23rd Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Trade whether the decline in the export of meat from the Argentine has been caused wholly or in part by the sudden fall in the supply of meat in that country. Has this decline occurred because of the Argentine Government’s failure to restrict the slaughter and sale of breeding cows and heifers? Is the Minister aware that, to meet the overseas demands, and to take advantage of the high prices offering, the slaughter and export of breeding cows and heifers from Australia has increased tremendously? Can the Minister assure the Senate that what happened in Argentina will not happen here?
– I think that the honorable senator’s question covers the portfolios of Primary Production and Trade. It is a good question, and I ask him to put it on the notice-paper and I will see whether I can get a speedy answer for him.
– I ask the Minister for Repatriation whether it is a fact that an amount of £278,000 has been allocated for alterations and additions to the Repatriation Hospital, Hobart. What additional wards and facilities will be provided under this contract? When will tenders be called? When is it expected that the work will commence, and what is theestimated date for the completion of the contract?
– It is a fact that an amount of £278,000 has been allocated for alterations and additionsto the Repatriation Hospital at Hobart and for the erection of a sub-station to augment the power supply. The actual work to be done comprises a new ward, a new out-patients clinic, an administrative block and akitchen. The kitchen is additional to what was budgeted for originally. There is to be a newkitchen block andI have been informed that the Director of Works is now taking out details of specific quantities and expects to be in a position to call tenders some time in November this year. The actual construction work is expected to commence early in the New Year. It is difficult to prophesy the time when the work will be completed, but I should say that it will be completed within one or two years after the calling of tenders and the commencement of construction.
Australian National Line,
– Is the Minister for Shipping and Transport aware that the refrigeration machinery on the freighter “ Denman “, which is a vessel of the Australian National Line, is out of order and that therefore refrigeration space available for shipment of fruit from Hobart to the mainland is considerably reduced? Is the Minister aware, further, that a recent shipment of fruit on “ Denman “ from Hobart to Brisbane had to be carried as hatch cargo instead of as refrigerated cargo, with the result that the fruit on arrival at its destination was in very bad condition? Will the Minister inform the Senate how much, approximately, it will cost to repair the refrigeration machinery on “ Denman “? Is the Minister prepared to assure the Senate that repairs to the machinery will be carried out atthe earliest possible moment?
– Neither my interest in nor my association with the Australian National Line is close enough to equip me immediately with the information that is required by the honorable senator. I was not aware that the refrigeration equipment on “Denman” had broken down. I am sure that if it has so broken down it will be repaired with the utmost despatch and that the same standard of service as the AustralianNational Line has given to its Tasmanian clients will be available again at the earliest possible moment.
-Idirectaquestionto theMinisterforNationalDevelopment.Is itafactthatexperimentscarriedout jointly by theCommonwealth and State governments at the Kimberley research station have proved that rice, safflower, cotton and sugar can be grown there successfully? Can the Minister advise me of any other crops with which the station is experimenting at the present time, and whether it is the intention of the Government to continue, jointly with the State Government, further experiments in the Ord River area?
– My recollection is that what Senator Scott says is correct, subject to the reservation that I have a feeling that there are yet some problems to be overcome in cotton growing in respect of pest destruction. In other words, the pilot areas have proved successful, but there are some reservations yet as to whether the pests that afflict cotton can be coped with when the crop is grown on a large scale. I should not be prepared to test my memory as to other crops on which experiments are proceeding. I remind the honorable senator, though, that not only agricultural but also pastoral pursuits have been the subject of investigation. In reply to the third question, I have no knowledge of any suggestion that the joint endeavour at the research station should not be continued.
– I preface a question, which I direct to the Minister representing the Treasurer, by referring to newspaper reports which state that, because of widespread public reaction, the Government intends to modify the proposed increases in the bulk postage rates applicable to certain types of publications. I direct attention to the fact that I have received protests from the Australian Wheat Growers Federation and the South Australian provincial press in regard to the increases foreshadowed in the Budget speech. Is the Treasurer aware that the proposed new rates would mean that a country newspaper with an annual subscription of 10s. would have to pay the Postmaster-General 8s. 4d. of each subscription, leaving only ls. 8d. with which to produce the newspaper? Furthermore, is the Treasurer aware that country newspapers are as much an institution as a business and that their continuance is vital to the preservation of free and independent points of view? Because of this, will the Government, when reviewing the matter. consider the position of the smaller publications I have referred to and thus save them from being forced out of business? Finally, has the Minister any information to give the Senate on this matter?
– It might be as well for me, on behalf of my colleague, the Treasurer, to inform the Senate that the users of bulk postage at the existing rate are at present in receipt of a subsidy which amounts to something over £3,000,000 a year. The rates, as varied by the Budget, were made with the object of reducing the subsidy paid to those users of bulk postage. The modifications to the initial proposals which were made last week would remove, in many instances, the gravest of the difficulties which would be suffered by the publishers of the smaller papers, and even on the figuring mentioned by the honorable senator, at a rough cast 1 would imagine that it would require no more than an increase of 2s. Id. per year in the subscription rate to the country paper concerned to cover the additional cost.
– I wish to direct a question to the Minister for Civil Aviation. Is it a fact that recent tests in the United States of America have proved the Boeing 707 jet aeroplane to be quieter than conventional aircraft? In view of the delay in establishing a new airport at Tullamarine in Victoria, and the opposition to this site by persons who claim that the noise of the Boeing would seriously affect residents of the area, will the Minister investigate the results of the American tests and advise the Senate accordingly?
– The results oi noise tests conducted in America and elsewhere on all types of aircraft are always followed with the closest interest by officers of my department. Indeed, it is not unusual for officers of my department to attend these tests, when it is convenient for them to do. I do not think I am aware of the latest findings to which the honorable senator refers, but I did not hear them a few moments ago with any degree of surprise because the manufacturers of the Boeing aircraft particularly, which was mentioned by the honorable senator, have stated for a long time that as operating experience increased they would be able progressively to diminish the noise nuisance. I can only say in respect of the matter that the noise nuisance experienced at Mascot and Avalon has not been of a nature as to excite any public protest of any dimensions at all.
– I should like to ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate a question. Does the Minister recollect that the Honorable A. R. G. Hawke, when Premier of Western Australia, applied to the Federal Government for a permit to export iron ore to Japan, to certain Japanese interests, with the proviso that he establish a charcoal iron industry in Western Australia and give an assurance that all revenue received from the sale of iron ore would be applied to the development ot Western Australian industries? ls it a fact that the Federal Government refused that application and made a strong submission to vindicate the claim that the Commonwealth Government was justified in withholding approval of the action proposed by the Government of Western Australia? I also ask the Minister: Is it a fact that the present Premier, Mr. Brand, has stated that the Liberal Government of Western Australia is giving every consideration to the proposed sab of iron ore from Koolyanobbing to Japan and interests in Japan? Has an application been made to the federal authorities for a licence for the export of iron ore to Japan? If an application has been made, what consideration has been given to it?
– I remember the circumstances quite well. Mr. Hawke’s Government made an application for a licence to export iron ore to Japan, and the application was refused by the Commonwealth on two grounds. The first ground was in accordance with our usual policy to conserve our natural resources. The second ground was that we had very strong doubts as to the economics of the proposed iron ore industry and, indeed, I think those doubts have been amply justified by the inquiries that have been made by the new government in Western Australia which, on the information, I think, will not contemplate expansion of that industry because it is uneconomic and is proving very difficult to maintain in its present condition. My information is not that there is a proposal to export iron ore from Koolyanobbing. I have heard suggestions that applications may be made for exports from other deposits, but no application has yet been made. When an application has been made, I think that that will be the appropriate time to give an answer.
– Is the Leader of the Government in the Senate aware that the Japanese coal purchasers who have ordered something like 5,000,000 tons of South Coast coal, to be delivered over the next three or four years, are concerned because they think that they will not receive all of that coal, for the reason that the loading facilities at Port Kembla are inadequate? Has the Government a plan to speed up coal loading at Port Kembla in order to protect this very important coal trade, which it is necessary to preserve, of course, for the continued financial stability of the coal industry?
– Yes, I have heard of this matter and have seen correspondence from the people in Japan in which they have expressed reservations about the capacity of the loading plant at Port Kembla. I have seen the records of conferences, which were convened by the Joint Coal Board, between various State authorities and the colliery proprietors. My recollection is that the representatives of the State Government who were appointed to the relevant committee were nominated by the New South Wales Premier. I would not be quite certain on that point, but I know that the committee that handles this matter includes State officers who are responsible for this work.
My recollection is that the port authorities at Port Kembla claim that the existing plant and facilities can handle the orders that have been received, and that they ask only that the shipments be spread evenly. They do not want to have two ships berthing at the same time to be filled. If the ship loading is spread evenly, they feel that they can handle the orders. Although that is the view of the State authorities, the Joint Coal Board is pressing the point that, as there are at least possibilities of expansion for this trade, the port should be further modernized and additional facilities, provided. meat.
– Jj pieface a. question to: the1, Minister representing: the- Minister for Primary. Industry by saying; that. I understand, that. a< serious curtailment’ of: shipping: schedules, operating om the. Australia-North America frozen: meat tun. has occurred, the reason given being the sudden collapse of the; previously available North. American meat, market. 1 ask the Minister: What is Australia’s position regarding the American meat market, and’ what’ is the colo” storage position at Australian ports?
– I do. not- think, it. is, quite accurate to say that- there wa& at complete collapse of the North) American- meat, market.. There was- a fluctuation, in prices; which, led to a- cancellation, of transport-, bookings made, by meat, exporters- in this, country.. That; in. turn’, led to- two- of. theships which, were, to- have taken, meat to> Nor thi America* being, taken, off-, the. cun. However, provision wast made foc one ship, the “ Gloucester “, to have its loading programme’ extended’ so that’ it could take meat mar would’ otherwise have gone’ ihthe “ Saxon Star’”) which- was’ cancelled. Provision was made- also for Hie’ “Norfolk”’ to take’ off board meat’ whichotherwise would” have’ gone on’ the “Devon “, which’ was the other ship- that’ was cancelled. These arrangements’ havetaken care of all uncancelled’ meat bookings’ so’ there will’ bc no thought of any trouble or of any stress’ being placed’ upon cold; storage facilities at Australian ports: As to Australia’s relation to the NorthAmerican meat market, the’ position is’ that when that’ market waafs fo* buy we want’ to” sell:
– f ask- the’ Minister’ for National Development whether any’ agreement has yet been’ reached between” the Federal’ Government arid the Western” Australian Government in regard to the proposed developmental projects’ iri the’ north-west of that State s’O that’ the federal subsidy may be” used’ to the greatest, advantage of Western Australia.
-There were- conferences on that matter, last week, and- thePrime Minister has written to the Premier ot Western^ Australia.. L think it. would, be. more appropriate for. the Premier, to make, the statement than, for me to do so.. censorship:
– r ask the
Minister for Customs and Excise the following questions:; - I&. it. necessary at present foc international-, newsreels. of. the type- being produced, by, such reputablesources, as the Independent Television. News. Service in. London, to- be passed. by the. Commonwealth’ Film Censor. before: exhibition, in Australia?. If it- is- necessary/,, will, the Minister consider ways of expediting, or even, eliminating this, retarding, formality, since newsreels need to be exhibited) within, a few days of. filming, and almost om the day of their being, received ia Australia, if. they, ase not to be out-of-date. when, viewed?.
– t think: iG is: necessary for: every films that) comes1 into- Australia’ to’ be’ seem by the: Commonwealth’ Film Censorship Board. At the: same time, I- fully concur, im the” honorable senator’s? statement: that in tins delivery of newsreels speed is- of: the: essence’ of the- contract?. E shall* certainly, take-up the matter with theFilm. Censorship Board’ to» ascertain’ whether there is’ any delay and ask’ the’ board’ to’- deal with the- reels- as’ expeditiously a? possible; because’ I- realizethat” the- people* want to- see’ them while they are1 still hot.
– - Order! Is the Honorable’ senator asking his question?*
– I rise to a point of order. I submit that a question of this kind is quite frivolous and not in keeping with the dignity of the Senate.
– I say that the White Paper issued by the PostmasterGeneral on postal and telecommunication services is being disregarded by this Government and that the Minister proposes to prepare another White Paper. Probably Senator Wright is not conversant with the meaning of the question; otherwise he would not say it was frivolous. This matter is of great importance to the people who use telephones and other facilities provided by the Post Office and who pay for them, even though it may not be important to members of the Parliament, who get these services free.
– I ask the honorable senator to proceed with his question but to have regard to the forms of the Senate relating to the asking of questions.
– Senator Wright’s intervention rather upset me, Mr. President. I ask whether it is a fact that the Deputy Leader of the Australian Country Party, who has given country users of the Post Office such a raw deal, proposes to issue a new White Paper which will have inscribed on it the following epitaph: -
Promise, pause, prepare, postpone
And end by letting things alone.
– I point out to the honorable senator that during the debate on the Estimates and Budget papers he will have plenty of opportunity to discuss the actions of the PostmasterGeneral. I suggest that he wait until that time before he goes on any further with the matter.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade. Has the Department of Trade been advised, through the Australian Overseas Transport Association or otherwise, of the probability of an application for an increase in overseas freights being made by the Oversea Shipping Representatives Association? Will the Minister indicate what information is available on that subject and the steps that are being taken by the department to combat such an increase, which could be a critical factor during this export season?
– I personally have not heard that any increase in freights has been applied for, but I think the matter is so important that I shall ask Senator Wright to put his question on notice so that I can get the desired information from the Department of Trade.
– I preface a ques tion to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry by stating that during the last week-end a shoal of black back salmon was pinpointed by a small aircraft in Bass Strait. This resulted in 20 tons of fish being netted in a very short time and landed for processing at Stanley, in Tasmania. In view of the great value that would flow from the proper development of the Australian fishing industry, would the Minister for Primary Industry give consideration to the department instituting a co-ordinated plan for shoal-spotting at various points along the Australian coast and for this information to be relayed to fishermen who wish to proceed to the shoals from their home ports, and so build up the total production of this section of our primary industries?
– I am not clear on what would be involved in implementing this suggestion. I do not know how much of the coastline the honorable senator thinks should be covered, or what would be the cost of operating a twelve-hour or fifteenhour daily air patrol over the areas of water selected. I shall ask the Minister to make some inquiries to see whether there is any particular small area in which shoals are fairly frequently to be expected, and whether it would be a practical proposition for such work to be carried out. I shall also ask him to consider who ought to pay for the work if it is carried out.
– I address a question to the Minister for Civil Aviation. Is it a fact that Mr. Warren McDonald left last week on an overseas tour to carry out extensive work for the Government in investigating new types of aircraft and matters relevant to the future running of Australia’s airlines? Are Mr. McDonald’s services as the Chairman of the Australian National Airlines Commission to be terminated shortly after his return to Australia? Is there any distinct merit in sending him abroad just prior to his retirement from his airline post? Should not his successor, who would no doubt be responsible for operating any new types of aircraft decided upon, have been sent?
– 1 did notice that some accounts of the reasons for Mr. Warren McDonald’s trip overseas certainly could have been understood in the way that Senator Laught has described them. However, briefly, the purpose of Mr. Warren McDonald’s trip is personal, and only in an incidental way is this a business trip, in the sense that he is interested in airline operations, or, for that matter, in banking. As the honorable senator is probably aware, Mr. McDonald has been a member of the Australian National Airlines Commission for some eight years, during the last three of which he has been the chairman. He was recently appointed as the Chairman of the Commonwealth Banking Corporation. Quite understandably, he felt that he needed a holiday prior to taking up that office, and his visit overseas is primarily for the purpose of taking a holiday. Because of his interest in airline operations, he will no doubt have a look at aircraft production and airline operations and will give the commission and the Government the benefit of his views on his return, but the visit overseas is not being undertaken for that purpose, or for anything like that purpose. the budget.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Treasurer. Is the Minister aware that the Prime Minister has announced that he and members of the Government were in the dark as to certain proposals contained in the Budget which is before us at the moment? Has the Prime Minister announced that the Government now intends not to follow the first proposals? Will the Minister now withdraw the papers before the Senate and substitute the correct ones, so that we may discuss them?
– I had not heard that the Prime Minister had made a statement to the effect that he was in the dark as to what was in the Budget. My own impression of that matter, as a result oi sitting with him in Cabinet at the time of the formation of the Budget proposals, was that he was anything but in the dark as to what the Budget proposed. If the honorable senator is referring to some of the variations, in minor details, of certain aspects of the Budget, his remarks may have some validity, but I am sure that these very minor variations would not in any sense justify the withdrawal of the papers already presented.
– My question i:directed to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General. In view of the imminent introduction of television in Western Australia can the Minister assure the Senate that the public of that State will not be victimized by television dealers who may try to flood the market with superseded models? According to newspaper reports appearing in the eastern States, many such sets are unsaleable in New South Wales and Victoria because of defective reception and other inadequacies.
– 1 cannot say just what action the Government could take to ensure that private industry did not sell superseded television sets in Western Australia. I should think that if any government had control over such a matter it would be the State Government. It is surely a State, rather than a Federal, matter.
– My question is supplementary to that asked by Senator Toohey. I ask the Minister for Shipping and Transport whether the Australian Wheatgrowers’ Federation has its own publication. Did Mr. Stott support his telegram to the Minister with an estimate of the extra cost involved? I may add that we all received similar telegrams. Was the telegram sent after the Prime Minister had made his statement in the House last Thursday? Did Mr. Stott consult his own organizations before he sent these telegrams?
– My understanding is that the federal body of the Australian Wheatgrowers’ Federation does not produce a publication but that each State branch does so, either on its own or in collaboration with other farmers’ organizations, for circulation within the particular State. 1 understand that the allegations as to increased cost in the communication sent to the Prime Minister were not supported by any estimates of cost.
– I wish to address a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate and in doing so 1 point out that I have asked many questions on the subject of the European common market, but it is evident that the Government is not apprehensive of this economic alliance. My question now is about another trade hurdle known as the European Free Trade Association, and I mention that this association, which is referred to as the Outer Seven, comprises England, Austria, Denmark, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland and Norway. A final draft of the deliberations of this association in Sweden will be ready shortly and the first common tariff reduction is to be effective next year. As British and continental farm-production systems will see that every preference is given to fellow members in their trade in primary products - as the tendency therefore will be to increase rather than decrease agricultural protection; as my researches through the official publications issued by the Department of Trade show that the Government has made no pronouncement on this subject of the Outer Seven; and as I cannot ascertain whether the problem was discussed at the recent meeting of the Australian Agricultural Council, will the Minister for Trade prepare for the information of the Senate a statement showing the features of this new and permanent division of European trade and its effects upon Australian primary industries, particularly in the light of the admonitions issued by the Manufacturing Industries Advisory Council that the nation’s problems must be examined in the context of the whole economy, not merely in relation to the manufacturing industries alone?
– I do not know whether Mr. McEwen will be willing to give a statement upon the ramifications ot the new development in European trade, the so-called Little Seven or Outer Seven, but I do give the Senate an assurance thai the situation is being watched very carefully indeed, and that we are well aware of the increasing trend towards the protection and encouragement of agricultural industries on the Continent and in other countries. I also assure the Senate that there is operating in London a very effective organization upon which Australia is represented and upon which Australia’s voice is heard; so the Australian viewpoint is taken into consideration in arrangements that are being made. At this stage, it seems to us that Australia cannot be a direct participant in the negotiations because those negotiations are between the Messina group on the one hand and the Outer Seven on the other, but I do say to th. Senate that Australia’s voice is well heard in the councils of Great Britain.
– Did the Minister representing the Minister for Trade see in the week-end press an article featuring the advent of the jet age and stating that more and more passengers would be travelling by air, and suggesting that we in Australia should use every possible effort to encourage those people who travel by jet to come to Australia? If he did see the article. I should like to know what action the Government is taking to encourage tourists to Australia from overseas.
– The Government is well aware of the desirability of encouraging tourists to come to Australia. This, of course, is more particularly a function of the State governments, as each of them has its own story to give about the tourist resorts within the borders of the State that it administers. This Government, however, does make an overall contribution to the encouragement of tourism by a substantial grant - I think it is now of the order of £150,000 - to the Commonwealth-wide organization consisting of business and government representatives, the principal object of which is to attract tourists to Australia.
– 1 direct a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, and it follows one I asked earlier about the desire of the Western Australian Government to export iron ore to
Japan. 1 understood the Minister to say that no application for an export licence had been received and that the appropriate time for him to give a reply would be when such an application was made. Will the Minister inquire into the statement made by the Premier of Western Australia, Mr. Brand, in the Legislative Assembly of that State, on 11th August, that he had applied to the Commonwealth Government for a licence to export iron ore?
– One is always likely to be wrong and, therefore, I hesitate to contradict that statement. I had a long discussion with Mr. Brand about this matter when he was attending the Premiers’ Conference here. I had a further discussion with Mr. Court, when he was here last week in connexion with certain negotiations relating to the northern part of Western Australia. My clear recollection is that no formal application has been made by the Western Australian Government. This is one of those cases in which each of us could be right. I have said that there have been discussions about it, and I suggest to Senator Cooke that he check in “ Hansard “-
– It was only a report.
– Then the report might not be correct. I expect that an application will be made, but no application has yet been made. That is the present position.
– Last week, I asked the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service a question relating to the call-up of school teachers for national service training. I understand that the Minister now has a prepared reply for me. Will he be good enough to read it?
– The question asked by Senator Hendrickson related to the callup of school teachers and suggested that this was causing disruption of education services. The honorable senator asked whether anything could be done to remedy the matter. The Minister for Labour and National Service has provided me with the following detailed reply -
The National Service Act makes no provision for exemption from training on occupational grounds either for teachers or for young men in any other occupational category. In administering the act, however, my department has given a good deal of attention to the problems associated with the call-up for training of school teachers. Special arrangements have been made in consultation with the various education departments and the Army for teachers to be called up at times and under conditions considered least likely to interfere with their studies and careers or to disrupt the teaching service. As a result of these arrangements, unless there are exceptional circumstances, those teachers who are called up ar; able to complete their initial period of continuous training before being posted to schools. They are normally included in a January intake so as to take full advantage of the school long vacation, but may be called up at other times if this is specially requested by the relevant education department.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Minister for Health has now furnished the following replies: -
– Pursuant to section 32b of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Power Act 1949-1958, I lay on the table the following paper: -
Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Power Act - Ninth Annual Report of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority for year 1957-58, Part I.
I ask for leave to make a short statement in connexion with this report.
– Consequent upon the signing of the Commonwealth-States agreement, it became necessary to recast the authority’s accounts since its inception, to conform with the financial provisions of the agreement. Honorable senators will understand that recasting the accounts back to the year 1949 has been a tremendous task.. The authority’s last report, its eighth, was delayed in presentation pending the completion of this work of recasting. Since this task proved to be longer than expected, I decided then, as now, to present the annual report without the authority’s financial statements.
In the last twelve months, however, considerable progress has been achieved and the work of recasting is now almost complete up to and including the years ended 30th June, 1957, and 1958. The auditing of these accounts by the Auditor-General’s office has proceeded concurrently with the recasting. It is. now expected that the Auditor-General will, at an early date, certify the accounts up to 30th June, 1958. In the circumstances, rather than defer the presentation of the ninth annual report, I lay Part I. of this report on the table of the Senate now and1 propose that the accounts for 1956- 1957 and 1957-1958 will be tabled’ at a later date as Part II. of the eighth and ninth annual reports. The Auditor-General concurs in this approach.
– by leave - The Senate will recall that last week, at the request of Senator McManus, I agreed to< make, a statement on this matter.
Sales of uranium are entering a slow and difficult period, because there has been a very rapid increase in world production, while military demand has not risen, and civil requirements are still small. The military demand is expected to remain within 30,0.00 tons a year for the next six or seven years. Countries with surplus productive capacity are seeking export markets wherever there are likely to be substantial demands for nuclear power. All the present capacity, and more, will be needed to fuel power stations by the 1970*s.
Britain, France, and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics have all been operating nuclear power plants for some time, and these have proved reliable and simple in operation. In the United Kingdom, the nuclear station, Calder Hall, first began to supply electricity to the national grid in 1956. since then a duplicate of the Calder station - Chapel Cross - has been almost completed. Four other large stations are being built, a fifth has been ordered, and sites for several others selected. The civilian power programme provides for 5,000 to 6,000 megawatts by the mid-1 960’s.
France’s programme is much the same as that of the United Kingdom. Power was first generated from a plutonium producing reactor in 1956. Two other medium size dual purpose reactors have since been built and the first civilian power station comes into operation this year. This will be followed by two more similar stations. Italy has three large power reactors under construction or on order, scheduled to start operating in 1962-63. Their combined capacity is almost 500 megawatts. One is British, the others American. Two other 150 megawatt stations are planned.
The United States has no immediate need of nuclear power, but is making great efforts in research and development. The first large nuclear power station - Shippingport - was commissioned at the end of 1957. Four other large stations with an aggregate capacity of 600 megawatts are due for completion within the next few years. A number of other prototypes are being planned’ with the idea of producing power at a price which will be competitive with power from conventional sources in some of the higher cost areas of the United States, within ten years. By 1963 it is expected that aggregate nuclear capacity will exceed 1,300 megawatts.
Canada has a small 20 megawatt prototype plant, under construction an work. is> expected to> start soon on a 200 megawatt station which it is believed will produce competitive power in many parts of the country. Russia is attacking the power problem on a broad front in much the same way as the United States; seven different reactor systems are being developed. A small power station began operating in 1956 and a 400 megawatt station is partly completed. Two other large stations with similar outputs, and four experimental units are believed to be under construction. A 16,000 ton nuclear powered ice-breaker - Lenin - has been launched.
Japan has let a contract to one of the British groups for a 150 megawatt Calder type station. Long-term plans provide for 600 megawatts of nuclear power plant by 1965 and 7,000 megawatts by 1975. Germany expects to have about five 100 megawatt stations of various types in operation by 1965. A further 1,000 megawatts may be installed by 1967. The first German nuclear powered ship is expected to be in service in 1961.
The Euratom countries - France, Germany, Italy, Holland, Belgium and Luxemburg - will install power reactors of American designs with a total capacity of 100 megawatts within the next five to seven years. This will be in addition to plant being built by member countries under their own national programmes. Most industrialized countries, including Australia, are making a close study of the possibilities.
The stations being built to-day are of a relatively simple type. Capital costs are high, and they cannot compete with electricity from favorably situated coal or hydro-electric stations. In the United Kingdom, nuclear stations are a little less economical than coal-fired stations to-day. Even on an 80 per cent, load-factor, conventional plant can produce electricity for about O.ld. per unit less than nuclear plant. It is considered essential, however, to build up the British nuclear power industry to meet requirements from 1965 onwards.
In Britain and western Europe, coal is now more plentiful than was foreseen three or four years ago, so that the general tendency is to proceed a little more slowly and cautiously with the introduction of nuclear power. As for Australia, there is no shortage of coal and hydro-electric resources. Nuclear power will, therefore, only be adopted when it can be economically justified. Coal deposits - and hydro resources - are, however, very unevenly distributed throughout the Commonwealth, and because of the vast distances involved power is supplied through a large number of separate - non-interconnected - systems.
The cost of power varies considerably according to the cost of coal, size of systems, &c, so that nuclear power is expected to be competitive in some areas much earlier than in others. By consideraing coal and water supplies in the various areas, probable future conventional and nuclear power costs, and developments now in hand by the different authorities, the Australian Atomic Energy Commission has come to the conclusion that nuclear stations will begin to be built by about the mid-1960’s and by 1980 approximately 1,000 megawatts may be in operation. Thereafter, it believes most base load generating plant installed will be of the nuclear type. The rate of progress will depend on the success of the various new reactor systems which are being planned with the twofold aim of reducing capita] costs and the unit cost of electricity produced, and also of making possible a smaller economic generating station. The stations being built in Britain to-day are very large - 300 to 500 megawatts. They would be difficult to accommodate in the smaller Australian power systems where generating costs are relatively high.
The development of one of these advanced systems, known as the hightemperature gas-cooled reactor, is one of the main objectives of the research programme at Lucas Heights. It was chosen with reference to Australia’s needs, in the belief that it would produce cheap electricity, and would also be capable of being scaled down in size. This, of course, is only one aspect of the Lucas Heights programme. Another, which is yielding immediate benefits, is the encouragement being given to the use of isotopes in Australia, as a most valuable means of improving efficiency in our industries, promoting health, and extending knowledge.
In addition to the direct benefits, the country gains from having at its disposal a body of highly trained specialists who keep in touch with the latest developments in this field. Atomic energy is the great new technological development of our age, comparable with the introduction of steam power and of electricity. No industrial nation which is resolved to build a strong economy and a prosperous population can afford to neglect it. Even though Australia may have no intention of building large nuclear power stations forthwith, she must prepare for the day when she will do so. Her resources of scientific skill and of raw materials will both be needed to the full.
By 1970, it is generally expected, many countries will be embarking on nuclear power on a large scale, to meet electricity needs which, in most industrialized countries, are doubling about once in every decade. When that stage is reached, large tonnages of uranium will be needed for the new stations, but at the moment production has shot ahead of demand. Canadian production has increased from 6,700 tons in 1957, to more than 13,000 tons, and this is considerably less than capacity. The United States of America is producing on a similar scale, and is limiting domestic purchases. No new contracts are being placed for foreign purchases. The United States authorities emphasize, however, that exploration and development must be continued, to provide for future needs.
South Africa is another large producer, whose output in 1958 exceeded 6,000 tons, at low cost, from gold tailings. Much more could be produced if markets were available. Very large ore reserves have been established in these three countries. Other leading producers of the Western world are Australia, France, and the Belgian Congo, each with an annual output of about 1,000 tons.
Prices are on the way down. The average United States domestic price in 1956 was 11 dollars 60 cents per lb. and for the current year, about 9 dollars 30 cents, but in respect of contracts for the period April, 1962 to December, 1966, it is eight dollars. Competition among sellers may lead to a rather lower price than this in export markets. Most current contracts provide for the amortization of plant, so that production after completion of contracts will be free of capital charges. This applies to Australian producers, who have sold all their output to the Combined Development Agency - a joint Anglo-American procurement agency - and to the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Commission. The last of these contracts will be completed by about 1966, but others, including Rum Jungle, expire by the end of 1962. Australia will be left with sufficient proven reserves to meet its own foreseeable requirements until about 1980.
It is most desirable to maintain an active mining industry, in order that new reserves may be developed. This may necessitate helping producers to find overseas markets if their output is not immediately required in Australia. A cardinal principle is that exports made in this way shall be strictly for peaceful purposes. The United Mates and Canada are exporting uranium to Japan and elsewhere. They are doing so under bilateral agreements, which provide for safeguards to ensure that the material will not be diverted to military purposes.
The International Atomic Energy Agency is setting up a system of safeguards, to ensure that materials it supplies to member States will be used only for peaceful purposes. It is obliged to do this by the terms of its statute. This system is based on accounting for materials, and on visits by inspectors to the recipient country.
At the request of the parties to a bilateral agreement, the agency can take over the responsibility for applying safeguards. The American and Canadian bilateral agreements envisage that the responsibility for safeguarding materials will eventually be handed over to the agency. Under such an arrangement, sales of uranium and other materials take place in the ordinary way. A producing company in one country negotiates with a buyer in the other. The agency, however, will require the user to keep records and submit regular reports, and to deal in a prescribed fashion with fissile materials.
The Government believes that mining, industrial and commercial firms should bc encouraged to produce and deal in atomic energy materials in the normal way of business. But it also recognizes the special nature of some of those materials and holds firmly to the principle that they must be sold exclusively for peaceful purposes. Australia may well consider concluding suitable bilateral agreements with some of these potential customers.
In conclusion, it should be emphasized once again that atomic energy is a great and revolutionary development, and one which offers golden opportunities to Australia. We have here the basic requirements to enable us to take advantage of these opportunities. We have capable and progressive industries, skilled engineers and technicians, scientists of a high order, and a wide range of university, research and training facilities.
The Government is building on this foundation by encouraging uranium mining, by helping atomic energy research and training in the universities, by the work of its research establishment, and by reciprocal arrangements which give Australia the benefit of specialized information from other countries. We can look forward with confidence to reaping a rich harvest from this programme.
I lay on the table the following paper: -
Prospects for Uranium and Atomic Energy - Statement by the Minister for National Development - and move -
That the paper be printed.
Debate (on motion by Senator Cole) adjourned.
– by leave - A large number of the members of the Senate from Tasmania, from both sides of the House, have written to me asking the same question, and since it has come from so many quartersI wish to make a statement in answer to it. The question has been: Would the Navy provide an escort for the “ Princess of Tasmania “ on her maiden voyage to Tasmania? The answer is that the Navy will supply a Q Class frigate as escort on this occasion, to mark both the importance of the occasion and the regard in which this Government holds Tasmania.
Debate resumed from 20th August (vide page 232), on motion by Senator Paltridge -
That the following papers: -
Estimates of Receipts and Expenditure, and Estimates of Expenditure for Additions, New Works and other Services involving Capital Expenditure, for the year ending 30th June, 1960.
The Budget 1959-60 - Papers presented by the Right Hon. Harold Holt in connexion with the Budget for 1959-60, and
National Income and Expenditure 1958-59 - be printed.
Upon which Senator McKenna had moved by way of amendment -
At end of motion add the following words - “ but that the Senate is of opinion that their provisions and omissions inflict grave injustice on recipients of social service benefits (such as child endowment, age, invalid and widows’ pensions, repatriation benefits, maternity benefits, funeral benefits, amelioration of means test), on taxpayers, on the family unit and on other sections of the Australian people and that they make no effective contributionto correcting seriously adverse trends in the Australian economy including unemployment and rising living costs”.
.- I congratulate the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) on his first Budget, which I support. I oppose the amendment that has been moved by Senator McKenna on behalf of the Opposition. I think it is good to see that it is physically possible, although many of us perhaps had forgotten what it was like, to have a reduction of 5 per cent, in direct taxation. Some day I hope to see the complete abolition of the twin evils - the terrible twins - of the sales tax and the pay-roll tax. If I might express a personal view, I should have thought that reductions inindirect taxes would have been of greater help to the family man, and perhaps to the community generally, than a remission of 5 per cent, of direct taxation, but we realize that the Treasurer has his difficulties, and we are thankful for small mercies.
In speaking to the Budget papers, Mr. Deputy President, I had rather hoped to be able to avoid unnecessary controversial matters, but I must say, before passing to the theme of my remarks on the Budget, that I am becoming tired of my friend Senator Cameron’s insistent attacks on our great political friend and defence ally, the United States of America. I have never known the honorable senator to direct a solitary shaft at the Soviet Union, which is solely responsible at this moment for world tension and, indeed, uses that tension as a weapon in the cold war. In a similar way, I regret that I have to challenge Senator Toohey on his remarks on foreign policy and trade with red China. I think that the honorable senator is guilty of very wishful thinking when he professes to see some similarity between the foreign affairs policy of the present Government, particularly in relation to red China, and the views expressed by ‘his party at Hobart in 1955 and al “Brisbane :in 1-957.
It as, of course, quite obvious .that Australia has .been buying :a few gallons of tung oil and a few -.pigs’ bristles -from ied ‘China over the ‘last few ..years. There is .nothing -.new about that, but if the honorable ‘senator professes to see ;any similarity between the foreign policies >of the “two major -political parties in this country, a ask him to contrast the remarks of the Prime “Minister ‘(Mr. ‘Menzies), during a recent television and radio interview, and the statement made by She Minister ‘for ‘External Affairs (Mr. Casey), When the Parliament resumed early in .August, with those df his party. *1 ask him ‘to consider the clear .and unambiguous statement by ‘Mr. Casey that this Government .will .not recognize red China, that it will not sell out the Formosan regime, that it will not insult our American friends .and allies, and that it will udt -in any way get in the queue to do the Moscow crawl. I ask ‘him to contrast that attitude with the view expressed in Hobart to ‘the effect ‘that recognition of red -China was-one df the ‘fulcrum points of the foreign policy ‘Of ‘the Australian ‘Labour Party.
It .is, .of course, difficult to take my friend .Senator Toohey .seriously .on .foreign affairs, .since he misled .us so badly on this matter .during .the ..last Parliament when he pointed to .alleged .anti-Communist .views expressed :at Hobart which .were .not expressed, .in fact, .until some months later. I look forward greatly to the day when .my friends opposite will abandon these associates of theirs, ‘because I ..know that at heart they .have no :real affinity with them. What I- cannot understand is. their continual consorting with them :anti with ‘their views. I-note that a few months ago a. certain j. j. Br.own.-speaking at the Trades Hall in Melbourne, said, “ I am .glad that Russia ;has the intercontinental ‘ballistic :missile, and I am -glad -that neither America -nor any other country i has ‘it’.’. He .went on to’ say “ This,. of course, is in. the. interests. of < world peace “. Presumably, by .the -.words ‘ “-any other . country “ ihe .meant .to include Australia -and .-other .countries of (the British Commonwealth.
Seven weeks after Brown made that statement, the ‘Australian Labour Party helped ; to elect ‘him’ to the-position “df -secretary of the Australian Railways Union. -He became secretary of “that union with the consistent support -and ‘help of Labour men ;in the union. ‘I -appeal to ‘Senator Toohey and -his friends to get away ‘from ‘that kind of action if ‘they really ‘want -us to ‘believe that they are sincere about ‘their opposition to communism. (Having been .diverted Jay my .friends and led to follow them along those -trails, -may I say -that 1 propose to take advantage of ;this (Opportunity to .direct attention -to ;the appalling .condition .of the Australian film industry .and to ask the .Government :to .intervene for ‘the ^purpose of (rescuing this important industry .from .the .decline -into which it has fallen I should ‘like to see -a select committee, or -even in’extremis a royal commission, appointed -to ascertain the best, most practical and most -useful method of putting -to work for Australia the propaganda -value of our ‘film industry. -We have ;in Australia - ;I use the words to refer only to the principle and not to amount or kind - a ready-made organization :for the assistance and to some extent, I concede, the :control .df Australian films- il refer :to ‘.the Commonwealth Film Division, which ;is part of the News and information Bureau, which in .turn .is administered .by the Minister for the Interior. The charter of .the Commonwealth Film Division indicates .that this body was set up for two purposes. 1 shall read from the official documents in full so that the importance of the film industry may be underscored. Production of films was .-for j.two purposes -
I have quoted those sections at length because of .’the ‘nature of :the language used in,the. official. papers. The .”News and .Information .Bureau owes i its genesis to the Minister for Information in the .war-time Labour Administration. ‘There - was need at i that time for a ‘Minister of Information, and this .part df his administration (has passed; to the “Minister ‘for the Interior.
We also have an Australian National Film Board, a body that advises the Minister for the Interior and which through its chairman, who is the permanent head of the Department of the Interior, is attached for administrative purposes to the department’s head-quarters in Canberra. The duties of the board include advising the Minister for the Interior upon any matter he may refer to it in relation to the expansion, promotion, assistance and coordination of the production, distribution, acquisition and utilization of films. The board, on its own initiative, may make inquiries and submit recommendations to the Minister on matters relating to film establishments. To enable the Commonwealth Film Division to do all the things I have mentioned - to enable it to be in the forefront of Australian propaganda at home and abroad, and to enable it to encourage the tourist industry and build up goodwill with our negihbours - that body has at its disposal the magnificent sum of £59,000 a year! That is not sufficient to buy a good quantity of raw film stock. The sum of £10,000 has been added for the distribution of films.
– What does the honorable senator suggest then?
– If the honorable senator will bear with me for a moment, I have a suggestion to make, and I shall be glad to have his views on it at a later date. I am putting my suggestion forward constructively and not critically.
At the present time, Australia has virtually no active independent film industry. If we look for the reasons, it is not difficult to find them. In this country alone in the western world - possibly, I include the iron curtain countries, although I have not any figures relative to them - the film industry has no protection by way of quota, bounty, subsidy, tax remissions or any one of the other half-dozen methods that have been adopted in other countries, and to which I shall refer later, for the purpose of reviving or building up the film industry. Moreover, we have no ready guarantee for the distribution of completed films. That is because, again almost alone in the western world, the distribution of films in Australia is almost exclusively in the hands of British and American film interests. Then again, no established banking institution or financial house in Australia is prepared to undertake the lengthy and sometimes hazardous business of financing the making of films. May 1 add that, as some form of corollary to the control of distribution in Australia, Australian films face an intense home market competition which is not experienced by films in other countries, partly because in other countries the distributing houses are not controlled by outside interests and partly because in some other countries, as a result of the language barrier which acts to some extent as a protective device, the native industry has been able to survive.
I do not think it is necessary for me to state that I have no interest in the film industry financially, but to illustrate what I have been saying, I point out that six weeks or two months ago I was approached by a man - he shall be nameless - who had conceived what I thought to be magnificent scheme for preparing a series of 39 films’ dealing with the activities of the Australian coast watchers in the Pacific. He had arranged for these films to be screened on the television networks throughout the United States of America, as well as in Great Britain and possibly on the Continent. This man had most of the money he required, he had the necessary technical equipment and the technicians, but he needed a relatively small sum of money. I do not propose to mention the amount, because possibly his company could be identified. I exhausted every national avenue for the purpose of ascertaining whether the Commonwealth was prepared to provide this assistance for the purpose of boosting Australia abroad, but I wasunsuccessful.
Recently, the Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton) went to Madang to unveil the new memorial to the coast watchers, which I think is a very fitting tribute to some of the greatest heroes who served with our armed forces during the recent conflict. I remind the Senate that the coast watchers, although not exclusively, were predominantly Australian and were under the control largely of the Royal Australian Navy. Admiral Halsey, who died last week, said that the coast watchers saved Guadalcanal and that Guadalcanal saved the Pacific. I simply take that particular item from the series of films that this man proposes to make because of what T regard as being its importance to the growth of Australian goodwill in the United
States if those 39 films were screened there. It is no good now crying over spilt milk, but the facts and circumstances which I learnt as I made inquiries for the purpose of assisting this company made me direct a few thoughts to the Senate this afternoon along those lines.
Twelve years ago a member of Parliament in England named Eadie conceived a plan for assisting the British film industry which became known as the Eadie Brochure or the Eadie Plan. It provides for a direct bonus of 33^ per cent, from the British Government for the producer of a British film. The bonus is calculated on the gross profit made by the producer. For example, if the producer’s gross profit is £30,000, then, provided that the film is made in Great Britain by British technicians and fulfils certain other qualifications with which I will not weary the Senate, he qualifies for a straight-out bonus of £10,000. In England, the Board of Trade issues a quota figure, which varies from year to year. Having regard to the capabilities of the British film industry, the board decides what percentage of British films must be screened in British theatres during the current year.
The great Colossus bestriding the British film world, of course, is the film industry of our friends the Americans. In America the big banking institutions are familiar with the problems of financing the making of a film, and there are a number of established banking houses which contribute to a producer a sum of, I think, 75 per cent, of his estimated budget, which normally is returned to the bank over a period of two years.
One would have thought that the Australian film industry would have received a great shot in the arm with the advent of television, but the truth is that the facts have been otherwise. You cannot really blame the local television stations for screening well-made and interesting American films, which they are able to hire or buy for a price less than the value of the film. Those films have earned their profits. They have repaid their production costs in other countries - largely in the United States - before they ever see Australia. A few weeks ago T had occasion to direct a question to the Postmaster-General on the quantity of Australian film material being used by our television stations. I was under the impression - and I still am - that Australian film material was confined almost exclusively to advertisements for detergents, soap, slimming bread and what-have-you, but the Minister told me that a great percentage of the film material shown on Australian television screens came from local sources. For my part, I am completely unable to accept that assurance. Leaving out films of live shows and recordings of plays, I find myself unable to think of any current Australian films which are being used on television, with the exception of a few documentaries used on the national channels.
Referring to the technical aspect for the moment, I have been informed that Australian technicians are banned from working in the film industry in the United States and Great Britain. I do not know how accurate that statement is, but it strikes me as being remarkable. If it is true, I hope that negotiations at the proper level will be instituted to see that that anomaly is removed. The Americans have a saying that trade follows films. If the experience of that country since the war, and for ten to fifteen years previously, is any guide, that saying is most certainly true. A successful film can earn currency in its country of origin, and if it is of the proper type, then with the use of postsynchronization of sound and other technical devices, it can earn currency even in foreign countries where the people do not speak English.
My view is that good Australian films shown in Asia could do much more good by showing the Australian way of life, Australian development, Australian culture - if we are not too proud to use that word - Australian democracy in action and the numerous advantages of this country than the £40,000,000 or £50,000,000 which we have already spent on the Colombo Plan. I am not criticizing the Colombo Plan. I think it is very desirable, necessary and good. All I am suggesting is that the goodwill which we create through the Colombo Plan could be augmented by the intelligent and planned use of Australian film propaganda in Asia. In 1957 an Australian company produced a film called “ Walk Into Paradise “, which was screened at the Cannes Film Festival by the Australian Government. Films which are screened at that festival cannot be shown by private individuals, but have to be sponsored by the government of the country of origin, so the Australian Government sponsored the showing of this film at Cannes. It is an adventure film, shot largely in New Guinea and containing adventure and scenic shots. It is interesting to note that one of its mob scenes has 40,000 natives in it. For the benefit of those interested in statistics, let me say that that is more than the number of people used in any of the mob scenes in the film “ The Ten Commandments”. The Australian film excited extremely favorable comment at Cannes. I am informed that Australian diplomatic representatives in France expressed the view that the film did more good for AustralianFrench relations than anything else associated with their mission in that country.
If the Senate will bear with me for a few moments, I will ask honorable senators, so that we may contrast the present position with the past, to think back to the year 1901, when this Parliament was born, and when the first federal parliamentarians were assembling in Melbourne to begin legislating. About six miles away in an old rambling house in the Melbourne suburb of Canterbury, another swaddling was coming into being. A squad of Roman soldiers was herding a crowd of frightened Christians towards a couple of trained circus lions in an arena. The old-fashioned square cameras began to crank, and Australia’s first feature film had begun to be made. It was being made by the Salvation Army. In 1901 a pioneer by the name of J. H. Perry produced that film, which was called “The Early Christian Martyrs “. He produced it, as I have said, on behalf of the Salvation Army. One man handled the whole technical side. I have been informed that some of the actual frames of the film were tinted by hand - a prodigious feat when we look back over a period of 58 years and realize that nothing similar to that was attempted until the Japanese attempted hand printing in their epic film “The Gates of Hell”.
Before the year had ended, Perry had made another feature film for the Salvation Army, called “ Soldiers of the Cross “. Although it is a long time ago, and the people responsible for those films have doubtless since passed to their eternal reward, I do not think it would be out of place at this stage to honour the memory of these early Australians, and the Salvation Army authorities in particular, for. their resource and initiative. Between 1901 and the end of 1958 Australia produced 296 feature films. Many of these films were made entirely by Australian technicians. Australian actors and Australian actresses. Large numbers, the titles of which will doubtless spring to the minds of honorable senators, have been made by foreign companies operating in this country. 1 shall not pretend that all the films that we have made have been good, or would have promoted Australian goodwill if screened abroad. I regret to point out that more than 3 per cent, of all our films, sound or silent, have revolved around the Kelly gang. Of our first 200 films, no fewer than 20 were concerned with bushrangers, and an unfortunately large percentage of the remainder were devoted to flood, fire, famine and other catastrophes. I suppose, generally speaking, that they possessed even less educational value than the exploits of Wyatt Earp or his modern counterparts, and would have had a positively negative effect so far as goodwill was concerned.
By 1914, when the first world war began, the industry was able to produce patriotic films. The first bore the somewhat pompous title, “ Australia’s Response to the Empire’s Call “. In 1915 nine patriotic films of a total of seventeen for the year, were produced. By 1916 the industry had made, “How We Beat the ‘Emden’”.. “Nurse Cavell “, “Anzacs V.C. “. “ Murphy of Anzac “ and “ Australia Prepared “. The industry was helping to keep up civilian morale, and continued to do so during the remaining years of the first world war.
I ask honorable senators to contrast that with the position which obtained during the more recent conflict. If we exclude a few small documentary films we find that, since the end of the second world war. not one Australian feature film depicting th.*part played by our forces during that great conflict has been produced. The closest approach that I know of has been the saga of Tobruk as told in a film which was substantially foreign in origin and was released in Australia by American interests.
Sound came to Australian nlms during the early ‘thirties, at about the time of the depression. What causes me most apprehension is that since 1930 we have made only 96 films, or less than one-fifth of the Japanese feature film output for 1956. In that year the Japanese industry, though virtually destroyed by the war, had revived. Admittedly it was helped by the liberal occupation of General MacArthur, but in that year it was producing 500 films. Although the output has since dropped slightly to 450, Japan still produces more films than any other country in the world. lt may interest honorable senators opposite to point out that in 1926 Australia made a film called, “Those Terrible Twins” for First National Pictures. It was produced by a certain E. J. Ward. I do not know whether the title referred to the gentleman who is now a member of another place, and his friend Mr. Lang, but f should certainly not be the one to attempt to set any limits to his versatility.
Many of the films produced during the period that I have mentioned would have done this country harm if they had been screened abroad. However, in these enlightened days of 1959 the answer to that is surely that we have learned our lesson the hard way. Some of the documentaries that have been produced, from limited resources, by the News and Information Bureau have won world-wide acclaim, both for technical excellence and general interest. I wish to make no criticism whatever of the bureau, which has displayed magnificent technical skill. I would merely comment that finance is so limited that it is hampered in its work for Australia.
I should like to make brief reference to what has happened in other countries. Canada has, of course, a long border with the United States of America. When television came to Canada the authorities were faced with the fact that the views and programmes emanating from across the border were already well known to the people, and Mr. Davidson Dunton, who was the chairman of the Canadian Broadcasting Commission, and of the board of governors, said -
There were comparatively inexpensive series of programmes from the U.S. and these at prices much less than they could be produced for here
I do not think that the majority of Canadians would favour such a development. That would mean becoming a country of recipients and not developing anything worth while of our own. I believe that if this situation were to develop in 30 or 40 years we would become pretty well mentally a part of the U.S.A.
We have taken measures to see that we have a national programme development - and just as our industry is producing its own receiving sets, we must also produce things for ourselves in our television programmes.
The theme underlying that statement might well be taken to heart by Australians.
I propose now to refer briefly to the British set-up, but we should remember that since the war the preservation of the British film industry has been undertaken very largely as a task of government, in partnership with private enterprise. The National Film Finance Corporation has been set up to assist producers, and a cinematograph fund, administered by the Privy Council, makes grants to producers. In other words, Britain considers the film industry to be so important that it cannot be allowed to go under, and takes action to see that it does not. The Eadie plan has been at least partly responsible for keeping many British producers afloat. Loans to producers come from Treasury funds. They bear interest and have to be repaid within five years. The British Treasury policy is to help private enterprise financially while allowing it all possible freedom - a charter which this Government would have no difficulty in accepting.
In 1946 the French Government took action to protect its industry also. The government set up protective legislation which ensured that though the government played an active role its role would be strictly economic, and not political, in character. All films are made by private enterprise, but nothing is done to oppose those who wish to express an antigovernment policy. Italy is one of the most remarkable instances of great recovery due partly to the film industry. I think that in the eyes of the world Italy’s recovery can be attributed in the main to an intensely competent film industry. I suppose it is true to say that so well has Italy publicized its own institutions and its own ways of life since the war that there are many of us who, whilst we could not remember the name of the present Italian Prime Minister, do know the names of most of the Italian actors and actresses.
Under a law passed in April, 1948, a special bureau was set up in Italy to protect and organize the film industry there. i do not propose to go into details on this matter because it would take too long for me to do so. Suffice it to say that in Italy the State encourages the making of Italian films by obliging exhibitors to show a certain quota of them. They must include in their programmes each year at least the equivalent of six months of Italian-produced films. The exhibitors receive a special bonus consisting of a percentage of the receipts from theatre showings when screening Italianmade films. The State insists upon the production of films of good quality and artistic merit, and exhibition is withheld from those that fall short of the technical and artistic standards required. In other words, whilst the Government of Italy is prepared to share the hazard of financing, it is also prepared, because of the importance of this industry to the nation, to allow production and development to proceed under the guidance of private enterprise, unfettered by unnecessary government control. Even as late as 1956, the Italian Government was still taking action to protect and develop the country’s film industry.
The small countries of Norway, Denmark and Sweden have displayed an admirable understanding of the fact that the film is not merely a commodity to be bought and sold but something which is part of .the nation’s cultural life. In all three countries, government measures have been taken to protect the local product from being swamped by the United States Colossus. The method used in Denmark in particular is of some interest. Danish film producers are assisted by a series of ingenious enactments by which they are relieved of part of the taxes levied on the cinema. In return, they must undertake to make not only Danish films but also films of a high cultural level. It is this mixture of private enterprise and public control that has enabled the Danish film industry, despite the small population of Denmark, to withstand American invasion successfully. Of course, it is only fair to say that there are not many American films produced in which the Danish language is spoken.
Of the profits from the screening of imported films, a percentage is blocked, kept in Denmark and ploughed back into the Danish film industry. In other words, any success enjoyed by a foreign film in Denmark is snared by the Danish film industry.
I may have omitted some countries, but I believe that the legislation of most European countries relating to films has been directed mainly to preserving the local product from the Hollywood product by ensuring that local culture is not swamped, and that local views are not entirely traded for American ones, however good the American ones may be; and I emphasize here that I do not want anything 1 have said to be taken as criticism of America.
I come now to the type of assistance which I suggest could be given to the Australian film industry. It is my belief that the Australian film industry could quite easily be assisted to the point where it could be self-supporting, able to compete with overseas industries and become a sound national asset. I suggest that if. as a result of an inquiry, the Government thought it desirable to do so, it could set up a national film bank to finance the making of films whether they be films for television or for exhibition in theatres both in Australia and abroad. To my way of thinking, one first class use to which the new Development Bank could be put would be to give this national film bank an account with it. The administrative control of the industry could be safely left to an expanded national film board. The method of finance. I suggest, could be for approved producers, who had approved records, to apply to this bank, after their scripts have been vetted by the department and classified as being to the advantage of Australia. I suggest that the bank should be empowered to advance to such producers something in the vicinity of 75 per cent, of their estimated production costs. I know that it is quite easy to say that anything can be done if one has the money, but I point out that we charge customs duty on the importation of foreign and British films for exhibition in Australia. I do not think any Australian would take exception to the imposition of a duty of Id. or 2d. a foot on the foreign product in order to help to build up the Australian industry.
There are many markets available to Australia if we can produce the goods. Here I should mention that I omitted to say that Denmark makes twelve feature films a year. In Australia, we produced two last year and one of those was made by a foreign company. The year before last, we produced half a film, and in the year before that we produced one. In the South Pacific Islands, there is a good market open to us.
There are over 100 cinemas on the islands dotted round our shores eager to show our products provided we are able to offer them. Malaya has 222 theatres. This country makes 50 features a year - 47 more than the Australian average - and it is interesting to note that over half of the technical equipment used in Malaya comes from Australia.
The Philippine Islands pays America about four million dollars a year for films. Admittedly, this would be a tough market to crack because of American competition. In India, there are 4,000 and 250 film producers. In 1957, India earned one rupee for every two feet of film exported, and that country exported 15,500,000 feet of film in that year. About 300 features were produced that year.
Perhaps I should make one other reference to our trade partner, Japan, and point out that this country is the real example of success in post-war filming. In 1957, there were 721 new theatres built in Japan. I repeat, that in 1957, in a country that has television, 721 new theatres were built! I did hear it said by one humorist that in Japan one buys a petrol station and builds a picture theatre - the reverse of the trend out here. Last year, Japan’s output was 443 features, and the films that come from that country are of superb technical quality. They are doing Japan untold good in building up its public relations with the rest of the free world. Until 1953 Australia had a quota on the Japanese market of one film a year, that is, we had a right to screen one film a year in Japan. In 1954, as a result of a trade agreement with Great Britain. Australia’s quota of one and Canada’s quota of one were added to the British quota of thirteen, and they were all lumped together as a British quota. That virtually meant the extinction of Australia’s one picture a year, because it just was not possible to compete with British film interests. If I might make a humble suggestion to the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen). we should attempt, under our trade treaty with Japan or such other appropriate machinery as is’1 available, to have Australia’s quota of one film a year in Japan re-opened. It does not sound very much when we say it in that way, but it would be of great value to the Australian film industry.
Those are the reasons why I appeal to the Government to examine some of the suggestions I have made, or the suggestions that any other person is prepared to put forward for the purpose of saving the Australian film industry from extinction. I think we are on common ground when we say that in the middle of this century the sound film, whether appearing on the wide screen or on the little 21 -inch television screen, is the most powerful medium of propaganda, instruction and entertainment that we have produced. In a country that is showing such amazing development in so many secondary industries, I think it is lamentable that the film industry, in which we did so much 57 years ago, is almost at the point of extinction. Although I do not use this as an argument, perhaps before I sit down I should mention that the Soviet Union is so convinced of the value of the film for propaganda purposes that it has in operation at the moment three production units each having an output equivalent to that of the whole of Hollywood. This is not a party-political matter but one to which, I think, all of us on both sides of the chamber could give a great deal of thought. I hope that in the fullness of time the Government will take appropriate action to see that our film industry is rescued from the danger of an early demise.
– I am opposed to this Budget and I support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) first, because the Budget is negative in its approach to the problem of inflation, which is the major, outstanding problem facing the country to-day, with continually rising prices further extending the inflationary spiral. I am opposed to the Budget, secondly, because its taxation proposals will retard production at a time when increased production is essential and because the burden, which rightly belongs to the wealthier section of the community remains with those people on the lower rungs of the ladder, the workers in industry, people on fixed incomes and others, who are least able to carry the burden.
Further, because the basic wage is .pegged and quarterly cost .of living adjustments suspended, the workers in .industry are doubly penalized. The Australian £1 has seriously deteriorated in value. Its value is -at !least 6s. or 7s. lower ;than !it !was -When the Government ‘took office ‘in ‘1949. To-day, £’1;S57 .would “be required to .purchase what £1,000 could have purchased -in 1949, Which means ‘that -savings, whether in ‘bank accounts, insurance, or -any -other ‘form, have seriously ‘deterimated in value, ‘to ‘the point that people on fixed incomes can .purchase to-day only half as <much as they -could have purchased -in T949. Using as a measuring rod ‘the C series -retail price index, compiled -by -the Commonwealth Bureau -of Census -and ‘Statistics, we ‘find that in June, 1943, the ^figure ‘Stood at -1,143, and the Australian £1 was ‘worth approximately l-6s. Id. ‘Six -years later, in the September quarter of 1949, just ‘prior to ‘the defeat of the -Chifley -Labour Government, the ‘figure ‘stood -at 1,396 and the Australian £1 was worth 13s. 2d. In the last six years of Labour’s administration, ‘which included some ‘war years and a period o’f rehabilitation in the transition from ‘a ‘wartime to a peace-time economy, there had been a depreciation of only 2s. lid. in the value of the Australian £1. We move on to September, 1957, when the figure stood at 2,574. By the -following June it had reached 2.-607 and the Australian £1 was worth approximately 7s. That was ‘after -nine years of administration by “the present Government, with the most -bountiful -seasons .that this country has ever experienced. Yet this lis the government that in 1949 promised that if it were elected .it would arrest inflation, keep prices down .and put value back into the £1.
We remember how the ‘Chifley Labour Government dealt with this problem of inflation by applying -a graduated scale of taxation and compelling the wealthier section of the community to pull its full Weight in accordance with its ability to pay. The Chifley Labour Government also stabilized price levels ;by paying subsidies on the production of essential commodities. To the extent that the powers of the ‘Commonwealth permitted, it stabilized the price of those commodities which were more or less part and parcel of <mr everyday existence. Immediately this Government took office it proceeded to undo everything .that the Chifley Labour Government had achieved. Subsidies were withdrawn restrictions on prices’ and .profits were removed, and ‘indirect taxation became :the order of ‘the day for .raising revenue.
Senator .Hannan mentioned ‘sales tax. Well, the Chifley Labour Government realized that sales tax was .grossly unfair in its incidence, ,an.d because o’f this its policy included substantial reductions .year by year, leading ultimately to its abolition. J remind Senator Hannan (that the members of the present Government who were then in opposition in ‘this Senate decried sales tax :as a -vicious form of taxation. They stated further (that immediately a Liberal government came to -power .it -would .abolish this form .of (taxation. T.he pages ‘of “ Hansard “ are literally studded .with such declarations of policy made by ;the members of the present Government when -they were in opposition in .this Senate, .but during the last nine years they have become supporters -of higher sales tax.
– None :of ais ‘.were .’here then.
– I (remind the honorable senator that Senator Dame Annabelle ‘Rankin, ‘Senator Sir Neil O’sullivan, and Senator Sir Walter Cooper were members of the ‘Senate ;at the time, and the pages df “ Hansard ‘” ;are studded with what they said about sales tax.
In T949 .the Chifley Labour Government received revenue of approximately £42,000,000 from sales tax. The present Budget envisages sales tax revenue of £150,000,000. And this is the Government .that was .going to abolish this form of taxation’! Sales tax was first introduced into this “Parliament as an emergency measure, ‘but under the maladministration of this Government it ‘has become .a permanent source of revenue. ‘Sales tax fails to meet the requirements of equitable taxation based on the principle of ability to pay because it involves an increased proportion of a worker’s “wages spent and a decrease in the proportion saved. It is much easier for a wealthy person to meet the imposition of sales tax than a worker in industry because a worker in industry has to pay out a much greater proportion of his income in living costs than does a wealthy person. No account is taken of the purchaser’s economic position. A wealthy person and a worker in industry pay the same amount of sales tax on a packet of razor blades or a packet of cigarettes or any one of the numerous items which come within the ambit of sales taxation.
As I said a moment ago, no account is taken of the purchaser’s ability to pay. Notwithstanding this, the present Government attempts to bolster an indefensible position, claiming that sales tax is absolutely essential from the viewpoint of offsetting inflation. Its immediate and ultimate end is to give a new emphasis to the very evil it is supposed to combat. If this Government is really sincere in its desire to grapple with the problem of inflation, it should get down to fundamentals and forget proposals which are of little use other than to cause widespread resentment and, in some cases, unemployment in certain industries. Up to date, no definite lead has been given by the Government to stabilize price levels, yet it must be only too obvious to all concerned that if we are to win the battle against inflation the first and foremost requirement is a permanent and stable price level. At the moment, prices are going up in the elevator while wages are struggling up the stairs. I may say, Sir, that most of the problems that have arisen in this country since 1949 have arisen because this Government has lacked a definite and a positive policy to deal with inflation, because of the numerous mistakes made by the Government in attempting to deal with this problem in a piecemeal manner, and because of the complete inability of the whole Cabinet to understand the fundamental causes of inflation and to take the necessary steps to arrest it. Most of the problems facing this country to-day have already been faced by other countries. Great Britain, the United .States of America, Canada and many other countries ‘have had to face up to -this problem, but because they were able to implement rigid controls they were able to keep prices down and to stabilize their economies, while in this country prices have continued to soar,.
In 1946, and again in 1948, the Chifley Labour Government, realizing the danger of inflation to our economy, sought to procure amendments to the Constitution to permit the Government to deal with this problem, but all the forces opposed to Labour, including all members of the Liberal Party and the Australian Country Party, did everything possible to make sure that those amendments would not be carried. We remember what they said on that occasion. I have a vivid recollection of the Premier of South Australia, Sir Thomas Playford, taking the people of that State for a walk down the garden path when he told them that the States could do the job better than the Commonwealth because they were much closer to the people. Apparently the policy of the Government on that occasion was to permit prices to find their own levels. Well, if Great Britain had followed a similar policy, she would not be the great and powerful nation that she is to-day; she could easily have been relegated to a position of a second or a third-rate power. If the United States of America, Canada, and other countries had followed similar principles, they would not have been able to implement the rigid controls which they did implement, and to keep prices down and stabilize their economy. Time and again we have been told by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) what this Government was going to do in order to stabilize our economy.
One of the first acts ,of the Menzies Government on taking office was to abolish capital issues control, which had been utilized by the Curtin and Chifley Labour Governments for the purpose of ensuring that whatever surplus capital was available would be directed into certain channels for the manufacture of essential commodities. Immediately this Government abolished capital issues control, most of this capital that had been previously available for the purpose I have mentioned found its way into non-essential industries, to the general detriment of the community. We know that, later, the Government reinstituted capital issues control, but the trouble had already been caused .and inflation was by then galloping throughout the Commonwealth. As I said before, this is the Government that in 1949 promised the people that it would arrest inflation, that it would keep prices down and put value back into the £1.
Having said that, I want to touch briefly on the housing position, which is one of the major problems confronting this country to-day and one demanding the immediate attention of the Government if the position is to be improved. I know that, from time to time, we receive periodic handouts from the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner), who is also the Leader of the Government in the Senate, assuring us that the Government is energetically grappling with this problem. In 1952 we built 80,000 houses throughout the Commonwealth. In the year before last we also built 80,000, and according to Senator Spooner’s statement of a fortnight ago, last year we built 84,000. Between those periods we have gone backwards and forwards. We have, as it were, taken two steps forward and then four backwards. From my personal observations, I cannot see that any great progress has been achieved. Yet, it must be only too obvious to all concerned that we require more homes because of our rapidly increasing population. What is required is intensive planning and immediate action if we are to make the progress that we all desire to witness in solving this problem.
To date, the Government has given no definite lead in the solution of the problem. It seems prepared to sit idly by and just go on hoping that in some mysterious and miraculous manner the problem will resolve itself. We remember that the Prime Minister said a short time ago that if there was a lag in housing throughout the Commonwealth it was due to a shortage of labour and materials, but the Master Builders Association of New South Wales rebutted that statement and produced factual evidence to prove beyond doubt that there was an abundance of labour and materials available and that the problem was one of finance. Senator Spooner said only recently that the rate of home building within the Commonwealth depended largely on the amount of finance that private lending institutions were prepared to invest in that field. He also said that the Government hoped that the various organizations would make more individual loans available to people seeking financial accommodation and thus step up the erection of new homes throughout the Commonwealth.
If that is the real position, to say the least it is a very sorry one. As a matter of fact, it is a hopeless position, because private lending institutions have already indicated in no uncertain manner that they prefer to lend their money in other directions where the rate of interest is higher than it is for home building. For that reason, I submit to the Government that it should utilize the resources of the Commonwealth Bank in an attempt to overcome the housing problem. I know that there are constitutional difficulties associated with this matter, but I also know that the Commonwealth has power in regard to war service homes and housing within the Territories. I do not think there would be much difficulty in the way of coming to an agreement with the States concerning the problem of housing, because it is their problem as well as ours.
I feel, Mr. President, that if we are going to wait for private lending institutions to overcome our housing difficulties the position will become much worse before it is better. After all, this Government was responsible for increasing interest rates. I remember the time when, for some reason known only to itself, overnight the Government decided to increase interest rates. As a result, increased interest rates affected our economy much more than the reinstitution of capital issues control, because increased interest rates seriously depreciated the capital value of bonds; so much so, that the people of Australia became bond-shy and refused to invest in Commonwealth bonds. Repercussions followed immediately, as one would expect. State governments, depending on the Australian Loan Council to finance essential public works, immediately found themselves in difficulties. Each and every State could tell its story of frustration, of hardship and of difficulty in constructing urgently needed public works and in extending others. Thousands of men, employed on such projects throughout the Commonwealth, were thrown out of work, not because there was no work for them to do, not because they could not be either fully or profitably employed, but because of the stupid action of this Government in increasing interest rates. -f
The same pattern is evident in regard to our national debt. We find that the interest on our national debt had increased from £81,000,000 in 1949 to £148,000,000 at the end of June this year. In 1949 our national debt stood at £2,826,000,000. At the end of June this year, it had reached £4,041,000,000, or an increase of £1,215,000,000 during the period that this Government has held office. Every minute of the day our national debt rises by £281. lt increases at the rate of about £16,894 an hour, approximately £405,000 a day, £2,846,000 a week. £12,333,000 a month, and £148,000,000 a year. This, Mr. President, whether we like it or not, is the magnificent legacy that we, the people of the Commonwealth, are compelled to hand down to our children and to children who have not yet been born, merely because of the maladministration of this Government regarding this problem of inflation. Let us leave the position there.
In conclusion, I want to reiterate that I am opposed to this Government because of its negative- approach to the problem of inflation, and I am opposed to the Budget because the proposals of the Government regarding taxation will retard production at a time when increased production is essential. I am also opposed to the Budget because the burden which rightly belongs to the wealthier section of the community still remains with the people on the lower rung of the ladder. I support the amendment submitted by Senator McKenna on behalf of the Opposition.
– Mr. President, I adopt the reverse attitude. I rise to support the motion for the printing of the Estimates and Budget papers and to oppose the amendment that has been moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna). Whilst I disagree with much of what was said by Senator Nicholls, I derived some pleasure from the vigour with which he opposed the Budget. If we were to adopt the pattern of thinking indulged in by the honorable senator, we would return to a controlled economy - an economy in a strait-jacket - about which the honorable senator dreams. We would return to the conditions that obtained during the days of the Chifley Government, when we lived by a series of controls - the fixation of prices. capital issues control and all those other things which the people of Australia have indicated over and over again that they are not prepared to tolerate. I could not help thinking, when the honorable senator was making his case in relation to capital issues control, just what it would have meant to this country if all our great private enterprises had been subjected to that form of control. The expansion of heavy and other secondary industries, which have provided a big volume of employment to the Australian community, would have been frustrated, as it was during the regime of the Chifley Government.
Senator Nicholls made substantial reference to housing, and I think that for the sake of the record it is proper that I should state the true position without delay. To do so, I select a statement that was issued by the Leader of the Government in the Senate and which was founded on information given to him by the Commonwealth Statistician. That statement reveals, in part, that the number of dwellings completed during the June quarter of this year was 21,730. That brought the total number of houses and flats completed in 1958-59 to 84,059, compared with 74,587 in 1957-58 - a rise of 12.7 per cent. The number of houses completed in 1958-59 was the best that we have ever achieved in Australia, the previous best being in 1954-55 when 82,100 homes were completed. The number of dwellings completed in New South Wales during the June quarter was 7,853, making a total for 1958-59 of 29,958, compared with 26,445 in 1957-58 - a rise of 13.3 per cent. The number of homes completed in Victoria during the June quarter was 6,424, bringing the total for 1958-59 to 25,768, compared with 22,471 in 1957-58 - an increase of 14.7 per cent. So, contrary to what Senator Nicholls has said, it will be seen that the home building situation in Australia has never been better. It is a direct result of the confidence of the private sector of the community in the Australian Government, of its ability to find the finance about which Senator Nicholls seemed to be somewhat concerned, and of the fact that we have the work force to carry out the task.
The occasion of the presenting of a Budget is a time when governments and people in government look at the economic state of the nation. Whenever a Budget is presented to the Parliament, honorable senators rise and examine the financial situation of the nation as they see it. A short description of this nation is that it is one of the most prosperous countries in the world. There are many reasons for saying that. First, we have a degree of employment which is comparable with that of any other country. Moreover, we have a safe balance in our overseas reserves, a sound’ and expanding rural’ export future, an expanding import ceiling, internal and external confidence in Australia as a lending risk, a contented community free from industrial strife, consumer good’s and services available in large measure, the necessary money in the pockets of the working community to buy those goods, and; a vigorous migrant intake which »s being absorbed into the community. They are the ingredients’ which make the state of our prosperity equal to that of any other country. lt is not difficult to prove the presence of those ingredients in the economy. The employment situation,, which is the first that I mentioned,, is quite good when compared with that of other countries. The figures that have been released, by the Commonwealth statistician from month to. month indicate that unemployment is declining and that the opportunities for employment are increasing. When we are considering our level of unemployment, which is equal to 1.6 per cent, of the work force, we must remember that Australia is essentially a primary producing country, and. that we have seasonal employment as u consequence of which there is a movement of people in and out of employment. There comes to mind the sugar industry in Queensland. Employment is provided during the harvesting season, and then employees migrate to other avenues of employment. Consequently, there is at times a degree of unemployment which because of the seasonal nature of the work, is not real.
I remind the Senate that our migrant intake, which is equal, to approximately 1 per cent, of the work force, and natural increase mean that approximately 80,000 people are added to our work force each year. Employment has to be found for those people. I do not want to be accused of saying that every member, of the work force is in employment; the plain fact isthat such is not. so. Nar do I want to bsaccused of suggesting that it is desirable that we should have people out of. employment. We. all would like to see every person employed for all the time for which he wants to be employed. But, becauseof the facts of life, that is not humanly, possible. Even if we went to Utopia,, wewould find a transfer of employment,, seasonal employment,, sickness, the standing, down of employees, and the. like. I suggest that,, with the volume of unemployment equal to only 1..6 per cent, of the work force, we in Australia are in a healthier situation than are most other countries.
The second point. I made concerned our overseas’ reserves.. Our overseas, reservesfell by only £10,000;©0 during the last financial! year, despite the evidences of drought conditions in certain: parts of Australia, and of reduced prices for some of our primary industries, notably wool. Australia’s, overseas, balance stands at the safe figure, of £515,000*000.. When that figure is looked at in relation to our import ceiling of £850,000,000, a very healthy state of affairs is disclosed.
Our rural exports remain steady. Reference has been made in the press during the last day or two. to a statement made by the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) that the position regarding our beef exports is very good. Wool prices are firming. We read in the press this morning that at the new season’s, wool sales an increase of from 10 per cent, to 15 per cent, has taken place so far, and it may well be. that those increased prices will stabilize or even go a little higher.. It is of interest to record that the President of the National. Council of Woolselling Brokers of Australia said that it was expected that the largestwool clip on record would be handled this year. When we think of the wool clip as being probably the largest on record and of an increase in wool prices of from 10 to 15 per cent., we can say with some confidence that our rural export position is. reasonably healthy. Our import ceiling has recently been raised from £800,000,000 to £850,000,000. That, in itself, helps to provide consumer goods and to give a fillip to our manufacturing industries, which, in turn, will give the economy an extra stimulus, which is desirable and, indeed, necessary.
Dealing now with our internal and overseas loans, I understand that last year loan raisings in Australia and overseas totalled £209,000,000. We did very well with our overseas borrowing, the net amount raised being something like £31,000,000. On the Australian market there were exceptionally large subscriptions to Commonwealth loans, despite the prophesying of Jeremiahs who feared that Australia was heading for disaster because of the overseas loan position.
One of the other points 1 raised had to do with industrial peace. It is true to say that we in Australia are enjoying a measure of industrial peace almost unprecedented in our history. During last year we experienced virtually no industrial trouble at all. The working community have large sums of money in their pockets for spending purposes, and the amount of money in savings banks ls very high. The sale of consumer goods such as television sets, washing machines, refrigerators, motor cars and furniture is at an all-time high. To that extent we can say that we are indeed a very fortunate country.
In those conditions we are undertaking a very vigorous immigration programme. With the expansion of the economy, the Government proposes to bring in 125,000 migrants this year, which is 10,000 more than the intake last year. The new Australian settlers are being absorbed not only into the economy, but also into the social and cultural life of Australia. They are making a real contribution to the country of their adoption. Those are background conditions which go to make Australia a very fortunate country and probably one of the most stable countries in the free world.
Having said that I want to exercise mv critical faculty a little on the construction of the Budget, and, I hope, after the suspension of the sitting, to make some reference to the case put up by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna). Last year when we considered the Budget we -were confronted with a deficit of £110,000,000. We accepted that deficit. If we had listened to the arguments put to <us by the Opposition we could have accepted a much larger deficit than £110,000,000. The basis of our acceptance of deficit budgeting was the need to stimulate the economy which at that point of time was tending to lag. Wool prices were declining, our rural output was tending to fall, we were experiencing a dry spell in parts of the continent and employment numbers were falling. At that stage, we were also faced with uncertain loan conversion prospects, with an anticipated redemption of war debts also facing us. In those conditions the Government set about a deliberate excursion into deficit budgeting. Treasury-bills to the order of £110,000,000 were proposed. I did not disagree with that method of budgeting. I do not think anybody disagreed with it, but all accepted it as a correct approach to the Budget.
This year we have completely opposite circumstances. I have already enunciated all the things that have been completely reversed. We find ourselves at the other end of the line. No longer have we the problem of declining wool prices, declining rural output or falling employment. Our loan position looks particularly good in the light of our experience. Yet again, this year we are adopting the procedure of deficit budgeting. I am, in the words of a character in ‘’ My Fair Lady “, only an ordinary man. and quite frankly I do not understand the procedure. I do not understand the procedure to the extent that I distrust it, but if it was right last year it seems to me it must be wrong now. I think we should be making a more serious effort to balance the Budget in view of the conditions which I have already discussed.
I know that it has been suggested that if we were to have a balanced Budget, we would have it at the risk of not being able to give the social service benefits that we propose to give, and not being able to make the tax concession that we propose to make. I accept that, in part, as being true, but 1 do not accept it in toto. I think that in addition to all the things that have been done we should look at the expenditure side of our Budget to see whether it is possible to make some saving there. If we were to accept that argument in toto, it would mean that we would never make any real concessions by way of taxation and the like. Whilst it is true that every nation that is expanding, as is ours, will naturally have a larger budget every year, I do not think that we can stand by and accept the situation that our natural expansion will completely absorb all the budgetary amounts that are involved.
Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m.
– I turn now to an examination of the case put by the Leader of the Opposition, Senator McKenna. As I see it, he made three points which deserve scrutiny. He criticized the fiscal policy, especially the practice of financing capital works from revenue. He also criticized the placing of money in trust accounts and its subsequent distribution by way of special interest-bearing loans to the States. He said that though the Commonwealth’s public debt remained static the interest bill of the States was rising rapidly as a consequence of interest commitments on loan moneys received from the Commonwealth. To put his case simply, he wants capital works paid for from loans that will be amortized, not in our generation but over a period of 50 years. He wants this Government to discontinue the practice of financing State capital works from revenue, and charging the States interest therefor.
Sir, I do not think that sufficient attention is paid to the fact that in Australia loan funds have been, and will continue to be, in short supply. We are a young, expanding country and the post-war demand for power, water, electricity, schools, roads and so on has created a consequent demand for capital so great that it cannot possibly be met in the way suggested.
– But if you apply that principle to public credit, why do you not apply it to private credit also?
– I hope that the honorable senator will permit me to develop my argument in my own way. The situation is a little complicated, and I do not want to be drawn into an argument which might prevent me from making my point. One can observe, right across Australia, this continuing demand for capital. One has only to pick up a newspaper to see how strenuously private enterprise is attempting to attract capital.
– At 8 per cent, interest.
– Let us put the question of interest to one side for the moment. The plain fact is that there is not enough capital to go round, whether high or low rates of interest are offered. Our economy is expanding so rapidly that insufficient loan funds to meet all our needs are available. No one will dispute that. The demand is evidence of our rapid growth. We have all seen how groups of firms are taking over other firms in order to gain access to greater sources of capital for expansion and development. We ought never to forget that all this activity helps to maintain full employment. If we follow Senator McKenna’s argument we must either use bank credit or limit expansion. Continual recourse to bank credit can only produce inflation.
– You are not quoting Senator McKenna accurately.
– Senator McKenna made it perfectly clear that he felt that capital works and services should be financed from loan funds, not revenue funds. The honorable senator will have an adequate opportunity later to refute what I say.
– You are not quoting Senator McKenna accurately.
– I have given my understanding of what he said.
– Read out what he said!
– If Senator Kennelly does not mind, I should like to leave Senator McKenna’s remarks where they are. The shortage of loan funds is such that all capital works cannot be financed from that source. The theory of paying for something over a long period is all very well, but we must face the fact that the loan funds necessary to put such a theory into effect are simply not available. The alternatives are to finance capital works from revenue, or simply to limit expansion. Our population is increasing, and to limit expansion would be to deny employment opportunities to our work force. To extend bank credit unduly would be to give a fillip to inflationary pressures which we would all earnestly wish to avoid.
Senator McKenna also criticized this Government for charging the States interest, but the States are willing and eager to borrow money on that basis. They want to continue to expand - to provide electricity, water and sewerage, schools and hospitals. They are looking for money everywhere. They come to the Australian Loan Council and seek approval to borrow large sums. By so doing, they automatically commit themselves to the payment of interest. They are prepared to pay interest for the money, but Senator McKenna is suggesting that the Commonwealth Government should let them have it free of interest. The most interesting point of all is that if the Commonwealth Government did not give them this money to fill in the gaps between what they get from loan sources, their programmes of works would suffer greatly, unemployment would result and the economy of the various States would be detrimentally affected.
Another extraordinary point to be remembered is that the States themselves charge interest for the money they lend to their own undertakings. Senator McKenna is suggesting to us that the Commonwealth Government, in filling the gaps between the moneys the States get from the Loan Council, should provide this money to the States free of interest and that the States in their turn should give it to their ad hoc bodies, undertakings and commissions, and charge those bodies interest for it.
– Do you not do that now in connexion with the Snowy Mountains Scheme?
– I am not discussing what we are doing; I am taking Senator McKenna’s argument that the Commonwealth Government should not charge the States interest for the money it makes available to them from revenue. I am pointing out that when the States get this money from the Commonwealth they in turn lend it to their various local authorities and charge interest for it. Senator McKenna is suggesting that we should be placed in the position of making money available to the States free of interest while the States may charge interest on that free money when they lend it to their local authorities. That, of course, is an absurd suggestion.
Reference has been made to the fact that the interest bill of the States is rising while that of the Commonwealth remains static. I think it is worth noting that the Commonwealth public debt in 1939 was £317,500,000 whilst that of the States was £897,800,000. As a result of unproductive war expenditure, that Commonwealth debt had increased to £1,649,000,000 by 1945, while the State public debt at that time was only £901,000,000, or almost the same as it was in 1939. I repeat that I mention that, not merely as a matter of interest, but as a point worth noting. It is- important to remember that although the Commonwealth’s debt position may be static at the moment, the fact is that in time of war the Commonwealth is required to face up to the necessity for borrowing huge sums of money for unproductive purposes, and that is vastly different from the position of a State, because the money borrowed by the State is expended on various undertakings, many of which, by their very nature, are productive. I do not think the Opposition can sustain an argument that the States should be given money for capital works free of interest. In any case, as I understand the agreement between the Commonwealth and the States, the Commonwealth is obliged to play its part in the redemption of these loan moneys. That being so, Senator McKenna’s proposition is completely unreal, for it could only result in inflation far in excess of what we have experienced because his suggestion depends upon bank credit, or a complete curtailment of those capital works which the States wish to carry out and which it is in the best interests of Australia to undertake.
I wish to refer to only one other matter. It relates to the development of the Northern Territory. Some time during the last sessional period, I spoke about the Northern Territory and expressed concern at the fact that the agricultural development of this area was not being pushed along as vigorously as was desirable. I made the point that in the Northern Territory there was excellent opportunity for development but that research into such questions as closer settlement, conservation of water, the possibility of successfully growing crops and the availability of markets for those crops was necessary. It is heartening now to find that the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) has made a move designed to promote closer settlement in the Northern Territory. I refer to the appointment of a committee to report on the prospects of agriculture in the Territory and upon whether the way is open for a decision in relation to the promotion of closer settlement. The committee that has been appointed is a formidable one. Its chairman is Dr. Foster, Professor of Agriculture at the University of Melbourne. The other members are Mr. Kelly, M.P., a practical farmer from South Australia who I understand has knowledge and experience of the Northern Territory, and Dr. Williams, Officer in charge of Agricultural Liaison, Research Section, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, who was formerly Assistant Director, Bureau of Agricultural Economics, from 1952 to 1957.
The Minister is to be congratulated upon taking this step. I have had occasion, in my capacity as a member of the Public Works Committee, to visit the Northern Territory twice in the last six months, and I have travelled down through the centre of the area. As a result of that experience, I am certain that one cannot visit the area without forming the firm impression that there is an agricultural future for the Northern Territory and that it could be an excellent future. Too many people imagine that the Northern Territory is merely a vast, open area populated by a few full-blooded blacks. Too many have the impression that it is an area of sand and dust. As a matter of fact, it is true to say that there are hundreds of thousands of acres of what is now poor agricultural land, that the area lacks water at the moment and that there is no certainty as to what crops could be grown there under different conditions, but it is heartening to know that the Minister for Territories has set up a committee and asked that committee to examine these questions and report as quickly as possible. The committee’s terms of reference are -
To survey the present state of agriculture in the Northern Territory, including the results of experiments and field trials, and to report to the Minister for Territories on -
the prospects of promoting agricultural settlement on an economic basis in the Territory; and
the major factors to be considered in shaping an agricultural policy for the Territory, including -
the areas best suited to agricultural settlement;
the crops most likely to prove economic;
the relationship of agriculture to the expansion of the pastoral industry;
the availability of land and the distribution and tenure of land;
credit and other forms of assistance to the primary producer;
research and agricultural extension work;
water use and conservation.
The calibre of the men who are charged with this responsibility is such that with the knowledge that they will obtain from the people now in the Territory, including departmental officers who are working hard at its problems, they will be able to make a report as a result of which the prospects for the Territory will be much better.
We should also have a look at the basis of control, particularly in Darwin. It was brought out quite clearly in evidence there before a parliamentary committee of which I am a member that there are differences of approach, departmentally, on some very important matters in Darwin itself. We found that officers from various departments were expressing conflicting points of view on a number of fundamental matters relating to the development of Darwin. This was apparent in relation to town planning. After all, the town planning of Darwin is now at a fairly critical point, because it is one of the few places which, by nature of their limited development, can be town-planned. It is very difficult, tor instance, to set out, as we have done in Sydney, on the preparation of a town plan for the County of Cumberland because there we have behind us 100 years of development. Because of what happened during the war, the development of Darwin has occurred mainly in the post-war period, so it is the ideal place, really, to observe the fundamentals of town planning.
– Has a town plan for Darwin been produced?
– No. It is very disconcerting upon going there to find that responsible officers in various departments have differing points of view. In one way it is a compliment to. our system that they are able to. come forward and express dif- feringpoints of view. On.the other hand, it is rather odd because Darwin is an important place now and will be an even more important place in. the future. I think, it is desirable that from an administrative point of view we should clean up some of the apparently minor but nevetherless important differences that appear at the administrative level in Darwin. I do not want to finish on that note.I mention it onlybecauseI think that the responsibility is on a parliamentarian,havingbeen confronted with a problem, to state it I would rather, finish on the note, that I believe the Administration is doing an excellent job in the Territory. It has colossal problems. The Minister, as I have already indicated, is showing some sense of realism in trying to make the future of the Territory secure.
Finally, in supporting the Government on this Budget I want to say that Australia has had ten years of free-enterprise government under aLiberal-Australian Country Party Administration; ten years of great prosperity; ten years of great security for Australiaand providing for Australians opportunities which were never before envisaged. That has beenbecause we have followed a free-enterprise pattern and not a socialist pattern. The future Australia will depend upon the rugged individualism and resourcefulness of Australians in a free-enterprise economy, not a socialist economy. While Senator Nicholls yearns for the period of capital issues control, prices control, a water-tight economy wherein everybody was literally pushed’ around, with industrial trouble, shortages and black markets as inevitable consequences, I say to him with great respect that so long as a LiberalAustralian Country Party government remains we will never go back to those conditions and. that the day any government tries to take the people of Australia back to them it will certainly meet its political doom.
. -I wish to enter this debate on the motion that the. Budget papers be printed and to support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna), which sets out some of the matters that the. Opposition finds objection able but. does not by any means cover the whole field of criticism that. has. been and can be levelled: at this Budget.. The amendment reads -
At. end of. motion add the following words:”but that the Senate is of opinion that their provisions and omissions inflict grave injustice on recipients of social service benefits (such as child endowment, age, invalid and widows’ pensions, repatriation benefits, maternity benefits, funeral benefits, amelioration, of means test), on taxpayers,, on the family unit and on other sections of the Australian people and that they make no effective contribution to correcting seriously adverse trends in the Australian economy including unemployment and rising living costs”.
It is a pretty expansive amendment:. The Government should have provided in its Budget some remedy for the injustices referred to butit certainly has not done so. This is the first Budget of the new Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), and we of the Opposition, and the Australian people generally, expected’ something: great of it. I really do believe that Mr. Holt is a man of humanitarian outlook who left to his own devices, would’ have made provision for remedying some of the glaring injusticesthat have resulted’ from this Governments inflationary course. This is not the first Budget in which the Government has failed to meet these problems.It has constantly failed, but we did expect some real improvement at this stage. I agree with Senator Anderson’s statement that Australia has enjoyed ten years of unprecedented prosperity: The seasons have been good, and the prices we have received for our wool and for our exports generally have been good’. Our per capita, rate of production has been good, and. there has been extraordinary development.. Although the Government has taken credit to itself for. the number of immigrants that have been brought tothis country, it regards them as. a. liability. The Government has not been able to reach its target in respect of suitable migrants. However, it has. been proved conclusively that our immigrants are anasset, and great care is being taken in the selection of the proper types of immigrants. Immigration is proceeding at a slower tempo than prevailed some years ago but the immigrants are by no means a liability to this country.
– Who said that they are a liability?
– The Government has claimed credit for maintaining a progressive immigration scheme, but that scheme is now virtually at a standstill; it is very sluggish indeed. This is an example of the peculiar twists adopted by senators on the Government side in debating the Budget.
Senator Anderson tried sincerely ; but failed miserably ; to rebut the contentions that were made by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) in support of his amendment. Senator McKenna pointed out that the Commonwealth finances its capital works by interest-free money derived from both direct and indirect taxation, but charges the States interest on money derived from the same sources that it makes available to the States to carry out their capital works - money derived, virtually, by forced loans from the people, by means of taxation. When looked at from any angle, that procedure is not only wrong; it is improper and dishonest. The Commonwealth, instead of working in cooperation with the States, has become a money-lender.
Since this Liberal-Country Party Government came to office, there has been a remarkable approach to matters affecting the Australian economy. Many members of this chamber will recall that a few years ago it was advocated by the former Treasurer, Sir Arthur Fadden, that a levy should be made on capital - that there should be introduced a system of forced capital loans under which the Government would pay interest on the money borrowed. However, that proposal did not meet with too good a reception in his own party, and it was certainly not very popular with us. The Government could not see any reason why it should pay interest when, by means of direct and indirect taxation, as much money as is needed could be extracted from the community, free of interest. The Government has again budgeted for a huge expenditure, and the incidence of taxation on the Australian community is now more vicious than it was during the war. Indirect taxation has been increased in proportion to direct taxation, and the Government now enjoys great capital prosperity. Not many budgets ago - shortly after an election -the Government announced that it would take steps to arrest the inflationary trend, about which there was a big outcry. It stated that, in the national interest, it would be dangerous to leave too much money in the hands and the pockets of the people. This same Government said, to the people, in effect, “ You cannot spend your money wisely so, for your own protection we, the Commonwealth Government, will take it from you and spend it as we think best, and if we lend it to the States for capital works we will charge interest on it “. That was wrong.
Prior to the last general election, there was very loose budgeting by this Government, due to great inefficiency or wilful deceit. The Government told the people that the Australian economy could not afford decent social services and that it could not afford to go on with big developmental programmes that were crying out for attention. The Government told them also that the economy could not at present stand the cost of standardizing railway gauges in Western Australia as is being done in the eastern States. There were a hundred and one election cries. It went to the people as a “ stay-put “ government. The Government had to show by the financial statements that were presented that it was impossible to give to the people a little of the prosperity for which the workers have been responsible and which Australia’s inherent wealth and good seasons had made possible.
– And good government.
– 1 do not think that the Government is entitled to all the credit. Let us have a look at the facts. The Auditor-General’s report for last year reveals glaring examples of over-estimating, or excess budgeting. If the estimates of expenditure had been accurate the people would have been able with justice to claim - as they may claim now - that they were over-taxed and that taxation should be reduced, developmental works carried out, and social services expanded in order to provide justice and equity to the people who rely upon them. The AuditorGeneral’s report shows that the following amounts of the respective votes were unexpended: The Parliament, ?56.500; Department of External Affairs, ?155.000; Prime Minister’s Department, ?81,600; Department of the Treasury, ?259,000. But those are only chicken feed - relatively small evidence of over-budgeting. The amount unexpended by the AttorneyGeneral’s Department was about £135,000, by the Department of the Interior, £425,000, and by the Department of Works, £458,000. Will any Government senator contend that there had not been loose budgeting? Surely the Government can do better than this! It is noteworthy that only on rare occasions does a department’s expenditure very nearly tally with the vote. The Department of Civil Aviation under-spent by the huge sum of £345,000. But let us look at some of the departments that really went to town. The Department of Primary Industry overbudgeted, and the Department of Social Services under-spent by £101,000. Those departments, however, provide evidence of the small errors, the small inefficiencies. We find that the Department of Defence, which should be able to estimate with reasonable accuracy, under-spent by £128,000, and the Department of the Navy by £2,624,504. The Department of the Army over-estimated by £2,066,518, and the Department of Air had £2,643,936 unexpended at the end of the year. The Department of Supply had £2,786,094 unexpended. The amount unexpended in respect of Miscellaneous Services was £876,600. Over the year, a total amount of approximately £100,000,000 was wrongly budgeted for.
The Government claims that there is economic prosperity, but it must be very simple minded because it is obvious, from the Budget figures that I have indicated, that there is great looseness in estimating and that the departments sometimes have not been able to estimate within millions of pounds of their true requirements. However, when we come to the field of social services, the Government tells the people that there is insufficient money to make the increases that are needed. We have again reached the stage when the same song is being sung - “ Yes. we are enjoying great prosperity. We have had ten marvellous years, for which the Government is solely responsible. “ Of course, the Government is not responsible for our prosperity Australia’s per capita production, good seasons, and the general trend of world markets are in the main responsible for it.
I feel that the amendment that has been moved by Senator McKenna, on behalf of the Opposition, is well justified. I say without equivocation that money is being taken from the people of Australia by way of taxation far in excess of the proper, orthodox requirements of government. In effect, the Government has enforced conscription of capital on the people of this country by the medium of taxation, and has applied the revenue that has resulted to governmental expenditure.
Let us see what this Budget contains by way of an effort to correct the upward trend of extraordinarily heavy departmental expenditure. For defence, the Government budgeted in excess of last year’s estimate, of which millions of pounds were unexpended, by £3,492,000. For war and repatriation services, an additional £3,800,000 has been budgeted for, while it is estimated that payments from the National Welfare Fund will increase by £22,557,976. The additional amount in that respect perhaps represents the miserly pension increases which the Government is giving to pensioners. So it goes on. In regard to the collection of revenue, however, we find that indirect taxes will increase. Collections from customs duty will be up by £4,028,000; excise also will be up to the tune of £9,256,000, while sales tax and other indirect charges will increase by an additional £6,383,000. Revenue from company tax and direct tax on income from personal exertion will increase by approximately £16,300,000 over last year’s receipts.
What do we see when we look at the other side of the Budget, in this era of prosperity? We find that the Government proposes to give the pensioners a niggardly increase of 7s. 6d. a week. The wives of pensioners who have no other income and are responsible for looking after their husbands will receive no assistance at all, if they are under sixty years of age, unless they can prove that, they fulfil the qualifications of an attendant. The Government proposes to leave such women with an allowance of 35s. a week, in this era of prosperity that it boasts about. Let us examine the position of the family man under this Budget. If he has a family of a reasonable size he will get no relief at all from the Budget because his family responsibilities take him out of the field of taxation. Child endowment will remain unaltered. The women of this country put child endowment in pawn when they sold their birthright for5s. a week for the first child. The Government used child endowment for the first child for a political racket - to get into government, and it was successful. Every family man who looks back will note the stagnation that set in from that time. The Government has continually placed a heavy burden on the family man and the family unit.
This Government boasts about its migration policy. It has spent a lot of money on that policy, and I commend it for doing so. The only criticism I have is that the Government’s migration policy is too sluggish. But what happens in relation to our Australian-born citizens? The maternity allowance has not been changed since Labour was in office. Not one adjustment, despite inflation, has been made by this Government in the maternity allowance in the ten years of prosperity of which the Government boasts. Sickness and unemployment benefits have been adjusted slightly, but the increase has not been nearly sufficient to keep pace with inflation.
When the Government is assessing such matters, I think it quite honestly feels that its policy is both unchangeable and marvellous. On the contrary, the economic policy has followed the same pattern all the way and has become hidebound and static. The Government’s policy hasbeen to remove the burden of taxation from the shoulders of those ‘with the greatest capacity to bear it and to shift it to the shoulders of those with the least capacity. Senator Marriott, when speaking in the Senate recently - and I do not challenge his honesty - went to great pains to explain why he could not understand that the Melbourne “Argus” had described this Budget as a “ give and take “ Budget He said, “If you give something, you must first take it from somewhere”. Was he so naive, so simple, that he didnot know that when the Budget was so describedwhat was meant was that the Government was giving to the rich and taking from the poor?
Let us analyse this proposed reduction of 5 per cent, in income tax and study the effect of it. We find that a single man will receive a greater reduction than a married man, on whatever income range we take. Let us put the average income of the
Australian worker at the high figure of £1,000 a year. We find that a man with a wife will receive a reduction of 4s. and if he has a wife and one child, 3s. 4d. The single man will receive a reduction of5s. 6d.
– Over what period?
– Annually. Those figures are taken from the Melbourne “Age” and have been checked. Now let us consider the higher income brackets and see what the reduction means to people with high incomes. I suppose a few people in Australia receive more than £10,530 a year. As a result of this Government’s policy, they will reap £554 5s. per annum. Privileged persons in receipt of £8,000 will receive £170 10s. per annum. It is quite obvious that people on the lower ranges of income will suffer severely as a result of this 5 per cent, reduction of income tax. Every family man whose allowable deductions will be sufficient to enable him to escape the payment of taxation will receive no advantage at all.
I come now to sales tax and pay-roll tax - two vicious forms of taxation that this Government has promised to review. The incidence of these two forms of taxation continues to rise; the Government has done nothing to reduce it. Every member of the Senate knows that these two taxes are paid by every citizen, irrespective of his capacity to pay. Every person who isin receipt of a pension or fixed income of one kind or another, even though he receives the smallest possible pittance, pays these taxes whenever he buys any article. In spite of that, the Government has not moved in any way to relieve the incidence of those taxes. It is quite wrong for the Government to say that it is a Liberal government and to point to Australia’s present state of prosperity. Of course, Australia is prosperous. It is a marvellous country and provides a wonderful living for those privileged people who are not retired and on fixed incomes or who are not pensioners! For them, there is no other country in the world to compare with Australia. But this Government, with the huge revenues that it is able to raise, should make a more equitable distribution ofthe country’s wealth. There is no reason at all why pensioners, persons who are on fixed incomes, those who are unemployed and those who are sick, should have to live on the standards that this Government has forced on them by not recognizing the effect of inflation and rising costs.
Inherent in this Government’s approach to the matters I have been mentioning is the fact that it is not a socialist government; it fights the introduction of a welfare state. Of course, I think that even the welfare state can be overdone, too. But repeatedly at election time this Government has put over the story that it intended to do something about easing the means test and that it would pay pensioners a sum that would at least be equal to what they enjoyed when Labour was in office. The Government has not done that. The proposed 7s. 6d. increase in pensions will not correct the present situation by any means.
From time to time in this chamber I have asked who was responsible for removing from the list of free drugs and medicines that are available to pensioners certain items that are currently being prescribed and recommended by doctors. In the replies I have received, reference has been made to the recommendation of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee - a committee appointed by the Government in terms of the relevant act. Any legislation, be it socialist or otherwise, can be prostituted by the manner in which it is administered. I should like the Government to say who is policing this committee. Or has it been appointed by the Government to achieve a certain objective - that is, to make the range of drugs available to pensioners as small as possible? I think the number of times on which this matter has been referred to indicates the need for some inquiry by the Government.
Just recently I asked a question about the drug butazolidine. That drug was widely prescribed for pensioners and was doing a good job, but the reply furnished by the Minister for Health (Dr. Cameron) indicated that the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee has removed it from the list and has substituted two alternatives. Those alternatives have been available and have been prescribed by certain doctors, but without success. In spite of that, one cannot get a satisfactory reply to the question. This matter has been moved from any sort of .government administration and has been placed in the hands ‘Of a committee appointed by the Government. I think the most stringent care should be exercised to ensure that the list of free drugs and medicines available to pensioners is left as wide as possible. It will be remembered that the Government has -argued from time to time that it would be dangerous to disturb the relationship between a medical practitioner and his patient, but .apparently it is not dangerous when a pensioner is involved.
– It has not been disturbed at all.
– The list has been disturbed.
– It has not.
– lt is said to the doctor, in effect, “ You cannot prescribe saccharine; you may prescribe sugar “. But the doctor would not want to prescribe sugar. The list has been disturbed to the extent of the doctor having to say to the pensioner, “ I think this is what you need and what is best, but you will have to pay for it”. The pensioner cannot afford to pay for it. It is the sort of interference that can be indulged in only in relation to people whose economic position is such that they cannot resist. Beggars cannot be choosers. Butazolidine costs one shilling a tablet, and three tablets a day are prescribed for seven days a week. That means the cost each week is £1 ls. There is no freedom of choice. Let Senator Kendall put himself in the position of the pensioner who is in receipt of £4 5s. a week and who pays £1 ls. a week for that medicine alone before paying for his food, accommodation and clothing. Is not the alteration of the list a constriction of the individual and the doctor? In the present circumstances the doctor would not prescribe butazolidine, because he would know that the pensioner could not pay for it. The pensioner, being a beggar, has no choice. Do you understand that line of reasoning?
– -No. i do not. i trust the people who made out the list.
– If there has been any objection by a responsible official of the British Medical Association or by any doctor in relation to this matter, it should be investigated immediately and the drug should be restored to the free list. If there is to be any human dignity, the choice of medicines available -should be such that the best treatment is available to the patient, and the person who should determine that treatment should be the medical practitioner who attends the individual. It was worth being side-tracked to make the position clear.
To return to a consideration of tha Budget, the Government, in effect, is passing nothing back to the people. It proposes to increase postal charges and will obtain still more revenue than it did in the past, despite the 5 per cent, reduction of income tax which, as I indicated earlier, will be of real benefit only to persons in the higher income bracket. The figures show that in direct taxation Australians will pay on an average £71 19s lid. per head this year compared with £67 13s. 7d. last year. In indirect taxation they will pay £46 8s. 3d. per head this year compared with £45 9s. 5d. the previous year. The buoyancy of the revenue and the great prosperity which Government senators are talking about are having the effect of increasing the revenue that comes into the Government’s treasury from direct and indirect taxation, but this increase in revenue is not being passed on to the people in the relevant proportions. The Budget has failed to do anything at nil to improve the position of the people.
Passing to the Postal Department, I find that the figures available for 1956-57 - I do not know the trading result of last year - show that the department made a net profit of £3,111,046. I am quoting from the Consolidated Profit and Loss Account which was published by the Postmaster-General. In the following year the profit was £4.0 1 0. 1 80. Despite that profit the Government proposes the huge increase in charges for postal and telephone services which will fall most heavily on people who cannot pass those charges on. The country people in particular rely on mail and telephone services. They are the ones upon whom this increase will fall most heavily - a far greater impost than can be relieved by the ls. in the £1 tax deduction.
I know that the Postmaster-General, being an Australian Country Party man, and realizing the sheer injustice of the proposed charges, sincerely attempted to influence Cabinet before the proposed increases were announced in the Budget, but he was not able to convince his colleagues. It is rumoured that the Minister took the extreme action of threatening to resign his post because of the inequity of the whole thing.
– Do you believe the newspapers?
– I do not know, but you should know. It has been reported that that is so, and subsequent events would lead one to believe that there might have been something in the story. These arrogant reefers of money from the Australian people are backpedalling on the question now. The Prime Minister is going to recommit the question because the charges have hit that great propaganda machine - the press - which this Government has nurtured and built up. That is where the increases are hurting. The small newspaper companies are the main people who have objected to these postage increases - the journals and publications that are going to be up for as much as £40,000, £50,000 and even £100,000 a year extra. The Government is saying to itself, in effect, “ We are not now attacking a beggar who has no choice, we are attacking somebody whom we will have to reckon with in formulating our policy”. Despite all the turmoil that took place in the party meetings of Government members, the Ministry is weakening now that pressure is coming from the right quarter. I say that undoubtedly an adjustment will be made in the party’s policy, but the rank and file - the small fry - are not let into discussions on these things at all.
– You are unkind.
– I am not trying to be unkind. I have heard from Government back-benchers of the revolution that takes place in Government parties when they meet the inner Cabinet. But all that the Government requires of them as backbenchers is that they come, listen, lick and like it. The story came from your own side; I am only repeating it. You are disappointed that you have so little say on these matters.
– How can we have any say in the Budget? The details are secret.
– If you were a member of the Labour Party you would have a say. When I was a member of the executive of the Chifley administration that matter came up as an item for discussion.
The Labour Party set down certain cardinal rules in respect to the preparation of Labour budgets. Every elected member of the party - the parliamentary caucus that you use as a bogey man, as it were, to frighten people - has a say in what is done in the best interests of the people. The majority rules. 1 am sorry to have to say this, but Government senators tell us a lot about our party and now 1 am telling them the truth about it. When they say they have no say about the preparation of the Budget 1 believe them entirely. I am not challenging their interjections but 1 am making it quite clear that they should, as representatives of the people, have some say in the preparation of the Budget. I am not abusing you, I am commiserating with you because I know the futility of the whole position.
– 1 guarantee that honorable senators on this side have more say in the budget proposals than Labour senators would have if they were in government.
– Your friend said that you do not have any say.
– I did not say that. I said that the matter had not been discussed yet.
– It has not been discussed yet, although the Budget is being debated in the Senate! We understand the position entirely, there is no need for you to apologise.
– There was a chap in England who had to resign because he let out a budget secret. Your party ought to do the same.
– No budget secrets came out. There has been no allegation of that although there has been a good deal of clairvoyancy. I am not charging Government senators with breaching budget secrets but I admit there has been a great deal of clairvoyancy on the part of big business interests in this country who have been able to predict the trend of Government policy. Perhaps it is that the Government policy is in such a rut that it never varies and it is not hard to guess it. There have been some very good guesses.
I now want to come to a point made by the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Senator Paltridge) in the speech in which he introduced the Estimates and Budget Papers 1959-60. I was very pleased to hear him make it. He gave the people an outline of the prosperity we have experienced. I am very happy that we have experienced that prosperity. 1 think the Minister is just as anxious as anybody in this Senate that such prosperity should continue. We have joy in our camp too because of the prosperity. The Minister said -
We are happy too with the 15 per cent, increase in wool prices and the likely rise to 25 per cent. But the pensioner has been kept in the dark in all this prosperity. The recipients of social services and invalid pensioners have been kept out of all this prosperity. The Minister said further -
Fortified by this improvement, the Government has raised the ceiling for import licensing from £800,000,000 a year to £850,000.000. lt has also done much to reduce discrimination between sources of supply so that, as to more than 90 per cent, of the goods we obtain abroad, importers are now free to seek their requirements anywhere they choose.
What a lovely story! lt reads very well but in effect it is just as deceitful as anything else in the Budget, particularly as far as Western Australia is concerned. Many importers there are still bound by regulations and are subject to restrictions. Because of the fact that they have to operate on a base year they are confronted with a great number of anomalies which the Government will not correct. It hesitates to improve the position, though in Western Australia men are obliged to buy import licences merely to stay in business. In many cases it is not done quite so blatantly. They must pay 15 per cent, more than they would otherwise do for the goods that they need. Their business accounts support their claims for better quotas but they gain little more than the tiny quarterly increases handed out by the department. I must add that the departmental officers are doing their best to help,, within the limits of government policy, but this system of privilege involves tremendous expenditure of time and money by businessmen who must present returns and wait hopefully for a favorable result, ft. is much easier to pay extra for the goods that they need from the people who have the privilege of holding licences.
One cannot fail to be impressed by the clairvoyancy of big firms which anticipate, all too accurately, such things as trade agreements with Japan, relief of import restrictions and so on. They are in a position to sell to legitimate wholesalers goods that they would not otherwise be able to obtain. This is the Government which promised to break away from restrictive practices! There is no freedom in that kind of thing. I know importers who have tried over and over again to obtain better licences. They are simply told that the quarterly review is in accordance with government policy. Some have submitted cases revealing how they are obliged to buy import licences, and in some cases they have received relief. By and large they know that they must pay the surcharge produced by this trade in government privilege, or they will not continue in business. It is up to the Government to make a definite statement that persons disclosing illegal practices will be protected.
Western Australia, especially, is paying dearly for the present system of handouts, often at the whim of an officer, for the Minister could not possibly know about half the cases that are before his department for consideration. I appeal to the Government to correct the present situation quickly. It is not enough to allow another- £50,000,000 worth of imports to come into the country. The goods are going to the same old people - the base year people - and a few others who were shrewd enough to obtain special licences’. Some men have a licence to import Scotch whisky, but do not sell a bottle of it. They are content to obtain a very good price for their licence. Too many people are making profits out of other businessmen because of this Government’s restrictive policies in regard to the issuing of import licences. Inflation is being promoted by people who must spend money and time putting up cases, not knowing until the last minute whether they will obtain relief.
The Government claims that we have had ten years of prosperity. The second world war has been over for a long time now. For at least three years the Government has been boasting that there has been no shortages. If all this is true, why is there still a restriction on trading, the life blood of this country? What chance have our young men of becoming established when older licensees are protected by government privilege. I repeat, some men who have actually gone out of business still have the right to import. Some of the bigger importers are becoming even bigger. They say to legitimate wholesalers, “ We shall sell you the goods that you cannot obtain, but we shall do so at a price “. I do not believe that the Government wishes to end the present practice, which places privilege in the hands of people whom it would not lightly offend.
– Only recently the Government extended the import limit by £50,000,000.
– That is so, but the goods are being received by the same old base year people. If you have not a base year quota you must have a special quota.
– Not for the importation of Scotch whisky.
– Despite the extension of the import limit, one can still not bring in Scotch whisky without a licence: I think honorable senators generally will admit that trade restriction by government licence - given to privileged persons - is a very bad feature of our economic policy that should be removed. Apparently the Government does not intend to do anything about it. States such as Western Australia, South Australia, Queensland, and Tasmania to a certain extent, are very badly off. Before the 1942 base year many importers had their principals in Melbourne, for the purpose of saving handling charges and so on. There is a very strong argument for dropping the base year principle and issuing licences to all persons wishing to import. If a man has an agency, and the necessary ability, why should he be held to ransom by the privileged few, whose authority is backed either by an officer of the Government, or by government direction. That is certainly not free enterprise.
– What about the balance of payments position?
– How did Australia get on before this profitable policy of restriction came into existence? I am sure that Government supporters also are convinced that it is a vicious system. I db not want to spend very much more time on the subject, but I would urge the Government to adjust the present position. If Government supporters rebelled and showed a little intestinal fortitude they would doubtless get results. Of course, one understands that they are not consulted about what is to happen and often do not know until the particular matter is brought before the Parliament.
In Western Australia we have another problem - that of unemployment - to which Senator Anderson referred so sympathetically. He said that our figures compared favorably with those of other countries, and were better than most. He said that we were passing through a period of great prosperity such as was found in few other countries. I cannot agree for a moment that the employment position is satisfactory. In Western Australia it is very much to the contrary. When the matter was raised in this Parliament we heard the same old parrot cry, “ There is a Labour Government in Western Australia”. It may interest honorable senators to learn that the position has deteriorated since a change in government has occurred. To a large extent the Commonwealth is to blame. The August figures show the number of registered jobless in Western Australia as increasing from 6,074 to 6,382. Unemployed persons represent 2.3 per cent, of the work force. Those figures do not cover the total unemployed persons. Many workless people do not reach the stage of registering for employment. They may be off for a fortnight, then working for a little while, then off for a fortnight again. It is only in the last resort that they register for employment, and it is not until some time after the date of registration that unemployment relief payments begin. It is essential that something be done about the unemployment in Western Australia. The Government claims that it has been generous with its loans, but 1 emphasize that the Commonwealth charges interest on money which it obtains from revenue and upon which it is required to pay no interest.
The Commonwealth Government is making £5,000,000 available to Western Australia for the development of the Northwest, but that can be spent only according to the dictates of the Commonwealth Government.
– Then it will be wisely spent.
– But when are we to be able to spend it? The other day, I got from the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) what, according to Senate standards, was an insulting reply to a question I asked of him. I had asked about the Ord River scheme. I pointed out truthfully that the scheme was recommended by both a Labour Government and a Liberal Government in Western Australia as being a scheme on which money should be expended. Mr. Court had gone so far as to discuss the matter over here with the Minister for National Development, and to-day the Minister for National Development admitted that those discussions had taken place. It has been argued that the Commonwealth Government must agree that the State Government was spending the money wisely. I repeat that two State governments have agreed that expenditure on the Ord River project would be wise but the Commonwealth Government still refuses to consent to the spending of money on that work. There can be no doubt that the Commonwealth Government is using duress, that it is preventing the State Government from carrying out the essential development work which two State governments have agreed should be carried out.
Further, there is a falling off in Commonwealth disbursements to Western Australia. That State has come off very badly under the new formula for the disbursement of tax moneys to the States. The earlier formula was based on area and population and that was fairly satisfactory to us, but the new formula treats us very badly indeed.
– You had a good spin.
– It was not a good spin; it was simply a matter of the Commonwealth Government taking the responsibility that it should have taken for what is, after all, a national development. We are grateful for the £5,000,000 that we are to have for the development of the north-western part of Western Australia, but, when all is said and done, £5,000,000 is really a niggardly amount compared with what it will cost to carry out full development there. The task of developing the northwestern part of Western Australia is as huge as the task of developing the Snowy Mountains scheme, and I am sure no one would suggest that £5,000,000 to be spent over five years could possibly cover the full cost.
– We would welcome £5,000,000 in Victoria.
– I know it would be welcomed by Victoria, but that State is in a much better position than Western Australia. After all, Victoria is only a pocket handkerchief State, situated in the richest part of Australia, and enjoying all the advantages of that position. I do admit that there is some sense of national responsibility in all Australians, including Victorians. I admit that the Victorians have been prepared to help us, and we in Western Australia would willingly do what we could to help Victoria, but what disturbs Western Australia is the fact that such grants as a lid. a mile for developing the North- West is as nothing compared with the huge sums the Commonwealth spends in other States. For instance, we find that, according to an article appearing in the press in Perth on 14th August, the Federal Government plans to spend £3,300,000 on works in Western Australia in 1959-60, compared with £2,600,000 last year. The Commonwealth Director of Works, Mr. R. M. Baxter, said in Perth yesterday that £2,900,000 of the £3,300,000 is for new works and works already begun but not completed and £400,000 is for repairs and maintenance.
It can be readily seen, therefore, that expenditure on works in Western Australia and by the Postmaster-General’s Department in that State is nothing like the amount expended in the eastern States. I admit that there are more people in the eastern States and that the Commonwealth derives more revenue from the east and that therefore the eastern States are entitled to incur heavier expenditure, but when a State is suffering from 2.3 per cent, unemployment - and these are only recipients of unemployment benefits - the Commonwealth should do a little more for it. It is all very well to say that unemployment for the whole of Australia stands at only 1.6 per cent/, that sounds fairly good; but to the 60,000-odd breadwinners who have dependent wives and children, the position is acute in the extreme.
It has been suggested that this unemployment figure includes seasonal workers. That is not so. The seasonal worker is out of employment only for a short time whereas the man who is ordinarily in regular employment feels the position keenly when he is forced to seek unemployment benefit. His position is very serious. There can be only two reasons for it if unemployment benefit payments appear to be heavy. One is that the scheme is being abused. The other is that there is serious genuine unemployment. It is for this Government to see to it that the scheme is not abused.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. A. D. Reid). - Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– I think a good deal of the criticism, whether it has come from this side of the Senate or the other, neglects one fundamental that we should always apply when discussing any measure of government. It is simply that you cannot do everything. A great French statesman said some time ago that to govern is to choose. While listening to the debate, I have often felt a good deal of sympathy towards some particular criticism that has been made, but I feel that, after all, somebody had to take all our expenditure and all our revenue and make a great many choices. Whilst I do not agree with all of the Government’s choices, I think that the total result is good.
To begin with, I think that this is a hopeful Budget. It is based on the belief that this country is not stagnating, that it is not going backward, but is surging ahead on a great wave of improvement which will endure for a very long time. That, perhaps, answers one of the criticisms that I heard from Senator Anderson who said that last year there was a deficit justified on one principle and this year there is to be a deficit justified on a different principle. I think that you can justify it on a different principle this year. The Budget speech begins by saying that last year was a much better year than was expected, and I think there is every reason to believe that this year will be a better year than was expected when the Budget was prepared. We all, in our own personal housekeeping, occasionally exceed our income for a particular week or a particular month, with the intention not of destroying our capital, but of paying for our needs by some salutary saving a little later. I believe that, despite the reduction in taxes, probably the Treasury will be better off than was anticipated when the Government budgeted for a deficit. Of course, there is nothing dishonest in that, because the Treasury official is necessarily cautious, and it is always wise to prepare for the worst. When I say that the outlook is hopeful, I believe that if you read the Budget in detail you will find that the hope is justified, because we look forward to an expansion of our total income and an extension of our economy.
We look forward to it on three main grounds, first, an increase in our export income; secondly, the use of our own savings - a matter which is often neglected in discussion in this chamber and elsewhere - for profitable investment; and, thirdly, the import of capital from abroad. I believe that the signs to-day are that all those things will happen. One of the hopeful signs that the Budget speech revealed was that our customers abroad were in a much better position than they had been in. The exact words were -
Overseas there is an upswing in production and trade, especially in the United States of America, hut also in the United Kingdom. Western Germany, Japan and other countries of trading importance to us.
I have been taking the trouble to look through the United Nations monthly bulletins of statistics, the latest I could get, and I find that this statement is supported by evidence from many countries. I found that there had been a great increase even in some countries in which I did not expect to find it. I should like to mention one country which the Treasurer evidently did not think worth mentioning in its own name, because he just lumped it with “ other countries “. According to the latest figures I have looked at, the increase in production in France is even greater than that in Western Germany and in most other countries. I shall not inflict many figures on honorable senators. I think it was Winston Churchill who. when young, said that there were lies, damned lies, and statistics, and I know that statistics can be used to justify anything. But this is the sort of statistic that I think cannot be faulted, an index which, allowing for all the things that obscure and apparently cloud the surface, gives a series of figures which show how a particular type of production has increased.
We all know that France has only recently achieved stability of government and we do not know for how long, but it has had quite a stable government for a year, and before that it must have had a better government than appeared on the surface, because taking 1953 as the base year and using the figure 100 for industrial production then, the figure for May, 1959, is 165. That is a very big increase in industrial production, and the figures for agricultural production and every other type of production that you can think of are on the increase, not quite to the same extent as industrial production, but nevertheless to quite a large extent. It has been estimated that industrial production in France has increased by 9 per cent, per annum over the last ten years. I obtained this estimate, not from the bulletin of United Nations statistics, but from the French commercial counsellor, but I have no reason to doubt its accuracy. When I was in France a month ago, I saw every sign of prosperity and a renaissance of national life.
How does that affect us? Senator Hendrickson, with a patient persistence for which I admire him, is continually trying to get some expression of opinion as to the effect on us of the European Common Market and also the free trade area of Europe. Undoubtedly they will affect our trade, but I am one of those who are hopeful. I think that any small decrease in particular export articles or any damage that it may do to the manufacture of our own articles by making imports cheaper will be counterbalanced by the enormously greater market that will ensure. If the six nations of the European union finally settle the little differences that have still to be settled and become one compact trading group, they will all be immensely richer and able to buy more. I feel that some of them, notably France and West Germany, will continue to be very good customers of this country. Far from there being any falling off in the demand for wool, I think it will increase, because wool is being used constantly, sometimes in fabrics made only of wool and sometimes in conjunction with the synthetic threads that are made there. While I appreciate the reticence of the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) and the fact that at this stage his department cannot work out all the details, I believe that the effect on an ever-increasing market of more and more prosperity throughout the world will be reflected here. Therefore, I think it was quite legitimate for the Government to budget for a deficit and to reduce taxes in the face of that rising market. 1 look hopefully to the whole of the free world, to certain - not all - countries in Asia, and certainly the whole of Western Europe. I think that we shall see in the next ten years a complete change from the depression into which individuals and groups and countries fell after the disasters of the last war, and I think that the free world will justify itself in such a way that the slave world, the world that looks to communism, will be outclassed. I know that that is a bold claim. I know that in particular things, through false methods, through strict government control, certain types of production are being greatly increased. I do not think that there is the variety or the magnificence in the production in Russia, China, or any of those other countries, that there is in Western Europe, and I am looking forward to the renaissance of the whole of Western Europe. That, I think, will reflect very favorably on us.
The hope for increased production from our own -investment is, I think, a very high one. Although complaints may come from critics that the burden on a particular group may be a little bit more than it should be, undoubtedly the Australian people as a whole are in a much better position than they ever were before. Most of us here are able to recollect that expenditure in our own youth was not high. We had to save. We had to reduce expenditure on something. To-day, the whole standard of expenditure among the young people is very high, sometimes too high. Perhaps it would be better if some of them learned the lessons of thrift. But production is high, the goods are available, and though we have this tendency towards inflation which always goes with prosperity, I think inflation is being kept in control. We know that it did get out of hand. We know that there were measures, that all governments may possibly have taken to curb it. In the main I think that the situation is under control, and one of the aims of this Government and of this Budget is to keep it so. Those who know more about investment than I do - I do not know very much, and I never invest other than on the advice of some one wiser than I or better informed than I am - know that there is plenty of money that may be put into profitable enterprise, and I for one think that the object of a government should be to encourage the adventurous spirit of men who are willing to undertake new types of business.
I come now to the subject of social services. I think that the exact amount that should be paid to any one would be better left to the time when we have the Estimates and the relevant papers before us so that we can take hold of one particular little problem and say that something more should have gone there. The careful housekeeper knows that if it is necessary to spend more money in a certain direction there must be less expenditure somewhere else. I want to put in this justification for the policy of the Government for the money that goes to help families. We have child endowment, widows’ pensions, age pensions and so forth, but though these are necessary there are better ways in which public money generally can be spent. It never should be the aim of any government to be a complete fairy godfather to any group at all. I would say that everybody except the completely helpless, whether they are of extreme age - I think they have to be of extreme age - or those suffering from a physical disability of some type should make some contribution to the national welfare. I am one of those who believe that however much you put out in social services you should pay it only in such a way that it encourages people to do something, even if it is only to cultivate thenown little garden.
We have done a great deal in the field of social services. We have built up a great medical scheme and a great pharmaceutical scheme based on the system of self-help. People, by joining friendly societies or other groups, or by simply taking out certificates, pay a proportion of their own income to such a scheme. There has been a great deal of criticism because a kind of blanket charge is being put down for prescriptions. I think it is very wise except, perhaps, in the case of a completely indigent person that something should be paid for a prescription because the money is far better spent in getting the better drug, the most necessary drugs, than for the ordinary medicine which as all of us know is simply to alleviate some little temporary pain.
We all know - most of us have been in the army or connected with other bodies - that there is a blanket distribution of some kinds of medicines that can be made without any trouble. But it is not a good thing to encourage a valetudinarian - a person who is always ill, who likes taking medicine and likes to go to a doctor just for the fun of it. It is better to keep that money for the really serious cases of illness.
One of the greatest things this Government has done has been to fight and almost defeat the great scourge of tuberculosis. I want to say that that was a deliberate policy laid down in one of our policy speeches. I remember discussing it at a meeting of candidates before the election. We decided then on a selective policy and we said that by adopting Sir Earle Page’s scheme we could eliminate this disease completely within a few years. At the time this was thought to be an extravagant way of attacking it. The payment of pensions to sufferers who went to a hospital to be cured-
– That was Labour’s legislation.
– 1 am not concerned with arguing whether it was Labour’s legislation or not. There were plenty of good ideas between the parties and flowing around the country. I am discussing the policy of this Government and no matter who first thought of it. the policy was put into full effect by the Menzies Government and Dr. Sir Earle Page was the Minister who was in charge of it. As the years have gone by the scheme has been successful. The Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) has promised that more of the money devoted to medicine will go to provide better and highly-selective drugs. Of course, we can argue here about one particular drug and ask why it is not provided, but we must rely in the main on a body of experts. We rely on public opinion, and 1 do not object to the public expressing its opinion. If the experts make a mistake public discussion stirs the matter up; but nevertheless we have made available many expensive drugs. The present Minister for Health (Dr. Donald Cameron) is always receptive of new ideas and if a case can be proved for the extension of the list that can be done, and the money spent in that way is far better spent than in a mere hand-out. I know that we have to have hand-outs and I am not going to say that legislation that has been placed on the statute book, whether by this Government or a previous Labour government is unjustified. I am putting out a case at the present moment for spending money in this selective way, rather than picking out one particular item such as endowment for the first child or something like that.
– That is the most selective thing of all.
– Yes. In addition, this Government has given a good deal of money to the universities of Australia and its action, I think, has been prompt and quick. 1 do not know of anything that will redound more to its credit. To the ignorant, university education may seem to be something for the few, but it is not; it is something for the whole nation, because everybody benefits from having a large number of highly-educated people - technicians of all sorts, engineers, doctors and, in more subtle ways that are hard to prove, artists and philosophers. Therefore, I welcome the great increase in the amount of money going to the universities. The effects will be seen not only in the way I have mentioned but also in the ordinary schools, because you will have a really highly-educated class of teacher. It is not a good thing to have a spurious and false idea of quality; let us have quality by all means, as far as the Government can secure it. But by developing our best brains we benefit everybody provided that along with the development of the brain you get development of character so that the person who has been educated will use his agility not merely for his selfish advantage. There are many people who feel unselfishly that they must benefit others, but I can think of cases where knowledge can be turned in anti-social directions.
This is the main theme of my speech. I think this is a good Budget because it is a hopeful one, because it sets out to keep the currency stable - as stable as we can by these methods - and it also looks out to a great deal of expansion by the means I have elaborated. I support the Budget, therefore, and 1 oppose the amendment. There is only one point in the amendment which seems to me to have even a plausible air, and that is the charge that the Commonwealth Government is acting as a usurer in exacting interest from the States. That, of course, is utterly absurd. I do not expect Senator O’Byrne, who is interjecting, to follow me. He is a great master of jeers and jibes, but they never get anywhere. When it comes to solid reasoning, I have never found him even attempting it in debate.
Thirty years ago, there was a kind of free market for all the States, for the Commonwealth and for any one else who wanted to go on the loan market. We know that interest rates were forced up. The Australian Loan Council, and later the Financial Agreement which gave the Loan Council a statutory and a constitutional basis, were set up in order that the States should get their loans at a reasonable rate of interest, and that is what happens. We pass the loan money to them, and the Commonwealth spends out of revenue which it gets from taxation. I think that that system is for the benefit of the States. The States spend the money, and it is perfectly absurd, to my way of thinking, to argue that the people who spend the money and have the asset, which they ought to have when they have spent it, should not pay the interest.
Suppose that a State builds a school. It owns the school, or at least the people own the school and the State is the operating authority. The Commonwealth does not own it. Suppose that a State builds, in a part of a city where ground rents are constantly rising, any kind of a building. It gets the value from the increased ground rents, and it should pay the interest. Never in my life have I heard anything that seemed to me less sound than that argument of the Opposition. So it is with the whole series of criticisms. As I said at the beginning of my remarks, some of the individual criticism has a certain amount of merit. I think we are entitled to say to the Treasurer, “Well, we accept your statement on the whole. We know that you had more knowledge than we did, that you went into this matter more thoroughly than we have gone into it, but we all have certain things that we would like to bring before you.”
Generally speaking, I do not regard the postal increases as unjustified. Some of them I do not like, but let us consider the so-called increase in letter rates. It must be remembered that that is to be accompanied by a reduction of air mail charges; that is to say, the surcharge on air mail is to be abolished. I regard the cultivation of air mail as one of the most salutary things that could happen, because air mail is the best and, for many people, the only method by which correspondence can be conducted. I regret that everybody in Australia cannot benefit from this proposal, but I hope the time will soon come when everybody in Australia will benefit from it.
In the nineteenth century, heavy postage was one of the great impositions on the people. That was so in our own country and everywhere else, but I shall take Great Britain as the example because it was there that the battle for cheap postage was waged. Honorable senators will remember that the great Postmaster-General, Roland Hill, was a man of one idea. He argued for what he called penny postage, and he secured it. Later, we got penny postage in Australia; but a penny in England in 1850 was worth far more than 5d. is in Australia to-day, so that it cannot be said that the proposed rate will mean excessively dear postage. It will not. As to the charges which the Government is reconsidering, I am glad that such reconsideration is taking place.
Senator Cooke talked about the great press lords. We do not fear the great press lords. They are not friends of ours - not all of them, at any rate, though some of them may be. It was the great press lords who built up Dr. Evatt. I never knew a man to be built up by the great press lords more than Dr. Evatt was. I remember an election in 1940 when one Sydney newspaper ran a whole team of candidates, and Dr. Evatt was the prime favorite. No, we need not worry about great press lords. As far as I am concerned, and I think as far as most of the members of my party are concerned, the people whose evidence affected us were those who had small papers to sell, such as little societies and little groups. We thought that even if it meant a loss of revenue, and even if it meant to some extent making it a social service, their little publications should be kept in existence. For that reason, I support the Government’s action.
There are other individual items of the Budget that I would criticize. I think that any reduction of income tax is good. It is not fair to take the incidence of taxation on the man on a small income and the incidence on a man on a large income and compare the position merely as it is to-day. The whole point is: What happened in the past? While graduated taxation is a sound principle and while it is right that the man on a high income should pay more proportionately than the man on a low income, it is not right that the man on the high income should pay everything. It is not right that you should always make your taxation on the higher incomes greater and greater because, after all, most of us in this country believe - we prove it by our actions if not by our words - in a certain inequality. We want a floor below which no one should sink, but I am not too sure about having a ceiling.
I would let a person rise as high as he could, provided that a certain portion of the wealth he made came back to the State in taxes. I do not believe in ruinous taxes. If you are going to encourage investment you must levy taxes on the higher as well as the lower incomes. Figures have been produced to show that our proportion of taxation favours the man on the lower income more than the rate of tax prevailing in 1949 favoured him. I do not want to labour this point, but at least it destroys the argument that we are merely favouring the rich and neglecting the poor. After all, why should we neglect the poor? The rich cannot put us into power or keep us in power.
If we were merely looking at the matter from the point of view of sordid selfinterest we would not think for one instant of appealing only to the rich. That is one of the stupid arguments that come from a past that I think most Australians have forgotten.
– Who do you think represents the rich man?
– There are more rich men on the other side of the chamber than there are in my circle of acquaintances, anyhow. I could name quite a number of men on the other side who are much richer than I am.
– Who are they?
– One of them is the person who is now interjecting. If honorable senators opposite would like that to be proved, I am quite prepared to let the evidence be shown. We do not represent either the rich or the poor; we represent both. This argument could be pushed a little further. I would rather represent the type of businessman whom I have found to be a personal supporter than the types of businessmen whom I know are personal supporters of some of the honorable senators opposite. So let us get rid of that shoddy argument altogether.
I have always objected to any taxation which is inflationary, if it can be avoided. I do not like either pay-roll tax or sales tax. I would like to see a progressive reduction of both of those taxes in every Budget, and on every occasion on which it is my privilege to speak during the Budget debate, I shall say so. On the other hand, I know that the Treasury experts who survey the whole field know that taxation is an instrument that has to be used with great care. While it is good to reduce income tax to a certain point, in many ways income tax is the fairest form of taxation. However, many of the other taxes have advantages, such as the advantage of ease of collection, of certainty of collection, and the difficulty of evasion. My great objection t very high income tax is that there are people who can and do evade it. even though the Treasury and the Taxation Branch are becoming more and more clever at preventing evasion. But always some people can and will evade income tax. Others, however, cannot and will not evade it. As I have belonged all my life to the class who cannot and will not, I have a great deal of sympathy with those who want income tax to be reduced. I am prepared to agree to the continued existence of certain other types of tax. but I think that the particular two that I have mentioned should be reduced.
I hope to say more when the Estimates are before us. I think that is the proper time at which to express one’s opinion on individual items. The trouble with items torn out of their context, as so many dealt with by Senator Cooke were, is that whilst they appear to be mountains they are only molehills when compared with the whole range. I reject the amendment and support the Budget, because I believe it is an honest Budget and is the result of an attempt to do the best for our economy - to secure stability and to bring about further expansion.
– Mr. President, I rise to oppose the motion that the Budget papers be printed - despite the fact that they are already printed -and to support the amendment that has been moved by Senator McKenna. Before dealing in detail with the Budget papers, I should like to take advantage of this opportunity to reply to some remarks that have been made by honorable senators opposite. I refer in particular, not out of context, to a statement made by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Spooner). I take it that the views expressed by him are the views of the Government as a whole. The honorable senator said, “ So far as we are concerned, the Menzies Government is in the business of government for keeps “. I regard that as being one of the most arrogant statements that it has been my displeasure to hear at any time.
That statement has emanated from a government that has been in office too long. It is typical of the arrogant approach made in the Budget itself - a budget that gives with one hand and takes away with the other. It gives less than did the previous Budget, which was termed a “ stay-put “ budget. The statement to which I have referred is the kind of statement that has been made over the years by every arrogant dictatorship in modern history. I shall refer to a few of those dictators. The first example of arrogance to which I refer is that of the Czars of Russia who brought the Communist Party into being at the 1917 revolution. The same arrogance is presently being displayed on the world’s platform by Soviet officials. It is the kind of arrogance that is keeping the world in a state of uneasiness. This arrogance was displayed also by Hitler, as leader of the Nazi Party. We all know what happened to the German Government. The same kind of arrogance was displayed by Mussolini during the Fascist régime in Italy. Honorable senators opposite, who are members of the Government parties and who subscribe to its policy of arrogance, have learned their lessons well from these various dictators. They subscribe to the system of one-party government, which they would like to see in operation in this country. That is proven by the arrogance of this statement to which I have referred. Their wish in that direction, I again submit, is the considered view of the Government parties.
The Budget, overall, seems to me to be nothing more than a confidence trick that is being practised on the Australian people. On the one hand, it offers something to encourage the people; but, on the other hand, it takes that benefit away from them. That applies particularly to the question of taxation, because even though the Government has made provision for a flat decrease of 5 per cent, in income tax, it allows indirect taxation to continue at its present level and imposes it equally on each and every member of the community, irrespective of whether they can afford to pay for it.
To return to the arrogant statement made by the Leader of the Government in this chamber, is it believed, Mr. President, that the Bruce-Page Government of the 1920’s did not have an ambition to continue in office for an unlimited period of time? Of course it had that ambition! But what happened in 1929 when there was a national crisis on the horizon? The people of Australia did not think that the parties then in office were able to control the finances and the national welfare of the Australian people, so they turned them out of office. But the members of that Government had the same ambitions as have members of the present Government. It is true that after three years the Labour Party, having been unable wholly to repair the damage that had been caused by the inflationary tactics of and the economic crisis manufactured by the capitalist parties, also was turned out of office. Once again a Government consisting of parties that represented the same interests as are represented by the parties presently in power assumed office.
That Government remained in office for quite a number of years. It was not turned out of office by the Australian people; up to the stage at which it ceased to govern, it had not done anything for which the people of Australia sought vengence. In 1939 we had the misfortune to be thrown into a world war, and another national crisis appeared at our doorstep. The Government parties did not see fit to measure up to the crisis. They deserted their country in its hour of need and handed it over to the Labour Party, allowing that party to govern with a minority. What is the usual penalty for desertion in time of war? It is to face the firing squad, although the late Billy Hughes prevented that action being taken during the first world war and said of deserters, “ Send them back to Australia. If they do not make good soldiers, they will make good workers.” Nevertheless the Government parties were prepared to risk that fate rather than try to carry on with the government of the country. But, prior to discovering that they were faced with a national crisis, they had ambitions to be a government of unlimited life.
I believe that the arrogant statement made by the Leader of the Government will receive the fate that it so richly deserves, and that when the Australian people are made fully aware of it they will return a Labour Government to the Treasury bench. How long it will be before that happens, we do not know; but I believe that it will be at the next general election, unless the Government is able to bolster the popularity of its satellite, the Australian Democratic Labour Party. It will have to find some way of fooling the Australian people again. That is what it has been doing for a considerable number of years.
On 29th May, 1948, the members of the parties opposite set out to destroy the Australian economy by spending millions of pounds to defeat the prices referendum and thus wreck the controls that were keeping the inflationary spiral down to a minimum. Having destroyed the foundations of Labour’s economic policy they set out to make elaborate promises to the people. They made three very good promises, two of which appealed to the human needs of the people. The first promise they made was that they would give the people a few extra gallons of petrol. Petrol has been rationed for a num ber of years during the war and the post-war period, and the people wanted a little extra petrol. The parties opposite were elected to office, and the new Government paid for its votes with a few gallons of petrol. It also paid for votes with the grant of five shillings child endowment for the first child of a family under the age of sixteen years, but it promptly forgot all about the matter. Child endowment has now been banished into the realm of forgotten things.
The Government also promised to put value back into the £1 but, despite what Senator Nicholls had to say to-day, the £1 is worth only approximately 3s. 7d. and not 6s. of its pre-war value. I can remember the headlines in the newspapers in 1949 and the disparaging remarks that were made about the Chifley quid. I do not know what disparaging remarks honorable senators opposite would make about their own £1 to-day, which is worth only 3s. 7d., compared with 1 3s. 2d. which was the value of the Chifley £1.
That is the state of affairs that the parties opposite had to bring about in order to seize the reins of government. They have held those reins for ten years, but their record during that time has not been very good.
The Government found itself in a very serious position after its little Budgets and had to create a minor crisis in order to retain office in 1954. At the expense of the Australian taxpayer it manufactured the Petrov defection. I wonder what is going to happen in the future. On the hustings at the last general election the Government was very critical of communism and also of the foreign policy of the Australian Labour Party. However, to-day it recognizes Soviet Russia and has resumed diplomatic relations with that country. A Soviet embassy is being set up in Australia. I ask myself whether the popularity of this Government is waning so much that it is preparing the ground for another Petrov circus. Honorable senators opposite have to consider whether that is the approach that the Government is making to-day, because there is no question that the Petrov issue is the greatest circus that has been put over the people of Australia since federation. If that is the way in which honorable senators opposite are prepared to govern in this country, it does little credit to them.
In the general election in 1958 the Government used the weapon of the D.L.P., but the popularity of the D.L.P. with the Australian people is fast waning because it has proved that it is nothing but a satellite for the Liberal Party and the Australian Country Party - the Liberal Party in the main - by giving its preferences to those parties at the expense of the word “ Labour “ in its name. Unless the Government can do something to bolster the popularity of that party before the next general election in 1961, it will not win that election and the Labour party will be back on the Treasury bench.
A few days ago I heard an honorable senator opposite take credit for the social services that the Government parties have inroduced over the years. I give them full credit for introducing those social services, but I desire to look at the reasons why the Government has introduced them. Knowing the policy of the Government I believe that it is not its policy to do that sort of thing. It was not prepared to fly in the face of public demand and as a result was forced to adopt part of Labour’s policy and introduce certain social reforms.
We all know why the Government introduced child endowment in 1940. The payment was 5s. for each child other than the first, and the reason was to avoid a 6s. increase in the basic wage. The workers lost on the bargain. In 1949 the newlyelected Government honoured its promise to the people and granted 5s. child endowment for the first child. But what is the value of that child endowment to-day? It is worth only half of what it was in 1948 and the Government is not prepared to do anything about the matter.
If I remember correctly the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission was told that it was not to take into consideration the payment of child endowment when fixing the basic wage. Yet the Government says that it is not prepared to increase child endowment because real wages are 16 per cent, higher than the price rise. In an indirect way the Government is now forcing the people to do without the real value of child endowment by transferring it into the wages of the people, despite the fact that it was first said that the payment should not be considered in the fixation of wages.
Before 1 leave that point 1 want to refer to what is perhaps one hopeful statement that appears in the Budget. The Treasurer said -
Internally, employment is high, investment has been running strongly and several factors - the recent basic wage increase is amongst them - should tend to promote consumption expenditure.
The Government recognizes in that statement that the 15s. that was given by the commission will increase the money in the hands of the people and allow them to purchase more consumer goods. I am wondering how genuine the Treasurer is when he makes that statement, and whether the next time the Australian Council of Trade Unions applies to the court for a restoration of quarterly adjustments to the basic wage, the Government - in the face of that statement - will have the effrontery to oppose the application. If it is sincere it will allow the court to operate free and unfettered in reintroducing the quarterly adjustment to the basic wage, thus giving the people more money with which to purchase consumer goods. That is something that we shall not know until next February. I shall wait patiently to see what the attitude of the Government will be on that occasion.
In the matter of social services the Government believes that it is being a Father Christmas. I do not believe that anyone could extract anything from this Government, except in return for votes. Its practice is to attempt to silence popular demand by giving the minimum concessions possible. That attitude is reflected in the miserly amount by which the age and invalid pensions are to be increased. The means test remains unaltered at £3 10s. a week for both age and invalid pensioners, yet to obtain an invalid pension one must be 85 per cent, incapacitated. What chance has such a person of obtaining an income other than from private investment?
I can see nothing in the Budget papers to help rehabilitate people, who by accident or sickness, are forced to obtain an invalid pension. In other countries, governments spend large sums of money on rehabilitation. Employers are obliged to give work to a percentage of rehabilitated people so that they may serve a useful life, but there is no chance that this Government will introduce such legislation. Though it takes credit for the introduction of socialist reforms, which it has copied from Labour’s policy over the years, the Government is nevertheless prepared to criticise Labour’s socialist platform. It says that that platform is akin to communism; but it has been playing the Communist game of dictatorship for years. There is no justification for an attack on Labour’s socialist platform. The Government has stolen it, bit by bit, over the years.
The Government also proposes to raise the migrant target from 115,000 to 125,000 - without first having attained the 115,000 target. The Government is apparently doing that to persuade the people that this country is prosperous. It knows full well that in other years it has not been able to attain the lower target. Even if the Government is successful in getting 125,000 migrants, what provision is it making for the employment and housing of those people? What provision is it making for the employment of 63,000 Australian unemployed? The Government’s policy seems to be to spend large sums of money on what is termed a dole rather than to put these people to work in a productive effort that would be profitable to the Australian economy. This year, the Government proposes to spend £8,750,000 on unemployment and sickness benefits. It is prepared to do that in order to maintain a pool of unemployed in the interests of people who want to keep workers in subjection. It is bringing migrants here without any prospect of a job. Last year 14,000 new citizens of this country were paid £160,000 by way of special benefits, for they did not qualify for the unemployment benefit. Yet the Government proposes bringing another 125.000 migrants here this year. What provision is the Government making for the employment of these migrants? Are they to compete for the few jobs that are available? I may say in passing that I do not accept the statement of the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Senator Paltridge) that 20,000 jobs are available. What kind of jobs are they? In the main, newcomers to this country cannot undertake technical and skilled work because of the language difficulty. They usually go into the semiskilled and unskilled jobs. What is the Government doing to meet that position? 1 cannot see that the Budget will do anything to improve matters.
The Government is not keeping pace with the existing housing demand. Each migrant will need a roof over his head, but the Government is doing nothing to provide houses for such people. It will doubtless continue to build Commonwealth hostels and maintain them at the expense of the taxpayers.
Labour believes that if we are to preserve this country for Australians, migrants must be brought here, and our vast open spaces filled. We have no criticism to offer of the migrant intake, but we feel that the Government ought not to bring people here unless it can provide them with homes and jobs. If it spent more money on housing it would give an impetus to the building trade and create a great deal of employment among skilled building workers and timber workers, especially. T assure the Government that Western Australia, which has the highest unemployment figures in Australia, has large numbers of unemployed building workers. They could be usefully employed on housing if the Government were to release funds. Two or three years ago the carpenters and joiners union asked the Government to release another £2,000,000 for home building. It hoped that skilled workers would be fully employed in providing homes for immigrants, but the Government turned a deaf ear to its plea, just as it is turning a deaf ear to those who are interested in the Ord River scheme.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin). - Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
.- Every five or six weeks, I make a broadcast over Radio Station 4KQ in Brisbane. On Sunday last at 6.45 p.m. I made one of these broadcasts, and, so that honorable senators may hear what I had to say when dealing with the subject of delinquency, I propose to repeat to them the broadcast which I made. At the conclusion, I shall have something to say about a report that was made by a section of the combined press - the Brisbane “ Courier-Mail “. This is the broadcast I made -
Quite recently, a section of our young people was attacked with harsh words in the columns of the Brisbane daily press. Those included in the section to which 1 refer have been called bodgies, widgies, louts and other names of an unchristian sound.
Do those who make attacks on this section of Brisbane’s youth believe that the young people who are the object of constant hostile press ridicule comprise a group distinct from the remainder of our peoples? Are they distinguishable from other Australian-bora youths by the colour of their skin, the shape of their noses and lips, the colour of their hair, the length and shape of their arms and legs, and their general physique? Quite positively they are not.
Are they members of a mysterious association, pursuing an unchristian deification, or which has a rigid protocol or a dark ritual, forcing them to act and live differently from other citizens? On the evidence placed before us, the answer is, “ No “i
Are these young people who have been the butt of character-destroying articles and letters in the local daily press steeped in crime or are they serving an apprenticeship in Bill Sykes’ profession with the object of becoming the State’s worst criminals in the future? Again on the evidence available on the subject, the answer is a positive “ No “1
Who are these young people who attract so much public attention and who, according to Brisbane’s daily press, should be spat upon by all good people? Of course, they are members of the Jones’ family and are not related to us.
How does one know one of these press-branded youths from a fine-mannered young gentleman? The bodgie, as the press disgracefully terms him, wears fancy footwear, red sox, brightly-coloured trousers, usually blue, which fit tightly around the lower part of the legs, and have zip flies. His shirt may contain many colours in the body portion and have a bright yellow collar. The question is not answered easily, because the good-mannered young gentleman, who is not a lout, believes that to be out of the fashion is to be out of the world, so he dresses like the press clown, the bodgie.
From where do the bodgies get their footwear and clothing? This question is easily answered. Some of the footwear is made in local factories and the remainder in factories in Sydney and Melbourne and brought here mainly by road transport, which does not require the payment of road tax because of section 92 of the Constitution.
The manufacture of bodgie’s clothing is an important industry dispersed through many factories where thousands of employees are engaged permanently.
The bodgies are good customers of the retail stores,, and help them considerably to make big profits, so that dividends of 10 per cent, to 15 per cent, are paid yearly. The probability is that if there had been no bodgyism in Brisbane in recent years the bidding which was ingloriously engaged in by two of Australia’s grab-all retail businesses for a retail shop in Queen-street would not have occurred. If any one believes otherwise, let him go into the shops and test the prices of the garments customarily worn by the band of youths known to the press as bodgies
The daily press of the Commonwealth, including, of course, Brisbane’s two dailies, make good profits from retail shops which advertise bodgies apparel for sale.
It is well known that there is no law in Australia preventing any clothing manufacturer from making the classes of clothing worn by the social scapegoats, the bodgies. Neither is there any law in operation forbidding the sale of delinquents’ clothing to any one who wishes to buy them. Why then is- there such a prejudice against those who are seen in the streets or elsewhere in the garb of a bodgie? Under the existing law they are entitled to wear such clothing, but if their apparelis offensive, why not change the law and prohibit its manufacture, sale and wear? Why not prevent the press from advertising such clothing for sale?
Is it not better that our youth assemble at street corners, milk bars, charon’s corner, in the light and within vision, than to be slinking around the dirty, neglected back streets of Brisbane? If it is wrong for them to assemble in groups where they can be seen by their friends and relatives, why not have sections of the Act which prohibit their assemblage posted in places where the information may be read by them? In a democracy it is customary to enlighten people in a proper manner about the provisions of the statutes which are easily breached, and it must be admitted that youths are prone to seek the company of other youths of similar age. They are entitled to fair treatment in all things.
If a section of our youth has become larrikins, louts and loafers, whose fault is it? Compulsory education has been the rule for many years, and if the misdemeanours of the members of our social brigade, dubbed bodgies by the pious press, are due to their lack of responsibility as individuals, there must be a flaw in our educational system. Human beings are expected to know right from wrong at an early age and they are assisted in varying degrees in this task of life by parental guidance or the advice of their friends and teachers. I feel we are on very weak ground indeed when we single out a few hundred youths in Brisbane and say to ourselves, “They are wrong, and we are right “.
Should the police be used to force these young people, whose ages range from 15 to 25 years, out of existence? What powers have the police to disband a group of boys standing in a milk bar, quietly having a drink? It is imperative that members of the police force do their work within the laws which govern their duty.
Under our scheme of public administration, a Minister, who is answerable to the public, is appointed head of a department and he is the chief administrator of the department. In the Queensland Police Department, there is a Minister and a Police Commissioner. It is the Commissioner’s function to organise the work of the department in such a manner as to have the laws, the administration of which is the function of his department effectively observed. Naturally, the arranging of the staff within the police force is the duty of the Commissioner.
There is a section of the police force employed to observe the actions of youths and they positively breach the law which applies to their duty. The Commissioner may be pleased to tell the public what authority a policeman has to kick a sixteen-year old lad who was quietly and peacefully walking in the street to his home from the talkies with three or four other youths of about the same age. The Commissioner may also state whether members of the police force, when they are talking to the youths termed bodgies by the press, are permitted to use language which the worst lag in Bogga Road gaol would blush to use in the presence of his mates. The Commissioner may go further and say that the police force has not one member who has committed perjury. Perhaps he does not know that he has a few members to whom the oath is meaningless and that they manufacture their evidence to suit their case. It may be news to him to be told that some policemen employed to chase delinquents are liars and that if he dismisses them he will be acting to restore the traditional good name of the police force in the State. The citizens of Queensland do not support the unlawful attitude of actions of any group within their midst and they can be relied upon to oppose hooliganism being practised by policemen when carrying out their allotted duties. It is your job, Mr. Commissioner to eliminate from your department the handful of hoodlums who have found their way into the police force.
There is a newspaper published in Brisbane under the name “ Courier-Mail “. I am now looking at page 8 of its issue of Monday, 24th August, on which appears a report of the broadcast of which I have just spoken. The report reads -
In a recorded broadcast over station 4K.Q, Senator Benn said that most police had never told the truth in a court, and many of them did not know the meaning of the word “ perjury “.
There is a case of blatant distortion.
– When you were broadcasting, did you stick strictly to your notes?
– Oh, yes, I never deviated, A tape recording of my broadcast is now in the radio station in Brisbane, and the script from which I made the broadcast is in my pocket at the present time. 1 just want to give an illustration of fair reporting as practised by the “ Courier-Mail “ in Brisbane.
– You have your remedy, have you not?
– You, being a legal man. are thinking of the courts.
– I am putting my suggestion constructively, not critically.
– Yes, I know you are trying to help me. I may say that I am submitting the whole of the matter to my solicitors.
– Then why waste our time?
– It is a matter for the Senate, because false reporting has created an unfavorable atmosphere in which I have to live. That is wrong. It is an injustice to a senator and to the Senate. Perhaps that is stretching the matter too far, but let me give an illustration of the distortion of which T complain. It is important that I do so. This report reads -
Looking at the statement I made to see what was distorted into that form, I find that 1 said -
Perhaps he does not know that he has a few members to whom the oath is meaningless . . .
That part of my statement appears in the “Courier-Mail” in this form - . . most police had never told the tru;: in a court . . .
This is a masterpiece of misrepresentation, but whether or not my remarks were maliciously misrepresented I do not know at the moment.
I now proceed to the other vital point of this statement. The “ Courier-Mail “ reported that I had said -
Turning to the script of my broadcast, 1 find that I said -
The Commissioner may go further and say thai the police force has not one member who has committed perjury.
The hour is late. This paltry action of a section of the combined press will not pass unnoticed and unattended, to by me. 1 challenge the editor of the “ Courier-Mail “ to prove the truth of the statement that appears in yesterday’s issue of his newspaper.
.- Some time ago we had in the Senate a debate on the establishment of a federal police force. Honorable senators, except for a few new ones, will recall it very clearly. Speaking in that debate, I made certain statements. Later, I was challenged and my remarks were misquoted by two members of the splinter party in this chamber.
– That is no way to talk about the Australian Country Party.
– If the interjector would like me to put it a little more plainly, or if he is under any misapprehension as to whom 1 refer to, so that we make no mistake I say that I refer to the representatives of the Santamaria party, Senator McManus and Senator Cole.
– When was this debate.
– Just after the last Budget was presented, when the then Attorney-General introduced a bill to establish a federal police force. I spoke in very high terms of the peace force that operated throughout Australia during the war and of the great service it rendered. I also spoke of the great service rendered in all States by the State police forces. But afterwards my remarks were misquoted by Senator Cole to make it appear that I had cast a reflection on the great service rendered by the peace force and by the State police forces during the war years. There was a complete misstatement and misrepresentation on his part.
But I went further and made some allegations against a member of the police force, whom I did not name at the time. I was challenged by honorable senators to name the detective I had referred to and to name the Attorney-General whose orders, the detective claimed, which had been passed on to him by the Crown Solicitor, he was only carrying out. I said that a certain detective was, in my opinion, using most corrupt tactics as a policeman in a police force in his endeavours to persecute one of the most gallant exservicemen that had ever left the shores of Tasmania. I have repeated this statement and I now name the policeman. At the time he was Senior Detective-Inspector George Billing. To-day he is Inspector George Billing and he is in uniform on the beat.
If I had used the same tactics as Senior Detective-Inspector George Billing used to try to influence the course of justice, I would be in gaol to-day.
– Be in gaol?
– I would be in gaol. If Senior Detective-Inspector George Billing had been treated as would anybody who used for the defence the same tactics as he used as a Crown Law Officer, he would be in gaol for the next ten years for corruption. An honorable senator asked me to name the Attorney-General, saying I had smeared every Attorney-General and every policeman in Australia. Let me make it perfectly clear that I spoke very highly of policemen generally throughout Australia, but there are always a few exceptions. In any body of well-behaved persons there are always a few exceptions; we find them even in the Senate. Before continuing, I shall name the AttorneyGeneral. He was Mr. Fagan. Senior Detective Billing made this statement before a solicitor in Hobart and two other witnesses. When he was carrying out these tactics he was obeying the instructions of the Attorney-General passed on to him by the Crown Solicitor, Mr. Stanley Burberry. That must clear any smear from any other Attorney-General or any other policeman in Australia in regard to that statement.
– Of which State was Mr. Fagan the Attorney-General?
– He was the AttorneyGeneral of Tasmania. Let me go further. If Detective Billing was making a misstatement there as an officer of the Crown, working for the Crown in the persecution of an innocent ex-serviceman, it is up to Mr. Fagan to-day to deny he ever gave those instructions to Mr. Billing. The onus is on the Attorney-General, Mr. Fagan, who is Attorney-General again to-day, to deny he ever issued such instructions to him; it is not on anybody else.
There has been some mention of police bashing and kicking. I have the highest regard for the majority of the members of the police force of Tasmania but let us go back to about 1954 - I shall not quote the exact date, as the people read it in every newspaper - to the time the royal commission was held into the bashing of innocent people in the main streets of
Hobart - innocent people again - by a small basher gang that was in the police force. Mr. Fagan was the AttorneyGeneral. There is no need to take my word for these matters. Anybody who wants to acquaint himself with the facts can read the report of Mr. Little, Q.C., who was chairman of the body that inquired into this bashing of innocent people in the Streets , of Hobart by a small basher gang in the police force at that particular time, and the findings, and he will find that one of the chaps who was bashed had been a month in the hospital recovering
– They must have gone to Queensland.
– 1 am going to let you see that there was an interchange between some of the chaps-
– Was it in Queensland?
– Thank you, Mr. President; I appreciate your assistance. At that time, there was a series of robberies taking place in Hobart. The police bashed these chaps in the main street and arrested them and bashed them again in the cells - according to the evidence - trying to make them confess to the robberies of which they were completely innocent. You will find it all in the royal commission’s report, which named half a dozen of them. One chap was sacked and he had the audacity to appeal to the High Court against his dismissal. Another was derated, but the Attorney-General of Tasmania had an act in operation so that nothing could happen to him because the appeal tribunal consisted of - and this is the reason that I have raised the matter on the adjournment - a police magistrate and two policemen appointed by the Commissioner of Police - his own juniors. Naturally, they reinstated him. The act was there for the purpose of protecting bashers, and it protected them. When the Commonwealth Police Bill was before the House I quoted this instance to show that such a provision should not be in the act relating to a federal police force. I was quoting from experience.
I go a little bit further and reply to the challenge made here. I also made the statement at that particular time that prominent citizens staying in a very prominent hotel in Hobart had been threatened by gunmen that they would be shot up. I was challenged again. But it was perfectly true. It was reported to the police and it was reported to the Attorney-General of Tasmania, and the Attorney-General of Tasmania at the time, Mr. Fagan, put one of his senior men on the job. This senior man was asked a week later what had happened to them and he said, “ Oh, they were only a couple of the local boys “ and nothing happened to them. Yet, when a man was found over the fence of a senior detective inspector he was arrested and locked up all night and fined £10 next morning. Who were these local boys? It is not so long ago, Mr. President, that I picked up a paper and saw a photo of a man by the name of Frederick Harrison, a notorious underworld gunman of Melbourne, who was shot to death on the wharfs of Melbourne. He was one of the innocent boys that went into the hotel that night and threatened the shooting up. The ball is in your lap, Senator Cole.
.- What this has to do with the Australian Democratic Labour Party, I would not know. The only connexion I can see, from what the honorable senator has said, is that the person who has caused all this trouble is George Billing and my name is George Cole. I do not know what Senator Aylett is getting at. Naturally we challenged him and said that he should not say these awful things unless he named the people. All right, he has named them! That does not worry me in the least. But he has taken apart the deputy leader of his own party in Tasmania, and he has really put his own party in a very sticky position in Tasmania by his utterances here to-night.
I do not know what the party in Tasmania is going to think of Senator Aylett, and I do not know that it will worry him very greatly. I am told that he is to leave for the pleasant climate of the salubrious gold coast very shortly., and good luck to him! In view of the way he has spoken about the police force to-night, I think that is the best place for him. I am sure that when he reaches the gold coast he will see quite a variety of costumes of the bodgie type such as Senator Benn spoke about to-night.
I do not know what the honorable senator has been getting at. He did not mention any cases that had been dealt with. His remarks may have referred to the case in which he was involved in Tasmania, but I do not know. He did not mention that fact. I am afraid that members of the
Democratic Labour Party do not care what he does, whom he spoke about and whom he put in. We are not even interested.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.59 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 25 August 1959, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1959/19590825_senate_23_s15/>.