24th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport inform the Senate of any progress made in establishing uniform traffic laws in the Commonwealth of Australia? What conferences have taken place in respect of this matter, what conclusions have been reached by them, and what has the Commonwealth Government done to have the findings of interstate conferences implemented?
– The question of uniform traffic laws throughout the States is the direct study of a special sub-committee of the Australian Transport Advisory Council. I think the sub-committee is called the Uniform Traffic Law Sub-committee of the council. It meets periodically and has, to my own knowledge, within the last year or two produced a volume of recommendations for implementation by the States. I do not know what progress has been made by the States in implementing the recommendations made by the sub-committee. It would be interesting to find out just what has been done, and I shall be pleased to ask my colleague, Mr. Opperman, whether he will make available the particular information that the honorable senator seeks.
– Shall I put the question on notice?
– You may, if you wish. I do take the opportunity of pointing out that this committee can do no more than make recommendations to the States. Neither the Australian Transport Advisory Council nor the Commonwealth - except in its own Territories - can make traffic laws.
Has an application been made for a grant under the Aged Persons Homes Act for the construction of two blocks of multi-story flats - one, I understand, eleven stories high - and the other fourteen stories high - to provide for the accommodation of people of pensionable age? Has the application been considered by the Department of Social Services and has it been rejected? If so, will the Minister say on what ground it has been rejected?
– I understand that an application has been made for a grant under the act, by an organization proposing to build multi-story flats, and that the application has not been approved. My information is that the only explanation in circumstances of this kind is that the application does not comply with the requirements and intentions of the act. I am certain that Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin would be the first to appreciate that it is not possible to alter the act to suit the requirements of every application, but I pass to her the information that it is usually possible to alter the terms of the application to suit the requirements of the act, if the applicants are so minded.
– Has the Minister for National Development seen a report that appeared in the Adelaide “ Advertiser “ on 18th August of a statement made by Mr. Sprigg, chairman of the Australian Petroleum Exploration Association? Mr. Sprigg is reported to have said that he believed the Minister for National Development would review the subsidy arrangements for oil exploration and might even permit preferential allowances, particularly in relation to applications for subsidies which were received prior to the presentation of this year’s Budget proposals. South Australia is specially interested in oil exploration, and particularly in how the subsidy may be applied to present and future oil search activities. Would the Minister care to comment on the statement made by Mr. Sprigg?
Seantor SPOONER.- I did see the press report of remarks by Mr. Sprigg. As he states, I did have a long interview with him. I have had interviews with representatives of other companies searching for oil. I try to keep my door open to them as far as £ can so as to have all points of view put to me. I have received a number of representations. It has been submitted to me that in the allocation of the subsidy preference should be given to Australian companies. 1 have had requests that preference be given to seismic work as against drilling operations, and also that I should give preference to applications that had not been brought to finality at the date of the presentation of the Budget. I went through these matters in detail with Mr. Sprigg. 1 can say only that I cannot take any responsibility for Mr. Sprigg’s statement. On the contrary, after we had gone through the various categories’ in which subsidies are available and discussed the pros and cons of giving preference to one item over another, according to my recollection of the interview I told Mr. Sprigg quite clearly at the termination of the conversation that he had failed to convince me that there should be any variation of the existing policy. After discussing the implications and the pros and cons of altering the Government’s decision I stated that the only correct decision to come to was to treat all applications on the same basis, not only as a matter of equity, but also from the point of view of doing the best thing for oil search throughout Australia.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport explain why, according to the report of the Tariff Board on timber, it is cheaper to ship that product from North America to Adelaide than from Western Australia to Adelaide? Is that disparity indicative of the exorbitant cost that would be involved if the Commonwealth Government embarked on overseas shipping with its own line of ships?
– It is beyond doubt and contention that the higher freight rate between Perth and Adelaide as compared to the rate between North America and Adelaide is due, in large part to say the least, to the additional costs that must be borne by Australian’ shipowners. I was interested to read in this morning’s newspapers a statement made by the Minister for Trade about overseas shipping. He pointed to an instance, which had come to his notice, in which the cost of shipping cargo from Port Augusta to Port Kembla was two and one half times the cost of shipping cargo from Port Augusta to Japan. That is another instance of the higher shipping costs that have to be borne by Australian shipowners.
Senator Lillico asks whether this is indicative of what might be experienced by an Australian shipping line engaging in overseas trade. I say to the honorable senator that if the conditions of the Australian Navigation Act were made to apply to overseas shipping there could be no answer to his question other than that the high freight rates charged by Australian shipowners are indicative of the freight rates that would be charged by an Australianowned overseas shipping line.
– I can inform Senator Sir Walter Cooper that no charge is made for calls to the telephone exchange seeking information. The latter part of his question is not so simply answered. He asks whether it would be possible to arrange for changes in subscribers’ numbers to coincide with the issue of new directories. I am not well informed on this matter, but I believe the adoption of the idea would create great administrative problems. I will raise the latter part of the question with the Postmaster-General, and when I receive some information I will convey it to the honorable senator.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Treasurer. No doubt the Minister is aware of the campaign by food manufacturers’ associations pointing out the anomalies and absurdities which exist in the incidence of sales tax on foodstuffs such as apple and fruit pies, when meat pies are tax-free. How does the Government justify a tax on biscuits for humans when dog biscuits are tax-free, or a tax on raisin and currant loaves when ordinary bread is free df tax? In view of the tax imposed on items such as biscuits, soft drinks, ice-cream, chocolate, and sugar confectionery, which are included in the consumer price index, would it not be of assistance to the Government, in its efforts to stabilize wages and prices, if these items were tax-free? Will the Minister inform the Senate whether sales tax on foodstuffs was reviewed prior to the Budget, and of the reasons why foodstuffs should continue to be subject to sales tax?
– As I have recently stated on behalf of the Treasurer, a review is always made of the sales tax legislation when the Budget is being prepared, and frequently on other occasions. In accordance with the standard practice, a review of the incidence of sales tax was made this year. Considering the whole complex of taxation and of economic practice generally, the Government decided that at this time there should be no variation in sales tax measures.
The honorable senator points to one or two apparent anomalies in the act and asks how they can be reconciled. ]f I wanted to be facetious I could probably answer the question by saying that they could be reconciled in the same way as the Labour Party, when in government, reconciled them. I will have a look at the one or two specific matters brought to my notice and see whether I can add anything to what I have already said.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs whether he is aware of a publication issued by the Netherlands Information Service in Australia, and received in Parliament House this morning, in which the following statement appears: -
The agreement between Indonesia and the Netherlands Government provides for an opportunity for the indigenous population of West New Guinea before the end of 1969 freely to determine for themselves whether they wish to remain with Indonesia or “whether they wish to sever their ties with Indonesia.
Also, is the Minister aware of a news item this morning which states that the Indonesian Government will, when Indonesia takes over that territory, send some hundreds of teachers to West New Guinea in order to eliminate illiteracy in that country? Whilst not in any way wishing to detract from that very praiseworthy intention on the part of Indonesia, I ask the Minister whether there is any wording in the agreement which will ensure that, when they do vote at this plebiscite, the people are really indigenous. Further, has any period of residence been fixed as a qualification entitling a person to vote in the forthcoming plebescite?
– I have seen the publication referred to by the honorable senator. As to whether 2,500 Indonesians - or whatever the number may be - are to go as teachers to West New Guinea, as it is alleged that President Soekarno stated, I would not propose to comment until the embassy in Djakarta, which has been asked for an accurate statement on anything that might have been said, has supplied that accurate statement. As to the holding of a plebescite in West New Guinea and, indeed, as to the running of West New Guinea until the period laid down in the agreement expires, I can only say that would be the responsibility of the administrator appointed by the United Nations organization to be in charge of West New Guinea during that period.
– I ask the
Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry whether his attention has been directed to a letter in yesterday’s “ Sydney Morning Herald “ over the signature of Mr. C. Blumer, a former chief of (he Division of Animal Industry of the New South Wales Department of Agriculture, which asserts that unless prompt action is taken by the Australian authorities when Indonesia takes over West New Guinea, certain live-stock diseases now prevalent in Indonesia could well spread to Papua-New Guinea and ultimately to Australia. Will the Minister assure the Senate that this matter will be watched carefully by the Government in order to safeguard the interests of Australian primary producers?
– I did see the letter referred to by the honorable senator, and I want to say at the outset that Mr. Blumer is to be commended on his interest in this matter because eventualities in our near north may present very real quarantine problems. I can assure the honorable senator that we have not remained insensible to these possibilities, and have been studying the position very closely for some time. It is true that in West New Guinea to-day there is a disease known as Newcastle disease which would wreak havoc to our poultry industry if it were permitted to enter this country. There are various other diseases in the northern islands that would, if introduced into Australia, threaten our live-stock, industry, but we are alive to these possibilities and are examining ways and means of offering the utmost protection to Australian primary industries.
– I preface a question, which is addressed to the Minister for Customs and Excise, and which relates to emergency tariffs, by saying that I understand that when emergency tariffs arc imposed they are applied to goods not in transit prior to a stated date, which is usually a considerable time before the date of promulgation of such duties, with the result that in many cases the importer has no option but to pay such duties, thus disorganizing his business and incurring a loss. Could the ultimate aim of the legislation be achieved without any disruption if emergency duties were applied only to goods for which a bill of lading had not been issued on the day of the promulgation of those duties? This would give the importer an opportunity to cancel outstanding orders by negotiation, or to divert them to some other market.
– Over many years, the Department of Customs and Excise, and successive Ministers who have been concerned with the matter, have examined various methods of dealing with the problem of assessing rates of duty on goods in transit. The act provides that duty shall be paid at the rate in force when the goods enter the country for home consumption. The adoption of any other yardstick would create just as many problems as the one that is used. If we took into account that a bill of lading had been issued and the goods were in transit, an anomaly immediately would arise. Importers would say. “ We had ordered the goods and they were on the ship but just did not get on to the wharf.” Or they would say, “ We had the goods on the railway going to the port.” Just as many anomalies would anise under any other method as under the one now used. The yardstick is that the rate of duty applicable should be the rate that is ruling when the goods are entered for home consumption in Australia. The honorable senator has said that business losses sometimes occur. That is so, but that is one of the risks which an importer takes. I point out, however, ‘ that profits are sometimes made, as when goods are in transit and duties are reduced. I always find that these requests come along when imports have attracted increased duties. The importers then ask that goods in transit be assessed at the old rates of duty. But when duties have been reduced, they do not think that goods in transit should attract duty at the old rate.
– Last week, I asked a question of the Minister for Health, reminding him that in 1955 the Commonwealth Government made a grant of £10,000,000 to the States for the development of mental hospitals. By 1960 the Victorian Government had spent its allocation under the grant, and the Victorian Premier has severely criticized the Commonwealth for not renewing the grant. Lack of money is having an adverse effect on the treatment of the mentally ill and retarded children in Victoria. In view of the criticism levelled at the Commonwealth by Mr. Bolte, will the Minister review the answer that he gave to my question lust week and urge the Government to make a further grant to the States for this most important purpose of mental hygiene?
– I have seen a report of the criticism levelled at the Government by the Premier of Victoria. I think he said that the Government’s attitude in this matter was indefensible. May I briefly recite the history of this matter and allow thinking people to decide for themselves whether Mr. Bolte’s criticism is itself defensible? In 1955, at the request of the Slates, the Government sponsored the Stoller report. It is true that that report revealed deficiencies in mental institutions and urged that capital works be undertaken. Again at the requests of the States, the Commonwealth made a grant of £10,000,000 to be distributed on a population basis. It was agreed by the Commonwealth and the States that that grant was to be the limit of Commonwealth participation. The grant was to relieve an emergency and a crisis. That was the agreement. It is quite wrong for anybody to charge this Government with not being interested in mental welfare. When I remind the Senate that in the Estimates for this year an amount of almost £4,000,000 is provided for the supply of drugs and medicines to approved mental hospitals and public hospitals, who can say that the Government is not making a worth-while contribution? In view of those facts, which are well known to the States, I say quite frankly that the Government does not feel that it has an obligation to re-open this matter until all the States have expended their grants. At the present time some of the States other than Victoria and Tasmania have about £3,000,000 unexpended. Surely no reasonable person would ask the Government to undertake to provide a new series of grants while existing ones are as yet unexpended.
– Will the Minister for Health advise the Senate whether any research is being undertaken by his department or by any Commonwealth instrumentality specifically into the incidence and treatment of the common cold and influenza? Ignoring for the moment the more important humane factors, will the Minister advise the
Senate whether the amount of absenteeism each year, particularly in the months of July and August, due to these common ailments, is costing workers, manufacturers and the nation as a whole many millions of pounds? If no specific research is presently being undertaken into this matter, will the Minister consider initiating such action?
– Judging by the honorable senator’s croaky voice, he may well have a vested interest in this matter. I speak with some diffidence on the statistics involved, but I understand that the types of influenza and common cold are so many and varied that the task of undertaking research into all of them would be a mammoth one. It is true that for generations competent bodies have been endeavouring to find a cure for, and immunization against, the common cold. As yet, they have not succeeded, but I am quite sure that as time goes on that research will be intensified. Whether or not it will be successful, I do not know.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services. I preface it by saying that I do not wish to detract in any way from the benefits derived by many people’ from the Aged Persons Homes Act or from” the good intentions of the Government in that regard. My question is: How many homes for the aged have been built with the aid of the Commonwealth’s £2 for £1 subsidy under the Aged Persons Homes Act? How many of these homes are for the really destitute and charge no entrance fee, but receive the same portion of an occupant’s age pension as do the authorities of Statecontrolled and maintained homes? In how many subsidized homes are lump sum payments obligatory before admission is granted, as well as weekly rentals and other charges? What are the average rental and extra charges paid by tenants and the range of lump sum payments? How many such homes provide (a) lodging only, (b) full board, and (c) health services &c? In the case of excessive charges has the Commonwealth Government, with a two-thirds interest in the capital cost, any authority to guard against undue hardship or injustice to tenants?
– I am sorry to say that I cannot answer all the questions that Senator Tangney asks. Indeed, I do not think when she asked them that she thought that I could do so. In other words, what Senator Tangney is doing, in the guise of asking questions, is to make an attack upon the Commonwealth homes for the aged scheme.
– No, I am not.
– I think that that is a fair interpretation of the questions, because every one of them throws doubt upon the bona fides of the assistance which this scheme gives to the aged throughout the community. There is only one implication to be read into them. I give an answer in general terms. This legislation is, I think, one of the most forward steps in social services ever taken by any Australian government. It is aimed at helping voluntary workers in the field of social services and at supplementing the work which Churches and other charitable organizations do. I think I am correct in saying that every one of the homes is under the control of a Church or charitable organization. The Commonwealth’s approach has been not to interfere with the running of those organizations but to let them make arrangements that they think will give the best social results.
If a family wants to make a contribution to the capital cost of such a home in order to provide accommodation for a member of the family, so long as it is not asked or expected to provide accommodation for a period beyond the lifetime of the person concerned, surely that is a most desirable thing. Surely it is a good thing, if a family wants to make provision for an aged member and is in a position to make a financial contribution, that it should be encouraged to do so. Surely it is fair that if the occupant of this accommodation is in a position to pay a reasonable rental or charge he should be encouraged to do so. What Senator Tangney is trying to suggest is that there is something wrong in the administration of the scheme. That I refute.
– With some of the places.
– If Senator Tangney, by interjection, says that some of the places are open to doubt, the honest and fair thing to do is to challenge the running of those particular places and not to challenge a scheme that is doing so much good for the community as a whole.
– Has the Minister representing the Postmaster-General received a reply to a question I addressed to him regarding the erection of telephone lines in the Newdegate district?
– The PostmasterGeneral has now furnished me with the following information in reply: -
Relative to the extract from the “West Australian “ of 15th August, 1962, entitled “ Farmers in offer to save trees”, the line referred to is 10 miles of new open wire trunk route to connect a manual exchange to be installed at Newdegate East. The construction of the route will not commence for another two months.
One of the farmers concerned rang the Director of Posts and Telegraphs, Perth, early last week and stated that the farmers along the route desired the whole line to be erected in private property and that he would be forwarding a letter on the subject to the Director. The matter is receiving the personal attention of the Assistant Director (Engineering) who is quite willing to co-operate as requested.
The farmers have cleared their road to road alignment and the trees along the roadway consist of low scrub. As farmers in the past have sometimes withdrawn their permission for the erection of a route in their property when they realize that this involves ready access to the route by departmental linemen at all times, the Assistant Director (Engineering) will also investigate the use of long-span construction with tall poles along the road as an alternative. In either case the wires would be erected clear of the trees and even if the alternative construction is used the interference with the trees would be negligible.
At this stage the matter has yet to be fully examined and discussed with the local farmers but my department is prepared to give full co-operation in protecting the trees.
– I preface a question, which I direct to the Minister representing the Treasurer, by stating that quite a number of organizations representing superannuated persons, as well as individual superannuitants, have made representations for relief from tax on superannuation and pension payments made weekly, fortnightly or monthly. They point out that a person who receives a superannuation or retirement allowance in a lump sum justly receives exemption from tax to the extent that they pay tax on a maximum of only 5 per cent. of the amount. The organizations and individuals to whomI refer have no quarrel with that arrangement. But a person who contributes for superannuation and receives periodical payments is required, without exemption, to pay tax on such payments. Can the Minister inform me whether any representations have been received from the bodies and individuals to whom I have referred, or from the Australian Council of Trade Unions, in respect of this matter, and will he and the Cabinet give sympathetic consideration to what appears to be a very just claim?
– I do not know whether such representations have been received by the Treasurer. I will inquire. In any case I ask the honorable senator to put the question on the notice-paper as I am aware that the Treasurer has considered this matter from time to time and I think it is of such importance that a full answer should be given.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The PostmasterGeneral has supplied the following answers: -
– Pursuant to Standing Order No. 28a, 1 hereby nominate
Senator A. G. Poke to act as Temporary Chairman of Committees when requested so to do by the Chairman of Committees, or when the Chairman of Committees is absent.
Reports on Items.
– I lay on the table of the Senate reports by a Special Advisory Authority on the following subjects: -
Cycle saddles, and
Glazed ceramic tiles.
Motion (by Senator Spooner) - by leave - agreed to -
That Government business take precedence of general business after 8 p.m. this sitting.
Motion (by Senator Spooner) - by leave - agreed to -
That in accordance with the provisions of section 11 of the Australian National University Act 1946-1960, the Senate elects Senator Laught and Senator Tangney to be members of the Council of the Australian National University for a period of three years from 1st July, 1962.
– I move -
That the Senate considers the Government is deserving of censure -
for recognizing Senator Cole as the leader of a parliamentary party notwithstanding that there is no longer any such parliamentary party in this Parliament, and
for granting to Senator Cole facilities in excess of those of an ordinary member.
The attack that is embodied in this motion is directed at the Government for an action that the Opposition considers to be both unparliamentary and unconscionable. We do not blame Senator Cole for taking advantage for his party of facilities provided by the Government, which amount, in effect, to the addition of party organizers to the staff of the Australian Democratic Labour Party organization. 1 shall refer to the facilities mentioned in the motion that I have just proposed. According to the information available to me Senator Cole is provided with a private secretary and an assistant private secretary whose salaries run to some thousands of pounds - I should imagine something of the order of £3,000 a year. He also has one secretary-typist. In that respect he is on a par with all ordinary senators in that all senators have a secretary-typist. Senator Cole has the right to use a Commonwealth car for travel facilities in all States. In addition, his two secretaries - the private secretary and the assistant private secretary - have a similar right when required by Senator Cole to travel.
– To travel where? In a car?
– Anywhere in Australia. Did you ask about travel by car?
– As I understand the position certain limited privileges are extended to private secretaries in the use of a car. I understand they may use a car for travel between their homes and airports, and that type of thing. They have specific privileges. Facilities are available to them if they are required to travel with the leader to whom they are appointed. The expenditure involved in the provision of two secretaries, travel facilities for them and for Senator Cole would unquestionably amount to some thousands of pounds of public money a year.
In the Parliament itself there is the matter of calls from the Chair. Some priority is extended to Senator Cole over ordinary Opposition senators who in fact have commanded a great deal more individual support in the Australian electorate than the whole of the Australian Democratic Labour Party. That priority is an undoubted advantage. A difference arises, too, on the days in which the proceedings of the Senate are broadcast. To my knowledge Senator Cole has never been privy to the arrangements made between the Government and the Opposition - long before the advent of the Democratic Labour Party - whereby, except for special arrangements for leaders, speeches are limited to half an hour. Senator Cole may, and sometimes does, take more than half an hour. I do not put that forward as a facility provided by the Government. I just wish to record the fact. I am open to correction on this matter, but I am not aware of any arrangement having been made between Senator Cole and the Government. I take it that in that respect Senator Cole exercises merely the right of an ordinary senator and is not bound by a restrictive agreement made between the Opposition and the Government. Notwithstanding that, it is a privilege attaching to him to an extent, because of his recognition as a leader. At all events I do not make any complaint against the Government for Senator Cole taking an hour on days when the proceedings of the Senate are broadcast.
Because of the presence in this chamber of a good many honorable senators who have taken their places only recently, I will take a few minutes to review the history of this matter. In 1955 a number of former members of our party in the Parliament formed themselves into another party which they called the AntiCommunist Labour Party. There were seven of them in the House of Representatives and one, Senator Cole, in this chamber. An announcement on the matter was made by Senator Cole on 24th August, 1955. I referred to that announcement in a speech I made in 1956. My reference to it appears at page 579 of “ Hansard “ of 8th May, 1956. On 24th August, 1955, Senator Cole said, by leave -
I desire to inform the Senate that henceforth I shall represent in this chamber the AntiCommunist Australian Labour Parly led by Mr. Joshua, M.P., who is the leader of the party in another place.
I invite the Senate to note the terms of that announcement. Senator Cole said that he was a representative of the party and made no claim to leadership at a time when seven members of the new party were members of the House of Representatives.
Then came the 1955 general election in which all the members of the new party in the House of Representatives were defeated, but Senator McManus was elected as a senator for Victoria as from 1st July, 1956. He joined Senator Cole in this place as from that date. Before Senator McManus took his seat in this place it was noticed that facilities not available to ordinary senators were being provided for
Senator Cole. The matter was the subject of discussion in both the House of Representatives and this chamber. For instance, in the House of Representatives on 17th April, 1956, an urgency motion to consider the matter was moved. The matter of urgency was described in this way -
The action of the Government in providing facilities to a single member of Parliament on the basis that he is entitled to be treated as the leader of a separate parliamentary party.
The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) entered the debate. I summarize the reasons that he gave, on behalf of the Government, for the recognition of Senator Cole as the parliamentary leader of the AntiCommunist Labour Party in this way: He claimed, first, that Senator Cole had been recognized as the leader by the President of the Senate; secondly, that the Senate had concurred; and, thirdly, that it would be wrong to interfere with what the Senate had done.
In order to put it beyond doubt that that was the principle on which the Government acted, I will quote from the Prime Minister’s speech, as recorded in “Hansard” of 17th April, 1956, at page 1357. At one stage he said -
I should point out that there is one principle that has been strictly adhered to. Whether any person in either House of the Parliament is to be regarded as the leader of a party is a matter for the Presiding Officer - in this place, Mr. Speaker, and in another place, the President.
The Prime Minister affirmed that as a principle. Later, referring to the number of votes cast in favour of Senator Cole’s party at the elections in 1955, the Prime Minister said -
The numbers that I have mentioned are rather small numbers, but 1 do not think that honorable members opposite should be too attached to the gospel of numbers. The real principle is, has the presiding officer recognized them; and in the case of the senator involved in this matter, the President has acknowledged him as the Leader of the Australian Labour Party (AntiCommunist). He so appears on the record of the Senate “ Hansard “ where the officers of the Senate are printed, and honorable members will see shown there - “ Leader of the AntiCommunist Labour Party - Senator George Ronald Cole “ - and he has, therefore, in the other place - which is the master of its own privileges, and, if I may say so, not to be told by us what it should do any more than we are to be told by it what we are to do in this place - been accorded the status of the leader of a party.
So, I submit that it is unquestionable that the Prime Minister affirmed that the principle that animated the Government in the mattter was this:Recognition by the President and the concurrence of the Senate, backed by the principle that the Senate was not to be interfered with in anything it did in the matter.
Then a motion was moved in the Senate. I originated it. The motion, which is recorded in “Hansard” of 8th May, 1956, was in these terms -
That the Senate resolves that no senator shall be recognized by the Senate as leader of a party in the Senate if he is the only representative of that party in the Parliament.
That was the situation at the time.
– On what date?
– 8th May, 1956. Within the last few days - in fact, on 14th August of this year -I asked a question on this matter of the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Spooner). His reply included this statement -
The honorable senator also sought the reasons for this decision.
The decision in question was on the continuation of privileges granted to Senator Cole now that he was the sole representative of his party in the Parliament. Senator Spooner continued -
Those reasons have been the subject of debate in the Senate and, briefly, they are founded upon the basis that Senator Cole represents a very substantial proportion of the people who vote at the election of the Senate . . .
That fairly bears out the argument that was addressed to this chamber by the Government in May, 1956. That argument is summarized and epitomized in Senator Spooner’s words, which indicate that there is a completely different principle from the one that was put by the Prime Minister in 1956.
On the same date, 14th August, in the House of Representatives Mr. Hayden addressed a question on this matter to the Prime Minister. The comments of the Prime Minister in reply to that question, as reported in “ Hansard “ of that date, include the following -
There can be no doubt whatever that, whether the honorable member or anybody else likes it or not, there is a very substantial Democratic Labour Party in this country.
That is the reason he gave -
Therefore a decision was taken that the leader of that party, even though he was the sole representative of the party in the Parliament at the moment, should be accorded the normal rights of the leader of a party.
I will revert to that matter later to indicate how completely the Government has shifted its position on the principle that it claims should apply to the recognition of Senator Cole as the leader of a party. Until 8th May, 1956, when I moved the motion that I have quoted, there had been no announcement in this place by Senator Cole claiming that he was the leader of a party; no information had been conveyed to the Senate by the President; and there had been no discussion of the position and no resolution moved in the Senate. The matter was done entirely behind the back of the Senate. It was really brought to light by the motion in the House of Representatives, and the motion I proposed on behalf of the Opposition in 1956.
It is true, as the Prime Minister said, that Senator Cole was recorded on the cover of “ Hansard “ as the leader of his party. Despite the best pressure I could exert, I was unable to ascertain in 1956 how that title got there. I say again: Nor do I know how it got there. To complete the history of the matter, I inform honorable senators that the first announcement of Senator Cole’s leadership was made by Senator Cole in the course of the debate on 8th May, 1956. He then said -
Tn order to put the record straight for Senator McKenna,-
That is the opening sentence in his speech -
I hereby announce myself as the political leader of the Anti-Communist Australian Labour Party.
That, unquestionably, was the first we heard from Senator Cole on the matter. The announcement was made only after the Opposition had raised the issue in this place. 1 have indicated the history of this matter, and I have shown that the Government in the Senate based its case on electoral support, as Senator Spooner acknowledged in his answer to my question on 14th August last. The Government based its case entirely upon the electoral support of Senator Cole outside this place - outside the Parliament. I repeat that the Prime Minister, when he replied to Mr. Hayden the other day in another place, shifted his ground entirely from the situation he took in 1956. I should like to spend a moment to deal with the Prime Minister’s answer. He said -
The Prime Minister was looking at the electorate - not at the Parliament. He continued -
Therefore, a decision was taken that the leader of that party,-
He was still talking about the party outside the Senate - even though he was the sole representative of the party in the Parliament at the moment, should be accorded the normal rights of the leader of a party.
Frankly, I have never seen any statement by the Prime Minister which has such a measure of confusion in it. The decision, he said, was that the leader of that party - that would be the leader externally - though he was the sole representative of the party in the Parliament, should be accorded recognition as leader. I never understood that Senator Cole was the leader of the political entity called the Democratic Labour Party. I understood Mr. Joshua, the president, was the leader up till now. I have never understood that Senator Cole was the president, even of the branch of that party in his State. Frankly, I do not know what office Senator Cole holds in the organization. Clearly he is not the leader. The proposition that the Prime Minister affirms in his own words is that if the outside leader of a party becomes a member of this Parliament, he becomes the leader of that party in this Parliament.
– What was the question?
– I do not mind reading the whole question. Mr. Hayden said -
My question is directed to the Prime Minister. I ask: Has the Government recognized the sole representative of a party in another place as parliamentary leader of that party? What benefits, financial and otherwise, above the normal entitlements will accrue to that person because of this recognition? Does the Government’s action establish a precedent and will this action mean that an independent who cared to apply to himself some convenient party appellation, would be entitled to similar recognition and benefits? Why did the Government decide to recognize the sole representative of the party in question as the parliamentary leader of that party? How many representatives constitute a parliamentary party in the Prime Minister’s definition of that term?
– The word “leader” is inclined to mean the leader here, in the context of that question.
– Not at all. I shall now read the Prime Minister’s answer in full- t venture to suggest to the honorable member that he must not confuse the position of the parliamentary leader of the Democratic Labour Party and the position of an ordinary independent member of the Parliament. There can be no doubt whatever that, whether the honorable member or anybody else likes it or not, there is a very substantial Democratic Labour Party in this country.
That refers to outside support. The Prime Minister continued -
Therefore, a decision was taken that the leader of that party, even though he was the sole representative of the party in the Parliament at the moment, should be accorded the normal rights of the leader of a party. This case must not be confused with the case of a man who is an independent and. being an independent, does not profess to represent any party.
I return now to the point I made a while ago. The recognition of Senator Cole does not even fit into that definition given by the Prime Minister.
– But you are merely playing on words when you say that.
– I am not playing on words. One can expect that the Prime Minister of this country, on being asked a question of that kind, would be deliberate, precise and accurate, as normally he is.
– Who would be leader of your party - Keeffe or Calwell?
– The Leader of the Australian Labour Party - the political party known as that - is Mr. Keeffe. The Leader of the Parliamentary Labour Party, chosen by 89 members, is Mr. Calwell. I will advert to that distinction between the political organization outside and its parliamentary representatives in this place. I undertake to deal with that clearly before I conclude.
With reference to the normal rights of the leader of a party, I should say that one of the normal rights - and surely the first acid test of whether he is a leader - is whether the Parliament considers that his activities in the course of fulfilling his parliamentary office are worthy of attracting any parliamentary allowance. There is no allowance payable to Senator Cole. Therefore, the Prime Minister is in error again in saying that Senator Cole should be accorded the normal rights of the leader of a party because, whatever privileges have been accorded to Senator Cole, as I understand the position they do not include the grant of a parliamentary allowance. I pass to honorable senators those comments on the Prime Minister’s answer.
I would say, too, that if one man, perhaps holding no office at all in his political organization outside, gained a seat in this place, he, according to the behaviour of the Government in this matter, would be recognized as the leader of the party. An individual with no organizational office at all in his political organization outside, would, if treated in the same way as Senator Cole, be recognized in this Parliament as the leader of that party.
In 1956 when we asked about this matter, Senator Sir Neil O’sullivan answered that there was one private secretary on the staff of Senator Cole at a salary of £1,643 per annum. I do not know whether that salary is still the same. Now, an assistant private secretary has been added to the list, without any announcement being made to this Parliament. As far as I know, no announcement of this new position has been mads by the Government. The new position has entered the picture since the Government last indicated the facilities available to Senator Cole.
I said earlier that I would advert to the distinction drawn by the Opposition between a political party and the parliamentary party. I acknowledge at once that the Democratic Labour Party is a readily recognizable political party; it has all the distinguishing marks of one. It has branches, it has an Australia-wide organization, and it has affiliates, amongst them being the Queensland Labour Party and some trade unions. It contests elections, both Federal and State, on an Australia-wide basis. It uses the press, radio and television for publicity. At the last general elections, looking at the figures for both the House of Representatives and the Senate, it gained something not very far short of 500,000 votes throughout the whole of Australia. So that one concludes immediately it is a readily recognizable political entity. That is not disputed. But so, too, is the Communist Party. It has every one of those hallmarks. Except that it has not got the same extent of political support throughout Australia, it has all the things that one ordinarily looks for to determine whether a body is “a bona fide, genuine political body.
I invite the Senate to consider what will be the position of the Liberal Forum party, the breakaway party that Mr. Darby steered in New South Wales, which successfully beat the Liberal Party machine in that State, and which is now extending its activities into Victoria, filling the vacuum left there in the electorate of Batman when the Government authorities did not have the courage to put up a candidate at the by-election for the seat of Batman. There is another party with interstate activity, and which no doubt will grow and develop in the climate that has been fostered by the Government in the electorate.
The view that we take is that a parliamentary party - and I am speaking of a parliamentary party - comprises only those members of the Parliament who represent a recognizable political party and that, in determining who is the parliamentary leader, it is wrong, illogical and improper to look outside the Parliament to some political organization, however recognizable that organization might be. We say that, by definition and common sense, there cannot be a parliamentary party consisting of one member. Still less can there be a leader without a single follower. That is just a plain matter of the meaning of English words. There cannot be a leader without followers, and one necessarily talks about followers in the Parliament filling a parliamentary office. To the present situation I adapt something that was said on behalf of the Government in the House of Commons some time ago when there was a claim on the part of two Communists for some recognition as a party -
You cannot have a parliamentary party which can arrive at Parliament House on a bicycle built for one.
The House of Commons would not accept the position of two Communists arriving on a tandem, and the position is even more stringent here in Australia.
– You were in opposition when Senator Cole had a follower.
– Of course we were in Opposition.
– I mean you were in opposition to this principle.
– I would say that the fact that the Government recognizes as the leader of a party one man in the whole Parliament is really ridiculous. It has been laughed at in the press, and I take this opportunity to quote a brief comment by “Onlooker” in his column “ Candid Comment “ in the “ Sun-Herald “ on 12th August. Under the heading “ Oneman party “, “ Onlooker “ referred to the imaginary minutes of a meeting of the Federal Parliamentary Democratic Labour Party in this way -
Senator Cole presided. Moved and seconded by Senator Cole: - “ That the Menzies Government be thanked for its continued recognition of the party (Senator Cole) and its leader (Senator Cole).” Carried unanimously.
Moved and seconded by Senator Cole: - “That the party continue to give discriminating support to al! Government measures introduced into the Senate.” Carried unanimously.
On the motion of Senator Cole, seconded by Senator Cole, the meeting adjourned.
That indicates quite frankly how farcical the position is, and how everybody in the electorate outside regards it as a farce. The Government is insensitive to and quite contemptuous of public opinion, for a reason that I shall advance before I conclude.
At this stage, I make the comment that Senator Cole, acknowledged by the Government as the leader of the Federal Parliamentary Democratic Labour Party, has more staff than I have as Leader of the Opposition with 27 followers in this chamber, and 59 colleagues in another place. I have a private secretary and an assistant private secretary who acts as stenographer-typist. So that Senator Cole, with the duties that he has as a leader recognized by the Government, has more staff than I have.
– It is entirely a matter of your own choice, is it not?
– Not at all. It is not a matter of my choice. I would be very glad to have some further secretarial assistance. I can say quite frankly that I need it, but I am not asking for it at the moment.
– You have not asked for it because you do not want it.
– That is the first time I have heard somebody claim that he knows my mind better than 1 know it myself.
– It is a reasonable inference. You are entitled to a secretarytypist, the same as every other honorable senator but you have not availed yourself of it. You can blame nobody but yourself for that.
– The honorable senator does not understand the position at all. I have a private secretary and a stenographer-typist. I asked that the status of the stenographer-typist be increased to that of assistant private secretary because of the nature of the work that is being done. That work was acknowledged, so that I now have a stenographer-typist cum assistant private secretary, and I repeat, that Senator Cole, leader of the Federal Parliamentary Democratic Labour Party - one representative of the party in the Parliament - has more staff than the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate. I repeat, too, that in this place we should talk about the leader of a parliamentary party that is recognizable in the Parliament, not a political body outside the Parliament. You get to an absurd position if you come to any other conclusion.
It is not entirely relevant, but it is useful to consider what the Constitutional Review Committee said unanimously on the subject of recognition of political parties. That committee was concerned with the problem arising from casual vacancies. It tried to draw up a constitutional amendment that would assure that, in the event of a casual vacancy occurring in the Senate, the Governor, or the Parliament of the State, as the case might be, would be bound to return to the Senate a senator of the same political complexion as the one who had vacated the office, whether by death or retirement. Looking at that position, the Constitutional Review Committee, in paragraph 287, on page 42 of its report, said -
As the Committee has already reported to the Parliament, it sought a constitutional formula to require the Parliament or Governor of a State in making an appointment to fill a casual vacancy arising in the Senate, to choose some one who was a member of the same political parly as the Senator whose place had become vacant. The Committee could not, however, find suitable language which would have covered all possible contingencies and, at the same time, avoided reference to political parties in the Constitution. By way of illustration of the difficulties confrontthe Committee, it would have been necessary, in any constitutional alteration, to deal with possible cases of a vacating senator who joined another party after election, became a member of another party because that party succeeded the party in existence at the date of election or who, for that matter, was not a member of any party. The difficulties proved to be insurmountable.
In paragraph 291 the committee stated -
At this juncture, the Committee merely reiterates its view, expressed in the first Report, that all members who sat on the Committee thought the principle should continue to be observed without exception so that the matter may become the subject of a constitutional convention or understanding which political parties will always observe.
For some of the reasons given by the Constitutional Review Committee, it is impossible to particularize political parties outside this place and for the Parliament to have regard to them. We pose the difficulty that we encountered when we looked at casual vacancies in the Senate.
One finds the same difficulty experienced in the Commonwealth Electoral Act. Time and again efforts have been made to secure the recognition of political parties, but always, and for the best of all good reasons, they have been ignored. Political parties change and vary, and their personnel changes and varies also, as we know. It is impossible to pin legislation or a constitution on political parties. It is equally impossible to pin recognition of parliamentary leaders of those outside political parties on whatever electoral success they may from time to time command.
I turn to the question of parliamentary allowances. In 1947, the Chifley Government dealt with the matter when it introduced the Parliamentary Allowances Act. The principle that applied when section 7A was added to the act, was that, in addition to any other allowance payable under the act, an allowance at the rate of £400 a year should be payable to the leader in the House of Representatives, not being the Leader of the Opposition, of a recognized political party, not fewer than ten members of which are members of the House of Representatives and of which no member is a Minister of State.
After the Nicholas report in 1951, this Government re-enacted that provision and, 1 think I am right in saying, increased the amount of the allowance. What was then the acid test of whether leadership is worthwhile? Surely, it was the making of an allowance in recognition of duties to be performed in the Parliament. That must be the test. The Government now eschews it. The Government recognizes the sanity of the proposition that there ought to be no pay for a leader in this place who is not one of a team of at least ten. Surely that is the common sense approach to the matter. It is the test that ought to be applied in determining whether a party should be recognized and whether it should have a leader.
We have seen the Government significantly handing out to Senator Cole the facilities that I have already described. One cannot blame him, I repeat, for accepting what is offered to him. We have seen the Government’s assessment of the value of his duties as a leader in the Parliament, as not meriting any allowance at all in addition to salary. That exposes the farcical nature of the Government’s decision in this matter. I say that there is no precedent in any parliament anywhere for the sole representative of a party in the Parliament being acknowledged as leader of a parliamentary party and for facilities to be extended to him. We may in this debate get all the diversions and digressions that we had in 1956, when Senator Gardiner’s case was cited. He was the only Labour man in the Senate and was acknowledged as leader, but he had 27 colleagues in another place. Senator Amour, with colleagues here and in another place, was recognized as leader of a party in the early 1940’s. Neither of those instances is comparable with this one, where there is one person alone in the whole Parliament. How can you have a party with one man?
– You had it with Senator Gardiner in the Senate, and you called him the Senate party leader.
– That is right. He had 27 colleagues in the other place, out of 75 members.
– Was not there a leader in the other place when Senator Gardiner was leader in the Senate?
– Yes, there was a leader of the whole party there.
– What party did Senator Gardiner lead in the Senate?
– A party with a name similar to that used by the Democratic Labour Party when it broke away from the Australian Labour Party.
I invite the Government - and I hope that Senator Spooner will respond to my invitation in his reply - to state the costs that are involved per annum of the facilities that are given, including salaries. If it is possible, I should like a particular commentary on the cost of the travel facilities that are made available.
– They would be available whether he was leader or not.
– There are some that would be, but if it were not for the recognition of Senator Cole as leader of his party, he would not have a secretary or an assistant secretary, and of course, travel facilities for them would be non-existent. I am speaking of travel facilities for his staff. I invite the Government to tell the Senate just what costs are involved. In particular, I should like Senator Spooner to answer this question: Whom does Senator Cole lead in this Senate or in the Parliament?
It is obvious that the Government is prepared to dip in the pockets of the taxpayers to further the work of the D.L.P., without whose preferences the Government would not be in office to-day. We of the Opposition say that the Government has reason to help the D.L.P. If it wants to help that party, nobody would object if supporters of the Government dipped into their own pockets and their own funds, but they are not entitled to dip into the taxpayers’ pockets to promote the welfare of a party upon which they are completely dependent for their election. We on this side of the chamber regard what is happening as a completely blatant misuse of public money to further the Government’s own political interests. That is the gravamen of the charge that the Opposition launches against the Government.
We say that what has been done is completely unparliamentary and unprincipled, and that the principles that the Government affirms change from time to time. It is really farcical and unconscionable. In the view that I put on behalf of the Opposition, the situation completely justifies the vote of censure that we ask the Senate to pass.
– I almost feel like congratulating the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) on his wide range of adjectives. It must have taken him some little time to settle down and work out the list that he used, in the hope that the newspapers would report them.
– I hope they will.
– That is the whole objective of the use of the adjectives. You know that you cannot, these days, make the newspaper columns with factual, common sense statements. It is necessary for you to turn to excited, exaggerated language in order to attract publicity. No justification whatever exists for an attack of this kind on the Government. I could describe this attack by the Labour Party as a vindictive attack on its political opponent, the Democratic Labour Party. What is the real situation? In this mattei as in all matters the Government has a responsibility. The Government parties in the Senate surely have a responsibility to deal equitably with all honorable senators. Surely they have a responsibility to do the right thing, and to give everybody a chance to express the views of his party without duress and without being placed at a disadvantage. We on this side of the chamber take the view that Senator Cole, who has been here for twelve years, represents, whether we like it or not, a major political parly.
– You love it.
Hendrickson has been interjecting quite a bit. These are the tactics adopted by the Labour Party. We on this side of the Senate allowed the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) to expound his point of view. We are courteous. We do not interject unduly when honorable senators opposite are speaking. Senator
McKenna holds a responsible position in this Senate. When he has a case to state he is allowed to state it in a responsible manner. But time and again when I rise to put a contrary point of view I find Senator Hendrickson and Senator Sandford in particular attempting to howl me down. This is larrikin politics.
– You interrupted our leader.
– You often interrupt us.
– This is an attempt, consistent with Labour’s attitude in the past, to howl down any political point of view at variance with the point of view held by honorable senators opposite.
– That is not your way out. Give us the truth.
– This attack is not so much an attack on the Government as an attack on a minority political party. Let me clear the air a little. I have stood in this place too often in the last twelve years -
– We know that.
– And faced the situation of honorable senators opposite attempting to howl me down. You will never succeed.
– We beat your leader.
– Order! The Minister will be heard in silence.
– May I reply to Senator Hendrickson that whenever the Prime Minister addresses a large public meeting the Labour Party organizes a gang of larrikins to howl him down.
– It does not.
– I have been to too many political gatherings not to recognize the same persons screaming their heads off. Those demonstrations are obviously organized by the Labour Party.
– Senator Gorton was thrown out of a meeting once.
– I will get back to the point at issue - much to the relief of those who sit opposite. I do not think they liked that little digression of mine; it was too close to the truth. To gain power in this country as a political force you must first gain the respect of the Australian people. One reason why the Labour Party will take a long time to regain power in Australia is because the Australian people know how much the Labour Party panders to the larrikin element within its ranks.
The matter that is before the Senate is not new. It has been debated on two previous occasions - in 1956 and in 1959. Our policy turns on the undisputed fact that Senator Cole is the parliamentary leader of the Australian Democratic Labour Party. I thought Senator McKenna rather unfairly attempted to imply that the Government has made some hole-and-corner arrangements. That is not so. As Senator McKenna admitted, Senator Cole, almost from the time the Democratic Labour Party, or whatever it was first called, was represented in this Senate, has been shown on the cover of “ Hansard “ as the leader of that party. He has received additional privileges .since September, 1955 - almost seven years. This is not a new matter; the circumstances are well known throughout the Parliament and the country.
I have difficulty in taking seriously the claim that Senator Cole is not entitled to consideration because at the moment he is the sole representative in the Parliament of the Democratic Labour Party. Remember this: The Senate is elected under a system of proportional representation. That system surely is aimed at giving minority political parties an opportunity to obtain representation here. I do not suppose that any honorable senator would deny that if there were a double dissolution the Democratic Labour Party might obtain greater representation than it now has. I hesitate to forecast that it might perhaps have a representative from each State. I hope that will never happen, because I always want to see Liberal and Country Party representatives in this place, and not representatives of other political parties.
As the Government, we want to do the right thing. Senator Cole, whether we like it or not, is the parliamentary leader of a vital and forceful political party. It would be inequitable not to give him reasonable assistance in the performance’ of his duties as parliamentary leader of that party. It would be just as inequitable as the situation we faced some time ago when Senator Cole, after being twelve years in this Par liament, had the greatest difficulty in obtaining a trip overseas as a representative of the Commonwealth Parliament. We are -members of the Parliament. Surely we must do the fair and equitable thing, having regard to parliamentary arrangements.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– When the sitting was suspended before lunch I was putting the case for the action of the Government parties in the Senate, from the point of view of the Senate, in the light of the fact that the Senate is elected by a method of proportional representation. That being the case, there is surely a responsibility upon us to do what is reasonable by minority parties. I should like to put the matter again from a broader viewpoint. What is the correct thing to do in following reasonable parliamentary procedures? I do not claim to be a great parliamentarian, but I do aspire to be one. Surely the great principles that apply on the floor of the Parliament, apply in this case. Great principles govern parliamentary procedures. The Government has a responsibility to treat Opposition parties fairly and equitably. That principle surely extends to fair treatment of minority Opposition parties, and no less does it apply to independents who sit in the Parliament.
Let me mention some of those things which I believe are akin to this. Surely a minister has a responsibility to give fair answers to questions that are asked of him in the Parliament. Surely a government, the majority party in the Parliament, has to give to Opposition members a fair opportunity to express their views in accordance with the spirit and atmosphere of the Parliament and in accordance with Standing Orders. That the Government provides this opportunity is evidenced by this very debate. There was a debate a few days ago on a motion by Senator Kennelly. I suppose the Government parties could have delayed or prevented the bringing on of the motion, but to me that would have been a negation of parliamentary procedures. I should be the last to claim that I was perfect. One is not proud when he falls from grace and does not act in the Parliament according to the standards by which he should act. Surely we always have a responsibility to facilitate expression of opinion not only by the
Government but also by the Opposition, by using the gag sparingly, and using the guillotine only where it is necessary, giving pairs when the circumstances warrant, and giving even an independent a full opportunity to speak.
– What about the debate on the banking legislation?
– As I say, I am never proud when we fall from grace. We are all human. We all make mistakes. Sometimes I do not give answers to questions in the way in which I should give them. I am not happy when that happens. One of our newcomers, the independent senator, attacked the Government yesterday. Are we to send him to Coventry for doing that? Is this not a parliament? Is this not a place in which everybody has a right to express his views? I put the arrangement we are now discussing in the same context. This is the Australian Senate, elected on a system of proportional representation. The whole history of Parliament is that it should fight - and it has fought - to maintain the privileges that it requires in order to function efficiently. In this matter, Senator McKenna alleged ulterior motives on the part of the Government. I do not think it is over-stretching the facts to say that the fight for parliamentary privileges in this set of circumstances is a fight by the Liberal Party and Country Party against the Labour Party for the maintenance of proper parliamentary privileges and adequate treatment of minorities and independents in the Parliament.
Let me illustrate a few examples. I never claim to be perfect. Knowing my own imperfections, I have more sense than to do so. But surely the two or three matters that I shall mention illustrate a fairer approach to parliamentary affairs by the Government than by the Opposition. Senator Cole has been in this Parliament for twelve years. There is a Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and an Inter-Parliamentary Union. Surely it is a strange concept that an independent or a member of a minority party is not eligible to extend his knowledge and experience at conferences of those organizations. Yet the Labour Party excluded Senator Cole for a period of years. Is that fair treatment? Is that in accordance with the parliamentary atmosphere? Let me take the minds of honorable senators back to the election of a select committee of the Senate. I have been trying to remember the circumstances. I know that the Labour Party on that occasion would not find a place for Senator Cole on that committee.
– Why should we?
– Because you are the Opposition. The Opposition has just as great a responsibility as has the Government to make the Parliament work equitably. Senators are elected to the ordinary committees of the Parliament - the Joint House Committee, the Library Committee, and various others. Does the Labour Party ever make room for a member of a minority party or for an independent? Is it not fair to say that the Opposition should do so, and that its objection to the Government’s action in the matter we are now considering is akin to its approach to these other parliamentary questions?
There is only one point that I think is arguable, and this is the burden or substance of it all. Senator McKenna makes the claim that as Senator Cole is the only parliamentary representative of his party he should not be entitled to the privileges of leadership. I put on one side the criticism that Senator Cole is not a leader because he has no followers in the Parliament. That is saying the same thing in different words. I think I am correct in saying that Senator McKenna admitted that Senator Cole’s party had a big political following. I have the figures and it might be as well to put them on the record of this debate. The figures of the voting for the Australian Democratic Labour Party in each State, obtained for me by the federal secretariat of the Liberal Party, are as follows: -
By every standard that is a substantial proportion of Australian political opinion, and the method by which the Parliament of Australia is elected provides the opportunity for that large proportion of political opinion to be represented in the Senate. Senator Cole is here as the representative of those electors. The point I make, Mr. President, is that as he represents such a substantial proportion of political opinion throughout Australia he has responsibilities and duties in this Senate far greater than those of an ordinary senator. He represents a large voting force spread over the whole of Australia.
In the Senate itself he is called upon to express his views more often, and indeed more carefully, than the average senator because he carries the responsibility to speak for such a large proportion of electors. He is called upon to make a greater number of representations to Ministers because the people that he represents in Parliament are spread over a wider area. In truth, the work that he should do makes it equitable, in the interests of parliamentary democracy, that he should be given this additional staff to help him. There is no mystery or magic about this. He has had these facilities and privileges for more than seven years. The Government gave them to him when its position was strong in the Senate and when its position was weak. When a party has as large a following as the party Senator Cole represents I think it is the proper thing for a government to give him these facilities. That, I think, is the case. I shall reply in a minute to the comments made by Senator McKenna, as far as I have taken a note of them.
In brief, the Government’s policy is determined on these simple terms: Senator Cole is at present the only representative of this political party but it can never be said that it is not a substantial political party. It is a political party which has appreciable support throughout the Commonwealth. It is the responsibility of the Government and the Opposition to make Parliament work to the best advantage having regard particularly to the manner in which the Parliament is elected. The representation that Senator Cole has to make places a heavier responsibility on him than is cast on the average senator, lt is a fair thing in those circum stances that he should be given the assistance that is the subject of this debate.
I shall now reply, as best I am able, to the points that Senator McKenna has made. I do not think there is great virtue in contrasting the procedures in parliaments in other parts of the world, or indeed in parliaments within Australia, with the procedures in the Australian Senate. Our position is unique. Despite the criticism that one hears to the contrary, a substantial proportion of our work is that of a States’ House. The Australian Democratic Labour Party is spread over all States of the Commonwealth. Above all, as I have stressed perhaps ad nauseam, this is a House that is elected in a particular fashion by the method of proportional representation. 1 do not think it is relevant to contrast the procedures in the Australian Senate with those of other Houses of Parliament, particularly those overseas. In any event this is the Australian Senate. It is the Senate’s responsibility to conduct this chamber in a manner which we think is proper, and which will permit the Senate to work efficiently.
Despite Senator McKenna’s assertion, what the Government is doing is not without precedent in this very chamber. I recall the case of Senator Gardiner who from 1919 to 1922 was the only representative of the Australian Labour Party in the Senate and was recognized as the Leader of the Opposition. I do not think it is proper to say that the circumstances were different at that time because there were members of the Australian Labour Party in the other House. It is the Senate with which we are concerned. The same thing occurred in 1940 when Senator Amour was Leader of the Australian Labour Party (nonCommunist) and announced himself as such. He was recognized as such and given the amenities that went with that position.
I do not care whether there is any precedent or not. I am unmoved whether I win or lose that argument because I believe, on the basis of proportional representation, this is a new Senate with a new atmosphere, and we have to do what is equitable in the present circumstances.
Senator McKenna contrasted the size of his staff with Senator Cole’s staff. I give » short answer to that. As far as I know Senator McKenna has not made representations to have his staff increased. 1 do nol think I exaggerate when I point out that I do not consider it is a material point in a debate of this type to say that Senator McKenna has one girl less on his staff than has Senator Cole. There is a difference between the position of Senator McKenna and that of Senator Cole in that Senator McKenna has a deputy leader, the assistance of party whips in this chamber and the assistance of his party organization in Y.i other place.
Senator McKenna commented on the fact that Senator Cole was granted certain priorities in parliamentary debate. That follows the general principle that I have enunciated. Minority parties have rights and in a parliamentary democracy it is our responsibility to recognize those rights. Senator McKenna criticized the Prime Minister. He said that Mr. Menzies had approached the matter on two different grounds - first, that this was a matter for the Senate and, secondly, that Senator Cole represented the Democratic Labour Party. I give Senator McKenna the short answer that both of those arguments are right. This is a matter for the Senate. If the Senate voted in favour of Senator McKenna’s motion that would be the determining factor. The Senate has had this same matter before it on two previous occasions. I hope that it will record now the same vote as was recorded on those two occasions. There is no point in criticizing the Prime Minister’s comments on this matter, because both the points of view that he has stated are correct.
asked what ‘ is involved financially. I give him the answer that I do not know. If he puts a question to that effect on the notice-paper I will get the information for him if it is relevant. I put this point of view, which 1 believe should strongly influence those who have to make a decision on the matter: Whatever amount is involved is small compared with the cost of ‘this Parliament, but it is of sufficient size to prevent a senator from being able to defray it from his parliamentary allowances. The important point is the principle, not the cost. In the present circumstances the cost is very small.
The principle involved is whether a minority political party, which has the support of 500,000 voters, who cast almost 10 per cent, of the formal votes cast at “the last Senate election, should be given these additional privileges to enable its parliamentary leader, or its parliamentary representative, to operate efficiently. I have no doubts at all on that point. It would be inequitable not to provide these facilities. It would be just as inequitable as it would be to deny Senator Cole other parliamentary privileges, such as access to the Parliamentary Library and the right to participate in Commonwealth Parliamentary Association functions. He is in this chamber in a responsible position. He is representing and leading a substantial party, whether we like it or not. Do not run away with the idea that we on the. Government side like it very much. Too much is said about our gaining political . support from that party. We would infinitely prefer to have the necessary political support in our own right.
I hope I have given a dignified reply to the series of allegations made by Senator McKenna. We believe that what we are doing is proper in the interests of the Senate and in the interests of the Parliament. We hope that the Senate will’ support our action when the matter goes before it for decision.
– Mr. President, 1 rise to support the motion moved by Senator McKenna. I speak along the same lines as he did in that, although in the course of this debate it will be necessary to mention the Democratic Labour Party, no one should draw the inference that we are making any attack on any personality. My attack will be based upon the use that this Government is making of the Democratic Labour Party. I believe that that use is being paid for in this and other ways.
The Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Spooner) said that it was the responsibility of all parties to give all other parties the right to express their views without duress. I ask the Minister whether any duress has been used on private members of the Opposition. Are we unable to express our views? If we are able to express our views as private senators, why would not Senator Cole bs able to express his views in a like manner? Does Senator Cole require the status of leadership to be able to express his views in this Senate on behalf of his party? The answer to that question is, “ No “.
Senator Spooner went on to say that he wished all senators were members of the Liberal Party. That is a fair warning to the minority parties that are represented in this chamber. I include the Australian Country Party. Senator Spooner would like to see that party without representation in the Senate, just as he would like to see the Democratic Labour Party and the Australian Labour Party without representation in the Senate.
– He did not say that.
– You cannot have the best of two worlds. If you want to act responsibly and allow minorities to express their views you cannot also say that you
Want to set up a dictatorship in the Senate.
Senator Spooner was somewhat worried about what might happen as a result of a double dissolution. On the figures in recent elections it is true that the representation of the Democratic Labour Party would be likely to increase as a result of a double dissolution. I suggest to the Leader of the Government that in those circumstances Senator Cole could not be in the position that he was in some time ago, when he had to announce that he was the leader of his party, that Senator McManus was the deputy leader and the party whip would follow at some other time. As a matter of fact, in the last election the whip fell on Senator McManus. In the event of a double dissolution Senator Cole would later have some following in the Senate and leadership privileges could be extended to him. Senator Spooner said it was only right that Senator Cole should be extended the same privilege of overseas trips to broaden his views, as is extended to other senators. But he went a little further and said that the Australian Labour Party should make provision for enabling Senator Cole to make those trips. I remind Senator Spooner that the Government - not the Opposition - has placed the Democratic Labour Party in with the official Opposition. The Australian Labour Party has not accepted the Democratic Labour Party as part of the official Opposition. If the Government wants the Leader of the Democratic Labour Party to have the benefit of overseas trips, it is for the Government to make room for Senator Cole to have them. I am reminded by Senator Hendrickson that the Government has made arrangements for Senator Cole to go overseas this year; I hope he has a good trip.
I notice one significant thing. At this time, if Senator Cole accepted the responsibility of being part of the official Opposition, it would be possible to defeat the Government in the Senate, but he is being given a trip overseas. The Government is assuring itself of a majority of 30 to 29 in this Senate during the. period in which Senator Cole will be absent from Australia. 1 suggest again that it is part of Government policy, not only to make use of the Democratic Labour Party as a party, but also to make use of its leader in this Senate. The main basis of the Prime Minister’s answer to a question asked in another place a few days ago was that the Democratic Labour Party, because it was spread throughout the various States, was somewhat of a force as a political party, and therefore was entitled to the benefit of having its only member in the Parliament recognized as a leader. Against that background, on this occasion - not on the previous occasion - the Government has defended its policy of granting these privileges to Senator Cole as leader of the Democratic Labour Party.
Senator McKenna examined the history of the Democratic Labour Party, though admittedly in a short space of time, lt is not a subject that can be fully covered in a short time. As the Senate is aware, the Democratic Labour Party was born out of a split in the Australian Labour Party. As a result of that split, the Democratic Labour Party set itself up, not as part of the Labour Party, although it still claimed the name of Labour in both its names, but in opposition to the Australian Labour Party. It did not set itself up in opposition to the Government; it has never been in opposition to the Government. Throughout its existence it has been in opposition to the Australian Labour Party, and yet it is held by the Government to be part of the official Opposition. Its first objective in coming into existence as a political party was supposed to be to cleanse the world of communism. Yet, practically every time Senator Cole rises in this chamber, and every time Senator McManus got to his feet when he was a senator, there were constant howls about the increase in communism. Despite the so-called fight by the Democratic Labour Party to cleanse the world of communism, communism is increasing.
The Democratic Labour Party was not allowed to remain in this rather narrow field of expressing its opposition to communism. The Government quickly encouraged it to become a satellite of the Liberal Party. The Government saw the advantages of a split in the Australian Labour Party. I do not know whether it has put so much faith in the Democratic Labour Party since 9th December last when, despite the fact that it received D.L.P. preferences, it almost lost the government of Australia. The Government saw the advantages to itself of a split in the Labour Party and decided to foster that split for its own interests. I say again that I believe the granting of these privileges to Senator Cole is part of the fostering of that split. To say the least, it is part of a sponsoring of the continuance, of the Democratic Labour Party as a political force in Australia. The Government was without adequate means to defend itself against the attacks of the Australian Labour Party. This was evident in 1954 before the Democratic Labour Party came into existence, when Petrov had to be pulled out of the hat. There has been evidence since then that the Government has relied upon the saying throughout Australia that the Australian Labour Party could not win without D.L.P. preferences. But we very nearly did it, despite Senator Spooner’s statement three years ago that the Liberal Party was in the business of government for keeps. I wonder how sure he feels about that to-day!
So, without adequate means in its own right of keeping the Labour Party off the treasury bench, the Government was forced into the position of fostering and nurturing the Democratic Labour Party as a satellite of the Liberal Party. The fund’s to support the D.L.P. came from big business, but I am not crying about that. Political parties are entitled to get funds wherever they can.
– Where do you get your funds?
– That is our business.
– It is not. You get most of your funds from the breweries.
– It is our business also to know where you get your funds.
– We pay for our own.
– Funds made available by big business people who normally support the Government - not the Labour Party - were used in a big smear campaign against the A.L.P., and I have no doubt that in future D.L.P. funds will continue to be used in that way. However, if the Government does not rectify its policies, I am afraid that the hungry bellies will not take much notice of the red bogys, and the smear tactics may not be as successful in the future as they have been in the past. These smear tactics proved very useful to the Government because they relieved it of the task of smearing the Labour Party; it was able to leave that to the Democratic Labour Party. The whole method behind the smear tactics was to create a distrust of the Labour Party in the minds of the public.
The truth of the matter is that the Government, which over the years has claimed that it has received the support of the Australian electorate by reason of the fact that it has remained in office, has received enormous assistance from this splinter group. To put it bluntly, the Government has had some one else to do the dirty work for it. There is no doubt that in its attempt to become a political force in Australia, the Democratic Labour Party has been a willing collaborator in this campaign of hate.
It is rather a pity that the responsible Opposition in this Parliament has to raise these matters, but we do so because we feel that the Government is not doing the right thing in using public funds to finance its election campaigns throughout Australia. And that is in effect what the Government is doing by granting Senator Cole all these privileges. In this way, the Government is permitting the Australian Democratic
Labour Party to be kept alive, its purpose being to gain some benefit from that party at the next general elections. In my opinion, the privileges now being accorded Senator Cole represent part of the pay-off to the Australian Democratic Labour Party, a pay-off which is being made in the interests in the survival of the Government. I repeat that it is a pity that the Government parties did not use their own election funds instead of the taxpayers’ money for this purpose. If the conservative parties on the Government side wish to retain control of the treasury bench, they would be far better advised to spend the taxpayers’ money in ways calculated to promote the development of the economy than to make a pay-off to a splinter group for the support that group gives to them at election time. I suppose one reason why the Government is supporting the Australian Democratic Labour Party is that big business has lost faith in both the Government and the Australian Democratic Labour Party since the last general elections. Perhaps that is one of the reasons why the Government continues to accord these privileges to Senator Cole despite the fact that his former follower in the Senate, Senator McManus, is no longer a member of this chamber.
I now come to the question whether the Australian Democratic Labour Party has threatened to withdraw its support from the Government. Although there has been no official information within the Australian Labour Party to this effect, it is suggested from time to time in the press that there are likely to be talks between the Australian Democratic Labour Party and the Australian Labour Party. Is the Government afraid that this might happen? Is the Government afraid that if it does not accord these privileges to Senator Cole, if it does not provide for him the means of maintaining the organizing strength of the Australian Democratic Labour Party in the hope that it will retain the support of that party at the elections these talks will take place?
Although it is claimed that the Australian Democratic Labour Party is a party of some political force throughout Australia, T point out that it has proved itself incapable of having any of its members elected to any Parliament in Australia other than this one, and here it has a representative only because the Senate is elected under the system of proportional representation. A candidate for the Senate does not require to obtain the vote of the majority of the electors; all he needs to do is obtain the quota fixed by the Commonwealth Electoral Act. When it comes to the popular vote then, of course, the Australian Democratic Labour Party is of some use to the Government through the exercise of the second preferences of that party. At the last general elections, the Australian Democratic Labour Party’s second preferences totalled just on 500,000, and the great majority of them flowed back to the Government. For that reason alone, the Government is anxious to keep the Australian Democratic Labour Party alive. Because it sees the writing on the wall, the Government does all it can to enable Senator Cole to travel round Australia at the least possible expense to himself. I agree with Senator Spooner that Senator Cole would not be able to meet this cost out of his personal parliamentary salary and allowances, and it is a fact that Senator Cole is being accorded the privileges of leadership in order to keep his party alive for the benefit of the Government. There can be no denying that if the Australian Democratic Labour Party is not kept alive the Government cannot survive.
– Where is this least possible expense you are talking about? Answer that.
– I repeat that Senator Cole is being given the privileges of leadership in order that he may be able to travel all over Australia keeping the Australian Democratic Labour Party alive in the interests of the conservative parties that make up this Government. It is true that the Australian Democratic Labour Party could be a danger to the Government in the Senate, but in actual fact it is not, for Senator Cole has already said that he will support the Government. Certainly I have not seen any contradiction of the press statement to the effect that the Government is assured of Senator Cole’s support. In the Australian Parliament, the Australian Democratic Labour Party is no great force at all, but, in the view of the Government, it can be of very great assistance to the Government at election time, and for that reason it is possible that as time goes on many more privileges may be extended to Senator Cole and his party provided they are in a position to keep the Government in office. This Government is using public funds to buy the support of the Australian Democratic Labour Party, and by using the taxpayers’ money in this way, it is acting in a dishonest manner. Without using the adjectives used by Senator McKenna, I say this is a dishonest way in which to spend the money contributed by the taxpayers of the Commonwealth.
It is possible that in the next decade or two we could have four, five or even six minority parties in this chamber. Having established this precedent to-day, the Government faces the possibility of extending to several other political parties the privileges it is now extending to the representative of only one minority party. It is conceivable that in the future there could be a large percentage of members of the Senate enjoying the privileges of leadership. I repeat that the Australian Democratic Labour Party is now being kept alive by this Government because of the support that party gives the Government at election time. It is in the interests of the Government to extend this treatment to Senator Cole for, upon the support of his party depends the survival of the Government.
I point out here that from 1st July, 1959, to 21st August, 1962, the Australian Democratic Labour Party supported the Government in 51 divisions. On thirteen occasions, although its representatives were marked as present in the Parliament - they got on the payroll, as we say - they failed to exercise a vote. Either they did not come into the chamber or they went out of the chamber when the division was about to be held. That is the kind of support for which the Government is using public funds to extend to Senator Cole the party leadership privileges which he receives. I have no hesitation in supporting the motion proposed by Senator McKenna.
– It is a pity that Senator Cant has been unable to see any reason whatever for extending to Senator Cole the privileges accorded the leader of an Australia-wide party, other than an attempt dishonestly, as he says, to buy support. I think it is wrong, as I shall endeavour to show, to believe that there are not other valid, democratic reasons for extending to a party of a certain kind, and to the leader of that party, the same kind of assistance which is extended by any government to the Leader and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, and the leader and deputy leader of any other minor party.
– Did you give it to the Country Party?
– That was done when it was in Opposition, of course.
– Does the Country Party get the assistance now? It is a minority party.
– When the Australian Country Party was a minority party in Opposition, the then Labour Government extended to its leaders, for good, valid and democratic reasons, the same rights and privileges - indeed, greater rights and privileges - to enable them to carry on their duties outside the Parliament as leaders of a parliamentary party.
I should like at this stage to clear the ground a little and to point out what this debate is not about. I say that, not so much because of the points that have emerged in the course of the debate, but because of what has been written in various places before the debate started, writings which seem to indicate that an enormous number of privileges is being extended to Senator Cole. We should clearly understand that this is not a debate on whether Senator Cole, as the recognized leader of a parliamentary party, should be paid an additional salary, as are the Leader of the Opposition and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives and in the Senate. That is not done, so that matter is not in question. This is not a debate on whether Senator Cole should be paid an additional allowance for carrying on in this Parliament the duties of the leader of a party, as such allowances are paid to the Leader and Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives and in the Senate. That matter also is not in question. No such allowance is paid. This is not a debate about whether a special travelling allowance, as is paid to the Leader of the Opposition and the Deputy Leader of the
Opposition in the House of Representatives, should be paid to Senator Cole, as the leader of a parliamentary party.
This is a debate purely and simply on the question of whether Senator Cole, as the parliamentary representative of an Australia-wide party, should have the privilege of secretarial assistance and the use of Commonwealth motor cars in the capital cities of Australia. Those are the sole privileges which are extended to Senator Cole, and they are the privileges to which the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) has objected. I am not sure of the exact grounds on which the honorable senator based his objections. He put forward a number of grounds. He attempted to show that previously there had been some conflict of opinion in relation to this matter because the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) had said, as he was quite right in saying, that so far as the House of Representatives is concerned, the recognition of the leader of a parliamentary party in the Senate is a matter for the President and the Senate itself, and not for the House of Representatives; while on another occasion - or the same occasion, for all I know - the Prime Minister, or somebody else, had said that an Australiawide party without a following of the numbers which Senator Cole’s party has, should be given these privileges. The honorable senator suggested that there is some conflict of opinion between those two statements. There is not. It is a matter for this Senate to decide, as it has on at least two previous occasions, whether a man should be recognized as the leader of a parliamentary party, and for the President of the Senate so to recognize him. Surely, in forming that opinion, both the President and the Senate would have regard to the width and spread of the support for the man concerned, and the number of voters in Australia whom he represented in this place. Those matters are clearly not in contra-distinction at all.
I think that the real reason for the objection came towards the end of Senator McKenna’s speech and was carried on by Senator Cant. The real reason is that the party which Senator Cole represents in this place, on the whole and in the main prefers the defence policy and the foreign policy of this Government to that of the Opposition.
As a democratic party, it has a right to do so, if it believes that by doing so it is serving Australia.
There are very real and definite reasons, Sir, why these limited privileges should be extended. As Senator McKenna himself has admitted, this is a party which, throughout Australia, attracts rather less than half a million votes. This means that approximately one out of every ten voters in Australia casts his ballot for that party. It means, further, that one out of every five or five and a half voters in Australia who oppose the Government casts his ballot for the party. It is a party which is spread throughout Australia, with branches and executives and all the paraphernalia and appurtenances of a proper political party. Some 2,500,000 people voted for the official Opposition at the last general election. As a result, there are four people in these Houses of Parliament who have the status of leaders, and many more privileges, of course, than Senator Cole has. They are the Leader and Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives and the Leader and Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate.
Because they sit in Parliament as representatives of a parliamentary party and as the leaders of that parliamentary party, they receive certain pay and allowances. But when they go away from this place to carry on the work that they are required to perform for their organization outside the Parliament, those four people have secretarial assistance - they have such assistance all the time - amounting in all to the services of fourteen members of a secretarial staff. Two of them have completely unrestricted use of Commonwealth cars. Indeed, I understand that the Leader of the Opposition has three Commonwealth cars in Victoria - I do not object to that - and that in the case of the party leaders in the Senate, one has about the same use of a Commonwealth car as Senator Cole has, and the other slightly less. Because they must attend branch meetings and executive meetings of their party’s organizations, because they must support candidates at federal elections and at State elections and because they are required in other ways, by virtue of their position in this Parliament, to help their party in its activities outside the Parliament, four people are provided with secretarial assistance numbering fourteen persons, and with the use of Commonwealth cars. That is as it should be. I believe that the Labour Party would extend to us similar privileges if we were in Opposition. If those facilities are extended to a party that represents about 2,500,000 voters -
– A majority.
– No, a minority.
– No, a majority.
Hendrickson claims that a majority of electors voted for the Labour Party last year. The figures show that 2,217,000 electors voted for the Liberal and Country Parties, 2,534,000 for the Labour Party and 472,000 for the Australian Democratic Labour Party. The vote for the Labour Party was therefore a minority of the whole.
– Do you not count the whole? Let the figures show whether less than half is a minority. If the four leaders of the Labour Party are provided with a secretarial staff of fourteen and the unrestricted use of Commonwealth cars because the party represents about 2,500,000 persons, surely it is reasonable to provide two secretaries and restricted use of Commonwealth cars for the leader of a party that represents about 500,000 electors.
Whether the Democratic Labour Party is a party of significance is a matter of opinion, but I venture to suggest that a party attracting 10 per cent, of the national vote, and a much higher percentage in certain places, is a party of significance. It would be a bad day if the Parliamentary representative of that party was restricted by government action and not allowed to perform his task of persuading more people to vote for his party. The fact that the party has only one representative in this Parliament is, I submit, beside the point. We are talking about work done outside the Parliament by a parliamentary representative, just as work is done outside this Parliament by the four parliamentary leaders of the Labour Party. If our action causes people to sneer and to accuse us of endeavouring to buy something, we cannot do anything about it. It would be a bad day if a government did not help a party of significance in the same way, though to a much lesser extent, as it helps an official Opposition. I cannot help but think that the real gravamen of this charge is purely and simply a dislike, not of the person concerned, but of his party. I cannot help but think that the Opposition would like to obviate any possibility of this party’s growing. That is not a democratic attitude to adopt, and that it has been adopted augurs ill for minority parties if the Opposition ever becomes the government. For those reasons I oppose the motion.
– Anything that I say is without prejudice to possible future claims by the Australian independent party. We all must recognize that anything may happen. I feel compelled publicly to state my views on this subject. We are indebted to Senator Gorton for the way in which he put the Government’s case. This debate is a debate of bitterness, hatred and jealousy. One can understand the Opposition’s feelings about the Australian Democratic Labour Party, because that party has helped to keep the Opposition on this side of the chamber for quite a while. To the Opposition I pose one question: If it were on the Government benches would it not have done exactly as the Government has done in this case? I do not think it matters whether the Government’s action smacks of political chicanery. After all, Senator Cole represents a party that has organizations in every State. The party may have limited support, but at times it probably gets more people to its branch meetings than does the party to which I once belonged. We used to consider ourselves lucky if six people turned up at branch meetings.
Somebody has to travel the countryside on Democratic Labour Party business. Senator Cole must have some assistance in his work as leader of his party. You cannot represent a party in this Parliament without some help. Without help you would not be able to prepare your speeches. It is difficult enough for an independent to sit in this Senate and not receive any assistance, but it would be too much to expect the representative of a party to get by without assistance.
– How do you get on for help?
– It does not matter what I say. Nobody cares much about me, but when you speak for a party you must have assistance. For those reasons I oppose the motion submitted by Senator McKenna.
– The motion before the Senate is based on certain important principles related to the Parliament. Those principles are not often discussed, but the Parliament is the better for their being discussed now. If I understood Senator McKenna correctly, he said that because Senator Cole - the emphasis is on the word “ because “ - is the sole representative in the Parliament of his political party, he should not be recognized by the Government as a party leader and should not receive the privileges normally granted to leaders of political parties. I think the emphasis is on the size of the parliamentary representation of the Australian Democratic Labour Party. Because the party is represented only by Senator Cole, the Opposition claims that the Government should not recognize him as a party leader and should not bestow any special privileges upon him. The gravamen of Senator McKenna’s argument was that to recognize Senator Cole as a party leader was unconscionable and unprincipled. Those were the expressions used by Senator McKenna.
With great respect to Senator McKenna, I submit that this motion involves one issue only. There has been a good deal of discussion of extraneous issues. This matter involves a consideration of what is a parliamentary party - that and nothing more. That is at the basis of the matter. We have to decide what is a parliamentary party. If Senator Cole’s present situation constitutes the existence of a parliamentary party Senator McKenna’s argument falls to the ground. If Senator Cole’s existence as sole representative of the Democratic Labour Party in this Parliament means that there is a parliamentary party we are right in recognizing him as a leader.
There has been a little confusion about what a parliamentary party is. I think a parliamentary party is only the parliamentary wing of a political party. It is not a separate political entity. The function of a parliamentary party is to represent the views of the political party. If it were a separate political entity, of course, Senator McKenna would be perfectly correct. I suggest, with respect, that we cannot divorce the political wing from the parliamentary party. It is all one body. The political wing, not being in any way distinct, is represented in the Parliament by the parliamentary party. This is- an argument about the parliamentary party of the Democratic Labour Party. Senator McKenna has admitted that a political party known as the Democratic Labour Party exists. His objection is that there should not be in the Commonwealth Parliament at the moment a parliamentary party known as the Democratic Labour Party. I suggest that that involves consideration of this question: What is the criterion of existence and recognition of a parliamentary party?
– Look at the Richardson report.
– I shall not accept the Richardson report as an authority on this matter. We are the masters in this situation. I suggest,, with respect, that the size of a parliamentary party is not the criterion of whether or not it is a parliamentary party. I do not think that size has anything to do with its existence or recognition of it. We start with that fundamental proposition. If we are to argue that the size of a parliamentary party is related to its recognition and to the emoluments of its leader, then as our party is the largest parliamentary party here our leader should have greater emoluments than the leader of the Labour Party or the leader of the Country Party. Would that be in the best interests of a democratic Parliament? I suggest that the criterion of whether a parliamentary party should be recognized is whether there is in the Parliament any representative of a political party, the existence of which is admitted, to present the views of the party in the Parliament. If a parliamentary party exists it follows, of course, that it must be recognized. If there is in this Parliament any representative of the Democratic Labour Party, putting its case, I suggest that that automatically forces .,us to recognize the existence of the parliamentary party of the Democratic Labour Party.
Last night I heard some first-class speeches from Opposition senators, each of whom, I suggest, was representing the views of the political wing of the Australian Labour Party - an outside organization of the party. Some of them very properly said that they were very proud to be able to do it. They were not representing the political views of the parliamentary party of the Australian Labour Party. They were representing the views of the political elements of the Australian Labour Party, as they had a perfect right to do.
Would anybody deny that Senator Cole represents the Democratic Labour Party in this Parliament? If the size of a parliamentary party were the criterion of recognition of its existence, that would be a negation of democracy. A political party, irrespective of size, has the right to be recognized in this Parliament It will be a sorry day for Australia when any political party is denied an existence in this chamber, but that is what the Leader of the Opposition is trying to achieve. That suggestion of denial is what I resent most in the Opposition’s argument. I suggest that Senator Cole has a perfect right to represent his party here, lt follows that his party is entitled to have a leader, to do the things outside and inside the Parliament which every leader is entitled to do. In denying to Senator Cole the right to be leader of a parliamentary party Senator McKenna is seeking to destroy the existence of that party in this House. That is the gravamen of my argument against the Opposition.
– Did you say “ denying “ him the right to be here?
– Denying his party the right of existence in this Parliament, because he happens to be a minority of one. That is the Opposition’s argument, and it is a negation of everything that is democratic in our institutions. If this is the socialist attitude towards parliamentary democracy, thank goodness the socialists are not in power. It is a most regrettable thing that anybody should suggest here that the size of a parliamentary party is the criterion of its existence. The people of Great Britain have fought for 500 years for recognition of the very principle that, irrespective of the size of his party, a person has the right to represent its views. The argument can be resolved into that proposition. It is extraordinary that Senator McKenna, of all people, should argue that size delineates recognition in Parliament.
I cannot see anything in the Opposition’s argument. One must assume that there are other reasons for the raising of this matter. Of course, it is an attempt to discredit a political party by some pretty unfair means. For that reason, I very strongly oppose the motion.
– If nobody else wishes to speak, I may as well do so. So far as I can see, this matter has been brought forward by a few jaundiced individuals, mainly with the objective of destroying the Democratic Labour Party.
– I raise a point of order. I take exception to honorable senators being described as jaundiced. I submit that it is an unparliamentary expression.
– Order! I remind the Senate that this afternoon the Chair has allowed various speakers considerable latitude in the words that have been used. I do not think that the word that Senator Cole has just used contravenes Standing Orders.
– Thank you, Sir. Senator Cant made a speech this afternoon that had nothing to do with the subject being debated. It was mainly about the Australian Democratic Labour Party and the Liberal Party. He said that the Democratic Labour Party was not part of the Australian Labour Party. It is not part of the Australian Labour Party because of the Communist influence within that party. Senator Cant should know that because in this chamber he said, “ I would much sooner vote for the Communist Party than for the D.L.P. “. In those circumstances you can understand why the Democratic Labour Party is well and truly separated from the Australian Labour Party.
The Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) said that ‘the privileges which 1 enjoy crept up, as it were, on honorable senators and that nobody was told anything about them. Maybe that is so, These privileges were accepted as a right, but I remind honorable senators that the Nicholas report disclosed that the same thing happened in regard to the Australian Labour Party. That report disclosed that certain privileges and parliamentary allowances were made to the Leaders of the Oppositions and the Deputy Leaders of the Oppositions. One interesting fact was disclosed about the deputy leader of a party. He was not granted any travelling allowance at one stage but by making representations to the government of the day - this came out in the Richardson report - the deputy leader was granted a travelling allowance of £4 a day.
– Are you referring to the deputy leader of the party or the deputy leader in the Senate?
– The deputy leader of the party in the House of Representatives. The report disclosed that he made representations to the Government and was granted an allowance of £4 a day, the same as he received when he was in Canberra. The Government did .not disclose this fact, and it was brought to light only when the Richardson report was published.
A great deal has been said about cars. Being the leader of my party I have to spend a great deal of my own salary in order to maintain that position. I do not get any privileges at all. The Labour Party is worrying about the use of Commonwealth cars, but it should consider the money that is spent by its own members in the use and misuse of government cars. If it were to do so it might help the Budget of this country. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr, Calwell) has three cars in Melbourne and two drivers are set aside for his convenience. I do not know why he needs them, but he does run round a lot. He also uses them to enable private senators and members to travel about Victoria.
– One must be a guided missile!
– Guided is right, and the taxpayers pay for it. I have never used a government car in my own electorate, Tasmania, during the last seven years. The only time I use a government car is when I need to travel on electoral business in another State. The cost to the Government of the cars I use is not very great.
Let us consider the privileges that members of the Labour Party get. No wonder they can afford to travel from place to placet The Leader of the Party gets £12 12s. a day for incidental expenses every time he leaves Melbourne. I think the public should know that. The Deputy Leader of the party gets £10 10s. a day all the time he is away from bis home town. I have to do more work than they do because I have to cover the six States. Last year I was out of my own State on electoral business for 120 days. I paid all my own expenses. I do not get £12 12s. or £10 10s. a day. I pay my expenses out of my own pocket. Senator McKenna said that it is unconscionable that the taxpayers should pay for the privileges that I get, but I pay my expenses out of my own pocket.
Mention was made of my secretarial staff. This is just a matter of decency, and the Government has been decent about this. I have the job of answering letters dealing with problems from six States. It would be bad enough to have to deal with matters affecting one State. In its wisdom and generosity the Government has allowed me secretarial assistance.
– Does your private secretary run a newspaper too?
– No, he does not. He has resigned from that.
– This week.
– You would not understand. It is a pity you did not do something for yourself. It is only because my secretaries work long hours that I am able to keep up with my work. Before the last election I had a little more help. I had Senator McManus and his secretary to assist me. Since the last election I have another 83,000 voters to look after and I have lost the help of Senator McManus and his secretary. I have all that extra work to do, yet members of the Labour Party have the hide to say that public money is being wasted. My party is doing its job at very little cost.
What about the Australian Labour Party? It has 90 members to run around and get votes for it and 114 secretaries to do the electoral work, and yet members of the Opposition are squealing because I have three secretaries. Do not tell me that their secretaries are not there for the benefit of their electorates. People will laugh at them if they say they are not. Ninety members and 114 secretaries! It is no wonder that the A.L.P. keeps a little ahead of the D.L.P., but it is not very far ahead.
Senator McKenna said that it is unconscionable that this money should be spent. He does not live in the State that he represents. Both he and Senator Aylett live outside Tasmania. That means that the remaining eight senators representing Tasmania should receive more money, because we have more work to do for the State. If we are talking about conscience, I believe that it is unconscionable for Senator McKenna to receive the salary that he receives as a representative of Tasmania when he does not live in that State. I do not receive any extra salary. I would accept a few extra pounds for the job that I do.
Another anomaly is that out of my salary I pay all the expenses that I incur when I am away from my State. In addition, I am not allowed to claim as income tax deductions the expenses that I incur in doing my job. We receive electoral allowances to enable us to carry out our duties to our electors. My electorate is Tasmania, but in the last twelve months I spent about 120 days out of that State on electoral business. AH the expenses that I incurred on that business are not allowed as income tax deductions. So it is clear that the privileges that I am receiving are not very great. In fact, I am losing quite considerably.
But that does not matter. We have a job to do. That job is not to keep the Liberal Party in power. At present the Government is receiving our support. A Minister has told the Senate why that is the position. We could not trust the Australian Labour Party under its present set-up. There are many good people on the Opposition side of the chamber, but as soon as the Communist Party coughs they start to sneeze. We cannot trust them. That is why they do not receive our support. If they clean themselves up and clean up their policies a little, they may get our support.
– Our policies were good enough for you for a long time.
– Most members of the Opposition are not bad. Some of them, such as Senator Tangney, are very good and quite anti-Communist; but she is too much of a yes-woman politically. Senator McKenna accused me of having more staff than he has. I have more work to do for Australia and my electors. Mr. Menzies did not complain when Dr. Evatt, as the Leader of the Australian Labour Party, had two more secretaries than he had. The Government did not say anything about that. It paid the salaries of the extra secretaries quite willingly. So the Opposition should not complain now.
I know that I am in the Senate on my own. Napoleon once said that he always had a greater respect for a general without an army than for an army without a general. The consideration that has been given to me by the Government has never been requested by me. No correspondence, no spoken word or anything like that has passed between me and any member of the Government on this question. As we heard from Senator Cant this afternoon, some newspapers have reported this as a pay-off. That is stupidity. I have been in this place for a long time and nobody can say that I am able to be bought by a trip overseas or anything else. Senator Cant implied that I was going overseas so that the Government would have an extra vote. The vote on the Budget is important.
– The Labour Party cannot even get all its members to vote.
– We need have no fear of the Government’s being defeated by the Opposition, because Opposition senators do not show up when the whips are cracking. If we ever tried to force a double dissolution it would be funny to see them getting out the back door. The vote on the Budget will be taken before I leave Australia, and my vote will be against the Government. The Government will not buy me. I do not think it would ever try to do that. The suggestion that this trip overseas is a sop in return for my support is a deliberate lie. The people who make such a suggestion know that they are telling a deliberate lie.
All legislation that comes before this Parliament will be dealt with and voted on by me on its merits. No one need have any fear that my support for legislation will be bought by anything, because it will not be. I will deal with legislation on its merits. Only one consideration arises when it comes to deciding whether or not the Government should be defeated. I say to myself, “ What is the alternative? “ I look at the Opposition and start to have a few qualms of conscience when I think of what the alternative to the present Government could be. Under the present set-up it could be disastrous for Australia.
Mr. President, I have explained to the Senate the great privileges that I receive as Leader of the Democratic Labour Party! It is an important party in this country. The Liberal Party in England, which some people regard as an important party in that political sphere, receives about 5i per cent, of the popular vote. As the Senate has been told to-day, our party receives almost 10 per cent, of the popular vote. If we had representation according to voting strength our party would have six senators and twelve members of the House of Representatives. Ours is a party of some substance.
I do not want to hurt my friends in the Australian Country Party, but I should like to give some comparative figures in the Australian political sphere. We of the Democratic Labour Party have to compare ourselves with the Country Party. We are on this side of the chamber, and the members of the Country Party are on the other side as a minority party. In the Victorian election in 1961 the Country Party polled 102,000 votes, or 7.13 per cent, of the total vote. The party won nine seats in that State. In the same election the Democratic Labour Party polled 242,797 votes, or 15.96 per cent, of the total vote. In the 1961 federal election the Country Party polled 111,637 votes, or 7.54 per cent, of the total vote. In the same election the Democratic Labour Party polled 225,510 votes, or 15.1 per cent, of the total vote.
I make that comparison to show that we are a party that means something in the political arena of Australia. I know that there are various reasons why the Country Party has not polled more heavily. It did not contest as many seats as the Democratic Labour Party; but it had the opportunity to do so. That has been said about various parties that could be formed in this Parliament. We stand for this point of view: We are a federal party representing all the States of this Commonwealth. You other people merely think of forming a party that represents perhaps only one State. We say that such a party is not a party in a federal sense. This is a federal parliament. If our party represented only one of the States in this Parliament, we would say: “There is no need to recognize us as a federal party. We are not.” The Lang Labour Party, some say, was not recognized in the lower House for the simple reason that it belonged to one State, and one State only. But we of the Democratic Labour Party come within a different category. We are a federal party, a democratic labour party representing all States, and we have quite a substantial effect upon the composition of governments in all those States. We will continue to improve.
– You will need to improve.
– We will improve.
– That is wishful thinking.
– I do not think it is wishful thinking because at every election we have improved. I think we will continue to do so. It is only by a little bit of bad luck that I am here alone to-day. I am here only for an interim period. Previously I had an interim period of six months before our number was increased. I am looking after that interim period of three years now, and then we will increase our numbers again.
– in reply - Mr. President, the debate has been interesting and even quicker than I expected. One of my anticipations was realized when I indicated that I expected the usual digressions to obscure the issue. We had them in plenty. Before I embark upon my reply, I want to refer to the opening remarks of the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Senator Spooner). It transpired that he was in a testy mood to-day. I think that appeared at question time when he dealt with a question by Senator Tangney.
In the course of his opening remarks in this debate Senator Spooner named two senators on the Opposition side and accused them of behaving like larrikins in interjecting, as though interjections had never been made in this chamber before.
He overlooked the fact that he had interjected heavily in the course of my speech on this motion. I can truthfully say that if I cared to name certain persons on the Government side, I could allege the same type of interjection and conduct on thenpart as Senator Spooner complained about. Unusually for him, Senator Spooner was in an irascible mood to-day. I nearly put another interpretation on what I was going to say. However, that sentence conveys what I really mean to say. I suppose we had better forgive and forget.
I thought that at the end of his speech, after he had time to consider the matter over lunch, Senator Spooner in a way expressed regret and admitted that he was not perfect. That at least is one proposition to which I can agree. It is very rarely that I make an admission in favour of an opponent when I can avoid doing so, but I am prepared to concede that one.
Before the suspension of the sitting Senator Spooner opened up with the allegation that I had made a vindictive attack on the Australian Democratic Labour Party, a minority political party. I shall leave judgment on that to those honorable senators who listened to my speech. I thought my remarks were completely objective. I believe the only substantial reference I made to the Democratic Labour Party was that it could not be blamed for accepting the manna from heaven it received from this Government.
– There was not much manna about it.
– That is the one comment I made that had any real impact on the D.L.P., so I discard Senator Spooner’s comment on that aspect. Then he claimed that we did not want to give Senator Cole an opportunity to put his case. How could the whole of the Opposition deny the opportunity available to any honorable senator to put his case? Senator Vincent went very close to that proposition, too. I had to ask him to particularize what he meant in saying that we were seeking to deny Senator Cole’s party the right to be heard in this place.
– Its existence as a parliamentary party. That was my point.
– It is obvious that that line of argument is futile for the simple reason that Senator Cole has a perfect opportunity in any debate to rise in his place and to put his viewpoint in this chamber, the same as any other honorable senator has.
– I was not talking about Senator Cole personally. I was talking about his party.
– The question of whom Senator Cole represents has been raised and some figures have been quoted. My recollection - I am open to correction on this because I have not verified the figures - is that Senator Cole and his party, when before the electors on the second last occasion, polled some 26,000 votes or thereabouts.
– In Tasmania.
– That is so. That is where Senator Cole was elected. On the last occasion the vote fell to some 8,800 from 26,000-
– Yes, but the answer to that is behind me.
– One must be awfully careful in looking at political results outside this Parliament. They vary from election to election. In the course of my address I gave examples to show the viewpoint of the Constitutional Review Committee.
There were other irrelevancies in Senator Spooner’s speech. He developed the theme that Senator Cole was the parliamentary leader of the Democratic Labour Party. 1 asked him, “ Whom does Senator Cole lead in the Parliament? “ I asked that question specifically of Senator Spooner when I was on my feet. There is no answer. I asked also what would be the cost of the facilities that were provided. One would have thought that, after notice of this motion, he would have had the information on that point available for the Senate, but he said: “ No, put the question on notice. We will find out for you.” I ask him now: If the test is to be outside political support of a recognized political party, does not the Communist Party qualify exactly for that?
– Does not the newly formed Liberal Forum party qualify?
– Senator Gorton says, “ No “. That is one of the defects and weaknesses in the Government’s attitude. The Government relies upon the principle of substantial political support. The questions that arise there are: What do you call substantial political support? Is it just what the Government thinks from time to time? Is it 500,000 votes? Is it 250,000 votes? Is it 100,000 votes? Has there to be a State-wide distribution, or has there to be an Australia-wide distribution?
Let me complete my theme on this point: I am pointing out how vague, how lacking in any principle, is the Government’s approach to this matter. If you rely upon a broad proposition like that of substantial political support, you must define what does constitute the kind of support that attracts benefits. Unless the Government is prepared to state its basic requirement in this respect, then it is not relying upon principle at all; it is relying entirely upon expediency. The Government, with all its knowledge in these matters, is not prepared to be particular because, iti truth, it has no principle. We believe that the principle now enunciated - substantial political support - must stand alongside, the others ‘that were put - presidential acknowledgment, and support from the Senate itself. There is no mention of those on this occasion. We believe that they both stand.
Before lunch, Senator Spooner spoke about proportional representation, and said that minorities had to be .given a voice. Who in the Parliament is. attempting to deny Senator Cole his voice in the Parliament? Certainly not. the Opposition! Then, after lunch, in a more genial mood as the honorable senator was, and as I have testified, he again dealt with matters completely irrelevant to the motion. For instance, he spoke at great length about proportional representation, about the force of the Australian Democratic Labour Party, and about sending Dr. Turnbull to Coventry for having voted in favour of the Government on one occasion. He spoke of many other matters of the greatest irrelevance to the matter we are debating. He talked about trips abroad and representation on select committees, the House
Committee, and the Library Committee, and so on. He undertook the old task of diversion.
Having no answer, he adopted the tactics of creating new issues and of engaging in crude evasion to cover up. He completely avoided the issue that had been put. He did concede that one point was arguable. That was the point that as there was only one representative, he should not be given the facilities referred to. Senator Spooner did get down to the issue there, and I point out to him again that we must look at the electoral support of the individuals who come in, I remind the Senate again, too, that at the last Senate elections the vote for the Democratic Labour Party in Tasmania, which Senator Cole represents, fell from 26,000 on the previous occasion to some 8,000 only on this occasion.
– It will be 800 the next time.
– I make no prophecy about that. Throughout the rest of the time, we heard a great deal about such irrelevant matters as Mr. Calwell’s staff, his cars, his travelling allowances, and our deputy leader’s travelling allowances, all of which have nothing to do with the issue as to whether one representative of a party in the Parliament can possibly be regarded as a leader. Certainly he could be regarded as - and he is - a representative of the party to whose platform ‘he- subscribes - the Democratic Labour Party - and undoubtedly he will endeavour to put that party’s views at all times. But how do you constitute him a parliamentary party? How do you go further and take the step of making him the leader of that party? The whole thing is quite obviously farcical and lacking in principle. There has not been one argument addressed from the Government side on the principles involved in this matter. I raised several of them and, as I say, they have not been met; they have not been answered. Instead, a fog of irrelevancies has been raised on the Government side in an attempt to obscure the real issue. So I re-affirm the case I put on behalf of the Opposition, supported by my colleagues, and trust that the Senate will see the force and parliamentary sense of the motion that is before us.
Question, put -
That the motion (vide page 409) be agreed to.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin.)
Majority . . 9
Question so resolved in the negative.
Debate resumed from 22nd August (vide page 386), on motion by Senator Paltridge.
That the bill be now read a second time.
– The Opposition does not oppose this measure. Its purpose was explained fully yesterday by the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge), who represents the Treasurer in this chamber. The net effect of the measure is that Qantas Empire Airways Limited, which has a Boeing 707 aircraft on lease at the moment, now wishes to purchase the aircraft. Terms have been arranged over a four-year period. Although the Commonwealth is entering into the loan agreement as a principal party, it is really doing so for purposes of guaranteeing the payments that will be due by Qantas. The payments which the Commonwealth undertakes to make to the Chase Manhattan Bank are to be recovered from Qantas, so that Commonwealth revenue will not be affected at all. The money will go into the Loan Fund and be paid over to Qantas. As the Commonwealth meets the commitment, Qantas will reimburse the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth Government is in the picture merely as a guarantor. The amount involved- 4,600,000 dollars, £2,100,000 Australian - is not great.
I think the Minister knows that agreements of this kind rather fascinate me. When I look at this agreement I am a little more fascinated than usual. We have a new concept in the drafting of such agreements, in that there is evidence of speed and rush. Proper consideration has not been given to the matter. There are many small points that I have noted, and to save time at the committee stage I shall mention some of them now. I do not know whether honorable senators have addressed their minds to the schedule to the bill, but for the first time, I find the Commonwealth of Australia referred to without the “ the “. The schedule begins -
Loan Agreement dated August 6, 1962, between Commonwealth ‘of Australia (“ the Commonwealth”) and the Chase Manhattan Bank (“ Chase “).
The “ the “ has been dropped from the Commonwealth and tacked on to the bank. This is the Commonwealth of Australia. The abruptness of the short terms used in the agreement is really amazing. The document refers to amounts of money in United States dollars instead of referring graciously, as one might expect, to amounts “hereinafter called dollars”. The bare word “ dollars “ is jammed in. This is a graceless type of performance.
It is rather intriguing to see, in clause 2 of the agreement, the expression “ Chase’s check “, in referring to a negotiable cheque. That comes as somewhat of a shock. Frankly, I do not like the speed and the jerkiness with which this document has been drafted. Why do not our representatives see that such documents are put into proper shape from a drafting viewpoint? These are little points, but when the dignity of our nation is involved I think we ought to be very particular. The clause of the agreement that really shocks me is clause 5. It states -
The Commonwealth represents and warrants that there has been no material adverse change in the financial, economic or political conditions of the Commonwealth - 1 ask honorable senators to note the words “ financial, economic or political conditions of the Commonwealth “ - from the conditions set forth in the Prospectus dated June 19, 1962 relating to the Commonwealth’s Twenty Year 5i% Bonds Due July 1, 1982.
Through the courtesy of the Minister, I was supplied with a copy of the prospectus, because I wanted to see it. It is a most bulky document. It sets out statistics in relation to Australia.
There is something the matter with our representatives when they allow indignity to be inflicted on our nation by undertaking, for the sake of a loan of £2,100,000 from an American bank, that there has been no change since 19th June in our social, financial and political conditions. Have they no sense of our nationhood and of our dignity that, for the sake of borrowing from some bank in America a paltry £2,100,000, they undertake to disclose, in the most extensive form, a complete record of Australia’s history? The prospectus is quite as large as the Qantas annual report. I suppose that if the Treasurer complied exactly with the conditions, he would advise tl.e bank that he had brought in a disastrous budget since 19th June, 1962.
Why should we do that? Why cannot we borrow money in a case such as this - a piffling, paltry sum, relatively speaking - on the signature of the Commonwealth? Why does not somebody who is responsible for this kind of thing take a stand? I do not like it. In fact, as an Australian I resent seeing that kind of condition in an agreement for such an amount. If we were borrowing 500,000,000 dollars, perhaps that would be in order. Surely the matter could have been covered by a direct deal between Qantas and the Chase Manhattan Bank, with a brief written guarantee from the Commonwealth. The transaction is merely a business deal on the part of Qantas, requiring the Commonwealth to guarantee repayment. Why not introduce a simple bill for the purpose of proffering the guarantee, and nothing more? Why have we to throw all our financial, economic and political conditions into the ring? 1 think we are lacking in dignity when we subscribe Australia’s name to an agreement such as this. I do not want to oppose the bill. The position is that interest at the rate of 54- per cent, will amount to a good deal less than the rental that Qantas is paying for the lease of the aircraft. The transaction to purchase must be completed by 15th September if a new leasing period is not to be entered. The aircraft will be a permanent addition to the equipment of Qantas, that very competent body, and we do not object to the transaction at all.
– in reply - I express the pleasure of the Government at the attitude to the bill taken by the Opposition. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) has directed his remarks, in the main, to the form of the papers which support the transaction. I confess to shuddering slightly myself when I saw the word cheque spelt “ check “ in the agreement, but I remind myself that this loan was negotiated in America. It is not unexpected that the commercial forms and, if you like, the commercial language of the lending country should be adopted. The Leader of the Opposition has also referred to the bulkiness of the prospectus issued in connexion with the loan. One must bear in mind these days that loans raised in New York and other centres of finance by foreign governments are not in any way unusual and the United States Securities and Exchange Commission, like most stock exchanges and similar bodies throughout the world, lays down as rules certain conditions that must be complied with in respect of dealings on American stock exchanges. That is why the prospectus takes this form. I suggest to Senator McKenna that although the prospectus may be bulky, it probably serves the limited but useful purpose of bringing to the attention of those people in the United States who may see it some very interesting and valuable information about Australia.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 22nd August (vide page 402), 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 paymentsto or for the States- be printed.
Upon which 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 “.
.- In rising to support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna), I should like first to congratulate those honorable senators who have made their maiden speeches during this sessional period. Those speeches have set a very high standard - a standard that I trust will be maintained in this Senate for a long time to come. I am sure that the contributions made by the newcomers to this Senate will lift the standard of debate in this place.
During the maiden speeches yesterday I was impressed by the lack of interjecting. It was novel to sit in this chamber and listen to a speech being made without bearing interjections. I wish that state of affairs could prevail during all of our debates. I know that traditionally an honorable senator making a maiden speech is heard in silence. When Senator Henty began his speech last night interjections once more became the order of the day, and the standard of the debate deteriorated.
I do not want to particularize in respect of yesterday’s maiden speeches, but I was very impressed by Senator Cohen’s remarks about national development. For a newcomer to this place Senator Cohen contributed something worthwhile. Although I congratulate all honorable senators who made maiden speeches, I feel that the best speeches were those made by honorable senators on this side of the chamber.
I sat in this chamber on 7th August last and heard Senator Paltridge deliver the version of the Budget speech prepared for presentation to the Senate. I have since had an opportunity to study that speech. I have also read press comments about the Budget. Publication of the taxpayers’ journal was delayed pending delivery of the Budget, but I understand that the editors of that journal now wonder whether they should have bothered to delay publication. The “Sydney Morning Herald”, the Melbourne “ Sun News-Pictorial “, the Hobart “ Mercury “ and other leading newspapers, most of which cannot be regarded as supporting Labour, have condemned the Budget. Since the Budget was presented I have interviewed a great many persons, and I think it would be safe to say that the only people who have expressed confidence in the Budget have been Government supporters. The Budget does nothing to inspire confidence among the people, particularly people in receipt of social service payments and repatriation benefits, and persons on fixed incomes, such as those living on superannuation.
The editorial in the Hobart “ Mercury “ of 8th August last, under the heading, “ Nothing Budget “, reads -
The insipid document which the Treasurer (Mr. Holt) read to Parliament last night inevitably classifies itself as a nothing Budget. The public reaction will be one of the deepest possible disappointment, but there will be no genuine surprise. The nation did not expect anything but stodginess and conservatism.
When platitude and pious hope are subtracted from the Budget it contains precisely nothing. It is the emptiest and least imaginative fiscal document which has even takenup the time of Parliament. There are no tax deductions or concessions of any kind; there is no increase in any social service.
That sums up, in a very few words, what we on this side of the Senate think of the
Budget. The editorial states that the Budget is not inspiring, and continues -
I shall come back to that later, as I develop my speech -
The missing element is public confidence. It is still badly shaken by the bungling policy of the Treasury in bringing the economy to a violent stop, and Mr. Holt has provided nothing to inspire any renewal of confidence.
The near-emergency measures taken to increase State public works have absorbed some unemployed, but the absence from the Budget of anything to stimulate the private sector shows that the country’s problems are not understood. Mr. Holt pointed to the great increase in savings bank deposits, the liquidity of the banks, and the large funds at the disposal of the hire purchase companies as something encouraging. In fact, they are the opposite; they show lack of confidence.
There is considerably more to the editorial which I do not propose to read at this juncture. I shall go on to speak of some of the matters which are dealt with in it.
First, I should like to touch upon the field of social services. Although it has been claimed by Government supporters that there has been an increase in social service payments I, along with other Opposition senators, completely refute that argument. Certainly there has been an increase of some few million pounds in the overall payments, but there has been no increase whatsoever in payments to individuals, and that is what counts with pensioners and persons drawing other types of benefit. It is only to be expected that there would be an increase in the total amount being paid in social service benefits by reason of the increase in our population, the greater number of people drawing age pensions, and the increase in the number of young people in respect of whom child endowment is paid. We all know perfectly well that life expectancy has increased considerably over the past few years. Quite naturally, that has resulted in an increase in the number of persons drawing social service benefits.
The whole field of social service benefits is being completely ignored, irrespective of the needs of most of the people who draw benefits. To obviate the possibility that I may be taken up on the use of the words, “ needs of most of the people “, let me explain what I mean by them. Many people who draw child endowment are not in need of it. Many families have only one child and are quite well off financially. There is no occasion for them to bc granted child endowment, but they qualify under the social services legislation and quite rightly they draw their entitlement.
Prior to the last federal election the Australian Labour Party proposed a firm policy of increased child endowment. That policy has been reiterated, during the Budget debate, both in this chamber and in another place. The Labour Party stands for increased child endowment and pensions, because we believe that such increases give a stimulus to the economy, as pensioners and low-bracket income-earners spend their money on the necessaries of life. It is quite evident to anybody who makes a survey of the situation in our cities and large towns that many young people require more food and better clothing than they can now afford.
Some of the worst sufferers are age and invalid pensioners, particularly those who live alone. In almost every instance they have to pay rent for a room, flat, house, or some other accommodation. We all know that rents in cities are very, very high. One is particularly fortunate if he can obtain a flat anywhere in Tasmania - the position is perhaps worse in other States - for £4 a week. In the main, rents range from £6 to £9 a week. A pensioner has no hope whatsoever of renting a flat for that amount. The flats that they do rent are of a very low standard, because of their low income. I realize that under the social services legislation they may earn money to supplement their pensions, but many pensioners are unable, because of age, infirmity, or the shortage of suitable work, to supplement their pensions in any way at all.
The article in the “ Mercury “ which I read a few minutes ago made mention of superannuation. Before the present parliamentary sittings resumed a number of pensioners in receipt of small superannuation payments came to see me. One case which impressed me greatly was that of the widow of a man who for 44i years had made compulsory contributions to a superannuation scheme. This widow is receiving the sum of £3 4s. 9d. per week. Admittedly she receives also a small pension which gives her an income somewhat in excess of that of ordinary pensioners who do not qualify for superannuation payments. However, although she may get slightly in excess of the normal pension rate she is deprived of the benefit of the pensioner medical scheme. She cannot obtain the benefits of that scheme because she is receiving this small amount of superannuation each week.
This unfortunate woman is almost blind and has to receive specialist treatment. Naturally, that adds to her expenses, but she does not qualify for any benefits under the scheme. She is finding it extremely difficult to meet medical, dental and chemists’ expenses. I think that the Government should do something to help people who are receiving small superannuation payments.
Another problem in the social service field is that of the deserted wife. We all know that before a deserted wife can qualify for a widow’s pension she must have been deserted for a period of six months. What is her position during this six months before she can qualify for Commonwealth social service benefits? In Tasmania she is taken care of by the State which pays her a social service benefit. The payment she receives during that period is considerably less than the payment she receives from the Department of Social Services after the qualifying period of six months.
There is another side to this matter as well. Tasmania, being a claimant State, is penalized by the Commonwealth Grants Commission for contributing to the upkeep of such women and their families. Most of these women have families. There is provision in the act for deserted wives, invalid and age pensioners to earn something in addition, but I point out that many of these women have large families. They may have four, five or six children, some attending school and others below school age. What hope has a mother of going out to work when she has children to send to school and other younger children at home to look after?
I wish now to refer to inmates of mental hospitals. I have spoken previously on this subject and I will continue to speak on it until such time as these people receive some justice under the Social Services Act.
Many people are confined to mental hospitals for a short period and during that time their pension is suspended.
– The Government even takes lOd. a day maintenance from the State.
– That is true. However, a very bad feature associated with the suspension of the pensions of these people is that when they are discharged from a mental hospital they have to wait for a fortnight or three weeks before they can obtain any payments from the Department of Social Services. In Tasmania we have the Lachlan Park Mental Hospital and adjacent to it is the Millbrook Rise institution where patients are sent for what is called corrective treatment. A patient in Millbrook Rise does retain his pension because he is permitted to go in and out of the institution. Patients in Lachlan Park are not permitted to go out unless accompanied by some person who takes responsibility for their welfare whilst they are absent.
The percentage of patients who recover from mental illness is quite high. It has been stated in this chamber and elsewhere that the recovery rate of mental patients is approximately 80 per cent, of the number who enter the hospitals. In view of the high percentage of those who recover I think that something should be done to assist these people immediately they come out of the institution. Preferably their pension, or part of it at least, should be paid whilst they are in the institution.
The mothers of Australia were very disappointed at not receiving an increase in the maternity allowance. An increase in this benefit would, I believe, tend to induce the mothers of this nation to increase their families. I think this is a means by which the Australian population could be increased. Although we have an immigration policy, the best immigrants we can get are those born in Australia. An increase in the maternity allowance would be some encouragement to mothers to have larger families.
Going to the other end of the scale, I express my disappointment, as I have done in respect of previous Budgets, that the funeral benefit has not been increased. This Government has not granted an increase in funeral benefit since it came into office in 1949, and no increase was granted by anti-Labour governments in the ‘thirties and early ‘forties.
– There are no votes to be gained by increasing it.
– That is very true. All through, this Budget bristles with the inability and failure of the Government to grapple with vital bread-and-butter issues. That is borne out by the fact that pensioners have approached almost every member of the Parliament, irrespective of party, seeking their assistance to have pensions increased. Protest meetings have been held and we saw a demonstration in Parliament House prior to the Budget’s being presented requesting increases in pensions.
The whole fiscal policy of this Government has been nothing but a stop-go policy. There have been at least three or four recessions since this Government took over the treasury bench in 1949. When we have not had a recession we have had inflation. The Government has done nothing to inspire in any section of the community confidence in its fiscal policy. Australia, as a nation, has gone ahead, as it must. The number of factories built has increased, but employment in some of those factories has decreased. Some of them closed down after hundreds of thousands of pounds had been spent to put them in operation. That has been caused mainly by this Government’s fiscal policy.
The Government realizes that that is the position. It is not prepared to put its popularity to the test in the Batman by-election. It knows that its popularity as a political party is at a very low ebb. It knows that, as a result of introducing this do-nothing Budget, it would be annihilated if it faced the electors of Batman. Some Government spokesmen have claimed that Batman is a blue-ribbon Labour seat.
– It would be more appropriate to call it a red-ribbon Labour seat, would it not?
– If Senator Marriott wants to make a speech later I will give him an opportunity to do so in his own way. I promise that I will not interject. I would appreciate receiving the same courtesy from him, if he understands the meaning of the word “ courtesy “. I am afraid that he does not.
– You just do not know.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Anderson). - Order! The honorable senator is entitled to be heard in silence.
– Put him out.
– I do not want him put out because he affords me some amusement at times. It is good to have a bit of amusement. The Government is afraid to face the electors of Batman. Government spokesmen have claimed that it is a blueribbon Labour seat. On the last occasion on which the seat of Batman was contested the Labour candidate won it by about 4,000 votes. A swing of only 2,000 votes is needed to change it from a Labour seat to a Liberal seat. If we of the Labour Party needed a swing of only 2,000 votes to win a seat, we would go after that seat thinking that we had a reasonable chance of winning it. I am confident that if we contested an election for a seat in which there had previously been a Liberal majority of 4,000 votes we would win that election.
Speaking of elections, we must remember that in the 1961 election the Labour Party polled about 300,000 votes more than the Government parties polled. The Government cannot feel complacent about its position. We all know that had it not been for the preferences that were channelled to the Government parties from the Democratic Labour Party and the Communist Party the Government parties would not have been returned to office. Whether the Government would have a majority or there would be a deadlocked House rested on the result in one seat in Queensland. A few Communist votes - admittedly, it was only a small parcel, but they were Communist votes - saved that seat for the Government.
Supporters of the Government should be very careful about making accusations that we of the Labour Party are alined with the Communist Party. There is no alinement at all between the Communist Party and the Australian Labour Party. Let me make my own position very clear. I have never had, and am never likely to have, any association with the Communist Party, because I do not believe in its philosophy. I am a Christian, and consequently I cannot believe in anything that is not Christian.
I wish to deal now with the housing situation, which is very acute throughout the length and breadth of Australia, and particularly in Tasmania. Senator Buttfield, in her contribution to this debate, referred to this very vexed question. She does not approve of the South Australian Housing Trust building homes at the current rate. She said that private enterprise would do a much better, quicker and cheaper job. I do not know the housing situation in South Australia well enough to join issue with her, but I know the situation in Tasmania, and I say definitely that no private enterprise undertaking there can compete against the State Housing Department in building homes quickly and at a reasonable price. Unfortunately there is still a considerable backlog of applicants for homes in Tasmania. The Commonwealth Government’s policy is to build 82,000 to 85,000 homes a year, but, like many other facets of government policy, this is not sufficient to keep pace with requirements. Recently Professor Sir Douglas Copland expressed the opinion that by 1970 Australia would need at least 107,000 new homes a year. No sane person would claim that Sir Douglas Copland does not know his subject, and by no stretch of the imagination could he be termed a great Labour supporter. Undoubtedly he has based that opinion on the statistics available to him over a period, and has taken into account the increase in population to be expected from births and immigration.
Availability of finance is one of the worst problems confronting the private home builder to-day. This is very evident in war service homes. Too many returned servicemen have not yet had their applications for war service homes satisfied. The waiting period for finance for war service homes is considerable. I shall take the liberty of reading a couple of extracts from a letter dated 8th August, 1962, which I received from the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Spooner) following representations that I made to him for assistance in obtaining finance for a war service home for a family in Hobart. 1 shall refer to the applicant not by name, but simply as Mr. X. The letter reads:
I have made inquiries concerning the application of Mr. X. As indicated in your letter, his application was lodged in September, 1961 and he has been advised that finance will be made available in approximately May, 1963.
I note that Mr. X is having difficulty in meeting his payments on the temporary finance he elected to raise pending the Division’s loan being made available in May, 1963.
– Is it a new home?
– No, it is an existing home.
– That is the reason.
– I will return to the matter of new homes later. I realize that applicants seeking finance for new homes do not have to wait as long as applicants seeking finance for existing homes. In the application to which I referred the War Service Homes Division has approved the existing home for purchase by Mr. X. Senator Spooner’s letter continues -
Of course, I would like to help him, but owing to the heavy demand for war service homes finance by applicants who lodged their applications earlier than Mr. X, this does not seem to be practicable.
Two features arise from this situation. One is the time lag and the other is the necessity for applicants to raise finance by way of a second mortgage until the War Service Homes Division can and will make the money available. Honorable senators are aware that second mortgages now carry a rate of interest from 15 to 18 per cent., which is a heavy burden to impose on prospective home-owners.
I shall now inform honorable senators of an application by a young man to the Agricultural Bank for assistance in building a new home. The bank has not yet approved the application, but his name was put on the waiting list at the end of January or early in February last. From inquiries made at the bank, I found that 450 applicants for home finance were ahead of him. It will be a long time before his application is satisfied.
– Is not that a State Labour Government instrumentality? It has nothing to do with the Commonwealth.
– It is the Agricultural Bank. I am now talking of finance available to persons who want to purchase or build a new home - whether they apply to a Commonwealth department, a State department or some other lending institution. It is apparent that finance is not available as and when these people require it. The young >man I have mentioned will certainly receive no financial assistance from the bank this financial year. Indeed, I am told that no finance will be available to him for the erection of his home before the end of the financial year 1963-64. There is ample evidence that finance is not available within a few months to homebuilders and people who want to purchase a home. I have already intimated that the waiting period is at least eighteen months.
Coming to the point that Senator Kendall raised by way of interjection, I agree that in the main an applicant can, within a period of approximately six months, obtain finance from the War Service Homes Division to build a new home. I have had brought to my notice two or three of those cases recently, and they have been dealt with satisfactorily. If money could be made available for the purchase of existing homes with only the same time-lag as that which applies to the purchase of a new home there would be many more satisfied people in this community.
– Is the honorable senator quite sure of that interest charge of from 15 to 18 per cent.?
– It does apply to second mortgages. Admittedly, it depends on the finance company, bank or institution which makes the money available, but it does apply to second mortgages. It does not apply to first mortgages. I do not wish to go into details about this matter, because I do not like to put anybody in. I would prefer not to be pressed, but I have got evidence of the charges made.
I come now to unemployment and the broken promises of this Government. I am very concerned about the unemployment situation at the present time. I concede that there has been some improvement over the last month or two, but I shall prove to honorable senators that unemployment has existed in Australia for a considerable time. I refer the Senate to a news release by the Department of Labour and National Service on 16th February, 1959, which contains a review by the Minister for Labour and National
Service (Mr. McMahon) of the unemployment situation as at the end of January, 1959. That release discloses that at the end of January, 1959, there were 81,901 persons registered for employment as compared with 74,765 at the end of January, 1958. I ask honorable senators to keep that figure in mind. It is well known that as time went on the situation became progressively worse until it reached the stage where approximately 130,000 persons were registered for employment. While those figures show the number of people registered for employment, they do not give a true indication of the number of people who are unemployed. Many unemployed persons do not register for unemployment benefit. They do not register for a job because they feel that they can find a job by themselves, and quite often they can. According to a news release issued on 19th February, 1962, there were 131,496 people registered for employment at the end of January, 1962. So that from approximately 74,000 at the end of January, 1958, the number of people registered for employment jumped to 131,000 odd by the end of January, 1962. Since then there has been some drop in the unemployment figure. In March, 1962, there were 112,250 people registered. There was a further drop to 101,093 by the end of April, 1962. This fall has continued, and to-day the figure stands at 93,000. For four and a half years this Government has been telling us that it supports a policy of full employment, and yet in all that time it has done nothing to correct the situation which existed. And the Government is doing nothing concrete to absorb the present pool of unemployed.
In a few months’ time, 180,000-odd school leavers will be added to the labour market. When we add them to the already high number of unemployed, we can see that we shall have a very ugly situation indeed. The Government argues that in January and February of each year the unemployment figures are inflated considerably because of the number of school leavers. That may be so, but one fact that the Government has not mentioned is that Tasmania is the only State where a school leaver qualifies immediately upon leaving school for unemployment benefit. As honorable senators know, a person must attain the age of sixteen years before becoming eligible for unemployment benefit, and the school leaving age is sixteen years in Tasmania. I will leave it at that, Mr. Acting Deputy President, and say that the Government is not doing anything to correct the unemployment situation. With the extension of mechanization and automation each year, the employment position becomes more difficult. Mechanization and automation are making job opportunities fewer for young folk leaving school.
Last night, in this chamber, Senator Henty said that the average weekly earnings in Australia were slightly in excess of £22 a week. If we multiply £22 by the number of persons now unemployed, we find that almost £2,000,000 a week is being lost in wages, and this loss of £2,000,000 in wages must also entail some loss of revenue to the Commonwealth. If we multiply that sum by the number of weeks in the year, we get an amount of £104,000,000. That is the extent of the loss of wages throughout the Commonwealth.
I note that I have taken practically the whole of the time which it is normal for honorable senators to take on days when the proceedings are not being broadcast, but there is another matter to which I want to refer. It is a fact that the purchasing power of the £1 has decreased considerably under the present Government, compared with the position when Labour was in office prior to 1949. As a consequence, there have been many protests. If the Government is not prepared to take action to inject a little more confidence into the community, it will face annihilation at the next general election. We of the Australian Labour Party hope that when we regain office at the next election we will be able to put into operation a policy which is more acceptable to the people and which will bring more revenue to the country than the policy which is at present being pursued by the Menzies Government.
– Mr. Acting Deputy President, I wish to say to Senator Poke, through you, that 1 was a little surprised at the honorable senator’s attitude to interjections. I know that consistent interjection is bad, but sometimes an interjection can help a speaker.
In my view, interjections should be made only in an attempt to clarify a point that a speaker is making. However, in future, when Senator Poke is speaking and I am to follow him in the debate, I shall try not to interject. Senator Poke’s speech may be summarized by saying that Labour has not been in office since 1949, that it is dying to get back into office, but cannot see a chance of doing so, and that therefore honorable senators opposite are quite free to rise in the Senate chamber and say, “ Do not do what we did; do what we say that you should do “.
The Opposition says that we should do this and do that, knowing that it has no responsibility for the views that it expresses and that it will remain iri the political wilderness for a long time to come. I have noticed in this Budget debate, as in the last nine Budget debates, a trend which has not only surprised but also disappointed me. It is for the main attack by members of the Opposition - not all, but some of them - to be made on the three subjects of unemployment, repatriation benefits and social service benefits. There is not one member of the Senate who does not hate to think that there is in the community some one who can work and who is willing to work but cannot obtain an occupation and a wage. We all want to see full employment for those who want to work and are able to work.
It is dastardly to accuse a political party of having a policy deliberately to keep people out of work. That is the accusation we hear year after year. There is not one member of the Australian Labour Party or one economist in Australia who can point to any aspect of our policy which deliberately places people out of work. What is more, there is not a person in Australia who can prove that it is the bounden duty of the Commonwealth Government, sitting in Canberra, to employ every one in this country. The job of the Commonwealth Government is so to run the economy of this nation, in the private sector and the governmental sector, that it will benefit the nation to the greatest degree. The Government, through uniform taxation, makes hand-outs to the States. I deplore uniform taxation, but we have it with us, and I do not think we will ever get rid of it. The task of the Government is to keep the economy on an even keel so that employment can be provided for those who want to work.
It is unfair and unrealistic, as well as naive, politically speaking, for any one to get up in the Senate and say that it is the fault of the Government that there are 125,393 unemployed, as though the Cabinet were to blame because it had taken action to ensure that so many thousands of people would be out of work. I have dealings with unemployed people. I have addressed them in my office in Hobart, and I can say that they are the last ones to blame the Government. They realize that the Government cannot employ every one.
Most sections of the so-called capitalist press have indulged in criticism of the Government. When there is an increase of employment in the government sector, we are criticized. That supports my contention that it is unfair and unrealistic to say in this chamber that the economic policy and actions of the Commonwealth Government are aimed at maintaining a pool of unemployed. Why cannot we be fair and realistic in politics? It would be equally wrong for me to say to honorable senators opposite, “ Look at you fellows with your unity tickets with the Communists “. I do not believe you participate in unity tickets, and therefore I do not make such a statement. It would be unfair for me to do so. I believe that you have a political ideology and that you follow it faithfully. I, too, have a political philosophy and I try to be faithful to it. It annoys me to hear people, for political purposes, saying things that are not only untrue but also unfair.
I pass to another part of Senator Poke’s speech. He referred to social services. It is very easy to rise in this chamber and say that the Government should increase pensions, or that it is not being fair to those who are in receipt of social service benefits. An examination of the facts in relation to social service benefits shows that this National Parliament must consider what properly should be done for pensioners, without politics entering into its consideration, in the economic circumstances of the time. As a member of the Senate, I have studied our social service legislation and also that of other countries. I believe that this Government has a particularly proud record of achievement in regard to social service legislation. No country can increase benefits year after year. If age and invalid pensions were increased by 10s. a week the cost to revenue would be more than £19,000,000 a year. If child endowment were increased by 5s. a week - any government that increased child endowment by less than 5s. a week would, rightly, be laughed out of office - the cost to revenue would be about £40,000,000 a year. If age and invalid pensions were increased repatriation benefits also would have to be increased.
It is easy to sit in Opposition and try to win votes by saying that benefits of all descriptions should be increased. But We never hear constructive ideas from the £50,000,000 or £80,000,000 a year to pay for those increases? The Opposition never tells us where it would get that extra money. We never hear constructive ideas from the Opposition. It uses the less fortunate members of our community to further its own political ends, but those people are slowly getting sick of having the Opposition attempt to ride to power on their misfortunes.
It seems fashionable for the Opposition and the press these days to give names to budgets. There seems to be an annual competition to find the funniest name for the current budget. One section of the press has called this Budget a budget of stagnation. My understanding of the word “ stagnation “ is that it means to stand still. If anybody in this country can honestly say that under this Government’s policy Australia is standing still, I shall be very surprised. Let us look at the results that the Government has achieved since it came into office in 1949. The population has increased by 35 per cent. That is not a bad increase. The work force has increased by 30 per cent. The value of exports last year was £1,080,000,000. Is that stagnation? The value of mineral production in Australia reached a record of £245,000,000. Is that stagnation? The provision in this Budget for a deficit of £118,000,000 simply means that £118,000,000 will be injected into the economy to provide the expansion that we need. The Opposition criticizes the
Government for budgeting for a deficit because it does not understand the economic effect of a deficit budget.
The Budget provides £26,750,000 for developmental projects in the Northern Territory, and in Queensland and other States. My only regret is that the Budget does not provide anything out of that sum for projects in Tasmania, although I do not deny that Tasmania has had a pretty fair spin in recent years from this Government, The introduction of the “ Princess of Tasmania “, the “ Bass Trader “ and bulk wheat carriers to the Tasmanian service has greatly improved communications with the island. Freight charges have been reduced, which is something novel on the waterfront. Costs also have been reduced.
I am glad to see the Leader of the Government enter the chamber. I hope that he will sympathetically listen to my plea that in future, when contemplating developmental projects such as those foreshadowed in other States, for which I praise the Government, more money should be spent in Tasmania.
I should like to say a few words about Commonwealth offices in Hobart. At present they are spread all over the city. The Australian Broadcasting Commission pays a very high rental for unsatisfactory offices and studios scattered throughout Hobart. Some time ago, the Commonwealth bought buildings near the main city block and spent hundreds of pounds renovating those buildings. It is now suggested that they should be demolished to make way for a new block of Commonwealth offices. Two weeks ago, I inspected those buildings and came to the conclusion that the Commonwealth should move out of the centre of the city. It should buy cheaper land, sell the buildings that it now owns in the heart of the city, and use the money obtained to build new offices. Far too much is being spent on the present offices in Hobart, and far too much is being paid out in rents.
Senator Turnbull has said that this Budget gives nothing to the taxpayer. The honorable senator does not realize that as a result of action taken by the Government last February, taxpayers this year will pay £75,000,000 less than they paid last year. The Government’s action last
February has had an important effect during the current financial year. Has it not also had an effect on the economy? Does not that action affect the taxpayers’ pockets? Yet Senator Turnbull says that the Government has not done anything for the taxpayers. He has forgotten what the Government did last February.
Senator Poke this afternoon told us that he had conducted a survey of the opinions of a great many persons on this Budget. I wonder how wide that survey was.
Sitting suspended from 5.45 to S p.m.
– Before the sitting was suspended for dinner I was referring to the- comments made by Senator Poke, who said he had made a survey of public opinion in relation to the Budget. I have been in Sydney, Melbourne, Launceston and Hobart since the Budget was introduced and although in the early days after its introduction there was a bad reaction I have found in recent days an awakening of the Australian people to the fact that the Government had introduced a budget which maintained a policy that was good for Australia. Should the critics from the Labour Party ever become directors of companies - I do not know whether they might - the shareholders will be awfully annoyed with them if they change the policies of their companies very much from year to year. The Government is accused of introducing a stay-put budget, but this is because the Government’s economic policy has given to the Australian community a safe economic life. I believe that that is the answer to our Labour critics.
I want to refer now, Sir, to immigration. The universities of Australia, that is, the academic people of Australia, are showing a very great interest in the nation’s immigration policy. I was privileged to address the largest-ever lunch-hour meeting of Tasmanian university students on this aspect of policy a fortnight ago. Their attitude very plainly was that they wanted to see developed a policy which would make it easier for Asians to come to Australia. They termed this attitude their opposition to the white Australia policy. I believe in all sincerity that this Government does not have a white Australia policy. It has followed an immigration policy in respect of Asians which is of great value, first to the people of Australia and secondly to the Asian countries whose inhabitants want to come to live in Australia.
Our policy gives the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer) great power in deciding who shall come in and who shall not come in. I believe that the Ministers who have held this portfolio have shown a very reasonable and sensible attitude and have done much to overcome the bad reaction that was felt in Asian countries as a result of Labour’s administration of Asian immigration into Australia. I completely support the idea that there should be no quota. I think that a quota system would be bad for the Asian countries and the people concerned. But the Government should be for ever looking for means of making it easier for Asians to enter Australia.
I am particularly interested - because I think a matter of principle is involved - in Chinese, especially from Hong Kong and Formosa. Our policy at present allows Chinese youths to bc brought up in Australia. They are given permission by the Government to return to Hong Kong to marry and they are allowed back into Australia, which I do not oppose. Then they arc allowed to revisit Hong Kong, and in due course a family starts to arrive. But Australia will not permit the wife to enter Australia unless the husband has been here for fifteen years. I believe that that is absolutely wrong. It is against all the teachings that I have had, and the beliefs that 1 hold, to keep a married couple apart. If persons are allowed to go to their native land to marry we should allow their wives free entry into Australia, and not erect a barrier, as at present, of fifteen years’ residence by the husband in Australia, or create other difficulties which have to be overcome before the wives obtain permission to enter. I hope that the Government will look at this point of the immigration programme and bring about what I believe to be a decent, proper attitude, because I know of no better migrants than the Chinese.
We have been criticized by the Opposition. 1 understand that most of its members left by the 5.30 p.m. aircraft to go home. The few remaining in Canberra will realize that absenteeism cannot be very important, as we had thought it was going to be. The Opposition has criticized the Government’s attitude to the European Common Market and the proposal that the United Kingdom should join it. They do not give us credit, as they should do, for the very great extension of our trade with countries outside the European Common Market in what I like to call the “ McEwen period “. This Parliament, irrespective of political beliefs, should give the Department of Trade credit for expanding trade in countries outside the European Common Market. I believe that our Trade Commissioner Service is most successful. Our survey teams that have gone abroad have done good things for Australian trade. The trade ships have built up our trade in new markets that we never thought would be available to us. The suggestion that we should approach these markets was at first met with scorn from private enterprise, but private enterprise has at last awakened to the fact that, led by the Commonwealth and our trade commissioners, it can now increase its trade in new markets and so cushion the effect if - I emphasize the “ if” - the United Kingdom joins the Common Market. I said recently in a debate in this place that it is my belief that Great Britain will not join the Common Market in the foreseeable future.
The Government has been attacked by . the Opposition on its defence policy. When the present Government came into office in 1949 this country was defenceless. The Labour Party just did not have a clue as to how Australia should be defended. The present Government got busy and with the aid of its defence service advisers formulated a programme. Ever since, the Labour Party has said that the Government has clone nothing, and that it has spent £200,000,000 a year, yet has nothing to show for it. . Honorable senators opposite say so only because they want to believe it for purely political purposes. They will not examine the situation as it exists; they will not admit the facts of the case.
I heard one honorable senator yesterday say that the Government is not spending enough on defence, but the amount of £210,000,000 provided for defence this year represents a large part of the Budget. What the Labour Party will not admit is that the people know, in spite of this criticism, that the Government by negotiation and by its reputation, has built up friends in Nato, Anzus and other alliances. It is my sincere belief that Australia not only has a stronger defence force than it has ever had in peace time, under any government regardless of its political colour, but also is stronger and has better-linked friends than it has ever had before. Because of that we have the great opportunity to say to our children and to their children - I think it should be our ambition to do so - that Australia will live in peace in their time and in the time of those to come.
I am disappointed and sorry that the honorable senator about whom I am about to speak is not here to hear me. I have waited and hoped that he would be present because I do not like to attack a man personally. Those who have known me in the Senate during the last nine and a half years will recall that only once have I transgressed. That was when I made an allegation against ex-Senator Morrow. As soon as I found that my allegation was wrong I apologized.
J wish to comment on what Senator Turnbull said last night. He, a Tasmanian senator, spoke about a very renowned and honoured Tasmanian and Australian, and the report of his remarks is at page 367 of “ Hansard “. He had already, I think in very bad taste, referred to himself and the Treasurer saying prayers together. He said -
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? “
Senator Turnbull was referring to Sir Roland Wilson. He implied in his speech that Sir Roland Wilson, and not any one else, was bringing this country to ruin. First of all, it is obvious that Sir Roland has not brought this country to ruin. This country is prosperous, is expanding and is happy. Secondly, it is a complete and utter lie to say that one public servant dictates the economic policy of this country. The economic policy of Australia is gauged on the views of Treasury officials, the Board of the Commonwealth Banking Corporation, the Ministers and their advisers. It is mean, callous and a deliberate lie to say that one person controls the economic policy of Australia.
I happen to be a Tasmanian, and those who read “ Hansard “ will see that in answer to an interjection by me last night Senator Turnbull said -
The honorable senator has never been in a State Parliament.
I have not. I was appointed to this chamber, to my great satisfaction and honour, by the votes of the members of the Tasmanian Parliament, but for two years I was secretary to the Leader of the State Opposition. I was on the outside looking in, and sometimes the bloke on the outside sees more than does the fellow on the inside. It might be said, Mr. Deputy President, that 1 was biased, but I say that, in speaking in the debate on the Estimates and Budget Papers, Senator Turnbull had no right to attack Sir Roland Wilson in the way he did last night. I think Senator Turnbull will learn, but the point is that he was for so many years in the Tasmanian Parliament where there is no “ Hansard “. It is just a happy little chamber. The members meet afterwards and they are all friends and relatives. So he thinks that what he says cannot be gainsaid. If the press publishes what a member says in the State House, he can always retort, “ I was misreported “. Senator Turnbull is now in a Parliament with a “ Hansard “ which produces a truthful and faithful report.
Senator Turnbull is young in experience in this Parliament. I hold no brief for Sir Roland Wilson, although he is a Tasmanian and a high public servant. I hope sincerely that Senator Turnbull reads this statement and feels ashamed for what he has said. There are two reasons why he should. First, he is wrong in his criticism and, secondly, he is attacking a man who, under Public Service regulations, is not allowed to reply. I believe that for any parliamentarian to attack a public servant without proof - not only attack him but say he is a low-class type of clerk - is dastardly. I hope that Senator Turnbull will forget his experience in the Tasmanian Parliament and grow up to be a member of the National Parliament where I hope we all try to be decent, fair and true.
I understand that both the Leader of the Australian Democratic Labour Party (Senator Cole) and the independent senator will vote against the Budget. I cannot understand their attitude. They will go to the people saying that they are opposing this Budget because the Government has not. increased pensions, to which I referred before the suspension of the sitting, and because the Government has not given taxation concessions. I have read the results of conferences of the D.L.P. and various other organizations. I am amazed that people who are trying to have an impact on the national life and who, because of their position in this Parliament, have great power will not tell us the answers to our troubles. They will criticize the Government and vote against it in the hope that in three years’ time they will receive more votes because they voted against the Government. I say to them that my sincere belief is that they will be established in the public mind as being insincere and hypocritical, and therefore their voting against the Government, if they do so, will not be honoured by the electors.
– Mr. President, I move the following amendment -
At the end of Senator McKenna’s amendment add the following words: - “ and- but that ihe Government be requested to make provision therein for adequate funds to enable the standardization of the railway line between Broken Mill and Port Pirie to be carried out. in conjunction with the State of South Australia “.
I move this amendment in pursuance of a resolution which I am informed was passed unanimously to-day by the South Australian House of Assembly. That resolution was in these terms -
That South Australian senators be requested to consider moving in the Senate the following further amendment to the motion that the Budget Papers be printed: - “ but that the Government be requested to make provision therein for adequate funds to enable the standardization of the railway line between Broken Hill and Port Pirie to be carried out in conjunction with the State of South Australia.”
In my speech on the States Grants (Additional Assistance) Bill I referred to rail standardization. I went to considerable trouble to point out to the Senate at great length the serious position that is developing in South Australia as a result of the failure of the Commonwealth Government to grant what I described, and still describe, as a miserable £800,000 to enable work on the standardization of the Broken Hill to Port Pirie railway line to begin.
– Arc you suggesting now that the Commonwealth should provide all the funds for this project?
– I am not suggesting that at all. If Senator Vincent had listened to my amendment and my supplementary remarks he would have been able to arrive at the proper conclusion. The point I was developing when I was interrupted was that this is a critical matter for South Australia and that public opinion in that State has been aroused by the failure of this Government to commence rail standardization in South Australia immediately. Senator Vincent was one of the senators on the Government side who said that 1 had exaggerated the position, although I said no more than the Premier of South Australia has said from time to time over the last few weeks.
The terms of the resolution, which was carried unanimously in the South Australian House of Assembly to-day and which I have read to the Senate should indicate to the Government that it no longer has to rely on the word of a single senator or a group of senators on the Opposition side of this chamber. In South Australia there is complete unanimity of thought on this matter between the Government and the Opposition in the State Parliament. I submit that no government can afford to ignore the present situation.
– Mr. President, I rise to order. Senator Toohey has moved an amendment. Should not each senator be given a copy of that amendment?
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMuIlin). - Order! I suppose copies will be distributed to honorable senators later. There is no reason why Senator Toohey cannot continue his speech now.
– If Senator Mattner desires that a copy of the amendment be given to each senator, no doubt arrangements can be made for that to be done as soon as possible. However, the amendment that I submitted to you, Mr. President, and read, is couched in fairly simple terms. It represents no more than a re-statement of the facts that I placed before the Senate in my speech on the States Grants (Additional Assistance) Bill I do not think Senator Mattner needs to be reminded of the terms in which I expressed my thoughts on that occasion. Before the point of order was raised, Mr. President, I was reminding the Senate of the facts that I placed before it in that speech.
– Mr. President, I rise to order. I question the validity of the amendment moved by Senator Toohey. I have had an opportunity to glance very quickly at it and I question that it is in order in its present form.
– Order! What is wrong with Senator Toohey’s amendment, Senator Vincent?
– I suggest that it is an amendment involving money and that the Senate is not competent to pass such an amendment.
– This is an amendment to Senator McKenna’s amendment. It will be dealt with at the appropriate time. When the time comes for a vote to be taken, this amendment will be the first question to be submitted; then Senator McKenna’s amendment will be submitted; and then the final question will be submitted. In my opinion, the amendment is in order. I call Senator Toohey.
– I thank you, Mr. President. This is not an amendment to a money bill; it is a further amendment to the motion that the Estimates and Budget Papers be printed.
– It involves the expenditure of additional money.
– No amendment to a money bill can be moved. Of course, the Budget itself provides for the expenditure of money. Anyway, I do not want to canvass this matter, Mr. President, because you have upheld my amendment. I want to proceed to develop my argument.
– Yes, Senator Toohey, you may proceed. In my opinion your amendment is in order.
– Thank you, Sir. Before I was interrupted, I said that in my speech on the States Grants (Additional Assistance) Bill I outlined the situation that has developed in South Australia as a result of the failure of this Government to join the South Australian Government in doing the preparatory work on the standardization of the railway line between Port Pirie and Broken Hill. I emphasize in the strongest possible terms that if that work did not proceed in the immediate future that would have an extremely grave effect on the future development of South Australia and the industries for which that State is noted.
The Senate will remember that, in addition to my mentioning the position that has arisen because of the fears of Broken Hill Associated Smelters Pproprietary Limited, Senator Cavanagh developed that theme in his contribution to this debate last night. He pointed out what could happen to the town of Port Pirie if this standardization work did not proceed in the very near future. I submit that I was charged by the members of the Government - and Senator Vincent was one of them - with exaggerating the position. I suggest that South Australia is now confronted with an unprecedented situation in which both the State Government and the Labour Opposition are unanimous about the pressing nature of this problem. I go further and say that the resolution of which I informed the Senate earlier, was moved by the Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Frank Walsh, verbally supported by the Premier, Sir Thomas Playford, and carried unanimously in the South Australian Parliament.
In view of what happened in that State House to-day, it is impossible for the Government any longer to ignore the situation that has developed in our State. I shall be supremely surprised if any honorable senator on the Government side now suggests that I am exaggerating the position in South Australia. The degree of public disquiet and the concern felt in the State Parliament is exemplified by the resolution carried there to-day.
– Mr. President, I rise again to take a point of order in relation to this amendment. I question the validity of the amendment in pursuance of Standing Order 146, which says -
An amendment proposed shall be disposed of before another amendment to the original Question can be moved.
– Standing Order 148 is the relevant one.
– Standing Order 148 reads:
Amendments may be proposed to a proposed Amendment as if such proposed Amendment were an Original Question.
Senator Toohey may proceed.
– Thank you, Mr. President, I must at least commend Senator Vincent for his persistence.
– I have not finished yet.
– I have not, either. In fact, I have just begun. It is somewhat difficult, I must confess, to preserve the train of thought with these constant interruptions. This is an important matter, and 1 ask honorable senators on the Government side, unless they have some valid points of order to raise, to give me the opportunity to develop my argument.
Whilst rail standardization in South Australia may not be so important to senators from some of the eastern States, it is a matter of vital concern to South Australia. I am encouraged in the belief not only that honorable senators on this side will readily appreciate the importance of the situation, but indeed that senators on the Government side have in fact acknowledged its importance and, in view of the resolution carried in the South Australian Parliament to-day, will give a greater measure of support to the amendment that I move on this occasion than they gave to the amendment that I moved when speaking on the States Grants (Additional Assistance) Bill 1962.
My amendment is not extravagant. Rail standardization is of vital concern to South Australia. It has been said that this chamber could prove its worth as a States House, and my amendment, if agreed to, will give honorable senators the opportunity to prove that it is such a House. It gives the South Australian senators who sit on the Government side an opportunity to join forces with Labour senators in taking an initial step to assist a most urgent work and to preserve the interests of our State.
– Why should that be necessary when the South Australian Premier has announced that he will start the work on his own, anyway?
– I think I dealt with that proposition when I spoke on the States
Giants (Additional Assistance) Bill 1962. Also, 1 understand that sufficient thought was given to the matter to-day. But I will answer the question; 1 have answered it before. Anybody who understands the procedures and requirements of South Australia knows - the South Australian Premier knows it better than I - that any amount of money taken from the grants already allocated to South Australia and directed to expenditure on standardization of this railway gauge will, of necessity, have to be filched from some other urgent requirement in the field of education, hospitals, sewerage or any of the host of other public works that are so urgently needed in South Australia, as they are in other States. The South Australian Premier and the State Opposition are just as aware of the situation as 1 am. 1 think that Senator Buttfield, who h:is asked the question, readily understands that if Sir Thomas’ Playford proceeds to spend money on the initial work of standardization of the Broken Hill-Port Pirie line, it will be at the expense of some other urgently needed South Australian service.
We on this side of the chamber ask the Commonwealth, which has budgeted for a deficit of £118,000,000 in this financial year, to add perhaps another £1,000,000 to that estimated deficit. After all, what is £1,000,000 when a budget deficit of almost £120,000,000 is contemplated? What is another £1,000,000 if its expenditure will mean the preservation of the interests of one of the States of the Commonwealth, and as Senator Ridley so properly reminds me, the well-being of the industries that would be associated with construction of the line. Senator Cavanagh reminds me also that such action would merely honour an agreement between this Government and the South Australian Government.
When I spoke on this subject in the States Grants (Additional Assistance) Bill 1 pointed out with justification that in some measure South Australia had been rather shabbily treated by the Commonwealth in the matter of rail standardization. I then said that from the very beginning South Australia was the only signatory to the agreement that had met all the requirements of the Commonwealth. Other States had backed and filled. Some of them, in the initial negotiations, had refused to have anything to do with the agreement. Yet South Australia, the first State to sign the agreement, will, if the present circumstances continue, be the last State to enjoy the benefits of rail standardization.
The stage has been reached where this Government must have another think about rail standardization in South Australia. I do not want it to be suggested that the Government should act merely because my voice has raised this point and made this suggestion. Two voices cannot be ignored - that of the united South Australian Parliament and the perhaps more powerful voice, that of the South Australian people.
It may be considered that we have adopted a rather unusual method of bringing this subject before the Senate. I plead guilty to that, but I am sure that no honorable senator on the Government side, whether he be from South Australia or any other State, will hold it against me for having taken this step in an effort to preserve the interests of the State that I represent in this chamber. No doubt much more will be said about rail standardization before this debate is concluded and I can only express the hope that, not so much because of what I have said - although I have done my best in my own small way - but because of the dramatic events that have taken place in the State of South Australia, this Government will see fit, even at this late hour, to give South Australia, not an advantage over any other State, but at least an equal degree ot security for the industries that must be preserved there.
I do not want to restate the arguments that I adduced in connexion with this matter when I spoke on the States Grants (Additional Assistance) Bill, because 1 think that I put the case strongly enough on that occasion. The only difference between then and now is that the Government was a little bit reluctant at that time to accept the facts that I placed before it. The Government made two mistakes in connexion with this matter. First, it was in error in believing that there was not a high degree of unanimity of thought between the Government and the Opposition in the Parliament of South Australia. The second mistake it made - although it is perhaps not unpardonable - was in not making itself fully aware of the public feeling about this matter in South Australia. I have never made it a practice to praise the press; indeed, on some occasions, I have been somewhat stringent in my criticism of certain newspapers in Australia, but I am prepared to admit freely that the press of South Australia has at least played its part in alerting the Commonwealth’s conscience to the requirements of the Slate of South Australia in connexion with rail standardization.
I give the South Australian press full marks for the attitude it has adopted towards this matter, and I regret that some members of the Government were not prepared to heed the warnings so clearly given to them by the South Australian press. Had they paid attention to the South Australian press, they could have arrived at no other conclusion than that this question is a hot potato in South Australia. I do not think there will be any doubt in future as to where we stand in connexion with the matter. I shall be extremely surprised if any honorable senator on the Government side, especially any honorable senator from South Australia, will now be prepared to say in this chamber that he believes that the Commonwealth Government has adopted the right attitude towards rail standardization in South Australia. I think we have now passed that point, and reached the stage where we can safely assume that there is a distinct possibility of both sides of this chamber reaching some degree of unanimity of thought. There is a distinct possibility that honorable senators opposite will admit that we have reached a crisis, and that something has got to be done. I believe too, that the question whether the Senate is a party House or not will be resolved in the next month or so.
My only regret is that, because all honorable senators must be given the opportunity to make their contributions to this debate, some weeks must elapse before we can have a final vote on the proposition that I have placed before the Senate to-night. It could even be something like two months before our deliberations are concluded, and before we decide whether the Budget papers will be printed or whether one or both of the amendments which have been proposed should be carried.
In the meantime, I suggest that the Government might give some thought to short-circuiting consideration of the amendments. I suggest that it might call a conference, not just one between the Premier of South Australia and Commonwealth representatives, but a conference at which the Leader of the Opposition in the South Australian Parliament may take part. If such a conference were called, I feel confident that it would result in an arrangement that would be mutually satisfactory to both sides. I submit that suggestion for the attention of the Government during the weeks that must intervene before the final vote is taken on the proposition which I have placed before the Senate this evening.
In the contribution that I make to the Budget on this occasion I have adopted what is for me an unusual course in that I have directed most of my remarks to the question of rail standardization. Because I do that, it is not to be thought that I am unaware of the deficiencies in the Budget Papers. Nor is it to be thought that, because I have devoted the greater part of my time to emphasizing the importance of rail standardization to South Australia, I am satisfied with the present scale of social service benefits. I would not want it to be thought for one moment that I am happy about the fact that the Budget makes no provision for increasing age, invalid and widows’ pensions. Nor would I want it to be thought that I am happy about the fact that there is no provision for increasing child endowment. I am sure there is no need for me to take up half an hour discussing social services. I have outlined the main items about which I am not happy and which I think are deserving of some consideration.
Honorable senators on both sides of the chamber have emphasized the anomalies that exist in our social service structure. For instance, there can be no denying that there is an urgent need to review the provision relating to wives of invalid pensioners, wives who are too young to qualify for the age pension. I would deal with all these subjects if time permitted but, as I believe that the question of rail standardization is so important to South Australia, I deemed it proper to devote the major part of my speech on this occasion to that subject.
Let me refer briefly to some of the statements made by Senator Marriott, who preceded me in this debate. I have no wish to misquote him, but I understood him to say that the Australian Labour Party did not understand anything about deficit financing. That was a remarkable statement for him to make, especially when we remember what happened during the last federal election campaign. lt will be remembered that the then leader of the Australian Labour Party, Honorable Arthur Calwell, suggested that we could use well over £100,000,000 worth of deficit finance to extricate the country from the difficulties into which the ineptitude and mismanagement of the present Government had got it. It will be remembered very clearly, even by those who took a most elementary interest in the election, that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) said that such a suggestion was utterly stupid, that any government which engaged in deficit financing to the extent of over £100,000,000 would be committing an act of utter folly. The Government apparently has changed its mind very rapidly about the matter. Its members now have become experts on something that they said was completely impracticable less than six months ago. It would have been better for Senator. Marriott to have forgotten all about deficit financing as it applies to the Budget.
Similarly, it would have been better had Senator Marriott said nothing about the fact that this country was defenceless in 1949. He left himself open to the obvious retort that I am about to make. I remind him of the positon of this country in 1941, when the Government could not carry on and the Australian Labour Party had to do something about the nation’s defences The Liberal Government of the day just could not do the job. I was not in the Parliament at that time, but I know that the Labour Party was entrusted by the Australian people with the task of creating defences in this country. It is silly for any member of the Senate, whether he is on one side or the other, to say that the country was defenceless in 1949. At that time, we had just emerged from the paramount task of post-war reconstruction.
Defence needs were being considered by the Chifley Government, but it would be futile for anybody to think that the requirements of post-war reconstruction could have been met and impregnable defences built up at the same time. Senator Ridley reminds me that Senator Marriott obviously forgot Woomera, which to-day is regarded as the show-window of Australian defence activity. Woomera, of course, was the brainchild of the Chifley Government. There is no purpose in re-hashing these matters, Mr. Acting Deputy President. I refer to them only to refute the statements made by Senator Marriott. It is sufficient for mc to say that when we look at the defence records of particular political parlies in this country, the Australian Labour Party has no need to fear public examination of its policy and its actions.
As I said earlier, I have adopted a somewhat unusual approach to the Budget debate. I have done so because I, and my colleagues from South Australia, believe that urgent action is necessary to focus the attention of the Government on the problem that I have discussed. I hope that the action we have taken will stiffen the attitude of Government senators from South Australia and convince them that immediate action must be taken. If they join us on this side of the chamber in carrying on from the initial step that is proposed in the amendment I have read to the Senate, we shall perhaps take a most important step forward in preserving the interests of South Australia. The work on the standardization of the railway gauge between Broken Hill and Port Pirie may then be commenced as quickly as possible, in the interests of South Australia.
– Is the amendment seconded?
– I second the amendment and reserve my right to speak to it.
.- I commence my remarks on the Budget by congratulating all those new senators, both friend and foe, who made their maiden speeches yesterday. Although a sad duty prevented me from being present in the chamber when their speeches were delivered, I had the opportunity to hear most of them during the radio broadcast last evening. It is quite clear that, in all the new material on both sides of the chamber, the Senate has received a powerful accretion of strength.
I support the Budget and oppose the amendment and the amendment to the amendment moved by Senator Toohey. It is odd that Senator Toohey should require the Government, as I understand from the wording of the amendment, to provide all the money in order to build the railway line. At no stage of the race was this procedure adopted in the case of the Mount Isa railway, or even with the Albury-Melbourne standardization work.
– The amendment refers to sufficient money to commence the programme.
– No. It states, “ to enable the standardization . . . to be carried out “.
– In conjunction with the State.
– I take it that the proposition is £1 for £1.
– That could be negotiated.
– Apparently, the amendment is so vague and indefinite that the honorable senator does not know what he wishes to move. He hopes that the basis of the financial position will be made the subject of a later conference. The simple statement of that proposition, Mr. Acting Deputy President, provides its own refutation to this amendment to an amendment.
Before passing to other matters, let me say something regarding Senator Toohey’s comments about honorable senators in this chamber making irresponsible statements. I remind him that that is a course of which honorable senators on both sides of the chamber should be careful. He said that when the war-time Labour Government took office because the Liberal Government was not able to defend the country, Labour created defences. The implication is that at the time the Curtin Government came to power there were no defences in this country. What did John Curtin say when he took over the government of the country in 1941? At the moment I cannot quote his exact words, but they were to the effect that the Army was well trained and well supplied, the Navy had never functioned better, the Air Force, though small, was reasonably well equipped, and munitions production was at a peak. That was the comment of Labour’s war-time Prime Minister. He did not say that he had to create defence forces, nor did he say that he had to create new munitions machinery. He was quite happy with the defence setup, in both armed services and munitions supplies, that he had taken over. So, do not let us have any more of this silly nonsense about the Labour Party creating the machinery for our defence in time of war.
While supporting the Budget, I agree with the statement made in another place, that to budget for a deficit of £118,000,000 is, to say the least of it, adventurous. As a supporter of the private enterprise system, I should have thought that when you ran into a deficit of £118,000,000, it would be desirable not to use the entire amount of the deficit through public channels for the purpose of stimulating the economy. I should have thought that, had we budgeted for a deficit of, say, £90,000,000 through the public channels which the Treasurer has adopted, and given some spur to the private sector of the economy, a more rapid overall recovery would have resulted. For myself, I believe that the pay-roll tax is an incubus and that the sooner it goes, first in regard to government instrumentalities, municipal councils and the like, and secondly, in regard to all other organizations the better.
– But the States, by agreement, have committed themselves to continue it.
– I am not interested in that. I am dealing with the federal Budget.
– But you do not want to tear up everything.
– I am proposing to do a little suggesting off my own bat, without your help.
I proceed to the question of the selective reduction of sales tax. The imposition of sales tax on food of any kind strikes me as being wrong. There are many anomalies associated with the levying of sales tax on foodstuffs. Great hardship is inflicted on the man who has to rear a large family and pay sales tax on the food that he buys.
It cannot be denied that there has been a strong upsurge in employment during recent months. At present, between 2.1 per cent, and 2.25 per cent, of the work force is unemployed. In the opinion of the Government that figure is too high, but it is a much lower figure than the figure of 5 per cent, of unemployment which Labour regards as full employment. The Government is working hard to reduce still further the figure of 2.25 per cent.
The number of motor cars registered has increased sharply in recent months. The motor car, generally speaking, can no longer be regarded as a luxury, and the motor car industry is a most interesting barometer of the state of the nation’s economy. Motor car registrations in the last month or so indicate that we are returning to the halcyon days of 1960. Most retail stores report a sharp increase in turnover. That indicates that the housewife is recovering her confidence, and is able to make purchases which a few months ago she had to defer.
The Government has, in my view, adopted a strictly correct line on foreign affairs. It has followed the cardinal policy of alining Australia closely with her great ally, the United States of America, in both the South-East Asia Treaty Organization and the Anzus Pact. At a time when Communist aggression threatens to envelop what is left of free Asia, it is extremely important for the Government to have proper relations with the only country possessing the capability and the will to assist us in the unfortunate and terrible event of hostilities breaking out. Australia has quickly recognized her responsibilities to the free nations of Asia, and has sent token forces to Thailand and instructional troops to South Viet Nam. Those gestures have been welcomed by our American allies, and by the countries to which the troops have been sent.
An interesting sidelight on this matter was the way in which our local Communists view Australia’s position in this global struggle. About six weeks ago, a quantity of barbed wire was to be shipped from Melbourne and used to form a series of defensive villages in South Viet Nam. The wire had been asked for by the Government of South Viet Nam, and was being made available by the Australian Government purely for defensive purposes. Under the influence of Communist haranguing the waterside workers refused to load the barbed wire for South Viet Nam. They had been told by a Communist agitator that the wire was to be used to build concentration camps. That, of course, was arrant nonsense, it is pleasing to know with what speed the Government acted to ensure that the wire was shipped next day.
South Viet Nam is a country in which the colonizing French made vast advances and improvements in some sections, such as round the capital of Saigon, whilst other sections are almost complete jungle. The defensive village strategy has been developed by the American military advisers to President Ngo Dinh Diem, and the barbed wire provided by Australia was to assist in the implementation of that strategy. The Communist Viet Cong terrorists have made a practice of raiding isolated villages at night and murdering the head men and anybody else who has anything to do with the central government’s administration. By a campaign of terror, the Viet Cong forces are doing all in their power to subvert the established government. The Commonwealth Government is to be commended for the stand that it has taken in assisting to the best of its ability the South Vietnamese Government. 1 should like to refer now to the great temptation to trade with Communist countries. Last year, we were fortunate in being able to dispose of our entire wheat surplus, the final bulk of it going to Communist China, some of it for cash and some on credit. I make no secret of the fact that 1 have always opposed credit sales to red China. If such sales enable a regime to save face and to rivet itself more firmly on the unfortunate people under its control, those sales can do nothing but harm. I have no confidence that the starving peasants of mainland China will receive any of this wheat. We know that one shipment of our wheat bought by the red Chinese Government went to Albania without ever touching at China. We know that while the Chinese were buying our wheat they were giving 20,000 tons of rice to Cuba in accordance with their policy of maintaining the Communist world’s solidarity. Even if we think, at the lowest possible level, of selling to Communist China for cash only, it is the most dangerous of delusions to believe that any Western country could build trade on firm foundations with a Communist country. As the Soviet theoretician Levua has pointed out, trade is a political weapon. The two most obvious applications in the last few years of that theory were in respect of Burma and Japan. In the mid-1950’s, Burma made a deal with red China under which Burma would supply rice in return for part cash and part goods. The goods to be supplied were to consist predominantly of cement. The Burmese duly supplied the rice on credit, the Chinese failed to pay cash to the Burmese, the cement arrived - most of it had gone hard through exposure to sea water - and the Chinese sold the Burmese rice on the Ceylon market. As the Chinese got it for nothing they were very easily able to undercut the Burmese farmers. This very nearly wrecked the Burmese economy in 1954-55.
The position with regard to Japan was not exactly the same. There were in that country three semi-governmental bodies which were devoted to the setting-up of trade ties with red China. By 1958 they had arranged contracts valued at approximately £95,000,000. The number of firms involved was about 400, of which 370 were relatively small and unable to grant any extended credit, and the remaining 30 were very large. The red Chinese, seeing the extent to which the Japanese traders were now dependent upon their contracts, decided in May, 1958, that unless the Japanese threw out the anti-communist Kishi Government the trade contracts would be cancelled. The Japanese were sufficiently unenlightened - that is, from the Communists’ point of view - to go ahead and re-elect the Kishi Government with a large majority. Forthwith, Peking cancelled all the trade contracts. As a result, a large number of Japanese firms went bankrupt; -they were unable to meet their obligations. One that might be remembered in Australia was the Walz Optical Company, a large camera organization, which went into insolvency as a result of this decision by the red Chinese. Of course, there is a whole stack of examples of the attitude of the bully and the cajoler being adopted by the Chinese Government.
In the Senate a few years ago, we had the spectacle of the Australian Labour Party attacking the Government for its trade treaty with Japan, but it is undoubtedly true that very many Australians earn their livings and have a high standard of living to-day because Japan buys so very much of our primary products. We were asked by the Labour Party at the time why we did not look for other markets, why we did not try to get a trade treaty with China, a country of 600,000,000 people, as this would be simply marvellous. Last month China sent a consignment of shoes to the Victorian market, and the first person to hit the pages of the press in denouncing this form of ruining the Australian worker and an Australian industry was the Victorian Labour leader, Mr. Stoneham. It was not at all surprising that the Chinese shoes were easily able to undercut the Australian product. Slave labour is very cheap. It would not be possible for Australian producers to make shoes and market them here at anything less than twice the price of the article imported from red China. I hope that some of these examples will induce our honorable friends opposite to have another look at the illusion of the trading paradise presented to Australia by the government of red China.
Speaking to the Budget, I think that I should at least make a passing reference to the cognate subjects of television and frequency modulation. The figures which were released in last year’s report of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board indicate that there is reason to hope that there will be a substantial build-up in the Australian content of our television programmes. But at the moment that does not appear to have had any very great impact upon our commercial networks. It is a regrettable fact that many television actors, actresses and technicians are out of work, not because of depression in the industry but because slick foreign importations make it impossible for the local industry to compete on anything like level terms with them. I hope that some day we shall see either adequate protection given to the local industry or the establishment of some thing akin to the Eadie fund - some film finance corporation - or even the committee to which the Postmaster-General (Mr. Davidson) has already referred in the press, to examine assistance to the industry. By any one of these means the local industry might be placed again on its feet. Licensees who are at present operating television stations in Australia promised at the original hearings about six years ago that there would be a very big Australian content in their programmes. I can recall one licensee’s stating that there would be 72 per cent. Australian content in his programmes and that, after he had been operating for a little while and was able to produce local drama, this percentage would even be increased. It is rather ironic that the figures of this licensee a year ago showed that the Australian content of his programmes was then 40 per cent. I hope that in the granting of new licences for stations about to be established proper consideration will be given to ensuring a large Australian content in all programme material.
On the question of frequency modulation I just want to remind the Government that I am as intransigeant as ever. I think that a cardinal mistake has been made in abolishing frequency modulation from the very high frequency band. It is a tragedy that taxis, taxi-trucks and services of that nature should have such a high priority and that Australian citizens should be denied the undoubted benefits of frequency modulation because of the requirements of those utilitarian services. I noted a fortnight ago that the South African Government was setting up frequency modulation services for the Basutos. Zulus, Hottentots and Tebeles. It is a great pity that we cannot have at least the same technical excellence in our transmissions as the natives in South Africa are given. The Americans are now entering their second year of stereo frequency modulation transmissions, which have become tremendously popular. I appeal to the Government to re-examine its position on this important matter so that, before it is too late, some reasonable plan for the implementation of this type of transmission may be formulated.
For the reasons which I have given, I support the Budget and oppose both the amendment and the amendment to the amendment.
– I welcome the opportunity to speak on the Estimates and Budget Papers because it allows me to focus attention on the maladministration of the Menzies Government. We all know, but it stands repeating, that this Government came to office in 1949 on a host of spurious promises, none of which has been kept. I know that the Opposition is chided for repeating these things so often, but one has to remind the people from time to time of the manner in which the Menzies Government assumed office in 1949. I shall quote from the present Prime Minister’s policy speech in that year in order to give some indication of the promises’ he made on that occasion. This is what Mr. Menzies, speaking as Leader of the Opposition in 1949, said about industrial matters -
The industrial problem is crucial. The highest production and living standards cannot be achieved without a new and human spirit in the industrial world. No industry can succeed without the co-operation of capital, management and labour. Each must be encouraged. Each must be fairly rewarded. Between the three there must bc mutual understanding and respect. Unless employees are energetic and contented, no business can succeed for long. No sensible employee wants the business that employs him to be unprofitable.
That is rather strange reading when we consider the actions of the Menzies Government since then. A great deal of blame can be laid at the door of the Menzies Government for using the industrial machinery of this country as a weapon of coercion against the workers. I will deal with some of those matters later.
Mr. Menzies in his policy speech in 1949 had this to say about development -
We remain warm advocates of a Ministry of Development so as to concentrate effort upon the expansion of our productive resources. The basic evil of Socialism is that it takes production for granted and devotes its greatest effort to redistribution of the product by heavy taxation and large expenditure by the Treasury. This want of a balanced view is very serious. Our population and needs are growing. Only a truly expanding economy can preserve the value of savings and give us real security for the future.
That, too, makes interesting reading in the light of what has happened in this country since the Menzies Government assumed office in 1949. Dealing with social services, Mr. Menzies went on to say -
During the new Parliament we will further investigate this complicated problem, with a view to presenting to you at the election of 1952 a scheme for your approval.
That, of course, was never submitted to the people. He continued -
Meanwhile, existing rates of pension will, of course, be at least maintained. We will, much more importantly, increase their true value by increasing their purchasing power.
In view of the purchasing power of money to-day that statement is ludicrous. I had the doutbful privilege of listening to the Prime Minister speak on the Budget in another place last Thursday. Because there was nothing in the Budget over which he could enthuse, or over which he could hope to cause anybody else to enthuse, the Prime Minister resorted to an attack on the Labour Party. He used his old dramatics, appealing every now and again to the little Sir Echoes behind him for approbation. He said “ We had a Labour government in power for eight years “, and added, “ I know because I was over there”, and he pointed to the Opposition benches. He never said a word about the fact that there was a war on during almost the whole of the eight years of the Labour Government. He never mentioned a word about what put him on the Opposition benches at that time. I mention this particularly because it was raised by Senator Marriott, and again by Senator McCarthy Hannan.
– Order! Senator Sandford, you will withdraw that remark.
– Well, by Senator Hannan.
– Order! You will withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw the remark, Sir. Mr. Menzies compared, in terms of money, the value of payments made by the Labour Government in unemployment relief with various social service payments that are being made now, but he1 did not give an indication of the relative value of the purchasing power of money then and now. I want to make it clear that during the period of the war until October, 1941, Mr. Menzies and his followers had a majority in both Houses; and it was only because he could not command the support of his own followers that it devolved upon the Australian Labour Party to take over the government in the midst of the greatest crisis with which this country has been faced. It was only for that reason that Mr. Menzies was relegated to the Opposition benches. It indicates quite clearly, as I will prove later, that in every period of crisis the same right honorable gentleman has failed miserably and dismally.
Do not accept only my word for that. Honorable senators will remember that at that time of crisis William Morris Hughes was not only a member of the Liberal Party - I think that is what it called itself then - but also a Minister. What did he say about the Right Honorable R. G. Menzies? He said “ He cannot lead and he won’t follow “. He said in addition “ Mr. Menzies is the fountain-head of every whispering campaign. He is the archintriguer “. He finished up with the famous statement, “ He could not lead a flock of homing pigeons”. Talking about birds, I prefer to liken this Government to a’ flock of geese because neither the geese nor the members of the Government stick to their propaganda.
Mr. Menzies made terrifically heavy weather in endeavouring to justify the present Budget. The parties forming the Government inherited from the Labour Government the most stable economy in the Western world. Ever since the Government has been blessed with heaven-sent seasons, and high prices for all our commodities. Everything has been in its favour. Yet the economy has gone back further and further over the years, culminating in the tragic happenings of February, 1960 when, all of a sudden, without any warning, the Government found out that there was a boom. I do not know who told it. I do not know how it found out and it has never told us how, when or why the boom occurred. Without any warning to business or anybody else, import controls were lifted overnight. It is easy to understand that immediately import controls are lifted the gates are opened to a flood of imports. That is exactly what we witnessed in 1960 and what we are still witnessing. Tinned stuff from America and other countries is being sold in every metropolitan area in Australia in competition with our local products. The result of the lifting of import controls was that thousands and thousands of Australians were thrown out of employment.
Following that, an inane plea was made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) for big business to show restraint in prices and profits. What was the reaction of big business to that plea? No sooner had those words been uttered than every aeroplane leaving Australia was fully booked out by representatives of big business going overseas to place orders in cheap-labour countries. Does it not stand to reason that if import controls are removed completely, goods from other countries will be allowed to enter Australia without hindrance and Australian industries will be injured? That is exactly what happened.
The building industry was thrown into chaos and ruin. Saw-mills throughout Australia were closed down. Textile factories, if not closed, were working short time. Tens of thousands of people in all industries were thrown out of employment. This Government adopted those measures to arrest a boom, and apparently its idea of the way to arrest a boom was the creation of unemployment.
Later in 1960 - this was mentioned by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) - this Government took the unprecedented step of appearing officially before the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration in order to prevent an increase in the basic wage. That had never been done by a government before in the history of this country, but this Government did not hesitate to do it. At the same time as its Ministers and supporters were touring the country telling everybody how prosperous Australia was and that we were going through a period of unprecedented prosperity the Government took that action in order to prevent Australian workers from sharing in the prosperity that they were saying existed in Australia.
Then in November, 1960, came the credit squeeze and the imposition of a vicious and savage increase in the sales tax on motor cars. We remember that two senators on the Government side of this chamber stood out against the Government for a while. Eventually one of them wilted. That was Senator Wright.
Apparently he was bulldozed into line. It was not strange that he wilted in the finish, because I remember that a few years ago Senator Wright moved an amendment to Government legislation and finally voted against his own amendment.
– Somebody cracked the v/hip.
– Yes. On that occasion he was taken out into the corridor, spoken to by the then AttorneyGeneral, he crawled back into the chamber, and then we saw the farcical spectacle of the senator who moved the amendment finally voting against his own amendment.
– To what amendment are you referring?
– You know all about it.
– I challenge you to tell me to what amendment you are referring, because 1 think your statement is false.
– Although I have not the relevant article before me at the moment, the Victorian Chamber of Manufactures criticized the Government for lifting import controls and thus causing chaos and confusion. The article said that the Government’s action was just like importing unemployment into Australia.
Now let me quote some of the statements made about this Government by people who cannot be regarded as Labour supporters, just prior to the elections in 1961. Mr. G. E. Knox, a member of the Liberal Party who intended to oppose Mr. Harold Holt in the seat of Higgins as an independent but withdrew “ for family reasons “ - those last three words are in inverted commas - said - ] think Mr. Holt has been a disaster for Australia. He is the worst treasurer Australia has ever had.
The firm of J. B. Were and Son - its members are not Labour supporters either - said -
The credit squeeze is the most powerful weapon in the political armoury and it has been brandished in a terrifying way.
Speaking to the Melbourne Chamber of Commerce the Treasurer said -
I assure you, we don’t panic easily. We know something of this bucking bronco of an economy of ours.
I wish to quote a statement by Mr. Menzies which gives us an idea of his arrogant and carefree attitude prior to the 1961 election. At that time, of course, the Government parties had no idea that they were anywhere near defeat. They had become very arrogant because of the support that they had obtained by the use of the communism bogy and because of the very great assistance that they have received since 1955 from the latest satellite that they have in orbit - the Democratic Labour Party. At the Sydney Science Sheep Show on 3rd June, 1961, Mr. Menzies said -
Nobody can get rid of an inflationary boom without treading on somebody’s corns. You can’t do it without hurting somebody.
It is the duty of the practical statesman to select the corns and not to be afraid of treading on them.
To achieve this I must be content to annoy thousands.
That statement is an indication of the carefree and arrogant attitude of the Menzies Government prior to the 1961 election, when defeat was far from the minds of Mr. Menzies and his supporters.
However, since the 1961 election the Menzies Government has adopted quite a number of the measures that were proposed by the Australian Labour Party during the election campaign. Measures that were then regarded by the Government as impracticable and inflationary have been used by it to some extent. But with what effect? Even at the present time more than 90,000 people are registered for employment. I noted that Senator Hannan referred to unemployment but was content to quote the percentages. To say that 2 per cent, of the work force are unemployed does not sound nearly so bad as to say that 90,000 people are unemployed. However, we must remember that the official number of people unemployed must be multiplied many times to give the correct figure. As far as one can see, there is nothing in the policy of this Government that is aimed at getting anywhere near full employment. I do not expect the Government to achieve that, because it does not believe, and never has believed, in full employment. Its spokesmen always talk about a “ measure “ of full employment or a “ high level “ of employment.
I wish to speak for a while about national development. It has a bearing on unemployment. Only last week I asked the Minister for National Development a question to this effect: Does not the Government believe that an intensive programme of national development is an integral and important part of any uptodate defence plan? The answer I received was, as usual, evasive. The Minister told me that the Government took its advice upon defence from experts. We know that. We know that in general terms the Government accepts advice on defence from experts in the various services, but surely the full development of this Commonwealth must form a vital part of our defence plan. The chaos and confusion in Australia in World War II. could have been disastrous. We had to suffer the effects of the tragic break of railway gauges throughout Australia and the lack of roads and water conservation and irrigation. Efficient communications and other works such as I have described are vital to the full development and effective defence organization of any country, particularly a country such as Australia.
The Government will argue that most of these things are basically the responsibility of the States. It is futile to say that, because we all know that the Commonwealth Government holds the purse strings and the States can do nothing unless it makes sufficient money available to them. I suggest that where we have the men, the materials and the know-how, nothing in the wide world should prevent this Government from making money available through the Commonwealth Bank to develop our great country. I have in mind the full and intensive development of the northern part of this continent, the building of dams and irrigation works, and the criss-crossing of Australia by roads, railways and airfields. We do not need financial assistance from outside Australia to do all those things. We have the men, the materials and the know-how to do them, but the present Government is so immersed in its concept of orthodox finance that it has allowed Australia’s monetary system to be controlled by private money racketeers.
As I said earlier, the Government will say that under the Constitution it has not the power to do all those works, not so much in the Northern Territory where it has more control, but certainly in the various States. If the Government were sincere it would endeavour to get from the people by referendum the power to enable it to do essential work throughout Australia without any constitutional restriction. In 1956, Senator Wright was a member of the joint committee then appointed by this very Government to examine the Constitution and recommend certain changes to it and to report to Parliament. The Government paid lip service to this trend of thought. Though in 1959 members of that committee, almost without a dissentient voice, ultimately submitted a voluminous report to Parliament, the Government ha9 not attempted to obtain greater constitutional powers for this Parliament and, if the answers given by Ministers in reply to questions are any criterion, has no intention of doing so. As a Minister once said to me, “The whole thing looks a bit too socialistic to me “.
A former Prime Minister, Mr. J. H. Scullin said as far back as 1930, in speaking of constitutional restrictions, “ We are like political mummies in the constitutional tomb “. We are infinitely worse off to-day in constitutional limitations.
The Government has no excuse whatever. If it had the responsibility or, at least, the sense of responsibility that the people consider it should have, it would put constitutional issues to them fairly and squarely. The referendum proposals would be supported by honorable senators on this side of the chamber in any attempt to clothe this National Parliament with the constitutional powers necessary to do all those things in the interests of the whole community. But no! Although the joint committee appointed to inquire into the Constitution sat for about two years, travelled all over Australia, took extensive evidence and made voluminous reports to the Government, the Government has taken no action and obviously intends to take none. Eventually the weight of public opinion will force the Government, if it remains in office much longer, to act in this and other important matters.
I do not want to speak at great length on the next subject I propose to discuss, as most honorable senators who have made contributions to the debate have covered it fairly fully. Nuclear tests were recently discussed in this chamber, and I want to say something about disarmament in general. We all know that universal disarmament is an age-old dream of mankind. However, the objective has proved most difficult to achieve. One of the greatest barriers, if not the greatest barrier, to any form of disarmament is the huge profit that is made by armaments manufacturers. At present, what one side proposes the other side opposes. When I was hi London, in 1959, The English press announced that Khrushchev would visit President Eisenhower in the United States of America and discuss disarmament with him. The following day, the newspapers carried reports that, because of this suggested visit, shares on the stock exchanges in New York and London had fallen.
While on this subject, I commend two publications to honorable senators. One is “Cry Havoc” and the other has the more lurid title, “The Bloody Traffic”. They will give honorable senators some idea of the ramifications of the world armaments ring, and an appreciation that, as I have said, it is almost an impossibility to achieve any form of disarmament. “ Cry Havoc “ tells, among other things, the story of the Briey Valley, which was the home of the German heavy industries in World War I. A man named Barthé made serious accusations against the armaments industry. I shall read this extract -
I affirm,’ he added, ‘ that certain members of the Comité dcs Forges furnished raw material to Germany during the war and that in order to conceal the affair the Comité hindered the investigations of Justice.
I affirm that either through the international solidarity of the great metallurgical industry or in order to safeguard private interests an order was given to our military chiefs not to bombard the Briey Valley factories which were operated by the enemy during the war.’
Immune from attack, the Briey region furnished material for guns which slaughtered French and British troops. Germany would have capitulated in 1915, its iron-masters have since admitted, if Briey had been bombarded.
These accusations have never been refuted. People don’t even seem to care. Why?
He said - 1 can only conclude that it is because they do not realise what men like Barth£ are talking about. These things are merely vague generalisations to them. They do not visualise these fac tories, nor smell them, nor hear the sound of their whirling wheels.
These are all things that we should take into consideration. I am generous enough to believe that there is not one honorable senator in this chamber who would not pray fervently for disarmament, but the things I am mentioning are not generally known to the people, and the kind of thing that took place then is certainly happening now. To give some indication of the tactics adopted by the armament manufacturers to preserve and increase their huge profits, the author of this book referred to a Mr. Shearer, and said this about him -
Mr. Shearer was an American gentleman who was described as a ‘publicist’ - a term that frequently covers a multitude of sins. In 1929 he sued the three largest shipbuilding corporations in America. . . .
The Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation.
The Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company.
The American Brown Boveri Corporation. For the trifling sum of $255,655.
This sum he claimed as the balance due to him for his services in preventing any effective disarmament resulting from the Naval Conference in Geneva in 1927.
You might say that that was a long time ago, but exactly the same things are happening to-day. The author continues -
Mr. Shearer admitted that he had already received 51,230 dollars. He claimed the remainder as his reward for his skill in influencing orders for battleships which would never have been built if the disarmament conference had proved successful.
In September 1929, President Hoover instructed the Attorney-General to make an inquiry, and-
Listen to this -
Shortly afterwards Eugene Grace, who was then president of the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation, wrote to the President and explained that Mr. Shearer had been employed as an observer ‘-
That is, an observer at the Geneva disarmament conference - at a fee of $25,000.
The author then asks what Mr. Shearer did that was so very valuable to these armament firms. He goes on -
He did not go there to write sonnets about the lake. He did not go there to paint pen pictures of the passing shadows that flitted over the eyes of Lord Cecil. His “ observations “ were not valuable for any literary reason. They were valuable- to the admitted extent of $25,000- for another reason.
Then he says -
That reason has been conveniently summarized in Mr. Charles A. Beard’s remarkable book “The Navy: Defense or Portent “, which did not cause nearly such a stir in America as it deserved:
And this is what he said Mr. Shearer was employed for -
For the employment of an “observer” at the Geneva Arms Conference, who was notoriously engaged in violent anti-British propaganda, in doing his best to defeat arms limitation, in enterraining naval officers and American newspaper correspondents, in stimulating “ the marine industry, both for navy and the merchant marine “.
For the purpose of influencing federal legislation by maintaining a lobby in Washington in support of cruiser and merchant-marine bills pending in Congress.
For the preparation of political articles to be published in newspapers and magazines.
For lectures before patriotic societies and other civic bodies.
For the employment of “experts” and other workers, whose exact activities are unknown.
For addresses before the American Legion, Chambers of Commerce and similar organizations.
Here is one that hits a little closer to home, and I can verify that what he says here is true, because I was there and saw what happened. It relates to Gallipoli. A Mr. Hugh Dalton made a speech in the House of Commons in which he explained how many Australian and British troops had been battered down by British guns at the Dardanelles. And what he stated was a positive fact. These are his words -
British armament firms have been supplying the Turkish artillery with shells which were fired into the Australian, New Zealand and British troops as they were scrambling up Anzac Cove and Cape Helles
You people who are old enough to remember the occasion will remember cheering the Anzacs on at Gallipoli, but when you were praising their efforts in scaling the heights of Anzac Cove and other places you did not realize that they were being mown down by Vickers machine guns made in England by the armament manufacturers.
– Those guns were sold to Turkey before the war broke out.
– Am I interrupting you? If you dealt with Blair Athol coal you would do better. Mr. Dalton said -
British armament firms have been supplying the Turkish artillery with shells which were fired into the Australian, New Zealand and British troops as they were scrambling up Anzac Cove and Cape Helles
Then he said -
Did it matter to the directors of these armament firms, so long as they did business and expanded the defence expenditure of Turkey, that their weapons mashed up into bloody pulp all the morning glory that was the flower of Anzac, the youth of Australia and New Zealand, yes and the youth of our own country?
Senator Maher interjected that these guns were delivered prior to the war, but we on this side know, and I suggest that honorable senators on the Government side also know, if they will only admit it, that many war materials, including arms, were delivered to enemy countries while the war was on.
– Does it matter whether you are shot with a British or a Turkish gun?
– My friend, you are the same with armaments as you were with wool. I told you on one occasion that you would not care to whom you sold your wool provided you got the highest price for it. You would sell it to the Martians, if they came down in space ships, provided you could get the highest price from them for it. What I have been outlining have been facts that cannot be denied, and I am mentioning them to give honorable senators some idea of the terrific task confronting us. As I said before, I think we are all anxious to see greater advances made in the field of disarmament, and the points I am making illustrate the terrific handicaps against which we must work if we are to achieve more disarmament throughout the world. When private enterprise is permitted to make the huge profit it is making out of the manufacture of armaments, when those manufacturers are permitted to sell their armaments to all countries, friend and foe alike, and make huge and increasing profits therefrom, it is most difficult to achieve any degree of disarmament.
I have mentioned what took place at the disarmament conference in Geneva in 1927 and said that that was a long time ago. But the very same influences are operating to-day. It is my belief that the same influences are one of the greatest obstacles to the banning of nuclear weapons tests. We must give these armament manufacturers credit for having a little common sense. They know just as well as we do that if nuclear weapons are used in an allout global war we will all be gone, including them. Therefore, the best thing for them to do is to see that when nuclear weapons are manufactured they are disposed of by testing, in the way in which one was disposed of 100 miles above Johnston Island, for as soon as they are disposed of in that way further nuclear weapons will have to be manufactured. That is how the profit motive militates against the cessation of nuclear testing.
Reference has been made to the subject of defence during the debate to-night. Senator Marriott had the temerity to say that in 1949 Australia was defenceless. Senator Toohey has replied to that allegation. Government supporters in this Parliament should hang their heads in shame when they think of th» war years and of the necessity for Labour to rescue Australia from a government that had failed, not because of a vote of the people but simply because of its own ineptitude, lt would have been a case of “ God help Australia “ had there not been an Australian Labour Party to take over the reins of office in 1941.
Senator Hannan trotted out the old story about what Mr. Curtin had said when he assumed office. I have pointed out to Senator Hannan on previous occasions, and so have other honorable senators on this side of the chamber, that it could not be expected that a Prime Minister who had just taken over at the height of a war, at a most dangerous time, would publicly state, for all to hear, including the enemy, that the defences of this country were in a parlous condition. The obvious thing for him to say was that the defences were in excellent condition.
– Did he ever retract his statement?
– I am trying to give you a little food for thought, but apparently you are not hungry.
– It is very indigestible.
– I know. Anything that you do not like is indigestible. Mr. Curtin was a casualty of the Second World War, and he had no time to worry about what was said then. The honorable senator knows that as well as I do. He comes from Western Australia and should revere Mr. Curtin’s name. When anything is said to Mr. Curtin’s detriment, the honorable senator should hang his head in shame, because Mr. Curtin was the Prime Minister who carried this country successfully during the greatest crisis in its history, after the honorable senator’s present leader had failed.
The present Prime Minister failed again in 1941. He was admitted to the Advisory War Council, but he remained there for only a short time and then walked out. He walked out of the Lyons Government because he could not get his own way in regard to the proposed national insurance scheme. In doing so, he proved the truth of Mr. Hughes’s statement about him - “ He cannot lead and he won’t follow “.
It has been said before, and no doubt it will be said again, that Mr. Menzies has been Prime Minister of Australia for longer than any other Prime Minister. How has he achieved that record? He was elected in 1949 on a host of spurious promises. In 1951, after the double dissolution, a red herring was used by the Government parties. In 1954, there was the beautifully-staged Petrov royal commission which cost the Australian taxpayers more than £40,000. They got nothing out of it. The only person who got anything out of it was Petrov himself. He got a chicken run.
During a court hearing in London recently, it was stated that the same Mr. Petrov is still in receipt of £2,000 a year from this Government. That was how the Prime Minister succeeded in winning the 1954 election. Since 1954, of course, he has had his new satellite, the Australian Democratic Labour Party, in orbit. If it were not for the Democratic Labour Party, this Government would have been defeated many years ago. Honorable senators opposite must admit that that is true. If one talks privately to them, they will admit that they are in office only because of the second preference votes of the D.L.P. More than twenty seats in both Houses of the Victorian Parliament are held by Liberal and Country Party members on Democratic Labour Party preferences. That is the reason why the Government parties have remained in power for so long.
The Government parties have been able to use a subterfuge or a red herring at each succeeding election since 1949.
It cannot be denied that the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission is being used by the employing class, with the approval of this Government, as an instrument of coercion against the working people of this country. We remember the vicious fines that have been imposed on the unions. Can you recall, Mr. Deputy President, an occasion when the employers have been fined because of lock-outs?
– They put one in gaol the other day.
– That is where you should be, with him! At the present time, conciliation has gone right out, for all practical purposes. The court is being used purely and simply as an instrument of coercion. I suggest that we should reexamine the court and endeavour to make it an instrument of conciliation. The practice of taking vicious measures against the unions of Australia should be discarded.
During the time that the Menzies Government has disgraced the government benches in the Commonwealth Parliament, no less a sum than £200,000,000 a year has been spent on so-called defence. What have we to show for the expenditure of that money? To use a colloquialism, I say that most of it has gone down the drain. I ask honorable senators to cast their minds back to a year or so ago, when £1,500,000 was spent on re-commissioning H.M.A.S. “ Hobart “. As soon as the ship was re-commissioned, it was sold to Japan for scrap. The Australian Labour Party has always believed in the need for the utmost defence of this country. That was proved during the war. At that time Mr. Curtin, who was then Prime Minister, insisted on Australian troops coming back to Australia to defend it. We believe that money that is allocated for defence should be spent on the most up-to-date means of defence. This Government has been called a stop-and-go government. I prefer to call it a hitandrun government, because it hits and runs away very quickly from danger. Labour brieves that the money allocated for defence should be spent in the most appropriate way, in keeping with the trend of affairs in the modern world. As I have said, national development should rank very highly in the defence plan. We had a national training scheme for a few years, and the Government decided to discard it altogether. An enormous amount of money is being wasted on so-called defence.
I come now to the subject of foreign policy. We had the usual outburst this evening from Senator Hannan. He never speaks in this chamber without mentioning either communism or red China, as he calls it. True to form, he mentioned both those subjects again to-night. We must be careful to see that we pursue a correct foreign policy. To-day danger lurks everywhere. If our leaders make mistakes, Australia will suffer. The handling of our External Affairs portfolio by the right honorable Robert Gordon Menzies illustrated the need for care in relation to foreign affairs. Mr. Menzies’s ego is so great that he cannot bear to be out of anything. In 1956 the present Lord Casey was Australian Minister for External Affairs. He was in London at the time of the Suez crisis, but, nevertheless, Mr. Menzies insisted on being Sir Anthony Eden’s messenger boy. In effect he said to Sir Anthony: “Leave the Suez business to me. I will put Nasser in his place.” Everybody knows that Mr. Menzies did not last long in that capacity. He was a complete and utter failure in the Suez negotiations.
– That is completely unfair and you know it.
– Now then McCarthy!
– Mr. Deputy President, I object to the word “ McCarthy “.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator McKellar). - Order! Senator Sandford will withdraw the word “ McCarthy “.
Senator SANDFORD__ I withdraw it.
Our Prime Minister was the only leader in the British Commonwealth to support South Africa’s apartheid policy. I do not get pleasure out of mentioning these matters, but what our Prime Minister says overseas is regarded by the world as the opinion of the Australian people. What happened when Mr. Menzies went to the United Nations? Poor little Sir Garfield Barwick was already there. He had his brief ti represent Australia. Mr. Menzies told a press conference in Canberra that he did not intend to go to New York. Subsequently Khrushchev and Fidel Castro announced that they would attend the United Nations meeting. Within 48 hours the Prime Minister had his bags packed and was on his way to New York. Poor little Sir Garfield Barwick probably had prepared what he considered to be a worldshattering speech but Mr. Menzies just sacked him and he had to tear it up. Mr. Menzies was going to put everything right. Well, we know what happened. As one of our own newspapers put it, Mr. Nehru cleaned the floor with Mr. Menzies. Our Prime Minister obtained four votes out of a possible 96 votes.
– -What four countries supported the Prime Minister?
– You cannot deny these facts. I mention them only to indicate the vital importance of having as Minister for External Affairs a responsible person - one whose utterances will reflect the true opinion of the Australian people. He must be a man in whom Australia has complete confidence.
Sir Garfield Barwick has not held the portfolio of Minister for External Affairs for very long. He has hardly had time to cut his teeth on it, but let us hope that he does a better job than the Prime Minister did when he filled the dual role of Prime Minister and Minister for External Affairs. Mr. Menzies is Australia’s king-size failure. He has been such a complete failure on earth that he should join the astronauts. He may get a better hearing from the man in the moon than he gets on earth.
– First, let me congratulate those honorable senators who have made their maiden speeches in this place. We all were interested to hear the views that they expressed to the Senate. Many of those views were refreshing and I hope that, in the years to come, our new senators will make many worth-while contributions to the debates in this chamber.
I want to comment on a few of the matters dealt with by Senator Sandford. He spoke for almost one hour. He had a series of headings and under each of those headings he indulged in abuse of the Prime Minister or some other member of the Cabinet. He did not put forward one constructive thought. The last three headings with which he dealt were arbitration, defence and foreign policy. In relation to arbitration all he said was that some workers had been fined. In relation to defence he said that Australia’s defences were not good enough and that something should be done about them. He said that foreign policy was a matter in which we should tread carefully and then he resorted to abusing the Minister for External Affairs and the Prime Minister. These are tactics that honorable senators opposite have been adopting for some considerable time.
– They, are not capable of constructive suggestions.
– No, they cannot make constructive speeches in this debate on the Budget. Why does the Opposition attack the Government in this way? In my opinion, the Opposition is attempting to fool the people because it is not capable of exploiting opportunities to defeat the Government. Often when a division takes place in this chamber Labour senators are missing. They tell the people that they can defeat the Government, but when the opportunity presents itself they fail to seize it.
Why does the Opposition behave in this way? The reason is that the Labour Party has not sat on the treasury bench since 1949. Any person who was 21 years of age in 1949 and who exercised his right to vote would now be about 34 years of age. He has no way of comparing the present Government with a Labour government. Let me remind honorable senators of what Labour did when it was in power. We all remember the days prior to this Government taking office in 1949. There was a shortage of houses. We had petrol rationing.
– There was a war on.
– The war had been over for four years. When we went into a shop many of the goods that we wanted often were not displayed, but if we paid a little extra we could get those goods from beneath the counter. We were importing coal. What was the position of our primary industries? The Labour Party has promised to look after the primary industries when it gets into office. We who sit in this corner of the chamber remember Labour’s famous wheat deal with New Zealand. At that time, Australia could sell her wheat overseas for 13s. 4d. a bushel, but, on the quiet, the Labour Government sold our wheat to New Zealand for 5s. 9d. a bushel. What did the farmers do to the Labour Party? Only one member of the Labour Party was returned by a wheat-growing electorate to the House of Representatives in 1949, and not one Labour man was returned by a dairying electorate. That is what the farmers thought of the Labour Party. The Opposition says that it has a policy in relation to wool. I say that it would be the end of the wool industry if it had to work under a scheme formulated by the Labour Party. Let the people, and particularly those people under 34 years of age, know what the Labour Party is really like.
Now let me get back to the Budget. 1 believe that all people connected with the exporting industries, and particularly primary producers, think that this is a good Budget, because stability of costs is built into it. Speaking as a member of the Country Party and a primary producer, I say that increasing costs have worried us for many years. Not many years ago all the exporting industries came to the Government time and time again asking it to do something about increasing costs. The Government took action, which the Labour Party now condemns, to bring down costs. What docs the Labour Party do? It says that the Government should be thrown out of office for doing that. But we have stability in primary industry, which is what we were after.
– What costs did it bring down?
– If the honorable senator were in primary industry to-day he would know that primary producers have had stable costs over recent quarters.
– The Government should have brought them down.
– It has stopped them from rising further. The Budget aims at continuing the work that the Government has done over recent years.
We have heard many times in this chamber that primary industry is responsible for earning 80 per cent of Australia’s export income. In turn, 80 per cent, of our export earnings is used to buy raw material, parts and machinery to keep our factories going and to maintain employment, so that every man who wants to work can have a job. Yet in an address in another place the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, speaking to the Budget, did not say a thing about primary industry. That indicates how much the Labour Party thinks about it. Yet honorable senators cry out about the need for higher social service and repatriation benefits, and more developmental works. From where is the money to be obtained? It has to be earned first, and the way to earn it is by producing more wool, wheat, butter and meat. Yet the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in another place does not mention primary industry! He is more concerned with trying to obtain a few votes from people who, if they get a few more shillings a week, will think that the Labour Party is doing a good job for the country. Time and time again the Opposition has said that the Government follows stop-go policies. I liken the Labour Party’s policy to a ship that sails through Sydney Heads, en route to New Zealand, and maintains a set course, despite winds and storms and the fact that, halfway across, it is apparent that it will not reach New Zealand.
As I have said, our export income is dependent on primary industry. Because of variations in seasons throughout the length and breadth of this huge country and dependence on unsatisfactory overseas prices our income must move up and down as the years go by. Therefore, the Government must shape its policies to fit in with the economy. Yet the Opposition criticizes this as a stop-go government.
– Do you disagree with the Minister for Trade when he says that we must bump up exports of secondary industries?
– We want to earn more and we must bump up exports of secondary industries. The Minister for Trade has given secondary industries every opportunity to increase their exports. Relief from pay-roll tax will encourage them to do it.
– By closing the factories down?
– What rot! I leave the matter there and turn to rural credit. I have spoken of primary producers, their rising costs, and the unsatisfactory prices received for the bulk of their products overseas. The primary producer has no control over either of these factors. But he has control over production. He is able to try to get more from his farm. I believe that farmers generally want to avail themselves of all the accu mulated information that is available to them from scientists and technicians. In order to improve their farms, flocks and herds they must buy new equipment, which takes money, and this has to be obtained from somewhere. I admit that a successful, well-to-do farmer can get shortterm credit.
I ask for leave to continue my remarks later.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Senate adjourned at 10.29 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 23 August 1962, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1962/19620823_senate_24_s22/>.