23rd Parliament · 3rd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Assent to the following bills reported: -
Income Tax and Social Services Contribution
Assessment Bill (No. 2) 1961. Pay-roll Tax Assessment Bill 1961. Coal Excise Bill 1961.
States Grants (Coal Mining Industry Long
Service Leave) Bill 1961. Excise Tariff Bill 1961 Customs Tariff Bill 1961. Customs Tariff (New Zealand Preference) Bill (No. 1) 1961. Customs Tariff (Canada Preference) Bill 1961. Wine Overseas Marketing Bill 1961. Commonwealth Electoral Bill 1961. Life Insurance Bill 1961. Appropriation Bill (No. 2) 1960-61. Housing Agreement Bill 1961. Broadcasting and Television Bill 1961. Cellulose Acetate Flake Bounty Bill 1961. Defence Pay Bill 1961.
Appropriation (Works and Services) Bill (No. 2) 1960-61. Supply Bill 1961-62.
Supply (Works and Services) Bill 1961-62. Commonwealth Serum Laboratories Bill 1961. Stevedoring Industry Bill 1961. Conciliation and Arbitration Bill 1961.
– I wish to direct a question to the Minister for National Development. Is the Minister aware that although over six weeks of the new financial year have passed, the Tasmanian Government has not as yet notified housing co-operatives in Tasmania of their allocations for this financial year? Is the Minister aware also that the Victorian Government made allocations to societies in Victoria last April, thus enabling the co-operatives in that State to commence lending as from 1st July? Can the Minister give any reason why the Tasmanian Government is acting in this manner when people are seeking homes, men are seeking work and the building trade, especially the timber industry, is in a very depressed state?
– I am not aware of the complete circumstances for the apparent lag in making moneys available, but I do know that the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement, which contains the conditions under which the moneys are made available and the allocations are made, has to be ratified by the State parliaments. The Tasmanian Government has been in touch with me and agreement has been reached upon the practical arrangements. I understand that the necessary legislation was recently passed by the Tasmanian Parliament. I assume that the Tasmanian Government was awaiting the passage of the legislation and that, now it has been passed, the allocations will be made.
– I have no knowledge of the installation of telephone services in the express trains in Japan to which Senator Sir Walter Cooper has referred. I do know, however, that these long-distance trains are fitted with earphones for radio reception. As the suggestion that the honorable senator has made is worthy of consideration, I shall bring it to the notice of PostmasterGeneral and ask him to examine the matter with a view to seeing whether its adoption is a practical proposition.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for chipping and Transport aware that the Audit Act and Treasury Regulations do not require that a Minister, when publicly announcing the successful tenderer for a shipbuilding contract, should engage in blatant, paltry political propaganda, as was done recently when Evans, Deakin and Company Limited, of Brisbane, was granted a contract? Will the Minister say what the prospects are for Walkers Limited, of Maryborough, Queensland, getting a shipbuilding contract in order to relieve the unemployment in that city?
– I am not precisely aware of the way in which the Audit Act and Treasury Regulations bear on a statement made by a Minister at any time. If the honorable senator is referring to a statement recently issued by the Minister for Shipping and Transport, which I read, I think that a fair judgment of it could not be otherwise than that the Minister took the opportunity to state, and properly so, just what was being done in the shipyardsof Australia. If the honorable senator took some offence from that statement, he is. mighty touchy. I shall ask the Minister for Snipping and Transport about the position at the shipbuilding yard of Walkers Limited. The honorable senator, as a Queenslander, probably knows that thecapacity of that yard is limited by the volume of water in the Mary river, which does not permit of the building or launching of a great variety of ships. Unfortunately, that factor also limits the orders which thecompany may receive.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport and refers to the possibility of satisfactory new markets being established for Australian primary and secondary exports in areas outside our existing trade areas, involving the use of new shipping routes. Can the Minister say whether the Government has arrived at a decision regarding, first, the subsidizing of freight rates to foster such trade, at least in its earlier stages; secondly, the use of ships owned by the Australian National Line or ships that the line may have on charter; and thirdly, any other methods of assistance?
– Although the question has been directed to me as the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport, some aspects of it have a greater relevance to the administration of the Department of Trade. I understand that in recent weeks the Minister for Trade made a statement in respect of overseas shipping and the steps which will be taken by the Government to encourage shipping lines, particularly those which might ply between Australia and South America. I shall obtain for the honorable senator the precise text of Mr. McEwen’s statement in this respect.
I point out that ships of the Australian National Line have been used in overseas trade in the past. My understanding of the matter is that such ships, when available, are appropriate only to certain trades. In some circumstances, when a particular type of suitable ship operated by the Australian National Line has been available, it has been used. The honorable senator’s third question refers to the steps that are being taken in this matter. I shall have to confer on that with both the Minister for Trade and the Minister for Shipping and Transport.
– I ask the Minister for Customs and Excise: Is it a fact that under the Customs Act all imported merchandise bearing any wording in English must be clearly marked with the name of the country of origin? Is it a fact that goods from the Federal Republic of Germany are usually marked “West Germany “, whilst goods from the Sovietoccupied zone of East Germany are usually marked with the single word “ Germany “ or, particularly in the case of scientific goods and precision equipment, with the even more confusing marking simply of “ Berlin “ or the name of some other city, without anything to signify that they originated in the eastern zone? Is it a fact that the United States of America will allow East German goods to enter only if they are branded “ Made in Soviet-occupied Germany “? In view of the great importance attaching to present discussions on the European Common Market and the political and military crisis over Berlin itself, does the Minister not think it desirable that the position be remedied so that Australian purchasers are not liable to be misled by deliberately deceitful markings? In view of habitual Communist deceit in trading relations, and to put the question beyond doubt, will the Minister consider taking the necessary action to prohibit the entry into Australia of all goods from East Germany unless they are marked “ Made in Soviet-occupied Germany “, and will he take similar action in regard to goods from other Soviet satellite countries?
– The regulations under the Customs Act do lay down that the name of the country of origin must be marked clearly on imported goods. At present, I think, we would accept the name “ Germany “ as being the name of the country of origin, whether the goods came from East Germany or from West Germany. The name ot a city only would not be acceptable. I doubt very much whether the regulations at this stage deal sufficiently widely with the position that the honorable senator has mentioned or with the complex position in Germany at the moment. I shall have a look at those aspects and see whether the regulations can be brought up to date, as proposed, to deal with the position.
– I direct a question to you, Mr. President. Irrespective of the prestige that the House of Representatives assumes unto itself, and irrespective of the spirit of larrikinism which most Australians assume characterizes that House on occasions, there appears to be no real reason why at the calling together of the Parliament the green light adjacent to room M.40 should shine and the red light should not. Would you be kind enough to investigate the matter?
– I shall make inquiries to ascertain why the light does not operate and I shall have the matter rectified.
– Can the
Minister representing the Minister for Trade inform the Senate, not in detail but in general terms, of the success that has attended the implementation of taxation incentives designed to stimulate exports of. Australian goods, particularly those of a secondary nature?
– I can only say that I have the general impression that the proposals have been well received and have been utilized to quite an appreciable extent. 1 can do no more than to make that general statement. I should think that, in view of the interest in this matter, it would be well for the honorable senator to place his question on the notice-paper to see whether the Minister for Trade or the Treasurer can give us something more specific. It may be difficult for either of my colleagues to do so. because it must be remembered that we are dealing with tax incentives and the extent to which they are being used cannot be established specifically until people put in their taxation returns at the end of the financial year. It may be that the Minister concerned will not be able to do much more than I have done.
– I ask the
Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry the following questions: - Is he aware that a meeting of tobacco-growers held at Wangaratta some time ago directed the Tobacco Growers Association to put proposals to the Commonwealth Government? ls he aware also that on 7th August, about six weeks later, a further meeting of 600 growers was held at Wangaratta and that the growers unanimously adopted a motion of no confidence in the Tobacco Growers Association and elected a committee to put proposals to the Commonwealth Government for immediate financial assistance to growers, to prevent the waste of the unsold crop and for future steady development of the tobacco-growing industry? What proposals for action have been put to the Government to assist tobacco-growers, and what action will the Government take?
– I am aware that what I think was described as a monster meeting of tobacco-growers was held at Wangaratta recently when, according to newspaper reports, a motion of no confidence in the executive officers of the Tobacco Growers Association was carried. I do not want to go into the merits or demerits of that resolution or whether the meeting was competent to pass such a resolution. That is a matter for the association itself to decide finally.
I do know that the tobacco industry is causing not only the growers but also the Government a great deal of concern. As at this point of time, I am not aware of the submission of any proposals to the Government by the tobacco-growers. The Government has been so concerned at the amount of leaf which has remained unsold that it has declared quite firmly that it is not prepared to stand idly by and see useful leaf not sold. With that in mind, it has appointed a committee to examine all lots that have remained unsold because no bids have been received for them. I am not in a position to say what action the Government will take when that examination has been completed. Nor am I in a position to say what action the Government will take when representations are made to it on behalf of the association. I emphasize that the Government is very conscious of the difficulties confronting the industry to-day and that it is determined to do all it possibly can to assist the industry in the interests not only of the growers but also of the Australian economy generally.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior inform me in what way the name of Mr. W. Burley Griffin, who designed this capital city of Canberra, has been commemorated in the capital itself? If no such provision has been made, will the Minister kindly consider naming a new suburb after Mr. Burley Griffin or, failing that, naming some suitable plaza or other important feature of the city in his honour?
– I am not aware of any action to commemorate the name of Mr. Burley Griffin and the contribution he has made to the design of Canberra. The honorable senator’s suggestions are worthy of consideration, and I shall be pleased to bring them to the notice of my colleague, the Minister for the Interior.
– I should like to ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate the following question: Owing to the lack of clarity among the public about the European Common Market and its implications, would the Government make a considered statement on this matter for the enlightenment of the public and members of Parliament?
– The answer to the question is, “ Yes “. The Prime Minister will do so to-morrow night.
– My question, which is addressed to the Minister representing the Prime Minister, relates also to the European Common Market, and has particular reference to the text of the Rome Treaty. The treaty itself is not in the English language, the official version being in French. I understand that in Australia some authorities on the French language - I do not speak it myself - are of the opinion that there are certain ambiguities of a very important nature in the French text. In view of recent press articles on this vital question, from which it is apparent that the writers have not read the Rome Treaty - the fons et origo of the matter - will the
Prime Minister consider obtaining an official translation of the treaty for the use of all interested persons? In particular, would he make such a translation available to the gentlemen of the press, some of whom are quite obviously very ill informed about the contents of this treaty?
– I had not heard previously that there was any doubt or ambiguity about the wording of the treaty. I have heard that copies are not easy to obtain, there being such a big demand for them. I think I can best reply to Senator Vincent by suggesting that he look at one of the copies available in the Parliamentary Library. I doubt very much whether the Prime Minister of Australia is in a position to enter into argument about the validity - or whatever the correct word may be - of the translation, because Australia is not a party to the treaty. We can only accept such copies as are made available to us under the authority of the European Economic Community. For the time being we must work on those copies.
– I direct a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. If, when commenting on the Government’s November economic measures in Brisbane on 30th July last, the Attorney-General, Sir Garfield Barwick, was correctly reported in the press and did, in fact, say that “ unemployment resulting from the credit squeeze was greater than the Federal Government would have wished or could truly have expected “, will the Leader of the Government inform the Senate, first, what degree of unemployment was wished by the Government and in what industries, and secondly, by how much the level of 113,439 persons unemployed exceeds the level desired by the Government?
– I commence by saying that the Government has no desire to create unemployment in Australia. The Government’s economic measures were introduced at a time when there was a considerable degree of over-full employment in Australia. One of the Government’s objectives was to make man-power available to basic industries which could not obtain the men needed to do the work that was required. Unless those basic industries were properly staffed, all subsidiary industries would be at a disadvantage. The Government’s policy has succeeded. Naturally everybody sympathizes with those persons who have been affected. According to Senator McKenna, the number of persons registered for employment is 113,439. Under any circumstances some proportion of the community is always registered for employment. What that proportion may be is a matter of opinion. If honorable senators look at the records I. think they will find that between 35,000 and 40,000 persons are always registered for employment. Mr. Monk, secretary of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, has said that it would be difficult to manage Australia’s economy without about 1.5 per cent, of the work force registered as looking for work. The present number of persons so registered represents 2.7 per cent, of the work force. That figure is higher than the figure I would like to see. It is higher than the figure most of us would like to see. However, let us wait and see what the next few weeks bring in their train before we become unduly excited.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Treasurer. Is the Minister aware that the Government’s economic policies have had serious effects on Australia’s textile industry, particularly where decentralized factories exist in country towns? Is he aware that the latest instance of these effects is the closure, after 25 years of operation, of the Centenary Woollen Mills at Daylesford, Victoria, which were employing 75 people, and the transfer of the machinery used in those mills to Melbourne? Will the Government arrange to have consultations with the Victorian Government to see whether, even at this late stage, the closing of those mills may be obviated? Their closure is a very serious matter for such a small country town and for the families of the employees concerned.
– I am unaware of the conditions existing at the factory to which the honorable senator referred. I think I should have a closer look at his question and refer it to the Treasurer and possibly to the Minister for Trade to see what implications are involved.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Trade say whether the Government has arranged for officers of the Department of Trade to confer with their opposite numbers in the United Kingdom as to the effect on Australia of the United Kingdom’s application for admission to the European Economic Community? If consultations have already taken place, to what stage have they advanced? If consultations have not been completed, what future programme is envisaged? Will the Minister see that Parliament is given the benefit of any advice that officers of the department bring back to Australia?
– In answer to Senator Wright’s question I say that there have been consultations between British and Australian officials. Indeed, a delegation of agricultural officers was in Australia last week. It may still be here. As to the stage the consultations have reached and what may be their shape and form, I prefer to wait until I have seen the statement which the Prime Minister will make tomorrow night before I deal with those matters. 1 know that a lot of water is running under the bridges and I am not sure how much I should say about the matter.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. As in November last, when the Government’s economic measures were introduced, about 43,000 persons were registered as unemployed in Australia, how does the Government reconcile that figure with its claim that at that time there was over-full employment?
– My answer to that question could lead me into giving quite a dissertation. Let me say at the outset that there must always be people registered as seeking employment in Australia if only because of Australia’s geographical size. It is not possible to preserve a balance between supply of labour and demand in, say, Cairns or Perth. There must always be some people registered for employment in some localities although in other localities the demand for labour far exceeds the available supply. I suggest that even in localities where the demand far exceeds the supply people will still be registered for employment because people change their employment from time to time and move from place to place. Whatever the level of employment may be, there must always be people registered for employment, and even when 30,000 or 40,000 people are registered for employment in Australia there may still be a position of over-full employment.
– 1 direct a question lo the Leader of the Government in the Senate. It is supplementary to two questions asked by the Leader of the Opposition about unemployment. I preface it by stating at once that all political parties are against a large number of people being unemployed in Australia. I ask: Is it a fact that in the period of more than ten years during which this Government has been in office the unemployment figure has never been more than 3 per cent, of the work force? If that is a fact, and in view of the supposed feelings of the Leader of the Opposition on unemployment, can the Leader of the Government assure me that he and other Ministers will take all necessary precautions to see that the unemployment figure in Australia will not reach the post-war record - 5.5 per cent, of the work force - which occurred under a Labour administration in the June quarter of 1949?
– I give this reply to the entirely non-party question asked by Senator Scott: I am sorry, but I cannot quote statistics. I do not keep in my mind the statistics on the rise and fall of unemployment in Australia. But I very confidently make the statement that this Government can well be proud of its record in maintaining the level of employment in Australia that has been maintained during the last decade. I give the further assurance that it is the great desire of all members of the Government parties to live up to that record.
– I address a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate and I regret that I did not give him notice of it. Irrespective of the question that was asked by Senator Scott, will the Minister say that the level of unemployment in Queensland has not risen above 3 per cent.?
– I do not remember the relevant figures. Speaking from memory, I think that the last figure I saw placed the level of unemployment in Queensland at 3.1 per cent, or 3.3 per cent. However, it must always be remembered - Senator Dittmer knows this as well as anyone else - that there are wider variations in the Queensland level than in the levels in other States because of seasonal employment in Queensland in the harvesting of sugar-cane and other crops. However, these variations in the level of unemployment in Queensland do not affect that State’s tremendous prosperity, of which all banana-landers are justly proud.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General. Will he please ascertain for me when the next phase of country television expansion will be announced by the Postmaster-General? Will the announcement be made before the present session ends? Seeing that the television needs of the country areas of South Australia received no recognition in the last phase of country television expansion, will the Minister please place before his colleague the requirements and needs of the following country areas in South Australia where considerable expansion of population has occurred since the last phase was examined, namely, the south-eastern portion, the north and upper Eyre Peninsula area and the upper Murray area?
– I should like Senator Laught to know that the Postmaster-General and his department are working very assiduously on the development of the fourth stage of television as it has been envisaged. I am not in a position to explain the technical difficulties that are facing the department but I know that they are of some magnitude. It must be remembered that we have to provide television over a vast area, some of which is sparsely populated. However, to be more specific, I shall bring the question that has been asked by Senator Laught to the notice of my colleague, the Postmaster-General, and ask him to provide a detailed reply.
– I wish to direct a question to the Minister for Customs and
Excise concerning the industry .that is producing paper pulp at Burnie, Tasmania. Is it a fact that the Deputy Chairman of .the Tariff Board recommended against the imposition of an emergency duty for that industry in May last? Can the Minister tell me whether he has made arrangements for the submission of a fresh proposal for an emergency duty in respect of the industry?
– The arrangement of an emergency hearing is a matter for the Department of Trade. A hearing for the imposition of an emergency tariff was arranged last May and a report was submitted by the Deputy Chairman of the Tariff Board, in which he recommended that certain classes of paper for certain Australian mills should be given some additional protection. That recommendation did not apply to the product of Associated Pulp and Paper Mills Limited at Burnie. Last Friday, I made an announcement in the Tasmanian press on behalf of the Minister for Trade, who had advised me that, following representations received from the paper industry to the effect that the position had further deteriorated, he had made a further reference to the Tariff Board concerning the imposition of an emergency tariff. That is on the way now. The report must be received within four weeks.
So far I have spoken of the two emergency inquiries. A Tariff Board inquiry is proceeding at the moment into the broad field of the paper industry itself. The finding of the second emergency tariff hearing, whatever it is, will operate until such time as the Tariff Board itself gives a decision on the whole industry. <
– I direct a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. In doing so, I refer to the deterioration in the plight of the 114,000 registered unemployed persons throughout this country, to the other hundreds of thousands of people who are working short time or whose families have been affected by the standing down of wives who previously contributed towards the family income, and to the hundreds of thousands of people who have committed themselves to high hirepurchase repayments. Will the Minister seek the support of his Cabinet colleagues to prevail on the Prime Minister to call a meeting of State Premiers with a view to introducing an Australia-wide moratorium on foreclosures, seizures, evictions and bankruptcies, the incidence of which is increasing throughout the country?
– I have a recollection that the Labour Premier in one of the leading States of the Commonwealth made a similar proposal and I think that after he made it he found that he himself was the only one in favour of it. With one voice everybody else rejected the proposal as being quite unnecessary in the circumstances and one which might be quite disastrous in its results. So I shall not advocate it to the Prime Minister.
– I wish to direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport. Is it a fact that recently the large Australian passenger ship “ Manoora “ which, incidentally, was named after a South Australian town, and which made popular winter holiday cruises to north Queensland, has been sold to Indonesia? Can the Minister say whether the owners of “ Manoora “ were forced to sell the vessel because it became unprofitable to operate on the Australian coast? Is the provision of an alternative service contemplated to enable citizens from the cold south to enjoy the warm and balmy conditions of north Queensland, in spite of the fact that “ Manoora “ and similar ships - I should like Senator Wood to take notice of this - did not call at Mackay?
– I understand that “ Manoora “ has been sold and that, as a result, there is now no cruise to that very pleasant part of the Commonwealth with which Senator Dittmer has some acquaintance.
– I am very proud of it. It is a pity that the Government did not see fit to contribute to it.
– The fact is, as has been frequently explained by the Minister for Shipping and Transport, that “ Manoora “ and such ships became unprofitable over a period of years. They were built for another age in respect of shipping, when the uplift of passengers together with freight was a profitable enterprise. The business was rendered unprofitable by changed conditions on the waterfront which prevented a scheduled service from being maintained. I do not know what the position is in respect of replacement. 1 shall refer that part of the question to my colleague.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Customs and Excise. Having regard to the announcement by Associated Pulp and Paper Mills Limited early this month that unless more orders were received during the ensuing fortnight it would be compelled to close the Burnie mill for from three to four weeks, involving the dismissal for that period of some 2,500 persons, can the Government do anything to expedite a decision on the emergency reference to the Tariff Board that was made on Friday last? The Minister has already referred to this reference and indicated that it might take four weeks to conclude. Is there anything that the Government can do to expedite a decision, and if there is, will the Government take such action with a view to avoiding, if possible, the calamitous closing of the mill?
– The inquiry to which the honorable senator has referred is being conducted by the Tariff Board and I do not think that any government would interfere with the work of the board. It is intriguing to note the very sudden interest that is now being taken by Senator McKenna and honorable senators opposite in this emergency procedure. They opposed the relevant legislation when it came before this chamber.
– For particular reasons
– You may have had your reasons, but you opposed it when it came before the Senate.
– Be fair!
– Whatever the reasons may have been, they are best known to the members of the Opposition. I repeat that they opposed the implementation of the legislation.
– Tell us the reasons.
– The Minister cannot get away with a half-truth.
– When Senator Dittmer has finished yapping-
– When you tell the truth I will stop yapping.
– I shall not repeat a third time what I have already said. I say to Senator McKenna that if there is anything that can be done to expedite the hearing without interfering with the proper work of the Tariff Board, I shall certainly ask the Minister for Trade to examine the possibility of doing it.
– My question, which is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, concerns recent sales of tobacco leaf in Western Australia. By way of preface, I mention that at the sales a very large proportion of leaf remained unsold and that for the leaf that was sold a fairly low price was obtained. Does the Minister know whether the proportion of leaf which remained unsold in Western Australia this year was greater than that in the previous year? Is it correct, as buyers have claimed, that the quality of the leaf was the main reason for reduced sales? Would it be fair to infer that the leaf had suddenly deteriorated in quality? If not, can the Minister state some other reason for such a large proportion of the leaf remaining unsold at the Manjimup sales?
– I, too, have a very lively interest in tobacco sales and for that reason I recently asked the Minister for Primary Industry to supply me with details of tobacco sales this year. As Senator Vincent has suggested, a very large proportion of the Western Australian tobacco crop has remained unsold this year. In fact, 50.8 per cent, of the total crop has not been sold. The average price, too, is a low one in comparison with that of previous years. The average price was 63. 7d.
– Compared with what price in the previous year?
– I have not before me the price for the previous year. It is true, as Senator Vincent has stated, that the buyers have claimed that the reason for the non-sale of so much of the tobacco leaf was the poor quality of the offering. He has asked whether it is proper to infer that since the leaf sold reasonably well in Perth on previous occasions, the quality had deteriorated on this occasion. I cannot answer that question specifically, but I believe it is fair comment that in some tobacco-growing areas of the Commonwealth new growers have come into the industry who do not have the knowledge or the equipment to produce high quality leaf such as that produced during the last few years. It could well be that that influence on the production of high quality tobacco leaf does not apply in Western Australia. I have a feeling that it does not. From my limited knowledge of the Western Australian tobacco-growers, by and large they form a reasonably static community and confine their activities to fairly stable lines. The only inference that can be drawn, therefore, is that there are other factors which have led to the reduced price of the leaf.
– I regret having to ask the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry a question on the same subject as that raised by Senator Vincent. I point out that the reason for the reduced price of tobacco leaf in Western Australia, which the Minister gave to Senator Vincent, would not apply in the case of Queensland tobacco leaf. If there has been a deterioration in the quality of the leaf, will he be kind enough to ask the Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization to send officers to Queensland immediately to investigate such deterioration?
– I am. afraid that the question posed by Senator Dittmer reflects a lack of knowledge on his part, because no comparison can be made between the sales in Queensland and those in Western Australia.
– There is no lack of knowledge at all.
– I should like the honorable senator to listen to the figures that 1 am about to state. Only 17.4 per cent, of the Queensland tobacco crop remains unsold this year, as against 50.8 per cent, of the Western Australian crop.
– I did not say anything about that.
– Order ! The Minister is replying to the question asked by the honorable senator.
– He should not be rude to me.
– If I have been rude, I express my regret. I had no such intention. I repeat that 17.4 per cent of the Queensland tobacco crop remains unsold and that 50.8 per cent, of the Western Australian crop is unsold. The average price received for leaf in Perth this year was 63.7d, against 119d. in Brisbane. I suggest, Mr. President, with great respect, that no worthwhile comparison can be made between the sales in Perth and those in Brisbane this year.
– Has the Minister representing the Prime Minister read a weather forecast made recently by Mr. Lennox Walker, of Crohamhurst Observatory, in Brisbane, which indicated that rain would fall in Queensland in December next? Can the Minister say whether a certain election to be held at some time during this year will be held prior to the month of December?
– All I can do is to assure Senator Benn that there will be no change in the reigning party in Parliament after the December election.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services. Is it a fact that the permissible income, without reduction of pension, of an age pensioner is £182 per annum? In recent months, has the Department of Social Services adopted a policy of inquiring into the weekly income of age pensioners? Is it the intention of the department to make reductions of weekly pensions if the weekly income exceeds £3 10s.? What will be the position of an age pensioner whose pension is reduced because his weekly income for a period exceeds £3 10s. but whose annual income does not exceed £182? In these circumstances, will the deductions be refunded at the end of the year?
– I can only say in reply that the social services legislation lays down the conditions under which pensions are made available, the amount of permissible income, and the extent by which pensions rebate as total income increases. It is the responsibility of the Department of Social Services to administer the legislation. I had the privilege of administering that portfolio and I am quite certain that what is done is done very carefully and sympathetically and that there would not be any change in policy or methods.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -
– The Minister for Social Services has furnished the following reply: -
In the administration of the Aged Persons Homes Act financial arrangements made between organizations and the residents of subsidized homes are regarded as domestic matters, and Commonwealth policy is to avoid intrusion into the internal administration of homes, provided the requirements of the act are met.
Details of the arrangements between organizations and incoming tenants are not known. It is understood that while in some cases lump sum payments are made by tenants this is not a standard requirement. Amounts paid by incoming tenants to organizations would not attract subsidy from the Commonwealth unless they later formed part of the organizations’ funds available in Accordance with the act for a project involving additional accommodation for aged persons.
asked the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
– The answers are as follows: -
The amount of the funds included in the table above which was expended upon war service homes in each year was as follows: -
With the exception of the year 1950-51, the funds for war service homes were provided from the Consolidated Revenue Fund. In 1950-51 the amount of £24,900,000 was provided from loan funds, and £200,000 from Consolidated Revenue Fund. The figures for Consolidated Revenue Fund, and hence the total provision, in the years 1949-50 to 1952-53 are estimated, as precise figures are not readily available. All figures for 1960-61 are estimated also.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The Prime Minister has furnished the following answers: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The Minister for the Interior has furnished the following replies: - 1. (a) At 1955 elections. 100; Cb) at 1958 elections, 92. 2. (a) At 1955 elections. 76; (b) at 1958 elections, 72.
asked the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
– I now furnish the following information: -
The questions raised, as to oil inroads into traditional coal markets, are not readily answerable in indisputable terms. This is particularly so if, as the first question suggests, it is desired to know the extent of the market lost by coal to oil as a result of the development of an oil refining industry in Australia. It must be recognized that in certain industries technological developments that have taken place in recent years would have brought about the loss of some coa] markets to oil even if there had been no refineries built in Australia. The outstanding example of this is, of course, the considerable advantage in terms of fuel cost which diesel electric locomotives have in relation to steam locomotives. On the other hand, it is equally true that in certain other industries, such as the gas industry for example, a market has been lost by coal because the operation of the refineries results in there being substantial quantities of tail gas and liquefied petroleum gas available for use as towns gas and in the availability of fuel oil for sale at prices lower than imported prices. The specific answers are as follows: -
Perhaps the most satisfactory way of showing the extent of the loss of markets by coal, is by an examination of the movements in the rela live importance in Australia of the various sources of energy. This is shown in the attached statement of the consumption of “ coal and competitive fuels” during the period from 1953-54 to 1959-60. In the year 1953-54 the first of the new large petroleum refineries in Australia was completed. The year 1959-60 is the latest for which information is available. There has been a downward trend in recent years in the relative importance of coal as a source of energy in Australia. But in terms of quantity and on the basis of black coal equivalent, the consumption of coal was nearly 10 per cent, higher in 1959-60 (22.4 million tons), than in 1953-54 (20.5 million tons). The statement shows that the share of the Australian market for “ coal and competitive fuels” held by coal fell from 75 per cent, in 1953-54 to 66.2 per cent in 1959-60. If coal had held the same share of that market as was held in 1953-54, i.e. 75.9 per cent., it would have meant the consumption of an additional 3.3 million tons of black coal in 1959-60.
However, the increase in the coal and competitive fuels market obtained by petroleum products over the same period was 7.6 per cent., equivalent to 2,600,000 tons of black coal. Thus the reduction in the share of the energy market held by coal has not represented an increase of similar magnitude in that held by oil. Hydro-electric power has also increased its share of this market.
As mentioned previously, some of this increase by oil was due to technological developments such as the use of diesel electric locomotives. The effect of this development on the energy consumption pattern can best be illustrated by figures of railways’ usage of diesel oil. In 1953-54, Australian Government railways systems used approximately 47,000 tons of diesel oil, equivalent to 329,000 tons of coal. By 1959-60 the corresponding figures had increased to 155,000 tons and 1,085,000 tons respectively.
In the case of fuel for ships bunkers, the quantity of coal supplied in Australia for this purpose has steadily declined in recent years from 802,000 tons in 1948 to 287,000 tons in 1956, the last year for which bunker consumption data for Australia as a whole has been published. This declining market for coal is largely due to the practical advantages which the liquid fuels possess and is obviously not related to the development of large scale oil refining in Australia.
In the last single year for which full information is available, that is, 1959-60, oil’s increased proportionate share of the Australian coal and competitive fuels market was equivalent to 270,000 tons of black coal.
An examination of the information in the attached statement fails to reveal a consistent pattern as to rate of loss of coal markets.
During the period 1953-54 to 1959-60, coal exports increased from 398,000 tons to 1,187;000 tons. This is of lesser magnitude than the increased share of the Australian energy market in black coal equivalents gained by fuel oil in the same period. It is the Government’s aim to raise coal exports to the highest possible level, and in fact it is expected that Australian coal exports during 1960-61 will exceed 1,800,000 tons. It is expected that coal exports which have risen in volume in the last few years will continue to rise at least until the mid-sixties.
The share in black coal equivalents of the total Australian fuel market held by coal in 1949-50 was 57.2 per cent.; in 1959-60, it was 50.2 per cent. The market in this case is that for all fuels, and not just for fuels competitive with coal.
With the concurrence of honorable senators I incorporate in “ Hansard “ the following statement referred to in the answer to question No. 3: -
– by leave - On behalf of the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) I shall make a statement to inform the Senate of certain developments which have taken place or are being planned in respect of labour policy in the
Territory of Papua and New Guinea. These developments include administrative changes and new legislation. At the outset, the Minister asks honorable senators to think of these matters and to judge them in the context of Territory conditions, not in the context of Australian conditions.
To give a clearer picture of the situation in the Territory some statistics may be quoted briefly. The total indigenous work force in paid employment is only 70,000 in a total population of 1,850,000 and a total male work force of possibly 600,000. This total of 70,000 wage-earners has shown only minor increases in recent years, largely because of the more efficient use of labour and economy in the use of labour as the cost of it has risen, and partly because of a decline of employment in oil exploration and gold-mining. The big increases in gainful occupation of the people during the past seven or eight years have been in selfemployment, chiefly on the land, producing cash crops. There are far more selfemployed native workers with cash incomes than there are wage-earners, and this pattern of occupation seems likely to continue.
Of the 70,000 native wage-earners more than half are employed in primary production. The most marked change of recent years has been in the growing numbers moving into urban employment in manufacturing, the present total being 3,000; in building and construction, the total being 4,000; in transport and storage, the number being 3,000; and in commerce, the total number employed being 3,500. There are about 4,600 wage-earners in personal service, largely as domestic workers; but this is not a new feature in wageearning and, proportionately to other occupations, it is tending to become less significant. There has also been a marked growth among those engaged in health and education, mainly in government service, although some are in missionary service. In addition, the numbers engaged in all other avenues of public administration have increased significantly. The present total for government employment is 14,000. The total of native urban workers in all grades of employment is about 27,000. In the immediate present it will be these urban workers, and particularly the more advanced ones, who mainly will be interested in the new labour measures.
The Minister mentions these figures in order that we may keep the situation in perspective. We need to test critically the exaggerations of those commentators who give a picture of very large numbers of people clamouring for industrial change. We also need to remember, while we are dealing with some thousands of urban wageearners, that there are also hundreds of thousands of self-employed little men - peasants, if you like - working their own land and tens of thousands of unskilled and unsophisticated rural workers employed under agreement. I suggest that we will see the situation more clearly if we recognize the present measures as indicating the direction of changes which are just beginning and which will gather pace in the next ten years. What we do now is less for to-day than for the decade ahead.
From time to time since the war there have been adjustments in labour policy in the Territory both to keep pace with changing conditions and to anticipate prospective changes. In 1950 the indenture system was replaced by a system of labour under agreement, all penal sanctions against workers being removed. In 1952 and 1953 the labour legislation was amended so that, while maintaining the system of labour under agreement, the supervision over the engagement of labour and the conditions applying to the period of labour and the welfare of the worker were improved. In 1958 a completely new Native Employment Ordinance was passed, one of the main effects, apart from other improvements in the conditions of labour, being to recognize a class of freely engaged labour consisting of those indigenous workers who were fully capable of engaging themselves for employment and to a large extent protecting their own interests.
Throughout this post-war period the Government, as by far the largest single employer in the Territory, has also introduced successive amendments to those ordinances and regulations which affected the various classes of skilled and unskilled workers employed by the Administration. The general purpose of these amendments was to raise the standard of the native employee, to give him improved conditions and improved wages, and to introduce higher rewards for higher skill. The indigenous worker was also given the opportunity to enter the Territorial Public Service, either through the Auxiliary Division, which is a training division, or direct to the other divisions of the Public Service on the same qualifications for entry as applied to Europeans. There are already 28 indigenous public servants in the Third Division and recently over 200 new positions have been created to which indigenes will be appointed. There are also already over 500 members of the Auxiliary Division. These are in addition to the 9,000 workers employed by the Administration as Administration servants including semi-skilled workers such as aid post orderlies, boiler attendants and drivers; trained workers such as agricultural field workers, clerical and stores assistants; artisans such as carpenters’ assistants and mechanics’ assistants; and specialized workers such as agricultural instructors and co-operative inspectors. These measures in respect of the Public Service have had two important historical effects. One is that, by being admitted as members to the Public Service Association, the indigenous public servants joined for the first time an industrial organization and gained their first access to a system of industrial negotiation and arbitration. The other effect - and this is a far-reaching effect - is that those who entered the Public Service on the same standard of entry as Europeans were paid at rates which were calculated on the principle of equal pay for equal work, any additional payment to the European being regarded as expatriate allowances containing such elements as an attraction or a compensation for living away from his own land.
During the post-war period we also gave close attention to ancillary legislation such as the Transactions with Natives Ordinance 1958, which was designed to give protection to natives entering into job contracts, the Native Apprenticeship Ordinance 1951- 1960, the Workers’ Compensation Ordinance 1958-1960, the Industrial Safety (Temporary Provisions) Ordinance 1957, and the Minimum Age (Sea) Ordinance 1957-1958. These measures and amendments made to the Native Employment Ordinance in 1958 greatly increased the protection afforded to the worker by law. Throughout the period the administration of native labour was strengthened at various points and successive ministerial directions were given to ensure that in practice this protection was effective.
During most of the period, all except a very small minority of native wage-earners have been employed in unskilled or low-skilled labour. Over five years ago, in February, 1956, when our concern was mainly with an illiterate, low-skilled labour force, recruited from their native villages under fixed-term agreements or working as casual labour close by their villages, the aims of labour policy were summarized as follows: -
to advance the general policy for the political, economic, social and educational advancement of the inhabitants of the Territory; the development of the Territory’s resources; and the maintenance of good order and government; particularly through -
Those will still be our aims in our work among the larger part of the population. Pursuing them, the Administration will continue to control the recruitment of agreement labour so that village life and family life will not be endangered, and will continue to supervise employment so that nothing is done that is harmful to the welfare of the worker or impairs the good relations and the trust between the races. The Senate will recognize that for some years to come there will be a body of labour, mostly rural labour, whose interests can best be served by the supervision of the Administration.
Yet, at the same time, largely as a result of other measures taken for the advancement of the people and for the economic development of the Territory, we can see the emergence of new fields of employment and new groups of workers to occupy them. To-day, as well as the large body of unskilled workers, many of them absent from their villages on a two-year agreement or working in the neighbourhood of their villages, we can see a body of more highly skilled or more experienced wage-earners tending to concentrate in centres of large employment and to stay there. Various factors are contributing to the growth in skilled labour, such as the spread of education, the opening of technical schools (which are now training nearly 600 students), the inauguration of an apprenticeship system (from which 44 tradesmen have already graduated while there are at present 270 apprentices in training), and the engaging of educated natives in various services and utilities of their country in which they are trained on the job for higher responsibilities. These factors, and the move towards a higher standard of living are producing many candidates for a different level of employment. The growth of public undertakings and of commerce and industry in the Territory is providing that employment.
The changes and their consequences were clearly foreseen when the legislation of 1958 was prepared and since that date the Minister has been in consultation in the Territory with spokesmen of these more advanced groups of workers - as, too, has the Leader of the Opposition. In December, 1959, the Minister had conversations in Port Moresby with representatives of three of the newly formed “ welfare “ societies or workers’ associations and he hopes that the counsel offered was as useful to them as their descriptions of their hopes and purposes were helpful to him. Officers of the Administration have kept closely in touch with them both before and since that date. Continuously over this period officers of the Department of Territories have been engaged with the Administration on a number of inquiries and studies and, as the outcome, the present proposals are being made.
The changes were introduced gradually with the creation in July, 1959, of a Native Employment Board composed of representatives of employers, native workers and Administration officers, under a chairman who is a statutory officer. Out of that experience we moved in February, 1961, to the creation in the Administration of a Department of Labour, the principal functions of which will be: -
The functions previously exercised by the Department of Native Affairs in respect of the regulation and supervision of native labour have been transferred to the new department and this transfer symbolizes the recognition that native labour is no longer a matter only of benevolent care and oversight - a task which Native Affairs officers carried out with honour for many years - but of employment, labour conditions and industrial relations in a more positive and constructive sense.
May I pause here to say something mainly for the benefit of the people in the Territory. This new department should not be regarded, any more than any other department of the Public Service, as being a department that is “ taking sides “ either for or against any claimant or respondent. It is there to administer the law and to help promote employment and harmonious industrial relations. In respect of the unsophisticated agreement worker it will exercise those protective and supervisory functions which were previously carried out by the Department of Native Affairs. In respect of the advanced worker its purpose is not to think or act for him but to clear the way so that he can think and act for himself.
The principle to which we are dedicated is that of freedom of association. In this as in other fields in which we are promoting the advancement of the people our method is to try to anticipate the need, to provide the opportunity, and to encourage the response, but not to bend an unready people into uncomfortable shapes of our own choosing. The Minister does not regard it as his business to try to shape them. Nor does he think it is within his power to do so, for events are stronger than plans. We have to clear the path but let them walk it.
Over the past two years we have seen and encouraged the first signs among the indigenous workers of an awakening interest in trade unions. We have also seen signs of a stronger interest in expressing their own views on wages and conditions of employment. In fact some of them have already joined in collective negotiations with employers and concluded industrial agreements covering wages and various conditions of work in four urban areas. Arrangements have also been agreed to by employers and workers in Madang for joint consultation between them to be held regularly. At the same time the spokesmen of the native workers have made it clear that they want to develop their unions in their own way and separate from any Australian trade unions. I understand that Australian trade unionists who have visited the Ter ritory to familiarize themselves with the situation came to the conclusion that it was desirable that they should develop their unions in their own way and not be bound by Australian experience.
As I have indicated, it will be one of the functions of the new Department of Labour to assist groups of workers in the formation of trade unions. I admit to having had some hesitation about committing this function to a government department. It will be difficult in practice for a conscientious officer to distinguish between the moment when he is assisting workers to form a union and when he is telling them what to do; between the moment when he is guiding and informing them and the moment when he is deciding what should be done. Yet the Territory Administration has had some success in a similar task in respect of the formation of co-operative societies to help the economic progress of the people. When a group indicates that it wishes to form a co-operative society an officer is on hand to tell it how to go about it, to arrange for the training of their clerks and storemen, to explain the customary rules of such bodies, to explain how to raise capital and how to open a bank account and to give friendly guidance in the early stages. A similar success has followed the Administration’s efforts in encouraging the establishment of native local government councils. In the same way I think we can rely on the officers of the public service to give impartial and disinterested counsel and guidance to those wishing to form a trade union and to arrange for the training on accepted lines of their union officers.
At this stage I think we should face frankly some of the risks that the indigenous workers face in groping their way towards industrial organization. At present some of the groupings of workers in the Territory are tribal rather than occupational. A continuance of these tribal groupings will prevent all further advancement. There is also a tendency for associations which were formed primarily as social, recreational or denominational groups to take up subsequently the advocacy of industrial claims and this tendency carries the same risk of incompleteness or exclusiveness as do the tribal groups. There is a risk of unions being formed by native leaders who could act as “ stand-over “ men and manipulate unions for their own purposes. There is a risk of the promotion of unions primarily to serve the ends of political subversion. There is a risk of what I believe is called the “ tame-cat union “. I am sure that all honorable senators would wish to save the Papuan and New Guinean from encountering those risks at a time when they are taking the first steps in industrial organization. I am inclined to think that we can trust a public servant, acting strictly within the limits of his functions, to help steer them through the early dangers. Our purpose must be to preserve to them the right and to help them to gain the capacity to join together in that form of ‘trade or industrial association which seems to them to be best suited to their own conditions. We have to keep enough flexibility in our own minds to recognize that their organizations may be different ‘from our own.
At the same time as we created the Department of Labour we made arrangements within the Public Solicitor’s office so that, until such time as native industrial organizations can engage and instruct their own advocates, they can invoke the aid of the Public Solicitor in the preparation and conduct of any claim they may wish to make. The purpose was to separate entirely from the Department of Labour the advocacy of any particular cause. It was recognized that unless some such arrangements were made for assistance to the trade unions in the ‘preparation and presentation of any claims their formation could become meaningless and it was thought best to place this function in the office of the Public Solicitor, who already performs a ‘function of legal advice and assistance to the indigenous people.
In keeping with these administrative changes draft legislation has been prepared. As these measures will be introduced into the Legislative Council for the Territory at its next meeting in September, I will only indicate their general nature. An Industrial Organizations Bill will make provision for the right of free association of persons for industrial purposes. It will regulate the conditions under which industrial organizations of employers and employees alike may be recognized by law and given the protection which is absent in the common law. These conditions will be laid down in the interests of individual members and of the community generally. An Industrial
Relations Bill will provide for a system of free negotiation on industrial matters between employees and employers. To encourage such negotiation provision is made for bodies containing representatives of employees and employers to be formed either for an industry or for a locality to deal with matters of common interest by consultation. Where differences are incapable of settlement by negotiation the Administration will be empowered to provide conciliation assistance when required, and in the case of an intractable dispute provision is made for arbitration to be available to the parties. Special provisions are contemplated in respect of essential services. The legislation will also provide for the Administrator to appoint boards of inquiry to advise him on any matter relating to labour or employment. Being representative of many sections of the Territory community, these will give to the Secretary of Labour and, through him, to the Administrator, a broader view than might be perceptible within the departmental circle. These will provide a more flexible medium for advice than the existing Native Employment Board, which will be no longer required.
Amendments to the Criminal Code of Queensland in its application to the Territories of Papua and New Guinea are also being drafted. These amendments relate to the need to relieve industrial organizations from liability to prosecution for criminal conspiracy as a consequence of certain industrial activities. There will of course be consequential amendments to existing labour legislation when the new bills become law.
Following a practice that has been adopted in the past, the principal legislation will be introduced in the Legislative Council at the next meeting in September and the debate will be adjourned to a subsequent meeting in order to give all members time to study it in detail and to give the Territory community in general an opportunity of expressing views. The Government looks to -the Council, which now has a strong element of elected indigenous and nonindigenous members, to represent the views of all inhabitants of the Territory on this important and far-reaching legislation and it will be a matter for the Council to decide how it can best perform that duty.
At this stage our purpose has been to provide the minimum necessary for the legal existence, recognition and proper functioning of industrial organizations and for the conduct of industrial relations, and to leave as much room as possible for development and adjustment so that the people of the Territory may work out for ‘themselves the form of organization and the industrial system best suited to local needs and their own wishes.
We have tried to refrain from imposing on the Territory too many of our own ideas or methods. We do not propose to bring into being the complete system of industrial tribunals and procedures with which we are familiar in Australia but to content ourselves with providing sufficient statutory powers to enable any claims or disputes to be handled ad hoc as the occasion requires and to rely on the Territory to develop the machinery and methods that best suit its situation.
All of us in Australia join in our adherence to the basic principles of free association, freedom of negotiation, regulation of the hours of work, a fair wage, decent living standards, industrial safety, protection of women and children, and the promotion of full employment. Those are also the principles which Australia applies in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea and which the changes I have announced are intended to advance.
In the light of these changes, I would enlarge the aims of labour policy, as follows: -
In the Territory, labour policy is necessarily an evolving policy, and, as the rate of advancement of the population varies greatly from place to place, we have at any given time several different stages of evolution in active being. This calls for clear sight on the part of the Administration. It requires honorable senators and other commentators to be careful before they generalize.
Labour relations in the Territory mean a lot more than an argument. They are an inseparable part of a great creative undertaking. Labour policy is part of general policy and cannot be developed in isolation from other activities in the Territory. We have to think of labour in broad terms. Labour is one of the great untapped resources of the Territory and unless it is developed to its full potential - and that means raised to the highest point of skill that it can achieve and used with economy in the right places and in the right way - the Territory will fall short of its full capacity for economic progress. Labour is one of the major factors in social change and unless labour is used in a way which is honorable, conducive to the self-respect of the worker, and rewarded at a rate which enables him to support himself and his family in decency at the prevailing standards, social progress will be limited. Labour affords a practical channel for the advancement of education, both of the individual and of a people. Labour is one of the means through which men and women become linked in a direct and practical way with the daily affairs of the nation to which they belong and help to share directly in the promotion of national advantage. It is also possibly one of the most important points, though not the only point, at which men and women are directly touched by political decisions. ThusI would earnestly ask the Senate to consider the shaping of policy in respect of labour in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea as being an essential and inseparable part of the whole pattern of economic, social, educational and political advancement of the people and not to think of it solely as a question of the assertion of one set of rights against another set of rights, important though that side of industrial relations may be in particular instances.
It will be part of the function of the new Department of Labour, in conjunction with other departments of the Administration and particularly the Department of
Trade and Industry that was recently created, to promote employment and to help match the labour supply, both in number and in skill, with the needs of industry. In the short term, with expanding public expenditures and expanding development of the country’s resources by private enterprise, we anticipate no lack of opportunity for the educated workers who are now appearing in greater numbers. Provided that wage rates are set at reasonable levels and are related to the productivity of the work force, both private employers and government will be able to give increased opportunities for employment.
In the long term there will undoubtedly be more complications than we face immediately. The known resources of the country are chiefly agricultural and the big majority of the population of nearly two million are likely to find their advancement in changing from village subsistence gardening to cash cropping, forming a native peasantry that, so long as the families work as families, will not be a major employer of wage-earning labour. Many of the local industries will be those which produce goods for local consumption or provide services and will be directly and immediately geared to the spending power of the local consumer. We need to seek and exploit every opportunity for the developing of export industries for they alone can take the place in the future of the public expenditures financed by Australian taxation which are at present so large an element in sustaining local spending power and providing local employment. These export industries will have little or no control over the price at which they sell their product and so will have to produce at a cost that enables them to compete in world markets. Labour will be a big element in that cost.
We are now emerging, both in political and industrial matters, into a new period during which a comparatively small group of educated and thoughtful native men and women, most of whom have been found and given opportunity as the result of our concious efforts in the past decade, will find the way open to them to take part in the handling of their own people’s industrial affairs and of assuming the cares and responsibilities of leadership. The measures I have described are based on a faith in their intelligence and wisdom.
We need to show some patience and understanding. These people have come rather rapidly into the relationship of master and servant - a relationship which, in their own village life, was unknown. Those who are to be employers have to learn how to be employers. Those who are to be employees have to learn how to be employees. For the sake of the Territory we hope that they may all learn about that relationship and benefit from it without forfeiting the sense of community in which, with division of labour, they once worked in their own village gardens. That sense of community, of sharing in a common enterprise for the common good, has so often been the first casualty in any contest over rival industrial claims.
I lay on the table the following paper: -
Labour Policy in Papua and New Guinea -
Statement by the Minister for Territories dated 15th August, 1961 - and move -
That the paper be printed.
Debate (on motion by Senator McKenna) adjourned.
– by leave. - As honorable senators are aware, the Governor-General, Viscount De L’Isle, was sworn in here in Canberra on Thursday, 3rd August. However, I should like to take this opportunity to give formal advice of that to the Senate and to extend a welcome and good wishes to His Excellency and his family. I know that I speak for all honorable senators. We were all delighted by the appointment of this most distinguished man. Lord De L’Isle has had extensive experience, both civil and military. He is a man who has made his mark as a parliamentarian, a Minister of the Crown, a businessman and a soldier. We know that he will carry out the duties of his important office with courage, candour and dignity. We look forward to seeing much of him and we wish him a long and a happy stay in this country.
. -by leave - On behalf of the Opposition, I subscribe entirely to the sentiments that have been expressed by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Spooner). 1 take the opportunity to record the regret I felt at my own inability to be present at the swearingid ceremony; I had made engagements, which were unchangeable, long before the time was fixed for the ceremony. I associate all members of the Opposition with what the Leader of the Government has said.
Motions - by Senator Spooner - by leave - agreed to -
That Senator Anderson be granted leave of absence for two months, on account of absence overseas.
That Senator Wardlaw be granted leave of absence for two months, on account of absence overseas.
Motions - by Senator McKenna - by leave - agreed to -
That Senator Armstrong be granted leave of absence for two months, on account of absence overseas.
That Senator Sheehan be granted leave of absence for two months, on account of absence overseas.
Senator SPOONER (New South WalesVicePresident of the Executive Council and Minister for National Development. - - by leave - It is with regret that I advise the Senate of the death, on 2nd August last, of the Honorable John Braidwood Dooley. He was elected to the Senate as a senator for New South Wales at the general election of 1924. He was the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate from August to October, 1929, and a member of the Public Works Committee from November, 1929, to March, 1931. From 3rd March, 1931, to 6th January, 1932, he was the Assistant Minister for Works and was again Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate from February to August, 1932. At the general election of 1934, he was defeated but continued to hold his seat, in terms of the Constitution, until 30th June, 1935. I move -
That the Senate expresses its deep regret at the death of the Honorable John Braidwood Dooley, a former senator for the State of New South Wales, places on record its appreciation of his long and meritorious public service, and tenders its profound sympathy to his widow and the members of his family in their bereavement.
– On behalf of the Opposition, I second the motion that has been proposed by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Spooner). The record of the deceased ex-senator that was read by the Leader of the Government indicated that he concentrated a great deal of public activity into his brief sojourn of six years in the Senate. The posts that he held during that period show that he was possessed of quality of a high degree. He would be known as a parliamentarian to a very few members of this chamber to-day. He was certainly ahead of my own time. I join with the Leader of the Government in the Senate in extending to his widow and the members of his family our sympathy in their bereavement.
These occasions arise suddenly. We are always saddened when we hear of the passing of one who has moved on this scene. In this particular case, we are able to mark the passing of a man who had fine qualities and who had the distinction to serve his country in this chamber.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable senators standing in their places.
– by leave - It is with regret that I advise the Senate of the death, on 31st July last, of Major-General Charles Henry Brand, CB., C.M.G., C.V.O., D.S.O., a former member of the Senate.
Major-General Brand was elected a senator for the State of Victoria at the general elections of 1934 and 1940. He was Vice-Chairman of the Public Works Committee from 1937 to 1940, and chairman of the committee from December, 1940, to July, 1943. Thereafter he was a member of the committee.
As most honorable senators will be aware, Major-General Brand had a most distinguished military career. He served in the South African war from 1899 to 1902. In 1906, he joined the Australian Permanent Military Forces. He was a staff officer in the Indian Army from 1910 to 19U. From 1913 to 1914 he was Acting Commandant, South Australia. He was appointed brigade major of the 3rd Infantry Brigade on 15th August, 1914, and Temporary Lieutenant-Colonel. 3rd Battalion, on 16th May, 1915. He was wounded at Gallipoli. On 14th July, 1915, he was appointed Lieutenant-Colonel, 8th Battalion, being awarded the Distinguished Service Order in that year. He was appointed Colonel on 10th July, 1916, and to the command of the 4th Infantry Brigade, with the temporary rank of Brigadier-General. He was again wounded, this time in France. On 9th July, 1918, he was appointed to the temporary command of the 4th Australian Division. He was made a Commander of the Bath and a Commander of the Order of St. Michael and St. George in 1918. In December, 1918, he returned to Australia, and was State Commandant, Victoria, from 1919 to 1921. He was General Officer Commanding, First Division, Australian Military Forces, in Sydney in 1921 and served as Base Commandant, New South Wales, from 1922 to 1925. From 1926 to 1930 he was Second Chief of the General Staff, and from 1931 to 1932 he was Quartermaster-General and Third Member of the Military Board. He was appointed a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order from 1927 and was Aide-de-camp to King George V. from 1931 to 1933. He was placed on the retired list in 1933, with the rank of Major-General. I move -
That the Senate expresses its deep regret at the death of Major-General Charles Henry Brand, CB., C.M.G., C.V.O., D.S.O., a former senator for the State of Victoria, places on record its appreciation of his long and meritorious public service, and tenders its profound sympathy to his widow and the members of his family in their bereavement.
– On behalf of the Opposition, I second the motion. I had the privilege of serving in the Senate for some three years with the late MajorGeneral Brand. He had the most distinguished military record, both in the field and administratively, that any man could have had. That record has been referred to by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Spooner). Despite the efficiency and the distinction with which Major-General Brand discharged his military duties, one found no trace of harshness or of militarism in his personal disposition.
The late General - we all knew him in this place as “ the General “ - had one of the most kindly and benevolent dispositions that I have ever encountered. In common with my colleagues on this side of the chamber, 1 respected him and liked him. Saddened as I am to learn of his death, I am glad that his life of great public service was rewarded with longevity. He had the blessing of being able to live to the age of 87 and to see vast changes in the world. He was able to see many new and amazing technical developments which 1 know would have excited him and delighted his soul. 1 rejoice that he lived to see so many of the great developments in the world that the last few decades have brought forth. Whilst I am saddened by his passing, I also rejoice in the thought that since he retired in 1947 he had the blessing of a long retirement of some fourteen or fifteen years with the members of his family. I know that that would have rejoiced his heart. I like to think of him in peaceful retirement in the later years of a well-spent and long life.
I join with the Leader of the Government in the Senate, again on behalf of the Opposition, in extending to his widow and the members of his family our deepest sympathy. I personally shall always remember him with very great respect and with a great deal of affection.
– I wish to say a few words in support of the motion. I, too, regret the death of Major-General Brand, with whom I had the honour to serve in France in 1916. He was the commander of the brigade of which my unit, the 15th Battalion, was a part. Although he was a strict military man he was always very friendly. We could approach the old Brig, as we used to call him, without any fuss, and he would listen to what we had to say. He took a very keen interest in the welfare of the men who were serving under him. I am sure that there was not one man in the brigade who would not have done all that he possibly could, or fought to the last ditch, for the Brigadier.
When Major-General Brand came to theParliament I, of course, came to know him> over the years. I well remember the fight that he waged on the question of the employment rights of ex-servicemen. He won his case against the Government, which was a great feather in his cap. When I was Minister for Repatriation, MajorGeneral Brand used to come to see me quite often at the head-quarters of the department in Melbourne. I express my sympathy to his wife and family in their sad bereavement.
Senator MATTNER (South Australia).I wish to be associated with the motion that is before the Senate. I knew the late Senator Brand in France during World War I. He was a very dear friend of Colonel H. E. Cohen, C.M.G., D.S.O., the commanding officer of the 6th Artillery Brigade, who also came from Melbourne. Major-General Brand was a great man. It is true, as both Senator McKenna and Senator Sir Walter Cooper have said, that he had a distinguished military career. He was also a simple man. If he erred at all on the side of kindliness so far as his troops were concerned, it was because of his love for Australia.
Senator McKenna has spoken of a door opening to the great beyond, where the glory and mystery of light and a creation undreamt of during life are revealed. Senator Brand has gone through that open door. In his lifetime he often spoke the words, “ Until the going down of the sun we will remember them ‘*. We say to his widow and family, “ Until the going down of our sun we will remember him “.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable senators standing in their places.
Sitting suspended from 5.2 to 8 p.m.
– I lay on the table the following papers: -
Estimates’ of Receipts and Expenditure, and Estimates of Expenditure for Additions, New Works and other Services involving Capital Expenditure, for the year ending 30th June, 1962;
The Budget 1961-62 - Papers presented by the Right Honorable Harold Holt in connexion with the Budget of 1961-62;
National Income and Expenditure 1960-61; and Commonwealth Payments to or for the States. and move -
That the papers be printed.
To-night, the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) is delivering in another place his Budget Speech for 1961-62. I should like to refer briefly to some of the main features of the Budget and to outline the view the Government takes as to the present state of our economy, its prospects for this year and the forms of action which seem to be required.
The boom, which was running so strongly at the time of our last Budget, receded some months ago and with it went much unhealthy speculation in land and shares, the over-strong demand for goods, materials and labour, the rapid increase in costs and prices and the threat to our external position, which had been its worst features. Our economy is far healthier for being rid of those things. They were undermining our prosperity and our prospects for future growth. To-day the Australian economy is basically stronger than it has ever been.
Inevitably, the down-turn from the boom, which sooner or later had to come, brought a decline in activity in some quarters. But the decline in activity has not been universal - far from it. Just as the boom was largely sectional, so has the down-turn been sectional. Through this phase of readjustment, some major industries have continued to increase both their output and their capacity for further output. Other industries have experienced, at the most, a flattening out of activity at, or not much below, the high levels reached last year.
Nevertheless, the decline in particular industries has been enough to cause a fall in total employment and a rise in unemployment. The Government sees this as the most urgent feature of our present situation. We have always stood for full employment and it cannot be denied that, through our long term of office and often under difficult circumstances, we have held very close to that goal. We put it foremost now in our immediate economic plans. We share the view, lately expressed by many leading men in trade and industry, that the ebb in production and sales has in the main gone about as far as it is likely to go and that an upturn will occur soon.
Externally, our situation has greatly improved. For some months now we have had a surplus of exports over imports, which have fallen to relatively low levels. Through June and July they were running at no more than £865,000,000 a year. The export outlook shows promise in at least some respects. Our holdings of gold and foreign exchange stand above £570,000,000. Not counting the International Monetary Fund drawing of £78,000,000, these holdings have risen by £115,000,000 since the beginning of 1961. Behind them we have unused drawing rights with the International Monetary Fund amounting to £133,000,000, of which £45,000,000 is covered by a standby arrangement so that, taking front-line and second-line reserves together, we have total external resources of about £700,000,000.
At home, as we have seen, investment in basic industry has continued all through. Dwelling construction fell away sharply from the very high point reached last year, but there are signs that it is reviving and we can expect to see construction back to quite a good level in the current quarter. Spending by public authorities on both works and current services is certain to rise appreciably in this financial year and that also will add to demand for goods and labour.
Financially, the context of business will be very much easier in this half of 1961 than it was in the first half. Practically all the restraints imposed last November have now been removed. They were necessary then but we did not keep them on any longer than they were needed. The trading banks are comparatively liquid for this time of the year and, under current policy, are free to lend for almost any purposes except a few like the financing of speculative operations. It seems likely indeed that monetary conditions will be relatively liquid through most of 1961-62, especially if present expectations about the balance of payments are fulfilled.
Furthermore, we have the fact - as important as any in the whole situation - that we are now much closer to price and cost stability than we were a year ago. Our consistent belief has been that not only are the interests of the community at large best served by stable prices, but that the sounder forms of enterprise find more en couragement in that condition than in one of rising prices. We believe that this holds true for all investors, Australian and overseas alike, who have to take a long-run view of our prospects.
Altogether then, we have a set of basic conditions which should favour an early and general lift in activity. The immediate problem is to secure a reduction in the number of unemployed people and, beyond that, such an all-round expansion as will provide jobs for the young people and migrants who will join the work force during the coming months. Whilst expansion must be general it is clear that, in the first instance, the strongest emphasis must be placed on manufacturing. It is there that the largest fall in employment has occurred and it is there also that a rise in activity could do most to bring about an early rise in employment. But it is equally clear that a general rise in manufacturing at this stage depends upon a rise in spending on goods by the public.
In the current half year, however, conditions should be such as to induce a rise in consumer spending. People have, without doubt, reduced their hire purchase and other debts very considerably. Wage increases and tax refunds are putting more money into their pockets. Rising expenditure in the public sector and elsewhere is adding to incomes. The easing of bank credit and a general improvement in liquidity should facilitate livelier public buying. The main impetus to expansion must, of course, come from the buying public on the one hand and from business firms on the other. Nevertheless, the Government is disposed to assist by whatever means are available to it.
We have arranged with the Commonwealth Banking Corporation that a further special allocation of funds will be provided for housing purposes by the Commonwealth Savings Bank over and above its normal provision of such finance. We have also told the State governments that we would be willing to agree to an increase of £5,000,000 in the borrowing programmes of local authorities and the smaller semigovernmental bodies so that their rates of expenditure on employment-giving works may be stepped up. Besides these measures, we are including in the Budget several proposals which should help materially to lift consumer spending at an early stage. I shall give the details presently.
Economic policy, while always keeping its main objectives in view, cannot fail to be concerned, as it is now, with short-term problems. Thus we all want to see strong and continuous growth, founded upon increasing population, rising productivity and diversity of occupations, skills and culture. We want to see that growth achieved through stability, not at the expense of it. But we have, as I have said, an immediate problem of getting unemployed people back to work and of ensuring (hat young people and migrants will find work as they come forward. This is partly a matter of shortterm measures; but the short-term measures must not cut across the main objects of policy.
A case in point is immigration. Because there is at present some unemployment amongst unskilled and semi-skilled workers, the Government has decided to reduce for the time being the flow of assisted migrants in those categories. This is a short-term move and it accords entirely with the flexible approach we have always followed in our migration policy. But behind it is the firmest intention to restore full-scale migration as soon as circumstances permit. The move is thus to be seen as an adjustment of existing policy on migration but not as a retreat from it.
On very much the same grounds we believe it necessary to initiate sufficiently in advance of actual need such long-range works projects as will be required to open up key resources for the use of industry or for export some years hence.
Over recent years the Commonwealth has taken a large and increasing share in development through various works and projects of its own. The Snowy Mountains scheme is, of course, by far the largest of these, but a great part of what we spend on the Post Office, on civil aviation and in the Territories falls into that category. Then, for the past ten years, we have made huge sums available from our own resources each year to assist the works and housing programmes of the State governments. By now these contributions total no less than £790,142,000, and we expect to have to provide a further large amount in 1961-62. Again, amongst our annual revenue, grants to the States there are several, such as the Commonwealth aid roads grants, which go largely if not wholly towards development work. Besides these forms of assistance, we have from time to time, and in various ways, joined with individual States in financing projects which have a particular value not only for the State concerned but for the whole economy.
Of the new proposals put forward by State governments in recent times, we have several under active consideration and on some we are in the course of negotiations with the States concerned.
One such proposal concerns roads in the north of Australia for beef cattle transport. It is clear that improvement of road transport facilities in that region will lead to a significant rise in beef production and thus to an increase in export earnings. Provision is made in the Budget estimates for expenditure of £1,000,000 by the Commonwealth on such road works in 1961-62. Of this amount, £650,000 is for assistance to the Queensland Government, in accordance with arrangements that have been agreed with that Government, in the construction of a road from Normanton, on the Gulf of Carpentaria, to the railway at Julia Creek. Construction of this road has already started. The other £350,000 is for expenditure in *he Northern Territory, over and above the normal programme of road works, where sufficient planning has been done for work to be put in hand quickly.
The. provision of £1,000,000 is by no means, however, the limit of the expenditure we have in view. Subject to agreement being reached with the Governments of Queensland and Western Australia, we are willing, and indeed we intend, to provide additional funds for roads in these two States.
The Government is in consultation with the Government of New South Wales about improved coal handling facilities at the ports of Newcastle, Port Kembla and Balmain. There are good prospects of a substantial increase in coal exports from New South Wales, but these prospects will be enhanced if improvements are made in existing port facilities for handling coal. The Government of New South Wales, which has a programme of improvements in hand, has indicated that the programme could be greatly speeded up if financial assistance for the purpose were provided by the Commonwealth. The Government has decided to offer financial assistance to the State for this purpose. Under this offer, part of the assistance would take the form of a grant from funds held by the Joint Coal Board and the remainder would take the form of repayable advances. If the offer is accepted, legislation to authorize the provision of financial assistance to the State under section 96 of the Constitution will be introduced as soon as practicable.
Another matter under active consideration is the question of providing Commonwealth financial assistance to construct a standard gauge railway from the iron ore deposits at Koolyanobbing in Western Australia to the site of the proposed iron and steel works at Kwinana, and for further work to provide a standard gauge service from Perth to Kalgoorlie. This i9 a very large project and one which calls for very careful study. Our examination of the proposal is proceeding urgently and we hope to engage in negotiations with the Government of Western Australia in the near future. Meanwhile, the Commonwealth has agreed to provide funds to meet the cost of surveying the proposed route of the railway. An amount of £150,000 is included in the Budget for this purpose.
We intend to have discussions with the Government of South Australia about a proposal for assistance by the Commonwealth in the purchase and construction of diesel-electric locomotives and associated rolling stock for use on the existing railway between Broken Hill and Port Pirie. I may recall here that the 1949 Railway Standardization Agreement between the Commonwealth and South Australia refers to standardization of the Peterborough Division of the South Australian railways as a project under the agreement. In the absence of agreement as to when, and to what extent, the work should be undertaken, South Australia has sought certain declarations from the High Court.
The Government has decided to provide £5,000,000 by way of additional capital for the Commonwealth Development Bank. In its eighteen months of operations the Development Bank has shown itself to be a useful supplement to other sources of finance for primary and secondary industry. Its charter is to provide finance to assist primary production or to establish or develop industrial undertakings, especially small undertakings, in cases where, in its opinion, finance is desirable but would not otherwise be available on reasonable and suitable terms and conditions.
From the time of its establishment up to 30th June, 1961, the Development Bank has approved loans to primary and secondary industry totalling nearly £15,000,000. It has also provided valuable assistance in the form of hire-purchase finance for producers’ equipment.
The original capital of the Development Bank, including £5,000,000 provided under the legislation, was nearly £16,000,000. Besides this, the bank had substantial reserves. It was realized, however, that the bank could need additional funds as its business grew and the Government said that it would watch the position. It is clear now that the time has come for a moderate increase in the bank’s capital. The £5,000,000 to be provided will raise the capital of the Development Bank to nearly £21,000,000. This, of course, is not the whole of the bank’s resources; it has also substantial reserve funds and the use of considerable loan moneys. Since the Government wishes the bank to be able to maintain its important functions, it will continue to keep the funds position of the bank under close review. Legislation to give effect to the increase in capital will be introduced during this session.
It is appropriate to mention here also the assistance the Commonwealth is providing for oil search in Australia and New Guinea. The Government has decided to extend for three years from 1st July, 1961, the programme of subsidy assistance on an expanded basis, and in 1961-62 the amount of government expenditures on oil search will be considerably increased. In 1960-61 total expenditure by way of subsidy to the companies engaged on oil search and other exploratory work being carried out by the Department of National Development was £2,300,000. The estimate of such expenditure in 1961-62 is £4,100,000. Not only will the term of the existing legislation be extended but the categories of exploration eligible for subsidy will be widened. The specialist services of a mission from the French Petroleum Institute will be used for a further year.
We estimate that expenditures ordinarily charged to the Consolidated Revenue Fund will this year total £1,613,919,000, an amount greater by £118,201,000 than expenditure in 1960-61.
The Government has decided again this year to increase various social service benefits. There will toe a further increase of 5s. per week in age, invalid and widows’ pension rates. The new maximum pension rates will then be -
In addition, allowances for the wife and first child under sixteen years of an invalid pensioner will be increased by 12s. 6d. per week and 3s. 6d. per week respectively. An increase of 5s. per week is also to be made in the additional amount payable to a widow with dependent children for each child under sixteen years except the first. The cost of these increases is estimated at £10,450,000 for a full year and £7,850,000 in 1961-62.
Unemployment and sickness benefit rates will be increased by 10s. per week for a single adult, 15s. per week for a man and wife and 17s. 6d. per week for a man with a wife and one or more children under sixteen years. In all, these increases are estimated to cost an additional £1,000,000 in this financial year.
It is also proposed to increase the allowance payable to persons suffering from tuberculosis by 5s. per week in the case of a single person and by 10s. per week in the case of a man and wife. The additional allowance payable for the first child under sixteen years will be raised by 5s. per week.
These increased rates of benefit will become payable on the first pay-day after the necessary legislation has been passed. Their total cost, which is estimated at £11,794,000 in a full year and £8,883,000 in 1961-62, will increase total expenditure from the National Welfare Fund to £358,230,000, or £27,626,000 more than last year.
The Government has, further, decided to increase certain war and repatriation benefits. It proposes to raise the special rate war pension by 10s. per week, and the 100 per cent, general rate war pension toy 5s. per week, with proportionate increases for pensioners receiving partial pensions. There will toe an increase of 5s. per week in the war widows’ pension and of 2s. 6d. per week in the domestic allowance payable to war widows with children, and certain other classes. At the same time, the pensions for the first child and each later child of a deceased ex-serviceman will be increased by 7s. 6d. per week and 5s. per week respectively, except where the child’s mother is also deceased, when the increase will be 8s. 6d. per week.
The service pension for the exserviceman himself will be increased by 5s. per week, and increases of 12s. 6d. per week and 3s. 6d. per week respectively will be made in the service pensions for the wife and first child under sixteen years. Increases of up to 15s. per week will also be made in the rates of attendant’s allowance. It has also been agreed to pay medical sustenance at a rate equal to the special rate war pension during periods of convalescence ordered on discharge from hospital. Increased pensions and allowances will be payable on the first pension pay-day after the necessary legislation has been passed.
The cost of these increases in benefits is estimated to be £3,407,000 in a full year and £2,559,000 in 1961-62. Total expenditure on war and repatriation services this year is estimated to be £102,377,000, which is £4,330,000 more than in 1960-61.
Payments to the States.
Payments to the States in 1961-62 are estimated to be £384,868,000, an increase of £31,921,000 on payments in 1960-61. This sum provides for increases of £21,055,000 in financial assistance grants, £4,000,000 in Commonwealth aid roads grants, £2,613,000 in special grants to Western Australia and Tasmania and £2,934,000 for payments to the States for universities.
For development in the northern part of Western Australia, we are providing this year £1,800,000, an amount £592,000 greater than our expenditure in that region during 1960-61. I have already mentioned a new item, having a developmental purpose, which will figure this year in payments to the States. It involves an amount of £650,000 for expenditure on roads in Queensland to increase the turn-off of beef cattle from that area. I have also mentioned the possibility of further such expenditures in the course of this year.
I may invite attention here to the White Paper on Commonwealth Payments to or for the States which I have tabled and which will give a full and up-to-date account of this most important area of Commonwealth expenditure and of the various elements in it. I hope this document, which is strictly factual in character, will be of assistance to honorable senators and also to the public.
The provision made by the Commonwealth for retirement benefits to its employees is contained in the terms of the Superannuation Act 1922-1959. Many of the superannuation pensions still current are being paid to persons who retired from the Commonwealth’s employ many years ago. The real value of their pensions, which originally were related to their salaries of even thirty and more years ago, has been materially affected by changing conditions. In recognition of this, the Commonwealth has increased the level of the older superannuation pensions on several previous occasions, and this year it has again reviewed them. It is now proposed to increase the earlier superannuation pensions by bringing the Consolidated Revenue component of the pension broadly up to a level comparable with what would have been payable by the Commonwealth had the pension been determined under the 1954 scale of pensions set out in the Superannuation Act.
Some adjustments will also be made to relieve the position of pensioners under the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act. Details of the proposed changes will be set out in an amending bill which the Government will be bringing down, and the increased rates will be paid from the first pay period after the enactment of the legislation.
Expenditure on capital works and services in 1961-62 is estimated to be £152,038,000, or £11,187,000 more than expenditure in 1960-61. As I have said earlier, £5,000,000 is to be provided to the Commonwealth Development Bank by way of increased capital to assist the bank in meeting the calls being made upon it for developmental loans.
An amount of £4,000,000 is being provided by the Commonwealth for the standard gauge rail link between Melbourne and Albury. It is expected that construction will be completed during 1961-62. The Commonwealth is also providing up to £150,000 during 1961-62 for survey work on the proposed standardization of the rail link between Kalgoorlie and Kwinana in Western Australia. The £44,979,000 being provided for the Post Office is an increase of £2,834,000 on expenditure in 1960- 61. The Estimates also include £1,600,000 for expenditure by the Overseas Telecommunications Commission in 1961- 62, as portion of Australia’s contribution to the cost of the trans-Pacific telephone cable project. The increase of £1,500,000 for broadcasting and television is being sought mainly to provide television services in various regional centres throughout Australia.
Capital Works and Services in the Territories are estimated to cost £2,712,000 more this year than in 1960-61. The increase will be concentrated in the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory. The increase for the Australian Capital Territory includes an additional £500,000 for loans to co-operative building societies.
The total amount to be provided for the Territories in 1961-62 is £30,506,000, which is £3,667,000 greater than expenditure last year. The grant to the Papua and New Guinea Administration will be increased by £2,503,000 to £17,300,000, while the estimate of £4,755,000 for expenditure on general services by the Northern Territory Administration is £656,000 greater than such expenditure in 1960-61.
The total estimate for the Bounties and Subsidies item this year is £30,452,000, or an increase of £12,890,000 on expenditure in 1960-61. The main reason for this increase is to be found in the operation of the Wheat Industry Stabilization Act 1958- 1960. Under this act, a contribution of £3,022,000 from the Consolidated Revenue Fund has already been made to supplement the balance which was available in the Wheat Prices Stabilization Fund in order to allow guaranteed payments to be made to growers in respect of the 1959-60 crop. On the assumption that a contribution will also be required this year in respect of the 1960-61 crop, the total calls on Consolidated Revenue Fund are estimated to be £13,022,000 in 1961-62. This is the first year in which contributions of this nature have been required from the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
Under the scheme for subsidies to gold producers, a distinction is drawn between small producers, denned as those having an annual output of not more than 500 ounces of gold, and large producers. To remedy certain inequities, it is proposed to amend the Gold Mining Industry Assistance Act 1954-1959 to provide that a producer whose output in a year falls in the range of 501 to 1,075 ounces of gold may elect to be treated as a small producer, when the rate of subsidy payable to such a producer would be determined at the rate of £2 8s. per ounce less Id. for each ounce by which output exceeds 500 ounces.
The estimates for international development and relief cover Australian assistance to countries of South and South-East Asia under the Colombo Plan and Australian contributions to aid and humanitarian programmes of the United Nations. They include for the first time provision for Australian technical assistance to Commonwealth countries in Africa under the Special Commonwealth African Assistance Plan. They also provide for awards to Koreans for training in Australia. Total estimated expenditure under this Budget heading is £5,413,000, compared with actual expenditure of £5,536,000 in
Besides this, however, we have to pro* vide this year the second instalments of out contributions to the International Development Association and to the Indus Basin Development Fund, both of which are appreciably higher than last year, and for a further release in connexion with our 18 per cent, capital subscription to the International Bank for use in its loan operations. These three items total £5,101,000 and are shown as Special Appropriations. Including these, our total contributions to International Development and Relief in 1961- 62 are estimated to be £10,514,000, as against £9,184,000 in 1960-61. Additionally, as I have already mentioned, the grant to the Administration of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea will be £17,300,000 this year, which is an increase of £2,503,000 on the grant for 1960-61.
I think it must be agreed that these are no inconsiderable sums for Australia to be providing for these purposes, especially when it is remembered how great are our own requirements for development in many forms.
In June last, the Australian Loan Council approved for 1961-62 a governmental borrowing programme for State works and housing of £240,000,000, which is £10,000,000 greater than the 1960-61 programme. Subject to the normal conditions, the Commonwealth has undertaken to support the programme, if necessary, from its own resources.
Again this year a large amount of debt will mature and we have to provide for heavy redemptions. At 30th June last, the loans falling due within Australia in 1961- 62 totalled £290,700,000; in addition, a loan of 38,310,000 United States dollars matures in New York next February. Last year, redemptions in Australia and abroad were £79,095,000. In the circumstances of this year, redemptions are unlikely to be much less than last year and £79,000,000 is being included on that account amongst our commitments. The amount to be provided by the Commonwealth for War
Service Land Settlement this year is estimated at £2,250,000.
When the estimates of expenditure ordinarily chargeable to Consolidated Revenue and these further commitments are brought together, the total of expenditure for which we expect to have to provide becomes £1,935,169,000.
We estimate that, if taxation were to continue at present rates, total revenue from taxation in 1961-62 would be £1,475,750,000, which would be £57,384,000 greater than in 1960-61. This is in strong contrast with the experience of last year when tax revenues increased by no less than £174,768,000 over those of the previous year. In 1960-61 financial conditions in the early part of the year were, of course, exceedingly buoyant and tax was also levied in that year on the very high company incomes of 1959-60. There was, moreover, an increase of 6d. in the £1 in the rate of company tax and the former ls. in the £1 rebate of tax on individual income tax was discontinued. Nevertheless, the Government has decided to provide certain tax concessions in this Budget, these chiefly by way of giving a stimulus to consumer buying but also in some instances to correct anomalies or give taxation relief to particular groups where this seems fully warranted.
Sales Tax. lt is proposed to reduce to 2i per cent. the rate of tax on all household furniture and furnishings and appliances of the kinds which are now subject to tax at the present minimum rate of 8i per cent. The Government is taking this step expressly to encourage buying of certain classes of goods which have lately been somewhat in oversupply and, by that means, to assist a number of industries which have had to reduce output and employment. It should also be of considerable value to people setting up homes. The estimated cost to revenue is £11,200,000 in a full year and £8,900,000 in 1961-62.
It is proposed to exempt the following goods used by industries engaged in public transport services: -
Goods for the use of privately operated railways; and
Motor buses with seating for not less than twelve passengers used in the transport of persons for reward.
It is also proposed to exempt certain livestock road trains, complete trailers, semitrailers and livestock carriers where these are used exclusively in areas which for income tax purposes are within Zone A or Zone B and primarily and principally for the transport of livestock. Further details of these proposed exemptions will be given when the amending legislation is introduced into the Senate. The estimated cost to revenue of the exemptions for transport industries is £375,000 for a full year and £300,000 in 1961-62.
A deduction for expenditure on purchasing and laying underground pipes conveying water for use in primary production will be allowed against income of the year in which the expenditure takes place, and will commence to apply for the 1961-62 income year. Depreciation allowances in respect of other piping will not be disturbed. The estimated cost to revenue is £300,000 for a full year and £30,000 in 1961-62.
A second proposal relates to the taxation of income, including that derived from compensation, on account of livestock compulsorily destroyed in order to control or eradicate disease. At present any such income would be taxed in the year in which it is derived, thus increasing the total tax payable at a time when finance may be required for re-stocking. It is proposed that primary producers be entitled to elect that one-fifth only of the taxable amount be included for the year in which the livestock are destroyed, the balance to be included by way of equal instalments in the income of each of the four succeeding years.
Primary producers will be entitled to exercise an election in relation to livestock destroyed during the 1960-61 income year; the concession will therefore apply to livestock income arising from the destruction of animals in connexion with the recent outbreak of swine fever.
The cost to revenue in 1961-62 is estimated at £125,000.
lt is proposed to extend the basis on which the existing allowance for one-third of calls paid to mining and afforestation companies may operate. The allowance is at present available where calls are paid by shareholders direct to a mining or afforestation company. The deduction may, however, be ineffective where money paid by one company to meet calls passes through the hands of another company before receipt by an associated company engaged primarily in mining or afforestation operations.
To meet this situation, an interposed company owning all the issued shares in a mining or afforestation company and having an entitlement to a deduction for onethird of calls paid will be given a right to pass back that deduction to a company owning not less than 50 per cent, of .the paid up capital in the interposed company. The right to pass back the deduction will be conditional on the interposed company forgoing the deduction to which it would otherwise have been entitled. Further details of the proposal will be given when the necessary legislation is introduced.
It is estimated that the cost for a full year will be £50,000, but there will be no cost to revenue in 1961-62.
At present, dental expenses are treated as medical expenses and, subject to a limit of £30, are deductible within the maximum of £150 allowable to the taxpayer in respect of himself and each of his dependants. It is proposed to remove the limit of £30 within the amount of £150 at present allowed for medical expenses. The estimated cost to revenue for a full year is £400,000, but there will be no cost in 1961-62.
To conform with the proposed increase in age pensions, the level of the income tax age allowance to residents of Australia who meet the age qualification will be raised. No tax is at present payable by an aged person whose net income does not exceed £442. In future the exemption will apply to net incomes not exceeding £455. The present exemption level for the combined net incomes of a married couple both qualified by age will be increased from £884 to £910. The cost to revenue of these adjustments will be £385,000 in a full year and £230,000 in 1961-62.
It is proposed to allow a deduction for gifts of £1 and upwards to the Ian Clunies Ross Memorial Foundation. The estimated cost for a full year is £20,000. There will be no cost to revenue in 1961-62.
Following an inquiry by the Tariff Board into the petroleum refining industry, the Government proposes to vary rates of customs duty and excise duty on petroleum products to remove the existing protective margin. This variation would accord with the recommendation of the Tariff Board.
The rate of customs duty on motor spirit will be reduced by Id. per gallon and the rate of excise duty on locally produced motor spirit will be increased by id. per gallon. The new rates of customs duty and excise duty on motor spirit will then be identical at Hid. per gallon. The rates of customs duty on all petroleum products other than motor spirit will be reduced to the level of existing excise duties on these products. These changes will result in a revenue loss of £130,000 in a full year and of £1 14,000 in 1961-62.
All told, these tax concessions will involve a cost to revenue of £12,920,000 in a full year and £9,699,000 in 1961-62.
We expect revenue from business undertakings to be £7,493,000 greater this year than last, and of this increase £6,085,000 is expected to come from the Post Office, £751,000 from the Commonwealth Railways and £656,000 from broadcasting and television services.
It is expected that revenue from miscellaneous sources will total £64,285,000 - or £3,695,000 more than in 1960-61. The proportion of profits payable to Consolidated Revenue by the Reserve Bank - including the Note Issue Department - and the Commonwealth Banking Corporation is estimated to be £17,750,000 - an increase of £1,373,000 on last year.
Our total revenue from all sources is expected to be £1,697,198,000 after allowing for the effect in the present year of the proposed tax reductions.
Last year, cash proceeds of loan raisings in Australia and overseas amounted to £144,651,000. This year, with more stable financial conditions, we may be able to borrow rather greater sums in Australia; but prospects for borrowings abroad are very uncertain at this stage. We propose to use a figure of £165,000,000 for possible borrowings from all sources in 1961-62. This would be an increase of £20,349,000 over last year.
It is estimated that some £56,500,000 should be available from the income of the National Debt Sinking Fund to assist in meeting redemptions of maturing debt.
Adding together estimated revenues, borrowings and other receipts we have in sight cash receipts estimated to total £1,918,698,000, an amount greater by £96,067,000 than actual cash receipts in
If, as estimated, total cash expenditure in 1961- 62 amounts to £1,935,169,000 and total cash receipts amount to £1,918,698,000, there will be a cash deficit for the year of £16,471,000.
The Government has decided that, under present circumstances, it is justified in carrying a cash deficit of that dimension. On our assessment of the position, we do not regard it as either necessary or desirable to budget for more than a moderate deficit. Monetary conditions seem likely, in any case, to be fairly liquid this year. On the other hand, in the light of our estimates, we could avoid a cash deficit only by curtailing expenditures which, after full evaluation, we consider to be necessary, or by refusing increases in social service and repatriation benefits, which would be unjust to the people concerned, or by withholding tax concessions which seem to us to be particularly opportune under present economic conditions. There is, of course, a nice question of judgment in all this and we have had very much in mind that the position could change over the year in ways we cannot now foresee. But, on the information we have and on such forecasts as we can make, we believe we are striking about the right balance between the various courses open to us.
It will be necessary to seek an appropriation of £83,279,000 from the Consolidated Revenue Fund to the Loan Consolidation and Investment Reserve. This is because, on our present estimates, the amount of the Loan Council borrowing programme which, subject to review later in the year, we have undertaken to support, together with some minor items chargeable to Loan Fund, are likely to exceed borrowings. It will also be necessary to seek loan authority for the raising of treasury-bills to finance the cash deficit.
In 1960-61, the Government found it necessary to take sharp measures to remedy conditions which were plainly heading us into danger. Those conditions and those measures are now past. Having now emerged to the prospect of a new phase in progress, soundly based, this country needs all its resources on the job. The Government will do its utmost to create the conditions and opportunities necessary for the fulfilment of this need.
Debate (on motion by Senator McKenna) adjourned.
Senate adjourned at 8.55 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 15 August 1961, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1961/19610815_senate_23_s20/>.