23rd Parliament · 2nd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. In an article in “ Muster “ of 8th November last the trustees of the Wheat Pool of Western Australia make the interesting suggestion that the Australian Wheat Board should examine the possibility of using oil tankers to take bulk wheat from Australian ports. I should like to know whether the Australian Wheat Board has considered this matter. If it has, what are its views on the practicability of the suggestion? If the Australian Wheat Board has not considered this matter, will the Minister bring the suggestion to the notice of the board?
-I did not see the article to which the honorable senator refers. The suggestion is a novel one. Offhand, 1 would not be prepared to say whether it has been considered, because I do not know. The Minister for Primary Industry would have this matter under consideration. If the honorable senator will place his question on the notice-paper I will bring it to the attention of the Minister for Primary Industry and obtain his reply to it.
– I, too, direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. In view of the fact that harvesting of wheat has already been completed in some centres, can the Minister say when an announcement regarding the first payment for wheat will be made?
– No, I cannot give that information at the moment.
– I direct a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Has he seen a statement in yesterday’s press to the effect that Mr. Stanley Korman told the annual meeting of Chevron (Sydney) Hotels Limited that the tourist potential in Australia within the next few years could be increased to an earning capacity of about £200,000,000 annually? Mr. Korman stated that hotel accommodation in Australia had been improved considerably in the last few years and was now able to cater for tourists from all parts of the world. Will the Minister consider approaching the State Premiers with a view to making a concerted effort to advertise Australia overseas and thus attract tourists to this country?
– I did not see the newspaper report to which Senator Scott refers. I agree that there is a great potentiality for an increase of the tourist trade to Australia. I will not commit myself to any view with regard to the figure mentioned by Senator Scott. I agree that hotel accommodation has been improved. I think also that the growth of motels in country areas in certain parts of Australia is of some significance and has made travelling more attractive. The proposal to ^approach the State Premiers has been under consideration for some time. The Commonwealth, in association with the States, financially supports a travel association aimed at encouraging the tourist trade. I think that all that the Commonwealth can do has been done already, but I should like to give the matter a little further thought to see whether Senator Scott’s proposal can be acted upon.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service. Has the Government received representations from organizations and unions representing Commonwealth employees seeking improvements in the. Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act affecting such employees? Does the Commonwealth act compare most unfavorably with State acts of this type, and does not the present operation of the Commonwealth act involve undesirable delays?
– I am sorry to say that I am not sufficiently well versed in the legislation to which Senator McManus refers to give him an answer off the cuff. I would not like to do so, having regard to the importance of the question. I therefore ask him to put the question on notice.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Treasurer. It has reference to an answer that was given to me last week when I sought information about an institution known as Lombard House. The Minister then said that an answer to my question about the relationship between the business of that organization and banking would involve a legal opinion. I am sorry not to have the advantage of the opinion of the Minister’s legal advisers, but I was really seeking the Minister’s political opinion about the impact that ‘ the continuance of that business - offering interest at a rate of 7 per cent on money deposited for a period of six months - would make on the banking system under the control of the Reserve Bank.
– I am pleased that the honorable senator does not pursue his request for a legal opinion. As to the giving of a political opinion, I think I would do less than justice to the Treasurer if I did not give him an opportunity of proffering his political opinion. I suggest that the statement made by the Treasurer last night is not altogether unrelated to the subject.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Civil Aviation. Has the Government any plans to renew or reconstruct the buildings at Canberra airport, and so make it more suitable to handle the rapidly growing traffic of our capital city7
– There are no present plans for the immediate improvement of Canberra airport. Only during the last year or two, what might be regarded as temporary improvements were effected to the terminal building. At the moment, due to the necessity for the Government to restrict expenditure, there are no plans in connexion with the Canberra airport.
– I direct a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. In view of the fact that the final report of the Constitutional Review Committee has been in the hands of the
Government for over twelve months, and as the Government is at present sheltering behind its lack of constitutional power in many respects, can the Leader of the Government indicate to the Senate whether the Government intends to seek authority, and if so, when, from the people by referendum to clothe this Parliament with the powers recommended in the committee’s report?
– I can only say, as I have said on. so many other occasions, that the report of the Constitutional Review Committee is under consideration.
– I direct to the Minister representing the Treasurer a question concerning to-day’s press announcement that the Soviet Union has revalued the rouble. I preface my question by saying that if the Minister prefers that a considered reply instead of an ad hoc reply be given, I should appreciate that course being followed;. My question is: Has the Soviet Union in fact revalued the rouble in terms of gold? What effect, if any, will such revaluation have on the dollar and on sterling?
– 1 think it would be more satisfactory if a written reply were given.
– I ask the Minister representing the Treasurer: In view of the disclosure that many superannuation funds, including the Commonwealth Superannuation Fund, have considerably improved their financial position as a result of investment opportunities and have established vast reserve funds, will the Minister consult with his Cabinet colleagues with a view to considering an amendment of the Commonwealth Superannuation Act to provide that in the event of a superannuated person and his wife dying within a limited period of first receiving superannuation benefit, a lump sum be paid to his dependent children?
– A good deal of actuarial research is involved in determining the ability of the fund to increase payments or extend the field of payments that are made from it. The best I can do is to ask my colleague, the Treasurer, to consider the question and give a detailed answer to the honorable senator.
– Has the Minister for Civil Aviation observed.- recently large advertisements inserted by Qantas Empire Airways Limited; offering overseas travel on the basis of a small deposit and payment of the balance of several hundred pounds when the traveller returns? Does the Minister consider it wise, in the light of the economic statement that he read to the Senate last night, to continue to invite the expenditure of Australian currency in such a manner on overseas travel?
– One should never lose sight of the fact that Qantas Empire Airways Limited is, in the first instance, a commercial entity, and a statutory authority, in many senses independent of the Government. It operates in a field that is extremely competitive. Apart from its commercial value, its importance to Australia in international affairs should not be disregarded. That importance ought to be reflected in traffic gained. Qantas, which is operating in an extremely competitive field, is encouraging the selling of seats in this way merely for the reason that other international airlines have done so. It is a matter of commercial necessity to enable the airline to meet the degree of competition with which it is confronted at present.
– Has the Minister for National Development yet received a report from the team of French experts which he engaged to examine oil prospects in Australia? If so, is the Minister in a position to make a statement on the subject which could be made available to the public and tabled in the Parliament?
– Yes, I have received a report and I have given it a good deal of consideration. I have not yet made a final decision concerning it, but I hope to do so in the very near future.
– My question, which is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary
Industry, relates to the report of the committee of inquiry which recently investigated conditions in the dairy industry. In view of the fact that only a limited number of copies of the report has been issued, will the Minister consider making more copies available so that a large number of people engaged in the industry will have the opportunity to study the recommendations of the committee?
– I understand that the Minister for Primary Industry has made a considerable number of copies of this very valuable report available to members of the Parliament. There is a shortage of copies because they are very much in demand, and also because the report, in some of its aspects, is a very good one, indeed. If the honorable senator is in dire need of another copy or two, I understand that copies may be procured from the Government Printing Office for 8s. 6d. each. However, I shall seek the approval of the Minister for a further issue.
– By way of a supplementary question, I ask the Minister whether the Government has formulated a programme for the hearing of representations in regard to the report from interested organizations. Can he say when the Government will make a decision on action to be taken pursuant to the report?
– I understand that it is the purpose of the Government to make copies of the report available to as many organizations as possible, in order to give them time to study the report fully, so that they may know what it contains regarding the dairy industry which, of course, is a very valuable industry for Australia. Every opportunity will be given for the report to be studied. Meanwhile, of course, the Government will be prepared to hear representations from the industry.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Repatriation. Some time ago, the Minister stated that, because of the length of the waiting list of appeals to be heard by repatriation tribunals, an additional tribunal was to be appointed. Has that tribunal yet been appointed, and if so, in which States will it function?
– The additional tribunal has not yet been appointed, but the necessary advertisements have been inserted in the press of Australia and in the Commonwealth “ Gazette “. It is hoped that it will begin to function either in January or at some other time in the early part of next year. The tribunal will be based on Melbourne.
– Will there be only the one additional tribunal for the whole of Australia?
– There will be only the one. There are three tribunals at present. When the additional one is appointed, there will be a total of four, which we consider will be quite sufficient to handle the appeals that will be made for some few years to come. The tribunal will have its head-quarters in Melbourne and will move from State to State as required, but chiefly to South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Trade inform me whether, in view of the urgent need to increase Australia’s export income, the Government has recently made a survey of the trade potential of South-East Asia? If the Government has made a survey of that area, can the Minister inform me what income Australia can expect to derive from that source, with particular reference to primary industries and secondary industries?
– I should not like to say offhand whether the Department of Trade has made a specific survey of trading possibilities in South-East Asia, but I assure Senator Scott that from day to day the department is constantly reviewing the possibilities of building up our export trade in that area. Not only has the Trade Commissioner Service been expanded, but exercises, as it were, have been conducted, product by product, to see what opportunities are available. The matter goes further than considerations concerning the export of the products of our primary industries. The view is held that there are distinct possibilities of obtaining outlets for our manufactures and minerals.
– Has the Minister for Civil Aviation seen reports to the effect that Ansett Transport Industries Limited proposes to establish a company to operate internal air services in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea? Is it not a fact that no air services can be operated in the Territory unless the Minister first issues a permit? Has the Government given the Ansett organization permission to operate services in Papua and New Guinea? If it has not, does it propose to do so?
– I have seen the report referred to by the honorable senator, which contains a statement to the effect that Ansett-A.N.A. either has established or proposes to establish a company registered in New Guinea with a nominal capital of, 1 think, £500,000. The report that I saw states that Ansett-A.N.A. proposes to operate within New Guinea. I understand that the statement that was actually issued said that Ansett-A.N.A. would operate in New Guinea provided Government approval was forthcoming. The situation is that an application has been submitted in the name of Ansett-A.N.A. asking for a permit to operate along the routes from Lae to Rabaul and from Lae to Goroka and Madang.
The procedure to be followed will be as laid down in the legislation, with which the honorable senator is quite familiar. The application will go to the rationalization committee, on which sit representatives of both the main operators. In the circumstances, it would be premature for me to make any comment about the outcome of the committee’s deliberations. However, I think it is proper that I should remind Senator Kennelly that some months ago, when I made a statement in respect of the New Guinea services, I pointed out that rationalization procedures would follow, that the Government paid a warm tribute to the operators currently operating in the New Guinea area, and that their services would not be overlooked by the authorities when considering any application at any future time, from whatever source it came.
– I wish to ask a supplementary question. Can the Minister give me any indication of the time that will elapse before the rationalization committee will make a decision?
– No, I cannot. The rationalization committee has not yet met to consider this application which, I understand, has only recently been lodged. I have not seen it. I imagine that the application would raise issues of such a nature that a considerable time would be taken in determining them. For that reason, I do not think that a decision will be reached quickly.
– I direct a question without notice to the Minister representing the Treasurer. Is it a fact that after taking into consideration the increase in overdraft interest rates announced by the Treasurer last night Australia will still enjoy much lower long-term interest rates than those in many other countries?
– I answer the question broadly. I think the statement contained in the question is generally correct.
MacROBERTSON MILLER AIRLINES LIMITED.
– I ask the Minister for Civil Aviation: In view of this Government’s generous attitude to the Government of Western Australia in granting it £5,000,000 for development of the Kimberley area, now that that money is about to be expended and that such expenditure will place a strain on the Western Australian transport industries, can the Minister advise me whether the Fokker Friendship and DC3 aircraft operated by MacRobertson Miller Airlines Limited are meeting requirements for the transport of people and goods in the area?
– Yes, I believe that the present fleet operated by MacRobertson Miller Airlines Limited handles quite adequately the traffic on the route through the north-west of Western Australia to Darwin. The honorable senator refers to the increased activity which will occur as a result of the construction work on the Ord River. However, I remind him that at least in the early stages the type of increased traffic that will occur will be heavy lifts. For that reason, the State Government has recently chartered a vessel to carry freight that will be required for the Ord River scheme. The honorable senator can rest assured that passenger traffic figures are closely watched. At the moment there is no legitimate demand for an increased freight service.
Debate resumed from 15th November (vide page 1557), on motion by Senator Henty -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- In speaking on this bill, I congratulate the Minister in charge of this matter on the plans which he has made to streamline these tariff provisions, particularly in view of the fact that recently the Parliament gave the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) power to enable him suddenly to impose restrictive, and highly protective tariffs to protect Australian industries in the event of an emergency in respect of which the previous provisions of the law were inadequate. While I agree strongly with the necessity for that type of provision, in referring to the schedule to the Customs Tariff Bill which is now before the Parliament I want to direct the Minister’s attention to what I regard as an anomaly and to ask him whether he will take steps to correct it.
I refer to the portion of the bill which refers to radio and television equipment. In the Tariff Board’s report issued on 30th June, 1959, the board recorded that its inquiry was of particularly great importance because there had been no substantial inquiry into electronics since 1935, when the subject was last reviewed. I think it is true to say that all parties in this Parliament are committed to the proper and reasonable protection of Australian industries. I support that policy and I have urged in this chamber on many occasions that such protection should be accorded, to the Australian film industry and other industries in this country. In referring to the radio industry in particular, I have no hesitation in going right back to the early 1930’s and pointing out that the Australian radio industry was virtually set on its feet by the protection policy of the Scullin Government of that day. It was a Labour administration. I think that this nation can look back in gratitude to the legislation of the Labour administration which provided the protection which the Australian radio industry has since enjoyed. As a result of that protection introduced in the early 1930’s, the Australian industry was able to sell to our allies - the United States of America and Great Britain - during the war a .certain quantity of radio material only ten or twelve years .after the original policy of strong protection for its products was introduced.
Having said that, Sir, I want to refer again to the Tariff Board report and to say that, in my view, there is an anomaly in this schedule in relation to phonographic pick-ups which are used as an item for electronic reproduction of sound. In the opinion of the Tariff Board, which is stated at page 21, an applicant who desires protection should provide proper evidence df, first, the need for it and, secondly, the benefit that would accrue from it. Those are not the exact words of the Tariff Board report; 1 have given a fairly liberal paraphrase of the attitude that was expressed by the board. I take it that in this matter, the customs duty is imposed primarily for protection rather than to gain revenue. I feel that the action contemplated in the schedule to the bill is, rn the case of the phonograph pick-ups, unwise and unfair. I refer specifically to the rates which are now going to move from 40 per cent. British preferential, 57i per cent, mostfavoured nation and to 55 per cent, general tariff. I understand that a by-law admission of Ti per cent, governs the import of these articles at the moment. 1 have been advised that in Australia there are about a dozen people who are engaged full-time in the production of electronic pick-ups. I am informed - I am not positive on this - that there are three manufacturers. The only manufacturer whose name is specifically listed in the Tariff Board’s report makes an excellent crystal pick-up cartridge without an arm. The retail selling price of that article is in the vicinity of £3 - plus or minus a few shillings; I am not sure of the exact figure. It is not what is known as a stereophonic cartridge. Now I do not think that we can look upon stereophonic sound as merely a gimmick. People who want stereophonic sound can purchase what is called a moving coil pick-up. These pick-ups are imported from Great Britain, Germany, the United States and a number of other countries. Their price ranges from £25 to £30 for the cheaper ones up to about £50 for the dearer ones. I emphasize the cost of these pickups to show that they do not compete in any substantial way -with the Australian product. For the reasons that I have given I feel .that this matter is one that is worthy of further examination. This article affects, at a guess, about 10,000 Australians .every year. It is an extremely complicated and minute piece of equipment. I am informed that no Australian manufacturer is able to cope with the market nor - and this is more important - is there one with any desire to do so.
– Perhaps they are incapable of coping with the market.
– They are not tooled up to produce the article and they have no desire to produce it, because of the relatively small number of articles that could be sold in Australia. To illustrate the nature of this article, I point out that some of the wire used in it is very minute and very difficult to work. For example, the gauge of wire used in one of these pick-ups is so small that 9 miles of wire will fit on an ordinary 3-iin. bobbin that can be held in the hand. It is clear that Australian manufacturers have no desire to produce the article even though there is some market for it. It is not the type of article in respect of which the Australian manufacturer would say, “ Look, here is a market. Let us sit down and knock out a few.” Its production requires some years of research and an expensive tooling programme. A large potential market is necessary in order to make its manufacture economically worth while. I feel that the music lovers of Australia should not be penalized in the way I have indicated they will be penalized if this matter is not adjusted by the Minister after further examination. I realize that there may be certain administrative difficulties associated with this matter, but that is a problem that should not present any great difficulties to the geniuses who preside over our Customs Department.
– Are there no expensive pick-ups made in Australia?
– Yes, one. I will come to that in a moment. On page 21 of its report on radio and television equipment the Tariff Board, referring to tape recorders, sets out a method whereby, for duty purposes, it would be possible to divide products into certain categories. I suggest that the Minister should look at the particular category with which I have been dealing and re-examine it in the light of the board’s recommendation with regard to tape recorders. The board said -
As stated above the tape recorders produced by the two Australian manufacturers represented at the inquiry are to a very great extent in separate fields and compete with each other only to a small degree. The Board, however, believes that the market for tape recorders could easily be divided into other broad groups which would not be in direct competition with each other. For example, at one end of the scale recorders of high quality would be required by radio broadcasting stations and other professional users, a lesser quality would be required for business conferences, &c, and at the other end of the scale a cheaper model would be required for general entertainment purposes.
That is the way in which the board suggests the problem could be approached in regard to tape recorders. I notice also, in looking through the schedule attached to the act, that the Government has already applied this principle in the case of static transformers in which transformers below 100 KvA are given full benefit of protective tariff but there is no discriminatory tariff against transformers of greater size because they are. not made here. I appeal to the Minister to move in that direction.
Although I have carefully checked through the Tariff Board’s report I cannot find any reference to any evidence given by any manufacturer in relation to pickups. Tn other words, so far as one can tell from the report, the increasing of the duty is purely an administrative act, and is not based on evidence submitted to the board. However, I must confess that I have not had the opportunity of reading the evidence given before the board. I trust that the Minister will correct my statement if it is not a true one. If the Minister does not feel that we can delete the item altogether I ask him to consider maintaining the existing by-law so that the anomaly to which I have referred may be corrected.
There are two or three other matters in the schedule to which I do not propose to refer in detail, but to which I think a similar line of reasoning could be applied. I know that the Minister has always been alert to correct anomalies as they are pointed out to him. I hope that he will continue with that enlightened policy. Only a couple of weeks ago, he acted very smartly to correct an anomaly that existed in the Australian film industry, and I have every confidence that he will have another look at the matter I have raised and see whether anything can be done about it.. By and large, and in principle, but with the reservation to which I have adverted, I support the bill.
– In reply - I would like to reply briefly to Senator Hannan. The matter that he raised dealt with the deletion of by-laws, which was previously attended to by the department. That was not a function of the Tariff Board. Australian manufacturers would approach the department and say that a suitably equivalent article was being made in Australia and was available to the trade. Under the by-law administration if a suitably equivalent article is being made in Australia we must cancel the by-law. It may be a matter of argument whether a cheaper pick-up is suitably equivalent to a dearer pick-up, and a decision has to be made. What matters in this instance is that an alternative Australian article is available. It is a suitably equivalent piece of equipment made in Australia, and therefore the by-law must be cancelled. This is a matter that involves technical considerations, and I would not be competent to say offhand whether it should receive further technical examination now. However, I give an undertaking that I will look into the position and see what can be done.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
Consideration resumed from 15th November (vide page 1558), on motion by Senator Henty-
That the bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
Consideration resumed from 15th November (vide page 1558), on motion by Senator Henty -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
Consideration resumed from 15th November (vide page 1558), on motion by Senator Henty -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
Consideration resumed from 15th November (vide page 1558), on motion by Senator Henty -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
Consideration resumed from 15th November (vide page 1559), on motion by Senator Henty -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
Debate resumed from 15th November (vide page 1567), on motion by Senator Paltridge -
That the bill be now read a second tune.
– When the Senate adjourned last night I had indicated that I would support the second reading of this bill because I think it has some very good points. However, I had just commenced to criticize the interpretation by the Government of one of the clauses which the Government rightly boasts has been inserted to help the dairying industry. The clause to which I refer is that which exempts from sales tax tankers used in the bulk carriage of milk. Clause 5 sets out clearly that tanks used for the bulk carriage of milk will bc exempted from sales tax, but the departmental interpretation is that the tanks must be owned by either the processor in the city who distributes the milk or by the farmer who sends the milk into the city.
A number of people who have read this amending measure agree with my opinion that the tanks to which I have referred will be exempt from sales tax under this bill. When this bill was presented in the Senate, contrary to the usual custom, honorable senators were given a roneoed sheet explaining and interpreting its clauses. The explanation given in relation to the clause I am now discussing sets out clearly that these tanks are exempted, and there then appears the following notation: -
Note. This exemption applies to tanks for use in the dairying industry, lt does not apply to tanks for use by commercial carriers in the transport of bulk milk.
That is where I differ strongly from the Government. If I could possibly think of an amendment that would overrule that interpretation I would move it during the committee stage, but I cannot think of any amendment that would make the clause any plainer than it is now.’ This Liberal Government should realize that it is saying to private enterprise, in effect, “ As you are collecting milk from a number of dairy farms in your own tanker and taking it to a firm in the city, your tanker is not exempt from sales tax, but if a big businessman in the city were to buy the tanker and employ somebody to drive it, the tanker would be exempt from sales tax “. In all common sense I do not see how this clause can be interpreted in that way. 1 ask the Minister to have a look at this matter and give me a clear reply.
– I support Senator Marriott in this regard. A feature of the Budget was that this concession was to be of benefit to dairy farmers. Under the interpretation that has been given, the assistance that these people were looking for will not be available. I sincerely hope that the Minister will have another look at the position to see whether something can be done along the lines indicated by Senator Marriott.
– I listened with interest to the speech made by Senator Marriott. For a little time I have been taking an interest in the interpretation of this exemption. The words in the bill are -
Tanks for bulk-milk tankers for use by producers, manufacturers or distributors of milk or other dairy produce exclusively for the collection of milk from farms. . . .
The problem, if I understand it, is this: In the case of tanks for bulk-milk tankers used not by the farmer himself, the manufacturer, the processor - to use Senator Marriott’s term - or the distributor, but purchased by a carrier to serve each of these units in the industry, the exemption does not apply.
I would not ordinarily rise in a secondreading debate to indicate my view of the way in which the Senate should achieve its purpose, if Senator Marriott and Senator McKellar have expressed that purpose. [ rise so that the Minister may have my views before him in dealing with the matter. 1 think it would be proper to insert after the word “ producers “ the word “ carriers “. I propose to move such an amendment, in order to determine the opinion of the Senate. I shall do that because I am totally unable to aline myself with the mental outlook that we should give exemption in the case of a tanker being used by the producer, the manufacturer and the distributor, but if, as is the general case, the farmers employ at a carriage rate a carrier who is common to ten or twelve farmers in the district, this exemption should not be available in respect of his tanker. It is quite obvious that that carrier will adjust his transportation charges to the producer according to the cost of the vehicle, of which sales tax is an integral part. I felt I should raise the matter to indicate what is, in my view, the proper step to take, which is the step that I shall take.
– in reply - Before the Senate votes on the second reading, I think I ought to indicate with some precision the position in respect of the proposed exemption for tankers. This exemption was introduced as a result of representations made to the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) for relief in this respect. As I understand it, they were made by persons engaged directly in the dairy industry. The deputations pointed out that the tanks hitherto employed in the cartage of milk, which were rendered obsolete by the introduction of tanker haulage, were always, or had been for some time, tax free. The pertinent point seems to me to be that those tankers which were tax free were the property of either the milk-processing plant or the producer and it was to continue that concession to the people concerned that this amendment was agreed to. It was not in contemplation at the time, nor was a request made, as I understand it, that transport operators engaged in the carriage of milk should be included in this concession. Indeed, the thinking is that a transport carrier, not being a member of the dairy industry, has the advantage of engaging in transport not solely of milk.
– But the words “ exclusively for the collection of milk from farms “ cover that. The exemption would not be available to a carrier who used a tank exclusively for the collection of milk from farms.
– I want to make it quite clear that in the amendment as presented the word “ exclusively “ does not embrace transport operators, for the reasons that I have put forward. I realize the position and the earnestness with which Senator Marriott has approached the problem, but I want to remove the impression that this is a question of interpretation. My advice is that it is not a question of interpretation.
It is a question of the act itself and the intention of the act. Carriers are excluded for the reasons that I have given.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 5 reads -
The First Schedule to the Principal Act is amended -
by adding at the end of item 7 the following sub-item: - “(11) Tanks for bulk-milk tankers for use by producers, manufacturers or distributors of milk or other dairy produce exclusively for the collection of milk from farms . . .”
I move -
After “producers,” insert “carriers,”.
I address myself to the remarks that have just fallen from the Minister. The provision reads “ Tanks for bulk-milk tankers for use . . .” The bill prescribes that only tanks for a particular use shall attract the exemption. That use is described in two ways. First, it is - . . -by producers, manufacturers or distributors of milk or other dairy produce . . .
Secondly, the bill provides that such tankers shall be used exclusively by the people referred to for the collection of milk from farms. The clause says nothing about ownership. The exemption applies in favour of bulk milk tankers which are purchased for use in the way J have described.
If my amendment is accepted, it will mean that the use of such tankers by producers, carters, manufacturers and distributors will attract the exemption only if that use by any one of them, is exclusively the collection of milk from farms. I think that it cannot sensibly be argued that a carrier who is employed by a group of farmers to collect their milk should not be entitled to the same exemption from sales tax that would be applicable in the case of a dairyfarmer who had an establishment of a sufficient size to warrant the purchase of a tanker for his exclusive use. The fact that a carrier is inserted between the producer and the manufacturer should not be sufficient to deny the granting of a real benefit to the industry, because no sensible distinction can be drawn between use by the producer, the manufacturer, the distributor and the carrier, so long as the use of the tanker is exclusively for the collection of milk from farms.
.- I am glad that Senator Wright, with his legal training and knowledge, has seen that it is possible to amend the clause in such a way that the intention, which I am confident the Government had in mind when the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) made his Budget speech, will be given effect. I think that that intention was also expressed in the second-reading speech of the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge). I have tenaciously pressed this matter for three reasons. The first is that I do not think the Senate should allow legislation to pass in such a form that it will be easy to get round it. The legislation that we enact should clearly and definitely express the wishes of the Parliament, and it should also be both legally binding and understandable. The second reason is that I do not believe that the Liberal Party should say, through legislation introduced by it, to a man engaged in private industry, such as in the cartage of milk, who is prepared to purchase a tanker, “ You will have to go out of business and work for somebody else from now on “.
That is not the spirit of either the Liberal Party or the Australian Country Party, and I do not think that such a spirit should be embodied in legislation. The third reason that I have pressed this matter is that the use of bulk milk tankers saves dairy-farmers a considerable amount each year. The reason for the saving is obvious. Dairyfarmers do not have to purchase milk cans, load them on to lorries, unload them when the milk reaches the city, re-load them after they have been emptied, wash them and cart them back to their farms. In an attempt to cut costs, dairy-farmers have purchased tanks in which to store their milk. The bulk tanker then comes along to the various farms and transports the milk to the city. There is no handling of milk cans and no waste of time. I believe that the use of bulk tankers will reduce costs to the dairy-farmers. We stated in the Budget speech - and rightly so - that we would help primary producers. I understand that the use of tankers will reduce costs for the dairy-farmers by about 2d. a gallon. To the dairy-farmer who works 365 days a year, that is a considerable benefit. I trust that the Government will accept the amendment, so that the original intention of the Government will be embodied in the legislation.
– If a producer already owns a prime mover and purchases a bulkmilk tank, will he be entitled to claim the exemption?
– First, may I say to Senator McKellar that the producer referred to by him would be entitled to claim exemption on the tanker but not on the vehicle. I have listened with great attention to the requests made by Senator Marriott and Senator Wright. The Government is unable to accept the amendment moved by Senator Wright. As I stated earlier, it was intended that this exemption should be an extension of the earlier exemption that applied to equipment that was owned by either a dairy farmer or a milk processor. It was not in mind that the exemption should be extended elsewhere. Indeed, extension into the field of land transport immediately would have the effect of provoking all kinds of further requests. The Government felt, and still feels, that there is every justification for pursuing the matter along the lines indicated by the bill, and for confining the exemption to producers and processors. Experience in the course of time may put a different light on the matter, but for the moment the Government is unable to accept the amendment.
– I am interested in the amendment that has been proposed by Senator Wright. I understand that the intention is to extend the exemption to carriers who use a bulk-milk tank solely for the purpose of transporting milk. If I understand the positron aright, a producer of milk who acquires such a tank is exempt from the payment of sales tax and may use the tank not only to carry his own milk but also that of other members of the locality with whom he is associated.
– It has to be used exclusively for that purpose.
– Yes, but let us assume that there are ten producers in the area. They have a talk amongst themselves and, as a result, one of them buys a tank and uses it not only to cart his own produce to the factory but also to cart that of his nine fellow farmers. That tank would be used exclusively for the carriage of milk and the exemption would be available.
– Undoubtedly, yes. I put this question to the Minister: What is the difference in principle between doing that and the ten of them saying to a man who is in the carrying business, “ If you equip one of your trucks with a tank and you care to reserve it exclusively for the carriage of our supplies, we wi i undertake to give you our combined custom “? At least that would save the dairy farmers the outlay on the vehicle and also the outlay on the tank. It would save them from having to make separate arrangements. It seems to me to be a much more economical arrangement for the farmers to deal with a man who is in the carrying business, who has his staff and repair shop, and who can run a regular schedule, and for them not to be bothered with the operation of the vehicle itself. It seems to me to be a more economical arrangement for the farmers to do that and, in effect, to have the cost of the tank spread over all ten farmers than to have one of them buy the whole outfit, or the tank, and for all to participate in the benefit. I should like the Minister to tell me where in principle there is the slightest difference between that and the kind of benefit the Government obviously intended to give.
As Senator Wright pointed out, the tank has to be used exclusively for the carriage of milk. It is for the benefit of the dairymen in particular; it cannot be used for any other purpose. If the benefit is to be denied to a carrier, it seems to me that the Government would be barring one very advantageous service which it is sought to achieve by granting the exemption. The Minister ought not ‘to need a lot of argument -to convince him on the point. I indicate that the Opposition supports the amendment.
.- May 1 obtrude one further observation following upon what Senator McKenna has said? The honorable senator instanced the case of a group of ten farmers banding together and getting a tanker in the name of one of them. It cannot be denied that, if the tanker is used by that one producer for the carriage of the milk of all ten of them, it comes within the letter of this sales tax exemption. The Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) ought to know that in Tasmania, and I think in other States in which transport strangulation acts are in vogue, a producer need not have a public vehicle transport licence for the conveyance of his own produce from his farm to the market or of produce from the market to his farm. But, if he carries even his son’s produce or the produce of his fellow dairy farmers, he must have a public vehicle licence. So that which is conceded by the language of this amendment would be frustrated by the transport law of Tasmania.
To make this sales tax exemption legislation effective in spirit and in purpose and to conform to the State transport legislation it is necessary to have the amendment included. Therefore, I ask the Minister to give just a little thought to the view that, for the moment, perhaps greater prudence is manifest by other honorable senators in this chamber. Let him trust us for once and yield to our viewpoint as a gesture of mutual consideration.
– Having just heard Senator Wright’s appeal, I suppose it is useless for me to rise to speak. I should think that already the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) would have formulated his reply. For me to interpolate my comments between those of Senator Wright and the Minister’s reply possibly is very bad judgment, because by the time the Minister has risen the ringing appeal made by Senator Wright may have been dulled in the Minister’s ears and some of its force lost.
I rise, nevertheless, because the proposition before us is fairly simple. It is that these tankers, by whomever they are used, must he used exclusively for the carriage of milk. Senator McKenna advanced a con cise and quite unanswerable argument. In considering the economics of the problem, it could well be more beneficial to the farmers if a carrier did the work than if it were done by a single farmer. Let us look at the problem that would be confronted by a group of ten farmers who banded together to buy a tanker. Who would get the benefit of the exemption from sales tax? Would the man who bought the tanker in his name receive the rebate of sales tax and distribute it amongst the other nine? Would these farmers have to set themselves up as a proprietary company in order to take advantage of the sales tax exemption?
I do not believe that the farmer should be forced into the carriage of milk if he does not want to do it. The carrying business is an intricate and highly developed industry. The men who are in the industry can do that work better than it can be done by outsiders. I should say that a better service would be given to the farmers if the exemption granted by the measure now before us were extended to the carriers. Has the Minister a fear that, if exemption from sales tax were granted to a carrier, that carrier might use the tank for the carriage of petrol, water or some other commodity? If a tank is to be used by a carrier for the carriage of milk, it must, as in the case of the farmer or producer, be used exclusively for that purpose. From whichever stand-point I approach this matter, I think that the matter of putting a transport on the road would be much simpler for a carrier than it would be for a farmer. Actually, very few individual farmers would be in a position to buy a milk tanker. I should say that the acquisition of such a vehicle would be beyond the resources of 90 per cent, of the dairy farmers. It is for that reason, and in order to obtain the benefit of the sales tax exemption, that they are obliged to combine to cart their milk.
I am one of those simple fellows who believes that, if the Government says it wants to help the dairy farmers along these lines, it should help them. The Government should not make conditions more difficult for the farmers. To exclude the carriers from the benefit of the sales tax exemption seems to me to be pernickety. I do not know what great victory is achieved by excluding the carriers from this benefit.
At the moment, I cannot see that any victory is achieved. On the contrary, to include the carriers in this benefit would help the dairy farmer, if he wants this form of assistance to transport his milk. I cannot make the heartfelt appeal that was made by Senator Wright. I simply appeal to the Government to do what it said it would do.
.- I rise to support the amendment that has been moved by Senator Wright. The Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), in his Budget speech, said in very clear and unequivocal language that it was proposed to confer this benefit upon any one who transported milk in bulk containers. It seems to me that to give the benefit of the exemption to a carrier who sets up a container on one of his vehicles would be a very slight extension of the benefit that was foreshadowed by the Treasurer in his Budget speech. To give the benefit to the producers but not to a carrier who sets up a container on one of his vehicles, and who thereby serves the same purpose, is splitting straws. I believe that the amendment should be accepted.
– Under the amendment the producer’s position is covered, but I do not like the use of the word “ carriers “ in the amendment. Neither do I like the position that has arisen in the last few minutes. This debate was proceeding with no one taking the slightest interest in it; but when it looked as if the Government might be embarrassed, a flock of Opposition senators came into the chamber, like - I will not say what they came in like because I might be ruled out of order. The position, as I see it, is that the Minister has stated the attitude of the Government to the amendment. He has also intimated, at least I took him to do so, that the Government would have a look at the matter in the future. I am content to go along with that assurance.
Another point is that within the last few days I have read suggestions that bulk lorries could be used for carting bulk wheat. That is something which could possibly influence the position at a later stage. At the moment the producer is covered, and if the suggestion made to the Minister is not agreed to, I am happy that the Government will have another look at the matter. For that reason and the other reason I have just mentioned, I cannot support the amendment.
.- Earlier in the proceedings Senator McKellar, who has just resumed his seat, suggested that the Minister might have another look at the amendment. I interjected and reminded him that that had better be done before the bill becomes law. The bill will be in the process of becoming law within the next few minutes. The next time that this matter is considered might be some years hence. The Opposition is not supporting this amendment because Government senators happen to be plugging for it. The Opposition is supporting it as an amendment which any sensible person, whether he is on the Government side or on the Opposition side, if he knows anything at all about the dairying industry, should be supporting. The merit of the amendment brings the Opposition to support it. Right from the time when it was raised, I felt that it should be supported and accepted by the committee.
I am amazed ‘that the Minister, or the people who are advising him, have hung out for so long. Surely to goodness, as reasonable and sensible men knowing the purpose for which this amendment was moved, they should have accepted it immediately it was raised by Senator Marriott, or later when it was moved by Senator Wright. The whole logic of the argument on the acceptance of the amendment is on the side of those who support it. I just cannot understand the attitude of the Minister or of those who are advising him not to accept it. The position is so clear.
– What are the pitfalls in it?
– The Government proposes to give sales tax relief in respect of tankers used exclusively for the conveyance of milk by producers, manufacturers or distributors. If supporters of the Government know anything about this matter they should know that whether the milk is conveyed by the producer, the manufacturer or the distributor, it is all collected from the producers in the industry. No one producer would produce sufficient milk to. fill a tanker; that idea is ridiculous. When you see milk tankers proceeding through the country,, do you think they have been filled on one farm: or a small number of farms? If the milk is being carried by a distributor, where has it come from initially, but from a number of farms? The Government is against the amendment, but it has not indicated to the committee any pitfall. As Senator Armstrong asked, if the Government will not accept the amendment: What is the- pitfall? 1 cannot imagine what is holdingup the passing of this amendment.
– In my final plea to the Minister and the Government I do not want to recount all the arguments that have been advanced. Senator Wright has correctly pointed out that under Tasmanian law the producers cannot own and use bulk tankers. If the Government will not grant the exemption to the carrier whom the producers employ to carry their milk, what will happen? Let us look the facts in the face. The processors or the- city distributors will buy tankers, but the Government- will not receive any sales tax revenue, from. them. What rs the situation of the dairy farmers? When they have a person, in their own district who works for himself and: carries their milk for them, they have some control. But if ownership of the tankers is forced, by governmental action, into the hands of the distributors in the city, the dairy farmers are left, at the mercy of the people to whom they have to provide their milk. So, as is apparent from that one little illustration,, the Government, by the amendment, would not lose sales tax revenue, but would enact legislation sound in principle and in law.
.- I support the amendment because I think it is sensible and logical. Honorable senators who said that what is contained in the amendment was promised in the Budget speech are quite right. I made up my mind’ to support the amendment because of some eloquent speeches made before the amendment was moved, pointing out how necessary this- action was. One of the eloquent speeches pointing out that necessity was- made by Senator McKellar.
I do not agree with the argument that in voting: on this amendment we should be influenced, by whether or not the Government win be embarrassed1. I do not think the members of the Government are such shy, shrinking violets that they will be terribly upset, whatever happens to this: amendment. What are we here for? We are here not to consider people’s feelings but to legislate in the interests of the people. This is quite a. straightforward and logical, amendment which, merely implements something which we all believe was promised in the Budget speech. For that reason 1 will vote for it.
– Despite the pleas which have been made by honorable senators who sit on the Government side; to which I have listened with great interest and sympathy, and despite- the speeches that have come from the opposite side of the chamber in an overhasty endeavour to jump on the milktanker, I am afraid that I cannot accept the amendment.
Senator- PALTRIDGE. - I’ have told you once, but obviously you did not understand. With characteristic patience, I will try again. The purpose of this amending legislation is to provide relief for those who are engaged in the dairy industry. It has been said that the extension of this concession to land transport operators would confer some sort of indirect benefit upon those engaged in the dairy industry. But that argument misses the point that the land transport operator, even using a milk tanker exclusively for the carriage of milk, can turn his vehicle into a multi-purpose vehicle; when not engaged, in the carriage of milk he can transport something, else.
– The amendment applies only to the tank, not to the vehicle.
– The tank can be removed from the vehicle and replaced by another, carrier; such as a flat-top trailer or something like that. The fact is that once you do that - here I- answer a direct question asked by Senator- McKenna - you carry this: concession– out of’ the limited field for which it was intended into the- field of land transport generally, and possibly set a precedent for similar claims for con-‘ cessions from other land transport instruments. For that reason, it breaks new ground or strikes a new note, and the Government cannot accept the amendment. I have said, however, and I repeat that the Government will keep in mind the amendment and its purpose.
Senator McKENNA (Tasmania - Leader of the Opposition [4.36]. - Apropos the comment by the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge), I am reminded of something I heard on one occasion to the effect that there is no pain that hurts so much as the pain of a new idea. The Minister reminded me of it by his reference to the amendment striking a new note, lt seems to me that what is wrong from the Minister’s point of view is that the idea contained in the amendment is new. In all kindness, I remind him that every idea is new at some stage of its existence. There are so few new ideas floating about the world that he is lucky to be in at the birth of even one new idea. In these circumstances, I think he should seize on this amendment as a heaven-sent opportunity.
Coming to the merits of the matter, the Minister argued that if this provision were extended to include a common carrier, he would actually be able to take a tank that was exempt from sales tax off his machine and go about other business. What harm would that do to those who collect sales tax? The man would have paid sales tax on his vehicle. The Opposition’s proposal would not relieve him of any tax in that connexion. What does it matter to the taxation officers responsible for the collection of sales tax whether the carrier uses the vehicle to carry potatoes or bulk milk?
– You cannot carry potatoes in a bulk milk carrier.
– If the circumstances exist as stated by the Minister and if there is provision on the vehicle not only for a tank but also for some other receptacle for produce, surely it is the tank that is to be used exclusively for carrying milk. The motor vehicle can be used for the carriage of milk or anything else and sales tax has been paid on the vehicle. The argument of the Minister is irrelevant.
– Keep at it; the Minister will agree to it in a moment.
– I would hope so. I realize the difficulty of a Minister who is not directly responsible for a bill when he has an amendment fired at him at short notice. I understand his position thoroughly. So that he might establish the bona fides of the Opposition in this matter, I suggest to the Minister that he postpone the clause, adjourn the debate, consult the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) and come back to us after he has obtained a considered opinion on the amendment. There was some faint question, utterly without reason, of the bona fides of the Opposition on this matter.
– It was only a mild dig about jumping on the milk tanker.
– The Minister himself made the gentle suggestion. I pass it back with the suggestion that we adjourn the discussion on this matter at this stage to give him an opportunity to consult his principal. If he accepts that suggestion, I would expect him to withdraw his reference to the Opposition’s athletic feat in jumping on the milk van.
– The Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) said that I could not stand the pain of a new idea. In this chamber, I represent the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) and there is a revenue aspect of this matter which is rather more painful for the Treasurer than for me. Consideration has been given to this matter and we cannot accept the amendment. We cannot accept it for the reason that, without an opportunity to study it further, we are frankly doubtful of the wisdom of carrying into what is essentially the general land transport field a concession of the nature proposed. It is not a question of the carrier having paid sales tax on his vehicle. The question is this: The carrier having paid sales tax on his vehicle and having been exempt from sales tax on the tank, the next request could be that he should be exempt from sales tax on the flat top tray which is to carry potatoes or other produce. That is the sort, of thing that the Government wants to examine before it goes any further. I have listened very closely and with great, sympathy to the arguments of my Tasmanian friend. I have explained the position the Government would find itself in if it went into this field. I have told my colleagues that the Government will examine the proposal very closely, and I can do no more than that.
Question put -
That the word proposed to be inserted (Senator Wright’s amendment) be inserted.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Senator the Hon. A. D. Reid.)
Majority . . . . 15
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill, as amended, agreed to.
Bill reported with an amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Debate resumed from 27th October (vide page 1341), on motion by Senator Paltridge -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– The Opposition does not oppose this bill. The bill deals with a number of small items which the Government from time to time has promised to examine, and which it has now included in legislation. The bill contains nothing of a major character. I suppose the most important feature of the bill is the provision to increase the maximum amount on which depreciation at the special rate of 20 per cent. of cost is allowable in respect of residential accommodation provided for employees, tenants and share-farmers engaged in primary industries. The industries concerned are the agricultural, pastoral and pearling industries. The special rate of depreciation has applied in the past to so much of the cost of accommodation for each tenant, employee or share-farmer as did not exceed £2,750, but in relation to buildings commenced after 30th June, 1960, and completed by 30th June, 1962, this amount will be increased to £3,250. That is apparently an indication that the standard of living enjoyed by tenants, employees and share-farmers is improving. Either they are living in better houses than previously or the Government admits that inflation has reached such proportions than a house formerly costing £2,750 will now cost £3,250.
Another very small amendment to the bill will increase the deduction allowable for periodical subscriptions paid for membership of a trade, business or professional association from £10 10s. to £21. This provision of the bill represents a further step in the right direction.
A further provision of the bill will allow deductions for gifts of £1 or more made to the National Trust of Australia (Tasmania) Limited, the Art Gallery Society of New South Wales and the Australian Productivity Council. In addition, deductions are to be allowed for similar gifts to the Australian Postgraduate Federation in Medicine, the College of Radiologists of Australasia, the Australian College of General Practitioners and the College of Pathologists of Australia. In these four cases, however, deductibility will be conditional upon the gifts being made specifically for the purpose of education or research in medical knowledge or science.
The bill gives effect also to a decision announced earlier by Senator Spooner, namely, to exempt from tax 20 per cent. of profits derived from the mining of metals such as gold and uranium. The partial exemption, which was due to terminate on 30th June, 1960 is now being extended without limit. The Opposition does not oppose the measure.
– This measure deals to a great extent with deductions that are allowed for income tax purposes. I rise to direct attention to what in my opinion is an anomoly in the income tax law as it affects the State of Tasmania. The matter I am about to mention has been brought to the notice of the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) on more than one occasion, lt was brought to his notice before he introduced the last Budget, and also before his presentation of the Budget before that. It is only a small matter, yet it affects a large number of people in the State of Tasmania.
Several years ago, the State of Tasmania introduced a law giving dental mechanics the right to deal directly with the public. This decision was arrived at as a result of the findings of a select committee which examined the position exhaustively. It created a great deal of contention in the State of Tasmania at the time, but the law was finally passed allowing dental mechanics to deal directly with the public, provided that a patient first had his mouth examined by a qualified dental practitioner. Whether one thinks that this law is good or bad does not alter the fact that there are two legal avenues in the State of Tasmania through which a patient can obtain a denture. He can go either to a qualified dental practitioner, or to a dental mechanic provided he has first observed the condition laid down in the act. In going to either source he conforms with the law of the State of Tasmania.
When a person, in all innocence, purchases a set of dentures from a dental mechanic and then claims the amount charged for the dentures as a taxation deduction, he is informed that a deduction cannot be allowed because he did not purchase his dentures from a qualified dentist. As I said previously this matter has been brought to the notice of the Treasurer on more than one occasion. I would have thought that he would have at once granted the request. Prior to the Budget before last, he stated that the matter had been given consideration. Prior to the recent Budget, he said that it had been given careful consideration. Beyond that, no explanation whatsoever has been given. If the Treasurer has any reason for not granting this request - I cannot imagine any - I should like to hear it. Why is it that a person in Tasmania who purchases dentures in a perfectly legal way and conforms with the act in every detail, cannot claim the cost of the dentures as a deduction for income tax purposes?
This matter affects a large number of people. The dental mechanics in the State of Tasmania claim that they are doing £80,000 worth of business a year, yet that business, in spite of the fact that it is perfectly legal and conforms with the State law, is not recognized by the Taxation Branch. The Treasurer says that a person cannot claim such an expense as a deduction for income tax purposes. This matter has been placed before the Treasurer by the Dental Mechanics’ Association and by members of this Parliament, but to the best of my knowledge and belief no explanation has been given why these claims are rejected. All that the Treasurer said initially was that the matter had been given consideration, and just a short time ago he went so far as to say that it had been given careful consideration. If there is any reason why the present state of affairs should continue, I am very anxious to hear it. I am seeking information why, if two legal channels are open to the public, both conforming with the law of the State, in one case a deduction is allowed and in the other case a deduction is not allowed. I shall be very pleased if the Minister in charge of this bill will inform me why this position pertains in the State of Tasmania.
– The bill before the Senate at the moment is one of two measures dealing with the important question of taxation which we are discussing this afternoon. Any bill which deals with the system of raising half the revenue which is available to the Commonwealth Government in any one year is, of course, a very important bill. Of the £1,400,000,000 that is to be raised by the Government this year, roughly half of that amount - £780,000,000 is to be raised by income tax. Of that amount. £510,000,000 is to be raised by taxes imposed on individuals, £268,000,000 by taxes imposed on companies and - for the first time- £4,500,000 by the withholding tax on dividends. It is a very important occasion when we have before the Senate measures dealing with such large amounts of money.
The system of taxation to-day is, I feel, so complicated, so confusing, and at times so amusing - if it were not such a serious matter - that I-
– Will you just reveal to us wherein it is amusing,
– I said that it would be amusing if it were not so serious. An examination of the basic principles of taxation and the system which, like Topsy, has just grown, is many years overdue. I am always intrigued by the value of a wife in the eyes of the Taxation Branch. During the last three years - excluding the provisions of the last Budget - the Government has seen fit to increase the deduction allowed for payments of life assurance premiums. The amount was first increased from £200 to £.300, and then from £300 to £400. But the Government has made no substantial increase in the amounts of deductions for wives and children. I have never been able to see the logic of this. That is what I meant by saying that it would be amusing if it were not so serious. The peculiar position is that in order to raise a certain amount of money by taxation, we fix a curve. People receiving a low income pay only so much in the £1 and people receiving higher incomes pay more. But that is not the end of it. We give back about a quarter of that money in the form of income tax deductions.
This brings up the age-old difference in taxing principles between the Liberal Party and the Australian Labour Party. Under Labour, about two-thirds of taxation revenue was raised by direct taxes and onethird by indirect taxes. Indeed, Labour’s platform provides for the abolition of indirect taxation. We know that to completely abolish it down to the last halfpenny would be difficult, but that principle is clearly embodied in our platform and it is firmly supported by every Labour member of Parliament. That ratio of direct to indirect taxation has completely changed under the Liberal Government.
Now the great bulk of taxation revenue is collected by indirect taxes, and only a minor part is raised by direct taxes. If rates of taxation were fixed correctly in a curve, theoretically, and largely practically, it would not be necessary to resort to indirect taxation and to this complicated system of concessions and allowances.
– What did you say was the present proportion of indirect taxes to direct taxes?
– I did not say, but I think that the relationship has been almost reversed. I am informed by Senator Dittmer that at present about 58 per cent, of taxation revenue is collected in indirect taxes, whereas under the Labour Government the figure was 33 J per cent. Although direct taxation may be painful because the taxpayer realizes the amount he is paying, it is much fairer than indirect taxation. One can see the amount of income that goes into a person’s pocket and determine the amount that he will pay towards running the country. The burden of taxation should fall on the shoulders of those best able to bear it. In indirect taxation, there is no control, because people with big families, who buy the most goods, pay the most tax. We have seen the way in which sales tax and pay-roll tax work. There is a cumulative effect. The further one gets away from the secondary industries, the greater is the effect. There is an accumulation of charges all along the line. There is a cumulative tax on goods sold at Wyndham, in the north-west of Western Australia, with profit being calculated on the cumulative tax.
I think that all would agree that an unfair and complicated situation results from the Government’s forgoing tax by allowing concessional deductions. An amount of £143 is allowed as a deduction for a wife, £91 for the first child, and a lower amount for second and subsequent children. That might appear to be a very good thing, but Sir Arthur Fadden, the former Treasurer, said that if concessional deductions for children were disallowed the Government could by means of the saving double child endowment. All would agree on the desirability of assisting parents. The Government sets out to do it in two ways. Goodness knows why. It makes a direct payment in child endowment to the mothers of the nation. Later, when Dad makes his income-tax return, he is allowed to make concessional deductions. In the payment of child endowment, the Government does not say that the children of a man in receipt of £10,000 a year are worth more than the children of a working-class man. It does not say that the first man should receive 20s. for his child and the second should receive 10s. In making child endowment payments, the Government is not concerned about other family income.
But the position is different in relation to income tax. The Government says to the man in receipt of £10,000 a year, “ You shall pay 10s. in the £1. We shall allow you a concessional deduction of £91 in respect of your first child, which at 10s. in the £1 amounts to £45 10s “’. A man who has only half this income, perhaps, may be taxed at 5s. in the £1. The benefit that he receives from the same concessional deduction in respect of his first child is only half as much as that received by the first man. A man who receives only a little over the basic wage and, having had a bad year for medical expenses, is not liable to income tax at all, is in a much worse position. The Government says to him, in effect, “ We are sorry, old fellow. Because you did not earn very much this year and because your expenses were heavy, we shall not help you at all with your children, because you are not paying tax.” 1 should like to hear arguments against the proposition that we should get away from allowing concessional deductions for children and that we should, instead, double direct contributions by way of child endowment. It is beyond argument that the net result to the Government would bo the same. Surely we should not give assistance to wealthy families and not to others. At present, there is a doublepronged attack. Why should not the Government make a greater direct contribution by way of child endowment and do away with concessional allowances for children? The Government ignores the principle of equality of children and equality of human, dignity when it. says to one person, “ We shall allow you nothing for your wife and children “, to another. “We shall give you. back ls. in the £1”, and to the next, “ We shall return you 10s. in the £1 for the support of your wile and children”. This system obviously favours the. rich. A curve of taxation rates is fixed,, to return certain revenues to the Government, but remissions by way of concessional deductions are made in inverse proportion. Let us get back to the principles of taxation.
Senator Wright took me up for using the word “ amusing ‘.. I think his thesis- was that there was nothing amusing about taxation. Pondering the position, I think that he is probably right. A ludicrous position exists, in respect of charity. As children, we were taught that charity was a noble sentiment, that the important thing was not the amount of money one gave but the sentiment behind it. In- war loans- and contributions to help unfortunate people, the widow’s mite is just as important as the contribution of those who can afford a lot. There can be no objection to amending the act by increasing the list of institutions and funds, gifts to which will be allowable deductions for income tax purposes. As a> matter of fact, I think that if some of us were given the opportunity to extend the list we could make some worthwhile suggestions and, perhaps, treble the list as it now stands. Nevertheless, I do not think it is altogether right that because people, who can afford to do so, make donations to certain institutions, the Government should say to them, “ You are good fellows. The Government will chip- in. too.”
There is no such assistance for people who can afford to make only small donations to institutions. The Government gives no tax relief to the householder who is answering the door-bell in response to charitable requests day by day. I do not suggest, of course, that it is ‘practicable to do so. In fact. I wonder whether it is advisable to associate charity with taxation deductions. To my way of thinking, that is drawing the Ions bow. Small organizations, such as parents and citizens associations, which are doing good work, probably need help by way of donations more than do many other organizations that come to mind. I cannot help thinking that many people are uneasy about the present taxation methods.
I am not very keen on looking, at statistics, but. when we do so we see that, so far as taxation concessions are concerned, there are some very strange circumstances. We see, for instance, that the major part of the concessions is being given to those members of the community who, in the main, support small families, while those members who support large families, and who have heavy family responsibilities, receive less assistance. That is unfair. It is high time that we approached taxation on a different level. I cannot divorce myself from the thought that there is a certain lack of courage on the part of a government which uses taxation methods of the kind at present in operation. It seems that the Government has not sufficient courage to say to a person, “You are doing well in this community, and you must pay a higher rate of tax”.
From time to time, we see in publications such as the “ Financial Review “ advertisements concerning the latest books on how to avoid taxation. The advertisements always point out that the methods advocated do not amount to taxation dodging. It is claimed that they are within the law. I have been told by people who are skilled in such matters that one would have to be a Philadelphia lawyer to follow the methods adopted by some people to avoid taxation, such as the forming of families into companies, and so on. Australia is becoming a country of legal tax dodgers, although we look down on the illegal tax dodgers of other countries. It is time that our taxing methods were examined with a view to simplifying them. We frequently note that business people who travel overseas, ostensibly on business, do so at times when world sporting events, such as the Davis Cup matches, are taking place. I cannot escape the feeling that those people are travelling, not only at the expense of the organizations with which they are associated, but also at the expense of taxation concessions for the ordinary people of this country. We should review our taxing methods, and take evidence from a wide range of people.
The system of taxation that exists to-day is offensive to the ideas of the Australian Labour Party. We on this side of the chamber do not believe in indirect taxation because we say that it is discriminatory. The heaviest burden rests on those who buy the most goods. Secondly, we do not think that it is proper to collect £782,000,000 by way of taxation and then to hand back £150,000,000, or about 20 per cent., in various ways to members of the community who can best afford to pay taxes. As Senator Armstrong has said, we do not oppose amendment of the income tax laws in such a way as to improve the hotch-potch that exists at present, but we should not fail to voice the protest of the Labour Party against our present system of taxation.
.- It is not my intention to discuss income tax anomalies in detail. I think we all subscribe to the sentiments that have been expressed by Senator Willesee regarding the system of taxation generally. There are many anomalies in it, and I hope that an inquiry will be undertaken into this very important matter with the object of bringing forward recommendations for the simplification of the system and the introduction of more equitable methods of levying taxation. When the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) replies to the points that have been raised during the debate, I should like him to say whether my understanding of clause 6, which refers to gifts to specified institutions and funds, is correct.
In the explanatory memorandum which has been distributed to honorable senators, attention is directed to section 78 (1 .) (a) of the principal act, which authorizes the allowance of deductions for gifts of the value of £1 and upwards to specified institutions and funds in Australia. It is intimated that it is proposed to extend the deduction to gifts to the National Trust of Australia (Tasmania) Limited, the Art Gallery Society of New South Wales, and the Australian Productivity Council. It is also proposed that deductions will be allowed in respect of gifts made to certain medical bodies, provided that the gifts are made exclusively for the purpose of education or research in medical knowledge or science.
I understand that, at the moment, donations made to art galleries in metropolitan areas, or to the national gallery of any State, are deductible for income tax purposes, and that gifts made to similar institutions in country areas are not deductible. Art galleries have been established in provincial centres over the years, in some cases as a result of gifts by individuals who have wished to enable country people to see works of art. I cannot understand why there should be discrimination so far as donations are concerned, between such institutions in the country and those in metropolitan areas. At Castlemaine, my home town, there is a very fine art gallery and museum. The controlling committee spoke to me quite some time ago about the allowance of donations as deductions for income tax purposes. I advised the members of that committee to make representations about the matter, but I understand that their representations were not successful. If my deduction is correct, the Government should review the position and make it possible for these institutions in country centres to receive the same benefits as are received by institutions in metropolitan areas. If a citizen in a provincial area makes a donation for the purpose of erecting buildings or for the purchase of a painting, that donation should be deductible for income tax purposes in the same way that donations made to metropolitan institutions are deductible.
It is very desirable that country people be given facilities to enjoy art and to encourage the development of culture. In the town in which I live, if a new picture is displayed or if there is an exhibition of works of art children from the various primary, secondary and technical schools are brought along to see them. The existence of such institutions helps to further the education of young Australians. 1 believe we should endeavour to decentralize our repositories of culture and that the large metropolitan cities should not be the only centres in which it is possible to view works of art. I repeat what I said earlier: If my deduction is correct, I suggest to the Government that it consider allowing gifts to provincial cultural institutions as deductions for income tax purposes.
– in reply - I shall reply first to the point made by Senator Sheehan. I am informed that contributions made to all public art galleries, wherever situated, are deductible for income tax purposes.
– Throughout Australia?
– Yes, whether they be in the city or in country districts. I regret to hear that Senator Lillico has not yet received an answer to the representations he started so long ago. I can assure him, however, that although he was informed at first that the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) was giving the matter consideration, and subsequently that he was giving it careful consideration, the matter is not in any way inactive but will continue to receive the consideration of the Treasurer. Senator Lillico pointed out that the situation to which he referred exists only in Tasmania, but I understand that there is a difference of opinion within the dental profession concerning the applicability of this particular deduction for income tax purposes.
Senator Willesee spoke at length about some of the taxing practices and procedures that have been in operation for some time. His comments were not without interest. I remind him that a committee of inquiry into taxation is sitting at the present time. Possibly the members of that committee, in their wisdom, will direct their attention to some of the principles to which the honorable senator referred. However, I must join issue with him about the figures he quoted in respect of indirect and direct taxation. According to my notes - I think I noted his comments correctly - he said that in the days of the Labour Government direct taxes accounted for approximately 66 per cent, of the total taxation collection, and that indirect taxes accounted for approximately 33 per cent, of taxation revenue. Figures shown to me as he spoke indicate that in the last year of office of the Labour Government direct taxes accounted for 58 per cent, of taxation collections and indirect taxes accounted for 42 per cent. The current figures show that direct taxes account for 54 per cent, of total collections, and indirect taxes for 45 per cent. Having regard to the fact that in most countries in which high standards of living obtain there has been a tendency to increase indirect taxation, the present position is not out of line with that which existed when Labour was in office.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 27th October (vide page 1342), on motion by Senator Paltridge -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Senator ARMSTRONG (New South Wales) [5.33J. - This bill does, in the main, two things. First, it removes the 5 per cent, rebate on personal income tax which the Government allowed last year. In effect, it raises personal income tax by 5 per cent, for this financial year. Secondly, it adds 6d. in the £1 to the rate of company tax, raising it from 7s. 6d. to 8s. in the £1. Last year, apparently, the Government thought things were going so well that it was time to reduce taxes. But what this Government does one year is no criterion for what it will do in the next. It has become famous for its inconsistency.
We examine this measure with the realization that this year the revenue from these two taxes will reach a grand total of more than £780,000,000, or more than one-half of the Government’s collections of revenue. So “We are considering a substantial part of the country’s income. This year individuals will pay approximately £510,000,000 and companies will pay £268,000,000 - a total of £782,000,000 of the total tax revenue of £1,400,000,000. Naturally, we members of the Australian Labour Party hoped that in discussing a bill such as this we would not be discussing a bill that would increase the revenue from taxes as this bill does. We thought that after all these years the Government might have reached the stage of giving consideration, as Senator Willesee said in the debate on another bill, to lightening the burden of those people in the smaller income brackets and making their lot easier.
When one talks of inflation, the erosion of the basic wage might not be great in terms of pounds, shillings and pence, but it is in terms of the hardship that the erosion of a few pence here and a few pence somewhere else brings to a family. The victims of inflation are not the wealthy. Naturally, if one’s social and monetary standing is high, whether one has an effective income of £5,000 a year, or £4,000 a year, does not matter very much because three square meals are guaranteed and the comfort of the home is there. But when a person’s income of £20 to £30 a week is eroded by inflation and the sales tax about which we have been talking earlier, inflation is that person’s great problem. It is a serious problem which is represented to him not so much as a smaller income but in terms of the actual value of the things he eats and drinks and the facilities which he can put into his home to maintain his standard of living. One would think that from time to time the Government would be attempting to make the lot of such people a little easier.
I have in mind particularly the lot of the family of a married man on the basic wage, which child endowment and maternity allowances would help. Unfortunately, over the last ten years the Government has seemed determined that nothing shall be done to increase these two payments which are so important in helping the families on smaller incomes. In the 1949 election campaign when the last Labour Government was defeated, the present Government parties began as if they intended to make child endowment a permanent and increasing part of the assistance given to people with children. But having made the promise, which no doubt played a part in the Menzies Government being elected at that time, and having achieved their object, and despite the fact the value of money has decreased by half, those parties have made no move to help that section of the population about which I am talking. So, I say that it is rather sad that in these days of great strain on working class families, these things which we hoped would be done are not being done at all.
There is an interesting aspect of this matter which I should like to mention. It is something that has always puzzled me; I could never understand it. [ refer to the deduction allowed for life assurance premiums. This matter comes particularly to my mind because last night in another place the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) dealt at some length with the position of life assurance companies and their assistance to the Government by way of investment in Commonwealth loans. A person is allowed to deduct from his taxable income an amount of £400 per annum in respect of premiums paid to life assurance companies. Of course, £400 a year is a very substantial amount of money, especially when compared with the income received by the great bulk of the people in the community, the basic wage earners and others in working class groups whose wages are not much more than £20 to £25 a week. It is quite impossible for such people to take advantage of the full deduction: of £400 that is allowed under the act to those who contribute that much money to life assurance companies. The figure represents approximately £8 a week. Obviously no working class family can avail itself of this privilege; it is something of which only those in relatively high income brackets can take
One would have thought that if the Government was anxious to encourage thrift, such as the payment of premiums to life assurance companies, it would have been able to work out a scheme that would allow the smaller income earning groups to take advantage of this method of putting away something for later days or leaving something behind for one’s kith and kin. But, of course, that has not been done. Yet we have the extraordinary situation that this very large amount is an allowable deduction. Undoubtedly, this provision has been a tremendous help to the life assurance companies.
– I can relate my remarks to this bill. I do not think that you would like to pin me down too closely.
– There is nothing about life assurance companies in. this bill.
– No. I am talking about the general field of taxation. Perhaps my colleague, Senator Willesee, handled this matter better in the debate on another bill, but who would hold that against him? In concluding this theme, I bring this matter under the notice of the Minister because it is interesting that over the years the life assurance companies had been very good supporters of Commonwealth loans. They were in that position because of the encouragement given by the Government and the tremendous amount in premiums that they write. It is interesting to note that at this stage of our development they are supporting Commonwealth loans to a smaller extent than ever before in their history. According to the Treasurer, in 1949 68 per cent, of their assets was held in Commonwealth loans, and that percentage has now decreased to 37 per cent. The Treasurer has suggested that the reason why this matter should be looked into with the object of the life assurance companies making greater contributions to Commonwealth loans is that in his opinion the Government has given tremendous encouragement to private individuals by providing this very big reduction of £400 per annum for income tax purposes. Therefore,, the Government feels that, the life assurance companies, in their turn, should invest in Commonwealth loans. 1 shall conclude by pointing out that it seems to me that we have an unbalanced economy. The general rate of company tax has been increased from 7s. 6d. in the £1 to 8s. in the £1. Recently I read a very interesting figure which seemed almost too large to be true. In Australia there are 76- companies whose profits, after providing for taxation and depreciation, are over £1,000;000 per annum. How many of those companies are private companies whose figures are not available I db not know. Neither do I know how many of them are listed on the stock exchange. The information’ given- in the report of the Commissioner of Taxation’ is that there are 76 companies whose profits, after providing for tax and depreciation, are in excess of £1,000,000 per annum.. That is the position in a country, with! a population of only 10:000,000. In addition there are about 78 companies, approximately the same number, which earn between £500,000 and £ 1.000,000, per annum after providing for tax, depreciation and all the charges that a company writes oft and provides for before- its profit” is finally announced. So we have approximately 150 companies in Australia out of many thousands of companies who would be taking this tremendous part of the income. Is; this the result of mergers and take-overs? Is it a sound development or have we reached the position where there are too many tremendously big companies and not enough companies in the medium range with prospects of growth that will make them valuable in providing employment?
Naturally, the development of these tremendous companies which earn huge profits leads to monopolies, arrangements, cartels and things of that sort which are not good (or the nation because they remove competition. The discussion in the other place last night on our internal problems, following the statement made by the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), revealed some serious developments in the economy. One of the most serious developments is that when you have monopolies and no control of prices, the industries concerned can charge what they will. It does not matter to them whether they pay tax at the rate of 7s. 6d. in the £1 or 8s. in the £1 because there rs no competition and they can automatically pass on their costs.
Dr. Coombs, who is emerging as one of the most prominent of the Government’s economic advisers, has said that the growth of monopolies is one of the major problems in the cost structure and is aiding inflation because the monopolies can extort from the consumers more than a fair price. These great companies are never short of money and they can expand because they can meet the cost of expansion from their current profits to a large degree. They do not need to go to the banks for financial accommodation. On the contrary, they merely have to increase the price of their products as there is no competition, no control of prices by the Government and no surveillance of their activities. They can charge what they like. That is the position we are facing to-day.
As a young country, we are becoming unbalanced economically to the extent that a large number of companies are able to make huge profits. Because of thenstrength, these great organizations can exercise more influence on the community than can private companies. I take this opportunity to express those views in relation to the bill before the committee. To-morrow, we will be discussing the economic situation. In an economic sense, everything is so intertwined that possibly it is a waste of time to discuss sales tax, income tax and other imposts because they are always liable to change. Therefore, the Opposition does not oppose the bill.
– I wish to make only one or two comments. The first concerns the objective of shifting the burden of taxation. Under this bill, the Government re-imposes the 5 per cent, special reduction of incometax that was allowed last year. On the face of it, the Government might claim that taxation was reduced last year by 5 per cent, and that this year it will be increased by that proportion, and that therefore we will arrive at the same figure. Of course, that is not the actual position. Honorable senators will recall that when the 5 per cent, deduction was made last year, the Australian Labour Party criticized it on two grounds. One criticism was that the Government was shifting about £20,000,000 a year from the field of direct taxation into the indirect field by way of increases in postal charges. We said that was undesirable although Government supporters vehemently denied that the two propositions w.ere connected.
The Government, by re-imposing the 5 per cent, deduction of last year, still leaves general collections about £20,000,000 higher. The result is that it is still shifting income tax by collecting approximately £20,000,000 from indirect taxes. The population as a whole is that much worse off. It will pay 5 per cent, more in taxation than it did under the Budget last year. The Opposition welcomes the reimposition of this taxation because it believes that the 5 per cent, deduction should not have been allowed last year. The Government had a glorious opportunity to relieve those on the lower levels of taxation but it preferred to apply the reduction at a flat rate of 5 per cent. Now, the Government proposes to correct that position to some extent, but it has left the higher impost by way of postal charges.
In connexion with company taxation, the Government is moving away from placing a large impost on the bigger companies. Senator Armstrong dealt with this matter but not along the same lines. It seems there is no relationship between a company which is earning just over £5,000 a year and some of the big companies which deal in millions. The profits of some of them are up by about £3,000,000. It seems to me that there should be some differentiation between the rates of taxation paid by companies which have an income of just over £5,000 and those whose returns run into millions of pounds. Perhaps the Minister will comment on that point.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
Sitting suspended from 5.54 to 8 p.m.
Debate resumed from 27th October (vide page 1340), on motion by Senator Spooner -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- The bill before the Senate seeks to extend by three years the term of office of the Commissioner of the Snowy Mountains Authority. The Government seeks to retain the services of Sir William Hudson on the ground that six major projects in the general Snowy Mountains programme will be commenced in the next three years and that his experience should not be lost to the nation. The Government believes that he will be able to give great service in the next three years not only to the scheme, but also to the nation.
The Australian Labour Party believes in the principle of retirement at 65 years of age but, as with all good rules, there must be an exception. We on this side of the chamber recognize the special circumstances that justify our support of the Government’s efforts to retain the services of Sir William Hudson.
Sir William Hudson has given great service to the nation in his capacity as Commissioner of the Snowy Mountains Authority. He was appointed to that position by the Chifley Government in 1949, and re-appointed by the present Government in 1956. To a large extent, the success of the Snowy Mountains project has been due to Sir William Hudson’s leadership and his exceptional organizational ability. One of his main achievements was the defeat of the international cartels that saw in the Snowy Mountains project an opportunity to plunder this nation. Those cartels in the early days submitted uniform tenders. Sir William Hudson may be ranked with men like E. G. Theodore and Essington Lewis, who served this country very capably in its hour of need. Sir William Hudson succeeded in inducing firms outside the international cartels to submit tenders for work on the scheme. His task in this connexion was not an easy one, but he was successful. Calling tenders is a tricky business. Even the oil companies seem to be able to submit identical prices. Sir William Hudson holds a responsible position, and he has discharged his duties in an extremely efficient manner.
I do not propose to go into any great detail in referring to the Snowy Mountains project. The Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) has shown considerable interest in this project over the years. I remember the opening ceremony of the project, a ceremony which, unfortunately, owing to small-mindedness and short-sightedness, was boycotted by Government supporters, who were then sitting on this side of the chamber. If I remember correctly the Minister in charge of the project at that time was Mr. Nelson Lemmon. I am pleased to see that the mistake of 1949 has not been continued into the present time. I feel sure that the Minister for National Development is just as keen to see the project successfully completed as were those who inaugurated the scheme. One is entitled to feel a little exuberant when one sees such a change of policy, and I am reminded of that memorable line from Oliver Goldsmith’s poem, “The Deserted Village” -
And fools, who came to scoff, remain’d to pray.
I am delighted at the enthusiasm with which all honorable senators are now watching this scheme. I understand that a great many honorable senators and members of another place have visited the scheme. The scheme, when completed, will be by far the biggest in Australia. It will be of immense benefit to New South Wales and Victoria.
I repeat that although the Labour Party believes in compulsory retirement at 65 years of age, it makes this exception for the reasons that I have stated. I trust that the Government will not interpret the Opposition’s attitude as a change in its general policy on this matter. The Opposition supports the bril.
– I rise to support the measure. 1 should like to compliment the Labour Party on its approach ;to this bill as indicated by Senator Kennelly. Apparently in this is instance the Labour Party has made an exception to its rule on retirement. 1 believe this is an exceptional case and that tha Government has acted wisely in presenting a bill which provides for an extension of three years of the period of service of Sir William Hudson. Senator Kennelly spoke of the great benefit this scheme will be, under the guidance of Sir William Hudson, to New South Wales and Victoria. As a South Australian Senator, I wish to speak also in appreciation of the services rendered to the Snowy Mountains Authority by Sir William Hudson; and 1 am pleased that the Government has seen fit to present this bill which provides for the retention of his services. I regard Sir Wiliam Hudson as a great humanitarian. He is, of course, a great engineer; otherwise he would not be in such a position, but I like to think of him as a great humanitarian, beloved and respected by all who are engaged in the scheme. Particularly is he respected by the migrants who have played such a vital part in the successful work done on the scheme. Accompanied by Lady Hudson, Sir William has appeared at numerous functions in the Snowy area. He has done a tremendous job for this nation in public relations work, if I may put it that way, in connexion with the scheme, particularly among European migrants.
I mentioned that Sir William is a great engineer. The other day I came across a statement in the “ Murray Pioneer “, a newspaper published in Renmark in South Australia, and with the indulgence of the Senate I should like to read a short statement which appeared in that newspaper commenting on a trip made by the Renmark Irrigation Trust Board to the Snowy area. Honorable senators can well imagine how interested the Renmark Irrigation Trust Board is in the work that is going on at the Snowy because you will understand, Sir, that this scheme is of enormous importance to South Australia, particularly, in the first instance, to those who dwell in the upper Murray area. The members of this board made a tour of the area, and among other things they said - “ We were extremely impressed by the immensity of the scheme “, said Mr. Pace, “ the amazing engineering achievements, the detailed and thorough planning for the economical use of the Snowy waters which is done before any works are undertaken, the efficient manner in which the works are performed and the careful attention being given to such vital matters as soil conservation, re-afforestation and fire protection.”
Mr. Price, the leader of the delegation added - that the party also had been impressed by the facilities made available for visitors and tourists in general and the Renmark Irrigation Trust members were most grateful to the Snowy Mountains Authority for the many courtesies and assistance extended.
In conclusion, they referred to a matter that has come to the notice of this Parliament, namely the adequate and general provision that is being made to ensure that a correct proportion of Snowy River water can be diverted into the Murray. They continued -
In fact the original scheme has now been altered and made so flexible that an interchange of water from the catchment of the three rivers, Murray, Mumimbidgee and Snowy can be made, such diversions being measured and if necessary proper adjustment and reallocation made between the Murray and Mumimbidgee systems.
I submit to the Senate that the remarks made by that group of men from Renmark, who investigated the Snowy Mountains scheme, are a great testimony to the work of Sir William Hudson both as an engineer, and, if I may say .so, as a statesman because of his work in arranging for a reallocation of waters between these three main rivers. That is a tribute from the Renmark area of the work that is being done by Sir William Hudson on the engineering and governmental level.
We in South Australia are very interested in the continuance of the services of Sir William Hudson because the scheme is only about half completed. Consequently another term of three years in office by Sir William at this stage will be of great importance to the scheme and in particular to those of us in South Australia who are so interested in the attainment of the objectives of the scheme in relation to the irrigation areas of the river Murray and later the industrial areas of Adelaide. The benefits of the scheme extend even as far as Port Augusta and Woomera - almost half-way across the continent. As a result of this extended term I hope that Sir William will have an interesting and fruitful experience. I even hope, and 1 put it to Senator Spooner, that when the period envisaged by this bill expires, it may be possible to retain the services of Sir William, in the interests of the nation, in some advisory capacity. I cordially support the bill.
– I also wish to say a few words about a great nian who came to Australia and who has taken part in the construction of one of its major developmental projects. To come to Australia as a firstrate engineer and organize a project such as the Snowy scheme is an achievement of no mean standing. The scheme covers an area of some 3,000 square miles which was a complete wilderness until the Commonwealth Government decided to launch the project. The work in the initial stages had to be organized by Sir William. In the first instance, hydrological and geophysical surveys could be carried out only on foot because of the difficult terrain. The organization of the various contracts to ensure the smooth running of the scheme was the work of a mastermind. That type of work can run smoothly only if you have a good man at the top, and Sir William has been such a man.
I am very pleased that he has accepted the Government’s invitation to continue in office for a further three years beyond 1961 when he will reach the retiring age of 65. During the course of his administration 1 have paid several visits to the area, and I have been amazed at the thoroughness with which he approached his problems. He set up a scientific laboratory at Cooma in which every type of work encountered on the scheme is tested. The rocks through which tunnels have to be drilled are assessed in the laboratory. In fact, everything that could be done was done, and nothing was left to chance. During the construction of the tunnel the contractors employed under the guidance of Sir William broke not only Australian but also world tunnelling records. The world tunnelling record is held by Australia at present, having been established by contractors working under Sir William’s administration.
The nation should be proud that he is prepared to remain in his position for another three years to develop the scheme further.
In view of Sir William Hudson’s ability, 1 suggest that the Minister should approach him to train a person to take his place when he retires. Only great men can carry on this work, and we shall not get on with our developmental projects unless we have great men such as Sir William in charge of them.
– in reply - I thank the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Kennelly) and Senators Laught and Scott for their support of the bill and their friendly references to Sir William Hudson, to which I thoroughly subscribe. Indeed, in my second-reading speech, I summarized my views in these words - 1 do not think that Australia could have made a better choice than Sir William Hudson when it selected him to assume the leadership of this great national undertaking.
Sir William Hudson has an even greater characteristic than those that have been mentioned. It is his ability to get not only the co-operation but ako the respect of the great number of employees of all categories in the Snowy Mountains scheme. The industrial record of the 5,000 or 6,000 employees who are continuously engaged in the area is as good as, if not better than, that of people employed on any other project in Australia. This is a great tribute to the respect that everybody has for Sir William Hudson and to his fair approach to problems as they arise.
It is characteristic of his capacity that he has been able to get co-operation from both sides of politics. To-night’s brief proceedings show the respect in which he is held by honorable senators on both sides of the chamber. He has been very mu:h helped in his objective by the fact that we as a government, and I as a Minister, have never put the Snowy Mountains scheme into the political arena. We l..v.been careful on each occasion on which there has been a ceremony to acknowledge . ‘.ed , : the fact that the scheme was started by the Labour Party and that we carried it on. I make that point because Senator Kennelly mentioned those who came to scott and remained to pray. We have approached this project from a national point of view, not from a party-political point of view. I say to Senator Kennelly, without heat, that we have never on election eve held an opening ceremony and fired the first shot - even if when we did tire the first shot it was at the wrong site - in order to capitalize on this scheme in the election campaign. 1 know that when the political tide turns against us the great things that we have done in our regime will be carried on by the Labour Party just as enthusiastically as we have carried on the schemes that it initiated.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 9th November (vide page 1428). on motion by Senator Paltridge -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- The bill deals with one aspect of a vastly important subject, namely, Commonwealth-State financial relations, involving in the course of one year hundreds of millions of pounds. This bill deals with an amount of £8,618,000 to be distributed in equal amounts of £4,309,000 between Western Australia and Tasmania. The appropriation is presented by the Government pursuant to the Twentyseventh Report of the Commonwealth Grants Commission.
The work of the commission is well known to everybody in the Senate. We have debated its reports annually and we are familiar with the principle that has guided it from 1936 until to-day. Most honorable senators, in the very lengthy discussions we have had on CommonwealthState financial relations, will have followed the methods employed from time to time by the commission to give effect to its main principle. It has been flexible in its methods. These have been changed and adapted to meet altered conditions. The whole volume of the commission’s reports constitutes an amazingly useful history of the development of Commonwealth-Slate financial relations and the many complex problems with which that subject is beset.
The latest report marks the termination of fifteen years of service as chairman of the commission by Sir Alexander Fitzgerald. He has held that position since 1945 and he now retires, at his own desire, after work of very great importance and significance. I join readily in the tribute that was paid to him and his work by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) when, on 30th September last, he announced the then- pending retirement of Sir Alexander Fitzgerald. This retirement became effective at the end of September, immediately after the presentation of this report. As honorable senators know, his co-members were Professor Prest and Sir Alexander Reid. Those two members will, of course, continue rn office. The new chairman who has been appointed is Mr. P. D. Phillips, a noted barrister of Melbourne. 1 had the pleasure of going through the law school at Melbourne with Mr. Phillips, and at various points in the interval since then our careers have crossed, notably at a time when I was acting as AttorneyGeneral and he was counsel on behalf of the Commonwealth in a vastly important case. That was in 1948 or 1949. I am delighted that a person of the character of Mr. Phillips has been appointed chairman of the commission. Not only is he an outstanding barrister, but he has also had very wide experience in administrative affairs at the governmental level. He is exceedingly well fitted to deal with the problem of Commonwealth and State financial relations, and I think he will be greatly attracted to it.
It is appropriate that Mr. Phillips’s appointment should come at an historic point in the evolution of the claimant States, as they are called in this Parliament. He takes over at a time when South Australia drops out of the category of claimant State. I have already taken the opportunity to extend to that State congratulations on its having achieved a new status, but the fact that it has done so has created difficulties for the commission in determining the methods that are to be pursued in the future. There is quite a conflict of opinion on the point. Hitherto, as honorable senators know, there were three claimant States and three standard States. Grants recommended by the commission were directed to equating the position of the claimant States with the average position of the three standard States, Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria. Now, of course, there are only two claimant States, and presumably there will in future be four standard States. The problem will arise for the commission next year of deciding whether three States are to determine the standard, or whether four, including South Australia, are between them to determine the standard to which the two claimant States of Western Australia and Tasmania are to be brought.
Western Australia and Tasmania, in submissions to the commission on this point, have argued that the standard should b: determined by a consideration of the budgets of only two States, namely the highly populous States of New South Wales and Victoria. Both States concede that the commission should form some part of its judgment by a broad consideration of the budgetary positions of the other two States of Queensland and South Australia. The Commonwealth Treasury, on the other hand, argues that the four States should be considered in setting the standard. The commission itself has rather tentatively and, I think, properly, at a time when its chairman is being changed, embarked upon a discussion of that intriguing problem, the solution of which I shall watch with great interest.
I do not wish to delay the Senate to-night on this subject for two reasons, the first being that we on this side support the bill, and the second being that, according to my survey, we have some 30 bills to dispose of in the immediate future, with the sessional period rapidly drawing to a close. The Opposition is more concerned to expend its efforts on some of those other 30 bills, some of which are of a highly contentious nature. If, therefore, T speak with brevity on this all-important subject T do not want it to be taken that I have lost interest in the matter, or that I do not properly appreciate the importance of the work of the Commonwealth Grants Commission.
Coming back to the problem that faces the commission. I wish to put to the Senate one paragraph only from the report, which indicates that the commission does not come down on one side or the other but poses a possible alternative to the courses suggested by the two claimant States and by the Commonwealth Treasury. The commission hints at the possibility that it may take as the standard for the two claimant States in the future, for comparative purposes, the States of Queensland and South Australia, the latter having newly acquired standard State status. So, there is a nice choice for those who have to make up their minds on this point. The paragraph to which I propose to refer is paragraph 51, on page 34 of the report, and I think that it might well be included in the record. It is as follows: -
The Commission will have to consider also the possibility that the new system of Commonwealth financial assistance payments which began to operate in 1959-60 may have a bearing on the determination of the standards to be used in future. In the financial assistance arrangements the per capita amount adopted for Queensland was higher, and the per capita amount adopted for South Australia was higher again, than the amounts adopted for New South Wales and Victoria. If it can be assumed that these higher per capita amounts for Queensland and South Australia were not regarded by the Commonwealth as being sufficient to make the budgetary positions of those States, in normal circumstances, as good as those of New South Wales and Victoria, there would be a case for adopting the budget experience of Queensland and South Australia as the basis of the Commission’s standard. If, on the other hand, the intention of the new arrangement was to endeavour to place Queensland and South Australia in a position of approximate budget equality with New South Wales and Victoria there would seem to be no reason why the Commission should not adopt the budget experience of these two latter States on which to base its standards and arrive at its recommendations for Western Australia and Tasmania. The Commission will welcome any further comments on the matter which the Commonwealth Treasury and the claimant States might wish to make.
There is a problem, and a very interesting one, that confronts the commission in its choice of methods for the future.
The reason that in this year of 1960-61 the commission did not have to address its mind to the problem is that ii. dealing with the first part of the grant, it was considering audited and corrected budgets of the standard States for the year 1958-59. The adjustment for South Australia in respect of that year was made before the last financial year closed and, of course, did not involve anything other than a comparison of the position of the three standard States with that of the three claimant States. The standard was clear in that instance, but a new determination must be made regarding the States that will constitute the standards for the future in determining the grants to be made to Western Australia and Tasmania. I think it proper, also, that the commission did not pronounce finally on the matter, in view of the fact that the chairman was vacating his office and another chairman was being appointed. We shall be very interested to learn of the solution that the commission reaches in this regard. 1 stay for a moment on the question of the first part of the grant, that being the amount that the commission considers is required to make a proper adjustment of the broad judgment grant made in 1958-59. Now that the accounts have been audited, corrected and adjusted to eliminate the difficulties of comparison between the various States, a further sum must be either added or deducted, with the net result that certain adjustments will be made under three heads. The commission will make an adjustment which will be either favorable or unfavorable compared to the grant made in 1958-59, according to the level of expenditure on social services by the State concerned. If the expenditure of the claimant States under that heading is higher than the average of the standard States, a comparative amount is deducted from their grant. Under that heading Western Australia, which has a very high expenditure on social services, had some £426,000 deducted from the grant that was made in 1958-59. That sum comes off the amount that otherwise would be payable this year. Tasmania, which I think has the highest expenditure of all on social services, suffered a deduction of £290,000.
But, in relation to the severity of State taxation, both States received a favorable adjustment. They both had a higher level of taxation than had the standard States. Under that heading, Western Australia received a bonus, shall I call it, of £350,000 and Tasmania one of £480,000. Then, in the final and third adjustment under this heading - the impact on the States finances of the business undertakings in the States, Western Australia received an unfavorable adjustment. In other words, Western Australia suffered a deduction of £740,000, while Tasmania got nothing and lost nothing. In short, Tasmania broke even. The net result of the determination of the adjustment of the 1958-59 grant was that Western Australia received £609,000 and Tasmania £909,000.
To come to the second part, which represents the broad judgment of the commission on what the States will require for the current financial year, Western Australia claimed £4,482,000 and got £3,700,000, while Tasmania claimed £3,845,000 and got £3,400,000. I suppose the longest shot came home, in that after all the adjustments, after the determination of the first part as a matter of meticulous accuracy and the determination of the second part as a matter of broad judgment, the end result was that each State got exactly the same grant. That is a result which I believe has never occurred before, and I doubt whether it will ever happen again. That is one of the long chances that has really come home.
One cannot conclude a consideration of the commission’s report without expressing admiration of the excellence of it and of the vast fund of information it makes available on so many aspects of this great problem of Commonwealth and State financial relations. The Senate might usefully concern itself with a very detailed examination of the report. Despite the pressure of events at the present time, I have taken advantage of the opportunity to read it, and I have no doubt that other honorable senators have done the same. At least, familiarity with the set-up of the report enables one to survey it fairly rapidly. One again finds the same high standard of form and presentation as in the past and the same care in presenting the numerous statistics that are appended to reports of the commission. On behalf of the Opposition, I bid farewell to South Australia as a claimant State and express appreciation of the work of the commission and the invariable readiness of the Parliament to accept the commission’s recommendations for payments to the claimant States. That probably constitutes the best compliment that the Government and the Parliament at large could pay to the work of the commission.
The Opposition has very much pleasure in supporting this measure for the appropriation of a sum of approximately £8,000,000, of which approximately £4,000,000 will go to both Western Australia and Tasmania.
– I rise to support this bill, the main purpose of which is to authorise the payment of £8,618,000 this year to Tasmania and Western Australia, as recommended by the Commonwealth Grants Commission. When we compare this sum with what has been received by these States in the past, we note that there has been a considerable falling off, and we wonder what is the reason for it. Before the current financial agreement between the Commonwealth and the States was entered into in June last, Western Australia received some 12 per cent, of the total amount of grants and tax reimbursements to the States. Under the new arrangement, Western Australia’s share has been reduced to 104- per cent. The percentage received by Tasmania has declined also. These two States are now the only claimant States, the other States being classed as non-claimant States. Under the terms of the financial agreement recently entered into, South Australia is not to apply to the Commonwealth for special assistance unless it gets into difficulties.
For reasons well-known to every person in this chamber, we in Western Australia believe that our State is entitled to a larger grant. Western Australia covers one-third of the area of this continent of ours, with the result that developmental projects are extremely expensive. The facilities and public utilities that have to be built to cater for such a large area are much more expensive than are those in the other States. Therefore, the sum of £3,700,000 which we are to receive as a grant for the current year and an adjustment of the 1958-59 grant amounting to £609,000, making a total of £4,309,000, cannot be considered as being very large.
When we compare the area of and the amount to be received by Western Australia with the area of and the amount to be received by Tasmania, the area of which is approximately one-fortieth of that of Western Australia, it will be seen that Tasmania is being very well treated. I cannot say that about Western Australia. However, in the first year of operation of the new financial arrangement between the Commonwealth and the States, under which any increase in costs and in population is taken into consideration, tax reimbursements to the States will rise from some £242,000,000 to approximately £260,000,000. The extra amount that Western Australia will receive under this arrangement will no doubt help it to overcome its budgetary problems. As the new formula is working satisfactorily, I do not think there is any room for complaint by Western Australia.
Doubtless, the State Government is faced with great developmental problems. A considerable amount of money is needed to develop the vast area of the Kimberleys. As we know, the Commonwealth Government made a special grant of £5,000,000 for the development of that area. Much more than this will be needed, but at least that grant will enable a start to be made on the development. We believe that, with the generous grant made by the Commonwealth Government and with other moneys that the State may provide we shall be able to do enough to show that the development of the area is worth while and shall be able to present a sound case to the Commonwealth Government for the provision of more money. I support the bill.
– I support the bill, but, like Senator Scott, I regret that a greater amount of money, more in keeping with the real needs of Western Australia, is not being provided. It seems to me to be anomalous that Western Australia, a State very large in area, is to receive only the same amount of special assistance as will be given to Tasmania, which is a small State. We in Western Australia maintain that most of our problems arise from the fact that the State is so large in area. There are problems of distance, resulting in high transport costs, higher costs of education and higher costs in the provision of social services.
It was with very great regret that during the last few months we learnt that a cut had been made in the social service allowances paid by the State Government in respect of wards or child migrants brought here from England under the auspices of various church authorities and other sponsoring bodies. The cut had to be made because it was felt that Western Australia was making proportionately higher payments for social services than were made by the other States. If Western Australia was to receive special assistance from the Commonwealth, even of the magnitude of the grants provided by this bill on the recommendation of the Commonwealth Grants Commission, those allowances had to be cut. I think this is a very short-sighted policy, because at the present time Western Australia is receiving more child migrants than any other State. I believe that up till last year Western Australia had received more child migrants than were received by all the other States combined. This placed a heavy burden, not only upon the sponsoring bodies, but also upon the State authorities, who had been rather more generous in their treatment of these children and other State wards than were the authorities in other States.
For the life of me, I cannot see the logic of a State being penalized because it has provided better social services than have other States. Of course, it may be said that Western Australia has done this at the expense of the States which are not claimant States in the sense of this bill. Nevertheless, when we are dealing in millions of pounds and only a relatively small amount of money would be needed to enable the level of social services provided to these children in Western Austrafia to be maintained, I think this is a short-sighted policy. I know that the various bodies concerned with child migrants in Western Australia were very disappointed to learn that these allowances were to be cut as a result of the evidence that was tendered to the Commonwealth Grants Commission, which showed that social service payments in Western Australia were greater than in other States. This cut will impose great difficulty on them, particularly in this time of rising costs.
I should like to point out, Sir, that Western Australia does not like to be termed a mendicant State. We do not think that Western Australia is a mendicant State. We have not approached the Commonwealth Grants Commission in any spirit of mendicancy. We believe that Western Australia is an integral part of Australia and that its development is of vital importance to the whole of this country. Therefore, any grants that are made to Western Australia have been really earned. Furthermore, they will play an important part in the development not only of Western Australia but of the whole of Australia.
As Senator Scott has mentioned, we arc faced with great difficulties in developing the north-west of Western Australia - the Kimberleys and the area north ot Carnarvon. The development of these areas presents a challenge to the relatively small number of people in Western Australia which they cannot accept. As I have said so often before in this chamber, this is a challenge to the Commonwealth. After all, the vast undeveloped north-west part of Western Australia presents a defence hazard because of its proximity to the trouble spots of South-East Asia. Furthermore, it would well repay us to develop the area because of its intrinsic richness. However, due to the vast extent of this region and to the climatic conditions there, this will be costly. It is a matter for which the Commonwealth, in cooperation with the State, has to assume responsibility. I think that during the last few years there has been a public awakening throughout the whole of the Commonwealth to the necessity to develop the north-western section of Australia. Certainly, there has been a lot more talk about the industrial potential of the Kimberleys and the north-west as well as of the rich mining potential of that area. It will be very disappointing, and a shortsighted approach to the matter, if something more than talk does not eventuate.
Quite a lot of development is taking place in the south-western areas of Western Australia. Recently, a gentleman from the United States of America who was visiting Australia stated in a television interview that he was very greatly surprised by the potential of the Esperance area. He said that the company he represented would develop this area and that, after a few years, it would divide the area into small farmlets and sell them to the Australian people. He realized that this would be a good business proposition. He realized that the money his company would invest in the project would be fully covered and that he himself would come out of the business very well indeed. If the representative of an overseas company can see that by developing this area of land that has not hitherto been fully exploited he can within a few years, not only bring farm lets into production in order to recoup his capital outlay, but also acquire thousands of acres of land at no cost to itself, surely to goodness the Commonwealth and the State in co-operation could develop the area for the purpose of subdividing it for the settlement of exservicemen and other land-hungry people in the community, lt should not be left to an overseas company to exploit the area and make quite a lot of money out of it. I emphasize that a very large amount of developmental work requires to be undertaken in the north-western and southwestern areas of Western Australia, as well as in the south-eastern portion of the State. The cost of the educational system in Western Australia is multiplied because of distances. The fact that we have so many remote areas where the small one-teacher schools have gradually been replaced by larger schools to which children must be transported by bus necessitates the provision of good roads. All these problems are peculiar to Western Australia.
In our hospitals service, in the far northwest there is a need for more regional hospitals and more regional dentists. There is a need for the complete decentralization of health and educational services. For instance, in the Commonwealth social services set-up there is not a satisfactory decentralization of offices in our country districts. In the far north-west there are many hundreds of miles between offices where one can register for employment or social service benefits. There is a complete lack of understanding by the central authorities of the immense distances involved in Western Australia. In weighing up all these problems one again finds that transport becomes a major problem. The construction of roads, for which of course special roads grants are given, rs a major headache. Parts of our State are connected only by tracks. The airlines have made a magnificent contribution to the lessening of isolation and distances in the outback, but still the problems in connexion with roads remain if we are to have the complete development of parts of this vast State which would quite easily repay the necessary expenditure on them.
Therefore, while we are grateful for the £4,000,000 that Western Australia is receiving under this bill, like Oliver Twist we say that it is not enough. Of course, no government ever receives enough money for its needs. There is always some way in which extra money could be spent. We feel that very definite hardships are being placed upon the Western Australian Government, and particularly upon the charitable institutions in that State and those organizations which are catering for destitute children, migrant children and others. Over the past few months the grants made to them have had to be reduced because of the necessity to conform with the requirements of the Commonwealth Grants Commission. I do not believe that any State in Australia is spending too much money on social services. The Social Services Department in Western Australia is an excellent one. Its officers are very helpful not only to the people whom I have mentioned as suffering because of the lack of funds now available to make increased grants to them, but also to widows who find themselves in straitened circumstances and to young people who have got into difficulties or who have run foul of the law. In our social services set-up in Western Australia we have a group of officers who could not be bettered anywhere in the Commonwealth. They carry out their duties with great sympathy, tact and understanding. Of course, they have many problems which give them headaches, but I have never yet found them unwilling to give great time and attention to the problems of even one person who might be quite insignificant in the whole community. But because that person has a problem which is important to him or her, the officials of the social service departments, particularly the State Child Welfare Department, are always anxious to help.
It is a shame that at this stage their efforts are to be curtailed because of a cut in the grants made available to them in order to carry out their work. Surely that should not be the yardstick by which the finances of the State are measured. The Commonwealth Government handles millions and millions of pounds. Surely, the little extra that a State is able to give in order to improve the lives and the happiness of individuals who make up the population of that State should not be a yardstick by which the material needs of that State are measured so that the State is told to cut down on a service, or else something will be cut out of its grant. I do not think that should be the measuring stick at all. We Western Australians are glad to receive the £4,000,000 which is provided by this bill. We think that the grant should be a lot more. We will not say that Western Australia does not object to being called a mendicant State or a claimant State. It is a sovereign State of the Commonwealth of Australia. We believe that the responsibilities of each State should be borne by all the other States in equal proportions. I should like to congratulate South Australia on having attained economic independence, or having passed from the claimant stage.
– That is the best thing you have said.
– 1 am quite sincere in saying that, just as I have been sincere in saying everything else I have said. 1 am always glad to think that a State can stand on its own feet. If Western Australia was a State of only the size of South Australia and had a population the same size as South Australia’s population, it might also be able to balance its Budget and at the same time carry on all the excellent public services to which we in Western Australia have become accustomed over the years.
– I should like to acknowledge Senator Tangney’s congratulations to South Australia which on this occasion for the first time is not receiving a special Commonwealth grant. Last year South Australia had passed from the position of being a claimant State, but according to the formula that has always been adopted by the Commonwealth Grants Commission an adjustment was made for the previous year and South Australia received £1.426,000. That is the last special grant determined by the commission which South Australia expects to receive. This is a very happy position in which to be. We have now i cached the stage where we can more or less paddle our own canoe. Now we do not require the special assistance that is granted to the claimant States from year to year. South Australia is no longer a claimant State, and we are very proud of the fact that we have reached that position.
The first time I spoke on this subject, it was more or less a closed book to me. That was soon after I came into the Senate. 1 do not remember whether it was in 1950 or 1951. I was asked to say a few words on a measure similar to this, which was then before the Senate. I have learned a great deal since then. 1 do not know whether my speech on that occasion was very coherent, but at least I have evinced a great deal of interest in measures similar to this measure as they have come before the Senate.
I give full credit to the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna). He has always contributed a great deal to debates in the Senate by his exposition of the splendid work that has been done by the Commonwealth Grants Commission down the years. I should like to join with Senator McKenna in paying a tribute to the members of the commission, past and present, for the very valuable work they have done. When one looks back over the years and sees what has been done by those gentlemen, it is clear that it has been a monumental work. Naturally, they are men of great capacity who undertake the onerous task of assessing the claims of the claimant States which have always been rather rudely referred to as mendicant States. I remember a time, before I entered the Parliament, when we looked upon this commission as the “ disabilities “ commission. I am glad that we have left that idea behind. We recognize that certain States - happily South Australia is not now one of them - require financial assistance in order to maintain their standard of living at a level comparable with that of other States that are looked upon as being the more populous and more prosperous States. The commission has done work of outstanding merit, and f pay a hearty tribute to the commission.
We know that the commission has to do a great deal of investigation. A lot of travel is involved. The commission goes from State to State making a careful examination of the financial details relating to the budgets of the States. That is necessary in order to evaluate the financial position of the States and their standards of living. Formerly three of the States were claimant States and three were nonclaimant States. I was interested in Senator McKenna’s remarks about the problem that now confronts the commission in its endeavour to strike a balance between the two claimant States and the four nonclaimant States. He suggested that another category should be recognized. He suggested that Queensland and South Australia should fall into one category and Victoria and New South Wales into another. I think that his suggestion contains a good deal of merit. 1 cannot go further into this matter because I am not in a position to discuss it in detail, but obviously New South Wales and Victoria are so outstanding as far as population and resources are concerned that it is hardly fair to place South Australia and Queensland in the same category with them. I suggest that Senator McKenna’s remarks should receive serious consideration by the commission.
The commission examines carefully the financial position of the claimant States. Happily, that will not apply to South Australia in the future, but it will apply to Western Australia and Tasmania. I think all of us agree that the grant of £8,618,000 that is being made is fully justified to enable Western Australia and Tasmania to attain the standards that exists generally throughout Australia. I acknowledge what Senator Tangney said about the responsibilities of the Government of Western Australia and the tremendous developmental work that is necessary in such a huge State, which occupies almost one-third of the continent. Those of us who have travelled in Western Australia recognize the difficulties that confront an administration that has the responsibility of governing and developing such a huge area. We know, also, that the Government of Tasmania faces tremendous responsibilities. We know that Tasmania’s industrial potential will be gradually increased, but at present Tasmania could not hope to equal the standard of living in the major States without the assistance of the Commonwealth Grants Commission.
There are some advantages in being a non-claimant State. Although we in South Australia always welcomed visits by the Commonwealth Grants Commission, we were obliged to provide information to the commission regarding our financial position. A comparison used to be made, for example, between the expenditure on our railways and the fares that were charged. We in South Australia have always prided ourselves on the fact that our railway fares and freights have not been as high as fares and freights in New South Wales or Victoria. Consequently, we have been criticized at times by the Commonwealth Grants Commission. If the commission felt that our railways were not charging sufficient in fares and freights, an adjustment was made to the grant that South Australia was to receive. We felt that in view of the commission’s interest in this matter we were compelled in certain circumstances to increase charges. If we did not we ran the risk of receiving a smaller grant than would otherwise be the case. Similar considerations applied to our education system, our public works, our expenditure on roads and our land tax revenue. If we fell far short of what the other States were doing in regard to these matters we ran the risk of being penalized by the commission.
Happily we are not now in that position. As a non-claimant State we can fix our hospital or railway charges irrespective of how much we may undertake to expend. We are no longer threatened with a penalty if we do not fall into line with charges being made in the other States. That is a great advantage. We are now completely autonomous in those matters, and I do not think we would like to revert to the old system. We have attained our present position mainly because of our good record of development over the last twenty years. I have often heard Sir Thomas Playford say that it was generally recognized by the Commonwealth Grants Commission that South Australia would always be a claimant State. I think it was generally thought that we would never get to the stage where we could throw off the shackles, if I might put it that way, and cease having to go before the Commonwealth Grants Commission to receive a grant to enable us to balance our Budget and provide a decent standard of life for 0”r people comparable to that of the people of the Eastern States. I do not want to be parochial about this matter, but when we look at the development that has taken place in our State we recognize that it is nothing short of remarkable. 1 am not boasting, I am simply giving facts.
Look at the natural resources of South Australia. We have a limited amount of good country in a relatively high rainfall area, but we have vast areas which are to a large extent arid. We are very proud of our record in developing from a State that was dependent on primary industry to one that has a well-balanced economy at the present time. This has not been done by the stroke of a pen but by the hard work of the South Australian people and by good government. There must be a combination of the two. It is no good thinking that this could have been achieved purely by good government or by the diligence of the people. No matter how diligent the people may have been, without good government South Australia could not have reached its present satisfactory state.
– New South Wales-
– lt is no good Senator Anderson interjecting. I do not want to hear what New South Wales has done, I am speaking about South Australia. We still have a vital interest in this matter and we do not under-estimate the value to our State of the finance that has been made available through the Commonwealth Grants Commission. It has been of tremendous assistance in the past, but fortunately we do not require it in the future. I hope that we will never again require it and that we will go from strength to strength with our economy becoming stronger and stronger as the years go by.
We in South Australia look upon what has been achieved with a great deal of pride. We have developed from a primary industry State. The South Australian farmer is one of the best in the Commonwealth. In fact, I go so far as to say that he is the best in the Commonwealth. We had reached the stage where we were losing population. A lot of people were leaving the State.
– We sent a large number to the other States.
– Senator Pearson agrees with me. Men went from South Australian farms to the Wimmera, to Western Australia and to New South Wales. In fact South Australian farmers pioneered farming in some of those States and introduced very good methods. They had never had it handed to them on a plate and their knowledge of farming, together with the application of scientific methods, has really done a great deal for the agricultural development of the rest of Australia. We realize that primary industry was not sufficient and that we had come to the end of our tether. Consequently we turned to industrialization.
We had the right man at the helm. All this really started back in the days when we did what the Labour Party claimed was almost a socialist move. We took over the Adelaide Electric Supply Company. Some of our supporters regarded that as almost heresy, but when we knew what was behind the Premier’s move we realized that he envisaged a very much greater scheme. This move led, of course, to the development of the Leigh Creek coal field which relieved South Australia of the necessity of importing large quantities of coal from the eastern States. Having developed our electricity supply throughout the length and breadth of the State we have reached the stage now where we are producing electricity at a cost probably less than that achieved by most of the major electricity undertakings in the Commonwealth.
– On subsidized freight rates.
– 1 disagree with Senator Wedgwood. Were it not for the transport of coal from Telford to Port Augusta the north-south railway would not be the paying proposition that it is at the present time. The success of the railway is largely due to the transport of coal from Leigh Creek to Port Augusta. The coal is being carried rn big trains and is transported at a profit. Regardless of what the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner may say, I am convinced that it is not subsidized coal transport.
We have developed a great electricity undertaking in the northern part of South Australia. We have stepped up production so that electricity is not being produced only at Osborne which was formerly the main electricity producing centre, but also at Port Augusta. Two power stations had to be developed there. In a sense it is only a single power station, but the output has been doubled and the power station is supplying electricity throughout the southern areas of South Australia. We have been able to produce electricity to the extent that our industries have developed over the years until now we are one of the foremost industrialized States of the Commonwealth.
Let me now refer to another form of development. South Australia has an outstanding record in water reticulation. I mention these things only to make quite clear to members of the Senate why South Australia rs no longer a claimant State. We have been able to produce electricity and develop our industries, and now we have also a magnificent water system operating throughout the State. We have a reticulation system that is unequalled in the Commonwealth, particularly when we consider that South Australia is a very dry region. The water rs reticulated throughout South Australia. In fact, it is claimed that about 94 per cent, of the people of Australia, when they turn on their taps, use water that is supplied by Government reticulation. That is an outstanding achievement, and it has had a tremendous effect upon the development of South Australia.
I could tell honorable senators a good deal more about what South Australia has achieved over the years, with the result that it is now in the happy position that it does not need to seek a special grant to help it finance its undertakings. Senator Lillico is attempting to interject. I have given full credit to the State of Tasmania. I willingly concede that Tasmania is entitled to its special grant, and I do not think Senator Lillico should interject when I am dealing with the achievements of South Australia South Australia is making it easier for Tasmania to receive a grant by virtue of the fact that it has withdrawn from this field. The fact that South Australia is independent gives a backward State like Tasmania a much better opportunity to obtain a grant which will perhaps help it to reach a stage of development comparable with that of South Australia. I endorse the remarks of previous speakers. Senator McKenna and others have stressed the remarkable job that the Commonwealth Grants Commission has done over the years. I hope that it will continue to function in that effective way. I acknowledge the congratulations of honorable senators upon the fact that South Australia is now relieved of the need to go to the commission for aid. By relieving the Commonwealth in this way we are making it easier for the now claimant States to receive assistance.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 10th November (vide page 1485), on motion by Senator Spooner -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- The stevedoring companies pay a levy in respect of every registered waterside worker employed for the purpose of paying attendance money and making other payments arising from the casual nature of the work. The total number of employees involved is about 22,000. It has been found that stevedoring companies have been paying the levy in respect of 200 men who are employed, not as casuals but as permanents, receiving a regular weekly wage, long-service leave, &c. The purpose of the bill is to exempt the companies from paying the levy in respect of those 200 employees. It is said that if one looks after the pennies the pounds will look after themselves. It seems that in this instance the pennies are being looked after.
The report of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority for the year ended 30th June, 1960, shows that revenue under the Stevedoring Industry Charge Act was £3,718,173. Receipts from the shipping and stevedoring companies on account of annual leave for waterside workers totalled £755,000. The total income, including interest on investments, was £4,482,229, which was slightly lower than the income for the previous year. Revenue in 1958-59 under the Stevedoring Industry Charge Act was £4,572,276, which was substantially more than the corresponding figure for last year.
Expenditure included attendance money, £1,384,806; annual leave, £1,036,165; statutory holiday pay, £638,749; sick leave, £326,023; and loss of pay, training charges, transfer costs, &c, £34,941. An amount of £155,453 was paid in respect of medical services, press and radio advertising, rent and services in relation to premises, waterfront food services, and transfer of port amenities. An amount of £579,930 was absorbed in administrative costs. One is pleased to note that income exceeded expenditure by £325,623.
The Australian Labour Party believes that it is quite right that even stevedoring companies should not pay twice in respect of one service. I have already referred to the 200 men who are employed as permanents. The bill provides an opportunity to discuss some of the problems confronting the stevedoring industry. In years gone by, I had an intimate knowledge of the industry. To-day, it is in a much better position. There is not the struggle that formerly prevailed or the uncertainty about whether one would get a job for a day or a week. It was once an industry in which those engaged in it had to attend at halfpast seven in the morning. They stood like a flock of sheep and the foreman would say whether or not they got a job that day. If they did not get a job, they came back again at half-past two or three o’clock in the afternoon, and the foreman might then nod his head at them.
Fortunately, those conditions have gone. There is now a much better system. I have great sympathy for the waterside workers. I know that they fight to improve conditions, but if they had not done so in the past, I doubt whether the industry would have reached the present standard. At times, the waterside workers have caused even me some worry. We may want them to work when they do not want to do so; but 1 suppose it is fair to say that the waterside workers and the coal-miners are the two most abused groups of workers in this country. They are prepared to stop work if they think they have a grievance. Nevertheless, their efforts have helped to raise the standards of the black-coated workers who batten and fatten on the men who an: prepared to fight. I am certain that Senator Kendall, who has some knowledge of the bad days of the industry - I have a very intimate knowledge of them - will agree that the industry is in a much better position now than it was once.
– I thought the honorable senator was reading one of m> speeches.
– I know what the industry was like then. I can say without shame that I know what it is like to earn a pound on the waterfront. I like the waterside workers. They work hard and they play hard. The industry develops hard men. When they earn big money, their wives and children eat well; and when they have a lean week on the waterfront, the bell is pulled in. Thank goodness that the present position is not as bad as it was in previous years.
I remember the time when the waterside workers of Victoria were in two groups, one consisting of the stevedores who worked on the deep sea ships, and the other consisting of wharf labourers who worked along the river, mostly on coastal ships. There is now only one organization, which is all to the good so far as the men are concerned. I hope that the waterside workers will never stop fighting if they have a grievance, because 1 have never known any one to get anything if he was not prepared to fight for it. It is remarkable that not a great many waterside workers live in the port-side suburbs of Melbourne to-day. I know the position in Victoria very well, and I know that not so many waterside workers live in Port Melbourne or South Melbourne as one might expect. Many more live out in the new suburbs, where they have built their homes. Of course, during the war there was greater continuity of employment and earnings were higher. I should say that the great majority of Victorian waterside workers now live in the outer suburbs of Melbourne, which means that their wives and children are able to lead better lives than once was the case.
– lt is the same in Brisbane.
– I think we are all pleased to see it.
– They even have sidelines.
– That may be so. Quite a number of other men have to send their wives out to work to meet the high cost of commodities that make life a little more worthwhile. As one who has had a close association with men on the waterfront, T was delighted when the Labour Government established the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority, which has proved a great boon, lt regulates and rosters the work and, at the same time, provides for a greater degree of certainty of employment and more or less regular income for waterside workers. As I have said, in the old days, if you were on good terms with the foreman you got a job, and if you were not, you just had to follow the old precept, “ Live horse until the grass grows “.
The waterside workers are a remarkable body of men. I say to honorable senators opposite that they have as much chance of defeating Healy for leadership of the waterside workers as they have of jumping over the moon. I honestly believe that 90 per cent, or more of waterside workers vote Labour. You may call them everything you like and say that Healy is a member of the Communist Party, but so far as getting them to vote against Healy is concerned - and I know quite a number of them - you can forget about it. They believe that he has helped them to obtain the conditions under which they work to-day. They trust Healy. So, it is foolish to think that things said here about Healy will change the minds of the waterside workers. I can assure you, Mr. President, as one who has worked with waterside workers in years gone by, who has played football with them and who knows many of them, that Healy will remain general secretary of the Waterside Workers Federation of Australia as long as he continues to work as he has worked in the past. Regardless of the political beliefs of waterside workers and of whether they vote for my friends opposite - and perhaps a percentage does - they will still vote for Jim Healy.
Be that as it may, we still want better conditions for the waterside workers. For instance, we want pensions for them. Many industrial organizations have superannuation schemes for their employees. In the main, those schemes are run on a contributory basis. The waterside workers believe that they should have a pensions scheme and that the pensions should be provided from the profits of the industry. A number of workers in the industry are well over the age of 65 years. When a waterside worker gets on in years, his fellow workers as a rule are prepared to give him the lighter work that the gang has to do, whether it is in the hold of a ship or on the wharf. The waterside workers prefer to keep elderly workers employed than to see them having to apply for the age pension. Some people may disagree with that arrangement, but it must be agreed that it is evidence of loyalty and comradeship among men who have battled hard to secure the conditions under which they work to-day. Because of that comradeship and a willingness to trust one another, they are prepared to see to it that as long as one of their fellows is able to wheel a truck, he will be kept in the gang, although the weight of the goods on the truck may not be as heavy as it otherwise would be. When it comes to the older workers having to go into the hold of a ship and stack cargo, their mates see to it that they are given the better end of the stick.
They want long service leave also. The law in Victoria provides that workers in other industries shall get long service leave. The waterside workers play a very important part in the Australian economy. I understand that to-day cargo is moved out of the holds of ships at a much greater rate than in years gone by. Of course, I am not saying that is because the waterside workers are pushing themselves harder. It is mainly the result of the introduction of mechanical devices, but the waterside workers are helping to achieve that result.
It may be said that, if the waterside workers want pensions and long service leave and the stevedoring industry has to pay, costs will be affected. Is any one very much concerned about costs to-day? They are already nearly through the roof, and how we will ever apply some semblance of common sense to the cost structure I do not know. I do not want it to be understood that I believe that costs do not matter. They do matter. But they are so astronomical that the little extra that would be needed to provide long service leave and pensions for waterside workers would not amount to very much. Any additional cost would be passed on down the line. We should not deny these men these benefits. They are a great lot of fellows. They stick to one another and share things in a way that the average black-coated worker knows nothing about. I look back with a great deal of pleasure to my association with them.
I believe that stand-by men should be attached to the gangs. As honorable senators know, the gangs consist of twelve or fourteen men. When a gang reports for duty at, say, No. 18 berth at Victoria dock, it may be found that it is one man short. The result is that the work has to be done by a depleted gang. The strength of such gangs could be made up with stand-by men. I do not want to see the industry burdened with undue costs; I only want to see these men, who have been abused in the past, given a fair deal. I make no bones about saying that I like these men. They work hard. They never let their mates down, If they have £1 in their pockets and a mate has had a bad trot, as we used to say, he can always be assured of a cigarette. I speak about them with a great deal of pride. They are great men.
Now let me be a little parochial. It is true that the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority has done a lot in the provision of amenities on the waterfront. As I drive along the wharfs, I note that the amenities that were provided 30 or more years ago have been vastly improved. I do not think that any one objects to these men being treated as human beings and not as they were years ago. At No. 21 berth, Victoria dock, there are two toilets which are supposed to cater for approximately 120 men on each shift in addition to the foremen, tally clerks and others who may be working in the vicinity. I hope the officers of the Stevedoring Industry Authority will look into such matters. The amenities provided have been improved to a great degree, but let us bring them up to date. If these men are treated as human beings, I am quite certain the industry will get a fair return from them. I can recall the time when radios were installed in clothing factories. Some people were silly enough to throw up their hands in horror at the thought of the girls employed in those factories enjoying music while they worked. But all that the shrewd employer was concerned about was the output, and he attained his objective. The cafeterias which were installed by a lot of the big firms were costly initially, but it is remarkable just how human beings respond to the provision of such amenities. We on this side of the chamber respond when the Leader of the Government in this place even grins at us. We say to ourselves: “ He is not in a bad humour. We may get away with something.” Of course, we do not get away with anything. But human traits always enter into these matters.
– You say, “ What a pity he has the numbers “.
– Well, things change, and one never knows what will happen in the future. I wish to refer also to the payment of attendance money, which was introduced in 1947. The payment then was 12s. In September, 1952, it was raised to 16s., and in 1956 it was further raised to 24s. If the diminishing value of the £1 were taken into consideration in paying the waterside worker attendance money, according to figures supplied by the Commonwealth Statistician he would now receive a payment of 28s. 6d. £ believe that, if the value of money declines during the year, the waterside worker is entitled to receive a greater payment. If the Minister works it out he will find - I think my figures are correct - that in view of the lower value of money an amount of 28s. 6d. should now be paid. If activity on the wharfs decreases, as it could - I do not know what the immediate future holds and how the credit restrictions that the Government is imposing will affect imports - fewer hours will be worked and more attendance money will be paid. Does any honorable senator think that £7 4s. a week is sufficient to meet the needs of young men in the industry who have family responsibilities, or even those of the older men? If a man has to pull around bales of wool or carry bags of barley when the temperature is 100 degrees in the shade, he needs good food, and he cannot get it with £7 4s. a week. The Opposition supports the bill because it believes its provisions to be reasonable. I have availed myself of this opportunity to say something about the men for whom I have a very healthy respect.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 15th November (vide page 1525), on motion by Senator Spooner -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- This bill authorizes the raising of loan moneys for financial assistance to the States for housing in 1960-61, which will be the last year of operation of the 1956 Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement. That being so, one would think that the Government would regard this matter as being of sufficient importance to warrant it indicating its immediate intentions concerning the making of further arrangements with the various States. The State Ministers responsible for housing met in April last, but they have not yet heard anything from this Government concerning the continuation of the agreement or the introduction of a new agreement.
This measure authorizes the raising this year of loan moneys totalling £37,200,000, of which £26,030,000 will be used by the States for their own home-building projects. The remaining amount of £11,170,000 will be distributed to building societies and other approved lending institutions for the erection or purchase of homes for private ownership. The Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement lays down that an amount not exceeding in any year 5 per cent, of the moneys made available to the States for the erection of homes shall be set aside for the erection of dwellings for members of the Defence Forces, this amount being additional to the loan moneys raised.
Last year, £36,000,000 was made available under the agreement to the States for housing. This year, the amount to be provided is £1,120,000 greater. I should say, from information I have gained from building authorities, that building costs have risen by at least 5 per cent, in the last twelve months, so the additional £1,120,000 will not offset the increased cost of erection of homes. The effective value this year of loan moneys totalling £37,200,000 will not be as great as was the effective value of the £36,000,000 that was made available last year. This is due to the tragedy of inflation, which makes all aspects of a country’s activities more difficult in each successive year. Unfortunately we cannot get the same physical results from the expenditure of a certain amount of money this year as we got from the expenditure of a similar amount last year. The Government, in order to try to counteract increasing costs, will make available to the States for housing this year £1,120,000 more than last year, but this additional amount will not make up for the rapidly increasing cost of building.
In 1959-60 the State housing authorities commenced 9,181 dwellings with funds made available under the housing agreement, and in that year 9,353 dwellings were completed. The most important development in the building industry in the last four years has been the great increase in the number of flats constructed. At 30th September last, there were .10,433 flats under construction. In the last five years, the rate of construction of flats has increased by nearly 500 per cent. In other words, there has been a five-fold increase in the number of flats built. The construction of flats is, of course, a very necessary part of the plan to provide housing. Everybody does not want a home and a garden. For very small families, flats or home units are very desirable. They are also desirable for couples whose children have grown up and left home; they no longer need the big homes in which they reared their families.
There has been great emphasis on the building of flats and home units in the last five years, and one of the most significant aspects of this activity is that it has been conducted to a very large extent with borrowed money. However, the Government is now applying a credit squeeze. It has been most noticeable that a great many of the builders who have been engaged in flat and home unit building have been what are called “ spec “ builders. I do not use that term disparagingly; I merely want to indicate that these people build the flats and home units and sell them subsequently. They speculate on the amount of money they will receive for the home units or the flats. During the last four years, they have borrowed money at very high rates of interest for this type of building construction. Undoubtedly, this has been very profitable for them. I wonder what will happen to this class of home construction when the credit squeeze is properly applied by the Government. Does the Government consider that the rate of building of flats and home units will continue at the rate which I have quoted of 10,400 under construction at 30th September last? Will this most important aspect of building homes to catch up with the shortage be seriously interfered with? In fact, it might be stopped altogether when the full brunt of the Government’s proposals which we heard last night is felt.
We cannot afford any reduction in the rate of construction of homes or flats. We know that on the Minister’s own estimate the lag in the provision of homes is approximately 70,000. We cannot afford to ease the pressure that we have on building homes for our people because, although the lag to-day is only 70,000, it must increase substantially in the immediate future. In 1957, 121,000 Australians celebrated their twentyfirst birthday. In 1964, 142,000 Australians will reach the age of 21 years. The estimate is that 200,000 Australians will reach the age of 21 years in 1968. There is nothing mystical about reaching the age of 21 years. But I am talking about the need for houses. We must consider those in this particular age group because that is the group in which the great majority of marriages occurs.
No matter what our party political opinions may be, I believe that all of us believe that in this modern age of social advancement we must endeavour to provide homes for young people when they are married. That is the basis of a happy and healthy community and the basis for the sound growth of the nation. It is apparent that tremendous pressure for houses must come. When our mothers and fathers were married, they automatically moved into a rented house or flat; but, of course, these days rented houses are almost non-existent. No houses are being built for rental. The only ones that are available for rental are the very old homes which in many cases are sub-standard. So, the young people of to-day cannot get that respite for a year or two in which to settle down and save enough money to form a nucleus to buy their homes. Because there are no rented houses for them to go into, unless they live with their families they have to go out straight away and endeavour to buy a home; or buy a block of land and build a home, or obtain a home from one of the housing commissions, trusts or building societies.
The Government must keep in mind that the pressure on home building is as great now as it ever was before, in view of the figures that I have put before the Senate. Not only must the Government itself not let up, but it should also encourage all institutions that have money to lend, to lend for home building. Since 1956, the building societies have received great encouragement from the Government. Under the agreement made in that year, as I mentioned earlier, the Government ordained that a certain percentage of the money made available under the agreement must go to such societies. The growth of co-operative terminating societies has been very rapid indeed. There have been 185 new societies established in New South Wales, 100 in Victoria, 34 in Queensland, 27 in Western Australia, and 12 in Tasmania. These societies are not lending under the very long-term arrangements which housing commissions undertake. The interesting point is that the money they have lent in past years is coming back in increasing quantities for re-lending. In fact, I believe that in the first four years to June, 1960, an amount of £2,300;000 has been available for re-lending. Another interesting point about the life and growth of building societies is that they are not actually building a greater number of houses, despite the great help of the Government in making finance available to them, because the Government is making it available to them by taking it away from the housing commissions in the various States.
It is interesting to note that before this Government came into office in 1949, the building societies were receiving approximately £12,000,000 per annum from banks and insurance companies. Despite the permanent and important part played by the banks and insurance companies in lending money to building societies, although the amount was as high as £12,000,000 before this Government came into office, it dropped, to £6,600,000, and to-day it is up to about £8,000,000. So, even to-day, ten years after this Government came into office, the building societies are receiving only two-thirds of the amount of money that they previously received from the sources to which I have referred.
The lag in the building of homes has been reduced by the Government’s direction that the money which I have mentioned be made available to building societies. Last year, with the help of the housing agreement, the building societies had access to £30,545,000. The amount of money they are receiving is a little greater, but whether they are building as many houses with that money is problematical. It is interesting to note that the private trading banks have not been great supporters of the building societies. In June, 1960, the total amount on loan from building societies in New South Wales was £98,000,000, of which £27,000,000 had come from the Commonwealth Trading Bank and £46,000,000 from the Commonwealth Savings Bank. Those two amounts represented 76 per cent, of the total amount made available. The only other bank to make substantial loans to building societies was the Bank of New South Wales, which advanced £8,900,000.
This is the situation that now faces us. Despite record Budget allocations, we still face a lag in home-building which is tragic to those it affects. It also has an effect on the national morale which is very hard to estimate. I do not think that anything is more important than to ensure that young married people own their homes as soon as it is possible for them to do so. We have gone through a crisis in the last six months. I believe that bank overdrafts increased by the best part of £150,000,000 in the last six or eight months. But how much of that increase went into housing? Apparently housing no longer appeals to the private banking institutions or even the insurance companies, as it once did. More profitable fields are opening up for them, so they are moving into those more profitable fields and throwing greater onus on the Government to help provide houses.
We all know that money is being used for the building of flats to a very large extent, and for home-building, although not to such a substantial extent. In view of the announcement made last night by the Trea surer (Mr. Harold Holt) the Government must watch to see that home-building is not curtailed, particularly in the private sector. In New South Wales, great firms such as the Hooker organization, G. H. Thomas Proprietary Limited, Mala Homes and Castle Homes Proprietary Limited are engaged in large-scale home-building. If one looks at the “ Daily Telegraph “ on a Saturday one will find fifteen or twenty pages of advertisements offering homes built by private enterprise, lt has been truly said by a person engaged in the building trade that there is no shortage of homes but there is a shortage of deposits for homes. The people in need of a home cannot find sufficient money for a deposit. If they have sufficient for a deposit, building can proceed. That is because credit is available through the builder, through a bank or through some other institution. The Government must watch to ensure that the restrictions announced last night, together with those that have been applied over the last three or four months, do not seriously upset this most important phase of Australia’s growth. No greater blow could be struck at the young people of the community and at the national morale than for the housing situation to worsen. In applying the measures about which we have heard so much the Government is under an obligation to do everything in its power to maintain the present rate of home-building. This serious problem of home-building now rests in the hands of the Government, and all that anybody can do is sit back and hope that it will do a good job.
Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN (Queensland) [10.22]. - I rise to support the bill and to speak once again of the great record of achievement of this Government in the field of housing. I think all of us can remember that when this Government came into office one of the very great problems confronting Australia was a shortage of homes and a lag in home building. The Government promised to tackle this problem. It said that it would do all in its power to provide better housing for the people and to increase the rate of home construction. I do not think anybody questions the importance of homes and home ownership. It is interesting to recall that in 1947 only 53.1 per cent, of all private dwellings were occupied by the owners or persons purchasing the dwelling. In 1954, the figure had risen to 63.1 per cent. - an increase of 10 per cent. At present the figure is estimated to be 75 per cent. I believe that that is one of the highest percentages of home ownership in the world. Home ownership is important. The ownership of a home gives a special feeling to a family.
In addition to the Government’s general housing record I direct the attention of the Senate to this Government’s activities in relation to war service homes. Since it has been in office, it has provided almost £700,000,000 for war service homes, and to the States under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreements. That is a large amount of money, and it has played an important part in providing homes for the people. Since 1945, more than 1,000,000 new homes and flats have been constructed in Australia. Of that number nearly 813,000 have been completed since January, 1950. Almost 217,000 of those have been built with finance made available by the Commonwealth Government. The construction of homes since 1945 has been financed in many ways. The Government has provided large sums of money through its agreements with the States, and through the war service homes scheme. In addition, the State Governments have provided money from loan funds. Private financial institutions, such as savings banks and cooperative building societies, have provided money. Finally, the private savings of the people have been used to build homes. The rate of construction of new houses and flats is now at a record level. This high rate of construction is of vital importance to the people, and is doing a lot towards overcoming the serious shortage of houses. Between 1959 and 1960, the value of dwellings completed was estimated to be £285,000,000. In the year ended June, 1960, more than 90,000 home units were completed. That is the highest number of houses and flats ever completed in any one year, and is a record of achievement of which we may be justly proud.
Associated with housing is the matter of employment. In the residential and nonresidential sections of the building industry employment is at a record level. At the end of June, 1960, there were 132,628 tradesmen engaged on the construction of new buildings compared with 119,937 engaged at the end of June, 1959. Those are impressive figures. They show very clearly the responsibility that this Government has accepted in the field of housing. The Government has realized that the people must be provided with homes.
The bill authorizes the raising of loan moneys amounting to £37,200,000, which will be advanced to the States under the terms of the 1956 Housing Agreement. Of this amount approximately £11,200,000 is to be set aside for the making of loans to individuals by building societies and other approved institutions. The remaining £26.000,000 will be made available to the States in order that they may finance their housing programmes. I know that the States appreciate that this money will go a long way towards providing homes for the people. In addition to the activities that I have mentioned, the Government has taken an active interest in the provision of homes for aged persons. Since the inception of the homes for the aged scheme, more than £7,000,000 has been contributed by the Government to church and charitable organizations that are working in this particular field of housing. Under the scheme more than 8,000 people have received accommodation. As Senator Armstrong pointed out, a certain percentage of the money provided under the agreement with the States is set aside for the housing of defence personnel.
In supporting this bill I want to pay a further tribute to the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) and to the Government for their very real appreciation of the problem that faces those people in the community who are in need of homes. I pay a very great tribute to a record of achievement which has never been seen before in this country. It is an achievement of which this Government can be justly proud, and I have very much pleasure in supporting the Loan (Housing) Bill which is before the Senate.
– I do not propose to speak at great length on this bill. I cannot help but make the observation that the great interest of the Opposition in this particular measure must be judged by its contribution to the debate and the presence of its members in the chamber during the debate. Senator Armstrong did at least speak on the bill and we are happy now to have the presence in the chamber of Senator Drury. During his speech Senator Armstrong referred to the housing shortage. It is historically true that that shortage, which arose as a direct result of the war years and the immediate post-war years, when there was a complete cessation of housing construction, has been considerably reduced. There is now no housing shortage in some States of the Commonwealth, and the shortage of homes that does still exist is being rapidly overtaken. A shortage still remains in New South Wales and to some degree in Victoria.
Senator Armstrong referred to the problem that no rental homes are available at the present time. In New South Wales, more than anywhere else, it is true that it is impossible to obtain a rental home; but that is the direct result of legislation brought down by the Government of that State which has penalized in a most unfair way over the years the poor unfortunate person who may own a property. It is not a matter for party political argument but an historical fact that rents in New South Wales are pegged at 1942 values. Many people who would like perhaps to sublet portion of big homes cannot do so because the return they would get would be out of all proportion to present-day economic values.
The purpose of this bill is to authorize the raising of £37,200,000 for assistance to the States for housing. The money is to be used by the States as laid down in the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement of 1956, which followed, of course, a previous housing agreement. We have to appreciate that we operate under a federal system and that under our constitutional limitations housing is a matter for the States. However, during the postwar period the Commonwealth had a sense of responsibility in this great problem and since 1945, by agreement with the States, it has provided certain moneys to be spent under certain conditions. I presume that this is done under section 96 of the Constitution which enables the Commonwealth to provide moneys to the States under certain conditions. The sum of £37,200,000 to be provided this year represents an increase of more than £1,000,000 on the amount provided last year. In accordance with the agreement 70 per cent, of the money to be received by the States can be used for their own housing projects and 30 per cent, must be made available to building societies. 1 wish to make one other general observation and one or two particular observations before I conclude. It must be recognized that the Commonwealth has made a magnificent contribution to the solution of the problem of housing over the years. As Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin has pointed out, not only has the Commonwealth provided money under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement - this year to the order of £37,200,000 - but it also provides each year £35,000,000 for war service homes. The Commonwealth also provides money under this agreement to be made available to service personnel, and as Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin pointed out also, it provides money for homes for the aged. It is therefore true to say that annually the Commonwealth provides finance for housing amounting to more than £80,000,000. That is a magnificent contribution in a vast country with its population spread over a large area on the one hand and concentrated in the capital cities on the other, and only 10,000,000 people to provide the taxation and loan resources for the particular purpose. I repeat that the record of housing of this Government in association with the States is therefore a good one. We should all recognize that the housing problem is not easy to solve, but I repeat that in many of the States the problem is being overtaken and if we continue the pressure we are exerting at the present time it will not be very long before we solve the problem in the eastern States of New South Wales and Victoria.
I wish now to refer to the housing agreement. It is true that the agreement between the Commonwealth and the States under which this money is loaned will expire next year and that it will then be necessary for the Commonwealth and the States to negotiate a new agreement. This bill, therefore, is perhaps a very good vehicle through which to make some observations about the form which the new agreement should take. Very sketchy reference was made by Senator Armstrong, and far more detailed reference was made in another place to the fact that the housing
Ministers met in Adelaide in April or May of this year and expressed some views on the renewal of this agreement. It has been suggested in some quarters that the Stats Ministers indicated that they did not want the new agreement to contain the provision that moneys should be provided for the building society movement. To my knowledge that is not accurate. As 1 understand the position, only one State was not happy with the agreement insofar as it provided moneys for the building society movement.
Under the agreement which is about to expire next year 30 per cent, of the funds supplied by the Commonwealth must go to the building society movement in each State. I want to make the point that that is a particularly good investment because moneys provided for the building society movement will provide more homes than money provided for the States to meet their normal housing development plans. It is a simple proposition. When a building society lends money the home purchaser has to find something like 20 per cent, of the capital cost of the home, whereas if the same home were to be built by the Government, other things being equal, it would cost the Government, of course, 20 per cent. more. Thus insofar as the 30 per cent, provided by the Commonwealth is concerned the building society movement can build more homes than would be the case if that 30 per cent, were used by State Governments for their normal housing projects. A policy of home ownership should commend itself to everybody. We would all agree that it is desirable that married persons should own a home. Ownership of a home has a character building effect. When a young couple get married, they should have the opportunity of entering upon married life in their own home, although the result may be that they will have a considerable mortgage for many years. That is our way of life in this country. We believe that it makes for good citizenship and should be encouraged. It is good to know that about 75 per cent, of families are home owners.
I hope that when the Government reviews the agreement the provision for at least 30 per cent, of the funds to be made available to building societies will be retained. This money is lent to the States for a period of 53 years. My recollection is that the interest rate is the long-term bond rate, plus i per cent. Building societies lend money for periods of about 22i years. As this money is paid into a revolving fund, the amount provided by the Commonwealth acquires velocity and can be used to more effect than if it were in the hands of State housing authorities, which would pay it back to the Commonwealth over a period of 53 years. The Minister referred to this when he said -
Surplus moneys are accumulating in the Home Builders’ Account and becoming available for immediate re-lending. The reason for this accumulation is that repayments received from the building societies and other institutions are more than sufficient to meet repayments on the loans made by the Commonwealth Government.
This is the most important part -
In the first four years of this scheme, that is, to 30lh June, 1960, more than £2,300,000 had become available for re-lending in this way.
Because of the different terms of repayment, quite a substantial amount of money provided to the building society movement comes back soon to the funds which the States can release for home ownership purposes. I know that the Minister and, indeed, all honorable senators, will support the inclusion in the new agreement of the very fine principle enunciated in the 1956 agreement, whereby home ownership is encouraged by the co-operative building societies movement receiving at least 30 per cent, of the funds.
The development of the building society movement as a direct consequence of this agreement is interesting. In New South Wales about 185 and in Victoria about 100 new co-operative terminating building societies have been formed. Quite recently Mr. Tytherleigh, who is the Australian president of the building societies cooperative movement, went to Western Australia to give advice to enthusiastic and devoted people there on the formation and encouragement of a vigorous co-operative movement in that State. I understand that Tasmania, too, has developed quite a number of building societies as a direct result of this agreement.
It is a fact of life that we must expect to have high-density housing development in the capital cities. In the County of Cumberland we see a sprawl development, extending a distance of 50 miles from
Sydney to Penrith. There rs a population of 1,500,000 in the county and we have reached the stage where the ordinary suburban development cannot be allowed to continue. We must embark upon high-density development and slum clearance. These two must be taken together. Both Sydney and Melbourne have areas that must be considered from these points of view. One of my colleagues suggests that more people should be put into the country, but the economics of the situation require that people live close to their places of employment, which are in the cities.
I have looked at the agreement as recently as to-day, and while an arrangement can be made between Commonwealth and State Ministers to vary the agreement to provide funds for development of flats and other high-density housing, I do not think it is possible to use any of the funds for slum clearance. I suggest to the Minister, with great respect, that that aspect be considered when the new agreement is being negotiated. There are in Sydney, at Woolloomooloo and Dawes Point, areas that lend themselves to high-density housing development, but a pre-requisite is re-adjustment of existing properties, which means movement of people, a certain amount of acquisition, and demolition. It is a big problem that I do not think private enterprise could tackle, and there should be some provision for it in the new agreement.
Funds have been allocated through State instrumentalities for the formation of building societies, in some instances in country areas. 1 can appreciate the reason for this. The formation of building societies in country districts has encouraged home ownership in those areas. This is a very laudable objective, but the formation of a building society on an advance of £50,000 is not an economic proposition. Experience has shown that at least £100,000 is required for the economic formation of a building society. It should be remembered that the management costs of building societies are very low. That is one of the factors, of course, which makes them so successful. It was a touch of genius when provision was made in the 1956 act for the encouragement of the form of home ownership provided by the building societies. In no other system of group housing in Australia are management costs so low.
Because of the favorable conditions offered by building societies, people are able to acquire homes in such a way that repayments can be met even by those on moderate salaries. If we take a cross section of the people who are purchasing homes through building society finance, we see that the societies are providing homes not for people in the high-income groups, but for those who are earning average salaries. They are able to meet their instalments quite comfortably. The directors of building societies, appointed by the subscribers, make it a rule that extravagant advances shall not be made. In other words, when a person seeks an advance from a building society, his income is assessed as a first step. The societies will not permit advances to be made unless they are satisfied that the incomes of those seeking the advances are sufficiently high to enable them to meet the repayments. In the old days, there was a saying to the effect that people worked one day a week for the landlord. The building societies do not think that it is an economic proposition for a man to pay more than about 22 per cent, of his income by way of home instalments, including rates and taxes.
An attractive aspect of the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement is that not only is it providing finance for people to become home owners, but is also applying a brake by preventing people from entering into commitments that are beyond their means. Over the years, this agreement has been responsible for increasing the number of home owners in Australia to about 75 per cent, of families. I support the bill. I hope that when the agreement is reenacted next year, the matters of highdensity housing development and slum clearance will be considered. I hope that the 30 per cent, allocation to building societies will at least be maintained. I know that while this Government remains in office the housing needs of the people and the desire for home ownership will be catered for in the best possible way.
– I congratulate the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) on the support he has given to co-operative housing schemes in Australia. That support has been one of the most important factors in our efforts to overtake the housing lag. The work that the Minister has done to foster co-operative building societies throughout Australia is appreciated by many thousands of home-owners to-day. The Commonwealth and Slate Housing Agreement will terminate next year. I wish to bring forward some suggestions regarding the housing position in Tasmania which I hope will be considered when the new agreement is being prepared. I trust that the provision that 30 per cent, of the moneys provided for housing in the States shall be made available to co-operative building societies will be continued. If possible, I should like to sec the percentage increased. I say that, been use we are getting much better value from the societies for the money that is being advanced by the Commonwealth than we are under other housing schemes.
The co-operative societies may make advances on deposits of 10 per cent., but we know from practical experience that people who are acquiring houses by means of building society finance are, in fact, providing a much greater proportion of the cost of the homes than 10 per cent. Those who acquire homes in this way also acquire pride of ownership. They are well looked after by the co-operatives. In a number of cases, bank homes, as they are called, have not been properly cared for. The upkeep of those homes causes a big drain on the finances of those concerned.
I should like the Minister to keep in mind the fact that, in Tasmania, it is necessary to ensure that the funds allocated for the use of co-operative building societies shall be allocated to genuine co-operatives. At the present time, there is in Tasmania no co-operative housing legislation such as there is in Victoria and New South Wales. The co-operative housing movement began in Tasmania. Until that time, the Agricultural Bank, which is a State instrumentality, was an approved society because of the fact that there were no housing co-operatives. At present, the bank is taking a very big proportion of the money that should be allocated to the societies now being established. That fact did not matter so much when there were only one or two societies in Tasmania, but there is now a great demand for the formation of additional societies. All the money that is allocated to the State for housing could be used without any difficulty at all by the co-operative societies that exist at present and those waiting to be established. Of course, the societies must be assured that the necessary funds will be forthcoming,, before additional societies can be formed.
Banks and insurance companies are being encouraged to provide money for cooperative building societies. The societies of which I have practical experience are using money received from the CommonwealthTrading Bank to form another society, and offers of money for the establishment of still more societies have been made by insurance companies. So, there is in Tasmania a great demand for terminating building societies. I hope that when the new agreement is brought forward, the State instrumentality, the Agricultural Bank, will no longer be an approved society, and that the moneys available will be loaned to the many co-operative building societies which are waiting for funds so that they can get on with the business of providing advances to prospective home-owners.
Housing is a very important matter, and we should do all we possibly can to encourage home ownership. I say once again that the great work that has been performed by the co-operative building societieshas been made possible because of the enthusiasm of the Minister for National Development.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) - Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the: adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Question resolved in the negative.
– There is one other point that I should like to bring to theattention of the Minister. There has been a move to have the terminating societies, converted to permanent societies. I believethat the best results are obtained through; the terminating societies.
– It is because of the close co-operation of members of a small group. We understand the difficulties of those small groups. Senator Anderson referred to an allocation of £50,000 to societies that are being formed. We have found generally that that is the sum which an allocating firm or bank, as in the case of Tasmania, will allow for the formation of a society. But, as Senator Anderson has said that sum is too small. As the management fees are very small, it is necessary to have seven or eight societies in existence before a full-time secretary can be employed. Even then, he will receive only a little more than the basic wage. If these societies were allocated a sum of approximately £100,000, their officers could work with a reasonable degree of security.
We are very pleased with what the Minister has done. I am sure that when the agreement is reviewed he will look after the welfare of the societies, because he knows they are doing a great job in providing houses for the people.
– I believe that in years to come history undoubtedly will show that of all the fine achievements of post-war government in this country probably the finest has been that of providing houses that people may own and of which they may be proud. I believe that the housing agreements negotiated by this Government will go down in history as being of profound social importance.
Having said that, I wish to refer briefly to another aspect of housing. I should like consideration to be given to what I am about to say when a new housing agreement between the Commonwealth and the States is framed, as I am certain it will be, within the next twelve months. Although the present housing agreement is one of the finest achievements of this Government, it is not quite perfect. I should like to see provision made for ex-servicemen from Great Britain to participate in our war service homes scheme. Great Britain has a scheme for housing British ex-servicemen. But, although these men are encouraged by the Department of Immigration to come to Australia they have no opportunity to obtain a home under our war service homes scheme.
Seeing that our great housing programmes will draw to a close probably not in the foreseeable future but in the distant future, I believe we could afford to provide to ex-servicemen who migrate from Britain to Australia a degree of assistance similar to that which is given to our own exservicemen. In the ultimate, I do not think the giving of such assistance would involve a great amount of money. Not many British ex-servicemen come to Australia as migrants. If the money required to provide those men with homes under the war service homes scheme were offset against the cost of housing themin other ways, I do not think the difference would be very great. When the Government is negotiating the next housing agreement, I believe it should make provision for homes for British ex-servicemen. They deserve this form of assistance as much as do our own ex-servicemen. I hope the Government will sympathetically consider my request.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– I should like the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) to indicate why the provisiongoverning the allocation to building societiesof 30 per cent. of the moneys that are made available does not apply to South Australia. The building societies in that State receive 10 per cent. or perhaps a little less. Perhaps the balance of those moneys goes to the State bank which, of course, is a State instrumentality. I note, too, that no terminating societies have been started in South Australia. I understand that some may be willing to start but that they cannot get an allocation. Can the Minister explain why that is so?
– They are not easy questions to answer without my going back to my notes to refresh my memory. The act which is now in force provides that 30 per cent. of the moneys made available are to be allocated to building societies or other approved institutions. When the scheme was originated, there were a number of
States in which there was not a big enough building society movement to take the 30 per cent, of the allocation, or the 20 per cent, as it was in those days. That resulted in the situation that we had individual or separate agreements with each State covering the allocation of money in that State. As 1 have said, we had to negotiate separate arrangements. I think I am correct in saying that at that time there were not any terminating building societies in South Australia.
– Yes, there were.
– My recollection is that at that time there were four very oldestablished permanent building societies in that State. The State Government preferred the money to go to the State bank rather than to encourage the development of new building societies. Terminating building societies cannot be effective without the support of the Government of the State in which they operate, because they need to have guarantees in respect of the money they borrow and lend. So I settled at that time with the South Australian Government for an arrangement which seemed to be the best that I could negotiate. Under that arrangement, I secured very substantial amounts for the permanent building societies. I forget the details, but I think that the largest building society in South Australia gets something of the order of £200,000 a year, which is a substantial amount of money.
I settled for an arrangement which was the best that I could then make, although I would have liked to do better. I would have liked to see building societies develop in South Australia in the same way as they have developed in all other States of the Commonwealth. I believe that if that had happened, better building results would have been achieved in South Australia by the expenditure of the money through building societies than by its investment in other directions.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Senate adjourned at 11.13 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 16 November 1960, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1960/19601116_senate_23_s18/>.