24th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– Has the Leader ot the Government in the Senate seen a report of an address given yesterday at the Sydney University by Professor Bart J. Bok, Professor of Astronomy and Director of the Mount Stromlo Observatory at the Australian National University and one of the most brilliant scientists in his field - I think that is recognized by most of us - in which he made a plea for the complete overhauling of the current system of scientific planning? In view of Professor Bok’s warning that Australia will be left behind in its development and that political leaders of all parties should treat the matter as one of urgency, will the Minister consult his colleagues in the Cabinet with a view to giving early consideration to Professor Bok’s recommendation that Australia must soon have a fully-Hedged Commonwealth department of science, with a responsible Minister at its head?
– I have seen a report of Professor Bok’s remarks. I know that representations have been made to the Prime Minister on this matter from a number of sources. As with many other matters, this is not as simple as it appears on first sight. Scientific work in a number of directions is allied to particular departments and particular activities. Within my own portfolio, scientific work in connexion with power and fuel is conducted by the Australian Atomic Energy Commission. Scientific work and research work are also going on in relation to the Snowy Mountains scheme. This is a very big question. I should not care to advance a view on it offhand, nor to say that I would be prepared to advocate the adoption of such a proposal as that mentioned by the honorable senator. It is not for me to say, but expressing a personal opinion I think there is much to be said for research and applied research work being close to the particular activity to which it relates rather than being in isolation.
– My question is directed to the Minister for National Development. By way of explanation, I direct his attention to an answer that he gave to a question that was asked in the Senate by Senator Laught some days ago concerning the Chowilla dam in South Australia. The Minister, in his reply, intimated that the State Premiers had met, with a representative from the Commonwealth Government, and had agreed that the Chowilla dam should be proceeded with. Each agreed also to pay a quarter of the cost, but, due to embarrassment owing to shortage of money, the New South Wales Government had asked that the River Murray Commission have a look at the situation regarding the use by South Australia of the Menindee Lakes water. Without in any way disagreeing with or disbelieving the statements then made by the Minister, I now wish to ask him a further question. A very definite statement is being widely circulated to the effect that that is now an outdated situation, that the New South Wales Government has approached the Commonwealth Government and asked whether it will put up the money for New South Wales, and that that State will repay its share, together with interest, to the Commonwealth, I now ask him whether that statement is correct.
– I can only state the situation as I understand it. If I may briefly recapitulate, the proposal for the Chowilla dam storage came from South Australia. It was investigated and the construction of the dam was recommended by the River Murray Commission. The Premiers of the three States concerned and the Prime Minister met, with their supporting Ministers. There was general agreement between all four governments that this was a very good thing to do. The Commonwealth repeated its offer to provide onefourth of the total cost. New South Wales indicated that it would like to avoid financial outlay at this stage and asked that, before a final decision was made, the River Murray Commission should investigate the possibility of using the Menindee water storages for a period of some years, in lieu of the Chowilla dam. It was not proposed that those waters should be used permanently. The proposal was that they should be used for a period of time, so that the construction of the Chowilla dam could be deferred to suit the financial convenience of New South Wales. 1 will not pretend that there was any enthusiasm on the part of any other government for that proposition - the other governments wanted the work to go ahead as quickly as was practicable - but there was an agreement that the New South Wales proposal should be investigated. It has been referred to the River Murray Commission, and that is where the matter now stands. We are awaiting the report of the River Murray Commission upon the pros and cons of using the Menindee waters for some period of time so as to allow a deferment of the commencement of the construction of the Chowilla dam.
I can say no more than that. New South Wales made the request, the request was agreed to, and an investigation is now under way. When the investigation has been completed, there will, of necessity, be another meeting between the Prime Minister and the Premiers to reconsider the matter in the light of the River Murray Commission’s views.
– Is the Leader of the Government in the Senate aware that the Government was defeated in another place last night? If so, will he state the intentions of the Government, following this defeat by the party which received the greatest number of votes at the 1961 general elections? Is it the intention of the Government to advise His Excellency the GovernorGeneral that it can no longer carry on and that he should ask the Labour Party to form a government?
– I think the main point that I should make in replying to Senator Cant is that the Government was not defeated in the Senate. That is my immediate concern. I am certain that Senator Cant has asked the question in a facetious way. The circumstances were that one of our members was engaged on the telephone when the division was called. The warning bell rang in his room, but it stopped ringing and he did not notice that the call was on.
– I ask the Minister for Civil Aviation whether the Government has any policy in respect of the airlines on which civil servants, defence personnel and other government employees travelling on Commonwealth Government vouchers should travel. Does the Government ensure freedom of choice but advocate that, as far as possible, Commonwealth Government business should be shared between the two major interstate airlines? Is this policy frequently made known to heads of departments and the personnel concerned? Is it not a fact that many people authorized to travel by air on Commonwealth Government vouchers understand that they still have to travel with the government-owned airline, as was laid down under the Labour Government’s policy?
– The matter is covered in the agreement between the two airlines, which has been in existence since 1952. Under that agreement each airline has equal access to government business.
– Except for freight.
– Not at all. If the honorable senator will possess himself in patience I shall deal with that. Each airline has equal access to all government business. With regard to passengers, the holder of a government warrant makes his choice as- to which airline he will travel by. In respect of freight, any government department handling freight may be approached, and is approached, by either airline, and the business is allocated on the commercial judgment of the customer department as to the convenience factor; that is, it makes the arrangement that best suits its convenience. The honorable senator has asked whether this arrangement is well understood in the Public Service and whether it has been promulgated or is frequently promulgated. I am aware that it is- promulgated in certain Treasury orders. Indeed, I told the Senate that some little time ago in a reply that I gave to a question rather similar to this one. I am not aware that there is a lack of knowledge within the Public Service of the fact that each member of it has the right to choose the airline by which he travels. There is no reason why there should be, but, if that is the position, I hope that this question asked by Senator Marriott will bring to the notice of any public servant who has any doubt the fact that he may travel on the airline of his choice, and that he has been entitled to do so since 1952.
– I ask the Minister for Civil Aviation: Is his department or any other department providing observers to study hovercraft experimentation in the United Kingdom and Europe? If so, has the Minister anything to report on the result of these studies?
– The development of hovercraft in the United Kingdom is being closely followed by the Department of Civil Aviation. The progress made with the prototypes was reported upon by the Civil Aviation Liaison Officer at Australia House quite frequently, and he still reports on any fresh development that takes place. A few hovercraft are at present in operation. They are used as ferries for river crossings or for slack water crossings. I am not sure about the economics of the operations. I suspect that manufacturers have not yet got a hovercraft that satisfactorily answers the commercial questions of operation. Those that have been developed are used for the purpose of furthering the technological knowledge of the firms that made them. Any information that becomes available about new types and developments is immediately made known to the Department of Civil Aviation. I can say with confidence that. the department is keeping abreast of all new movements in this direction.
– My question is addressed to the courteous Minister who represents the Postmaster-General. It relates to a question that I placed on the notice-paper on 17th May; and to-day is 22nd August. How many moons will wax and wane before 1 am furnished with a reply to that question?
– I am not a Professor Bok and I know little of the waxing and waning of moons, but I shall bring the honorable senator’s question to the notice of my colleague and ask him to expedite a reply.
– Can the Minister representing the Postmaster.General inform the Senate whether a site has yet been chosen for the national television station to serve the southern agricultural areas of Western Australia? Is it a fact that the town of Mount Barker is being considered as a site for this area? If Mount Barker is decided upon could the Minister get an assurance from the Postmaster-General that from such a site would not be blanketed for people living east of the Stirling Ranges?
– Being aware of my colleague’s lively interest in television in Western Australia I have endeavoured to keep myself abreast of developments there. I am in a position to say that no decision has yet been taken regarding this site, but that Mount Barker is being considered. I can give the honorable senator the assurance that, before a final decision is made, a very thorough survey of the area to be serviced will be undertaken.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Customs and Excise. Has the Government considered, or will it consider, ordering a Tariff Board inquiry into the question of providing protection for Australian builders of ships of 500 tons and under?
– A Tariff Board inquiry was held into the shipbuilding industry in Australia. The board gave special protection to builders of vessels over 500 tons but found at that time that the existing protection was sufficient for vessels under 500 tons. I understand that the Minister for Trade has the shipbuilding industry, as a whole, under review at present. Any further review by the Tariff Board will naturally embrace the building of small ships.
– I direct a question to the Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research
Organization. Has the Minister’s attention been directed to a report that the United States National Capital Planning Commission intends to build in Washington, at a cost of 1,500,000 dollars or approximately £600,000, the world’s largest planetarium, designed especially to further the study of outer space? Is it a fact also that Moscow and other large cities of the northern hemisphere have large planetariums, but that none exists in the southern hemisphere? So that Australian scientists may effectively assist in space research projects will the Minister discuss with the Minister for the Interior the inclusion of a planetarium in plans for the development of Canberra?
– My attention has been directed to the proposal to build a planetarium in Washington. My understanding of a planetarium - I may be wrong - is that it is designed to enable members of the public to participate in astronomy and to have an understanding of astronomical experiments rather than for use by astronomers. I am somewhat strengthened in that belief by the figure cited by the honorable senator as the cost of the proposed planetarium in Washington. I point out that a single telescope which Professor Bok of the Mount Stromlo Observatory is seeking would cost about £4,000,000. Similarly, a large radio telescope - which is not an optical telescope but an instrument through which scientists, by means of waves from the sun, study what is happening on the sun - which has been installed by the C.S.I. R.O. cost far in excess of the amount mentioned by the honorable senator. However, I shall bring the honorable senator’s suggestion to the attention of the Minister for the Interior.
– I have received a letter from Senator Tangney requesting her discharge from further attendance on the House Committee.
Motion (by Senator Spooner) - by leave - agreed to -
Debate resumed from 21st August (vide page 350), on motion by Senator Paltridge -
That the following papers: -
Estimates of Receipts and Expenditure, and Estimates of Expenditure for Additions, New Works and other Services involving Capital Expenditure, for the year ending 30th June, 1963;
The Budget 1962-63 - Papers presented by the Right Honorable Harold Holt in connexion with the Budget of 1962-63;
National Income and Expenditure 1961-62; and
Commonwealth Payments to or for the States - be printed.
Upon whch Senator McKenna had moved by way of amendment -
At the end of the motion add the following words: - “ but that the Senate is of opinion that their provisions do not serve the best interests of Australia in that -
they will not correct seriously adverse trends in the Australian economy including unemployment and decline in migrant intake;
they make inadequate provision for the development of Australia; and
they fail to provide social service and repatriation benefits - in particular child endowment - on a just basis.
– When the Senate adjourned last night I had stated quite definitely that I supported this Budget because I believed in it in principle. I stated also that I would continue to criticize those aspects in which the Budget did not come up to expectations. I commend the Government for the way it has pursued its policy of expansion with stability. I firmly believe in expansion as rapid as can be sustained. If we are to achieve our object we must maintain stability in the economy and prevent a rise in prices and costs. The best way to exert our influence in the world is by increasing our prosperity and maintaining our stability.
It is more evident to-day than ever before that Australia must be strong in the councils of the world. We have to do more to help the people near to us who have not the same standard of living as we have but who have the right to have that standard. It would be a very gracious thing for Australia to do and a beneficial thing for Australia if we helped those people to raise their standard of living. It amazes one to learn how much the United States of America is doing to help the less fortunate nations. When Mr. Dean Rusk was speaking to members of this Parliament he cited some figures that are worth repeating. He told us that the United States had almost 3,000,000 men under arms and that more than 1,000,000 of them are stationed in countries outside the United States of America. He said that his country was supplying aid to about 75 countries and that the value of that aid this year would be £A24,000,000,000. That is a fantastic amount. I understand that it represents about 10 per cent, of the gross national product of the United States of America. 1 should like to see Australia aiming to spend 1 per cent, of her national income on foreign aid.
We should not expect to receive any thanks for any foreign aid that we give. The United States of America certainly has not received any thanks. In fact, it gets more abuse than most countries. But the Americans are big enough to realize their responsibility and to continue their work. It is not a human attribute to give thanks for the help one is given. Most people feel that they are being put into an inferior position when they are helped. We must realize this, but still give whatever aid we can. I am very pleased to see that under the Budget there will be a slight increase in the value of foreign aid given by Australia. lt amounts to about £32,000,000. That is a very creditable amount for a country the size of Australia. However, we can do a good deal more under the Colombo Plan, particularly for the countries that are close to Australia, such as the islands which form an umbrella over Australia, as it were. They are spread from the 3,000 islands of Indonesia, through New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, round to the islands that are now described as Oceania. Recently I was on some of the islands in the South Pacific. I came to the conclusion that the people of those islands, who are doing their utmost to help themselves, have a very grave problem. They have to try to improve their standard of living by producing more goods and being able to sell them. They are all aware of their problems. They ask where they can sell their goods at reasonable prices. All over the world tropical products are in over-supply.
They also ask where they can expect to receive aid in agricultural and normal education. Australia can help them in this respect by supplying teachers. I understand that in the past Australian teachers have been willing to go to some of the islands, but they have had to forgo superannuation benefits for which they were contributing. The Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) might have a look at this matter and see whether that problem can be overcome, to enable Australian teachers to go, under the Colombo Plan, to these countries which look to Australia as the most prosperous country in this part of the world, which I believe Australia is.
It is obvious that the United States of America has had to spread its aid too widely. I believe that the events that have just happened in relation to West New Guinea may not have happened if the United States of America had not been so occupied in other parts of the world. This brings home to me the fact that Australia must build herself up in order to cope with the situation in our very near north. It is frightening to think of what the United Nations has done in this latest effort. That organization is now condoning what I call international immorality and gangsterism - the theory that might is right. To me, that is very frightening; it is something of which Australia must take a great deal of notice.
This leads me to believe that now, in view of the situation in our part of New Guinea, we had better take a great deal of notice of the report of the last United Nations mission to that territory, which urged1 Australia to proceed more rapidly towards, I think, self-government for the inhabitants. I shall make a distinction between self-government, self-determination and independence. I believe selfgovernment means having a majority of indigenous people in their own parliament, able to say how they would like to be governed. In New Guinea, this would be subject to the veto of the country supplying the money, or the main part of the money, for governmental purposes. I completely agree that we should press on towards giving the people of New Guinea more and more representation in their parliament. Selfdetermination, I believe, comes when the people say how or when they would like their independence, and independence is achieved when they completely govern their own affairs, determining how and where their money should be spent. I do not advocate that independence should come to New Guinea for some time, but, when it does, I believe Australia will still need to contribute very generously to the affairs of New Guinea.
It will be many years indeed before the people of New Guinea can support their own economy. At present we have a very friendly understanding with them. I should like to see this continue, but it will be jeopardized if the United Nations continues to act in an unprincipled way and to press for our withdrawal from the territory now under our control. This could well mean that the people of New Guinea, who now treat us as friends, would change their attitude to us, perhaps with disastrous results for Australia. For those reasons, I advocate the almost entire adoption of the report as it was introduced.
While speaking of the United Nations, I call attention to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which says, amongst other things, that every one should have the right to choose how he lives and where he works. Returning to Australia, I call to mind two anomalies that still remain in this regard. It is most regrettable that this Government is still showing some discrimination in the matter of women having the right to choose how they should live and what they should do. The first matter to which I refer is commonly called the marriage bar in the Public Service - in other words, the regulation made under the Public Service Act which says that when a woman marries she must leave the service. This seems to me to be utterly discriminatory and utterly unnecessary. Other countries with similar standards of living, such as England, Canada and New Zealand, have no such bar. It is high time that Australia did away with this completely discriminatory and unfair regulation. 1 should like to know just what the Government’s policy is on this matter. If it does not intend to allow women to have the right to choose what they should do and when they should work, I think it should say so. If it does not believe in doing away with this discrimination, I think it should stop passing on the report that was made by the Boyer committee when the Public Service Act was being amended. The Government continues to pass on to various committees, one after another, the recommendation of the Boyer committee that the marriage bar be done away with. It is easy for the Government to pass this recommendation to a committee which will give the answer it wants. If it does not want the marriage bar discontinued, it can pass the recommendation on to a committee of men who are heads of departments or men in the trade unions, or even to a committee consisting of single women. All of those people would have some reason for wanting a continuation of the marriage bar to employment. I believe that if this issue were put to the people of Australia, they would say that this discrimination ought to be done away with. Certainly there are no insurmountable barriers to doing away with this objectionable bar to employment.
The other matter of discrimination, of which I have spoken many times in this chamber, has to do with the administration of the War Service Homes Division. A handful of ex-servicewomen enlisted under exactly the same terms as the fighting men and were willing to go overseas on service, but owing to the state of the war they got only as far as Darwin.
Because of that, they are not at present eligible for a war service home. Yet, men who enlisted and were sent only to Darwin are eligible. As I have said, only a handful of women are concerned in this discrimination. I doubt whether the number would be more than 250 all told, and doubtless not all of those would want homes, because many of them probably have married ex-servicemen who are eligible. I hope that the Government will very rapidly do away with this unnecessary discrimination which is extremely irritating, to say the least, to those women who volunteered to do their duty for this country. Because they happen to be women, they are now discriminated against.
In speaking of housing, I suggest that, although this Government has done a magnificient job by providing some £500,000,000 over the last six or seven years for the provision of homes, there is still one aspect of the Federal Government’s approach which I think could be improved. There is at present a very difficult barrier between the amount of money available on first mortgage to people under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement, and the amount that it costs to build the type of house they want. This gap is causing a great deal of trouble and is increasing the costs of houses in Australia. On this point, I am suggesting that we might adopt a scheme similar to that which is at present in existence in the United States of America. I refer to the Federal Housing Authority of the United States, which guarantees to private investors that they will not lose on their investment in housing. The pleasing effect of that arrangement is that it encourages people, who can put down, some kind of an original deposit, to build homes, and it also prevents the rate of interest on the money, which they have - to borrow to bridge the gap, from becoming too high.
In the United States, it has been shown that the majority of the population is paying approximately 10 per cent, of its annual income in interest on mortgages on homes. Yet, in Australia, the amount which people in their own homes have to pay for interest on mortgage is 25 per cent. That figure alone is sufficient reason why it is high time that we in Australia introduced a scheme to help to keep the cost of housing down, and to make it easier for private investors to make their money available and for private individuals to build their own homes. If this were done, a great many of the people who now depend on Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement money to obtain their homes, would be removed from that pool. They would be placed in a category where they could obtain money at a reasonable rate of interest. In addition, it would make room for the low-income earner to obtain a house more readily under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement. It would assist the ‘ immigration scheme by allowing migrants to have some kind of guarantee that housing would be available for them fairly soon after their arrival in this country. That, I think, is an aspect which needs to be considered, because it has become very much more difficult to obtain migrants from overseas.
At the outset of my speech I said that I agreed that we must expand, and to do that we must have a rapid rate of migration. We have to look at the ways in which we can facilitate the flow of migrants to this country. 1 believe that the number one problem for migrants is the difficulty in obtaining a house soon after they arrive here. If private individuals or private companies are prepared to build houses and guarantee accommodation to migrants, I think the Government should help them by means of a scheme such as that in the United States. I know for a fact that present private companies are building houses for sale. One in particular, of which I know, has even had the enterprise to establish a company in London which will deal with migrants in England who want to come to Australia and who wish to know about housing. The company will assist them in every way to iron out their problems.
I believe that the company’s office will open in England this week, and I hope that when it does so the Department of Immigration will make it very easy for it to get in touch with migrants who have inquired about coming to Australia but who perhaps have decided not to come because of uncertainty about the housing position. Assistance could be given by allowing pamphlets to be placed in the various immigration offices that we have throughout England and Europe. The pamphlets would inform migrants that there was right on the spot a company with which they might discuss their housing problems. I am sure that that would stimulate the flow of migrants to Australia.
– It is an Australiawide company.
– That is so. It is doing a magnificent job and has a far more attractive scheme than any State Government could put forward.
I am very pleased to see that this Budget provides for an increase of some £1,000,000 in the funds available for assisted migration and publicity. As I have said, it is becoming very much more difficult to obtain migrants from overseas, particularly because of the boom conditions which obtain in Europe to-day. Obviously, we must do more to attract migrants. For the most part, the assisted-passage migrants are skilled people who we need in Australia. If we can provide more money for assisted passages and induce more people to come here, then I am utterly in favour of giving more money for assisted passages. It is interesting to note, in the statistics for the last year, when migration was in some ways restricted due to our economic conditions, that one in every three of the migrants who came to Australia was a skilled worker. That is a very creditable result and something which we would do well to encourage.
I am sorry to see that the Budget provides for a decrease of £80,000 in expenditure on the teaching of English in this country. Perhaps the reason for the decrease is that migrants are not so anxious to go to classes and to learn English as they were previously. If that is so, it is regrettable, lt is unfortunate if migrants are not taking the same interest in learning English as they did previously, but if the reason for the decrease is that many of them have already learned to speak English, that is creditable. There is a great need for additional English teaching prior to embarkation for Australia and also during the sea voyage. I should like to see more money made available for the engaging of teachers and the provision of more facilities for the teaching of English, particularly prior to embarkation. That is the time when people are keen to learn the language of the country to which they are going, and that is the time when we could exploit their keenness and, at the same time, help them considerably. More could be done in the way of teaching classes on the ships, particularly if those in authority on the ships could be prevailed upon not to run counter attractions while English classes were being conducted.
We know that the immigration target is to continue at 125,000 migrants. Quite often in this chamber I have heard honorable senators querying the migration rate, which sometimes is referred to as more than 125,000. It needs to be made quite clear that that target is not a limit. We aim to get 125,000 migrants; if we can get more, that is all to the good, but we must have a target at which to aim. I think that Senator Kennelly, and other Opposition senators, will be pleased to know that we now have achieved a better form of statistics in relation to migrants. Senator Kennelly frequently has queried the accuracy of the migration figures which, in the past, have been published in statistical returns. Previously, it was not possible to separate in these statistics the migrants who came here to live - in other words, settlers, or the long-term arrivals - from the people who came here as visitors for perhaps a year, and those who came here to work for a year or more and then returned to their own countries.
We, now have a new type of statistics which distinguishes between the various groups. The 1961-62 figures have established the fact that we had a net migration figure of approximately 76,000. In January to June this year there was an improvement on that figure. The net migration during that period ran at the rate of 87,000 odd. It is also interesting to find that the migrants returning to their own countries numbered only some 9,000. That represents the very small proportion of about 6 per cent., which has always been quoted by the Department of Immigration but which has always been doubted by members of the Opposition. The department’s estimate that those who return to their home countries for various reasons, not necessarily because of discontent while in this country but perhaps for family reasons, represents only the small proportion of 6 per cent, has been proved to be correct. I think that speaks highly for the success of this country’s immigration programme. It is also interesting to note from the statistics that more females than males are now coming to this country, the numbers being 62,000 females and 52,000 males. This should go a long way towards rectifying that imbalance of the sexes which has been complained of so frequently.
I think the statistics show that adverse publicity overseas about Australia, about our difficult economic situation and so on, has had some effect on the number of people applying to come here. I think, too, that the fact that our publicity overseas has been reduced has had some effect. Another reason why there may not be so many applicants is that prosperity in Europe has increased and there is, therefore, less incentive for people to migrate. These circumstances draw, attention to the fact that we must increase our publicity overseas if we are to overcome the problem of attracting more people here. If more money is to be expended on publicity overseas, I hope that a new look will be given to the form of publicity that we undertake in the countries of Europe, especially those countries which form The Six. There we are not allowed to engage in direct immigration publicity but only in image publicity - that is, to paint a picture of Australia without expressly drawing attention to the fact that we are seeking migrants. Although this is unfortunate, it is perhaps understandable in countries where there are great political pressures against emigration, because they are enjoying an era of prosperity and need to retain all their own people. Germany, a country from which we have been getting some very good migrants, has had to take in over 500,000 immigrants to fill the gap in its own employment ranks.
I suggest that in England, in particular, and in those European countries in which we are allowed to engage only in image publicity, we could do much more effective work through the television stations. I know that people in England have been very interested in the shows relating to Australia which have been televised there and that many applications to come to Australia have flowed from them. However, I am slightly critical of some of the types of film publicity that we put out. Speaking generally, I think we try to cover far too wide a field when we do put out a film advertising Australia. There was shown here last night a film on Australia put out by Caltex Oil (Australia) Proprietary Limited. Excellent as the photography is the film tried to cover far too wide a field. That sort of thing only confuses people who want to know more about Australia. If they see a film which lasts for perhaps 40 minutes, they are left with a picture of a wide variety of industrial activity, sporting activity, housing conditions and other things, but it is not a very clear picture. I think our publicity would be much more effective if we had a series of short television shows, lasting for perhaps only five minutes, in which only small items of our way of life were emphasized and made clear. The people who saw films of that kind would have a clear understanding of what was going on in Australia in certain limited fields. I believe that would be an improvement on the advertising which we now do and which, in other respects, is excellent.
Having covered most of the main point9 in the Budget, I should like to say a few words now about the way in which the Government has tried to rectify economic difficulties by making more money available for various public works. Last year, we were faced with a balance of payments problem and the need to increase our exports. The Government, I think rightly, allocated money for the development of beef roads in the north, the improvement of port facilities for the export of coal, the development of the Ord River scheme and so on. All of those were excellent things to do in an effort to deal with the position which existed at that time - the need to increase our exports. As a senator from South Australia, I completely support the action taken then.
In this Budget, we note that the Government proposes to carry out public works in those parts of Australia where there is still some degree of unemployment. I completely agree that we should use public money for this purpose, especially when it is proposed to meet the cost, not by increasing taxation, but by budgeting for a deficit. That is a good way of trying to rectify the unemployment situation, but I believe it is now time that South Australia was given a fairer share of the public money which is being allocated for specific purposes. It may be true that South Australia’s record with relation to employment has been good, and credit must go to the South Australian Government for having been able to overcome its unemployment difficulties with its own resources, but that is no reason why South Australia should be penalized when public money is being distributed. South Australia has been able to increase its exports to a very high degree and the balance of payments situation of that State is very good. Here again, credit must go to the South Australian Government, but the people of South Australia, who, I believe, have been very patient, are now becoming anxious to see this Government give them what they consider a fair allocation of public money. We have absolutely no objection to the rail standardization work that is progressing in Western Australia.
We know that this will lead to the establishment of many progressive and enormous industries there, such as a steel industry. It is quite right that standardization should proceed in Western Australia. We were quite happy to see the standardization of the line between Melbourne and Sydney. We have also seen money being spent by the Commonwealth Government on railway work in the North rn Territory. We now feel that it is time that South Australia made a start with the standardization of its railways. We have very large industries in South Australia. I mention General MotorsHolden’s Proprietary Limited, and the Chrysler organization, which announced only this week that it proposes to spend some £18,000,000 on expansion, most of it in South Australia. These organizations are anxious to ensure that their goods will be transported throughout Australia at reasonable costs. They could be helped in this way by uniform rail gauges. I admit that it is up to the Premier of South Australia to see to it that freight rates are kept at a reasonable level, and I hope that he will give some indication that he will do this. However, he cannot do it until he is sure that rail standardization will go ahead in South Australia. We might even be in danger of losing the Broken Hill smelters at Port Pirie if this problem of standardization of rail gauges is not solved.
One other matter about which South Australians are concerned is that of the beef roads in the north. If development goes ahead as at present, those roads will tend to draw cattle away from the north of South Australia into channels which lead either to Darwin or to Queensland.
– That is our main source of supply.
– It is our main source of supply. This is a most important question to many people in the north of South Australia.
I have mentioned these matters because they relate to steps taken to rectify the economic position. With the few exceptions I have mentioned, I support the Budget and congratulate the Government on its policies for expansion with stability.
– I rise to support the amendment proposed by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator
McKenna). I think it fair to say that the! Government’s proposals as contained in the Budget have not restored the confidence which was shaken by a number of attacks on the Australian economy. I think the Government is apologetic in its statements. I think it is hesitant about what it proposes to do in the current year. I think, too, that it is very sensitive about the criticism which has been levelled at its policy in relation to employment. Every time a question is asked in this place or another place about the policy of the Government on employment there is a quick statement to the effect that the Government accepts the policy of full employment; but, in fact, in every analysis of the employment figures there is always a reference to a percentage of unemployment and a comparison with conditions outside Australia. The Australian people have really suffered too much from the actions of the Government. Anything that might be stated in documents or words will not be enough to convert the Australian people to support of this Government’s policy. In this chamber the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge), in introducing the Estimates and Budget Papers, referred to the Government’s intention to continue with a policy of expansion. He said -
I have stated this overall position chiefly as signifying the determination of the Government to follow through with its expansionary programme until the economy is operating at the highest level of activity we can hope to sustain.
Continuing, he made reference to some of the things about which we on this side of the chamber are concerned. He said -
Unemployment has to be reduced further. There is still a fair amount of plant capacity which could be taken up and there is always new labour coming forward and new plant being installed.
He went on to talk about the need to restore confidence in the economy. There is no doubt that this means that is is necessary to restore the confidence of the Australian people in the Government.
In restoring confidence, the Government is confronted with one or two problems. It has to satisfy the Australian community as to what was done in the horror budgets - if I may so refer to them - which actually shattered the confidence of all the Australian people and not only of trade union members, the work force in the community.
People who had built new manufacturing industries, established very fine equipment, and made possible the training of their work force in new skills, lacked confidence in the approach of the Government. I suggest that these days it is very hard to find, even among the newspapers, support for the present Budget. Most Australian newspapers expected the Government to be influenced by the December election and by the policies of the Australian Labour Party. These policies were challenged by the Government. We suggested that there should be a policy of expansion and, if necessary, very heavy deficit budgeting. At the time, of course, there was a great deal of criticism of the Labour Party for this suggestion but since then, it seems to me, the Government has made a very tentative step towards adopting such a concept. But this is not enough.
The Government must consider whether it can satisfy the Australian people that it has handled the economic situation correctly. We ought to look at the results of previous budgets and particularly of the measures of November, 1960, which affected very much the people throughout Australia. I have something to say about their effect in my own State. Only since the war years, of course, has secondary industry really become established in South Australia. Only since those days have we become recognized as an important manufacturing State, able to compete with other States despite the difficulty of transportation and the problems resulting from lack of rail standardization, to which I shall refer later. Despite these difficulties manufacturing in South Australia has a remarkably good record. Perhaps the reason is that we have newer factories, more enterprising management and supervisors, and a better class of skilled labour. These people have been trained in improved processes of production.
What happened? It will be remembered that the Government decided that certain boom conditions were operating in 1960. Between August and November of that year it announced the famous credit squeeze. We have not yet got over the credit squeeze, and I do not think that the Government has either. In another place the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon), on 15th November, I960, said that there was no reason in the world why any one should be hurt as a result of the measures that the Government had introduced and that if people were wise they could avoid suffering any hutt from them. This was before the full effect of the programme had been felt.
The effect of the credit squeeze was felt very quickly in my own State. Between November, 1960, and April, 1961, the number of persons registered for jobs increased from 3,000 to nearly 9,000. Employment in the 2,700 larger factories dropped by 1.8 per cent. Along with this, some employers immediately responded with work rationing. The effects of the lifting of import restrictions were felt in the textile industries, and the motor vehicle industry, particularly, felt the full blast of the Government’s new measures. The motor vehicle industry was, and still is, a very important industry in South Australia. In it are possibilities of producing a great trading asset for Australia. This situation should have been foreseen when these measures were taken under all sorts of pretexts. In South Australia fine organizations such as General Motors-Holden’s Proprietary Limited and associated enterprises such as the Chrysler-Dodge organization immediately effected dismissals and retrenchments. By 9th June, 1961, sackings throughout South Australia since the November credit squeeze totalled 2,645. At General Motors-Holden’s Proprietary Limited sackings numbered 1,461, and Chrysler’s staff was reduced by 938. In addition, some employers, including, I think, General Motors-Holden’s Proprietary Limited, decided to shut down their plants for a period. In many establishments, which were affected mainly by the challenge of imports, there was a complete cessation of work, or people were working short time. I was then secretary of the Trades and Labour Council in South Australia and for the first time in my twenty or 30 years’ experience in the industrial movement we had occasion to consider what the trade union movement should do in respect of claims by workers who said that half a loaf was better than none.
Those were the conditions operating generally. In addition, of course, we heard laments from employers to the effect that they had not been warned about these moves. Such people, with organized plants, who had found their way into the markets under very competitive conditions, were entitled to receive some warnings as to the programme which was to operate; but it seems to me that the present Government does not agree with long-term planning. It does these things on a short-term basis. Its policies have become known widely throughout Australia as the stop-go policies of the Menzies Government. In fact, it seems to me that in this Budget there is no go at all. It is an administrative budget. There is a document which refers to something which the Government did in February, but there is no lifting of the burdens on the Australian people. There is no restoration of the value of social service benefits. There is no increase in child endowment. These steps should have been taken by a government which was pledged to try to restore the conditions of the people.
In South Australia, in the second quarter of 1961, the motor car industry was faced with a difficult position. Ancillary industries engaged in the production of rubber equipment, accessories, and electrical devices of all sorts were almost completely shut down. These factories and the skills used in them had been built up over a period. We had been inducing a high intake of migrants. We had been trying to get 125,000 people to come to Australia each year because we needed them. It was necessary to get these people to learn new skills in modern enterprises in a new economy. In my particular sphere I had occasion to attend national groups of unemployed migrants who could not find a job. I was forced to attend these meetings to try to explain to these young people that, in fact, Australia offered them some security. It was difficult to do that as they had no jobs and no guarantee for the future, and in addition they could not be returned to their homes. It seems to me that in that sort of situation people will not be confident about a programme unless it is ambitious and not only poses the need to develop the country on a proper basis but also provides for economic policies which will capture the imagination. Such a programme must satisfy the people that jobs are available not only for 90,000 or 100,000 workers who are registered for jobs but also for other people whom we wish to attract to Australia and whom we need.
Despite this situation, of course, a great deal of pressure was placed upon the Government to alter its import policy, but the Government did nothing about it. The situation became so disturbing that the president of the South Australian Chamber of Manufactures had the following to say, and I quote from the Adelaide “ Advertiser “:-
The Federal Government could not avoid the “ ultimate necessity “ of introducing some form of quantitative restriction of imports, the retiring president of the South Australian Chamber of Manufactures (Mr. W. D. Ferguson) said yesterday.
The various Chambers of Manufactures believed that the necessary increase in economic activity would automatically raise the level of imports, probably to a point of embarrassment for Australia’s overseas funds, he told the annual meeting of the chamber.
Referring to the developing growth of sales following a period of decline in business activity, Mr. Ferguson said there was an increasing confidence in Australia’s future.
It seems to me that in the documents issued with the Budget Papers no satisfactory answer has been given for the action of the Government. The Government has been impelled by chance happenings. It has not been prepared to make a long-range forecast of the economic requirements of the country but has based its policy upon the movement in the balance-of-payments position. This has been purely a short-term expedient.
I noticed yesterday that Senator Wright said that the so-called survey - “The Australian Economy, 1962 “ - made no mention at all of farm incomes. On reading the document I noted that it referred to two important things which have always disturbed the Australian Labour Party and the trade union movement. At page 23 of this document we find the following statement: -
As a first step, it was vital to avert any further general wage increases, and that was the object of the Commonwealth intervention in the Federal Basic Wage case of February, 1960. More generally, the Government would strive to moderate the growth of demand and at the same time to improve the supply position by whatever means were available.
We know, of course, that all these measures were economically and morally wrong. They were bad for the country and the work-force, and national organizations bitterly resented the Australian Government’s intervention before the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission in a matter upon which the Government should have offered only necessary information and advice to the commission. It is the Government’s responsibility to advise employers and unions, if necessary, about details of the economy, but on no account should it place its policies before arbitration tribunals and try to influence those tribunals in their determination of proper wages and conditions for workers. The Government should not attempt to influence such bodies by putting forward its own policy. I mention this, of course, in retrospect. Much harm was caused by this action of the Government, and the same criticism would apply to any Government which attempted to intervene in an application in which a union was attempting to obtain a fair share of the profits of the economy.
I wish now to refer to statements of apologists for the lifting of import controls. On page 23 of “ The Australian Economy, 1962 “ we read-
It was expected also that the lifting of import controls would operate to reduce liquidity.
This latter action has been the subject of so much controversy that it may be well to re-state why it was taken and what the Government sought to achieve by it. It was the final step in a process of gradually relaxing import restrictions that had gone on since 1956-57. There had been a major relaxation in August, 1959 and, in the later months of that year, the rate of imports rose strongly, indicating that both industry and the public were looking for more overseas supplies.
This sort of persuasion is used to try to convince us that the Government’s action was necessary, although we know now that in every State of Australia - particularly South Australia - there was unnecessary interruption to production and unnecessary hardship was imposed on the work-force. A rather conflicting statement is made about this action on page 24 of the pamphlet to which I have referred. It reads -
One seriously mistaken view should be cleared away at the outset. The difficulties of late 1960 were not due to the lifting of import controls in February of that year. To be sure, imports rose somewhat higher, and continued high for somewhat longer, than had been expected.
The document continues -
In part, also, there was excessive importing for stock by people who believed either that controls would be re-imposed or that shortages of materials normally obtained from local sources would develop. It is true, also, that some industries suffered from import competition but, in most cases, this was after the downturn in demand had contracted their local markets.
Of course, this is an apology for the action which the Government took, an act we know could have been averted. It will do nothing to convince the Australian community that the present Budget is a good one for Australia. I shall have something to say later about the propositions that are advanced in this document. The question of whether the Government should plan the economy is one upon which the Labour Party has strong views.
The Government has shown by its actions and its propositions that it is hesitant about what it should do in the present situation. It has not the ability to convince the public and private sectors of the economy, the trade union movement and the financial interests of the country that it is prepared to institute an expansive policy which will attract the people’s support and appeal to the imagination of the Australian people. This is why it is difficult to find any satisfactory newspaper comments about what the Government has done. In the main, the newspapers have stated that this is a stopgap Budget and that it does not introduce the reforms that are needed in Australia. The only thing that caused this Government to give some aid to the States was the action taken last December by the people of this country. It is obvious from statements made about the Budget that Government supporters are confused. They say that they can see nothing in the present situation, externally or internally, that will necessarily lead to a boom. On 7th August last the Treasurer said that capital was flowing into the country, that production and sales were improving and that externally the position was as good as it had been for years. But we know that consumption over the last two years has fallen miserably.
The Treasurer has said that employment is not as high as the Government would like to see it, but he claims that Australia’s employment record is good judged by the standards of many other countries. Faced, as we have been for many years, with a serious unemployment problem, it is no solution to say that Australia’s position is better than the position of Italy, Canada, the United States or Western Germany. The Government should admit that the unemployment problem in Australia is serious and that it should be checked. It should state that it plans to deal with the problem. F. om my observations I do not think that the Government is greatly worried by the fact that 90,000 persons are seeking jobs. Nor is the Government concerned about providing work for the migrants coming to this country or for the young people who are leaving school. Whenever the subject of school-leavers is raised the Government claims that boys and girls are now staying two or three years longer at school and that the situation is not as serious as it might be. But the statistics relating to the number of people who, between 1956-57 and June, 1962, have been in receipt of unemployment benefit are distressing. In 1956-^7 unemployment benefit was paid to 12,700 persons. In 1957-58 the number of persons in receipt of unemployment benefit was 23,900. In 1958-59 the number was 27,300 and in 1959-60 it was 20,700. In 1960-61 the benefit was paid to 23,000 persons. In 1961-62 no fewer than 52,267 persons received unemployment benefit and at June, 1962, the number was 46,300. In September, 1961, there were 110,701 persons registered for employment. At 27th October, 1961, the number was 96,552. At 1st December, 1961, the number of persons registered was 100,057. At 29th December, 1961, the number was 115.936. In February, 1962, there were 131,496 persons registered for employment and in March of that year the figure was 1 12,250. By April of this year the number had fallen to 101.000 and at 1st June the number was 93,916. At 27th July this year the number was 90,091.
I propose to refer now to some matters that are dealt with in a report prepared by the Department of Labour and National Service on the training of persons for skilled occupations. The report, at page 22, stresses the need to encourage the employment of apprentices. In my opinion employers last year were reluctant to take on apprentices because of a lack of confidence in the Government’s policies. That is bad for the nation. At page 35 the report reads -
Finally, and of the most direct importance, there is now unemployment among unskilled and semi-skilled workers on a scale never before experienced in Australia in the post-war period. The department is undertaking a special survey of these semi-skilled and unskilled workers.
I turn now to the urgent matter of rail standardization in South Australia. I do not want to reiterate the very good points that have been made on this matter recently by my colleagues, but I want to refer to some things that should receive urgent consideration. The Government’s attitude to this matter is shocking. The Government has provided money for South Australia to build or to buy twelve new diesel traction units and to make, at the Islington railway workshops, 100 new hopper cars. The South Australian Government has declared that it will operate these new units on the old Peterborough to Cockburn and Peterborough to Port Pirie tracks. If that is done the equipment will not be used to maximum capacity. If this Government, through its Budget, had given proper assistance to South Australia, the South Australian Department of Railways would have been able completely to convert its permanent way so that the new and faster diesel units and special hopper cars could be used in the most satisfactory manner. With proper assistance from the Budget, the South Australian Department of Railways would have been able to rebuild bridges, do work on culverts and improve grades, so providing a transport system efficient enough to enable the Port Pirie smelters to compete favorably in world markets.
.- Mr. President, it is a very short time since I was accorded the honour of becoming a member of this Senate. I am deeply conscious of the privilege that has been bestowed upon me of joining other honorable senators in serving the citizens of Australia.
The Budget has been described by the Opposition as unimaginative, but in my opinion it is not just a cold mass of estimates and statistics. The Budget deals with the warm human interests of the people of our Commonwealth and, indeed, with the interests of many people of other countries.
In my mind I picture the family groups in our crowded cities. I picture also groups in settled rural areas and in the sparsely populated outback and far north. By and large those families are able to develop with confidence their pattern of living from day to day. Since the consumer price index has remained stable during the past year - in fact it has fallen slightly - those people are able to buy food and clothing according to their needs. The increase in consumer spending is an indication that the reduction fast year of sales tax on household equipment has been appreciated. To-day more and more families are able to purchase their own homes. Many families own cars. In settled areas those people take for granted the good roads on which they travel. The proposed new roads in rural areas will add to the prosperity and ease of living of families in the scattered areas.
Valuable contributions are being made to the health of families from the National Welfare Fund. Medicines, medical care and hospitalization are becoming available to more and more families throughout the country. The educational grants and the development of broadcasting and television are playing an important part in the cultural aspect of family life. Surely, the increase of £157,000,000 in savings bank deposits during 1961-62 shows that the incomes of families are sufficient to meet their basic needs.
The planned rural development, the projected coal-loading facilities and the assistance that is planned for the gold-mining industry, oil search and railways will have a direct impact on family groups living in the respective areas. The fulfilment of those plans will make an outstanding contribution to the maintenance of the high standard of living of which we can boast justifiably and for which the last thirteen years of wise government have been largely responsible. Unhappily, a proportion of Australian families are in need physically, mentally or materially; but the inherent warm-heartedness of our Australian people inspires governments, Commonwealth and State, and a huge army of social workers to meet those needs as far as possible.
One Commonwealth grant produces results which in value are incomparable with the amount of the grant. I refer to the grant made under the Matrimonial
Causes Act to approved marriage guidance organizations. The estimate for 1962-63 is £52,000. This grant was first made in 1960. By means of it marriage guidance councils and other organizations have been able to develop their work. This social service was commenced in 1947. Since then experts in social welfare and many interested voluntary workers have formed such councils with the object of preventing marital breakdowns and of effecting reconciliations, when possible. These people recognized that many of the social problems and ills of the present time, such as juvenile delinquency, alcoholism, suicide, desertion and divorce, are due to marital breakdowns. For many years the divorce rate in Australia has been about 8,000 per annum; but, according to the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics, the incidence of divorce has fallen because of the rapid increase in population. That fact is contained in the March, 1961, edition of “Social Statistics: Australia, No. 3. Divorce”. In the last twelve months marriage guidance counsellors, who undergo intensive training, have given thousands of interviews to either partner or both partners in a troubled marriage.
The degree of success that they have achieved makes valid their claim that marriage guidance plays an outstanding part in building up the happiness and stability of family life, both in the present and in the future. It is recognized universally that children of broken homes tend towards instability in the homes that they create when they reach adulthood, and that the children of divorced parents are prone to divorce. Therefore, I accept the axiom that stable national life depends very largely upon stable family life. This item in the Budget surely makes a very worthwhile contribution to that end. In past years the boundaries of Australian family life have been very rigid; but there has been a break-through with the advent of migrants to this country under the Government’s migration scheme. According to reports on marriages prepared by the office of the Commonwealth Statistician one in every seven marriages in Australia last year was between a migrant and an Australian, and in one in seven marriages both the bridegroom and the bride were migrants.
I turn now to another section of the Budget. The vision of the Australian family has been broadened still further by the part that Australia is playing under the Colombo Plan. It is interesting to recall that in the Senate building in Ceylon in 1950 the decision was taken to form a consultative committee to discuss the assistance that should be given to South Asia and South-East Asia. Up to 31st December, 1961, Australia had given aid to 92 projects in twelve countries and had spent £40,929,000 under the Colombo Plan. This amount also must be translated into terms of family needs and interests. The projects include the following: In the field of food production, irrigation and equipment for sheep breeding, wool research and poultry breeding; in the field of health, the erection of tuberculosis clinics and the provision of hospitals and orthopaedic equipment; in the field of housing, equipment for tile and brick factories; and in the field of education, equipment such as films and text-books. In the last few days the Minister for External Affairs (Sir Garfield Ba-wick) has announced that Australia has agreed to supply to India 2,000 tons of paper costing about £350,000 for the printing of school text-books. This is part of India’s plan to establish primary education throughout the country. Each project makes a valuable contribution to the effort to improve the standard of living in the respective countries.
As honorable senators are aware the country concerned initiates the project. A country might ask for capital aid, for experts to advise or to train its own experts, or for its experts to be trained in another country. Up to December, 1961, 464 Australian experts had been sent to Asian countries under the Colombo Plan. Up to that date 3,816 awards for training in Australia had been given. The main fields of study have been engineering, education, public administration, medicine and health. The cost of the training programme, excluding the efforts of many voluntary helpers in many fields, has reached £5,670,000. It is interesting to read that many of these trainees now occupy positions of reasonably high responsibility in several Asian countries. Some have represented their countries at international conferences and others, on their return, have risen to positions of authority in their ministries, in education and in science.
May I turn now to another project that is covered in the Budget - the Snowy Mountains scheme? We are justly proud of this scheme with its provision for electricity for farms, factories and homes, and for much-needed water for irrigation. I should like to invite attention to the fact that Australia is interested in the development of two mighty rivers overseas - the Indus and the Mekong. Australia is playing her part and, under the auspices of the International Bank, is co-operating with the United Kingdom, the United States of America, New Zealand and other countries to establish the Indus Basin Development Fund. Australia has agreed to contribute £6,900,000 to this fund, the provision made in the Budget for 1962-63 being £1,000,000. So far as the Mekong is concerned, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Viet Nam set up a committee for co-ordination of investigations of the Lower Mekong basin. Australia is one of the countries co-operating with that committee and, under the Colombo Plan, has agreed to undertake investigations of dam sites in Laos and Cambodia at a total cost of £182,000. It is interesting to read that the Mekong river is 2,600 miles long - our own river Murray is 2,310 miles long - and that 17,000,000 people live in the area of the Lower Mekong basin.
Mr. President, I am convinced that the provisions contained in the Budget pre-, sented by the Treasurer will create a climate in which the people of Australia will go forward confidently in developing the resources of their country, building a stable family life, and playing an important part in world affairs.
– I suppose every budget has a name. This Budget could be called “ the budget of omission “ or “ the nothing budget “, because there is nothing in it for any one. There is nothing in it for pensioners. There is nothing in it that will improve child endowment, maternity allowances or hospital and medical benefits. Worst of all, there is nothing whatever in it that will produce full employment. I did not want to get on to those subjects, as most honorable senators will talk about them and I am not especially qualified to discuss them. I prefer to stick to health matters. However, because I am a firm believer in full employment I want to ask: Would any one in this chamber like to be unemployed? Does any one who talks about a 5 per cent, pool of unemployed realize what it would be like to be unemployed? If he were unemployed, he certainly would not want a 5 per cent, pool of unemployed. Speaking purely from an economic point of view, if you do not put money in the hands of the public, they have nothing to spend. If they have nothing to spend they cannot purchase goods, and the producer cannot sell his goods. The result is economic chaos. That is why I am a firm believer in full employment.
It is a long time since I was at school with the Treasurer. Wo then used to kneel together in church and say a prayer of supplication. We prayed for forgiveness for leaving undone the things that we ought to have done. Oh, boy! Ought the Treasurer to be praying hard now! He has made so many omissions from the Budget that he ought to be praying for forgiveness. His Budget speech - if that is the appropriate term - was a repetitious affair. The report of it makes up the big volume I have here, but it contained virtually nothing - nothing but words.
– Like you used to do in the State Parliament.
– The honorable senator has never been in a State Parliament. He was fortunate enough to get his seat by the votes of the majority of the party to which he belongs. The Budget speech is full of Treasury cliches and Treasury financial jargon. I do not know whom it is supposed to impress. Obviously it is supposed to impress some one - I suppose the public, or perhaps only Roland Wilson. If the managing director of a company brought that company just about to financial ruin, he would be sacked, but that is not so in the case of a government. Although he has brought Australia practically to ruin, the head of the Department of the Treasury is still there and we will never get rid of him. I can imagine Harold Holt, the Treasurer, saying, somewhat as Henry II. said of Thomas a’Becket, “ Who will rid me of this upstart clerk?” But no one will rid the Treasurer of him. He is a civil servant, and that cannot be done. He is the man who lays down the financial policy of his country. As he is the man who produced the Budget of two years ago and has produced the present Budget, it is time that he was removed.
Obviously the old arrogance has returned to the Government. The members of the Government know that they will not be put out of office for the next three years. If they did not know this, would a Budget like this have been presented? Of course not. A completely different budget would have been presented. Just as they changed their policy overnight before, so they have changed it again. They well know that there will be no election in the near future, and their old arrogance has returned. Honorable senators heard a blatant part of the Budget speech read by Senator Paltridge. It was -
We have decided to continue in full strength all the expansionary measures we adopted .progressively through 1961-62.
Senator Paltridge read it beautifully, though it is difficult to read rubbish. He did not even have a blush on his face. That sentence should have read, “ We have decided to continue in full strength all the expansionary measures forced on us by the Opposition “. To-day it is called an expansionary policy. Yesterday it was called an inflationary policy. It is like the mulish character; if he is a friend of yours, you call him a man of strong character, but if he is on the Opposition side, he is plain obstinate. It is the same with the terms “ expansionary “ and “ inflationary “. To expand means to spread out, and to inflate means to blow out. That is appropriate in a politician. We should be careful to remember that to inflate also means to increase beyond proper limits. What are the proper limits? If you are on this side of the House, to budget for a £100,000,000 deficit is inflationary. If you are on the other side of the House - the Government side - to budget for a deficit of £120,000,000 or £118,000,000 is expansionary. That is the difference - just words. It is the same policy, but we keep on talking about it all the time.
I want to stick mainly to health matters. 1 do not want to make too many remarks about other matters. I hope the Minister for Health (Senator Wade) will not be annoyed when I use the word “ you “. I have got into the habit of saying “you”, but when I use the word I may be referring to him, to his predecessors in office, or to his department - because a lay Minister has to be advised by his department. When I say “ you “, I shall mean the whole works - the Department of Health as a whole. I must admit that at times the Minister annoys me. Although he is a layman, when he is answering questions he sometimes sounds like a medical detailer trying to impress the doctors. He annoyed me recently when answering a question about thalidomide. He said, “ Oh yes, the Government is going to do something about it, but we cannot tell the States what to do “. Why not? The people who have the purse have the power. You said shortly after, in replying to that question, “ Perhaps my colleague can impose import restrictions “. Four months after we were told about it your officers were told about it.
– Fair go! That is not so.
- Mr. President, in May there was a medical congress at which slides were shown concerning distaval and what happened when women took distaval during pregnancy. We therefore knew then, if the officers of the Minister for Health did not, of the effects of distaval. Perhaps the Minister should be taken to task for not sending his officers to post-graduate courses. How on earth can they know what is going on in the medical world when they sit in their little offices in Canberra, in their ivory towers, like the Treasury officers, and wonder what is going on in private practice? The Minister simply does not know, and neither do his officers. He should be ashamed of himself because his officers do not get out and learn. Will the Minister now contradict me when I say that the medical fraternity knew in April about the medical effects of distaval? He would be very foolish to speak authoritatively on medical matters. Why was not the ban on distaval imposed then, instead of four months afterwards, when a question was asked in this House? During that time something could have happened.
I now wish to speak of mental health. For years, we have been trying to get the Federal Minister for Health to attend conferences of State Ministers for Health. That is something we cannot do. I do not know whether the reluctance to attend is due to a cowardly or fearful approach. I do not know the reason. The Prima Minister and the Treasurer do not fail to turn up at Premiers’ Conferences. They know they are going to get hit right and left, but they attend. We have not had a federal Minister for Health at a health conference once in ten years. Yet, to-day, health is more important for the Commonwealth than any other subject. I have offered the Minister a pair so that he may attend the next conference. He has pointed out that he may not be able to get there because of the numerical position of the Government parties in this chamber.
It is time that we stopped this persistently archaic and witch-doctor attitude to mental health. Can any one in this chamber tell me the difference between mental ill health and physical ill health? They are both illnesses. It does not matter whether a person has appendicitis or a neurosis; both are sicknesses. Why should a stigma attach to one and not to the other? The Minister for Health will not recognize that mental ill health is a disease of the mind, just as appendicitis is a disease of the appendix. Why should people suffering from mental disease have their rights as citizens taken from them? The mentally ill are not hopeless to-day. Yet, the moment a pensioner becomes certifiable he is no longer regarded as a human being. His pension is taken from him. Can we be cynical and say that it is because he cannot vote that we do this? I know that the Minister is sympathetic and will help me to ensure that pensioners get their due rights when they enter institutions.
The agreement between the Commonwealth and the States has ceased. The Victorian and Tasmanian governments have spent their money. I think that the Commonwealth offered f 10,000,000 for all the States. Victoria and Tasmania have used their share, but the other States have not done so. Surely, a time limit could have been imposed. I think it is correct to say that thirteen years have elapsed since the agreement came into force. Yet, some of the Slates have not utilized the money that the Commonwealth offered to them. That money should be given to other States. I understood from the Department of Health in Tasmania that as a result of talks with Dr. Donald Cameron, the previous Minister for Health, and with the present Minister for Health, the Commonwealth was prepared to help Tasmania again. 1 am now informed that the Minister has made a complete back-flip and that there is to be no help whatsoever.
We must have beds for psychiatric cases. For cases of ordinary illness the number of beds required is from five to eight per 1,000 of population. Those beds have to be provided for what we call the physically ill. I wonder whether honorable senators could guess how many beds must be provided for psychiatric cases. I shall not ask the Minister. I do not expect him to know. However, since he laughs, I will ask him to tell me, by interjection, the number.
– You are making this speech, not me.
– That is right. The Minister has had the opportunity to tell me the number. I suppose he will now go outside and get the department to tell him. However, I shall tell him that it is from five to eight - exactly the same as for the physically ill. Where have we got those beds? We have not got them, but we should be providing them.
I shall now proceed from destruction to construction. We should have integration of our hospitals. I have long been an advocate of the disappearance of tuberculosis hospitals. They are a thing of the past, and so are mental hospitals. They should be a part of the general hospitals, so that there would no longer be a stigma attached to entering a mental hospital. A person should be able to enter hospital to have his appendix out, or for treatment of mental illness. I urge the Minister to look into this question, and to consider particularly the establishment of day centres which mental patients may attend to have their daily treatment, their shock therapy, and from which they may go home at night.
I come to tuberculosis. Here again, I must take up with the Minister for Health personally an answer to a question. I can read the answers even if I am not present to hear them given. I think I am right in saying that, in answer to a question, the Minister said that he hoped that mass X-ray examinations would be compulsory in every State. He hoped. As the Minister for Health, he should believe in his ministry. I am attacking him personally. He should believe that health is the most important thing in the community. If the Minister for Health were in the lower House of the Parliament, he should believe in that frantically; otherwise, he may not be the Minister for Health for very long. If there is sickness on his side of the House he will not remain in office. So, the Minister should really believe in health. If he does so he should say, “ Health comes first “. He should wield a stick in Cabinet and get something done about health matters.
The Commonwealth offered to the States all the capital expenditure necessary for the elimination of tuberculosis. It also offered the maintenance expenditure over and above the base rate. But how many States have made mass X-ray examination compulsory?
– Exactly- one.
– What about Queensland?
– It has passed a law which has not been implemented. Only one State has been conducting compulsory X-ray examinations since 1949. The Commonwealth has the power to do as I suggest. It could wield the stick and tell the States to do it. It could make them do it. Is not this an important matter? We seem to forget its importance. I doubt whether the department has even told the Minister that it is nu longer mass X-ray examination for tuberculosis alone; we have mass X-ray because it is the greatest form of preventive medicine in chest diseases.
– To which State has the honorable senator been referring?
– To Tasmania, obviously. Tasmania has had annual compulsory mass X-ray examinations since 1949.
For every case of tuberculosis that we find in the mass X-ray examination we find one case of cancer. For every case of tuberculosis, we find fourteen other cases of chest disease. Are not such examinations worth while? Are they not a good screening for the whole population? Is it not worth while for the Minister to implement that system and to force the States to do it by way of grants? It is simple to do. It is not only a tuberculosis problem now. We are getting tuberculosis down to the minimum, but surely mass X-ray examination is a preventive health measure. The Commonwealth proudly talks about this subject. It could implement compulsory mass X-ray examinations without any trouble at all and insist that all States have such examinations, so that we might help to eliminate, not just tuberculosis, but also other chest diseases, such as lung cancer, hydatids and bronchiectasis. The Minister should get on the job and have his department do something about the matter. I shall then be happy, if no one else is.
A great deal is said about cancer of the lung, Mr. President. What are we doing about advertisements for tobacco? Are those concerned too powerful for us to do anything? Have we in the Commonwealth not a right to prevent certain types of advertising? I am not certain, but I thought that the Department of Health did have certain rights in the matter. If people advertise cigarettes as something to be enjoyed and, probably, as something that is healthy, it is time that the Commonwealth stepped in. I do not suggest that people should be told that they may not smoke. We have to educate the public.
I turn now to a subject in which I am particularly interested and on which I have read a paper at a British Medical Association congress. I hope the Minister will follow me because he can be of help. I believe, and I think most people believe, that the essence of all medicine is faith in your doctor. It does not matter what a sick person has prescribed for him or what is done for him; unless he has faith in his doctor he will not get better. If it is good enough for the rich, it is good enough for the poor. This is where I want to hit out. Let me quote myself as an example. As a general practitioner surgeon,
I am entitled to operate on any one in a private hospital, if he can afford to go to a private hospital. But if a person who has been a patient of mine for years is poor and has to go into a general hospital, I am no longer able to treat him. To me, that is radically wrong. It is undemocratic in the first place. This is where my big fight has always been with the Australian Medical Association. I maintain that general practitioners should be entitled to go into any hospital. I make an appeal this time, on a parochial basis, for Tasmania, which is the only State in the Commonwealth which does not have intermediate and private beds in its public hospitals. This is hypocritical of the Tasmanian Government. I can visualize the members of the Tasmanian Cabinet. They are all good solid Labour people. They must be, because they kicked me out! The moment they are ill, or the moment their wives are ill, where do they go? They go into a private hospital. They can afford that, because they are on £3,000 or £4,000 a year now. Once upon a time they were on the basic wage. Some of them are so unintelligent that I doubt if they even got a margin. There are only two members of that Cabinet who could ever earn more than the basic wage, and they are both in related professions. One is a butcher and the other is a doctor. Apart from those two, all members of that Cabinet would be on the basic wage if they were not Ministers. Now, by chance or good luck, they can afford to send their wives and children to private hospitals, but they forbid this right to every one else in Tasmania.
I think there is nothing more disgusting than to see people rising from the ranks and disowning the ranks. That has been the cause of my main fight with the Tasmanian Government. Here we have a chance to do something. The honorary system that we now have in teaching hospitals would not be altered if general practitioners went in. The general practitioner would look after his patient, and if he wanted a consultation he could have the specialist present. Sixty per cent, of the people in hospitals do not require specialist treatment. They do not want to know that their blood cholesterol is normal or that their alkaline phosphatase test is normal. That is what puts up the costs of teaching hospitals. The moment you go into a teaching hospital, everything is done, as I said before. They investigate you until the day you die - and then they do it the day after you die to make sure that there is a post mortem. We want the general practitioners to be able to continue to treat the patients that they were allowed to treat before those patients went into a general hospital.
To-day we are training all our medical students to be little consultants - to view the patient as a medical exercise in the bed. That is all medical training does nowadays. To-day we forget about men and women, their social problems, their social status, their work, their children and so on - and we should do that. I mentioned this in a previous speech. I did not mean to get up the last time, but I had to. General practitioners are concerned with the continuous treatment of human beings both before and after they are sick. That is what I want to get at. If you are entitled to look after a patient during his illness, why should that entitlement stop the moment he goes into a general hospital? The Minister for Health could implement the scheme I am suggesting in Tasmania - the only State in which it does not operate - by saying that no more grants will be given until it is put into operation. This right to which I have referred is fundamental to every citizen in Australia.
General practitioners are also concerned with the family group. We have to think about what is going on with mum, dad and so on, not just the isolated hospital patient. We are also concerned with well people. I will say to the Minister that there is one person in his department to whom I take my hat off - although I used to have fights with him when I was a State Minister for Health - and that is Dr. Cook. He recognized that the College of General Practitioners was a force. I give him credit for the fact that he recognized that we were the greatest force in preventive medicine. When a person is well he goes to the family doctor, who will keep him well, or try to keep him well. Dr. Cook recognized this and, over the heads of the directors of health of the States, was instrumental in having formed a sub-committee of the National Health and
Medical Research Council called the Committee in General Practice. Our faculty, the Committee of Preventive Medicine, is virtually the same as the Committee in General Practice. I give him credit for that.
I want to talk on a few more subjects. The first is geriatrics. I give credit to the Government for what it has done. It has done a magnificent job in granting a subsidy of £2 for £1 for homes for aged persons, but there is an increasing need for more to be done. The number of old people we see in general practice is growing and growing and growing. The moral obligation to look after your own old folk has gone. No one has got it to-day. The moment one of the older folk becomes sick, the attitude is, “ Get him into hospital. Can’t you get rid of him? I have to mind the kids.” It is not so much a refusal to accept a moral obligation as the fact that social conditions have changed. For instance, to-day people do not have servants, and there is no room for the older people in the houses being built to-day. It all adds up to the fact that you must get rid of the old people. Let me quote this little poem -
Grandmama is old and bent
Grandpapa is incontinent
And our television set
Isn’t nearly paid for yet
So when you are old and grey and full of sleep
We’ll hand you over to the State to keep.
Is not that true? Is not that just what is happening to the old people to-day?
I should like to suggest to the Minister that instead of building big homes, we should introduce the Canadian system - and I would even recommend that the Minister go abroad to see what is being done overseas. In Canada, they have little homely units. There may be five, six or even twenty or thirty people in a small home, run by a trained nurse with a domestic staff and supervised by the Health Department. These homes are subsidized by either a Province or the Federal Government. In my view, the smaller homely units are better than the massive units.
I should like to refer now to such things as the maternity allowance, child endowment, medical and hospital benefits and so on. Some have been granted by governments of one political colour and others by governments of another political colour, but all governments, after granting the benefits, put little halos on their heads and say to the electors, “ Isn’t this cute; we have given you this. Aren’t we good fellows? “ Then they just forget about the benefits altogether. Despite the fact that costs are rising all the time, the payments remain the same. For instance, the original grant of 6s. a day for a hospital bed has been increased to only 8s. in the last twelve years. Again, the Government’s contribution to the cost of a consultation with a doctor is still 6s. Apart from the 5s. payment for the first child, child endowment has not been increased. The maternity allowance, which was £15 in 1947, still stands at £15 to-day. Doctors’ fees for pensioners have remained unchanged. The moment the Government gets something going, it forgets about it. It does not realize that costs go up. I think we should make an irrevocable decision that in future all these payments shall be tied to percentage increases in the basic wage. If that were done, the payments would increase automatically, without any arguments with the Treasury. Here 1 remind the Senate that since 1952 the basic wage has increased by 116 per cent. Have these payments increased? They certainly have not!
Let me suggest something better still - something nearer to the bone. It might not be so expensive to the Government, and it would tie things down. Why not tie all these grants to parliamentary salaries? After all, if it is good enough for us to put up our salaries, it is good enough to increase all the benefits that we give. I remind the Senate that parliamentary salaries have increased by 83 per cent, since 1952. I cannot see that it is of much help just making a wonderful political gesture - just making these grants - and then letting the matter end there, without doing any more about it. I cannot understand why the Government should just stop at granting a benefit. I am a great believer in superannuation schemes and the abolition of the means test. Let us have a national pension scheme in which every one can participate. In that way we will do some good.
If I can be parochial for just a minute, I should like to show to the Minister representing the Treasurer a document entitled, *’ Major Expenditures by the Commonwealth on Specific Projects and Other
Activities of a Developmental Nature, 1960-61 and 1962-63 “. My glasses must bc fogged, for I cannot see Tasmania mentioned in this document at all. It is just missing. There is not one item of financial assistance to Tasmania. But I shall not go into that subject, because I think other Tasmanian senators will talk about it, and I have really talked too much to-day.
I say briefly - because this is a speech on the Budget - that 1 oppose payroll tax. A government that is worrying about the European Common Market and the need for exports is insisting u upon collecting payroll tax! Have we ever met more stupid economists? I know that if payroll tax is removed other forms of taxation have to be increased. That is all right. Why should we have a payroll tax, making it more difficult for exports to compete in a field of great competition?
I have only a brief comment to make upon education. I am a great believer in full tax deductions for all forms of education and in complete freedom of tertiary education. The Minister representing the Treasurer recently gave me an answer to a question about 2 1 -year-old university students. I nearly cried. Are we so stupid? A tax concession in respect of a university student is surely given because he is a university student, not because he is 16, 17, 19 or 80 years of age. It is given because he goes to a university. What difference does it make to his parents whether or not he is 21? The Government says that until he reaches the age of 21 his education expenses are deductible for tax purposes, and after that they are not. It is said that some commission that investigated the matter did not mention this aspect. I suppose this was because some one forgot to tell the members of the commission about it. What a silly reason! It was not Senator Paltridge’s fault; that was what he was told. I have only one other matter to mention, namely housing. I shall not go into full detail, but I should like to advocate lower interest rates. There does not seem to be any reason why these rates should not be lowered. Bank rates are far too high and interest rates on housing finance should be lowered. I ask the Minister representing the Treasurer why interest on housing loans cannot be made a deduction for taxation purposes. If this were done it would be a great incentive to people to own houses. lt would be a great help to home purchasers to have lower rates of interest and to bc able to claim as a tax deduction the interest they have to pay, which is sometimes colossal to people who really cannot afford it.
As I said before, I am afraid that this is a budget of nothing. Believing that, one cannot do anything else but agree with the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition.
.- At the outset, I must congratulate those honorable senators who have made their maiden speeches to-day. Most senators will agree that they have spoken well, that most of their speeches have been constructive, and that they have made a particularly good job of their first addresses to this chamber. I do not know enough about human anatomy to be able to follow Senator Turnbull in his controversy with the Department of Health in Canberra, and I leave it at that, but I must join issue with him when he says that this Budget does not include anything for Tasmania, because I am one of those who believe that through this Government Tasmania has been treated remarkably well. I think of the revolutionizing of the ferry service to Tasmania, at a cost of many millions of pounds. I think of a matter that was referred to yesterday in a question by Senator Marriott, namely, what happened in regard to the aluminium industry at Bell Bay. I think of the very generous grants that have been accorded to Tasmania. Looking at the whole picture in regard to the island State most people will agree that we have been treated remarkably well.
Senator Turnbull referred to social services. Last year we spent more than £1,000,000 a day on social services, equal to 72 per cent, of the income tax collected in the Commonwealth, and £22,500,000 more than was spent in the previous year. It makes one wonder just how much further we can go on the graduated scale of income taxation. I think most honorable senators will agree that there is a limit, that we cannot continue forever on a graduated scale of income taxation and hand out social service benefits at the rate that some senators seem to advocate. We shall reach the stage where we kill the goose that lays the golden egg. I know that New Zealand has been cited, but are honorable senators aware that in New Zealand there is a flat rate tax of ls. 6d. in the £1 over all incomes, irrespective of how low or how high they are. Realizing that we cannot go on and on financing social services on the graduated scale of income tax that we use, I think that we have just about reached the limit of the amount that can be disbursed in this manner.
As always, I was interested in the address delivered by Senator McKenna. I call to mind that when I was in the Tasmanian Parliament I heard a man make a speech on a budget. When he sat down the man beside me said, “ He made that same speech on a budget twenty years ago and he has been making it ever since “. I do not say that Senator McKenna has fallen into that category, but I do say that most Labour speeches follow the same trend of misrepresentation. We hear it in speeches by Mr. Whitlam, Mr. Calwell and others, and in statements from the federal executive of the Australian Labour Party. Senator McKenna, in the early part of his address, said -
Of course, this lack of confidence flows entirely from the action or lack of action of this Government.
It is a fact that right throughout this Commonwealth Labour leaders and spokesmen have preached unemployment, gloom and depression, on every possible occasion. It has been part of their stock-in-trade. They have talked it wherever they have gone. If it has not had any effect on the economy of Australia this has been because the people of the Commonwealth do not take any notice of what is said by Labour spokesmen, and the latter would be the last to admit this. But it must have had an effect upon confidence, that so essential element in private enterprise. It is understandable that Labour spokesmen want to paint the picture as black as it can be painted in order to undermine the people’s confidence in this Government. That is the objective. A few days ago in the Senate, Senator McKenna, as the Scots would say, paltered with words. He seemed to attribute great significance to the fact that in his address to this chamber Senator Paltridge did not actually use the words “ full employment “. It has been stated by other spokesmen for the Labour Party that it is the objective of this Government to have a pool of 100,000 unemployed in the Commonwealth; but anybody with any sense knows that that is not correct. They know that in this day and age no government could survive for long if it maintained a pool of unemployed above what Mr. Monk said was desirable.
I heard Senator Cormack ask Senator Cant whether he would define full employment. Senator Cant evaded the question. I admit it is a difficult question to answer. Most Labour senators will regard Mr. Monk as an authority and a man who certainly would be biased in favour of working people. I have quoted Mr. Monk before, but his statement can stand quoting again. Mr. Monk has spent most of his life working in the interests of trade unionists. He did not say what full employment should be, but he said that 60,000 registered for employment was desirable. Those were his words. That is one and a half per cent, of the work-force.
– That statement is recorded in a printed report. I heard Mr. Monk make it.
– I have the report of his speech, and if any honorable senator would like to peruse it he can do so.
– Did Mr. Monk say it was desirable? Was that the word he used?
– He said it was desirable to have one and a half per cent, registered for work.
– Did he use the word “ desirable “?
– Yes, that was the word he used, because he said a primary producing country like Australia needed one and a half per cent, on the register to deal with seasonal work. If we accept that as being correct it means, in effect, that at the present time we have only 30,000 unemployed. I repeat that most people know that no government would desire such a thing. Most people know, and I suppose honorable senators opposite know, that it is the objective of this Government to reduce unemployment as much as possible. There is not a scintilla of evidence that this Government desires unemployment. Such a policy would always rebound on the people who adopted it. There is, of course, always a chance that a percentage of the people might believe that the Government desired some unemployment. So it is politically advantageous for an Opposition to put such a story forward in the hope that a sufficient number of electors will believe it and be influenced accordingly when casting their votes.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition in another place said -
It has become clear that unemployment is being used as a deliberate instrument of policy.
He went on to say that there was something profoundly immoral about the Menzies Government’s present attitude to the unemployment situation. A man who makes a statement that he knows is incorrect should not use the words “ profoundly immoral “. I do not doubt for a moment that Mr. Whitlam knows that it is not the intention of the Government to use unemployment as an instrument of policy, and he is making his statement purely for party political purposes.
Senator McKenna is the only speaker in this debate who has referred to the most important aspect of the economy. He mentioned the depletion of the incomes of primary producers but said no more about the subject. This is one of the most important, if not the most important, aspects of the Australian economy to-day. It is true that we have great production and that the export of primary products has increased, but if the rat-race of wages chasing prices starts again - and all the indications are that it will - the primary producer will reach the position where he simply cannot carry on.
In Tasmania we have 45 wages boards. Each board consists of two representatives of the trade unions, two representatives of employers, and a supposedly independent chairman. Instead of appointing an independent man to one of those boards, the Government appointed a man with trade union affiliations. I suggest that it is a fair proposition that the chairman of a board such r.s that should be as free as possible from such affiliations.
– Who would be in a position like that?
– It would be just as bad to place a person with employer sympathies on the board.
– What about a lawyer or a doctor?
– If the honorable senator will keep quiet for a moment I shall tell him what happened in Tasmania. The Arbitration Court balked at bringing in three weeks’ annual leave. Might I say that if the economy of the country could afford it, I would support six weeks’ annual leave; but the blunt fact is that the economy cannot afford it. In the final analysis the primary producer has to pay for this. Although the Arbitration Court had balked at granting three weeks’ annual leave, the man to whom I am referring had no such scruples. In his findings he said -
Conflicting evidence was presented on the probable cost of increased leave, and in giving my decision in favour of the application I would emphasize that while fully cognizant of placing some further burden of costs upon industry-
I need go no further than that. Those words have been used so often by people who have brought in decisions of that nature. They admit that their decisions will increase costs in industry but they always claim that those costs are small and will have no very adverse effects. But statistics show that the margin between the price received by a primary producer and his cost of production is narrowing. When we reach the stage where the primary producer does not receive any profit we will be in real trouble.
– You are preaching gloom.
– I am issuing a warning. I do not contend that the situation is as bad as has been suggested for so long by the Opposition. I am not making a mountain out of a molehill. Unlike honorable senators opposite, I have not chased the shadow and lost the substance. It is the substance about which I am speaking.
I notice that a fresh onslaught is to be made on the Commonwealth Arbitration Commission. An attempt will be made to obtain increased wages and improved con ditions for workers in industry. If those demands are acceded to the primary producer will be dealt another blow. He will be forced to pay more for his essential requirements. Primary producers have been told that the only way out of their difficulty is subsidies. As a primary producer I dislike subsidies because they deal only with an effect and do not get to the root cause of the trouble. This trouble will continue until such time as we have a well-balanced arbitration commission that takes all aspects of the economy into consideration.
If the Opposition were to find anything worth while in this Budget the stars would falter in their courses. Is there such a great deal of difference between the Government’s action and what the Opposition would do? During his speech in this debate the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) said - if Labour were re-writing this Budget, the deficit would be £160,000,000, a sum that would give a real stimulus to the economy.
In other words, Labour would be prepared to go an extra £42,000,000 along what some people regard as the very dangerous road of deficit financing. The Labour Party would not go much further than this Budget goes. The Opposition claims that it would meet the problem of child endowment and that it would make an emergency grant to the States for purposes of education. But in the short term, such a policy would give no boost at all to the economy. In his speech yesterday Senator Benn, who is singularly ill-informed on Commonwealth and State financial relations, claimed that Tasmania received a special grant for purposes of education and that this was why education facilities in Tasmania are so much better than they are in other States. Is Senator Benn unaware that the Commonwealth Grants Commission investigates Tasmania’s disabilities under federation and assesses those disabilities and other factors? The commission then makes a special grant to Tasmania to offset those disabilities. But Tasmania does not receive the full benefit of that special grant because it spends more on education than do the standard States. Senator Turnbull, who was Treasurer of Tasmania for a time, will support me in this regard.
In his speech last week Senator McKenna said -
Above all, he-
That is, Mr. Whitlam - proposed a progressive five-year plan for the development of this country, not only by the public sector through governments, but also in close association with the private sector. . . .
That is the cornerstone of Labour’s platform. Earlier this year, and prior to the presentation of the Budget, the Government conferred with leaders of industry, people engaged in various commercial pursuits and trade union leaders.
– And took no notice of them.
– I do not know whether the Government took notice of what those people said, but at least it conferred with them. No doubt the Government gained a great deal of valuable information from those conferences. As far as an incentive to the economy is concerned, for the life of me I cannot see any difference between the programme outlined in the Budget and the” programme espoused by the Opposition as an alternative.
I return to the theme that I was developing earlier. I am deeply concerned - I am not preaching gloom - by the position of our primary producers. It is high time some attention was given to selfemployed persons in the community. Many of them do not earn the basic wage. They do not enjoy three weeks’ annual leave on full pay. They do not get sick leave. They do not enjoy many of the other amenities that are provided for people who work under awards. Nevertheless, self-employed persons represent a considerable portion of our population. Not long ago it was estimated that 40 per cent, of Tasmania’s primary producers were not earning the basic wage. In my opinion the primary producer is the mainstay of our economy. If the present trend continues - if the profits of the man on the land continue to fall to the point where he cannot earn any profit - repercussions will be felt throughout the economy, and their effect will be dire indeed.
Sitting suspended from 5.35 to 8 p.m.
.- Mr. President, I rise to take part in this debate and to support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna), deeply conscious of the fact that Australia to-day faces problems of the greatest urgency and importance. Australia - a nation of 10,500,000 people occupying a vast continent, great areas of which still have to be developed, with its origins in the British liberal tradition and in the warm and vital radicalism of its early pioneers - is face to face with the realities of the changing world in which it must work out its destiny. Survival, growth and prosperity are our destiny, but only if we prove equal to the opportunity.
Geographically, Mr. President, for practical purposes, Australia is part of Asia, and the countries of Asia, each in its own way, are part of the great revolution of our time, namely the awakening of backward peoples. Many of them are ancient peoples with ancient and sophisticated cultures. They have varying standards of living, standards of literacy and levels of political maturity and international recognition. They constitute about one-half of the population of the world and produce only about 5 per cent, of the world’s industrial output. They import about £5,000,000,000 Australian worth of goods annually. Many of them are dedicated to massive programmes of internal development. This is the new world in which Australia has to live and work and trade. If we add to that problem the challenge of communism, with its advances and achievements, presented to us globally, it is obvious that real statesmanship and capacity are called for in the solution of Australia’s problems. I suggest that it is proper for this chamber to examine the Estimates and Budget Papers which are the subject of this debate, against that background.
If I may venture to say this in my first speech in the Senate, I have been struck by the fact that one document - the Budget and its accompanying papers - which on the face of it is an arid document, can be read in two different ways by two different kinds of people. On the one hand it is read by senators on the Government side of the chamber as an expression of stability and expansion. On the other hand, it is read by senators on this side as being stagnant and negative. The different readings seem to me to spring from two different outlooks. If we accept the position that I mentioned in my opening remarks - that there is this tremendous challenge to this country to live and work in a new world and work out its own destiny - then quite patently this is an arid, sterile and negative budget. On the other hand, if we want, as one of the journals of public enlightenment put it, to sit down and wait for the problems to go away, this is a proper budget. We members of the Opposition do not believe in the ostrich-like policy of sitting down, hiding our heads in the sand and wailing for the problems to go away. We approach the whole problem of Australia’s finances, its Budget, its economy, its internal and international problems with a sense of urgency and a feeling that something better for Australia is needed and something better for the Australian people is justified. I suggest that it is a proper description of the Budget to say that it is characterized by a monumental lack of attention to the needs of Australia and its people.
A great deal of the value that the Government apparently places on this Budget is in its supposed dedication to the development of Australia. Much was made by the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) and the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge), who presented the Estimates and Budget Papers to the Senate, of the £26,000,000 that is set aside for developmental purposes in this year’s Estimates. That fact was uttered by those Ministers with a great deal of pride, as though it was opening up some great vision of expansion and progress for the Australian people and the destiny of Australia. But the truth, I suggest with respect, is rather the opposite. This amount is a drop in the ocean when the problem of development is considered against the vast background of Australia’s future in a new world. The amount of £26,000,000 sounds a lot of money. It is composed largely of amounts that will be made available to assist the States in particular projects. But it is not part of a great plan for the development of Australia. It is not part of a blueprint which is being carried out in stages over a period of years. lt represents merely some recognition that the States have needs of a developmental character that have to be satisfied.
In one or two of the States, noticeably Queensland, it is obvious that the Government is still fascinated by the sight of the raw wounds that were inflicted upon its body by the people of Queensland at the last elections. For that reason it is necessary, in the Government’s thinking, to make special provision for Queensland so that the Government may be said to be conscious of the problems of that State and the need for development there. Mr. President, the Opposition looks at development in an entirely different way. On many occasions the Leader of the Australian Labour Party in another place (Mr. Calwell) has pointed to the great need to open up the north and north-west of Australia. The Labour Party, in its policy speech at the last federal elections, promised that if elected to office it would appoint a Minister for Northern Development to take account of the great realities of the north. An odd beef road, a railway project here, the provision of port facilities there and the development of brigalow lands somewhere else are only bits and pieces in the total picture.
The Labour Party believes that Australia has to be developed with a sense of urgency and that nothing short of full-time attention to the need to develop Queensland, the Northern Territory and the north-west of Western Australia is good enough in this day and age. That is the basis of our approach to development. One could speak at great length on this problem. It is critical. Doing little bits and pieces is not enough. In the view that we put, the solution of this problem involves national planning and resourcefulness of the very highest order. Particular items of developmental work scattered around to please as many people as possible in as many small ways as possible are not enough to cope with the realities of the situation.
I pass on now to other matters. In this Budget one missed overwhelmingly that sense of urgency and attention to the real needs of the people. Senator Turnbull this afternoon referred to the fact that this Budget contained nothing at all for any one in Australia - nothing by way of social services, repatriation benefits or child endowment. There is not a penny in the Budget for any of the people who might be expected to benefit from improvements in social service. There is nothing by way of taxation relief. There is nothing even in the way of minor concessions in respect of taxes on food and household items. These are things that people worry about, but no provision is made for them in the Budget.
There was a great deal of hope and expectation that the Govrnment would do something about bridging the gap between high deposits for homes and the limited finance available to home seekers. The Master Builders’ Association and many other groups in the community have emphasized the difficulties experienced by home seekers in finding deposits at a time of rising house prices. Many newspaper editorials have urged that something ought to be done to relieve the housing shortage at a time when the building industry is depressed. Although I have not the time to recite them in detail, the figures show plainly that in 1961-62 home building was at its lowest level for the last five years.
The figures show plainly that in terms of overall employment this country is virtually static. It is one thing to juggle figures and to speak of fewer unemployed in July than in June, or two or three hundred up or down from the figure of June last year, or to go back to the unemployment figures in 1960 before the credit squeeze. It is quite another thing to face the situation realistically. The figures are interesting. They show only a very gradual decrease in unemployment, but certainly not enough to cope with the present incidence of unemployment. The Budget itself contemplates, by the provision of £13,000,000 for unemployment and sickness benefits, that there will be, if not the present 90,000, at least some 80,000 unemployed for the rest of this coming year. It is sad to contemplate that the unemployment problem has really not been tackled at all by the Government.
Unemployment is one side of the picture. In terms of employment, looking carefully at the figures and going back, not to 1960 or 1961, but to 1957 and thereabouts, one finds that there has been no dramatic increase in the number of persons employed in this country. I know that there is an increase of some scores of thousands when one looks back half a decade or a whole decade, but I venture to suggest that a fair examination of the figures discloses that no real progress has been made on the employment front in the last four or five years. No doubt honorable senators on the Government side can point to areas where expansion has occurred, but considering the nature and magnitude of the challenge Australia must face in 1962 and henceforth, the increase in the number of persons employed is merely a drop in the ocean. The Government has not kept faith with the people; it has not kept pace with the nature of the challenge.
I should have liked to see in the Budget a number of things that do not appear in it. For instance, I should have liked to see some sign that the Government, faced with economic problems of the first magnitude, had paid some attention to the proposals of the Constitutional Review Committee for reform of the Constitution. In many ways we are back in the horse and buggy days, or in the days of the early coaches. Our Constitution is badly in need of streamlining. The Government should hold a referendum of the people on certain issues on which the members of the Constitutional Review Committee were virtually unanimous. With some streamlining of the Constitution much more progress could be made in tackling some of our economic problems. To-night is not the appropriate occasion for me to dwell at any length on the nature of the problems involved in constitutional reform. I merely mention that matter because one would have expected some reference to it in the Budget. Any thinking government would have announced that the opportunity would soon be taken of putting those proposals to the people. The Labour Party has announced that it will support the recommendations of the Constitutional Review Committee, and we want to hear - I hope in the not very-distant future - whether the Government is prepared to face up to the problem.
I should have liked to see in the Budget some action on a matter which I raised the other day by way of a question, and on which I understand a more detailed answer will be given in due course. I asked whether something would be done to start an Australian overseas shipping line. I mentioned that Australia needs to work and trade with Asia. No doubt if Britain decides to enter the Common Market major readjustments will have to be made, and we will certainly seek markets in Asia for Australian products. Why cannot our products be carried in Australian ships that are built, manned and run by Australians? Objections may be made, as they have already been made to me, that one cannot show that Australian ships could be run more economically than the present vessels. I believe that when the proposal is examined it will be seen that Australian ships can be run more economically. In any event, we are now committed to spend an estimated £300,000,000 a year in freights, which go to overseas shipping interests, for the carriage of our exports and imports. That money should be spent in Australia in building an Australian shipping line. We showed in the war that we could build ships, and we can build them again, thus giving employment to Australians. This money should not be wafted away on the breezes and into the pockets of the overseas shipping interests. I am disappointed that nothing has been done along these lines. The establishment of an Australian shipping line is strongly supported by the trade union movement which, if the proposal ever comes to fruition, will carry a major part of the burden of building and running Australian ships.
I now turn to education, a vital matter upon which there has been a good deal of talk in this country in recent times. I think one can properly refer to the “ crisis “ in education to-day, and say that for the first time the national conscience is being stirred by the need to make education a national responsibility. Again and again the Australian Education Council and the State Ministers for Education in conference have recommended and impressed upon this Government that it should accept responsibility, not only as it has, very properly, in the sphere of university education - in which a great deal has been done although a lot more remains to be done - but also in grants to the States to cover secondary, technical and primary education. Along with that is the grave need for increasing the number of qualified teachers in the schools. Besides the problem of getting sufficient numbers of qualified teachers., there is the problems of providing accommodation, equipment and facilities. There are grave doubts among the teachers themselves as to whether many teachers who have the care of young children are qualified to do the job. We need, it has been suggested, a kind of crash programme in education. It has to be a national responsibility. Debates on the subject have taken place in the House of Representatives. In 1960, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) was pressed with the view that the Government of the Commonwealth should actively take up a more positive role in education. He declined to do so, saying that it was primarily a matter for the States. However, he did say - and it is important - that there is no constitutional bar to the Commonwealth providing grants to the States for secondary, technical or primary education under section 96 of the Constitution.
It is too late in the day to argue that the Commonwealth has no power to make grants to the States for educational purposes well beyond the university level and over to the level of secondary, technical and primary education. It is a matter for profound national self-examination that we spend such a small proportion of our national income on education. The figures may be known to honorable senators, but I shall cite them. According to the Unesco report of 1961 in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics something like 7 per cent, of the national income is spent on education. In the United States of America 4.6 per cent., in Great Britain 4 per cent., and in Canada 4.S per cent, of the national income is spent on education, and in some of the countries of Europe, for example Norway, up to 6 per cent. In Australia, according to the same report, 2.2 per cent, is spent. It has been suggested by thoughtful people that that figure should be revised upwards and that a proper figure for Australia is 3.3 per cent., but this still would not compare with the much higher percentages of other advanced nations. It seems to be obvious that we need to do something in a national way about this problem.
I do not wish to be over-critical of what has been done in the field of education, and I hope that my comments will not be so construed. I think we all appreciate that, on the whole, the field of education is a difficult one. The provision of facilities involves more than the mere handing out of money. In education, one is dealing not only with materials, but also with people, and with children - the future citizens of this country. It is important not to denigrate the efforts of those who have done their best, under difficult conditions, and they include many people who work very sincerely and actively in the States. But it is just not good enough, Mr. President, in my respectful opinion, to think that we can get by any longer without some massive reappraisal of what is needed in the field of education. We open our newspapers and we read of Mr. Nikolayev and the other Russian astronaut virtually having afternoon tea together as they circle the globe. We read of the achievements of science and the advances in technology, not only in Russia but also in the United States, Britain, the countries of Europe and other advanced countries. It is obvious that if we are to bring our youth into a state where they can stand comparison, in terms of intellectual and technical achievement, with the youth of other countries, then education has to be seen as a national problem. I look forward to the day - I hope it is not far distant - when we shall be told what the Government’s position is on this question of education, and when an answer will be given to those who seek a much greater Commonwealth interest in education.
I wish to say a word or two about international matters before my time expires. I think it is known to honorable senators that in the forefront of the Australian Labour Party’s thinking on questions of international arrangements, such as disarmament and so on, is unswerving support for the United Nations. That has always been a cardinal feature of Labour thinking, since the days when Dr. Evatt was an architect of that great institution, and one of the early presidents of the General Assembly. We have never wavered from that position. As the years have gone by, we have seen the great dilemma of civilization in the threat of war, in the threat of nuclear war, and in the many frustrations and disappointments that have taken place in the search for fruitful international agreements. I do not stand here, Mr. President, except in a sense of humility, to criticize the efforts that have been made. We all know of the difficulties. We all know that these problems are not easy to solve. But, nevertheless, it is imperative that a way be found to reduce the danger of war and to set up proper and constructive international relationships and agreements. This means that people have to take the initiative at times in order to break through the morass of bogged-down negotiations.
How many times have we heard somebody say, “ You cannot do business with the Russians “, and somebody else say, “ The Americans do not want it, anyhow “. There are various points of view that can be taken up in such protracted negotiations for some kind of solution of some part of a very big problem. It is necessary sometimes, as I have said, to take the initiative. The Labour Party saw in recent months that merely to speak about the threat of nuclear war and about the dreadful effects of radio-activity from nuclear explosions was not sufficient, that it was necessary to take some kind of positive view, which had been absent in the present Government’s thinking on international affairs, as well as on national affairs. That is what led to the formulation of what, I suggest, is an admirably constructive policy on disarmament and nuclear testing.
There was a great deal of discussion, some of which v/as public and some of which was not. During the course of a recent debate in the Senate, Senator O’Byrne read the terms of a resolution that was carried by the Australian Labour Party’s governing body, the federal executive. I shall not detain the Senate by reading it again, but the substance of the resolution was that the Labour Party supported completely the declaration of the Commonwealth Prime Ministers in favour of the eventual total disarmament of all nations; that we were opposed to testing of nuclear weapons by any nation, without exception and without qualification; and that we wanted to see an extension of the principles of the Antarctic Treaty, to which there were many signatories and in which provision was made for a nuclear-free zone.
Honorable senators will be familiar with the terms of that treaty. In substance, it provides that Antarctica shall be used for peaceful purposes only. It states -
There shall *ie prohibited, inter alia, any measures of a military nature, such as the establishment of military bases and fortifications, the carrying out of military manoeuvres, as well as the testing of any type of weapons.
Any nuclear explosions in Antarctica and the disposal there of radioactive waste material shall be prohibited.
What was sought by the Australian Labour Party - and I suggest with respect to honorable senators that this was a positive contribution - was that in the approach to the problem of testing nuclear weapons the principle of the Antarctic Treaty should be extended to make the whole of the southern hemisphere a nuclear-free zone with the Antarctic Treaty powers. That suggestion has been scoffed at. I venture to suggest that it was a positive contribution to thinking, that it is a completely practicable suggestion. No problem of unilateral disarmament is involved in it.
What is involved is that Australia should be prepared to say - and I suggest this Government should be prepared to say it - to the other signatories to the Antarctic Treaty and to those other nations mentioned in the resolution, which include China, Japan, India, Pakistan, Ceylon, Burma, Malaya, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Viet Nam, the Philippines, Indonesia and others, “ if you are willing to do away with nuclear weapons, so are we “. Is not that a fair proposition all round? What a wonderful thing it would be if, through the initiative of this country, which as I said in my opening remarks is poised in a very delicate situation as it faces its future, one half of the world at any rate was committed to freeing itself of nuclear weapons and any possibility of nuclear war. The suggestion is rejected apparently on the ground that some of the countries have part of their land mass above and part below the equator, and this in some way presents a difficulty in the way of achieving a nuclear-free zone. Is it to be thought that a country which has any part of its land mass above the equator would solemnly enter this agreement with so many other countries, including the Antarctic Powers and all the others, if it meant the retention of nuclear weapons in that part of its land mass which is in the northern hemisphere? I venture to think that unnecessary difficulties are being placed in the way of this proposal.
Mr. President, my time is nearly up, and 1 do not want to overstep any bounds. I merely want to say that I regard it as a great privilege to represent in this chamber the Australian Labour Party, a party which in every way, national and international, has at this moment the confidence of the overwhelming majority of Australians because it stands for positive things against negative things, and because it stands for the future of Australia, as it stood for Australia in the past. It is the oldest and the largest political party in this Commonwealth. It has a great tradition rooted in the radicalism of its pioneers, and it faces the future of Australia confident of its ability to play a major part in shaping Australia’s destinies and keeping it safe, secure and prosperous.
– As a very new member of this Parliament, I approach this, my first contribution to the debate, in a humble but sincere manner. I hope that as time goes by I shall be privileged to gain much knowledge in the ways of Parliament by observing the competence and experience of many honorable senators on both sides of this chamber. I should like to commence by saying that I am deeply conscious of the honour and privilege conferred upon me by the people of Queensland. It will be my constant endeavour to justify this confidence, not only by serving the interests of my own State but also by making whatever contribution I can to the development of Australia as a truly great nation.
Mr. President, the debate on the Budget for 1962-63 gives all honorable senators an opportunity to speak on many matters of major importance affecting Australia now and in the future. The provisions of this Budget have been the subject of much discussion. I do not propose to deal with all of them. Rather, I propose to look specifically at that part of the Budget which provides for increased spending in the northern part of this continent. Let me say here that I listened to the honorable senator who has just resumed his seat and, although our views differ, I believe we speak with equal sincerity. Of all the good things offered in the Budget, the proposals for the development of the northern part of this continent may well prove to be of the greatest value. Let me say here that I am becoming tired of being chided with suggestions that no development is taking place in our north, that we can see no evidence of development anywhere. Senator Cohen stated that the amount of money to go to Queensland this year for roads, rail systems, port development and so on will be spent on bits and pieces. In my book, those projects are rather big bits and rather large pieces.
The Budget makes provision for an increased expenditure of £17,000,000 in the States on such projects as the Mount Isa railway, beef cattle roads in Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia, a standard-gauge railway in West Australia, coal-loading facilities at ports in New South Wales and Queensland, and the development of the brigalow land in Queensland. It has been my good fortune to travel over the whole of the northern part of Australia. Recently I travelled from the Pacific coast around the north to the Ord River, and on all hands I could see evidence of a real desire to develop that part of the continent.
Here I might emphasize that the development of this country will be quite impossible unless it is carried out in a sound scientific manner based mainly on research. It is easy to say that £100,000,000 can be spent on the development of northern Australia. That would not be hard to do. What is hard to do is to incur expenditure properly, economically and in such a way as will give to the people living on the land in that region some security for the future. I do not think that blandly offering money is the solution to a problem as large as this?. There are signs of development in Queensland. For instance, the beef roads scheme, a £5,000,000 project, is under way in Queensland. Work on one road which I visited recently, that from Normanton to Julia Creek, a north-south road, is proceeding at a great pace, and appears to be approaching early completion. This should prove to be one of the best roads in Queensland because it will make a great contribution to the movement of stock and will enable us to dodge the worst effects of the frequent visitations of drought, the pattern of which we know so well in that State.
The railway to Mount Isa is well under way. This is designed not only to take care of the expansion of the huge mineral output of Mount Isa itself but also to assist greatly in the transport of beef cattle to the export works on the coast. The Normanton to Julia Creek road will be one of the better class roads being built in Queensland at the present time, and it will provide access to a greatly improved railway line and give us some idea of the type of movement required in the road system of Queensland generally. Provision is also to be made for shipping in the northern part of Australia so that we will have moving from gulf ports round the north to Cairns and Townsville ships capable of carrying about 700 head of cattle. It will be very interesting indeed to see which type of transport finally wins. This piece of development will be a most interesting exercise, because the road in this instance will not serve quite the same purpose as will the other roads in the scheme, which are further inland in the State.
I believe that this Government is very conscious of the task of developing northern Australia, and in the early stages it has placed a great deal of emphasis on research. In my book, that is right. The job cannot be done in any other way. These are new areas, with new climates, and new problems. I hope that the Senate will bear with me while we have a look at some of these problems, one by one. Research stations have been specially designed to cope with the particular circumstances of the areas in which they have been located. There is quite a spread of these stations all over the Commonwealth, mainly under the control of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. In Brisbane we have the Cunningham laboratory, to which is attached the Samford farm. From there we move to Belmont, near Rockhampton, where there is an animal husbandry station. It is concerned with breeding animals for the purpose of contributing to the development of tropical lands. From Queensland, we move across to Katherine in the Northern Territory, where we see a different problem. The country there is dry, but some progress has been made with such crops as peanuts and grain sorghum, which will form part of the final plan. There is also a new tropical rice station on the coastal plains near Darwin, and another at the Ord River, where £7,000,000 has been spent. That station is charged with crop production and at the moment it i3 busily engaged in growing oil crops such as safflower and linseed, as well as rice. There are also very good prospects in that area for cotton. Without the knowledge and background of what these areas might be able to produce, it is quite worthless to pour in money. We cannot afford to have a failure in an undertaking as big as this one will be when it gets under way.
Since the measures taken in February, a further advance has been made. Another C.S.I.R.O. laboratory is to be based in Townsville, and I believe that it will be very important. I have been interested for years in the establishment of this station, and I should like to thank the Minister in charge of the C.S.I.R.O. for his efforts in procuring the wherewithal to build this laboratory, which will be particularly valuable because of its location. It is in the dry tropics, but only about 40 miles from the southern end of the wet tropics, and in these areas we see great fields for development. 1 should like to tell the Senate something about the special problem of these areas. The area around Townsville is dry. It comes under the monsoonal rain influence and there is an average rainfall of from 40 to 45 inches. Rain falls each year in January, February and March. As is typical with country under monsoonal influence, the winter is very dry and there is what one might call a little drought every year. The country around the laboratory, of course, grows spear grass. Though this is very good and nutritious for beef production when it is young, the nutrition goes very quickly and there is a staggering drop in the weight of beasts. One has to work harder in the next summer to bring the weight back to that of the previous year. The C.S.I.R.O. has been interested in this area and it believes that it will be able to produce plants that will overcome this deficiency.
Already there are some indications of success with a plant called Townsville lucerne which, by the way is not a lucerne nor is it a native of Townsville. It is one of the stylos and grows very well indeed under dry conditions. It makes its first growth during the wet season, when it is unpalatable to stock, which leave it alone. However, it becomes very palatable and nutritious in dry periods. This is an example of the type of work that can be done. I believe that plant propagation will unearth other varieties that will do the same job, and perhaps improve on it. I might add that in field experimental trials, an oversowing of Townsville lucerne on spear grass country without clearing and with a normal, or a little less than normal, application of fertilizer, has resulted in a multiplication of the original carrying capacity by three or four times. This, of course, is of great significance in the field of research and can make a great contribution indeed to the export industries of the State.
On the other side of Townsville, only 30 miles away we have the wet coastal area. Suggestions for the development of this coast are not new. They were very ably debated in another place for some years by John Murray. One of the problems has been that little was known about pasture production on this coast. There has been activity by scientists of State departments, based on the experimental station at South Johnstone, in the better class country known as the rain forest. This area is very rich and carries very valuable stands of timber. The State Government, naturally, is quite reluctant to open up this land willy-nilly, contending that the timber should be removed first. This is understandable, because some of the most decorative timbers in the world grow naturally in the area. With the advent of the laboratory at Townsville research on poorer lands will be quickly undertaken. There is quite an area of country of this character, which is more or less of the coastal wallum type. I believe that the station will very quickly come up with answers. Probably this country, like other belts of country of the same type, will be found to be deficient in minerals. This deficiency lends itself to ready correction and the land will probably produce normally after the required minerals are supplied to the soil.
The position with regard to the rain forest is very disappointing, particularly as State scientists have worked out a combination of legumes and grass pasture on which there is not much difficulty in carrying and fattening a bullock to one and a half acres. With an annual rainfall of as much as 170 inches, there is a great possibility of working out a programme for all-year-round killing in that area. I do not think that the prospect is lost entirely. We shall come back to it, perhaps, over a period of years, because the State is willing to release a fair measure of this country as timber it taken from it. The work of the Townsville laboratory will be most interesting. I believe that it has established many heavy rainfall plants suitable to this area and that it proposes to have these in production very quickly. About 6,000 acres have been developed already and are producing very well.
It is interesting to note the regularity of the rainfall in the wet coastal area. Some two years ago I heard the shire clerk of Tully read out some statistics about the district. He pointed out that during 31 years there had been only one month in which rain was not recorded - not one month in a year, but one month in 31 years. The area is well above the frost line and is ideal for the growth of tropical legumes. The work that is being done will benefit the areas around Townsville, Tully, the Ord River and our tropical region generally. New plants have to be found and this Government is doing its share of that work in these laboratories and in searching for and introducing new varieties. I do not want to harp on Queensland all the time, but I believe that all development in Queensland will be beneficial to other parts of northern Australia. The research set-up is good, the communication system excellent and the station is in close proximity to the university. These are all helpful factors in research.
I turn now to the agreement between the Commonwealth and Queensland in relation to the brigalow country. I believe that this will be the pattern for future developments in other States. Brigalow, of course, is a legume and the soil underneath is fairly rich in nitrogen.
– Brigalow is a tree.
– It is a tree, but it is also a legume. It supplies nitrogen to the soil. It is extremely valuable to Queensland because we are more deficient in nitrogen than in any other element. In co-operation with the Commonwealth Government the State will develop in three stages this area of about 4,000,000 acres. The main varieties of grasses to be grown will be rhodes, green panic and buffel. I think, however, that the State should include legumes which are capable of maintaining the level of nitrogen and thus obtain a high pasture production.
The development envisaged includes clearing, fencing, housing and road systems. I do not know how the arrangements are to be made between the State and Federal governments. I do not think the agreement has yet been finalized. However, it is proposed that farmers will be allotted areas of from 6,000 to 10,000 acres which will finally be held on a freehold basis. This, of course, will be a big change from the existing system of land tenure in Queensland. This, Sir, is not a bits and pieces type of development but is being done on a grand scale. I might add that this Government is the only Commonwealth government that has done anything about developing northern Australia. I believe that the Budget we are discussing is a vigorous-growth budget and that the development which is about to take place is well planned and soundly based to promote future expansion.
Debate (on motion by Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Paltridge) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The debate on the Estimates and Budget Papers has been interrupted for the purpose of introducing this bill, and I should like to take the opportunity to extend my warm congratulations to the new senators who have participated in that debate - Senators Breen, Sherrington, Bishop, Cohen and Turnbull. I am sure all honorable senators listened with great interest to their speeches, all of which were highly creditable and indicated that the contributions of our new colleagues to future debates in this chamber will be most valuable. I shall not prolong the agony of those new senators who have yet to make their maiden speeches. This bill seeks the approval of Parliament to the borrowing of 4,600,000 dollars, the equivalent of £2,100,000, by the Commonwealth on behalf of Qantas Empire Airways Limited. The bill provides for an appropriation of the Loan Fund to enable the proceeds of the borrowing to be advanced to Qantas. It also provides for an appropriation of Consolidated Revenue Fund to enable the Commonwealth to meet payments of principal and interest and of other charges associated with the loan.
The arrangements for the loan are similar to those approved by Parliament in 1960, when the Commonwealth borrowed 2,000,000 dollars on behalf of the Australian National Airlines Commission from the same lender, the Chase Manhattan Bank. The Commonwealth will make the entire proceeds of the borrowing available to Qantas on terms to be determined by the Treasurer. These terms will be the same as the conditions under which the Commonwealth itself has borrowed the money. As Qantas will be required to meet all charges as they become due under the loan agreement, the Commonwealth becomes, in effect, the guarantor of the loan, and there will be no net charge on the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
With the proceeds of the loan, Qantas proposes to purchase a Boeing 707-1 3 8B aircraft which is now on lease to the company and has for some time formed part of its existing operational fleet of eleven Boeings. Qantas is already utilizing this fleet at a high rate and plans to operate at greater capacity by achieving a still higher rate of utilization. Boeings have replaced Electras on Qantas’s Far East route with useful results, and without the leased aircraft it would have been difficult, if not impossible! to do this. The result is that the leased aircraft has become an essential unit of the Qantas fleet, and that Qantas will have a continuing need for it. Qantas therefore wishes to avail itself of the provision in the leasing agreement which makes it financially advantageous to purchase rather than to continue leasing the aircraft.
Negotiations for the loan were completed in July, and the agreement was signed in New York on 6th August. Under the loan agreement, a copy of which is attached to the bill, the loan must be drawn before the end of September. As the proceeds of the loan cannot be made available to Qantas until the bill has been passed, and as delays would involve Qantas in additional costs, it is desirable that the bill should be passed during the present sittings.
Apart from the present loan, the Commonwealth has now borrowed 35,800,000 dollars in New York for aircraft purposes since 1956, of which 30,800,000 dollars has been for Qantas and 5,000,000 dollars for Trans-Australia Airlines. Of these loans, an amount of only 16,900,000 dollars, or less than half, still remains to be paid. In addition, a further 39,200,000 dollars has been borrowed for aircraft purposes from the International Bank and the Export-Import Bank, of which 36,700,000 dollars is still outstanding. These loans have contributed significantly to the fleet extension, modernizing and re-equipping which Qantas and T.A.A. have undertaken in recent years.
Under the agreement, the principal amount of 4,600,000 dollars is repayable in eight equal semi-annual instalments between March, 1964, and September, 1967. Interest is payable at 5) per cent, per annum on the amount of the loan outstanding. Other provisions in the agreement are similar to those included in earlier agreements negotiated by the Commonwealth in the United States for borrowings for aircraft purposes.
The Australian Loan Council has approved the terms and conditions of the borrowing, which will be added to the Commonwealth’s programme of £45,900,000 for housing approved at the June, 1962, meeting of the Loan Council.
As with previous loans aranged on behalf of Qantas and T.A.A., the Commonwealth is acting only as an intermediary, and the borrowing will therefore involve no net call on the Commonwealth’s resources. By acting as the borrower the Commonwealth has, however, made use of its own high credit standing overseas to obtain terms more favorable than Qantas may have been able to secure had it arranged the borrowing directly. I commend the bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator McKenna) adjourned.
Debate resumed (vide page 384).
– Mr. President, I rise in this Senate to make my initial contribution to the debates of the Twenty-fourth Parliament of the Commonwealth. At the outset may I say that I am very conscious of the great honour that has been bestowed upon me, first by the rank and file of the Labour movement of New South Wales and secondly by a majority of the people of that State. As a result of the people of New South Wales supporting the policies enunciated by the Australian Labour Party at the 1961 federal elections I have been chosen to represent New South Wales in the Parliament of the Commonwealth. Having been pre-selected by my party, elected by the people and confirmed in that election by a unanimous decision of the High Court of Australia, I now proudly take my place as the youngest sitting senator in the National Parliament.
My father had the honour of representing the Labour movement for some years in the New South Wales Legislative Assembly. I am told by his colleagues of the time that he was regarded as a fine Labour man. If at the end of my political career I can claim successfully to have emulated my father’s high standard of public conduct I will have performed my task well.
The subject on which I am required to make my maiden speech is the motion that the Budget Papers be printed. I support the amendment that has been so ably moved by my leader, Senator McKenna. As Senator Cohen has said, because it does not take into account the real problems that beset the people, and because it does nothing to alleviate those problems, the Budget has been described by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in another place* (Mr. Whitlam) as a dull, do-nothing budget.
Mr. President, the Labour movement has always fought to improve the conditions of the ordinary men and women in the community. In the Labour movement’s 71 years of existence it has done much to ameliorate some of the conditions complained about by society. Labour was born in the 1890’s because the underprivileged sections of the community at the time realized that the only real hope of achieving reform was by way of parliamentary legislation. In that atmosphere, and with that background, the Labour movement came into being.
Historians have recorded that Alexander the Great once wept because he had no fresh fields to conquer. Unfortunately, because of the ineptitude of this Government, the Labour movement cannot afford such a luxury at this stage. The LiberalCountry Party coalition came into office in 1949 as a result of a series of electoral promises which obviously were at the time attractive to the Australian community, But to-day, some thirteen years later, we find that the undertakings given in 1949 by the Liberal-Country Party coalition remain unfulfilled. The first promise was to put value back into the £1. Another promise was to reduce taxes. A promise was given to overcome the housing shortage that existed in the immediate post-war years. Of course, an undertaking was given that full employment would be maintained. But what are the facts as we now know them? The Australian £1 to-day has about onethird of the value that it had in 1949. Taxes, direct and indirect, as imposed on the wage and salary earners of Australia, are’ astronomical to-day compared with 1949. People are still crying out for homes. Indeed, it is said that we need 90,000 homes a year for the next five years in order to keep pace with the urgent need for homes. Even that rate of production would not take care of the backlog that has developed. On the Government’s own figures, 90,000 Australians are to-day walking the streets of our cities and towns seeking work.
The hands of monopolies are looming large and, despite assurances by the Government from time to time that it proposed to take legislative action to curb the power and influence of large combines and cartels, to date, as far as I am aware, this Parliament is still awaiting the necessary legislation.
I wish to refer to one or two portfolios which, in my opinion, have been rna.administered by this Government since it came to power in 1949. The first portfolio that I refer to is the important portfolio of Social Services. It has been described by average Australians as a bread and butter brief. It affects the lives and well-being of all Australians, present and future. Since this Government came into power it has introduced a number of Budgets, both annual and supplementary. To-day, after twelve years of its administration, despite the fact that the basic wage has more than doubled and costs and prices have risen as much, if not more, child endowment has not been increased or extended. When this Government came into office, the basic wage was £6 12s. a week and child endowment at the rate of 10s. a week was paid for each child in a family other than the first-born. To-day the basic wage is about £15 a week, but child endowment rates are exactly the same as they were in 1949. Admittedly, in 1950 5s. a week was granted for the firstborn child in a family. However, any benefit accruing to the mothers of children from that provision has been dissipated completely by the depreciation in the value of the Australian currency and the imposition of heavy indirect taxation by this Government.
Mr. President, this country is crying out for increased population. Australia is a land of about 3,000,000 square miles, with vast untapped resources and a population of only about 11,000,000. Not long ago I read that the price of a block of land in the outer suburbs of Sydney and Melbourne is higher than that of a comparable block in the great city of New York. It is fair to say that land should be the cheapest commodity in this country and people should be the most prized. What inducement is there, under present economic conditions, for young married couples to settle down in a home and raise young families? The maternity allowance of £15 for the first child is the same to-day as the amount awarded by the wartime Curtin Government about nineteen years ago. In this facet of social services, the Menzies Government has not been able in thirteen years of peacetime administration to see its way clear to grant any relief or any addition to the amount that was awarded by a Labour Government in wartime in 1943.
I shall deal now with invalid pensions. When the Curtin Government came into office in 1941, the invalid pension represented 24.75 per cent, of the basic wage. Within seven years - four of which were in wartime - the Curtin Labour Government had increased the invalid pension to 36 per cent, of the basic wage. However, this Government, after thirteen years in office, has barely been able to maintain the same percentage values as existed when it took office in 1949. Surely, in a period of rising prices and so-called prosperity, as claimed by this Government, people who are suffering from some incapacity or disability are entitled to a more equitable share of the nation’s wealth. One could continue to speak ad infinitum about social services, including medical benefits, hospital benefits, funeral benefits and repatriation payments. For my purposes and the purposes of the Australian Labour movement, it is sufficient to say that the wants of the people who are most in need have been disregarded by this Government.
I shall deal now with the very important portfolio of Defence. In this I include the portfolios of Army, Navy and Air. The Government has spent about £2,000,000,000 on the so-called defence of this country since it came into office in 1949. This year it is budgeting for a further expenditure of about £210,000,000. Because we of the Labour movement are first and foremost Australians, we say that no expenditure is too great for the protection of our shores; but we believe genuinely and positively that under this Government the defence vote has been squandered so lavishly and extravagantly that the defences of Australia are in a very poor state.
On page 221 of the schedule to the Estimates one finds that at present the Australian Regular Army has a total complement of 22,815 active servicemen to protect Australia’s 11,000,000 people. A further perusal of the Estimates shows that 2,924 of that number of men are officers and 8,140 are non-commissioned officers. That leaves only 11,751 privates and other ranks. In other words, the Australian Regular Army has nearly as many officers and non-commissioned officers as privates. Without citing the figures, I can say that the navy and the air force numbers show a similar position. Since the last financial year, according to the Estimates, there has been an increase of 964 in active army personnel the number of combatants in the air force has remained the same as last year; and there has been a decrease of 58 in the active service navy personnel. Page 107 of the schedule to the Estimates shows that for that enlargement of 906 in our combined permanent defence forces we spent £481,030 on recruiting campaigns last year. In other words, it cost the people of Australia £530, in round figures, for advertising to attract each recruit to the armed services.
In the Budget speech we were told that another three-year defence programme had been drawn up in the light of changes in the world political and strategic situation. People are asking: What does this mean? What will be the cost? What will be the scheme? Whatever be the cost, we of the Labour movement trust that, in the interests of Australia, the new plan will be more fruitful than its predecessors.
Now I will deal with the very important portfolio of trade. Having regard to events that are transpiring in Europe at present, the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) has one of the most important portfolios in the Government. But the Estimates show that this year the Department of Trade intends to spend only £425,000 more than it spent last year. To the immediate north of Australia is a nation of about 90,000,000 people. Whether we like it or not, that nation has a large and expanding economy. Indonesia is our nearest neighbour. Indeed, as from 1st May next year, it will be our border neighbour. We will be conversing with Indonesia over the back fence, as it were.
Recently that country sent a trade mission to Australia to seek imports of some of our primary products. According to the Estimates, the Government is budgeting for an increase in trade commercial intelligence services in respect of Indonesia of only £6,386. On the other hand, the Government intends to increase its expenditure on trade promotion in Venezuela by £29,000. That country, which has a population of a mere 6,000,000, is about 10,000 miles from our shores, and trade with it involves increasing shipping costs and other ancillary problems. Likewise, it intends to increase its expenditure on trade promotion in Peru, which is a similar distance from Australia and has a population of 10,000,000, to the extent of £19,000.
I believe, Sir, that we should advance our trade promotion programmes with Asian nations as much as, if not more than, we are with the South American countries. Indeed, one can go a step further. Looking at page 59 of the Estimates one sees that the Government intends to spend on the 28 trade commercial intelligence services we have throughout the world the sum of only £1,207,000. Just compare this with the amount of £1,076,000 set aside for the upkeep of one office, that of the Australian High Commissioner in London! In other words, we are spending on trade commissioner services throughout the world only £131,000 over and above the amount expended on the upkeep of the office of the High Commissioner in London.
Then, of course, there is the important portfolio of Labour and National Service. Despite the promise contained in the 1949 joint policy speech of the Liberal-Country Party coalition that full employment would be maintained, even on the Government’s own figures we find that to-day some 90,000 Australian men and women are registered for employment. Those people are ready, willing and able to work but are unable to do so because of the economic policies pursued by this Government. The figure of 90,000, of course, does not take into account the number of married women who have been retrenched from industry and are ineligible for unemployment benefits. Nor does it take into account the number of men who have reached retiring age and have been compulsorily retired earlier in life than they themselves had budgeted for. Though the figures do not take these factors into account the people- of Australia must surely consider them, as they must consider also the number of children who will leave school at the end of this year and come on to the labour market for the first time.
The very fact that the Government has budgeted to spend £13,000,000 on unemployment relief must indicate to the Australian people that there will continue to be a considerable pool of unemployed workers. No one with a humanitarian outlook can merely look at the figures and say that the situation is improving or getting worse. There is much more to it than figures and statistics. We must give sympathetic consideration to the problems of those people who want work but cannot obtain it. These men have families to keep. They have homes to pay off. They have medical expenses and hire-purchase commitments to meet. They have children to rear and to educate. Surely, Sir, this is a humanitarian problem that means more than percentages and statistics. Merely because a man is out of work does not mean that his normal everyday problems cease. Having this in mind, I plead with those in charge of the nation’s affairs to consider the wants of these people and to place the interests of mankind before the interests of profit.
Australia is a great country, a land badly in need of development. It is rich in natural and mineral resources and has a vast and untold talent of wealth. Why in this age, with the demand on us to prepare for the advent of to-morrow, must we have the spectre of unemployment hanging over our heads? Unemployment is not only a problem for the unemployed workmen. We must think of their wives who have to stint on essentials and see their small savings eaten into day by day. I ask the Government to think of the children of these people, who are also affected. The needs of the kiddies of unemployed workers are great, but their provisions are austere.
The problems connected with automation grow day by way, as do the problems of the unemployed. Machines are displacing men from industry, and a solution of the problem thus brought about has to be found quickly. Until this Government - or any other government for that matter - pursues a policy of making money work for man instead of man working for money alone, or yearning to work for it, we will not overcome our problems of unemployment.
As I said earlier, Mr. Acting Deputy President, the most precious commodity that Australia needs to-day is people. If Australia herself cannot produce them, we must import them in large numbers. A country which seeks to develop by way of immigration cannot afford significant unemployment in its own ranks. Whilst the Government plans for an immigration intake of 125,000 a year we find that we are getting only some 80,000 immigrants a year. As the “ Australian Financial Review “ said last week -
The United Nations’ economic survey of Europe makes the Australian Government’s sanguine insistence that immigration will continue unchanged seem somewhat doubtful. A United Nations’ survey of Europe reveals that over the two fiscal years 1960 and 1961 the industrialised nations of Europe achieved an average rate of gross national product of 54 per cent, per annum.
Last week’s Australian national income white paper reveals that Australia’s gross national product achieved virtually no rate of growth at all during the fiscal years 1960-61 and 1961-62. The sad fact of the matter is that over these two years Australia’s performance does not stand comparison with that of the countries from which we hope to attract 125,000 migrants a year.
Mr. Acting Deputy President, before I conclude my remarks I wish to make one or two observations concerning the future of this chamber. If the Senate is meant to continue to exist I believe that we, the members of the Senate, must try. to re-arm it with an added importance in the affairs of the nation. In this regard I believe strongly that the Senate should set up standing committees to investigate problems confronting government administrators, and to proffer solutions of them. One of the officers of this Parliament has stated, in a report prepared after a study, I think in 1957, of the American system of government -
The appointment of information-gathering committees would provide a considerable fillip to the promotion of more private members’ bills, and it is suggested that it is a development which should not be discouraged by the administration. Rather should the administration encourage private members to put their talents to work towards what they are elected for - the peace, order and good government of the Commonwealth.
With their longer terms of service and greater freedom from localism, Senators are belter equipped to serve on standing committees than short-term representatives who, for the main part, live in the shadow of an approaching election and are likely to be pre-occupied therewith.
I believe this is something that should be pursued by the members of the Senate so that this chamber may be uplifted in its importance so far as the affairs of government and the public of Australia are concerned.
I am indebted to honorable senators for the patient and courteous hearing I have received. I pledge myself to join my colleagues of the Labour movement in the fight for the advancement of society and for the achievement of economic and social justice for all my fellow-Australians. I am proud, as my colleagues are, of the honour that has been bestowed upon me. I will do my utmost to forward the doctrine of peace, prosperity and goodwill to all men, the doctrine of the Australian Labour movement.
– Mr. Acting Deputy President, it is with some trepidation that I rise to speak to-night. At the outset, I wish to thank all members of the Senate who have shown more than formal courtesy in making me feel welcome in this chamber. I do not suppose that honorable senators opposite ever really welcome an addition to this side of the chamber. In that case, I thank them for making me feel welcome. They certainly have simulated their welcome very capably.
A few days after the prolonged business of electing the fifth senator was concluded in Western Australia, I received from our worthy Clerk Assistant of the Senate - I presume that other honorable senators did so, too - a rather weighty tome containing much information concerning the Senate, what senators should say and, more particularly, what they are not allowed to say. I thank him sincerely for the book of rules. I hope I will be able to obey them. I hasten to say that I read with interest the advice to senators making their first speech in this chamber. I learned with some relief that it was traditional for honorable senators to refrain from interjecting when a speech of this nature was being made, and that in return, the speech should be nonprovocative and short. A friend of mine told me that it was impossible for me to make a speech that was not provocative, but it is certainly not difficult for me to make one that is short. I appreciate the very sound advice contained in the publication and will try to act upon it to-night.
I wish to pay a tribute to former Senator Agnes Robertson whose place I occupy at this moment. Senator Robertson served her State with distinction and well deserved the many tributes paid to her at the close of her years of service. At all times she displayed courage and tenacity of purpose in the causes she espoused. She left a record that will be difficult to equal. I am conscious of the honour and responsibility of representing the party of my choice and, especially, of being here as a representative of Western Australia. I cling to the apparently old-fashioned idea that a senator’s responsibility under the constitution of this chamber is to represent the State which elects him to this place. I hope, as a representative of Western Australia, to be a loyal Australian.
I am conscious that when Western Australia came somewhat unwillingly into the federation, there had existed for many years a feeling that we should not really have done so. I believe that many Western Australians still have doubts on that score. Over recent years, however, there has been an increasing realization that Western Australia has a part to play, and that there is a reciprocal duty on the part of Australians to develop that area of our continent. We in Western Australia have been given responsibility to develop one-third of the continent of Australia. To do that, we have at present a population which is approximately one-third that of the city of Sydney. It is a tremendous task for a relatively few people to be allotted. I have no hesitation in saying that the development of Australia as a whole will be seriously endangered unless Australians realize that they are vitally concerned with the western third of the continent, and that it should not be left to the few people in that part of Australia to struggle along without substantial help being given to them.
Development should not depend upon the chance allocation of State boundaries in the distant past. We who live in the western part of the continent can see the problem clearly. I trust that our fellow Australians will appreciate their responsibility in this task. Happily, there is increasing evidence that they are doing so. We hear much about the winds of change. I believe that that is not just a figure of speech but a very real thing in the world to-day. These winds are blowing from Africa, from Asia and from Indonesia, and we cannot afford to turn our backs and shrug our shoulders to the challenges and the dangers to our under-developed areas. 1 therefore welcome any signs - and there are many - that Australians generally are appreciating the need to look to the back paddocks as well as to decorate their front gardens. 1 was very pleased to learn to-night that some of my fellow participants in this amateur hour also were emphasizing the need for development of this kind and the need for an awareness of it by Australians generally. I do not agree with the conclusions that have been drawn relative to the Budget, but I agree with the principles that have been supported by speakers on the opposite side of the chamber to-day.
The Budget that was presented to the Parliament on 7th August last has, of course, run the gauntlet of criticism by the Opposition and by the press. I do not suppose that it would be possible for any government to produce a budget to suit every one. I recall that for many years we heard taunts about the depreciation in the value of the Australian £1 and its consequent effects upon the Australian economy and certain sections of our people; but we listen in vain for any commendation of what has been achieved in recent times through the Government’s budgetary policies. Here again I suppose, as has been stated, there are two ways of looking at the things that have been done, that thi way in which one looks at those things depends upon the side of the chamber on which one sits. Perhaps that is good. Certainly it is the purpose of the parliamentary institution that we should look at both sides of all matters in order to pass a balanced judgment upon them. As a Country Party representative and as a Western Australian, I welcome the Budget because it contains the promise of stability. Advocates of boom-and-bust policies would have us embark again on the slippery path of inflation to achieve rapid growth, but growth can be too rapid and unhealthy if it is not promoted on sound lines.
The problem that has confronted the primary producers of Australia is set out rather strikingly in some figures published by the Division of Agricultural Economics and reprinted in the report of the Wool
Marketing Committee of Enquiry in February of this year. Those figures reveal that in 1946-47, the base year, the value of greasy wool in relation to the price paid was 24.5d. per lb., but by the year 1960-61, although the average price for greasy wool was 52d. per lb., its comparable value was only 20d. per lb. We find that to-day wool is worth 25 per cent, less than it was worth in 1946-47. That fact summarizes the problem faced by the producers of our most important export commodity. Indeed, it is the problem faced by all exporters of all products, both primary and secondary. We cannot do much about the prices received for the exports we sell, but surely we must do something about restraining the inflationary forces that have forced almost every primary product except wool to rely on protective devices. We can, of course, reduce prices by increasing output relative to the capital investment in the industry concerned, but this can be done only if we have assured markets overseas. When we have satisfied the local demand for any given product, we must perforce seek export markets.
There has been some criticism by the Opposition of the work of the Department of Trade. I should think that would be the last section of government activity that the Opposition would seek to criticize. Every sector of Australian industry, both primary and secondary, pays tribute to the work done by the Department of Trade. We note that provision is made in the Estimates this year for the establishment of three additional trade posts abroad, making a total of 36 countries in which representatives of the Department of Trade are actively helping to expand the trade of this country. Those who say we are not doing anything to expand our trade are not looking fairly at the work that is being done. When speaking of our attempts to increase output, I must also pay tribute to the work being done by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. It is impossible to assess the value of the benefits derived by all primary and secondary industries from the work of this organization. By improving techniques and finding answers to the problems of production confronting both our primary and secondary industries, the C.S.I.R.O. has made a great contribution towards meeting the challenge of costs. If this Budget helps to restrain the upward spiral of costs, as I believe it will, it will provide a basis upon which sound growth can be achieved.
Dealing now with specific items of expenditure proposed in the Budget, let me say first that we in Western Australia are very pleased to note that substantial sums are to be allocated for development work in the north-west, for beef cattle roads and a jetty at Derby. They may be bits and pieces, but they are bits and pieces of a continuing project for the development of our resources. The roads programme for the whole of Australia has not been mentioned so far. We have a programme for the expenditure of £250,000,000 over five years on the upgrading and building of roads that mean so much to the Australian economy and to our social life. We cannot progress unless we continue that expenditure on transport, as good roads are essential to good transport. If anybody argues that the expenditure of £250,000,000 over five years “is not a substantial contribution to Australia’s development, I disagree with him.
It is pleasing to see - although I agree it is rather belated - that the Budget provides some recognition of the massive contribution which the gold-mining industry makes to our economic strength. This is recognized by the allocation of some £300,000 upon the survey and expansion of ore reserves. We in Western Australia look forward eagerly to the development of the standard gauge railway and the benefits that will flow therefrom. If expectations are realized, we should see a quite spectacular growth of heavy industries and resources in that State. Approaches have been made - I am sure they will continue to be made - by the Western Australian Government for further Commonwealth assistance in the expansion of reticulated water supplies in the rather dry agricultural areas. No expenditure can so rapidly increase bur primary exports as that on the development of our water resources. Australians everywhere must recognize the debt that they owe to the pioneering work done in this field in Western Australia. The initial gold-fields water scheme pioneered all water reticulation work since the turn of the century. The work done in Western Aus tralia by a mere handful of people in solving engineering problems and difficulties has borne fruit since then in practically every State of the Commonwealth.
In pleading for the extension of that work in Western Australia, we are conscious of the tremendous efforts that have been made in the development of new lands. We have seen in recent years clearing at the rate of 1,000,000. acres a year. If that new land is to be brought rapidly into full production, it is necessary, of course, to continue investing in it. The job is not finished when we have cleared the land. The problem of providing fencing, stock, machinery, and plant of all sorts is a great one, but the most urgent need is for the provision of adequate water supplies to that immense area. The greatest thrill that I get when I fly back to Western Australia is to look down as we come in over Norseman towards Hyden and areas adjoining, for the . first sign of settlement, the fence line that divides the first farm from the infinite expanse of emptiness that marks a great portion of the inland of Australia, and to know all that this denotes. Down there, men and women who are really bearing the heat and burden of the day in the best spirit of the pioneers of Australia are transforming a wilderness into productive farm land. Anything that we can do to help them to open up the great expanses of country at present lying idle is worthwhile. We can all then feel that we have done something in a real and practical way to develop this country as it should be developed.
In this connexion, I should like to refer to the work that the Government has done in the formation of the Commonwealth Development Bank and in adding to its funds a further £5,000,000 to provide finance for those people who are engaged in this work. I should like to stress that there is a great need to look at the basis of this bank’s formation. It was intended that the bank should fill a gap in our banking system. It was intended that it should make advances, having recognition of the skill and experience of, the men who apply for advances. The traditional banks advance on suitable security. It was recognized that there was .a field for additional finance and that we were neglecting one of our great national assets if we neglected to back the experience and skill of our young people. I am sure that we can develop that side of the bank’s activity to a greater extent than has been the case. There seems to be some reluctance to depart from the traditional form of making advances. We have had recently some striking examples of the failure of financially well-backed schemes that did not take into reckoning the need to utilize skills and knowledge. I refer to the failure of the Humpty Doo scheme and also of the original Chase syndicate enterprise at Esperance. Very often these skills and knowledge, particularly local knowledge, arc far more important for the success of a proposition than is the purely financial aspect.
Some figures published by the Division of Agricultural Economics have highlighted the unwisdom of trying to develop our agricultural land at an interest rate of 6 per cent. For several years the investment yields no dividend but calls for continued investment. To add interest at 6 per cent, simply leads to over-capitalization and diminishes the chances of establishing a permanent revenue-producing asset. Surely the conversion of a wilderness to productive farmlands is the most permanent and most secure of all development. It involves the provision of the necessary materials and machinery and, even in the initial stages, gives employment to people in cities and country towns alike, thus adding to our national revenues. We should look at these things not from the narrow viewpoint of the banker but from the broad outlook of one who seeks to comprehend the total implications of the investment for the economy of the country.
While we see signs of great growth in Western Australia, it is regrettable that the application of the Commonwealth Electoral Act formula is to deprive that State of one of its too few representatives in another place. When the Government eventually gets round to amending the Constitution in regard to electoral matters, I hope that the opportunity will be taken to annul section 127, which eliminates natives “ in reckoning the numbers of the people of the Commonwealth “. In view of the fact that natives have now been given the franchise, Western Australia will clearly be robbed of one seat by the recently suggested electoral rearrangements. There is merit in the leading article in the “ West Australian “ of 4th August last, which suggests postponing the redistribution on the existing formula, pending a referendum on the amendment to the Constitution to permit taking aborigines into the population count. This would restore the position in Western Australia. The disturbing effect on the electorate of having to carve up nine seats into eight is very great, and some thought should be given to limiting the operation of the electoral formula in States having twenty representatives or fewer, when electoral redistributions are prepared. The present situation is that a State like Western Australia could oscillate every six years between eight and nine seats, a radical re-arrangement of electoral boundaries being necessary at the end of each period, to the inconvenience of electors and their representatives alike.
The redistribution proposed in Western Australia is very disturbing. Evidently all the requirements of section 19 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act have been ignored. The rural vote has been neutralized by the addition of a considerable number of city voters in nonmetropolitan seats. Unless the section of the act providing for a 20 per cent, margin above or below the quota is applied consistently in order to allow for the difficulty of representing electors scattered over huge areas, the present anomalies will persist. I hope to have more to say on this subject at a more appropriate time. In conclusion, I support the Budget, believing that it represents a genuine attempt to manage the financial affairs of the country in the best interests of all sections of people and for their continuing prosperity.
– I support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) and also the views that he expressed. It is not without a degree of nervousness that one commences his first speech in such an august gathering and in such an historic chamber. Possibly my nervousness is accentuated by my desire to do justice to those who have honoured me by electing me to this chamber. I accept my responsibility and realize my duty, realizing that this chamber is essentially a house established to protect the interests of the States. I desire to thank the electors of South Australia, the political party which endorsed me and those who made it possible for me to stand as a candidate. I shall try to carry out my duties in accordance with the high traditions of the Senate, particularly as I am fully conscious of the fact that on many nights prior to the last election some members in the House of Representatives engaged in a campaign in an attempt to show that on my previous record 1 was unfit to be elected to this chamber.
I desire to preface my remarks on the Budget by commenting on the observations which were made at that time. Unlike Senator Prowse, who stated that his speech would be provoking, whereas it was not, the reply I wish to make to the charges that were made against me may make my speech more provocative than a normal maiden speech of a senator. If honorable senators opposite find my speech provoking and think I overstep the mark in that respect, I relieve them of any obligation to refrain from interjecting on the ground that this is a maiden speech. I do not desire to criticize any honorable members in another place for speaking about me. They are entitled to express their views. The fact that they expressed them just prior to the last election, knowing that they would appear in headlines on the front pages of newspapers in the various States, indicated that they were not concerned so much about me as an individual as they were to attack the political party of which they were afraid. The result of the election justified the fear they held on that occasion which made it necessary for them to engage in this campaign of character assassination rather than place the real issues before the electors of Australia.
Despite that campaign against me I faced the electors, and on no occasion denied my previous history which had been recited, with only minor inaccuracies, by some honorable members in the other chamber. 1 was proud of my history in the trade union movement over the years. The important thing is that the people of Australia elected rae to this position. I am inclined to agree with the statement made by Senator Buttfield last week that the small informal vote at the Senate election in South Australia indicated the higher intelligence of the electors of South Australia compared with that of electors in other States. After listening to the able reply of the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) on the motion for the appointment of a select committee to inquire into the method of electing senators, I had to agree that I may have been wrong. On 16th August Senator Spooner very definitely stated -
A point that emerges from my examination of the results that are available-
Those are the results of previous Senate1 elections - is that when there is great interest in a Senate election the informal vote is a low one. That point emerges more than any other on analysis of the figures.
I must agree that great interest was manifested in the last Senate election in South Australia. The informal votes were 2.1 per cent, less than those recorded at the 1958 election in which informal voting was high as the result of carelessness, apathy and deliberateness. On this occasion voters had an interest in the election and they took great care not to cast informal votes, as they did not want to vote for candidates of the present Government parties.
Whilst the low number of informal votes may have indicated in one sense a higher degree of intelligence of the electors of South Australia, it also indicated a high degree of intelligence in that they desired to record a vote for the Australian Labour Party. South Australian electors gave more than 50 per cent, of their votes to Labour’s Senate team - a much higher proportion than Labour polled at the 1958 election. I have not the exact figures but 1 understand that Labour polled 6.7 per cent, more votes at the last election than at the election three years before although the candidates of the main political party opposed to Labour were those who stood at the 1961 election. Again the last election was the first occasion, since proportional representation was introduced, on which a political party anywhere in Australia has won all three Senate positions on its own merits. The election was won without the necessity to distribute one preference vote. Furthermore, I was the third member on the Labour Party ticket. Labour voters generally vote more loyally to a party ticket than -do other voters. However, I received a larger personal vote than any third candidate on a ticket has received in any election during the last 51 elections. My authority for that statement is the “ Parliamentary Handbook “. Never before has a Labour candidate who was not in first position on the ballot-paper received a bigger personal vote than I received at the last election. I am not so egotistical as to think that that large vote: was accorded out of admiration for me or that I had almost 5,000 friends in South Australia. That vote was the result of propaganda in another place. Surely this demonstrates that McCarthyism, witch-hunting and character assassination are not popular in this country and do not harm the people against whom they are directed.
Prior to the elections, the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes), whom I have never met in my life, told the House of Representatives the life story of Cavanagh as he knew it. If we look at the election figures for the House of Representatives, we find that not only in South Australia but throughout the country there was a decline in support for the Liberal candidates. Looking at the position in South Australia, in particular, we find that although the Liberal member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly) improved slightly oh his 1958 figures, the number of votes polled by the Liberal member for Sturt (Mr. Wilson) was 2.91 per cent, lower than in 1958. The Liberal member for Boothby (Sir John McLeay) polled 4 per cent, fewer votes than he had polled in 1958. The Liberal member for Angas (Mr. Downer) polled 4.72 per cent, fewer votes than he had polled in 1958. But the honorable member for Barker, who had been loud in his condemnation of me, polled 5.93 per cent, fewer votes than he had polled in 1958. Those figures support my claim that tactics such as those indulged in by the honorable member for Barker do not pay dividends and do not harm those against whom they are directed.
Despite the election result, since I have been in this chamber I have heard nothing but ranting and red-baiting from Government supporters. Questions asked by Government supporters, and answers given by Ministers, have been designed to malign the working man and to show that the
Labour Party is associated with the party that is alleged to owe allegiance to a foreign power. If the Government thinks that those tactics will win elections and that it does not need to bring down a budget that will met the requirements of the people, it is doomed to failure in the future.
Getting back to the Budget and to a subject that vitally concerns South Australia, I propose to say something about the standardization of the railway line from Port Pirie to Broken Hill. This matter was debated in the Senate last week, and I submit that my support for a proposal that will help South Australia was a more loyal attitude for me to adopt as a member of a States House than was the attitude of certain other honorable senators who stated that they felt bound by party decisions rather than the interests of the States that they represented. I do not visualize that I shall ever be called upon to choose between loyalty to my party and loyalty to my State. My party is pledged to protect the interests not only of under-privileged members of the community but also of States that may be regarded as under-privileged. The people of South Australia are well aware that they have achieved more under Labour governments than ever they have achieved under governments of other political colours. When a party decision conflicts with an obligation as a member of this Senate, one should consider seriously whether one is entitled to carry out the party decisions.
I understand that the debate on the Budget presents an opportunity to discuss rail standardization. I do not want to reiterate what has already been said but I raise this matter particularly because I have an intimate knowledge of Port Pirie. I worked there for some time and, as has been stated in the other- chamber, I was there for some time when I did not work. My former occupation brought me. into close association with Port Pirie. I have relatives in the town. Some honorable senators have said that the absence of a standard-gauge line will be harmful to Port Pirie in the future but in my view Port Pirie is already being strangled. If this Government does not do something at once the town will be murdered and will becomea ghost town - solely for want of £800,000 to commence a project that will enable Port Pirie to sell its lead on world markets.
In his speech on the States Grants (Additional Assistance) Bill (No. 2) Senator Toohey quoted remarks made by Mr. Shackell, managing director of Broken Hill Associated Smelters Proprietary Limited. I do not propose to repeat what Senator Toohey said, but I would like to refer to a statement made by Mr. Funnell, assistant manager of Broken Hill Associated Smelters Proprietary Limited at Port Pirie. As reported in the Adelaide “ Advertiser “ on 9th August last Mr. Funnell said -
The whole future of the B.H.A.S. Pty. Ltd. could hinge in the next few months on the urgent need to standardize railway gauges.
With lead prices at their lowest ebb for years and threatened further by the possibility of sales from big U.S. stock, piles as well as inevitable tariff barriers which would result from Britain’s entry into the Common Market, the need for standardization has never been more urgent.
Our annual production of 200,000 tons of lead meets 10 per cent of the world demand but the tremendous cost loading of transportation is the reason why standardization is so vital in cutting transport costs.
The cost of getting ore from a mine in Broken Mill to Europe as lead costs £12 aton of the present ruling price of £63 a ton. Railway standardization would help not only Australia’s lead industry but the country’s many industries which are now battling to compete for overseas markets with the handicap of a serious geographic disability.
Port Pirie, being the nearest seaport to Broken Hill, has built up one of the largest smelting works in the southern hemisphere. Prior to the last war, workers in Port Pirie lived under the most appalling conditions that one would find in any town in the Commonwealth. Port Pirie has a population of 14,000. Since the war, the high overseas price for lead which has made possible the re-treatment of slag that was formerly dumped, the treatment of ore from Radium Hill, the expansion of the smelters and associated works connected with the development of the town have brought prosperity to Port Pirie. Broken Hill Associated Smelters Proprietary Limited has built most luxurious homes for its administrative staff at a suburb called Risdon Park. The South Australian Housing Trust built homes and roads at Port Pirie West on what was previously a swamp. For the first time the workers had good living conditions.
Then came the decline in the overseas price of lead, the decline in the export of lead from Port Pirie, the closing down of the uranium mine at Radium Hill and the closing down of the treatment works at Port Pirie. The consequent poverty that came over the town caused the discontinuance of many industries that had sprung up because of the prosperity in the town. The older residents had very little alternative but to remain in the town, but the children who were unable to obtain employment after leaving school drifted away from the town to the larger cities. Very little work is available in the town to-day. Although unemployment may not be great there, people are drifting from that town into the thickly populated areas. Houses are empty. Aboriginal families were given housing trust homes as they became available, but there were some disturbances among the local population. This is not a good method of assimilation, because, if the aborigines are to find jobs in the town, people already in employment must sacrifice their jobs. That will not create the relationship that there should be in the assimilation of the aborigines with the people of Port Pirie.
It is. useless for this Government to say that decentralization is one of its great achievements when Port Pirie is threatened with extinction unless something is done immediately. It is also useless to say that the matter will be deferred and considered later. It is believed that this project will take fourteen years to complete. The need exists now. If Great Britain enters the European Common Market, it will mean the end of Port Pirie as a port for the export of ore. Something should be done now.
As this chamber was told recently, the Premier of South Australia has said that he intends to go alone. It is questionable whether the Premier is honest in all that he has said he intends to do. According to the “News”, of 10th August, he said that the line will not be widened from the 3 ft. 6 in. gauge until Commonwealth aid is given. The work necessary for relaying, re-grading and widening the ballast pile is planned to be done by South Australia. It will start at the end of this year and will be carried out over a period of many years. So, Sir Thomas Playford intends only to strengthen, re-grade and straighten the line in order to make more economic use of the diesel engines that will be used on the line, as Senator Bishop said this afternoon.
There is a general feeling in South Australia that the Commonwealth is not interested in the State, first, because there are no votes to be won or lost there. The results of elections are fairly certain, so the Government does not need to do anything to please the voters in South Australia. A second suggestion is that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) is somewhat peeved because the South Australian Premier took action in the High Court of Australia to decide whether priority should be given to this project. We agree that the case may have been handled badly by the Premier, but that is no reason why immediate action should not be taken by the Commonwealth Government to save Port Pirie. This matter should not be deferred. It is important that it be dealt with. now.
I desire to refer now to the conditions under which grants are made to the States and money is allocated in the Budget for various State works. I do not believe that conditions should be attached to grants to the States. In the debate on the States Grants (Additional Assistance) Bill, Senator Kennelly said that conditions should be attached to the grants. I believe that we should be very careful about attaching conditions to grants. If the States misuse money that is allocated to them, or if they do not use it to the best advantage, the electors have the right to change the government so that the money will be used to the best, advantage of the State. However, we should depart from that principle when the electors of a State have not the right to change the government if it does not use money and carry out its duties to the best advantage of the State.
Under the present electoral system in South Australia, a party can obtain 54 per cent, of the votes cast at a State election and remain in opposition. If the people of South Australia are dissatisfied with the State Government, they have no opportunity to change it. This Parliament, which is elected on a more democratic basis than the South Australian Parliament, should seek to preserve the elementary rights of the South Australian people until such time as democracy is restored in that State and the State Government is forced to preserve the rights of the people.
It has been said that South Australia has a low number of people unemployed and is apparently prosperous. I suggest that that is false and that poverty is as great in South Australia as in any other State. Although we have not as many people unemployed as other States have, many men who are not registered for employment are working without receiving a proper income. In order to attract industries, South Australia has been advertised as a low-wage State. The State Government has been in office for so long with the knowledge that it cannot be replaced that organizations and tribunals are very hesitant to oppose the desires of that government. The State Government joined with other employers in applying to the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration for a. reduction in the basic wage. That application was not successful. Instead of paying the basic wage, employers are having work done by piece-work and paying wages below the award rates. We believe that in the allocation of money to the States the Commonwealth should make the stipulation that award wages must be paid for work on which the money is used.
I wish to cite some figures to show that South Australia is not prosperous. On a population basis, South Australia has the highest rate of bankruptcies in Australia. According to figures issued by the Commonwealth Statistician for the year ended 30th June, 1962, 581 of the 2,660 bankruptcies in Australia were in South Australia. The South Australian figure represents 21.84 per cent, of the total. New South Wales, with a much greater population, has 32.05 per cent, of the total bankruptcies, Queensland 10.70 per cent., Victoria 22.06 per cent., Western Australia 8.9 per cent., Tasmania 3.6 per cent, and the Northern Territory .22 per cent. South Australia is level with Victoria in the number of bankruptcies.
I thank the Senate for giving me such an attentive hearing. Though there were perhaps a few other points that I wanted to raise, we sometimes fail to develop our arguments fully, and I look forward to an opportunity in the future of speaking on those matters which I failed to adduce fully to-night. I appeal to the Government to give careful scrutiny to the unfortunate position in which we in the State of South Australia find ourselves.
– I should like to begin by congratulating all those honorable senators who to-night made their maiden speeches in this chamber. I think they acquitted themselves with great credit. Whilst we on this side would disagree with some of them, they have shown that they are desirable additions to the Senate.
I was interested to read some of the comments that have been made about the Budget. I think I am correct in saying that this is the thirteenth time I have heard the Leader of the Opposition in this chamber (Senator McKenna) speak in opposition to budgets presented by the Government. On this occasion he followed the regular pattern of claiming that there is stagnation and that calamity looms around the corner. This has been going on for thirteen years, and I think he is still wrong.
– He will be correct eventually, as even you will admit.
– If he keeps going, he may criticize a budget for the thirtieth time. With a bit of luck and a fair breeze, he may be right then. We shall see. I am sure that thirteen is not his lucky number. Let me refer to the first of his statements that I wish to refute: Senator McKenna said -
I invite anybody on the Government side to find the words “ full employment “ in the Budget speech. They have dropped out of the vocabulary of the Government and the Treasurer. ] should like to oblige him by reading from the Budget speech of the Treasurer, which appears at page 15 of “Hansard” for Tuesday, 7th August. He will there find these words -
There is still too little recognition of the link between export income and our objective of full employment.
It is unlike Senator McKenna to make such accusations without meticulously checking the “ Hansard “ report of the speech concerned.
– Did you hear my statement on the matter in reply to the Treasurer?
– I suggest that the honorable senator should have read the “ Hansard “ report of the Treasurer’s speech. He referred to the Treasurer. That is the point I am making. I draw attention to another statement which, I am sorry to say, I think was inaccurate. In his speech on 15th August, Senator McKenna said -
Let me turn to (he personal consumption of the people of Australia. This covers the items of food, drapery, clothing and footwear. In dealing wilh this matter last year I commented that people were consuming less and less food. To-day the position is even worse. The consumption of these items dropped by 10 per cent, in 1959-60 -
– It rose.
– I heard you say “ dropped “, and that word appears in “ Hansard “. If you say now that you wished to say the consumption rose, that will not stop me from continuing to read from your speech. When you said “ dropped “, knowing that that was not the fact, I immediately made a check. The speech continued -
The consumption of these items dropped by 10 per cent, in 1959-60, by 6 per cent, in 1960-61 and it rose by only 1.7 per cent, in the year just closed.
– They all rose. That is what it should have been.
– I am pointing out that thirteen is your unlucky number. You are not as accurate as you usually are. I pay you the tribute of saying that usually you are accurate. The White Paper on National Income and Expenditure for 1961-62 confirms what the honorable senator now says. It shows that in the year 1958-59 the people of Australia spent £1,473,000,000 on food and clothing, footwear, drapery and so on. In 1959-60 the figure rose by 8 per cent, to £1,591,000,000; in 1960-61 it rose again by 6.2 per cent, to £1,690,000,000; and in 1961-62 it increased by 1.9 per cent. to £1,722,000,000.
I was interested in following Senator McKenna’s comments when he spoke - I thought rather calamitously- about oil. He said that the Government was to be criticized for its performance in the matter of oil searches. I turned to “ Hansard “ of 12th August, 1959, and read with great interest at page 545 that the Government had introduced a bill to increase by £1,000,000 the subsidy for oil search. On that occasion every member of the Labour Party opposed that legislation.
Senator McKenna referred to the Budget as a stagnation budget, and I wish to cross swords with him on that point. He referred to the economy of Australia as stagnating. I consider that the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Spooner) really ripped that contention to pieces when he pointed out that at this stage there are 94,000 more people employed in Australia than in the previous year. We are not unmindful of the fact that there is a degree of unemployment in Australia now, and honorable senators on both sides would like to see the ranks of the unemployed reduced as quickly as possible. I am not unmindful of the constant references by honorable senators opposite to unemployment, despite the fact that they have gone on record so often as stating that, to them, 5 per cent, of unemployment is full employment. They are now criticizing the Government for having done better than halve that figure. At present, the percentage is 2.1. We believe that that percentage can be reduced and will be reduced. It is too high for us; but supporters of the Labour Party have said, not once but on a number of occasions, as “ Hansard “ will show, that 5 per cent, of unemployment is, to them, full employment.
I note with interest that the earnings of the work-force, which has increased by 95,000 people, also have increased. They have risen from an average of £21 6s. 9d. a week to £22 4s. Id. Senator McKenna has described the economy as stagnant, but I point out that the average number of hours of overtime worked by this increased work-force has risen from 21.7 to 29.8. Ours is a growing economy. Impetus is being given to it by the measures taken by the Government in February last. During the last quarter of 1961-62, productivity increased by 8 per cent., which illustrates that the Government’s measures of February last are now coming into full effect.
Senator Cohen, in the course of his interesting speech, made a comment with which I agree whole-heartedly. He said that we have an economic problem which we view from different angles. I wish to put a point of view which I think has been completely avoided by honorable senators opposite. In this Budget, the Government has approached the problem on the basis that the real interests of Australia are best served by enabling our great export industries to flourish. Unless those industries expand, and continue to expand, Australia itself cannot expand. That is one of the basic philosophies behind this Budget. Both our rural industries and our secondary industries which are engaged in production for export must be given every encouragement and every opportunity to expand. We rely on export income for much of the raw materials and the machinery that go into our secondary industries, which are continuing to employ a growing work-force. If those industries are to be able to compete in the world they must have a cost structure which has all the elements of stability.
The Opposition has approached the economic problem from a different angle altogether. It wants to hand out social services which would permanently increase the costs of industries that are the life-blood of Australia. 1 have yet to hear an honorable senator opposite address himself to the problem of how our export industries can continue to grow and to earn more and more income overseas if, at the same time, we place upon their shoulders huge increases in costs. That is the point I want to make to the Senate. In this Budget, we have approached the economic problem from the point of view of basic development. The whole programme of development is based on the export industries and the need to make them more competitive in the world in which they have to sell.
Senator Cohen will, I hope, excuse me for referring to a further statement in his maiden speech. He made a somewhat grandiose statement about the development of northern Australia. I thought that it was rather illusory, without much statistical information behind it, and that it was one of those great conceptions which people have until they know the facts. One of the facts concerning the development of the north, of course, is the basic problem of supplying the missing elements in so much of the soil in order to make it productive. We are tackling that problem, and it must be overcome. The allocation of money for development has been based on our conception of the proper interests of the people of Australia and of Australia’s secondary industries. We propose to spend £685,000 on coal-loading plants in New South Wales. That may appear to be a small sum, but it will help considerably to increase our exports of coal. These exports have been handled in an almost prehistoric manner because developmental work at the coal ports has not been undertaken by the State government.
We are doubling expenditure on the search for oil. The amount has been increased to £6,600,000. The search for oil has been one of the great developments in this country. It seems that we are on the fringe of success, having spent a relatively small amount of money by world standards. We have located oilfields the extent of which no one can yet fully appreciate. We have located the oilfields because of the sound policy pursued by the Department of National Development in first obtaining all the basic facts. The various companies have been able to continue the search on that basic information. Oil discoveries already made appear to be promising, and no doubt there will be others.
We propose to spend £8,200,000 on the Mount Isa railway. That is an internal railway in Queensland, but it can assist our export income immensely. The difficulty has been to get the ore from the mine at Mount Isa to the smelter at Townsville. The provision of this £8,200,000 will lead to vastly increased export income from copper. We are spending £4,300,000 on the standard gauge railway from Kalgoorlie to Kwinana in Western Australia. The sum of £1,700,000 is to be spent on the development of the brigalow country in Queensland. The Opposition has described these as small amounts. Let me remind the Opposition that this represents a start on vital projects in a programme of development which will lead to increased export income. We propose to spend £1,000,000 in the Northern Territory, £700,000 in Western Australia and £1,400,000 in Queensland on beef cattle roads. Again, that expenditure will lead to increased export earnings. One honorable senator mentioned South Australia a little while ago. lt is not without interest that I note we are providing £1,300,000 for the purchase of twelve diesel locomotives and 100 wagons for use on the Port Pirie to Broken Hill railway line.
– -Chicken feed.
– But it is a start. All these things have got to fit into the pattern of development. You cannot spend all your money on the standardization of rail gauges in South Australia if it means that no cattle will be exported from Queensland, for instance. All these things have to take their place in the programme, and this £1,300,000 is a start.
– But the South Australian cattle will go to Queensland.
– They are Queensland cattle you are trying to pinch.
– That is right. I leave it to the Queenslanders and South Australians to fight it out. I have made my point. What we propose represents only the beginning of a great programme designed to increase our export income, and that is what is of great importance to the people of Australia.
I have spoken about increased social services. I heard the Opposition make what I thought a rather tawdry accusation that we do not propose to increase social services this year. How easily honorable senators opposite forget the year 1949. Let me remind them that in that year the cost of living increased by 10 per cent., yet the Labour Government of the day made no increases whatever in social services. Now, when we have a stabilized economy, when we find the price index stable at 124, the Opposition makes the tawdry accusation that we are not increasing social services. When we remember that the Labour Government refused to increase social services at a time when the cost of living increased by 10 per cent., are we not justified in spending the taxpayers’ money on such development as will lead to greater benefits and speedier development of the economy in the long run? I thought industry would have grasped these facts. I wonder if those engaged in industry in Australia have had a really close look at what I would term the cost-inflaming policy espoused by the Opposition, a policy which would mean an increase in taxation of from ls. 9d. to 2s. in the £1. I wonder if those engaged in our exporting industries in particular have assessed what Labour’s policy would cost them.
We have been told by the Opposition that we should encourage trade with Asia. Have the members of the Opposition been asleep? Have they not seen from the figures the great development that has taken place in our trade with Asia? Let me point out to them that whereas in 1957-58 we did £189,000,000 worth of business with Asia, that figure had increased to £291,000,000 by 1960-61 and by 1961-62 it had doubled to over £360,000,000. Why, we have been looking to Asia for increased business for the last five years while the members of the Opposition have been asleep.
That brings me to another point that I want to make. I read with great interest the policy speech delivered by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in another place (Mr. Whitlam). After having made that great policy speech, he suddenly realized that he had forgotten all about the great rural industries, the great exporting industries of this country. He had not said a word about them. He then belatedly comes along with a nice little six-point plan. That was an afterthought which he had somewhere in the land of bush and scrub where they have an institution called the Geebung Polo Club. He advocates an inquiry to discover those industries which would be most affected by Britain’s entry into the European Common Market.
– Who is that?
– This is Mr. Whitlam. This is the great white father about whom I am speaking. When he come back from the trip on which we sent him to have a look at these things for himself, he is reported in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ - and that is one newspaper which I think would state the position correctly - as having said -
The Deputy Leader of the Federal Opposition said yesterday there was quite a prospect that Australian dairy products would continue to sell in Britain if Britain joined the European Com mon Market. There would be very little future for Australian dried and canned fruits. There was no prospect of the Common Market countries - France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, .Holland and Luxembourg - agreeing to quotas, let alone preferences for Australian wheat or dried fruits and canned fruits beyond 1970. There was a fair chance of continuing markets for Australian sugar.
That was only five weeks ago. Now he comes out with a great six-point plan and wants to find out what industries are affected. We can tell him item by item, page by page, not only what industries but also what commodities are affected; and we can tell him to the last shilling exactly what the commodities exported by those industries are worth. We have had committees over there negotiating in connexion with all these things for the last twelve months. Representatives from all these industries have been in England alongside our negotiators watching all these matters. Now the Deputy Leader of the Opposition submits this wonderful six-point plan because he had forgotten to mention anything about these industries in his policy speech. It does indicate, of course, that he does have some realization of the fact that the great rural industries of this country, the great exporting industries of this country are of tremendous value to Australia. Having realized this serious omission from his policy speech, he comes along with a six-point plan.
I shall not mention the other points except to say that I notice he proposes going into the overseas shipping business. That is rather interesting, because, in my neck of the woods - Tasmania - we have a plant which brings ore from Western Australia and treats it. The freight cost on this ore from Western Australia is £6 a ton, yet the same ore is being transported to South Africa for £2 5s. a ton. Of course, the advocates of this shipping venture do not say under what conditions they propose it shall work. Are the coastal provisions of the Navigation Act to be applied to their shipping line? If they are, then the taxpayers, the primary producers and the other exporting industries of Australia will find themselves loaded with an extra burden. If they are not required to pay increased freight, they -will certainly have to meet increased taxation to offset the losses that will be incurred by the proposed shipping venture.
– Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 22 August 1962, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1962/19620822_senate_24_s22/>.