23rd Parliament · 2nd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– I direct four questions to the acting Leader of the Government in the Senate. When does the Government expect to finalize the transfer of public servants from Melbourne, or elsewhere, to Canberra? Has the Government any knowledge of the number of young people compelled to leave Canberra because of the lack of industries capable of absorbing them? Has the Government any plans that make provision for the ever-increasing number of young people seeking employment in Canberra? Is there any move by private or government enterprise to establish labour-using industries in the Australian Capital Territory?
– The Government is working to a set plan in connexion with the transfer of its activities to Canberra. The honorable senator will not have failed to notice the big transfer in recent years, particularly of personnel from the various defence departments. Transfers of personnel from those and other departments will be continued. I am sure that the honorable senator will be the first to concede that the movement of the large numbers of people involved is hot & simple matter and calls for the provision of housing, schools and other services, all Of which impose a heavy burden upon the taxpayers of this country. Therefore, the transfers have to be carefully phased.
The lack of opportunities for employment in Canberra is one of the problems to which the Government has to devote its attention. It is unfortunate that in an administrative capital such as this there are not the opportunities for employment in industries that exist in cities that have followed a more normal and more natural course of development. Notwithstanding that, I think that the growth of the city - albeit its industrial growth has been limited to the lighter type Of industries- ‘does give a prospect Of employment for the yOuth of the city. This problem is under constant view, and I do not doubt that difficulties will be overcome as they present themselves.
– My questions, which are addressed to the acting Leader of the Government in the Senate, refer to most interesting reports in the Sydney press to-day in relation to certain proposals by the Federal Parliamentary Labour Party for the nationalization of certain companies. Has the Minister seen these press statements? Does he know that the Federal Parliamentary Labour Party now proposes to enter the take-over field? Has he noted that L. J. Hooker Limited and Woolworths Limited are on the take-over list? I also ask the Minister whether he will consider inviting the Leader of the Opposition to table, before the next election, a list of the companies that the Australian Labour Party proposes to nationalize.
– I think that most honorable senators will agree that I always at least attempt to give an informative answer to any question that is addressed to me.
– You are in trouble now.
– Indeed I am, as Senator Ormonde reminds me. It is beyond my wit to say with any degree of certainty what is the policy of the Australian Labour Party or what it may be in the future. When the party has such obvious difficulty within its own ranks in deciding upon policy Senator Vincent must admit that my task in defining that party’s policy is almost impossible. I think that the honorable senator’s suggestion that the Leader of the Opposition should supply certain information will probably be taken up by Senator McKenna at some time if and when the Australian Labour Party develops any firm policy in this connexion.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Customs and Excise. I refer to the interim report of the activities of the Australian Wine Board, which was recently submitted to the Senate. By way of preface I point out that on page 5 of the report the board refers to the fact that large quantities of grapes were removed during the 1960 vintage from some winegrowing areas for the- purpose of supplying what the report colourfully describes as back-yard wine-makers. The report states that the Australian Wine Board is most concerned about the development of this tendency as it is possible that much of this wine is produced under unhygienic conditions. Will the Minister indicate what steps the officers of the department stationed throughout the major wine-growing areas of Australia are taking to deal with this matter, which could have serious repercussions from both health and revenue aspects?
– I have read the interim report of the Australian Wine Board in relation to this matter and I can tell the honorable senator that the increasing development of back-yard manufacture of wine has caused us some concern. My department does not collect excise on wine as wine but when the wine becomes fortified we collect excise on the spirit that is contained in the fortified wine. In the last twelve months I have noted an increase in the number “of prosecutions by my department in connexion with this matter and collectors of excise have recently been alerted to the growing practice of back-yard manufacture. We become interested in the unfortified wines when we note a tendency to turn them into spirit. In that case we confiscate the plant - when we have information and when we can find it - and we prosecute the people engaged in turning the unfortified wine into spirit. A somewhat similar procedure applies in respect of fortified wines. The manufacturer of unfortified wines must register with the Department of Primary Industry because there is a levy on grapes. If the manufacturer is not registered he is evading the levy and that is a matter in which the Department of Primary Industry takes an interest. It would be a pity if any practice developed which would tend to destroy the growing good name that Australian wines are gaining not only here but also overseas. There is no question about it; the quality of Australian wines has improved out of sight in the last few years. Senator Laught, as a South Australian, will realize this, because that State is vitally interested in the production of excellent wines. Anything like the development of backyard wine making that would damage the reputation of Australian wines should be avoided by all parties concerned.
I do not want my remarks to be construed as referring in any way to a number of small vignerons who grow the grapes from which they manufacture their own wines and bottle and sell those wines directly. This is an entirely different matter. No one could classify them as backyard manufacturers. These people have enjoyed satisfactory trading over a long period and have gained a good name in the trade. I repeat that I do not want them to be classified, in any way at all, as backyard manufacturers.
– Will the Minister for Civil Aviation inform me of the actual amounts of money that were paid respectively by Ansett-A.N.A. and TransAustralia Airlines for air navigation charges during the year ended 30th June, 1960?
– I have not got actual figures in my head, but I shall get them and let the honorable senator know the amounts. In total, I think they ran to £450,000.
– I desire to direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport. Is it a fact that the construction of the vehicle deck cargo ferry “ Bass Trader “ is considerably behind schedule? Can the Minister inform the Senate when this vessel will be ready for launching?
– I am not sure of the actual date that “ Bass Trader “ will be ready for commissioning. Speaking from, memory, I think it was originally planned that this vessel should go into commission late this year. I shall make inquiries of my colleague and find out whether there has been any alteration of the date and, if there has, the reason for the alteration.
– I, also, desire to address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport. I preface it by saying that the Leader of the Opposition in the South Australian- Parliament, Mr. M. R.
O’Halloran, referred recently to a reported statement by the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner, Mr. K. A. Smith, in which Mr. Smith said that it would be a comparatively cheap matter, with modern machinery, to build a standard-gauge railway line from Maree, the present terminus of the standard-gauge line, to Port Darwin. Can the Minister say whether this is, in fact, the opinion of the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner, and does it mean that the Commonwealth is now displaying more interest in the project, which South Australia believes that the Commonwealth has an obligation to undertake under the Northern Territory Acceptance Act? Under that act, South Australia ceded the Northern Territory to the Commonwealth.
– I have not seen the statement attributed to the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner, Mr. Smith. I am a little surprised that it should have transmitted the impression that this work would be both an easy and, as I understand it, a comparatively cheap railway construction job.
– That is what he said.
– That is what has been attributed to him. Well, I express some personal surprise at the report. It is true that, under the Northern Territory Acceptance Act, the construction of this railway line was accepted as a Commonwealth responsibility. No time was set, and during the years it has always been the understanding that this line would be extended as and when the economics of each extension made it a practicable proposition. In fact, there has been one extension in recent years, that of the standard-gauge line to Maree. It is not within my knowledge that there has been any recent move to extend the line beyond Maree. Indeed, I happened to be the responsible Minister when that extension was completed, and there was then general agreement that, for the time being at least - for some unpredictable period of many years - that would be the limit of the extension.
– My question, which is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs, refer, to the recent statement of the Prime Minister that Australia had spent £27,000,000 on capital aid under the Colombo Plan, the main feature being awards for training 3,076 students in Australia, in addition to nearly 2,000 trainees under the correspondence scholarship plan. Is anything being done by the Commonwealth Government to keep in contact with these students after they return to their own countries, with a view to countering the insidious influence on the minds of impressionable people of the flood of well-presented Communist propaganda which is constantly and easily available in the south-east Asian countries?
– It is true that over a period of years approximately the sum mentioned by the honorable senator has been spent from Colombo Plan funds on the training in Australia in various disciplines of people from various Asian countries. When these students go back to their own countries, the Department of External Affairs endeavours, through its representatives in those countries, to assist the students in any way in which they need assistance. The members of Australian diplomatic missions in those countries can always be approached by returned students in relation to any matter in which they need assistance. It is the hope of the Australian Government that Asian students, when they return to their own countries, will be trained in the particular disciplines which they have undergone here, and that because of the development of their minds, they will be able to see through the fairly crude Communist propaganda to which they are subjected. In some cases they do not. Some of them are in.fluenced by Communist propaganda while they are in Australia. However, I think that most of them do see through this propaganda.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Territories. Is it a fact that a number of bathing beaches in and around Darwin are still disfigured by the remains of thousands of steel posts erected during the war as barbed-wire supports and as obstacles against an enemy landing? In view of the fact that at certain tide levels these steel supports constitute a physical danger to bathers, and, in view of the existing shortage of scrap metal, will the Minister have them removed and possibly put to some practical use?
– I am not aware that these supports for barbedwire entanglements exist at bathing beaches in Darwin. There would appear to be no reason for them to be left there at the present time. I shall bring the honorable senator’s question before the Minister for Territories and ask him whether something can be done to have the obstacles removed.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Health and Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. In view of the continuing controversy in regard to the advantages and disadvantages of adding fluorine to water supplies as a means of preventing tooth decay, will the Minister direct the C.S.I.R.O. to investigate this proposition and convey the results to this Parliament and to State and local government authorities?
– If the honorable senator places that question on the noticepaper I shall see that it is brought to the notice of the Minister for Health. I still hold the personal view that the use of fluorine is a matter for decision by the State or municipal authority concerned. Nevertheless, I shall send the question forward to the Minister for Health and ask him to provide an answer.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry noticed that at recent wool sales in Australia, conducted under the auction system, the price of wool fell? Will the Minister advise the Senate of the extent of the fall, on a percentage basis, comparing the prices received at the sales held in Perth at the end of August, 1959 with those that obtained at the sales held there earlier this week? Will he consider making available information required by a committee which may be appointed to inquire into the present system of selling wool in Australia?
– 1 am not sure that I fully understand what is required of me in the terms of the last part of the honorable senator’s question. As I heard it, I am asked whether 1 will give consideration to supplying information required, but by whom it is required has not been stated.
– By the committee.
– By a committee which may be appointed?
– That is right.
– When a committee has been appointed I shall be happy to give some consideration to the nature of the report that is required by it. In reply to the first part of the honorable senator’s question, I understand, though I shall obtain accurate information for him, that the reduction in the price of wool was between 5 and 7 per cent.
– Can the Minister representing the Attorney-General say whether a date has been fixed for the proclamation of the Matrimonial Causes Act and, if it has, what is the date?
– I do not believe that a date has yet been fixed. I shall ask the Attorney-General about the matter and get in touch with the honorable senator. I understand that such matters as deciding the details of the organization of marriage guidance councils, provision for which is made in the legislation, and the question of court rules, have involved a considerable amount of discussion. However, I shall let the honorable senator know the exact date.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade. Will he give the Senate the benefit of his comments on the report of the Australian Meat Board in which the board has stressed that a good market for manufacturing mutton could be developed in Japan if sufficient supplies were available in Australia? Although, at the moment, the price for mutton sold in Japan is lower than that obtainable in America, exporters consider it advisable to ensure continuity of supplies, if only in small quantities. The importance of developing an alternative market with such promising future prospects should not be lost sight of.
– The question is, I know, of vast importance. I ask that it be placed on the notice-paper in order to give the Minister for Trade a chance to study it and to make a statement, if he considers it necessary to do so.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry seen a report issued by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization to the effect that cattle can be fattened in the Northern Territory under dry farming conditions? If he has seen the report, will he inform the Senate of the methods used to fatten cattle under those conditions? I also ask him whether the same conditions can be expected to apply in the north of Western Australia as apply in the Northern Territory.
– I have not noticed the report. I shall ascertain whether the Minister for Primary Industry has seen it, and also ask him whether he has any information about the best method of fattening cattle in that area under dry conditions. I cannot imagine that there would be any significant difference between conditions in the Northern Territory and those in the northern part of Western Australia. If some grasses grow greener in one place than in another, I am sure the honorable senator knows about them.
asked the Minister representing the Minister representing the Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, upon notice -
– My colleague, the Minister in charge of the Commonwealth
Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, has furnished the following reply: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
– The Minister for Labour and National Service has supplied the following replies: -
Motion (by Senator Henty) agreed to -
That leave be given to introduce a bill for an act to amend the Customs Act 1901-1959, as amended by the Customs Act 1960.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Standing Orders suspended.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Honorable senators are requested to consider a bill now presented to amend the Customs Act 1901-1959 as amended by the Customs Act 1960. Perhaps the major change is in relation to the warehousing and control of petroleum products. Other amendments relate to the time of entry of imported goods, the re-warehousing of goods and the outward clearance of vessels. There is also a machinery clause which brings section 151 (b) (1) of the Customs Act into line with section 9a of the Customs Tariff.
The storage of petroleum products in licensed customs warehouses, pending clearance from customs control, is an integral part of the petroleum products industry and in fact only petroleum products are stored in oil companies’ warehouses. This factor has led to a complete review of the procedures for handling warehoused petroleum products. The amendments now proposed by the bill will permit the final implementation and ensure the effectiveness of the simplified system of controlling the warehousing, movement and delivery of petroleum products which I authorized the Department of Customs and Excise to introduce some months ago.
The new system dispenses with the necessity for full-time attendance of customs officers at petroleum warehouses and makes provision for the use of company records for customs control purposes. Normal commercial records kept by petroleum companies have been found to be eminently suitable for customs control ‘ purposes and the bill provides for the keeping of these records and their inspection by customs officers. It also makes provision for customs officers to search carriages carrying petroleum products after they have left the oil depot in order to ascertain whether duty has been paid on the product.
In terms of present section 72 of the Customs Act entries in respect of imported goods may only be made after the carrying vessel has been reported to the Customs. In terms of section 64 of the Act, ships are required to be reported to the Customs within one working day of the arrival of the vessel and although an importer may have all his documents ready on arrival of the vessel, he cannot pay the duty involved until the vessel has reported. Due to various circumstances there is often a time lag between the arrival of the vessel and its report to the Customs. The time lag for lodgment of entries results in inconvenience both to the importer and the department. The proposed amendments to section 72 will permit an importer to enter his goods and pay the duty immediately on the arrival of the vessel.
In terms of existing provisions of the Customs Act it is necessary to re-warehouse goods after three years. The mandatory nature of these provisions have been found to impose unnecessary burdens in certain cases particularly in respect of spirits which remain in bond for lengthy periods to mature. The proposed amendment to section 95 gives collectors of customs discretion to permit goods to remain in a warehouse for longer periods without the necessity of re-warehousing.
The amendment proposed to section 121 is in line with world practice of not attaching a manifest to the certificate of outward clearance of a vessel. The requirement places unnecessary work on shipping companies and the department and serves no useful purpose. The remaining provision of the new bill is in respect of section 151 (b) (1) of the act. The proposed amendment is purely a machinery measure designed to bring the section in line with section 9a of the Customs Tariff by permitting the Minister for Customs and Excise to make orders in terms of section 151 (b) (1).
I recommend the bill to the favorable attention of honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator McKenna) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 24th August (vide page 212), 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, 1961.
The Budget 1960-61 - Papers presented by the Right Honorable Harold Holt in connexion wilh the Budget of 1960-61; and National Income and Expenditure 1959-60 - be printed.
.- When the Senate adjourned last evening, I was endeavouring to evaluate the benefits of the Budget proposals to the average taxpayer. I was dealing with the proposals as they affect the Repatriation Department. Of all the departments, it seems that the Repatriation Department comes out of this Budget best. Some real benefit is to be given to some ex-servicemen and their dependants. However, I think that, as with so many other Budget proposals, these proposals do not go far enough. I commend the Government for having extended the benefit of repatriation hospital treatment to ex-servicemen of the Boer War and of World War I. who are service pensioners and who are in need of medical attention or hospitalization foT other than war-caused disabilities. I should like fo see that provision extended, if possible, to all veterans of those wars who are in need of hospital treatment for any cause whatever, and not only to service pensioners. As I said last evening, I do not think the numbers involved are very great. Unfortunately, they are decreasing at a very fast rate. If the Government did as I suggest, we would be paying a tribute to the courage of these men and the sacrifices that they made during their youth, by helping them, in their old age, to have a little more comfort and freedom from worry when illness overtakes them.
We all realize that after World War I. many young soldiers were most eager to get back to civilian life, and the medical tests that were applied to them on their discharge were not as stringent as those applied after World War II. The result is that many men of World War I., who are to-day really suffering from some war- caused disability, cannot prove it because they have not any medical records. In these instances, they should be given the benefit of the doubt. The problem would be resolved if veterans of the Boer War and World War I. were given the right to enter repatriation hospitals upon becoming ill. They would not be altogether a charge upon the department, because payments by hospital benefit societies to those men who were insured could be made to the repatriation hospitals. The companionship of old diggers would be a big factor in the treatment of their illnesses.
We all learned with dismay, disappointment and concern the Budget proposals for recipients of social service benefits. This section of th’e community needs every assistance that we can give it. Great play has been made on the amelioration of the means test. We are always thankful for small mercies but I remind the Government that in 1949 the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) said that he would, within three years, that is, by 1952, bring down a national superannuation act which would get rid of the means test altogether. Not in 1952, but eight years later, we get this very insignificant contribution towards the abolition of the means test. This concession will cost about £4,000,000 in a full year. The Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton) has told us that the total abolition of the means test would cost £130,000,000 a year. A comparison of those two figures shows that this partial abolition of the means test is only a very small step towards fulfilling the promise made by the Prime Minister in 1949. Personally, I do not think that the complete abolition of the means test would do very much for the base pensioner. I do not think it would give an extra bite of bread to him. We need first to raise his standard. However, I do believe that the progressive amelioration of the means test should be speeded up.
On the credit side of the ledger - a budget is supposed to have credits as well as debits - the benefits are very few. There is to be an increase of 5s. in age, invalid and widows’ pensions. That represents less than 9d. a day. At a time when the cost of living is increasing at an alarming rate, we offer 5s. a week to those elderly citizens and others who are unable to maintain themselves adequately. It has been said that the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) is, perhaps, holding back in order to make some kind of splurge next year in the pre-election Budget. If that be true, it is heartless and cruel, because many of those persons who are in need now will not be alive then to get the benefits of a pre-election Budget.
There has been no removal of anomalies in the social service structure. One instance is the payment of the 10s. a week supplementary rent allowance to pensioners. The supplementary rent allowance operates in a very anomalous way. Let me give an instance of an anomaly that has come to my attention this week. A pensioner who, because she owns some property, is in receipt of a pension of £4 14s. a week instead of £4 15s. a week does not qualify for the supplementary rent allowance of 10s. She is living alone and is forced to pay a high rent, but the supplementary allowance is paid only to pensioners who are in receipt of the full pension. Because she has assets valued at £30 in excess of the amount allowed under the act she is deprived not merely of ls. a week in pension but in effect of 1 ls. a week. I brought this matter to the attention of the Deputy Director of Social Services in my State. I was hopeful that the Budget would remove this anomaly but it has not done so, and the supplementary rent allowance of 10s. remains available only to persons who have no, income other than the pension. Since the means test is to be eased, I would like the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton) to take steps to enable the supplementary rent allowance to be paid to pensioners living alone and paying rent who do not receive the full pension. As 1 interpret the proposals set out in the Budget, those pensioners still will not be entitled to the supplementary rent allowance, but I will be happy if I am wrong.
I approve of the provision whereby war widows who have children will receive a domestic allowance of £3 a week. That is a step in the right direction, but no domestic allowance is provided for civilian widows, who must still exist on less than a pittance. A home that a civilian widow is struggling to> pay off is more of a liability to her than an asset. However, it is regarded by the Government as an asset, despite the fact that she is struggling to maintain payments on the home and meet the insurance premiums on it. She is not eligible for supplementary assistance even though it is costing her more to keep a roof over her children’s heads than if she were living in a rented home, lt is not possible these days for a widow with children to get a rented home. The Budget contains nothing to help women in those circumstances.
The Budget makes no provision for an increase in the allowance paid to wives of invalid pensioners. They are still to receive only 35s. a week. The anomalous position of a wife of 59, whose husband is a pensioner, receiving nothing is to continue. There is one bright ray in this gloomy social service picture and that is that the wife of a person who is in gaol will now be treated similarly to a widow. I am pleased that that concession has been made by the Government. Her allowance will not be sufficient to keep her above the breadline, but at least it is a start. The Budget makes no provision for an increase in unemployment and sickness benefits. They remain unchanged despite the fact that the cost of living has increased enormously. A person who is unemployed will receive the same amount as last year, as will persons in receipt of sickness benefit. Child endowment has not been increased. The funeral benefit has not been changed. The maternity allowance is the same as it was formerly. The Minister for Social Services has no cause to feel proud this year.
We are told that the Government will reduce its grant for homes for the aged by £272,000 this year. I do not think that saturation point in the provision of homes for the aged has been reached by any means. Churches and charitable organizations still are desperately in need of finance to provide homes for the aged. I know that thousands of aged persons are still in dire need of homes. The scheme has been of great assistance to churches and charitable bodies in enabling them to provide some homes for the aged, but the Government has consistently refused to extend the scheme to municipal authorities and government instrumentalities in the States, which would be quite willing to participate in the scheme and provide homes for the aged. Since the Government proposes this year to spend £272,000 less than last year on homes for the aged it should assist the
State governments and municipal authorities to provide these homes by extending the scheme to include them. Recently 1 attended in Perth a meeting of persons interested in this matter. A block of flats was under erection for aged people - another block was built last year - but the money for the building of those flats came from the State’s normal housing allocation. The Government should make additional finance available to the States for homes for the aged. That is not asking a great deal when we bear in mind that the Treasurer has budgeted for an expenditure of almost £2,000,000,000. The Government should be able to work out a scheme with the State: that would solve this problem.
I now turn to taxation. In the income tax field we find that this year the Government has withdrawn the 5 per cent, rebate that was granted last year. It was a giveandtake affair, which is quite wrong. There is an old saying, “ Give a thing, take a thing, poor man’s plaything”. A thing given with one hand and taken back with the other has little value. I do not think that anybody in the community would have objected if the Government had withheld the 5 per cent, rebate last year and used the money so saved to improve social service benefits for aged and invalid people. I do not think that the rebate made a great deal of difference to the tax paid by the average person, but having granted the rebate it is wrong for the Government now to withdraw it. last year the Government budgeted for a deficit; this year it has budgeted for a surplus. It seems to me that the Treasurer ;r (Mr. Harold Hot) does not know where he is going. The Government may be likened to a car that has to be pushed and shoved to get it going, even downhill! When the rebate was granted last year the Government claimed great credit for its generosity. Although the rebate did not mean a lot to the average taxpayer, the concession amounted to a considerable sum in toto which could better have been used to increase social service benefits. Speaking of income tax rebates and deductions, I do not know why the full amounts that we pay for medical, dental and optical treatment are not allowed as deductions. We know that the cost of these services has risen considerably for family men. Even for a single person, the cost of a serious illness, including hospital bills and so on - let alone dental and optical attention - can be considerably in excess of the allowable income tax deduction of £150. These expenses can always be documented; it is not as though any one would try to put anything over the Government. The money is paid out, as a necessary expense to keep on living and, therefore, to keep on paying tax. The full amount so paid should be allowable as a tax deduction.
Turning now to gifts, I find that the Budget adds three new bodies to the list of organizations to which gifts of £1 and upwards are allowable income tax deductions. I should like to see a fourth category added. To-day, a great deal is heard about communism and the fight against it. Communism is made an excuse for sins of omission and commission both by governments and others. I feel that the churches constitute the greatest bulwark we have against communism in this country. Each church, irrespective of its creed is a bulwark against atheistic communism; it must be so, by its very nature. Yet gifts made for the construction of churches are not allowable deductions for income tax purposes. On the other hand, donations for the erection of memorial halls and for other purposes may be allowed. If a person makes a donation to certain organizations that are doing good work in the community, the amounts donated may be allowable income tax deductions. Apparently the Government does not regard as of similar’ importance a donation towards the building of a church, otherwise such donations would be allowable income tax deductions. I do not mean, of course, the contribution that a person makes on a Sunday in the ordinary course of his churchgoing, if he happens to be a churchgoer. That is his own business. It would be a hard matter to tax the threepences or to allow them as deductions. I am referring to the people who make donations for the building of churches.
In to-day’s “ Canberra Times “ there appears an architect’s drawing of a nice church edifice that is to be built in Canberra for one section of the community that is new to us and which we welcomed in the last few years as immigrants. These people have got together to build a fine church to grace this National Capital. I cannot see for the life of me why subscriptions to memorials are valid income tax deductions but subscriptions for the building of churches are not so allowed. I should like the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) to consider my suggestion. Of course, he might do it in the pre-election Budget; I do not know. It is rather queer that if early in a financial year an honorable senator suggests anything to any of the Ministers with regard to improved social services or a reduction of taxation, he or she is told that she is getting on the band wagon, and that then is not the time to make such suggestions; but when one voices them in the Budget session, one is told that it is too late for the suggestions to be adopted that year. In looking at most of the answers to questions with regard to the amelioration of taxation that have been addressed to the Treasurer in another place, I find that usually they are to the effect that the Budget is fixed, and so that is that. One cannot do anything about it. This seems to me to be a wrong approach to the subject.
The Budget makes provision for an increase of sales tax to yield £15,000,000 more. That this form of taxation is being removed from a few articles will not cause the hearts of many people to flutter. The rate of sales tax imposed on silver-plated ware, pewter and cut-glass ware, is to be reduced from 25 per cent, to 12i per cent. Of course, many people do not have silverplated ware to-day because it involves too much cleaning; they prefer chrome and chrome-plated ware, which does not require much polishing. There is an item of interest to the man on the land. It is proposed to grant exemption of sales tax on de-salting apparatus. A very slight concession also is to be granted to the dairy farmers. It is proposed to grant exemption of sales tax in respect of tanks which form part of bulk milk tankers used in transporting bulk milk from farms. This is all of the sales tax concessions proposed by the Budget. On the other hand, sales tax imposed on electric shavers is to be increased from 12i per cent, to 25 per cent. In all other respects, the rates of sales tax will remain as at present. Baby biscuits and baby powder, simple things which are used in many homes, are still to be subject to sales tax.
The trouble with sales tax is that it is passed on to the consumer. There is a paragraph in . “ The Taxpayers’ Bulletin “ of 20th August which is of interest. It reads as follows: -
It may be said that a large part of taxation falls upon companies and businesses and not upon individuals. While this is true of the direct impact, it is obvious at the end of the road it is the consumer who pays.
– What is the difference between that and the company tax, senator? The company tax is an undertaking tax.
– It may be an undertaking tax, but I am talking at the present moment about sales tax, which is directly passed on to the consumer and forms a part of the whole taxation pattern. According to the statisticians - I do not dispute their figures because I cannot do so - in the present set-up an average family comprising a man, his wife and two children, is stated to have to pay an average of £10 7s. lOd. a week in tax. This is not just in direct tax, but including the indirect taxation that is applied to the things used in the household. This amazed me; I could not believe the statement when I read it. As I said earlier, the Government expects a widow with three children - that is, a household of four persons - to live on about £7 a week. We are told that that is the amount needed for that family to live on, not to live on and pay tax out of. Yet, according to statisticians who have engaged in research, an average family of four persons pays £10 7s. lOd. a week in tax.
– That includes tax paid on beer and cigarettes.
– That may be so. Why should not a widow drink beer and smoke cigarettes if she wants to? I would not deny her that right, but very few widows who have three young children can afford beer and cigarettes. It is hard enough for them to afford tea. Even that commodity is taxed. I do not take Senator Kendall’s interjection seriously, because I know that it was not really meant. The fact that people are expected to exist on low rates of pension while we boast about a high standard of living seems to me to be incompatible.
I turn now to the subject of health. According to the Budget, in the last financial year £249,000 less than was available for the purpose was spent on tuberculosis, and £218,000 less than was available was spent on mental hospitals. I am very pleased about the situation in relation to tuberculosis. I should like to remind Senator Laught that the original legislation which has enabled so much to be done in this field was passed in 1948. The entire blueprint for the treatment of tuberculosis and the welfare of sufferers from that disease and their dependants was drawn up by Senator McKenna, who was the Minister for Health in the Labour Government. I pay full tribute to Senator McKenna for his work in that direction and I pay a tribute also to subsequent Ministers for Health who have carried on the plan. The efficacy of the plan is shown by the fact that to-day tuberculosis is no longer the menace that it was a decade or a generation ago.
When I look at the picture of mental health, however, I am very disturbed. As I have said, I think that the fact that the full amount of money available for tuberculosis was not expended is excellent; it indicates that there was no necessity to expend all the money. But the position in respect of mental health is different. We all know how starved the mental institutions in every State are of ordinary amenities, staffing and rehabilitation. I cannot understand why the full amount of money that was available for mental health was not expended. Ever since I have been a member of the Senate I have been campaigning for a better deal for the mentally afflicted people. I have campaigned to have them regarded not as criminals, and I hope that to-day the climate is changing in this respect. I know that when we made investigations into mental hospitals some years ago, we found that in many cases those who were mentally afflicted were treated worse than the most violent criminals in the community. The expenditure upon their treatment and welfare was small, and that was why there was a differentiation originally between payments to mental hospitals and those to other hospitals. Now the community is realizing that mental affliction is an illness, not a crime. However, there is terrific scope in every State for an improvement of facilities for the care and treatment of those who are mentally afflicted. This is particularly so in the case of children. I am not referring to slow learners - they are in a different group altogether - but to those who are consigned to mental hospitals. Thank goodness, the word “ asylum “ seems to have disappeared completely from use. The lot of the mentally afflicted child is one that requires a great deal of sympathy, and a large expenditure of money by the Commonwealth and other authorities will be necessary if the problems associated with these children are to be solved.
I was rather interested to read in the “ Ulster Commentary “ the other day of the work being done in Ulster, in Northern Ireland, in the treatment of mentally afflicted patients. Hairdressers and beauty specialists are available for women patients, to help them get back a little of their interest in themselves. They are also given physio-‘’ therapy, occupational therapy and other help. These things seem to have made a great impact there, and I should like to see more of this work done Iri mental hospitals’ throughout Australia.
Once upon a time, not so long ago, when a person entered a mental hospital he was there for life. Even his relatives forgot about him. They did not like to be reminded that he was there; he was, in effect, a blot on the family escutcheon. I know that that is true, because before I came to the Senate I was interested in a class of backward and delinquent children, and one of our tasks was to visit children in mental hospitals. We found that we were the only regular visitors that some of these children had. Their parents had put them into an institution when they discovered their mental state and then had forgotten about them. The expectation of life of these children was much longer than that of the average child, because they were completely regimented. They had regular meals and were guarded against dangers such as traffic hazards, with the result that they could expect to live longer than the average child. They were completely forgotten; nobody bothered about them. I am thankful to say that now committees have been set up in most States to help solve the problems of these children, and to help in their rehabilitation. These children can be educated. They cannot perhaps learn Latin and Greek, but they can be educated and many of them are clever with their hands. I hope that in the years to come there will be no question of underestimating or under-spending the vote for mental hospitals. I would not care by how much it was over-estimated or over-spent, because I feel that every £1 spent in this way is being invested in the future of this Commonwealth.
I come now, Mr. Deputy President, to the subject of employment. Last night, I think Senator Laught said that there are 40,000 persons registered for employment in Australia to-day and that there are more than 40,000 vacancies. That is the sort of argument that we have heard from time to time, and always will hear, I suppose. The Questions we have to ask ourselves are: What are the vacancies? Where are they? Who are the unemployed? At the present time I am interested in the case of a young man, aged 23 years, who had been an invalid pensioner for many years. After spending three years in. hospital and undergoing numerous operations, he is now able to walk without the aid of callipers or crutches. He is not yet very good at walking, but he is improving. He was an invalid pensioner until earlier this year, but because he expressed a desire to work - he thought he could do something, and he wanted to do something - he was taken off the invalid pension list and put on to the general social services list. He has been on that list ever since, and is worse off than he was before. I have taken up his case on numerous occasions. He has been to the Department of Labour and National Service and contacted the section which deals with physically handicapped persons, but his words to me have been, “ Miss Tangney, I cannot get a job; nobody wants me. Apparently everybody wants his pound of flesh. No employer wants to employ me, because I cannot stand for long periods. I am not trained for anything, so any job I could do can be done much better by dozens of other people. Nobody is going to pay rae if he can get somebody else to do the job much better at the same rate of pay. “
It was because of my interest in this case that I asked a question the other day in the Senate about the employment of the physically handicapped. A few months ago, a physically handicapped week was held in Australia. Everybody was going to get work for the physically handicapped. The subject was given a great deal of publicity. It was a very worth-while object for such a week, and public attention was focused on the plight of the physically handicapped, who do not want to be a burden on the community, but who would be much happier and better off if they could get jobs. Not only would it be to their own advantage, but they could also be of some help in the community. The response to that week was very good, but it has not lasted. I am quite certain it has not lasted. 1 have spoken to those who are interested in this very vital work, and they have told me that the overall response has been disappointing. During the week emotions were stirred when the radio and the press were stressing the needs of these people. The response was fair during the week, but, as 1 have said, that week is over and the plight of the physically handicapped has gone into the limbo from which it came. 1 am a little perturbed at the fact that the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer) has, in the kindness of his heart - I think it was quite humane for him to do it - decided to admit to Australia families with physically handicapped members - families from refugee camps in Europe. 1 doubt whether this move will be to the ultimate advantage of the physically handicapped people. What will be their position when they get here? Will they be found employment, or will they be put on the social services list straight away? I am speaking now from the point of view of the persons themselves. I am very worried about this, because I know that the lot of the physically handicapped at the present time is not a happy one.
– They could not be in any worse position than they are in at present.
– I do not know. The person to whom I referred previously would be much better off in a camp than under the conditions in which he is living at present. When I raised this matter the other day the Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton) told me that this Government was about to do a gigantic job by providing tax-free cars for the physically handicapped. Those listening in to the proceedings, but for the interruption of Senator O’Flaherty, would have gained the impression that the Government intended to provide the cars free of cost. That, of course, is not so. The physically handicapped person must have the money to buy a car, and the Government - I say thank you very much - is merely remitting the sales tax. That is a concession that we have been struggling to obtain for quite a time, and we are glad that it has been granted.
– The Minister did not convey a wrong impression. The confusion arose from the way in which his remark was received on your side of the chamber.
– That impression was gained on this side, and it must have been conveyed by some one. I do not say that it was intentionally conveyed, but that was the impression that was gained. It was said that the Government was providing the cars free of sales tax. The remark could have been taken to mean that the Government was providing the cars. I am not decrying the fact that the Government has granted remission of sales tax on these vehicles. Members of the Parliament, on both sides, have been agitating for that to be given for a considerable time. The remission is ons of the creditable things about the Budget. Nevertheless, that does not help the physically handicapped person who has no job. He has not the means to buy a motor car. I ask in all sincerity that government departments and private employers give a little more consideration to those who are physically handicapped, to help them rehabilitate themselves. I have seen physically disabled people at work and can say that they are most conscientious. They do the best they can because they are afraid of losing their jobs. Very often, they do a better job, in less time, than those who are not physically handicapped, because their jobs mean so much to them.
In the field of health, Mr. Acting Deputy President, I notice that there has been no remission of the 5s. prescription charge under the pharmaceutical benefits scheme, even though the British Medical Association throughout Australia is deeply concerned about it, as are those who have to pay the charge. It is amazing that this matter has not received favorable consideration from the Government at this time. I do not blame the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) for all these things, because he is only the mouthpiece of the Government parties which are now in control of this country. I say that it is the duty of each of us to make a stand on this matter, because the charge has brought a great deal of hardship and is, in effect, an additional tax on people when they are ill. For instance, I have seen prescriptions for proprietary line drugs which previously cost 3s 9d. and now cost 5s. As you know, Sir, you cannot get much in the way of drugs for less than 5s. Once upon a time the chain stores had the motto “ Nothing over 2s. 6d. “. Nowadays, the chemist shops, so far as I can see, sell nothing under 5s.
I come now to a subject which has not been touched on, either in the Budget or, so far as I can gather, in the speeches that we have heard so far. I refer to the problem of education. We know that that is a State matter, and we also know that that is the standard answer that is given by the Commonwealth when the subject is raised. It is true that education is a State matter, but after all the Commonwealth is a union of the States. Because of Commonwealth policy, the education of the citizens of each State has become much more difficult, owing to the influx of people of different nationalities and of people with large families. The growth of the school population has been enormous. I was teaching for some years before I came to this Parliament and I know that the school population in my State has more than trebled in the seventeen years that I have been here. The number of high schools has more than quadrupled. The expenses for education which the States face are enormous and have been added to considerably by the Government policy on immigration, to which we all subscribe. Because of those extra difficulties, and because we feel that education is a national problem, just as defence is a national problem, the Government should make specific grants to the States to assist them with education. We know that the Commonwealth already makes grants to the States for specific purposes, such as for roads. Why, then, should it not make a specific grant to the States for education?
The problem of education is a particularly difficult one in my State because of its huge area. Western Australia occupies a third of the area of the Commonwealth. Its educational services must of necessity be scattered very widely. At one time, we had the largest number of one-teacher schools in the Commonwealth. In fact, I think we had as many as all the other States combined. Many small schools have now been eliminated and replaced by larger schools, with children being transported to them by buses, but there are many areas in which schools cannot be built. Because of the various climatic conditions that are experienced between, say, Wyndham in the north and Esperance in the south, several types of school buildings are required. Many school buildings are so out of date that if they were private dwellings the municipal councils would condemn them. I have seen teachers trying to teach in galvanized-iron buildings, in temperatures well over the century mark. We have great sympathy for our athletes at present in Rome because they may have to run for a couple of minutes or less, we hope, in a temperature of more than 90 degrees, but let us spare a thought for those who are teaching in the outback, in galvanized-iron schools, where the temperature is well over 100 degrees for most of the year. The difficulties in the way of providing school buildings in the outback areas also apply to the provision of hospital facilities. I should like to see definite grants made, even if only towards the capital cost of school and hospital buildings throughout Australia.
Finally, I wish to say a word or two about defence. I do not know whether many honorable senators have stopped to consider that since this Government came to office there has been allocated for defence purposes the sum of about £2,000.000,000. That is an awful lot of money, even by Mr. Menzies’ standards. T should like to be able to point to one thing of lasting value that has come from that expenditure. I do not say that a great lot has not been done for the defence of the country, but there has been too much shilly-shallying in deciding what is to be done and what is not to be done. There is not one thing we can point to as having resulted directly from that vast expenditure.
Honorable senators from Western Australia from time to time try to make others appreciate that Western Australia is a very big State, that it is closer than any other part of Australia to the trouble spots of Asia, that it has a very long coastline, and that it is vitally necessary that a naval base be built somewhere along the Western Australian coast. I have not seen any official pronouncement in this regard, although the Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton) earlier in the year informed me that, while nothing could be done at that time, if a second naval base were required in Australia later and it could be afforded, something might be done in Western Australia. I have seen in a news sheet, or something of the kind - I shall not say that it was a newspaper - a report to the effect that something was projected for the next couple of years. If that is true, it seems to be rather dreadful that news of it should come to us in that way.
I should like to see a naval base built somewhere in the vicinity of Fremantle, where the facilities exist for that to be done. It is of no use saying a base has been built at Sydney. That would not be much good if war broke out in the Indian Ocean area, or in South-East Asia. Many years ago the Henderson naval base, just south of Fremantle, was started and more than £1,000,000 was sunk there in those days. But we were told that a naval base at Singapore would be the best bulwark that we in Australia could have. What happened? The Henderson naval base was scrapped. If the base had been completed it might have made a very big difference to the whole of the defence outlook in Australia during the last world war.
I should like the Government to make a definite pronouncement on this matter. I am not flag waving, vote catching, or anything else. I am not jumping on the band wagon, either. As the State Premier once said, I am not much good at that, anyway. My athletic days are over. I am merely stating the facts concerning a definite need, not only for the sake of defence, but also because a dock on the Western Australian coast would be of great assistance to us in the repairing of ships after their long trip across the Indian Ocean. We in the west have had some very narrow squeaks when there have been shipping disasters in the vast expanse of ocean which lies to the north and west of us. Although I have not the nautical knowledge that Senator Kendall has, I do know what public opinion is in the west and what would be the commonsense attitude of the ordinary citizen. The building of a dock in Western Australia would be received with great relief by all members of the community, irrespective of their politics.
I note that within the last few weeks a move has been made to do something with the Leeuwin naval depot, which during the last war was one of the main naval depots used by not only the Australian Navy but also the American Navy. After being in the doldrums for some years, the depot is once again alive as a training school for lads who are entering upon a naval career. An excellent job is being done there. But I look with some regret at some of our training camps and other establishments where a very good job was done both during and after the war but which are fast going out of existence. 1 think also of the depleted resources at the Pearce aerodrome. The whole of this defence problem calls for a thorough investigation. We in the west were very pleased when the construction of Talgarno, a township in the north, was commenced. A great deal of money was spent there, but to-day it is a ghost town. We should like to know whether it is intended to do anything further to develop that as a defence area.
An increased allotment of money is to be made to Western Australia, particularly for the development of the north. The sum of £1,000,000 is to be spent on the development of the north this year. One million pounds! We are able to spend £11,000,000 on the Colombo Plan, a million pounds here and another million pounds there. One million pounds is nothing! I should like to see established an authority like the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Authority and the National Capital Development Commission with power to develop the north of Western Australia. To undertake that task is too much for one government, even taking into account grants made by the Commonwealth. Only those persons who have been in these vast outback areas realize the full extent of the problem.
I repeat that, when the Snowy Mountains project is completed, I should like to see an authority set up to proceed with the development of the north-west. That is an important part of not only Western Australia but Australia as a whole. During the last war the north-west of Australia was the first part of this country that the enemy attacked; bombs from foreign planes were rained on the civilian population. Although we paid tribute to the people of the north for their courage and valour, we have since forgotten them. Various projects have been commenced. The trouble is that we start but we forget to continue. I should like to see a continuing programme for the development of this area. But the work cannot be done by waiting for grants from any Commonwealth government that happens to approve of projects that are proposed. I reiterate that I believe the development of the area should be vested in an authority like the Snowy Mountains authority, in charge of which should be one man who knows where he is going and what he wants to do. I feel quite certain that if that were done the north would become not only the pride of Western Australia but also an important part of the country as a whole.
– I support the motion that has been submitted by the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge). I believe that Australia is enjoying a most progressive period of development and that, with a Liberal-Australian Country Party Government holding the reins at Canberra, the future of this country is assured. It would seem that Senator Tangney supports the view that Australia is prosperous, because only the most prosperous country in the world would attempt to provide the finance that would be needed to undertake the various projects advocated by the honorable senator. Ours must be a wonderfully prosperous country.
I am sorry that the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) is not in the chamber at the moment. Within the Labour ranks there are two very divergent views about Australia’s prosperity.
– There are two views about everything.
– Yes, and they are highly distorted views, if I may say so. Both Senator McKenna, who is Leader of the Opposition in this chamber and is still a member of the official Australian Labour Party, and Mr. Calwell, who sits in another place, are apostles of gloom. Senator McKenna said that an economic crisis was looming and that there was galloping inflation.
– That is true.
– And what I am about to say is true. Those gentlemen are praying and asking for a depression. Why are they doing that? They are doing it because they believe that a depression would provide them with the only chance they would ever have of regaining the treasury bench. Senator McKenna may live where he likes, but I point out that he moved to New South Wales.
– He could not have gone to a better State.
– I am glad the honorable senator agrees with me. Mr. Heffron, the Premier of New South Wales, has said that the wheels of industry are turning and that the scene within Australia is one of unbounded prosperity. Mr. Heffron, I daresay, is a very highly respected member of the great Australian Labour Party, which is supposed to speak with one voice. But to which voice shall we listen? Are we to listen to the apostles of gloom who sit opposite me in this chamber, or are we to listen to some one else? As I said earlier, there are divergent views within that party.
The chief criticism offered by the Opposition is directed, not to the amount of money that is to be raised or its allocation but to the source from which the Government is deriving some of its revenues. The Leader of the Opposition selected two sources of revenue for criticism - the payroll tax and sales tax. Honorable senators opposite say that both those taxes have affected the cost structure and have led to an increase of prices. But surely all taxes must lead to increased costs. If we were to accept the proposition advanced by Senator McKenna and his followers and were to abolish the pay-roll tax and sales tax, from what source would they expect us to raise the sum of £240,000,000 that those two sources of revenue provide?
– What about a capital gains levy?
– Ah! The good senator advocates a capital gains levy. He is very quick to put his hand in the other fellow’s pocket.
– I want to get his hand out of my pocket.
– I note that at the moment the honorable senator is well and truly keeping his hand in his own pocket. I again ask: Where would we raise the sum of £240,000,000? It was suggested that we should raise the rate of income tax. If we did that, the taxpayers would have to pay an increase of 50 per cent.
– That would kill production.
– That is the point, exactly. People tell us that it would kill production and it would kill the very incentive that is now building up our industries and providing work for the work force which is developing this country. It would be one of the worst things that ever happened.
The £240,000,000 has to come from somewhere. It is true that, under the taxation proposals in the Budget, revenue will be increased by £48,000,000 by the re-imposition of the overall 5 per cent, cut in income made by the Government last year. I shall remember the howl of horror that went up from the Opposition benches at that time, to the effect that that reduction of income was a serious injustice to the working man and everything was being done to succour the wealthy. Now, when the tax is re-imposed, Opposition senators still are not satisfied. Perhaps they were only sham-fighting when they said, “ Take more from the wealthy “. If we are to believe their argument, the corollary must be true, that the people with large incomes will pay the greater part of the £48,000,000.
I shall now refer to some other matters in the Budget. The effect of the marginal rises throughout the Australian economy is shown in the increased cost of wages and salaries. One sector of the Australian economy, the primary industry sector, is being hard-pressed by rising costs. The total increase in income the Government expects to receive represents 40 per cent, of the income from wool for the financial year 1959-60. In fact, the expected income under this Budget is five times greater than the whole Australian income from wool last year and represents one-third of the national income. Wages and salaries, and also the national income, have increased by 15 per cent, in the last two years.
Under the Budget the Government will attempt to raise £1,609,000,000. Honorable senators will note that I have used the word “ attempt “. The Government expects to spend £993,000,000. These are my own figures. They almost tally with the figures in the Budget, but by using a slightly different system of analysing the financial figures I have obtained these results.
– The Government itself expects to spend that amount.
– The Government expects to spend £993,000,000. It will attempt to raise £1,609,000,000. In addition to the £993,000,000, the Government will pay £350,000,000 to the States and expend an amount of £140,000,000 on capital works. That should leave a surplus of £126,000,000. Due to a different system of accounting and reckoning, the Treasurer expects to receive £1,812,000,000 from all sources, and expenditure is expected to be £1,796,500,000, leaving a net surplus of £15,500,000. Is that correct or not?
– As it comes from you, there is no doubt about it.
– The Consolidated Revenue Fund will be credited with £125,743,000 which will be used to finance or support the Australian Loan Council programmes and to meet contingent expenditure such as an excess of debt redemptions over the amount available from the National Debt Sinking Fund. If that money is not used in that manner, it will be used to redeem outstanding treasury bills. The Government is to be commended on its intention to redeem outstanding treasurybills.
The Government expects that income from taxation will be £140,800,000 more than was received last year. The following are some of the expected increases: The Government hopes that income tax paid by companies will yield nearly £20,000,000 more this year than it yielded last year. The Government expects Post Office receipts to increase by £14,000,000. The Treasurer expects to receive £1,812,000,000 from all fields of taxation, loans, &c, and he expects to spend £1,796,500,000. I have mentioned that the Government expects to pay to the States £29,000,000 more than was paid last year. The special grants, which will be made to Western Australia and Tasmania, will amount to £8,618,000.
Senator Tangney spoke about education, a field that is particularly suited to the States. Under the Commonwealth Constitution the Government has no power to deal with education as such, and it is to be commended for its wisdom in deciding to implement the Murray report. The Government believes it will have to provide at least £11,000,000 this year for Aus tralian universities. Honorable senators know that the Murray report contemplated an expenditure by the Government for this purpose of £21,000,000 over a period of three years, lt is believed that this estimate will be exceeded and that within three years the Government will have to provide £40,000,000. If that is so, and the States fulfil their obligations, the States will have to provide an additional amount of approximately £50,000,000. In reality, however, the greater part of that £50,000,000 will have to be provided by the Commonwealth. It can safely be said that in the next three years the Commonwealth Government will have to provide at least £75,000,000 for education, which is really a responsibility of the States.
Primary schools in Australia are relatively well catered for; but our secondary schools lack trained teachers. If we can improve the facilities at the universities for the training of under-graduates in science, the arts and the other faculties, more trained teachers will be - available for secondary schools and a flow of welleducated boys and girls ready for university education will be assured.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– I support the Government’s assistance to universities, because I hope this will be the means of allowing many boys and girls who matriculate at 17, 18 or 19 years of age to take a full university course. I do not by any means decry the study of the classics and the arts, which in the past was considered to be fundamental to a university education. I am especially in favour of the study of English. I should like to see first year English, at least, made a compulsory subject for all university students, because this would assist them to express themselves. But we live in a changing world and it is in the field of science, perhaps, that we look for the greatest advancement. I hope that the study of science, whether it be in agriculture or in engineering in its various forms, will attract more young men and women. There are many more branches of science now than there were in the distant past. When more young men and women study science, our private and public secondary schools will have a greater supply of graduates to teach science subjects. I should like to see the Commonwealth continue with its assistance to universities. Whether or not we should enter the main field of education is a question that we may meet in due course. As in the old hymn, “ One Step Enough For Me “, let us proceed gradually.
I was pleased to hear Senator Tangney say a good word for the Repatriation Department. I join issue with the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) in regard to his statement that we have done very little for the war pensioner. He mentioned particularly the totally and permanently incapacitated pensioner. This country has done more than any other country for its returned service personnel, and I give credit for that to Australian governments of all political colours. I well remember being on the Opposition side when a bill was passed to put the onus of proof in pension matters on the department. That was a very wise step. The T.P.I, pensioner receives £12 15s. a week. Is that the act of an ungenerous nation?
– How many men receive that pension?
– That is not the question. That class of pensioner receives that amount.
– Even on that scale, I should think it was a matter for debate. I doubt whether that comes up to the level of generosity.
– To receive that amount, it is not necessary that a man be absolutely down and out. Many of these persons are still able to earn something, and in fact they do. If a T.P.I, pensioner is married, he receives £1 15s. 6d. a week for his wife, making a total of £14 10s. 6d. per week. Conforming with the means test, he and his wife may receive £17 a week. I say that these pensioners are well treated.
I am delighted to know that the service pensioners are to be looked after. They are returned servicemen of over 60 years of age and they number at least 34,000. The means test is applied to them. They will be entitled to receive treatment for disabilities due to their civilian occupations and not attributable to war service. Those men went to the war, and a grateful coun try is at last to give them hospitalization at our repatriation hospitals. That will be welcomed throughout the land. It will be. one of the best provisions made for exservicemen. We must take one step at a time. Perhaps later we might achieve what Senator Tangney urged, namely, free’ hospital treatment for all ex-servicemen. The T.P.I. men are relatively well treated. In some cases they receive a transport allowance of £10 a month, and an attendant’s allowance of £2 10s. or £2 15s. a week. They receive also an education allowance of 13s. 9d. a week for a young child, and this allowance increases as the child grows older. Australia has done the right thing by them.
Another feature that is pleasing to every one is the relaxation of the means test, which will reduce the penalty for thrift. Savings are vital to Australia. Many of our public works could not have been undertaken but for the people’s savings that were lent by the Commonwealth Savings Bank to the Government. Savings are an important part of our economic structure. The easing of the means test will mean that many men and women will be able to enjoy much of their savings while still receiving a full pension.
There is to be a special grant of nearly £9,000,000 to Tasmania and Western Australia. Payments to the States increased by £29,000,000 last year. Our expenditure last year on the standardization of the railway between Albury and Melbourne was £3,672,000. This year an expenditure of £4,750,000 is expected. That expenditure has been within Australia and I do not think that this Budget can be honestly criticized by many people. It is a budget that will not disturb the prosperity, present or future, of Australia. The Budget makes no excessive taxation demands. In my opinion it will maintain our present progressive rate of expansion. Within Australia everything seems to be satisfactory, but we must examine our position in relation to the rest of the world. We know that in the ten years that have elapsed since the socialist government was voted out of office Australia has experienced progressive expansion. Our record is one of achievement. In mining development alone we have made great strides. The mineralogical map of Australia is dotted with places like
Weipa, Mary Kathleen, Mount Isa, Iron Knob and Constance Range where great mineral wealth has been uncovered.
– Surely you are not claiming credit for the development of all those places.
– If the honorable senator will listen to me I will deal with that matter in good time. As a medical man he should at least let the patient speak before making his diagnosis.
– Surely you do not claim all the credit for the development that has taken place? Next, you will be claiming credit for good seasons
– Senator Dittmer does not deny that those places exist, does he? His question is like the old trick question, “Have you ceased beating your wife?”, to which an answer “Yes” or “ No “ is demanded. I ask the honorable senator: Have you ceased beating your wife? I want him to answer, “Yes” or “ No “. If the honorable senator answers “ Yes “ it means that he must have been beating his wife. If he answers “ No “ it means that he is continuing to beat her. I pose the question merely as an example of the futility of his attitude. I mean no offence.
Even gold production has increased. Production of tin and silver has increased by 33 per cent. If we could solve some of our problems with America regarding the export of copper and lead, Queensland’s future would be very bright. I am sure that the honorable senator is interested in this matter because it vitally affects the State that he represents. We know that Australia is one of the first ten trading nations in the world. We export heavy machinery, railway rolling stock, electrical equipment, motor cars and motor parts, refined petroleum products, mining machinery and agricultural implements. Our secondary industries are of untold value to us. They have helped to absorb the flow of migrants to this country. We have had a flow of capital to Australia, chiefly from Great Britain and America, which has been of great value in the productive field. Overseas investors realize that Australia is by far the soundest and safest place in which to invest their money. I know that the Opposition will not agree with me that Australians are prosperous. However, Opposition senators cannot deny that at least 75 per cent, of our people either own their own homes or are buying them. Surely that is an indication of the measure of prosperity that we enjoy.
– They are in the process of acquiring homes.
– If the speechmakers do not mind, I will continue with my interjections. In the last ten years 750,000 homes and apartments have been built in this country and 75 per cent, of them have been purchased or are being purchased by families. The purists opposite cannot deny that. I do not want to weary the Senate with details of our achievements over the last ten years. What the Government has set out to do it has achieved. We have encouraged production which has led to prosperity, and the people of this country are able to share in our increasing national wealth.
I propose to say a few words about international affairs. I shall first make a few comments about New Guinea. I am proud to be an Australian. I can look the rest of the world in the face and say that Australia’s assistance to New Guinea has been of the greatest value. No other nation can fairly criticize what we have done, what we are doing at present or what we propose to do in New Guinea. We have never had a war in Australia. In these days we send patrols of three or four men into the hinterland of the Territory, where in olden days, under so-called imperialist rule - whatever is meant by that term - battalions of men would have been sent. Our assistance to the people of New Guinea is unique, because it is founded upon the three principles of civil peace, common sense and justice for all. Nobody - no member of the United Nations - can brand Australia as an imperialist power. Essentially we in this country are Europeans. Our culture springs from Europe. It is a dynamic culture. We are progressive. We are not Asians and we do not subscribe to an Asian culture. I do not think that as a nation we are in any way superior to any other nation, but Australia was founded by white men, was built up by white men and in my opinion We should keep it for white men.
Russia boasts that she has beaten the world in the economic and industrial fields. She threatens all nations with annihilation by rockets and other weapons. She threatens the extermination of any nation that does not agree with her. What a wonderful thing it would be if Russia were to allow the people of Rumania, Lithuania, Estonia, Poland and East Germany to resume their own way of life. Cuba has created a peculiar situation in world affairs. She boasts - rather, Castro boasts - that Cuba is secure because she has the support not only of Russia but also of China. In Africa order of any kind, whether it be the black man’s order or the white man’s rule, is under severe strain. We may well ask ourselves whether conditions inside Africa will deteriorate to barbarism and the law of the witch doctor. I wonder what would happen if Russia went into Africa. Apart from the defence aspect, what would happen? Would Russia become an imperialist nation? That is an interesting question.
We know that the Asian nations immediately to the north of Australia have made considerable material and technical progress in recent years. They have an enormous population, but no one could say that they have unity of thought. The great nation of China, too, under the doctrine of communism, threatens its neighbours with subversive action by means of infiltration as well as actual invasion and intimidation. We know what happened to Tibet.
Sir, 1 think all honorable senators will agree with the statement that there is little real peace in the world. I believe that we must look to Europe to maintain peace. I refer to Great Britain, France and Germany assisted by America. I would not like any one to think that I include America in Europe. What I mean is that a united Europe aided by America would be the greatest force for peace in the world. We know that fifteen years or so ago Europe was laid waste, but with American aid it has made a remarkable recovery. The prosperous condition of all European countries to-day is almost unbelievable. Two things have kept Europe out of the Communist camp. The first is that American troops were stationed in Europe after the. war. Never let us forget what that meant. The other is the fact that Europe possesses nuclear power. That fact alone saved Europe from communism and kept the Russians away from the English Channel. The revival of Europe has been due, firstly, to American aid, and also to its work force and its mobility, and the capacity of the people to win back prosperity.
– Are not Poland, Czechoslovakia, Jugoslavia and Rumania within Europe?
– Yes. What I said was that it would be a glorious thing if they had their freedom and were not under the Communist yoke. I think Senator Sheehan will agree with my contention that those countries have not got their freedom. They are certainly under Communist rule. I am delighted to know that the Opposition agrees with me on that point.
There has been a far greater increase of production per capita in Europe than in either Russia or America. There are two trade groups within Europe. The free trade group is composed of Great Britain, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Austria, Switzerland and Portugal. The other group, known as the European Common Market, is composed of France, Germany, Italy, Holland, Belgium and Luxemburg. These are known as the “ Seven “ and the “ Six “ respectively. Signs have appeared that these groups are now approaching a merger. If this happens - as we hope it does - there will be in Europe 250,000,000 people who have a home market bigger than Russia’s home market. They will have a good living standard, and this will be the greatest force for good and peace in the world.
I shall deal now with the question of red China. The Opposition has frequently asked why red China has not been admitted to the United Nations. 1 shall state my reason why that country should not be admitted to the United Nations. What does red China wish to do? She plans to lead the Afro-Asian group. She could put an end to the United Nations with the new nations that are coming into being. The whole setup of the United Nations could be easily changed. As I have said, Russia’s aim is to lead the Africans and to lead the Asians. There is no split between Russia and China on this matter. The whole plan was laid down years ago for study, and when we look around we can see that the plan is coming closer to fruition every day. If those countries had their way, they would force us to open our doors in northern Australia and would then have a spearhead of attack. They could force us to do this on the specious ground that China itself is over-crowded. China would then send selected groups into the northern parts of Australia.
We hear a great deal about Indonesia, which is currently shifting its people on to the islands between Java and Dutch New Guinea. In the process, she is settling selected red groups on those islands. I think we should be alive to this danger. Could America help us if Moscow threatened to bomb the American cities or to attack them with rockets? If America attempted to interfere with China, of course Russia would go to the aid of China and perhaps bomb - or at least threaten to bomb - the American cities. As I said a moment or two ago, there is no clash between Communist China and Russia on this matter. This must be kept in mind in the light of the international situation.
– In view of what you have just said, would you have prohibited the sale of wool to China?
– China buys wool from us if she wants to do so, otherwise she would not buy it.
– It is all right if you follow the £1.
– Nations only buy wool if they need it. Surely the people of Australia must realize the danger to which I have referred. This is the thing that worries me in this situation: Whether honorable senators opposite like it or not, unfortunately the great Labour Party which in 1910 was the protagonist of the defence of Australia, unwittingly or unknowingly is being white-anted by the Communists.
– That is silly.
– I say that, through unity tickets, the Labour Party is being white-anted.
– You should leave that to posterity to decide.
– I know that the Communists are too subtle for Senator Ormonde. The matter is too serious to leave to posterity.
– Would you advocate a unity ticket?
– Presumably because you do not know what one is.
– Who said that?
– I did.
– I know instances of members of the Labour Party appearing on unity tickets with Communists. Let me relate a little story about a great institution for unfortunate, unmarried mothers. On one occasion when an unmarried mother arrived at the institution, the matron took charge of her. The lass was accompanied by a young man. The matron said to him, “Are you responsible for this?” He said, “ I am “. The girl was admitted to the institution. Two years later the lass again arrived at the institution with the young man, and the same conversation took place. Although the matron was perturbed, she thought that it was no business of hers, that she must be charitable and do the right thing - and she did. But when this occurred the third time, the matron said to the young man, “Are you responsible for this”. He replied, “ I am “. She said, “ Why do not you marry the girl “? He replied, “ She does not love me. It is a matter of convenience.”. The meaning of the story is this: The young man was the Communist Party, the young lady was the Australian Labour Party, and their three illegitimate children were unity tickets. I am told that I do not know what a unity ticket is. I do not want to know. Honorable senators opposite will realize the import of that little story, because it puts the position very plainly.
Unfortunately, because the Opposition is playing with Communists, the safety of Australia is being undermined. Nobody in Australia will be able to trust the Labour Party in the future. Senator McKenna told us that he had been in the wilderness for eleven years and that he had not tasted the fruits of office for that length of time. He has only another 29 years to go to equal the record of Moses. Because of unity tickets and because of the Labour Party’s flirting with the Communists, Labour will remain in the political wilderness. I support the motion for the printing of the Estimates and Budget papers.
.- From my point of view, the purpose of the present Budget is to enable the Government to continue its policy of private monopoly ownership and control, direct and indirect, of the material resources of the nation. That policy has been perfectly obvious ever since the Government came to power and began to sell governmental instrumentalities and to assist monopolies in every way possible, both in Australia and overseas. Because of this, monopolies control the economy of this country, and are, in effect, the real government behind the scenes. They determine policy, and the Government gives effect to that policy. It will be remembered that in 1949 the Government parties promised to put value back into the £1. I have no doubt that Government supporters thought it would be possible to do that, but because the banks came into the scheme of things, the Government did not put value back into the £1. On the contrary, value has been going out of the £1 ever since. That indicates to me that the banking monopolies, together with the production monopolies, are determining the policy which the Government is putting into effect.
This has been made possible - and most profitable - for the monopolies, particularly since the Government came to power in 1949, by the continued manipulation of the present wage system by wage-fixing authorities, based on the minimum cost of subsistence for wage workers employed in primary and secondary production and in providing essential services, particularly where labour time is a diminishing factor as the result of the ever-increasing mechanization of production and services, and where production has been an ever-increasing factor. Wc have diminishing labour time on the one hand, where the workers concerned are paid a subsistence wage, and everincreasing production on the other hand. That is the very basis of an unbalanced economy and it has led to virtually all the troubles that we read about in this country and those overseas. The effect of this, amongst other things, has been to bring about a sustained reduction of labour time and of the real wage paid to the worker in the form of the necessaries of life.
The wage is in two categories - the money wage and the real wage, or the necessaries of life. The increased number of hours which must now be worked by the workers, and also by their wives in some cases, before such necessaries can be purchased demonstrates the depreciation of the money wage. The virtual unchecked depreciation of the currency has resulted in a reduction of the purchasing power of the money wage. As far back as September, 1940, the “Banker”- the official publication of the British banks - under the caption, “ Monetary Illusions and the War Effort”, had this to say -
It is not in the least true that the production of arms could not take place, or would take place on a smaller scale, if the public were not providing the money in the form of gifts or loans or taxes.
This is the main point -
If the money were not forthcoming in one of these ways it would have to be created, and this, the State, as the monetary authority, can do perfectly well, at negligible cost, and practically without limits.
There you have an admission by the English banks of the technique that is adopted. What I have just read was published in September, 1940. I have told the Senate on a previous occasion that the depreciation of the currency began in 1914, at the time of the First World War, and has continued ever since. At page 31 of “Hansard” of 31st October, 1957, I gave some figures, published by the British Chancellor of the Exchequer, showing that the depreciation that had taken place from 1914 until 1956 amounted to 78 per cent. That means that the £1 sterling in 1956 was worth only 14s. 4d., compared with the £1 sterling in 1914. That loss of value affects Australia to the extent that our currency is based on sterling. If we allow 25 per cent, to cover the adverse exchange rate, we see that each £1 to-day is worth only 3s. instead of the 20s. that it was worth in 1914. This policy has been given effect by both the English and Australian Governments, as well as by other governments overseas which have adopted a similar attitude, but with which I am not concerned at the moment, in order to place the whole burden of financing the nation on the shoulders of the wage workers, so far as they will submit to that being done.
In June of this year, the Institute of Public Affairs issued a little booklet entitled “ Facts about Inflation “. Under the heading “ How Prices have Risen “, 1939 is selected as the base year and the statement is made that whereas in 1939 we could buy a pound of steak for ls. 3d., now it costs 7s. According to Saturday’s
Melbourne “Herald”, steak costs 7s. lid. per lb. in Melbourne, or an increase of lid. per lb. on the figure cited by the Institute of Public Affairs. The article went on to state that in 1939 a pound of butter could be bought for ls. 7d. and now costs 4s. 6d.; a postage stamp that cost 2d. now costs 5d.; and a three bedroom timber home, including land, which could be bought for £800 in 1939 now costs £5,000. Those figures indicate the extent to which the wage-workers have been misled and also the extent to which the purchasing power of their wages has been depreciated - not only according to figures compiled by the Labour movement, but also according to the figures of the Institute of Public Affairs, a body which consists of representative Melbourne businessmen.
Few of to-day’s popular (or unpopular!) subjects produce a greater divergence of views than inflation. There are even those who applaud it as desirable evidence of, or as an indispensable concomitant to, the progress of a young and vigorous and expanding country. Those who expound that view do not include pensioners and others on restricted fixed incomes, manufacturers who are fighting a tough battle against unrestricted imports, or those producing for export whose responsibility it is to match rising costs at home with prices in competitive markets abroad. Some cynics even say governments like inflation because it enables them to pay for their borrowings of to-day in the (further) depreciated currency of the future.
That has been done in the past. It was done in the period from 1925 to 1931, when we went back to the gold standard. It is a technique that is adopted to mislead working men and others. It is not explained by the press, nor is it explained in the publication to which I have referred. But it is proving a double-edged weapon.
At the second annual meeting of Jonathan Investments Limited, which was held at Capel Court, 375 Collins-street, Melbourne, on Monday, 23rd May last, the chairman, Mr. Staniforth Ricketson, was unavoidably absent and his annual address was read by Mr. Allan Spowers, who presided over the meeting. In the course of the address - Mr. Ricketson takes responsi bility for this - the following statement was made in regard to inflation: -
Unfortunately, over the last year or so, the community has Deen borne along on the wings of a mistaken belief that inflation is an inevitable concomitant of national progress, and that modern conditions imply that costs and prices must go on rising without check. Yet world authorities are more and more coming to the contrary view and urging that true and lasting progress can be built only through stability, self-dependence, avoidance of careless ever-spending and the creation of conditions under which the savings of the people can accumulate and be applied to financing sound and permanent development.
To the extent that the currency is depreciated, prices increase. Actually, costs of production generally, assessed in terms of either labour time or gold, were never lower than they are to-day, but in terms of inflated currency, or in money in the form of intrinsically valueless pieces of paper, created by the State at negligible cost, they were never higher.
As I have said previously in this chamber, the only difference between the counterfeiter who acts outside the law and the inflationist who acts inside the law is that when the counterfeiter is detected and found guilty he goes to gaol, whereas the inflationists send their representatives to this place to justify inflation. In both cases, they succeed. The counterfeiter passes his money and receives goods and services for intrinsically worthless pieces of paper, and the banks succeed by purchasing goods and services for similarly intrinsically worthless pieces of paper.
One of the manifestations of that technique is the construction of bank buildings in Melbourne, Sydney and other cities almost next door to one another. The banks are converting their liquid capital in the form of inflated currency into fixed capital, and are doing so at the expense of the workers. While the banks are putting up these unnecessary buildings, while the monopolies are building palatial offices, and while millions of pounds are being spent on the construction of palatial hotels, good buildings worth millions of pounds are being demolished. I have in mind the demolition of the Equitable building at the corner of Collins-street and Elizabeth-street, Melbourne. It is one of the most soundly constructed buildings in that city. While that is happening, according to estimates that have been made 17,000 families in Victoria require homes but cannot get them. Most of those people are forced to live in rooms. As a result of this process, tremendous, indeed unprecedented, profits are being made. For the year that ended in May last the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited made a disclosed profit of £20,000,000. I should like to examine the company’s books with the assistance of accounting experts. If I did so, I should say that I would discover that the actual profits greatly exceeded that sum.
What is the overall effect of this process? lt is a constant increase of the number of age, invalid and widow pensioners - people who have been forced down to the social level of being destitute wards of the State. A large proportion of those pensioners, particularly the age and widow pensioners, could be employed and could earn at least the basic wage. But they are denied the opportunity to do so, because it is not profitable for monopolies to pay them the basic wage or more when juniors can be employed on the machines at juniors’ rates of pay. In September last the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Henty) indicated that the total number of age, invalid and widow pensioners had grown from 450,000 in 1949 to more than 650,000 - an average increase of 20,000 a year.
I meet these people every day in Melbourne, Sydney or wherever I happen to be. Many of them are men who have worked in secondary industry and primary industry all their working lives. They have been discarded, and as a reward for their services they are being given the dole and are forced to shiver in rooms during the winter months. Every winter the Melbourne “ Herald “ makes an appeal for approximately £20,000, I think, with which to provide blankets for pensioners. That appeal is all right so far as it goes; but the newspaper in question makes no reference to the economic policy that is responsible for the position of these people and offers no suggestion whatever as to how the reduction of hundreds of thousands of men and women to that level could be avoided.
I assist the pensioners in every way I possibly can. Many of them have assured me that they have been evicted from their homes and put out onto the street simply because they could not pay their rent. Thousands of them are called upon to pay as much as £3 a week for the rent of a room. In addition, they have to pay approximately 12s. a week for firewood, briquettes or other fuel to keep themselves warm. I have outlined the overall effect of the economic system that is in operation in this country and in others. The situation is worse in other countries. If Australia were as thickly populated as are Europe, America and some of the countries of Asia, the position would be just as bad here as it is in those countries.
Why is the situation as it is? It is as it is simply because the Government conspires behind the scenes with the monopolies and the banks, but particularly the banks, to treat human beings as so much labour power for the purpose of increasing their profits. Yet honorable members opposite praise the Budget. I wonder how they would react if they had to pass through an experience similar to that of the pensioners. Would they be as complacent as they are to-day, or as indifferent to the sufferings and poverty of their fellow Australians? I have had a good deal of experience of the reactions of men and women to their environment, and I have known many men and women who were comparatively well off in their prime but who were reduced to the lowest social level as destitute wards of the State. Those people have said, “ How I wish I had my time over again! I would not be imposed upon or misled to the extent that I have been.” They have become disillusioned in the hard school of practical experience. The reason for that is that our education system does not attempt in any way to correct such a state of affairs. To-day, for all practical purposes the education of our young people is carried out at the lowest possible cost in the interests of the monopolies. I am not alone in saying that; the New South Wales Teachers Federation and other teachers’ organizations say it also. This morning I received a letter dated 24th August, 1960, from the New South Wales Teachers Federation. It is addressed “ To all members of House of Representatives and Senate “, and reads -
Re: Allocations for Education in Federal Budget.
At the Council meeting of this Federation on 20th August, 1960, consideration was given to the provision made by the Federal Budget for Education and the undermentioned resolution was adopted unanimously -
While welcoming the increased allocations of £3.2 millions for University education, the N.S.W. Teachers’ Federation expresses profound disappointment at the fact that the Federal Government makes no provision for substantial financial assistance to the States to meet the urgent needs of primary, secondary and technical education throughout Australia.
The failure of the budget in this regard is further emphasized by the fact that since the Federal Government’s migration policy began, more than 470,000 migrants have come to this country and nearly 500,000 first generation children have been born here.
In view of the tremendous public support for greatly increased finance for education as evidenced by the National Education Conference, attended by 3,200 delegates from organisations representing the vast majority of Australian citizens, the N.S.W. Teachers’ Federation calls on all Federal Members and Senators to take appropriate action during the budget sessions to endeavour to have the needs of education fully considered.
Further, we invite all Federal members and Senators to forward copies of their statements to the Teachers’ Federation for the purpose of publicising action taken.
I wonder whether copies will be forwarded by the supporters of the Government. The concluding paragraph of the letter reads -
I wish to bring under your notice the last two sentences, namely the desirability of appropriate action during the budget session to have the needs of education fully considered and for copies of any statement you may make to be forwarded to the Teachers’ Federation, so that it may be publicised.
The letter is signed by E. J. Nicholls, acting general secretary.
Senator Tangney said that education is a State matter, but I believe it is essentially a national matter. In my opinion the Government is under an obligation to provide every facility for the proper education of the children of Australia and that has never been done in the past. That is the real reason why people are so easily imposed upon politically. For example, in the press one reads about the high cost of production; but that term is not qualified. It is only a half truth. The real cost of production was never lower. The inflated or artificial cost was never higher.
When the press refers to wages, usually a statement is made about the high wages that are being received by workers. Taking the basic wage as being £14 a week, I find that the £1 is worth only 3s. now, compared with what it was worth in 1914. Fourteen times 3s. is £2 2s., and therefore the basic wage is back to the 1907 basis, assessed in terms of gold. Since 1907, the productivity of the workers has increased enormously, which means that their relative wages to-day, in terms of the necessaries of life, have never been lower. In other words, the income they receive in the form of real wages has never been lower in comparison with the enormously increased production of the present generation. Yet, there are in this Parliament men who from the public platform have pledged themselves to do their very best, not in the interests of a section of the people as the Government is doing now, but in the interests of the people of Australia as a whole.
Education in Australia now consists of teaching children to be cheap, competent within the narrowest limitations of process workers, and contented. If some people refuse to be too cheap or too contented, provided they live long enough they will find themselves either in gaol or on the dole.
Honorable senators opposite accuse men and women, particularly men, of possessing Communist-inspired tendencies because they challenge the right of the banks, the owners of land and capital, and the private monopolists to reduce Australians to the lowest level. Those tactics are adopted to confuse these unfortunate people. Government supporters appeal to fear and racial or political prejudice rather than state the facts in a way they can be understood. This is the situation with which Australia is faced and that is why I condemn this Budget as a political instrument to perpetuate the gross injustice to which the workers of this country have been subjected by the Government, the wage-fixing tribunals and the penal sections of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act.
If I were not a member of this Senate and were, for the time being, a member of the Transport Workers Union, the Australian Railways Union or one of the metal trades unions, I would urge those unions to take direct action, in every possible way, to force this Government to do something better for the workers than it intends to do. In this life, and particularly in politics and social relationships, all things yield to pressure, and if no pressure from the workers is forthcoming, governments are indifferent and ruthless. As a matter of fact, one can say without exaggeration that governments operate on the principle of the wheelbarrow; they go only as far and as fast as they can be pushed, and no farther.
Senator Mattner referred to our prosperity. I ask honorable senators to note how he emphasized the collective pronoun “ our “ which implies all of us. But the prosperity is the prosperity of the monopolists - the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited to which I have referred, General Motors-Holden’s Limited, and the banks. They are the only concerns that are prosperous. The 650,000 persons who are classed as the destitute wards of the State cannot, by any process of reasoning, be said to be prosperous. In many cases, they are just as badly treated in this country as are people in overseas countries. This is a country of practically unlimited resources, and we are capable of reducing poverty to a minimum provided the Government has the moral courage, initiative and knowledge to re-organize our internal economy accordingly. There is no shortage of all the essential resources to prevent poverty - namely, land, materials and manpower - but no State or Federal government has attempted to relieve the present position. We pass by those people as casualties just as casualties are passed by in the field of battle. These are treated as so many casualties, and the Government forgets all about them. This cannot go on indefinitely. Practically all the trouble that one reads about in various parts of the world, particularly in Africa, Cuba, Japan, Turkey and Greece, is a sign of the inevitable reaction of men and women to increasing preventable poverty and the increasing danger of war in those countries.
Senator Mattner emphasized that we were living in a changing world. That is perfectly true. Conditions to-day are very different from those that existed before the Second World War. The mechanization of industry and its effects are unprecedented, and wars have had an accelerating effect there. But in this changing world, people are beginning to change their ideas. As conditions of life and conditions of employment change, the ideas of the people change. All the trouble about which the Government complains and which it attributes to the Communist Party and its supporters is inevitable where a (government tries to ignore the effects of the changes that are occurring.
If the Government is allowed to continue along its present lines, what will happen in Australia is precisely what happened in America when it was a new country. On 23rd May, 1857, Lord Macaulay, writing from Holly Lodge, London, in relation to migrants leaving England for America, stated -
As long as you have a boundless extent of fertile and unoccupied land, your labouring population will be far more at ease than the labouring population of the Old World and, it is the case of the Jeffersonian politics, may continue to exist without causing any fatal calamity. But the time will come when the New England will be as thickly populated as the Old England. Wages will be low and will fluctuate with you as well as with us. You will have your Manchester’s and Birminghams. Hundreds of thousands of artisans will assuredly be sometimes out of work. Then your institutions will fairly be brought to the test. Distress everywhere makes the labourer mutinous and discontented . . . The day will come when the State of New York will be a multitude of people, none of whom has had more than half a breakfast or expects to have more than half a dinner. On the one side is a statesman preaching patience, respect for vested rights, and strict observance of public faith. On the other hand is a demagogue ranting about the tyranny of capitalists and usurers, and asking why anybody should be permitted to drink champagne and ride in a carriage while thousands of honest folks are in want of necessaries. What is the working man likely to do when he hears his children cry for bread?
In other words, he foresaw exactly what was going to happen in America with the flood of migrants that went to that country. According to the figures, in America there are 15,000,000 or 16,000,000 on the poverty level and 4,000,000 people out of work and possibly as many more partially unemployed.
A similar position exists in England. The following is an extract from the “ Socialist Standard “ of June, I960, dealing with poverty in Britain -
A summary of the situation has been made by Professor Titmuss, of the London School of Economics - not a very keen supporter of the Socialist Party of Great Britain - who says in a pamphlet “The irresponsible society” that one in every seven in Britain now are precariously close to poverty. He puts the total of the poverty line citizens at between seven and eight millions.
That gives an idea of the position that is developing. After the American War of Independence in 1776, when the colonists rebelled against British imperial rule, the country began to become populated under the system of a maximum profit for the owners of land and capital and a subsistence wage for the workers. The posi-tion that eventually developed in America was exactly that which was foreseen by Lord Macauley in 1857. A similar position will develop here unless we change our ways.
Let us consider the hire-purchase system. A young married couple have to mortgage their earnings for the whole of their working lives before they can get a home, furniture and other essentials. If they have a period of unemployment or sickness, the house and goods they are purchasing may be repossessed. I wonder at times whether Government supporters are as humane in their outlook as they profess to be. They pose and postulate as men and women who want to do the very best for this country, but in Australia to-day we have poverty in the midst of plenty. When Government supporters eulogize the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) for his wonderful Budget I wonder how much feeling they really have for the people who sent them into Parliament. I do not think that their attitude is genuine. They are indulging in political exhibitionism at the expense of people who do not understand the true position.
Senator Mattner said that totally and permanently incapacitated ex-servicemen had been treated generously under the Budget. I do not deny that, speaking comparatively, but a great many ex-servicemen who should be entitled to T.P.I, pensions are unable to obtain them. Several cases have been brought to my attention of men who sacrificed the best years of their lives in the service of their country but who are denied T.P.I, pensions. Their numbers are increasing. Under the repatriation legislation the onus of proof now rests on the tribunal, but the tribunal gives its decision in accordance with the Government’s policy. The onus of proof provision means one thing on paper and another thing in practice. The repatriation authorities administer the law according to the Government’s policy.
The situation that exists in Australia to-day cannot be ignored indefinitely. The Government must do something to improve the working conditions of people employed in primary and secondary industries. Aged persons must be given a better deal. During the last war large numbers of elderly people did splendid jobs in assisting the war effort. They acted as supervisors of trainees. War-time production increased remarkably. When hostilities ceased the elderly people were put off. Having helped to win the war, their services were dispensed with and they went back on the dole.
I want to know how the Government can in conscience justify the state of affairs that exists in Australia to-day. If it is physically possible to do a great deal more for age pensioners it is financially possible to do it. Does the Government want to convey the impression that it would like elderly people to die off as quickly as possible because they are of no further use to the country? If the Government does not intend to create that impression it should change radically its attitude towards these people.
Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN (Queensland) [3.42]. - I support the motion now before the Senate. At this time each year when the Budget is presented we review the achievements of the Government and look forward to what is to be done in the next financial year. On this occasion the Budget has helped wherever possible those people who have been in need of help. It is a Budget designed to fight the problem of inflation, thus benefiting everybody in the community. We in this country are facing an important time in our history. Australia to-day is developing in a way that a few years ago would not have been imagined possible. We have a steady flow of immigrants coming here and to-day immigrants and old Australians alike are helping to build a great nation. It is wonderful to watch this development taking place, to see more and more opportunities for our young people in their chosen occupations and to see benefits being provided for those who need them.
While on the subject of immigration I should like to remind the Senate that in this World Refugee Year Australia has played a very special part in providing security, freedom and a new way of life to many people who have suffered greatly. I was heartened by the announcement recently that a number of physically-handicapped people would be allowed to migrate to Australia from overseas. I do not think any of us can fully realize the feelings experienced by people who are forced to leave their homes, their friends, their possessions and their chosen occupations and go out into the darkness of the night and the horror of a war-torn countryside. But men and women have done that because they believe in the freedom in which we believe and because they have fought for the things that mean so much to us. For years many of these people have lived under great difficulties and sorrows in camps, fighting sickness and the terrible fear of not knowing what the future may bring. In this World Refugee Year Australia - your country and mine - holds out the hand of friendship to these people and gives to them new hope. I feel proud to be an Australian and to know that we are playing our part in this humanitarian work.
I mentioned earlier the development and growth of this country. What did it really mean? It meant surely, above all else, faith in the nation, on the part of the people of this country and those of countries overseas. This faith shown in Australia by other countries has meant, of course, that tremendous amounts of money have come into Australia to help us in its great development. Countries do not lend money to another nation if they have not got faith in it and confidence in its government.
In order further to explain this point to honorable senators, I shall quote figures in relation to overseas money which has come into this country. Loan raisings overseas during 1959-60 have met with great success because there is faith in Australia. Nearly £43,000,000 has been raised, the largest amount of money that Australia has borrowed overseas in any financial year since the Australian Loan Council was established in 1928. Not only have we raised a record amount of money in the capital markets of the world, but we have raised more money overseas during 1959- 60 than has any other foreign government. If that is not proof, Mr. Acting Deputy President, of the confidence shown in this country and in this Government by overseas people, I do not know what it is.
Since 1949, some £800,000,000 of overseas money has been invested in Australia. What has it meant? It has meant more work, more occupations, more choice of occupation for our young people as they move throughout the length and breadth of this country. It has meant the development of. some of our sparsely populated areas. It has meant new industries and it has meant, I believe, security and prosperity in this country which surely is of importance to each and every one of us. [ think the story of growth in this field is very well worthwhile recording. We have to-day some 54,000 factories, producing goods to the value of £4,274,000,000 a year - nearly three times the value of goods produced in this country ten years ago. These are not large monopolies as our opponents in this place and in another place suggest. But may I remind the Senate that 97 per cent, of these factories are engaged in comparatively small industries, often employing not more than 100 persons. They are, indeed, tremendously important to all those areas in which they are situated. Never before has Australia had such varied industrial production. This, surely, is a tribute to the efficiency of this Government and the wisdom of its administration. During our term of office we have encouraged improved efficiency in primary industries, whose volume of production has increased by more than 50 per cent.
And so the story goes on. We see, as is very right and proper, greatly improved living standards in the community - more motor vehicles, more telephones, more radio sets - yet all the time, as one of my colleagues has said to-day, we hear the story of calamity from the Opposition! Where is this calamity? Surely the record of this Government and the facts 1 have cited answer the Opposition effectively. Let me remind honorable senators that in this country in 1949 there was one motor vehicle to every 6.5 persons in the community; to-day the proportion is 1 to 3.8. In 1949, there was one telephone to every 10.7 persons in the community; to-day, the proportion is 1 to 4.9. In 1949, there was one radio set to every 4.5 persons in the community; to-day the proportion is 1 to 2.7 persons in the community. Turning to the new medium of television that we have in the community, I find that already there is one television set to every 11.3 people in Australia, and the number is growing rapidly. These figures, surely, supply an effective answer to the charges that have been made by honorable senators on the Opposition benches. Earnings in this country have risen. Savings banks deposits have doubled since 1949 and savings through insurance have trebled.
I wish now to contradict some of my colleagues on the opposite side of the chamber who have said over and over again, “ This Government has no interest in the family man “. Mr. Acting Deputy President, I say that this Government has done more for the families than any previous government has done. I believe that it is right and proper that that should be so. I say to those who have spoken in contrary vein that they are, indeed, quite incorrect in making such a statement. Everybody knows that one of the most important things to every family is a home. Of course it is! It is the very basis of all our family living. When this Government came into office, we had a tremendous housing lag. We all remember the tragedies of shared homes, shared kitchens and that kind of problem - and the housing camps! Goodness, what a tragedy! This Government has faced that problem magnificently. We have to-day, as my colleague, Senator Mattner has said, a fine record of housing and a fine record of home ownership. The proportion of home ownership in Australia is one of the highest - if not the highest - of all countries of the world. No less than 75 per cent, of the homes of this country are either owned or being acquired by the occupiers. That is a grand thing. There is no greater security for any family, I believe, and for the basis of family life, than for the family to own its home. These things are tremendously important. It is nonsense for my colleagues opposite to say that this Government is not interested in the family; of course it is! In the financial year just ended, 90,000 houses and flats were built. What a grand record! Furthermore, this Government has the greatest record in relation to war service homes since that scheme was introduced. These things, of course, mean a better standard of living for families.
I come to another aspect of the matter. As everybody knows, one of the most important factors in family life is the main tenance of the health of the family. We all know the problems that parents face in this connexion. This Government has fought - and is continuing to fight - the menace of tuberculosis with such good effect that already the death-rate from this terrifying disease has been halved. We are proud and pleased and grateful that to-day there are empty beds in tuberculosis hospitals because this menace is being fought so desperately. In world health circles, Australia is recognized as one of the countries that has made the greatest contribution in the fight against tuberculosis. Of course, that means a great deal to us.
I come now to medical benefits. Special benefits have been given, which are of tremendous importance to the mothers of families, who have a special need for hospital and medical care. My colleague, Senator Laught, mentioned another matter last night, but I think I am justified in referring to it again. The scheme of free milk for school children was brought in by this Government and this year there is a proposed increase of £291,000 over the expenditure last year. What a terrifying thought poliomyelitis was! It chilled the heart of every parent. This Government has provided the vaccine to fight that dread disease. The cases are not now so numerous. Nothing is more valuable to any one of us than his or her health and the matter of paramount importance to parents is the health of the family. This Government has made it possible for free life-saving drugs to be made available to families who need them.
In the field of education, which has already been discussed by honorable senators on this side of the chamber, this Government, realizing the problems that families face in meeting the cost of education, has allowed education fees to be deducted for income tax purposes. Let me remind the Senate of the Commonwealth scholarship scheme, introduced by this Government. Some 3,000 university scholarships were granted in 1958-59, yet our opponents say that the Government is not interested in the family and in education. Point after point could be made to demonstrate the tremendous interest that the Government has shown.
I should like also to remind the Senate that in most families there arises at some time the problem of the care of an aged person in the family circle. We know only too well the disabilities that families face, perhaps as the result of inadequate accommodation, in caring for such an aged person. This Government, recognizing this problem and acknowledging the great work being done by church and charitable organizations in this field, has contributed most generously, and very properly, to church and charitable organizations so that they can make available more homes for the aged. Many families now are grateful that aged relatives are happily housed in accommodation that has been made available under this scheme. The old people live in close contact with members of their own generation. They can be visited by members of their families whenever they wish, and when they are not very well and need help there is some one to look after them. This is a great service provided by this Government, and one which has been of tremendous help to many.
It is important that all families should feel that there is a good future ahead for the children, and that they will be able to obtain and enjoy secure and continued employment. These things are of tremendous importance to families, and I would remind honorable senators that the Government has a very proud record in the maintenance of full employment. No industrialized country in the free world can match our record in that field. Not only does a young person have the opportunity to choose the occupation he wants, but he is also assured of the continuity of his wage or salary. He knows that he will be able to bring a pay envelope into the family home every pay. day. That makes for an improved standard of living and brings prosperity to the family circle. This Government has ensured security to families as the result of continuity of employment. These things are of tremendous importance. The Government is determined to maintain them.
I want now to deal with one or two particular items in the Budget. I should like, first of all, to refer to page 5 of the Minister’s speech, but before doing so I pay tribute to my Queensland colleague, the Minister for Repatriation, Senator Sir Walter Cooper. He is a man with the finest record one could possibly imagine in both peace and war. Despite the charges made by some of the speakers on the Opposition side, I believe he is one of the greatest humanitarian Ministers that any one has known. In this Budget an increase of 10s. a week is to be made to the special rate pension for totally and permanently incapacitated ex-servicemen. War widows are to be given further assistance, the domestic allowance is being increased and pensions payable to certain classes of exservicemen and women are to be increased by 5s. a week.
I turn now to something which is of tremendous interest to many people. 1 refer to a concession which senator after senator on this side of the chamber has asked for, on behalf of ex-servicemen, and we are pleased to note that it has been given in this Budget. The Government has also agreed to provide free medical treatment to service pensioners for disabilities not due to war service. This, I believe, is a most important benefit, and I am glad that I have the opportunity to-day to express my appreciation to the Minister and to the Government for it. We find that this benefit is to be extended to Boer War veterans. It is a long time since the Boer War, and these men are indeed veterans to-day. They were at one time young men who joined the Services when this country needed them, and I believe that we all owe them a very great debt. My late father was a Boer War soldier. I know that to-day many such men are in need of help because of their age and, very often, because of some disability due to their war service. I am indeed glad to see in this section of the Minister’s speech the words “ including Boer War veterans, and this benefit will operate as soon as administrative arrangements can be made “. This new service will be of tremendous benefit and represents one more great achievement for which we can thank Senator Sir Walter Cooper and this Government.
I pass to social services. I am sure that everybody on both sides of the Senate will agree with me when I say that whatever is given to our aged or invalid people, and our widows, we always feel we would like it to be more. Despite the charge made by Senator Cameron that this Government lacks humanitarian feelings, I believe that it has proved over and again its very real sympathy for persons in need. I am very glad indeed that there is to be an increase in the pension rate. The aged and invalid pension will now rise to £5 a week, widows with one or more children will receive £5 5s. and other widows will receive £4 7s. 6d. These increases will, of course, be of great assistance. However, I think that the finest improvement in this section of the Budget is the relaxation of the means test. Honorable senators will recall that the Government promised to1 do this, and, despite the charges of the Opposition, this is one more promise that the Government has kept. The GovernorGeneral in his speech at the opening of the Parliament at the beginning of this year said that the Government would look at this matter, and we now find in this Budget that the Government has done so. Over the years we have all experienced, in our association with aged people, the problem which has arisen because of the means test bar. We have known of the difficulties experienced because people have been thrifty and have acquired property and saved money. We have all felt, I know, that it was very unfair to penalize thrift. It is a sad thing that people have not been able to get pension benefits because of their thrift. I feel I can do no better than to read this section of the speech of the Minister -
Whereas in the past two independent means tests operated - one on income and one on property - the new means test will take into account one composite figure representing the pensioner’s “ means as assessed “. In the case of age and invalid pensioners and widows with no dependent child or children, “ means as assessed “ will comprise the pensioner’s income, which by definition does not include income from property together with a property component. This property component will be £1 for each complete £10 of the pensioner’s property in excess of the £200 disregarded. The rate of pension payable will be the maximum rate less the amount by which “ means as assessed “ exceeds £182 per annum. The property bar of £2,250 beyond which no pension is now payable will be removed.
That means that many more people will receive substantial benefits.
– The thrifty ones.
– The thrifty ones, as my colleague says, the people who have saved hard to try to protect themselves in their old age, who have felt insecure and who have wondered what might happen to their little bit of savings, and who knew that they were outside the pension brackets. In future, many who do not receive the full pension will receive a part pension. So, we may well say that more people will receive pension benefits and that more people will receive greater benefits after this Budget has been approved by the Parliament.
I pay a special tribute to the Government for honouring its promise and giving a benefit in this way. But, Mr. President, as I have said in this chamber on many occasions and must repeat to-day, even at the risk of your saying, “ We have heard it all before “, I still feel strongly that pension benefits and increases of pensions, though of tremendous importance and most necessary, are not the answer to all the problems involved in our care of the aged. I believe that we have to approach this problem in a very different way from that of the past. Perhaps I should say that we have to give a “ new look “ to the problems of aged people.
We know that, because of the miracles of modern science and medicine and improved standards of hospital care and treatment of all kinds of illness, the expectation of life is much greater now than it was previously. People are living for many more years, and what a grand thing that is. Because of that extension of life, I believe that we must adopt a new approach to old age. We must take a long distance view. We have to look ahead for the next twenty years. After all, we will be approaching the goal together during those twenty years, so this is rather a personal matter for all of us. What is the answer? I think that if medical science and improved methods of medical care can give longer life to our people, it is the responsibility of every one of us - of governments, municipal councils, philanthropic bodies and the men and women of this country - to ensure that those added years are happy years, and that they are as healthy and as full of enjoyment and activity as possible. That is a responsibility we must accept.
We have made a great deal of progress at the other end of scale of life. Illnesses of childhood which were once known to be killers, and illnesses which disabled children, have now been overcome. Research, acquired knowledge and improved methods of treatment have made the lives of the younger members of the community so much more secure and so much better than they were in past years. May I suggest that we should also devote a great deal of our research, our energies and our knowledge to seeing what can be done to make life at the other end of the scale the very best that is possible. 1 should like to see established at one of our universities a chair of gerontology, and I should like to be assured that the problems of the aged were being given a great deal of study and consideration. Is sufficient research being undertaken in this field? Is sufficient thought being given to the accident rate of aged people? What effect has lack of hearing or of sight on that accident rate? What effect has an unbalanced diet on the life of an old person? What is the effect of loneliness, of insecurity and of fear, all of which are real things in the life of our aged citizens?
When one reads, as I have been privileged to read, reports from some of the great hospitals of the world and from gerontology conferences which have been held overseas, where the matters I have just mentioned have been discussed, it is tremendously interesting to see that real consideration has been given to them. I have spoken on more than one occasion on what I believe to be a great need for geriatric units at all our base hospitals. I am glad to see that in some of our hospitals such units are being set up and that teams are in operation. Whereas aged people were previously kept lying in a hospital bed, with no hope of ever getting up again, the geriatric units, which provide specialized care, have ensured that men and women who were bed-fast for long periods of time are able to become ambulant again and return to life with their families, to a fuller, a happier and a much more contented life. Let our slogan be, “ Make added years happier years “. If we can do that, I think we will be facing the problem of the care of the aged in a realistic way.
While I believe, of course, Mr. President, in the great need for benefits by way of pensions, and while I am tremendously appreciative of the alleviation of the means test in the splendid way mentioned in the Budget speech, I appeal to the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton) and the Minister for Health (Dr. Donald Cameron) to consider adopting a long-term plan for the care of the aged. We must appreciate that the number of older people will increase greatly as the years go by and that there is a need for special consideration of that field of social services. I hope that Australia will be known throughout the world not only for what it is doing in the field of tuberculosis and to improve child health and standards of health generally, but also as a country which has led the way in the special care of aged persons by providing much more than pension benefits.
I should like to see more assistance being given in the way of domiciliary services, by people going into the homes of those who need assistance and helping them in that way. A great deal has been done already by means of our special grant to the home nursing services, and I commend the Minister for Health most warmly for that, but I think we have to do a lot more thinking and work in this field. We must consider also, as other countries have done, the desire of people who have passed a certain age which we call the retiring age, to do something more, believing that they are still capable of doing so. I should like to think that some day those people will be given the opportunities that are provided in other countries. I am reminded of a special annexe at a great motor works in America, to which men who had attained considerable seniority with the company before retiring may return to perform particular tasks. I am told that when a particular kind of work, such as precision work, is required to be done, as is the case in nine cases out of ten, it is handed ever to the senior citizens in the annexe. I am also reminded of a company which has been formed in America known as Experience Incorporated. It comprises people from all kinds of occupations, and their experience is of untold value. The company makes available the services of those experienced people to organizations which require them. Those are aspects of the care of the aged to which I think we should be giving considerable thought.
At this point in time we look back with a measure of pride at the development of this country, at the achievements of this Government, at the place we have taken in world affairs, at our efforts in the field of defence, and at the friendly relations we have had with other nations, which of course is the strongest form of defence. But I believe that what every Australian wants most of all is a secure future, with a continuance of the present state of prosperity and full employment. This Budget, which honorable senators opposite have criticized and in relation to which they have made some very gloomy statements, seeks to achieve the result to which I have ust referred. The Government, in presenting this Budget, shows that it realizes the needs of the community and fully appreciates Australia’s place in world affairs. The main objective of the Government’s proposals is a continuance of prosperity and development, and the giving to Australia of an opportunity to take one more step forward and thus go on from strength to strength as a nation.
I have much pleasure in supporting the motion.
Debate (on motion by Senator Ridley) adjourned.
– I move -
Thatthe Senate do now adjourn.
I take advantage of this opportunity to emind honorable senators that when the Senate meets on Tuesday next you, Mr. President, will not be with us. 1 understand that by then you will have departed for overseas on an important trip in your capacity as Chairman of the General Council of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.
I think it is right to say, Sir, that in recent years the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association has assumed increasing importance in the minds, and indeed in the hearts, of all members of Australian Parliaments and no doubt of the parliaments of other British Commonwealth countries. We regard the job, if I may so describe it, that you are doing for the association as being of great importance. I understand that your journey is to take you through Canada, the United States of America and the United Kingdom to Uganda, where there is to be a meeting of the general council of the association. We would like you to know that you take with you our warm regards and good wishes, and our abiding confidence that as always you not only will be a first-class ambassador for Australia but will further heighten the ideals of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.
– Mr. President, on behalf of the Opposition I wish you bon voyage, happy landings, and a safe return. Also on behalf of the Opposition I give you an undertaking that we shall not do anything that we would not do if you were here. I do not know how far you will be disposed to feel that that will carry the situation, but in the hope that it will allow you to proceed with a somewhat assured mind I give you that assurance. I join with the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) in expressing pride in your chairmanship of the General Council of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. We wish you well and add our own personal regards to those proffered by Senator Paltridge on behalf of honorable senators opposite.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin). - I thank the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge), the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) and other honorable senators for their good wishes on the eve of my departure to undertake what I believe is important work. Naturally, I am sorry to have to be away while the Senate is in session. One does not feel greatly at ease when one knows the Senate is sitting and one should be present. But it is the importance of this year in the life of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association that causes me to go away while the session is in progress.
Much good can flow from the work of the association in the coming year. It is interesting to note the growing strength of the association each year and the part that is being played by the new member countries. They, of course, are the important countries. They are showing a very close interest in the work of the association, and that can only be, I believe, for the great good of the British Commonwealth of Nations as a whole.
I again thank the Senate very much for its good wishes.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 4.22 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 25 August 1960, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1960/19600825_senate_23_s18/>.