23rd Parliament · 3rd Session
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. A. D. Reid) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Treasurer. In view of the Treasurer’s statement that Australia’s overseas reserves have risen by £120,000,000 since April, 1961, thereby permitting cancellation of the stand-by credit of £45,000,000 arranged by the Government with the International Monetary Fund, will the Minister say whether any arrangement has been made to repay to the International Monetary Fund the £78,125,000 borrowed from the fund in April, 1961? Has Australia sufficient funds to its credit in London with which to buy the necessary equipment, and with which to pay for the next phase of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority’s programme, without resorting to further borrowings from the International Monetary Fund? Is it not a fact that the Australian Government enjoys the doubtful distinction of being the heaviest borrower from the International Monetary Fund? Is it not a fact also that those heavy borrowings have been arranged since the Menzies Government assumed office? What arrangements is the Government making to amortize Australia’s indebtedness to the fund if, as is claimed by the Treasurer, our overseas reserves are in a state of buoyancy?
– Senator Cooke has asked a series of questions about drawings from the International Monetary Fund. First let me say that the Government’s announcement that it does not find it necessary jo avail itself of the stand-by credit arranged last year must be regarded with some satisfaction, particularly by members of the Australian Labour Party, who at one time were voicing concern over the condition of Australia’s overseas funds. The Government’s announcement must give satisfaction to all right-thinking people. As for the £78,000,000 that was drawn from the International Monetary Fund, I am unable to give offhand details of the terms of the drawing, but there is no doubt that those terms will be fully met. As to possible future drawings from the fund, they will depend on future development. The Government’s action in cancelling the stand-by credit that was arranged only a few months ago must be accepted as a sign of health in our overseas funds.
Senator Cooke said that the Australian Government enjoyed the doubtful distinction of being the largest drawer from the International Monetary Fund. 1 do not know whether that statement is completely correct; but let me tell him - in case he does not already realize this, as apparently he does not - that membership of the International Monetary Fund is undertaken for the specific purpose of enabling a country to avail itself of the facility of drawing on the fund, should it require to do so. That is why every country which is a member of the International Monetary Fund has joined the fund. The honorable senator referred to the borrowings that this Government has made overseas. He may well consider that in order to be able to borrow overseas a country has to enjoy a high credit rating; and it is to the credit of the Menzies Government that Australia does enjoy a high credit rating and has had loans from overseas available to it because of that fact.
– Has the Minister for Customs and Excise seen the allegation in this morning’s Melbourne press that a seriously ill man, who was specially flown from Norfolk Island, was delayed by officials at Essendon airport for 32 minutes before being permitted to board an ambulance that was waiting to convey him to hospital? What was the reason for the delay? Can any action be taken to obviate such unfortunate delays in the future?
– I noticed in this morning’s Melbourne “ Sun-News Pictorial “ the report to which Senator Marriott has referred. I was somewhat concerned as the man involved was Mr. Leydin, the Administrator of Norfolk Island. So, I asked my officers to advise me what the position was. My officers were advised that Mr. Leydin was on board the plane and that he was sick. They were also advised of the time when the plane was expected to arrive. My senior customs officer met the plane on arrival at the airport and immediately the door was opened he advised Mr. Leydin that, as far as the Department of Customs and Excise was concerned, he was clear. That is where our administration ends. I point out that other departments, such as the quarantine section of the Department of Health, and the Department of Immigration, may have been involved. As far as my department is concerned, Mr. Leydin was free to leave the plane the minute the door was opened.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service, refers to Australian Council of Trade Unions matters which have received publicity. There has been considerable discussion and counter-discussion about the basic fact upon which the division has occurred between unions which have refused to pay certain moneys, as required by the A.C.T.U., and unions which have paid them. Can the Minister give me briefly information about the principle upon which that objection to payment is made? Secondly, I ask the Minister whether there is any truth in the suggestion that the division is exposing the A.C.T.U. to the risk of increasing, influence by the Communist element. Thirdly, is there any danger that that development will affect the usefulness of the unions concerned as registered organizations under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act?
– I ask the honorable senator to place that question on the notice-paper so that some of the points raised in it may be covered adequately by the Minister for Labour and National Service. My belief is that there has indeed been objection by a number of right-wing unions, if that is the right term to use of them; at. any rate, there has beenobjection by a number of unions, affiliated with the Australian Council of Trade Unions, to that body securing from them levies to be used to bring the leaders of so-called trade unions to this country and to send deputations of A.C.T.U. representatives overseas. to> visit so-called trade unionists in Communist countries. I understand that the right-wing unions have carried their objection to the point of refraining from attending an A.C.T.U. congress, largely because the rules of that organization provide that any moneys paid by way of affiliation fees must have imposed on them, as a first charge, the levies which are required for the purposes I have mentioned. I should say that the events of the last few days and the stand of the unions, on that principle have resulted in greater Communist influence at the A.C.T.U. congress than would have been evident had the unions been able to attend and to cast their votes.
– You would not know anything about it.
– What I have said;, Mr. Deputy President, is an exact statement of the situation. The truth of my remarks is borne out by the absence from the A.C.T.U. congress of the unions which have objected to the payment of the levies. They include some of the larger unions in’ Australia. It is pleasing to me that the question of the fight on this principle should, have come out into the open in this Parliament. We hear a babble of voices from the Opposition supporting the imposition of a levy on unionists who do not wish to pay it. The babble has now broken out again, in support of the left-wing unions in this matter. As to the last point raised by the honorable senator in his questions. I should like it to be answered by the Minister for Labour and National Service.
– I also address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service. I understand that he represents the AttorneyGeneral as well. How long is it since he was elected as spokesman for the Australian Council of Trade Unions? Who elected him to that position, and where did heobtain all the inaccurate information thai he gave in answering Senator Wright’squestion?
– I have not beer* elected as spokesman for the Australian Council of Trade Unions. As anybody who listened to my remarks must have understood, I was answering a question as to- why the unions which would not attend the Australian Council of Trade Unions congress had decided not to do so. Consequently, the question of who elected me as spokesman does not arise. The information that I gave in answering Senator
Wright’s question came from the unions themselves. Their representatives have not only made public statements, but have backed those statements by refusing to attend the A.C.T.U. congress. They have objected to the A.C.T.U. attempting to impose on them levies for the purpose of helping Communist so-called trade unions.
– Would the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry care to comment on the potentialities of the Japanese meat market? What are the chances of Australia exploiting that market, and what is being done in that direction?
– I believe there is a very big potential in Japan for the sale of Australian mutton. After the visit to Japan of representatives of the Australian Meat Board in 1959, I think it was, lean mutton to the value of approximately £1,000 was sold there in the following year. Last year, that trade had grown to something over 2,000 tons; and it appears that the Japanese meat trade is to-day accepting Australian mutton as a staple part of the Japanese diet. We are hopeful that because of the rising standards of living in Japan there will be provided in that country a market for Australian lamb. The Australian Government is doing its utmost to exploit the possibilities of developing that market for our lamb.
– I direct a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. In view of the inferences that were drawn by Senator Gorton, who represents the Minister for Labour and National Service in this chamber, when answering a previous question concerning alleged Communist influence in the Australian Council of Trade Unions, will the Government now cease the payment of subsidies in respect of Australian representation at the Olympic Games because Communists take part in those games in other parts of the world? Secondly, if the Olympic Games are again held in Australia, will the Government refrain from subsidizing the State in which they are held in respect of the establish ment of facilities for the games because Communists will be taking part in those games?
– I do not know what Senator Aylett means when he refers to the inferences that were drawn by my colleague, Senator Gorton. I thought that Senator Gorton stated the facts in a calm and dispassionate manner which did him credit. When Senator Aylett tries to link the trade union movement or the alleged trade union movement with the Olympic Games, he overlooks the fact that the people who come from Russia to the Olympic Games are athletes, whereas those who come from Russia to these trade union conferences can by no stretch of the imagination be regarded as trade unionists in the sense that we understand that term.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Trade inform me whether any important results came from the fisheries conference between Commonwealth and State Ministers that was held in Canberra last Friday? In particular, will he say whether it was decided to set up an Australian Fisheries Council? If so, what will be its functions?
– I know that the conference was held, but I am sorry I have no information about the results that were achieved. If the honorable senator will place his question on the notice-paper, I will see that he receives an answer to it.
– The question I wish to direct to the Minister representing the Treasurer relates to the recent announcement by the Premier of South Australia that he intends to refuse the offer of assistance by the Commonwealth Government in obtaining diesel locomotives for use on certain South Australian railways. In view of the fact that the State of South Australia has issued a writ against the Commonwealth Government in regard to this subject, can the Minister assure the Senate that the issue of that writ will in no way delay or prejudice the present arrangement between the Commonwealth and the State of Western Australia in regard to rail standardization?
– The agreement recently reached between the Commonwealth and the State of Western Australia stands completely apart from any negotiations that may be going forward with the Government of South Australia. The agreement with Western Australia is quite unrelated to any railway matter in South Australia, be it the South Australian railways agreement of 1949, one aspect of which is before the High Court, as I understand the position, or the assistance recently offered for the purchase of locomotives. The Prime Minister has made it quite clear in a statement which he made recently in another place that the Commonwealth Government, in respect of the Western Australian agreement, appreciates the need for some speed in the passage of legislation before this Parliament rises, if that is possible. Indeed, I am happy to foe able to tell the honorable senator that officers of the Commonwealth Government and of the Western Australian Government are now conferring on the details of the Western Australian agreement.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service. Is it not a fact that the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, the British trade union movement, the American trade union movement, the trade union movement of most other democratic countries and also large sections of the Australian trade union movement, including the Australian Workers Union, have declared that the organizations masquerading as trade unions in Communist countries are bogus organizations, whose principal officials are not elected but are appointed by governments? Is it not a fact also that one of the alleged trade union officials who came to Australia some time ago and caused considerable disorders has now been revealed to be a government official, occupying a high position in the foreign office of red China?
– It is true that the unions which have objected to the Australian Council of Trade Unions using their affiliation fees to bring Communist socalled trade union officials to Australia claim that the action taken by the leftwing unions in the A.C.T.U. contravenes a resolution of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions and is more in line with the policy of the Communist organization, which, if I remember rightly, is called the World Federation of Trade Unions or something of that kind. The Australian unions to which I have referred add that reason to reasons of principle in stating their objection to their money being used for such non-trade union purposes. The fight, Sir, is between them - in their interpretation of principle and of international free trade union policy - and the A.C.T.U.; but it has had the result that a great number of important trade unions have been, in effect, driven out of the A.C.T.U., at any rate for the moment.
– Is the Minister for Civil Aviation aware that some people who work for government departments are under the impression that they must use Trans-Australia Airlines, the Government-owned company, when travelling by air? Are these people correct in thinking that they must do so? If they are not, and if they have a choice as to the airline they patronize, will the Minister see that Government departments and commissions make known to their staffs- that they have such a choice and that they would not be victimized if they travelled by an airline other than the Governmentowned airline? Can the Minister inform me how many government employees travelled by air in the year 1st July, 1960, to 30th June, 1961, and how many of these travelled by T.A.A. and Ansett- A.N.A. respectively? Is it a fact that Commonwealth Bank officers have recently been instructed that when travelling by air they must fly T.A.A.?
– For many years now - indeed, going back to just after this Government assumed office - discrimination against Ansett-A.N.A. in connexion with government business has been eliminated. The attitude of the Government has been made quite clear. Each airline is to have equal and unimpeded access to government business, and all government departments have been advised to that effect.
I speak subject to correction, but I think it is the responsibility of the Treasury, by way of an instruction to all departments, to ensure that there is freedom of choice as between the two airlines when officers of government departments travel by air.
– We judge from Mr. Ansett’s letter that he is worried about that.
– I do not know what the honorable senator is referring to. I am merely trying to place an intelligent answer on record for the benefit of those who want to listen and who are able to understand. I should think that the Commonwealth Bank, being a government instrumentality, would regard itself as being subject to the same kind of arrangement to which government departments are subject. I should be surprised if that were not so. Of course, 1 have no information at the moment about the number of public servants who have travelled on each of the airlines. I shall ascertain whether such records are available.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. It relates to a report of a statement made by Mr. Nicklin, the Country Party Premier of Queensland, which appeared in the “Courier-Mail” of 31st August. As 1 have noticed that occasionally honorable senators on the Government side are inclined So split straws, I point out that the statement in question was made on 30th August. Mr. Nicklin is reported as having agreed, on 30th August, with the Opposition that the Commonwealth’s attitude towards the Mount lsa rail project was “ niggardly “. He also denied Mr. Menzies’s claim that Queensland had not complained about the rail agreement. I pose this question: Is that report true or false? If it is true - most reasonable people assume it is - will the Prime Minister reconsider the position and make a substantial financial grant to Queensland? Irrespective of the matter of rail standardization, in relation to which the Government has offered a lot of excuses, is the Mount Isa mine a substantial export earner, and is it likely to increase its export earnings? If so, is not Queensland entitled to assistance by way of a financial grant?
– It is not a matter of what newspaper reports may or may not have said. The real question is: What is the attitude of the principals in the matter? I direct Senator Dittmer’s attention to the joint statement that was made by the Prime Minister and the Queensland Premier after their recent consultations. I do not propose to read the whole of the statement, but I do propose to read that portion of it which sets out the views expressed by Mr. Nicklin himself, in conjunction with the Prime Minister. This is the relevant part of the statement -
In the result, the Queensland Ministers are Cully satisfied with the proposals for Commonwealth finance! as being fair and reasonable. It will be recalled that these proposals for the Mount Isa line involved the making of repayable advances by the Commonwealth up to an amount of £20,000,000 as requested by the State to help to finance the total cost.
I interrupt my reading of the statement to say that the Commonwealth met the total request of the Queensland Government; it met Queensland’s requirements. The statement continues -
On the most competent advice, it is agreed that the traffic on the new line should readily amortize the cost of the line and the repayment of the advances over a period of twenty years. The Government of Queensland will now sign the proposed agreement, which has been awaiting signature. This will enable Queensland to take up in the current financial year the sum of £4.6 million which the Commonwealth has stood willing to find in 1961-2 as the first instalment of its advances.
Now let me read the next paragraph in the joint statement. It is as follows: -
Both of us attach great importance to this railway project, one of the biggest undertaken in Australia in this century
It will facilitate the full development of the great Mount Isa mine, and will also serve substantial developmental ends in both the mineral and pastoral industries of north Queensland. We are, for these reasons, both happy that all misunderstandings have been removed, and that the project may go “ full steam ahead “. For both the State of Queensland and Australia as a whole this is a most significant event.
Mr. Deputy President, the position could not be stated more fairly.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Treasurer. By way of preface, I say that I have noticed with great interest a statement that the Commonwealth will call tenders soon for the building of two new blocks of flats at Woomera in South Australia at an estimated cost of £1,000,000 or more, and that when the proposed flats have been completed there will still be a shortage of accommodation. This construction work is of the utmost importance to the building industry in South Australia. My question is: Will the Minister have prepared a list showing Comm on wealth capital expenditure relative to all Commonwealth departments, commissions, instrumentalities and agencies within South Australia for the ten annual periods since 1st July, 1950?
– I shall ask the Treasurer to supply the information sought by the honorable senator as early as possible.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I should like to preface it by saying that when Senator Spooner made his contribution to the Budget debate he referred to some one whom he described as a Labour leader for whom we all had respect. I assumed that he was referring to Mr. Monk, the president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions. If I was right in that assumption, will the Leader of the Government ascertain from Mr. Monk the facts of the situation surrounding the reciprocal visits that have been discussed, and will he make Mr. Monk’s reply available to Senator Gorton so that the honorable senator will be able to reply to questions on the subject when they are asked in the Senate?
– I thought Mr. Monk had made plain publicly his uneasiness, disquiet and dissatisfaction because of the extraordinary situation that has arisen within the ranks of the Australian Council of Trade Unions. I venture the opinion that Mr. Monk feels that he has his hands full in trying to support the present policy, but that is for him to say. If Senator Ridley believes that Senator Gorton is incorrect, then it is for him to stand up in the Senate and state the facts in the light that he sees them. I think he would have an uphill job in trying to justify this policy of the A.C.T.U. I think he would need more eloquence than he or I have to satisfy the Australian people that this is a democratic way of handling trade union affairs.
– I wish to direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service. I refer to the exclusion of a nonCommunist group of trade unions from the current conference of the Australian Council of Trade Unions for refusal to pay a levy to bring so-called trade unionists here from Communist countries.
– Order! There is too much audible conversation in the chamber.
– I was only whispering.
– Order! I ask Senator Brown to remain silent.
– I think I had reached the stage of my question where I was referring to a refusal to pay a levy to bring so-called trade unionists here from Communist countries. I ask the Minister whether, in view of the fact that the beneficiaries of these tourist trips are political stooges from Communist countries, and not industrial figures, the proposal could be interpreted as a breach of the pledge made by the A.C.T.U. during the last sessional period not to impose compulsory political levies. If so, does this not indicate the need to re-examine, with some variations,, the bill on compulsory political levies by trade unions which this chamber previously examined?
– The point raised by the honorable senator is very interesting and would require some study. There appears to be no doubt whatever that the non-Communist group of trade unions to which he referred believes that the levy in question is a political levy, and those unions therefore refuse to pay it. As 1 have said before, they refuse to pay affiliation fees because they object to those affiliation fees having as a first charge on them a levy that has been used in the past to bring to this country so-called trade unionists who are not trade unionists at all. Those unions object to the organization to which they belong using funds in defiance of the resolutions of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, with which the Australian Council of Trade Unions is, nominally at any rate, affiliated.
– That statement is completely and absolutely wrong.
– I have some sympathy with honorable senators opposite because of the distress that this question has caused them. However, if the question emphasizes the distress and dissension that exists throughout the Labour movement, or at least one sphere of the Labour movement, that is not my fault. The discomfort of honorable senators opposite arises from the fact that such distress and dissension exists.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Civil Aviation and follows the lines of the question asked by Senator Branson. It relates to directions given to the Commonwealth Bank and to other Government instrumentalities that officers travelling by air shall have the right to choose the airline with which they will travel. Is it a fact that Trans-Australia Airlines banks with the Commonwealth Bank, whereas its major competitor banks with another bank? In view of that, does the Minister agree that it is good business for the Commonwealth Bank to favour with its travel business one of its verygood clients? In view of the millions of pounds of the public’s money that could be lent to Ansett-A.N.A. at a rate of interest much lower than that received by shareholders and debenture holders in AnsettA.N.A., would it not be fair for the people of Australia to expect Ansett-A.N.A to bank with the Commonwealth Bank, which at least pays its profits into Consolidated Revenue, which in turn could be used, indirectly, to make loans to Ansett-A.N.A.?
– The honorable senator is completely confused, and by his question he endeavours to confuse the Senate. First, no public money is on loan to Ansett-A.N.A., nor has any ever been on loan to it.
– Is any on call?
– It is not on call. If the honorable senator will contain himself in silence, I will answer his question. Ansett-A.N.A. has received from this Government certain guarantees, which are commercial arrangements against which loans on commercial terms are arranged. Ansett-A.N.A. has fully met its commit ments under those guarantees. The honorable senator may be slightly discomfited to know that on occasions Ansett-A.N.A. makes repayments’ on its loans well in advance of the due date.
The honorable senator suggests that because Trans-Australia Airlines banks with the Commonwealth Bank, it should have a monopoly of that bank’s air travel business. He suggests also that because Ansett-A.N.A. does not bank with the Commonwealth Bank, it should not have any business from the bank. As usual, the honorable senator is quite wrong about the facts. Ansett-A.N.A. does bank with the Commonwealth Bank. That fact, on the argument advanced by the honorable senator, would support a case for a sharing of business between T.A.A. and Ansett-A.N.A.
– I ask the Minister representing the Treasurer whether he has noticed in to-day’s press an announcement by the Treasurer that the Commonwealth is seeking to borrow £40,000,000 of new money and to convert £148,000,000 worth of existing Commonwealth securities. Is it a fact that, in response to requests made by many subscribers throughout the Commonwealth for the issue of special bonds that may be used to meet estate duties, subscribers to special bonds will be able for the first time in Australian history to use them to meet those commitments?
– It is a fact, as stated by the honorable senator, that this issue of bonds, as well as all previous issues of special bonds, will be available for the payment of estate duties. It is not historically correct to say that this is the first occasion when such bonds have been accepted for this purpose. I cannot state the precise years during which the system was in operation, but immediately after the First World War there was an issue of bonds that could be used for the payment of estate duty. However, the practice was discontinued.
– I realize that the asking of supplementary questions has by direction been discontinued, but that does not preclude me from asking a question that is applicable to a subject that has already been raised. Will the Minister representing the Prime Minister say why the Country Party Premier of Queensland, Mr. Nicklin, used the word “ niggardly “ in the Queensland Parliament on 30th August in relation to the Mount Isa to Townsville rehabilitation railway? If the Minister thinks that Mr. Nicklin’s use of that word was not correct, does he suggest that the Queensland Premier does not know the meaning of words or is not responsible for his statements?
– If Senator Dittmer had seen the Queensland “ Hansard “, as I have seen it and read it, he would have realized that the word “ niggardly “ was used by Mr. Duggan, the Leader of the Opposition.
– Mr. Nicklin agreed with it.
– It was Mr.
Duggan who cast the aspersion. The Premier assented to some things in the question that was asked of him, and the word “ niggardly “ was, of course, taken out of context and used against him. The statement did not emanate from the Premier. It emanated from the Labour Party in Queensland.
– Has the Minister for National Development seen a statement in to-day’s Sydney press by Mr. Upjohn, secretary of the Clothing Manufacturers Association of New South Wales, that the Australian clothing industry needs hundreds more workers because orders are pouring in from retailers? Is this not another indication of the correctness of the Government’s economic policy, and an indication of the country’s increasing prosperity?
– I am sorry to say that I did not see the particular statement referred to. One may be pardoned for that because there are so many statements of a similar nature, and one cannot keep up with all of them. I did, of course, see the result of the gallup poll published a few days ago. That shows, as we all know, that an overwhelming proportion of the people of Australia agree that the Government’s economic policy was wise and is panning out successfully.
– I am sorry to weary you, Mr. Deputy President, with another question, but I have a responsible statement to make, which is characteristic of me, if I may say so with modesty. I addressed this question previously to the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, and 1 was advised that the matter was one for the Minister for Supply. Recently, public tenders were called for the purchase of the Navy’s oil installation at Gibson Island. It is understood that a sale was effected to Nutta Products of Zillmere, and the sale included 70 miles of submarine cable. Was a sale effected? Who were the tenderers, and what were the amounts offered? If a sale was made, who was the successful tenderer and what were the terms of the sale? If the Minister is not prepared to disclose the amount involved, why is he not prepared to do so? I have been advised from outside sources that the purchase price was £8,000, and I understand that the costs originally involved amounted to hundreds of thousands of pounds.
– I admire Senator Dittmer’s modesty; he implies that he may be wrong. As far as 1 can gather, he has been wrong all afternoon. If he will put his question on the notice-paper I will obtain an answer from the Minister for Supply.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -
What was the aggregate amount paid out in unemployment relief between 1st July, 1960, and 30th June, 1961?
– The Minister for Social Services has provided the following answer -
The aggregate amount paid by way of unemployment benefit between 1st July, I960, and 30th June, 1961. was £4,468,532.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
How much financial assistance has been granted by the Development Bank to applicants and what is the break-up of amounts so granted to 30th June, 1961?
– The Treasurer has supplied the following answer: -
The Commonwealth Banking Corporation has supplied the following information on assistance granted by the Commonwealth Development Bank. Net loan approvals by the Development Bank during the period from the date of its commencement (14th January,1960) to 30th June, 1961, totalled £14,700,000. A classification of these approvals according to the purpose for which the funds were required is as follows: -
In addition the Development Bank provided finance for the acquisition on hire-purchase terms of producers’ equipment. During the abovementioned period the transactions so financed totalled £20,900,000, the types of goods concerned being as follows: -
Has the serious shortage of Salk vaccine been overcome; if so, can all State Health Departments now expect adequate supplies and how soon will these supplies be available?
– The Minister for Health has now furnished the following reply: -
Until the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories has established reserves of tested poliomyelitis vaccine sufficient to meet all probable requirements for some months, it will not be possible to say with assurance that shortages of the vaccine have been satisfactorily overcome. However, it is hoped that sufficient vaccine to meet requirements for the rest of the year will be available this month. This expectation must be recognized to be subject to revision in response to factors beyond the control of my department or of the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories. However, 1 have been advised that there is at the moment no reason to expect any such unfortunate occurrence.
– On behalf of the Public Accounts Committee, I present the following report: -
Fifty-fourth Report - Form of the Estimates: Estimates of Expenditure for Additions, New Works and Other Services involving Capital Expenditure.
I move -
That the paper be printed.
Honorable senators will recall that the Estimates for 1961-62 have been presented in an amended form following the recommendation in the forty-ninth report of the committee that the Miscellaneous Services section of the Estimates should be omitted. These details now appear separately under the departmental votes. In continuation of the committee’s inquiries into the general question of the form of the Estimates, an investigation was made into the section containing Estimates of Expenditure for Additions, New Works and Other Services Involving Capital Expenditure - commonly known as the Works and Services section of the Estimates. The items in the Works and Services section comprise the schedule to the Appropriation (Works and Services) Bill which, according to the information furnished to the committee, may be amended by the Senate.
In accordance with section 53 of the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act the Senate cannot amend, but can request an amendment to, the ordinary Appropriation Bills the schedules of which comprise the items appearing in the other sections of the Estimates. Therefore, the transfer of items out of the Works and Services section would have the effect of reducing the number of proposed expenditures which are subject to amendment by the Senate. The general question of what items should appear in each section of the Estimates involves an interpretation of section 53 of the Constitution. The committee was given a number of opinions on this matter which centres on the words “ proposed laws appropriating revenues or moneys for the ordinary annual services of the Government”. As the reference is to proposed laws, the matter is one for determination by the two Houses of this Parliament alone. This fifty-fourth report endeavours to place clearly and concisely before the Parliament the relevant facts concerning an interesting and important parliamentary procedure for dealing with appropriation measures.
.- I wish to continue the debate on the motion that this report be printed. With that in view, I ask for leave to continue my remarks.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Debate resumed from 5th September (vide page 386), on motion by Senator Partridge -
That the following papers -
Estimates of Receipts and Expenditure, and Estimates of Expenditure for Additions, New Works and other Services involving Capital Expenditure, for the year ending 30th June, 1962;
The Budget 1961-62 - Papers presented by the Right Honorable Harold Holt in connexion with the Budget of 1961-62;
Commonwealth Payments to or for the States- be printed.
Upon which Senator McKenna had moved, by way of amendment -
At end of the motion add the following words - “but that the Senate is of opinion that they fail to make adequate provision for Social Service Benefits, especially Child Endowment, and Repatriation Benefits; that they fail to relieve the plight of taxpayers, the family unit, the farming community and other sections of the Australian people and that they make no effective contribution to correcting seriously adverse trends in the Australian economy including unemployment, rising living costs, failure of the public loan market, adverse balance of international payments on current account, high interest rates and inadequate housing “.
– I stated last night, Mr. Deputy President, that rather than simply say that I would vote against the amendment moved by the Opposition, I would deal with each of its aspects separately. I pointed out that social service benefits had to be considered within the framework of the Budget as a whole. I indicated that the amount provided for social service benefits this year was more than £27,000,000 greater than the allocation last year, and that the total amount to be provided by the. Commonwealth Government for social services was no less than £358,000,000- a pretty fair slice of the national income. I stated that, of nine points raised by ex-servicemen’s associations in relation to repatriation benefits, six had been acceded to by the Government, and that the total amount provided for repatriation benefits this year was no less than £102,000,000, or £4,250,000 more than last year.
I come now to the alleged failure of the public loan market.I suggest that if there was such a failure it was caused primarily by the large amount of money involved in hire-purchase transactions. As we know, such transactions take money away, not only from the people, but also from savings banks and trading banks. It is certain that the failure of the loan market, if it occurred, had nothing whatever to do with lack of confidence in this Government, because if ever a government enjoyed the confidence of the people the present Government does. It has been re-elected on four occasions and will shortly be reelected again, unless I am a very poor judge.
The Opposition amendment refers to the adverse balance of international payments. It is interesting to note that our overseas reserves have increased since March of this year by about £200,000,000. I understand that we now have a favorable overseas balance of £570,000,000. I do not think that even the Opposition can have very much to say about that position. Obviously, our overseas balance will continue to grow, even though, over the last few years, we have suffered from the effects of falling overseas prices for our commodities, and from many other things, such as the removal of import restrictions, which caused a temporary decline in our overseas credits.
The final matter referred to in the amendment is housing. According to the Opposition, we have failed to make adequate provision for housing, a statement that amazes me. I have taken out figures for the period that this Government has been in office, and have found that during the lifetime of the Government we have built no fewer than 162,000 units under the war service homes scheme. In addition, we have built 123,000 units under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement. The total cost of the units constructed under both schemes was £700,000,000, which is no small amount. .Of the units which have been .built, 75 per cent, are owned by the occupiers or are being bought on instalments. If we add to those figures the number of units .built by private builders, we find that in the last ten and a half years we have built in Australia, in all spheres, 800,000 units - that is, houses and flats - for .the people, .or approximately 80,000 units a year. I think that is rather a good effort. I cannot understand why the Opposition should have included the subject of housing in its amendment, because to my way of thinking it does not make sense to attempt to criticize the Government on that score.
I wish to comment on statements that have been made by members of the Opposition during .this debate. Senator Brown referred to a Queensland press comment on the provision of finance by the Commonwealth for a railway project in Western Australia, a matter about which nobody else is arguing. He obviously does not know the difference between a railway project that .qualifies for Commonwealth assistance under the rail standardization scheme and one that does not. I should like to have the time to explain the position to him, but I am afraid that that will have to wait for some other occasion. I thought that Senator Willesee would have known that one of the many reasons which prompted the Government to remove import controls was that the manufacturers, about whom he had so much to say, .were using the controls as a tariff wall. No one in his right senses would allow that to continue. If Senator Willesee did not know that before, he does now.
I want to bring to .the notice pf the Government a matter which is of great concern to .the whole of Australia, and particularly .to certain people who are being affected most .unfairly. I refer to the position of deserted wives in this country to-day. When the Matrimonial Causes Bill was before .the Parliament last year I did npt foresee tb.a.t the kind .of .thing to which I am about to refer would be possible. Let me give jus.t one example to illustrate my point. Under the act, it .is possible for a .man who leaves his wife and children to live with a .de facto wife, to sell the home oy,er ;their heads and to build .another horn with .financial .assistance .from the War Service Homes Division, -although the div>sion knows that he is living with a de facto wife. Surely there is something wrong with legislation, or with a government, -which allows that situation .to arise. I believe that what I have said is entirely correct. I could retention two other similar instances of the Unfair .operation of the act. I commend this matter to the .attention of the AttorneyGeneral (Sir Garfield Barwick), because his sympathetic handling of the .legislation, when it was before the Parliament, leads me .to believe that he will consider amending the act. I should be most grateful to the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Spooner) if he would bring the matter to the attention .of .the Attorney- Qen.er.al, although I imagine that by this time he must 6e fully aware .of what is happening.
The matter to which I now direct the notice of the Government is one that comes up regularly every year. Unfortunately, I see no relief in the Budget this year. I spoke on it three years ago and again last year. Whether or not we will eventually get this, I do not know. I refer to a practice in relation to the imposition of sales tax on food which seems to me plainly to be stupid in parts. Sales tax is imposed on biscuits for consumption by human beings but not on biscuits for dogs. Sales tax is not imposed on ordinary bread for human consumption, but when a few currants are added the resulting bread attracts sales tax. I could quote other examples. Obviously, this matter cannot be adjusted this year because the Budget arrangements have been made; but “I suggest that it could well be looked at when the next Budget is being framed. I urge the Government to give consideration to this matter.
Now, on a slightly happier note, I should like to congratulate the Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton) on the hydrographical work that is being done by the Royal Australian Navy at the present time. We are building excellent ships for this work - they are being constructed primarily for survey work - and it is very interesting to note that the work that is being done by our hydrographical boys in the Royal
Australian Navy is being recognized overseas as being of absolutely first-class quality. Our Survey Branch has been admitted to the Society of Hydrographers, which is a great honour. I should like to congratulate the Navy, through the Minister, in that respect.
I should like to refer now to the fisheries conference that was held in Canberra last Friday. For very many years, I have been trying to get the responsible Ministers from each State together in order to form a federal body to deal with fisheries. Honorable senators will recall that I have been following this matter up for the last eight or nine years and trying to get something done along those lines. At present, Australia imports annually £8,000,000 worth of fish and exports £4,000,000 worth, 90 per cent, of which exports comprise crayfish tails sent to the United States of America. It is quite obvious that insufficient attention has been paid to the development of a big export trade in fish such as tuna. We are falling down in this respect. For many years past the Japanese have exploited our tuna in the Coral Sea. They have taken it to American Samoa, where it has been canned and shipped to the United States.
Now, an even greater disaster is likely to happen to our own deep sea fishermen because the Japanese have requested permission to land the tuna at Gladstone in Queensland, where it will be either frozen or canned and shipped to the United States. I sincerely hope that as a result of the conference last Friday in Canberra between the Commonwealth and the Ministers responsible for fisheries in all States, a federal body will be formed quickly and that it will get busy and prevent anything of that kind from happening. The Japanese are themselves building more than 400 tuna vessels at the present time, most of which will probably operate in the north Pacific and in the north Atlantic, but probably some of them will come down here. I hope the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) and the responsible State Minister will get busy pretty quickly and prevent the nonsense inherent in shipping from Gladstone tuna caught by the Japanese in the Coral Sea.
I also urge the Minister for Primary Industry to consider instituting long-term loans for fishermen. They have never caught up since the war-time period when their fleets of small boats were decimated, many having been taken by members of the Army, the Navy and the Air Force. They have been trying to get back into the fishing industry, but their remaining vessels are too old and too small to ply in the Coral Sea. I trust that the Minister will consider the possibility of instituting long-term loans for fishermen as soon as possible. There is nothing new about this. In Canada, about 10,000,000 dollars a year is being applied in this way, and a similar amount is being lent to fishermen in England. But Australia is doing nothing whatever to help its fishermen.
I should like now to congratulate the Government on its decision to increase the capital of the Commonwealth Development Bank by £5,000,000 to enable that bank to grant further loans. I should also like to congratulate the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) on exempting road trains from sales tax, particularly in view of the fact that it appears we are now to get some new beef roads in Queensland. Sales tax payable on a road train costing approximately £30,000 has amounted to £5,000. As a result of this decision, the cost of building five road trains at £25,000 each will not be much greater than the total cost involved for four road trains at approximately £30,000 each. Therefore, the Treasurer has exhibited a lot of commonsense. By this decision, the people of Queensland will be enabled to place additional road trains in use.
There has recently been quite a lot of controversy about the amount of assistance that the Commonwealth has given to various States. It is a great pity that in this chamber voices have been raised on behalf of Queensland deprecating what is being done for the other States. It is a great pity, also, that the representatives of South Australia followed suit. I have been very pleased to notice that senators from Western Australia have congratulated Queensland and South Australia and have not moaned about this matter at all. Queensland will now probably get the railroad project - Mount Isa to Collinsville - on to a very much stronger and better basis. This Budget makes provision for the allocation of £650,000 for the construction of a road from Normanton to Julia Creek. The Budget also refers to further assistance for
Queensland in this connection. Since the conference between the Commonwealth and responsible Queensland Ministers, it is quite obvious that another £4,300,000 will be made available to Queensland as soon as that State decides the roads on which the money will be expended. In my opinion, a good road should be provided between Mount Isa and Boulia and, in particular, I would like to see the gap between Forsayth and Georgetown closed. It lies between the Gregory Ranges and the Gilbert River. There has been a gap of 100 miles there ever since the railway was built. Practically no road runs through the area. I suggest that we might with great advantage build another through road.
This Budget shows that the Commonwealth Government has the matter of the development of the various States very much at heart. Look at the things that are coming along. There is the development of the bauxite deposit at Weipa; and now a tremendous deposit of iron ore has been found about 80 miles south-east of Darwin. It is probable that the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited will construct a new steel mill at Kwinana in Western Australia. Assuming that no untoward incident occurs, such as a war, Australia’s prosperity is assured.
I turn now to overseas investments in Australia. It is very heartening to see that people overseas have so much confidence in this country that they have invested £900,000,000 here during the regime of this Government. It is evident that they like the sound and progressive policy that this Government has always followed. One of the features that has always impressed people overseas, and many people in Australia too, is that the Government does not take the easy road by pandering and making election promises that it knows it would have no chance of keeping. I regret that one cannot always say the same about the Opposition. Members of the Opposition, knowing fairly well that they are unlikely to be on the treasury bench, can give their thoughts full rein, and include in their promises a few things which they know perfectly well cannot be done.
This is the sort of Budget that one might have expected. One or two provisions that I should like to have seen in it are not included, and there are a few things that seem to be too much in the stay-put line. Of course, I am not in possession of all the information that one should have, and if my own wish to go quicker were followed, perhaps it would not get us as far as the Government’s policy will. I am quite confident that the years ahead will hold prosperity and happiness for the people of Australia, and I am quite sure that when my grandchildren are grown up Australia will be one of the most wonderful countries in the world, if it is not that already.
I support the motion for the printing of the papers and I shall vote against the amendment.
.- I feel that when one is considering this Budget he must consider certain hard and unpleasant facts which were apparent when the Budget was introduced and which are still with us. One is that Australia was suffering through 130,000 Australians being out of work. A second was that business generally throughout Australia was languishing. A third was that private capital expenditure was at its lowest ebb since prior to the war. A fourth was that farmers felt themselves to be a discouraged and suppressed group within the community. A fifth was that few people in the community retained any confidence whatever in this Government. One could go round the cities, towns and hamlets in every State and discuss the position with company shareholders, managing directors of companies, managers of businesses, wholesalers, retailers and wage and salary earners, and be confronted always with two words - “ too long “. Too long has the Menzies Government been in power! One heard that wherever he went. No one, other than the most die-hard supporter of the Liberal Party, retained any confidence in the Government. Certainly no farmer in Queensland - dairy farmer, peanut-grower, or wheat-grower - had any confidence whatever in the Government.
– They must have far less confidence in you.
– You have had your say. If you wish to gabble, speak clearly and I shall reply to you. I gave you a fair go but I do not ask you to give me one. Unburden your mind of whatever is on it. There cannot be too much; that would be an. impossibility. If. you have- anything, on your mind, I give you, leave, to unburden yourself, and I shall reply.
That was the situation, when- the- Budget was introduced. One wonders why that was so and what brought- about lack of confidence, almost mass unemployment throughout the Commonwealth, and languishing industries. All industries were in the same boat. I do not want to give particular evidence on this point, but it is known that companies are paying lowerdividends this year. Many companies that were thriving last year are not paying interim dividends this year. Shares in nearly all companies have, fallen in value since last November. I charge the Government with having grossly neglected the welfare of thepeople, of the Commonwealth. I cannot think of a more serious charge to make at this juncture. I propose to give evidence on this point.
For the start of my evidence, I go back to 15th November of last year. It was at that time that the Government introduced what it termed a credit squeeze. Perhaps it is advisable that I mention in detail what the credit squeeze comprised. First, there was an- immediate restriction of bank credit - overnight as it were. Secondly, the sales tax on motor vehicles was increased from 30- per cent, to 40 per cent. Thirdly, the Government required trustees of superannuation funds and life assurance companies to invest a portion of their funds in Government loans. Fourthly, the Government proposed to- amend the income tax legislation to provide- that interest paid by companies on capital borrowed would not be deductible. If I had the time, J would go over the history of those measures and tell my audience exactly what happened in respect of each of them, but I do not propose to do so.
The Government said that its. reason for introducing those measures was a boom in the economy. There are various kinds of booms. Undoubtedly, there was a boom last Friday when a nuclear bomb was exploded by Russia. We have booms at river inlets to regulate shipping. But the. boom that existed in Australia, according to the Government, was a sudden upsurge of prosperity. I have said all along that the Government has misinterpreted the meaning of the- word. “ inflation “., It has constantly substituted other, words.. It- has referred to inflation as- being prosperity. When, introducing the credit squeeze, it referred to inflation as a boom in the: economy. If: there was a boom in the economy at that stage, in November last, who, was responsible for it? Inflation was the result of nothing more basic than bad. government. Seeing I have charged this Government with having grossly neglected the welfare o£ the people of Australia, the onus is on me to prove the charge.
You may recall, Mr. Acting Deputy President, that when you were elected to the Parliament there was in operation a regulation under the Defence Act which enabled the Government to control capital issues. That regulation became the subject of litigation, and it was found to be watertight. Although that regulation was made under the Defence Act, the Government could have retained it right up to the present time. In support of that assertion, I point out that only two years ago this Government spent the sum of £30,000,000 on the establishment of an ammunition filling plant at St. Mary’s. The fact that not very much ammunition has been filled but that the establishment of that plant has helped to empty the pockets of the Australian people is by the way. To return to the point, the Government repealed the regulation to which I have referred. The Labour Government introduced that regulation and retained it, because it knew that otherwise it would have no control over capital issues, that wildcat companies would be formed and that they would go on the money market.
At this stage, may I say for the benefit of my audience that in 1949 the basic wage was £6 9s. per week and that at present it is £14 4s. In other words, it has increased by £7 15s. - an increase of more than 100 per cent: over a period of eleven years. On numerous occasions in the past the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) has stood at the table and has said that the best yardstick for measuring inflation was the basic wage. I always wholeheartedly agreed with him.
The regulation which stood between many companies and the issue of capital having been repealed, what was to be done? The next step was to change the credit facilities which existed throughout the Commonwealth. Up to that time the trading banks had provided approximately 56 per cent, of the total volume of credit that had been made available. To-day, the private banks are responsible for only 21 per cent, of the total volume of credit. That is because people who wished to form companies found that the money market was accessible to them and that by raising ordinary shares and preference shares, by selling debentures, and by selling notes, secured and otherwise or convertible and otherwise, they could get all the capital they required. As a matter of fact, they, were draining the country of capital because of the offers they were making to would-be investors.
Just recently the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), when explaining the Budget and the financial situation in the Commonwealth, said that at the present time the debt owed by the people of Australia amounts to more than £400,000,000. When the capital issues control regulation was in operation the hirepurchase debt of the Commonwealth was no more than 2 per cent, of the total volume of credit; at the present time it is a little more than 16 per cent. Who is responsible for that state of affairs? Who was responsible for the state of affairs which allowed 300,000 persons per annum to buy cars? If anybody was at fault for allowing, in a community of aproximately 10,000,000 people, 300,000 persons a year to purchase motor cars, it was the Government. It is of no use blaming anybody else.
Let me state a few facts so that my audience will understand what has happened. In 1952-53, share capital amounting to £26,000,000 was raised. A sum of £1 1 ,900,000 was raised in the form of notes of all kinds and debentures. We find that in 1960 share capital - that is, ordinary and preference shares - amounting to £47,900,000 was raised. In other words, the share capital raising almost doubled within that very short space of time. The value of unsecured notes, debentures, registered notes, convertible and otherwise, rose from £11,900,000 in 1953 to £139,000,000 in 1960. That gives us an idea of the volume of money that was going into the control of companies. Of course, most of those were legitimate companies, but -there were many wildcat companies as well.
There was the boom. That volume of capital raising was the cause of this boom of- which we have heard but which really is inflation. Without doubt, the responsibility for that state of affairs lies squarely upon this- Government, which will be in office for only another thirteen or fourteen weeks. Then, of course, there will be another boom and the people of Australia will turn this Government out of office. There will be only thirteen or fourteen more weeks of this Government’struculence.
This Government applied a credit squeeze in November last. One is led to believe that this boom, this inflation, arose suddenly and that it had to be quelled immediately. But it had been creeping upon us since 1949. Ever since this Government assumed office there has been a growth of inflation. I propose to refer again to the yardstick to which the Leader of the Government in this place has referred so often when dealing with the subject of inflation. As I said a while ago, in 1949 the basic wage was £6 9s. per week. In 1955 it was £11. 9s., and in 1961 it is £14 4s. per week. In other words, it has risen by £7 15s. per week. A prudent government: would have noted long before 1960 that inflation was getting quite out of control. Away back in 1955, when it saw that the basic wage had almost doubled, the Government had an opportunity to observe the devastating effect of inflation throughout Australia.
For a moment I wish to refer to the present basic wage. The present wage of £14 4s. per week lacks the purchasing power of the basic wage of £6 9s. in 1949. It is not possible to buy the foodstuffs, the clothing, and the services to-day that could be purchased with the basic wage of 1949. Certainly, there has been inflation. Those in the community who have suffered most as a result of this inflation are people in the lower income bracket. Because the C series index operated to the detriment of the Government in adjustments of the basic wage, the Government changed the scheme entirely. It has introduced what is called a consumer price index. Only the other day the Leader of the Government in the Senate stated that it was his considered opinion that variations of the basic wage should be made only after an application to, and a full hearing by, the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. That is all very well, perhaps, from the point of view of the Leader of the Government, but what about the wage-earning masses? We know that the day after a basic wage increase is granted there are increases in the prices of foodstuffs, clothing and services, upon which the basic wage is really fixed. These increased prices operate for a period of twelve months, until another application is made for an increase in the basic wage. That is one of the weaknesses of the scheme that was advocated by the Leader of the Government.
I propose now to give some evidence about the volume of unemployment in Australia at present. I can speak with firsthand knowledge of the problem in Queensland. As I said earlier, there are approximately 130,000 unemployed workers. They are feeling the effects of the credit squeeze more than any other group in the community, but 90 per cent, of the people in Australia are feeling those effects to some degree. I ask my audience to, as it were, take a stroll with me through Queensland and look at some of the industries which operate there. Let us look at the sawmilling industry. You know of your own knowledge, Mr. Acting President, that many of the 557 saw-mills in Queensland are closed at the present time. Some are working only part-time. Others, in the hope that in the near future they will receive orders, are maintaining skeleton staffs. They know it is not possible to go out into the streets and pick up a first-class sawbench man, saw doctor or engine driver. Consequently, they are bearing the expense of keeping on skeleton staffs so that they can operate their mills at some time in the future. There were 29 plywood mills operating in Queensland, employing approximately 2,000 workmen, compared with the 7,000 who were employed in the saw-mills. These 2,000 people are out of work at present; there is no work for them. The plywood factory owners have nothing to gain by keeping men on, because they cannot sell their plywood.
The Government is responsible for this situation in Queensland. I cannot reconcile the Government’s attitude with common sense. In January last, it allowed 996,000 square feet of plywood to be imported from New Guinea, where we know that native labour is employed at very low wages. In February, 2,379,000 square feet of plywood were imported from New Guinea, and in March a further 1,657,000 square feet were brought from the same Territory. Not being satisfied with allowing importers to bring plywood from New Guinea, resulting in the closure of the 29 plywood mills in Queensland, the Government allowed 60,000 square feet to come in from Canada. Then it allowed a further 142,000 square feet to be imported from the same country in March of this year. Not being satisfied with imports of plywood from New Guinea and Canada, in January last the Government allowed 1,359,000 square feet to be imported from Japan, followed by 970,000 square feet in February and 202,000 square feet in March. The total quantity of plywood imported into Australia during’ January, February and March was 7,855,000 square feet. The saddest feature of this importation of plywood is that the imports were coming in at a time when the plywood factories in Queensland were closed, and when plywood workers were unemployed and receiving the unemployment benefit. Is it any wonder that I have preferred a charge against the Government of having wilfully neglected the welfare of the people of Australia?
– I do not think it is wilful. I think the Government is just too stupid to know.
– I think it is deliberate. My mind goes back to the early part of last year when I constantly asked questions about unemployment in Queensland. The Ministers who replied put their thumbs under the lapels of their coats, looked quite complacent about the matter and said, “Yes, there is unemployment; but that unemployment was designed when we introduced the credit squeeze. There may be more unemployment.” I repeat that the Government has wilfully neglected the welfare of the people of the Commonwealth.
What is the position in the building trade? I cannot speak for five of the States, but I can speak for Queensland. The building trade is at rock bottom in Queensland. lt is scarcely possible for the building trade to be at a lower ebb than at present. There is a very little prospect of employment for unemployed men in that trade and in the 21 ancillary trades. As I have said, some sawmills are working part-time, some have laid their employees off and others are keeping on skeleton staffs in the hope of receiving orders in the future. The men who fell the timber for milling are willing and anxious to work. The log haulers on the Atherton Tableland and in other areas where timber is grown have their trucks idle. They complain about the idleness which has been forced upon them. You see a condition of idleness everywhere as you move around.
Another important industry with which I want to deal is the tobacco industry. A tobacco sale was held in Queensland this week but the price offered for the tobacco was described as a “walk-out” price, the suggestion being that the growers will have to walk off their properties because the price offered is totally uneconomic. Here is an opportunity for the Government to step in and buy at an economic price all the tobacco produced by the growers and then sell the tobacco to the few manufacturing companies operating in Australia, but it is not prepared to do that. The Government is not prepared to solve the gravest problem that has ever confronted the tobacco industry in Queensland. Once again the Government has failed to look after the welfare of the people of this country. The tobacco industry is important to Queensland. Last year, 10,465 acres were under production in Queensland. About 9,700,000 lb. driedweight of leaf was produced, worth approximately £6,000,000. To-day, the manufacturers are offering the growers for their leaf what may be termed a desertion or walk-off price. The tobacco industry in Queensland is being forced to yield to pressure from big combines in the industry.
While the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Henty) is in the chamber I want to refer to customs duty. This is a matter about which many people know little. In November last year, the Government introduced its credit squeeze. It knew in the preceding June that some action would be necessary. It knew that it was going to allow the importing houses in Australia to go berserk. In the financial year 1959-60, the Government collected £84,300,000 in customs duty. For the next year it estimated that the amount would be £97,000,000 - much more than the amount collected in the previous year. But how much did the Government actually collect last financial year? It collected £101,000,000 - £4,000,000 more than it estimated. For the current year the Government estimates that it will collect only £87,000,000. If Government supporters were to travel Australia and meet the small manufacturers they would find that those manufacturers are complaining about the volume of imported goods that was allowed to come into Australia last year and destroy their industry. I could take Government supporters to Brisbane and introduce them to hundreds-
– Are those imports still coming in?
– All that the honorable senator knows about are donkeys in the north-west of Western Australia. Let me say a few words now about social services, another field in which the Government has failed to look after the people of Australia. The Government has said that it will increase unemployment and sickness benefits. But what does it propose to do about juniors? No increase is provided for them. At present, there are in Queensland 1,500 children who left school last year and who cannot find employment. In another few months the schools will release thousands more children. Where are they to find employment? Unfortunately my time has expired. I had many more matters that I wanted to raise.
.- We have just listened to a speech from Senator Benn in which he painted a gloomy picture of Australia’s economic position. The speech revealed distress in industry because of the extreme pressure put upon it by internal costs. Senator Benn deplored the fact that plywood is being imported into Australia at a time when Australian saw-mills are idle. He forgets that in six months alone we have increased our export of sugar to Japan by 100,000 tons. Japan is now our largest buyer of sugar. Senator Benn suggests that in last year’s budget Japan provided an allocation for the importation of 5,400,000 tons of coal, which was an increase of about 70 per cent, over the corresponding period in 1960.
The debate on the Budget enables us to review the financial and economic state of the nation for the .past twelve months. Senator Benn referred to numerous figures, and made it plain that the Labour Party supports policies which, if given effect, would result in ever increasing costs. Such policies would serve only to destroy rather than improve the economic affairs of the country.
We have passed through a fairly troubled period. In 1959, the basic wage was increased by 15s. a week, and there was a margin adjustment upwards of 28 per cent. Those two things added £200,000,000 to our cost structure. Inflation followed rapidly. The Government in February, 1960, saw what was happening and announced a four-pronged programme. It said that it would remove import licensing. In the Arbitration Court it opposed a further increase in the basic wage. It refrained from expansion of bank credit. It announced that all government expenditure would be financed out of current revenues - in other words, that it would balance its Budget. Notwithstanding those measures, the boom was inevitable. Last year, we saw rises in land prices and shares that were alarming. Import credit was allowed to expand. In November, it was imperative to check the situation by applying a credit squeeze to all sections of the economy other than export industries. At the same time, three particular measures were introduced which, as the Senate knows, were inappropriate and unwise. I emphasize that each of those three measures has now been dropped, and they form no part of this Budget. Not only have those measures been abandoned, but counter measures have been taken to restore activity that had been excessively restricted in housing and general employment. A figure of 113,000 persons registered for employment is undoubtedly too high, but the Labour Party’s proposed solution of the present problem would be disastrous. It would increase costs and aggravate our competitive export position and would, in my judgement, increase unemployment. I am sure that the people of Australia will demand that this Parliament deal in terms of money earned, not in the Labour Party’s commodities of credit money in paper form.
– That is this Government’s policy.
– This Government is aware of the deteriorating position. In November last, the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) told us that taking our trading position in 1953 at an index figure of 100, our trading position in November last - I understand from responsible authority that the same situation applies to-day - :has deteriorated to an index figure of 66. So to earn £1,000 of export income to-day we have to send overseas just one and a half times the volume of goods that would have earned us that amount of income in 1953. Our export income to-day is £800,000,000, but if we had maintained our terms of external trade of 1953 we would receive an income of £1.200,000,000 to-day. When one looks at the Treasury bulletin issued in July this year, the effect of that development appears. In the year ended 30th June, there was a deficiency on current account of £369,000,000. That was offset, thank goodness, by overseas loans of £82,000.000 and inflow of foreign capital of £261,000,000 which, in a large measure, reduced the deficiency. Of course, that is an unstable consideration on which to continue to rely because the economies of the countries from which that money comes change and the reception of it here is apt to make it flighty. Although those terms of trade are adverse, Mr. Deputy President, relief is appearing in the economy as a result of the application of credit control since November last year. At the end of June this year our gold and foreign exchange holdings were the second largest since 1951. They had reached a figure of £550,800,000, which included the loan moneys, I think.
The next matter to which I wish to refer is the recent emphasis that has been given to ‘the adverse effects of the European Economic Community in that £150,000,000 worth of Australia’s exports will possibly be subject to an entrance duty of 20 per cent, whereas such exports are now free of
British import duty. It is not because the Government. Has already solved many problems that the Budget deserves support. It has improved the position in a measure, but the present position is not completely satisfactory.. Support is due to the Budget because the Government has the capacity to solve our balance of trade problems, whereas Labour proceeds as in a vacuum and would land’ us in international insolvency, thinking that the- internal costs of Australia can be lifted’ to the- sky and forgetting that our whole economic prosperity depends upon our terms of trade with other countries. Last year our total exports were worth £930,000,000, of which farm products represented between 75 and 80 per cent., the actual value of such products being £683,000,000. The total Australian output of farm products was valued at £1,254,000.
From the “ Quarterly Review of Agricultural Economics “ published by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics in April, 1961, I read this introduction to an article on Australian rural production and exports and the estimates for 1960-61 -
The aggregate volume of production of Australia’s rural industries in 1960-61 is estimated to be 6 per cent, above that of the previous year and- 3 per cent, higher than ever before. However, the gross value of production is expected to rise by only li per cent, to £1,345 million and nef farm income to- fall by more than 4 per cent.
The volume of exports df rural origin will most likely reach 55 per cent, above the pre-war level, and 2 per cent, above the record volume of 1959-60. Owing mainly to lower wool prices, the value of exports of rural origin is expected to be about £45 million less than in the previous year-, but it is still higher than in 1957-58 and 1958-59,
When one turns to the tables included in that article cine sees that the volume of exports of rural origin in 1953-54 was indicated by an index number of 116 and for the year 1960-61 the corresponding index number was 155, notwithstanding that the value of those exports on an f.o.b. basis declined by £3,000,000 from £687,000,000 to £684,000,000. So, although in six years there has been an increase of about 33 per cent, in production, the value of that increased production to the farmers is now £3,000,000 less than in 1953-54. With the concurrence of honorable senators, I incorporate the following table in “ Hansard
The significance of that burden on the prosperity of our exports from primary industry is illustrated by the tables thai appear in the successive annual White Papers that come from the Treasury. For comparison I select the years- 1949-50 and 1960-61. I am tempted to take the figures for 1953-54 in order to make a strict comparison with the figures I have just cited, but the figures for that year may be influenced in favour of my argument because of the wool boom of 1952-53 which continued into 1953-54. In 1949-50, wages and salaries in Australia aggregated £1,197,000,000. By 1960-61, that figure had increased to £3,570,000,000, an increase of more than 300 per cent. In 1949-50, farm income was £448,000,000 and in 1960-61, on the Treasury statement, it was £467,000,000. That was an increase of about £20,000,000; but in real values there was a- very great reduction. With the concurrence of honorable senators I incorporate the relevant figures in “Hansard”.. They are as follows: -
In my view, this disparity between the results for the agricultural community and those for the salary and wage-earning section of the community has been caused, in the main, by the unfortunate operation of an institution that has much more effect upon Australia’s economy than this Government’s Budget has. I refer to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. Senator Benn has reminded us that in November, 1949, the basic wage was £6 9s. a week. In June, 1961, it was £14 8s. a week. In addition, margins have been increased by the commission, in my view quite irresponsibly. To illustrate my meaning, let me cite one passage from the basic wage judgment of 1961. The pastoral industries had been specifically represented, during the proceedings, by most able counsel, and a detailed discussion of the situation of those industries is to be found in the judgment. After considering all the adverse factors to which I have referred, the commission stated -
On the material before us we must conclude thai our overseas balances are not in as satisfactory a position as they have been in earlier recent years, but that the position is not dangerous; further there are signs that the position is improving. In addition, the Government is keeping the situation under review and taking such steps as it deems necessary to ensure that the position does not become dangerous. In these circumstances we decide that this indicator-
The indicator that had been discussed in relation to the agricultural industries - should not prevent us from granting an increase in the basic wage.
With great respect, Mr. Deputy President, that is a record of irresponsibility. It leaves a challenge before this Parliament, which is responsible for the tribunal, to devote its urgent attention to several fundamental problems that still exist in relation to the wage-fixing machinery that operates in this country.
In an endeavour to precipitate not merely debate, but also a ministerial decision on this all-important topic, I propose to list the fundamental problems that I think confront the Parliament for decision before we shall be able to correct the disequilibrium in the Australian economy. We must have a responsible attitude on the part of this tribunal; otherwise our export trade, 75 per cent, or 80 per cent, of which, as I have said, consists of farm production, will become increasingly weaker. First, we must correct the constitutional division of industrial powers between the States and the Commonwealth, as a result of which one State may hijack the economy on to a different standard working week or a different long service leave basis, as New South Wales did in relation to the 40-hour week. Secondly, we must realize the relative importance of the Arbitration Commission compared with the Parliament. The Budget that we are discussing makes a financial impact on the economy to the extent of £1,600,000,000 - it may be £2,000,000,000. The basic wage judgment delivered earlier this year has added £60,000,000 annually to the cost of running the country.
Thirdly, we must consider whether the tribunal is constituted in an appropriate way to enable it to make such important economic decisions. In my view, its experience is most limited. Its method of hearing argument is unreal. I think the commission needs to be broader based in a variety of ways, including, of course, fair representation for the wage-earning section. My belief is that adjustments of wages should be made in real terms, and not in terms which will innate the currency and therefore give to the wageearning community only illusory benefits. Fourthly, we must consider whether the adoption of the so-called principle of the capacity of all industry to pay is a suitable guide, or whether it is really a principle at all. The commission is completely at large. Its decisions show a regrettable disregard of the true bases of Australia’s capacity to pay, which is dependent on exports. Fifthly, we should consider the fallacy involved in the now artificial division of the wage into a primary and secondary wage, or a basic wage and a marginal adjustment. If honorable senators read the margins judgment of 1959 in conjunction with the basic wage judgments, they will see that, under the heading of marginal adjustments, the commission is duplicating the process in which it has involved itself in adjusting the basic wage. In reality, it is unable, by reason of the confusion arising from the principle of capacity to pay, to justify either the distinction between those two departments of the wage, or their separation.
Sixthly, Mr. Deputy President, we should consider the particular problem that arises from the most recent judgment of the commission. It will be remembered that, in 1953, the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, after the welter of wrong-headed increases that had been granted under the system of statistical adjustments of the basic wage between 1949 and 1953, was compelled to abandon the system of quarterly statistical adjustments based on the C series index. Never let it be forgotten that within twelve months the economy of this country swung into equilibrium. There were no price increases of any magnitude during that period of twelve months. Now, the last judgment of the commission puts forward the proposition that the adjustment of the basic wage in the future can be tied to figures indicated by the new consumer index. I wish to emphasize that the consumer index has no relation to the trends in overseas markets upon which our exports are priced. In fact, in some respects, it runs entirely counter to them. One of the first responsibilities of the Government is to consider that position. Its effect on the export industries should be properly assessed. Those problems, taken together, provide a brief for anybody who has solicitude for the future prosperity of our export industries.
It is necessary to overhaul thoroughly our wage-fixing machinery. Of course, wage adjustments should be made on a liberal basis. Any economy worthy of the name should recognize that a well-paid wage-earning section of the community is the best basis for a prosperous, developing nation. But if the people are paid in debased currency, as it would have been termed in the days of Henry VIII., or inflated currency, as it is termed in 1961, we delude them. In the interests of the people, therefore, let us reform this institution so that its edicts will be followed by the payment of money of real value. Australian money cannot have real value unless it is related to the terms of trade on overseas markets, where the products of our export industries are sold.
– How many times have we told you that?
– The honorable senator asks, “ How many times have we told you that? “ The representatives of the trade unions will go before the arbitration tribunals and argue for unreal increases, such as the last aggregate wage increase of £60,000,000 which, so far from providing security of employment and improving the prosperity of the recipients, placed on undertaking A and on undertaking B the need to find an extra £30,000 and £7,000 respectively to finance the additional wage this year. That means that management has to expand its markets and increase its prices or curtail employment. I am pleading for reality and for a rejection of the people who sit opposite, who have exploited this situation for political favour among the unionists ever since a representative of the Labour Party first spoke in this Parliament. I ask for a debate followed by a decision on the basis of national responsibility in this Parliament, because in my view that situation, constituting the threat that it does to our agricultural exports, which account for 75 per cent, to 80 per cent, of our total exports, is the main factor requiring attention in our export-import situation at this juncture.
– Mr. Deputy President, I realize now more than ever why we have the white Australia policy. I listened carefully to what Senator Wright said and it was obvious to me that he wants to see a return to the conditions of the slave days in this country. He spoke of inflation. I remind him that inflation has been galloping in this country since 1949. We have told the nation not once but on numerous occasions that if something were not done to halt inflation, this country would be ruined. Senator Wright referred to the fact that aggregate wages increased by £60,000,000 in 1959. What did the workers do? Did he want them to do as the late Mr. Lyons, when Prime Minister of this country, said they should do - pull their belts in a hole and get back to the coolie way of life?
– He never said that.
– I did not say that Senator Wright said that.
– I said that we wanted the highest wage in real value that industry could afford to pay.
– Yes, but Ave shall not agree to you being judge of what industry can afford to pay. I remind Senator Wright that he came to this Senate in 1949 on the misrepresentations by his party to the electors of Australia. Labour told them that prices would soar overseas. We told them that because of- the devasta- tion Wrought in Europe, meat, wheat, wool’ and all the’ other commodities which we grow would be in great demand and that therefore we should retain prices control. Senator Wright opposed that.. We did not want controls, because it was not popular to have them; the reason: we sought to retain controls was to keep our country stable. We said that we would fix the prices for home consumption of goods that were in great- demand overseas, that we would sell our primary products overseas at the highest possible prices, and that the income so derived would be distributed on a pro rata basis amongst the primary producers df this country. The basic wage was then about £7 a week. Of course, I know that Senator Mattner would not b6 paying his men £7 a week even if he” were receiving 240d. per lb. for his wool. I do not take much notice of him, because he believes in slave labour. Labour warned the people of Australia that inflation would come and that unemployment would follow. What did the supporters of this Government Say? They said, “ You are scaremongers; you are frightening the people “. To-day, an honorable senator, who is classed as one of the intelligentsia in the State from which he comes, because many people pay him high fees to represent them in the courts of Tasmania, advocates in this chamber a reduction in the standard of- living of the workers of Australia.
– Put on the 10 per cent, that you got.
– Senator Mattner is mumbling in his beard. The only 10 per cent. I know about relates to the wages of the workers which to-day are about 10 per cent, less than they should be. If Senator Mattner will tell me what he is referring to, I will answer him. He is like other people in this chamber. He makes insinuations here which he is not game enough to repeat outside. With all the medals he is supposed to have won in the First World War, he is not game enough to make such statements outside this chamber. He just mumbles in his beard. I say to Senator Mattner: Make the statement outside the chamber. I do not know what he has referred to.
- Senator Mattner is not alleged to have won his medals; he did win them.
– You are better informed than I am, senator. I did not know that. All I say is that if he won them in the same way as he has interjected in this chamber to-day, medals issued to soldiers in war-time are not worth much.
– That shows the muddy basis on which you work.
– I do not. I will have you know that I spent three and a half years in uniform in the First World War, and I lost a son in the Second World War.
– I give you full credit for that.
– I do not want Senator Mattner to insinuate in this chamber anything that he cannot stand up and prove. I challenge Senator Mattner to make a statement, when I finish my speech or now, either in this chamber or outside it, on what he is insinuating.
Naturally, I support the amendment that has been moved by my worthy leader, Senator McKenna. The people of Australia are not going to be fooled any longer. This Budget is a tragic budget. It gives relief to nobody. Indeed, it increases the hardship of the people who depend on government legislation to make their path in this life a little easier. Senator Wright has referred to inflation. I remind him that when this Government was elected in 1949 it told the people of Australia that it would reduce taxation, that it would put value back into the £1 and that it would maintain full employment. It has not carried out any of those promises. I venture to say that if this Government were sincere it would go to the elections in December next - I presume that is when they are going to be held - and let the people judge it on its ability to govern the country.
– That is what we are going to do.
– Oh no, you will not. I heard the question that was asked in this chamber to-day by Senator Wright and the answer that was given to it by the Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton). The Minister would know as much about the trade union movement as J. do about lion taming, and that is nil. The answer he gave was ridiculous. There was no -meaning in it at all. Let me say this tb Senator Gorton and to Senator Wright, who asked the question and tried to make capital out of the .position in the trade union movement and the Australian Labour Party: ‘Back in the “thirties the same tactics were used by Hitler to de’feat and “tb destroy ‘the great trade unions in Ger.many. What ‘was the result of it? I venture to say that in time to come, when History ls written, “a monument will be erected ‘to the president o’f the Australian Council df Trade Unions, Albert Monk, for the job that he ‘has done on behalf of the trade union movement in the Commonwealth and ‘against ‘those people who have philosophies :ih “which we do not believe.
– Tell that to the clerks’ union and the ironworkers’ union. -Senator Toohey. - They are joining with the Communist Party to destroy the legitimate trade -union movement.
– Exactly. They do not .know what ‘they are doing. There are all ‘kinds of cries in this chamber to-day. I shall refer later to ;a subject about which I profess to know something-th European Common Market. If there is any unity ticket greater than the unity ticket between ‘the (Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and ‘the dictator of .Russia, -I want to know of it. Mr. Menzies has said “that he will go to England to demand that the United Kingdom does not join the Common Market. He is on the same front as ‘Mr. Khrushchev, who has said that ‘the ‘United Kingdom should not ‘join. If there are Unity tickets, our Prime ‘Minister and Mr. Khrushchev are ‘on one. I venture to say that it will not be successful, because the people of the free World will not accept Mr. Khrushchev any more than they will accept the Prime Minister of Australia.
The Government has been in office from 1949. Since then we have had the most bountiful seasons that this country has ever ‘known. We have received the highest prices ever known for our primary products. According to the Prime Minister ann Mr. Bolte, -the Victoria Premier, we have had the greatest influx of overseas capital -that we have ever had.
– And the weakest Opposition that Australia has ever known.
– That may be true. The Opposition, numerically, is weakened to-day. Despite bountiful seasons, high prices and investment from overseas, what have we to-day? We have a credit squeeze and widespread unemployment. On the Government’s own admission, 250,000 workers are affected, at least 113,000 being unemployed and 130,000 Others being on a four-day working week. We have had bountiful seasons and -high prices. What else must we have to be prosperous? I shall tell the Senate. We must have a Labour ‘Government on the treasury bench. This Government has squandered the wealth of this country so much that we are in pawn again to people overseas. Overseas interests are investing money in Australia. Who would not do that? If I had -money, ‘I would invest it here. ‘Other avenues for investment overseas have gone, arid ‘now overseas investors are exploiting this country. They will continue to exploit it.
– Everybody likes plum pie.
– Exactly. We heard with interest that the ‘Treasurer 4Mr Harold Holt), having presented the Budget, was to go overseas on an urgent mission. What for? It is to borrow more money. Despite bountiful seasons, high prices and -investment .from -overseas, the Treasurer is going -overseas to borrow more money. Where will we .finish? The only condition in which we can finish is bankruptcy.
– It is wise to ,go overseas to ‘borrow more money ‘for further development.
– I shall come to .that in a moment. I remember when Sir Otto Niemeyer came to Australia. The Bruce-Page Government had borrowed and borrowed until it was “broke and could not borrow any more. What was it fold to do then? -It was ‘told, “‘5»ay or else “. And we :had to pay. .As a result, the people of this country were sacrificed until the advent of the Second World War. Mr. Holt has gone overseas to borrow more money for a very worthy project, the Snowy Mountains scheme, but let me remind honorable senators that the opening of that scheme by Mr. Nelson Lemmon, a former Minister for Works and Housing, was boycotted by the present Prime Minister and the present Australian High Commissioner in the United Kingdom, Sir Eric Harrison.
– It was opened in the wrong place.
– That may be so, but this Government has continued with the scheme. Mr. Holt has gone overseas to borrow money to use for the completion of the scheme. We say that there is no need at all to go to the International Bank. For Senator Scott’s benefit, let me say that in 1912 the Commonwealth Bank of Australia financed the building of the east-west railway. We do not owe one penny on that railway to-day.
– We pay interest on it.
– We paid the interest and we paid back the principal. The Victorian railways were built with money borrowed from overseas. We are still paying interest on it, and we still owe the debt.
– There are too many unity tickets in the Victorian railways.
– I am thankful for one thing - that Senator Hannan is not on any ticket on which I am.
– Do you not think that that feeling is reciprocated?
– I do not know what he thinks.
– Are you in my union?
– I do not know whether Senator Hannan is an actor or a judge. I heard that he had joined Actors Equity. I believe it is alleged in the capitalist press of this country that Actors Equity is run by a “ Com.”. Now, be careful, Senator Hannan, or you will finish where you should have been.
– I will not be on a ticket with you, though.
– You will be on any ticket as long as you are paid.
Senator Hannan will join anything as long as he is being paid for it.
Lately we have heard references in this Parliament to what is known now as the European Common Market. Senator Wright referred to it to-day. I generally take a little interest in overseas affairs and on numerous occasions in this chamber I raised the question of the Common Market. I explained that in 1957 the United Kingdom, naturally, did not wish to join the Common Market, because she did not want to put herself in the same category as fourth-class nations, as Italy, France and West Germany were then. The United Kingdom declined to join then but I am sorry to say that she will be forced to join now, despite what my friends opposite have to say. Senator Wright cries about the £60,000,000 involved in giving the workers a reasonable wage. He will be crying louder, in the interests of this country’s primary producers, when the United Kingdom is forced to join the Common Market. Probably his lifetime wish will be granted and we shall be back in the coolie days in relation to work on farms. The Government has had plenty of time to organize new markets for our primary products and it should have done so. To-day it is sending overseas a team of experts to inquire into what we can do to stabilize our position in relation to the Common Market. I tell the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) and the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) that these persons should have been sent to Senator Sir Neil O’Sullivan, who would have told them to look in the library, where they would find all they wanted to know about the Common Market.
I say in all sincerity that one of the most urgent matters to which the Government should give a lot of thought is our export of wheat. I think the wheat agreement expires next year. If England joins the Common Market, one of our greatest competitors in the wheat market will be France. I want some of the spokesmen of the Government to tell the Senate and the people generally what the Government intends to do with our wheat in the future.
– It intends to sell it.
– To whom?
– To China.
– I can recall when Senator McManus and Senator Cole threatened the Government and said, “ If you are to sell to mainland China, we will withdraw our support”. The Leader of the Government here said in reply, “ Wipe them. Take no notice of them.” Then the two senators said, “ If you sell it on credit we will withdraw our .support.” They emphasized the word “will”. But the Government still sold wheat on credit. It is forced to do so. What is wrong with selling it on credit? Because of the famine in China, we have been fortunate enough to be able to sell a large quantity of our wheat this year to that country. But if China has a bountiful season this year, where will this Government dispose of our wheat harvest in 1962? Mr. McEwen has said, “ We do not back the Australian Wheat Board. If there is any loss on the sale of wheat, it is in the hands of the board.” I heard him say that on television. I repeat: What does the Government intend to do with our wheat next year if China has a bountiful harvest this season? That is something to which the Government must give a lot of thought.
Let us consider the butter market. We must realize that if England joins the Common Market - no doubt she will - Denmark, which is one of the greatest butterproducing countries in the world, will naturally want to sell her butter to England. She will want to sell on the market to which she belongs. Then what will happen to us? What will happen to our sugar? What will happen to our dried fruits? What will happen to our fresh fruits? There was a report in yesterday’s press in which some gentleman was alleged to have said that if England joins the Common Market we will be in trouble in relation to our export of apples. Honorable senators on this side of the chamber have been telling the Government for four or five years that it must find new markets for our primary products; otherwise our primary producers must become insolvent.
The Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), who is going overseas to borrow more money from the World Bank, does not realize that Australia has an airline which belongs to the people of this country. I read in the press a report - it may not be true - to the effect that he intends to return by a French airline so he may do some skin-diving or fishing at some of the islands.
– That is a complete misrepresentation.
– It is not right?
– No. You have completely misunderstood the news.
– Well, he is going to have at least a little pleasure at some of the islands.
– That is quite wrong, and you should know it. In the House of Representatives yesterday he denied any suggestion of that kind.
– Then we are led to believe that the statement to the effect that Mr. Holt is coming back by a French airline is not correct?
– Well, we will eventually have proof of that when he returns. We will see whether he returns by a French airline or by Qantas Empire Airways Limited.
– Both statements were untrue - the statement that he intended to go skin-diving and have some pleasure on the way, and the statement about the airline by which he will travel.
– I do not mind the, Minister for the Navy explaining to the Senate what the Treasurer intends to do or why he does not travel by Qantas. What is wrong with Qantas, anyway?
– But I mind your misrepresenting him and attacking him in this way.
– Excuse me, I did not misrepresent the Treasurer. I prefaced what I had to say by using the words “ I believe “. I said, “ If 1 am incorrect, I stand to be corrected “. Senator Wright has corrected me. Now we will see who is correct.
I heard Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin refer to the subject of war service homes. Mr. Deputy President, do you not think that, as sixteen years have elapsed since the termination of the war, most of the soldiers who fought in that war should have homes? Do you not think the Government should make more money available to provide homes for people who are unfortunate enough not to have a home? The amount’ of motley’ that is made available to-day for war’ service homes meets only haM of the requirements of the1 people who are waiting for homes, t hope’ SenatorDame Annabelle Rankin1 is1 sincere when she says that the Government should do more to help returned soldiers to get a home.
– There is no” waiting list fet nouses these days. You know that.
– Oh! Mr.
Deputy President, that is the type of man who supports this Government. I shall ask the responsible Minister to-morrow how many ex-servicemen are on the waiting list for war service homes and- how long they have to waif for their money. The honorable senator will find that the period is about eighteen months. Senator Vincent is not concerned about the provision of more homes, because he Kas a good ohe. But there are’ people” who are concerned about tSe” matter. Such people come” to’ me for help.
– There is no waiting list for building a home.
– Do not say that. You know there is a waiting list. Now I want to make a brief reference to the economy of this country after thirteen years of maladministration by the Menzies Government. Company income has dropped from £746,000,000 to £730,000,000. That may not seem to be much, but it is rather a big lump. The income of other businesses has dropped from £563,000,000 to £555,000,000. Farm income - a matter that we should all considerhas fallen from £472,000,000 to £467,0’00”,000. Let me awaken some honorable senators who tell the farmers that they represent them to the fact that, if the farmers are not looked after and are not prosperous, the resultant burden must surely fall on the rest of the community.
The income of the dairy industry has fallen’ by £4,000,000. Although the dairy industry is a big industry, it is not one of the greatest industries we have. The value of our wool production has fallen by £49,000,000 and that of other pastoral industries from £248,000,000 to £230(000,000. Let me tell those people who” -have not heeded the warnings about inflation which1 have’ been” given by the Opposition on” numerous occasions that the decline itf incomes to which’ I have’ referred is the result of the’ maladministration of this Government, which’ has’ occupied the treasury’ bench since’ f9”49 f arn1 sure everybody will agree” with me’ when 1 say that we will riot get in the future’ the high prices’ for’ wool that we have received iri the’ p’a’st. If we demand a higher price for wool, we will fmd that scientists’ will produce’ synthetics to take the place’ of wool. So t say that the” price of wool is now at its peak. The press has told’ lis, in’ order to buoy up the’ Government”, that wool prices have increased since” the opening of the market. They have” not increased at all, nor will they increase. You cannot expect any increase1 iri the price cif wool because if the’ price does increase manufacturers will be forced into the use of synthetics.
I have always said that land is worth only its productive capacity in normal times, but this Government has allowed people to buy land at inflated prices - land on which to produce wool. The result is that to-day these people are finding it hard to make ends meet.
– ‘Would your party advocate acquiring the land?
– If the honorable senator had listened to the early part of my speech he would have known what- was in my mind.- If he is not acquainted with the facts, I will supply him with copies of the policy speeches of the late John Curtin and the late Ben Chifley, which contain proposals for developing this country’s primary and secondary industries.
I have hot much time to deal with an important section of the community which is suffering to-day. I refer to the tobaccogrowers. The tobacco industry is in a parlous condition. We have reached the stage that more” tobacco is grown iri this country than the Government forces the manufacturers to use iri the making of cigarettes and tobacco. Something must be done to give relief to people who have sunk their money iri the tobacco-growing industry and who to-day are in sUch a bad plight. Both the “ Myrtleford Times “ and the “ Wangaratta Chronicle Despatch “, published iri Victoria, have stated that no more credit i§ available for tobacco-growers’. This Government will have to do something for them.
I am sorry that my time has run out. There were two or three other matters that I wanted to discuss, but possibly I shall have an opportunity to do so when the Estimates are before us. I heartily support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition.
Sitting suspended from 5.53 to 8 p.m.
– I have listened with great care and attention to the debate on Senator Paltridge’s motion for the printing of the papers. I support the motion. Senator McKenna, on behalf of the Opposition, has moved an amendment seeking to add certain words to the motion. He and other Opposition senators who have spoken in support of the amendment failed to substantiate the claims set out by the Opposition in its amendment. Anybody who was looking to the Labour Party as a possible alternative government must now be completely disillusioned. The Opposition has given no practical assurance that it has a constructive policy for the country. Honorable senators opposite have one theme song the weirds df which are devoted to the supposed spectre of unemployment. The subject of unemployment has been raised in this chamber year in and year out. The Opposition constantly seeks to cultivate the idea that unemployment is widespread in the community. The fact of the matter is that during this Government’s term of office the employment situation has never been better, and relationship between employer and employee has never been better.
The Opposition has said that if it is elected to office it will restore import controls. I am strongly opposed to import controls. The re-imposition of import controls by a Labour government would be the first step in Labour’s avowed plan to regiment the Australian public. Labour’s avowed policy is to nationalize the means of production, distribution and exchange. Labour sees in import controls an excellent medium by which to control the people and the public purse.
In its amendment the Opposition accuses the Government of having failed to provide adequate social services. Apparently the Opposition does not acknowledge, publicly at least, dr in this chamber, the important legislation passed not very long ago which introduced what is known as the merged means test. I know that the Labour Party has circulated far arid wide the glad tidings of the benefits that flow from the merged means test in the hope of convincing the public that Labour was responsible for that piece of humane legislation.
The amendment refers also to child endowment. Everybody knows that the Labour Party opposed tooth and nail the granting of child endowment for the first child. Not until they were instructed by the twelve men of the central executive of the great Australian Labour Party did Opposition senators and members support the granting of child endowment for the first child. Why did the Opposition oppose the granting of child endowment for the first child? Opposition supporters said in this chamber that the granting of child endowment for the first child would lead to a reduction in the basic wage and the infliction of hardship on the workers. But what did Opposition supporters do after they had received their riding instructions? They advocated that 10s. should be granted for the first child. If the granting of 5s. would lead to hardship for the workers, surely the granting of 10s. would lead to even greater hardship! I think I have demonstrated the inconsistency of Labour Party supporters.
In its amendment the Opposition attacks the Government on its attitude towards repatriation benefits. The Opposition forgets that recently the Government passed legislation providing free hospital treatment in repatriation hospitals for service pensioners, of whom there were about 35,000 at the time the legislation was passed. So successful has the legislation proved that a further 7,000 to 8,000 people have applied for that benefit.- I am delighted to know that now more than 40,000 service pensioners1”*! emphasize the distinction between a service pensioned and a person Who receives a pension On account Of his war disability- are eligible for free hospital treatment in our repatriation hospitals. the Budget provides for an increase in age, service and repatriation pensions. The Opposition has said nothing about those increases. I remind the Senate also that under the Aged Persons Homes Act which this Government passed, 634 grants have been made to approved societies in order to assist them to provide housing for aged persons. Under the scheme the Commonwealth provides £2 for every £1 raised by the approved society. Since the inception of the scheme amounts totalling £10,659,224 have been granted and accommodation has been provided for 11,055 aged persons. That is a remarkable achievement - an achievement which the public of Australia welcomes. The housing provided under that scheme is complementary to the housing picture generally in Australia. We know that in the last ten years more than 800,000 homes and home units have been built in Australia. Never have the people been better housed than they are to-day. In the cities, the suburbs and the rural areas you will see houses that are being built or that have already been built. It is nonsense to suggest that a serious housing shortage exists. It is interesting to note that 75 per cent, of Australian homes are either owned or are being purchased by the occupants. Honorable senators will recall that a well-known Labour man once said that he did not want people to own their own homes. He claimed that if they owned their own homes they became little capitalists. We on this side of the chamber believe that people should own their own homes.
The amendment refers to the situation in agricultural and rural industries. It refers adversely to the Government’s policy towards those industries, but in this respect the amendment has not been supported by any Opposition speaker. So far we have heard only criticism from honorable senators opposite - never practical suggestions. Since this Government assumed office the agricultural community has gone from strength to strength. How else could it have increased the volume of production by more than 40 per cent.? The prices which our primary producers have received for their produce, particularly overseas prices, have declined in spite of the fact that the producers are exporting 40 per cent, more produce than they exported six or seven years ago. The overall production of primary industries has been increased. That could not have happened if those industries were not in a good, solid position. In 1959 our primary producers earned only £687,000,000 export income, in spite of the fact that they exported 40 per cent, more goods than seven years earlier, when they earned £684,000,000 export income.
The Budget provides for £3,000,000 to be paid under the wheat stabilization scheme for the 1959-60 crop, and this year £10,000,000 has been allocated to support the price received for the 1960-61 crop. Federal land tax has been abolished. Members of the Opposition say that they will restore federal land tax.
– Who said we would?
– Your party has said that.
– When did we say that and on what basis?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. A. D. Reid). - Order!
– On what land values?
– I will give you chapter and verse.
– You are just making a statement-
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.- Order! Senator Dittmer will have an opportunity to speak, and he can advance his arguments then.
– And won’t they be lucky when I do?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.- Order!
– I repeat that federal land tax has been repealed by this Government, and that repeatedly members of the Opposition, from their leader down, have said that they will restore federal land tax.
– Do not look at me when you say that.
– Look it up and you will find that year-in-year-out, since that tax was repealed, the Labour Party has said that it will restore it. This year the Government has contributed £13,500,000 for the dairying industry and has said to the dairy-farmers, “ We are prepared to continue a stabilization scheme for another five years. Now, get together and formulate your plan.” The Government has said that if any body of producers agrees to a stabilization plan, the Government is prepared to support it provided a majority of the growers want it and provided they retain control of sales of their own produce.
I am sorry that Senator Hendrickson is not here because he gave the Senate chapter and verse on what the Labour Party would do with wheat if it came to power. It would take charge of the wheat. I am very sorry that the honorable senator is not here. I wondered why he got so heated when I interjected about a cut of 10 per cent. in wages. He asked me to repeat that outside. Of course I will repeat outside that the Scullin Government cut wages by 10 per cent. I do not know what other matter he thought I might have been referring to.
– It did not cut them by 10 per cent. You are trying to get out of the hole you are in and you cannot get out of it.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.- Order!
– It did not cut wages by 10 per cent; it cut them by 22½ per cent. Put that in your pipe and smoke it. You thought that you were casting a slur on me.
– In what way?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - Order! I ask Senator Mattner to direct his remarks to the Chair.
– Funds are being made available to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization for research to assist producers to attain their goal of increased production. The firming of the wool market is welcome. Every1d. per lb. rise in the price of wool means that the wool-growers will receive an extra £7,000,000. I suppose Senator Hendrickson will agree that the Australian Wheat Board sold 181,750,000 bushels of wheat last year.
– That is quite correct.
– To whom did the board sell it - red China?
– Do not mention that.
– It is estimated that in November Australia will have only 20,000,000 bushels of wheat as a carryover; and we could sell that if we wished.
– To whom?
– Canada has disposed of huge quantities of wheat to China. Much of the world surplus of wheat has gone into consumption. We do sell wheat to red China; I make no secret of the fact.
– Do not tell Senator Cole that.
– I have never made any secret of that fact.
– It will serve you right if you are not paid for it.
– I firmly believe that we will be paid for it. An interesting point in regard to the sale of wheat to red China is that it looks as if China will be short of wheat and food supplies for some years to come and that there will be a market for wheat not only in China but also elsewhere. The interesting fact is that wherever the Communists are in power - whether it be in China or anywhere else - agricultural production falls. It has fallen and it is falling in red China. That failure to produce agricultural products is one of the peculiar things that happen under Communist rule. I have just given a few answers to Senator McKenna’s amendment. Those are the reasons why I oppose the amendment. I could give many others.
The Budget forecasts a deficit of £15,000,000. My contention is that we should live within our own income.
– Hear, hear!
– I am glad that the honorable senator has said “ Hear, hear! “ Our opponents blandly saythat were they in office they would budget for a deficit of at least £100,000,000. If one examines their proposals of give-aways in conjunction with the proposed abolition of sales tax, pay-roll and certain income tax, one sees that the deficit would be easily £200,000,000, because sales tax alone brings in £61,259,640 a year. Then with the extra distribution in hand-outs or whatever you like to call them which amounts to at least another £100,000,000-
– What is that for?
– I do not know. These are your party’s proposals. The deficit would then be at least £300,000,000.
There are only two ways in which that deficit could be financed. The only sound way is by imposing ‘extra taxation. The Labour Party knows ‘that that is true, but it has not told the electors that it “would have to raise at least £300,t)0c),000 by extra taxation. Secondly, you could have inflation if you wished; and no one has condemned inflation Snore ‘than members of the Opposition have. Ah additional £300,000,000 worth of inflation would have a most devastating effect. It would cause considerable loss to persons who live within their income and save for their retirement. They are the people who suffer because of inflation. For my part, I would not have a bar of Labour’s inflationary policies.
Every person who is interested in education, be it at the primary, secondary or tertiary level, is giving much thought to the future of education in this country, in 1962-163, there will be in Australia 422,000 lads between the ages of fifteen and nineteen years. Skilled craftsmen and technicians are in great demand how, and that demand will increase because of the development of automation and technology. Australia must concentrate on the training of technicians and craftsmen because workers of that kind are urgently needed. Our apprenticeship system, good as it is, is not geared to cope with this large number of potential wealth spinners. Iri Australia we have great trading and manufacturing organizations, well-equipped factories and industrial plants. Some of these are conducting their own training schools. One such is the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited. The organizations conduct training schemes with a view to meeting their future requirements for skilled technicians. Provided that such schools meet the desired standard of education, I suggest that the sums spent on their maintenance should be allowable taxation deductions.
Full-time training fOr three years under the careful guidance of skilled technicians and craftsmen would assist greatly in giving Australia the type of men arid women that are needed if industry is to keep abreast of modern developments. I know that the Government is applying itself with zeal to placing Australian universities on a sound financial basis. In return, the pub lic expects the universities to ‘continue to use their best endeavours to cope with ah ever-increasing number of students. In some of the fatuities, such as medicine; the number of students who are permitted to undertake the course is restricted.
During 1960, 11,755 students received tuition under the Commonwealth scholarships scheme. Of those 10,860 were attending Australian universities, 34’8 were at technical colleges, and ‘54’7 at other approved institutions. The total expenditure On the scheme in 1960-61 was £2,61’9,076. At 31st December last, 15,022 students had completed their training under the scheme. I ‘firmly believe that in the years that lie ahead the university authorities and all those interested in education will have . to display great wisdom in limiting the numbers of students seeking training. It is for that reason that I advocate the establishment of more technical schools. The Government provided £3,432,000 for the Australian National University iii 1960-61. In addition, other grants for education were made;
The Government has announced excellent national works programmes, including road and rail projects in Queensland and rail standardization work in Western Australia. Speaking as a South Australian, I welcome the fact that Western Australia and Queensland are receiving help in those directions. It may mean that rail standardization in South Australia is so much nearer, t also welcome the announcement that £1,325,000 is to be provided for the purchase by the South Australian Government of ten diesel engines and 100 trucks of 55 tons carrying capacity for use on the Broken Hill-Port Pirie line. We know that transport costs enter into the cost structure of almost every commodity that is sold in Australia. I am one of those who believe that railways have a very important part to play in Australia’s ‘development.
Emphasis is being placed on the standardization of our railway gauges, and also on the construction of roads in Queensland, New South Wales and the Northern Territory. It is generally agreed that the main railways system of Australia should have a gauge of 4 feet 84 inches. The conversion of the section of railway between
Albury and Melbourne to the 4-ft. 8iin. gauge has been almost completed. I am ,glad that the Federal Government and the State governments, too, are thinking in terms of rail standardization. The work that is being done emphasizes the necessity to link Adelaide and Sydney by means of a new railway line through Pinaroo and Ouyen, crossing the Mumimbidgee at Hay, and going on to Junee Junction. The line would pass through some of the best country in Australia and some of the most suitable country in which to construct a railway line. It would tap the rich Murray and Murrumbidgee basins. Because of the great increase of population that is occurring, we know that we shall have to produce more and more commodities. Although we may look to the Northern Territory and elsewhere for such production, a railway line through the areas I have mentioned would be of great advantage. The use of modern diesel engines could cut the journey from Adelaide to Sydney to approximately seventeen hours. “We have the men and the materials available now. If the five terminals in Victoria could be linked up in that way, Victoria would derive enormous benefit from such a line. It would mean that the ports at Portland, Melbourne and Geelong could all be used. New South Wales also would derive enormous benefit and, incidentally, South Australia would benefit considerably, too. -I’ am afraid I have not sufficient time to do .justice to all the possibilities of the line. Perhaps I shall never see it constructed, but I firmly believe that it is one of the absolute necessities, not only for the security of Australia, important though that is, but also because it would serve some of the richest country in Australia. It would be possible to have long stretches of straight line, with great pay-load capacity. Freight costs could be reduced, and many hundreds of road transports would be displaced. As honorable senators know, we contribute millions of pounds every year for road transport purposes. If we constructed a railway line in the area I have mentioned we would have cheaper transport, and Australia’s progress would be assisted thereby. I support the motion submitted by Senator Paltridge for the printing of the Budget Papers.
.- Senator Mattner, in his lengthy speech, attacked the Australian Labour Party. Of course, there would be something wrong if a Government supporter were to rise and fail to attack the Labour Party. Honorable senators opposite blame us ‘for everything under the sun. We have been blamed for all the Communist propaganda that we have heard about in this chamber during the last few years. I point out, however, that the honorable senator was under a misapprehension when he said that the Labour Party was against the payment of certain social service and repatriation benefits. The Labour Party is not against social services, nor is it against repatriation benefits. However, we have been telling the Government for a considerable number of years that it has not been adjusting the amounts of those benefits in accordance with increases in the cost of living, and we have been asking that the adjustments be made oh a more equitable basis. He said that the implementation of our proposal would cost £100,000,000, an enormous amount of money. He went even further and said that the total cost of giving effect to the suggestions that were made by the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives (Mr. Calwell) a week or so ago would be £200,000,000. Good heavens!
-Senator Mattner said that the cost would be £300,000,000.
– That shows how much notice can be taken of supporters of the Government when they are quoting figures.
– But he said that the cost would be £300,000,000.
-I heard him, laddie. It just shows how much notice you can take of what he said, anyhow. To-day, the Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton), who represents the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) in this chamber purported to give a report on something that happened in the Australian Council of Trade Unions. I do not think he has ever been a member of a union. The only chance he has of making a report ofl anything Connected with trade unions is to accept a newspaper reporter’s version of what happens - we know that newspaper reporters are lineal descendants of Judas Iscariot, anyhow - and to say that that is the truth of the position.
So far as the labour position is concerned, let us have a look at the amendment that has been moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna). The procedure in the Senate when initiating the general debate on the Estimates and Budget Papers is for the Minister who presents them to move that they be printed. Our procedure is slightly different from that in another place. To that motion, the Opposition has moved an amendment. We are not against the printing of these Estimates and Budget Papers but we suggest that certain decisions should be made by the Senate itself. The Opposition’s amendment - I shall not read all of it - proposes -
At end of the motion add the following words: - “ but that the Senate is of opinion . . . that they make no effective contribution to correcting seriously adverse trends in the Australian economy including unemployment, rising living costs, failure of the public loan market, adverse balance of international payments on current account, high interest rates and inadequate housing “.
-night, admitted that there is something wrong with the economy in relation to those particular points. He admitted that there is unemployment here, that there is always a certain amount of unemployment. That suggests, of course, that in his opinion there are not too many people unemployed.
We also heard a speech from Senator Wright to-day. As every honorable senator knows, he is an intelligent Shakespearean actor from Tasmania. Senator Wright admitted in his dissertation that there is something wrong with the economy of this country. Not only did he admit that fact; he also went to some pains to tell us of some of the things he thought could be done to right the position. As usual, he started with the working man. The only thing he could suggest was that we should alter the tribunals that deal with the conditions of work and the wages of the workers. The honorable senator said that the last basic wage rise had cost the economy £60,000,000 and that something ought to be done about it. According to Senator Wright, it is always the working man who should be dealt with. The working man is costing too much. Before he came into this chamber to make his speech he should have had a chat with the little popinjay, the Minister for Labour and National Service, in order to ascertain how a man with a wife and three children can live on the basic wage. If he had done that, probably he would not have adopted the attitude he displayed towards the worker.
Even the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Spooner) has admitted that there is something wrong with the economy; he has said so several times in this chamber. Although honorable senators opposite have admitted that something is wrong, we have not heard from them any suggestion, other than the one that was made by Senator Wright to-day, about how to right the economy. The only thing that the members of the mutual admiration society who sit behind the Ministers have done has been to abuse the Labour Party and to associate it with Communists. They have referred to a split in the Labour Party and to unity tickets, which they do not know anything about. The only unity they know anything about is unity with their blanket pals down here.
– What do you mean by “ blanket pals “?
– These same people are working with their cave, with the archbishop, Senator Hannan, for the purpose of relieving some Government senators of their jobs because the latter will not give way to their ideas. Government senators are blaming the Opposition for the state of the economy. Senator Spooner says that we are to blame because we are telling the people the exact position in plain words. I remind him that the Liberal and Country Parties have had control of this Parliament during the last ten years. In that period, Labour has not had a majority, except in relation to one or two minor matters when there was a revolt in the ranks of the Government parties. Yet, the Minister says that the Labour Party is at fault, that honorable senators on this side of the chamber are calamity howlers and that it is our fault that the economy is in such a serious state.
It is extraordinary that when responsible Ministers in this chamber are asked questions from this side they merely abuse us but never attempt to answer the questions truthfully. Statements have been made - I have made them myself for that matter, and I will make them again - that the figures that have been quoted in this chamber by Senator Gorton, who represents the Minister for Labour and National Service, by the Leader of the Government in this chamber, and by Senator Paltridge, who represents the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), when analysing the employment situation, are all faked - every one of them. I know that Government senators will say that it is all very fine for us to say that the figures are faked, that they have been supplied by the Statistician and, therefore, we are condemning the Statistician. Let us have a look at the position. I have before me a news release issued by the Department of Labour and National Service headed “ Review of the Employment Situation - End July, 1961 “. We have not yet received the review for the month of August; it will not be issued, of course, until about 14th September - a Utile bit too late to be of use in this debate. That is generally the position, of course. We usually receive the information late.
– You could analyse the figures for each month except last month.
– Doubtless, Senator Scott has a copy of the news release to which I refer. It came from the Commonwealth Statistician, was issued by the Minister for Labour and National Service and has been cited here and in the other place by all the Ministers. When we question the figures in it, we are told that we are condemning the Commonwealth Statistician and other Government employees. As the Minister said, this latest review of employment was issued on 14th August, 1961. I add that it was issued at 9 a.m. on that day. On page seven the persons registered as unemployed in South Australia at 30th June, 1961, appears as: Male, 5,710; female, 3,325; total, 9,035. In South Australia there is a Deputy Commonwealth Statistician, who acts also as Statistician for the State Government. He compiles statistics of employment and unemployment. It is apparent that he has more accurate information at his disposal. He publishes South Australia’s employment statistics, without any instruction, apparently, as to the disclosure of information. His quarterly summary, issued on the same day as the Minister’s release, showed that in South Australia there was a total of 9,817 unemployed persons at 30th June, 1961, or 782 more than were stated by the Minister. There is therefore a discrepancy of 8.06 per cent, between the two figures purporting to show the number of registered unemployed persons in South Australia. The South Australian Government does not interfere with its Statistician and tell him what result he has to get. He is required only to obtain accurate unemployment figures. The fact that there is a discrepancy of 8.06 per cent, between the two sets of figures shows, of course, that some manipulation is going on.
I now come to a question I raised with the Minister representing the Treasurer. Senator Paltridge. I asked him to reconcile two sets of figures purporting to show the size of the work force - one in a Treasury Information Bulletin and the other issued by the Minister for Labour and National Service and cited by the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) in this chamber. The Government gives the percentage of unemployment as 2.7, based on an aggregate of 4,200,000 persons in the work force. That is the figure given by the Commonwealth Statistician in his bulletin. It includes employers and independent money-procurers who are classed as self-employed. Actually nearly half a million people who are living by their wits and have never produced anything useful in their lives are counted as part of the work force, to back up the Menzies Government’s policy of fiddling with the unemployment figures. The other figure relating to the work force appeared in a bulletin issued by the Treasury. This was 3,020,000, not 4,200,000. Of course, it does not take into account any of those persons whom I have just mentioned, who have never done one day’s useful toil in their lives or produced anything useful. In my opinion, this figure represents more accurately the work force of Australia.
The official number of persons registered as seeking employment is 113,439. This has been cited as the correct figure by every Government supporter, including Ministers, and it appears in this bulletin. Applying that number to the work force figure appearing in the Treasury bulletin, the percentage of unemployed works out at 4.6 per cent. Why is the Government not honest in estimating the Austraiian work force? Why does if make calculations’ on an inflated work force that it has instructed somebody fo estimate? In addition to the 113,439 persons registered as seeking employment, a great many others” who are” actually unemployed are not officially recognized as unemployed because they an stood down or are put off temporarily and are awaiting re-employment in their old jobs. All of these people are iri fact unemployed. After going to the’ Commonwealth Employment Service, where they” register, they go to the Department of Social Services, -where they find that they cannot get relief. The result is that they do not go near the Commonwealth Employment Service again. They are refused relief because, they are told, they are not unemployed but will get their jobs back again when work recommences, and therefore’ they are not included in the numbers receiving relief;
I said by way Of interjection one day that the figures given by the Commonwealth Statistician are not challenged. It is the method of calculating what the Government is pleased to call the percentage Of unemployed that has created a doubt about the figures, which some call faked figures. I still say that they are faked figures. There is ho Other conclusion. The work force figure used by the Government is boosted in order to glide over the unemployment position. It is certain that if the factors I have mentioned were taken into consideration, and those who have never worked in their lives were eliminated from a calculation of the work force, or even if the number were calculated on material similar to that Which was used in 1948 and 1949, the result would be different. Senator Scott delights in saying that about twelve years ago the work force in Australia numbered so many and the army of unemployed was 5 per cent, of that work force.
– It was 5.6 per cents in June, 1949.
– He delights in saying it. If the Government now adopted exactly the same method of calculation as was adopted in arriving at the figure of 5.6 per cent., the current figure would be 7.1 per cent.
– You say lt” was 7.1 per cent, under Labour’s administration?
– No. Now, under, this Government’s administration. I am referring to the 113,000 persons, which the Government officially recognizes, as. being registered as unemployed. This Government has altered the method of compiling the figures for the purpose of arriving at the size of the work force. That has been done” under ministerial direction. I defy honorable senators opposite to prove otherwise. The altered method of compilation has been adopted upon ministerial suggestion Or as a result Of straight-out direction, lt has been said that the figures are a fake. It is not the figures that are wrong; it is the method which is wrong. The eliminations and additions that are used in the compilation result in a faked or inaccurate result.
The Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton), who represents the Minister for Labour and National Service, resents being asked any questions about this matter. He asserts that inaccuracies are accuracies - that is, if he replies at all or gives one ail intelligent answer. Apparently the Minister is not aware that where there is a reorganization by an employer, or where dislocations are caused by government policies, the labour exchanges do not recognize that an employee is out of work even if he is stood off for five weeks. Accord’ ing to the reasoning of the labour exchanges, and of the Government, such an employee has a job available to him as soon as his. employer calls him up again. Despite that fact, the Minister stated, in reply to a question which I asked on 17th August and which is reported in “ Hansard “ at page 59, that, given the requisite amount of time, a person who is out of work ineligible to receive the unemployment benefit. The requisite time is one week. But I repeat that there are men who have been out of work for five weeks and who cannot get the unemployment benefit. That reply by the Minister was quite inaccurate in its substance, and it did not answer the question I asked.
I asked also whether 1,800 or more unemployed foreign migrants in holding centres are taken into consideration by the Commonwealth Statistician in calculating the number who are unemployed. The Minister stated that he would get an authoritative answer. I am still waiting for it. But he went on to state that to the best of his knowledge no differentiation is made between migrants and Australian citizens in the right to register for employment. First, he admitted that he could not give an authoritative reply and then he went on to give an opinion which, applied to the 1,800 migrants I mentioned, was quite inaccurate. The Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer) has pointed out that special arrangements are made for those people. On 25th August the Minister for the Navy, in reply to a question asked by another honorable senator, said that immigrants in holding centres received special grants while awaiting placement. Actually, they are not regarded as being unemployed. They are not counted; they do not enter into the calculations. At that time I knew of only 1,800 migrants in the holding centres. I could not get a reply from the Minister. I repeat that he resents being asked any questions about the unemployed.
The facts relating to the compilation of unemployment statistics may not be properly exposed while this Government occupies the treasury-bench, but the little information that one can obtain leads to no other conclusion than that there has been a ministerial direction to the Statistician about which people are to be taken into consideration in calculating the relevant percentage. There has been some ministerial direction as to who shall be classed as being unemployed.
– Do you say that is a fact?
– Yes. I repeat that there has been some ministerial direction as to who shall be classed as being unemployed as distinct from some who may be, or who are in fact, out of work. One can’ obtain no statement from the various employment offices. The officers concerned say, “ We have been instructed not to give information to you “. Thus we get inaccurate official percentages in relation to the unemployment situation. Two, if not three, sets of figures are used to set out the size of the actual work force of Australia. Those figures cannot be reconciled with the figures that are used by the Minister when dealing with the number of unemployed and its percentage relationship to the work force. Hence such terms as “ fake figures “ and “ political skullduggery “ are used.
Further evidence of the manipulation of figures is contained in a document that has been compiled by the Department of Trade. Honorable senators will remember that some time ago I asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Spooner) whether he would make a copy of this document available to the Senate. Apparently a copy of it was issued to the press on a Sunday. Some comments upon it appeared in the “ Sydney Morning Herald” on the Monday. I admit that the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) occupies a high office politically, but I believe that in relation to political matters he could be just as snarly as the Leader of the Government in this place or the Minister for the Navy. But in this case there was no need to approach the matter politically.
The .document to which I have referred gives a survey of trade figures which measure the number of unemployed as those who are out of work because of a lower number of persons actually being employed in trade. A survey of the department’s statement appeared in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ of 21st August; in columns eight and nine at page 3. I have since confirmed the figures that were published. The survey states that output fell by about 10 per cent, in the year ended in last May and declined further in June. It then proceeded to give figures showing the decline and fall in promotion and employment. Amongst other things, it contains this statement -
Employment .and activity have fallen drastically in the consumer durables industries, which retrenched 25 per cent, of the labour force between September, 1960, and May this year.
The article concluded with a comment by Mr. P. J. Self, the executive director of the Employers Federation. He said -
The survey’s disclosure of a 7 per cent, fall in manufacturing employment is at variance ‘with the official figures published by ‘the Commonwealth Statistician for .the same period.
So, we have two sets of figures - one from the Department of Trade and another from the Commonwealth Statistician. The Employers Federation shows that they are in conflict. That proves what 1 have been saying here to-night. Mr. Self continued -
These showed that the tall over the whole of the manufacturing industry was 4$ per cent.
This survey gives yet another set of figures which shows the level of unemployment at 7 per cent, as against the official figure of 4i per cent., both of them being in contrast to the average of 2.7 per cent, supplied by the Minister for Labour and National Service. This figure has been repeatedly used by Senators Spooner, Paltridge and Gorton. I shall leave the matter there, except to say that every one in Australia associated with production and distribution knows that the unemployment position has become more acute because of the Government’s policies. Its attitude to the 113,000 people who are officially recognized as being unemployed is that such a degree of employment is a mere nothing, because, in its view, you must have an army of unemployed in order to be able to discipline those who are still working. 1 could go on to deal with the theme developed by Senator Spooner - that it is necessary to have a number of unemployed people. He mentioned a figure as high as 60,000 as being the norm of unemployment.
He has abused the Labour Party, blaming us for the conditions that exist to-day. Why do not Government supporters stand up and take the blame for what they have done. Why do not they try to suggest some way out of the present troubles? They have not done that, and this Budget does not suggest any solution to the problem. The only way to cure the position is to get rid of the Government. It is on the way out, as Government supporters know. That is why they are attacking the Labour Party instead of telling the truth.
– I was somewhat astonished to hear Senator O’Flaherty - whom I thought would have a sense of responsibility after many years in this chamber - attack a public servant - the Commonwealth Statistician - who cannot defend himself here. He suggested that a public servant could be directed to fake figures. I think that is a despicable accusation. It is one which cannot be proved, which is not true, and one which I did not think a responsible senator would make. The only other comment I wish to make on what Senator O’Flaherty said has reference to his statement about the 113,000 unemployed people.
– Registered as unemployed.
– About the 113,000 people registered as unemployed. For twelve years the Government has had a magnificent record in the field of employment. We regard 113,000 unemployed people as being too many, and we are endeavouring to reduce that figure. I shall proceed to show how the Government intends to proceed. It is despicable to say that any responsible citizen of Australia would try to laugh off such a degree of unemployment, as Senator O’Flaherty tried to suggest that members of the Government were doing. He said also that the Government has not accepted any responsibility for the conditions which led to the present unemployment and that it is doing nothing to reduce or eliminate that unemployment. That accusation is just nonsense.
I want to talk about the Budget. I have read with great interest the analyses which many business organizations and competent business people have made of the Budget over the last few weeks. I think we can find one common denominator in these analyses. All agree that the present circumstances call for a budget deficit, but there is disagreement as to what the deficit should have been. Some of the critics say it should have amounted to £50,000,000. I admit that such a deficit would have given a shot in the arm to industry this year, but I disagree with the proposition. I want to advance reasons why I think that such a proposition is not soundly based. The first mistake that has been made is that of viewing the Budget as a document dealing with a single year. You cannot do that. A budget cannot take into account only the year in which it is brought down; it must also take into account - if the Treasurer has any sense of responsibility - the years ahead. Those who suggest that a larger deficit should have been budgeted for this year fail to realize that.
There are two points which those who advocate a larger deficit have failed to realize. The first is the one I have just mentioned, namely, that the Budget is not related to one year only, but is also related to the years to come as well. With regard to the second point, let me refer to the Treasurer’s speech, when he said -
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.
The proposals are set out under the headings “ Roads for Cattle Industry “, “ New South Wales Coal Porte “, “ Western Australian Railway Proposals “, and “ South Australian Railway Proposals “. I at once grant to those who are attempting to analyse this Budget that no figures relating to commitments were given in the Budget speech, but Of course the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) knew what those commitments were. They are huge commitments, and much of the money will not be spent until next year. I completely disagree with those who suggest that, in addition to the immense commitments the Government is undertaking, it should have committed itself to an additional £50,000,000 by way of deficit budgeting. I think that the deficit of £16,000,000 provided for is sound and proper and will give the additional impetus to the economy which is needed.
The commitments which have been made by the Government will completely revolutionize the economy of Australia, and I will refer to them. The success of the measures taken by the Government is becoming more and more apparent every day. I wish to examine three phases of this great development programme. These three phases are associated with additional exports, which we must have to maintain the standard of living we are enjoying at present. The plan has been unfolding for everyone to see, not just this year, but over the past two or three years.
The first phase is the re-construction of the railway line connecting the great Mount Isa mine with the port of Townsville. I believe the Mount Isa mine to be one of the greatest in the world. The rehabilitation of this line will engender additional export income and will open up the hinterland of northern Queensland. The decision by the Commonwealth Government to assist the State of Queensland in this project was made nearly eighteen months ago.
I want to refer now to the almost revolutionary change that has taken place in transport between the mainland and Tasmania. Almost £12,000,000 will be spent to provide additional roll-on, roll-off ships and container-carriers. This form of transport has already meant so much to Tasmania. It has helped to develop the island’s tourist trade, and has reduced costs. As additional ships are added to the run the prosperity of the island will increase even further. This scheme has been put into effect in the last two years.
What are some of the projects that will be undertaken by the Government this year? Let me refer first to the standardization of railway gauge in Western Australia, which will enable iron ore and other products to be transported to Kwinana for export overseas. Let me refer also to the standardization of gauge between Sydney and Melbourne. That work is almost completed. Those are projects that this Government has been undertaking apparently unbeknown to the Opposition. The development of beef roads in Queensland and Western Australia is of tremendous importance. Those roads will completely change the cattle industry in outlying areas and will give a tremendous boost to our economy.
What is the Government aiming at? It is estimated that income from the export of steel will amount to £30,000,000 a year. It is estimated that in ten years’ time Australia will be earning £22,000,000 a year from the export of beef. The export of coal, copper, iron ore, bauxite from Weipa and other minerals will greatly increase our export earnings. The standardization of rail gauge will mean faster deliveries, lower handling costs and reduced freight charges. This is an important matter, because our transport industry has been the cause of many of our problems. The cost of transport in Australia is high compared with costs in other countries. The transport industry is vitally important, and the Government is tackling the problem by modernizing the industry. This will lead to a reduction in the costs that I have referred to.
In May, I960, an exports convention was held in Australia. It was agreed at the convention that Australia must increase the value of her exports by £260,000,000 within: five, years, if we. are to. maintain’ our standards The. figure of. £260;000,000 may be the. right, figure or. it may be too low. I ami not: prepared to.- argue what, the figure, should be1.. The Government has taken practical! action to increase our export earnings:. It has not engaged in dolorous speeches about unemployment such as. we. have, heard from the Opposition. The only theme song the. Opposition has is the one about unemployment:. The Governmenthas taken practical action to- stabilize the economy. The construction of railways will mean the employment of construction gangs. It will mean the use of sleepers and rails., The building of new steel works will call for vast amounts of labour. The development of our transport industries will require, skilled drivers, and heavy machinery. A port and a town will need to be built at Weipa in order to export the bauxite. All of these things will mean the employment of a vast amount of labour. This is constructive thinking on the part of the Government to restore full employment, which has always, been the Government’s objective. We have maintained full employment for ten years, much to the horror and disappointment of the Opposition. Because we have had a little unemployment this year we hear nothing but doleful and miserable complaints from honorable senators opposite. They can talk of nothing but unemployment, although Senator O’Flaherty has talked about figures being faked.
The kind of development to which I have been- referring cannot be achieved in which an- important part of your financial resources are. employed in gambling on the stock exchange, or in dealing in land at inflated values, or in developing companies of doubtful origin. The measures taken by the Government this year have curbed the bogus and synthetic prosperity, and placed: the. economy on a sound basis. We now have a base upon- which we can operate far the future development of this country.
J, want to refer to one or two facts about the. economic measures adopted by the Government. I note with interest that wholesale and retail index figures are falling. The most recent- information that I have seen shows that the wholesale index has dropped nine points since the June figure was supplied by the Commonwealth Statis tician.. 1< accept that figure. If/ he wishes. Senator O’Flaherty may still claim- that the: figure- is faked. Stocks in retail and wholesale warehouses’ ace falling. Orders areagain flowing into the. factories., L noted with interest this morning; that’ the garment, trade in New South Wales- is seeking hundreds of” workers because the orders, that it has are unlikely to be filled by Christmas. Those are significant signs. The steel industry is almost back into full production. The measures adopted by the Government have had their effect, and the economy is. now on a sounder and’ more practical’ basis.
Unfortunately, home building is still somewhat sluggish. Home- building, is not yetat the level that we would like to. see it. It is particularly sluggish in the virile State: of Victoria. The situation in Victoria affects: the timber industry in Tasmania. I. would like to sec home building in Victoria proceeding at a far greater rate than it is, thereby helping Tasmania’s timber industry..
I want to refer briefly to our rural industries, because they are still our greatest export earners. Table E on page 6 of the White Paper on Income and Expenditure sets out details of farm income. I note that it is estimated that in 1960-61 farm income will be £1,346,000,000, an increase of £16,000,000 over last year’s incomes But the next line shows that in order to obtain that increase, costs- have increased by £21,000,000. The actual income will be £7,000,000 less than last year’s income. That is most important because our primary industries are our greatest export income producer.
I wish to refer to one other facet of this subject in our free society. We in the. Western world, under free enterprise and with the incentives and. profitability that the Opposition, hates, can produce foodstuffs. That is completely opposite to the position in the socialist and Communist world which is and always has been short of foodstuffs. The simple reason for that is that no country can dragoon the sturdy, independent man who tills the soil. He can be induced by incentives and profitability; but, as the Communist society is finding- out, he cannot be dragooned. It is essential to restore profitability to our great rural industries. At the moment there is a small rise in the price of wool. That may- or may not be a passing phase. All the indications are that, the price of. wool willi continue, ta rise: slightly.. The position of the rural industries in Australia is such that with the present cost structure some deep, and earnest, consideration must he given to restoring their profitability.
I turn now to the. third phase. I refer to the great manufacturing industries of Australia and. their potential for export. It is very often underestimated by the Australian people. Already exports by our secondary industries are worth over £100,00.0,000 a year. I believe our secondary industries have great possibilities, particularly where, they are using our own raw materials, especially steel. This Government has been most active and dynamic in its endeavours to increase our overseas markets. Three trade ships have toured different parts of the world to show the wares of Australia. They have been successful in obtaining orders from many countries. Australia is developing its trade commissioner service. We are now represented in most of the major countries. We have a vastly increased number of trade commissioners who are assisting to develop trade in those countries. Australia has become the tenth greatest trading nation of the world.
I have heard honorable senators opposite complaining about imports. Some Australian industries have been hurt by imports, but a country cannot live as a trader if it only sells and does not buy. We have to buy from those countries which buy from us. The tariff of Australia, which is a protectionist country, protects industries which believe they could be damaged by a flow of imports at certain prices. It is easy to pick out one industry which has been hurt temporarily, but one could pick out a dozen industries which would be hurt if the countries from which we buy goods refused to buy goods from us. What would happen to those industries if the countries from which we are buying turned round and said, “ If you will not buy from us, we will not buy from you “? One could pick out a dozen great Australian industries that live on exports which would be seriously hurt. It does not: do any good to pick out a single industry here or there and not consider the overall position.
Mr. Deputy President, I have been placing before, the. Senate the. great development plans which this Government has undertaken and is. undertaking. A great drive for exports has been made by the Government. We are now passing into an- era which the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) prophesies will be the greatest ten years in the life of Australia. We have passed through ten years of great development and great prosperity. I believe that that period will be as nothing in comparison with what we will see in the next decade. We have that programme and we are carrying it out. The Australian people also have an alternative offered to them regularly by the Opposition - the dank, dolorous creed of state ownership of industry. The Opposition’s answer is state ownership of business and the creation of monopolies. We know, as every soundthinking Australian knows, what members of the Opposition would do to our great airlines if they had their way. They have shown their teeth pretty clearly. There would not be two airlines operating in this country; Australians would travel in a government monopoly airline whether they liked it or not. That is the pattern.
Honorable senators opposite and their colleagues have learnt their lesson. They have changed their technique since they were thrown out of office in 1949 after Mr. Chifley attempted to socialize the banks and industry. Their new technique is. to try to do that through the back door, through the setting up of government industries that will squeeze private enterprise out of existence. They will do that in the airlines industry at the first opportunity they get. That is the alternative which the Australian people are offered to the positive and dynamic development which is before them to-night. That alternative is state ownership, government ownership or government monopoly of industry. I have no doubt about what the Australian people will do because they know that by this- positive and dynamic scheme of development this Government is going to make Australia the great bastion of the free Western world in the Pacific.
– 1 listened with interest to the speech of the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Henty). He made a rousing appeal in an effort to bolster the position in which the Government finds itself. His speech was very nice to hear and it went over very well; but he knows that quite a lot of what he said was not true. In relation to the programme of development he mentioned the scheme for the standardization of rail gauges throughout Australia which was initiated as the result of the findings of a royal commission that was appointed by a Labour government. Sir Harold Clapp and the Hon. E. J. Ward sponsored the movement for a standard gauge railway system throughout Australia, and the proposal was criticized severely by members of the parties which constitute this Government. Even in the Senate recently the Leader of the Government got into a very heated argument with me, the details of which somebody has eliminated from “ Hansard “. He said that this system was a legacy left to the Government by the previous Labour Government That is why I walked out of the Senate. I wanted to challenge the Minister to move the adjournment of the Senate for the purpose of discussing developmental programmes. The Snowy Mountains hydro-electric scheme is being turned into a borrowing business. It is another asset to be put into pawn, so that this nation may be able to borrow. The big developmental schemes that are operating in Australia are a direct result of Labour action. I challenged the Leader of the Government in the Senate not to use the fact that the Government parties had the numbers to prevent the moving of a motion that the Senate adjourn for the purpose of discussing development schemes. But then, of course, the position was very different.
– You took your bat and went home.
– I walked out because I was not going to listen to the lies of the Government in relation to developmental works, after a challenge had been issued to debate the subject. I knew that there was no honesty in the expressed intention of the Leader of the Government to permit the matter to be debated, so I did the only thing I could in such circumstances, and registered disapproval.
The Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Henty) stated that the only subject that the supporters of the Australian Labour Party had discussed during the
Budget debate was unemployment. It is easy for the Government to make light of the fact that there are in Australia 113,500 unemployed. They are trained men, who are capable of working and who want to work. The Government says that it wants to raise production to the highest possible level. Consider the loss of production caused by the unemployment of that large number of people. Not twelve months ago, when the Government was trying to tell the nation that we were experiencing a boom, which was again a deception, the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Freeth) stated that Australia was suffering from over-full employment. What does the Government mean by over-full employment? There were men looking for work at that time. The Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) has publicly stated that there was more unemployment than the Government wished to have. We want to know what degree of employment it wishes to have. I think the supporters of the Government are quite happy to exploit the unemployment position.
The Budget that we are discussing neglects many important things. The members of the Opposition have asked that many things be done, and although some of them are regarded as necessary by supporters of the Government, they have not been done. The unemployed do not present a political challenge to the Government, because, according to its figures, unemployment amounts to between 2.5 and 3 per cent., which is not going to make or unmake governments, particularly when the Labour Party is suffering the terrible disadvantage of having the Australian Democratic Labour Party backing the Government, although that party knows full well that the Government is not espousing policies which either it or the Australian Labour Party supports. If the wastage of the Labour vote amounts to 10 per cent, because of D.L.P. support of the Government, even though there is 4 per cent, of unemployment, it is politically impossible for the people of Australia honestly to register their disapproval of the Government’s policies by changing the administration.
The Minister for Customs and Excise said that he was pleased with the Budget, and that the whole of Australia was pleased with it. I suggest, however, that the press of this country and the various sections of industry have a vastly different view. The Budget was summed up by the Sydney “ Daily Telegraph “ newspaper as a coward’s Budget. That newspaper stated -
We have a little Budget by a little man, the product of a conspiracy of caution.
It said that tired old men and niggling bureaucrats behind them had set the signals slow ahead. It asked: What is our policy - Advance Australia Fair or Advance Australia where? That is a newspaper with a large circulation. It usually supports the Government, but obviously it was not so impressed by the Budget as the Government itself appears to be. The Sydney “ Sun “ described the Budget as a “ pussyfoot Budget “. It stated that the most significant aspect was its dismal failure to reflect the optimism expressed by the Prime Minister ten days previously. It referred to the Budget as a timid approach to worsening problems by a pussyfoot Government whose courage was restricted to fighting words only. Well, we have heard some fighting words here to-night.
The “ Sydney Morning Herald “ said that the Budget failed to deal with recession, that it was a disappointing Budget and was ill-attuned to the needs of the economy. The Melbourne “ Herald “ referred to it as an uninspired Budget, and the Melbourne “ Sun “ called it a standstill Budget. The Brisbane “ Courier-Mail “ termed it a stand-pat Budget. The Adelaide “Advertiser “ referred to it as a Budget of missed opportunities, and the Hobart “ Mercury “ said that the Budget provided little for a few. The “West Australian” said that it was most disappointing, that it showed no original thought or initiative, and that it was just a matter of staying put by a smug, complacent Government. So, whatever the Minister for Customs and Excise may think, our newspapers do not share his view.
The Taxpayers’ Association has summed up the position as follows: -
The Treasurer’s Budget speech this week, together with the White Paper on National Income, which was presented at the same time, enables us to accurately measure the burden of taxation carried by the Australian taxpayer during the financial year 1960-61.
It went on to criticize the Budget severely, and to state that matters recommended by the Taxation Board of Review were disre garded by the Government, with the exception of those the adoption of which would result in additional revenue.
Let us have a look at this remarkable Budget, because, after all, it is remarkable. The Government is budgeting for taxation receipts amounting to the tremendous sum of £1,466,000,000. Honorable senators opposite from time to time refer to the Chifley Government Budgets. The last Budget introduced by a Labour Government, for the year 1949-50, provided for revenue of £504,387,000. The present Government, during the eleven years it has been in office, has increased the taxation burden on the people by £1,000,000,000. While it has been collecting that huge amount of revenue, it has been neglecting the real needs and the welfare of the people.
In the field of social services, it is true that the Government has moved to a degree, but the value of social service payments is thoroughly out of equation with present day inflated costs. Child endowment provides an example of the way in which the family man is being cheated time and again. During each Budget debate, pleas are made by members of the Australian Labour Party and the Democratic Labour Party for consideration to be given to the needs of the family man. The most valuable assets that this country has are its children and its family life. Yet, this Government has given no recognition at all to that section of the community by increasing child endowment. It has totally disregarded the need to increase allowable income tax deductions. The bigger the family the bigger the burden.
I turn to the incidence of taxation. While the burden of taxation per head of population has been increasing under this Government, the spread of taxation has been growing throughout the community. In 1948-49, taxation was at the rate of £67.12s.lld. per head. Under this Government it has increased to £162 for every man, woman and child in the community. Indirect taxation, which hits every person in the community - the poor man, the family man, the pensioner and the richest man in the land - with equal force, has risen from 20 per cent, to over 40 per cent, under the administration of this Government. These are very telling factors in connexion with the economy of this country. They prove clearly where this Government stands in relation to the Australian citizen who is a family man;
We have heard it said that the Government has tried to step up exports. Indeed, we have heard more about the proposal to increase exports and about our export earnings than we have heard on any other subject. The production in this country per head of population compares more than favorably with that of any other country in the world. We are producing to such an extent that embarrassment has been caused to the Government in the matter of satisfactorily marketing our production. For the last six or seven years, appeals have been made from this side of the chamber to the Government to take action to curb inflation. To-day, Senator Wright from Tasmania spoke feelingly about the high cost of production. He said what has been said from this side on dozens of occasions over the last six years, that if we cannot get our costs of production down we will fail regardless of our volume of production. But the honorable senator adopts the attitude that cost of production can only be lowered by lowering wages. As a legal man, he would take umbrage if anybody made a statement in respect of a court of law that insulted members of the judiciary or one of his learned friends; but when the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission determines wages and conditions for Australian workers on the basis of factual information placed before it, the honorable senator belittles and insults the members of the commission and blames them for inflating costs of production.
The reason why costs of production in Australia are high is that this Government has taken £1,000,000,000 more in taxes from the community than was taken by the Labour Government. This Government has allowed interest rates to rise to unprecedented heights in the .history of this country. Our transport costs are considerably higher than those in any other country. But in this country wage rises follow inflation and do not cause it. Admittedly, relief from taxation has been afforded to some sections of the transport industry. Senator Henty, who preceded me in this debate, referred to the satisfactory nature of the transport that is provided for Tasmania. Who is providing that transport? The
Government - and probably at a loss. Of course, that should be done for the purpose of promoting industry.
– -It is not being provided at a loss.
– It could be provided at a loss and still prove to be advantageous. Transport is not being provided in connexion with developmental work in this country because it is not profitable. No difficulties were experienced by TransAustralia Airlines before this Government took a hand in the matter. It was an efficient organization and its costs were low by comparison with those of other forms of transport.
– T.A.A. was running at a loss.
– That was as a result of the Government’s interference in relation to freight carried by air. I do not deny that competition is a good thing, provided it is fair. But nobody can describe Ansett-A.N.A. as an independent company. I should say that the Government has nearly as great a monetary interest in AnsettA.N.A., by way of loans and guarantees, as it has in T.A.A. That is not entirely objectionable; but while the Government talks hypocritically in this chamber Australia is being prevented from developing as a nation, although I believe the Minister was honest when he said he would like to see Australia go ahead and obtain more overseas markets. Australia will never develop into a mighty and well-balanced nation until it .acquires its own maritime service. That has been proved time and time again. At the present time, exorbitant freight is charged on all our commodities that are sent to the markets of the world.
The most distressing feature of this Budget is that the Government has imposed taxation equal .to 28 per cent, of the national income. Our taxation rate is 3 per cent, higher than the rate that is considered as a safe rate of taxation in order to provide social services for the people. Despite the high rates of taxation that are imposed bv this Government, social services are not being provided on a reasonable scale. There is a difference of opinion among supporters pf the Govern. ment concerning child endowment, family allowances and bousing. I heard it said earlier that the housing situation in Australia is satisfactory, but Senator Henty denies that claim. Of course, the political influence in Tasmania is different from that on the .mainland. I believe that the effect of the slowing down of the rate of provision of housing in Australia has been felt in Tasmania because of the falling off of the demand for housing, timber and material from that State. But Senator Henty would not risk his scalp politically by denying that Tasmanian interests suffered loss as a result of the Government’s policy in slowing down .housing construction. He said that housing needed to be stepped up in Victoria. Of course, the political implication in that statement was that Tasmanians knew that loss of employment in the timber industry was due to a fall in house building.
I agree with the statement that has been made by the Sydney press that this is a coward’s budget. This Government has become smug and complacent because at past elections it has obtained support through D.L.P. preferences from as many as 10 per cent, of the people who normally would vote for Labour, and who on the basis of D.L.P. policy should logically vote against this Government.
– You will not get their votes while you are associated with the Corns.
– We are not associated with the Corns. If any one has fought the Corns, it has been the Labour Party. It is the stock-in-trade of the Government to promote the ‘Communists. This Government has done more to provide impetus to communism in Australia than the Labour Party has ever done. When we come down to tin tacks, we find that there are two political parties which are very pleased that the Australian Labour Party has been split. First, the Communist Party of Australia is delighted that this split has occurred; and, secondly, the Liberal Party of Australia and the Australian Country Party are equally delighted to see the split continue. I believe that ultimately many people who now vote for the .Democratic Labour Party will realize that their best interests lie in giving their preferences solidly to the Australian Labour Party which is concerned primarily to ensure that the family man iri this country shall have an opportunity to enjoy a decent home life and a fair share of the nation’s wealth.
While the Government has been levying this heavy taxation, it has sold many valuable Australian assets, and it is still selling assets, to the disadvantage of this nation. The assets are being sold to people who are exploiting Australia commercially. International financial speculators, by buying our assets, are capturing Australia more effectively than they could do by feats of arms. After the Government had applied the credit squeeze to the motor industry it was -embarrassed, ‘but not by the thought of the disadvantage that Australia suffered. In our period of office, the capital invested in the motor industry was mainly Australian. Now it belongs to people outside Australia, who told the Government that if the stupid increase in sales tax was. not remitted, the industry would be removed from Australia, with the result that the Government, not the investors, would suffer. There was then a quick reversal on the part of the- Government. A policy that had been said to be absolutely essential was reversed in quick time.
– You brought General Motors-Holden’s Limited here.
– At that time, more than 50 per cent, of the subscribed capital was Australian. That interest has been sold. With the infiltration1 of capital into this country ;and the Government’s failure to protect Australian industries, dividends payable abroad are so high that we shall be very severely embarrassed if we have difficulty in selling our exports. Taxation of the Australian people has been so violent that they have been unable to obtain a proper shareholding in the assets of this country. Although the Government says that it has budgeted for a deficit, in fact it has not, A surplus of receipts over expenditure is expected. The Government lends to the States, on interest, money collected in revenue. It is sheer hypocrisy to tell the people that the Government is budgeting for a deficit. The taxation impost on the Australian community has reached the point where it is clear that the Government is thoroughly devoid of any consideration for Australian industry and Australian development. During recent years, <the Opposition has been constantly telling the Government of the difficulties thai would follow the formation of the European Common Market. The Government has completely neglected to do anything about this.
The Budget will not achieve what the Government seeks. Comment by the press, chambers of commerce, the Australian Labour Party and the Democratic Labour Party, indicates that the Government has failed badly. If the Government does not reorient its thinking, it will do a very great disservice to this country. There will be an opportunity for re-assessment at election time. If the Australian Labour Party and the Democratic Labour Party voted solidly together, the Government would not live. It is smugly complacent, knowing that it has been promised the support of 10 per cent, of persons who normally vote Labour. With this assurance, the Government denies the people reasonable child endowment. It denies the family man relief from indirect taxation, which has risen by nearly 25 per cent., and from taxation on income from personal exertion. Under the system advocated by the Labour Party the family man would not carry such a heavy taxation burden. The Government remains smug and complacent because the decisions at recent elections do not truly represent the view of the Australian voters. The Government believes that the result will be the same in the coming election, lt believes that because of a split in Labour ranks it has a reserve vote which should reasonably go to Labour. We believe that principles cannot be bartered. When the Labour ranks come together, this Government will live no more. Communism will be dealt with effectively and it will not be used as it has been used by this Government to retain power, while being given every encouragement to persist.
.- Having listened to Senator Cooke, I have come -to the conclusion that no man is more effective than he is in emptying the Senate chamber. I am grateful to those stalwarts who have remained to listen to me. Even the visitors in the gallery retired gracefully. [Quorum formed.] I appreciate that the forms of the Senate enable me to have an audience, which is more than Senator Cooke had. I have never before heard so much rubbish as I heard him speak during the twenty minutes or so that he was on his feet.
The motion before the Senate is in the form customarily used in this chamber for discussing the Budget simultaneously with discussion of it in another place. In addition, we have submitted to us an Opposition amendment which in form is not unfamiliar to many of us. It is typical of the form of amendment that has been submitted to the Senate on many occasions, containing prophesies of gloom dispensed by the Opposition. Ever since I have been in the chamber statements of this type have emanated from the Opposition benches. All the Budgets introduced by the Menzies Government have been attacked in a similar way. None of the prophesies has come true, and I am sure that the same story will be unfolded again. I look at the amendment with great interest. In it the Opposition has attacked the Government on many aspects of its management of the Australian economy. The amendment refers particularly to social service benefits, child endowment, repatriation benefits, the plight of the taxpayers, the family unit, unemployment, rising living costs, the future of the public loan market, the adverse balance of international payments on current account, high interest rates and inadequate housing. The Opposition has not substantiated a single charge contained in its amendment. No fair-minded citizen would claim that the Government has been lacking in its approach to any of the matters referred to in the amendment.
All of them could be debated at length. Let us consider the matter of social service benefits. In this respect, the Government has a record of which it is entitled to be proud. Too much time would be required to go through all that this Government has done in providing social service benefits. I remind the Opposition that the Government expends approximately £450,000,000 a year on the provision of social service benefits. Of course, that sum is not spent entirely on pensions, but covers health benefits and other social services.
The Opposition has also attacked the Government’s provision for repatriation benefits. I cannot understand that, because if any country can be reasonably proud of the repatriation services it provides, it is Australia. The last benefit that was given to ex-servicemen - it had to do with their hospitalization - was an indication of what has been done for these people over the years. When we compare what has been done for Australian ex-servicemen with what has been done for ex-servicemen in other countries, we can say that our achievement is nothing short of remarkable. The Opposition’s amendment refers also to the plight of the taxpayers.
I should like some honorable senators opposite to go to other countries and ascertain what they would pay there in taxes. Admittedly, our taxes are high. They are necessarily high because we demand a great deal from the Government. No government could provide all the services that the Australian Government has been in the habit of providing without having to raise sufficient taxes to meet the necessary charges. It would be interesting to compare the taxes which we pay with those that are paid in the United States of America, the United Kingdom and some of the European countries. Quite recently I spoke to a Dutchman. He told me that the taxes which the average Australian pays are by no means as great as those that are paid in a little country like Holland. While none of us likes paying taxes, generally speaking the Australian gets a good return for the money he pays. The incidence of taxation in Australia is not inordinately high.
Reference has been made to unemployment, to rising living costs and the failure of the public loan market. I could deal with these matters at some length, but if I did so I would take up too much of my time. One cannot encompass all these matters in the short space of half an hour. We all regret that there has been an increase of unemployment, but when we compare the situation in Australia with that in other countries we find that we are very favorably placed. Of course, I do not underrate the effect of unemployment on the individual. No one in his right senses could be satisfied with the present position in Australia. One of the problems that this Government has sought to overcome in the last few months has been unemployment. I believe that many of the measures which were adopted by the Government in preparing the Budget were designed to correct the unemployment situation. I do not think any one can deny that this Government has had a very proud record in the field of employment. When we take into account the credit squeeze that was applied by the Government - justifiably, I feel - as a result of which a great deal of credit was drawn in from the lending institutions in a comparatively short space of time, the resultant level of unemployment is surprisingly low. No one can suggest that it has reached proportions which should cause any alarm. As I have indicated, I believe that the measures which have been adopted by the Government in preparing its Budget will correct the present situation.
The latest figures relating to our international payments on current account, which I think were announced by the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) in his Budget speech, indicate that our overseas balances now total approximately £570,000,000- In spite of the criticism that has been levelled against the Government, that is a highly satisfactory state of affairs. It is essential to retain substantial balances overseas to meet our import commitments. In spit of the run on imports last year because of the boom, 1 repeat that our overseas reserves are in a most satisfactory state. The improvement within the last two quarters is such that we now have, as I have already said, overseas reserves amounting to £570,000,000.
I turn now to the reference to high interest rates. The Government does not fix interest rates other than those which are charged by the recognized banking institutions. Nobody can say that they are excessively high. But, of course, high interest rates are charged by the hirepurchase organizations. The Opposition knows as well as I do that the Commonwealth Government has no power constitutionally to control the hire-purchase organizations. The States have, but they have done very little to control the activities of those organizations. Very little uniform action has been taken by the States, and consequently high rates of interest are charged.
The Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner), who is responsible for housing, can quite effectively answer the Opposition’s charge that the provision of houses in Australia, is*, inadequate:. Any one who goes to any capital city can see literally hundreds of houses that are available for. sale. They are available to anybody who can, find the. money to buy them. The credit to buy houses was- also available. Of necessity, there must always be a demand for housing, due to immigration and other, factors. There will always be a shortage of houses, comparatively speaking,. I, think it is desirable that that should be the case in a country like Australia. Let rae explain what I mean by that. We are bringing in migrants at the rate of 125,000 or 130,000 a year and its follows that this creates a demand for housing. If the demand for housing decreases, that will be the time for us to have some misgivings about the economy. While there is a healthy demand for housing, we are making progress and we are adding to our population. As a consequence, we are keeping a large number of people engaged in the vital building industry and in those industries which are ancillary to it. I think that the matters I have mentioned, if examined closely, will prove conclusively that the amendment moved by the Opposition has no substance and completely fails in all material respects.
The Leader of the Opposition in another place, Mr. Calwell, when replying to the Budget speech of the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), charged the Government with trying to create in the minds of the people what he called the myth of a boom during 1960. He said that he believed that it was necessary for the Australian economy to get back to the conditions that prevailed at that time. I ask the Senate to examine the situation to see whether a boom was operating in this country then, or whether there was any truth in the. statement that the boom was merely a myth. Anybody who has studied the state of the. economy in 1 960 knows that Mr. Calwell’s suggestion that the boom was a myth just , cannot bear, examination. We know that the economy of Australia was in a difficult situation which, if action had not been taken, would have developed into something really, dangerous.
The Government saw fit to take certain measures to control what was really an unhealthy and an artificial boom. Manifestations of this boom were in evidence early in- the- year-m February>“-and the Government- took- measures- to check the boom that was gathering way. Those measures proved, to be- inadequate, so, in November;, the Government had- to take more- stringent- measures. Mr. Calwell has said; that there- was- no-boom; that-conditions were really normal, and that it would be desirable, for Australia to. get. back, to those conditions. Let us examine the situation that existed in 1960. There was a spectacular rise of £138,000,000 in bank advances. There was a record upward movement in hire-purchase credit from £400,000,000 to £450,000,000. There was an expansion of credit amounting to nearly £200,000,000. These things were largely responsible for the fact that there were boom conditions in Australia in the 1960’s. The prices we were receiving then for our exports were declining, so it was completely paradoxical that there should have been a boom in this country. It was an artificial boom, caused by the enormous amount, of credit that began to get under way. Record sums were raised from the public, in debentures and notes. Speculation in land and shares was rife. I do not think any one in this chamber can deny that. Fantastic prices were being realized for land, and in every capital , a really dangerous land boom was occurring.
The Government simply had to take some steps to arrest the dangerous trend. Largely as a result of these boom conditions - not as a result of the lifting of import restrictions - a fall of. £90,000,000 in our overseas reserves occurred in the September quarter. Some of our industries manifested boom conditions, particularly the building industry. The rate of home building increased to 100,000 houses a year, in contrast to the ordinary rate of 70,000 or 80,000 a year. Large building projects were going on throughout Australia, particularly in the capital cities. This boom in the building industry caused an imbalance in the economy in the labour force and in the field of building resources, which are vitally necessary to all our industries.
– Some of the builders are bankrupt now.
– That may be so. The greatest manifestation of boom conditions was in the motor car industry.
I belong to a State where- the motor- car’ industry is extremely important, but I am not unmindful that the boom in that industry was beyond the strength of Australia’s resources. We were manufacturing cars and putting them on the road at the rate of 1,000 a day, in- round figures. It is easy to imagine- what effect that had on hire-purchase finance’ and on our overseas balances. It was vitally necessary for the Government to do something about the motor car industry. In spite of everything that has been said by the Opposition, and by some honorable senators’ on this side of the chamber, I feel it was absolutely necessary to curb the extravagance of the motor car industry - an extravagance which was clear to all thinking people. The industry, which is a valuable adjunct to our’ industrial life, was over-reaching itself.
The Government tried to restore the 1 959 level of activity. The measures it adopted had, perhaps, a greater effect than was anticipated, but what did the- Government do immediately that became clear? It removed the extra 10 per cent, sales tax on motor cars. However, the motor car industry still did not recover. I am of the opinion that it has not recovered because of the unhealthy boom conditions that were operating within its structure during I960. These conditions were bound, sooner or later, to reduce the- tempo of activity of the industry, and’ that has proved to be the case. All this is indicative of the type of thing that the Government sought to correct. I believe the Government has successfully combated the unhealthy economic conditions that developed in the period from early in 1960 until the end of the year. The measures that the Government took were not popular. Undoubtedly they aroused a good deal of hostility, but the Government has never sought popularity at the expense of its principles. The Government felt that its actions were necessary in the interests of Australia, and events have justified its action.
The Labour Party wants to see greater buoyancy in the economy. The Government, too, wants to see greater buoyancy, and it is taking steps to achieve that objective. But the steps that the Government is taking are not those that were advocated by the- Leader of the Opposition in’ another place who, when speaking on the Budget, said that a Labour government would bring down a little, budget to provide for a deficit in the vicinity of £100,000,000. I ask all sensible persons to consider for a moment what effect that would have on the economy. In any event, such a budget could not be put into operation before March of next year. The Leader of the Opposition, in order to carry out his promise, would have to raise the money either by taxation or by using treasury-bill finance. The deficit of £100,000,000 would apply for the remaining four months of the financial year. If you subtract from Labour’s proposed deficit of £100,000,000 the deficit that the Government is providing under this Budget - something like £16,000,000 - and apply the resulting figure to the remaining four, months of the financial year, you find that you have a spending rate in the community equal to £250,000,000 a year. What would that do to the economy? The very condition that this Government has sought to correct would be re-established by an action of that kind. The people of Australia are entitled to know that the extravagant policy advocated by the Leader of the Opposition on behalf of the Labour Party would create a dangerous situation, and would stimulate once more the very trends that the Government has done its utmost to bring under control. For that reason I feel certain that the people of Australia will have nothing to do with Labour’s policy.
What is the Government proposing to do about the economy at present? We believe that greater buoyancy is needed in the economy. However, I do not admit for a moment that Australia is in the doldrums - far from it. Australia is in a very healthy economic position at the moment. We have a comparatively low rate of unemployment. If you travel throughout Australia you will see great projects being undertaken. Great industries are working satisfactorily to produce the goods that we need. Our primary industries and our secondary industries are in a healthy state. Certain sectors of the economy are facing difficulties, but with the measures announced by the Government I am sure there will be a steady trend towards economic buoyancy: I am confident that that buoyancy will be manifest very shortly.
The Government has stated clearly that credit restrictions have been removed. I do not think even the Labour Party would claim that the credit squeeze instituted last November was maintained for an unduly long period. I know that the banks have credit available. The hire-purchase organizations are operating and money is available from them. Ample credit is available to the public for the development and expansion of business.
The Government has undertaken a programme to increase the rate of home building. Additional finance is being provided for this purpose. Something like £40,000,000 is being provided for home building under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement. In addition to that other agencies are providing finance for housing.
In the last few days we have seen announcements of great projects to be undertaken. A tremendous expenditure will be involved in rail standardization work in Western Australia. That expenditure will necessarily be spread over a number of years. The Government envisages great expansion in many undertakings. Large sums of money will be provided to develop our export industries. A great deal is being spent on roads at the moment. Apart from the enormous sums of money provided for roads out of the petrol tax, money has been ear-marked for the provision of roads to develop our beef exports. In this regard, I have in mind the money that has been allocated for beef roads in Western Australia and the Northern Territory. The Government is alive to the situation in so many ways. It has given encouragement to the mining industry. Having in mind the value to Australia of the mining industry, I am sure everybody agrees that money spent in that direction is well worth while.
We must realize that ours is a growing economy. Australia is expanding continuously. Despite what the Opposition has said about the economy, this is still a prosperous nation. As the Prime Minister said, Australia is one of the most prosperous nations on the face of the earth. I fully subscribe to that view. One has only to compare conditions here with conditions in other countries to realize how fortunate we are. Our present position has not been achieved by luck. We know that we have great resources, but the Government that has been in power for the last twelve years has created the climate for the expansion that has taken place. The Government is justified in claiming that there has never before been a period in the history of Australia when such great development took place. Such development cannot be achieved by economic mismanagement. I have never complained about the Government’s management of the economy. Admittedly, we have had our ups and downs. [Quorum formed.] When I was interrupted, Mr. Deputy President, I was saying that the state of our economy is proof to every thinking person that it has not been mismanaged during the term of office of the Menzies Government. While we are not perfect, I believe that the Government has managed the Australian economy as well as any government could have managed it. Economic problems are very difficult, and the Government has had its share of them during its years of office. We must realize that when we set a target it does not necessarily mean that we will be dead on the target.
The Government has made adjustments in its programme from time to time throughout its term of office. Those adjustments have been effective and have confounded our opponents in their predictions that the Government’s actions would bring dire results in their train. When I think back over the years I recall some of the things for which the Government has been criticized strongly by the Opposition, and then I realize the results that have accrued from the actions the Government took. I believe most people will agree with mc that those actions were correct and that what was done was necessary in the interests of the economy and the welfare of Australia. This Budget is simply a repetition of that type of action. Despite what the Opposition says about the Government’s Budget proposals and the shortcomings which the Opposition alleges in its amendment, I am certain that the people of Australia realize that they have a good government which has given them great progress and development. When the elections come round shortly, I am certain that the electorate will voice that verdict in no uncertain terms.
– I do not believe that honorable senators have been very impressed by the speech that we have just heard from Senator Hannaford. He had a very difficult task in speaking in other than pious platitudes about a very empty budget which does not hold out very great hope for the Australian people. Twice during his speech it was necessary to call a quorum in order to provide an audience for him.
The amendment that has been moved by the Opposition does not deal in platitudes; it gets right down to the fundamentals. We believe that this Budget fails to make adequate provision for social service benefits.
– You have said thai every year.
– It is quite true that we say that every year. We do so for the simple reason that the plight of recipients of social service benefits continues from year to year. This Budget is an admission that inflation is robbing recipients of much of the value of ‘ social service benefits. The Government has a responsibility to see that those matters are put right and that adjustments are made to bring social service payments up to a reasonable level. The Opposition has directed attention to the position of mothers who are rearing children. In view of the great number of people who are out of work or on shorttime employment and the number of mothers who have to go to work to supplement the family income, the Government has a responsibility to make better provision for child endowment. Those remarks apply also to repatriation benefits, which are enumerated in the Opposition’s amendment. 1 also direct attention to the fact that this Budget fails to relieve the plight of taxpayers, the family unit, farmers and other sections of the community. It could be justly described as a zig-zag budget. We have heard budgets described as stopandgo budgets and fits-and-starts budgets. That seems to decribe the way this Government is running the country with its economic and political ideology. This Budget could be described as a zag budget because it follows the zig.
– Did you say it was a zac budget - a sixpenny budget?
– 1 said that a zag budget would be a fair description of it. It is of the monotonous type of budget that we have had over the years. The Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), in the Budget speech, spoke of the boom that was running strongly at the time of the last Budget. That was part of the zig-zag. It receded some months ago and with it went much unhealthy speculation in land and shares. The Treasurer also spoke of the overstrong demand for goods, material and labour. Then he spoke of the rapid increase in costs and prices. I am indicating that there is no stability at all and that these stop-and-go, fits-and-starts, make-shift and uncertain budgets have an adverse effect on the economy as a whole. There is no stability and no purpose in the Government’s present financial policy. It has improvised and taken make-shift measures without any defined plan or pattern. The Treasurer claimed that the Australian economy is far healthier for being rid of the zigs and zags that have been occurring in the economy. He said that they were undermining our prosperity and our prospects of future growth. I fail to see in this Budget anything that indicates a departure from the pattern of this Government’s Budgets during the twelve years that it has been in power. Despite the variations of policy referred to by the Treasurer in his Budget speech we have the admission that there has been a fall in total employment and a rise in unemployment. We of th. Opposition join issue with the spokesman of the Government on the question of the number of registered unemployed, which is stated to be approximately 113,000. The Government boasts that it has always stood for full employment. I challenge that statement.
The Government has disregarded the fact that seasons have been bountiful and that new sources of mineral wealth have been discovered. In addition, there has been expansion of the population, in furtherance of a scheme originated after the last World War by the Labour Government. The present Government inherited the legacy of the Labour Party’s immigration policy. The Snowy Mountains hydro-electric scheme, which was begun under a Labour Government, also was inherited by it. The Government has been living on those legacies ever since. The inevitable result of its economic policy is under-full employment. To-day, it is making excuses.
Senator Spooner, with whose recent speech on the Budget 1 shall deal at greater length later in my remarks, seemed to think that we should look forward to unemployment as the order of the day, that 113,000 was not a great number of people to be unemployed, that 50,000 or ‘60,000 was about the norm, and that, accordingly, only about 60,000 more than that number were out of work. The honorable senator is entitled to deal in figures, but I remind him that there are in this country people who adopt a different attitude to the tragedy of unemployment. The breadwinners included in those 113,000 people lose not only pounds, shillings and pence, but also their right as Australians to work and to earn their living. The humiliation that is caused by loss of employment is much worse than the loss of wages. Unemployed breadwinners lose the ability to provide for their families. In some cases they lose their position as head of the family. Through a calculated, premeditated policy of the Government, they are forced out of work. They have to explain to their children why they are not like other fathers, why their children cannot have new shoes, or their weekly allowance, or new clothes like those of the children next door. Those are the basic, human problems that are involved in the hard, cold, callous figures of the Leader of the Government when he speaks of a norm of 50,000, and of there being only 65,000 or 70,000 more than that number out of work.
We on this side of the Senate remind honorable senators opposite that every person involved in the tragedy of unemployment has the right to work. The Government has refused to adopt measures that would ensure that right for every Australian who is ready and willing to work. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), when speaking in Perth recently, referred to the unemployment position in his casual way. He spoke of weak spots that were cropping up here and there in the economy. It is all very well for the Prime Minister to speak of weak spots. I do not know whether the supporters of the Government appreciate that because of the bank-up of stocks, the reduction of earnings, and the uncertainty that has been caused by the policy of the Government, many people have finally come to the conclusion that the Government has been in office for too long, that it has1 become arrogant and complacent, and that it forgets the little man and the ordinary business man. They see that its policy is directed towards huge companies and monopolists.
Senator Spooner gave the Senate and the people of Australia a very interesting insight into the way in which his mind works. Being one of the hatchet men of the Liberal Party, what he says is gospel, according to him. He almost gloated when he referred to confidence in business transactions. He said -
We have seen a whole series of business transactions, running into millions of pounds, which represent a new development in Australia in the last decade. We see the take-overs that are occurring. Woolworths Limited is taking over Rockmans Limited in a £3,000,000 transaction. Commercial and General Acceptance Limited is attempting to take over Huddart Parker Industries Limited for £4,500,000.
I could add to those the take-over of Farmer and Company Limited by the Myer Emporium Limited, and the take-over of Foy and Gibson Limited. I could refer to the build-up of Ansett-A.N.A. and to its take-overs. Incidentally, in view of the discussion that has been proceeding about Government airline business going to Ansett-A.N.A., I made it my .business to check on the shareholding and the administrative set-up of Ansett-A.N.A. I found that Ansett Motors Limited bank with the English, Scottish and Australian Bank Limited, which means that I was told a deliberate falsehood during question time earlier to-day when I was informed that Ansett-A.N.A. banked with the Commonwealth Bank. The proceedings of the Senate were being broadcast at the time that the responsible Minister gave me that information. As a result of my check in the proper quarters, I have found that it has no bank account whatever with the Commonwealth Bank, but deals with a private bank. If that is the kind of thing that we may expect in the defence of these people who are trying to exert pressure, and who are receiving a lot of assistance from the Government, it shows a very great deterioration in the standards that should be set in the Parliament of this country.
I was staggered by Senator Spooner’s attitude. He spoke of these take-overs as a great and new development in the last decade. The amazing thing is that, over the years, he. has purported to represent the small man,, the private- enterprise man, the capable, resourceful, typical Australian. Instead, we now find that he is a ruthless and dedicated capitalist. He sees the expansion and the consolidation of big business as a great development. The figures quoted showed that this was a soulless attitude towards small businessmen. He says that this development is a new one, and he gloats over it. He stated that Australia is. better off than Canada and the United States of America as far as its economy is concerned. We have seen the development of this, great take-over trend when dog eats dog and the big fleas have little fleas to eat. In those countries they speak of unemployment in terms not of thousands but of millionsSenator Spooner quoted the figures for Canada and the United States of America. In those countries the political ideology can be expressed in this way: What is good for General Motors-Holden’s Limited is good for the United States. The same philosophy obtains with Senator Spooner when he says that what is good for the monopolies in Australia is- good, for Australia. That might be good enough for Senator Spooner, but what is good enough for him and for the take-over merchants, the monopolists, the market fixers and the bulls and the bears on the stock exchange is not good enough for Australia.
I should like, to issue a warning that the great business transactions that Senator Spooner speaks, of are not taking, place only in Australia. Every one knows that interlocking directorates, international directorates, cartels and monopolies are gaining strength throughout the world. They control the many and varied forms of production of vital commodities. You do not have to do much research to find the tie-up in the control of oil, a vital commodity. We see that wars can be quite easily waged over oil. The same trend in international cartels and monopolies is seen in relation to steel. What is claimed to be a great Australian company - the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited - through inter. locking directorates has become a part of an. international’ concern. The same applies in respect of. rubber and aluminium’. We have, recently seen one of Australia’s greatest assets, the aluminium works at Bell Bay, become absorbed by the international cartel. These remarks apply equally to nickel, coffee and sugar. These same monopolies control the manufacture of armaments and guided missiles. If we study the directorates, we find that one leads to another, and that the main production is the manufacture of armaments, aircraft, warships, submarines, artillery and tanks in. preparation for war. Furthermore, these organizations are so powerful that they stand astride governments and parliaments.
– Can you give the names of the organizations you are referring to?
– Yes, one is the Krupp organization in Germany. It will be remembered that Herr von Krupp is one of Senator Spooner’s friends; the honorable senator entertained him when he visited Australia a few years ago. That organization stands to gain most from the rearmament of Germany. It nearly makes me vomit- when I hear that the Germans are now walking into Wales in- their jack boots. Only a relatively short period of time has elapsed since they would have hung their jack boots on the necks of the British people. It is disgusting to think that armed Germans can walk into Wales and be welcomed there. The propaganda machine is such that they are being brain-washed and allowed to come into Wales within such a short, period of time-
– They are being brainwashed.
– Of course they are. It is a part of the whole set-up - the whole tie-up as we see it to-day. We are on the brink of war through stupidity. There is no- doubt that war represents a break-down in diplomacy. (Quorum formed.) I ask for leave to continue my remarks at a later date.
Leave not granted.
– When I was rudely interrupted, I was referring to the fact that the Australian- people are being taken along the garden path by this Government, which makes promises that it is not able to fulfil.
This Budget does not offer any encouragement whatever to the Australian people. As I have pointed out before, the whole of the Budget speech is a square-off in words, shibboleths and in platitudes. The Government has tried to convince the Australian people of the existence of something that does not exist.
– As you did at question time to-day.
– If Senator Marriott attended in the chamber more frequently he would learn more. Had he been here at the time the Minister replied to my question, he would have known that I was informed by the Minister that AnsettA.N.A. dealt with the Commonwealth Bank.
– So it does.
– It does not. That was confirmed by a high officer of the Commonwealth Bank who told me that Ansett-A.N.A. does not bank with the Commonwealth Bank.
– He is wrong.
– 1 had a look at the share register of Ansett-A.N.A., and the only information I could ascertain was that the bankers for Ansett Motors Proprietary Limited, of which Mr. R. M. Ansett is the managing director, are the English, Scottish and Australian Bank. If Senator Marriott had been here he would have heard me say that.
– That is not the position. You have deliberately misled the Senate.
– You were on the air at the time you gave the wrong information.
– I gave you the right information.
– He said that it was deliberately false.
– It must have been deliberately false.
– Mr. Deputy President, I take violent exception to the remark made by Senator O’Byrne that my comment in this respect was deliberately false. 1 shall prove that it was not false as soon as the forms of the House give me an opportunity to do so.
– I will not apologize. I have nothing to apologize about. I have made a statement that I sought information from a bank officer and that the information that was given to me was correct.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. A. D. Reid). - Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, 1 formally put the question -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
[11.01. - Mr. Deputy President, I understand that in my absence Senator O’Byrne stated that I had deliberately given to him false information this morning when I said in answer to a question that was asked by him that Ansett-A.N.A. did business with the Commonwealth Bank.
– I vouch for the fact that he said that it was deliberately false.
– He said that it was deliberately false. I now take the opportunity to inform the honorable senator that he is at fault in saying that 1 gave him inaccurate information. If he cares to check, as he says he has checked, he will establish this fact, which should be well known to him. Ansett-A.N.A. has done business with the Commonwealth Bank since 1957, in which year it assumed the liabilities of Australian National Airways Limited, which, as is well known, did business with the Commonwealth Bank for a period extending back to 1952. Those are the facts. Mr. Deputy President. I repeat what I said this morning. I completely deny, and fling in Senator O’Byrne’s face, the lie that he told the Senate.
Senator O’BYRNE (Tasmania) [11.11 - This morning, when I was given by the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) the information which caused a certain amount of hilarity in the Senate, I immediately went to the Parliamentary Library and asked the Librarian to obtain for me any information relating to the banking activities of Ansett-A.N.A., Ansett Transport Industries Limited, or any of its subsidiary bodies. The only information along those lines that was available to me in the Library, although the full directorate, activities and tie-up of A.N.A. were shown, was that the banker of Ansett Motors Proprietary Limited, of which Mr. R. M. Ansett was a director, was the English, Scottish and Australian Bank Limited.
– Only the E.S. and A. Bank. Not being satisfied with that information, I communicated with a very high officer of the Commonwealth Banking Corporation, the Commonwealth Trading Bank-
– Who was it?
– I will not mention his name. I could not possibly mention his name in this place. Our concern is not with the man but with the information that I received and was entitled to get.
– It was most reprehensible to ask for confidential information.
– It is not confidential. It should be published in the stock register and in the balance-sheet. It is scandalous that this company has been able to get all these concessions without having to publish a balance-sheet, so that the people of Australia will know what is happening.
– What nonsense! What absolute rot!
– The State will make it publish balance-sheets. There is complementary legislation for that purpose. The company should publish these figures and its directorate.
– It won a prize for the best published balance-sheet in Australia a couple of years ago.
– Without mentioning its bankers. That gives an idea of how a good balance-sheet can present these things.
– Have you ever seen the company’s report?
– The company won a prize two years running for the best published balance-sheet.
– It gives the public what it wants to give. In this case the information I wanted as to bankers was not available, as it usually is in the case of a company of the size of AnsettA.N.A. I went further and obtained information that, to the best of my informant’s knowledge, Ansett-A.N.A. did not have an account with the Commonwealth Trading Bank.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.5 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 6 September 1961, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1961/19610906_senate_23_s20/>.