24th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMuIlin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– 1 address a question to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General. Will the Minister tell the Senate how the public will be affected by the black ban placed on two automatic mail sorting machines at the Sydney General Post Office by the mail branch employees of the Postal Workers Union? If the public is to be affected, will the Minister say what action the PostmasterGeneral intends to take?
– I can only inform Senator Branson that no black ban has been placed upon the two automatic mail sorting machines which have been installed in the Sydney General Post Office.
– In view of the statement in the annual report of the Director of War Service Homes that the number of applications for war service homes declined from a total of 20,833 in 1959-60 to 16,040 in 1960-61- a reduction of approximately 20 per cent. - I ask the Minister in charge of War Service Homes whether he will waive the 20 months waiting period for ex-servicemen who propose to purchase an approved existing home, and thus put an end to the iniquitous system operating to-day under which exservicemen are forced into the hands of private moneylenders who, in the vast majority of cases, fleece them by charging excessive interest rates.
– Senator Fitzgerald asks two questions, one of which relates to a question of fact and the other to a question of policy. As to that relating to a question of fact - the iniquitous rates of interest which he alleges ex-servicemen are being charged - I suggest that Senator Fitzgerald should look at the statements that I have made in the past after having made an investigation of the rates which ex-servicemen are now being charged during the 20 months waiting period. If he does that, he will see that his statement is quite incorrect. The majority of exservicemen arc obtaining temporary financial accommodation on a 20 months’ mortgage at reasonable rates of interest.
As to the question about reducing the waiting time, let me inform Senator Fitzgerald that I gave very careful consideration to this matter in February last. Over a period of time, we have been able consistently to present more and more favorable conditions to ex-servicemen for war service homes finance. By February, we had reached the stage at which we were faced with the alternative of reducing the waiting time or increasing the maximum amount of advance. In the final analysis, the Government decided to increase the maximum advance to £3,500 because, wilh such a substantial advance available to them, ex-servicemen were presented with much more favorable opportunities to acquire a home, lt also reduced the number of ex-servicemen who were obliged to buy homes on the basis of a first mortgage from the War Service Homes Division and a second mortgage from some other organization. It was on those second mortgages that the very high interest rates were being paid. By increasing the maximum amount of the loan we have eliminated the need for those second mortgages, greatly to the benefit of ex-servicemen.
In the final analysis, ex-servicemen who are still eligible to obtain homes through the War Service Homes Division may do so on a basis that is without doubt the most favorable one for financing a home in Australia at the present time. Exservicemen are able to obtain an advance of £3,500 without any waiting time for the purchase of a new home or the building of a home. There is no other institution, and there is no other place, from which an advance is so readily available, on such favorable terms, for the purchase or building of a home.
– My question, which is addressed to the Minister for National
Development, relates to the search for oil in Australia. Does the Minister consider that the finding of oil in every one of the six wells that have been drilled on the Moonie oil-field, without one dry hole, is a significant success in the search for oil in this country? Does the Minister think that it further indicates the increasing possibilities of a commercial oil-field existing in that area and more clearly delineates the extent of the oil-field?
– The company at Moonie is drilling what are known as assessment wells. The purpose of such wells is to establish the area over which the oil deposit occurs. The company has so far drilled six wells, and those wells have established that there are deposits of oil in an area three and a half miles long by one mile wide. Each hole that is drilled extends the size of the field. The process is going on. The company looked at its geophysical information and came to the conclusion that the oil deposit should extend further. It is drilling a series of holes to test that view.
There is a good deal of news value in the announcement that a hole has been drilled and that oil has been found, but I sometimes think the more interesting point will be reached - I hope that it is delayed for a good while - when a dry hole is drilled at Moonie, because that will indicate the limit of the oil deposit. It may be some time before that happens. I should think that the company would drill a few more holes in order to determine the size of the field. As Senator Wood has said, the more holes there are which show oil, the larger is the size of the field and the more important the commercial value of the oil deposit.
– I ask the Minister for Civil Aviation whether it is a fact that the Government pays equal amounts to Trans-Australia Airlines and AnsettA.N.A. for the carriage of mails each year. Can he state the tonnage of mails carried by T.A.A. and Ansett-A.N.A. for the year ended 30th June, 1962? I ask this question in view of the fact that T.A.A. carried 693 short tons of mail and Ansett-A.N.A. 538 short tons during the quarter which ended on 31st March, 1962.
– I ask the honorable senator to put the question on the notice-paper. If I get the information, as I shall, while the Parliament is in recess, I shall let him have it by letter, but I shall also give it to the Senate in reply to the question on notice. I have no idea of the figures at the moment. I do not follow the particular figures referred to by the honorable senator. I think he mentioned 693 short tons in a full year.
– No; 693 short tons for the quarter ended March, as against 538. I understand that both operators get a flat rate. I want to know whether they are carrying somewhere near the same tonnage of mail.
– Over a period of years the equal division of mails has been scrupulously adhered to, and the respective quantities carried vary at the end of each year by only a few tons and the payment varies by only a few pounds. I shall get the relevant figures and let the honorable senator have them.
– I direct a question to the Minister who, in your opinion, Mr. President, is sufficiently versed in the constitutional proprieties to answer it. By way of preface I say that this morning, while bandicooting through the Canberra telephone directory, that bureaucratic maze issued by the Postmaster-General’s Department, looking for the telephone number of the Parliament House of the Commonwealth of Australia, I had to find it under “Departments of the Commonwealth of Australia”. I looked through the telephone directories of the State capitals and found that every State Parliament House is listed under “ State Government Departments “. I should like to know by what constitutional amendment and what judgment of the High Court of Australia the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia has now become a department of the Commonwealth Government.
– I can only tell Senator Cormack that I shall have a word with my colleague, the Postmaster-General, to see whether we can arrange some short circuit.
– Has the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration been directed to an advertisement in the agony column of the “ West Australian “ of yesterday’s date, which reads -
Lovely European girls want to migrate. For full details send 10s. postal note and a Sd. stamp to . . .
The address was a post office box in Adelaide, South Australia. Are these the same lovely girls whom the Minister for Immigration met on his recent trip overseas? In any case, will the Minister investi- gate what is obviously a racket and so protect potential migrants from such undesirables, and have these sharp practices stopped?
– I am rather surprised that the honorable senator reads the agony column. I do not know for what reason; nevertheless, on her own evidence she obviously does read it. While she was asking the question I informed myself that I had 10s., but I assure her that I am not going to spend it in that way. If she puts the question on the notice-paper I shall ask the Minister for Immigration what has happened to the beautiful girls, since they now have to advertise.
– I direct the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Trade to a statement attributed to Mr. R. F. Ware, general manager of the South Australia Fishermen’s Co-operative Limited, and reported in the Adelaide “ Advertiser “ of 28th August, to the effect that weaknesses in the United States crayfish market had been brought about by Western Australian exporters going outside recognized channels of distribution, and that the poor quality of Western Australian crayfish tails had lessened confidence in Australian crayfish generally. Will the Minister ask his colleague to have inquiries made into this allegation with a view to having a marketing practice followed which will not damage South Australian exports of crayfish?
– I did not see the newspaper report to which the honorable senator referred. This trade in crayfish tails to the United States is a very valuable and, I understand, a developing trade for Australia. In the light of this statement I shall certainly ask Mr. McEwen to have a look at the matter.
– I preface my question, which I address to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, by stating that I am a great believer in the freedom of the press, but that on ceremonial occasions over the years I have noticed the large number of press photographers who have jostled for positions in front of visitors and speakers. I was privileged to see the film of the parade at the Royal Military College, Duntroon, yesterday. I noticed that viewers of that film saw mostly the backs of press photographers jostling for positions to the great annoyance of the viewers and causing inconvenience and embarrassment to the people participating in the parade. Will the Government consider making an approach to the Australian Newspaper Proprietors Association with the object of their coming to an agreement to reduce the number of press photographers who are permitted to take photographs on ceremonial occasions and during official visits of royalty and other important people, and to ask that movement by photographers during special ceremonies and speeches be kept to a minimum?
– I think everybody would agree that it would be a masterpiece of understatement to say that there was a shortage of press photographers at the functions that have been held in the last few days. Consequently, I believe that there is some merit in Senator Marriott’s suggestion. I will bring it to the notice of the section of the Prime Minister’s Department that is responsible for making the arrangements for these functions.
– My question, which is addressed to the Minister for Civil Aviation, relates to the establishment of what has been called a common pool of aircraft spares and equipment established by Qantas Empire Airways Limited in conjunction with the British Overseas Airways Corporation and other overseas airlines. I understand that the common pool so established materially reduces the running and maintenance costs of these airlines because they all rely upon the common pool for spares and equipment. Has the Department of Civil Aviation considered the practicability and advisability of establishing common pools of aircraft spares and equipment in Australia for the major internal operators?
– The pooh to which the honorable senator has referred have been created to service the aircraft operated by the members of the Commonwealth tripartite aircraft pool - Qantas Empire Airways Limited, the British Overseas Airways Corporation and Air India International - at points along the routes of those three operators. I emphasize that they operate in a pool. They have established a number of stores, and maintenance services are extended to the aircraft of those three operators by the nationals of the countries in which the stores are established. This is part of the very successful and satisfactory tripartite pool.
The pool arrangements, of course, extend beyond the maintenance of the aircraft of these three operators. They include a number of financial provisions which are of mutual advantage to the three operators. Inside Australia each major aircraft operator has its own pool of stores and spares. Because of the relative compactness of Australian air routes as compared to those of international operators, it is not necessary for an Australian airline operator to hold more spares than are necessary to keep itself serviced. I can assure Senator Vincent that both operators are very conscious of this item; it is a costly one as each well knows. However, because spares are readily available and there is no need for them to be set out over a long route pattern, as in the case of international routes, funds are not wasted by holding excess stores along the Australian routes.
– I preface a question to the Minister representing the
Treasurer by pointing out that under legislation which came into operation in Tasmania in 1958, dental mechanics who have passed the required examination, are registered, and can then supply dentures direct to the public. Tasmania is the only State where this system operates. However, the Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Act provides that a person can claim as a deduction under section 82 F of the act only for work done by a legally qualified dentist, and excludes the taxpayer from obtaining a concession if dental work has been done by a legally qualified dental mechanic. Will the Minister make representations to the Treasurer to have this inequity rectified in accordance with the recommendation of the report of the Commonwealth Committee of Taxation. The present practice inflicts injustice on a large percentage of Tasmanian people who quite rightly are able to obtain their dentures from legally registered dental mechanics.
– I will be pleased to refer the question to the Treasurer as I am not myself aware of the circumstances.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Is he aware that there are 2,000 farmers in Tasmania depending primarily on wool production who are accorded no recognition and allowed no part in the formulation of the policies of such industry components as the Australian Wool Bureau and the Wool Research Committee? Is there any possibility of this state of affairs being rectified? Should the report of the Wool Marketing Committee of Enquiry be adopted and an Australian wool commission be established, can the Minister give an assurance that the State of Tasmania will be represented on that commission? Tasmanian lambs, which are the best produced in the Commonwealth, will not enjoy the higher export price recommended by the Australian Meat Board. Because this has caused great resentment among lamb producers in Tasmania, can some adjustment be made to the constitution of the Australian Meat Board to ensure that Tasmania is represented?
– Senator Lillico poses a hypothetical question, and it is always difficult to answer such a question satisfactorily. He asks in effect: If and when the report of the Wool Marketing Committee of Inquiry is adopted, and if and when the Australian wool commission is established, will Tasmania be represented? I cannot answer that, and I do not think anybody else can answer it at this stage. Suffice it to say that the Government is presently conferring with the federal wool-growing bodies on producer representation, and I can assure the honorable senator that all of those representations will be taken into account. The last question concerns Tasmanian representation on the Australian Meat Board. The legislation under which the Australian Meat Board was established provided for producer representation on an industry, not a State, basis. My understanding of the position is that that is how the producers’ organizations sought representation. If that is so, I cannot see any immediate prospect of an alteration of the system.
– Yesterday I asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate a series of questions concerning the work of Henry Dohan, the inventor of ladies’ snagproof and ladderproof nylon stockings. One or two of those questions were not answered. I again ask whether this Government, or any other Commonwealth government in the history of federation, has ever given financial assistance to any inventor.
– I can only say to Senator Brown that I do not know the answer to his question. I give that, I hope, as a polite answer. I think that the Commonwealth would hardly give financial assistance to an inventor unless the Commonwealth itself intended to use the invention. I shall have the question put on the notice-paper. I do not think that it is necessary to make any research to ascertain what has happened but I will obtain some short statement on the general policy.
– I address a question without notice to the Minister representing the Treasurer. Perhaps I should claim indulgence for referring to a matter that was the subject of my question yesterday but I want to direct the Minister’s attention to one particular aspect of the proposed increased banking charges, which have been tentatively announced to the people of Australia. Can the Minister tell me whether the Commonwealth Trading Bank is a party to these proposed charges? Will the Minister tell me whether any one of the trading banks is not a party to the charges? If all the banking corporations have combined in determining these charges, will the Minister examine them to ensure that these proposals by a combine are reasonable in the interests of the economy?
– Answering the first part of the question, I understand that the Commonwealth Trading Bank was a party to the discussions out of which these proposals - and I repeat that as I understand them, they are only proposalsemanated. I shall add the rest of the question to the lengthy question asked yesterday by the honorable senator and bring it to the notice of the Treasurer.
– I wish to direct a question to the Minister representing the Treasurer. Has the Minister seen a statement in the press reflecting the views of the president of the Chamber of Manufactures, New South Wales, to the effect that the recent measures taken by the Government, including budgetary measures, have not had and will not have the desired effect on the Australian economy and that they will not tend to reduce the unemployment that now exists in Australia? I should like to ask the Minister whether in his view there are any pointers at all to contradict the statement made by the president by the Chamber of Manufactures, New South Wales?
– To my recollection, I have not seen the statement referred to by the honorable senator, and I should like to have the opportunity of doing so before I comment on it. However, many and varied pointers within the economy indicate a quickening activity, which is manifesting itself in a number of ways. I should like to leave it at that until
I see that comment by the chairman of the Chamber of Manufactures in New South Wales. I always respect opinions emanating from that organization, although I must confess that I am often in disagreement with them.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Treasurer. Has the Minister seen in a recent weekly service letter of the Victorian Employers’ Federation the statement that the much publicized pre-Budget series of conferences between the Government and industry was a waste of time, that the Budget was
One of the most conservative in Australian history, and that it was lacking in any spirit of enterprise? Does the Minister agree with that statement? If not, does the Government contemplate holding further economic talks with representatives of various interests in the community?
- Mr. President, apparently I have not kept up to date with my reading, because I have not seen that
Statement either. I am rather surprised to hear of it now. No doubt the representative of the Victorian Employers’ Federation would be Mr. Gilmore-
– It was reported in the Melbourne “Herald” of Saturday, 18th August.
– I have not seen that article. I would be very surprised indeed if any responsible officer of an organization such as the Victorian Employers’ Federation were to go on record as saying that he regarded those discussions as being a waste of time. Indeed, expressions of opinion by all representatives of the various interests taking part in those meetings were very much to the contrary. Despite the reported opinion of this particular organization I can assure Senator Cohen, the Senate and the people of Australia that the Government regards such talks and contacts as being of great value, and it will continue with them.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration. Is it a fact that some 240,000 migrants, who are eligible for naturalization, have not exercised their right to become Australian citizens? What action does the Government take when a person becomes eligible for naturalization? Is literature forwarded to the prospective candidate pointing out the advantages and responsibilities of citizenship? If this is done, and the person does not respond, is there any regular follow-up by the department? In view of the fact that there is an uneasy peace throughout the world, is the Government not perturbed that almost a quarter of a million people in Australia do not owe allegiance to the Crown or to Australia?
– Recently I noticed a report that 240,000 people in Australia had yet to become Australian citizens. I believe we give migrants, when they first come to Australia, pamphlets and material pointing out the advantages of Australian citizenship. I am not aware whether or not there is any follow-up on that, but I will ask the Minister for Immigration about it. Recently the Minister said that his department would attempt to reduce the number of people who had not become naturalized. He was particular in saying that in no circumstances would anything but persuasion be used to bring about this desired result. He made one or two observations about the reasons for 240,000 people failing to become naturalized, but I am afraid that I cannot recall them at this moment. I will ask the Minister whether the department has any follow-up procedure, because I think this is important.
– I ask the Minister for Health whether he has seen in this morning’s “ Daily Telegraph “ a report in which the Victorian Minister for Health, Mr. Mack, is credited with saying that the State Government may consider introducing compulsory chest X-rays in Victoria, and that the responses to X-ray campaigns in the suburbs of Essendon and Coburg were disappointing. The Victorian Minister for Health is also reported as having said that only 36.2 per cent, of the people in the district responded. Does not the agreement between the Commonwealth and the States with relation to X-rays for tuberculosis imply that the States will in fact make chest X-rays compulsory?
– As I understand the agreement between the Commonwealth and the States with relation to tuberculosis, there is no provision for compulsion by the States. It is true that all States, with the exception of Victoria, have drawn up legislation which, if implemented, would make it mandatory upon all people to present themselves for a chest X-ray, I think, every two years.
I am very interested to hear of the statement by the Victorian Minister for Health, Mr. Mack, expressing concern at the fact that only 36.2 per cent, of the people presented themselves voluntarily for chest X-rays.
– That is in a certain district.
– Two districts were involved. They are Essendon and Coburg. I know that a very special effort was put into publicizing the campaign in those two districts. The State Government even went so far as to say that it would provide transport for any who were aged or infirm. You cannot do more than that when you are asking people to look after themselves. The idea of compulsion is abhorrent to all of us. Compulsion is the last resort, so far as we are concerned, in our endeavours to induce; people to do what they should do in their own interests; but I do suggest that if there were at large in this country some person who had smallpox, we would not hesitate for one moment to use compulsion to put that person in quarantine. If we take smallpox as an analogy when thinking of tuberculosis, I think all State governments will realize sooner or later that they have a very serious obligation to the people whom they represent to make every effort to control and eradicate this disease which, unfortunately, is inclined to slip out of our grasp. We have made great progress in the control of tuberculosis. Indeed, our record in the control of tuberculosis is second to none in the world, and it would be a tragedy if, through our apathy, we were to lose some of the ground we have gained. For that reason, I am very interested to hear that the Victorian Government is contemplating the introduction of compulsory chest X-rays. I hope that the other States which have already drawn up legislation making these X-rays compulsory will give very serious consideration to putting it into operation.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration, upon notice -
– My colleague, the1 Minister for Immigration, has supplied the following answers: -
Under our selection criteria for assisted migrants, only applicants who demonstrate a sincere desire to settle permanently in Australia are accepted.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade, upon notice -
– The Minister for Trade has supplied the following answers: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade, upon notice -
– The Minister for Trade has supplied the following answers: -
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The following answers are now supplied: - 1 and 2. I have studied the article referred to by the honorable senator. The figures quoted in the article were correct, as far as they went, but I must say at once that in the way they were presented, they were quite misleading, although perhaps not intentionally so. A comparison was drawn between what were described as “ normal cost to the Commonwealth Government “ and “normal cost to hospitals”, as though the sams circumstances applied to both. In fact, however, one set of figures referred to the prices at which some manufacturers sell to some large hospitals in bulk, whereas the other set of figures related to the cost to the Government of ten individual prescriptions of 50 tablets which are made available to patients after the drugs have been sold by manufacturers to wholesalers and made up for dispensing by chemists. In this circumstance it is not surprising that the comparisons made in the article are somewhat startling, at first glance, but on closer examination it is apparent that there are good reasons why the several prices quoted differ from each other.
Honorable senators will appreciate that different conditions govern the purchase of drugs by hospitals compared with the supply of drugs as pharmaceutical benefits through chemists, which is the basis of payments referred to in the article as “ normal cost to Commonwealth Government “. Hospitals generally, purchase drugs in large quantities direct from the manufacturer and receive the advantages of large-scale purchasing. Consequently, they are frequently in a position to obtain drugs at special, favorable rates. Supply to patients through chemists, on the other hand, is necessarily in much smaller quantities and the prices possible for large-scale purchasers are not directly comparable.
A further consideration of importance is that prices at which hospitals can purchase drugs vary widely according to the conditions of the particular contract. For example, I have ascertained that some hospitals are able to purchase certain diuretic tablets at £88 for 5,000. This, no doubt, has led to the statement that 500 tablets, one onetenth of 5,000, cost £8 16s. - one-tenth of £88. This, however, is not a proper deduction to draw from the figures, because smaller hospitals which purchase in 500 lots are paying £12 3s. 2d. for 500 of these tablets. Furthermore, hospitals can occasionally secure contracts for the purchase of drugs at abnormally low prices because of the existence of some special factor affecting market conditions, e.g., diminishing demand for the drug through normal retail outlets.
I am informed that the sale of drugs worth £34 at the rate £2 18s. for 500 tablets referred to in the second example in the honorable senator’s question was an isolated case in which a manufacturer held a single remaining consignment of a drug which had been removed from the pharmaceutical benefits list at the manufacturer’s request because of problems that had arisen in marketing the drug. In these circumstances, the manufacturer sold this small consignment for hospital use at the low price quoted.
It will thus be apparent that a number of factors contribute to the lower prices paid for drugs by hospitals. The supply of drugs direct from manufacturer to hospital means that the cost of handling drugs by wholesalers and agents is saved - hospitals can negotiate on a contract basis for bulk quantities direct from the manufacturer. Supplies of drugs for individual patients in the community are channelled through the agencies common to most items sold on the retail market, i.e., from the manufacturers they are distributed to agents in each State. The agents distribute to wholesalers, from whom the retail chemists obtain their supplies. Drugs so distributed are subject to the resultant distribution costs, including packaging, etc.
Drugs supplied by way of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme to individuals in the community, apart from the margins for wholesalers and agents, are also subject to the charges of retail chemists. In addition to a mark up of 334 per cent, for the retail chemists, an individual prescription written under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme is subject to factors including the chemist’s professional fee of 3s. per prescription and allowances to cover other special costs incurred.
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The following answers are now supplied: - 1 and 2. I conferred with the State Health Ministers on 23rd July, 1962, and we discussed the problems that would arise on the termination of the Hospital Benefits Agreements. I undertook that until future Commonwealth policy in this field is determined the existing benefits would be continued under regulations to be made under the National Health Act. Regulations have been made accordingly.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice: -
– I now supply the following answers: -
Debate resumed from 28th August (vide page 490), on motion by Senator Paltridge -
That the following papers: -
Estimates of Receipts and Expenditure, and Estimates of Expenditure for Additions, New Works and other Services involving Capital Expenditure, for the year ending 30th June, 1963;
The Budget 1962-63 - Papers presented by the Right Honorable Harold Holt in connexion with the Budget of 1962-63;
National Income and Expenditure 1961-62; and
Commonwealth payments to or for the States - be printed.
Upon 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 “.
And upon which Senator Toohey had moved by way of amendment to the amendment -
At the end of Senator McKenna’s amendment add the following words: - “ and- 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 “.
– Before the debate was interrupted yesterday by the adjournment of the Senate 1 had established, I believe, first, that there was unanimity of opinion in both political parties that comprise the South Australian
Parliament that South Australia has been badly treated by this Government in its failure to make provision for standardization of the railway line between Port Pirie and Broken Hill. I had also established beyond doubt, I believe, by quotations from leading articles in newspapers and from other sources, that there was a general, popular belief in South Australia that all ten senators from that State should support the move that emanated from the South Australian Parliament, by voting for the amendment moved by Senator Toohey. I do not intend to traverse that argument again. Just prior to the interruption of the debate, my mind was somewhat thrown off its track by a sudden influx into the chamber of several Ministers and by an interjection from Senator Spooner. The fact that my mind left the track is perhaps explained by the fact that we were discussing the line from Port Pirie to Broken Hill, which is a very narrow one. Just before the sitting concluded I was answering the interjection by Senator Spooner. I had made the point that in the Labour Party there has never been any apology for the fact that a Labour member of Parliament is bound by a policy decision, constitutionally arrived at by the party at a meeting at which he or somebody on his behalf was present to argue the case. He was bound by the decision and must support it in order to remain a Labour member. On the other hand, however, members of the Liberal Party have oft-times boasted that they are not so bound by decisions of their party and that they may vote as their consciences dictate.
– They have said it repeatedly.
– I am reminded that they have said repeatedly that they are free to vote as their consciences dictate, regardless of whether or not this is in accordance with party policy. A Labour member is not bound to support any proposal on which there is no established policy or on which no decision has been constitutionally arrived at by the Labour Party.
You are not going to tell us that if you were on this side you would agree with that resolution?
I replied that it would be impossible for Labour senators to be placed in the predicament in which Liberal senators from South Australia were placed, because we were parties to a policy decision made prior to the last general election, stating categorically that if Labour were returned as a government we would institute the necessary measures for implementation of the 1949 rail standardization agreement with South Australia.
– How soon after you had formed a government would you have done it?
– During this Budget session. If a few preferences in a few electorates had gone the other way and we had had a Labour government the framers of a budget which did not include provision for rail standardization in some form in South Australia would have been running contrary to Labour policy - not the senators in this chamber who voted against the budget. Only when a proposal has gone through the various State branches and has finally become federal policy is it binding on members of this party. If no decision had been arrived at in that way, and if we had not had an opportunity to voice our approval or disapproval, we would not be bound to support the policy. This pin-points the difference between our position and that of the four Liberal senators. Either their oft-repeated boast that they are bound not by their party but by their consciences is idle - as I have always thought - or they are parties to the Government’s decision not to make provision in this Budget for the comparatively miserly amount asked for by the Premier of South Australia. Liberal senators cannot have it both ways. They cannot say, on the one hand, that they are free to vote in any way they like and, on the other, that they are bound by loyalty to the Government to support any measure that comes down, regardless of whether or not it is in the interests of their own States and of whether or not they had any opportunity of influencing the framers of that policy. This highlights the difference between the two parties and underlines the frankness that has always emanated from this side in respect of the fact that we are bound, but only in relation to a matter pf policy in the framing of which we had a part.
– It is the frankness of a political priest.
– I cannot follow the interjection. Senator Brown suggests that I ask that the question be put on notice. I had briefly mentioned another point yesterday, in relation to the generally accepted belief that the Premier was the sole negotiator on behalf of South Australia. I could find no evidence that he sought the assistance of his colleagues in the South Australian Parliament or anybody else. Nor could I find any* evidence that he approached Liberal senators or Liberal members of the House of Representatives from South Australia. As I said yesterday, I am positive that no approach was made to Labour senators or Labour members of the House of Representatives from South Australia. I believe it can be taken as almost certain that the correspondence that Sir Thomas Playford sent to the Prime Minister was sent off his own bat, without seeking the advice of anybody.
By the evidence that I could glean from questions asked in this Parliament, I showed that nobody other than the Prime Minister knew of the negotiations between him and the Premier of South Australia. So, it appears that there has been a one-man band in South Australia and a one-man band in Canberra. It is an open secret that the Prime Minister and a large number of his senior Ministers derive much more pleasure out of saying “ No “ to Sir Thomas Playford than out of saying “ Yes “ to him.
I admit quite frankly that Liberal senators from South Australia might have some excuse if they were disgusted with the whole business and with the Premier of South Australia, who is of their own political colour. He has blundered as a negotiator. I could also have sympathy for them if they believed- that it was wrong for the Prime Minister, or anybody else representing this Government, to reject a proposal simply because it came from Sir Thomas Playford and regardless of whether or not it was in the best interests of South Australia.
– Has the Labour Opposition in the South Australian Parliament ever assisted this proposal through the South Australian Labour members of this Parliament?
– Of course we have put forward this proposal. I do not know whether Senator Wright was in the chamber the other night when Senator Toohey moved an amendment in an attempt to highlight the present position.
– I am quite aware of that. I am talking about the time before that amendment was moved.
– In 1949, the last time Labour was in office in this Parliament, the agreement on rail standardization, so far as it related to South Australia, was made between the South Australian Government and a federal Labour government. South Australia was the first signatory to that agreement. The best that we can hope for now is that our State will be the last to, receive the benefit of that agreement. The Labour Party has not wavered in respect of rail standardization not only in South Australia but also in the rest of Australia. During the war the lack of standardization was one of the weaknesses in our defence system. Standardization should have been one of the first projects carried out in the post-war years.
– That is not what I was talking about. You said that Sir Thomas Playford was playing a lone hand. I asked you whether the Labour Opposition in South Australia had ever given him any assistance.
– In answer to that interjection, I say that every time Sir Thomas Playford gets into difficulties he depends upon the Labour Senators to get him out of them. My mind goes back to an event that occurred before I became a senator. I have read the “ Hansard “ reports of it. It was from this side of the chamber that Sir Thomas Playford sought and received help in his argument with the Commonwealth Government about the Snowy Mountains scheme.
I wish to direct attention to a cartoon that appeared in the Adelaide “News” of 27th August. These political cartoons often get to the point of a matter under debate much more quickly than a leading article or some other method does. I notice that Senator Buttfield is smiling. No doubt she has seen this cartoon. For the benefit of those who have not seen it, I will describe it. It shows the Prime Minister looking at a television set. The words “ Doctor Casey Jones “ appear on the screen. Leaning over the back of a lounge chair are four precocious children. Three of them are male and one is female. Sir Thomas Playford is depicted as a woman down on her knees picking up a conglomeration of broken railway lines and engines. The words underneath the cartoon are, “ Dad said for you to pick it up “. One of the precocious children looks like Senator Mattner and, obviously, he is advising the Premier of South Australia, Sir Thomas Playford, that Mr. Menzies has told him that he should pick up the mess.
– That is what he offered to do.
– He did not offer to do that. That is the interpretation that you placed upon it. The point I wish to make is that the cartoon indicates that two people are negotiating, but it makes the Liberal senators from South Australia the villains of the piece and the people who caused the mess. I suggest that if the four Liberal senators from South Australia do not want to be made the scapegoats they have an opportunity to prove their sincerity by supporting the amendment moved by Senator Toohey. Frankly, I do not think they owe any loyalty to anybody in this place, because I do not think they were conversant with the position or that their help was sought.
Both Senator Mattner and Senator Buttfield have gone on record in the press as stating that some negotiations are going on and that this movement, which emanated from the South Australian Parliament and was launched in this Parliament by Senator Toohey, is likely to prejudice the success of those negotiations. I ask those two senators whether they can tell us on what date these negotiations started; with whom they are negotiating; whether or not Sir Thomas Playford knows anything about them; and whether or not their two Liberal colleagues from South Australia know anything about them. If there have been negotiations recently - that is, since the amendment was moved by Senator Toohey - what has happened during this debate following the move by the South Australian House of Assembly will help rather than hinder any recent negotiations.
.- I rise this afternoon to oppose strongly the amendment moved by Senator Toohey. The construction of a standard-gauge railway from Broken Hill to Port Pirie has been raised in rather an unusual way by Senator Toohey, who has submitted an amendment to an amendment proposed by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) on the motion for the printing of the Estimates and Budget Papers. To move an amendment of this nature strikes me as a wrong approach altogether in a matter so important to South Australia and, in my opinion, of great importance to the Commonwealth. Crocodile tears have been shed by members of the Opposition, who have lost no time in jumping into the breach which, regrettably, has been opened by Sir Thomas Playford. Opposition senators have done this to gain political advantage rather than to further the rail project.
To make matters worse, the South Australian Parliament has unanimously adopted a resolution requesting South Australian senators to consider moving the following amendment to the motion in the Senate for the printing of the Estimates and Budget Papers: -
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.
There are those who argue that under the Constitution the Senate is a States House, and that therefore this action is a correct procedure. I do not think it was ever intended by the founding fathers of the Constitution that any State could direct its senators, against the will of such senators, to gang up, as it were, on the Commonwealth in a sort of hold-up, to secure large sums of money for a project which had not been approved by the Australian Loan Council, to the disadvantage of other States and against the will of the Commonwealth Government. Some great injury would have to be inflicted: on a State by the Commonwealth Government to justify the taking of such action under the provisions of the Constitution.
In such circumstances, the senators representing that State would not require to be directed, but would react, irrespective of party, in defence of their own State. The amendment proposed by Senator Toohey is not based on any such high motive. On the contrary, it is based on a very sordid motive, when all the circumstances are considered, and it deserves therefore to be strongly rejected. In my judgment, tactics of this sort usually produce more harm than good. This type of pressure by South Australian senators ranks with direct-action methods of many leftist trade unionists, and is to be deplored. It savours of political blackmail and needs to be resisted.
I do not know how the honorable senators from South Australia will respond to the call of the South Australian Parliament. It is one thing, of course, to call the spirits from the vasty deep but the question is, will they come? I am surprised and disappointed that Sir Thomas Playford gave his backing to the South Australian parliamentary resolution. The action taken has embarrassed those of us who are friendly to the South Australian case, and those dedicated to the early approval and construction of this line.
Let us have a look at past events. As far back as 1950, there was a strong feeling amongst Government members of this Parliament in favour of the construction of a standard 4-ft. 8i-in. gauge railway to connect all the capital cities of Australia. The proposal was fully canvassed within the parties, and the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) finally authorized the appointment of a uniform rail gauge committee drawn from the members of the Government parties. Those who volunteered to serve on that committee, including myself, agreed to pay our own expenses and give our time to the work of the committee. This was considerable, because we had to travel to every State of Australia except Tasmania. Mr. W. C. Wentworth was chosen as the chairman. I wish to pay tribute to the splendid work and service which he gave on the committee. Let me make it clear that the rail standardization committee had no authority whatever to do anything other than to make inquiries, interrogate witnesses, and make recommendations to the Government parties, the Prime Minister and the Minister for Shipping and Transport.
– Did the committee make a recommendation in respect of the line in dispute?
– Let us be logical. The committee had to contend against opposition from the West Australian Labour Government, but found strong support and goodwill from many influential Western Australians. Sir Thomas Playford, however, acting for his government, stood solidly against the Commonwealth constructing a standard-gauge line across the State of South Australia. He would have none of it, and pressed for the fulfilment of the terms of an agreement which he had entered into with Mr. E. J. Ward, M.P., when he was a Minister of the Chifley Government.
– Sir Thomas’s first love was the Melbourne-Adelaide line.
– That is so. He especially wanted the Melbourne-Adelaide line to be standardized. He pressed also for the fulfilment of the terms of the agreement made with Mr. Ward during the term of the Chifley Government - for the standardization of all the lines of South Australia.
The committee was unable to make any progress with Sir Thomas at that time. Many members of the committee felt that the Broken Hill-Port Pirie rail link was the most important of the three that were showing up because, if that job were completed, an unbroken 4-ft. 8i-in. track would be provided from Brisbane to Sydney, Sydney to Broken Hill, thence to Port Pirie, on to Port Augusta and right across to Kalgoorlie. It would have been a very long haul from Brisbane right through to Kalgoorlie. Many of us though that that project should have No. 1 priority. In view of Sir Thomas’s opposition, when the report was being prepared the committee prevailed on the charman, Mr. Wentworth, to visit Adelaide and make a last-minute attempt to secure cooperation from the South Australian Premier. Mr. Wentworth did this on at least two occasions, if I remember correctly, in an attempt to persuade Sir Thomas to co-operate with the committee before its report was completed and handed over to the Prime Minister and the Minister for Shipping and Transport. If the South
Australian Government had co-operated at that time, I firmly believe that the line from Broken Hill to Port Pirie would now be a fait accompli. Even then, the committee in its recommendations did not rule out the Broken Hill-Port Pirie proposition. I have here a report of the committee which was tabled in Parliament on 31st October, 1956. Paragraph 4 on page 1 of the committee’s recommendations reads, in part, as follows: -
Both the Broken Hill line and the Melbourne line are of such high priority that it is difficult to decide which should be first constructed. Probably the final decision should rest on administrative considerations; i.e., the one which can be put in hand first with the full co-operation of the State Government should have priority.
That is the important recommendation of the committee on this question of competition between South Australia and Victoria. The committee in its recommendations quite clearly left the door wide open for any possible change of mind on the part of the South Australian Government. As South Australia offered no co-operation, the priority went by forfeiture to Victoria. Victoria promptly offered co-operation for the construction of the line from Wodonga to Melbourne. South Australia offered no co-operation and so its interest was forfeited to Victoria. 1 would like to say that the majority of the committee privately favoured, I am sure, the Port Pirie-Broken Hill line as No. 1 priority. The whole business calls to mind the title of Adam Lindsay Gordon’s famous racing poem, “ How We Beat the Favourite “. Slightly transposed it could be read as “ How the Favourite Beat Himself “. In a kindly spirit I would like to remind Sir Thomas Playford of the old Arab saying: “ Three things come not back - one, the sped arrow; two, the spoken word; three, the lost opportunity “. The lost opportunity is not coming back now. I hope that a little later on it might be converted into a regained opportunity in accordance with the terms of the letter from the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies).
The Government Members Rail Standardization Committee made a further visit to South Australia in June of this year. It was warmly welcomed and most hospitably received by the Premier and leading citizens. The committee travelled by road to
Port Pirie and on to Peterborough. Having met leading citizens in those two important South Australian towns the committee journeyed by train to Broken Hill where the warm welcome was repeated. A very warm welcome was extended by the mayor, leading citizens, representatives of the trade unions and representatives from the various mining companies in Broken Hill - all of whom strongly pressed for the completion of this line.
All the available evidence suggests that since the committee first visited South Australia, in the early 1950’s and since the completion of the standard-gauge line from Wodonga to Melbourne the Premier and the members of the South Australian Government have completely changed their attitude to this rail connexion. On the occasion of the committee’s recent visit to South Australia the Premier was most anxious to co-operate and informed us that he had submitted a request to the Prime Minister for approval of a scheme estimated to cost, under all heads, anything between £17,000,000 and £20,000,000, to be spread over a period of seven or eight years. I am sure that every member of the committee supports the South Australian Premier’s submission, subject of course, to the availability of finance. The Prime Minister correctly described the proposal, based on its arithmetic, as “ quite a sizeable project “. He added that because of other highly important railway projects in progress, no added financial commitment could be undertaken at this time.
I point out to those who say that the Prime Minister rejected the proposal out of hand that he admitted the desirability of this particular line and made it clear that the decision at present does not reject the conversion work on this line. South Australian senators need no reminder of the fact that the Commonwealth Government is committed to find £1,300,000 for the purchase of twelve diesel locomotives and 100 wagons for the carriage of ore. The use of this rolling-stock will considerably reduce transport costs between Port Pirie and Broken Hill and also wherever these locomotives and wagons are used elsewhere in South Australia.
During the debates on the Budget and on the States Grants (Additional Assistance) Bill, various South Australian senators have directed attention to the fact that while the Menzies Government has been in office the standard gauge railway track from Port Augusta to Leigh Creek was completed, which has been a great benefit to South Australia in the mining of coal at Leigh Creek for the generation of electricity at Port Augusta. Honorable senators informed us during the debates here in the last week that later the standard-gauge line was extended from Leigh Creek to Marree, which is a long way from the starting point of Port Augusta. This line has been of great value in the transport of fat cattle to the Adelaide market and has also been helpful in the transport of passengers and merchandise to and from Alice Springs.
This extension from Port Augusta, via Leigh Creek, to Marree, was financed by the Commonwealth Treasury through the Commonwealth Railways at a cost of £12,200,000, inclusive of rolling-stock. The Government of South Australia was not required to make any monetary contribution and is not called upon to pay any interest. The Commonwealth Railways face a continual outgoing on capital works, maintenance and rolling-stock for the line from Port Pirie, via Port Augusta to the Western Australian border. This line greatly benefits South Australia - at no cost to the South Australian Government. In the south-east division the 3-ft. 6-in. gauge line has been converted to 5-ft. 3-in. gauge, until such time as the standard gauge is generally adopted throughout South Australia. The total cost of this conversion in the south-eastern part of the State was £5,100,000. The Commonwealth Government provided all the additional finance; South Australia found nil. South Australia, however, will repay its assessed share that is, £1,500,000 which is 30 per cent, of the total outgoing. This 30 per cent, proportional repayment will be spread over a period of 50 years. It will therefore be seen that South Australia has come into a modern rail system for next to nothing, through the bounty of the Commonwealth Government. When the South Australia Parliament launches an attack on the Commonwealth Government, as it has done in this instance, it is really biting the generous hand that has fed it to a degree which has not been experienced by any other State.
It is a bad show for the Liberal Premier of South Australia to link up with the Labour Party in the South Australian Parliament with the joint aim - I cannot take any other inference from it–01 harassing and embarrassing the Commonwealth Government which has been a real Father Christmas for South Australia by way of State grants over the years and these standard railway benefactions. While all this rail work was proceeding in South Australia the Queensland Government, far from being given money, was unable to borrow for perhaps the most important railway project in Australia - the reconditioning of the railroad between Townsville and Mount Isa. Due, however, to the good offices of the Commonwealth Government, the money was finally raised from Commonwealth resources, and that great work is now proceeding. I therefore suggest that in his moments of tranquillity Sir Thomas count his blessings, keeping in mind the words of the Prime Minister -
We do intend to look again at your present proposal as and when work on ether railway projects to which we are financially committed is further advanced.
The Prime Minister has also stated that “ inescapable demands on our taxation and other revenue in this and the coming two or three years “ preclude the rail link having immediate acceptance.
– Was that the reason why you refused £50,000 for survey work on the line?
– You will have to answer that one yourself. This is a big project. This is not a matter of £50,000. I have no doubt that the Budget has been properly prepared and that provision has been made for expenditure on all the one hundred and one things the Treasurer has to finance.
I regard the Prime Minister’s stand as being very fair and also most hopeful in that within a limited period the green light might be given to the construction of the Broken Hill-Port Pirie link. In the meantime, I think that Broken Hill Associated Smelters Proprietary Limited of Port Pirie would be wise to submit its special circumstances to Sir Thomas Playford for transmission to the Prime Minister, so that the local economy of Port Pirie based on the operation of this company might be fully understood by all of us in Canberra.
When the Government Members Rail Standardization Committee began its task in the early 1950’s there were many sceptics who indulged in much ribbing about an impossible task, but I draw attention to the successful work of the committee, which has helped forward many railway works. The Wodonga-Melbourne line has been completed and is now operating profitably. The biggest job of all, the line from Kalgoorlie to Kwinana via Perth, was authorized by this Parliament last year, and I understand that work has already begun on that great undertaking. I am sure that, given a little time and patience, the missing link between Broken Hill and Port Pirie will be sanctioned by the Commonwealth Government. The members of the committee - I think I can speak for them all - join with the South Australian senators and the South Australian Government in strong support of their request to the Commonwealth Government for funds to enable completion of the final link in the great transcontinental east-west standard-gauge 4-ft. 8i-in. line, subject to the considerations stated by the Prime Minister.
– I rise to support the amendment moved by Senator McKenna and the further amendment moved by my colleague from South Australia, Senator Toohey. Senator Ridley said he would direct his remarks mainly to the amendment moved by Senator Toohey. I, too, will direct my remarks along those lines. First, however, taking the Budget as a whole, I do not think it remains for any South Australian senators or any members of the Opposition in this chamber to add their criticisms of the Budget, because it has already been criticized by members on the Government side in both Houses of this Parliament. It has also been criticized by various organizations outside the Parliament. This should be sufficient to remind the Government that the Budget is not all that it hopes.
I should now like to answer some of the remarks of the previous speaker, Senator Maher. He said that Labour members on this side of the chamber had shed crocodile tears over the standardization of the railway between Port Pirie and Broken
Hill. I remind him that we are not supporting Sir Thomas Playford or the South Australian Liberal Government because we believe in the policy of that Government; what we are supporting is the fact that rail standardization between Port Pirie and Broken Hill is vital to the future of that part of South Australia. Even senators from the Government side have said that if this project is not completed Port Pirie will become virtually a ghost town.
– No, we have not said that.
– In reply to Senator Buttfield’s interjection, I shall quote from the Adelaide “News” of 10th August, 1962, as follows: -
Senator Laught, who has been a leading figure in the standardization movement in SA, said he was disappointed that it had got to the stage where Sir Thomas Playford felt he had to undertake the work alone. “The Commonwealth must consider the standardization of the Port Pirie-Broken Hill section as something that will phase in with the standardization of the Kwinana-Kalgoorlie section of the line,” he said. “ Otherwise there would still be a break in (he railway system from east to west. “Consequently, I would be very surprised if the Prime Minister had given a definite rejection of the standardization proposal.” Senator Laught said he was seriously concerned about the future of Port Pirie.
He said that if the BHP sent its concentrates to NSW for economic reasons, Port Pirie could become a virtual ghost town.
On the same day the same newspaper published the following report: -
Senator Mattner said it was unfair to say the Senate was a party and not a State house. “Nobody has done more for standardization than the SA senators. “ I say good luck to Sir Thomas and we will do all we can to get some money for him. “This is of vita: importance to SA and should have started long ago. “ What I am most concerned about is the future of Port Pirie if the work is not done.”
On the same day in the same newspaper this report appeared -
Senator Hannaford . . . said today that he was very disappointed as SA had not received any South Australian Senators were they here - that money for the standardization project in the
He said the task would not be easy but it was extremely important to SA that the standardization work be carried out.
Money should have been made available for the initial stages of the project envisaged in the 1949 agreement. “ I don’t think it would have imposed too great a strain on Commonwealth finances as the work would have been carried out over a number of years,” he said. “ It is quite unthinkable that the line should be left at 3 ft. 6in.,” he said.
– He does not say that it will be a ghost town.
– No, but the inference is there. Although Senator Buttfield did not suggest it, other honorable senators believed that that could happen to Port Pirie should the concentrates be diverted to New South Wales for treatment. Senator Maher also said that South Australia should be thankful for the hand-outs it had received over the years.
– I did not use the word “ hand-out “.
– The grants that had been allotted.
– That is better.
– I say that they were hand-outs. That is about all that they could be called. Here let me quote what the Premier of South Australia had to say about this matter. Speaking in the House of Assembly on Thursday of last week, he said -
When the work in the South-East neared completion the South Australian Government wrote to the Commonwealth Government stating its desire that further project orders be signed for work in the Peterborough Division. We asked for ?50,000 to enable survey work to be undertaken in the Peterborough Division, but that request was refused. South Australia offered to pay the ?50,000 for the survey if the Commonwealth Government experienced difficulties in making the appropriation, on the understanding that it would be recouped as soon as the work proceeded, but that offer was not accepted then. However, some time later the Prime Minister announced in a policy speech that his Government would make available ?50,000 for survey work.
Later in his speech, Sir Thomas Playford said -
I point out to members - as I would to the the three States affected by those projects had categorically refused to accept the offer for this standardization work when it was first made by the Commonwealth Government.
These projects had been mentioned earlier by Sir Thomas -
The Commonwealth Government undertook the standardization of the line from Melbourne to Albury; it has undertaken the heavy responsibility for the modernization, not standardization, of the Mount Isa railway line - a project costing about £26,000,000–
– What is the gauge of the Mount Isa line?
– I take it that it would be a standard-gauge line.
– Three feet six inches?
– It would not be much good spending that amount of money on the line if it were going to remain at 3-ft. 6-in. gauge. Sir Thomas Playford continued- -and, more recently, it has undertaken the standardization of the line from Perth to Kalgoorlie.
If South Australia has fared as well as Senator Maher would have us believe why would the Premier of South Australia make those statements in Parliament? Somebody must be wrong. Is it Sir Thomas Playford, or is it the Commonwealth Government, or those representing the Commonwealth Government on the rail standardization committee?
– Senator Maher suggested that he was a Communist or that he favoured extreme left-wing policy.
– Sir Thomas Playford.
– I did not suggest that he was a Communist.
– The Premier of South Australia also said -
I want it clearly understood that I do not in any way decry the fact that the Commonwealth Government is making money available for Western Australia, Victoria and Queensland. As b matter of hard fact, when the Mount Isa line was due for discussion at the Loan Council meeting, one or two representatives from other States discussed it privately with me because they wanted to oppose that work proceeding on the ground that it was an unfair preference to Queensland. I used every influence I had - and I believe successfully - in getting the other States to agree to that project. When the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited discussed the conversion of the line from Perth to Kalgoorlie I immediately publicly supported it, because I believed it was in the best interests of Australia as a whole. However, that does not alter the fact that South Australia is also a member of the Commonwealth of Australia.
I come now to the large amounts which Senator Maher alleges have been going to South Australia. Sir Thomas Playford continued -
A few weeks ago I took out figures dealing with Commonwealth expenditure on special projects. My definition of “special project” is one that gives benefit to only one State or to only some of the States and is not shared by all States; although we know that many Commonwealth expenditures are shared by all the States. For instance, consider the reimbursement of the petrol tax; each State gets its share of that money. In recent years, however, in the Federal financial set-up there has been an entirely new element, which I personally welcome. I believe that on the question of national development the position of the States to-day, with their taxation rights curtailed and their finances limited, is that they cannot provide the large amounts needed for national development. I agree with (he Commonwealth’s coming into the field of making money available for national development. If South Australia is to go ahead, it must be with the assistance of Commonwealth funds rather than its own prescribed revenues that are under the control of this Parliament.
I make it clear that I do not oppose the Commonwealth’s making money available for national development. Indeed, I believe we will not have effective national development unless the Commonwealth Government takes an active interest in it. Having said that, however, I believe it is necessary for every State to get equal consideration in the distribution of these moneys. I have had figures taken out for the last four years which show where the expenditure has benefited some States specifically and not Australia as a whole. In the last four years I find there has been an expenditure of Commonwealth money within that classification of £131,000,000. The figures for three of those years were obtained from Commonwealth Treasury returns and for the fourth year I took the figures from the Budget Papers of the Commonwealth Treasurer. Included in that £131,000,000 is a substantial amount for the Snowy River scheme.
That indicates that the thoughts of the Premier of South Australia are not running on the same lines as are those of Senator Maher, because Sir Thomas Playford feels that South Australia has been neglected in the past. We are not supporting the move made in South Australia merely to fall in line with the Liberal Party of that State; we are supporting this move because it is vital to all the people in that part of South Australia which is concerned with rail standardization. It has been claimed that this is a political move by the Australian Labour Party, and that we are trying to make political capital out of it. I read through the speech of the Premier of South Australia, and I recall reading that he said that he would not have supported this motion, which was moved by the Leader of the Opposition in South Australia, if it had had any political flavour. Sir Thomas Playford said that had the motion been directed to only certain senators from South Australia he would have opposed it. Because the motion was on broad lines and was directed to all South Australian senators, he felt that he should support it. In fact, he gave it whole-hearted support. Other speakers, not from the Labour Party side of the chamber, but from the Liberal side, supported the remarks of the Premier.
It was the Premier himself who suggested that South Australian senators be notified of the motion that had been carried in the House of Assembly. An order was issued to the effect that the Clerk of the House of Assembly should transmit to South Australian senators copies of the motion and of the “ Hansard “ report of the debate. I understand that the copies of “ Hansard “ were on the way before 5 o’clock on the afternoon that the motion was carried in the House of Assembly, thus proving that this is not a political move. Honorable senators opposite may laugh, but if they were in a similar position, I suggest they would do the very thing that we on this side of the chamber are now doing.
– And if they had the interests of their State at heart.
– Yes. Times out of number, criticism has been levelled at Labour Party senators because they have not spoken on certain issues. Yet, when we rise to speak on this occasion we are criticized for having too much to say. In racing parlance, honorable senators opposite cannot have two bob each way. Although they may not be very happy about this situation, I am sure that, in similar circumstances, they would do exactly as we are doing. Honorable senators on this side of the chamber who come from South Australia are eager to do everything possible to help to fulfil the hopes of the State in regard to national development and to bring fo fruition projects that are proposed for the benefit of the State.
We have been accused, by South Australian senators on the Government side, of using gangster tactics. As Senator Ridley pointed out in his speech on this issue, when honorable senators accuse us of such tactics they are also accusing the Premier of South Australia of indulging in them. Let me refer to a statement made to the Adelaide “Advertiser” by Senator Buttfield. According to the newspaper, she said -
The Opposition had adopted “ gangster “ tactics in the threat to defeat the Federal Government, and the task of senators had not been made easier by the State government linking itself with the move. These tactics remind me of those used by Indonesia in the West Papua issue - pointing bullets at the Government’s head and demanding their money or their life.
At least Indonesia met with some success by pointing a gun. It seems that the Premier of South Australia will have to point a cannon at the head of the federal Government in order to get any benefit from it whatever. This is a matter of concern not only to the Labour Party and the Liberal Party in South Australia, but to other organizations as well. The following statement appeared in the “ Advertiser “ on Friday last: -
The president of the S.A. Chamber of Manufactures (Mr. R. V. Allison) said last night that representatives of the chamber attending the Associated Chamber of Manufactures’ executive meeting in Canberra next week hoped to discuss the standardisation question with the Prime Minister.
Industry in S.A. was vitally concerned in the matter and its members had been nonplussed by the continuous delay.
Let us hope that the Chamber of Manufactures meets with a little more success than the Premier of South Australia has met with.
According to a press article, honorable senators opposite have claimed that they were negotiating for the fulfilment of the plans concerning the standardization project. As Senator Ridley has commented, if such negotiations were proceeding, why was not the Premier of South Australia informed of the stage they had reached? If honorable senators opposite were trying to do something in the matter, I commend them, but why was not the Premier notified? Had he been advised, and had it appeared that there was a chance that the negotiations would be successful, I do not think the matter would have been raised in the South Australian Parliament. During the recent debate on the States Grants (Additional Assistance) Bill (No. 2), Senator Toohey moved an amendment to the motion that the report of the committee be adopted. When honorable senators on this side of the chamber spoke of rail standardization during the debate they were chided on the ground that that was not the proper time to discuss the matter, and that it should be left until the Budget was being debated.
– It was said that the Budget debate was the appropriate occasion to discuss the matter. I believe it was Senator Buttfield who said that.
– I said that.
– Honorable senators opposite, apart from Senator Maher, who spoke this afternoon, have had very little to say regarding rail standardization in South Australia. They said that they could not support the amendment moved by Senator Toohey during the debate on the States Grants (Additional Assistance) Bill (No. 2) because to do so might cause the downfall of the Government. Now, they say they cannot support Senator Toohey’s amendment to the Budget amendment moved on behalf of the Labour Party by Senator McKenna. Had they been sincere in their approach, I think they would have supported Senator Toohey’s amendment to the States grants legislation.
– That was something to which the Premier of South Australia had agreed. It was no good opposing it.
– It seems that the Premier has changed his mind very quickly. The subject of rail standardization has been given quite an airing. This has at least brought to light the fact that this Government has not given South Australia the consideration which South Australians have been led to believe over the years was being given to them. In the words of the Premier himself we have been neglected by this Government.
I feel that I have said my share on rail standardization. I should like to touch on other aspects of the Budget, but time will not permit. There has been criticism, not only from the Labour Opposition, but also from people who would not at any time support the Labour Party, to the effect that this
Budget will not achieve the objective that the Government believes it will achieve. Therefore, I have much pleasure in supporting both Senator Toohey’s amendment and the amendment moved by Senator McKenna.
– The debate on the motion moved by Senator Paltridge that the Estimates and Budget Papers be printed, and on the amendments proposed by Senator McKenna and Senator Toohey, has been interesting. But I cannot understand why some Opposition senators are such prophets of gloom. There are exceptions, particularly amongst the new Labour senators. I believe that the Opposition is doing a great disservice to the Australian people by trying to engender in people’s minds the belief that the Australian economy is running down. However, in the midst of this desert of dismal and empty thought an oasis of bright thinking has emerged from the newly elected senators. Their speeches held the attention of the Senate. Each presented his or her case well. From the views expressed - and they were expressed so ably - it is apparent that the Senate has acquired members who are skilled in debate and able to solve the problems which this chamber will have presented to it from day to day.
Of course, under our system of government it is axiomatic that no Budget will satisfy every one. Every one of us is particularly interested in one or more aspects of the Budget proposals. We press our claims with emphasis. No government can possibly satisfy all the claims made upon its budget planning. We in turn shall criticize the Budget because of its omissions, but at the same time we shall give credit for the expected overall improvement that will be made to our national economy. If the critics were compelled to frame a national budget of over £2,000,000,000 they too would leave themselves wide open to criticism. If we are dispassionate we must agree that the Budget does provide an added stimulus to our national economy. We may disagree with some of its minor components, yet viewing it in its entirety we realize that our economy is steadily, surely and solidly improving.
Confidence is the greatest stimulus to men and women to invest their talent, brains, labour and money in productive fields. The private sector must always be the greatest employer of labour in a community. It uses discrimination in spending, it is selective in investment, it is aware of the people’s needs- and requirements, it is quick to respond, and it fulfils those needs rapidly. Price stability has given great confidence to both the manufacturer and the consumer. This creates a demand in all fields of employment.
The Opposition has made great play on the number of people recorded as being out of work, but Labour has not made any proposal as to the manner in which the unemployed may be placed in useful employment. Why is this? Honorable senators opposite are afraid to tell the people in definite and certain terms that they believe in the socialization of the means of production, distribution and exchange. They have made it their avowed policy, the very first plank of their platform. In other words, they are afraid to tell the public that they believe in the direction of labour.
– Where do you stand on standardization?
– The honorable senator should possess himself in patience. In one sentence, honorable senators opposite declare that this Budget is exactly as they suggested in December, 1961. In the very next sentence they flatly and roundly condemn it. We should seriously examine our unemployment figures to discover the reasons why people are out of work. Mr. W. Geoff Gerard, federal president of the Australian Metal Industries Association, said only a few days ago that in sixteen classifications of tradesmen in metal industries employers were unable to obtain workers for skilled and, in some areas, semi-skilled and unskilled operations.
This Government is doing its utmost to see that every person able and willing to work is placed in profitable employment. It has alleviated some of the difficulties and hardships of people out of work. A man who is unemployed is paid £4 2s. 6d. a week, his wife is paid £3 a week, and in respect of each child he receives 15s. a week. An unemployed man with a wife and three children receives £10 12s. 6d. a week, with £1 5s. in the form of child endowment. I remind the public that honorable senators opposed the payment of child endowment to the first child. The unemployed man may earn also up to £2 a week.
When viewing the subject of unemployment we should review our education system to see whether young people leaving school at the age of fifteen years or sixteen years have the qualifications to fit into our economic life. Our pattern of living, spending and working is changing. I have a bias towards - and advocate - technical education in our secondary schools. The old apprenticeship system is changing. This change is being reflected in the demands made in our education system to make good, as it were, the loss of apprentices. Some industries have established their own training centres. In such cases excellent results have accrued. I suggest that some tax concession might be made in this direction.
To proceed another step, I still advocate national service training, with some modification of the system we had a few years ago. Surely it would be possible, in cooperation with our education system, to build into national service training an education policy to equip our youth with trades and skills that would make them a valuable acquisition to our work force when training is completed. Surely among our service personnel we can find people with zeal and a new outlook to convert national service into a real, live, worth-while training.
We must preserve a balance between growth in the public sector and growth in the private sector. Efficiency alone cannot overcome high labour costs. The high labour cost is not in the price paid for labour only. It occurs when the service rendered is under value. I hope Senator Sandford will not leave the chamber now. He asked me a question, and if he waits for a while he will hear me answer it. Transport costs are heavy within and outside Australia. The standardization of rail gauges should reduce rail charges. Diesel engines certainly reduce running expenses.
South Australians received a terrific shock when the Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia, Sir Owen Dixon, announced the rejection of South Australia’s claims that the federal Government should begin to carry out the railway standardization agreement of 1949. The seven High Court judges held that the 1949 agreement was a political arrangement and not a contract that could be enforced at law. The economic consequences of this judgment are damaging to South Australia. South Australians are patient, but it is a trial of patience to note that the Western Australian and Queensland governments received huge sums of money for transport projects in connexion with Mount Isa and Kwinana, whereas South Australia did not receive money for rail projects. This High Court judgment, together with the happenings in the South Australian Parliament on Thursday last over the standardization of the Port Pirie to Broken Hill line, set precedents regarding Commonwealth and State agreements and relationships.
The South Australian House of Assembly discussed the standardization of the Port Pirie to Broken Hill section of line and carried a motion. I am not questioning the right of members of that House to discuss this matter and carry the following motion: -
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 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.”
After debate that motion was carried unanimously. Then Mr. Walsh, the leader of the Labour Opposition in the House of Assembly, moved -
That a copy of the foregoing resolution be transmitted forthwith by the Clerk of the House to each senator for South Australia.
That motion was carried. I received my notification on Friday last, 24th August. It was delivered to my office in Adelaide. But, just after 8 o’clock on the evening of Thursday, 23rd August, Senator Toohey moved the following amendment in this chamber -
At the end of Senator McKenna’s amendment add the following words: - “ And- but that the Government be requested to make provision therein for adequate, funds to enable the standardization of the railwayline between Broken Hill and Port Pirie to be carried out in conjunction with the State of South Australia.”
Apparently Senator Toohey had prior knowledge of what happened in the South Australian Parliament on Thursday last; but I suggest that he did not have a copy of the report of the debate when he promptly acceded to the request and moved his amendment.
I shall vote against Senator Toohey’s amendment. I shall also vote against Senator McKenna’s amendment. Senator Ridley quoted extracts from newspaper articles yesterday. I repeat in this chamber what I said to the press when asked to comment on the various happenings. These were my comments: Under the Senate rules of procedure I may either support or reject Senator Toohey’s amendment. If his amendment were carried, it would become part of Senator McKenna’s amendment. I will certainly vote against Senator McKenna’s amendment. If that amendment is defeated, so also is Senator Toohey’s amendment. If I wanted to play politics, I could vote for Senator Toohey’s amendment and try to makemyself a good fellow, and then reject Senator McKenna’s amendment; but I shall vote against both amendments.
– You have suffered some after-thoughts.
– I am not suffering from any after-thoughts. I did not quote the Constitution. I was not the clever boy who thought all this out and said, “ We have got the South Australian Liberal senators completely on the run “. I said that in fact Senator Toohey’s amendment does not mean a thing.
We have been criticized by Senators Toohey, Ridley, Cavanagh and Bishop. They all think that they are putting us on the spot. Let us reverse the procedure for a moment. If the Labour Party were in office - Heaven help the country if it were - and a State government requested Senator Toohey and all the other South Australian Labour senators to vote against the Labour Party’s budget proposals - in effect, that is what we are being asked to do - would he do so and turn his party out of office? I say that he would not do it. All this talk of how great they are and their support of South Australia and so on is pure poppycock. They are playing politics. To use Senator Toohey’s own word, he is grandstanding. Would he vote against his government? That is the answer to all this criticism.
– We have something to do with the framing of our budget proposals; evidently you do not.
– That is beside the point. The point at issue is this: The State government requests you to vote against your government and your answer is either “ Yea “ or “ Nay “.
I have supported rail standardization and I will still fight for it. I may choose my own line of attack. Perhaps I have not achieved my goal, but I will not be stampeded into destroying this Government at the whim of Labour senators or any one else. Can I make my position clearer than that? When this matter is viewed in its proper perspective and stripped of all the camouflage and subterfuge, the public will realize that the South Australian Liberal and Country League senators have done their Utmost to get this line standardized. The reduction of freight rates is important. I wonder what the South Australian Parliament would say if this Parliament requested South Australia to reduce the freight charged on the ore that is carried from Broken Hill to Port Pirie. What would be its reaction? Those are some of the points that have to be considered. 1 was very interested in Senator Sherrington’s speech on development in the northern areas of Australia. I agree with him. The development of mineral resources will open up this land to pastoral and agricultural use. From Fremantle to Darwin development is proceeding at an increasing tempo. A quick survey of some of the people who live in the northern areas shows that the workers, particularly around the ports, are descended from many races. They are intermingling. They are assets to Australia, and so, too, will be their children. They respond to security of jobs and fair housing. They possess ability, and are utilizing it. The nucleus of population that we have in this area - if I might use that phrase - will play a great part in the development of north-western Australia.
Along the coast cargo handling has its problems, but it is reasonably good. Improved packaging may improve loading and discharge. Such ports as Point Sam son, Port Hedland, Wyndham and Derby, to mention a few, are relatively good. Then there is Cockatoo Island, with its iron ore trade, and Koolan Island, with its potentialities for this product. I advise honorable senators to visit these various places and see for themselves. They should dwell there a while. They should also travel into the country and see where blue asbestos, iron ore, manganese and copper are being produced. They will understand then why these ports are so busy.
I mention in passing the cattle industry, road trains and meatworks. I should like to spend a moment discussing the Ord River project. Great developments have taken place in that scheme within the last twelve months, and the prospects for success are excellent. I have not time to speak of the new port to be built at Depuch Island.
Darwin, I think, is really moving. I am very glad to see that the buffalo trade is expanding and will be an earner of overseas funds. It is in actual operation and can be rapidly expanded. Much is being done in the pastoral industry. Research has proved that molasses grass with its high protein content can be grown in these areas as well as stylo, which is a perennial, and Townsville lucerne, which is an annual. The research station is also developing centre, paspalum sciobic, pannic green, para grass, bulrush millet and elephant grass. As the result of the introduction of these grasses, great improvements will take place in pastures in our northern areas.
I pass now to deal briefly with social services. I believe that any country in which one person out of every four is employed, and which looks after the less fortunate people in the land, is not stagnant or sterile. The Opposition advocates higher social service payments, but in order to provide these services two out of five, at least, of the producers of wealth would have to dive:: their activities to providing social welfare. The question we must ask ourselves is: Could the remaining three out of the five support the country?
Opposition senators have spoken on many points, but on many either their information was wrong or they did not strive to achieve accuracy. Mention was made of the war effort of 1941-45. I could show honorable senators photographs of equipment we had in New Guinea in 1944. They are most interesting. Under Labour rule we had two armies, and we experienced the greatest disasters ever to befall Australian troops. The Labour Government never constructed one new munition works or factory. Every factory was either in operation or was being built when Labour took over. In 1951, and again in 1956 in Brisbane, the Labour Party affirmed that it would not agree to one person serving overseas in time of war. That resolution covered the Navy, the Army and the Air Force. I need say no more.
– When your Government broke down we took over and completed the war successfully.
– When our Government went out of office it did have divisions overseas. It did have a Navy, and it did prevent the Japanese from coming into the war before she did. What did the Labour Government do? It did not send a man outside Australia. That was Labour’s policy, and it still is Labour’s policy.
– What about the Brisbane line? Was not that your Government’s policy?
– What about it? When the Japanese landed at Rabaul and threatened Port Moresby the Labour Party was in office. They were the boys that scooted to the Blue Mountains to their dug-outs. Speaking about the Brisbane line, where would the honorable senator who is interjecting have established a line if he did not have a person outside Australia? I do not think we need develop that argument any further; it is just sheer nonsense.
I pass now to the subject of trade. The Government has established 37 Australian trade posts overseas. Mention has been made of Peru. Why did the Government send a trade mission to Peru? In order to sell our butter. We have recaptured our butter market in Rhodesia and we are sending’ dried butter and processed milk to Malaya, India, Burma, Thailand and the Philippines. Although 62,000 tons of butter was shipped to the British market the price rose from 257s. to 304s. sterling. This increased price enabled us to sell 17,000 tons of butter to our near neighbours.
Australia, supported by overseas capital, is developing its copper, lead and zinc resources. I need only mention Mount Isa, Weipa, Mary Kathleen, tin mines at Herberton, and iron ore mines in the Constance Range and on the Northern Territory border. Coal is being produced in Queensland and New South Wales. Steel production is an all-time record and the cattle industry is expanding. All this is additional to the great expansion in agriculture and horticulture, and on top of that we have the assurance that we have oil in Australia. This all refutes the argument of the Opposition that our economy is stagnant. What the Government is doing will do much to create employment. The Budget will give added impetus to the economy of our country. It is with confidence that I support the motion for the printing of the Estimates and Budget Papers, and I oppose both the amendment moved by Senator McKenna and that moved by Senator Toohey.
Sitting suspended from 5.34 to 8 p.m.
– I wish to inform the Senate that I have this day received from the President of the Legislative Council of the Northern Territory through the Clerk of the Council a document known as “ The Remonstrance “. The document sets out certain grievances of the Legislative Council. The document has been laid on the table of the Library where it will be available for perusal by honorable senators.
– Mr. President, as a member of the Australian Labour Party I have been elected by the people of New South Wales to represent them in this chamber. It is a great privilege for any man to become a member of the Senate. The Senate is recognized as the foremost debating chamber in the Commonwealth of Australia and has achieved an international reputation for its supervision and control of delegated legislation. In this respect the Senate has been held up as a model for other legislative bodies.
On this motion to print the Estimates and Budget Papers 1962-63, I support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator McKenna) which states that this Budget does not serve the best interests of Australia. Honorable senators on this side of the chamber have already stressed many shortcomings in this Budget. To-night I wish to deal with the failure to make adequate provision for the development of Australia. AH over the world the long-term view is being taken of national development - all over the world, except in Australia. The governments of Africa and Asia are planning their national development not on an annual but on a long-term basis. The tenth annual report of the Colombo Plan was presented to the Senate this year. Australia is a member of that plan and under it has contributed considerable amounts to the various under-developed countries of Asia. The report states -
Comprehensive planning has assumed greater importance in all countries of the area as the vehicle of economic and social advance.
The same report shows that Burma has embarked upon a four-year plan and Ceylon on a ten-year development plan, which was begun in 1959. India is in its third fiveyear plan, which began in 1961. Indonesia has an eight-year national development plan; Malaya has begun a second five-year development plan; and Nepal is in its second five-year plan. Also, Pakistan is in its second five-year plan and the Philippines began a five-year plan in 1961. Thailand is in the midst of a six-year economic development plan. Other countries, too many to name, have embarked upon longterm plans of development.
What has been spent bv Australia under the Colombo Plan over the last ten years? Up to 31st December last these are the figures: - Australia has contributed £1,250,000 towards the development of Burma; £900,000 to Cambodia; nearly £4,000,000 to Ceylon; £13,000,000 to India; £4,000,000 to Indonesia; over £300,000 to Laos; £1,500,000 to Malaya; £165,000 to Nepal; £380,000 to North Borneo; £11,000,000 to Pakistan; £500,000 to the Philippines; £330,000 to Sarawak; £660,000 to Singapore; over £1,000,000 to Thailand; and £1,330,000 to Viet Nam. Ninety-two projects in twelve countries have received capital aid from Australia at the cost of more than £31,000,000. In addition, Australia has contributed £10,000,000 worth of technical assistance. In this financial year we are to pay under the Colombo Plan £2,750,000 for the economic development of other countries and £2,000,000 for technical assistance.
Apart from the Colombo Plan, Australia has become a foundation member of the International Development Association set up by the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and will contribute 20,000,000 dollars over five years. We are to pay £700,000 this year. In addition Australia has agreed to contribute £7,000,000 to the Indus Basin Development Fund - a great plan for the development of the Indus Basin in the Indian subcontinent. Australia last year paid £1,300,000 to this Indus Basin Development Fund and will pay £1,000,000 this year. Other payments are being made and will be made by Australia to give assistance in Africa, Korea and elsewhere. All these places have one common feature. National development has been planned on a new and exciting scale - on the long-term view.
Now let us turn to Australia, which has some of the greatest undeveloped regions of the world. We have an empty north and west and we have a primary responsibility for the primitive Territories of New Guinea and Papua. We are regularly criticized for our failure to develop our trust Territory. We are deeply conscious of the fact that our north and west must be developed. The people of Australia would be staggered to learn that Australia has no national development plan. The Menzies Government, by its participation in the plans for the development of other nations, can see the virtue of planning for them but apparently cannot see the virtue of a plan for Australia.
Because the Government does not believe in long-term planning for Australia, we have no national development plan. The
Government made its view quite clear in a pamphlet called “The Australian Economy 1962 “ and in the Budget speech. The Government, not believing in longterm planning, has produced this annual budget which the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) has described as a budget of national development. Where is the provision for national development? This year the Commonwealth Government’s expenditure will be £2,091,000,000. The Commonwealth passes moneys to the States, as it is bound to do, but the States complain, quite truthfully, that they are starved of money. The States are financially incapable of engaging in the vast national development tha/ Australia requires. Of course, the Territories are entirely the responsibility of the Commonwealth. But what provision has been made for expenditure on national development by the Commonwealth itself, as distinct from the States? The Commonwealth this year has provided, for major expenditure on specific projects and other activities of a developmental nature, only £27,000,000. I repeat - only £27,000,000.
Australia’s expenditure this year for development of other nations will be over £6,500,000. In the light of this, surely it is not enough to spend for development only £1,300,000 in South Australia, £1,000,000 in the Northern Territory - for cattle roads only - and this is the same as the amount to be spent by Australia this year on the Indus Basin - £666,000 in New South Wales, nothing in Tasmania and £6,750,000 in Western Australia. More is being spent in Queensland- £13,000,000. This total of £27,000,000 is completely inadequate. The whole sum has been allocated for specific projects - nothing for any integrated plan. The Treasury issued a statement on 7th August headed “ Major Expenditure by the Commonwealth on Specific Projects and Other Activities of a Development Nature 1961-62 to 1962-63 Inclusive”. This document reveals the disgraceful position that the major expenditure over the past two years has only been £12,500,000 - £10,000,000 in the last financial year and only £2,500,000 in the year before.
The report of the Colombo Plan shows that Australian expenditure on capital aid and technical assistance under the plan was £4,500,000. The Treasury document to which I have referred shows that in the same year the major expenditure by the Commonwealth on specific projects and other activities of a developmental nature was only £2,500,000. I am not concerned at this stage to criticize our contribution to the national development of other countries; I am concerned to show that this Government refuses to provide adequately for the development of Australia. These figures show that for years the Menzies Government has seriously neglected the development of Australia. I believe that the provision of £27,000,000 for this year is grossly inadequate, but what is more serious than the inadequacy is the lack of long-term planning.
The essence of a budget is that it is a plan, but in this Budget and its accompanying documents there is no plan for national development. An annual budget has its uses, but it also has its limitations. There should be two budgets - one, an annual budget containing the expenditure that should be met annually out of current revenues, and the other, a long-term budget containing capital expenditure for national development and such emergency measures as should be taken in times of depression to fight unemployment and stimulate trade. The ordinary budget should be balanced annually, and the long-term one only over a period.
A striking feature of this debate is that’ it concerns a budget for the year which began on 1st July last. The Budget was not presented until 7th August, and it was not intended to receive parliamentary sanction until well into the financial year. For many years it has been the practice to present a budget not before but after the commencement of the financial year concerned. This practice is a bad one for two reasons. The first is that the late presentation means that the Government is completely resistant to any change. How can this Senate expect to induce any change in the Government’s provision for the year when we are already into the year? Secondly, it is too late for business firms and business people to adjust their activities in accordance with the Budget. The taxation cuts and government spending are expected to stimulate activity. Since most firms plan their activities well ahead, much of this effect of the Budget will be lost. Inasmuch as a budget is expected to guide their activities, the more warning that is given of the Government’s intentions the better it will be. It is not only a bad practice to present a budget after the beginning of the financial year; it is an unnecessary practice. In the United States, for example, the budget is presented to Congress in January or February, well in advance of the financial year. We should try to emulate that custom.
Mr. President, our national development should not be dependent upon the vagaries of the annual balance of trade or other factors which are constantly changing. National development calls for a long-term budget in order to protect it from the disrupting influence of the fits and starts which have been its history over the past decade, brought about by the ups and downs in the flow of trade. For national development we should have a programme of targets to be achieved over four or five years against a background of what we have to achieve over ten or fifteen years. This view is practical and is supported by eminent economists all over the world, including our own. Our financial newspapers are repeatedly saying that the Government is too backward - that it must give more leadership and engage in more planning. Increasingly, the leaders of our manufacturing, commercial and farming communities are joining the trade unions and the Labour movement in demanding that the Government plan on a long-term basis and refrain from disrupting activity by constantly changing its mind. The grave and constant criticism of this Government is that it is erratic and capricious, and will not plan.
Since the Minister for National Development calls this the Budget for development of the nation, where in it or elsewhere is any provision made for Australia’s developing its own shipping line, whether owned publicly or by Australian residents? Where is the plan for Australia’s ultimately regaining control of that great portion of its industry that is owned and controlled from overseas - the motor vehicle industry, the chemical industry, the paint industry and the oil industry, to name only a few. If we are to develop as a nation Australians at some time must control their own industries, either publicly or privately. When will these industries be rescued? Or does the Government think that they should remain in foreign hands for ever?
Federal departments have a number of separate plans for development within their own spheres. So also have State departments and many of the great public enterprises. These plans have never been integrated into a national plan. As a result, many of them languish, and some never come to fruition. It is only when they are put together and a long-term view taken that decisions can be made as to which of these plans will be implemented, in what order they will be carried out, a’nd what other things must be done to have real development of the nation. We must bring into existence a plan which will set out the picture of the Australia we hope to have in ten or fifteen years’ time. We must determine the number of persons we hope to have in this country, whether it be 12,000,000 or 15,000,000. We must decide how the population should be distributed, and what industries we want in the north of Australia, in the west and elsewhere. We must determine what roads, ports, housing and other facilities will be needed, and where they will be needed. We must have as clear a picture as we can of the Australia that we want to achieve at the end of that time.
Once we know what we are seeking to achieve, targets can be set by way of threeor four-year plans to achieve these goals. The economic plans can be fitted in with the plans for basic resources, industry, movement of population and housing. Then this plan and these targets must be made known to all the people of Australia - to the trade unions, to businesses, to the children in the schools and to the aged, so that every one can look forward with confidence to the development of our nation. This is the correct way to go about national development, whether it is to be achieved principally by private enterprise, if the Menzies Government is doing it, or by a greater share of public enterprise, . if we on this side are carrying it out. There are no insuperable constitutional difficulties. Where there is a will there is a way. And this must be the way, not of compulsion but of co-operation. Any successful plan depends upon the willing co-operation of all concerned. Any government that shows the way will receive -that co-operation. No government and no plan can succeed without it.
The Government must take the initiative. It must plan. Private persons and companies will then fit into that plan and make their plans in accordance with it. In the field of national development the Menzies Government has abandoned leadership. Private enterprise has joined the trade unions and the Labour movement in the realization that in modem society the scale of government is so great and the needs of national development so vast that the Government cannot abdicate from leadership. Private enterprise looks for leadership from the Government, but the Government declines to give it. That is why we are in the doldrums.
Mr. President, let us apply this longterm approach to the Northern Territory. The north needs people. We must attract population by migration from overseas or interstate. This can be done by a plan for providing housing, schools and facilities of all kinds, integrated with the development of physical resources and industry. Provision of houses and schools creates employment; it brings about building and service industries: All of these can spring up as natural adjuncts to one another. Workers, contractors and others, with their families, will move to the north only when they are assured of homes, hospitals and schools and, above all, the security that the Commonwealth Government guarantees that the development will be carried on. This long-term planning can be done. It has been done for the Australian Capital Territory and it can be done for the Northern Territory. The amazing progress in this city of Canberra is clearly due to the long-term planning of the National Capital Development Commission. What is good for Canberra is good for the Northern Territory. Instead of working to an integrated, long-term plan, the Menzies Government pats itself on the back because it has provided for the Northern Territory an amount of £1,000,000 for the development of the Northern Territory for this year to be applied to cattle roads only. The north will never be developed in that way.
The consequences of lack of planning are disastrous. The failure to plan adequately and on a long-term basis has clearly led to mass unemployment and its attendant misery, to the housing shortage, to the shortage of facilities such as sewerage even in the great cities, to distress in Queensland and elsewhere, and to the breakdown of the migration scheme, as well as to a general lack of confidence. This Government’s stop-and-go policies are not an accident; they are a consequence of the absence of long-term planning. Failure to have a comprehensive integrated national planning means that government policies are subject to violent changes from year to year and even from month to month. It means that when remedies are applied they are applied as if in an emergency. It means that industry is over-producing one month whilst next month there is an excess of unused capacity. It means in matters such as de-centralization that the results of a decade of patient work can be destroyed before the Government is aware of the havoc it is creating. It means uncertainty to business and to individuals looking for careers. We would find it much easier to cope with our problems of balance of payments and international trade if we knew where we wanted to go in the development of Australia, and the rest of the world knew also. If we had long-term plans and circumstances changed, we could more easily see what needed to be done.
What has the lack of planning meant to education? All over the Commonwealth education is neglected. The universities have to raise their fees and, worse still, exclude students who have proved by examination their capacity to undertake a university course. The primary and secondary schools are overcrowded. There is a shortage of teachers, and there is a shortage of facilities for primary, secondary and technical education. No one except this Government will say that the position is satisfactory. Any Federal Government with a real concern for education would draw up a plan, together with the States, to ensure that this breakdown in education did not occur. The breakdown is not recent; it has been evident for years that education was in difficulties and running into disaster. This is not the fault of any one State; it is happening everywhere and the responsibility lies with the Federal Government which has the power of the purse.
The crisis in education is so serious that to-day over 300 teachers have been to this Parliament urging upon senators, and members that something be done. They ask that the Commonwealth establish a committee to investigate and make an uptodate assessment of primary, secondary and technical education on a national basis, and to suggest a long-term scheme for assistance. Such an inquiry must take some time. They ask that, pending its report, the Commonwealth shall make immediate grants for special assistance as an interim measure. In my view, their requests should be granted. Their claims are incontestable, and we know that the crisis arises from lack of long-term planning. Again, in regard to science lack of planning is holding back the pursuit of knowledge and the advancement of science. Scientists have made pleas to this Government for a national plan for science, but nothing has been done.
What has the lack of planning meant to our migration scheme? Migrants have been brought out in vast numbers, but no proper provision was made for their housing or for their jobs. They were the first to suffer from mass unemployment, since they were mostly in the unskilled jobs and were handicapped by language and other difficulties. The Government did not even take the elementary precaution of achieving a balance of the sexes among migrants. The migrants are facing very great problems because the Government has fallen down on its responsibilities. That is why the rate of migration has declined. That is why 250,000 eligible migrants are not naturalized. As I see it, there is no escape from the need for longrange planning by the Government. It will be forced to adopt planning as other nations have. This Government’s failure to realize the necessity for planning simply means that years of valuable time have been lost. National development means more than development of physical and economic resources. The nation is, above all, its people. National development must be concerned with the minds and hearts and well-being of our people.
One feature of our life that is very evident is the apathy of most young persons, which in extreme cases is manifested as delinquency. There is a feeling of an absence of a future, of belonging to nothing worthwhile. Our people want to create something. They want to build a future for themselves in a society they believe in. They want to have a national goal that they can achieve. That was the spirit of the pioneers who came to Australia and of those who opened up the west of America. That is the spirit abroad in Asia to-day. It is the spirit of those who feel that they are participating in the creation of something great - the building of their own nation. That is the spirit that this Government is holding down in Australia. There is apathy because those who are supposed to be leading are not leading. The Government does not know where it is going. If it does it has not told the people of Australia. This is more than a question of money or economics. The people want to share in something more than the material rewards of life, and to talk in terms of increasing the national product is not enough. The Australian people want to help build this country into a great nation. In this Budget the Government shows that it has not realized the capacity of the Australian people. It has underestimated them. It has let us down. We must join the rest of the world. We must have our ten-year national development plan for Australia.
– I propose to make a brief intervention in the debate to oppose the amendment that has been proposed by Senator Toohey. Before commencing on my dissertation, I should like to compliment our new senator, Senator Murphy, upon his contribution to the debate. I do not congratulate or compliment him upon the soundness and validity of his conclusions - that would be expecting far too much - but I do compliment him on the amount of work that he put into his maiden speech and upon the promise that it holds for his further contributions to the debates in this chamber.
If I might cross a few tiny swords with him on his maiden effort, may I be permitted to say that, whereas he talks of so much planning being done in other parts of the world, I ask him to remember that in Australia we are getting results of planning. I would think that time will show that the past decade has been one of the greatest eras of expansion in Australian history. As I said in my speech on the Budget, which I do not propose to repeat, I see no reason to doubt the continuance of expansion at that rate. May I correct one other error made by Senator Murphy. He spoke of the sum of £27,000,000 in referring to the development of the Northern Territory. It must be remembered that the works to be covered by that sum are additional works which are being super-imposed on other vast programmes. To speak of national development as consisting Of special works super-imposed on other programmes is to do scant justice to the topic. Having said that, I conclude by saying, I hope on a more agreeable note, that we look forward to hearing more speeches from Senator Murphy as time goes on.
I come into this debate to oppose Senator Toohey’s motion and influenced! to a material extent, I must confess, by personal reasons. Speaking for myself and my ministerial colleagues, I wish to pay tribute to the great support we have had from the Government senators from South Australia, Senators Mattner, Laught, Buttfield and Hannaford. We know their worth and the value of their contribution. I know the benefit I have had from their calm, experienced and very helpful advice as circumstances have arisen.
– You have to convince Sir Thomas Playford, not us.
– I have a feeling that I shall be turning to that topic before I finish my remarks. I enter the debate not only for personal reasons, but also for national reasons. I say very deliberately that the four senators I have named have given in this chamber sterling service to South Australia. It is most unfair that that service to their State should be questioned and criticized, particularly when the questioning and the criticism have been unjustifiably created by the action of their own State political leader.
It is of no use to pretend, Mr. President, that this is not a political issue. I know that the Opposition is pretending that it is a matter which rises to a higher plane than that of party politics. It is most significant that the Opposition senators knew of this resolution in the House of Assembly at Adelaide long before we on the Government side knew of it. They were tipped off, or were told far more quickly than we were. It is no use pretending that any one on the other side of the chamber would vote for the amendment if the position were reversed. In this matter, I propose to deal with the facts of the case. I hope! to establish without doubt that the Government has been mindful throughout of South Australia’s interests, that the Premier of South Australia has been well aware of this position, and that this favorable position for South Australia has largely been created and influenced by the four South Australian senators who sit on this side of the Senate.
The matter is greatly to the delight of the Opposition, because this is a political issue. The Opposition wants to see dissension in the Government ranks. That is the purpose of what it is doing. To me, it is a serious error of judgment on the part of the South Australian Premier to decry the1 good and loyal service South Australian senators have given to their State in this chamber. The fact is that the Premier of South Australia has fallen into a trap laid for him by the Australian Labour Party in South Australia. He fell into that trap through his own vanity, when he was unable to evaluate the position.
Let us have a look at the facts of this matter. I think it is a good thing now and again to forget politics and come back to the facts of a situation.
– As long as you keep within the amendment.
– I am speaking against the amendment. The facts I am about to state relate entirely to the amendment. The facts are that the Commonwealth has already made a substantia] contribution to this railway work in South Australia. First of all, it provided £5,000,000 for conversion work in the south-eastern part of the State over the years from 1951 to 1959. It provided £50,000 for the surveys of the Broken Hill to Port Pirie section of the line. Under the Budget which was recently introduced, the Commonwealth is providing £1,300,000 for the purchase of twelve diesel electric locomotives and some wagons for the carriage of ore. Those are actual things that have been done. Legislation has been introduced to provide for rail standardization work throughout Australia, under which governments have commitments. That is the atmosphere in which this request was made. At least, that is a part of the atmosphere. I shall say a little more on this matter later in my remarks.
It was against that background that South Australia made the request that from £18,000,000 to £20,000,000 be provided for the standardization of the whole line. In fact, it was more than a request. South Australia made a demand that this work should be put in hand forthwith, and when that was not practicable, the State attempted to force the position by litigation in the High Court of Australia. The result was the decision of the court that South Australia did not have the right to do as it sought.
The attitude of the Commonwealth has been eminently fair and reasonable. The letter written by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) to the Premier of South Australia states the decision of the Commonwealth Government. There is nothing in the letter which says that the Commonwealth does not intend to go on with this work. Because the contents and the meaning of the letter have been misrepresented by the Opposition, both inside this chamber and outside it, with the concurrence of honorable senators, I shall incorporate the whole document in “ Hansard “. It is as follows -
Dear Sir Thomas,
In your letter of 2nd April, 1962, you invited the Commonwealth to consider approving under the Railway Standardization Agreement of 1949 a programme of conversion to standard gauge of the permanent way between Port Pirie and Broken Hill. You estimated that this programme, including rolling-stock, would cost some £17 million or £20 million, and suggested that the expenditure be spread over several years.
This is quite a sizable project, and though we do of course accept the desirability of a standard gauge line from Port Pirie to Broken Hill-
I stress the words “ accept the desirability of a standard gauge line “ - we have had to measure the financial commitment involved against our general budgetary position present and prospective, and against our other commitments in respect of major works projects in the States, particularly in the field of rail transport. Here we ‘have felt we had to pay special attention, in present circumstances, to improvements in rail facilities which will permit a significant increase in export earnings or a major development of national resources.
My Cabinet colleagues and I have considered closely, in the light of these circumstances, your request that the Commonwealth should provide the finance to carry out the conversion to standard gauge of the permanent way in the Peterborough Division. But we do not see our way to commit funds at present for this project. We are faced with a very large deficit in the current year, and must take account of this and of other inescapable demands on our taxation and other revenue in this and the coming two or three years. But you will of course appreciate that our present decision does not imply any definitive rejection of the Port Pirie-Broken Hill conversion work. We do intend to look again at your present proposal as and when work on other railway projects to which we are financially committed is further advanced.
Meanwhile we share with you the hope and belief that your acceptance of our offer of finance up to £1,325,000 for the purchase of diesel engines and ore wagons and their use on this route will not only reduce the cost of transportation in this area, but will also benefit the South Australian Railways and the people of your State.
Yours sincerely, (Sgd.) Robert G. Menzies.
I remind honorable senators of the words, “ But we do not see our way to commit funds at present for this project”. This letter has been represented as a direct denial of the request of the South Australian Government. That is completely inaccurate. What the letter says is that we do not see our way at present to carry out the work. The letter makes that even plainer when it states -
But you will of course appreciate that our present decision does not imply any definitive rejection of the Port Pirie-Broken Hill conversion work. We do intend to look again at your present proposal as and when work on other railway projects to which we are financially committed is further advanced.
The whole point at issue in this matter is not whether the work will be carried out, but the appropriate time to carry it out.
Those who say that the letter turns the proposal down are deliberately misconstruing its terms. The point is: When will the work be done? May I point out to the Senate the importance of that consideration? This is not the only work for which assistance is being requested. Every State has requests of this kind before the Commonwealth. I do not know what the total amount involved in those requests would be. If I were to say that requests for works to cost £50,000,000 - apart from the South Australian one - have been made, I doubt whether I would be overstating the situation. Obviously the Commonwealth cannot, as the South Australian Premier desires, let other governments in Australia control its rate of expenditure and the way it undertakes works. If we were to allow South Australia to do that every State would follow the example. We would have peremptory demands - unreasonably peremptory demands - from all States. The Commonwealth has to make its own decisions; it has to determine its own financial programme. We have made it quite clear in this letter that that is the atmosphere and that that is the way in which we approach the matter.
I take the next point that has emerged from this debate, the statement of the Premier that South Australia has received only £1,300,000 over the past four years out of £131,000,000 that the Commonwealth has devoted to certain works. Mr. President, I turn the attention of honorable senators who are interested in this matter to page 47 of the Budget Papers that are now before the Senate.
– You cannot go on to that.
– This is a direct answer to that criticism. What the Premier says, and what honorable senators opposite say, is that only £1,300,000 was received by South Australia, whereas the very Budget Papers that were before the Premier and that are before the honorable senator’s supporters in this debate show, on page 47, that South Australia will receive £47,000,000, or 10.7 per cent., of a total expenditure of £442,000,000 contemplated for the forthcoming year. What a different complexion is put upon things by taking certain items in isolation without looking at the picture as a whole! In relation to capital expenditure of the Commonwealth in its own civil and defence works programmes and railways, the figures show that £23.3 per capita was spent in South Australia by comparison with an average of £12 per capita over the whole of Australia.
– I desire to raise a point of order. I suggest, with great respect, that in view of the fact that the Leader of the Government in the Senate has already addressed himself to the original motion he should keep within the ambit of the further amendment moved by Senator Toohey. I know he is quite entitled to make a speech, but it must be kept within that ambit. While on that-
– You are not entitled to make, a speech.
– 1 do not want to make a speech. If the honorable senator wants to speak after I speak, he may. He ought to know that until then it is courtesy to remain silent. I suggest that the Leader of the Government be requested to keep within the ambit of the amendment moved by Senator Toohey.
– The Leader of the Government, in my opinion, is not getting away from the amendment. He is entitled to make some excursions into other subjects, returning to the main subject. As at this point of time, he is not offending so far as the amendment is concerned.
– Thank you, Mr. President. All that I aim to do in the speech that I am endeavouring to make is to reply principally to the arguments that have been advanced on the other side of the chamber, because they have been so inaccurate that it is well to have the record straight and to put the facts before the Senate. May I make the next point? In my view, it is an important point. I believe that the Commonwealth Government is following the wishes, as it understands them, of the South Australian Government in relation to the great public works that the Commonwealth has in contemplation in South Australia. Let me remind the Senate of the circumstances. A comparatively short time ago the South Australian Premier came to us and said, in effect, that two great public undertakings were required in South Australia; one was the Chowilla dam and the other was the rail standardization. I think it quite fair to say that the Premier made it plain that his Government put a higher priority on the Chowilla dam than it put on the rail standardization work. It was because of that view of the Premier that the Prime Minister took a direct interest in the Chowilla dam negotiations; that the Commonwealth Government, without any legal obligation, offered to provide 25 per cent, of the cost of this great work; and that the Prime Minister personally attended the conferences that were held upon it.
So we reach this situation: We accepted what the South Australian Government seemed to indicate as being its policy. We put the Chowilla dam on first priority. We offered to find 25 per cent, of the cost. The Prime Minister himself attended the conferences, which were a great success. Honorable senators should know, if they do not know, that the great difficulty always experienced in water conservation matters is the sharing of the water involved. In this instance, the other States agreed to give South Australia a greater share of the water in drought years than that to which she is presently entitled, which will be of very great benefit to South Australia and a greater influence in the long term than the rail standardization proposed. Those negotiations are proceeding. We were not content with that. We added this amount of £1,300,000 to provide additional rolling stock for South Australia in order to help her over this particular problem of railway requirements. That was the Commonwealth’s approach to South Australia. In the light of that approach the Premier then said: “ Stand and deliver. I want another £18,000,000 to £20,000,000 for this railway work “. Is that a fair attitude for him to take? Is it fair for him to put his own political supporters in an invidious position when they have made their contribution to getting favorable treatment for South Australia? That is the problem that is before the Senate.
I note also that some comment has been made by one of the mining companies. It says that this work should be carried out. We know the problems of the mining companies. No government has done more and achieved better results in the development of mining in Australia than has this Menzies Goverment. I suggest to the directors of mining companies who are trying to embarrass the Government on this matter that instead of starting with the Menzies Government they should start with the South Australian Government. They should see whether they can arrange for that Government to charge lower freight rates as a result of the economies that will be effected on the South Australian railways following the provision of funds for modern rolling-stock to carry the ore.
This question is completely distorted when the Opposition attempts to make it a broad national one. In this instance the Labour Party is attacking the Menzies Government and it has been successful in getting an unexpected ally. We have done what we thought was correct and what we thought the South Australian Government accepted as correct. We have not in any circumstances closed the door on this proposition. Those people who say that the Prime Minister’s letter denies Commonwealth interest in this proposition are misconstruing that letter very badly.
I heard Senator Murphy’s speech, but I repeat that in our term of office we have developed Australia to an extent that most of us would not have thought practicable a decade ago. The South Australian Government and people have had their fair share of that progress and they will continue to receive their fair share in the future. I do not think this move in the House of Assembly advances the interests of South Australia. It embarrasses the Government senators from South Australia to whom the people of that State have to look in order to have work done in the future.
– That is not a threat to the South Australian people, is it?
– I did not hear the interjection. Had I heard it, I have no doubt that I would have been able to answer it. For the reasons I have given, I will vote against the amendment.
– Mr. President, this chamber and the nation should be grateful for the senators on both sides who have taken their places recently. The Australian Labour Party has brought in men of extraordinary talent to assume national responsibility. The task of the Leader of the Government (Senator Spooner) will not be as easy in the future as it has been in the past. I congratulate all the senators, on the Government and Opposition sides, who have taken their places recently. I regret that Senator Poulter is not well.
I almost called the Leader of the Government “ my old friend “, but he is my friend of long standing. A former Premier of New South Wales was referred to as “ old smoothie “. If ever there has been a suave and smooth gentleman in public life it is the Leader of the Government. How easily he finds words when he is dealing with the problems that confront this Government. He spoke about one of his political associates in South Australia, Sir Thomas Playford. Over the years Sir Thomas has been acclaimed and held up to the public as an efficient political leader. Then suddenly, because on this occasion he has accepted a measure of real responsibility, his associate says that he has been misled because of his vanity. Those were the words that I heard. It was also said that he is so simple and so naive that he has fallen into a trap because of his vanity.
The Leader of the Government proceeded to give details of the assistance that this Government has given to South Australia. Over the years I have quarrelled with the Government because of its lack of responsibility towards Queensland. Perhaps it was not because of a lack of responsibility but because of a dislike of Queensland that it did not give that State its due. This Government has not given northern Australia its due, either. All the Leader of the Government said was that the Government has given so much to South Australia. Then he said that the Government had been misrepresented by the Opposition. He said, in effect, “ We have not included provision for the standardization of the Port Pirie to Broken Hill railway in the Budget, but we will have another look at it”.
The claims of the mining industry must be considered favorably in the European Common Market discussions overseas if Port Pirie is to survive. South Australian senators, including Senator Cavanagh, have said that Port Pirie will not be able to survive if the Port Pirie to Broken Hill line is not standardized. Only £800,000 is needed for the work this year! The gross national product is about £7,000,000,000. Yet the Government says that it will have a look at the matter in the future. Its look in the future may be as unsatisfactory as its look in the past.
There are various types of budgets. Australia has had all types. If you are analytical in your approach you classify them. We have had a hold-prosperity budget, a halt-inflation budget, a stay-put budget, and what we might call hanging budgets. At least death by hanging is almost instantaneous. We have had two examples of a hanging budget in the past twelve years - the horror budget and the little horror budget. Death for the nation and its people was almost instantaneous. The Budget that we have before us to-night is the castigating or punishing type of budget. Punishment can result ultimately in death - death to the nation - and its people.
This Budget represents merely the mouthings of people guilty of sins in the past and not frightened of the future, but just timid. The Government does not know how to handle the future. As recently as last year, just prior to the election, what did we find? Labour, anxious to put people back to work and to embark on a nationalist expansion programme, said to its leader that it would budget for a £100,000,000 deficit. The cry of the Prime Minister and his associates was, “ Completely irresponsible “, “ No sense of financial responsibility “, and so on. Then, within a matter of months the Treasurer came out with a Budget providing for a deficit of £118,000,000.
Members of the Government travel overseas. There is fighting Mac or - I do not intend to be offensive - blunt Jack McEwen. He goes overseas to discuss the Common Market, but what about the position in Australia? I intend to deal only with a few phases of this Budget which concern my party, and those of us in it who have a sense of responsibility. There are still unemployed to-day people in their teens who left school last year. Within a few months there will be a further 70,000 children leaving school. What plan has the Government to cope with the situation? None at all. I hesitate to say that it does not care. I think that probably it is sincere but inept. No government can provide for the future unless it has a plan, but what is the position? I heard the Leader of the Government say that there has been marvellous expansion over the last ten years. By a set of unfortunate and peculiar circumstances the Government has been in office for thirteen years, but never have I heard any government supporter - back-bencher or front-bencher - admit that during those years there has been a series of unparalleled good seasons and relatively high prices. I know that there have been price fluctuations, but there is no way in the world whereby that can be avoided. When we consider these things it must be admitted that the Government has been extremely lucky and it must also be admitted, incidentally and coincidentally, that the nation and its people have been extremely unlucky.
I do not wish to cover ground that has already been covered by previous speakers, but when one speaks after a number of brilliant people have already taken part in a debate, it is extremely difficult to express original thought. Let us have a look at one or two features of this Budget. It is completely inhuman, unintelligent and unimaginative. I could use words that the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) used in relation to child endowment on an occasion when he held another portfolio. I am not going to say that the amount of 10s. paid in child endowment should be 23s. or that the amount of 5s. paid for a first child should be lis., but I should like to refer to what the Treasurer himself said on a previous occasion when introducing the pay-roll tax legislation to finance child endowment. I know that at that time the Government parties were not very united. They are not very united at the present time. I know that you, Sir, are under no illusion about that. The Government parties are not united in Queensland or Canberra.
– And not in South Australia.
– Nor in South Australia, aor, for that matter, is there unity between Adelaide and Canberra. This is what the Treasurer had to say -
I take it that there is little need for me to justify the principle of family endowment
That was in March, 1941. He was accepting something which the late John Curtin had sponsored in 1929 in a minority report. He continued -
The facts of Federation and our pride in our Australian standard of living imply that we desire a uniform level of social progress throughout the Commonwealth. The need for a system of family allowances has long been recognized.
Then he had to go back a century. Members of the Government, of course, are traditionalists. Some say that the members of the Labour Party are radicals. Some say we are leftists and others that we are rightists, but all we are interested in is the progress of Australia and the welfare of Australians. Mr. Holt continued -
Let us make relief in cases where there are a number of children a matter of right and honour, instead of a ground for approbrium and contempt.
What has the Government done? It has accepted no responsibility, with the result that families are suffering. Let me quote a tangible case to demonstrate the disabilities under which people are suffering. I wish to make reference to something that Senator McKellar said the other evening. I do not want to give him offence as I have to travel with him to the United Nations. I appreciate his company, realizing that it is necessary for me to have two of my opponents with me. After hearing Senator McKellar speaking the other evening I came to the conclusion that he and his supporters do not have to struggle to obtain commodities such as food, clothing and housing. I have the case before me of a man who from 30th June, 1961, to 30th June, 1962, earned £664 in wages. I am not mentioning the shillings because members of this Government would not realize what shillings are. Adding the amount of £180 received by the family for child endowment and £114 for unemployment benefit the total income was £951. Out of that he had to pay rent, a contribution towards medical benefit, rates, electricity charges and so on. He was left with a little over £100 with which to provide school books, clothing, household goods and so on. Is that a standard of living of which we can be proud? Certainly we on the Opposition benches are not proud of the performance of the Government. How do you think that these people in the position of that man can provide for their families? Do honorable senators opposite think that children in families such as that can be contented? Do you think they are getting a fair go? I certainly do not think so, but perhaps honorable senators opposite do. Apparently the Government does.
That is just one concrete case of injustice that has been perpetrated against a family man and, incidentally, in the process of time, against the nation. I do not propose to cite a mass of figures. There is little variation between one budget and another beyond what can be accounted for by fluctuations in value. I submit that every member of the Cabinet is to be condemned because not one of them has challenged this Budget. Not one of them has sought to apply any new principles to the situation that confronts the nation to-day. I could go through the Treasurer’s speech and discuss certain passages that I have marked relating to defence, development and so on, but my time is limited. However, there is one matter to which I do propos’e to refer. When you have a sense of conscience and responsibility, your only enemy is time. The Leader of the Government in the Senate said that the amendment has no real significance. J Those were not his exact words - -I make that quite clear - but that was the gist of his remarks. When you look carefully at the words and analyse them, what do you find? Incidentally, Government members at least claim to have a more analytical approach to a phrase, a sentence, a clause or a problem than we have. They claim to have more brilliant, analytical minds, but none of them has attempted to analyse the amendment. All the talk of honorable senators opposite has been in relation to unemployment and migration. I do not intend to deal with migration; it fluctuates so much. Sometimes more people are leaving this country than are coming in. Yet year after year we hear that we aTe going to have an intake of 125,000 migrants. What do we find? We find that 50,000, 60,000 or 70,000 are all that we get.
Unemployment is now accepted as part and parcel of our economy. The figures are there to be perused by anybody inside or outside Parliament, but the Government has provided for unemployment benefit only the same amount as it has provided over the years. In other words, it has accepted a standard pattern of 93,000 unemployed and, after December, the figure will be more than 100,000. Incidentally, that is the number of registered unemployed only. It is not the correct figure1. Honorable senators opposite would know better than I do what the correct figure is. One should add 50 per cent, to that figure of 93,000, and that would be a conservative estimate. Honorable senators opposite are certainly conservative.
The Government has made inadequate provision for unemployment relief and has failed to provide adequately for social services and repatriation benefits and, in particular for child endowment. Sometimes I wonder how sincere the Government is. I am always anxious to pay tribute to the other person. I always look for the good points of every person, and I give credit to the Government, or its predecessor, for the introduction of child endowment for the first child as from 1951. The Labour Government determined the figure of 10s. as endowment for the second child and that figure has not been altered since. I suggest that the Government is merely paying lip service to the social services principle, and as long as it can get away with it it will continue to do so. The Government nearly did not get away with it in December, 1961. What a tragedy it was for Australia that it managed to get away with it.
Then we come to South Australia. I shall be quite frank about this. South Australia has been spoon-fed for years. I suppose we may sympathize with the Government. Here is a State which the Government has fed, biting the hand that fed it. I do not blame Senator Spooner for being a little cranky about South Australia’s approach. After all, that approach gave an extra good result. Senator Tangney is agreeing with me. Her State has not had a bad time for a number of years, but what about Queensland? Until the Government was frightened by the election results no special grants ever went to Queensland. Although the Treasurer was at Bingil Bay - and out of that visit came the bungle Budget - we find that only £1,750,000 is to be devoted to the development of the Fitzroy Basin. That amounts to less than 5s. an acre. What can you do with it? I would not dare to use here the language that I would hear when I went into the area. That country carries over 1,000,000 head of cattle for fattening purposes. It is probably one of the best fattening areas in Australia. I take the words of an expert, Mr. Hinchcliffe, the manager of the Lake’s Creek meatworks, that the area would carry 4,000,000 fat cattle. I do not say that the future of meat or wheat is bright, but I do say that the Government is unimaginative. Honorable senators opposite do not realize how much it costs to develop land and to settle people on it in the light of modern conditions. When it is realized that the area has four rivers which could be comparatively easily and cheaply dammed, the allocation of £1,750,000 is seen to be far too small.
The Government talks about developing the north. There is only one way to develop the north of Australia, and that is to establish a permanent advisory and consultative body with statutory powers. Because of the chaotic state of mind inherent in many of the Ministers constituting the Cabinet - I do not mean that to be offensive; it just happens that a chaotic mind is part of their nature - nothing has been done. The Government is unimaginative. Australia would be the only nation that has no set plan for development. The Government seems to think along the same lines as it does about electoral redistribution - what suits it, is best for the nation. That is the Government’s approach to national development in the north of Australia. At Weipa we have 800,000,000 tons of bauxite running about 50 per cent, alumina. The ore is to go overseas to New Zealand where the bauxite will be concentrated to alumina. It will be smelted there and fabricated there; the industry will be there. Coal is being sent abroad from Queensland and Queensland rests on a bed of coal. I have heard Senator Scott repeatedly ask for the right of Western Australia to export iron ore. No one knows the extent of the iron ore deposits in the Constance Range, in northern Queensland - except the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited. The Government has never announced the extent of these deposits. I do not quarrel with the right of people to make money. That is the way things are in a capitalist economy. If you risk your money you are entitled to win; if you lose, you must face the loss.
The point is that where mineral deposits are a national endowment the people are entitled at least to receive some benefit.
Then we come to the question of oil at Moonie. I have been in enough trouble over this as a result of misrepresentation, not only by the Government but also in the Brisbane “ Courier Mail “ and other associated newspapers. What do we find at Moonie? Six wells - all wet. It is high grade in comparison with oil wells in other parts of the world. It is three and a half miles long and one mile wide. Every time a wet well is found, the shares either remain stable or go down. In no other country would that happen. The whole thing seems peculiar to me. For months the Leader of the Government in the Senate, in the realization that Australia is spending £136,000,000 a year on oil imports, which within a few years will grow to £175,000,000, was enthusiastic and expressed a desire that oil be found quickly within the boundaries of the Commonwealth. I agree that the Government should not make a hysterical approach, but at least it should be eager to encourage the discovery of oil fields in Australia. It must accept its national responsibility. What has happened? The market is stagnant. Perhaps this stagnation merely reflects the attitude of the Government. Perhaps it is because the Government desires to keep the market stagnant. How long is it since we have heard the Minister for National Development and the Queensland Minister for Mines and Development speak with the optimism that characterized their remarks some months ago? As I have said, each time a wet well is discovered, there seems to be a measure of depression in the community.
Those are merely a few phases in the developmental needs of northern Queensland and, incidentally, Australia. I am never parochial. I could go into those matters in much more detail, but only a few more minutes are available to me. 1 have dealt with the right of northern Australia to have development. It is not only an inherent right. I do not want honorable senators to misunderstand me. I am not completely wedded to the development of northern Australia. I know that on present scientific and engineering standards, onethird of this continent is worthless, onethird is fair and one-third is very good. All the members of the Australian Labour Party are proud of the Australian way of life which is to be found in the remote areas as well as in the cities. We must utilize our great continent to the best advantage.
I will not go through all the details of national development, the rights of it and so on, but I say that in the eyes of the world this Government has not accepted its proper responsibilities. Honorable senators should look at the events taking place in a country close to Australia. If they read Sir Hugh Foot’s report on New Guinea they will learn how precariously, even dangerously, Australia is placed in the present world situation. I give that as an example of the difficulties that beset us. It distresses me to hear certain intelligent men, able men, on the Government side, whom I like, say that it will not matter whether the United Kingdom joins the European Economic Community.
Let me quote in the few minutes available to me some figures to show how much Britain’s entry will matter to Australia, and especially to the sugar industry in my State of Queensland. The figures, without elaboration, do not convey the whole picture. Sugar costs between £40 and £50 a ton to produce, and on occasion the market price has been as low as £21 a ton. That means a lot to Queenslanders, though perhaps not so much to southerners. In 1960-61 the total returns from sugar exports amounted to £35,000,000, and of this sum sugar to the value of £17,000,000 was sold to the United Kingdom on a preferential basis. The Government says, in effect, that it does not matter whether £200,000 worth of goods are exported from two towns, or from one town only, so long as goods to that value are produced and sold. That is the approach of some of the Liberal members of this Senate. They are not concerned whether two communities survive, or whether only one community survives. They look only at the total. The value of Australia’s cheese exports. In 1960-61 was £4,607,000. The United Kingdom paid £2,580,000 of that amount. Australia’s total butter exports in 1960-61 earned £19,650,000, of which the United
Kingdom paid £15,611,000. The total value of our fruit exports in 1960-61 was £10,000,000, of which the United Kingdom paid £5,820,000. Those figures are extremely interesting, though they may not appeal particularly to the southerners. The canned fruits industry is also vitally concerned with Britain’s entry into the Market, and Shepparton, Mildura and other centres face the prospect of becoming desolate ghost towns. In 1960-61 Australia exported canned fruits to the value of £9,760,000 and the United Kingdom took £8,734,000 worth again on a preferential basis. Much the same story may be told of fresh fruits.
The Government will not face its national responsibilities, though we have pleaded with it to do so. In this year’s Budget under the heading “ Department of Trade” only an additional few hundred thousand pounds have been provided for trade promotion and the like. I am not complaining about the efforts of the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) because within the limits of his ability, he has done an excellent job. It is almost nauseating to see the dilatory approach of the Government to matters of vital national importance - an approach tinged with procrastination that ha9 been so characteristic of the Menzies Government, despite its electoral successes. It has suddenly woke up to the fact that your associates, Mr. Acting Deputy President - the primary producers - are facing a tremendous problem. The appalling thing about it is that the Government has not become aware of this before.
Members of the Cabinet appear to be intelligent. Perhaps their social responsibilities have taken them away from their national responsibilities. I hope that in the near future they will acknowledge that they have a national responsibility. They will have to do so, if this- nation is to survive. As I said, if you are constantly aware of your responsibility for meeting the needs of the nation and observing the rights of the people only time can defeat you. If I have the time I should like to talk about such things as the welfare of the people and their rights in the field of education. Of all the so-called modern nations of the world, Australia spends the lowest proportion of its income on education. If we are to meet the needs of primary, secondary and tertiary education, the amount spent on education should be increased by 1 per cent, each year - only a little more than £200,000,000 in a gross national product of £7,000,000,000.
Throw away any ideas you have regarding health matters. You will not accept national responsibility regarding the purity of drugs or the registration of specialists. We have made suggestions about those matters for years.
The bald fact is that the Government’s record proves that it will not accept national responsibilities. We of the Opposition if given the opportunity, would accept our national responsibilities. It is time the Government did so, especially in the light of the stern warning administered to it by the people on 9th December 1961.
– Normally on the comparatively rare occasions I speak in this chamber, I like a little of the cut and thrust of debate, but on this occasion I am afraid that I follow a honorable senator whose speech provides no opening for that type of thing. Senator Dittmer rambled along mainly talking to himself on various matters. In my opinion he did not make a sound speech.
– I object.
– I do not care how much Senator Dittmer objects to what I am saying. It is the truth. I do not deny that on occasions he has made a reasonably sound contribution to the debates of this chamber. But bis contribution tonight was completely devoid of any constructive suggestions and consequently was completely hopeless as a speech on the Budget. I find it incumbent upon me to enter this debate mainly because of the intrusion of the question of rail standardization. I think that can be readily understood, as rail standardization is a matter which concerns South Australian senators very greatly. I made my position on this matter very clear when the States Grants (Additional Assistance) Bill 1961 was before the Senate recently. I do not retreat from that position, but the developments which have taken place since then call for some comment. These developments have arisen from certain moves that were made in the South Australian Parliament. I think the Senate is familiar with what has taken place there, and I can imagine the delight with which Opposition senators received the details of the motion passed in the South Australian House of Assembly last week. This was made immediately apparent by the early response by Senator Toohey, who moved the amendment which is now being discussed in this chamber. I do not blame Opposition senators for taking the steps they did. Possibly we would have done the same thing had the opportunity occurred. It must have seemed like manna from Heaven, served, as it was, from a State parliament which has in office a party of the same political complexion as this Government. Coming, as it did, originally from a State parliament, a completely new set of principles would be established if such a proposal were carried in the Senate. Indeed, it would be the means of setting off a chain reaction which could be employed by all State parliaments, whatever the political colour of the State governments concerned. In other words, it could make the implementation of economic policy quite impossible for any federal government, and that is the principal reason why such a move should be rejected outright, whatever the rights and wrongs of standardization.
In fact, I think the merits and demerits of standardization are quite beside the point. The real question relates to a much greater issue than that - the issue of overall economic policy, to implement which this Budget is formulated. The main purpose of the Budget is the planning of economic policy for the Commonwealth of Australia. Both the amendments proposed by the Opposition are extremely wide in their implications. If they were carried by the Senate that would be tantamount to a vote of no confidence in the Government and would be a threat to the very existence of the Government. There is no need for me to say that it is quite impossible to agree to these proposals because honorable senators on this side, the Government senators from South Australia in particular, are solid in their support of the Government’s budget policy and they will not be tricked into supporting a proposal which would undermine the present Government, despite the fact that the proposal is inspired by the parliament of a State which has a Liberal government.
I should like to analyse the Budget at much greater length and from a different angle altogether. I am unswervingly behind the Government in its economic policy and its budgetary proposals, but time will not permit me to delve as deeply as I would like into the economic policies and proposals as enunciated in the Budget. Here I should like to refer to some of the points raised by Senator Toohey and others, relating to the last of the amendments proposed. Not unnaturally, Senator Toohey avidly seized upon the development that took place in the South Australian Parliament last week. I think I have stated quite clearly the stand I take in connexion with that matter. I did that the week before last, when the States Grants (Additional Assistance) Bill 1961 was before the Senate, and I do not retreat in the slightest from the attitude I adopted then. The fact that the South Australian Government chose to throw in its lot with the motion that was introduced by the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Assembly there, Mr. Frank Walsh, does not cause me to alter my position one iota. Our interpretation of that motion is that it was designed to embarrass and perhaps coerce South Australian senators into agreeing to a request which, if acceded to, would compel the Commonwealth Government to reshape its financial policy completely.
– What is wrong with that?
– I am totally opposed to the principle of a State parliament, unanimous though it might be, having power because of the even balance of numbers in the Senate, and through senators from its particular State, to coerce the Federal Parliament, which has the responsibility of framing the economic policy of the nation, into altering financial policy. I say such a position would be completely impossible.
I feel that Sir Thomas Playford has made a very grave mistake in taking the line that he has taken. I do not deny that in the past I have expressed my admiration of the astuteness, ability and farsightedness of the South Australian Premier, Sir Thomas Playford. That he has those qualities is undeniable. The very fact that South Australia has made such progress despite its lack of some of the natural resources possessed by other States is indicative of the fact that South Australia has been under wise government over the years. We can honestly say that we take pride in the achievements of South Australia under a Liberal government; but I believe that Sir Thomas Playford has let his judgment run a little astray on this particular question. I think it was nothing short of reprehensible on his part - and I do not exclude his government’s supporters in the House of Assembly from this - to have taken this extreme step.
In his speech this afternoon Senator Maher made an interesting reference to his interpretation of the responsibilities of the Senate. I agree with much of what he said. I think that the founding fathers of the Constitution never envisaged that, by the use of its senators, any one State could force the Commonwealth government of the day to do something that was in conflict with the financial policy of that Commonwealth government, or even to take steps that might be prejudicial to other States. Certainly that power is not expressed in the Constitution. Irrespective of whether that intention could be inferred from some of the speeches that were made prior to the drawing up of the Australian Constitution, I certainly do not place that interpretation on the role of the Senate. I believe that we have a certain responsibility to the States. That is undoubted, but at the same time our first responsibility is to the Government that we were elected to support. We are still State representatives. I challenge anybody to say that I have not correctly reflected the views of the electors of South Australia, or at least those of the section that I represent in the Parliament. I accept my responsibility in that respect.
I wish to commend Senator Maher for the excellent resume that he gave of the history of the Wentworth committee. I can substantiate every word he spoke in his review, which ranged from the early 1950’s to the present time. I think that in my speech on the States Grants (Additional Assistance) Bill (No. 2), which was recently before this chamber, I made some reference to the somewhat inconstant attitude of the South Australian Premier in regard to rail standardization. We all know that Sir Thomas Playford was one of the initiators of the 1949 Commonwealth and State agreement on rail standardization, but it is undeniable that he viewed the recommendations of the Wentworth committee with hostility. It is only of recent months or years that he has adopted very largely the recommendations that were originally brought down by the Wentworth committee. Senator Maher correctly interpreted the work of that committee.
Let me return to the motion that was passed in the House of Assembly in South Australia last week. I have a transcript of the speeches that were made on that occasion. The first speech was by the Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Frank Walsh, and the motion was seconded by the honorable member for Frome, Mr. Casey, through whose district a great portion of the railway line that is being considered for standardization runs. The speeches are very interesting. I cannot say that I agree with all the statements that are contained in them. I say without hesitation that in many respects they are quite erroneous. Mr. Casey made a statement to the effect that no great economies could be expected from the use of diesel engines. I think it will be agreed that that was rather an extraordinary statement. I wonder where he obtained his information in that respect. I also wonder what the Premier of South Australia thought when he heard the statement made, and whether he agreed with it.
If the Premier of South Australia agrees that no great economies can be expected from the use of diesel engines and the modernization of the equipment used on the railway line, why the clamour for diesels in the first place? There was a distinct clamour raised by the Premier of South Australia on the necessity for diesel engines in order to keep costs down, even though the present gauge of 3 ft. 6 in. were retained.
– Would it not be better on the standard gauge?
– He maintained that, for the time being, he would be quite satisfied to have diesel engines with 3-ft. 6-in. bogies, because they could be transformed later to 4-ft. 8J-in. gauge. He thought diesel engines would make a substantial contribution to the reduction of running costs on the line. He was very keen on the use of diesel locomotives. Yet, Mr. Casey, who seconded the motion, said he could not see that very much economy would result from their use. The whole history of the use of diesel engines shows that, regardless of the gauge on which they operate, substantial economies result from their use. I think it is not an exaggeration to say that the saving is as much as £300,000 or £400,000 in a financial year. The use of diesel engines would provide a substantial benefit by reducing the cost of transport of ore from Broken Hill.
I wish to say a word or two regarding the transcript of Sir Thomas Playford’s speech in support of the motion. Sir Thomas gave his version of the responsibilities of senators as State representatives. He is perfectly entitled to his opinion in that respect. My view, which I hold just as rigidly as Sir Thomas holds his view, is that while I agree that we are elected representatives of States which are equally represented in this chamber, our first responsibility is to the Government that we were elected to support. Let us have ah honest difference of opinion on that point. I am not distressed thereby. As every member of the House of Representatives represents his district’s requirements to the best of his ability, so do I, as a senator, represent South Australia’s requirements. I look upon South Australia as my electorate. I have a peculiar knowledge of South Australian requirements, as a member of the House of Representatives has of the requirements of the district he represents. I accept my responsibilities to the full.
I suggest that we cannot get away from the fact that, to a large extent, the Senate is a party house. If we consider the events that have transpired during the existence of the Senate, that cannot be denied. It has been a party house for many years, and I say that it would be quite impossible for it to be otherwise. No government could live for five minutes if it did not have the support of senators in this chamber. Honorable senators opposite know that as well as I do. In fact, I think the supporters of the Australian Labour Party are alive to that situation more than any one else. It is my personal opinion that the regimentation to which they are subjected far exceeds any form of regimentation that might be applied to us.
– We have never allowed ourselves to get into the spot that you have.
– The honorable senator says they have never allowed themselves to get into a spot. They have not been in government for nearly thirteen years, so how could they possibly get into a spot? They have not had the responsibility of government. I am sure that, if the whips were cracking, they would come to heel. That has been so throughout the history of the Labour Party.
Further examination of Sir Thomas Playford’s speech exposes an erroneous idea of the method of voting in the Senate. As Senator Mattner says, that could be put in much stronger terms. The Premier fell into an error which is very hard to understand in a man of his political experience. A quotation from this transcript, which I think may be accepted as correct, will enlighten the Senate on the very great error that the Premier made in relation to Senate representation. He said -
If we examine the voting strength and the whole set-up of the Senate, we will see that it was designed scrupulously to provide for every State to have an equal voice in the passing of Commonwealth legislation.
I have no complaint about that. But he then said - this shows his ignorance -
The casting vote of the President is often required because, under the present set-up there may be 30 votes for a motion and 30 votes against it. In other words, it is necessary to have a majority of the members voting to have a motion carried . . .
Then he went on to say, for what reason I do not know - . . but a quorum must be present at the time.
He said that the President had a casting vote. Surely, the Premier knows that the President does not have a casting vote. If he were given a casting vote, it would mean that New South Wales - because the President happens to come from New South Wales - would be given eleven votes, compared with ten each of the other States. This would defeat the very principle that the Premier was defending, namely, equal representation for all States. I was utterly surprised when I read that statement by a man of Sir Thomas’s political experience.
– Why not get back to the issue?
– I am willing to deal with the issue at any time that Senator Cavanagh likes. I have never been frightened to face up to an issue. I am trying to show the motives that actuated the Opposition when it moved this further amendment. Sir Thomas Playford gave a long dissertation on what South Australia had done in regard to standardization. I do not contest anything that he said regarding Sir Harold Clapp’s work on the overall standardization of Australian rail gauges, but I do not agree that that comes very much into the picture. The Premier finally came to the 1949 agreement between South Australia and the Commonwealth; but I do not think very much purpose was served by his reference to it.
What rather galled me was a comparison between the actions of Government senators from various States. I thought that he was not being fair to his own political supporters in this chamber when he made an invidious comparison between Government senators from Queensland and those from South Australia. If I had the time I would quote his remarks. Senator Spooner has made it quite plain that he believes - I think most fair-minded people will agree - that South Australian senators on this side have always been champions of the rights of their State. I do not think that that can be denied. An unfavorable comparison between Government senators from Queensland and those from South Australia is unwarranted, because I do not know of a contentious matter in relation to which Queensland senators have done anything more or less than we have done, that is, support the Government that they were elected to support.
– I know one who opposed the Government.
– Senator Ridley is interjecting. I should like to make a reference to his contribution to the debate. I have a high personal regard for him. Also, I would like to deal with Mr. Quirke, the new Liberal member for
Burra, in the South Australian House of Assembly, but I have not the necessary time. Senator Ridley got completely bogged down, He had so many newspapers on his desk that at times he did not know to which one he was referring. He read statements by various Government senators from South Australia. He could not pin very much on me; and I think he rather regretted that fact. Very little comment was made by me to the newspapers. There was a little piece in the “ News “ on Friday when I got home, which was entirely surmise, as that newspaper got nothing from me. I express my opinions in this place. If the press is here to report me, well and good. If it is not, that does not worry me in the slightest degree. I am content to have my opinions reported in “ Hansard “; and I stand by them. I want to leave no doubt as to where I stand on this amendment. I am totally opposed to it. I think that it does a disservice to South Australia. It is not dinkum, if I may put it in that way. It is political, and it seeks to introduce an entirely new principle which could be detrimental to proper government of Australia.
– Having heard Senator Hannaford, I think that we had better get back to subjects more pertinent to the question to which the Senate should be directing its mind. I should like to compliment the new senators on both sides upon the contributions they have made to the debate. It must have been very refreshing for Government supporters to hear speeches such as those made by Senator Murphy and Senator Cohen, which put the position in concise terms and showed that for the past five years the Government has been just muddling along, playing the part of an ostrich with its head in the sand. The Government has taken the view that the Australian nation can remain static. Other nations are progressing at great momentum in the modern complexity of trade, economics, defence and international relations, but this Government is so stupid as to think that Australia can stand still and avoid going backwards. I congratulate the Opposition senators who have recently taken their places on putting so clearly before the Senate and the people of Australia the deficiencies of this Government, not within the narrow confines of whether they will stand by their States or gyp their party, but in relation to the bigger question of Australia’s survival. For five years this Government has been remiss in its thinking about Australia’s existence as a nation.
Internally the Government has vacillated continually and has had no set plan in its policies. Australian industries have been thrown out of gear and into confusion. On two previous occasions, and also on this occasion, the Government has spoken of a boom of which Australia should be frightened. On the first occasion 102,000 people were unemployed and more than £250,000 of unproductive money was being paid to them annually from the national revenue. The only device that this Government has ever adopted to bring Australia back to economic stability has been to create unemployment of which it should be ashamed. The Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), on two occasions in his Budget speech, showed that although the Government has given remissions in income tax and has used a lot of palliatives, it has no plan and is still frightened of a boom. Yet Australia has more than 90,000 people unemployed at a time when seasonal employment in Queensland is at its peak.
We heard Senator Hannaford - a very honorable man - make his apology because he was not prepared to do what he thought was right. He would not ask the Government to change its financial policy and to re-orient its thinking so that Australia would receive the maximum benefit from the terrific taxation impost that the Government has forced upon the people. If that is the reasoning of the Government Senator Hannaford’s apology should be accepted, because he is not anywhere near as culpable as are the members of the Cabinet who are responsible for the vacillating and stagnating policy that Australia has had to accept. At the last general election about 300,000 more Australians voted for the Labour Party than for the parties that at present occupy the government benches.
The background to this Budget is that it follows an election in which the Government went so close to defeat that only a handful of Communist preference votes allowed it to retain a majority in the House of Representatives. The majority of the votes of the Australian people were cast in favour of the Opposition. The Government campaigned vigorously throughout Australia.It said that a Labour government would not have the interests of Australia at heart, would force another boom on Australia and would push prices up. Spokesmen for the Government said that it was ridiculous that the Labour Party should put forward a positive plan for the relief of the economic disabilities and unemployment from which Australia is suffering and say that if elected it would budget for a deficit of £100,000,000. The criticism was widespread. The spokesmen for the Government said that Labour’s proposal was absolutely immoral. Now, under pressure, the Government is budgeting for a deficit of £118,000,000. Yet the Budget does not contain one positive proposal to improve the lot of the Australian people, the working people, the family people who are the core of our nation. And so the hypocrisy goes on.
To-night we have heard about the marvellous attitude of this Government to the States. Do not let us deceive ourselves. South Australia has come into prominence because it has a Liberal Premier who is governing the State in spite of a minority vote and has turned dog on the Commonwealth Government, which is of the same political colour as his government. He has said that this Government’s treatment of South Australia has not been reasonable. He does not stand alone in that criticism. Mr. Bolte, the Premier of Victoria, has castigated the Commonwealth Government because of its attitude to grants to his State for the treatment of the mentally ill. The Government justifies its action in that instance by saying that Victoria has spent its share of the grant and the other States have not spent their shares. Therefore, the mentally ill in Victoria will not receive any further assistance from this Government until the other States have spent their grants.
Mr. Heffron, the Premier of New South Wales, has taken action in regard to education. It is very important that the Commonwealth Government should consider this matter, but the Government has dis regarded it. Ii Mr. Heffron had been in a position to bring the matter before this chamber with any possibility of defeating this Government, which is holding office so tenuously, honorable senators opposite would have had to try to explain their absolute disregard for education and the living standards of the Australian people. There is no doubt that only one fact spurred this Government into budgeting for a deficit of £118,000,000. That was that it knew that it had not deceived more than half the Australian people at the last election and it had to take down-to-earth economic action because Australia was in a desperate position - as it was.
The Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna), backed by the Australian Labour Party, has moved an amendment to the motion that the Budget Papers be printed. That amendment is well drawn and states concisely the objections that the Opposition and the majority of the Australian voters have to this Budget. I include the primary producers, people concerned with industrial establishments, and almost all the working people. Senator McKenna’s amendment reads -
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 view of all the honesty that we have heard about from Government senators from South Australia in relation to rail standardization and how loyal they intend to be to their party, will they honestly say that that amendment is not justified, particularly in respect of unemployment, child endowment and other social service benefits, and the impost of taxation levied by this Government?
When the Australian Labour Party went to the people on the last occasion it was honest with them. It told them that the condition of the Australian economy was parlous. It said that in order to correct that position a budget deficit of at least £100,000,000 was required. The Labour Party put a positive and constructive policy before the Australian people. That policy was designed to correct the unemployment position and increase child endowment to the relationship it should have to the inflated basic wage and costs in Australia. The Government, in its election campaign, said that Labour’s proposition was wrong, immoral and dishonest. Now it has brought down a Budget providing for a deficit of £1 18,000,000. Every section of the Australian community says that the Budget does not provide any basis for future planning so that people can say, “ This is the way the Government’s policy will go “. They know very well that the Government will vacillate again. If an election were in the offing the next Budget could reverse entirely what the Government has done on this occasion.
The present Budget contains absolutely no grounds for satisfaction for those in receipt of child endowment, widow’s pensions, repatriation benefits or the maternity allowance. The Government during the last ten years has not increased child endowment and the maternity allowance. Why? No answer is forthcoming. This year the Government proposes to raise by direct and indirect taxation a record amount of revenue. It might be well if I were to read what the “Taxpayers’ Bulletin “ has to say about the matter -
The Treasurer’s Budget speech this week, together with the White Paper on National Income, which was presented at the same time, enables us to accurately measure the burden of taxation carried by the Australian taxpayer during the financial year 1961-62. After deducting the cost of subsidies, the White Paper discloses that the total taxation paid to the Commonwealth, the States and the Local Governing Authorities totalled £1,687,000,000.
National income is given at £3,932,000,000.
Thus, taxation absorbed 28.4 per cent, of the national income - well over the 25 per cent, regarded by some economists as the prudent maximum “ take “.
The “ Taxpayers’ Bulletin “ then examines the tax burden per capita. It reveals how callous the Government has been by changing the incidence of taxation from a direct type of taxation - where a person is taxed in accordance with his ability to pay - to an indirect type of taxation. In this connexion the publication states -
The per capita burden (i.e., by spreading the tax bill over every man, woman and child) rose to £163 15s. 9d. . . . a far cry from the figure of £6” 12s. Hd. in 1948-49.
Let us see how the Budget affects the family man who this Government in an election campaign said was the most important unit in the nation. The publication states -
Taking the average household of a man, his wife and two children, the figures show that the weekly tax bill (including direct and indirect taxes) rose to £12 12s.
The bread winner does not realise the money he is paying away in taxes - even though he is acutely aware of the difficulty of making the family budget balance.
This is because the burden is largely hidden. Last year 47.7 per cent, of the tax bill was represented by taxes on spending - sales lax on everyday commodities, excise duties on the family’s minor luxuries and pay-roll tax inflating the price of every commodity made in the country.
The publication goes on to say that the incidence of taxation on industry has increased. Anybody who examines the taxes levied by this Government on industry knows very well that ultimately the impost is borne by the consumer - the person who needs the goods. South Australian senators have said to-night they are pledged to support the Government and do not wish to disturb its Budget. Do they not realize that taxation on industry eventually has to be borne by the family man? And what of the primary producers? They are embarrassed severely because heavy taxation inflates their costs of production, and they have to sell their commodities in the markets of the world in competition with those of other countries. Production costs have risen close to the ceiling. So primary producers are embarrassed by this Government’s financial policy.
Primary producers’ organizations have stated recently that soldier settlers in the various States are in a desperate position. This is not because they are not producing bountiful crops, but rather because the Government has allowed the economy to get into such a condition that these farmers cannot produce at prices which enable them to sell their goods overseas. The Government has done nothing to remedy this situation although it cannot be said that it has not been warned about the position. As recently as to-day Sir William Gunn has issued a warning about wool, the commodity upon which Australia has always relied and which has never let us down. He said that the cost of production, prices and markets put Australia into a position where wool will no longer carry the burden of the Government’s incompetence and rash expenditures. The reorientation that will be necessary if the United Kingdom joins the European Common Market will bring other problems.
There is nothing in this Budget on which the Government can be commended. Whilst I feel sorry for South Australian senators who have to apologize to the people of the State for not supporting the uniform rail gauge project, I feel much more sorry for the back-benchers on the Government side who have to apologize to the Australian nation for the Government’s actions in bringing about a state of affairs where, instead of having an economy of which other countries were envious and being able to under-sell every other nation and yet have good living standards, we are now faced with grave difficulties in relation to our overseas markets. We have slipped into an embarrassing position. I do not want to be too hard on the South Australian senators who are turning dog on their Premier. I think we should be hard on the Government who has made it necessary for them to do so. But the point I make is that there are more important issues on which they should step out of line. They may be able to give an answer to criticism of their decision not to support the uniform gauge project, but they cannot give an answer to the people of Australia who ask why the Government has allowed the economy to get into its present position. I feel sorry for them.
– You are very sorry for all of us!
– I am sorry for you, Senator Scott, because I know very well that you realize that the statements I am making are true. Probably you will have to get up dishonestly to deny that they are true.
There are a number of other features in this Budget’ of which we should take cognizance. One is the position of our overseas balances. This Government got into difficulties with its overseas balances and was not able to maintain them at a satisfactory level and also embark on a developmental programme. Apart from the developmental programmes commenced by the Labour Party the Government has had to get private enterprise, overseas directors and others to undertake works on a national scale. The Government is now becoming embarrassed. It has had to appeal to primary producers to step up production in order to build up reserves. Australian producers have responded well. When you come to analyse the position you find that Australia is in the unenviable position of being the second largest borrower from the International Bank. Australia has borrowed to boost its expenditure on imports though primary producers have been exporting at record levels. We have had record production over the last half decade or more, but the amount sent out of this country in the form of dividends is almost as much as is sent overseas to countries to whom we are indebted for money borrowed. We are in the unfortunate position of being on the wasting side. Previously we were extending credit. When Labour was in office, Australia sent £75,000,000 to Great Britain, as a gift. Our economy was so sound and solid that we could do that, and no primary producer was looking down his nose and wondering whether he was in a good position. He knew he was secure.
Admittedly some people were saying that they could not get a motor car or they could not buy petrol because of rationing, but the primary producer had a net return that was much better, on a percentage basis, than he is getting now. Australia’s national position was incomparably better. Liberal senators, if they move around the countryside, will learn the truth. They are in the same strait-jacket as members of the Country Party - perhaps a little less so than the South Australian senators opposite. If they prefer to support the Government against the wishes of the people that they represent they will have to explain why, not to committees or Cabinet, but to the Australian people. That is what the Government is afraid of having to do. If it is not, why has it made this terrific turnabout? Six months ago, Government supporters told the Australian people it would be immoral and wrong to budget for a deficit of £100,000,000. The Labour Party said that out of such a deficit it would pay for developmental works and increased child endowment to the people who could spend the money and revitalize the economy from the domestic side. The Government denied that a deficit was necessary and said how wrong it would be if Labour adopted that policy. Now the Government is budgeting for a deficit of £118,000,000. I may say that the Labour Party accepts the compliment. The Government has come round to agreeing that Australia must not stagnate - that Australia cannot stop still, because if it does it must go back. As a result of the announced Labour policy, the Government has realized that it cannot allow Australia to stagnate and that this country must go forward.
The unhappy part about the Budget is that it provides for indirect taxation, to account for 47.5 per cent, of tax revenue, to be imposed, without exemption, on every man, woman and child in the community without any regard to ability to pay. The family group is hard hit. The Government has not altered the rate of child endowment for nearly ten years. Though revenue has increased by 400 per cent., the family man in this country, with this huge indirect tax impost to meet - amounting to £12 2s. a pay - gets no relief.
What is the Government’s attitude to education? I would like to go into the matter more closely but my time is getting short. Mr. Heffron said at the 1961 Premiers’ Conference -
I would ask at this stage that the Commonwealth accept the principle of assisting the States in these directions and agree to establish a committee to investigate and make an up-to-date assessment of the needs of primary, secondary and technical education on a national basis and to suggest a long-term basis of assistance.
Such an inquiry would necessarily take some time and, in view of the urgency of the present situation, I would also ask the Commonwealth to make available some special assistance as an interim measure.
I understand his views met with the approval of all the Premiers. Less is spent on education in Australia than in any of the Western nations. The amount is far below that spent by most of the advanced nations. This year we had the unhappy spectacle of young Australians who have been educated probably to junior university standards leaving school - when 90,000 of their parents were unemployed - and being unable to find a market for their talents.
They have had to return to school to continue their studies while their families are living in sub-standard conditions. When I made an appeal to the Senate on this mater one honorable senator was able to say, “ It is good for the child “. If the Government were doing the right thing by Australian youth further schooling would be good for the child, but, heavens above, surely honorable senators opposite are hypocritical and rotten when they say that it is good for the child when the breadwinner of the family is on the dole and child endowment has remained unchanged for ten years. It is a dreadful thing for a family man to have a child leave school at fourteen, after being educated to a junior university standard, and find that the child cannot be absorbed in industry. The Government’s attitude after the election to the child in this situation was the same as its attitude towards unemployment before the election: “ It is good for them - send them back “. When honorable senators opposite talk in that way, I say I despise them. I also despise them when they cheat the family man of this country as they have done in the Budget. The Government has given a 5 per cent, rebate in taxation to people who can afford to do without it. It has given this rebate of tax, not as a sop, but as a sort of political gift to those who, it believes, will support it politically. It has no sense of responsibility. I suggest that it should do the right thing to the citizens of Australia; it should give tax deductions so as to build up family life and foster education. I say that the Government should be decent and honour the promises it has made to the Australian family man, the child and the mother of Australia since 1949.
– How can the family man be the mother of Australia?
– I did not say the family man would be the mother of Australia. I said, “ Be decent to the family man, and the mothers and children of Australia, by keeping the promises you made “. When we hear a section of this Parliament advocating the rights of the family man and at the same time recommending preferential treatment for others, we know you have cheated the children, the mothers, the husbands and breadwinners, not only by creating unemployment, but also by denying to them their fair share of the national income to which they are justly entitled. Even members of the Government parties know that.
The Budget deserves a lot of criticism. I will subject it to much more criticism when the Estimates are under discussion. I wholeheartedly support the Opposition’s amendments, and if Government supporters were honest in their vote, they too would support them.
– I rise to support the motion for the printing of the Estimates and Budget Papers. I am amazed at the speech that has just been delivered by my colleague from Western Australia, who had the audacity to stand in his place in this Senate and to criticize the Government’s employment policy. An honorable senator who criticizes the Government’s employment policy should be prepared to be reminded of the unemployment position when his own party was in government. Under Labour rule - during the coal strike in June, 1949 - 5.6 per cent, of Australia’s work force was unemployed. To-day 100,000 or 130,000 unemployed represents 3 per cent, of the maximum work force.
Throughout Australia’s history there has never been a state of full employment under Labour rule. Forgetting the war years, and taking any other year, honorable senators will find that on two occasions when a Labour government was in office in the Commonwealth, 3 per cent, or more of the work force was unemployed.
It is most unfair for an honorable senator to criticize this Government’s employment policy. With a work force one and a half times greater than in 1949, we have in the past four months reduced the ranks of the unemployed from 130,000 to 90,000, and the figure is still decreasing. But we as a government will not be satisfied until unemployment has been completely wiped out in Australia. No political party likes to be accused of believing in having a pool of unemployed. We do riot believe in it, and neither does the Labour Party. In its twelve years of office this Government has a record of achievement that cannot be approached by any other political organization in the history of Australia. I challenge honorable senators opposite to produce statistics of employment under Labour rule that would beat the Government’s record. All the figures are available for their perusal if they desire to accept the challenge.
– Will you produce the figures now to support what you say?
– I thought I had produced the figures. I said that in 1949, under a Labour government, 5.6 per cent, of the Australian work force was unemployed during the coal strike. To-day, less than 2.6 per cent, of the work force is unemployed. Let me remind honorable senators that in the House of Representatives in 1945 a certain Labour member of Parliament said that if any government - he was talking about any government in the world - could ever achieve a position in which less than 5 per cent, of its work force was unemployed to all intents and purposes that government had achieved full employment.
– Do you remember what Gladstone said?
– No. Mr. Haylen, a Labour member, made that statement in 1945, when the Labour Party was in government. It is ridiculous to say that to all intents and purposes a 5 per cent, pool of unemployed is quite good. Certainly the people of Australia would not be satisfied if 5 per cent, of the work force were unemployed.
– The year 1945 was at the beginning of the period of rehabilitation.
– The honorable member was not discussing Australian conditions at the time; he was talking about the governments of all countries. Mr. Haylen said that if any government could achieve a position in which less than 5 per cent, of the work force was unemployed, to all intents and purposes it had attained full employment.
Let us examine the Budget as it is. It has been severely criticized by members of the Opposition. However, it is a development budget. We are doing our utmost to develop this country. Taking the Budget in conjunction with the measures adopted in February this year, we on this side believe that, when implemented, it will bring about the desired results of full employment and the continuing expansion and development of Australia. Mr. Whitlam, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in another place said that if Labour were in office it would immediately budget for a deficit of £160,000,000, and that a Labour government, though not increasing taxation, would increase child endowment and age and invalid pensions, and spend vast sums on education and the development of the north.
Let us examine those claims by the deputy leader of the Labour Party in another place. So far as I can understand from reading his speech, by budgeting for a deficit of £160,000,000 he would have £42,000,000 more to spend than the Government will have under its plan to budget for a deficit of £118,000,000. If the Labour Party attained office and increased child endowment by 5s. a week for each child, which would not be unreasonable - I do not think the increase could be less than that - that would cost about £34,000,000 or £35,000,000 a year. An increase in age and invalid pensions of 5s. a week - I do not believe the Labour Party would grant an increase of less than 5s. a week - would cost that government an extra £14,000,000 or £15,000,000 a year.
The sum of those two additional expenditures would be more than the increased amount available to a Labour government under its proposed plan to budget for a deficit of £160,000,000. In other words, it would have £42,000,000 mare to spend under such a plan than this Government will have under its budget plan, but the two items I have mentioned would cost a Labour government £45,000,000 to £50,000,000. Therefore, no further money would be available for development of the north and extra educational facilities unless it was obtained by way of increased taxation or funds obtained from some other source. What did the Leader of the Opposition in another place, Mr. Calwell, say about development of the north? He visited Western Australia and in a television interview was asked what he would do for the north. He answered, “ We would develop the north with the greatest possible speed “. He was then asked, “ How would you develop the North?” He answered, “ We would put in transport facilities and we would dam the rivers “. The questioner then asked, “ What rivers would you dam? “ Mr. Calwell then stumbled and ah’d and said, “ We would dam all the rivers in the north “. Those of us who realize that more water falls in the north of Australia than in the south know only too well that the cost of damming all the rivers would be astronomical. It would run into hundreds of millions of pounds. But that would not deter the Labour Party. It says it would dam all the rivers in the north.
– Look what the Labour Party has done in the north.
– I ask any member of the Labour Party to name one crop that could be grown economically or that has been grown economically under irrigation in the Northern Territory. I have recently returned from a fortnight’s visit to the Northern Territory, where I inspected the Humpty Doo and other projects, and from what I have seen I would say that no rice crop has yet been grown up there successfully. In the future there may be some chance of developing a variety that can be grown successfully and economically, but as yet that has not been done. We are all anxious to develop the north, but we must have some plan for doing it. The Labour Party says that it will set up an authority to develop the north - something like the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority. Is that not terrific?
– What is wrong with that?
– I have never heard anything so stupid in my life. Set up such an authority and see how it works.
– You are not saying that the Snowy Mountains scheme is stupid?
– No, I am sorry if I misled the Senate. What I am saying is that to set up an authority for the development of the north and to give that authority complete power to do what it likes would be completely stupid. I am saying that for this purpose an authority like the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric authority would not be effective. The Snowy Mountains
Authority has a set job to do. It has the task of transferring the waters from the east side of the Great Dividing Range to the west side, first using the waters to generate electricity and then channeling them into rivers in Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia for irrigation purposes. That is straight-ahead work. But if an authority were set up to develop the north, where would it start? The first thing we would have to do would be to find out what it would have to do. The Commonwealth Government, in conjunction with the Western Australian Government, with their scientists and agricultural experts, are endeavouring to discover post-haste what crops can be grown successfully in the northern areas. In fact, having been given £5,000,000 as a present by this Government, to dam the Bandicoot Bar, the Western Australian Government recently allocated five farms to settlers as pilot farms where, in conjunction with the research farms in the north, efforts are being made to ascertain what crops can be grown successfully. Once the answer to that problem has been discovered, we can take the next step. But it is all a very slow process. The sum of £100,000,000 could be spent in a moment in the north without any benefit whatever being gained; and I remind honorable senators that the taxpayers in the south would have to find the money. No one is more anxious than this Government to see the north develop, but it has to be developed on an economically sound basis; and at the moment no such plan has been worked out.
When the Government amended the Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Assessment Act in February or March of this year, one of the amendments offered a 20 per cent, depreciation allowance to business people, companies and others who were anxious to improve their manufacturing capacity for the export trade. The specific purpose of the allowance was to encourage manufacturers to install new plant and equipment with a view to reducing production costs in order to enable them to compete on overseas markets. What did the Labour Party say about that ?
– You destroyed their position first and then offered them this concession to re-establish themselves.
– I have not the time to talk to you to-night. I have to go ahead with my speech. I have asked what the Labour Party had to say about that legislation. The Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator McKenna) said he believed that if the amendment was agreed to the manufacturers would be” enabled so to mechanize their industries that the unemployment position in Australia would be aggravated.
– Who said that?
– Senator McKenna.
– He said no such thing.
- His statement is recorded in “ Hansard “. After his having said that, members of the Labour Opposition in the Senate now express a keen desire to find work, saying that they are anxious to develop the north by putting down dams. But they would not mechanize the work; according to them, the workers should go up there with picks and shovels. That is Labour’s answer to this problem.
– I am only developing your argument. I come now to age and invalid pensioners about whom Senator Cooke spoke.
– I did not mention pensioners. I referred to child endowment and the maternity allowance.
– One honorable senator opposite referred to age and invalid pensions. If we want to compare our social service legislation with that of the Labour government we have to go back to the dim and distant past. I apologize for going back so far as 1949 in order to make the comparison. In his Budget speech the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) said -
According to its practice, the Government has reviewed the social services benefits payable from the National Welfare Fund. As I have mentioned already, there will be a large addition to expenditure this year, partly because there will be more beneficiaries, and partly because the additional benefits provided in 1961-62 will operate through the whole of 1962-63. In most of its years of office the Government has found it desirable to make some increases in benefits or to broaden their range. Payments from the National Welfare Fund were £92,804,000 in 1949-50; they are estimated to be £387,574,000 in the current year - which is more than a foul- fold increase. It may illustrate how largely such payments have come to share in our Budget if I indicate that, in 1949-50, payments from the National Welfare Fund were equivalent to some 47.7 per cent, of revenue from income tax and social service contribution paid by individuals. The comparable figure for 1961-62 was 68 per cent, and it is estimated to reach 72 per cent, in the current year.
There was an increase from 47 per cent, to 72 per cent. If we take into consideration repatriation benefits and other benefits that are paid from the fund, we find that 91 per cent, of the money that is collected by way of income tax on individuals is now paid into the National Welfare Fund and expended on social service benefits, including repatriation and hospital benefits.
Members of the Opposition have criticized our attitude to the oil industry. I want to dwell on this matter for a while, because I believe that no other government in the history of Australia can point to taxation legislation affecting mining that equals the legislation introduced by this Government during the last twelve years. Having studied the taxation concessions that are granted in other parts of the world, I can say that in no part of the free world are greater concessions enjoyed than those which apply to the mining industry in Australia to-day. We have heard quite a lot from the Opposition about what it proposes to do in relation to the oil industry.
– What is the Australian shareholding in the companies engaged in the search for oil?
– I cannot say. I am merely pointing out that this Government gives a 100 per cent, concession on calls, applications and allotments of shares in oil search companies. That is something which the Labour Party did not do when it was in office. For purposes of comparison, we must go back beyond 1949. We find that in 1947 the great Australian Labour Party, in its eagerness to find oil in Australia, purchased an oil rig, which was no doubt wrapped in cellophane. The rig was stored in Victoria. When we came to office the rig was still in its cellophane wrapper, untouched, nicely greased and put away. No one in the Labour Party had endeavoured to find oil. The rig had been in its cellophane wrapper for more than two years when we came to office. We took steps to get rid of it and to encourage private industry to come to Australia and search for oil. We sold the rig for, I think, £300,000, which showed us a profit.
In 1953 oil was found at Rough Range, in the north-west of Western Australia. The discovery caused a great inflow of capital from other parts of the world. It also gave great incentive to Australian investors to invest in the shares of companies searching for oil in Australia. There was a rush from one end of the country to the other to obtain leases, with the result that it was difficult in some circumstances to allocate leases. The programme continued. Oil having been discovered at Rough Range, several other drill holes were put down within a radius of half a mile of the place where oil had been found originally, but no further strikes were made. The Rough Range field proved to be a dud.
Three years later the search of oil had declined to such an extent that the Government had to encourage investment in the oil industry. It sought a way to encourage people to continue the search for oil. Its solution of the problem was to provide a 50 per cent, subsidy for companies wishing to drill on sites approved by the Government. I think that that was in 1956-57. In the following year the Government extended the subsidy to 50 per cent, of the cost of seismograph ic work approved by the Government. That extension of the subsidy created quite a little interest, and the search continued. In 1959 the income tax legislation was amended with a view to encouraging investors to take up shares in companies engaged in the search for oil. The Government was so eager to attract as much Australian capital as possible to the oil industry that it gave a 100 per cent, taxation concession on calls, applications and allotments. Again there was a big rush to invest in oil companies. I believe that it was because of the concessions which the Government had given from 1956 onwards that we were fortunate enough to strike oil at Moonie last year. I think it will be found that oil exists at Moonie in commercial quantities.
The subsidy payments increased from £1,000,000 annually, as they were a year or two ago, to £2,500,000 last year. This year, they would have amounted to more than £8,000,000. The Government has said that it is prepared to find £5,000,000 this year to assist in the search for oil. That announcement, together with the strike at Moonie, has encouraged people to continue this vital search. I believe that more oil-fields will be discovered in Australia.
– How much has been spent in the search?
– I cannot say exactly, but I think it would be well over £100,000,000. Most of the expenditure has been made in the last ten years. The Government has announced that it is prepared to grant taxation concessions up to 100 per cent. on calls made by companies, registered in Australia, which are engaged in exploring for minerals, with the exception of uranium and gold. I believe that that will give impetus to the minerals industry and that money will be invested in companies which propose to explore for minerals and to purchase plant and equipment.
Throughout the years this Government has established a record, so far as the search for oil is concerned, that is unequalled by that of any other government in the history of Australia. The attitude of the Government has been to develop this country. We have seen the lifting of the embargo on the export of iron ore, the discovery of bauxite deposits at Weipa, and the development of hydro-electric power by the Snowy Mountains Authority. The Government probably will spend about £40,000,000 this year on developmental projects, including the Snowy Mountains scheme. Wherever we look we see such projects being carried out. A new era has dawned for the northwest of Western Australia with the large discoveries of iron ore that have been made there. Those discoveries were made because the Government had the courage to lift the export embargo. Hundreds of millions of tons of iron ore have been found, and we shall be exporting iron ore in the near future.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin). - Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 29 August 1962, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1962/19620829_senate_24_s22/>.