always whingeing about something or other. When there is a reduction of the shearingindustry rate they swoop down like hawks to get the benefit of it, if they can possibly do so. I give great credit to the officials of the Australian Workers Union for supporting the members of that union in their resistance to a reduction of wages. I endorse everything they have done so far to maintain wage levels.
It is apparent that throughout Australia there has been a lessening of respect for arbitration courts and their procedures. The Menzies’ Government has done nothing to remedy that trend. As a matter of fact, everything it has done has encouraged this growing disrespect. As late as August of last year I contributed an article to a weekly journal on this matter, and I propose to . read portion of that article to the Senate because it is of interest now that the Government has indicated that it proposes to attempt to stabilize the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. It cannot be denied that the Government has contributed to the general unrest which exists in Australia to-day. This is what T said in August, 1955 -
For those who look, there is much evidence that the whole arbitration and conciliation scheme is commencing to disintegrate in various parts of Australia, For many reasons, respect for court decisions is neither felt moi shown, and workers now seek to use the Arbitration Courts after other means have failed to win objectives. The rule of law in the industrial field which has served us so well in the past is corroding and will have -to be. tempered in the right way before irreparable damage is done.
The time is now ripe for a new arbitration -code to be modelled. The first draft of it should be prepared by a conference of the President of the Commonwealth Court and the Presidents of all State Industrial Courts. The second draft should come from unions of employees and employers, and the final draft from a conference of the three parties. Industrial arbitration and conciliation is not ito develop into a state, that it will be hissed -at and spat upon by workers.
That is what I said in 1955. We find that -at the. present time the government of the day is contemplating the introduction of a new Conciliation and Arbitration Act.
It appears that some industrial courts are developing into political institutions; they are becoming the adjuncts of governments and are implementing, as far as they possibly can, the policies of those governments.
– Particularly in Queensland.
– Never mind about Queensland. The honorable senator is a member of the Commonwealth Parliament and should attend to Commonwealth affairs. If he does that, he will have a sufficiently big job on his hands, because dissatisfaction with Commonwealth awards and with the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration is becoming more and more pronounced. The position in regard to the C series index illustrates that point. Many honorable senators opposite threw their hands in the air and cried out that the operations of the 0 series index should be made static. A month or two afterwards, the court conveniently agreed to suspend the operation of the C series index.
Reference has been made to an economic measure that is to be considered by this Parliament either to-morrow or the day following, and I propose to say something about that matter. I have always held that the basis of the living standards of the people of Australia is the home. We start, first, with the home, and if the people have not homes in which to live it is of little use our turning to the other factors which go to make up living standards. Speaking from experience in Queensland, 1 know that over a number of years there were schemes which were designed to permit people on low incomes to pay a small deposit on a home and the balance over very many years. Those schemes helped the people of Queensland to acquire homes. Indeed, the record of home ownership in Queensland is not equalled by the records of the other States. I believe that between 70 per cent, and SO per cent, of the people of Queensland own their own homes, a fact which is due to the efforts of past State governments, 20 or 30 years ago, to assist people to obtain homes. By way of contrast, let us turn to what the Australian Government is doing in this field to-day. We find that it has been conferring with the States with the object of increasing the rate of interest on sums to be made available to the States for housing purposes. That does not amaze me, of course, because, as I indicated a while ago, the Government which is in office to-day is the tool of the combines, the monopolies, big business, overseas shipping interests, private banks, and so on, and is not concerned with the welfare of the ordinary people in the community. The Government has introduced a scheme which causes the worker to pay more in interest for his home. I ask honorable senators to consider the example of a single man who has saved £1,000 for the purpose of marrying and establishing a home for himself and his wife. Few young men can save £1,000 between the time that they commence their working career and the time of their marriage, but if such a person with £1,000 were to approach a private bank and ask for a loan of another £1,000 of £1,500 for the purpose of building a home he would find that the bank would not lend him a penny. That is a poor situation. The credit restrictions which the Australian Govern- ment has inflicted in respect of home building are to be greatly deplored. Surely such action could have been avoided in the interests of our social life. However, the Government is running true to form.
For a number of years in Queensland the Commonwealth Bank was the only bank which conducted a savings bank department. By agreement between the
Australian Government and the Queensland Government all private hanks were excluded from savings bank business, and the scheme operated successfully, as can be seen from the balance-sheets of the Commonwealth Bank. In each of the last two years the savings bank department of the Commonwealth Bank made a profit of approximately £2,000,000. Honorable senators will be pleased to see how that profit was applied, and they would agree that the savings bank business of the Com,monwealth Bank was an excellent undertaking. A percentage of its profit is devoted to providing loans to the States for housing programmes and a further proportion of the money is received by local government authorities through the State Governments for the purpose of constructing roads. Recently, however, with the. approval of the Australian Government - and probably as a result of its urging - private banks have begun to operate in the savings bank field. In Queensland., the Bank of New South Wales and the Australia and New Zealand Bank Limited are engaging in this class of business. Irrespective of the propriety of such action, the situation has now arisen in which these two banks will share, to some extent, in the savings bank business, and that will result in a smaller profit being made by the Commonwealth Bank. It may be said, in passing, that only two banks are competing with the Commonwealth Bank in this field, but it must not be forgotten that the Bank of New South Wales has widespread interests, some of them being outside Australia. It is associated, through its directorships, with a bank in London, and it also has considerable interests in pastoral and finance companies. However, that is the kind of action that one expects from the present Government.
In the matter of wages, the history of this Government is well known. It has made the C series index static and has quibbled over the matter of margins payable’ to workers governed by federal awards.
– The C series index is still operating. The honorable senator should go about and learn what is happening.
– Senator Kendall, would be sorry if the C series index wereoperating in Commonwealth awards. Onlytoday a question was asked because of thesituation that has arisen in Tasmania, where employees under Commonwealth awards are at a disadvantage by reason, of the fact that they have not received a cost-of-living adjustment granted toworkers under State awards. This Government, which the honorable senator supports, is responsible for such a situation. The Government has done everything it can to resist the payment of an increase in margins. As a result of what. Government spokesmen said during theelection campaign, most Australian tradesmen expected that the Government, when it was returned to office, would takeappropriate action to increase the margins of highly qualified tradesmen who had served apprenticeships of five or six years. But by December last the Government had granted increases in margins only to highly paid Commonwealth public servants such as the secretaries of departments and their second, third and fourth assistants. That action started the ball of inflation rolling again throughout Australia. In that year Ministers spent £65,000 travelling around the world. They considered that they were working and were entitled to those expenses, and that their secretaries were also entitled to an increase in salary, but they did nothing for the real worker who is producing the wealth of this country.
The Government is giving the private banks a rake-off by allowing them to engage in savings bank business, and it is giving them the opportunity to make further profit by allowing them to increase the rate of bank interest by 1 per cent, to 6 per cent. Although this may be claimed to be legitimate action, it means that the private banks will make an additional annual profit of £1,250,000. The increased rate of interest will not be felt by the big businessman because he does not go to the private banks for a loan or an overdraft. He has other means of increasing his resources. The small businessmen and the rural industrialists have to go to the private banks for assistance and they are the ones who will be robbed by the private banks.
The Australian Country party has been singularly silent on this matter. Neither has it had anything to say about the extra threepence added to the cost of petrol. If any man in the community is entitled to use a motor car either for pleasure or business it is the man living on a farm at a distance from the railway. He has to bear the burden of an extra threepence a gallon on the price of his petrol, but representatives of the Australian Country party do not say anything about that. They are proving, by their silence, that they are being dragged at the end of a chain by the Liberal party. I always think of the Australian Country party to-day as the mangy dog of politics in Australia. “When the Liberal party wants a noise to be made, it kicks the Australian Country party in the ribs and when it wants its bed fellow to lie down and be quiet it gives it another kick. It appears that the Australian Country party is also a willing dog. As long as it has a political life it is happy to be the mangy dog of Liberalism in Australia.
– Whom does the Australian Labour party kick, within its ranks ?
– It does not kick at all.
– Where is Senator Cole?
– He is a member of another party. I have been illustrating the attitude of the Government towards wages and living costs. It will not entertain any proposal to fix prices. It will not accede to the Labour party’s request for a referendum on the subject of amending the Constitution so that price-fixing may be included as one the powers of the Commonwealth. It refuses to do so for certain reasons, and I am not so innocent in politics as to expect the Government to agree to such proposals. I know that the present Government is the political party of big business interests. It does not stand for the ordinary person of the community. Last year, the overseas shipping interests indicated to the Government that they intended to increase shipping freights by 10 per cent. The Government, in its obsequious manner, said. “ That is quite all right with us, but do you not think you are a bit hot? Why not settle for 7-£ per cent.?” The overseas shipping interests settled for 7-£ per cen’t. It was only recently, too, that those same shipping interests indicated to the Australian public that - passenger fares would be increased by 15 per cent. To-day, we were informed that the interstate shipping interests of Australia propose to increase their freights considerably. Once more we find acquiescence on the part of the Government.
– The wool-growers are going to refuse to ship their wool at. the increased freights.
– Surely, the honorable senator does not suggest that the wool-growers are going to strike against freights? Why, they would not dream of doing so. I repeat that the present Government is not concerned about the interests of the average man in the community at all.
I come from a State in which the hospital system is still conducted under the scheme which operated in 1949, the year when the Labour Government was turned out of office in this Parliament. In Queensland, hospitalization, dental and medical benefits are still free, but the Commonwealth Government is doing its utmost to destroy that free hospitalization scheme. It is trying to make that State accept the Commonwealth scheme, just as it has succeeded in forcing the other States to accept it. This Government does not believe that there should be such a thing as free hospitalization, but the Queensland scheme is so highly thought of that ‘residents of New South Wales are now waiting to be admitted to Queensland hospitals for treatment.
– How do they manage that in Queensland?
– I should say that good housekeeping on the part of the State Government is responsible for it. Because the Queensland Labour Government looks after its money and spends it wisely, it is. able to establish these schemes for the benefit of the people.
I should like to deal now with the subject of education. Again we find that the Commonwealth Government is not honoring its obligation in this field. I admit that education is a State responsibility. Here, I can speak only from, my knowledge of what is done in Queensland. The Queensland education system was designed 20 or 30 years ago, and it is still probably one of the best in the Commonwealth, although I am not prepared to debate the point with honorable senators who represent other States because I have not a thorough knowledge of the systems in those States. However, during the war, when it was necessary to recruit staff and trained personnel for certain positions, officers of the Commonwealth Government visited Queensland and were given full information concerning the training of educational staff. Because of this high training, the Commonwealth officers had no difficulty in obtaining personnel with the requisite qualifications. Last year, the Commonwealth Government had a surplus of £70,000,000 and one might be pardoned for thinking that it would have utilized some of that huge surplus in assisting the various States with the construction of schools. My opponents might ask why the Commonwealth Government should come into the picture at all, as education is administered by the States. However, I point out that each year thousands of immigrants are coming to Australia with their families, but in spite of this huge influx the Commonwealth Government is making no provision whatever for the education of these people.
Sitting suspended from 5.S0 to 8 p.m.
– In rising to speak on the so-called “ little budget “, which is contained in the economic statement of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), I do not propose to make more than passing reference to the speech that was made by Senator Benn. The honorable senator gave a discourse on the shearing strike in Queensland. That has become a national calamity of serious proportions, but it is not altogether relevant to the Prime Minister’s economic statement. The honorable senator also referred to the Queensland State elections, and to politics in that State. I do not wish to take part in that discussion, either, because I believethat the electors of Queensland will attendto their own future.
During the adjournment of the Senate,. I was in Tasmania and moved among the people in various parts of the State. As a result, I was able to get the opinions of a cross-section of the community upon, the economic measures that have been, adopted by the Government. It is not altogether cheering to be a member of a Government party at this time because John Citizen, naturally and rightly, isgrumbling. His pocket has been severely touched by the Government’s economicmeasures. Any government that hits the pockets of the people can expect criticism. All honorable senators know that the judge’s decision does not cause uproar when an outsider is beaten on a racecourse; the punters are angry only when the favourite is not placed in a close finish. The people of Australia are critical of the Government. The people who are engaged in trade and commerce are not so actively opposed to the Government’s measures, but they have been puzzled, and have been placed in a quandary, by the changes in rates of sales tax, in import restrictions and import categories as Ministerial portfolios havechanged hands. Such changes are not. healthy for the nation, and should be avoided if possible. We should try toget along with as little government interference as possible.
However, I believe that the people will take more from this Government than they would from a government formed! from the Opposition side of the chamber because they know that, since 1949, this Government has avoided as much as possible interfering in the affairs of the community. The economic measures of the Government could have been most unpopular, but as the weeks have passed,, the people have come to realize that the Government has acted with sincerity and with a knowledge of conditions, and that it has been advised by others with a knowledge of economics who have the good of Australia at heart.
The faith of the people is great, and that places heavy responsibility on this Government. We do not have many supplementary budgets in Australia, and the medicine that is being administered now has been dished out rather suddenly. The people have taken it well and, in my opinion, the general reaction has been remarkably favorable to the Government. However, I have not been impressed by the public relations activities of the Government in presenting this matter to the people. It should have told the people frankly what was wrong, what remedies were to be introduced and what would be the ultimate effects of its actions. In a democracy, a government cannot browbeat the people. It cannot antagonize them or keep them wondering. Lt should lead the people and go with them, just as in war-time a good company commander leads his company in an attack.
In presenting this little budget, the Government has failed to take the people fully into its confidence, lt has not been completely frank about the reasons for introducing some of these measures. At meetings in Tasmania, people have asked me what was the main idea of the Government in increasing taxes. They asked me whether the Government wanted to get more revenue or to stop people spending. I have replied that, obviously, the Government needed more revenue. If that is true, 1 congratulate the Government upon the choice of articles on which it has imposed higher taxes because beer, cigarettes, whisky and petrol are the ‘best avenues from which revenue can be obtained in a short time. If the Government wants the people to stop spending, money, I say quite frankly that I cannot understand how an increase of sales tax or excise duties upon the goods I have mentioned will achieve that objective.
I support the action that has been, taken by the Government. I believe it has been courageous in deciding to balance the budget by the end of this financial year. Et has gambled on being politically unpopular, but it is to the credit of this Government that it has never approached national problems with a desire solely for popularity; its objective has been to do the best for the nation. By being courageous and forthright, this Government has won the confidence of the people, and has been returned to office at successive elections. [ believe that the Government has acted correctly in this case. With the time at its disposal and the state of the economy as it was, the Government had no alternative. We are an island continent and read little in the Australian press about British politics or economic worries and how that country tries to overcome them. We read more about cricket tests in that country. However, we can learn from, what is happening in other countries. We know that England is passing through another period of economic difficulty and hardship which is causing concern. I suppose it can be fairly said that Australia has not a daily newspaper to compare in ability and authority with The Times. In its issue of the 8th March last that newspaper warned the British people and the Government that seriousdecisions had to be made. It beseeched the Government not to continue introducing palliative measures to tide the country over its difficulties, as such action was not of any great benefit and had nolasting value ; but it urged that long-term measures should be adopted. The Timesurged the British Prime Minister, Sir Anthony Eden, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr. Macmillan, to be courageous and to take the people intotheir confidence. Sir Anthony Eden may not have acted because of anything The Times suggested, although I believe The Times chose the right day on which to publish its little sermon; but in its issue of the 15th March, a week after the Government took action, it is most heartening to read the following article under the heading, “ Economic Facts Campaign “, which should be digested by this Government. The article, which was written by that newspaper’s labour correspondent, reads -
The Prime Minister and other Ministers and loaders of British employers have agreed that there should be a national campaign to bring home the facts of the economic situation to the whole community. This decision waa reached at a meeting at 10 Downing Street last week. The form of the campaign was not announced, but it is assumed that the T.TJ.C. will be invited to take part in it.
That is the Trades Union Congress. May the Australian Council of Trades Unions take heed of that fact. The article continues -
The meeting was also notable for a statement to the Prime Minister by Sir Colin, Anderson, president of the British Employers* Confederation-
Chambers of commerce and of manufactures and other bodies in Australia should take heed of that fact - that in the view of the confederation employers should make every effort to avert increases in prices, and wherever possible should reduce them.
In . other words, in facing up to its economic problems the British Government insured that employers in private enterprise bore some of the burden and did not pass all of it on to the consumer. A national problem should be approached from a national point of view and all should share in the sacrifices that have to be made. One of the worst features of business life in Australia to-day is that when taxation is increased the whole of the increase, and a little more if possible, is passed on to the consuming public. The sacrifice is not shared. A conference such as I have read about should be called at which employers, leaders of big business, trade and commerce and the Australian Council of Trades Unions should be represented. The sacrifices to be made should be shared so that all sections can work together and thereby get the nation out of its difficulty quickly.
This Government must plan ahead. I believe it has a long-term economic policy but it should be at least finalising it at the present time. It knows, in common with other nations, what the economic cycle will be. It knows that we have to go on developing and expanding, and that the spiral of inflation will keep on rising unless strong measures are taken to deal with it. The Government should take the people into its confidence. I hope it will do so to the benefit of all. Extra revenue has to be raised from the people to provide loan funds. It cannot be economically sound to continue spending on capital works the revenue raised from week to week. If the Go vera ment can be criticized because of its approach to the present problem, my firm belief is that it is being a fairy godmother to the States and a hard-hearted step-father in relation to its own public works. The States have not suffered a cut in their loan funds. The Commonwealth Government has to raise the revenue and suffer the continued criticism of the people and of the premiers of the States ; but the States have had no cut in their works pro grammes. Speaking for Tasmania, 1 know that public works are going ahead thanks to the benevolence of this Government.
Unfortunately, the Government in its desire to set an example to others has cut its own works programme, including major works designed for the benefit of the people as a whole. It has done so unselfishly in order to keep the States going. Just as big businesss and employers should share in the sacrifices that have to be made, so also should State Governments. I know that in the case of Tasmania a lot of money has been squandered in a shocking way. I am not talking airily. I know that this Government has a responsibility for public works in Tasmania. Since 1931 it has had various blocks of land on one of which it proposed to build head-quarters for the Australian Broadcasting Commission. One of .those blocks, situated next to the telephone exchange, has, I believe been leased for the erection of a service station. So, it seems that when television comes to Tasmania the Australian Broadcasting Commission will not have a building in which it will be able properly, adequately or economically to conduct its operations. It is wrong that the commission should be paying exorbitant rent for an unsuitable building.
In matters such as this I believe the States should help to bear the sacrifice, and the Commonwealth should not be so generous. We have a £1,000,000 airport close to Hobart with a strip capable of handling Vickers Viscount and DC6 aircraft. The strip has been there for several years but is used only by visiting Boya! Australian Air Force fighters on test operations. Because it has not been completed, Tasmania is being robbed of the advantages of modern civil aircraft. No money is available this financial year for the buildings that are necessary to bring this modern airport into operation. Private enterprise would never allow an asset worth £1,000,000 to lie idle, deteriorating, for a period of five years. This Government owns public buildings in Hobart, one of which is an eyesore and has been condemned, right in the main business centre of Hobart. It is lying idle because ‘ the Commonwealth Government has no money to spend on public buildings. We have great need of additions to the repatriation hospital in Hobart. However, I am confident that we will get these additions next financial year owing to the splendid work of the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Cooper). All I have said indicates that the Commonwealth is inclined to be soft with the States but hard in relation to its own responsibilities which are of value to the people. I believe that we shall never have a basically sound economy and a happy and prosperous people if, whenever the Government gets into difficulties, it only imposes punitive measures and increases taxation. I acknowledge that the steps recently taken by this Government were necessary, but I look forward to the presentation of the budget. Although it has been customary for the budget to be introduced in August, I think that, in the interests of the business community, it should be introduced earlier in the financial year. I hope that the next Commonwealth budget will set a pattern for the business community to follow, so that that community may become . better organized and more confident of the future. There is no doubt that this great nation, particularly since 1!)49, has developed considerably. As every honorable senator knows, certain of the great advances that have been made in Australia in recent years, such ab that in relation to immigration on which there has been an enormous expenditure, have in part contributed to inflation. The Government is entitled to credit for the great, progressive strides that have been made since it came to office, but it bears a heavy responsibility in relation to the future of Australia.
One of the Government’s major worries is the raising of sufficient loan money for Commonwealth and State public works. Recently, I pointed out in this chamber that too great a proportion of money for public works is provided from revenue. We are taking too much from the taxpayers of to-day in order to provide benefits for posterity. That practice is not economically sound. I think that careful consideration should be given to improving the structure of the bond market. At present, small investors have not a great deal of confidence in the bond market. Of course, when a small investor buys a £100 Commonwealth bond having a currency of ten years and bearing interest at the rate of 3f per cent., he takes a normal, calculated business risk. He realizes that if it becomes necessary for him to sell the bond before its due date, he will have to accept the current market price. However, some people buy bonds through loyalty, and others because they provide a straightforward investment for their surplus funds. The Government should encourage the people to invest in government loans because increased saving is a recognized means of curbing inflation.. If the people do not save voluntarily, it becomes necessary for the Government to increase taxation and save for them. That is obvious. Therefore, the Government should encourage the people to purchase bonds.
Believing that it is wrong for a member of this chamber to point out weaknesses in the economic structure without suggesting how those weaknesses might be corrected, I shall suggest a means of pepping up investment in Commonwealth loans raised for specific purposes. It is a fact that many people who own property and wish to pass it on to their successors at their death - I am referring to people of moderate means rather than to wealthy people - purchase bonds in order to provide for the payment of estate duties. However, death may occur at a time when the bond market is weak, and if those bonds have to be sold at £87, £90 or £93 a £100 bond, the proceeds may not be sufficient for the purpose for which the bonds were originally purchased. In other words, the wise and loyal planning of a father could be thwarted not through extravagance or mismanagement, but. because he died when the bond market was depressed. I suggest that, if bonds are purchased in order to provide for the payment of estate duties, they should be accepted upon the death of the purchaser at their face value in payment of estate duties.
There are two interesting aspects of this proposal. The first is, that between the date of the death of the purchaser and the date of maturity of the bonds, the Government would not be liable to pay interest on them; and the second is. that the bonds would be redeemed automatically at maturity. Of course, if the scheme were not regulated correctly, the way would be open to racketeering, to which I am violently opposed. I think that this provision should apply only to the estates of the original holders of the bonds, and that should be relatively easy to ensure. I shall not labour the suggestion further beyond saying that if, as a matter of government policy, it were announced that bonds would be accepted at their face value in payment of death duties on the estates of the original bondholders, many people would be encouraged to invest in Commonwealth loans for that purpose, and’ a tremendous fillip would be given to the bond market. I. urge the Government to give serious consideration to it.
Although the subject of sales tax is germane to the economic statement, I shall not speak at length on it now because I shall have ample opportunity to do so during the debate on the sales tax measures. However, I should point out that sales tax operates very harshly in Tasmania, because insurance and freight charges are added to the price of goods purchased in Melbourne, and sales tax is calculated on the total. Then the retailer adds his 33-?f per cent, to the landed cost, plus sales tax, so that for every increase of 2-J per cent, in sales tax there is a much greater increase in the price to Tasmanian consumers. So, we in the island State have been hard hit by the incidence of the sales tax.
I am well aware that the sales tax has been in operation since 1930 and that like the Labour party it will, unfortunately, always be with us. However, I do not believe that sufficient examination and research has been conducted into its administration to ascertain first, whether we can stop racketeering and, secondly, “whether we can avoid the difficulties and the unfairness to which I have referred. I believe that the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) should appoint a small committee - I do not mind if it consists of public servants-7-to go into this matter and ascertain whether or not the administration of the sales tax - if we are to continue to have that tax-can be improved. I cannot understand why, if an article is manufactured in Melbourne for £100 and the sales tax rate is 10 per cent., or £10, the consumer in Tasmania should not have to pay £100 plus freight, insurance and other similar charges, the retailers’ profit and his percentage of those charges, and finally the £.10 sales tax. In other words I believe that sales tax should be a fixed sum throughout the transaction through the manufacturer, the wholesaler, the retailer and the consumer. If that were done the consumers in Tasmania, for example, would be saved thousands of pounds a year.
Professor Swan is reported in to-day’s press as having suggested that the income tax should be abolished, and that all taxes should be levied on purchases. I do not say that I agree with that suggestion, because it is a momentous one and needs to be carefully studied on all sides by the Parliament and the Government and its advisers. However, from the wage-earner’s viewpoint, as long as we administered a purchase tax fairly the man who spent the money would pay the tax. There are many employees who to-day pay income tax and cannot get out of paying it, but there are others who are not wage or salary earners who have many and devious ways of avoiding the income tax. Because of their activity the rate of income tax is heavier than it should be. At present the wage-earners who have no chance of avoiding -Id. of the tax due from them, have to pay more because, by dishonest means, the big man avoids paying his full share. If the Government, the taxation officials and the Treasury officials cannot devise some form of income tax- legislation that the scoundrel cannot drive a horse and cart through, then I consider that Professor Swan’s suggestion merits very serious study.
I believe that the Parliament is only doing its duty when it does all that it can to make its legislation watertight so that racketeers and go-getters cannot make money at the expense of the working man. I believe that this Government has a great responsibility to look into the matters that I have mentioned, because it has the confidence of the people and because it has a majority of supporters in both Houses of the National Parliament.
– For how long?
– I believe that the Government will have a majority of the thinking members of the Senate for a considerable time, because they know that in these prosperous yet difficult times the people want at the helm men of the calibre of the members of the present Government. For those reasons I strongly support the economic measures that have been taken by the Government.
– The Senate is at present debating what the Government is pleased to call a ministerial statement on economic measures. However, I draw the attention of honorable senators to the fact that such measures were not mentioned when the last budget was introduced, nor did the Governor-General’s Speech make any mention of them. Therefore I can only conclude, as the people of Australia and as the press have concluded, that the present economic measures are a most dishonest move on the part of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and the Government. The economic statement is vicious, and, although it has been called a budget, it is certainly not a budget. It is merely a statement, because although it indicates how revenue is to be raised, it says nothing about how that revenue will be expended.
– Yes it does.
– Not in definite figures. The amount of money that the Government expects to raise from the people through increased taxation, and as a direct money-grab, ‘ has been indicated, but nothing has been stated as to. how the money is to be expended. I agree with the people and the press that the Government’s economic measures are most dishonest, and that they have been dishonestly introduced by the Prime Minister. Let us consider what the Prime Minister said on the 14th March, 1956. On that date he said -
We are, as a- nation, enjoying a . high measure of prosperity. Our purpose is to preserve and consolidate it. To achieve these purposes, we must be prepared to face up to the factors which tend to destroy prosperity by aggravating our costs, to the inflation of our currency, and to the great task of maintaining and building our trading position lit the world.
If we are to believe the Prime Minister - and very few people believe him now - his measures were designed to preserve prosperity and stop the inflation of the currency. However, the immediate effect of this Government’s administration is that our prices have risen, our costs of production have increased and our money has decreased in value. The Govern^ merit’s economic measures have embarrassed primary industry, and the members of the Australian Country party surely realize the effect on our primary industries of the increase of the bank interest rate to a maximum of 6 per cent. However, although it is thoroughly dissatisfied with the Government’s policy the Australian Country party is afraid to express that dissatisfaction and to attack the dishonesty of the party that is leading it by a rope around its neck.
The primary producers, at a time when overseas prices for our primary products have been falling, have been faced - through the actions of the Government- . with increased shipping freights, and an increase of the evils of inflation which the Government promised that it would cure. Indeed, our currency has been inflated during the- period of office of the present Government at a greater rate than the currency of any other country in the world. To correct that state of affairs, the Government has now put forward a programme of direct taxation on the Australian worker, Australian secondary industry and the Australian primary producer. There are’ differences of Opinion among the members of the Government and the supporters of the Government. I think that the position is fairly stated in an editorial published in the Sun newspaper on the 20th March last, in which the economic statement was analysed in the following terms v-
After the thousands of high sounding words with which the Prime Minister obscured the Federal Government’s financial measures last week it seems to have been left .to Sir Arthur Fadden to let the truth out about the motives behind them. Nothing bo vulgar or sordid as the idea that the Government might want more money was allowed to spoil the eloquence of Mr. Menzies’ lofty phrases. He spoke about “preserving our existing prosperity by checking inflation”, making a contribution to the avoidance of deficit finance, “Reducing the volume of purchasing power “ and other faery things.
Sir Arthur Fadden put it more bluntly in Brisbane. He said that the Government’s financial measures “ constitute the only straightforward and practical approach to the problem of raising money “.
So, the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) put the matter bluntly,whilst the rest of the Government lied about it. In the Senate to-night we have heard a Government supporter saying all the things which the Sun editorial, to which I have just referred, said. Senator Marriott is an alleged supporter of the Government, and he ended his speech by saying, as all the Government supporters have said, “ 1 support these measures “. What hypocrisy ! “What a denial of Australia’s right to protection by its Government! The Sun editorial continued -
Federal Treasurers are traditionally more interested in the jingle of bard cash than in the pitter-patter of economists’ theories. Sir Arthur Fadden’s statement makes it clear that the new financial policy is not intended solely to cheek inflationary pressures (as Mr. Menzies’ speech may have caused it to appear ) - it isalso intended to raise more money for the Government to spend.
In the case of the new petrol tax, it is true, £4-million of the additional £12-million to be raised is to go to the roads grant. But the other £8-million goes to the Government.
In a budget, matters such as that would have to be set out definitely. It is stated that only one-third of the increased taxation will go to road grants. We do not know how it will be dispersed among the States. The editorial went on -
The tax, it is claimed, is not for the sake of better roads but for government spending. .
As for the additional tax on beer, Mr. Menzies has already said that it will make “ a powerful contribution to the avoidanceof deficit finance “, thus admitting that its aim is not to “ cure inflation “ but, quite crudely, to get in money.
If the Prime Minister had really wanted to show the Government’s resolve to use its extra revenue for “checking inflation and making our prosperity more stable and mow secure “, he could easily have promised to earmark the money for specific purposes such as improving housing, hospitals, communications, child welfare or education.
But only one fraction of one tax (that on petrol) has been earmarked in such a way, and the public can merely speculate unhappily on how the Government proposes to spend the rest.
It is obvious why the Government wants to call this a budget and not a money grab. The article continued -
The public, too, must be forced to wonder whether the new financial policy is a forecast of the Budget to be brought down for next year. Or will Mr. Menzies. at Budget time, wrap his eloquence around some more new taxes no more mentioned before than the present taxes were indicated by the Prime Minister in his last policy speech?
It so, he should at least be frank with the nation about their purpose.
If the Government wants to get more and more of everybody’s money for more and more spending, the time to tell the truth is now.
This is not a Labour newspaper. Senator Marriott read extensively from a publication issued not in Australia hut in the United Kingdom. I suggest that this Government should read what the Australian popular press, which usually supports Liberal governments, has to say in this instance. I do not rely solely on the Sun newspaper editorial to which I have referred, because I believe that those views are generally held by the Australian public concerning the Government’s money grab.
Now, let me conns back to what the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) had to say. I shall leave aside much of the garnishing, because, in my opinion, only a few points are pertinent and worthy of presentation to the Parliament. Invariably, when the right honorable gentleman wishes to put something over the nation, such as this economic statement, he smothers it with flowery words, and we find that there are really onlya few matters which are to the point. The Prime Minister said -
We proceeded, in September, to impose further restrictions upon imports,in order to help to arrest the fall in our international reserves and therefore to check the threat that would otherwise arise to our exchange rate.
Let us analyse that statement. The Prime Minister said that he had a policy whereby he intended to bring into balance our international reserves. Again, he dealt with only one side of the picture. He said, in effect, “I am going to stop the importation into this country of certain goods in order to cut down Australia’s expenditure on imports “. That is all very well if it can be done without embarrassing Australian trade. But what has happened in relation to our export earnings? There has been no real effort to get back to the economic conditions that prevailed when this Government took over from Labour. At that time there was a proper distribution of our exports to the countries of the world, with guaranteed contracts between this Government and other governments, assured shipping, and other measures to prevent inflation from increasing. All of those measures have been thrown overboard. The Government now cannot cope with the inflationary position. It has sold out on trying to cure inflation if,’ in fact,, it ever tried to cure it - and personally I do not believe that it ever tried to do so.
The Prime Minister went on - babble, babble, babble - trying to confuse the people and to deceive the Parliament into believing that he was really doing something to check inflation, whereas it is obvious that if the Government were genuine in its desire to correct our overseas balances it could deal with certain matters which have been raised in this Parliament repeatedly by members of the Opposition. I refer, to matters such as the increase of shipping freights. The prevention of increases of shipping freights would allow us to trade with other nations of the world with some degree of parity. We in Australia carry an overburden of freight charges which is not suffered by the people of any other country which competes with us for the markets of the world.. The Government has said that it cannot deal with .the shipping companies. That may be so; but if it cannot deal with them it must take broader measures to make Australia safe from exploitation by these people who transport our goods overseas. We must have a maritime pool in order to protect Australia’s industries. “Every nation, including America, has had to meet this situation at some stage of its development. The Australian Labour party is the only political party which has attempted to meet this problem, and it’ did so by establishing the Commonwealth line of ships, by which means it was able to impose a check or a governor on these shipping companies which exploit the people. By subsidizing the sea carriage of goods, the Labour Government was able to help the Australian people in this respect, but this Government has done nothing of that kind. Instead, it has left the Australian primary producer open to unlimited exploitation. The position is indeed an unhappy one.
Now, let us consider the position in relation to taxation: Senator Marriott said, after much bandying of words, that although he criticized the unfairness of the application of the new taxes to the working-man, nevertheless he agreed that they were necessary. When I refer to wage earners, or working men, I include primary producers and the owners of small industrial undertakings and businesses. This taxation does not allow for exemptions.’ It does not matter how poor a man is, how poverty stricken a little industry may be, or how hard-hit a primary producer - this taxation is to go on without exemption. The only point on which Senator Marriott commended the Government was that it had selected suitable items for increased taxes. That is problematical. In my opinion,, taxes of this kind are unfair, regardless of the items to which they apply.
For the purpose of giving the lie to supporters of the Government, who continually claim that, when imposing taxation, they have consideration for the family man and the man on the basic wage, let us compare some of the- actual figures, leaving aside the unfounded statements that have come from the Government side on this matter. The best way to get a true picture of the effect of income tax is to analyse the position of the basic-wage earner. The Government claims he is taxed in accordance with his ability to pay and if tax exemptions for his dependants are equitable, such should be the case, but it is not so at present. In 1949, the basic wage was £6 7s. a week, or £330 a year. In 1951, it rose to £491, in 1952 to £590, and in 1953 to £614. Then this Government - which does not believe in controls - froze the basic wage and it remained at that figure. But there was no freezing of profits or of charges for freights and services and taxation was increased.
This Government, which professes to consider the worker, showed its consideration in the tax it imposed on income from personal exertion. In 1949, which was the year that the Labour Government left -office - a basic-wage earner without dependants was .paying £16 a year as income tas on personal exertion. He_ now pays £41 Iia., which represents an increase of £25 lis. The personal exertion income tax for a man earning the basic wage and having a dependent wife, has been increased by £17 12s., and the increase for a basic-wage earner with a wife and .one child has been £14 a year. A wage-earner with a wife and two children has been taken by the Arbitration Court as a “ statutory family “ in some States for the purpose of fixing the basic wage. The taxation on personal exertion income of such a worker has been, increased by £11 12s. by this Government. All these calculations are based on a frozen basic wage.
In Western Australia, the Labour Government has done the fair thing by the workers and has granted cost-of-living increases. In 1949, a man with a wife and three children paid no taxation, and that is the treatment that any decent government should give him. But since 1949, this Government has made a worker with a wife and three children pay £8 2s. income .tax on his income from personal exertion. That is absolutely unfair, and every time a representative of the Government speaks in this Parliament or addresses the public outside on taxation an untrue representation of the position is made.
The Government found that it would be very difficult to justify an increase of taxation on income from personal exertion because, particularly in the lower income groups, the tax has reached almost saturation point. Consequently, the Government had to resort to another field, and so has increased the tax on what are called luxuries. As a result, every one in the community has to pay more tax, irrespective of his economic position or how it affects his living standards. The sales tax on motor cars has been increased to 30 per cent., and on commercial vehicles to 16$ per cent. Every motorist has- to pay an extra 3d. a gallon on petrol also. These items may not all be used extensively by the lower-income earner, but if he should have the privilege of running a motor car he has to pay the petrol tax. On the other hand, any director of a decent-sized commercial concern, or any manufacturer, can incorporate the cost of running his motor car or> ‘com mercial vehicle in the cost of the goods he produces or sells. That extra cost has to be met by the .consumer, and the ultimate result is to force up tha cost structure. How on earth Government supporters can justify the statement of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), that these proposals will reduce costs and help to increase production, is beyond my understanding. The only conclusion is that their statements in support of the proposals . are either untruthful or are merely sham arguments.
The Government has imposed a tax on beer, spirits and cigarettes, which also are classed as luxuries. They are luxuries if used to excess, but those who indulge to’ that extent usually can afford to pay for them. Moreover, some people receive special entertainment allowances to pay for these so-called luxuries. But to the worker who uses, his brawn and brain in the course of his job, they are not luxuries. It is simply relaxation for a man at the end of a hard day’s work to visit an hotel and drink three or four pots or glasses of beer, and it is entirely wrong that he should be called on to pay an extra tax on beer. This commodity is already overtaxed, and the extra charge is just another moneyraising scheme, of the Government. Sales tax has been increased on such articles as razor blades, watches and travelling cases. . The rich man who uses’ an electric shaver escapes the increased tax, but the goods on which it has been imposed are not luxuries, and if the public could read the schedule and see the goods which are subject to sales tax- they would quickly realize how the Government is indulging in unprincipled exploitation.
The economic position in Australia is very bad, and if increased production is to be the cure for inflation, production costs must be reduced. Wages should be at a level that will allow the workers to enjoy a standard of living equal to’ that of 1945, and the. price structure should be maintained .at a level which will enable Australian goods to compete successfully, in world markets. But . the proposals of the Government will never bring about such a situation.
Senator Marriott said that there web only …one feature of the . Government’s proposals which he could commend, and that wag the courage of dha Government in introducing them. Such a statement reminds me of the story of- a man who entered a dentist’s surgery and asked how long it would take to extract a large molar. The dentist said it would take about twenty minutes. The .man said, “ I do not want to spend twenty minute’s. This is a sudden business, and it has to be dome quickly.” The -dentist said, “I could take it out in three seconds if you want it done .as quickly as possible “. The man replied, “ This is an emergency, and I want the job to be done as quickly as possible, and without wasting any time “. The dentist thought that the mon must be very brave, .-and ha said, “Very well, sit in the chair”. The man replied, “ Oh, no. It is not me, it is my wife who has to have the tooth out. She is in the waiting-room.” This Government has imposed all these taxes, but those who have to take the shock and be brave are the Australian wageearner, the producer, the consumer and the whole nation. .’Senator Marriott stated that by its courageous act the Government has won the general confidence and support of the people. How does he justify that statement! He said he has been out among the “ J ohn Citizens “ and learnt that from them. I have been out among the “ John Citizens “ for .six weeks in Western Australia, where a State election has just been held. Before that election took place, the Labour members totalled one fewer than the members of the United Liberal party and the Australian Country party; but at the election, the Labour party gained a majority of eight over its opponents. Even in that great citadel of restricted franchise, the Legislative Council, Liberal men were defeated and Labour candidates elected in their stead. In one country electorate, a former minister, Mr. Thorn, who had a good record in political circles in Western Australia, missed being defeated by fewer than 100 votes, whereas that electorate was looked upon at one time as a Hue ribbon Liberal conservative seat. Whom does the Government .think it is deceiving when it says “John Citizen” appreciates these things? It can be no other than its own members ; but I do not think that even they are deceived. The truth- is that they have become - so accus tomed to parrot-crying what the Rime - Minister puts over from time to time that it lias become a disease with them, .and they say these tilings out of habit.
Another matter to which reference should be made during the course of this debate is the Government’s persistent endeavour from the very time of its coming into office to force up interest rates to the Australian people. It .emharked upon this campaign cautiously at first when it had to give some rake-off to the “banking and financial institutions that backed it before its election; and it has achieved its purpose .admirably. The nation has paid dearly-, for the support the hanks gave this Government to enable it to defeat the Labour Government. Its ‘ members bemoan the fact that the Government is experiencing great difficulty in raising loans on the bond market. What do they expect 1 The Government repudiated its ‘obligations to all those Australians who -subscribed to loans during the war period at low rates of interest. The people who invest in bonds have been sacrificed by this Government in its firm intention, again to give those who are running banks and the big financing institutions of the country- an opportunity to enjoy a rake-off or the cream from Australia’s production. If its members really believe that increased interest rates will cure our adverse overseas balance by promoting greater production, they are more stupid than their arguments would make them appear to be. Everybody knows that in addition to his own capital, which he is prepared to risk, any person who engages in business in Australia must obtain loans from either a bank or some financing institution. .If he is to be able to pay 6 per cent, interest and, at the same time, show a profit, he certainly will need to run a very successful business.
There are certain concerns operating within Australia that can do it. They have exploited -our local economy and made great profits even in the face of high interest rates ; but it is suggested that we are seeking to give ;some consideration to that section of the community which is manufacturing goods for export overseas. It is suggested that’ we are seeking to help those people manufacture or produce their goods at a cost that will enable them to compete on the overseas market at world parity. These people are mainly farmers, fruit producers and dairymen. Those engaged in secondary industries are also concerned, but not to such a great extent. If these people are to be required to pay high interest rates on the money they borrow to enable them to produce, they cannot be expected to produce cheaply enough to be able to sell anywhere. In the end, they will not be able to sell, and again they will be exploited because, not being, able to sell their goods, they will be made bankrupt ; and once they become bankrupt the very financiers who exploit them in the first place and who are responsible for putting them in this’ position will buy them out and so gain further profit.
That type of activity was prevented by the Labour government. It took measures to correct these things. It passed legislation restricting the rate of interest and in that way prevented the bond-holders from . suffering loss. “We cannot expect people who bought into long-term loans at low rates of interest and who now find they cannot realize on their bonds to invest in government loans. When such people find that the banks will not accept their bonds as security against an overdraft, when they find that if they want to realize at all they must sell at a considerable discount, they cannot be expected to trust the Government any further. Government loans could be made a little more attractive by increasing the interest rates; but by doing that a further burden is imposed upon the producer or the person who is required to pay the higher interest rate. It would seem to be a never-ending cycle of emergency measures and the introduction of legislation, imposing restrictions upon the free movement of trade, which, in effect, dashes cold water in the faces of the Australian public. And all this is being done by a government which has boasted from the time of its election that it is opposed to restrictions! Actually, it has imposed very great restrictions on some people while, at the same time, giving an absolute open go to those sections whom it considers should be privileged under its administration. It is certainly a poor outlook for Australia.
I am confident that if we could obtain the consensus of opinion of the Australian people concerning this Government’s repudiation of its promises and abuse of the people’s trust we should have convincing evidence that a federal election held at this time would result in just as sweeping a change of government as took place in Western Australia recently. We could go through the press ad infinitum and find expressions .of opinion to support what I say. For instance, in the West Australian of Saturday, the 17th March last, we find the statement that the bondholders have been treated unfairly, that the Government has cheated them, that it has repudiated its obligation to them. Again, in the Perth press on Friday, the 16th March, we find that business leaders fear the effects of these proposals on out - economy. Among other things, it said -
The president of the Chamber of Manufactures ,(Mr. F. S. Vine) said that the increased sales tax rates would hit the manufacturing jewellery, silverware and electroplating, leather goods and new gramophone industries. A slackening of employment could follow.
A further statement in the same article is as follows: -
The secretary of the Victorian Chamber of Automotive Industries (Mr. P. J. Walsh) said; “The industry has ‘copped the lot*. The Prime Minister’s statement that it hasn’t been singled out for attack cannot be reconciled with the facts”.
Of course, that is his industry, and he is expressing his feelings, but my experience is that every industry is thinking that it has “ copped the lot “, and, in fact, it has. The article continued -
Increased transport costs arising from the measures would increase the costs of goods and services and so defeat the Government’s aim of countering inflation.
There, we have the Chamber of Manufactures and the Chamber of Automotive industries agreeing on the point. There is still further agreement in the following statement in the same article -
The president of the Royal Automobile Club of Victoria (Mr. C. E. Clements) said that motorists were “still fair game for politicians “.
Out of the £116,000,000 of extra revenue to be raised, motorists would contribute about £30,000,000 in sales tax and petrol tax. They could put up with this in the cause of national stability if the Government bad shown realization of the part roads play in the economy.
That indicates the Government’s deceit. The general manager of Carlton and United Breweries Limited. Mr. E. F. U. Fogarty, said -
Beer drinkers will be amazed and nut a little indignant at the crushing increase in the already extortionate beer excise rate. Beer drinkers who are already subject to a special class tax totalling £80,000,000 will have to carry an extra burden of £30,000,000. That is more than a quarter of the total extra revenue to be raised.
Beer is enjoyed by most Australian workers, but this Government has virtually made beer drinking a crime. Immediately a man buys a pint of beer, the Government takes a large proportion of the price. Why is it seeking to raise revenue in this way? The extraordinary answer given by the Government is that it wants to cure prosperity. What hypocrisy !
– If the honorable senator buys ohe glass of beer less each week, he will avoid paying the extra impost.
– 1 do not know the drinking habits of Senator Kendall, and I do not believe that most men would be prepared to adopt his suggestion. Whichever way one looks at the Government’s proposals, they are seen to be, in effect, methods of dishonest direct taxation. All the goods concerned arc essential elements in the Australian way of life, but the Government chooses to call them luxuries. Immigrants from Continental countries do not enjoy many of the pleasures we enjoy, but their provision of amenities for their women foils is far superior to ours. Australian women have had amenities, such as washing machines and refrigerators, only in recent years. To obtain them, they have to enter into hire-purchase agreements for which they pay dearly. The high rate* of interest that are charged for timepayment transactions are largely the result of banking policy. The banks will not allow firms to make, agreements for a low rate of interest. They have restricted the -field of finance until the firms have 3et up a hire-purchase structure. As i result, they have fixed very high rates of interest.
The Government’s measures must affect the purchase of goods for the home. If the finance companies have to pay dearly for the money they provide, it is certain that the person who is struggling to pay for an article will pay a correspondingly high price. The only alternative is to do without these amenities in the homo and, in many cases, that is the choice that many workers have had to make The Government is virtually lowering the living standards of the Australian people, particularly those who are wage-earners and cannot pass on the extra charges. I cannot support the measure. It will embarrass Australian production, force up production costs, place an unfair burden on the workers, the small businessmen and the primary producers and, undoubtedly, will have a bad effect on the national economy.
.- I have had some difficulty in following Senator Cooke’, remarks on the Government’s economic statement. He has adopted the traditional Labour party approach. He and other honorable senators on the Opposition side have suggested that the economic measures of the Government have been thrust upon the Australian community without warning. . I remind honorable senators on the Opposition side that, as far back as 1954, the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) directed attention to developing inflationary tendencies when he presented his budget. In fact, the first steps to strengthen pur overseas balance of payments were taken then. In 1955, when presenting the budget, the Treasurer made reference to the worsening economic position, and said that there was a tendency towards incipient inflation. That budget speech was debated in this chamber, and an honorable senator on the Opposition side likened it to the statement on the “ state of the union “ which is made at intervals by the President of the United States of America. In September, 1955, the Prime. Minister (Mr. Menzies) delivered a powerful speech in which he made definite reference to the economic problems facing Australia.
I mention these matters to counter the suggestion by supporters of the Australian Labour party that these proposals are new, and that the Government has foisted them upon the: community without warning immediately after a general election. That is palpably untrue. The speech delivered’ by Senator. Cooke, and the- statements by other Opposition members-, in this chamber and in. another place, indicate’ that, the Labour party has become lost in the details of the Government’s proposals. They have been caught up in the traditional inhibitions of the Labour party. We have heard reference to exploiters, financiers, greedy bankers and private profits. Supporters of the Labour ‘ party seem to have lost any ability to look objectively at the main economic problem that is facing Australia. As they have lived in the tradition of class war, I suppose it is natural that they should revert to references to exploiters and profiteers and express themselves in terms of hatred, but the fact is that Australia is facing an economic problem which we must study broadly, free from private- inhibitions and those which are traditional, to political parties.. If I understood the Prime Minister’s- statement properly I think. I can crystallize at least three- main points, namely, the balance of our London funds,, the provision, of adequate loanfunds to the States, and the* need, for dampening down inflation. I desire, quickly to survey those three aspects of the. economic statement, and then make a few observations, hu relation te the economic problem generally.
So far as our London funds are concerned, the immediate problem is that we are spending more than- we are earning. That is a fairly simple proposition and in the long term the answer is to increase ear overseas earnings. The Government, in the long term, is attempting to do. something in that respect. For instance, we know that it has embarked upon a f airly vigorous publicity* campaign hi the United Kingdom. We had the pleasure of hearing a statement from, and were able to question, an officer of the Department of Trade in regard to the activities of the Australian Government designed to improve our markets in the United Kingdom. That, of course, will take time but we hope it will be successful. In the short run we have to equate quickly our exports to our imports. That is not a political matter and we- need not- be unduly concerned- about it. It is simply rudimentary economics which even members of the opposition can appreciate.
It is true that since the war our overseas balances, have run down from something like £1,000,000,000 to the- order of £300)000,000. It must be obvious to the Senate that we cannot allow our overseas balances: to run down to such a dangerous level because in some special circumstance,, such as an extreme drought, we would be deprived of our normal export funds and would not, in one year, be able to import even ordinary necessities. When the situation is reached where our overseas funds have run down to the present figure it is quite obvious to everybody that, even in the short run, we have to do something to bring our overseas funds under reasonable control:
In regard to loan funds, the demand by the-‘ States over, the past ten years has increased in a dramatic and spectacular way.
– What is the cause of that?
– One of the causes is our natural population increase. Our increased population must be provided with extra social services, schools, hospitals, sewerage systems and all such things which the people of our community demand; and that demand keeps on increasing. The second, reason, is that, to our credit, we have embarked on a very heavy and energetic immigration programme. This, also - means a further demand for social services, schools, hospitals, power stations, water supply, Arc. Then, there is the demand . of private enterprise. We are living in an economy in which private enterprise has been making tremendous progress..
– And profits.
– And profits, too. We believe that as more profit is. made in the community more employment will be provided for workers and more happiness will be brought, to the people. The demand of private enterprise is for finance for expansion, and for money, which, under different circumstances, would perhaps go into government- loans. 1 refer particularly to. hire-purchase finance. lt is quite obvious that while hire-purchase companies can borrow money . at 6, 7 or 8 per cent, and reinvest it profitably, they are drawing away money which might go into government loans. There is no doubt that that is one of the reasons for our difficulties so ‘ far as the loan market is concerned.
Then, of course, since 1950 the Government has bolstered the loan market by making contributions to loan funds out of Commonwealth revenue, and by issuing treasury-bills. The whole of the Commonwealth’s surplus for the current financial year has teen- devoted to that purpose. To enable the .States to maintain their loan works, the Commonwealth has financed its own capital works from revenue and has thus left the whole of the loan funds available to the States. In addition, of course, the Commonwealth in the legislation which is inherent in the economic statement that is now being debated is raising funds for the purpose of supplying it to the States.
The third point is inflation. Public prosperity is creating a demand for goods which are not available in sufficient quantity to meet the demand. By virtue of the simple economic law of supply and -demand; this is’ dangerous because it has a natural ‘ tendency to force up the cost of goods. - That brings me closer to the real problem, which is the’ high cost of goods. ‘In the short term, the Government is applying a series of remedies and I think that already indications suggest that those remedies are hearing fruit. Whilst there will always be arguments as to whether the emphasis should be placed here, there or somewhere -else, nevertheless I feel that in . the short run the impact of the present measures is having a very desirable effect on our economy.
I desire to say .something particularly about the long-term aspect of this problem. Unless we solve our long-term problem we shall have to continto with some form of semi-governmental controls. A moment ago I said that when we reached the question of costs we were getting near to the basic problem. Australia, being a primary producing country, is vitally interested in the matter of costs, .and if we are to succeed we must tackle “this problem ia a businesslike fashion. It has been suggested that there mast he increased productivity, hut I should like to say that what we steed is greater output at a reduced cost. When I say that, t bear in mind that we must preserve our accepted standards of community life. If we cannot control -oasts it roost be apparent that in the long -run our task of establishing -overseas credits will be .considerably increased. If coats increase, quite clearly we will cost ««selves out of the markets of the world. - Senator HENDRICKSON - That is- what the Government is doing.
– Senator Hendrickson, says that has been done. That is a fairly broad statement, but it is an indication that he at least recognizes the importance of costs in our economy. The Commonwealth cannot tackle the problem of costs on its own. I agree entirely with Senator Marriott’s contention that the basic ingredients of costs are largely within, the control of the State Governments. It cannot be denied that they are. the biggest employers in Australia.. Taking that as. a foundation for my remarks, I am sure that honorable senators will be able to appreciate my line of reasoning. I have said that the State Governments exercise a hig influence in regard .to costs. We must remember that the main ingredients in costs are working hours, wages, and charges for freight, electric power and water, all of which are, in the main, controlled by the State Governments. Transport is largely within the control of those governments. It will be found upon analysis that transport charges, which are largely within the control of the State Governments, in some instances account for 30 per cent, of costs. Then there are the State arbitration laws. I remind honorable senators that the New South Wales Government moved ahead of the Arbitration Court in that State, and legislated to introduce the 40-hour week which, of course, had a tremendous influence on costs.
– Is the honorable senator opposed to the 40-hour week f
– I ask the honorable senator who apparently wants to state his views and remain seated at the same time whether he considers that the then Premier of New SouthWales, Mr. McGirr, gave any consideration to the probable ultimate effects on the economy of this country when he introduced the 40-hour week. Unquestionably, the State Governments do exercise a considerable influence on costs.
I come now to the question of public works, which have a most significant and important inflationary effect, if costs are not properly controlled. To-day, the Commonwealth makes available to the States both loan money and revenue for expenditure on public works. That cannot be denied. I have already pointed out how the Commonwealth is channelling money into loans for expenditure by the States. But while the States are spending the money, the Commonwealth has to accept responsibility for fighting inflation although it has not adequate Sower to do so. In fact, most of what it d oes is undone by the State Governments.
I have already referred to the effect that the investment of moneyfor the purpose of hire purchase is having on Commonwealth loans’. I remind the Senate that the Commonwealth has no constitutional powers to deal with hire purchase, but the States can do so legislatively if they wish to.
SenatorBrown. - What does the honorable senator suggest the States should do ?
– If Senator Brown will relax and sit back and enjoy himself, I shall explain the position to him. I come now to the question of uniform taxation and the history of the Australian Loan Council. The fact that,
Tinder uniform taxation, the Commonwealth raises money which the States spend, makes for inflation. When this factor is considered in relation to the activities of the Australian Loan Council, the weakness becomes even more evident. It will be recalled that the Financial Agreement was introduced in 1927 so that the Commonwealth and the States would not have to compete against one another for loan money. The Australian Loan Council was devised to ensure orderly borrowing so that the loan market could be properly exploited. Up to 1950, the expenditure of loan money was limited by the ability of the Australian Loan Council- on which both the Commonwealth and the States are represented - to borrow money for capital works. Therefore, I think it will be readily appreciated that there is a distinct relationship between expenditure on public works and public savings attracted to Commonwealth bonds. To-night, I heard a brief broadcast statement by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), who was speaking, I think, from Brisbane, to the effect that the relationship between loans and the savings of the community had become distorted. I do not think there is any doubt about that. Up till 1950, a responsibility devolved on the States to ensure thatloan construction programmes were kept within the limits of the available loan money, but in recent yearn the Commonwealth, by providing money out of revenue, as well as by treasury-bill finance, has provided loan funds in excess of available money from the loan market. Obviously, this has resulted in inflationary expenditure of loan moneys by the States on public works. I think, too, that because the State Premiers know that there has been no real limit to the amount of money available to the States, there has been a tendency for them, when they have come to Canberra yearly, to inflate their loan programmes. They have developed a technique in relation to arbitration which is well known to honorable senators. They have developed a technique of spending to the limit, and even of going beyond it, so that when they come to Canberra they will be in a position to say that they need special loan allocations because they have spent all that they had.
I intend to prove that the State Labour governments have thrown money away, and I shall give concrete examples which will horrify honorable senators, even though they have had years of political experience. State governments have in the past been completely uninhibited in their spending. That, of course, has aggravated inflation. Public works have frequently been carried out in a haphazard fashion purely for the sake of party political expediency, and State works programmes have not been rationalized, as repeatedly requested by the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth has provided all the loan money for State works, and has repeatedly asked the States to introduce some priority system into their public works programmes, but the Commonwealth’s requests have been unheeded.
Up to the present- time, I have been referring to the States in a general way, and’ now I wish to give honorable senators particular instances of mal-administration. I shall refer specifically to -New South Wales, where we have had to endure a Labour government for far too long. If there is any doubt in the minda of honorable senators about the inflationary effect of the spending of loan money by the States, they should listen to the examples that I am about to give them.
The- first work to which I refer is tho Glenbawn dam which was started in 1946 by the New South Wales Labour Government. Originally, it was estimated that that dam would cost £1,500,000, but the New South Wales Government has already spent £7,900,000 on it and it is still unfinished. The State authorities estimate that it will cost another £6,600,000 to complete. I wish to emphasize to honorable senators that the New South Wales Labour Government has already spent £7,900,000 on that dam. This expenditure has Bet up a terrific demand for labour and material, and, as the dam is unfinished, that £7,900,000 is lying idle, earning nothing, and the asset is wasting and. rotting away.
I now wish to refer to the Sandy Hollow-Maryvale railway. The New South Wales Labour Government started that railway in 1941, and it was said to be for strategic purposes. In passing, may I say that the New South Wales Government always seems to restart this line just before every general election. The Labour Government of New South Wales has spent £2,000,000 or £3,000,000 on the railway up to date, but, in between elections the. rabbits play around the partly constructed works and people help themselves to rails and equipment from the line. That railway is being built in the Liverpool Plains area of northern New South Wales, and its story is one of the tragic stories of the failure of the New South Wales Labour Government properly to expend its’ loan allocations.
The next public work to which I direct the attention of honorable senators is the eastern suburbs railway’,- in Sydney. That work was started 21 years ago, and at that time it was estimated that it would cost £44,000,000. Already £2,100,000 has been spent, and this year about £50,000 will be spent on it. At the rate of past expenditure it will take another 100 years to complete the line. Can anybody convince me that expenditure of that kind is not purely inflationary! I do not hear any comment from honorable senators, although I heard some a little while ago. I ask again whether any honorable senator will assert that the New South Wales Government’s actions in regard to the eastern suburbs railway are not inflationary in effect. All the money spent to date on the eastern suburbs railway is lying idle and is earning nothing.
Now I want to- tell the Senate about the Keepit dam, which was started in 1937. That is part of the public works programme for which the Commonwealth and the Australian Loan Council has provided the money. That dam was going to cost £i,300,000, but already £4,800,000 has been spent and it is now estimated that it will cost £3,600,000 to complete the work. There, again, great demands were made for labour, materials and equipment, hut the capital so far expended is lying idle and is earning nothing.
The final example that I desire to’ put before the Senate is the classic example of the Burrendong dam. That work was started in 1946, and, like the other works that I have mentioned, was started in an electorate which the Labour party thought that it might lose at the New South Wales general elections. All those works were started with a flourish in order to win certain seats in the New South Wales Parliament. The Burrendong dam was started in 1946; and £2,500,000 was spent on it. But, even the New South Wales Labour Government has now abandoned the scheme, and the £2,500,000 taken from the pockets of the people has, in the Australian phrase, gone up in smoke. It has been completely wasted. No doubt . there waa. a general election in the State i» 1946, and the local Labour candidate was in some difficulty. (.’Senator SPOONER. - He waa a pretty expensive candidate to be elected to the State -Parliament. = -Senator ANDERSON.- That ia aU Now, I happen to live close to Iron Gove bridge, in Sydney, which carries one of the Plain highways out of the city. I ‘ believe that that bridge took something, like six or seven years to build. I low put it to the Senate that the New South Wales Labour Government stands indicted foi wasteful expenditure of loan allocations, on public, works. While the Commonwealth is called upon to deal with, inflation, it is fighting with its. hands tied behind its back, because under- our. present System the States control a large proportion of our public works expenditure. “We say that we have a federal system in Australia, and the Liberal party and the Austraiian Country party are committed to the support of the federal system. However, the honest truth of our situation, is that to-day this country is not operating under a federal system. We do not have a federal system; we have unification. We work under a system that baa the vices of both the federal and the unitary systems, and none of their virtues. The Government has to go back, to basic principles in an endeavour to work out a pure system of federalism under which we can demand that the States should live within their means, and that they should spend their loan money prudently, rationally, and wisely for the general good of the community.
Every time .a flood occurs in. the northern rivers of New South Wales, such as in the Hawkesbury; the Hunter and other northern rivers, large sums of money have to be voted for assistance to those who have suffered through the floods. Then time passes by, and the following year we have floods again in the same general area, but striking more severely at another place. It is all very spectacular to have wonderful vote-winning projects in - remote parts of the States, but surely there is coming a time in Australia when we should show a hit of sense and put first things first. We must rationalize’ our loan programme: and our works programmes, so that our- rich heritage in Kew South Wales shall not be dissipated.
I am talking of New South - Wales mainly because I have had more experience in that State than of others. - I’ suggest that we should -make the northern part of New South Wales, such as the valleys pf the Hunter and the Hawkesbury Rivera, secure,, so that we need not fear floods in the future. We should also embark on a rationalized loan scheme under which we shall get a return for our money by introducing proper flood mitigation schemes, including’ the dredging of rivers.
I suggest to honorable senators of the Opposition, that they should, talk to their colleagues in the Labour parties of the States, and get. them, to rationalize their works programmes so that we can get value for our money, and so that when the Commonwealth suggests that they have systems; of work- priorities they will not say that Australia operates under a federal system and consequently they will spend as they choose.- We should not fritter away our substance*, because if we do so Australia will suffer..
Summing up what I have said, it seems to me that three things could happen. We could revert .to a. system of socialism - I am speaking’ now of the economy in the broad sense. We could have a system of controls, which are very near and dear to the heart of the Labour, party;- but that is a system against which the people of Australia, with all their strength and because of their traditional background, have rebelled. Supporters of this Government believe in the free enterprise system. The Australian- Labour party says, “ We could solve the economic problems by controls,, including rationing, capital issues control, and the Eke “. But such a system would lead to racketeering and black marketing- and to all the things which are bad in a community. Because this Government ‘knows , that the- people of Australia do not want- such a’ system, and because of the historical background of the. liberal party and the’ Australian Country party, we behave that that is not the way.
In the short run, at the present time we are enacting a series of legislative measures which are the subject of this debate to-night, measures which have been criticized on the ground that they are part of a stop and start economy. I believe that, in the final analysis, we shall have to face the long-term problems of our economy, such as the question of our overseas balances and the matter of inflation, Tn my opinion, the solution lies in the question of costs, which is tied up with the federal system. We can solve the problem of costs by reverting to a true federal system under which the States would have to accept responsibility for the money they expend. If the States have to raise the money they will make certain that it is expended properly and fairly; If we have such a system, I think that Australia will go forward to the destiny to which it is entitled and which its people deserve.
– I have listened very carefully to the remarks of Senator Anderson. I remind him that the speech he made tonight is the exact opposite of a speech by his leader, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), in 1949, when the right honorable gentleman said that he- would leave everything to the States. Now we find that the supporters of this Government are complaining about the administration of the States, and about rash State spending. We must not forget that the Australian Government controls the Australian Loan Council, despite what supporters of the Government may say. 1 also remind honorable senators opposite that, in 1949, men with the great vision of the present Prime Minister and others in the Cabinet must have known of all these things when they said to the people of Australia, “ Don’t fear, Bob is here. Elect us. There will be no troubles from now on “. The propaganda that was used by the Government parties in 1949 was similar to that used in many other countries of the world, and it has been successful.
I sat here this evening and listened to Senator Cooke reading from the capitalist press. There are press reporters who sit in the gallery of the Senate, and for all they do, they could belong to the deaf and’ dumb institute. I do not want to take away any credit that should rightly belong to our press reporters, because I know that whatever they pencil and for ward to the various daily newspapers, depending on what time of the season it is, it will neither be read nor listened to. It is only a matter of form. They do their job and do it well. Senator . Cooke read an editorial from the Sun newspaper in which the people were told what a bad man Bob Menzies was, that he .should not be putting these taxes on, and that the people should rebel against them. I could cite similar comments from the Melbourne Age. What cunning gentlemen these newspaper proprietors are! They know all the time that they are the people who have put Bob Menzies and his party in power for the next three years. I venture to say that when the next general election comes’ round it will not be possible to read statements such as those read by Senator Cooke and others in this chamber to-night. Whatever the newspaper proprietors say is also the policy of the Government, and the policy of the Government is that of the daily press. Senator Buttfield may smile, but I suggest that she will find that the propaganda that is used by the press keeps this Government in power.
– The honorable senator must be losing his sight.
– I am not losing my sight. I remind my friends opposite that the press had quite a deal to do with the result of the recent general election.
It cannot be denied that the Government itself has caused the inflation from which we are suffering. Senator Anderson referred to the .deficit in our overseas trade balances. What was the position when this Government took office? We had a credit balance in the United Kingdom of between £600,000,000 and £700,000,000. The honorable senator said that if we allowed our trade balances to- dwindle the position might become serious.. We on this side of the chamberhave said exactly that on numerous occasions, but the Government has taken no heed until now when, in order to carry, it over the perilous period between now and the end of June, it has decided to increase taxes on beer, tobacco,’ cigarettes, motor cars, and other commodities. We all remember that during World War LT. Mr. Churchill, as he then was, the great leader of the British nation, gave the provision of beer . to troops and people working in munitions factories one of the highest priorities. That is on record. It is the complete answer to those who contend that beer is a luxury. Tobacco is in the same position. During the war, tobacco was considered to be most essential to the successful prosecution of the war. Yet this Government, with a view to obtaining sufficient revenue to tide’ it over the ensuing few months, has decided to impose additional taxes on beer and tobacco.
I believe that the Government will be sadly disappointed by the results of these additional taxes. People whom I know in various trades in Victoria have told me that the increased taxes are having a very detrimental effect on trade and that turnover during the next ‘ three months will not be nearly as great as the Government imagines it will be. The increased revenue the Government hopes to earn from beer and tobacco will not exist. If this method of raising money fails, what does the Government propose as an alternative?
In conjunction with the increased taxes on the commodities to which I have referred, there is to be restriction of imports. I know of dozens of manufacturers in Melbourne who were encouraged by both the previous Government and the present Government to commence manufacturing in Australia. They brought capital from England and other countries and they also brought out machinery and- technicians. To-day, because, of this Government’s blanket import restrictions, many factories will have to close down, and so displace hundreds of employees. I could mention the names of these concerns if necessary. Is that the method which this Government intends to adopt to curb inflation? Every one knows that it is necessary to have as nearly as possible an even trade balance with countries with which overseas trade is conducted, and if Australia is to absorb immigrants, it is necessary to have industries in which to employ them. The managers of many industrial establishments are beside themselves to know what to do to keep their factories in production. The people have lost, confidence in this Government.
– Senator Henty disagrees, but I remind him that when the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) went to Western Australia as the political saviour of that State, the people gave him such a terrible time that he was kept in bed for several weeks. If the Government were to go before the electors of Australia to-morrow, it- would be wiped out of political existence.
– The honorable senator has been saying that sort of thing for the past ten years.
– Allow me to say that everything is changing the world over, and the propaganda used by the Government over the years will not do the thimble-and-pea trick again. It will be interesting’ to observe whether, after the 30th July next, the Government is prepared to have a double dissolution of the Parliament and go before the electors.
– It will be interest ing’ to observe whether the Australian Labour- party has the courage to send the Government to the electors.
– When the people know the truth of the Government’s intentions they will record their opinion.
– To which of the three Labour parties will the honorable senator belong?
– I have always belonged to the one party. On the Government side there is a complete jumble of political parties. It has radical Labourites, left-wing Labourites. non-Communist Labourites, “ rats “ on the Labour party, Australian Country party representatives, “ rats “ on the Liberal party who have gone to the Australian Country party - I could not enumerate all the parties which are represented by members on the Government side. But, for the edification of Senator Henty, I say that I will always belong to the great Australian Labour party. Irrespective of the Government’s conniving with Senator Cole, there is only one Labour party, the great Australian Labour party, and I will always belong to it. I say again that if we were to go before the electors to-morrow, a Labour government would be’ elected, as it was’ in Western Australia. In spite of. all the propaganda that this Government used in Western Australia and in New South Wales, Labour governments were returned in both those States, and in spite of all its electioneering efforts in Queensland the result will be the same in that State.
If there is anything wrong with the management of Australia to-day it is not the. State Governments or the Labour party or the “ Commos:’ who are to blame; it is the Government led by the Right Honorable Robert Gordon Menzies. In 1949, he told the people that he and his party could manage the affairs of this nation and bring it to the state of prosperity described by Senator Anderson. Mr. Menzies suggested that the States should be allowed to control their affairs. Now, Government senators are saying that State administration is ruining the . economic welfare of Australia.
From 1941 to 1949, representatives of the Australian Labour party told the people that if it was economically sound for Canberra to govern Australia in time of war, it was- doubly necessary that Canberra should control the destinies of this country in time of peace. My party maintains that view, and is convinced that Australia will not be prosperous until the political machine is brought under one central control at Canberra, irrespective of which .party is in government. Some States are now ruled by Labour governments, and the Government supporters in this chamber are blaming the Premiers of those States for maladministration and thriftless spending. Elections have been won in the past, not on the record of a government’s performance over the years of its administration, but by some political trick. This Government is adept at such a procedure.’ Some years ago, the antiCommunist legislation was featured. Subsequently, the Petrov inquiry was a prominent item and also the fact that some members of th, Labour party had deserted and had gone over to the anti-
Communist party. I am somewhat concerned about how the people of Eng land will treat the British Prime Minister because of his welcome to the Russian delegates who have just visited Great Britain. They brought gifts of sable and diamonds and ponies for the Royal household, and the Prime Minister of Great Britain, Sir Anthony Eden, shook hands with them. Some years ago, when they shook hands with the then Prime Minister of Great Britain, Mr. Attlee, they were loudly condemned by Government supporters in .this Parliament as having bloodstained hands. Will the British Prime Minister be declared a Communist because of his association with them.
– It is not wrong to pay proper respect to them.
– That is so, and it is proper to be respectful to the monarchy, as members on this side of the chamber are. The honorable senator should not be a hypocrite. There is no difference between the aims of theLiberal party, the Australian Country party and the Anti-Communist party. They are all minority parties with one objective - to control the destinies and lives of the people. But the ‘Australian Labour party has told the people of Australia time and again that it believes in British democracy. Has that not been proved by the statements of these two Russian delegates when they said, “If we were in England we would belong not to the Labour party, but to the Conservative party”.. Of course they would, because members on this side have always said that the Government of Russia is a capitalistic dictatorship. It is no different from Hitlerism or Mussolini-ism, and it is no different, from “ Bobism “ in Australia, because the present Government is simply deceiving the people. They have been fooled and misled at election times by the Government’s propaganda. They were told that if they voted for Labour the country would go headlong into communism. Under this Government the . country is going at a galloping pace into fascism. No complaints will he heard from the Government side of the House or from Senator Cole concerning the fact that the Russian delegation brought presents of ponies to England. Who knows that those very animals were not inoculated with Communist serum ? Who does not know of the treachery of the Russians, but who on the Government side will dare criticize them? Not one honorable senator opposite is prepared to do so. I say to the people of Australia that if the time ever comes again, as it did in 1943, when the trade of big business combines is in danger, the present Government parties will accept again the Communists as allies for the purpose of protecting their interests. An indirect tax is a class tax, and we on this side df the chamber oppose taxation of that kind. At various times when I have been speaking, I have been reminded that it was a Labour Prime Minister, the late Mr. ‘ Scullin; who introduced sales tax. I . admit that; but those of us who care to cast our minds back .to the days when the late James Scullin took office as Prime Minister will realize that the financial . position of the country then was such that drastic measures had to be adopted. The late James Scullin found the Treasury empty.
– And he was not trying to cure prosperity.
-Indeed he was not trying to cure prosperity. He was trying to give the workers of Australia some means of existence, and he introduced sales tax. When the present Government took office in 1949, the position had been reversed. The Treasury was. overflowing and the country was enjoying such prosperity that any reasonable man’ could be expected to manage it successfully. The country was put on an even keel by John Curtin and Ben Chifley. It was set on a course that would, take it to prosperity provided succeeding governments were prepared to continue the policy that was pursued by the Chifley Government. But what happened? During the election campaign in 1949, th« people .were told that, if they re-elected the’ Chifley Government they would have communism. In the face of that threat, they decided to elect the Liberal Government led- by Mr; Menzies, with the result that now, although the Government telle is that we are enjoying the greatest eraof prosperity the nation has ever known, honorable senators opposite contend that all these taxes must be increased. Although the people are paying higher taxes to-day than they paid- previously in ‘ the history of Australia, we are told nowthat it is necessary to increase them still further in order to - maintain our prosperity.
This Government has lost an immediate opportunity to give the country continued and lasting prosperity. When we were the Government, we stabilized the economy. We did not take advantage of the devastation of countries overseas at a time when there was a great demand for our wool to make our economy chase the price of wool. At that time, the basic wage was about £6 a week. We also said that we would not allow, the economy of the country to chase the high prices being paid for wheat, dried fruits, and all the other commodities we were exporting at that time’ when seasons were bountiful and when other parts of the world were being devastated. Our policy was to export our surplus goods overseas at the best prices we could get while, at the same time, stabilizing prices in Australia. At that time, we were told to leave it to the States, that they would fix it ; but if this Government had continued the policy that, had been pursued by the Labour Government, our trade balance would have been just as good to-day as it was in 1949*. Unfortunately, under the present Government’s policy, the high prices being received for wool, wheat and other commodities have had such an effect on industry in Australia that the basic wage throughout the Commonwealth is now approximately ‘£12 a. week. As I said to Senator Anderson, I agree that our costs are too high, but we cannot blame the workers for that. The blame for that rests upon the Menzies Administration, which told the people of Australia that if it were- given control at Canberra it would give them prosperity.
Actually, we have lost our prosperity. What has happened in respect of wool’?1 Whatever the Cause may have been - whether it WAs the Petrov incident or something else I de not know, becauseevery time I have asked questions of the Minister he has stated that it was a matter of policy and has refrained fromanswering-but for some reason or other, the Russian ambassador and his staff left
Australia, and . our trade connexions with Russia were severed. The big combine in England that keeps this Government in office said, “ We will buy your wool on our own market “. It bought the wool and then sold, I think, 80,000 bales of it in London to Russia and to China at a profit of 30 per cent. We on this side have told the Government on many occasions that nations must not be suppressed, that we must trade with them. The fact that we suggest that we should trade with Russia is not an indication that we agree with the political philosophy of Russia. We do not believe in that any more than we believe in the political philosophy of the Menzies Government or that of the Eden Government of England. Likewise, when we say that we must trade with China we do not necessarily agree with the. political philosophy of the Communist Government of China. Despite the laughter of Senator Henty, we have lost profits in those markets. At the moment, we cannot sell our wheat. To-night, we were told .that the Government has the matter in hand, that it has appointed Jack. McEwen as Minister for Trade, and that he will solve all our trade problems. Why, he has bungled them for the last seven years I How is he going to solve them? If he wanted to solve them, he should have done something seven years ago. The fact is- that we have lost our wheat trade while Canada has been negotiating wheat agreements with countries behind the iron curtain; and, furthermore, those agreements will continue for so long as Canada wishes them to continue.
– Which country has the bigger wheat surplus, Canada or Australia?
– Senator Scott can make his speech when his turn comes. I will make mine as I think best. Despite his interjection, I should like him to travel with me through the wheat districts of Victoria. If he does, he will see silos filled with the 1954 crop. He will also see newly built silos filled with the 1955-56 crop, and he will learn that the growers do not know where they are going to sell the 1957 crop. That is the true position, and no honorable senator on the Government side can deny it.
I come now to dried fruits. A couple of years ago, I asked the responsible Minister in this chamber if he would consider removing the sales tax on dried fruits used in the manufacture of plum pudding in Australia, and I was laughed at by honorable senators on the Government side.
– That is not so.
– I was. Now, Senator Gorton and other honorable senators opposite are shedding crocodile tears because we cannot sell our dried fruits on overseas markets. In this era of prosperity, they are asking the Government to subsidize the dried fruits industry ! I remind my friend, Senator Gorton, that not far from where he lives men who were settled on blocks in western Victoria have gone to New South Wales to grow rice.
– There has been no sales tax on dried fruits for years.
– There have been very few sales, if any, since the present Government took office, but up till then there were plenty of sales of dried fruits. That is the position now. Our export trade is diminishing. I should like Senator Henty to visit Mildura or some of the dried fruits growing areas in South Australia,’ and tell the people that their industry was finished six or seven years ago. They will tell him how prosperous it was. The price of land went up to £180 an acre, but today; because of the poor prospects overseas, it would not be worth £60 an acre. It is impossible to sell dried fruits.
Irrespective of what the trade commissioners do. we shall have to follow the example of England. England has gone cap in hand to the Communist delegation in an endeavour to get trade with Russia. Australia must trade with Russia, but I hope that Australians will never -be hoodwinked into accepting the -political administration that they have in Russia. Wc are totally opposed to it, but that is no reason why we should not send our commodities to Russia if it is prepared to pay an adequate price. When honorable senators on the Government side say that the State Governments have wasted money, I think of the money this Government wasted when it produced
Petrov as an election winner. That performance cost Australia millions of pounds in our overseas trade balance because we lost the trade of Russia. Let Senator Anderson consider that statement. lt is the truth. Petrov is living in affluence in Australia while the Australian workers, who are entitled to a decent standard of living, are going without essential commodities.
– Where is the wool that we could not sell to Russia?
– The wool has been sold, but if Senator Henty’s ears were not filled with wool, he would have heard what I said. I told the Senate that our wool was sold in England. The English brokers held wool sales in London although there was no wool there. It was still in Australia, biit.it was sold in England to Russia.
– Wool cannot be sold twice.
– There is plenty of wool. In this great era of prosperity-
– It may be all hooey to Senator Scott, bur. I travelled through Victoria during the parliamentary recess, and I am speaking from knowledge gained personally from producers of wool, wheat, meat and dried fruits. I challenge any honorable senator to go with me among those people and tell them the story that has been related in this chamber to-night by Senator Anderson and Senator Marriott. 1 heard the honorable member for Mallee in another place ask a question about dried fruits. He almost said that the Government had bungled the handling of the dried fruits problem, but he was forced to speak up because that problem is at the honorable member’s back door.
Some people are enjoying prosperity. We find prosperity where a man and his wife are working, but while they are doing so, we are losing Australia’s greatest asset - family life. If we were to spend on young married couples only portion of thu money we are spending on immigration,, married woman would not need to go to work. In 80 cases of 100, women aro going to work if they can get a job, and the children are left to fend for themselves in this great era of prosperity. No honorable senator can deny that truthfully. That is one of the greatest problems facing Australia. It ia impossible for a man and a wife with a young, family to live on one man’s wage. A woman told, me that she went into Melbourne to buy an overcoat for a twoyearold child. The price was £12 12s. She decided to buy the material, but that would have cost her £6 6s. She has offered to send me the docket from the Myer Emporium. How can a women be expected to rear a family when the cost of living has risen to such an extent? The average worker is taking home less than the basic wage.
I had the privilege’ of going to the Burwood post office, in Victoria, at 7 a.m. recently, and saw conditions under which the men work there. They are working in a rented shop that was not adequate to meet demands when it was taken over in 1942 or 1943, but now the suburb of Burwood has almost doubled in size, and postal business has grown three times. There is no room for any man to work under decent conditions. The conveniences are used by letter sorters and carriers until 9 a.m. Then they are used by the women! Senator Gorton might laugh. Let him go to Burwood and inspect the post office there. The Commonwealth Government bought a block of land nearby, and the Public Works Committee approved the construction of a new post office in 1946, but it has not yet been- built and it will not be built for a long time yet.
I asked some of the letter carriers what salary they received. They are paid £720 a year. After they have paid income tax and superannuation, they take home less than the basic wage. Recently, I attended a meeting of the postal worker!) at the Melbourne Trades Hall. They are serious about their grievances. If something is not done soon to help them, the people will have to collect their mail. Surely every honorable senator will agro» that a man who is entrusted with th” responsibility of delivering urgent and private mail, some of it very valuable, should be on a better salary than £720 with no possibility of an increase. Is that fair? A postal worker still gets £720 at. 65 years, the same as is paid to a man of 21 years of age. The basic wage is frozen, and they receive 21s. a week less than the average worker in Melbourne.
I suggest that this Government should appoint Sir Frank Richardson and his two colleagues to consider the case of federal public servants who are working under federal awards. I venture to say that they would then get the increase of 21s. a week for the cost of living to which they are entitled. The Premiers in every State have granted cost of living increases, but this Government blames the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. A. M. McMullin). - Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the;- adjournment of the Senate, I for-, mally put the question -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
, - I invite the attention of the Senate to shipping facilities from Australia to the Australian Antarctic. Australia lays claim to a vast area of the Antarctic from a point south of New Zealand across to South Australia and then to n point south of Mauritius off the coast of Africa, except for a small area that is claimed by France. This area is reported to be rich in minerals. We are very proud to have in Antarctica settlements on Macquarie Island. We have a base and a settlement on Heard Island, and also a team of splendid Australians at Mawson. But this Government or any shipping company in Australia does not own a ship capable of navigating the waters of this tremendous territory which we now claim and for which we are instituting a system of law.
In answer to a question I asked recently about the payment made for Kista Dan, I ascertained that £64,000 was paid in the year 1953-54 and £57,000 in 1954-55, and that the charter for this Arctic ship will expire in March, 1958. I was very interested to learn recently from the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs some facts con cerning Government policy on this matter. I asked a . question in three parts, the third part of which was as follows: -
Does not the Government consider the time has arrived for the building of an adequate ship, or ships, in Australian yards for communication with, and exploration in, the Australian Antarctic?
The Attorney-General (Senator Spicer), in reply to that question, said -
Some years ago the question of building a special ship for Antarctic work was considered, but because of the high cost and the Government’s .policy of . limiting public expenditure as much as possible it was decided not to proceed with the proposal for the time being…
I direct the attention of the Senate to that - latest statement of Government policy in this matter. A little later I asked -
Will the Minister for Shipping and Transport inform me whether there are any technical or engineering difficulties associated with the construction of a ship for Antarctic exploration in Australian shipyards, or at Wyhalla in South Australia in particular T
The Minister for Shipping and Transport (Senator Paltridge) has been good enough to supply me with a’ reply in some detail which I shall read. He said -
There are no technical or engineering difficulties associated with the construction of a ship in Australia suitable for navigation in Antarctic waters. Some four years ago the Australian Shipbuilding Board, after investigation by its naval architects in the United States and Canada prepared a preliminary plan for such a vessel, It was found on investigation that the specialized type of ship with a heavily constructed hull to resist the pressure of ice, and with sufficient power to be able to make progress through pack ice, would be far more expensive than a normal ship of an equivalent size - particularly as accommodation must be provided to meet the requirements of the Antarctic Division of the Department of External Affairs, which included accommodation for scientists and their scientific equipment, and space for helicopters and small scout planes. The question of building a ship is a matter for the Department of External Affairs but no doubt it was found to be more economical, to charter the Kista Dan than to build a ship for the purpose especially as it would only be used for about five months in the year. “
I am grateful to the Minister for giving me such an explanation, but I feel that the thinking of the Government on this question is somewhat out of date. It is admitted that this matter was considered . some years ago. The Minister’s letter discloses that some four years ago this investigation was held. I am wondering whether the Government has been brought face to ‘ face with a number of circumstances which exist at the present time.
Government policy in this matter should be stepped up considerably. We have almost reached the geophysical year in which countries all over the world will- pay great attention to Antarctica. I do not think the policy of the Government in this geophysical year has been stepped up sufficiently. It will be a great .pity’ if Australia, does” not play its full part in those activities. It has taken certain legal steps to introduce a system of law for the twenty or fifty people in that region; but if Australia wishes to consolidate its sovereignty over this territory it. will have to do more than just unload a few scientists each year from a ship which it has borrowed from one of the Scandinavian countries. We will have to do certain things that normal people do when they want to prove their possession of a thing. The least we should do is to acquire a ship capable of navigating, the waters of this vast territory of ours.
America does not recognize any claim which we make to Antarctica. Only yesterday, over the radio, a prominent American suggested that the United Nations should take over Antarctica. How can we contest such a claim if- we are not prepared to give consideration to the provision of means of conveyance to that territory? What is very interesting to me as a South Australian is the way in which the Russians are proceeding to and from Antarctica. Within the last three weeks two Soviet ships have been in Port Adelaide. They have returned from scientific visits, as they tell us, to that part. The two ships were Lena and Ob. Those ships are manned by welltrained crews who know how to navigate Arctic waters. One ship had as many as seven stewardesses on board. Just how they help in the navigation of a ship in Antarctica I am not prepared to say. What I -desire to illustrate is that Russia is training a full complement of men to proceed to and from Antarctica whereas Australia has not one properly trained seaman for the purpose - that is bad for the Australian people. In order to create a national interest and pride’ in -the people who go to that territory, why cannot we have our own ship regularly plying, when the weather permits, to and from Antarctica? Why should we be dependent on the Russians; or the Norwegians, or the British, when it is our territory and -our responsibility? The Government should reconsider what appears to me, from the answers I have received from Ministers, to be its declared policy in this regard. I ask the Senate and the Minister to consider taking positive steps to secure a ship for use in Antarctic waters. It would be of great assistance in improving our contact with this part of the world, which is Australia’s responsibility. We owe a duty to the scientists and others whom we ask to go and live in that territory. We have a responsibility to provide a speedy means of communication with them, in case some plague were to break out, or some serious accident occur. Even if wo intend to hire Kista Dan until 1958, the vessel could be at one end of that vast Antarctic territory when an . accident takes place at the other end. In such a case, would we have to ask a Soviet ship to do rescue work or- to carry supplies? Surely it ie our responsibility to provide a means of communication.
– An aircraft could be flown off Kista Dan.
– Tes, we could fly an aircraft off Kista Dan, if we still had the vessel. But it should be remembered that each year Kista Dan goes back to Europe. When the Minister gave an answer to my question, he referred to the fact that a ship would be used for only five months in the year. Perhaps it would be used in the Antarctic regions for only that period, but in the remaining period it could be used for other purposes, possibly for exploration of fishing grounds, and for other research into the potentialities of the fishing industry. A ship of this kind - and not necessarily a very big ship - could be of invaluable use to Australia in the season when it could not go directly to our southern outposts. The matter of the sale of the Australian Whaling Commission’s assets will shortly be debated in this chamber. I submit that consideration’ should be given to the splendid use that could be made of a vessel such as 1 have advocated, in investigating the fishing potential in the seas around the Australian coast.
I conclude my remarks with this warning: In 1884, as the result of government muddling, if I may use that expression, northern New Guinea slipped out of our grasp. It came under the control of Germany, and later of the League of Nations. We have paid a terrible price for allowing what should have been our territory to slip from our grasp. If we do not do something about our communications with Antarctica, that territory could easily be removed further from our control than it is at present. It is of paramount importance that the Minister for External Affairs should change his policy regarding the provision of a ship capable of communicating with our Antarctic territory.
– The Government, and, I think, the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey), are very conscious of the interest that Australia has in the territory to which Senator Laught has referred. Many steps have been taken recently to preserve our interest and our rights in that territory. The honorable senator can rest assured that the Government will take every step to ensure that the claims that we make to the Antarctic territory are in no way impaired. Whether our claims to the territory would be strengthened by the use for communication purposes of a ship of our own, rather than a ship that is chartered for the purpose, is a matter upon which there might well be differences of opinion. The honorable senator has shown a commendable interest in this matter, and I shall direct the attention of the Minister for External Affairs to what has been said to-night on this subject by the honorable senator, and I have no doubt that my colleague will give his remarks due consideration.
– I hope that the Attorney-General (Senator Spicer), when he brings this matter to the attention of the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey), will, at the same time, inform him of some feelings that I have on this subject. At present certain amounts of money, from the vote of the Department of External Affairs for the establishment of a claim to this Antarctic territory, are used for making geophysical and other surveys, in making meteorological observations, in occupying the territory concerned for periods of the year, and in journeying over that territory. All those activities give some real basis to a claim to the land, and I hope that the amounts spent in those directions will not he reduced merely in order to replace with another ship the ship that is at present on charter. If there is sufficient money to do all these things, then by all means let us buy a ship and perform the other functions as well. If there is not enough money to do all that, then let us concentrate on the work that is now being done in that territory, and in no circumstances reduce that work programme merely in order to own a method of communication.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.48 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 1 May 1956, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1956/19560501_senate_22_s7/>.