24th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I desire tq ask the Minister representing the Minister for Trade whether it is a fact that the campaign being conducted by Sir William Gunn and members of the Australian Wool Board in favour of a wool promotion levy of 44s. a bale is meeting with a hostile reception from a very large section of wool-growers. Further, is this hostile reception the reason for the arranging of a conference between the Government, Sir William Gunn, members of the board and Sir John Crawford, chairman of the Australian Wool Industry Conference. Is the conference scheduled to meet in Canberra to-morrow. Is it the intention of the Government to steal another section of Labours rural policy by matching growers’ promotion contributions on a £1 for £1 basis? I do not know why honorable senators opposite are laughing. The Government has already stolen several planks of Labour’s platform. In the event that the wool industry conference adopts the bureau’s proposal for a levy of 44s. a bale, will the Government, prior to the levy becoming operative, submit the proposal to a referendum of wool-growers?
– It would be vain not to admit that there has been some criticism of Sir William Gunn’s proposal. But I do not think that even Senator Kennelly would criticize the Government for taking an active interest in so important an industry as the wool industry and consulting with those concerned. I understand that the consultation to which Senator Kennelly has referred will take place. I hope it will lead to the adoption of views that are satisfactory to the various divergent interests. The wool industry is our greatest industry. We want an efficient and contented wool industry. The Government will spare no effort to achieve that result, remembering always that it is the wool-growers who grow the wool; they carry that responsibility and they should have the major say in whatever final decisions are made. As to the honorable senator’s quip about the Government’s stealing the Australian Labour Party’s policy, I made the position clear in my speech on the Budget. There is nothing in the world that the Labour Party has not already unsuccessfully promised to the Australian public.
– Can the Minister for National Development explain the position at the moment in regard to the agreement relating to the Chowilla dam in South Australia? If the agreement has not been signed, when does the Minister expect it to be signed? When does he expect that the Senate will have an opportunity to discuss the matter?
Senator Laught will agree, of course, that this is a most important agreement which requires variations of the existing River Murray Waters Agreement. I have never yet found it easy to reach finality on an agreement relating to the division of water between the various States of the Commonwealth, but I am glad to say that in this matter agreement has been reached. My last advice was that a little tidying remained to be done, not in matters of substance but in matters of drafting of the agreement. It was expected that finality would be reached last week. I do not know whether it actually was reached, but I am quite confident that the legislation will be before the Parliament during this sessional period.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for National Development. In view of the great national interest in the production of commercial oil in Australia, is the Minister in a position to report to the Senate on the progress of this development and to give the approximate date when Australian oil will be available to the Australian people?
Senator Arnold has put his question in general terms. In view of the interest in this subject that arose over the week-end I had rather prepared myself for a question relating particularly to the new strike in Queensland. Of course, that strike may well determine the rate of progress in the industry. The first point that I wish to make - it is one which I hope I have always made - is that it is a matter for the directors of the oil-prospecting companies to make statements. In other words. I do not want to be accused of saying things which could have an effect on the share market. So I shall speak only in general terms about this interesting and1 perhaps important development in oil search in Australia. Oil has been discovered at a level of about 4.000 feet. Because of the mechanics of the drilling programme at the time the oil came through the hole, it was not possible to carry out a drill stem test. It is now proposed to case the well, to perforate the casing and then to test the flow under fully controlled conditions. An officer of the Bureau of Mineral Resources, and, I understand, an officer of the Queensland Mines Department will be present when the tests are made. The present expectation is that the tests will take place on Wednesday or Thursday of this week. Until these tests have taken place, I can merely repeat what the chairman of directors of the company concerned has said: We should be hopeful, but cautious, until we see what actually occurs in the next two or three days.
– The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization has not any plans at the moment for carrying out the specific sort of experimentation to which the honorable senator has referred. Foi some time the C.S.I.R.O. has been engaged in research on the stabilization of sand areas, but it has been concerned more with stabilizing these areas with bitumen and other materials for engineering purposes than with getting vegetation to grow in sand. That responsibility is assumed by the various soil conservation authorities in the States and I understand that a good deal of work has been done by them in growing vegetation by the use of plastics, starch, bitumen emulsion and things of that sort. However, as I have said, that is a matter for the State authorities, and the C.S.I.R.O. has no plans at present to stabilize sand to grow vegetation.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral. What factors were considered, and what objective investigations were made, by the Australian Broadcasting Commission before it imposed on radio listeners its current re-organization of programmes? Were these investigations proved to be adequate and effective in ascertaining the wishes of the paying public and of the great listening audience? To what extent did the views of listening panels influence the A.B.C. in determining the form of this re-organization? How are members selected for inclusion on listening panels? What qualifications are required of listening panel members to enable them to represent adequately the programme preferences of radio listeners? In view of the unfavorable reaction from listeners in several States, would the PostmasterGeneral ask the A.B.C. to ascertain the wishes of listeners (a) concerning the present organization of programmes over the three networks, and (b) recommending improvements to meet better the aspirations of the paying public? Initially, and as a pilot scheme for the whole of Australia, could arrangements be made for a test plebiscite of Canberra listeners to A.B.C. stations 2CN and 2CY, which appear to be attached to none of the three networks and whose programmes appear to be restricted to a conglomeration of items?
– Senator Cole has asked a series of long and involved questions. I can give him the firm assurance that a great deal of research and. inquiry was made by the Postmaster-General’s Department before a re-arrangement of programmes was undertaken. The rearrangement was undertaken to try to improve the service. I think it is fair to say that, generally speaking, we are conservative people. We are used to twiddling the radio dial expecting to find something that has been broadcast at a particular time from a certain station for years. But it does not necessarily follow that that is in the best interests of the listening public, and that is the reason why the Australian Broadcasting Commission undertook a comprehensive survey to try to give a better service to the listening public. 1 cannot tell the honorable senator specifically how listening panels are chosen, but I shall ask the PostmasterGeneral to inform the honorable senator on that point and on others that he has raised.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service: Has the Minister’s attention been directed to the black ban which has been threatened by the Western Australian Trades and Labour Council on the construction of the United States naval communication base at North West Cape? In view of the claims by the Leader of the Opposition that the Australian Labour Party is merely the political wing of the trade union movement, is the Minister able to say whether this is an attempt by the A.L.P. to prevent by industrial action what it tried unsuccessfully to kill upon the floor of the Parliament? Will the Minister give an assurance that, if necessary, the firmest action will be taken to ensure that the Americans are given every possible assistance in erecting this great defence project-
– Comrade McCarthy.
– Order! Senator Hendrickson, you will withdraw that remark.
– Which remark?
– You referred to Comrade McCarthy.
– I withdraw the remark.
– Will the Minister give an assurance that, if necessary, the firmest action will be taken to ensure that the Americans are given every possible assistance in erecting this great defence project which should play an important part in Australia’s defence preparedness? Will the Minister also give an assurance that the tragedy of Labour’s refusal of the Manus Island base to the Americans after World War II. will not be repeated in respect of North West Cape?
– I have not noticed the threat of a black ban on this project, though I did notice, when I was in Western Australia, that there was argument between the Trades and Labour Council and various unions on the one hand and the constructors of this project on the other concerning the wages or loadings which should be paid for work on the project. lust how much of the demands which were made were genuine industrial demands for site allowances and so on, and just how much, if at all, they were instigated by that section of the Labour Party which does not wish to have this base in any circumstances and wants to prevent its construction, I am not in a position to say. It is true, however, that the installation is of such significance to the defence of the whole of this area that I am sure the Government will do everything possible to ensure it is built, not merely for the sake of the Americans but also for the sake of this country and its defence.
I do not think the matter of Manus Island falls specifically within the context of the honorable senator’s question, because the base at Manus was discarded not as a result of industrial disagreement but purely as a result of a policy decision by the then Labour Government, through its Minister, Dr. Evatt, who imposed quite unacceptable conditions on the Americans when they wished to continue using the base for our joint defence.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Customs and Excise. Has the Minister’s attention been directed to a statement which appeared in the Adelaide “ Advertiser “ of Friday, 23rd August, 1963, made by Mr. S. D. L.
Horwitz, the managing director of Horwitz Publications, Sydney, to the effect that the increased importation of various types of publications was a threat to Australian printers, paper-makers, publishers and authors? Is it a fact that the imports of various kinds of publications increased in value from £9,910,000 in 1959-60 to £17,175,000 in 1962-63? Does the Minister agree that this development threatens Australian interests in the printing, publishing and paper-making industries and also restricts opportunities for Australian authors? Does the Minister intend to take action in connexion with this matter?
– I have had representations from the printing and allied trades during the last few weeks on the subject which the honorable senator has raised. It is unquestionable that there has been a substantial increase in the number of publications coming into Australia. Consequently, there has been some effect on the industry in Australia. The question of whether or not a tariff should be placed on imports is one for recommendation by the Tariff Board. If an industry feels that it is immediately threatened it may apply for a reference to a special advisory authority. If this is granted a recommendation by the authority for temporary duty could be in the hands of the Government within four weeks. The matter would then go to the Tariff Board which would hear the case publicly and decide the rate of tariff necessary for the protection of the Australian industry. I think that those are the steps which the printing and allied trades organizations should take if they wish to seek further protection within Australia.
– Has the Minister for National Development noted the recently released figures relating to housing construction? Does the Minister care to comment on this improved position? Does the position reflect decisions made by this Government to encourage and enable banking institutions to make increased funds available for homebuilding?
The figures relating to housing and other building approvals for the month of July are very good indeed, being 35 per cent, above the figures for July, 1961. The total value of houses, factories and other buildings approved in the quarter ended July, 1963, was £182,000,000 which is- I say this subject to correction - an all-time record for approvals in any quarter. That is the short answer to those who claim that there is an air of indecision. There is no air of indedecision in the home-building industry or the building industry generally.
– This is an all-time record Budget, too.
These figures of building approvals which are so good - 35 per cent, above the 1961 figures and 15 per cent, above the 1962 figures - relate to the position which obtained before the Government gave further stimulus through the Budget by releasing more savings bank moneys for home-building, and are, as I have said, an all-time record for any quarter.
– Is the Minister representing the Attorney-General aware that legal representatives in private practice, who are selected from a panel by the Legal Service Bureau to represent ex-service men and women in eviction cases under the Landlord and Tenant Amendment Act, do not give proper attention to their cases, to the detriment of the ex-service families concerned? Is the Minister aware that frequently briefs in these matters are transferred on the morning of the hearing, thereby preventing proper presentation of the cases of clients, with the result that on many occasions the tenants do not get justice and are evicted? Will the Minister have investigations made of means to stop this practice and, if necessary, take strong disciplinary action against the legal personnel involved?
– Tn the first place, I am not at all sure of what the honorable senator has in mind when he suggests that strong disciplinary action should be taken against members of the legal profession. I do not quite know how one would go about that. In the second place, I find it extremely difficult to believe that professional men - barristers and solicitors employed in the practice of the law - are in fact not properly looking after the interests of their clients. That is, in effect, what is alleged. The charge is that reputable legal people are not looking after their clients’ interests. I find that extremely difficult to believe. If any case can be cited to indicate that there is any truth in the charge, the proper course is to present that case to the body which the legal profession itself has established to enforce observance of its own ethics.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry inform the Senate of the average prices paid for Australian export wheat during the months of April, May, June, July and August of this year?
– Senator Prowse was good enough to tell me that he was seeking information on wheat prices. I asked the Department of Primary Industry for the information that was required, and officers of the department have advised me that the United Kingdom prices - including insurance and freight - for Australian f.a.q. wheat may be taken as representative of the export prices for wheat. There is nothing secret about these prices, as they are published. For the period April to June, 1963, the prices, expressed in sterling per long ton, were as follows: - April, £24 10s.; May, £24 10s., rising to £24 12s. 6cl. in mid-May and to £24 15s. at the end of the month; June, £24 15s., rising to £24 17s. 6d. in mid-June; July, £24 L7s. 6d. The Australian Wheat Board will quote prices in respect of trade inquiries, but does not consider it necessary to go beyond its basic London price or publication, as the nature of the trade calls for close contact with largescale purchasers.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior examined statements made during recent months by the Minister for Trade at several Australian Country Party conferences concerning the re-distribution of federal electorates? Has the Minister deduced from these’ statements ‘that the
Minister for Trade advocated the gerrymandering of electorates to the extent that two electors in rural areas would have the voting power of three electors residing in city areas? Will the Minister take whatever action he can to ensure that no member of the Country Party is ever appointed Minister for the Interior?
– I suggest that at questiontime I should not be called upon to make deductions. The wording of tha honorable senator’s question was, “ Has the Minister deduced?” I think that question-time is an occasion for questions and answers on Government administration. The present question, being loaded, requires only a short, curt reply. The Minister for Trade has never suggested gerrymandering, and the Government would not be a party to gerrymandering. I repeat that the Government would not be associated with it. The Minister for Trade has expressed the opinion that Australia is developing so rapidly that it must have a balanced economy and adequate representation of both rural and secondary industries, and I have never yet heard any Government supporter quarrel with that principle.
– My question also is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior. Has he seen the widely published, and not yet denied, press report of last week which indicates that fear of dishonesty within the Australian Labour Party organization made it necessary to have ballot-papers in the pre-selection of an A.L.P. candidate for the by-election for the federal seat of East Sydney placed in a gaol under police guard? As this was connected with a federal parliamentary by-election, can the Minister inform the Senate whether the Labour Party’s fear of dishonesty involved any charge to Commonwealth or State revenue? Has the action taken by the Australian Labour Party in East Sydney been found to be necessary in any other instance since federation?
– I have seen the report to which the honorable senator has referred. As far as I know, no special arrangements were made in regard to the East Sydney by-election. Before I answer specifically the latter part of the question, I give an unqualified’ assurance to the honorable senator and to the Senate generally that, if police supervision is necessary to preserve the sanctity of the ballot-box so that the will of the people may be adequately expressed, the Government will not hestitate to pay any cost which is involved.
– This was a pre-selection ballot.
– I am speaking of the principle that is involved. That is our attitude in relation to the ballot-box. I understand that the ballot referred to by Senator Marriott was purely a party matter. If the persons concerned chose to ask for police protection for their ballot-box, I imagine they had good and sufficient reason for doing so.
– I address these questions to the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs: Is there any truth in the report which appeared in this morning’s Melbourne “ Sun “ that the Government has purchased a site in Washington for more than £500,000 on which to erect Australian embassy buildings? If this report is correct, can the Minister indicate when the building is expected to be completed and what the total cost will be, including the cost of the site? Further, is it true, as was stated in the same report, that a 9-acre site in Canberra on which the United States Embassy is erected was made available to the United States Government on a 99-year lease, with an option of renewal and at a nominal rental plus the payment of rates? If this is correct, will the Minister indicate the amount of the nominal rental and the amount of the rates that are paid? Assuming that both sections of the report are correct, did the Commonwealth approach the United States authorities with a view to securing the same favorable treatment in Washington as was given to the United States Government in Canberra? If not, does this indicate favoured nation treatment which is operating one way only?
– I did notice the report that Australian embassy offices - I emphasize the word “ offices “ - were to be built on an area of land that was purchased in Washington recently. As is known to some honorable senators opposite, the Australian Ambassador’s residence has been in the possession of the Australian
Government for quite a long time. The land now in question is to be used for the building of offices in which the work of the embassy is to be carried on.
– You are not answering the question.
– I am answering your question. If you will wait for a moment, I shall continue to answer it and will do so in as much detail as I can. The total estimated cost of the offices cannot be given at this moment. Wc must wait until the plans have been completed and passed. As the honorable senator knows, when that stage has been reached the total cost will be set out in the Appropriation Bill and will be presented to the Parliament for passage in the ordinary way.
I do not know whether a long time ago land in Canberra was given free to the United States Government to enable it to build an embassy here or whether it was made available at a nominal rental. There is no relationship between the two sets of circumstances. The land in Canberra is the property of the Commonwealth Government and is in an area which is set aside for the construction of foreign embassies. The land in Washington to which the honorable senator has referred was not in the possession of the United States Government and consequently that government could not give it away. Rates are not payable by embassies, here or in other countries. That is a reciprocal arrangement.
– My question, which is addressed to the Minister for National Development, concerns the conservation of water, lt is prompted by the fact that in Western Australia we have not a lot of water lying around. I understand that last year the Prime Minister announced the setting up of a national water conservation committee which was to consist of State Ministers. Can the Minister for National Development indicate whether this committee is still extant? Can he indicate what it has done regarding water conservation?
– I can tell Senator Vincent that the committee to which he has referred is very much alive and active. We have a very big task ahead of us. . We have had a. preliminary meeting of Ministers which was preceded by a meeting of officials at which the officers produced, I think for the first time, an outline of the extent to which information was available concerning Australian water resources and an outline of the steps which it would be necessary to take to measure effectively Australia’s water resources. It is a sad commentary that our most important asset, our water resources, is inadequately measured up to this time. The officers of all States in the Commonwealth were given the task of preparing a blue print setting out what was needed to be done, how long it would take to do it and what might be the cost in terms of professional officers as well as in terms of pounds, shillings and pence. The provision of professional officers would probably be a greater problem than the financial outlay. The latest advice I have is that the work is well apace and that we are anticipating a further conference of officers in early October followed by a ministerial conference. I would hope that w would emerge from that conference with a programme setting out not only what has it. ^ uone but also how and over what period of time it is to be done, as well as the necessary arrangements to be made.
– I ask the Minister for Civil Aviation whether it is a fact that the Trans-Australia Airlines’ 11.15 p.m. flight out of Perth, on Sunday, 25th August, was delayed until 3.15 a.m. on Monday. Was the delay caused by the late arrival of the aircraft from Melbourne? Was the Melbourne to Perth flight delayed five hours out of Melbourne? What was the cause of the delay in leaving Melbourne? Was the flight out of Perth direct to Sydney instead of Melbourne as scheduled? What inconvenience was caused to passengers whose destination was Melbourne? Are these delayed flights to be a regular feature of west-east air travel in the future? If so, will the flight schedules be altered?
– I am not aware of all the circumstances surrounding the delayed flight referred to by Senator Cant. I am having inquiries made as to the cause of the delay and the diversion of the flight. However, Senator Cant . can be assured that it is not the practice” and will not be the practice of Trans-Australia Airlines, or of any other operator, to indulge in the policy suggested in his question of deliberately delaying flights. I think the standard of services given by TransAustralia Airlines and the other air operators in this country is a guarantee of the service that they will continue to give in future. If Senator Cant agrees, I shall be delighted to make available to him information which will convince him beyond the flicker of a doubt that delays on Australian airlines are far less frequent than delays on the domestic airlines of any other country in the world.
– Has the Minister for Civil Aviation seen the report that Trans- Australia Airlines is expected to announce, this week, a record profit of more than £750,000? Has the Minister any idea of what the net profit of Ansett- A.N.A. and each of its subsidiary airline companies was last financial year? If it is expected to be of the order of, or higher than, the anticipated profit of T.A.A., will the Minister request all the airline companies involved to reduce fares to members of the paying public?
– I have seen reports related to this matter in two or three Sydney newspapers. It is quite impossible - and it would be improper - to embark upon a discussion of specific profit figures until they have been formally presented. I understand that, at the moment, the figures are being audited. The honorable senator will appreciate that until the audit is complete no comment on the specific amount of profit would be proper by me or, for that matter, by any one else. However, I can tell the honorable senator, in a general way, that Trans-Australia Airlines has enjoyed another record year. I shall be happy to present to the Parliament the airlines’ report which so strikingly bears out the fact that we have been “ strangling “ this very good Government utility for so many years - as alleged by the Opposition. The figures for the whole complex of Ansett Transport Industries Limited for last year disclosed a record profit in excess of £1,000,000. That was in respect of not only airline operations but also hotels, road transport and other interests. At present, the question of fares is not before me and I therefore offer no comment of that subject.’1’
– I wish to ask the Minister for the Navy a question which is related to the question asked by Senator Hannan. Is the black ban which has been imposed by Western Australian trade unions on work at the tracking station a result of the refusal of employers in Western Australia to meet the unions in conference in order to discuss an industrial agreement for this project? Is this attitude contrary to the attitude of other employers on big developmental works in all States? Is the American tracking station at Canberra being built under an agreement that provides for a site allowance of £1 10s. a week? Will the wage in Western Australia for tradesmen engaged in the building of the tracking station be, without agreement, £23 14s. 2d. for a 40-hour week, without any security of six months’ employment to enable them to take advantage of taxation allowances for work performed above the 26th parallel? Could not the refusal of the employers to negotiate an agreement be due to a desire to invite an embargo for the purpose of assisting a discredited government in the federal sphere?
– In reply to Senator Hannan’s question I stated that I did not have complete information about the black ban and did not know whether it had so far been imposed. If it has been imposed I do not believe that it was imposed as a result of a refusal by the employers at any stage to meet the unionists and discuss matters relating to the project at North West Caps. I do not feel that I can answer in detail questions involving wage figures that get down to shillings and pence. As I understand it, in general terms the discussion hinges on whether there should be, in addition to the ordinary award wages for tradesmen working in the area, large site allowances, large disability allowances, special travelling allowances, special transportation allowances and a number of things of that kind. I do not believe that the reluctance of the contractors, who bid successfully for this job, to meet all these rather extraordinary requests is in any way due to a desire to assist a government which, so far from being discredited is. according to all the recent gallup polls, increasing in popularity every day. It. is not a practice of businessmen, who contract for large jobs such as this and hope to make profits out of them, to throw those profits away to assist a government which, in any case, stands in no need of their assistance.
– My question is directed to the Minister for National Development and it refers to the rare mineral pollucite, which contains a caesium, a comparatively rare element that can be used for many of the purposes for which uranium is used. This metal, I am advised, is extremely valuable and may be worth as much as £1,000,000 a ton. I ask the Minister: Is he aware of any search going on for this mineral in Australia, particularly in Queensland? Is the Government giving any encouragement to attempts to locate this mineral? Will he have a statement prepared setting out all the information which is available on this subject?
Senator Whiteside was good enough to let me know that he intended to ask this question, so on short notice 1 asked the department to brief me. Pollucite has hitherto been regarded as a rare mineral, but the possibility of making commercial use of it has been aroused by a recent discovery of a relatively large, high-grade deposit at Bernie Lake, Ontario, Canada. Pollucite is valuable because of its high content of caesium, which is used in solar cells, photo-electric cells and such equipment. It is not known whether any companies are on the look-out for deposits of pollucite in Australia, but all samples likely to contain it are being systematically examined by the Bureau of Mineral Resources. No consideration has been given so far to the question whether any special encouragement for the exploration of pollucite is necessary.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Health. Does the Minister hold regular conferences with all State Ministers of health for the purpose of considering health problems which are the concern of both the Commonwealth and the States? How often have such conferences been held in recent times? When was the last held?
– The State Ministers of health were good enough to invite me to their last conference, which was held in Hobart in February, 1963. I was delighted to accept the invitation. I understand that it was six or seven years since a federal Minister was present at such a conference. The reasons for the non-attendance of the federal Minister at previous conferences are not known to me.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service. Are migrants to Australia excluded from the statistical figures of unemployed persons until such time as they have been employed and then have become unemployed in Australia?
– -I should like the honorable senator to put that question on notice so that a detailed answer can be secured from the Minister concerned. 1 understand that migrants who are in holding camps arc not included in the statistics. However, once they get jobs and then perhaps have a week or two out of work, they are included. I shall confirm that.
– 1 address a question to the Minister representing the AttorneyGeneral. Is it a fact that Australia has not yet ratified the International Convention for the Protection of Literary, Scientific and Artistic Works, signed at Brussels in ]948, the Universal Copyright Convention, signed at Geneva in 1953, and the International Convention for the Protection of Performers, Producers of Phonograms, and Broadcasting Organizations, made at Rome in 1961? Does the Government intend to take steps to ratify these, three conventions? If so, when can it be expected that the appropriate action will be taken?
– The convention relating to performing rights has not been ratified by the Government, and I understand that the other two also have not been ratified. They have been under consideration by the Government. One of the difficulties arising from them is the difference of opinion among Australian creative people in these fields as to what would best serve their interests. Discissions on that matter have been going 0:1 between them and the Government, and between them and their counterparts overseas. So that I may obtain a more specific answer, I suggest that the question be put on notice.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for National Development. Is it a fact that three years ago the Netherlands Government made an offer to the Commonwealth of £1,750,000 on a £1 for £1 basis for the building of homes in Australia for Dutch migrants? Did the Netherlands Government in October, 1962, offer £2,500,000 to the Commonwealth Government on the same basis and for the same purpose? If so, were these offers accepted? If they were not, what were the considerations involved?
– I think this matter has too long a history for it to be dealt with adequately in reply to a question without notice In brief, what has happened is this: Loans were made available from Holland upon a basis that the money was provided for building societies and that the amount coming from Holland would be matched by a similar amount to be provided by the Australian banks. There were a couple of such transactions, but then the terms upon which the money was to be made available were altered. The Australian borrowers were asked to cover the possibility of variations in the rate of exchange between the two countries. As a result of that alteration of the arrangement, it has not been practicable to find borrowers who are prepared to take the risk, and it is against the policy of the Australian Government to put itself in a position such as that which is contemplated in this case.
(Question No. 33.)
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The PostmasterGeneral has supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions: -
Senator ANDERSON (New South
Wales). - I present the report of the Public Works Committee on the following subject: -
Proposed construction of airfield pavements for the Tullamarine Airport, Victoria.
The estimated cost of this work is £8,000,000 and the development of the airport at Tullamarine. in accordance with the design proposed, is recommended.
– I move -
That the paper be printed.
J ask for leave to make my remarks at a later date.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– I present the report of the Public Works Committee on the following subject: -
Proposed construction of Stage Two - Darwin High School, Northern Territory.
The estimated cost of the work proposed is about £614,000.
– I present the following report of the Public Accounts Committee: -
Sixty-second Report - The Budget (Financial Documents).
Ordered to be printed.
Debate resumed from 22nd August (vide page 191), on motion by Senator Paltridge -
That the following papers: -
Commonwealth Payments to or for the States 1963-64;
Estimated Expenditure for year 1963-64;
Particulars of Proposed Expenditure for service of year 1963-64;
Particulars of Proposed Expenditure for Additions, New Works and other
Services involving Capital Expenditure, for year 1963-64;
Government Securities on Issue as at 30th June, 1963;
National Income and Expenditure 1962-63 - be printed.
Upon which Senator Kennelly had moved by way of amendment -
At the end of the motion add the following words: - “ but while approving of such benefits as are contained in the Budget, and particularly those for primary producers and social service beneficiaries, the Senate condemns the Government for its failure to make adequate provision for defence, education, housing, health, social services and northern development. The Senate is also of opinion that the Government’s failure to provide for full employment, and for increases in child endowment which has remained stationary in respect of the second and subsequent children since 1948, is wrong and unjust “.
– When the Senate adjourned last week I had spoken of the disappointment of the Australian people with the Budget speech of the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt). I had outlined the great need that exists for confidence in the economy and for a philosophy for the people. Unfortunately, the Budget gives no feeling of confidence to the people and certainly contains no philosophy for them. In the modern world, any group of people who cannot define where they are going are heading for disaster. Until the Australian people are given a lead in government we will continue to live in a state of confusion and uncertainty. The Australian people cannot afford the luxury of a state of affairs such as that existing now, when the Government plays everything by ear and improvises from week to week, month to month and year to year. This Government brings out a budget each year with promises that are not fulfilled. In his Budget speech in 1962 the Treasurer stated -
I state it chiefly as signifying the determination of the Government to follow through with its expansionary programme until the economy is operating at the highest level of activity we can hope to sustain.
In his concluding statement of the Budget speech last year the Treasurer said about that budget -
It pays due regard to the need for care that any responsible Government must observe, and yet its approach to our national economic problem is, predominantly and in the truest sense, forwardlooking and constructive.
This year the Treasurer presented his Budget with the same amount of padding and said -
I am happy to be able to bring down a budget under conditions so propitious as those which rule in the Australian economy to-day.
The Treasurer concluded his speech by stating -
Rarely a month passes that we do not hear of some great new possibility that has opened, some large new venture planned or launched. Our object is to keep the economy moving strongly onward without departing from its steady course.
I direct the attention of the Senate to the report and financial statements for 1963 of the Reserve Bank of Australia. Those who administer the Reserve Bank are in an excellent position to give a broad and unbiased view on the economy. Yet when we compare this document with the Budget speech we find what appear to be a number of contradictions. The report of the Reserve Bank states -
A recovery of economic activity was in train at the beginning of 1962-63. Expenditure and employment were rising, but there was still a substantial degree of unemployment of labour and physical capacity and private expenditure on plant and equipment had npt revived. The private sector was showing a continuing preference for liquidity, and liquid asset holdings and the scope for increased borrowing -were quite high.
That comment in itself indicates that this Government has reduced to a very great extent the confidence of the Australian people in the Government and in their own economic system. They are disappointed with the prospects held out to them in an expanding country because expansion and progress are not so rapid as they should be. The report of the Reserve Bank continues -
However, increases in industrial production and employment were at less rapid rates than the growth of domestic expenditure, which was accompanied by a marked increase in imports.
The report also states -
In the third quarter of the year there were signs of some slackening in private investment expenditure, including expenditure on plant and equipment. . . . Employment rose and unemployment fell, although the decline in unemployment from the seasonal peak at the end of January was not quite as rapid in the last five months of 1961-62. . . . Although activity in major industrial countries grew more slowly commodity prices, including prices of some of our exports, rose. . . . The growth of liquidity has made consideration of economic and monetary policy more complex: it has arisen partly as a result of measures taken to encourage recovery; has reflected hesitancy within the community, which has tended to impede recovery; and has given rise to conditions which could pose problems for policy at a later stage of recovery.
Right through the report there is strong and pungent criticism of the Government’s financial policy because it is impeding the natural desire of the Australian people to progress in a confident way towards the standards of living and the security which this country should properly be able to offer them.
The Minister for National Development (Senator Sir William Spooner), in answer to a question earlier to-day, stated that housing approvals were 35 per cent, above the level for July, 1962. His statement indicated how really bad the building position was at this time last year. The Government claimed last year that it was priming the pump of housing activity, but its claims were not supported by the facts. There has been a slump in the whole of the building trades. Many good tradesmen and building contractors have been on the brink of financial disaster as a result of the Government’s inability to regain the confidence of the people. It is easy to obtain from the various bank reports the periodic level of deposits in the savings banks. We find that people who normally would be making their usual purchases of such goods as clothing. furniture and fittings for the home, slowed down the rate of purchasing. This kind of business is in a trough. Many small business people who have tied up their life savings in investments are having misgivings. They are the ones who are looking for inspiration from the Government, but they do not find it in this Budget.
Hire-purchase activity is more or less a barometer of business activity generally. The Government’s stop-and-start economic policy and its practice of altering the rate of circulation of money has taught people in the hire-purchase field a lesson. The credit squeeze has made them think, “ Once bitten, twice shy “. It is the responsibility of the Government to build up the confidence of the people, not by words but by actions. It is in this respect- that the Budget we are considering is sadly lacking.
Before the debate was adjourned last week I had been speaking of Australia’s position in relation to South-East Asia. During the last few weeks we have been watching the political and social revolution that is taking place in some of the countries of South-East Asia which are so close to us. As we all know, at the present time contentious issues in relation to the proposed Federation of Malaysia are being settled by a mission from the United Nations. This, of course, is a most historic time. The visit of the United Nations mission is vital for the countries concerned. Yet, in Australia information about the situation is very confused. The names of the cities which are being visited by the United Nations mission are almost as foreign to us as though they were in distant Tibet or Outer Siberia, illustrating the fact that the implications of this important matter that is being resolved at the moment are unknown to the average Australian. Those implications are of immense importance not only to the Australian people but to all the people of the South-East Asian area.
Australians have never faced up to the new political alinement in which geography has placed us. We have been encouraged to be indifferent, and we are quite ignorant in our background education of the areas of South-East Asia with which our future is most certainly linked. Whichever way we look at South-East Asia, we must find some way of living with it. We are inclined to isolate ourselves psychologically from the problems of South-East Asia because of our traditional method of thinking as the Europeans think. Because all our institutions basically are European, our spiritual home seems to be in Europe. The Government is not giving a lead in providing information about the important events that are taking place in South-East Asia at the present time. The avenues of dissemination of information, such as the radio, the. press and television, are not being used to impress on the minds of the Australian people the importance of understanding the great problems that are involved.
As a matter of fact, Australia has no defined policy with regard to South-East Asia. In some respects, we have loose commitments, such as those under the Anzus Pact, which bring us a form of security in that we are allied to the United States of America. However, the arrangements under the Anzus Pact are very vague. Australia is a party to the Seato pact, but the most important matters that are taking place in South-East Asia at the moment are outside the scope of Seato. Singapore, Malaya and other South-East Asian countries are not parties to the Seato pact. In relation to Indonesia, our nearest neighbour, we consistently supported the Dutch policy at the United Nations, and we have lost out on that policy, just as we have backed duds in our approach to other countries. The situation in Viet Nam, which is so grave at the present time, indicates how a nation’s foreign policy can be wrongly based. Our Government religiously follows the pattern of the old order and the status quo, in the belief that it is possible to keep in office people who are not in tune with the basic needs of the common people of the country concerned.
Such a policy does nothing to build up Australian prestige in the eyes of the countries of South-East Asia which look to us to give them a lead. They see Australia as a country which once was under colonial rule, which has overcome that rule and built a democracy. They compare themselves with Australia. They think: “ We have been under colonial rule. We have overthrown it and are- heading- towards democracy. We hope our democracy wm be equal to that of Australia.” They look to Australia to give them a lead in many ways, but they cannot look for assistance from the policy of this Government because the Government has no sustained and continuing policy in connexion with those countries. It does not seem that the message gets through from the Minister for External Affairs (Sir Garfield Barwick). He docs not seem to receive support from the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) in the public statements that are made from time to time. Contradictory statements are issued, leaving the Australian people wondering what is going on. Such statements certainly do a lot of harm to our relations with the people of South-East Asia.
Australia is at the cross-roads of a tremendously important era. During the past year or so our traditional trade arrangements with Europe and England have come up for consideration. Other agreements will come up for review soon. As I see it, our future will rest upon finding markets closer to our own country and upon developing diplomatic relations with geographical neighbours, I hope that we shall get some lead from the Government. If a lead is not given, I hope that the people of Australia will say in no uncertain terms that this Government’s policy is not good enough.
We believe that in the future of SouthEast Asia there is no room at all for colonialism or neo-colonialism. Overseas investors in the countries of that area are just intent upon exploitation behind a new front and under a new name. There is no place in this part of the world for that. Now that this exploitation has been exposed, Australia must face up to it. Government supporters are ready to defend those outsiders who buy Australian industries. Papers presented to us show that £250,000,000 a year of our badly needed export earnings are being utilized to pay for past commitments. A tremendous amount of overseas capital is coming in, not for development but for the purchase of industries in which the pioneering work has been done by good Australians. The initiative has come from Australians, as has investment on a lower level, but overseas investors are skimming off the cream when the time is ripe. A government that does not take action by law to ensure that Australia’s interests are represented substantially in these companies is being recreant to its responsibilities. I hope that the Government will realize that airy-fairy words in the Budget speech are of no use. This country needs a lead and a purpose. Australians need a way of life into which to put their hope and faith for the future. We all know that Australians are capable of putting their shoulders to the wheel, but they want to know where they are going. There is nothing in this Budget speech to indicate where the Australian people are going.
– I rise to support the motion for the printing of the Budget papers and, naturally, to oppose the amendment moved for the Australian Labour Party by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Kennelly). As I proceed, I shall make reference to Senator O’Byrne’s speech, particularly in relation to overseas investments. At the outset, I must say that I found it very difficult to follow his reasoning or his generalities on foreign affairs. He made a bland statement about contradictions between the Minister for External Affairs (Sir Garfield Barwick) and the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies). With the touch for which Opposition senators are well noted, he left the matter entirely at that, and gave no explanation of what the contradictions were. I suppose that when speaking in loose terms such as he used, the more general one is the better. Suffice to say that what he said was sheer nonsense.
The Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) has presented his Budget, and members of another place and of this chamber are debating the Government’s financial proposals. The Budget is an instrument of government policy. It contains many parts but each part is shaped to produce a whole. I have listened to Opposition senators and I have read speeches by members of the Opposition in another place and I find that they fail to appreciate that a budget has a unity of purpose and a wholeness. We have heard much about various items such as social services, employment, and housing, and to-day we have heard flights of fancy in relation to foreign affairs. But we have heard from members of the Opposition little about the broad sweep of our national economy. A budget in its wholeness shapes the national economy. The keynote of this Budget is stability. Beyond a shadow of a doubt, the most important part of the Treasurer’s Budget speech - notwithstanding the many concessions in the Budget - related to stability. To promote constructive thinking, I refer to the following passage in the speech -
Governments . . . have long accepted the function of providing conditions favorable to growth; and stability is one of those conditions - in my view, probably the most important. But, increasingly as the years have gone on, governments in the Commonwealth, and this Government in particular, have been prepared to use their powers and resources to promote growth activity. They have sought to do this partly by extending their own facilities and services, as in transport and communications and research, partly by assisting the State Governments to enlarge their services and developmental activities, and partly by direct aids and incentives to private enterprise. In this respect, of course, we have recognized that private enterprise, which provides three jobs out of every four in our economy, must always have a crucial role in growth.
The words “stability” and “growth”, I suggest, are the most important words in this Budget. Senator O’Byrne chose to quote from the annual report of the Reserve Bank of Australia for 1962-63 in order to bolster a flimsy case. I have the same document before me, and I want to read two small portions of it which not only give emphasis to the point I am making in relation to the keynote of stability but also contradict the comments that he made. On page 7 of the report it is stated that price stability was well maintained. That is a most important comment. The report continues -
Price stability in Australia has enhanced our potential to compete in trade and oders an environment encouraging the growth of activity founded on sober assessment, rather than on speculative fancy.
The bank’s annual report is a document which, like any other document which is written across the wide sweep of the economy, gives the pros and cons of the situation; but it is sufficient to say that the keynote of stability gets foremost mention in this report. 1 wish to build my comments on this Budget arounds the two headings “ stability “ and “ economic growth “. Those words cannot be repeated too often;; Through soundly based stability this Budget provides the ingredients for sound economic growth. I want to keep coming back to that thought, because I think it is important in a discussion of the Budget. We have all read of people trying to build on bad foundations. I very well remember the case some years ago of a gentleman who was about to build a home close to the beach. Some people told him that he should not build so close to the beach because of the bad foundation. They told him that the sea shore was too close and that there would be a movement of the sand. He replied: “ Do not worry about that. I am going to have a beautiful house. It is going to be completely air-conditioned, with all modern conveniences, and will be the most modern house that has ever been built “. But the trouble was, it was built on a bad foundation. It was not long before the house - although not actually demolished - had to be started again almost from taws in order to give it stability. That simple little analogy bears a close relation to our economy. We cannot build an economy unless we have a sound foundation of stability. If this Government has achieved anything at all in its budgetary approach it is a basis of stability.
It is interesting to note that we have not heard the usual budget-time parrot cries from the Opposition. Honorable senators can remember previous parrot cries such as “value in the £1”, “purchasing power” and “ fear and threat of inflation “. This time the Opposition has been almost as silent as the grave, because one of the facts of life is that this Government has been able to establish a sound economy. It has stabilized the economy and kept it stable for the last three years when trends in the western world - nobody can deny it - have been towards inflation. The achievement of the Australian Government in establishing this firm basis is one of great merit.
From this firm base of a stable cost index the Budget has been able to progress towards a lowering of costs, as I propose to demonstrate. It is easy to deal with side issues, but those issues must be related to the fact that the Government is providing a sound, stable economy. I should like to mention some of the concessions which have stemmed- from this stability. The first one in relation to the Budget is, of course, the reduction, and in some cases, the removal of sales tax. Senator Kennelly tried to suggest that this concession was unimportant. He even implied that the concession might not be passed on to consumers. I think his actual words were that it was a pretty big assumption to say it would be. 1 invite him and honorable senators - and anybody else who cares to examine the positon - to look at actual press advertisements that have appeared since the change in sales tax. These advertisements show that goods are being offered at new, reduced prices with the old prices appearing alongside the new prices. I have here a copy of one of the Sydney newspapers of 21st August which contains a half page advertisement. I am not going to give a plug to the firm concerned, but the advertisement is here for anybody to see. lt sets out the pre-budget price and the existing price of food items consequent upon the abolition of sales tax on those items. Honorable senators may have seen a heading in the Sydney “ Daily Mirror “ published the da’y after the Budget was brought down. Right across the front page was the heading “ Prices topple “, in relation to the cost of food. Those are the facts. It is nonsense to suggest that the consumer is not getting the advantage of the changes in sales tax. Such a suggestion does not stand up to examination. These concessions are being made because the Government has been able to make them owing to the strength of a stable economy.
Another concession of some consequence that the Government has made as a result of the stable economy is a reduction in estate duty. It has granted also, a tax concession in relation to the minimum income for which a tax return is required. Concessional alterations have been made in connexion with the assessment of separate net incomes of dependants, medical and education expenses and age allowances. All these concessions have been made on the basis of the stability of the economy.
In the social services field, again from the basis of a stable economy, the Government has been able to grant outstanding concessions. Pensions of single, age and invalid pensioners have been increased by 10s. to £5 10s. a week. This increase affects.- something .-.like two-thirds.-, of .all pensioners, or 516,000 out of 786,000 pensioners. Civilian widows with children are to receive an extra £3 a week and childless widows an extra 10s. Higher rates are to be paid to invalid pensioners, there is to be an increase in the pension paid to totally and permanently incapacitated exservicemen and a concession for superannuitants. All these are concessions which could be made possible, and have real value, only because of the stable economy which this Government has been able to maintain. Opposition senators should remember that, whereas in 1949-50 payments from the National Welfare Fund represented 47.7 per cent, of the total income tax collected, to-day the proportion is 72 per cent. That in itself is an indication of the Government’s willingness, when the state of the economy justifies it, to make the necessary concessions to recipients of social service benefits.
The stability of the economy has made it possible for worth-while concessions to be given to the man on the land. We all know of the bounty of £3 a ton that is to be paid on superphosphate and the proposed 20 per cent, investment allowance for new plant and equipment which, added to the existing 20 per cent, depreciation allowance, will make a tremendous contribution to the rural community. An increase of £5,000,000 in the capital of the Commonwealth Development Bank also will have a significant influence on the rural economy.
I have said that the Budget is an instrument which will provide not only for stability but for economic growth. What senator or member will say that Australia has not experienced dramatic economic growth? The fact that we have been taking 125,000 migrants a year and that this year the number will be 135,000 is ample evidence that we have achieved and have maintained dramatic - I use the word deliberately - economic growth. The buoyancy of capital inflow from overseas is another sure pointer to the stability of the economy. Investment capital is a shy bird which goes only where it is wanted and where it will be useful. Senator O’Byrne made some remarks about overseas investment in Australia to which I should like to refer in a moment. I deplore the Opposition’s approach’, to this v. subject. . The knocking of capital inflow by Opposition senators could retard Australia’s growth and ultimately hurt the people whom they so frequently profess to represent in this place.
Australia is a young country. We have been a nation for little more than 60 years. Ours is a vast country and, despite our efforts, it is still to a degree unpopulated and under-developed. We are short of time. The risk we run in accepting capital from overseas is minor compared to the risk we will run if we do not develop the country quickly. To develop it quickly we need capital from overseas. Such capital goes only where it is welcome, and it stays only while it is well treated. Overseas capital has made possible the migrant intake of the past few years; without it we would not have been able to take approximately 1,000.000 migrants in less than ten years. Overseas capital has played a big part in and has accelerate(, our industrial’ and national development.
Let us consider for a moment the servicing of our overseas debt. If the position is considered against the background of our national income, it will be seen to be twice as good as it was when Labour was in office. We heard heartrending stories from Senator O’Byrne, but the fact is that at present the interest on overseas borrowings is equal to less than one-half of 1 per cent, of our national income. When Labour was in office, it was equal to .9 per cent, of our national income. That does not ride very well with the harrowing story that we heard about the servicing of our overseas debt. Capital inflow was the means of our salvation during the years when the terms of trade moved heavily against us. It has helped our economy tremendously.
When I see so many big organizations that have come to Australia and have provided technical know-how, skills, equipment and work for hundreds of thousands of Australians and then hear these stories about the octopus of overseas capital, I begin to wonder. We can go to any capital city or any industrial area in Australia and see big organizations which are operating with overseas capital. In many instances they are operating entirely with overseas capital. One such organization not far from where- I live has -1,600 employees. Senator Ormonde knows the undertaking to which I am referring. It is probably the best industrial concern from the viewpoint of the working people in the southern hemisphere; it provides ideal working conditions and amenities. It operates entirely on British capital. I should say that for the main part the profits of that organization, as happens with most other such companies, are ploughed back as an act of faith in the development of Australia. British or other overseas capital that comes to Australia does not attract special privileges. No government makes special promises in relation to such capital or the repatriation of interest on it. At a time when the- State Premiers are trying to beat one another into aircraft to travel all over the world, cap in hand, to obtain investment capital, the Labour Party in the federal sphere denounces the inflow of such capital.
– So does the Australian Country Party.
– No. You look after yourself, just as members of the Country Party look after themselves. I repeat that Australia is a young, vast country which needs capital. Time is against us. We need population and the funds that are necessary to employ that population. We will never be able to provide these funds from our own resources with a population of 10,000,000 people. The greatest thing that we have experienced has been the confidence displayed by overseas investors in Australia and the Australian people. The surest way in which to ruin that confidence would be for tha Opposition to continue to try to knock overseas investment in Australia. As I said earlier, by doing that honorable senators opposite ultimately would knock the 1,600 employees in the factory to which I referred, and another 2,000 in a big motor undertaking in Melbourne. They would hurt the working people, just because they have not faith in Australia and the development of this country. I repeat that we live in a young country which has big undertakings that are ploughing back their profits into further development, which in turn will mean the provision of greater employment opportunities, greater skills, better techniques, and greater defence security.
Opposition senators have put forward some nonsensical yarn about the danger of foreign capital. Apparently they have read something about what allegedly happened in Canada. Australia has a great future. We must have good friends because we are only a small number of people. The most certain way in which to ruin our prospects is to attack our friends and people who have sufficient confidence in us to bring capital here from overseas.
I want to make only one more point in relation to this theme of progress through stability. I want to point out that national development is and has been a real factor in Australia’s progress. Such development, of course, cannot be carried out in a year. One cannot turn the tap on and then turn it off. One cannot say, “We will have a big project in the north and a big project in the south “. One cannot accomplish national development merely by turning a key as one would turn the ignition key of a motor car. lt has to be planned. Over the last five years a total of £6,500,000 has been expended on the north of Western Australia, including the Ord River scheme, which will require many millions of pounds for its ultimate development. We have provided money for beef cattle roads in the north and jetties in the Northern Territory. All these projects have been associated with the development of primary industry in that area. This year, £1,200,000 is being provided towards a total programme of £4,750,000 in addition to £7,400,000 for works and services in the Northern Territory. A similar situation exists in Queensland. This year, £2,500,000 is being provided as part of a total programme of £8,300,000 for the construction of beef cattle roads. We are financing special developmental work in the brigalow lands in Queensland. Throughout Australia, we have built a wide sweep of developmental works which are calculated to assist our primary industries. Ultimately, these will assist our overseas balances which, in turn, will increase our ability to buy special plant and machinery overseas. This will provide employment for our people. It will give us a degree of security and enable us to become a strong, virile and progressive country.
Mr. Deputy President, I have tried to keep my remarks on a broad basis. I appreciate, as others do, that when we come to the complementary legislation relating to all the matters involved in the Budget there will be ample opportunity to speak particularly on such things as housing, grants to the States, repatriation and social services. I must, however, comment on unemployment since that appears, so far at any rate, to be one of the main issues to which the Opposition has directed its remarks. Employment opportunities, quite clearly, go hand in hand with a stable economy. A stable economy will always provide employment opportunities. Certainly, making menacing gestures and looking askance at our capital inflow is not likely to help employment opportunities. I think that is elementary. The Opposition has spoken about full employment. I want to ask what Opposition senators mean by full employment. I invite them to define it. Are they so simple as to suggest that at any time - on any single day - there can be a moment when everybody is employed? If they suggest that, then they are blind to the geographical structure of this vast continent; they deny the seasons, and they deny that Australia is basically a primaryproducing country in which great numbers depend on seasonal employment. I do not think that anybody would believe that in view of our geographical and economic conditions there could ever be a day on which everybody was employed. Even during the boom years, about 1 per cent, of our work force was registered as seeking employment.
Last week, I heard the Vice-President of the Executive Council and Minister for National Development (Senator Sir William Spooner), and indeed, Senator Lillico, refer to the fact that Mr. Monk, President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, had said that there would always be a movement of people resulting in a percentage seeking employment. I think he said that the figure was slightly over 1£ per cent. Such a percentage would represent 60,000 people. I cannot help remembering that when the trade union movement has been before the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, from time to time, seeking prosperity loadings, 1 per cent, or li per cent, of the people were still registered as seeking employment. The July figures released by the Department of Labour and National Service showed that the percentage of the work force registered as seeking employment was 1.8 per cent. It is interesting and significant to note that the proportion of the work force registered as unemployed in other countries, calculated on precisely the same basis as in Australia, during 1962, was as follows: -
As I believe in being completely accurate in these matters, I want to make it clear that when these figures were given the number of Australians registered as unemployed represented 2.2 per cent, of the work force. Judged on the pattern for the month of August last year, it is probable that the number of persons seeking employment during August of this year will drop by between 8,000 and 10,000 which will mean that approximately 1.5 per cent, of the work force will be registered as unemployed.
I do not suggest - and nobody on this side of the Senate suggests - that 1.5 per cent, necessarily represents a completely satisfying position. But having regard to the nature of our economy, to our geographical position and to the fact that Australia is a primary producing country in which seasonal work is inevitable, there will always be a percentage of transitory unemployed. At the present time we have been able to bring the unemployment figure down to a reasonable one. In fact, we are practically on the target suggested by the economists and by Mr. Monk of the Australian Council of Trade Unions. Above all else, we have in Australia a stable economy. We have an opportunity for growth. We are in a good position in regard to our overseas balances. We have a highly successful immigration programme. Therefore, we have all that is necessary to continue to give prosperity, happiness and contentment to the people of Australia for the ensuing year.
.- I listened for a period to what Senator Anderson said and I formed a firm opinion that he had been overseas during the last two or three years. He spoke about a sound economy and about other things such as. foreign investment. He is probably the only one in the whole of the Commonwealth who holds the opinion that Australia enjoys a sound economy at present. He spoke of Australia as a strong and virile country and said that the Government had led the nation into that condition. If that is so, why in the name of goodness can Australia not provide its own capital for the establishment of secondary industries here? Why is it necessary for foreign capital to come here at all if this is a strong and virile country with a sound economy? The actions of the Government have demonstrated clearly what people with money to invest think of the outlook. A loan was floated quite recently and it was oversubscribed almost as soon as it was opened. Was that a good omen?
– My word!
– Do you really believe that?
– My word I do!
– If it was a good omen, why in the name of goodness did the people not invest their money in Australian industry? They did not do so because they lacked confidence in the Government. They did -not know from day to day what would happen in Australia. They know what the Government is capable of doing in relation to such matters as imports. So on the one hand we have a loan which is very successful, and on the other we have foreign capital pouring in. The Government is quite happy to have that situation.
I should like to deal with only one or two of the ridiculous statements made by Senator Anderson. It is very seldom that I refer to the remarks of a previous speaker, but the honorable senator has been so absurd this afternoon that I feel compelled in the interests of the common people of Australia to say something about his speech. He spoke about prices toppling. I do not know where the honorable senator has been, but I feel sure that he must have been overseas to have formed those opinions about what is happening in Australia.
I should like to relate some of the results of the Budget in Queensland. The Budget was announced one night, and next day the price of bread was increased by Id. a loaf. Does that indicate that prices are toppling? Then the private hospitals increased their fees and, to make matters worse for the typical Australian, the price of beer was increased. Where are these toppling prices? Perhaps when the Government reduced sales tax on certain commodities it was hopeful that there would be a reduction in the prices of those items. I assume that the Government believed that that would be a corollary of reduced sales tax, but there has been no reduction whatever in the price of those commodities in Queensland. The reduction has made no difference at all to the consumers. Some of those engaged in the industries affected by the reduced sales tax were approached on this question and they said that they did not feel disposed to reduce their prices. I now leave Senator Anderson to his life of gloom.
In this debate we are discussing what are commonly known as the Budget Papers, and I have before me about eleven documents. One of them is, of course, the Treasurer’s speech, together with its appendices. Then there is the document which contains the estimates of expenditure for the current financial year. That is a very interesting document with which we shall deal later. On page 12 of that document in division 122 is an interesting item of information. I sincerely hope that never in future will Her Majesty the Queen confer on any Australian the Order of the Thistle. This award to the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) necessitated his visiting Scotland to receive the accolade. This is far too costly. Australia just cannot bear this kind of expenditure. If Australians must be awarded an order of something or other in future, why not the order of the sida-retusa, the Bathurst burr, the nagoora burr or perhaps the boiled cabbage.
Another document is the Treasurer’s “ Estimates of Receipts and Summary of Expenditure for the year ending 30th June, 1964 “. Then there is the annual report of the Auditor-General, the White Paper “ National Income and Expenditure 1962- 63 “, the annual report of the Commissioner of Taxation, the annual report of the National Debt Commission, the White Paper “ Commonwealth Payments to or for the States 1963-64 “, the annual report on the International Monetary Agreements, the annual report of the Commonwealth Grants
Commission and the White Paper “ Civil Works programme 1963-64 “. I was interested to read in the first paragraph of the Treasurer’s speech his remarks about the Budget Papers. He said -
Following the amendments to Standing Orders, the Budget speech is now made on the secondreading of the Appropriation Bill, whereas in former years it was made in the Committee of Supply on consideration of the Estimates.
This afternoon a report was furnished to the Parliament showing what had been done during the past four or five years to streamline the Budget Papers so far as possible. The committee that inquired into this matter found that over the years the Budget Papers contained a mass of complexities that could not be deciphered by the typical member of Parliament. As a result, a sincere endeavour was made to bring the information contained in the Budget Papers within the comprehension of the typical member. The Budget Papers may not yet be satisfactory but I believe that they are now an improvement on what was submitted to Parliament in previous years.
Only last week I asked a question about a matter that is of some concern to members of this Parliament. I refer to a document which is not a Parliamentary Paper but which is known as “ Administrative Arrangements - ordered by His Excellency the Governor-General “. This document contains the names of the various Commonwealth departments and lists the acts that they administer. The last issue wis published in February 1962. I know of no reason at all why that document should not be published annually at a fixed time - say, 30th June - and furnished to every member as a Parliamentary Paper. I have shown copies of this document to new members, and the’y have immediately asked me where they could obtain a copy. I mention that only in passing.
In discussing documents of this nature we must bear in mind that it is the responsibility of governments to obtain moneys and to decide how moneys shall be spent. So we have the picture before us of the Treasury acting as a reservoir into which mone’y flows through various channels from various sources, and from which the money flows out for certain expenditure. When I look at the Government’s proposals I can see its short-term policy, and now and again I get a glimpse of its longterm policy, although certainly it does not cover a very long term. It has been able to stagger through each financial year and come out alive at the end of it. Even this year it is depending on the loan market for funds and will collect a substantial amount from that source.
Let us see how the Government proposes to operate. It is imposing indirect taxes and direct taxes and it is doing fairly well for itself although it is bleeding the people white in the process. This year the Government will collect £155,000,000 from sales tax, according to its estimate, and that is slightly less than the amount collected last year, but I can give the Government a guarantee now that it will collect more than £155,000,000 from sales tax. I would be very surprised if revenue from sales tax does not reach £160,000,000 in this financial year - and that works out at 8s. a week per head of population. That is the dearest tax the Government could impose because it goes on to foodstuffs.
I have heard a Minister sitting in this chamber condemn certain aspects of the sales tax because it is added to freights. Goods are purchased and transported to where they will be retailed, and the sales tax is added to the freight charges. There is no such thing as capacity to pay when it comes to the sales tax. Everybody pays a flat rate, and it must be paid.
The Government will continue to impose the pay-roll tax and will collect £68,000,000 from that source this year. This is a tax on the employment of people, and I object to it because it is a hindrance to employment. No such tax should operate in a civilized community. You can increase the sales tax, other indirect taxes and income tax, provided the people are relieved of the pay-roll tax. After a few remissions the rate of this tax now amounts to 6d. in the £1 on wages paid. This is the picture: An employer pays his employees at the end of a week or a fortnight and he has to pay tax on the wages he has paid. It does not make sense these days. I know this tax operates against employment, and it is always passed on to the consumers. It is they who pay in the end. These things must reach a terminus some time or other, and this tax reaches the terminal point when the goods reach the consumer. Whether a prout or a loss is incurred - and sometimes employers know they are operating at a loss - employers still have to pay the payroll tax.
The ludicrous thing about this tax is that the Government makes the State governments pay tax on their payrolls. Then the State governments come to the Commonwealth Government seeking loans, and the loan money is used to reduce unemployment. Then the Commonwealth Government makes a special grant to the State governments for the particular purpose of relieving unemployment, and again the State governments must tax their own payrolls and send the money to the coffers of the Commonwealth Government. Only £68,000,000 is involved, and if the Government cannot extirpate the pay-roll tax at least it should absolve the State governments and local government authorities from paying it.
I have examined the estimates of income tax revenue and I shall deal with that later, but I propose to refer now to customs and excise duties. I do not know what the Government would do if people ceased to drink beer and spirits and gave up smoking for twelve months. It would bc £214,000,000 worse off, because that is the amount that is collected in excise on beer, spirits and tobacco. How kind to the Government are the good old beer drinkers of Australia and those who like a whisky now and again. The Government will not advocate too strongly the cessation of smoking. It wants the people to enjoy their cigarettes, even if they get lung cancer, because if they gave up smoking less would be collected from excise duties.
The Government is doing very well from collections on sales of motor spirit. This is where Senator Anderson comes in. The Treasurer said that economic conditions were propitious. That is a very nicesounding word when dealing with a budget like this. The Government will collect £70,000,000 this year from motor spirit and diesel fuel. The people who enjoy relaxation at the end of a day by seeing through their television sets what is going on in the world will pay £2,100,000 on cathode lay tubes.
– What! Do you mean to say they will pay £2,100,000 on cathode ray tubes?
– I invite the honorable senator to work out the price of these tubes and the number used and study the answer he gets. I can remember when certain business people gave away playing cards at Christmas. I have not seen such a gift for a number of years, and I have wondered at the high price of playing cards. I have found that lOd. is paid to the Commonwealth on every pack of playing cards sold in Australia. The Government collects 6s. 6d. for every 720 dozen matches sold.
These collections are made by way of indirect taxation, and the people know nothing about them. They do not know they are paying money to the Government. But everybody knows when they are paying income tax. And what does the Government propose to collect from that source this year? It will collect from individuals £65,000,000 more than it collected last year, when total collections were £606,855,000. Companies will pay £289,000,000 in tax, or £29,000,000 more than last year. The dividend withholding tax is something that the taxation experts could explain more fully. This tax will return £9,000,000. Who pays the income tax? I suppose the wealthy people on £10,000 or £20,000 a year pay their share, but 31 per cent, of income tax paid last year came from people with incomes of £26 a week or less. Thirty per cent, came from people who received £2,999 a year or more, such as members of the Senate and the House of Representatives.
A country is governed through the channels of finance. If it does not have much money there is very little in the v/ay of governmental activity. If it has a lot of money there is a good deal of such activity. I see the Treasury as a reservoir, with money flowing in from revenue and money flowing out for expenditure. I do not intend to dwell on the expected expenditures during the next twelve months because I shall have an opportunity to discuss them individually at a later date. I have read press opinions of the Budget and I have heard opinions of it expressed by various people. None of that .opinion has influenced.’ me at all. I do .not take any notice of the opinions of the Budget expressed by the press to-day, because the press is big business. It has many ramifications. It is concerned with its own interests more than with those of the battlers in. the community.
The proprietors of the newspapers are companies; and they were thinking of the failure to reduce company taxation when they expressed opinions adverse to the Budget. I am satisfied, however, that if it were announced to-morrow that an election would be held this year the press would again line up with the Government and say that it should be returned to office. I am also sure that the press would give many reasons why the people should support the Government. So, when the newspapers express opinions about the Budget they certainly do not influence me. I am concerned about the poor person, the battler and the wage-earner in the community. What is the situation of the wage earner in Australia to-day? Does he say that the Budget is propitious? Can he see a higher level of employment in the future? When he has finished his day’s work can he feel that his employment is sounder than it was the day before? Can he look ahead and sea employment for the next twelve months or two or three years? When his children have finished their scholastic work will there be jobs in the community for them? The wage-earner has no confidence in this Government.
The supporters of the Government boast of the high level of employment at the present time. Let me tell them why employment is at the present level. Queensland has suffered badly as a result of the Government’s fiscal policy since 1960. It has suffered more than any other State. It had a higher percentage of unemployment than any other State. At the present time, the seasonal industries are in full swing in Queensland. The meat industry is in the middle of its season, and the killings have been excellent. The sugar industry is at its apex. Other industries of a seasonal nature are operating at full steam. So, we have not now the unemployment that we had prior to the seasonal industries commencing their operations. However, Mr. Acting Deputy President, the Government cannot hide the facts. It knows that last year it made available to the State governments loan money for the purpose of relieving unemployment. The Government made available to certain State governments nonrepayable grants for the specific purpose of relieving unemployment. Men are still engaged on the works that were commenced thereby.
Recently, I asked a question in the Senate about the probable dismissal of 70 men now engaged by the Toowoomba City Council whose wages are paid from some of that loan money. I know that the wages of approximately 700 men employed by the Brisbane City Council are found from loan funds. How can the Government claim that the employment position is stable, sound and propitious if people in employment have to depend on loan money for their wages? They know full well that when the loan money is exhausted their jobs will expire. The Government seems to think that because it boosts public spending by making loan funds available to various authorities, industrial activity will increase in tempo and more employment will result. Such activity follows only to a certain point. The Government will find that when the spending of the loan money ceases there will be a falling off in employment. That is the picture which the wage-earner has at the present time. Will he be lulled into a false sense of security when he looks at the Budget? He is one of the battlers in the community for whom the Labour Party fights, in season and out of season.
There are occasions when we of the Labour Party in the Senate refer to the degree of unemployment in the Commonwealth. When we do so we are told by certain Ministers that we are not doing the cause of the unemployed any good. While there is unemployment in the Commonwealth 1 intend to speak about it as I see fit. I mention it because it is one of the yardsticks by which we measure the strength of our civilization. I stand by the level of gainful employment as a means of assessing the texture of our civilization. We were told by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir William Spooner) that in a capitalistic society we could not have full employment. Senator Anderson repeated that to-day. Nevertheless, for a number of years the Government was saying that it had provided, the people with full employment. Now it has exhausted its power to do this. Wool is not bringing £1 per lb. as it did in the early 1950’s. The Government can see the situation that is developing all too rapidly - the creeping social disease of permanent unemployment for some people.
School-leavers have great difficulty in obtaining employment. Last year we had a carry-over of school-leavers. Some children who left school last year are still seeking work. In only a few more months we shall have another group of these children coming onto the labour market. How can the Government convince the parents of these children that the economy is strong and that we are building a reliant Australian people, when these parents cannot see any employment for their children in the future? The Government will repeat its sins. Children who leave school this year will be disillusioned just at the threshold of life. Does the Government believe in that? Does this give us a reliant people? Will it promote confidence in the economy?
I shall cite some instances of foreign investment in order to see whether the Government endorses them. General Motors Holden’s Proprietary Limited made a profit of £15,000,000 last year and sent every penny of it out of Australia. We are asked why we object to foreign investment. That is one of the aspects to which we object. We on this side say that we shall never allow Australia to get into the situation in which Canada found itself by allowing American financiers to take control of its industries. Does the Government approve of the practices of General Motors Holden’s Proprietary Limited? If so, it must approve of monopoly capitalism coming here and grabbing our industries by the scruff of the neck, regulating output and growth not alone to suit conditions locally but also to suit the forces of monopoly that exist throughout the world.
How do honorable senators opposite shave? Do they use blade razors or do they use the safety razors that we see advertized from time to time, produced by Gillette (Australia) Proprietary Limited? This company is an off-shoot of the United Kingdom company, which is itself an offshoot of a company in the United States of America. It -.did not cost the ^company very much to establish its simple industry here - only about £470,000 - but last year it made a net profit of £432,000, which was equal to 92 per cent, of its paid-up capital. The Government asks why we object to this kind of foreign investment. Senator Anderson mentioned British capital, particularly. Here is a case of exploitation if ever there was such a case. Not only has this company made excessive profits but also it has reduced the quality of its razor blades. No man can get more than two shaves out of a razor blade now; it is impossible. We use one edge to-day, the other edge to-morrow, and throw the blade away on the third day. The company has deliberately reduced the’ quality in order to make greater profits.
Let me now deal with the bakery business. I do not know what is going on in Adelaide, Perth, Melbourne and Sydney, but I do know what is going on in Brisbane, where the bakeries have been taken over by Canadians and Americans.
– They have in South Australia, too.
– Thank you. Is that the type of foreign investment of which honorable senators opposite approve? These organizations buy a dozen or more bakeries, if possible. They close eleven or more and keep one functioning, making additions to it. They have a monopoly, not in one suburb but in five, six or a dozen. This kind of thing is going on under the very eyes of the Commonwealth Government. We have no objection to foreign investment if it is necessary, but we object to its taking complete control of Australia’s essential industries. That is one thing that we will resist. lt is not only the wage-earner who views with dismay the provisions of the Budget. There are other battlers in the community. Dairy farmers are battlers; many of them are not as well off as the wage-earner. Quite recently, dairy farmers held a conference in Brisbane to discuss this situation, which showed that they had no confidence in this Government. They referred to imports of cheese. They said that their cheese output could be increased considerably if it were not for the large quantities of cheese imported, and they decided that the whole matter should1, be- investigated.
This is a serious position. Here we have a primary industry being affected by the importation of a product which it is capable of manufacturing efficiently. The imported product is sold in opposition to the local product. There is a demand in the community for cheese, but there is no increase in local output because much of the demand is met by the imported article. Do we stand for that? We say that that is a bad feature of our economic life and that something should be done about it. I am not a member of the Australian Country Party, but some members of that party should highlight this matter in the Senate. They certainly should deal with it. How do the dairy farmers view the Budget? Can they see any promise in it? I know that milk products are subsidized and that the bounty will continue to be paid, but dairy farmers are at a very low level of prosperity. They are hanging on, hoping for something better. Do they see one line in the Budget to cheer them up? Can they see a brighter future for themselves and their families?
I am not a particular friend of woolgrowers, but there are in the industry small growers who are battlers. Because of heavy commitments, they find it difficult to carry on, but no wool-grower feels confident that the price he has obtained from his product in the past will continue to be paid. He knows that the situation developing in Europe could seriously affect his Australian industry. He does not find in the Budget anything to cheer him up. We are told that the Budget is sound, that the people are prosperous and that the future is propitious, to use the Treasurer’s term. Why do we not be sensible and start a woollen textile industry? Let the Commonwealth start the industry. Let it set the pattern and sell the textiles overseas. We could dominate the world woollen textile market if the Government had the necessary initiative and political sagacity.
How much longer are we to be exporters of our own natural resources? We see bauxite being mined at various places in the Commonwealth. At Weipa it is almost being scraped off the surface. It is being exported in large quantities. When we read about these things we say, “This is good news. We are increasing our export income “. Iron ore is being exported, as is our wool. Coal is being exported for certain purposes. We say to ourselves that this is good work on the part of the Commonwealth and we are adding to our export income. But what about the employment of our own people? What about potential employment? Can we continue indefinitely to export our natural resources? Can we go on without even thinking about establishing secondary industries to absorb our future work force? We are a poor country if we have to go on exporting our natural resources year after year. A halt should be called. We should have some of that self-reliance about which Senator Anderson spoke. We have people with meagre funds who are prepared to invest in industry and give it a trial.
Recently there was a proposal to establish an alumina plant at Gladstone, on the Queensland coast. There we have all the facilities necessary to develop such an industry. The bauxite can be brought around the coast from Weipa and deposited at Gladstone. We have so much coal in the hinterland that it cannot be calculated in hundreds of millions of tons. Only a short distance away is this cheap power which can be developed and used to process alumina, and then to manufacture aluminium. A lead has to be given, but unfortunately certain rights have been sold to certain companies. These companies may be operating in Queensland, in Tasmania or other parts of the world, but they will operate in Australia only in accordance with the condition of the market in other places. They are guided by world-market conditions as to the manner in which they will operate their plants in Australia. The operation of the plant at Bell Bay - or anywhere else where a large scale plant may be established - will depend, not upon the sale of aluminium in the Commonwealth or in other countries, but on the output of factories controlled by these companies in countries other than Australia and the market conditions for their products.
I want to say a word or two on immigration. Senator Anderson said that more than 100,000 immigrants were brought to Australia last year. If that is so, according to the figures that I have many of them must have gone back to their former countries. The figures that I have show that we had 62,000 immigrants during the last financial year. If I am wrong I will be pleased to be corrected, because I should like to know that more people are coming here; there is room for them. We are a food-producing country, and I look upon migrants not only as a labour force but also as an economic force. They help the economy of the Commonwealth, so it is advisable under present circumstances that we maintain the rate of immigration. But all the migrants entering Queensland each year could be put in one corner of King’s Hall and you would pass them by almost without noticing them. Of the 62,000 migrants who came to Australia last year Queensland received only 2,584. Why was that? It was reported in the Queensland press that an officer from the Department of Immigration boarded a ship in Perth and, while it was travelling to Melbourne and Sydney, dissuaded migrants from going to Queensland. He gave them certain advice about conditions in Queensland being not bright, and they decided to alight in either South Australia, Victoria or New South Wales. When the matter was raised in certain quarters a half-hearted denial was given to the suggestion that the Department of Immigration was a party to preventing Queensland from getting its fair quota of immigrants, but it was only a half.heatred denial, and I have the idea that what was alleged was a fact.
I would not blame the Department of Immigration from doing something to lessen the number of immigrants flowing into Queensland, knowing as I do, the employment conditions of that State. We have not many secondary industries. We cannot guarantee migrants employment for any, length of time, and we certainly cannot guarantee that their children will be employed in the future.
I am glad that the Government has taken some action to ensure that insurance companies will increase the amount of money available for home-building. I believe in that principle, because as a Queenslander I know that if there is any way to increase employment in Queensland it is by livening up the building industry. We have vast timber deposits, and when the building industry is prosperous timber fellers get employment, timber hauliers have work to do and saw mill < i hands are in a job. The saw mills on the Atherton Tableland and elsewhere will again start humming when the building industry is brisk. The transport industry gains. Building trades operatives obtain employment and work is made for people in the hardware industry who make equipment for the houses being built. Bricks are required, tiles must be made, and nearly everybody in industry is affected. An improvement in the building industry is one of the best ways in which to promote employment. I approve of what the Government has done, and 1 hope that it will be in a financial position throughout the year to maintain its policy. It does not matter whether the work is carried out in Queensland or in other States - Queensland timber will find its way to where the homes are being constructed. We have certain patents in respect of windows and other things that will be used. The prospect of an increase in the building industry is to mc perhaps one of the brightest features of the Budget.
I have only a minute or two left and I propose to end my speech with a complaint to the Government. lt concerns something of which the people of Austral. a do not approve. The people elect members of this Parliament, and the party which obtains a majority of members forms the Cabinet. Ministers have responsibilities, and certain duties to perform. The Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) this year visited New Zealand, Canada, the United States of America and the United Kingdom and, as well, attended a conference of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. He was absent from Australia for a month or more. Before he left we were told that he would bc having conferences on trade matters in those countries. He has been back in the Commonwealth for quite a while now, yet I have not seen one word of his report. Did he furnish a report when he returned, giving the names of the people with whom he conferred in New Zealand? Did he refer in the report to the matters that were discussed there or in the other countries? Are we going to stand for a form of government which is buttressed by secret negotiations with other countries? The people of Australia have to pay the piper. They provided the money for the Minister for Trade to go overseas at a cost of several thousand pounds, and they are entitled to know what he discussed, and the results of those discussions. Nothing is more important than trade at the present time, and I am still waiting to hear what the Minister for Trade discussed when he was overseas, and what decisions were reached.
Sitting suspended from 5.44 to 8 p.m.
, - Mr. President. I rise to support the motion for the printing of the Budget papers and to oppose the amendment that was moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Kennelly). Senator Benn, who spoke before the suspension of the sitting for dinner, said that he rarely referred to anything that had been said by a previous speaker. That may or may not be a commendable practice, but I must refer to an argument that he advanced and which I thought was quite unintelligible to most people. If I understood him correctly, he objected to the export of raw materials and minerals from Australia. I should like to know what the honorable senator thinks we should do with our vast deposits of iron ore, the extent of which has not yet been calculated. Does he think that we should leave the ore in the ground to become a source of irritation to those countries which would do something with it if they had it? Surely he believes that we should do exactly what we are doing - export it to produce income for Australia. I can only think that my friend was carried away with his own argument.
Before I deal with the Budget proposals I should like to refer to another matter that was adverted to by Senator Benn - the sixty-second report of the Joint Committee on Public Accounts. I commend the report to all honorable senators. As Senator Benn said, for some years the committee has been examining the form and content of the documents that have been presented to the Parliament. This year the document known as the Budget has been omitted from the papers that have been placed before us. We now have before us a set of documents and statements which, in my opinion as a private member of the Parliament, set out more clearly and with less confusing repetition the various financial activities of the Government. This form of presentation should help to satisfy a long expressed need for simplification of government papers and should make it much easier for members of the Parliament and other persons who wish to familiarize themselves with Commonwealth finance.
I offer my congratulations to the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) and the Commonwealth Statistician upon the improved form of the papers. This is probably the most significant alteration that has been made to budget documents since federation; it seems to have resulted in quite the best set of papers that has ever been presented to the Parliament. A great deal of work must have devolved upon the officers of the Department of the Treasury and of the Bureau of Census and Statistics in particular. I am sure that, if any deficiencies become apparent in the future, they will be rectified; but whatever happens, nothing will detract substantially from the merit of the improvement in the papers.
I have been referring to the Budget papers. In my opinion, a very significant aspect of the Budget itself is that it is a record budget. Senator Hendrickson acknowledged that earlier in the day, even though I do not think he meant it in quite the same way as I do. When we speak of a record in relation to anything, we generally mean that it is the best that has been achieved, that it is better than anything that has gone before. That is exactly what I think we can say about this Budget. It provides for a record total expenditure of £2,280,000,000, which represents an increase of £197,300,000 upon the expenditure for the last financial year. Included in the proposed expenditure are higher social service and repatriation pensions, higher payments to the States, taxation and subsidy benefits to primary industries and other sections of the community, increased sums for development and, more importantly, a record Australian peace-time vote of £251,671,000 for defence. In the light of those proposals, I regard the Budget as being truly magnificent.
Before I leave the subject of expenditure, I should like to refer very briefly to what I regard as being a clumsy and rather stupid attempt to persuade the people of Australia that the deficit of £58,000,000 forecast by the Treasurer will in reality be £300,000,000 greater.
– Snide tactics!
– To say the best, it was clumsy if it was not dishonest. How anybody with an elementary knowledge of accounting could arrive at that result I do not know. As any member of the Parliament knows, or should know, every government depends upon three main sources of revenue - direct taxation, indirect taxation and loan raisings. There is nothing new about that; Labour governments have used precisely the same method. If we are expected to exclude loan raisings from the revenue side of our accounting, surely it is absurd to include on the expenditure side all those items which flow from loan raisings. That analysis of the Budget to which I have referred would have been better left undone, because all that the Opposition succeeded in doing was to make itself appear ridiculous. Members of the Opposition know better than that. Therefore, it was most foolish of them to attempt to delude the Australian people.
The Opposition has been trying not only to delude the Australian people in regard to the Budget deficit but also to persuade them that Australia is in a state of stagnation. Before the dinner suspension Senator Benn asked: How can any parent see ahead of him any future for his children? If the honorable senator does not know, I should like to tell him. The Menzies Government assumed office in 1950. Since then the population has increased from 8,000,000 to 11,000,000; it is increasing at the rate of 200,000 a year. The migration target for this year has been set at 135,000, and we are expecting the largest intake of Britiish migrants since the post-war immigration programme commenced. Last year provided a record for the number of migrants who were naturalized. As has been stated by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir William Spooner), last year our exports were at a record level and this year rural production is expected to reach record heights. The production of minerals, coal and steel is at a record level, and huge developmental projects are in progress all over Australia. More people now own their homes. Bank deposits are higher. Retail sales are at an all-time high. The following article appeared in a newspaper to-day: -
Canberra. - Australians spent a record £3,677,800,000 on all types of retail purchases in the year ended June, 1963, the Statistics Bureau reported yesterday.
The previous year the total retail turnover was £3,435,400,000 and in 1959-60, during the “ boom “, before the credit squeeze, it was £3,302,800,000.
The turnover on commodities other than motor vehicles, fuel and motor accessories during 1962-63 was £2,716,600,000- -compared with £2,632.300,000 in 1961-62 and £2.474,700.000 the previous year.
That is an indication of the growth of Australia. I suggest to Senator Benn that that is a picture which any Australian parent can present to any Australian child.
Sir, one of the great social problems of the post-war era has been that of housing. One could never be completely satisfied with the housing situation as long as there are any people in Australia who do not own their homes or. at least, who are not adequately housed. The Menzies Government has a magnificent record in the field of housing. My friend and colleague. Dame Annabelle Rankin, dealt with the total expenditure on housing since the Menzies Government came to office. She mentioned that of the houses in Australia at present one-third were built during the time that the present Government has been in office. Further assistance will be given to those people who want homes and to home-builders by means of the increased funds that will be available through the savings banks. The Government is also diverting £90,000,000 this year to housing. This suggests, as has been said before, that we have a magnificent record in the field of housing. The Government will pay a subsidy of £3 per ton on superphosphate in order to assist farmers. This and the investment allowance of 20 per cent, on new plant and equipment for rural industries will be worth £12,000,000 annually to the farmer. I am sure that this will be a great encouragement to the man on the land.
Now we come to a subject that is very dear to my heart. It is wrapped up with the subject of payments made from the National Welfare Fund. This year, the Government has budgeted for an expenditure of £411,386,000. Thai is a very substantial increase on last year’s expenditure, and I should like to congratulate the Government on its continued attention to the needs of less privileged people. I was particularly gratified to learn that the pensions of civilian widows would be increased by £3 a week. I feel that that increase will give great satisfaction to all those people who have been advocating for some time that a civilian widow and her children should receive a higher allowance.
Coming to the subject of age pensioners, I want to repeat something that I have said before in this Senate: I fee! that it is to be greatly regretted that the pensioners are always made a plaything of party politics because if there is one section of the community which should receive the sympathetic treatment of all people it is those who are dependent on a pension at the end of their lives or who, through sickness or misfortune, are dependent on it during the course of their lives. Social welfare benefits should come always from an attitude of mind and not from attention to the ballotbox. The amount of money that can be diverted to social services must always be related to the capacity of the community to pay. I do not believe that any good service is rendered to the pensioner by suggesting that any type of pension or concession is discriminatory. As a matter of fact, all social services are selective. By their very nature, they have to be. If they are to give the greatest benefit to all persons then they must always be related to the greatest need. 1 think that the Government has conscientiously observed that principle. Down through the years, it has honestly tried to assist where the need was greatest.
Again, may I repeat something I have said here before? I do not believe that a flat increase in a standard rate of pension is always what is needed, and the Government does not think so either. It was because the Government realized the great virtue of assistance to needy people generally that it instituted the medical and pharmaceutical benefits scheme for pensioners. But, after receiving advice from many people who are close to pensioners, the Government decided to give the present increase in pension rates to the single pensioners. The Government felt that it was there, at the present time, that the greatest need lay.
There is one matter which I hope the Government will consider at an early date. That is the granting of a larger funeral benefit to pensioners. The present funeral benefit, as we all know, is £10. I know, from close association with pensioner organizations that one of the real apprehensions in the pensioner’s mind is the thought that he or she may be buried a pauper. A great amount of money is not involved in this proposal. I think that the cost to revenue of the payment of funeral benefits this year will be £428,000. It certainly should be possible to increase the benefit without the expenditure of a great amount of money. The Government itself has recognized the inadequacy of £20 for funeral expenses as an allowable deduction for income tax purposes and has increased the amount to £50. So I plead with the Government to see whether it cannot, in the not too distant future, increase the funeral benefit of £10 for pensioners.
I shall pass over the increases that have been granted for dependants and student children, totally and permanently incapacitated ex-servicemen, war widows and service pensioners. I compliment the Government on agreeing to pay a subsidy to church and voluntary organizations that provide accommodation for physically handicapped persons working in sheltered workshops. The latest figures I have seen show that approximately 3,000 of these people, through their own courage and determination, have made themselves independent. I feel that this assistance to organizations and the provision of more workshops will enable more disabled persons to work and to experience the joy that comes from being independent and like other members of the community. 1 notice that Senator Cavanagh is nodding his head; I am sure that I express the wish of every member of the Parliament, no matter on which side he sits.
I should like to come now to taxation and the Government’s proposals. It seems to me to be very odd that the Labour Party should advocate severe taxation, which eventually would fall on the family man. If taxation is savage it kills incentive and drives out competition, with the net result that costs are affected. The impact of increased costs is always felt most by the people who are least able to meet them. I believe that that is why the Menzies Government has consistently made taxation concessions that will assist the family man.
We have heard quite a lot in the Senate about the removal of sales tax. This certainly must have the effect of putting another £ J 1,000,000 into the pockets of the people. Senator Benn said that it had had no effect in Queensland, but the Sydney “ Daily Mirror “ carried a headline “ Food prices crash “ and listed various reductions. I do not know whether the reductions have been exactly as the newspaper stated, but I do believe that sales tax on food was one of the most unsatisfactory taxes ever imposed. To my mind it is very good that it has been removed. Sales tax on food is full of anomalies and falls hardest on the family man, particularly the man with a large family.
Last Thursday Senator Cavanagh referred to the lifting of the minimum taxable income from £105 to £209. He said that that did not mean anything, but I interjected and said that 160,000 persons were affected. Certainly the amount of taxation collected from that group was not very high - it was about £197,000 - but the raising of this minimum certainly will have the effect of removing from 160,000 people the obligation to file a return. It will also remove from the employers the need to make deductions from the wages of these people, and of course it will remove the necessity for the Taxation Branch to process that number of returns.
– That again, of course, is a matter of opinion. 1 am not saying that a tremendous amount of money is involved, but I do say that the concession will remove from a number of people the obligation to file a return.
I should like to refer now to the benefits that taxpayers will gain through being able to deduct the whole of their medical expenses. The point has been taken by Opposition senators that this will be of no benefit at all. I examined the statistics that were provided in the Budget papers and I found that the group that has the largest number of income earners is the group receiving between £1,500 and £1,999 a year. In 1960-61, 433,480 taxpayers were in that group, and the average net deduction for medical expenses was £48. If the average deduction was £48, it stands to reason that many of those people would have deductions in excess of the £150 limit previously imposed. Therefore, this concession will be of real benefit to them. I suggest, too, that if the average deduction is £48 the number who will benefit must be quite substantial.
Another concession of which 1 approve was the decision to allow a taxation deduction to the owners of guide dogs. I have a personal interest in a society which is providing guide dogs and I know that this concession will be of real assistance to blind persons. Another very worthwhile concession is that which allows rates and taxes on home units to be deducted. Many of those who live in home units are elderly, a great number of them retired, and it has been a source of irritation to them that they have not been allowed to claim as a deduction amounts that people in ordinary homes may claim. They considered that that was unfair.
There are many other taxation concessions from which people will benefit, but 1 do not want to take up the time of the Senate in dealing with them. There is one point, however, which I feel is of great importance. I refer to the decision to raise the statutory exemption on estate duty from £5,000 to £10,000 where the estate passes to a widow, widower, children or grandchildren. Honorable senators may remember that some years ago this Government was persuaded to include a widower among the beneficiaries who received the maximum statutory exemption, but the latest concession is most valuable. T have been amazed at the silence of the Opposition on this. Under the new provision an estate valued at less than £10,000 will not be subject to estate duty. That will include the home, car and the whole of the family assets.
– Nobody on this side has that much.
– I am very interested to hear Senator Cavanagh’s interjection because it implies that this concession will benefit only the wealthy. He was never more wrong in his life. I should just like to read from a table. The figures I have relate to Victorian estates. A” net estate of £10,000 in Victoria attracts Victorian estate duty of £400. When that is subtracted from the estate, there is a balance of £9,600. The present Commonwealth duty is £184. There will be no Commonwealth duty in such a case, as a result of the Budget proposals, so there will be a saving of £184. An estate of £20,000 attracts a Victorian duty of £1,400 and on the balance of £18,600, the present Commonwealth duty is £985. The proposed Commonwealth duty is £345, a saving of £640. An estate of £30,000 attracts a Victorian estate duty of £2,550. The present Commonwealth duty on the balance of £27,450 is £2,053. The proposed Commonwealth duty is £1,387, leaving a saving of £666.
The saving on an estate of £40,000 will be £558 and then the saving reduces to the point where, on a net estate of £50,000, it will be £309. When we come to those people about whom Senator Cavanagh is worried so much, we find they will derive no concession at all. So that answers the question whether the estate duty concessions will benefit only the wealthy.
The Opposition has been critical of the rate of development in northern Australia, but one does not have to travel very far to realize how much development is taking place in Australia. One can read about it in newspapers and other publications, and if one has the good fortune to travel to the Northern Territory, as I have done - and so also has Senator Dittmer, who is interjecting - one is amazed by how the place is humming with activity. That is true also right across the north of the continent.
– Northern Australia or the Northern Territory?
– Both. It can be seen around the north-west coast, the west coast, the Northern Territory and the north of Queensland. Huge earth-moving machines are pushing back the soil. In Darwin there are new streets, sub-divisions, houses, schools and hospitals.
– That is Darwin, not the Northern Territory. Darwin is only a small section of it.
– One can see development everywhere - along the Ord River”, through the Centre, in the pastoral roads and everywhere you go.
– Wait until I speak and I will tell you what I have seen.
– If Senator Dittmer denies what I have said he must get to some queer places. This year the
Commonwealth Government is planning to spend £20,000,000 on the Northern Territory. Any fair-minded person will agree that the Menzies Government has done more than any other government since federation to assist the development of Australia. It will continue to do so in the future. 1 had hoped to say something about the aerial medical services in the Northern Territory, but I look forward to hearing Senator Dittmer, and I hope to reply to him. I believe the Menzies Government has a magnificent record - and the Budget itself is a record that will not easily be surpassed. I support the motion for the printing of the Budget papers and oppose the amendment.
.- I wholeheartedly support the amendment moved by Senator Kennelly. While this approves certain provisions in the Budget, particularly those for primary producers and recipients of social service benefits, it states that - the Senate condemns the Government for its failure to make adequate provision for defence, education, housing, health, social services and northern development.
We have had a mixed grill from the Government side, expressive of complacency on the one hand and apology on the other. We have not had any strong defence of the actions - and inaction - of the Menzies Government. This Budget is condemned not only by the Australian Labour Party and its supporters but also by all sections of the community. To indicate this, let me quote from an article published in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “, which is an anti-Labour publication. The newspaper stated that this is not an adventurous budget and added -
The greatest surprise and disappointment of Mr. Holt’s Budget speech is that he suffered from a total inability to communicate. . . . His Budget speech is innocent of all economic analysis. At the end he limply urges his audience to study an appended table (Statement No. 6) attached to the printed text of his speech for a technical proof that this Budget - like last year’s - will have powerful expansionary effects. Most people will never be able to see Statement No. 6. Mr. Holt had nothing to do with the preparation of it. It is a case of the blind leading the blind ….
There were, indeed, two ways of approaching the task of framing the Commonwealth Budget of 1963. One, which seems broadly to conform with the Labour Party view-point, was to emphasize the need for initiating programmes for large increases in expenditure over a period on matters like defence, development, education and other social investment. The other level of aim was in attending to the immediate question and shaking off the present sluggishness.
Senator Wedgwood treated us to a dissertation on how we are going to benefit when we die. Apparently, we shall save a lot in probate duties. I am sure all of us would be very happy about that, if it were not for the fact that when we reach that stage we will be in the position of not caring.
Let me turn to the field of social services. The Minister for National Development (Senator Sir William Spooner), who is the Leader of the Government in the Senate, made the most pathetic statement I have heard from him when he was replying to Senator Kennelly’s speech last week. In referring to social service benefits and the granting of an additional 10s. a week to single pensioners, the Minister stated -
Senator Kennelly painted a picture to show what the reaction will be. If I know the people of Australia, the married pensioners will be very pleased to see that those who are not as well placed as themselves receive this substantial benefit. The honorable senator said that the proposed increase was not to be well spread. The fact is that 516,000 of a total of 786,000 pensioners will receive the increase. This is one of the very many good things that the Government has done and which will remain to its credit.
I have been in communication with quite a number of pensioners and they are not too happy with this proposal. As a matter of fact, I have here a telegram that I received yesterday from a high official of the combined pensioners league urging us to throw out the Budget if there is not uniformity in pensions. I ask honorable senators opposite: How can it reasonably be contended that a single pensioner needs more than a married pensioner? There is only one conclusion at which I can arrive. It is that the Government proposes to encourage divorce and de facto associations.
– That will not do any harm.
– That interjection’ shows the honorable senator’s mentality. How, in the name of goodness, can the Government justify its action in this respect? It realizes that a single pensioner needs an additional 10s. a week, but it says that a married couple, living together as pensioners,- ->do not need, as’ much’ as single pensioners. The Government’s reasoning is very difficult to understand. What can the people of Australia expect from the Government parties if that is their approach to social problems? The idea that single pensioners should receive a greater benefit than married pensioners is altogether foreign to our view of the essential needs of the people in this community. lt is a travesty of justice when a government has the audacity and the effrontery to endeavour to justify discrimination between age pensioners.
Apparently, the Government has not even considered the need for an increase in child endowment. The rate for the second and subsequent children has not been increased since 1948. Yet, the Government complacently claims that it has the confidence of the people. It cannot justify such a claim. I remind honorable senators that at the last general election the libs and the hillbillies combined polled 300,000 votes fewer than did the Australian Labour Party. Yet, the Government parties claim to have the confidence of the people of Australia. Honorable senators opposite know as well as I do, and if they are truthful they will admit it, that the Government has been kept in office only by the preference votes of the Communist Party and the Australian Democratic Labour Party, the Government’s latest satellite. The Government is now in danger of losing the preferences of its satellite. According to a statement which appeared in the press only a few days ago, the federal president of the splinter group stated at the federal conference that his party had had enough of giving its second preferences to the Government. Honorable senators opposite should take that as a word of warning, bearing in mind the rude shock they got in 1 961 . They should not endeavour to fob the matter off by adopting an air of complacency, nor should they think that they are in office for ever. The Government has been kept in office, not by the votes of the people of Australia or by the confidence of the people, but by the preference votes of the splinter parties - the Communist Party and the Australian Democratic Labour Party in 1961, and the D.L.P. at elections prior to that.
There are many matters to which I should like to refer,’ but 1 shall ‘have- to skim, over them. I turn to the subject of unemployment. During the last general election campaign we were told by the Government - in fact, it made a solemn promise - that within twelve months it would restore full employment. Yet, to-day there are 78,000 acknowledged recipients of unemployment relief or unemployment dole. We had to listen to-day to Senator Anderson saying that that was quite a reasonable number. He stated the number of unemployed in percentages. It sounds better to say 2.2 per cent, than to say 78,000 people. I remind the honorable senator and all the other little Sir Echoes on the other side of the chamber, that to the 78,000 acknowledged unemployed to the many thousands who are not registered for the unemployment dole, and to the thousands of dependants of those unemployed people, their unemployment is 100 per cent. If any honorable senator on the other side of the chamber were to be reduced to unemployment tomorrow, how would he cater for himself and his family on the unemployment dole? For God’s sake, let us have a bit of humane feeling in our approach to these matters. I heard the honorable member for Higinbotham (Mr. Chipp) say that you cannot expect an honest day’s work from an Australian to-day because he can thumb his nose at his employer and go and get another job. That was said in spite of the fact that 78,000 persons are acknowledged as being the registered unemployed. Many thousands more, who are not registered, are unemployed. The dependants of all of these people are suffering from the effects of unemployment, yet we hear such statements as this from supposedly responsible members of the Government parties!
We must realize that the country needs to be developed. There is no justification for such a huge army of unemployed. Not many months ago the number of persons acknowledged as being unemployed was about 113,000, yet nothing of a tangible, concrete nature has been done by this spineless Government to correct the position. Why can we. not approach this matter with some humane feeling towards these people? After all, these are human beings, as we are. These are people who need subsistence and to whom the amenities of life should be available, but they are denied these amenities because of the complacency, arrogance and carefree attitude of this Government.
Senator Anderson voiced the opinion of Government supporters when he said this afternoon that 78,000 recognized unemployed was quite a reasonable figure. What hope is there for the people of Australia if they continue to place their faith in this Government? Government supporters are afraid of an election. There was some suggestion recently that after the introduction of this Budget the Government would be eager to go to the country. Let us to to the country. We will give the Government a bigger’ fright than it had in 1961. Honorable senators opposite would never again get back into office, because we are approaching a period of crisis. I should not have to remind them thar in every period of crisis it is the Australian Labour Party to which the people look for salvation, and they have never yet been let down.
Let me touch upon defence. The Australian Labour Party stands 100 per cent, behind the adequate defence of this country. We do not quibble at the amount expended on defence, providing it is expended in a proper, sane, up-to-date manner. But everybody knows that in every year since 1949, £200,000,000 has been spent on defence. The Government appears to be quite proud of the fact tha: this year the defence vote will be increased. We approve of the increase in the defence vote, but we query the way in which it will be spent. To use a colloquialism, a big percentage of the money that this Government has spent on defence since 1949 has been poured down the drain. It has been spent on conventional methods of defence. I have said many times that national development is an integral and important part of any up-to-date defence plan. In answer to a question, the Leader of the Government in the Senate said that the Government took the advice of service chiefs. I do not doubt the integrity of the service chiefs, nor their knowledge within their own spheres of activity, but history proves that nobody is mere conservative than conventional service chiefs.
I had some personal experience of them at Gallipoli. Anybody who reads the official history of Gallipoli will know that the loss of many thousands of lives and the failure of the campaign were caused largely by strife and jealousy between highranking service chiefs in various branches. That is what goes on to-day. They are quite honest in their submissions to the Government, but the Army does not want to lose prestige. It believes that the only defence required is a large and efficient army. The Navy and the Air Force have similar attitudes to their own services. Each defence chief plumps for his own service. I do not blame them. They have been brought up in that atmosphere. They are obsessed with the importance of their own sphere of activity. But we are living in an atomic age and we must get the best advice that is available, apart from the advice of the service chiefs. We should have learned from our experience in World War II. that important aspects of national defence are decentralization of industry, the development of secondary industry, and the extension of primary industry. We must develop the country as much as is humanly possible. Who will deny that thousands of square miles of country in Australia are crying out for development? If we do not very soon speed up the. job of development, we shall find that other people will do it.
I do not want to deal with these matters in detail. We must remember that co-operation in the past has not been ail that it should have been in Australia’s interests. We remember the two world wars. We remember, particularly, World War II., when a government of the same political colour as this Government - to use another colloquialism - had the ball at its feet from the outbreak of war until 1941. It had everything in its favour to enable it to carry on in a statesmanlike way and to build up this country to meet the challenge facing it. I repeat, without fear of contradiction, that that Government, led by the present Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies), failed dismally. Yet we talk about the confidence of the people. In every crisis, whether it related to war or the economy, there has been an appeal to the Australian Labour Party to steer the ship of state safely through, and never yet have we failed to meet our obligations to the country.
Let me refer to education. There is a crying need for increased educational facilities of every description. We want more and better-equipped schools. We want more playing grounds and far larger teaching staffs. There is agitation throughout the country for more assistance to the States for education. Yet this jelly-fish Government shelters behind constitutional restrictions in this matter and other matters of grave national concern. I have here an invitation - I have been to a few of these public gatherings - to a public meeting on education to be held in the Moorabbin technical school assembly hall, on Monday, 16th September to urge the Government to give greater consideration and greater assistance to this matter of vital education. The Right Honorable Sir Robert Menzies, speaking in 1945, when he was Leader of the Opposition - a position which, in the interests of the people of Australia, he should never have vacated - and when he was Mr. Robert Gordon Menzies, had something to say about this subject. He knew of the constitutional restrictions that existed then, just as they do to-day. When speaking in the Parliament on the subject of education, he said -
That . was printed in “ Hansard “ in July, 1945. Of course, after fourteen years of a’ government led by the same gentleman nothing has been done in ‘a tangible way to assist education, and every time questions about it are asked we are told by spokesmen from the Government side of the chamber that education is a State responsibility.
I put it to honorable senators opposite clearly and honestly, and I want an honest answer: Do you not realize that unless the States receive more financial reimbursement from the Commonwealth - and, of course, they are dependent upon the Commonwealth for all the finance they get - they cannot do what they would like to do in the field of education and other allied fields? Everybody realizes that at present education is of prime importance. That is being stressed everywhere. Throughout the length and breadth of Australia people are advocating more assistance from the Commonwealth, but there has been no response whatever from the Menzies Government.
The same applies to housing. Every now and again over the years Sir William Spooner, Leader of the Government in Her Majesty’s Senate of the Commonwealth Parliament, has told us that we have just about caught up with the housing shortage. We have been told that monotonously over the years, but to-day in every State of the Commonwealth housing is still in a desperate position. I can quote figures only for Victoria, but I know that the same position applies in other States in accordance with their population. In Victoria the number of people registered for housing commission homes alone has remained static at 17,000. In New South Wales, with its greater population, obviously more people would be on the waiting list, and a similar position would exist in the other States. Housing is vitally important to the welfare of the people. Everybody knows the old English saying that an Englishman’s home is his castle. We know, too, that the strength of a nation depends largely upon the contentment of the family. The family is the basis of any nation, and housing lies at the root of community satisfaction and decent living conditions.
I pass now to a matter that has caused very great concern, and even amazement, to many right-thinking people in Australia. In 1956 the Menzies Government obviously realized that the Commonwealth Parliament did not possess sufficient constitutional power to deal with these matters that I have mentioned and many other matters that could be, and will be, mentioned. It put on a pretence of sincerity by appointing a select committee. Why did it appoint that select eommittee? To inquire into the Constitution and to make recommendations to the Government on what powers should be referred to the National Parliament. What has been done about the matter? After moving about the country taking evidence from responsible people over a period of approximately two years the committee submitted an interim report in 1958 and finally submitted a voluminous report in 1959 in which it said, in many recommendations to the Government, that the Commonwealth should have greater powers to deal with various matters that are not now under Commonwealth control but over which it is essential the Commonwealth should have control, in the interests of economic stability. Since 1959 that report has remained in a government pigeon hole.
Every time a question has been asked on this matter we have been told the same old story, namely, that the Government is still considering, the report. The Government must realize that the Commonwealth Parliament should have greater powers to deal with matters that are gravely affecting the people of Australia and putting them at a disadvantage. The select committee comprised six Government and six Opposition members. It made a voluminous report covering many items. Its report’ was unanimous, yet no action whatever has been taken by the Government to secure these powers in a referendum of the people. What has happened in the meantime? Honorable senators have asked questions about restrictive trade practices, for instance. They have been told repeatedly that the matter is still under discussion and that conferences are being held between Commonwealth and State authorities with a view to achieving uniformity of legislation in the various States. We all know from experience that it is impossible to secure uniformity of legislation between the States and the Commonwealth. Nothing has been done about this important matter.
The same applies to monopolies. Is it not tragic that chaos and ruin have been caused to many thousands of Australian people by phoney companies, exploiting them? Tens of thousands of people have lost their life savings, and instead of being able to live in reasonably comfortable retirement have been forced to depend on the pension because of the machinations of these fictitious companies. The newspapers have been full of these reports. Take for instance Reid Murray Holdings Limited which controlled more than 70 subsidiary companies. A report was published in the Melbourne “Sun” of Wednesday, 31st August, 1963. This is a press report of what the auditor had to say about an ex-director -
Company deals, commissions, loans, property sales and interest payments concerning Mr. R. L. Borg, 32, of Toorak, a former director of Reid Murray Holdings Limited, are queried in the controversial audit report on the Reid Murray Group issued to shareholders yesterday.
Some of these transactions, according to the report, also involve Mr. Borg’s relatives and Reid Murray Holdings or some of its subsidiaries.
Also published with another report was a picture of a mansion at Toorak, in Victoria, in which this Mr. Borg is living, lt is interesting to note that not only Reid Murray Holdings Limited but also Testro Brothers Consolidated Limited and the Korman group have been involved in the activities of phoney companies which have ruined thousands of Australians. I also have before me a report on Mr. O’Grady, of South Australia, another director of Reid Murray Holdings Limited. I read one report in which it was stated that the assets of the O’Grady family had been reduced to £400,000.
The point I want to make is that whilst the principals of all these companies ruin thousands of people by their machinations, they ensure that they themselves are adequately safeguarded. In spite of what is happening, this Government does not contemplate taking any action to obtain the necessary powers to deal with these matters. This is a subject of vital importance. If this Government is to be national in tact as well as in name, it must obtain from the Australian people greater power to deal with this and other matters which adversely affect the people. According to a press report, during a recent recess of the Parliament the Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton) admitted that the Commonwealth Parliament was gravely short of constitutional powers to deal with this and other matters. When will this Government wake up? When will it do the job that it was elected to do? When does it intend to keep faith with the splinter groups that have kept it in office for years? I repeat that the Government cannot afford to be complacent, because the Liberals and the hill-billies obtained 300,000 votes fewer at the last general election than did the Australian Labour Party.
To the machinations of these phoney companies must be added the activities of the hire-purchase companies. It is admitted -by the Commonwealth that it has no constitutional power to deal with exploitation of people by the avaricious hire-purchase companies, and no action is contemplated by the Government to obtain that power. I have before me one report which is, headed “ H.P. Thugs Attack Girl “ and another which is headed “Firms Won’t Risk a Hearing in the Courts “. One report states -
Repossession agents grabbed a Fitzroy man’s vehicle last week and grabbed all his means of earning his living.
These companies are absolutely ruthless in their activities. Again I say that the Government proposes to do nothing about the matter. lt was interesting to listen to and to read the report of some of the speeches that were made by Ministers and supporters of the Government recently when a want of confidence motion was moved in another place. Not one Minister and not one supporter of the Government attempted to defend the actions and inactions of this Government. All who spoke on behalf of the Government, from the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) down, resorted to abuse of the Australian Labour Party. It was stated at the time - I agreed with the statement - that the Prime Minister clowned throughout that debate. Government speakers ridiculed the Australian Labour Party and spoke, ironically enough, about dictation. They dwelt for quite a long time on the dictation to the Australian Labour Party by what they were pleased to call the 36 men. Those 36 men obviously were the delegates to the Federal Conference of the Australian Labour Party who were democratically elected by the rank and file of the party throughout Australia. Supporters of the Government on the occasion in question did not say a word about the dictatorship that exists within the Government parties and which has always existed.
Can we find anybody who is more dictatorial than the Prime Minister? He alone chooses his Ministers; nobody else has a say. That is the reason why he is surrounded by so many yes-men. One has to be a yes-man for Bob otherwise he will not get a job in the Ministry. That is evidenced by the fact that in this chamber we have men who have far greater ability than some members of the Ministry but who because they are not so dependable as yes-men are never considered for appointment. How laughable it is that there should have been all this talk about dictation by what Government supporters refer to as the 36 men when we think of the dictatorship that exists within the Liberal Party! The Liberal Party is controlled by fourteen men who are not elected by anybody and who are not answerable to anybody. Let me give the Senate some illuminating facts about some of the members of the federal executive of the Liberal Party. One of the members is Sir Philip McBride, who used to be a member of this Parliament. Let honorable senators note the occupations of these men. Sir Philip McBride is a grazier, a director of the Bank of Adelaide, and a chairman of directors of Elder Smith and Company. Another member of the executive is Mr. Lyle Moore, former president of the Real Estate and Stock Institute of Australia. He is prominent in the real estate world and is a member of the Millions Club, the National Club and the Civic Club. These are all workers; they work 40 hours a week and no overtime!
Membership of the Liberal Party federal executive also includes Mr. Pagan, who is the chairman and managing director of P. Rowe Industries Proprietary Limited, and a director of the Northern Life Association. He is a member of the Union Club, the Imperial Service Club, the Royal Sydney Golf Club and the Elanora Country Club, and is a resident of Point Piper. Another member is Mr. Hulme, a former Minister for Supply. He is a company director and business consultant. He is a director of Chandlers (Australia) Limited and J. B. Chandler Investment Company Limited. He is also a member of the Brisbane Club. Another member is Mr. Anderson, a member of the board of the Reserve Bank of Australia and former director of the Shell Company of Australia, Asphalt Cold Mix (Australia) Proprietary Limited, Shell (Queensland) Development Company Proprietary Limited, Shell Refining (Australia) Proprietary Limited, and Shell Chemicals (Australia) Proprietary Limited.
How in the name of goodness can people with all these interests have any consideration for the ordinary working people in the community? Obviously they adopt the same attitude as is adopted by supporters of the Government in this chamber and say that only 78,000 persons are unemployed. Nothing at all is said about the dependants of the unemployed. They do not matter, as long as these men get from this Government the services they want. These mcn see that they get what they want. On 10th March last the federal executive of the Liberal Party demanded that federal Ministers meet the executive in Canberra. They made members of the Ministry toe the carpet; they called them together obviously to give them instructions. Let us consider what happened to Mr. Bury. He was a victim of the dictatorship with the Government. Because he had the audacity to express an opinion on a certain matter which did not coincide with the Prime Minister’s opinion, he was summarily dismissed from the Cabinet. Yet you little Sir Echos opposite have the temerity to tell Opposition senators that we are dictating to you. Most of you will remember that during the last general election campaign the Australian Broadcasting Commission’s television station, ABV2, made available to candidates for election to the House of Representatives the opportunity to appear on a session called “ Meet the Candidates “. What happened? The president of the Liberal Party, Sir Philip McBride, forbad every member of the Liberal Party to appear on the programme. Not one of you defied that order by Sir Philip McBride.
There was another instance of dictatorship in connexion with the great upheaval which occurred in Victoria because the Commonwealth Government decided to acquire a certain portion of Rippon Lea estate for the extension of television station ABV2 in Melbourne. The honorable member for Isaacs (Mr. Haworth) in another place was very vociferous in denouncing the Commonwealth Government for proposing to acquire this land. When a public meeting was called to be held in the grounds of the Rippon Lea estate the honorable member for Isaacs, having been very outspoken in the initial stages of the scheme, was invited to the meeting to speak. He was steam-rollered into submission and did not appear. He was not allowed to appear.
Earlier, we also had the case of Senator Wright and Senator Wood in connexion with a proposed increase of sales tax on motor cars. Senator Wood, to his credit, stuck to his guns and voted against the Government in this chamber. Senator Wright did that on one occasion. Then he was pressurized and when the Government’s proposal was re-submitted to the Senate he meekly walked out and did not vote. That is another instance of dictatorship. I could give many such instances. It has been mentioned in this chamber before that the present Prime Minister, on his return from overseas, prior to the war, eulogized the Nazi system. He said that if we were Germans, listening to Hitler on the radio beside a fire, we would pay allegiance to Hitler because he was offering the German people a policy that they could support. We have to be realistic about these matters. We have to admit the truth. What I have told the Senate to-night is the truth and nothing but the truth. Honorable senators opposite cannot deny it.
In regard to arbitration, also, the Government has acted in a dictatorial manner. Consider the penal clauses of the arbitration legislation and the vicious fines that have been levied against the unions for exercising their right to strike on various occasions. I defy anybody on the Government side of the Senate to tell me of any occasion over the years on which antiLabour governments or the newspapers have ever admitted that the workers were in the right. Surely to God, on the law of averages, the worker must be right sometimes. The Government is using arbitration as an instrument of coercion. It has used it to impose vicious, fines on various unions. It has endeavoured to impose its will on the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission and has done so very successfully up to date. This Government has taken action which has never before been taken by any other government in this history of- this country. Its representatives have appeared before the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission to endeavour to prevent the workers from obtaining their rightful increases in wages and improvements in conditions. The Melbourne “Sun NewsPictorial “ of 14th March last published an article concerning 77 wharf suspensions in which the following statement appeared: -
Seventy-seven more Melbourne waterside workers were suspended by the Stevedoring Industry Authority yesterday for having refused to work on rail trucks at the week-end. Of the 51 ships in port yesterday, 17 had no day-light labour. A further 233 men refused to answer for labour . . . And 950 men refused to work overtime to complete loading of 16 vessels on the day-light shift.
Waterside workers, because of their exercise of their inalienable right to withhold their labour are penalized not only by nonpayment of appearance money but also, in many cases, by the reduction of their long service leave. Is that not victimization? Is that not ruthless action through the machinery of arbitration? Many other similar instances can be cited; but my time is nearly exhausted.
I have dealt with the subject of national development. Let me say a few words on foreign investment. The Government’s supporters cannot get away from the belief that we cannot do any good in this country unless we hand over the whole country, holus-bolus, to foreign interests. Opposition senators have been criticized by Government supporters for not welcoming foreign investment in this country. Honorable senators opposite have misstated the facts in this regard. We are in favour of having foreign investment in order to develop Australia. But 1 say, advisedly and without fear of contradiction, that unless foreign investment brings to us goods, services and know-how not previously available in Australia we will not receive any tangible benefit from that investment. What is to be gained by allowing foreign investors to take over existing Australian industries? But if they bring goods, services and know-how that we do not have in Australia, we will welcome them with open arms. Do not let Australia get into Canada’s position of being completely under foreign domination. That has been the trend of Government policy ever since it assumed office in 1949; it has given away the people’s assets in many fields.
General Motors-Holden’s Proprietary Limited has done a good job in this country up to a certain point. But we lack federal power to control monopolies. Consequently, only about eighteen months ago, in order to evade its responsibility to this country, General Motors-Holden’s remitted £13,000,000 in bonus shares to its shareholders in America. The Ford company, in order to evade local responsibilities, remitted £11,000,000 in bonus shares to its shareholders in America. For the same reason, the International Harvester Company Limited remitted over £2,000,000 in bonus shares to American shareholders. Unlimited, unrestrained and uncontrolled investment in this country must be to the detriment of Australia. It will result in our coming under the yoke of foreign investors.
I come now to foreign affairs, lt is rather annoying, frustrating and deplorable that every time the Prime Minister goes overseas - to use a very crude word - he makes a fool of himself. He did it in 1956 at Suez. We all know that. He did it again over the apartheid policy of the South African Government. He did it again in the United Nations when he raised the ire of Mr. Nehru and secured only four votes out of 100. Only recently he was overseas again and, according to a report in the press - honorable senators opposite like to believe the press, which is always on their side - when he was told in England about trouble within his own party he said he could not care less because he was enjoying the social life overseas.
Following that we find that he made a further statement insulting people with whom we should be encouraging friendship. He has raised the ire of the Indonesians. In the Melbourne “ Age “ of Tuesday, 16th July, 1963, were big headlines, “ Indonesia Regards Prime Minister’s Remarks as a Threat “. I do not want to read the article as probably all honorable senators have seen it.
– What did Mr. Calwell say about Indonesia?
– If you have not seen this report I advise you to read it because you might gain a little knowledge. You certainly lack it at the present time. To fortify that press report, the same newspaper, on Wednesday, 24th July, carried another article headed, “ Indonesian Press Hits Australia “.
I have dealt with quite a number of matters, although admittedly, I have been able only to skip over the surface of most of them. There are many more subjects on which I should have liked to touch. I want to impress upon this chamber that the Government has lost the confidence not only of the Parliament but also of the people of Australia.
– You are kidding yourself.
– I repeat, particularly for the edification of Oliver
Cromwell over there, that this Government, as he knows as well as I do, has been kept on the treasury bench by the splinter parties. I remind the honorable senator that at the last election the Labour Party secured 300,000 more votes than the Liberals and the hill-billies combined. Since 1955 the Government parties have been kept on the treasury bench by the preference votes of the Communist Party and their latest satellite, the Democratic Labour Party. I remind Oliver Cromwell again that he has to be very careful. He was not in the chamber when I made my earlier remarks. He was probably listening to his hero in another place, so I remind him that he should not be too complacent. I address these remarks to him personally because he will be No. 3 for his party on the next Senate ballot-paper. He must remember that a recent press report says that the federal president-
– There is too much wishful thinking in that.
– If you have a lot of money to support you I am prepared to match it.
– I am not a betting man. You can write your own ticket, Oliver.
– Order! Senator Sandford, if you address your remarks to the Chair you will get a very much better hearing.
– I remind the Senate of a recent press report. 1 want Senator Hannan and all the other little Sir Echos and yes-men on the Government side to take particular note of this. The federal president of the D.L.P. is reported to have said that his party is now sick and tired of giving members of the Government parties the preferences that have kept them in office for many years. I condemn this Government, which has let Aus’tralia down in periods of crisis. The only hope of salvation for the people of Australia lies in the party to which they have turned in other periods of crisis, the Australian Labour Party.
– I rise to support the motion for the printing of the Budget Papers, and to oppose the amendment that has been moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator Kennelly). 1 Speak as a representative of the people who have been referred to by Senator Sandford as hill-billies. I am quite proud to bear that banner, if necessary.
In supporting the Budget I should like to say that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, in opening his remarks, referred to some merit that the Budget has. As the debate has progressed other senators on his side of the chamber have referred to matters of merit contained in the Budget. I suppose there are various ways of condemning a budget. It can be damned with faint praise - by saying that it is something like the curate’s egg, good in parts, but 1 say that the Budget is a good one. It is the job of the Opposition, of course, to find points of criticism. I remember that the budget last year was called a stop-and-go budget.. It was also described as a stay-put budget. How it could be stop-and-go and stay-put, too, I have never been able to work out.
I know that it is the job of members of the Opposition to exercise their ingenuity to criticize the Budget. So far, this year, their ingenuity has been rather strained. They have been forced to use the type of argument that they have produced continually of recent years in criticism of the Government’s proposals. The public, I fear, becomes rather tired of this routine and tends to dismiss the whole thing as the usual sort of exercise that the Opposition feels obliged to engage in. But 1 think the general public reaction is conditioned by. the way in which the Budget affects the most sensitive nerve in the body, which is said to be the one adjacent to the hip pocket.
Senator Cohen was joined by Senator Sandford in reading some press criticisms of the Budget. Senator Cohen took a number of isolated statements out of their context to support his argument. It seems strange to me to hear honorable senators from the opposite side quoting with relish the oracular outbursts of the newspapers, which they generally refer to as the capitalist press. It is passing strange that they should now find some merit in press outbursts. I am wondering just what is producing this change in their attitude. My own experience of the public reaction is that the Budget is regarded as a sincere attempt by the Government to carry on the administration and development of Australia insofar as our resources will allow and, most importantly, to facilitate the growth of Australia by the efforts of our own people. In the final analysis, this has to be done by the people, and the responsibility of governments is to facilitate and not to hinder these aims.
The Opposition criticism is largely a repetition of its criticisms of last year. Its cries of “ stay put “ and “ stagnation “ were answered by the official figures recently released of an increase of 8 per cent, in the gross national product. This has been achieved with an increase of only 1 per cent, in prices. I submit that this is a complete refutation of the dismal prophecies that were advanced then. The Opposition formerly made much of inflation. It now complains bitterly of stagnation and unemployment. It talks about a pool of unemployed, but the facts have proved that the pool is a very little puddle indeed.
During the discussion on the Budget certain suggestions have been put forward for improving the method of compilation of statistics ‘relating to unemployment. I agree with the inference that we can draw from a question put by Senator Murphy in which he suggested that the length of time persons are unemployed should be tabulated. Many other facts relating to unemployment should be recorded so that any government can take more precise and accurate steps to deal with the problem. The shot-gun approach of a general stimulus to the economy can do more harm than good in times when unemployment is of a specific nature and when, as now, those unemployed are mostly unskilled workers. If the stimulus to the economy creates an over-demand for skilled workers it will not help the unskilled very much. If it does drag them into employment by creating a condition of boom and overdemand for skilled workers it will result in a rise in prices and the net result will be worse than the trouble that was to be cured. I hope it will bc possible to get unemployment statistics containing more accurate details than we have now.
In this general context I am sure the general public realizes that the addition of some 100,000 persons by immigration, the absorption of all our school leavers in the past twelve months and the accompanying drop in the number of unemployed amounts to a worthwhile achievement. Certainly it does not support the dismal forecasts we heard twelve months ago.
The Budget contains some very constructive plans. Honorable senators opposite would be disappointed if I did not refer to the superphosphate bounty, which will prove its value in many ways. Primarily, it is an incentive to development. The need for heavy applications of superphosphate is one of the great disabilities from which a big section of our continent suffers. Any effort to lessen this cost to the producers will have the effect of assisting agricultural production, particularly in Western Australia where the need for superphosphate is a great individual handicap.
There were some suggestions from the Opposition that the granting of the superphosphate bounty merely restored something that had been given by a previous Labour government. I suppose we could admit that, in that regard, the Opposition is technically correct, but the fact is that the previous superphosphate bounty was applied from 1st July, 1941. The enabling measure was introduced by Mr. Scully, who was then Minister for Commerce, on 26th November, 1941. Peculiar conditions operated at the time. The island of Nauru had been attacked by the Japanese, with whom we were then at war. The facilities for handling superphosphate were destroyed and that source was cut off. As a result, superphosphate had to be brought over much greater distances. Shipping costs were raised and there was a sharp rise in the price of superphosphate.
At the same time, it was government policy to keep down prices. The nation was under price fixing and the agricultural industries had no way of being reimbursed for the heavily increased costs due to the war. It was agreed by ail parties that it was only right that there should be some mitigation of these costs. The decision to introduce a superphosphate bounty was actually taken by the Menzies Government. In his speech on 26th November Mr. Scully said -
The government of the day decided-
That was the Menzies Government - to grant a bounty of 25s. a ton as from the 1st July, 1941, which meant that the net increase of price to the consumer from that date would be 7s. a ton instead of the full 32s. a ton approved by the Prices Commissioner. This is now operating although the enabling legislation was not passed by the previous Government.
The honorable member for Richmond of that time, Mr. Anthony, who followed Mr. Scully, said - 1 congratulate the Minister upon the introduction of this measure which, as he has stated, gives effect to a promise made to the producers by the previous Government.
That clarifies that point. The superphosphate bounty was removed when the price of wool had risen to great heights and the price of wheat was very high, when there was no need for continuation of the bounty. However, I thought it was correct that we should get the position clarified. This superphosphate bounty is not a hand-out to the farmers, as has been falsely represented, lt is a national investment that will add greatly to our export income and will pay handsome dividends to the national Treasury. These returns will outweigh many times the cost, of the bounty and will add to the fertility of Australian soil.
In this connexion, I point out that world resources of cheaply available phosphates are rapidly diminishing. In the not far distant future we may be forced to use phosphatic materials lower in quality and much more costly to obtain. The rate of usage is increasing, and this bounty will have the effect of further increasing it by about 7 per cent. 1 have obtained from the statistical service of the Parliamentary Library figures which show that the estimated reserves at Ocean Island are 8,000,000 tons, at Nauru 63,000,000 tons, and at Christmas Island 25,000,000 tons. On the basis of current usage, not on the increased level of usage, those sources of supply have estimated lives of 25 years, 39 years and 35 years respectively.
It has been calculated that if we continue to use superphosphate from those sources al the present increasing rate, within 20 years we shall see the complete exhaustion of our Pacific island sources of superphosphate. This country will then be faced with the need to import phosphatic rock from alternative sources, such as Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt. These sources of supply have rock of varying degrees of usefulness, ranging from 27 per cent, or 28 per cent. P2O5 to 35 per cent. The quality of the rock and its ability to be manufactured into suitable phosphatic fertilizer is not nearly so good as that from the sources from which we are now drawing our supplies. This impending exhaustion of our phosphatic supplies in the Pacific islands calls for some attention by the Government. The first thing that is necessary is to direct a much greater degree of scientific research to the question of usage, so that we may be able to use to greater effect the phosphates we are now obtaining. A lot of experimental work has been done on this subject but not nearly sufficient to enable us to use our phosphatic materials to the best advantage, knowing that in the very short and foreseeable future we shall have to pay a great deal more for our supplies.
I wish to pay a tribute to the work that the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization is doing in many spheres to bring about greater efficiency in production, not only in agriculture but also in industry. The Government also is to be commended for the continued support it has given to scientific research through this agency. We need to exercise the greatest selectivity in the application of our accepted policies to ensure that we do not defeat our objectives by handicapping too severely some industries in order to provide opportunities for others. It is because the superphosphate bounty will help primary industry to bear the burdens imposed on it by our national policies that it will be so very welcome to all sections of the community. People who really think about these matters agree that the bounty will certainly confer benefits on all.
The investment allowance on plant and machinery which has been proposed in the Budget will have a similar effect in helping primary industry. I doubt whether, in the long run, it will cost the Treasury anything, because unless it is used by the primary producer with some degree of care it could actually increase his tax liability. However, it will provide an immediate incentive to modernize plant where that is needed and will, if it is used with discretion, contribute both to productivity and employment not only in the primary industries but also in the secondary industries.
It is very gratifying to me to see that further capital has been made available to the Commonwealth Development Bank. In the past, agriculture has found most of its own capital. The capital that is necessary for development has come from its own resources and will continue very largely to do so, but in a field in which there is ability, experience and skill in the hands of our young people, the help that may be given by the Development Bank is very valuable indeed. My only regret is that the interest rates charged could not be reduced to the level available for housing. 1 am sure that a sound case could be made for that to be done. We can provide funds for housing only from our productive capacity, and it is in the interests of productive development that it should not be hampered by heavy interest obligations, especially where new development which cannot become revenue-producing for several years at least is concerned.
I should also like to congratulate the Government on the decisions it has made with regard to assistance for the development of the north. Very material and constructive forms of assistance have been given for such development, which is of great importance to all Australians.
– Why does not the Government consider setting up a north Australia development authority such as that visualized by the Government in Western Australia?
– The honorable senator may make his speech later. In my judgment, the very first essential in development is to provide good, all-weather roads, throughout the area. The virtual stagnation of life and activity during the wet season is largely due to the absence of allweather roads. I do not think any country can develop its resources to the full if practically all activity stops for nearly six months of the year. That is what is happening in areas in the north of Australia during the wet season. The construction of all-weather roads is of prime importance, not only to the pastoral industry but also to the mining industry. If access to mines or pastoral properties is not possible for many months, the building up of huge supplies of stores is necessary to cover the long period when they cannot be delivered. The decision to devote a great amount of money to the development of all-weather roads in the north was soundly based and will pay great dividends.
Senator Scott spoke of the need to proceed with development with care and some degree of caution. This is a vast undertaking and it is necessary to ensure that developmental projects are based on sound fines. To that end, we should devote a great deal of money for research into problems connected with pastoral development and the availability and economics of markets for the products that we may be able to produce. As has been said, this is a national obligation, and it is incumbent on whichever government is in office to see that the developmental work proceeds carefully as well as thoroughly.
It seems inevitable when we speak about the north for our thoughts to turn to the subject of defence. It is gratifying to note that it has been found possible to devote £30,000,000 more in this Budget than was provided last year for the purpose of providing adequate defence forces for Australia. In these days it seems that defence experts are more plentiful than sheep in the home paddocks. Everybody seems to be offering advice on defence. Senator Sandford offered some rather remarkable advice when he spoke this evening. He criticized the Government for using conventional defence weapons. I am wondering what he’ meant by such criticism. Does he advocate the use of atomic weapons? It would be most surprising if an honorable senator from that side of the chamber were urging us to use atomic weapons. If he is not advocating the use of atomic weapons, perhaps he has a secret weapon of his own. He said that the Government should take the best advice, that it was not right for us to take the advice of our service experts. I am just wondering from where, if he had any responsiblity of government, he would seek advice that is so much superior to the advice given to the Government by its defence experts. For my part, I shall stand by persons who are competent to advise the Government on the best defence that is possible within our resources.
We have heard criticism of the rate of expenditure on defence. We have been told that it is so much lower than the rate in the United Kingdom or the United States of America. It is completely fallacious to compare the rate of expenditure that is possible in a country which has been largely developed with that of a continent like Australia, which has a handful of 11,000,000 people to develop it. The best development for defence purposes is to populate this country with Australians. To throw away many millions of pounds a year on weapons that will shortly be obsolete is a fatal move. It has long been proved that a country must choose between guns and butter. It may load itself up to the eyes with defence equipment, letting its people starve and its economy stagnate as a result. This Government has chosen wisely to spend money on defence in accordance with the best possible advice within the framework of Australia’s treaty obligations.
I feel strongly that the best defence against communism, not only in Asia but throughout the world, is the development of trade policies that will remove restrictions so that reasonable prices may be paid and reasonable access be given to the products of all countries. The more backward countries will then be able to share in the general rise in living standards and to exist in dignity on the result of their labours. We must make it possible for them to produce the commodities for which they are best suited and to have some security in regard to prices. In this connexion 1 should like to read an extract from a report published in the “ West Australian “ on 19th August, 1963, of a statement in Sydney by Doctor W. J. E. Crissy, professor of marketing at the Graduate School of Business Administration, Michigan University, who will conduct a three-weeks’ lecture tour of Australian capital cities for marketing executives. He said -
Trade with the under-developed countries would be best promoted by building up these countries’ economies with technical aid and not hand-outs. Marketing techniques, not military operations, would decide the superiority of the West or the Communist world. The marketing war should be waged on two fronts - in the underdeveloped countries and in trade between the Western and Communist blocs.
– Did that gentleman say anything about overseas control of business interests in Australia?
– No, you have said enough about that.
The Colombo Plan and the Freedom from Hunger Campaign are helping to that end, but all nations must shape economic policies that will allow development of healthy national economies. In the field of social services, the Government has done some fine things in this Budget. I am particularly pleased that the greatest increases are provided where the greatest needs are evident. In this, I am completely in accord with the sentiment expressed by Senator Wedgwood. I hope that this tendency to direct our attention to the field of maximum needs will continue. The alleviation of the position of civilian widows by the increase of £2 a week and the allowance of 15s. for the eldest child will rectify a position which has been so frequently deplored by thinking people. Although the Opposition has been critical of the increase of 10s. a week to be granted to single age and invalid pensioners, saying that this will be of no benefit to married pensioners, it must be conceded that there will come a time when one-half of the age pensioners will be beneficiaries of this provision and will then understand and be grateful for the Government’s action.
I should like to refer to the removal of sales tax on foodstuffs. This will benefit not only consumers by lowering their cost of living, if only by a small amount, but also Australian producers of food. Statements about average benefit do not cut much ice. The average family, of course, is a statistical image. The fact is that many persons in the community on lower incomes consume very much more than the average quantity of the foods that were subject to sales tax. Age pensioners, for instance, and persons with inadequate cooking facilities, have been compelled to use many of the’ prepared foods that were subject to sales tax, and they will reap much more than the average benefit. This provision will assist many families which greatly needed help. It will assist to keep down living costs and to stabilize the economy.
Numerous small concessions have been provided. The concession in relation to estate duty has been urged for a long time by many sections of the community As Senator Wedgwood very clearly demonstrated, it will assist people in the lower estate group. I hope that State governments which have not already moved in this direction will follow the lead of the Commonwealth. The Government has given the country a good, sound Budget. As I said in my opening remarks, it is easy to be critical and to promise all sorts of things when you do not have to find the money for them. Even the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Senator Kennelly, who said that in his party’s opinion pay-roll tax should be abolished, suggested that it be removed gradually and not in one fell swoop. To my mind this is an admission by the Opposition that is not possible to do all the things that may be deemed desirable, but I am sure that the Government has in this Budget presented to the people of Australia a very worthwhile effort in the continuance of good government.
– Senator Prowse suggested that honorable senators on this side of the chamber should not quote from the press. I do not know what point he was trying to make, but I think that in respect of this particular Budget it is very proper that we should quote from the press. It will be remembered that in the weeks preceding the Budget we read a considerable amount of speculation in the press about a budget that was supposed to stimulate the economy. It was stated that it would be imaginative in the extreme and would have the effect of lifting Australia out of the economic slough of despond into which it had fallen. All this speculation is history now, including the most important prophecy made by the press. It was stated that immediately after the Budget was brought down preparations for an election were to begin and we would be. confronted with a decision to go to the people before the end of this year. . That was the theme song being sung in the month preceding the Budget. Everybody knows, including the press - which was singing this theme song because it believed it to be true - that the Government was expected to bring down something that would border on the spectacular. The press has been disappointed and the people of Australia have been disappointed.
Let me hasten to say that I do not consider this to be the worst budget brought down by this Government.
– That is generous of you.
– 1 do not think it is. I think the Budget is like the curate’s egg - good in parts. I can remember vividly other budgets that were brought down by this Government, and I do not think this one measures up to some of the horror terms associated with those budgets. It does confer certain benefits which we on this side of the chamber applaud. It is not my intention to dodge away from the benefits that the Government has conferred upon the people by this Budget.
I return to the press speculation which raged a month before the Budget was brought down, and I refer also to the way in which the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) and the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) were accepting in advance the praise and plaudits of the press while knowing all the time that they were not merited. It is noticeable now that all the talk of an’ early election has disappeared. In view of all that speculation I think that we on this side of the chamber have every right to quote from the press. I remind the Senate of some of the things that have happened since the Budget was brought down.
– We will now have the “ Sydney Morning Herald “.
– This is not from the “ Sydney Morning Herald “. I refer now, not to a statement by any reporter or to the policy of any newspaper, but to what I think honorable senators will agree is the. most sensitive reactor to economic policy that ohe could find in Australia. I refer to the stock exchange.
– It has been very lively.
– The evidence that I have here, and which I intend to have incorporated in “ Hansard “, was published in the Melbourne “ Sun News-Pictorial “ of Thursday, 15th August. It indicates something quite the reverse.
– Have you seen what has happened since?
– I have been watching what has since happened, very carefully, and I intend to allude to it. I refer now to something that happened a little over a week ago - two days after the Budget was introduced. This is how the stock exchange reacted. The article states -
The unimaginative Federal Budget brought the recent strong advance in share prices to a halt at the Melbourne Stock Exchange yesterday.
At the close of trading rises totalled 178 and falls 160 - the nearest they have been to balance since June 27.
There was no immediate downward reaction to the Government’s failure to take positive steps to lift the economy, but investors’ disappointment was evident in a slow drift in prices of most market leaders.
If any honorable senator on the Government side thinks that that is not a significant statement let him stand up and say so. The article went on -
In Sydney the main body of investment issues quickly joined the leaders, where the first signs of easing were evident.
The “ All Ordinaries “ index retreated 1.76 points from the previous day’s peak of 349.59.
It was the largest single day’s fall since November last year.
That was the immediate reaction of the most sensitive reactor to a government that one can find in this country. The article concluded -
For the first time in the financial year, falls gained a lead over rises.
If honorable senators on the Government side are interested, the heading is “ Budget tapers the upward trend “.
It has been suggested by an honorable senator who has since left the chamber that there has been some change since then. If there has, I have not noted it. I have been watching stock exchange reports very carefully, and the stock market is still sluggish. There is no way in the world that Government supporters can claim or prove that the stock exchange has reacted favorably to the Budget by indicating an upward trend in the economy. It would perhaps be proper for Government supporters to say that we on this side are biased in our attitude and that we would use whatever opportunity we could to secure an advantage against the Government in respect of matters such as this. I do not deny that I, just as much as anybody else, would seek that advantage and use it if it fell my way; but by the same token the people who prepared that resume of the financial affairs of the nation are people who have no axe to grind. They are concerned only with cold, hard economics. Their views, therefore, cannot be lightly thrown aside or sneered off by the Government in an attempt to bolster up its flagging spirits in respect of the Budget it has brought down.
The day after the Budget was produced the Sydney “Sun” of 14th August under the heading “ Little Help for Business “ said -
Liberal members sat glum-faced in the House of Representatives last night during Treasurer Holt’s
Budget speech, which ignored recent expert advice from leaders of the private sector on measures to give immediate stimulus.
Business interests say they are “ sorely disappointed “ at the Government’s treatment of their suggestions.
There is a general uneasiness at the Government’s reluctance to tackle more boldly the problem of the unemployed, whose numbers could rise to 110,000 next January.
Let me say at this stage that nobody on the Government side would be courageous enough to say that the Sydney “ Sun “ is a newspaper that supports, in any political way whatever, the party I represent in this Parliament. I think it would be true to say that if it had any political sympathies they would be reserved for the Government and not the Opposition. As I said earlier, when I damned the Budget with faint praise at the commencement of my speech 1 had the support of people who have no political axe to grind and who, even if they did have an axe to grind, would direct their criticism not at the other side of the Senate but at this side.
I come now to an article in the Melbourne “Sun” of 15th August which was written by Douglas Wilkie. I think most honorable senators know this gentleman and will admit that he writes quite objectively on foreign affairs and economics. I do not think he has any political leanings one way or the other. He said -
Another Federal Budget brings its reminder that the family man is relatively worse off in Australia than in any other nation which claims a social conscience to go with its affluence.
He made this melancholy point -
Biscuits, jellies and ice-cream are to be cheaper (along with horseshoes).
I repeat that Douglas Wilkie has not a political axe to grind. I believe that he has no sympathies one way or the other. He indicated in his impartial survey of the Budget that he thought the Government had laboured mightily and had brought forth a mouse.
It is encumbent upon Opposition senators to restate just what the Government proposes to give to the Australian people in this Budget. It is fair for me to say, as members of the Opposition here and in another place have said, that it is a sectional budget. It is one in which the hand of the Australian Country Party can be clearly seen. The undoubted influence that the Country Party has over the major party in the coalition Government can be seen in the fact that most of the benefits are to be given to interests which the Country Party represents. The granting of those benefits is a tribute to the small group of men who occupy the back seat in the Government but who are able to tell the driver where to go. In this case the driver is not the boss.
The Government proposes to restore - I use that word advisedly - the bounty on superphosphate. Despite what Senator Prowse had to say about the manner in which the bounty was originally given to the primary producers, there is no doubt that this Government removed it. AH that the Government now proposes to do is to restore something that it should never have removed. It cannot expect any degree of approbation for this proposal. It is worth remembering that during the campaign for the Grey by-election the Australian Labour Party stated, as part of its policy, that it would restore the bounty on superphosphate, but the Government did not indicate at that time that it had any such intention.
A lot has been said about the stealing of policies. I do not criticize the Government because it has helped itself to large slices of the Labour Party’s policy. I think we should compliment the Government upon its initiative. I, unlike some of my colleagues, am not hostile because theGovernment has adopted this plank or any other plank of Labour’s policy. I would like to see it adopt more. I hope that in the limited time that the Government has at its disposal it will implement some more of Labour’s policy.
– It will have to.
– The Government will have to do so, as Senator Cavanagh has said. But I deplore the smug hypocrisy which the Government has exhibited from time to time. When we have submitted certain proposals to the Australian people as part of Labour’s policy, the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies), Cabinet Ministers and other prominent members of the Government parties have said just how ridiculous they thought those proposals were. We do not like the cant and hypocrisy that is exhibited by the Government from time to time. We do not like having to recall that, when we suggested that we should budget for a deficit of £100,000,000, the Prime Minister and members of the Government parties went around the country saying that it was the most disastrous thing that any political party could advocate, that any party which advocated it was worse than irresponsible, and that the nation’s economy would not stand up under the strain. Having said that, the Government later hypocritically decided to try budgeting for a deficit. The Government did not merely double the amount that we suggested in the first place as being necessary to give the economy a stimulus, but trebled it. Surely honorable senators opposite have a feeling of shame as they recall what they said . when we suggested that provision should be made for a deficit of £100,000,000.
Let the Government continue to put Labour’s policy into effect if it wants to. Let it do so as often as it likes, because it is good for the Australian people. But let it at least be honest. Let it not run around the country telling the people that such an action would be irresponsible and then within a month implement the proposal. Honorable senators opposite cannot expect the people to regard the Government as being responsible if it adopts those tactics.
– How was it that we won the last election?
– You did not.
– We did.
– The Communists won it for you.
– We won it not on Labour’s policy but on our own.
– The Government occupies the treasury-bench to-day because, as Senator Kennelly rightly pointed out when he made his contribution to this debate, a Communist in Queensland was prepared to give his second preference to the Government candidate. If that had not happened, the Government would not have been in office to-day.
– You know that he gave most of them to Labour. That statement is typical of Kennelly’s dishonesty.
– If we were to base the result of the election on the number of votes that the various political parties got, we would find that the Australian Labour Party easily won the last general election. Mr. President, I did not bring up this subject of Communist Party preferences; it was raised by way of interjection. I was referring to the dishonest tactics that have been employed by the Government in adopting Labour’s policy and the surreptitious way in which it has done these things. I concede that there are measures in the Budget which will help very deserving sections of the community, and I intend to enumerate them. To increase the pension payable to a single pensioner is a step in the right direction. The Government deserves some recognition for having taken a step towards correcting some of the anomalies which exist in the social service field.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMuIlin). - 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.
– The great danger to Australia, as we sec it, is not only that which comes from the Communists without but from the internal subversion that can take place. We know that the Australian Communist Party operates in the intellectual field; but the great danger lies within the industrial field. Until the Communist Party is destroyed within the industrial field Australia cannot look forward to a secure future.
A few weeks ago the Australian Democratic Labour Party’s conference suggested that there should be a get-together of all non-Communist trade unionists and others who oppose the Communists in order to defeat the agents of communism within the unions. We went so far as to suggest to the conference of the Australian Labour Party which was then being held in Perth that certain action should be taken. We called on the party to assist in the defeat of communism in the trade unions by -
Immediately and effectively acting against members of its party who have collaborated with the Communists in trade union elections, including the fourteen or so members involved in the recent Victorian Australian Railways Union election.
I am quoting from the report of the Australian D.L.P. conference which continues as follows: -
In most cases these people are the major factor in making possible the election of Communists to the dominant positions in trade unions. Such action to be effective, must be taken as soon as the evidence of the collaboration is available, and prior to the election taking place. To act only after main positions have been won serves no useful purpose.
Again, the report of the conference of the Democratic Labour Party reads as follows: -
The Democratic Labour Party therefore calls upon the A.L.P. to assist in the defeat of Communism in the trade unions by: -
Removing the embargo from its members which prevents them from joining with other democratic Trade Unionists in a united effort against the Communist Party agents in the Trade Unions.
That, 1 believe, was something that should have been followed out. Of course, we got no response from the Labour conference in Perth. But at least that party re-affirmed its policy on the unity ticket question. The conference issued the following statement: -
Conference reaffirms previous decisions of the Hobart and Brisbane Conferences in respect to Unity Tickets, and warns members that on no occasion can they allow their names to be associated with members of any other political party on any “ How-to-Vote “ ticket. Any member breaking this policy must be summoned before the respective State Executive, and, failing a satisfactory explanation, dealt with according to the rules.
– You agree with that, don’t you?
– Certainly. This is the policy of the Australian Labour Party on unity tickets - or its implied policy. I am asking Labour Party senators to help destroy the Communist influence within the trade unions in pursuance of their policy.
In Queensland a most important ballot is to be held in the Meat Industry Employees Union. I have here a unity ticket which has been circulated throughout Queensland. It is almost a perfect unity ticket. I ask for leave to incorporate a copy of the ticket in “ Hansard “.
– Is leave granted?
– Leave is not granted.
– I shall endeavour to give details of the ticket as I proceed.
As I have said, copies of this unity ticket have been sent throughout Queensland. Many thousands of copies in blue print on white paper have been circulated in Central Queensland, and many thousands in black print on green paper have been circulated in southern and western Queensland. On this perfect example of a unity ticket the names of Communists appear with the names of members of the Australian Labour Party. I am asking that party to apply its rules.
This ballot will take place next Friday. Of course, members of the Australian Labour Party whose names appear on the unity ticket will say that they knew nothing about it. We have made sure that they will know something about it. Copies of the ticket have been sent to all the leaders of the Australian Labour Party. Peculiarly, the Queensland central executive of the Australian Labour Party held a meeting, I think yesterday, and although- members of that executive knew about this unity ticket they did nothing about it. It was not even discussed. Their secretary, Mr. O’Keefe, remarked that it had nothing to do with them. He said that it was the responsibility of the unions to run their own affairs.
– You have got the name wrong. It is “ Keeffe “.
– His name may have been “ O’Keefe “ once upon a time. He was president of the conference in Perth when the rule on unity tickets was reaffirmed. Copies of this unity ticket have been forwarded to the various leaders and the Federal leader of the Australian Labour Party. There is no reason why they should not have received them. On the unity ticket appear delegates to the Queensland central executive and to the Queensland Trades and Labour Council. The latter group includes S. Davis, who is being supported on the unity ticket by E. J. Foat and J. S. Sweet.
– Who are they?
– They are Labour members. S. Davis is a Communist. Candidates for election as branch trustees include E. J. Foat, a Labour supporter, and H. Fay, a Communist. Those are just two examples. To support my argument 1 point out that H. Fay stood as a Communist Party candidate in the Townsville city elections and that he regularly chairs public meetings called by the Communist Party in that city. He would be the most widely known Communist in north Queensland.
– There are two Communist parties now, you know.
– So far as I know there is only one. S. Davis, another Communist, speaks from the Communist Party stand at the centenary forum in Brisbane. Before being put on the meat union pay-roll in 1960, he was for many years a full-time official of the Communist Party. There are other men on that ticket who are Communists or alleged Communists, but I think I have said sufficient to prove to the Senate that this is a perfect unity ticket. That is the reason for my wanting the ticket incorporated in “ Hansard “. It shows clearly that A.L.P. members are standing for election on the same how-to-vote ticket as the Communists. For the sake of Australia’s security I am asking A.L.P. senators to make representations to their leaders to sec that something is done. Do not wait until after this election, which is to be held next Friday. It is time that the Australian Labour Party lived up to its claims. If it takes action on this occasion, that will be something in its favour.
Senator KENNELLY (Victoria) [10.431. - One becomes amazed when one thinks that the time of the National Parliament can be used as we have seen it used for the past quarter of an hour. Has this matter been raised in an honest desire to save this country from ruin, or has it been raised in an endeavour to help the failing fortunes of those whose unity ticket with the Government since 1956 has been responsible for things that have hurt the very people that the’y purport to represent? The complaint is that no provision is made in the Budget for increased child endowment, but I point out that without the support of the Australian
Democratic Labour Party since. 1956 this Government would have been swept into oblivion. How hypocritical can one be? How hypocritical is a person who adopts an attitude such as that to which we have listened for the last quarter of an hour? I believe in the policy of the Australian Labour Party and I believe that that policy ought to be carried out. I give credit to any person who seeks to carry it out because his purpose is an honest one. But can any one who knows the political record of Senator Cole believe that his purpose is honest? He is the one who, within a very short time of leaving the Australian Labour Party, moved a certain resolution in circumstances well known to many of us. A few weeks later, with those who support him, he went throughout the length and breadth of this country opposing the Australian Labour Party. No one in the Parliament takes Senator Cole seriously. All that honorable senators opposite are concerned with is to keep Senator Cole in the Senate. They give him all the kudos of a leader of a party, with all that that means, so that when election time comes his poor, deluded supporters - I know a great number of them in my own State - will keep him where he is. Surety, Mr. President, we could occupy the time of the senior house of this National Parliament far better than by listeningto the drivel we have heard to-night.
– And are hearing now.
– All you will do is ask the usual questions.
– Don’t speak to me about honesty.
– You have never been honest in politics in your life.
– You, of course, would know.
– I will let them know, if you like. Do not test me about honesty or we will have it out.
– I could tell a little bit about your honesty.
– Don’t you dare speak about honesty.
– Don’t you dare me; you can have it out here or anywhere else.
– I will give you honesty. I know enough about you to sink a ship.
– All I say is that we hope that this chamber will not be used, during an adjournment debate or at any other time, for such a purpose as it has just been used. I do not think that any one can honestly get up in this chamber - I would not - and shed tears for what our friends did with their own organization. I sincerely hope that the Queensland executive will run the Queensland branch of this party according to the rules of the party. I would be very disappointed if it did not. Can any one believe that Senator Cole’s crocodile tears for the welfare of the Australian Labour Party are sincere? I say to Senator Cole and to every one else that this party is made up of human beings. We may have made mistakes in the past, and no doubt we will make mistakes in the future, but let us hope that those mistakes will not affect the people of this country.
– But they will; that is the trouble.
– Just listen. If I thought that this question was raised for the benefit of the Australian Labour Party, or with any honesty of purpose, I would say, “ Well, perhaps the prodigal has returned “. But the prodigal has not returned. He is merely trying to build up the withering fortunes of his own group.
– They are not withering’ yet.
– I do not want to go into that question. I am concerned only with one thing: To build up the fortunes of the party of which I have been a lifelong member. I believe if we all do that - whether or not some think it is in the interests of the nation - as long as we believe in what we espouse and as long as we believe it is honest, we will be helping the nation. I regret that the time of the Senate was taken up on this matter. I objected to certain material being incorporated in “ Hansard “.
– You were too scared.
– It was not because I was scared. I did not think the platform of this Senate should be used for the purposes that I believe Senator Cole had in mind.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.51 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 27 August 1963, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1963/19630827_senate_24_s24/>.