24th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I address a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Has he seen a report that the New Zealand Government is about to establish a ministry of fuel and power? Will the function of the new ministry be to bring all fuel production, particularly of oil and coal, under government supervision? Will the Minister consider the introduction of such a reform into the Australian Government?
– I have not seen the report to which the honorable senator has referred, but over the years, of course, proposals have been canvassed for a separate ministry of fuel and power. I am not sure, but I think there was such a portfolio in previous cabinets. This is not a matter for consideration by me. On this side of politics, such matters are determined by the Prime Minister, in accordance with our tradition. I find that the present arrangements work very satisfactorily. I doubt very much whether there would be any benefit from establishing a separate portfolio. It should not be forgotten that fuel and power touch on many parts of the economy which come within the purview of a portfolio like mine. It is of great advantage to have contacts with such things as the Snowy Mountains scheme, the coal-mining industry and the Australian Atomic Energy Commission. I think that, sometimes, a good deal can be lost by placing specialist activities in isolation, but that is only a personal view.
– I address a question to the Minister for Civil Aviation. Has he read an article in the Canadian newspaper “ Montreal Star “, of 23rd July last, which advocated that the policy of the Australian Government in respect of civil aviation should be adopted in Canada? Has the Minister rioted that the article emphasized that because of the Australian Government’s airline legislation, licensed civil airlines operate at a profit and have a reputation for safe and efficient flying? Does the Minister agree with the statement that the policy of the Australian Government in controlling the purchase of types of aircraft and the number of aircraft available to the airlines has proved economical and efficient? Does not this unbiased article give additional proof of the enlightened approach to civil airline services adopted by this Government?
– I have seen two or three references to this matter in the Canadian press. What gives me most satisfaction is that the newspaper articles arise from the fact that the Canadian Government is now considering the establishment of a ministry of civil aviation. In the past, civil aviation in Canada has fallen within the administration of a department which, I think, is called the Ministry of Transport. I am told by my officers that the Canadians, at the official level, are showing a very close interest in the system of control that has been adopted in Australia and a more than- close interest in the two-airline policy which has been successfully adopted in Australia. I shall be most interested - as I am sure most honorable senators will be - to see what the decisions of the Government of Canada are when it gets to the point of establishing a ministry of aviation and possibly to the point of adopting something in the nature of a twoairline policy in that country.
– I ask the Minister representing the Postmaster-General whether a statement issued by the Postmaster.-General on Friday last concerning a proposed review of developments in relation to television stations, included this paragraph -
The Government has a long-standing policy that country licences should as far as possible be held or controlled by interests independent of the interests of the metropolitan licensee and preferably by interests local to the scene of operation of the station.
Is it to be assumed from the fact that this statement relates to country licensees that preference is hot to be given to local interests in the case of metropolitan stations, or is this assumption wrong?
– The paragraph read by Senator Kennelly sounded remarkably like part of a statement issued by the Postmaster-General, and it is in conformity with Government policy. I must confess that I am not clear in my mind about the kind of information that the honorable senator seeks. I think it would be better if he put the question on the notice-paper so that I might get the information for him.
– Has the Minister for the Navy seen a press report which stated that evidence was given to the Parliamentary Joint Committee of Public Accounts to the effect that the Department of the Navy had under-spent its appropriation by £529,873? Did the Navy receive from the Treasury in 1962-63 an amount of £1,565,000 for equipment, stores, ammunition, missiles, &c? Is it a fact that only £1,035,127 was expended, leaving an amount of £529,873 unexpended?
– The estimates passed by the Parliament for expenditure by the Department of the Navy during 1962-63 totalled £48,890,000. Subsequently, additional estimates for the department totalling £510,000 were agreed to by the Parliament, making a total allocation for the Navy of £49,400,000 for the year. Of this amount, £49,392,000 was expended by the Navy, leaving a total under-expenditure of £8,000 over the whole field which, I think, indicates a percentage expenditure of 99.9 recurring of the amount estimated, or rather more.
Within quite a number of divisions of the total vote, there was under-expenditure. One of them was the division to which the honorable senator referred. Underexpenditure in that case was due to nondelivery of equipment of various sorts from the United Kingdom. But we had alternative avenues of expenditure already arranged, because we knew from experience that this position was likely to develop. We were able to expend that money in other directions to acquire equipment; otherwise we would have had to put off such purchases for another year.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General. Has the PostmasterGeneral or his department entered into an agreement for the installation of Japanesemanufactured public telephones which, after installation, will remain the property of Victa Telecommunications Division Company Proprietary Limited? If he has entered into such an agreement, and the agreement is in writing, will the Minister table a copy of it in the Senate? Will the Postmaster-General explain the position of the department, the subscriber and the company under the agreement? What is the reason for allowing the company to make hiring charges to subscribers for the use of the telephones, instead of the department providing similar telephones of its own? What is the value of a telephone provided by the company? What is the annual hiring charge made by the company for one of its telephones? What duties, charges or taxes are payable by the company on the importation of such telephones? Is the telephone or any part of it manufactured in Australia and, if so, by whom? Finally, how many of these telephones have been installed pursuant to the agreement?
– The question asked by the honorable senator is a long and complex one which requires a good deal of statistical information. I should like him to put it on notice. I do not know whether or not such an agreement as that to which the honorable senator has referred is in existence, but I’ can assure him that it is not usual or proper for such agreements to be tabled.
– Has the attention of the Leader of the Government been directed to an article in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ of yesterday’s date by Mr. Staniforth Ricketson, who, as honorable senators will remember, has been quoted quite frequently by members of the Opposition from time to time because of his comments on the Budget? One matter Mr. Ricketson mentioned in this article was that company reports continue to show gratifying results, helping to build up public confidence. He then went on to say -
Once again I quote from this fairly long article. Mr. Ricketson said -
In framing its Budget the Government adopted a much more statesmenlike attitude.
Has the attention of the Leader of the Government been directed to these statements? If not, will he have a look at the article and, perhaps, also show it to the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate?
– I read the newspaper article with great approbation. I felt no wonder that Mr. Ricketson had risen to a position of influence in the commercial community. I think that what he says is the opinion commonly shared by those who are well-informed on financial matters.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. Is it correct that the Prime Minister has agreed to a request from the Tasmanian Premier to reconsider a proposal to establish a thermal power station in the Fingal valley in Tasmania? If so, will the Minister inform the Senate of the particulars of the proposition submitted to the Prime Minister? What were the financial terms sought by the Tasmanian Premier? What are the prospects of the Commonwealth Government providing money to build such a developmental project to exploit the resources of Fingal valley as a means of stabilizing the economy of that district? Should it not be possible for the Commonwealth alone to finance the construction of the thermal station in this area, could the Government share the cost of construction with the Tasmanian Government on a 50-50 basis?
– I am not quite certain of the recent developments in this matter. I remember it coming forward some months ago from the Tasmanian Premier. The proposal was to build a power house which could not produce power at anything approaching an economic rate. The proposed power house would produce power at a cost very much higher than that at which Tasmania was producing power from its hydro-electric scheme. In those circumstances the proposal did not appeal to the Commonwealth as being one in relation to which it could fairly be asked to contribute. If, as Senator Cole says, the Premier of Tasmania has re-submitted the proposal, I am sure the Prime Minister will consider it.
– I address these questions to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry: Is it correct that the Prime Minister has been asked by the Tasmanian Government to make available an officer of the Division of Agricultural Economics to investigate irrigation schemes in that State, and agricultural development in the north-eastern part of it? If so, has the request been acceded to by the Commonwealth? If it has, when will the officer be made available?
– It is true that earlier this year the Premier of Tasmania asked the Prime Minister whether the resources of the Division of Agricultural Economics could be made available to investigate irrigation and agricultural development projects in, I think, the south-eastern and north-eastern parts of the State. The Premier of Tasmania was informed that the division was heavily committed for the immediate future but that the request would be considered when the current programme had been completed. I understand that the division is now examining some details of the projects and that it is likely that the investigation can be undertaken early in 1964.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service. Whilst I acknowledge that the Minister for Labour and National Service has stated that he has no power to intervene in regard to the loss of pay by waterside workers last Anzac Day, will his colleague in this chamber express an opinion as to whether the Minister believes that participation in so solemn a commemoration as that which is held that day should be denied to waterside workers, most of whom are ex-servicemen and some of whom have distinguished military records, because of some action they have taken in civilian life on a day other than Anzac Day?
– I am certainly not prepared to express an opinion about what the opinion of the Minister for Labour and National Service may be. I suggest that, if Senator Cavanagh desires to know the opinion of the Minister, he should either write a letter to him or place his question on the notice-paper.
– Has the Minister for Customs and Excise seen a recent press comment in which concern was expressed to the effect that, as a consequence of the new sales tax provisions, Norfolk Island will suffer as a tourist resort and the economy of the island will be adversely affected? Does this fear stem from a completely false understanding of the new provisions? Will the Minister give some assurance that bona fide tourists will still be able to obtain the same duty-free concessions that apply to any person who enters Australia from any other country?
– I have read the article to which the honorable senator refers. The position was that the sales tax legislation provided that goods which were imported into Australia from Norfolk Island were exempt from sales tax. A trading practice was developed by organizations in Norfolk Island whereby goods were imported into the island from overseas and then sent straight on to Australia. The goods entered Australia free of sales tax. The new provision stipulates that goods or articles which are produced or manufactured in Norfolk Island shall be free of sales tax on entry into Australia. That has closed up the bolt hole which enabled people to import goods from overseas into Norfolk Island and then send them on to Australia.
– That was only after the legislation was passed.
– I am sorry, but that is not so. Sales tax proposals come into effect immediately they are announced. There has been no alteration whatever in Customs policy. The same Customs provisions obtain in relation to people entering Australia from Norfolk Island as apply to anybody else who enters Australia.
– I ask the Minister representing the Prime Minister whether he is aware of any request having been received from any authority on the Darling Downs, Queensland, for the establishment of a university at Toowoomba. Will the Minister refer my question to the Prime Minister and the Treasurer so that an estimate may be made of the cost of establishing a university at Toowoomba?
– I have not seen, nor have I any knowledge of any such request, and if there is no request there is no purpose in making an estimate. If the honorable senator puts his question on notice we will be able to make quite certain that I am correct in saying no request has yet been received.
– I address to the Minister representing the Treasurer a question relating to the provision for the remission of income tax in cases of hardship. Can the Minister advise the Senate of the yardstick by which hardship is measured in these types of cases? I suppose there is some taxation which does not impose hardship. What tests are applied in any application for relief from tax on the ground that it causes hardship? Are many such applications received? More importantly, are any of them granted?
– The honorable senator sets me a difficult task when he asks me to define “ hardship “ which would obviously be relative to the circumstances of the particular person and the time at which the hardship is alleged to have occurred. I do not know that there are any set standards, nor do I know whether there are many applications or, of the applications which are made, how many are granted. The best I can do is ask the honorable senator to put the question on notice. I shall then do my best to get such information as is available. In saying that, I feel sure that the Treasurer himself would have as much difficulty as I experience now in denning precisely what “ hardship “ means in a general way.
– I preface a question addressed to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General by saying that after completing taxation returns city dwellers are able to lodge them in a box provided by the Taxation Branch. Country people are not in the same position. Will the Postmaster-General give favorable consideration to having a post-free mail bag placed at each post office for the purpose of transporting taxation returns to the various taxation processing offices in order to place country residents in the same favorable position as city residents in respect of postal charges on such material?
– The Government is always in favour of making available to country people facilities similar to those that are available to city dwellers. Whether or not the proposition suggested by the honorable senator is feasible. I do not know, but I remind him that certain provisions contained in the current Budget remove a great many people from the income tax field while others grant reductions of tax which will make it possible for a great many more people to receive tax refunds through the mail. I think that these people generally would be quite happy to get their returns posted as quickly as possible.
– In addressing a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, I refer to the bounty of £3 a ton on superphosphate provided for by the current Budget. I refer also to the recently announced wheat stabilization plan which has been very favorably received in South Australia by both the farmers and the consumers of wheat products. I ask the Minister whether I am right in assuming that the superphosphate bounty will have no effect on the guaranteed price for this season’s wheat crop. What effect, if any, is it likely to have on subsequent guaranteed wheat prices and on prices for flour and milling by-products?
– The honorable senator is right in assuming that the superphosphate bounty of £3 a ton will have no effect on the present home-consumption price, which has been announced as 14s. Sd. for the 1963-64 crop, for the very simple reason that the superphosphate required at the time of the sowing of that crop was in the ground before the Budget was presented. However, the bounty will affect the assessed cost of production and the guaranteed price in future seasons. The new agreement is similar to the previous agreements which made provision for a wheat cost index. This took into account the prices actually paid by the farmer in the production of his crop when the home-consumption price of wheat was being assessed.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General. What action does the Minister propose to take in respect of the several petitions placed before the Senate this week praying that television services be made available to the northern areas of Western Australia? Will the petitions be considered by the Government together with submissions made previously by honorable senators on both the Government and the Opposition sides? Will the Minister inform the Senate whether any arragements have been made or any decisions have been reached by the Government to provide television services in the areas from which the petitions have been received? When the Government has considered these petitions, will a statement be made to the Senate concerning them?
– I would not like the honorable senator to think that any petition presented to the Government was not considered and was not treated with the consideration and courtesy that a petition to the Parliament demands. The extension of television to the rural areas of Western Australia has been concerning the Postmaster-General for some considerable time. He has enunciated some principles relating to the extension of television services which, I think, are supported generally by the people of Australia. The Minister has laid it down that, as far as possible, the services shall be provided by local interests, that the best possible quality services shall be made available to the people and that as far as possible, a commercial station and a national station shall have equal opportunity in an area.
But it is true to say, also, that while 92 per cent, of the people of Australia will have a television service when the fourth phase now in course of expansion has been completed, some areas present great technical, problems, and portions of Western Australia come into that category: The PostmasterGeneral’s Department is investigating various ways and means of extending the services, and I assure the Senate that when a decision has been taken as to ways and means of providing the service, a good service will be available to the people. If Senator Cooke would like specific information about any particular area, I shall endeavour to get it for him from the Postmaster-General. His question was framed in general terms.
– Yes. It is now necessary for Australian meat exporting establishments to comply with the conditions that are applicable to American meatworks if their product is to be exported to the United States of America. It is equally true to say that it is expected that the operators of most of the registered export meat works in Australia will have no difficulty in complying with the requirements of the United States market and it is safe to say, therefore, that there will be no adverse effects on the Australian meat trade in the United States of America.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service. Is it a fact that shipowner interests and other employers of waterside labour have recently circulated, at least to members of the Commonwealth Parliament, a booklet entitled “Background to the Waterfront”?
Was this booklet, which is critical of waterside workers generally and of the Waterside Workers Federation, issued after decisions of the national waterfront conference were arrived at? That conference established, among other things, the concept of industrial relations committees, altered boards of reference and the suspension of section 52a of the Stevedoring Industry Act. Does the Minister consider that by the issuing of the publication after the conference shipowners and waterfront employers have committed a breach of faith in relation to a genuine attempt to bring about harmonious industrial relations on the Australian waterfront?
– I understand that the shipowners have distributed a booklet. I have not seen it, but apparently they have, as I have received a letter from the Waterside Workers Federation claiming that the shipowners had distributed a booklet. I do not know whether the booklet was printed before or after the conference to which the honorable senator referred. There was a conference of all waterside interests to discuss causes of conflict on the waterfront and a number of other matters that the honors able senator has mentioned. I would not think there was a breach of faith in either the shipowners or the waterside workers putting before those whom they think may be interested their views as to the Tightness of their actions. I think it would be a great pity if either the shipowners or the representatives of the Waterside Workers Federation were ever to be inhibited from presenting their views, which they deemed right, for the consideration of other Australians.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Customs and Excise. Will the Minister advise me what rates of duty are payable on the importation of thibenzole, negivon, mintic and promintic, which are preparations used for the treatment of serious worm infestations in cattle? Are these rates of duty intended to protect an Australian preparation regarded as equally suitable and effective as those I have named? If so, what is the preparation? If not, what are the reasons for such rates of duty? Will the Minister give consideration to removing or reducing such duties, having regard to the fact that they impose an added cost to the treatment of cattle, a significant factor in the development of this important export industry?
– I am not able to state off the cuff what rates of duty apply on what the honorable senator has described as preparations. If the substances are preparations, I can assure him that the basic chemicals for the preparations, if they have to be imported and are not available in Australia, will come in duty free. The purpose of a duty would be to protect the formulation of a preparation within Australia.
– I direct a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. In view of reports circulating that the Country Party is pressing the Government to alter the principle of one vote one value, and proposes instead a weighted vote for country voters, will the Minister give an assurance that he will not be a party to any proposals to gerrymander the electorate by altering the existing act or by the snide method of giving backdoor instructions to the electoral commissioners who may have to prepare electoral boundaries?
Electoral redistribution is covered by an act of Parliament, and the Government will always move within the terms of that act. It will do so not only within the letter but also in the spirit of the act. One of the reasons why we would like to see a re-distribution is prompted by the fear of what might happen if the redistribution were left to the Labour Party.
– I direct a question to the Minister for the Navy. Have all the new Wessex helicopters which, I understand, are primarily for antisubmarine operations, now been delivered to the Royal Australian Navy? What is their main form of attack? What is the armament of these aircraft against the firepower of surface vessels, or against ground fire? If they have no such equipment, could they be so protected?
– The first part of the question gives me a chance to correct an answer which I gave in the Senate in reply to a question asked by Senator McClelland last week. I have already informed Senator McClelland of the correction. At that stage I was asked whether all the helicopters had been delivered and I said they had been. I was a little premature. In fact, 23 of the 27 had been delivered at the time I spoke, and the remaining four are programmed to be delivered at the end of this month, so I was about a week early.
The helicopters attack by descending to a fixed height above the surface of the sea. They hover there, lower submarine detecting apparatus and then, if they detect and plot a submarine, attack it with one of the two anti-submarine torpedoes which they carry. That is their armament for attack on submerged vessels. They have not any armament against ground fire. It is not envisaged that they would be used in operations against ground troops. They could be fitted for various types of missiles for use against surface ships but they are not a suitable type of aircraft actually to mount an attack on a surface ship, though they could do so if required.
– If they came in contact with a surface ship, what would be their protection?
– They would come in contact with it quite close to the carrier from which they were operating. They would keep out of its range and call up from the carrier fixed wing aircraft which are eminently suited to attack surface ships.
– My question, which is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration, is designed to ascertain certain information about the immigration policy. Recently, the Minister for Immigration announced that a campaign would be commenced to induce the 244,000 migrants eligible for naturalization to apply for it. Can the Minister indicate the precise form of the campaign? Is it intended to investigate the reasons offered by migrants for not applying for naturalization? Having in mind the importance of economic security, will the Minister consider listening to and recording information given during this campaign on employment and housing as they affect migrants?
– It is a fact that the Minister for Immigration has announced a campaign to endeavour to elicit the support of all those who are not yet naturalized and to encourage them to become naturalized Australian citizens. I have not yet heard from Mr. Downer details of the form of the campaign. If the honorable senator places his question on the noticepaper I shall submit it to my colleague so that an accurate answer may be provided.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport ask his colleague to continue to give further sympathetic consideration to the construction of another passenger-cargo ferry for the Melbourne-Tasmania service because of the fact that many would-be passengers cannot now obtain accommodation on “ Princess of Tasmania “, and also because the number of tourists desiring to travel to Tasmania is increasing rapidly each year?
– Yes, Mr. President, I shall bring to the notice of my colleague the question asked by the honorable senator, but I am sure I do not have to request him to give further sympathetic consideration to the provision of shipping for Tasmania. This is something in which the Government and the Minister for Shipping and Transport particularly have shown a continuing interest. I am sure that, once there is a legitimate demand for further shipping, such shipping will be provided.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs. Is it a fact that, since the appointment of Sir James Plimsoll as Australian High Commissioner in India in March this year, Australia has had only a part-time permanent representative at the United Nations in the person of Mr. D. O. Hay, who is also the High Commissioner in Canada and who is required to visit New York to perform his duties at the United Nations? In view of the fact that there are many urgent questions now before the United Nations, some of which are to be dealt with at the forthcoming session of the General Assembly, does the Government regard Australia’s representation at the United Nations as satisfactory? If not, when will the Government make a full-time appointment to this important position?
– The answer to the first part of the question is, “ Yes “. The second part of the question should be placed on the notice-paper so that the Minister for External Affairs may provide an answer to it.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral. 1 point out that I have had on the notice-paper since 23rd May last a question relating to applications made to the Postmaster-General for the approval of the transfer of large share-holdings in television companies under section 92F of the Broadcasting and Television Act. I now ask: When does the Minister propose to get around to supplying me with an answer?
– I am very sorry indeed that the honorable senator has not had a reply ere this. When the previous sessional period was concluding, I did my utmost, as the Minister representing certain other Ministers, to get the notice-paper cleared. This was one of the questions to which we could not obtain an answer at the time. I shall discuss the matter with the Postmaster-General and see whether the information required by the honorable senator can be obtained without further delay.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration. Was Mr. Nott, the Administrator of the Northern Territory, flying a kite for the Government when he expressed the view that a quota of Asians ought to be allowed into northern Australia to help develop the north? Can the Minister tell me the Government’s policy on this important matter?
– I understand that Mr. Nott was speaking some two or three months ago, as a private individual, at a meeting of a community organization in Dunedoo, his home town in New South Wales. In the course of his remarks he made some reference to the need for increased population in northern Australia. However, he was not speaking in his official capacity, nor had he any authority to do so.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs. Is it a fact that Australia has offered Indonesia its good offices to settle problems arising out of the proposal to establish the Federation of Malaysia? Has the Minister seen a report which quoted an article in “ Newsweek “ magazine to the effect that Australia has secretly agreed to put troops in Malaysia at the disposal of the British commander in the Sarawak-Borneo border area if they should be needed to help in dealing with Indonesian guerilla acts? Is this report correct? If so, does the Government consider that Australia’s interests are best served by offering to help Indonesia on the one hand and, on the other, supplying troops to be used against her? In any event, will the Minister give an assurance that Australian troops will not be used in this area and for the purposes suggested unless they are used pursuant to the requirements of an open and public treaty obligation?
– I am not aware of any specific offer of good offices, though of course the Australian Government is always ready to do what it can to assist in maintaining peaceful relations in its part of the world or, indeed, anywhere else. I have not the slightest idea whether or not what Senator Hendrickson has described as the report of a report in another newspaper is true. The other matters he raised involved matters of policy, which are not proper subjects for parliamentary questions.
(Question No. 51.)
asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice -
– The AttorneyGeneral has supplied the following answers: -
– Pursuant, to section 29 of the Air Navigation Act, I lay on the table the following paper -
Air Navigation Act- Third Annual Report by the Minister on the administration and working of the act and the regulations and other matters relating to civil air navigation, for year 1962-63.
– I move -
That the paper be printed.
At the outset, I congratulate the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) on making this report available to honorable senators before the consideration of the estimates of expenditure for this financial year. The fact that this report is tabled at this time reflects great credit on him, his department, and the officers concerned. The annual reports of the Department of Civil Aviation could serve as models for many other departments. The reports contain a mass of information on the whole field of aviation and make possible intelligent consideration of the departmental estimates of expenditure. My only regret is that other Ministers do not seem able to make reports available as expeditiously as does the Minister for Civil Aviation.
Two of the worst offenders are the Minister for National Development (Senator Sir William Spooner) and the Minister for Health (Senator Wade). The former administers acts which require the tabling in this chamber of reports by the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority, the Joint Coal Board, the War Service Homes Division, the Australian Atomic Energy Commission, and the River Murray Commission. Of these five bodies, only the last has presented its report. The Minister for Health is responsible for the presentation of reports on the operation of the National Fitness Act, the Medical Research Endowment Act, and the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories. To date, we have not seen any of those reports. It is about time that the Government gave this matter consideration with a view to expediting the presentation of reports so that honorable senators may make a much more practical and I say with respect much more sensible approach to the debate on the departmental estimates.
Of the 84 reports required by statute, only 22 have been furnished; 62 are yet to come. I do not think that such delay is evidence of good administration. The reports to which I refer are not like those which are required only at odd periods. The law requires that they be provided each year. They should be tabled as early as possible after the end of a financial year. I trust that other Ministers will follow the very good example of the Minister for Civil Aviation. Reports that are tabled after consideration of departmental estimates do not have the same value as if they were tabled before. The Minister for Civil Aviation must be most fortunate in the calibre of his officers. I trust that the few words I have said will lead to some of the other reports being tabled soon.
– I understand that some difficulty will arise if the Senate agrees to the motion. The report will go to the Printing Committee and, in fact, will be printed. I do not want to incur that unnecessary expense but, at the same time, I do not want to truncate in any way any debate on the report. I suggest that the forms of the Senate will give us an opportunity in another way of discussing the report and that, for those reasons, the motion submitted by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Kennelly) should not be agreed to.
– I might like to reply to Senator Kennelly’s remarks when I obtain certain information. Therefore, I move -
That the debate be adjourned.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 27th August (vide page 240), on motion by Senator Paltridge -
That the following papers: -
Civil Works Programme 1963-64;
Commonwealth Payments to or for the States 1963-64;
Estimates of Receipts and Summary of 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;
Income Tax Statistics;
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 failureto 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 evening I was dealing with the benefits that had been introduced in this Budget. I had mentioned the increase to single pensioners and had commended the Government for taking this step which is one that I consider is in the right direction. On reading the speech of the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) in another placed found that on mentioning the number of people who would receive the benefit of this increase he made this rather cryptic statement: -
Of course, those not immediately eligible will know that this provision exists should they themselves ever be in a corresponding position.
Only two inferences can be drawn from that statement by the Treasurer. One is that it was a completely unnecessary statement because, if anybody lives until he reaches pensionable age, he will of necessity qualify. The other, and more likely, inference is that the Treasurer was asking people to take comfort from the fact that when they lose their partner they will qualify for the increase in pension which is paid to a single pensioner. Quite frankly, I think that is an extraordinary statement for a Treasurer of Australia to make.
I said that I would enumerate the benefits conferred in this Budget. I think I should do so. If Opposition members criticize the Budget, they should also say to the Government, if it has provided some benefits to the community: “You have done something good in this regard “. Under the Government’s proposals, widow pensioners with one or more children will receive an extra £2 a week and civilian widows with one or more children will receive an increase of £3. The payment to wives of invalid pensioners will be increased by 12s. to £3 a week. Whilst, again, this is a step in the right direction, it certainly does not confer justice on these people. A wife who has to look after an invalid pensioner, and who has not herself qualified because of age for a pension and who is not required in industry because she may be in her late fifties, will have to live on an effective income of about £8 5s. a week, even taking into consideration the increase of 12s. 6d. that will be conferred by the Government in this Budget. I ask honorable senators opposite to direct their thoughts to this matter in the future and not to wait till another twelve months has lapsed before giving justice to this section of the community. The Government ought to review the situation now. Increases have been given also to the children of incapacitated pensioners and to widows in relation to education expenses.
In the repatriation field, an increase of 10s. is to be made in the totally and permanently incapacitated pension rate which will take it up to £13 15s. a week. There is nothing spectacular about this increase and the Government should not be complacent about it. When this increase is compared with the recent marginal increase of 10s. which the judges of this country decided should be extended to workers in industry throughout Australia because of economic circumstances, it measures up very poorly. Although it is a step in the right direction it is a step that falls far short of what the real objective should be.
Some relief in sales tax has been given in the Budget but I feel it is a case of too little, too late. By some extraordinary insight, the Treasurer has just realized, apparently, that there have been injustices because of sales tax on foodstuffs. Honorable senators on both sides of the chamber will remember that members of the Opposition, particularly, over the last five years have been trying to direct the Government’s attention to the inequalities associated with sales tax on foodstuffs, and in particular those with a dried fruit content. Five yeaR after this matter was first brought to the notice of the Government the Treasurer has suddenly seen an anomaly and has taken steps to correct it. I acknowledge that it is to the credit of the Government even at this late stage, to do what it has done, but the Government is deserving of condemnation for taking so long to arrive at such an obvious conclusion.
I wish, now, to make brief reference to something which is not contained in the Budget speech but which was introduced recently by announcement with a fanfare of trumpets. It is to the effect that a £360 personal loan can be had from the banks. We were led to believe - and the general public was led to believe - that this would result in citizens being able to go to the bank and, on their good name, receive the sum of £360 to be used for purposes that they considered good and sufficient. But somebody has described the situation in this way: The only way a person can possibly qualify for one of these personal loans is to prove conclusively that he does not need it.
The officers of the banks are being beseiged with applications for these loans of £360 which people were led to believe, when the statement was made, would be of such assistance to them. The number of loans that has been granted and the amounts that have been made available are very small indeed, and this has proved to be just another damp squib such as this Government has introduced from time to time with a fanfare of publicity.
I feel that I cannot let the opportunity pass without referring to overseas investment in Australia. It will be remembered that we on the Opposition side have, for some considerable time now, been very concerned about the amount of overseas capital flowing into Australia in an unregulated way. This is something about which we have not been silent. As a matter of fact, for some years now, we have been trying to alert the Government to the dangers inherent in such a situation. We have received for our pains all sorts of uncomplimentary statements. We have been told that we did not want to expand this country and that we were trying to stifle foreign capital coming into Australia. Other people said that we did not want to develop Australia. We, of course, stuck to our guns and plugged away at this problem, believing that, sooner or later, the Government would relent. At last we have reached a stage at which the only people who are not worried about the huge amount of unregulated capital coming into Australia are members of the Liberal and Country Party Government.
I have, before me an article which appeared last week in one of the Sydney newspapers which conveys the views of a professor who has made a special study of overseas investment. Before I read extracts from the article - because I believe they should be read to the Senate - it may be interesting if I give a brief survey of a comment which was made by one of the finance editors of a leading Sydney daily. His statement, which is headed “ Refugee capital “, reads -
Professor John Ewing, of Stanford, is preaching to many of the converted when he advises Australia to do something about controlling foreign investment.
This is what the finance editor of that leading Sydney newspaper was saying, in effect: “ So what, if people are saying that we have reached danger level in respect to overseas investment. Everybody knows that.” But everybody does not know it. This Government does not know it, and it has not yet understood the danger of this form of investment. I now propose to quote from the article which contains Professor Ewing’s views, because it conveys the views of a person who at least has some qualifications in this field.
– And who has no political bias.
– As Senator Ridley suggests, this person has no political bias. The article reads -
The professor is John S. Ewing, 47, Associate Professor of International Trade and Marketing at the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California.
He is currently in Australia, with four other Stanford professors, lecturing at an advanced course for business executives, being sponsored by the Australian Institute of Management, in the Hotel Florida. . . .
I do not intend to quote all the article; in fact, I am not too happy about quoting articles at great length. But I believe I should quote the references to some of the obvious pitfalls which Professor Ewing sees in the situation that exists in Australia. The article continues -
Temporarily, at least, foreign capital in Australia has shrunk a little, from £193 million in 1959-60.
This has been due to the fall-away in investment from Great Britain, which was £105 million in 1959-60 and only £56 million in 1961-62.
Professor Ewing thinks there is a very simple cure for foreign over-investment in Australia.
He thinks foreign capital should be welcomed with open arms - so long as it goes into partnership with Australian money.
Professor Ewing believes that the Australian Government should make it legally compulsory for every £51 of foreign capital invested in an Australian company to be matched by £49 of Australian capital.
He has no time for the people who humbly beseech foreign giant corporations to start wholly owned companies in Australia and fall down in a grateful swoon when the decision is announced.
And he does not believe that a capitalpartnership law would scare foreign capital away. He points out that both Japan and Mexico have put legal clamps on foreign capital domination and they still find overseas investors coming to put up money.
The Federal Government seems split on foreign capital.
This is an important point -
The Treasurer, Mr. Holt, presumably the man in the box seat, last month refused a Labour request for an inquiry into foreign investment in Australia.
Later the Federal Opposition Leader, Mr. Calwell, moved a motion expressing concern about Australia’s “ increasing dependence on overseas investment “.
Mr. Holt again made it clear that he favours capital coming in from abroad. But the powerful Deputy Prime Minister, Mr. McEwen (who is also Minister for- Trade and Leader of the Country Party), made it equally clear that he is worried by some aspects of foreign capital inflow.
As I said earlier, I could quote this article at greater length, but I believe I have conveyed to the Senate that the Labour Party has again been proved to be right in attempting to alert this Government to some of the dangers that are associated with the intrusion of too much foreign capital.
The dangers are obvious not only to the Labour Party but also to people who are quite impartial and who look at our political and economic affairs in an absolutely detached manner. Surely the Government cannot afford to ignore the advice of people who possibly have spent the greater part of their lives studying the impact of foreign capital on other countries. It is interesting to note that Professor Ewing referred at length to the position in Canada and the deep bitterness which existed in that country when suddenly it awakened to the fact that the United States of America owned most of its large industries and that Canada herself had little or no influence over them. He said, in effect, that in no circumstances should the Australian people place themselves in a similar situation. I hope, Sir, that we will not do so.
I have studied the printed copy of the Budget speech which was circulated to honorable senators. Quite frankly, I found it to be a mixture of mumbo-jumbo, incantations and banalities. At page 3 reference is made at great length to grants to the States and the Australian Loan Council’s programme. The same matter is referred to again at page 10, for some extraordinary reason. I understand that [some weeks before the Budget was presented a statement was given to the press about loans to the States. Reference to this subject occupies a considerable amount of space in the Budget speech, for a reason I am quite unable to determine. The Treasurer claims that grants to the States have increased by £17,000,000 to a record total of £272,000,000. My reaction to that statement is to ask: “ So what? What is the Treasurer trying to prove? “ It is the same as saying that a family which consisted of three persons in 1954 and seven in 1959 ate two pounds of butter more in the latter year. The increase in grants to the States is only the result of natural expansion. What else would we expect in a country that has been bringing in migrants at the rate at which they have been entering Australia? Would we expect grants to the States to be reduced? Of course we would not. Such a statement is characteristic of the trivialities that appear throughout the Budget speech and which are relieved at infrequent intervals when the Government’s proposals in regard to social services, the bounty on superphosphate, and one or two other matters are mentioned.
Let me deal with the standardization of rail gauges. We have been informed by the Treasurer that it is now proposed to provide all the money that will be necessary for the standardization of the rail gauge from Broken Hill to Port Pirie. I am astounded at this announcement, because honorable senators will remember quite vividly that on four occasions last year I proposed, on behalf of the Opposition, motions which invited the Government to provide this money for the people of South Australia. Actually, I was more modest in my proposals, because I asked only for sufficient money for the work to be commenced. Now the Government has decided to provide the full amount of £26,000,000.
– Are you disappointed?
– No, I am not, but I am astounded when I think of the attitude that you and your colleagues adopted last year. Do not forget that only eight months ago I submitted the fourth of those proposals in which I asked the Government to take action. On every occasion that I proposed such a motion supporters of the Government voted against it on party lines. It might be of some benefit if I were to remind the Senate of what I said when I concluded my remarks after I had tried unsuccessfully for the fourth time to induce the Government to do something about the matter.
I said this, which is recorded in “ Hansard “-
I have a feeling that work will be commenced on the line between Broken Hill and Port Pirie within the next twelve months. I have that feeling because I believe the people of South Australia want the work to be done. They demand that it be done in the interests of the State. I believe the people of South Australia, the press of South Australia and the business interests that are so vitally concerned in the question of markets will join with those of us who want to press this matter in seeing that some action is taken by the Commonwealth Government.
Sp the Government has not taken me by surprise in connexion with this matter, and I am still not convinced that this action was taken because the Government wanted to take it. I am convinced that it was done because of the overwhelming weight of public opinion in South Australia which was marshalled behind the Labour Party when it took the stand it did late last year.
– It was done to win a by-election.
– As Senator Cavanagh suggests, this decision might have a slight association with the Grey byelection.
– lt had a close association with that event.
– Yes. I remind myself also that Senator Paltridge, who appears to be somewhat amused at the moment, had a lot to say about the Premier of South Australia.
– I am extremely interested. I am just taking a note to decide whether I should reply to you or not.
– I hope you do because you replied in a very hostile way on the last occasion when I brought the proposition forward.
– You cannot show that I have ever been hostile to a rail standardization proposal in Australia.
– You were hostile to both myself and Sir Thomas Playford.
– That is a completely different thing.
– As a matter of fact, you were also hostile to the proposition.
– Yes, you were. When the South Australian Government
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator McKellar) - Order! The honorable senator will get back to the debate.
– I am sorry. I was only trying to satisfy Senator Paltridge. When the South Australian Parliament asked the Senate to provide, not the full amount of £26,000,000, but just sufficient money for the work to be commenced, Senator Paltridge was hostile and voted against granting the request of the South Australian Parliament.
– I was hostile about the tactics employed.
– It was quite obvious that you did not like a lot of the things done. You accused the South Australian Premier of grandstanding.
– Would you dispute that proposition?
– Yes. In addition to that, you said -
Picture the scene for yourselves, Mr. President and honorable senators. Picture the House of Assembly meeting, prayers being said, the Leader of the Opposition rising with a motion already written out and the Premier making the most unctuous speech that has ever been delivered in any Parliament of this Commonwealth, supporting the Leader of the Opposition by arrangement, and then by special arrangement seeing that this piffle was sent to South Australian senators by 4 o’clock that afternoon.
– That is right on the ball.
– That was your attitude to the request of the South Australian Parliament for sufficient money to commence work on standardizing the rail gauge between Port Pirie and Broken Hill.
I want to say a word or two now about immigration. I notice from the Budget speech that the Government has set a target of 135,000 immigrants for this year. I have no quarrel with that. I would like to see higher targets set, but I remember quite well that some five years ago the Government stated that it would set a target of 135,000 each year and that it had expectations of achieving that target, but it found that, because of the policies that it had pursued, unemployment had become rife and so continuous in this country that it could not proceed with an immigration programme at the tempo that this country required and for which it had planned. The Government had to reduce its immigration programme. The target of 135,000 provided for in the Budget represents nothing more than the restoration of the quota which the Government had hoped to achieve five years ago. I would like to see the number of immigrants trebled, if that were possible, for I believe that it would be in the interests of this country to do that. Indeed, it is a tragedy that we should have ever had to curtail the immigration programme of this country which requires so much development and expansion. I hope that the problem of unemployment which has been sitting squarely on the shoulders of this Government ever since it took office in 1949, will not again inhibit the immigration programme of this country. However, I see in this Budget no tangible demonstration that the Government has any firm plans for the cure of unemployment in Australia, and it1 seems inevitable that when the schoolleavers join the work force, as they will at the end of the year, we shall be facing the year 1964 with between 100,000 and 125,000 registered unemployed. This is a chronic position which the Government has failed to adjust ever since it came to office.
In the few minutes left at my disposal, I have only these final words to say-
– Famous last words!
– They are not famous. As a matter of fact, I shall be quite honest and say they are not even original but I think they do at least convey, as well as it can be conveyed, the general attitude of the people of Australia towards the abortive Budget which we are discussing at the present time. The Budget demonstrates the undeniable fact that the Country Party governs Australia. That is made clear by the facts I enumerated at the commencement of my speech when t said that the thread of the Country Party’s influence can be clearly seen running through the benefits the Budget proposes to extend to the Australian people. Beyond that, the Budget belongs to the past. It gives little hope for the present and no hope for the future.
.- I support the motion that the Budget papers be printed, and I oppose the amendment. In the amendment moved by Senator Kennelly the words “ failure to make adequate provision for defence, education, housing . . .” are used. I consulted the Oxford Dictionary to check the meaning of the word “ adequate “. It gives two definitions of the word. One is “ proportionate (to the requirements) “; the other is “ sufficient “. The housewife or head of a business budgets for the needs of her family or of his undertaking proportionately to the sum of money at her or his disposal for expenditure. Proceeding on these sound lines, the Government has studied the needs of our Commonwealth and has arrived at a proportionate allocation of expenditure.
The Opposition may have had in mind the second definition of “ adequate “. Of course, the home-maker desires to give her family all that will suffice to meet their requirements, and the head of a business desires to expend all the money that would be sufficient to prosper and develop his undertaking; but both are practical and realistic people, and, knowing that they have only a certain amount of money to spend, decide that they must use it wisely and well. This has been the wise decision of the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) in drawing up his Budget. I submit that the Opposition’s criticism of the Budget is unfounded and that its proposals, which promise sufficient to meet all the needs of every one, are unrealistic and impractical.
The fact that the national economy has been brought to its present stage of prosperity and stability is due entirely to the wise and consistent administration of this Government during all the years it has held office. The members of the Opposition have described this Government’s financial administration as having followed a stop-go programme. I think that we can be thankful that when circumstances demanded it restriction was applied. But never, under this Government, has the country been brought to a halt as it was in the days of nation-wide strikes and stoppages.
Others of my colleagues have shown clearly the steady progress made in national development, primary and secondary industries, trade and exports. Others have spoken of the sound programme for the continued development of our defences and the other excellent features of the Budget.
Some critics have said that the Budget does not cater for the needs of “the little people ‘.’, a term used by members of the Opposition. I prefer to regard all Australians as equals - neither great nor little - and I contend that the Government has so regarded them and considered their needs. Those responsible for maintaining our industries - both primary and secondary - and for providing employment, have received some assistance. Those who are educating their children and who are desirous of buying a home will be helped immensely by the great step forward made by this Government in increasing the scope for investment by the savings banks. They will be permitted, now, to invest up to 35 per cent., instead of 30 per cent., of their depositors’ balances in housing loans.
Most thankfully I say that the Government is helping those who are in the greatest need - the civilian class A widow with children and the single pensioner. I join in the satisfaction expressed by Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin, Senator Wedgwood and many others in voluntary organizations in all States who have been advancing this cause for a long time. With them, I congratulate the Government on these provisions because they and I have spoken many times of the urgency of the need to help the class A widows and their children. The increase in payments to these women proposed in the Budget will be of very great assistance to them. The pension will be increased from £5 10s. to £5 15s. and for the first time, the Government has introduced what has been called a widowed mothers’ allowance of £2. Further, the widowed mother will receive 15s. for her first or only child as well as 15s. for each of her other children. It is estimated that the cost of the new allowance and the increased rates to which I have referred will be £3,882,000 for the year 1963-64. Further, there is to be an increase of 10s. in the pension of the class B and class C widows from £4 12s. 6d. to £5 2s. 6d. The estimated cost of pensions to be paid in 1963-64 to widows in all categories is £20,582,000.
It is most pleasing that widows will receive further help in that the benefit payable in respect of the first and all other student children of the family will be extended from the present age of sixteen years to the end of the year in which the child attains the age of eighteen years. This extension will apply, also, to the student children of the married invalid pensioners and the recipients of the tuberculosis allowance.
It is very gratifying that it is proposed to increase the single invalid pension by 10s. and the allowance for the wife of a married invalid by 12s. 6d. Of course, there is also an increase of 10s. in the age and invalid pensions for single persons. As a result of these allowances and the Increases in the age and invalid pensions, and having regard to the increasing .number of pensioners, the total expenditure on these benefits is estimated to be £201,053,000. There is no doubt that this Government can continue to be justifiably proud of its record in tha field of social services.
I was most interested in a subject mentioned by Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin in the Senate last week when she asked for help for babies afflicted by cystic fibrosis.’ Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin spoke of the splendid work being carried out at the” Melbourne Royal Children’s Hospital by Dr. Charlotte Anderson, a world authority in this field. From Dr. Anderson, I have gleaned the information that there are 150, . babies in Victoria at present suffering from this fibrocystic disease, 120 of whom are being treated at the Melbourne Royal Children’s Hospital clinic. In the case of 80 of the 120 babies, the inhalation apparatus spoken of by Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin is being used. This apparatus is a clinical air pump and it costs £30. The real problem, I gather from Dr. Anderson, is concerned with the solution used in the pump because of its high cost, which is continuous, and. the difficulty in obtaining it. I understand, also, that, of the 65,000 babies whom it is estimated will be bom in Victoria each year, twenty to 30 will be afflicted by this disease. So I add my plea to that of Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin that the Government consider ways and means of helping the parents of these unfortunate babies to care for them.
I turn now to another group of unfortunate human beings - the refugees. These hapless people - men, women and children - are homeless and unwanted. It was with pride that, at the recent Citizenship Convention organized by the Department of Immigration, those present heard great praise bestowed oh the Australian Government and the people of Australia by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, His Excellency, Mr. F. Schnyder Since the Second World War, Australia has received over 272,000 refugees. This is a greater proportion in relation to our population than the number received by any other country. The High Commissioner praised also a continuing feature of this : Government’s immigration policy relating to the admission to Australia of handi– capped persons. There is no doubt that ‘ the new-comers to Australia who have arrived during the operation of our immigration scheme have made a valuable contribution to the nation.
The Citizenship Convention provided an opportunity for many of our naturalized Australians to tell of their life in this country, the part they are playing in development and of their eager participation in our voluntary community services. I welcome the statement that the immigration target for 1963-64 is to be raised by 10,000 to 135,000 immigrants. I assure Senator Toohey who mentioned this figure that applications already received indicate that this target will be reached, if not surpassed.
There is another group of migrant people of whom 1 would like to speak. This description of Papuans and New Guineans may be surprising. Nevertheless, their migration from one part of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea to another has an important bearing upon Australia’s endeavours to help these native peoples. Australia has a most difficult task to perform in the Territory, and it is a matter of much gratification that the grant to the Administration of Papua and New Guinea is to be increased by £5,250,000 to £25,250,000. The Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) has stated that this is the highest proportionate increase of any major item in the Budget. This is evidence that the Government recognizes the tremendous responsibility of the task of assisting these people to make the huge leap forward from primitive conditions to twentieth century standards and ways. The march of history is forcing their development but I hope most fervently that international impatience will not make the pace too rapid.
Australians should be extremely proud of the work that is being accomplished in the Territory by the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck), by the Administration, by private individuals and by the missions. During my recent short visit to Papua and New Guinea, I was privileged to see much of this work. I saw the development of health services, the education of children, the education of natives in agricultural methods and in the breeding of their indigenous pigs, and the stocking of their rivers with fish. I saw the encouragement of their copra, coffee and cocoa plantations and, of course, the immense developmental projects such as the Rouna hydro-electric scheme. I saw also the dam which is to be opened shortly by the Prime Minister.
I should like especially to mention the patient formation of local government councils. I was privileged to attend a local government council meeting where the 30 New Guineans, with their president and secretary, were discussing estimates. They were conducting that discussion with a great deal of concentration and efficiency. I doubt whether their effort will be matched by that of all honorable senators when the departmental estimates of expenditure are before this chamber in a few weeks’ time. I learned also that this idea of developing their ability to administer their own municipal areas is making tremendous progress. In one area we were told that, as recently as 1948, two tribes were violently hostile to each other, but that each now has a local government council. The two tribes are considering merging into one so that they may better develop their area. In Rabaul, three councils now propose to join together, voluntarily reducing the number of their representatives in order that they may dovetail the development of their own individual areas.
Of course, the difficulties in Papua and New Guinea are most daunting, but everywhere I met cheerfulness and a determination to continue the task. I was struck, too, by the mutual goodwill between the Europeans and the native Papuans and New Guineans. Often it has been said that the modern young people lack the spirit of adventure. There in the Territory I met dedicated young people serving in schools, hospitals, welfare services and patrol offices. They were people of whom we could all be most justly proud and I am glad to pay a tribute to them. I met also plantation owners of all age groups, all keenly interested in the development of the Territory. I hope that Australia may continue her guardianship for some years to come.
I maintain that this Budget does provide for all people under the care of the Government, and with the continued wise and experienced leadership of our Prime Minister and his Ministers, and the high courage and determination of our people, we go forward into another year of steady growth and development. For the reasons I have outlined,
I am convinced that the motion should be supported and that the amendment should not be agreed to.
– I rise to support the amendment proposed by Senator Kennelly. This amendment condemns the Government for its failure to make adequate provision for defence, education, housing, health, social services and northern development. The amendment continues -
The Senate is also of opinion that the Government’s failure to provide for full employment, for increases in child endowment, which have remained stationary in respect of the second and subsequent children since 1948, is wrong and unjust.
There are two main conclusions that one can reach about the Budget. The first comes from the reaction of the press throughout the country when the Budget was announced. The attitude of the press was a glaring change from the impression it had gained from the tone at Canberra. For example, the press had given a long list of improvements which the community would be able to enjoy when the Budget came into effect. In fact, almost every Australian newspaper promised over-all increases in social services. There were references also, because of the growing public discussion, to the need for expansion and growth. The press anticipated also that there would be some general tendency to expand Australia’s economy so that in this modern world we could take migrants from other countries.
I should like to refer very briefly to the sort of reaction to the Budget that occurred in press circles. For example, on 13th August, the Melbourne “ Sun NewsPictorial “ said that the Budget was not as brave or exciting or as full-blooded as most of us hoped for. It said that the Government was risking hardly anything to give the people encouragement. The “ Age “ in Melbourne said of the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt)-
Nothing in the Budget can be described as spectacular or likely to lay him open to a new charge of stop-and-go practices.
The “ Courier-Mail “ in Brisbane reported -
Mr. Holt’s fifth Federal Budget has disappointed expectations that it would give some relief to taxpayers in general and apply other concessions that would be helpful to private enterprise in fields of secondary industry.
The “ Mercury “, Hobart, said -
The concessions made are sound and welcome, but as a whole the Budget is not inspired.
The second observation that I want to make concerns, obviously, the influence that Labour Party policies have had upon the approach that this Government is making, particularly in relation to social services. The “Financial Review” of 15th August, 1963, stated in an editorial - with reference to the Budget -
First, it has put the finishing touches to a programme of political piracy which has enabled the Government to reap the full benefit of popular Labour thinking in just about all areas of economic policy in recent times.
It continued -
There is scarcely one point which Labour put forward in the election campaign of 1961 which the Government parties have not seized upon and incorporated into their own policies since.
It added -
Removal of sales-tax from a wide range of foodstuffs was yet another plank in Labour’s platform.
It seems to me that these are conclusions of the sort that the average person in the community would form about the Budget. It has been fairly popular in recent days for people to talk about the need for national expansion and the urgent need for some general developmental works. As a matter of fact, some members of the Government parties have made certain ventures in the press on this question. I quote from an article which appeared in the Adelaide “Advertiser” of 25th February this year in which the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Bury) was reported to have made comments about the general position at that time. The article states -
Mr. Bury said the Australian economy had picked up a good deal, but remained listless after the “ shock treatment “ of 1960. “ Business is not bright, nor too bad,” he added. “ Yet surely something vital is missing - vitality itself.” “We cannot afford to become a nation of Micawbers waiting for our future to turn up,** he said. “To emerge from our current groove and measure up to our position in the world, we will have to begin thinking in new dimensions.”
New, careful planning of big cities, industry and ample water supplies were urgently needed.
A national development project, like the Snowy Mountains project, was needed.
These are the sort of basic conclusions which I form, and I have no doubt the average Australian reaches the same conclusion about this Budget. There is no question, of course, that the thinking behind the measures for improvement announced in the Budget has been influenced by the 1961 election. This Budget follows very closely the programme then announced by the Labour Party. Senator Sir William Spooner, when speaking during the Budget debate on 21st August, replied to Senator Kennelly’s criticism of the proposal to pay pension increases only to single pensioners. At page 105 of “Hansard” of that date he is reported to have said -
That is being done on the advice of social workers throughout Australia who say that the best way in which to improve social service benefits is to give any increase to those who are most in need.
We all know that community organizations in the industrial, commercial and social service fields have made representations to the Government. The pension increases that have been granted are very meagre.
Frequently during debates in this chamber honorable senators opposite refer to a statement made by Mr. Monk, the president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, on the subject of employment. The A.C.T.U., like other organizations, has made certain criticisms of the Budget. So that we may be sure of the way in which the industrial movement regards the Budget, let me refer to statements made by Mr Monk on 13th August last. He said -
The Budget speech of Mr. Holt was disappointing in many fundamental characteristics. He apparently, on behalf of the Government, has accepted the position that there should be a static unemployed figure of 80,000 of the work-force, and has given no indication of special measures to remove high pockets of unemployment in Queensland or provincial centres in other States. The assistance to be given to the States is inadequate.
Alleviation of anomalies in various classes of pension benefits and small increases in some categories, whilst commendable, will not do much to assist the desperate position of those endeavouring to exist on small incomes or pensions.
The Government might call this a small income Budget, but it will keep people on small incomes still on the breadline. It does very little to make the Government or any one else feel comfortable about expanding the economic development of Australia, meet housing needs, create better educational facilities, or improve the standard of living of the people as a whole.
The Budget adds a few “frills” for the many, but in total does very little to create greater confidence or incentive for the great majority of the people, whereas the Treasurer has stated . that the gross national income figure has increased by 8 per cent. This should have warranted his doing much more to increase prosperity and alleviate the position of the poorer sections of the community.
One of the criticisms which ought to be taken into account in considering the budgetary measures is that of the Returned Servicemen’s League. The national president of the R.S.L. said on 15th August - lt is ironic, however, that many T.P.I, pensioners who also receive a part service pension would get an additional 10s. for the T.P.I, pension and lose it from the service pension because of the means test.
I wish to refer briefly to the reaction of the industrial movement in Australia to the general economic policies of this Government. I propose to read from a report on the 1962 International Labour Organization conference, which has been tabled in this chamber. In referring to the position regarding the age pension in Australia, the leader of the trade union delegation to that conference said -
Moreover, in many countries old people retired on pensions have great difficulty making ends meet: their pensions are small and tend to lag behind increases in the cost of living. This has relevance for Australia and is a matter about which the Australian Council of Trade Unions has become increasingly concerned. There was a time when Australia led the world in the economic care of the aged, and we have had long experience in this field.
At page 49 of the report he stated -
The percentage of Australian national income devoted to social service needs generally is now well below comparative figures for most of the other industrialised countries.
If there was any doubt about the way in which the Australian trade union movement viewed the situation, it should have been dispelled by the comments to which I have referred.
One of the most glaring omissions from the Budget is an increase in child endowment. Although endowment for the first child was provided in 1950, there has been no change in the rates since the LiberalCountry Party Government has been in office. During its administration, thirteen budgets have been introduced without the rates of child endowment being increased. At the same time there has been great pressure from all sections of the community in connexion with the urgent need to increase child endowment, but nothing has been done. One might think that, had the Government desired to create pre-election appeal, this is one of the things it would have proposed.
As Senator Breen stated, the rate of pension for the class A widow has been increased. We approve that action, but the fact is that if such a widow who is under 45 years of age becomes, in fact, a class B widow because her youngest child reaches a certain age, she must wait five years before she may receive any pension. I am pleased to note that, during the Budget debate in another place, reference was made to this matter. It seems to me that if social workers in this field had made representations to the Government, they would have made an issue of this aspect of social service benefits.
– The Government has ignored them.
– Obviously, the Government has ignored this particular aspect.
The Government has confused the position regarding employment. Over the years, we have become accustomed to hearing supporters of the Government say that there are quite a lot of unemployables, or that the employment position is not so serious as we might think because only 1.5 per cent., 2.8 per cent, or 3 per cent, of the work force is unemployed. They have said, “ That is not a serious position in a country that is expanding “. What we have to decide for ourselves is whether the whole community can feel confident about the policies of the Government in respect of the economic development of Australia and its plans for improvement, particularly regarding the problem of unemployment. If the Government suggests that the percentage of unemployment is not very high and we should not worry over much about it, does it mean to imply that unemployment is a matter of expense or of saving money? According to the “ Hansard “ report of 22nd August, Senator Marriott stated -
The Commonwealth Government and the State governments must realize that we are living in an era of specialists and skilled tradesmen, and that is an important factor in the problem facing us. Most of the unemployed are not skilled tradesmen, and I think the Government could well look at this problem. Possibly it could make a special grant for these people. I deal with a number of them and one cannot get them a job although they are good, decent, honest Australians. They are not skilled for any of the work that is available.
Some people are inclined to say: “ That is the situation. Let us forget about it.” As is well known, the Australian Labour Party has been directing attention to the great rise in unemployment. May I refer to figures taken from a publication issued by the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics, entitled “ Finance - 1962-63 - Preliminary Bulletin”? At page 13, reference is made to the Commonwealth National Welfare Fund. The figures indicate that in 1958-59 the cost of unemployment, sickness and special benefits was £8,652,000. I have checked the actual cost of unemployment services at that time, and it was £5,959,000. In 1959-60, unemployment cost the country £5,006,000. Unemployment and sickness benefits amounted to £7,253,000. In 1960,-61, unemployment benefit payments totalled £4,469,000 and sickness benefit payments £7,140,000. In 1961-62, we expended £15,905,000 on unemployment and sickness benefits, of which £12,637,000 related to unemployment benefit alone. In 1962-63, unemployment and sickness benefits totalled £14,657,000, of which £10,650,000 related to unemployment. It is estimated that in the current year unemployment benefit payments will amount to £7,000,000.
It must be concluded that we cannot talk about unemployment simply as a percentage of the work force, so small as not to worry anybody. In the world of to-day we must face up to the provision of many skilled persons for industry and development. We must train young people and put them into employment. The Government’s White Paper on the Australian Economy of 1963, at page 9 states -
The labour situation still has unacceptable features. Unemployment is still too high, especially in some areas and amongst some classes of labour. In particular, it is evident that some young people have been finding it hard to obtain regular work. On the other hand, shortages of some classes of skilled labour have grown rather than diminished. Some relief has been found in the flow of skilled migrants and the prospects there are, for the time being, good - notably as regards migrants from Great Britain.
We have a great deal of unemployment. We have young people who left school at the end of 1962 but cannot get jobs, and we are relying on skilled persons coming from overseas. The Reserve Bank of Australia in its report for 1963, stated, at page 5 -
However, unemployment is still too high. It is necessary to follow through with policies to encourage the growth of economic activity and to realize the potential for expansion of the economy presented by the high level of new entrants to the work force in years to come.
Nor can we overlook the need to raise the quality of the work force, at all levels of industrial and commercial organization. In the longer run, growth depends on many factors; but with the advance of science and technology, standards of education and the up-grading of skills have become of increasing importance.
Statements of this kind must be taken as warnings to governments. The bulletin “ Technical Manpower “, which claims to report to the nation on the activities of the Science and Technology Careers Bureau, and is a very useful document as those of us who receive it know, stated in its June issue, under the heading, “ Frustration “ -
This year almost 700 students who had passed the necessary matriculation exmination were prevented from entering the universities of Melbourne or Monash because there was no room for them in the faculties for which they were qualified and to which they had applied for entry . . . Australian education systems should be designed to give every one the opportunity to develop his or her natural ability to its highest level and the present situation is a direct negation of this concept, since the provision of places in universities is limited to about 600 per 10,000 of those in the age group concerned.
The bulletin went on to refer to the application of quotas. During the year the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology could not take people who wanted to enter it. In an article in the Melbourne “Sun News-Pictorial “ of Friday, 17th May, the following reference is made to a statement by the secretary of the Trades Hall Council, Mr. Jordan -
A quota system might have to be applied to the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. . . Mr. Jordan said that 20,000 were enrolled at the institute now, with 25,000 expected in 1970. Some of the equipment was 50 years out of date.
Mr. Jordan also said that the union movement had observed that there was no room for sons and daughters of working-class people to get into the institute because of overcrowding. A certain important manufacturer had offered to provide accommodation but the Commonwealth Government would not make available money for the purchase of the building.
It is of no use to dismiss persons registered for employment as percentages of the work force. Anybody who looks at the figures must give some thought to the solution of the problem. The “ Monthly Bulletin of Employment Statistics “ No. 257 of April, 1963 provides the following particulars of persons registered for employment -
Those are the numbers of persons who have put their names on the register. They do not include those people who find it hopeless to obtain employment by these means. Our registered unemployed number about 80,000 or 90,000 workers.
This is very bad. The Australian Council of Trade Unions has issued a number of criticisms of the position. It is of no use for any one to say that the president of the A.C.T.U., Mr. Monk, some years ago made a prognostication about the percentage of workers who would always be unemployed, when we find that regularly Mr. Monk and other important spokesmen of the trade union movement have criticized the general unemployment. On August 19th, Mr. Monk is reported to have said -
There was still a static figure of nearly 80,000 unemployed in Australia. Unless the figure was materially reduced within the next three months it would increase to about 100,000 in January, when school-leavers registered for employment.
On 15th January, Mr. Monk is reported to have said -
The increase of 20,000 unemployed during the past month was not surprising, considering the registration for unemployment benefits by thousands of school leavers. The A.C.T.U. has repeatedly drawn the attention of the Federal Government to the fact that its short term measures have had a temporary, but no fundamental effect on unemployment.
The leader of the A.C.T.U. delegation to the International Labour Organization Conference in 1960 stated, at page 60 of his report -
The Australian experience has been that, during the past two years, while our percentage of unemployment was, and still is, substantially lower than that of most of the other industrialized countries, unemployment rose in Australia, owing principally, we believe, to a mistaken economic policy of restriction embarked upon deliberately by the Government . . .
There should be no question of this. Every time the subject of unemployment is brought up somebody refers to a percentage. I would like to know who decided that there should be a percentage. What is the datum line, the base in relation to a percentage of unemployment? Has it ever been examined? What advisory body decided the figure? Has any survey been made? As far as I know there has been no investigation of the position. Nobody can tell me the categories included in the unemployment figures of 1.5 per cent, or 2 per cent. Other unknown factors are how long a person has been out of work and whether he is a seasonal worker or one of the floating population of workers. No statistical investigation has been made to find out what is a reasonable quota of unemployment in a modern community.
Recently the Minister for Labour and National Service, speaking in another place iti relation to the number of people under 21 who were unemployed, cited figures showing the position as at 26th April. He said that the number of people under 21 out of employment was 27,107, or 30 per cent, of the total of 87,000 who were registered for employment at the time. In South Australia there were 527 males and 1,544 females. The- Minister said also that there were still some thousands of last year’s school-leavers who could not find employment at that stage. This is the position when Australia is needing the maximum amount of technical and trade experience.
Every time this Government gets into a position where it is short of apprentices and skilled labour it places the onus on the trade union movement, and on labour generally, to find a solution. In effect the Government says, “ We have not got enough boilermakers, fitters or turners, what can you do about it? “ Notwithstanding that the situation has been created as a result of the Government’s own economic policies. The uncertainty that arises from a policy of stop and go not only affects manufacturers and producers, who are hesitant to take on further apprentices for training, but also affects every section of the community. Among the work force itself, people lose their confidence. The result is a situation such as occurred this year when the Government convened special conferences of interested bodies, including representatives of the Labour movement, in an endeavour to find a solution to the unemployment problem.
The Minister for Labour and National Service is reported in the Adelaide “ Advertiser “ of 2nd April as having said in Sydney on 1st April that jobs for youths who left school last year were becoming available at the rate of 15,000 a week. We know, of course, that that statement is just fantastic because, if it were true, there would be no unemployment amongst young people. We know that the number of people under 21 who are unemployed represent 30 per cent, of the total and that many of these people are still looking for employment. They should not only be trained in certain skills, but they should be ushered into occupations where those skills are needed.
On 19th June the Minister for Labour and National Service referred to the shortage of apprentices. In the “ Advertiser “ of 20th June the following statement appeared -
A shortage of workers to man machines was one of Australia’s biggest industrial problems - and “ a brake on our progress” the Minister for Labor (Mr. McMahon) said to-night.
Australia needs an additional 10,000 apprentices over the number we are getting every year.
That is the situation that has been created, but the view of leading spokesmen of the Australian Council of Trade Unions is that it has been produced by the Government’s economic policy. I support the amendment moved by Senator Kennelly.
– I rise to support the Budget and to oppose the amendment which Senator
Bishop has just said that he supports. The Budget is not simply an end of the year balance. It is not a statement such as one might expect an estate agent to produce showing the rents collected, rates and taxes paid and the balance in hand. It is, in effect, an account of the stewardship of the Government of this country. This Budget is an account of very good stewardship during the last twelve months. More importantly, it sets out the projects of the Government, not just for the year ahead, but for many years to come.
It is not my intention to deal in detail with specific items of social services or taxation because there will be opportunities to do that later on when specific enabling acts come before the Senate. I will just sketch, in the broad, some of the items contained in the Budget. I am sure that honorable senators will agree, when they consider the Budget quietly and soberly, that it does provide an answer to some of the problems that Senator Bishop has just raised. I was very interested in the honorable senator’s contribution because I know that he has spent a life-time in the industrial movement. He quoted extensively from opinions, newspapers and financial reviews, and made reference to statements by Mr. Monk and others. They were somewhat unconnected but, generally, his intention seeemd to be to prove that the Government was responsible for unemployment. I consider that that was a most extravagant statement or generality in the speech of Senator Bishop because, after all, the Commonwealth Government is only one factor amongst many others in the complex set-up in Australia. The actions of individuals throughout the country have a good deal to do with prosperity. I consider that it is the function of the Government to creai/2 en economic climate in which various organizations, individuals, unions and producers can carry on their activities.
Let me mention in passing, but in no great detail, some of the things that this Government intends to do to stimulate the economy and bring about the production of real wealth. These things will, of course, lead also to an expansion in employment opportunities. I mention, first, the superphosphate bounty of £3 a ton which will be paid to farmers, graziers and others who are prepared to help themselves. I refer, also, to the proposed increase of £5,000,000 in the capital of the Development Bank which will enable loans to be made to the bank in cases where it is obvious that production will be increased. As Senator Bishop and others have mentioned, social service benefits are to be increased. In any one budget, no government with a sense of responsibility can make increases all around the board. Even though such increases might be desirable, it is not possible economically to grant them, but the fact that 516,000 out of 786,000 aged and invalid pensioners will receive an extra 10s. a week is quite significant. The fact that civilian widows with children will receive at least £3 a week more is equally significant. The Government has shown great intelligence in the manner in which it has increased social service payments. The effect of the abolition of the sales tax on foodstuffs, which has been advocated by members of the Opposition and backbench members of the Liberal Party and the Australian Country Party should be acknowledged. The sum of approximately £11,000,000 which the housewives will save, as it were, will be spent in other directions. Thus spending at the domestic level will be stimulated still further. It is very interesting to note that the Government has agreed to a complete exemption from the payment of estate duty when an estate valued at up to £10,000 passes to the wife or members of the family of a deceased person. In addition, the rate at which exemptions will diminish is to be reduced and they will cut out possibly at about £20,000. This will be a very real benefit.
I do not think the Senate wishes to hear more about the particularities of the Budget, because they have been fairly closely canvassed by preceding speakers. Let me remind honorable senators, however, of this important statement which was made at the conclusion of the Budget speech -
More and more these days we have to think ahead and act for the future and that necessity, more perhaps than anything else, has shaped the budgetary scheme I have outlined and many of the larger proposals comprised in it - the lift in the immigration target, the developmental projects, the bounties and the tax concessions aimed at improving productivity.
I emphasize that. The speech continued -
Our economy is moving strongly onward. 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 forward without departing from its steady course.
That is the theme which runs through the Budget proposals. I believe that the problems which honorable senators opposite have mentioned will be solved by this steady, forward movement of our economy. In my opinion, the steady stimulus that this Budget will give to the economy will not result in the stop-and-go state of affairs that has been mentioned by Senator Bishop and other honorable senators, and which we all deplore and fear. We do not want a stopandgo economy, which could well be the result of over-stimulation by a budget.
Let me refer now in some detail to the idea of thinking ahead and of acting for the future. We must realize that this is not a budget for a municipality in relation to which we would be rubbing shoulders with other municipalities. Nor is it the budget of one of the six States of the Commonwealth. This is the Budget of a nation which is rubbing shoulders with the rest of the world. The searchlight of world opinion is focussed on the state of our economy. I should like to discuss for a minute or two the image of Australia as it is seen through the eyes of the rest of the world, particularly South-East Asia.
What are some of the primary indicators of the state of our internal economy? I think I can do no better than to refer to some of the points that were made so logically by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) last night in the House of Representatives. He directed the attention of the House to the fact that in the last year gross national expenditure had risen by 10 per cent, and that the cost-price level as reflected in the consumer price index had remained stable. The ensuring of that state of affairs is one of the very great contributions which the Treasurer has made in his budgetary planning. Last year personal consumption expenditure rose by £245,000,000, or 5 per cent. As I said earlier, the consumer price index remained stable. That is a measure of the progress which Australia has made in the last twelve months. Private fixed capital expenditure rose by 13 per cent., including an 8 per cent, increase on dwellings, and was 4 per cent, higher than any previous rise in our history. It is most stimulating for us to remember that those rises occurred while the price index remained stable. If the price index had not remained stable or had risen in the same ratio or to a greater degree, we would have been in real trouble and unemployment would have been a real economic problem that we would have had to consider in preparing the current Budget.
The number of houses and flats approved in July this year was 9,465. In the same month last year the number was 8,200 and in July of the previous year it was 7,000. As the Prime Minister rightly said, this is a tremendous symptom of development. Our overseas reserves stand at £626,000,000, with a second line drawing right of £223,000,000 from the International Monetary Fund. That is an excellent sign of the good husbandry and credit-worthiness of this country. Wages paid during the last twelve months increased by £210,000,000 or 6 per cent. I repeat that during that time the consumer price index remained stable.
I pass now to the state of the economy as it affects the States. Senator Toohey referred to payments made to the Stales as being trivialities. He referred also to the dispute with Sir Thomas Playford last year over the failure of the Commonwealth to include in its Budget provision for £900,000 for the standardization of rail gauges. I should like to bring the Senate up to date by pointing out what Sir Thomas Playford has said this year in the South Australia House of Assembly, as reported in the State “ Hansard “ of 8th August. He referred to amounts that were made available by the Commonwealth, particularly to South Australia. Discussing the 1963-64 meeting of the Australian Loan Council in June, he said that it had adopted a totally new borrowing programme of £272,000,000, which was an increase of £22,000,000 over the programme for 1962-63. He admitted, of course, that this was supplemented by £5,000,000 in February, 1963, and, although he did not have occasion to mention it at that time, I understand that it was further supplemented by £20,000,000 at about the time of the Australian Loan Council meeting. He also said -
This was the largest annual increase adopted by the council for many years and is evidence of the success of Stale Ministers in convincing the
Commonwealth that the maintenance of employment and the provision of essential State public works were dependent upon a more liberal programme.
So that at the moment, the image of the Commonwealth Government as seen by the Slates, is that of a government that has met their requirements. I understand that there was an atmosphere of unanimity and complete approval at the Loan Council meeting held last June. I do not join with Senator Toohey who says that the Commonwealth’s contribution is a mere triviality. I think that the contribution made to the States this financial year is outstanding and, as a South Australian, it gives me very great pleasure to refer to the generous provision made for that State this year. When we consider that the population of South Australia is 9.3 per cent, of that of the Commonwealth, and that the general revenue grant to that State of £51,000,000 out of a total of £469,000,000 for the whole of Australia represents well over 10 per cent. - it is approximately 1 1 per cent, of the total - and that the amount granted rose from £39,000,000 in 1960 to £51,000,000 in this year, it must be admitted that, despite the Commonwealth Government’s current problems and its defence responsibilities, the Commonwealth is granting a most satisfactory increase year by year, and Sir Thomas Playford has acknowledged that fact.
As a South Australian, I acknowledge, too, with great approval the provision of money for both the Chowilla dam project and South Australian rail standardization programme. I was very interested to hear from (he Minister for National Development (Senator Sir William Spooner) that the agreement between Victoria, South Australia, New South Wales and the Commonwealth relating to the Chowilla dam is about to be signed. I would welcome the early introduction of that agreement for ratification by the Senate.
I come now to the image of Australia as seen by the world and refer first to the budgetary provision for defence. Defence expenditure this year will amount to £251,000,000, an increase of £30,000,000 over the amount spent last year. It is interesting to note that our defence expendi- ture has increased fivefold since 1949-50. This increase has been made necessary by developments that have taken place in South-East Asia and because of Australia’s obligations under the South-East Asia Treaty Organization and the Anzus Pact, and the responsibility this Government bears in connexion with the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. Part of the increased sum is required for further defence activities by this Government in that Territory. We must always remember that, together with the United States of America and New Zealand, we have to play our part in the defence of this part of the world, and I am in full accord with the Government’s defence allotment. It is all very well to say that the proposed expenditure is not enough. In fact, nothing is adequate these days, but I do approve of the careful way in which the projects have been chosen and I congratulate the Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton) upon the astute way in which he has put forward the claims of the Navy and upon the information he has from time to time given the Senate, and through the press and radio, the people of Australia, in connexion with naval developments. His image is often presented to us on television, when he is announcing further naval developments.
The next matter with which I wish to deal relates to the allotment for Territories, because the United Nations Organization had focused a searchlight on our activities there, and what we do has an influence on the image as seen by countries outside Australia. It should be remembered that there are now very few territories in the world left under the control of another power. Australia is responsible for the welfare of Papua and New Guinea and Nauru and, naturally, what this Government does in those Territories becomes world news very quickly. I am pleased to note that the Government has allotted an additional £5,000,000 for the development of Papua and New Guinea. Side by side with this financial allotment is the abiding interest of the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) in the cultural and political development of the people of those Territories, and I am confident that, because of our activities in the Territories, the rest of the world sees a very good image of Australia.
Recently it was my privilege to be one of a delegation of twelve back-bench members of this Parliament to visit South-East Asia. The delegation consisted of six representatives from the Government side and six from the Opposition side. It visited six countries. It was a very hard-working and happy group. I think that every member of it was pleased at the way in which the people of South-East Asia looked upon Australia. As time presses on, I cannot deal in detail with the whole of the visit but I should like to mention three matters which are more or less chosen at random. Firstly, I am sure the Senate will bc glad to know that South-East Asia gets a very good impression of Australia as a result of the activities of the Australian Broadcasting Commission’s short-wave station Radio Australia. It should be interested to know, too, that in Indonesia Radio Australia is listened to probably more than is the local Indonesian station. Radio Australia especially features the programme entitled “ Listeners’ Choice “. The Indonesian people are writing a very large number of letters to the commission in Melbourne. In the commission’s office in Melbourne I have seen the letters piled up on a table. Radio Australia receives about 250,000 letters a year from all over the world. I understand that all but 12,000 of these 250,000 letters come from SouthEast Asia and that about 80 per cent, of the South-East Asian letters come from Indonesia. I understand, too, that the Government’s educational programme over this station, by which it seeks to teach English to the Indonesians, has been responsible for the distribution to the people of Indonesia of over 1,000,000 booklets to enable them to follow the lessons that are being given. When we consider that it possibly costs each Indonesian the price of a meal or two to airmail a letter to the Australian Broadcasting Commission, we cannot help but feel that Radio Australia has excited in the people of Indonesia a very active interest in this country.
I was very interested to discuss with the people of South-East Asia their reception of the programmes from Radio Australia. As I said in the Senate last Thursday night, I hope that the Government will see lit to improve the efficacy of the signal from this radio station which, as honorable senators know, is situated at Shepparton, in Victoria. 1 sincerely hope that an urgent move will be made to transmit the signal from some point nearer to South-East Asia, perhaps from some point in the north-west of Western Australia or the north of the Northern Territory so that listeners in South-East Asia may receive a clear and dependable transmission. In that way the signal will be sure and dependable.
Another image of Australia, seen from the outside, is provided by the Qantas service. Wherever we went where there was a Qantas service, we found it was held in high regard for its regularity, the courtesy to passengers and the efficiency of the ground staff. Another good image of Australia is presented by the servicemen wherever they are. In the north of Malaya, at Butterworth, we saw the Royal Australian Air Force men, their wives and families, and we saw the Army at Malacca, south of Kuala Lumpur. The image it presents is very good for Australia.
One establishment is indicative of the personal sacrifice made by our servicemen. At Malacca, there is a building which cost £5,000 or £6,000 which was subscribed entirely by the men of the Australian Army. This building is used to teach gymnastics and other pursuits to the children of Malacca. Each week, 40 to 50 men roster themselves to carry out this work which is done entirely by the men in the ranks for the local inhabitants and the people of that area. The behaviour of the Australian servicemen, their wives and their families, contributes to this good image of Australia:. We saw them in Thailand where they were on exercises with the South-East Asia Treaty Organization forces. Their bearing in the city of Bangkok was highly commented upon by the Thai authorities.
I should like to pay a tribute to the Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton), one of whose interests as assistant to the Minister for External Affairs (Sir Garfield Barwick) is the Colombo Plan. I can assure him that the work that is being done under the Colombo Plan in the development of feeder road services in north-east Thailand is something that will redound to Australia’s credit for a long time to come. These feeder roads enable the populace to get rice and other products to market and will bring economic preferment to these people. Engineers from the Snowy Mountains Authority have been co-opted by the Department of External Affairs to carry on this work and they are bringing great credit to Australia.
I could mention many other examples of the high esteem in which the image of Australia is held in the parts of South-East Asia to which I have referred, but my time is almost expired and I wish to conclude with a reference to the Department of External Affairs. I am glad to say that the work of this department is extending. A chancery is being established in Tokyo and another in Djakarta and undoubtedly the officers of the Department of External Affairs are doing great work in South-East Asia. The emerging countries, with their new departments of external affairs, are learning a good deal from the excellent department we have been able to organize and train in less than a quarter of a century. One of the great problems of South-East Asia is to develop maturity in their communications with other countries of the world. The Australian Government, through the officers of the Department of External Affairs, is helping Asia very considerably to develop maturity in external affairs. It gives me great pleasure to support the Budget, but, for reasons that I have given, I oppose the amendment moved by the Opposition.
– In considering the Budget, one feels like saying to the Treasurer (Mr Harold Holt), “ For these small mercies, we thank thee “. When we analyse the Budget, there is far more than appears on the surface. There are little bits and pieces throughout it and their total effect should be to hold the present inflationary trend. But I must oppose any budget, whether produced by a Liberal government or a Labour government, until some justice is done to the mentally ill pensioners; until there is a realistic defence policy; and until the payroll tax is abolished.
The awful thing about this pathetic Budget, apart from the subservient toadying to the Australian Country Party, is its deplorable lack of a national concept. I refer particularly to defence and the problem of exports. Let me, first of all, say a few words to the Government regarding its persistent and peculiar attitude to the mentally ill pensioners. The Government very generously and quite rightly has raised the pensions for those living alone but it still refuses to help those who are admitted to mental institutions. I suggest we could ask any honorable senator or any member of the public and all would agree that the mentally ill should retain their pensions. I do not think there is any doubt on that question. Why then does this Government persist in its archaic and inhumanitarian attitude in that it believes that there is a difference between the mentally and the physically ill? I do not know how long one has to plug away at people to get it into their heads that the mentally sick are just as sick as the physically ill, and there is no difference between the two groups.
When I took this matter up wilh the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton), he wrote me the usual letter, and I gathered from it that there were two reasons why this could not be done. His first statement was that it has always been the rule to exclude the mentally ill from pension benefits but he did not give the reason why. It has been the practice for years, so we continue it! The second reason that I got out of the letter was that perhaps pensioners in mental institutions could not control their finances.
– That is right. They get their pensions taken over.
– But surely it does not require loo much ingenuity for a Minister to work out a system by which the Master in Lunacy or the Public Trustee could look after the finances of a pensioner in a mental institution and still let him have the pension.
– That is a matter for the States.
– Let the Commonwealth Government do its share and the States will do theirs. There is not one State in the Commonwealth which would not introduce legislation to protect any pension given to the mentally ill.
– Did you act in this matter when you were the Treasurer of Tasmania?
– I did not realize how stupid a man the Minister for
Customs and Excise is. How could a Minister in any State bring in this legislation when the Commonwealth had not agreed to it? Until such time as the Commonwealth Minister agrees to pay the persons concerned these pensions, what use is it for the State Ministers for Health to do anything?
– You would not give the pensioners two bob pocket money and you were State Treasurer for twelve years.
– i was not Treasurer for twelve years.
– It was nearly twelve years; it seemed like twelve years.
– I am glad that you realize that. As I said before, State governments will bring in legislation if they are asked to do so. So I must take it that members of this Government are little men - little in their own minds - because they are not prepared to do something with which every Australian would agree.
Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m.
– Just before the suspension of the sitting I was informing the Senate of the two peurile reasons given to the House of Representatives by the Minister for Social Services as to why pensioners in mental institutions should not be permitted to retain their pensions. I was rudely interrupted by another Minister who put forward the rather startling idea that State governments should legislate in the matter before the Federal Government gave consideration to what they proposed to do. Let me just repeat what I said. I do not think there is a member in this chamber who would disagree with my assertion that the mentally ill should be treated like the physically ill. If that is the case, the mentally ill should retain their pensions just the same as the physically ill. I point out that we have Masters in Lunacy and Public Trustees who could handle the affairs of these pensioners.
I believe also that all State governments would be prepared to legislate to ensure that these matters were safeguarded. I can only take it that members of the Government, being responsible for this position, because I know that most honorable senators are in favour of it, must be men of very little minds. It is inconceivable to me that men’s minds could be so little in view of the justice of the case I have presented.
I now change the subject and speak about our blind policy in regard to defence I know that there has been an increase in the amount allocated for defence. We have been told by an honorable senator that since 19.49 this vote has increased fivefold. The speaker forget to mention that since 1949 the value of money has decreased at least two and a half times, so all we can really say is that since 1949 - in the last fourteen years - we have increased our defence expenditure two and a half times. I feel that there must be some one in the Government with vision who is prepared to say that we must do something about it. Apparently no one in the Government has realized that the winds of change that we talk so much about as sweeping through the various dark continents are now raging at gale force. So far as we are concerned they have also blown away not only public opinions about different matters but also our dependability and our security.
We have no one at all at present who will defend us. We can ask ourselves whether we are necessary to any nation. Are we necessary to the United Kingdom? It would not matter to the United Kingdom if we were absorbed by some foreign power. It would not matter to the United States of America if we were absorbed. The only people who really would be interested to absorb us would be the Indonesians. I am not one of those who put up their hands in horror and say, “ But they are our friends “. They are not our friends. Let us face it. There are far too many Chamberlains around this place, both in this chamber and in another place, who say that the Indonesians are our friends, but the day that it suits them they will march into New Guinea and then march down here. They are the people we have to look after. What else can a government do when it cannot raise the standard of living of its own people but develop a war. To any one who has read history it is obvious that over the years the way of dictators and governments to get out of their own domestic troubles has always been to have an international affair on their hands.
Let us face it; we are expendable. In Australia, we have our defence experts, and we are told that they believe that we have given them enough, but do our defence experts really believe that our few small ships and our too few planes and our miserably minute Army are sufficient to defend us? After all, we know that they could do no more than protect us against the Eskimos.
– How do you know?
– Of course, I bow to your superior wisdom. All honorable senators know that the Government is culpably negligent in regard to our defence problems. Must we always have as first priority the safety of our seats and the political safety of our Government so that we can be returned here, rather than have the defence of Australia? Numerically our Army is less than the strength of one division, although its fighting power is equal to about one and a quarter divisions. That is all we have in our Army.
– Who told you that?
– You can check that, if you want to.
– Where did you get your figures?
– I am sorry for the honorable senator. If members of the Government do not really know how many we have in our permanent forces they should shut up and not interject. If they would only take the trouble to find out how many men we have, they would learn that it is less than one division; that is, if the honorable senator, from his past distant war service, knows what a division is.
I feel that it is time that we increased our defence forces. The only thing we can do is to reintroduce compulsory military training. I am a strong believer in compulsory military training. I feel that it must be introduced so that we will have an effective reserve. I. and I am certain many others, disagree with the service chiefs and those, with whom Senator Mattner agrees, who say that money used for compulsory military training could be used for better purposes. Could there be any better purpose than to see our young men learn to defend our country, to see our young men increasing their standard of hygiene and health? Those reasons alone would be sufficient to have compulsory military training. It is well known that the hygiene of boys undergoing training improved tremendously. It is well known that their health improved and that each one gained a stone in weight while in camp. To me it is a useful purpose if the’y can build up their character with the discipline imposed upon them in the Army.
To me it is also important to have this training so that the boys understand the point of view of others, whether they are Liberals, Labour or even Independents. They mix and find out what makes each other tick. If honorable senators say it is a waste of money to do these things, I do not understand them at all. We all know that the service chiefs want to have equipment that they can show, rather than have manpower. As one very sensible Army colonel said to me, once you have taught a man to write it is a very simple matter to modernize the thing that he writes with. In other words, so long as a man has been trained to handle a gun, even if it is of an obsolete type, when he is given a modern weapon he knows exactly what to do with it. I think it was Senator Marriott who said that the service chiefs know best. To me that is a ridiculous statement.
– I did not refer to service chiefs.
– You usually sleep so much that I suppose you did not hear yourself. We have also been told that the Government knows best. People who tell me that Cabinet knows best make me think that they are omnipotent. When we consider what happened in 1960, I think every one will realize that the Cabinet does not know best. I do not believe for one moment that the service chiefs know best. After all, every one can make mistakes. I would go so far as to say that compulsory military training should be not only reintroduced but also extended, and that the boys of today should be given at least one year’s training in the armed forces. Australia is spending 2 or 3 per cent, of its national income on defence. I am sorry that I do not know whether it is 2 per cent., 3 per cent., or 4 per cent. There seems to be some dispute in another place about what our national income is. We now have a new concept of income: It is what we receive plus our loan funds. So honorable senators will just have to give me a margin of from 2 per cent, to 4 per cent, because
I am not sure what our national income is under the new system. We have a leeway to make up. We are so far behind that we must spend the equivalent of what the British and the United States spend over the next few years, that is, somewhere between 8 per cent, and 10 per cent. I know it is hard because no one wants to spend money on defence. This huge expenditure will not bring in any votes.
My third reason for opposing this Budget - I have only three - is because of the payroll tax. This is what I would call a poll tax because it is a tax on the number of people you employ. If ever there was a golden opportunity for removing this tax, this Budget had it. In this Budget this iniquitous tax should have been removed. It is the most iniquitous tax that has ever been put on industry. But this tax is still with us and the Country Party wins again. This tax is, strictly speaking, for city services and industry.
– And child endowment.
– I do not quite see what that has to do with pay-roll tax, unless you pay to get your children. The Country Party knows that this is strictly a secondary industry tax. If it is removed, extra tax must be paid, and I am prepared for that. I believe that if there are things we must do, we have to be taxed to do them. There is no way of getting over that position. The Minister for National Development (Senator Sir William Spooner), in reply to a question which an honorable senator had asked concerning Commonwealth aid for projects in Tasmania, stated that no aid could be given because the projects did not increase exports. Is there any member of the present Government who really believes that the pay-roll tax helps to increase exports? If it does not do so, surely the Government should remove the tax. Why has it been kept on? I know that it was introduced during the war, but nobody wants it now. It is an iniquitous tax. Yet, the Government still has it.
– As a former treasurer you should support it.
– As a former treasurer, I would increase a tax if that were necessary. I do not worry about my seat in this Parliament, as some people do. How can we compete in foreign markets if we retain pay-roll tax which has to be taken, into our cost structure? Pay-roll tax makes it so much more difficult for our exports to compete with those of other nations. Therefore, it is time that the tax was removed.
I wish to mention medical benefits and doctors’ fees. One of the shortcomings of governments is that when they introduce schemes for the welfare of the people they forget about those schemes after all the credit accruing from their introduction has been absorbed. That comment applies to all governmental schemes, and it does not matter which government introduces them. I think of maternity allowances, which have not been increased, hospital allowances which have been only slightly increased, and medical benefits which have not been increased at all. Of course, we do not fail to increase parliamentary salaries. We see that they are increased.
– What about doctors’ charges?
– I am coming to them. We have a scheme for medical and hospital benefits which was introduced to help patients pay their hospital and medical bills. In respect to item 1, in the scale of medical benefits which is the most used, the Government proposed to subsidize charges by general practitioners to an amount of 6s. a day. That was in 1952. To-day, the subsidy is still 6s., although the cost of living has gone up 116 per cent. Although the value of money has gone down accordingly, the Government has not increased the basic amount by one penny. To-day, the equivalent amount would be at least 12s. That is what the grant should be for this item. But . the Treasury, of course, would be horrified if it had to pay out such a sum. It, therefore, adopts the contemptible strategy of blaming the doctors for the failure of the scheme. Doctors’ fees must not go up, it is said. It does not matter if politicians’ fees go up by 83 per cent. It does not matter if the fees charged by every one else go up! Docors’ fees must not go up because the Government’s scheme would be wrecked. So, we cannot have the natural increase that is justly due to us.
– Is that so?
– Am I wrong in saying that the cost of living has gone up by 116 per cent.? Is it not correct that parliamentary salaries have gone up by 83 per cent.? Those are the Commonwealth Statistician’s figures, ls it wrong to say that the basic amount given by the Government medical expenses is still 6s.?
– But what about doctors’ fees?
– The doctors’ fees have gone up considerably, and I support the increase. But how have the salaries of members of this Parliament increased since 1952? According to the Commonwealth Statistician they have gone up by 83 per cent.
– By how much has the cost of living gone up?
– By 116 per cent, since 1952. As I have said, those figures have been provided by the Commonwealth Statistician.
– Do you still get doctor’s fees in addition to your parliamentary salary?
– I work.
– You get both?
– Yes. I work when I am not in Parliament. Every one knows that the difference, between the Government’s subsidy in respect of general practitioners’ fees and the Government subsidy in respect of specialists’ fees is the thing which is disturbing the public.
That is much more of a problem than the difference between the fund benefit, with subsidy, and the general practitioners’ fees. Item 1 in the scale of benefits is the one which is used most commonly and the one which costs the Government most. It is the one in respect of which the Government refuses an increase of subsidy. 1 may be wrong - and the Minister for Health (Senator Wade) is not here to contradict me - but I understand that the Government is prepared to increase the subsidy in respect of item 4, thereby allowing a specialist to be refunded more for doing a general practitioner’s work, while charging a specialist’s fee. This, to me. is the biggest sell-out by the Australian Medical Association for the benefit of the specialist.
I suppose there is nothing more important in life than a television set. If we get the television man into our house to look at our television set he charges from £2 to £4 before he even tinkers with it. If we get the plumber to come, he charges 25s. So do not tell me that the. doctor’s fee of 25s. for a consultation or £2 for a visit is extraordinarily high. I think a doctor’s visit has somewhat greater priority than the repair of a television set, although some people may not be prepared to agree. This regulation of the general practitioners by the Minister in order to bolster his own scheme is only bringing him into contempt. When hospitals increase, their charges, not a word is said by the Minister. They have had three increases since 1952. A new table is prepared as required.
Apart from raising the amount of the subsidy, the Government also could help by deleting the clause which prohibits a fund from paying by way of benefit more than 175 per cent., or one and two-thirds times, the amount of the subsidy. As honorable senators know, if the Government grant is 6s., the fund cannot pay more than one and two thirds of that amount, or 10s., making a total payment of 16s. I have not the relevant figures for this year because they have not yet been sent out, but I have figures which show that in the two preceding years but one the combined hospital and medical benefits funds made profits of £4,000,000 a year. They made a profit of £4,900,000- nearly £5,000,000 - the year before that. That money belongs to the contributors. The funds hold adequate, reserves, and this money should be given back to the contributors who provided it in the first place. According to the law - the Government’s law - that cannot be done. If the money in these funds could be used to give the patient two or three times the basic sum, instead of one and two-thirds, he would be helped considerably. It is time that something was done in this regard.
I have mentioned by way of a question to the Minister - and he refused my request on one occasion - that there should be a survey in regard to pensioners. A medical survey has been conducted in the United Kingdom and some very interesting facts have come out about the needs of pensioners and the amount of money they require. Australian conditions, however, are totally different from those in the United Kingdom. Therefore, we should have our own survey. I am certain that the Australian College of General Practitioners would be only too happy to make such a survey, just as it made a survey on national morbidity.
– Would you write an article on the trade unions in a trade union journal or a drug journal?
– This has nothing to do with drugs.
– You wrote an article-
– The article I wrote has nothing whatever to do with what I am discussing now. I am speaking of research by a group of people, whether from the Australian College of General Practitioners or some other body I do not mind. I want research to be conducted into the medical and financial needs of pensioners. This could be done by means of doctors and social workers getting together in teams throughout the country and obtaining statistics in regard to the matter, lt is not only a question of the nutrition of pensioners. It is also a question of the amount of mental stimulation they require, and their security. What they are afraid of more than anything else is insecurity. I am sure that such a survey would be a great help. I am sorry that the Minister off-handedly refused to accede to my request previously. Having asked him again, I hope he will do something about the matter.
I have praised on previous occasions the scheme whereby the Government provides £2 for every £1 that is raised by organizations for the building of homes for aged people. That is an admirable scheme but I feel that the Canadian scheme is even better. Any honorable senator who has been to Canada, no doubt, will have seen how elderly people are looked after in small homes. The schemes are registered by the Government or by councils, and the organizations concerned are paid at so much per head. They are all licensed. All the elderly people are cared for. Their menus are checked by the health officers of the city. It is nice for elderly people to be in groups of ten or twelve. I saw one group of 30, but usually the groups number ten or twelve and there are some of seven people. An elderly woman looks after each group, but if the people in the group exceed a certain number a trained sister is required. If the homes must take in sick people, they need night services, too. In other words, these people are put not in big institutions where they could easily be lonely but in little homes. This is an admirable idea, one that we in this country could do something about.
– We have similar set-ups in Western Australia and South Australia.
– They are in Tasmania, too, but he does not know.
– Who pays for them?
– They practise selfhelp.
– I am talking about homes provided by a government. That is what it amounts to. It is something different. The government or the council is responsible for the homes. Some people cannot afford to pay anything; I am thinking about those people.
I should like to endorse Senator Kennelly’s remarks in relation to the presentation of reports. To me, it is a sign of inefficiency, although it may not be so to other people, that reports dated eighteen months earlier are placed before the Parliament. There is no need whatever for that delay. If big business undertakings, such as the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, can produce a report within two months of the end of the financial year, so too can government departments. They know that this is a recurring requirement every year. There is no reason why they should not have everything ready for their reports. The same thing happened to us in Tasmania, and we demanded that departments submit reports within three months.
– And you have never succeeded in that.
– Of course, a stupid man must talk! Tasmania has succeeded in that regard. It is time that Senator Kennelly’s remarks were taken to heart and Ministers did something about ensuring early presentation of reports. Of what value is a report dated December, 1951 presented in this Parliament to-day? It is absolutely futile.
I wish to mention also the matter of questions upon notice. How can it be that questions asked on 10th April are still on the notice-paper? Since 10th April departments have been trying to find the answers.
– They are in the “ too hard” file.
– Surely the departments can provide answers. I hope that there is some ingenuity somewhere in the Public Service. Nine questions asked in the last sessional period are on the notice-paper. The Public Service has had two or three months in which to get replies, but still we have not received them. It is surprising that the last on the list is one that was answered to-day.
I wish to refer also to smoking and the lack of action by the Minister for Health (Senator Wade) in regard to advertising. The fact that he allows the advertising of fluoride toothpaste should be regarded as a black mark against him. Everybody knows that all that this toothpaste does is to provide a bit of protection outside the teeth while dental decay still goes on inside the teeth. To advertise that fluoride toothpaste will cure dental caries is so much hypocrisy and bunkum. To allow these advertisements in the press and on radio and television is a slur on the Commonwealth Government, which has power in regard to advertising.
The same applies to smoking. Time and time again 1 have asked the Minister to do something about this, but each time he shrugs the matter off onto the States. If a Minister wants to do something, he can do it. He could, if he wanted to, produce a model agreement which I am sure, the States would try to emulate. This sort of thing has been done. The Commonwealth Government has produced model agreements and asked the States to follow suit. Quite often the States do so, perhaps with modifications. The fight against smoking would gain by some activity and initiative on the part of the Federal Minister.
I support the amendment. I think that the Government must support it, because the amendment is most innocuous. It has been emasculated since it appeared in the other House. In this form, it is not a motion of no confidence. All it says is the truth: That the Government has not done much in certain respects, that it has not made adequate provision for defence, education, housing, health, social services and northern development. I think that every one agrees that the Government has not done enough with regard to those things. The amendment goes on to state -
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.
I do not think that any one can disagree with that. Therefore, I must support the amendment and oppose the motion.
– The Government is under fire on its budget proposals for 1963-64. It is very easy to rise in one’s place and say that not enough money has been spent on this and that, when one does not carry the responsibility. This year we have an almost unique situation, because the speech on the Budget, delivered in another place by the Parliamentary Leader of the Australian Labour Party, is a policy speech in case there is another election.
– Not a bad one, either.
– I am glad that the honorable senator said that. It is nice of him to do so. I studied the speech very closely, alongside a rather comprehensive report in relation to a company involved in one of the most colossal financial crashes that have taken place recently in Australia. I could not help being struck by the similarity between the thinking of the architects of that great financial crash and the thinking of the architects of this policy.
– Wishful thinking!
– As a matter of fact, it was described not as wishful thinking but as well-meaning muddling. The Opposition would apply to the economy of our nation the same principles as the architects of these colossal financial crashes applied to their ill-fated ventures.
– But you adopted our policy twelve months later.
– I shall come to that in a little while. Do not throw them all in at once; I might get excited and try to answer them. We find in both sets of thinking a total disregard for a fundamental principle of economics, namely, to ensure, before entering into commitments, that revenues are sufficient to service borrowings. It was failure to do so which paved the way for the crashes of which I have spoken, and it is the Labour Party’s wish to spend before it has the revenues which would crash the cost structure of the economy of this country.
The Leader of the Opposition in another place described the Budget as a boom, or inflationary budget. He said that there would be a bust, lt is interesting to think about this for a moment or two. For a moment, let us take seriously the criticism that this is an inflationary budget. Labour has accepted all of the benefits to the people that are provided in the Budget. All of the expenditure that will provide assistance to the people has been approved. In fact, once or twice Opposition supporters were incautious enough even to applaud it. I have not yet heard one sentence to indicate that Labour would eliminate any expenditure to lessen what they describe as the inflationary effect of the Budget. Labour has offered a stream of additional inducements which would cost millions of pounds. That is the way that it proposes to cure what honorable senators opposite have described as an already inflationary budget. We are indebted to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Senator Kennelly, for giving us one example of the Opposition’s proposals. He said that Labour would pay 10s. child endowment for the first child, 17s. 6d. for the second and 20s. for the third and subsequent children. As he remains silent I take it I have quoted him correctly. He did not mention the cost. This one item, in one year, would cost only £63,000,000! This is the way the Labour Party would cure a budget which it describes as inflationary. For one item alone Labour would incur an additional expenditure of £63,000,000!
– It can be done and it will be done.
– I am telling you that. I have been rather interested to hear throughout this debate cries of anguish from the Opposition to the effect that the Government had filched the Opposition’s policy from under its nose. We have heard that charge repeatedly. Let us go back to the vintage year of 1954. That was the time when Labour offered to abolish the means test. These great representatives of the people offered millionaires and their wives at pension at the age of 65 and 60. What is more, they propose to give them an extra 10s. as well. This all started in 1954 with the calamitous offer of the abolition of the means test. If you go through every year since then until 1963 you will find that there is not an inducement that you could think of that the Labour Party has not offered in an endeavour to change its role from Her Majesty’s Opposition to that of Her Majesty’s Government. Every inducement has been offered even, I think, the kitchen sink.
If the Government finds that next year, as a result of the rising revenues which will flow from increased business activity induced by this Budget, it has sufficient revenues to do something, perhaps, about child endowment, you can just imagine the anguished screams which will come from the Opposition about stealing its policy. The fundamental difference between the Government and the Opposition is that the Government is concerned, not about how these things can be done, but when they can be done. That is the fundamental difference between the outlook of the Government and the Opposition. When should these things be done? When the state of the economy justifies it. In 1961-62 revenue increased by £152,000,000- that is the total gross national receipts. In 1962-63 it increased by a further £90,000,000, and for 1963-64 it is estimated that there will be an additional £177,000,000, giving a total of £419,000,000. Having steadily pursued a policy of advancing the welfare of the people, when the Government has this additional revenue, it is, of course, sound and proper to grant additional facilities for the people as the revenue becomes available. I repeat that it is not a question of “ how “; it is a question of “ when “. Of course, there would be an inevitable crossing of the paths over the years because of all these
Inducements that have been offered during some five elections.
There are at least three items of Labour’s policy upon which the Government would never embark. The first one, of course, would be the socialization of industry, production, distribution and exchange - even the revised version of this item. Honorable senators know about the revised version which says in effect, “ We will not do it now”. Of course the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) had to promise at the last election that he would not do it for three years. Instead he has dressed the policy up and states that Labour will use government industry to drive private industry out of the field. That is a snide way of doing it.
– That is the new testament.
– Yes - the new testament. That is one thing the Government will not do. Another thing the Government will not do is to adopt the suicidal policy of a nuclear-free zone in the southern hemisphere. Also, the Government will never abrogate its parliamentary responsibility to an outside junta not responsible to the people and not elected by the people. That is another of the policies which the Government will not adopt - the craven surrender of the rights of the representatives of the people. We have seen that abject surrender and the acceptance of policies dictated by an outside body. The policies I have mentioned are real blots upon the history of democracy in Australia. Those are three pathways upon which Labour will walk alone.
– I will walk behind you.
– I think you might. I always thought you would be prepared to have a couple of bob both ways. At this stage of our history, it is a difficult task to ascertain the rate of growth which we can attain in Australia and which, having attained, we can hold. That is a long-term policy and one which is most difficult to forecast. But I believe that there is an urgent need to keep an ever-watchful eye on our cost structure. There are those in the community who have an immense responsibility in this field. Alongside the present yardstick of the ability of Australian industry to pay there looms another compelling consideration. It is the ability of
Australia to export. That must be given close consideration by those who carry responsibility to-day.
To obtain increased exports calls for vast promotional work overseas. The profits from the Australian market will provide the revenue necessary for this promotion. If Australian costs are allowed to rise too high the ability of Australia to export will be seriously impaired. Australia has reached the position where it is the twelfth trading nation of the world. It is not a bad position for a country with a tiny population of about 11,000,000 to be in. We have rapidly increasing secondary production. We must foster our secondary industries, because it is to them that we look to provide employment for the increased number of migrants and our school-leavers. History has shown that every rapidly developing industrial nation requires increasing imports of raw materials and modern machinery for its factories. We pay for our imports from our export earnings and with capital investment money from overseas.
For some three or four years the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) has addressed himself to this aspect of the economy. He has directed attention to the reliance we place upon investment from overseas and our use of that money to pay for that portion of the cost of our imports which we are unable to meet from our export account. He has pointed out a number of times the danger to which we would be exposed if this flow should suddenly cease. Nobody in this chamber would disagree with him on that point. If this flow of overseas capital should suddenly cease, the Australian economy and our standards of living would be exposed to great danger. But there is one danger which the Leader of the Opposition has not pointed out - that this flow of investment money would dry up if a socialist government were elected to office. That, combined with the discriminatory taxation which would be foisted upon us, is a danger which the people of Australia must take into consideration.
– They nearly did not last time.
– Weren’t they lucky! There is only one way in which we can make ourselves independent of overseas investment - by increasing our exports. If we wish to live without this money, we must increase our exports to pay for the imports that we need We could not live without it at the moment. We could not maintain our present standard of living, we could not provide employment in our factories, and we could not buy the materials we need if we were not dependent to some degree on overseas money. I hope that we will place a diminishing reliance upon this source of money as we gradually increase our exports. But let us look at the situation that obtains to-day. If we are sensible, we will be careful about the way we speak and the way we act while we are so dependent upon this money.
– You had better talk to Mr. McEwen.
– I pay a great tribute to the Minister for Trade. He has displayed great drive in increasing our exports. He sees quite clearly that the way in which we could overcome our dependence upon overseas capital would be to increase our export earnings.
– Could you not restrict imports?
– I have already stated that it is our imports of raw materials and modern machinery which provide increased employment opportunities in our factories.
– You know that is not true.
– Hello, are you back again?
– You know what is happening. They are buying out established industries, including bakeries and flour mills. You know that what you said is not true.
– Order! The Minister must be heard in silence.
– I am sorry, Sir. I just wanted to correct Senator Henty.
– Our primary industries have been our greatest earners of income overseas, but over the last few years they have seen their prices overseas reduced and their costs in Australia rise. In this Budget the Government very rightly has set out to help to reduce their costs.
– Costs have increased tremendously during this Government’s term of office.
– The proposed bounty of £3 per ton on superphosphate will help considerably. In addition, a bounty of £2 per ton is paid on sulphate of ammonia. Moreover, we now admit into Australia duty free nitrogenous fertilizer which has a nitrogen content of less than 40 per cent. All these measures will help our primary industries. An increase of £5,000,000 in the capital of the Commonwealth Development Bank also will assist primary industry. I remind honorable senators also of the 20 per cent, write-off on new machinery for primary producers, which will be in addition to the 20 per cent, depreciation allowance already enjoyed.
– There is nothing in the Budget about it.
– The Government proposes to double the exemption for estate duty purposes.
– Up to what amount?
– I am sorry that Senator Turnbull has just left the chamber. I was about to say that this increased exemption will be received gladly in Tasmania, because while the honorable senator was the Treasurer in Tasmania he imposed the highest rate of probate duty that Tasmania had ever experienced.
– He had a vested interest in it.
– You must not interrupt the Minister when he is speaking.
– Rural proprietary companies will enjoy the benefit of the additional retention allowance, which is of great assistance in building up a business. If honorable senators study last year’s Budget and this year’s Budget, they will get a pretty clear example of the Government’s planning.
– It is an example of the Government’s skulduggery.
– Order! I warn Senator Dittmer that if he does not refrain from interjecting I shall have to take some action.
– I am sorry, Sir. The Minister irritates me.
– May I continue the irritation? Perhaps it will be still more effective. Mr. President, if you study last year’s Budget and this year’s Budget together, you will see the pattern of the Government’s planning. Last year the reduction in income tax and the investment allowance meant a saving of £80,000,000. This year relief will be given to every section of the community.
– What is your proof?
– Order! The Minister will be heard in silence. That is final.
– The sales tax has been removed from foodstuffs, with the exception of confectionery and soft drinks. It has been stated in this place that the concession has not been passed on. I would strongly argue that point. Not sufficient time has been allowed for the concession to take effect. The sales tax has been removed not only from the foodstuffs themselves but also from the packaging. Packaging accounts for a large part of the cost of foodstuffs. The removal of the sales tax from the packaging materials will have a substantial effect on the cost of the goods. I know the grocery trade; I have been associated with it for 40 years. No greater fight is being waged to-day than that for custom in the grocery trade. This concession will be passed on. I have mentioned that the exemption from payment of estate duty has been doubled. I pass now to deductions for education expenses. This concession is being raised from £100 to £150, and I remind honorable senators that this Government was the first to introduce this concession for the education of school children. Again, if a family has a really bad run of sickness, ‘the allowances for medical expenses will no longer be limited to £150. In future, the sky will be the limit. If a family has a bad run of sickness full allowance will be made of the total amount of expense incurred. Another benefit conferred by the Budget is that the minimum taxable income is to be increased from £105 to £209 - almost double what it was before.
There is one other point which is of great interest to Tasmania. It is that the timber industry is to be granted the status of a primary rural producer in all stages from the bush until the time the timber reaches the mill. I have advocated this for a long time now for I believe it is something to which the timber people are entitled, because reafforestation is in fact timber farming. Reafforestation is engaged in now by all timber companies and this new status will be of great help to the industry. Of course, when the timber is processed in the mill the mill is classed as a factory, and that is fair enough.
– This was first advocated by Sir Robert Cosgrove.
– I have just told the honorable senator that I have advocated it for years. Why, eleven years ago I introduced to Sir Arthur Fadden a deputation representative of timber interests from all over Australia. The members of the deputation then submitted, amongst other requests, a request for this particular classification. They were successful in having some of their demands met. The industry has kept on asking for this recognition, and the fact that the request is now being granted proves that if you keep on battling you will eventually get what you are after.
I want to speak on one or two other matters.
– You have not got long.
– Yes I have. I have an hour.
– No, you have not.
– Yes, I have.
– If you want it like that, all right. You know what it will mean.
– It is a nice thing if the Deputy Leader of the Opposition claims an hour in which to make his speech and a Minister cannot claim an hour, too.
– You know the agreement that was made.
– The Opposition derides the proposed increase of 10s a week to single pensioners, despite the fact that it is in consonance with the practice adopted in many enlightened countries in the world. Let me remind honorable senators that there are 800,000 pensioners in Australia of whom 516,000 are single. Many of those who are now married will, unfortunately, lose their partners, and they too will get this benefit. I believe that this is an enlightened proposal which will assist hundreds of thousands of pensioners throughout Australia.
I now come to the class A widows with children. I do not think there is any honorable senator in the chamber who would not agree that the payment of an additional £3 a week to class A widows with children is long overdue. I am glad that there has been a breakthrough in this matter. 1 shall now say a word or two about our housing record. 1 point out that 36 per cent, of the houses and other dwellings now standing in Australia were erected during the lifetime of this Government. In 1949, 54.8 per cent, of the people of Australia owned their own houses. To-day 75.5 per cent, of the people own their own houses. Australia has the highest percentage of home-owners of any country in the world. Again, in 1949 there were 4.1 persons to every house or flat. In 1963 the ratio was 3.7 persons to every house or flat.
As my time is running out I shall refer to only one other matter. There are many millions of hungry people in this world who would gladly exchange the reams of airy-fairy plans and specifications that have been drawn up for a new world for the solid reality of performances of the present Australian Government backed by the efforts of the Australian people.
– The first point that strikes me about this Budget is that it makes no real attempt to improve the conditions of the family. Each year, Mr. President, we spend millions of pounds to bring new migrants to this country because we realize that we need more population to expand our industries and develop our empty north; but the Government is not paying the attention it should to helping the families who are already here and who are the greatest source of our population increase.
There is no provision for an increase in child endowment, and there has been no increase in this benefit since 1950 when an endowment of 5s was paid for the first child. In the twelve years since then, prices have more than doubled, so that the child endowment payment is now worth only half what it was when it was granted originally. This neglect of child endowment is perhaps the worst feature of this Budget. The mothers are treated by this Government as the forgotten people.
No increase is to be made in maternity allowances which still stand at the figure at which they were fixed in 1948 by the Chifley Government. At that time, they were fixed at £15 for the first child, £16 for the second child and £17 10s. for the third child. Those rates are to remain. Minor concessions are being granted by way of removal of the sales tax from food, but the. average family will benefit from this by only ls. 3d. a week. The Government can hardly expect the family to be wildly enthusiastic about that amount when such matters as child endowment and maternity allowances are neglected altogether.
Again, there is no provision for increases in the Commonwealth’s contribution to medical and hospital benefits; more importantly, no move is being made towards restoring the free hospitalization which existed under the Chifley Government. These are all matters which affect the average family man. Prolonged ill health or chronic ill health imposes a heavy burden on the family which is depending on a single weekly wage of some £20 a week. Often it imposes a burden which is too heavy to be borne.
By way of contrast with this Government’s neglect of the family I remind honorable senators that during the last election campaign the Labour Party gave specific undertakings to improve conditions for this most important group. I am rather surprised that this Government which, since the election, has copied so many of our proposals - proposals which it formerly opposed as unrealistic and inflationary - did not also copy our measures for helping the family. The Labour Party undertook to increase child endowment to 10s. a week for the first child, 17s. 6d. for the second child and £1 a week for the third and subsequent children. These increases virtually double the existing rate, but do no more than restore child endowment to its approximate value of thirteen years ago.
In .1961, the Australian Labour Party proposed to double the present maternity allowance so that mothers would receive £30 for the first child, £32 for the second and £35 for the third. Again, this was not a wildly impractical scheme. It merely represented an endeavour to restore the mothers’ allowance to its approximate value when the Chifley Government went out of office. 1 turn now to age and invalid pensions which have been increased by the Government by 10s. in the case of single pensioners only. Let me say at once that I am happy to see that some of those among the needy pensioners have received some assistance. But I deplore the discrimination shown against pensioners merely because they are married. This is a shocking thing and I hope the Government will reconsider this provision. The Australian Labour Party supports the general principle that special supplementary assistance, over and above the general rate, should be paid to pensioners in especially needy circumstances, but to distinguish between pensioners on the basis of whether they are married or not is quite wrong.
I wish to deal now, Mr. President, with the penal provisions of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act introduced by this Government. Under this legislation, individuals and unions which participate in strikes or stoppages can be subjected to heavy penalties by way of fines. Information given in reply to a question and set out in “Hansard” of 8th November, 1962, shows that penalties have been imposed on the following unions, some on a number of occasions: - Federated Ironworkers Association of Australia, Australasian Coal and Shale Employees Federation, Waterside Workers Federation of Australia, Amalgamated Engineering Union (Australian Section), Australian Society of Engineers^ Boilermakers Society of Australia, Sheet Metal Working Agricultural Implement and Stovemaking Industrial Union of Australia, Blacksmiths Society of Australia, Federated Engine Drivers and Firemen’s Association of Australasia, Seamen’s Union of Australia, Australian Air Pilots Association, Federated Gas Employees Industrial Union, Australian
Tramway and Motor Omnibus Employees Association, Australian Glass Workers Union, Federated Moulders Union, Federated Liquor and Allied Industries Employees Union, Transport Workers Union and the Wool and Basil Workers Federation. Penalties have ranged from £2,000 down to £50.
So far as I can discover, there is no legislation anywhere else in the world comparable to the penal provisions of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. There is no penalty in the same sense in the United Kingdom. They have nothing like the penalties provided under this act. Similarly, in the United States there is no penalty. An injunction can be obtained there from a court for a cooling-off, standstill period. If that injunction is not observed, then penalties are applied. An injunction lasts for 90 days and after that the unions concerned are free to strike. The only penalties are for undesirable acts which, under the relevant legislation, include such things as boycotting and picketing. In Canada the position is very like that in the United States of America and there are no penalties such as there are in Australia. There is collective bargaining and penalties are provided for the party not carrying out its side of the bargain. There are no penalties in Canada for strikes unless they fall into certain categories.
In view of these circumstances, I think the Government should consider repealing the penal clauses of the Australian legislation. The Government’s experience in trying to intimidate the waterside workers through penalties and punishments, which the Government is now being forced to withdraw, should have demonstrated by now that the coercive approach it takes will not bring industrial peace.
I turn now to the work of Senate committees. Although we do not employ committees on the same scale or for the same purpose as does the Senate of the United States of America, we have established select committees which have examined many important subjects including age pensions, the development of Canberra, the moving picture industry, broadcasting and road safety. A detailed list is contained in “ Australian Senate Practice “, by Mr. J. R. Odgers, and it covers several pages. There is a further report on the United States Senate by the same author and published in 1956. These documents can be readily obtained and both have an amazingly wide range. The United States Senate has standing committees which consider and conduct investigations into proposed legislation or other matters referred to them. Where such action is necessary, they consider the formulation of laws. Admittedly, this is a very contentious field and, with my limited experience here, I hesitate to make any suggestions for a change. May I say, however, that I believe there is great scope through the extension of the committee system for the Senate to make an even more effective contribution to Australian life.
Finally, Mr. President, I turn to the development of northern Australia. With other Queensland senators, I have seen at first hand the vast potential for expansion in our empty north alongside what I can only describe as vast neglect. The amount of developmental work carried on is inadequate, and I am not entirely satisfied that some of the work being done at present will turn out to be satisfactory. The Government has claimed credit for its expenditure on beef roads. 1 am advised that in areas where beef roads pass through black soil country and are covered by water for periods during the wet season, it is proposed that this black soil should be covered with 6 inches of gravel and then sealed. If that is so, I am doubtful whether it will be sufficient. When it is wet, the black soil will absorb moisture and the new beef roads might become impassable within a relatively short period. I would be grateful if the responsible Minister could investigate this aspect of the project. I assure him that I will be happy to be shown to bc wrong.
We need people in the north and before we get them we must have water. All honorable senators know that the north Queensland coast receives a rainfall as high as 180 inches a year in some areas on the eastern slopes of the Great Dividing Range. This water runs back to the sea in millions upon millions of gallons. Inland, however, the rainfall is from 7 inches to 18 inches in a good year and it is difficult to store water there because of the high evaporation rate of I foot a month during the summer months. But if the water falling on the coastal strip could be diverted through the mountains to our dry western areas, people and prosperity would follow as night follows day.
With all our new developments in technology, with new sources of energy being tamed and harnessed to man’s needs, I refuse to believe that nothing can be done to turn our rivers inland. That is a task which demands a new authority for the north such as the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Authority. That is what Labour wants. That is what Queensland and Australia need.
– I congratulate Senator Whiteside upon his maiden speech in this chamber. Naturally, there was in it a wide area for disagreement.
– Why qualify your praise?
– I am speaking of the content of the honorable senator’s speech. I congratulate him upon the way in which the speech was delivered. I support the Budget and congratulate the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) upon the initiative shown in the document we are debating. For reasons which I trust will be made clear as I proceed, I oppose Senator Kennelly’s foolish amendment. I am bound to say at this stage that the sudden interest of the Australian Labour Party in defence and housing especially strikes me as having all the charm of novelty.
Looking at the Budget, we find it is a statement of accounts of a most prosperous community. Stability and development go hand in hand in a budget of over £2,000,000,000. Australia’s population is increasing at a rate approaching 250,000 a year and we now have nearly 11,000,000 people. Our work force is increasing at the rate of 100,000 each year. Despite the wails, moans and misrepresentations from honorable senators opposite, most of our work force are being found jobs. Exports are at a virtually record level of £1,070,000,000. Mineral production and basic industries are at a record level. Rural production is 6 per cent, above the 1961-62 record, and my Country Party friends will be glad to know that the estimate is that farmers’ incomes will increase this year by £100,000,000.
It is clear beyond any possible, probable, shadow of doubt beyond any shadow of doubt whatever that this is a vibrant, throbbing, expanding nation. Honorable senators opposite have been unhappy. They have been carping; they have been cavilling. My good friend Senator Cohen said in his speech on this issue that the Budget has failed to generate basic demand in the community, has failed to generate confidence and has failed to encourage business out of its despondency. He said the Government has tried to explain this away by saying, “ This is no fault of ours and things are getting better again; they are getting back to where they were and we can look forward with confidence to moving ahead.” This all adds up to an allegation of a stagnant, waning economy. This is a complete picture of gloom. But that is not what Senator Cohen’s leader told President Kennedy in Washington last month.
On 25th July the Melbourne “Age” - no friend of this Government reported the Australian Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Calwell, as telling President Kennedy that nationbuilding was proceeding very rapidly in Australia. That does not seem to me to indicate a stagnant economy. He said its rate of growth was faster than that achieved by the United States of America during its greatest developmental period. The economy cannot be very stagnant. Mr. Calwell said that the President showed a very keen interest and a very deep knowledge of Australia and its problems. Of course, Mr. Calwell might have added that that is because of the great respect in which the American Government holds the Administration of this nation.
Also from the “ Age “ we find that the Labour leader, in discussing Australia’s growth and problems, pointed out that Australia and the United States were approximately the same in area, but that Australia had a population that would fit into that of metropolitan New York and had an income which was less than that of New York State. He said that with its income the Government had to run a big country and attend to problems of development, defence and other matters. That does not seem to me to indicate stagnation. The report in the “ Age “ continues -
However, Mr. Calwell assured Mr. Kennedy that Australia would continue to fulfil its obligations under the Anzus Treaty “ to the limit of our abilities.”
Senator Cohen and Mr. Calwell cannot both be right. Either Mr. Calwell was gently pulling the President’s leg, or Senator Cohen and other Labour senators are grievously mis-stating the nation’s true position. By increasing the ratio of savings bank deposits available for housing loans from 30 per centto 35 per cent., the Government has made possible an additional £72,000,000 which will be made available for housing. This is in line with LiberalCountry Party policy. It is odd that Labour now takes such an interest in housing, because Labour, being devoted to class doctrines, does not encourage home ownership. I suppose the most frequently used quotation in this place, and in Australian newspapers, over the years, has been the statement of Mr. Dedman.
Labour does not believe in workers owning their own homes because it turns them into little capitalists.
What Mr. Dedman meant, of course, was that if they own their own homes they lose their sense of militancy; they are less easy prey to the agitator; they have a stake in the country; and they are not so easily misled by the doctrines of the class war.
The Institute of Public Affairs, which has recently been critical of certain government legislation, has issued a booklet dealing with the Australian economy. That publication is called “ Australian Prosperity - How Prosperous Are We? “ and states -
Australia is one of the most prosperous countries in the world and the gains in the last two or three decades have been remarkable.
The article continues -
Some facts about our progress and living standards are -
In the 1930’s unemployment varied between 9% and 29%.
In the 1950’s unemployment never exceeded 2%.
Real wages increased by 5% in the 1930’s, compared with a rise of 30% in the 1950’s.
The average factory employee worked for fewer hours in 1960 to buy goods than he did in 1950.
Figures are then given to show that a worker had to work for 3,770 hours in 1950 to buy a motor car, but that time was almost cut in half in 1960. Real wages had risen and it was necessary for him to work only 2,210 hours. On the vital question of home ownership, in which honorable senators opposite and the Labour Party in general are now showing such a belated interest, the figures are immensely interesting. In 1950, when this Government came into power, only 55 per cent, of people owned their own homes, or were in the course of purchasing them. By 1960 that figure had risen to 70 per cent. I have not the figures right up to this moment, but I understand that to-day the percentage is even higher. The number of homes with a car in 1950 represented 33 per cent.; that figure has now nearly doubled - it is 60 per cent. Whilst I realize that honorable senators opposite had to find something in the Budget to criticize - it is part of the exercise - I do think that they should be more logical and bring a better mind to the task.
– We have never had it better in our history.
– I think that is so, senator. Substantial assistance has been given to the primary producer with the superphosphate bounty of £3 per ton. Food is now virtually freed of sales tax, a saving of £11,500,000 a year to the housewives. Unlimited medical expenses are allowed as tax deductions.
On the educational front I commend the Government for lifting the taxation deduction allowable to £150 for each child. This is of substantial assistance to people with children at private schools. Under Labour’s policy, I presume, this instalment of assistance would be repealed. Honorable senators opposite have stressed the importance of education. I agree with its importance, but adequate and full educational facilities on equal terms should be available to all Australian children, regardless of where they are educated. In my State of Victoria, approaching one-quarter of the children are educated at private schools. So far as they are concerned, the Labour Party could not care less. But the Menzies Government does care and has shown its interest in a practical fashion. It has given this taxation assistance to which T have referred.
I commend the Government for having had the courage and the justice to go further in its own Australian Capital Teritory by providing payment of the interest bill on all new private schools, regardless of their denomination. Subject to any constitutional problems, I should like to see this principle extended to all the States. But that, of course, is beyond us; we cannot do that on our own initiative, but can act only if the States request it. However, in this regard, there is an interesting paragraph in the papers which accompany this year’s Budget. In fact, these papers have accompanied budgets since 1947. In all that time the Federal Government has been paying tax refunds to the States in proportion, inter aiia, to the number of school children between the age of five and fifteen years in each particular State. That means that in the calculation of the amount due to a State the children at private schools have been included in the formula figure. But although they were counted by the Commonwealth in computing the tax refunds to the States, so far as I know these children have not received any benefit from it. Surely this is an area for conscience examination by the authorities concerned. True it is that the real strength of this Budget is seen when we consider how feeble the attacks against it have been. Most of the Opposition criticisms have been standard practice over the last fourteen years. They are just as irrelevant this year as they were last year and as they will be next year.
I wish to refer to. the recent conference in Perth of the Australian Labour Party, where the waffling on policy issues reached an all-time high. The Romans had a god whose name, I think, was Janus. He had two faces. He faced backward and forward at the beginning of the year. I suggest that an image of Janus ought to be embossed on the badges of Labour senators. Their policy is one of “ yes-no “ on everything that matters. As Alice said in Wonderland, “ When I use a word it means exactly what I intend it to mean and nothing else “. That applies to the resolutions reached at the conference of the party which claims to be the alternative administration.
If you want the Air Force to be brought home from Butterworth; Mr. Acting Deputy President, or to bring the troops back from Malaya and the instructors from Viet Nam, Labour is your party, lt has said so in its resolutions. But if you want to leave the forces in those places, the right wing delegates at the Labour Party’s conference have said there is power to do so. If you believe in socialism, Labour is your party, because the conference resolved -
We see no need to retreat from the attitude that in some circumstances -
Meaning circumstances of exploitation, and we should remember that the late Mr. Ward said that all private industry exploit’s the public - large undertakings should be nationally owned in the national interests.
If you do not like socialism and are a little capitalist, that is all right too, because public superintendence and competition will be used instead of nationalization or socialization, This, of course, simply means that government money will be used to ruin the private competitor without just compensation, which in truth and in fact is a more dangerous form of socialist endeavour than ever before.
If, Sir, you believe in the American alliance and in the United States naval base at North West Cape, Labour is for you, because the conference has said -
Labour will honour and support Australia’s treaties and defence alliances.
But if you are against the base and believe that Australia, to quote Peking radio, has become the running dog of American imperialism, or any such nonsense, then Labour is home and hearth to you because Labour says it will re-negotiate the base agreement. As the Americans have said that Labour’s terms are unacceptable, this simply means another Manus Island debacle in Western Australia. It means a form of repudiation.
I noticed that when Mr. Calwell returned from the United States he said that he had laid the ghosts of Labour policy which had disturbed the Americans, but I think that the ghost of Manus Island is still walking in Labour’s corridors. Even Mr. Calwell had to admit, rather ruefully, I thought, that President Kennedy did not understand Labour’s policy on a nuclear-free zone. In that regard, of course, President Kennedy is in good company, because nobody understands it. lt means all things to all men. lt means whatever you want it to mean. Interpretations of it are being used by various people to suggest a different line of political activity for the future.
– You will clean it up.
– I would not attempt to clean up the obscure meaning of that political plank of yours, a political plank which says to our allies, “ For God’s sake, come here and save us, but do not bring your most powerful weapons “. Whom do you think you are kidding?
If you are for unity tickets, Sir, then that is all right. You may vote Labour, because the conference has said that there must be no interference in the affairs of trade unions. In Victoria, 14 of the 15 men on a railways unity ticket have got off unscathed. I think that that proves the point. To-day’s strike at the State Electricity Commission in Victoria was made possible by a unity ticket. Last night in this chamber Senator Kennelly, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, had the effrontery to say that unity tickets were not important enough to discuss in the Senate. I wonder whether he would dare to go back to Albert Park, in his native Melbourne, and tell the people, in the dim-out which they are experiencing to-night, that unity tickets do not matter, that they are unimportant and are merely evidence of personal spite being vented by certain members against other members. I do not think that would wash.
If you are against unity tickets, that is all right. You may vote for Labour because you can take consolation from the re-affirmation of the federal ban. Do not look too closely at the practice, but the ban is there. Mr. Calwell has taken three points of view on unity tickets. To take three points of view is very generous. That is really laying it on. First, the honorable gentleman said that unity tickets do not exist - there are none. Secondly, he took the same line as did the Deputy Leader of the Opposition last night, and said they are unimportant. Thirdly, when he saw his castles in Spain and his hopes of attaining the treasury bench crashing in ruins, he said they must be stamped out. That is the line of approach of the honorable gentleman. As I have said, it gives the voter three choices.
– He must win on one of them.
– He mus< win all along the line.
– Yes. Now we come to secret ballots. I feel that I should not weary the Senate by giving alternatives in each instance, because there is an alternative every time you want one.
If you are against secret ballots, so is Labour. The Labour Party wants to repeal the Menzies provisions which have been effective and which have really worked. If you think secret ballots are a good thing, that is still all right. You need not be dismayed. Labour will re-introduce the Chifley legislation. The mere fact that it was virtually unworkable should not be a discouragement. If you are against racial and religious discrimination, Labour is all right on this, too, because it condemned South Africa at the policy-making conference. But if you are for racial discrimination and religious discrimination you should vote Labour also, because of its enthusiastic support for red China where every form of religious and, in a Tibetan sense, racial discrimination and persecution are practised. . You may take comfort from the crashing silence of the Labour Party on Ceylon, where these practices are viciously enforced.
Coming to defence, if you are strongly in favour of increased defence activity, have a look at the Labour Party conference decision to arrange the nation’s defences so as to show an intention to defend Australia to the limit of its ability. Jolly good stuff! But if you think defence is a waste of time and a wicked capitalist game, take comfort from Labour’s last substantial action on defence, which, during the debate on the Budget before the last one, was to urge a reduction of the £210,000,000 defence vote by £50,000,000 for social services, and then to advocate, unqualified reliance upon the United Nations.
It is good, Mr. Acting Deputy President, that even at this late hour Labour has been converted to the importance of defence. If you believe that defence personnel should not be used in industrial disputes - and the conference says so - then vote Labour.
– You think they should, do you?
– Does the honorable senator challenge that statement?
– This is your worstever performance.
– I am glad to find Senator Ormonde in such strong disagreement with me, because Mr. Chifley agrees with me. Do you think that the national well-being is even more important than trade unions? Look at Mr. Chifley’s action during the great coal strike of 1949, when he put the troops in. Do you object to Mr. Chifley’s action, Senator Ormonde? One could go on for hours picking holes and loose threads in this rather tattered garment, which is intended to adorn a Labour government at some indefinite date in the future. In a frantic endeavour to regain electoral appeal, Labour is trying to please every one and is winding up pleasing no one.
To turn from the canting humbug, dishonesty and hypocrisy of the Perth document to the proposals of the present Administration, as enshrined in this Budget, is to forsake an area of Gilbert and Sullivan for an area of sanity, justice and reasoned optimism. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition, during his speech on the Budget, and at intervals thereafter, seemed possessed of a fixation. He displayed a nervous anxiety to get rid of me - I think he meant politically - and to that I take no exception. However, it seems to have really got him down. I thought that his ire was probably not raised by my politics, and so I bethought myself of the real reason for his continuing irritability. It is quite true, as Senator Kennelly suggested, that as I am the third member of a Senate team my place must be the one in jeopardy. I do not think that my defeat is likely, as he prophesied, but I am no autocrat and I concede the possibility. I tell him - I am sorry that he is not present to hear me now - that he has made his second-last speech on a budget in this chamber. I remind him that whatever difficulties I face are just molehills compared with the mountains which he must confront in holding his pre-selection.
No longer is he Warwick the Kingmaker. He cannot frighten or intimidate people around the Trades Hall these days. He is not running Tammany Hall any longer. The Lygon-street Kremlin is gunning for him, not because of any genuine right-wing activities, but simply because it is felt that his replacement is due. I understand that the odds against him are quoted in Melbourne at four to one. That is why he has to show how militant he is, by abusing me and other senators on this side of the chamber. The darling of the Victorian State Labour executive in this Parliament is, of course, Dr. Cairns. The Deputy Leader’s odds would lengthen to about thirtythrees if the State executive suspected that he was responsible for Dr. Cairns’s defeat in the election to fill a vacancy on the executive of the Parliamentary Labour Party.
I appreciate this, and I am inclined to be tolerant and understanding of the Deputy Leader’s difficulties, because he has further worries. Big brother Chamberlain has announced that he will be entering the Senate at the next election, so if the Deputy Leader should manage to fluke preselection he would face the certain loss of his deputy leadership to big brother. One of the English poets put it in this way.
Like one, that on a lonesome road
Doth walk in fear and dread.
Because he knows, a frightful fiend
Doth close behind him tread.
I do not suggest for one minute that Mr. Chamberlain is loathsome. I merely take the words intact from the old English poem. They summarize in four lines the apprehension which the Deputy Leader feels and which, for some reason or another, he thinks he must take out on me. The final worry perhaps this is the real irony of the matter is that if he does manage to displace me from the Senate he will put in some one of whom he is even more afraid, former senator McManus.
All in all, in a spirit of Christian charity, I should attempt and I know honorable senators here and opposite will attempt to forgive the Deputy Leader his petulance and irritability. 1 know that at heart he is a kind man, but his cup of woe is enough to unnerve a far stronger character than he is. Since we have recited his difficulties, we should attempt to forgive him in that spirit in which Christian politicians approach their difficulties. He is really an object of pity rather than of hostile criticism. I just tell him that the hostile criticism which I could let him have if I thought be was strong enough to take it, I shall put on one side. I must apologize for detaining the Senate for so long on the peccadilloes and woes of my friend the Deputy Leader. What I have said was merely intended as a signal that if he wants to start it again, as he did this time, I am perfectly willing and able to finish it, and I will do it.
I leave minor matters to come to the most important matters facing any national administration. I congratulate the Government on the attention that it is paying in the Budget to expanding defence services. In particular do I approve of the close and vital link between Australia and the United States of America for mutual defence. I believe that the Anzus treaty will be the finest monument to the Menzies Administration that any government of this country has ever won. The new naval communication base, the Anzus treaty, and Seato are clear indications to our ally that we mean what we say and that we are a trustworthy ally. We were the first to fly side by side with Americans in Korea, to fight with them on land, and to join their bombarding squadrons at sea. We have helped, too, in Viet Nam and in Thailand. When we have been called upon, although we are small, we have not been found wanting. The United States has almost unlimited material power, but in the councils of the nations it needs moral support, and that is precisely what this nation, under this Administration, is giving to the Americans. We have given them vital moral and material assistance in their campaign to stem the march of Communist aggression. We have demonstrated to the United States that when the chips are down Australia will stand up and be counted.
– Senator Hannan shows a rather incomplete knowledge of the affairs of the Australian Labour Party. In many respects he was quite wrong, but that is no novelty for him. He showed a surprising knowledge of the policies of the Democratic Labour Party. I refer to an article that appeared in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ on Monday of this week, headed, “ Claim by D.L.P.: U.S. Base as Federal Poll Key “. It reads -
Industrial trouble over the U.S. naval radio base in W.A. was the only factor which might cause an early Federal election, Senator G. R. Cole (D.L.P.) said yesterday. He said, “The A.L.P. is attempting to squash the idea of the U.S. communications centre by indirect means - by imposing impossible conditions on the people who are going to employ the labour “.
One could expect that sort of thing from Senator Cole because he roams at large through the country. He has no responsibility to initiate any policies. He has no opportunity of ever forming a government, and, I believe, at the general election next year he will be defeated. It is easy for Senator Cole to run around the country making all sorts of statements.
Senator Hannan came quickly into the fray in obedience to his nominal leader when he asked a question in this Parliament about the naval communications station at North West Cape. He wanted to know why the Western Australian unions had placed a black ban upon work at the base and whether this was an attempt by the Australian Labour Party to prevent, by industrial action, what it had failed to do in the Parliament. He asked, also, whether the Government would take the firmest action to see that the United States was given every assistance to construct the base. The firm assistance he wanted was any sort of assistance. It did not matter what repressive methods were taken against the trade unions - he wanted any sort of assistance. I believe that this was a Dorothy Dix question, wheeled up to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service. He is not the Minister for the Navy because we have not got one. Senator Gorton replied that he had not noticed the threat of a black ban - although hie was in Western Australia a couple of weeks ago. He said that he was aware of an argument between the unions and the contractors but that he was not in a position to say whether the union demands were genuine industrial demands or to what extent they were instigated by sections of the Australian Labour Party which did not want the base constructed. He gave an assurance that everything possible would be done to see that the base was constructed.
In reply to Senator Cavanagh, Senator Gorton stated that he did not know, so far, whether a black ban had been imposed, but if it had he did not believe that it had been imposed owing to a refusal by the employers to meet the unions to discuss industrial matters relating to the project. Over all, the Minister does not know anything, but he is prepared to stand up in this Senate and make all sorts of statements on things about which he knows nothing. He is prepared also to go along with Senator Hannan and see that conditions of any sort are imposed upon the work force in order that this base may be constructed. In these circumstances, it is easy to see from where Senator Hannan receives his instructions. He follows consistently the line advocated by Senator Cole. Accordingly the listening public can not be blamed for thinking that Senator Hannan is a follower of Senator Cole. Both the senators I have mentioned and the Minister have entered into a controversial issue in Western Australia without any knowledge of the true circumstances. They take the opportunity to use this chamber, not only to air their ignorance of industrial matters, but also as a forum to discredit the Western Australian trade union movement.
As far as Senator Cole is concerned, one would not expect him to have any knowledge of these matters. He is too busy seeing a Communist behind every door. Unity tickets are more in his line than decent working conditions. In any case his party is so discredited in the country that no one takes any notice of its spokesmen in this Parliament.
– You would not mind if you had its support.
– We will not need its support because by the time of the next election your party will not exist. It received less than 2 per cent, of the votes in the Grey by-election. Each time the Democratic Labour Party has contested the seat of Grey its percentage of votes has decreased. The percentage in the big takeover in Queensland dropped to 7 per cent. The honorable senator can take some comfort from that and we will see what percentage of the votes his party will get in December, 1964.
One could expect something better from the Minister and Senator Hannan. One would expect that they would exercise some responsibility for what they say, particularly Senator Hannan who is a man trained in law. One would expect that he would check his facts before airing his views to the public. There is no doubt that his question was asked yesterday because it would be repeated on the air at half-past six and he thought he would make some political gain by asking it. To-day a question does not mean anything, because at the time we meet - particularly as far as Western Australia is concerned - there would probably be no one listening to the radio. Last night at half-past six there would be a large listening audience and some political gain could be had by asking a question. One would expect that a man trained in the use of the truth of words would exercise greater caution. Perhaps the truth of words does not weigh heavily with the honorable senator when he thinks there is some political capita] to be made. I say that with some confidence because he has been prepared to stand up, not only on this occasion but also on several other occasions, and make statements so long as he thought he could get some political gain, and particularly if he could support Senator Cole, as he hopes to be elected next year on the basis of the Democratic Labour Party preferences in Victoria.
– He will be disappointed1.
– I think he will be disappointed and I hope he will be. I differ from other people in that I hope he will not be replaced by ex-Senator McManus.
The Minister for the Navy is prepared to express opinions about which he knows nothing. It would have been better had he asked for the question to be placed on notice so that he could inform himself of the facts. Instead, he was prepared to ramble on and say that he could not say that this would’ happen or something else would happen but that if it did happen action would be taken. Like Senator Hannan, he could not resist the temptation to make some political gain out of a quesion. The Government is scrambling for some political issue that will give it an opportunity to continue in office, as it has done over the last fourteen years, and to ruin the economy of this country. It is so far down the drain that it will clutch at any straw to continue in government. It is having a bit of bad luck because in a recent gallup poll 65 per cent, of the people supported the Australian Labour Party’s attitude towards the naval communication base at North West Cape. The tactics of the Government came a little bit unstuck.
I say to the Minister that it is later than he thinks. Time is catching up with the Government and before very long it will go to the slaughter. The axe will fall and honorable senators on the opposite side know that it will. One would expect Senator Hannan to know the elementary procedures of law, because he practises law. If he has no greater knowledge of the law than he exhibits in this chamber, I have great sympathy for his clients.
A demand must be made and that demand must be rejected before legal action may be taken to recover an ordinary debt. A somewhat similar procedure obtains in regard to industrial matters. I have in mind the provisions of the Western Australian conciliation and arbitration act. I emphasize the word “ conciliation “ because the main industrial legislation is based upon the process of conciliation. Arbitration is supposed to be used only as a last resort when matters of difference between parties cannot be settled. It is then that a third party is called in, and generally the settlement is a compromise between the claim and the counter-offer.
If we trace the history of the industrial relations associated with the establishment of this communication station, we find that as soon as tenders were called for the first project - it was stated in the press that the cost would be approximately £21,000,000 but the lowest tender was for slightly more than £15,000,000- the Trades and Labour Council in Western Australia drew up a log of claims which it served on contractors not only throughout Australia but throughout the world. That log was served on 232 contractors who had tendered for the work. The Trades and Labour Council is the voice of the combined trade union movement, and the log of claims had to be approved by the unions before it was served on the contractors.
It is useless for Senator Gorton to say that the contractors expect to make profits and not to throw those profits away. When all is said and done, if you are served with a log of claims you know what is in the mind of the trade union movement and when you tender for a particular contract you know what you are likely to come up against. You then keep your tender somewhat in line with the log of claims. Whether the contractors make a profit from the construction of the first stage of the communication station will be their own responsibility. If, as a result of negotiation and arbitration, costs rise, the contractors will have nobody to blame but themselves for any loss they may suffer. I would have no sympathy for them if they placed themselves in a position similar to that of Reid Murray Holdings Limited, if they went broke and could not complete the contract.
I do not want to canvass at this stage the merits of the claims, but I shall mention some details later. In view of the action that has been taken by the trade union movement in Western Australia can it be said that the unions have acted unreasonably? That is the inference to be drawn from the question that was asked by Senator Hannan and the answer that was given by Senator Gorton. I cannot quote the question that was asked, but if honorable senators look at it they will find that Senator Hannan mentioned exorbitant and unreasonable claims. If a union acts within the provisions of the law, can it be said that it is acting unreasonably? Does anybody believe that this action on the part of the trade union movement was designed to prevent the construction of the base? If anybody believes that, he should have another hard look at himself.
I repeat that the initial step to be taken under the law is for a log of demands to be served upon the employer. No action can be taken until that is done. In this case the trade union movement served a log of claims on the employer. As I have just said, until that step is taken there can be no negotiation, because there is nothing to negotiate about. If there are no negotiations the parties cannot go to the arbitration court, because there is nothing to place before the court.
The Democratic Labour Party and the Government parties impute ulterior motives to the unions when they take this sort of action. They say that if the unions carry out the law they are doing wrong. Perhaps honorable senators opposite will tell me how the unions can lawfully obtain satisfactory conditions of employment if they do not carry out the law. Of course, this would not interest honorable senators opposite because they do not believe in decent conditions of employment. The Trades and Labour Council in Western
Australia is the Western Australian branch of the Australian Council of Trade Unions. It is a recognized organization which represents the trade union movement. It acts on behalf of a multiplicity of unions which have a common objective.
I hope that honorable senators opposite are able to follow what I am saying. When a number of unions make demands in relation to a project such as the one we are considering, the Trades and Labour Council acts on their behalf. It seems to me that that is the proper way in which to do these things. It is much more convenient for the employers to be able to negotiate conditions of employment at the same time than to do so piecemeal. I do not know whether supporters of the Government agree with that; perhaps they agree with the policy of the Western Australian Employers Federation, which prefers to negotiate piecemeal and to play off one union against the other. If anybody knows anything about industrial conditions in that State, he knows that that is why there is trouble over conditions at this base. The employers’ federation does not believe in dealing with the unions as a whole. If it can offer one union half of what it is demanding, it has the other union in a cleft stick and can force the claims down. I have a copy of the log of claims that was circulated throughout the world. It contains claims for the usual standard conditions that apply throughout industry in Western Australia. It is admitted that some of the claims are for greater amounts than are usually awarded and tor better conditions than are usually granted in other cases, but it is necessary to make claims for greater benefits if you want to improve conditions. Again, if you want to avoid disputes during the term of the currency of the award, it is necessary to apply for rates and conditions greater than those obtaining at the time of lodging the application.
I emphasize that this log contains no claim for annual leave, but there is a reason for that. North West Cape is an isolated place and the contractors have announced already that no women will be allowed on the base. This means that the married men who go there will not be able to take their families with them. Because of this, the unions are prepared to forgo annual leave in return for two days’ leave each quarter. This will give the men an opportunity to return to their homes for four days in each quarter, the four days being made up of the two normal days at the week-end plus the two additional days granted in lieu of annual leave. In all, eight days will be granted for four quarters each year whereas the standard provision for annual leave to-day is fifteen days. The unions are prepared to forgo that concession which, incidentally, has only just recently been won.
The log contains no claim for a district allowance despite the fact that a district allowance is paid throughout the whole of the northern part of Western Australia. The union is prepared to forgo the district allowance, but it has made claims for two other allowances which I believe are the cause of the present trouble. The first claim is for a site allowance of £5 5s. a week, and the second is for a locality allowance of £12 12s. a week, these amounts to be in addition to the ordinary wages that would be payable.
– Plus margins?
– What would be the aggregate?
– I shall come to that in a moment. These are not unusual claims, especially for this area. If honorable senators knew the area, or if any of them had ever bothered to go there, they would know exactly what type of country these people are expected to go to. They would know that it lacks amenities, although there is a great deal of talk about the amenities that will be there and the township that will be built when the Americans move in.
So far as I know, not one of the 232 contractors who were served with the log of claims has bothered to answer it. Senator Gorton said he did not know that the failure of the employers to meet the unions was a reason for some alleged black ban. Let me say at once that the contractors have not yet started to recruit labour. Therefore, there can be no black ban. Yet the employers are refusing to meet the unions to discuss working conditions prior to starting work on the project!
Close to Canberra, which might be termed a metropolitan area, a site allowance of £9 a week over and above the ordinary wage is being paid to workers engaged on the construction of a tracking station here. The total amount being paid here is £39 13s. 3d. for a 48hour week and the claim of the trade union movement in Western Australia is for only £37 15s. a week. And there are still some who say that it is an exorbitant claim!
One honorable senator asked about the Ord River. Let me say at once that there was industrial trouble on the Alcoa refinery construction job, there was industrial trouble on the Laporte construction job at Bunbury and there was trouble on the Ord River project, but the whole of that trouble arose because the conditions of labour were not negotiated before the workers went on to the respective jobs. In each of those cases, the causes of the stoppages were referred to the Arbitration Court and that court, realizing that the conditions were not good enough, improved them.
On this occasion the whole of the trade union movement in’ Western Australia is directing its efforts to ensuring that the conditions of labour are settled before workers go on to a job. The trade union movement wants this job to go through without any trouble, yet people come here and say that we are trying to sabotage it. The whole of the movement wants the conditions settled before the work starts, but the employers do not. They have met the trade unions on three occasions, twice for a period of minutes and once for an hour. The incentive the employers have offered the men to go to this place is 30s. a week. Compare that with 30s. a day which is being paid on the project close to Canberra to which I have referred.
Let me quote now from a leading article appearing in the “ West Australian “, a newspaper which does not support the trade union movement or the Australian Labour Party in Western Australia. It reads -
The unions are entitled to have industrial conditions at the North West radio base settled before their members start work up there.
It is therefore essential that an agreement should be reached before work at the site is disrupted. It there is a stalemate, either the Trades and Labour Council or the employers should go to arbitration. Failing that, the Arbitration Court or the Government should intervene on its own initiative.
So far, neither side has drawn attention to the terms of the award which already covers building tradesmen on construction work anywhere in the State. lt does not cover this job because there is no industry similar to this being carried on in Western Australia. Because of that, the award is not operative. The article continues -
This provides for free quarters and messing, a margin, disability and district allowances and payment of fares for home leave.
The unions have an application before the court for an increase in the allowances under this award. What is needed now is a metal-trades construction award along similar lines. The court is working on general provisions for metal tradesmen on construction work in the southern part of the State and this should be extended to cover northern areas as well. Trouble has already occurred at the Laporte and Alcoa projects because of differing award conditions for metal and building tradesmen on the same job.
The unions and the employers would have every right to seek variations of these awards in the light of conditions and facilities provided at individual sites or to have direct agreements written in. With the prospetc of many big projects in remote areas in the near future, it is essential to * have a stable and general basis for working conditions.
That is exactly what the trade union movement is trying to obtain. Yet people come into this Parliament and accuse the Australian Labour Party - the left wing of the party, as they call it; but there are no wings in the Australian Labour Party - of trying to influence the unions to take action that they are unable to take in this Parliament. The policy of the Australian Labour Party with respect to this communication station has been enunciated by its leader at the conference of the Australian Labour 0 Party. That policy will be adhered to by the members of the Australian Labour Party despite the allegation that is being circulated that we are engaging in a confidence trick. I say you are being quite unfair and any Western Australians who support the attitude of Senator Hannan and Senator Gorton are not being fair to the trade union movement in Western Australia that has acted honestly over a long period.
– First, I wish to congratulate Senator Whiteside on his maiden speech. It is not an easy task to make a maiden speech in this place and it is probably a little harder when the speech is being broadcast. I congratulate Senator Whiteside on a moderate and temperate speech.
It is rather difficult when one is probably the twentieth speaker in a Budget debate to find something new to say because most of the ground has been covered. However, there is nothing new under the sun and so anything we say has been said before. It is interesting to listen to the debate before one speaks because generally something crops up. I was interested when the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Henty) said that in 1954 the Australian Labour Party had advocated the abolition of the means test. He added that the benefit would be given to millionaires and others whether they needed it or not. They would still get the benefit of the abolition of the means test. An interesting interjection was made by a very respected member of this chamber, Senator Brown, who was once President of the Senate. He is a man whose word I would take. He said -
We would give it to them, but we would take it away from them by taxation.
That was an interesting remark and the Australian public now probably realizes that there is a certain degree of dishonesty about some of the promises that are made by the Opposition. I think Senator Brown let the cat out of the bag this time. I was amazed when Senator Cant attacked the leader of the Australian Democratic Labour Party (Senator Cole). I thought Senator Cole was one person in the Senate about whom Senator Cant would not say too much. It is not so long since Senator Cole was speaking in the Senate and Senator Cant interjected. I thought Senator Cole was very kind because he gave Senator Cant three chances to get out from under. But Senator Cant did not do so. By way of interjection, he said he would sooner vote for the Communist Party than for the Democratic Labour Party.
– That is wrong. Mr. Deputy President, I claim to have been misrepresented.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator McKellar). - Order! If the honorable senator claims to have been misrepresented, he will have an opportunity to speak later.
– The interjection is reported in “ Hansard “. Senator Cole said, “ Did I understand you to say that it is worse than this? “ Senator Cant said, “ Yes, I would sooner vote for the Communist Party than for the D.L.P.”.
– That is misrepresentation like the book you have distributed throughout Australia.
– If Senator Hannan was correct in what he said about the Labour Party, I can understand Senator Cant’s attack on Senator Hannan because Senator Cant is in an awkward position in Western Australia. Senator Hannan referred to the fact that Mr. Chamberlain had announced that he intended to put his name in for the Senate.
– He has not announced that.
– It has been reported that he has put his name in.
– What has this to do with the Budget?
– Quite a lot. It is an interesting aspect because the two retiring Labour senators are Senator Cooke, who has given long and loyal service to the Australian Labour Party, and Senator Cant. When Senator Cant came into this chamber, he immediately made his mark. He is a good debater, he hits where he sees a head and he does not really mind when one hits at him in debate. So we have two men who have proved themselves and now, of course, Mr. Chamberlain. It is going to be interesting to see what happens in Western Australia. During this debate, the report of the Reserve Bank of Australia has been quoted extensively and I intend to quote from it, too. The report states -
Official policies formulated or in force in the early stages of 1962/63 continued measures adopted during 1961/62 to stimulate private expenditure; provided for continuing growth of expenditure in the public sector; and maintained moderately expansive monetary conditions. With expenditure on consumption, motor vehicles and construction growing, confidence was expected to improve, leading to increased business investment expenditure.
These expectations were largely realised during the first half of 1962-63. Gross domestic expenditure increased at a fas:er -ate. partly as a result of inventory accumulation and recovery assumed a broader front. Private expenditure on plant and equipment rose. 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. These took the form mainly of producers’ materials and capital equipment and to that extent arose from and preceded increased domestic production, but competition to supply intermediate and final demands was keen.
This capital equipment was mentioned by Senator Hannan. These are the very things needed to keep up employment. The report continues -
Imports rose sharply in 1962-63 from the low levels of 1961-62 but they presented no immediate threat to the overall balance of payments and international reserves rose.
Those figures rose probably to the highest level since federation. The report continues -
Although activity in major industrial countries grew more slowly commodity prices, including prices of some of our exports, rose. Import prices were fairly steady and the terms of trade moved in our favour. Total export receipts continued at record levels, despite a lower volume of some major rural exports and a reduction in iron and steel exports. Exports of other manufactures increased. But the major factor offsetting the rise in imports was the resurgence of capita] inflow which, because of short term factors, had fallen in 1961-62.
This is the capital inflow to which the Labour Party is opposed. The report continues - and this is important -
The private sector’s holdings of liquid assets rose strongly during 1962-63. Budgetary policy and banking movements placed more funds in private hands and the community continued to show a preference for liquidity and safely in the disposition of funds . . .
Liquidity remains high, making it easy for the community to increase its expenditure sharply should ils attitudes and expectations change. Part of the defence against a change in attitudes threatening the balance of the economy lies in maintaining stability of prices and flexibility in interest rates. We must look to these defences. If recent attitudes endure and become associated wilh a disposition to save that is consistently greater than in the 1950’s this could provide the basis for an expansion of private and public investment favorable to a high rate of economic growth.
The increase in economic activity in 1962-63. had encouraging features, with further progress towards achieving full and effective use of the work force and physical resources while preserving stability of costs and prices.
This is an interesting document. But this statement, according to the Opposition, is not true because the country, it says, is in an appalling state. Opposition senators have said that we have not been good stewards and, consequently, the country is in an appalling state. Of course, honorable senators opposite would wave their ever-available inflationary wand and alter this position and send this country into virtual bankruptcy. One honorable senator almost wept for the non-existent starving thousands. I remind him that the Bureau of Census and Statistics recently released a report in which it stated that Australians spent £1,193,000,000 on food last year. That was £37,000,000 more than had been spent in the preceding year. lt is interesting to see that the amount spent on the purchase of private motor vehicles - not commercial vehicles - totalled £289,000,000, which was an increase of 28 per cent, on the previous year. Consumer items, including things such as cigarettes, went from £168,000,000 to £175,000,000, an increase in one year of £7,000,000. Similarly, expenditure on alcohol increased by £10,000,000; the expenditure on clothing, footwear and drapery increased by £9,000,000; and the expenditure on electrical goods increased by £7,000,000. These are fairly substantia] figures for a country that is in the doldrums! Yet, as I said, one honorable senator opposite was almost weeping for these poor people. Senator Anderson by way of interjection has reminded me that prices remained consistent during that period. The Opposition’s parrot cry of putting value back into the £1 - although we have not heard quite so much of it in this debate - can be answered in this way.
– You are not going to put it into the royal, are you?
– No, I would be with you so far as the royal is concerned. For the purposes of assessment, the value of the £1 must be related to what a person has to sell, which usually is his labour. For that labour he receives his payment, and with that amount he can buy. Senator Hannan has given some of the figures I wish to quote, but I think they are worth repeating. The average adult male employees received 10s. an hour in 1961, compared with 4s. 6d. in 1950. I have taken the years 1950 and 1961 because they are the years for which figures are available. The actual difference in wages would be even greater now, because there have been rises within the last two years, but I shall take the 1-961 figure. The average adult male employee in 1961 could buy a refrigerator with the earnings of 220 hours of work.
– That is twice as much as he should have to pay.
– Wait a minute. Eleven years ago it would have required the earnings of 600 hours’ work to buy that refrigerator. That is why I submit that when speaking about putting value back into the £1 we must relate it to what a man has to sell - his labour - and what he gets for that labour. To buy a Holden motor car eleven years ago a man was required to work 3,770 hours, but in 1961 he could buy it with the earnings of 2,210 hours. That means that for the same amount of work he could buy almost two motor cars.
– In Australia?
– Yes, in Australia. Is not that the same as putting value back into the £1?
– What authority are you using when you say that a worker received 10s. an hour?
– It is the amount earned by the average adult male employee.
– Self-employed persons are included.
– That is true. Whatever the rise in prices has been, the average employee is clearly better off than he was eleven years ago. 1 do not think 3’ou will be prepared to argue against that statement. It is because private enterprise has been doing its job, in co-operation with the Government, that this sort of climate has been made possible.
I refer now to items of food. In 1950, it took the earnings of three hours’ work to buy what could be bought for twoandahalf hours’ work in 1960. Eleven years ago, 50 hours’ work were required to earn enough to buy a suit of clothing, whereas in 1961 it took the earnings of only 40 hours. Whereas shoes were worth ten hours’ work in 1950. in 1961 they were worth only eight hours. The price of a gallon of standard grade petrol was equivalent to payment for 40 minutes’ work eleven years ago, but only 21 minutes’ work in 1961. That is almost half.
These figures become interesting when we consider what Labour has so often said about housing. The Opposition has said that we do not do enough about housing, about which I shall speak a little later, but the purchase of an ordinary small home for a man, his wife and two children required the earnings of 14,500 hours in 1950. To buy a small home in 1961, 9.200 hours of work were required. In other words, in 1961 only two-thirds of the work was required to provide a similar home. All this information points to a certain extent to the fact that value has been put back into the £1 because an hour’s work to-day buys far more than it did eleven years ago. Let us now look at the rises in earnings and prices.
– That is to-day’s funny story.
– I invite you to refute this if you can. I have made a statement which I believe; if you do not believe it, challenge it. In 1961-62 wages and salaries amounted to the colossal figure of £3,646,000,000, which was 65 per cent, of all incomes received by Australians. The remaining 35 per cent, was made up of incomes from farms, businesses and professions; dividends, rents and interest; and pensions and other social service payments. The wage and salary earners, who are so often referred to as the workers - I think all of us are workers - received £3,646,000,000. About 80 per cent, of the total wages and salaries went to people earning less than £30 a week. Salaries paid to top executives and others who received £100 a week or more represented only 1 per cent, of all wages and salaries.
I come now to Senator Bishop’s interjection. In October, 1962, adult males, excluding managers, supervisors and professional men, earned an average of £24 14s. a week. This included the basic wage of £14 1 ls.
– What are you quoting from?
– An interesting document which is available in the Library.
– Give us the source of your information.
– You can get it from the Library. The basic wage was £14 lis., the margin for skill was £3 15s. and overtime and over-award payments amounted to £6 8s., making a total of £24 14s. Earnings were higher in mining, of course, averaging £28 J 2s. a week, and lower in the retail trade - down to £22 12s. a week - because there is very little opportunity for overtime in the retail trade.
– Figures cannot lie, but liars can figure.
– Then you should be able to figure this out. At the present time, one-third of all male employees work overtime averaging about eight hours a week. In the iron and steel and foundry industries the average is twelve hours a week.
Of course, the money side of the wage is not so important as the quantity of goods the wage will buy. That is why I cited the figures I gave earlier. Average male earnings have increased by 144 per cent, since 1950, but prices have risen by only 86.1 per cent, in the same period. So, over the last decade, the purchasing power of the average wage has been increased by about one-third. Yet, honorable senators opposite have the cheek to say that value does not remain in the £1.
– Tell that to the people on the hustings.
– I have told it to them on the hustings, and what is more, they believed me because they knew it was true.
The Opposition would have the Australian people believe that all of this happened by accident, or as a result of some peculiar set of circumstances, but of course that is not so. The members of the Opposition should know by now the old saying that you can fool some of the people some of the time but you cannot fool all of the people all the time. The Australian electors are awake to the Australian Labour Party’s catch-cry about putting value back into the £1. The Australian citizen, Mr. President, is not a fool. The ordinary elector is a very discerning person. I say to the honorable senator who is interjecting that we have had support from the Australian electors over the last thirteen or fourteen years.
– You have had the help of the D.L.P.
– We had the support of the electors before the Australian Democratic Labour Party came into existence. This discerning individual, the Australian elector, is aware of the great changes that have taken place. There have been many changes. I think it serves a good purpose to remind not only the listening public but also the Opposition of some of those changes. In the last ten years the population has increased by 2,000,000. Some one may ask, “ls the Government responsible for that? “ The answer is that, while we are not responsible for all of it, we are responsible for half of it because we have administered the immigration policy. It is a pretty big task for a small nation to increase its population by 2,000,000 in ten years.
The word “ inflation “ is bandied about this place quite often. I maintain that this Government has brought inflation under control and has kept it under control, certainly over the last three years, during which time there has been no rise in costs. If we look back to the period prior to 1951, we see that prices then had risen by 20 per cent. We went through a shockingly inflationary period because of the Korean War and the very high wool prices. But when we look at the position ten years later, in 1961-62, we see that prices had fallen by 1 per cent. They had risen by 20 per cent, ten years before, but by 1961-62 they had fallen by 1 per cent.
The activities of the Government in respect of overseas markets have been spectacular. In 1951-52, 31 per cent, of our exports went to Great Britain and only 16 per cent, to our Asian neighbours. In 1961-62, ten years later, 19 per cent, went to Great Britain and 33 per cent, to Asia. Yet, when we were negotiating a trade agreement with Japan it was fought tooth and nail by the Opposition in this Parliament. I wonder where we would be to-day if we had not negotiated that trade agreement with a country which is taking huge quantities of our agricultural products. , ,In. 1951-52, the volume of farm output was only 3 per cent, higher than the pre-war level, but in 1961-62, or only ten years later, output was 60 per cent, above the pre-war level. Again, that did not happen by accident. The prime responsibility of a government is to create a climate in which people will have incentive to increase production and to earn income where there is a margin of profit. The fact is that the Australian people have the capacity and the ability to increase production.
I come now to a rather sore point. I refer to the increase in capital that comes from overseas. Before I cite figures, it is interesting to point out that in 1949 - and we were not in government then - the Labour Government relied on 20 per cent, of overseas capital. Yet, the supporters of the Labour Party are castigating us to-day when the figure is down to 18 per cent. Ten years ago, capital was coming in at an average rate of £110,000,000 a year. In the last few years, overseas capital investment has averaged £220,000,000 a year. Unless a country can attract overseas capital it must reply on its own resources. Does’ anybody think for one moment that we could develop this country, at the rate at which we are developing it, entirely ft om our own resources without taxing people out of business? If we were to attempt to do so we would kill production. People who have money to invest must feel confident of the stability of the government. They must be able to look forward with’ confidence to a return on their capital. There are not too many countries in the world to-day where investment can be made with a degree of safety, but it can be done here. Senator O’Byrne, as a man who has been associated with farming, will know that a farmer could not start out on a farm unless he could obtain capital. ‘ He would have to borrow money and pay it back. That is what the Government is- doing. To’ say that outside capital should not be brought into Australia is about the silliest thing I have ever heard.
Earlier, an honorable senator opposite spoke of industrial relations. We took over a sorry old industrial relations legacy, and we still had a hang-over of that legacy after, we came into office. In 1952, 1,163.504 working days were lost through industrial disputes, . but this picture had. changed. entirely ten years later. In 1962, that figure had been halved. The number of days lost was down to 508,000.
– That had been brought about only by gangster methods.
– That is your interpretation. I say that a government has a solemn duty to the people to see that lawlessness of this kind does not exist.
– The work force had doubled during that time.
– That is true.
– How many production hours have been lost because of unemployment during this Government’s term of office?
– I am sure that the honorable senator who follows me in the debate will be interested to answer that question.
In the manufacturing field, many large new industries have been established and the manufacturing labour force has grown by 20 per cent. The volume of factory output, after allowing for price changes, is 70 per cent, higher than it was ten years ago. I shall not have time to refer to many of the items enumerated in the Budget. Some of them have been dealt with adequately by previous speakers, and I have no doubt that honorable senators who follow me will refer to others. There is one item which I must mention. I refer to the superphosphate bounty. I believe that this bounty is necessary, especially for the young farmer who is starting out. An established farmer can perhaps stand the rising costs in his industry, though he cannot pass them on, but it is more difficult for a new farmer to do so. It is for that reason that I say the bounty will be of great benefit to him.
This is a good budget, a sensible budget and a realistic budget, because it provides assistance where assistance is needed. I am distressed by the attitude of so many Australians to-day. Apparently, they think that the Treasurer is a kind of Father Christmas. Sometimes we hear a person say, “The Budget is no good because there is nothing in it for me “. That is not a good attitude to adopt. After all, the Budget is a document which a government produces to show how it has used its stewardship during the previous twelve months and to indicate- the measures that it proposes for the ensuing twelve months. It should not be considered as something from which people get handouts. It should be a document that takes cognizance of the fact that a government has a responsibility to develop the country, to keep stability within the country, and to maintain our standard of living by stopping prices and costs from rising. This Government has achieved these things. Over the past three years it has kept prices stable, something that no other country in the Western world has been able to achieve.
I support the motion for the printing of the Budget papers and oppose the amendment.
– I congratulate Senator Whiteside on his maiden speech and I wish him a long and successful career in the Senate. Senator Branson has just indicated some of the things that ought to be in a budget. A budget is a programme for the development of a country during the ensuing year. It is more than that. It is something which ought to provide not only for development but also for prosperity of the citizens, for the maintenance of defence, for extension of social services, and for many other things. In these respects, this Budget is completely inadequate; it is a gross failure.
The issues have been clearly defined in this debate and in the debate in the other chamber. There is no need for us to differ upon what these issues are, because they are simple. Is the economy in a healthy state or not? Is .the Government doing, as it claims, everything that can be done in the state of the economy? Is it doing whatever it can - is it doing whatever any one could - to develop this nation, to provide for education, to give social services on a just basis, and to provide proper defence? These are the issues, and what is the answer?
The first question is: Is the economy in a healthy state? The Government says that it is. The Government does not come here and say: “ It is not too good, but we can explain why it is not too good. We shall fix it up. We are taking steps to fix it up.” The Government comes here and says, “This economy is all right, and the Labour Party is talking nonsense when it says that the economy is not all right “.
Now, let us look at what some other people say about the economy. The Government had a survey made. In the document “ Australian Economy 1963 “, this is what is said about unemployment -
Improved though it is, however, the labour situation still has unacceptable features. Unemployment is still too high, especially in some areas and amongst some classes of labour.
What is said in the document to which Senator Branson referred, the report of the Reserve Bank of Australia, which was recently transmitted to the President of the Senate by the Governor of the bank? The report, at page 5, states -
Unemployment is still too high.
Now, what is the truth about unemployment? Is the truth that it is still too high? The Minister for National Development (Senator Sir William Spooner) says that he thinks it is all right. Senators on the Government benches have said that members of the Labour Party talk nonsense when they say that unemployment is still toe. high. There are 70,000 to 100,000 people in this community, and their families, who also consider that unemployment is still too high. It is a shocking thing that the value of the work of those people is being denied to the community, that the value of the equipment which they could use is being denied to the community, and that the wealth which they could produce is being denied to the community, because of the misconduct of this Government.
What is the position about overseas investment and its effect on the Australian economy, which has also been mentioned many times inside and outside this Parliament? One think is clear. From 33 to 40 per cent, of Australian manufacturing industry is owned and controlled by persons outside this economy. Those are the strategic parts of industry, the aluminium industry, industrial and heavy chemicals, petroleum products, and other industries such as those, which no country should permit to pass out of its own control. Yet during the period when this Government has held sway we have seen pass out of Australian hands the strategic parts of the Australian economy, and this control is going still further into more and more industries. The Labour Party says that this is wrong. The Liberal Party says that it is all right, that there is nothing wrong with it. What does the Australian Country Party say?
Mr. McEwen, in his capacity as Leader of the Country Party, said on 2nd April, 1963, to the annual conference of the Victorian Country Party -
I am much in favour of some overseas investment in Australia, but 1 do not want this country to be dependent on it. In that case you have lost your real freedom.
The same gentleman, this time acting in his capacity as Minister for Trade and Acting Prime Minister of this country, said on 3rd July, 1963-
What does concern me is the’ fact that due to the inadequacy of our export earnings we are now geared to a rate of expenditure that makes it necessary for us to have a tremendous capital inflow. If you become dependent for your growth upon the decisions of overseas people to invest or to refrain from investing, then the development of your own country is no longer completely in your own hands.
Is this the position, or is it not? The Reserve Bank, at page 8 of its report, states -
Our balance of payments is still heavily dependent on capital inflow.
The Acting Prime Minister said that in that state of affairs a country no longer has real freedom. No longer is the economy healthy. That is the answer to that question. Any one who needs further answers should turn to the recent production by the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) in the G. L. Wood Memorial Lecture 1963, “ Trade Practices in a Developing Economy “, in which he stated -
The trade practices in Australia which really got under way during the depression and the war have had a snowballing, or a chain-reaction effect. Indeed, the period of import licensing tended to further entrench this effect. The trend for businesses to seek protection through these practices has thus greatly increased and, for that matter is still increasing.
He made a further statement, and I ask honorable senators to put these two significant statements together. At page 14 of this lecture he referred to what was said by President Kennedy, and I quote -
President Kennedy made recently a significant comment about the American economy. He said that when an economy gets sluggish and loses enterprise and loses vigour, you will find a lot of restrictive practices. The point that emerges from the President’s observation - and I think it is one that must never be overlooked - is that restrictive practices and a sluggish economy go together.
That is what we have in Australia. We have restrictive practices on a grand scale and a sluggish economy going together.
Budget 1963-64. 299
What is the extent of monopolization in Australia? Professor Hunter, the Professor of Economics at the University of New South Wales, in his introduction to the recent “ Economics of Australian Industry “, had this to say at page 7 - D
A method of comparing the degree of concentration of industry in Australia with that in the United States and in Britain appears to show that concentration in monopolized industries in Australia is twice as great as in Britain and three times as great as in the United States of America.
That indicates the state of the economy. What is being done about it by this Government? Nothing. The Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) is running around the countryside with his technicolour propaganda hawking proposals, but nothing is being done. The Government, for years, has promised to do something about restrictive trade practices. The Attorney-General has been frightening some people and fooling most people but nothing is being done and nothing will be done. The Government ought to take some sensible steps such as have been taken in other countries and deal with the more extreme forms of monopoly and restrictive practices. The Government should at least take some steps to deal with the situation without going to all sorts of extremes and producing, perhaps, some perfect restrictive practices legislation in the year 3,000.
The effect of this monopolization and these restrictive practices ‘on the Budget cannot be overlooked. Surely honorable senators must realize that the expenditure under this Budget has been grossly inflated because at every stage the Federal Government, State governments and local councils have been robbed through these practices. When local councils are robbed, not only do the ratepayers have to pay extra moneys because there is collusive tendering which cheats the councils, but also the federal Budget is affected. When State governments are similarly robbed that has the effect of swelling the expenditure under their budgets. This Government has been robbed and yet it will do nothing about it. The Minister for Health (Senator Wade) is sitting over there. Is he prepared to assure the Senate that the National Health Scheme is not being inflated, and the country is not being cheated, by the operation of gross overcharging for drugs used under that scheme? He must know of inquiries that have taken place in the United States of America into firms, subsidiaries of which are operating in Australia and supplying drugs under the scheme. Will he tell the Senate that those firms which are prepared to indulge in gross overcharging in the United States have some tender regard for the Australian people and are not indulging in similar practices here?
Turning to the revenue side of the Budget, what is the effect on taxation when businesses in Australia are being cheated by the operation of agents of these international cartels which monopolize prices and indulge in all sorts of practices to strangle the economy and force up the cost structure? Do not let honorable senators opposite say that these things do not take place. They are notorious. The Attorney-General himself has mentioned a number of practices which have come to the notice of the Government, but he has not mentioned what the Government has done about them. It has done nothing.
When honorable senators look at this Budget and consider the inaction of the Government - not over one year but over many years - they must feel ashamed that we have a government so supine and so regardless of the interests of the community that it will stand by and do nothing about these things. We will look back to this period and say that the Government was prepared to allow the.-assets of the country to be sold out while it did nothing about it.
There is a place for overseas investment in the community but it must be an exceptional place. We cannot go on any longer and allow the economy to depend on this capital inflow. We have reached the position where the Government should turn to the electors and say, as it is saying, that it cannot do any more. Where is the money to come from? How can we indulge in any more national development? How can we pay more money for housing? How can we grant more social service benefits? The Government, of course, cannot do this if it pursues the policy it has been pursuing over the last decade. It has reached the end of the road. That is why this Budget is such as it is; there is no other way. The Government has followed a bankrupt philosophy and honorable senators opposite know it. Where can it go from here if it continues to pursue these policies? The revenue of the Government is not going to increase as it should. How can it when our assets are passing into hands outside this community? Where is the money to come from other than from increased taxation? There is a limit to that. I repeat that the Government has reached the end of the road. Mr. President, I see that it is close to 11 o’clock and I ask for leave to continue my remarks.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Sir William Spooner) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– Mr. Deputy President, during the course of my speech on the Budget this evening I referred to an interjection that had been made by Senator Cant in another debate. The honorable senator said at once that he had been misrepresented, but he was not in order in offering an explanation at that stage. I should now like to put the record straight. I said that Senator Cant had stated by way of interjection in another debate that he would sooner vote for the Communists than for the Australian Democratic Labour Party. That statement was quite incorrect. I should now like to quote from the “ Hansard” report of what happened during a speech that was made by Senator Cole, on 4th May, 1960, during the debate on the motion for the adjournment of the Senate. At page 749, Senator Cole is reported as having said -
That is the Communist outlook, and that is what the A.L.P. in Victoria has sanctioned. It is lime that the people realized just what these unity tickets are doing to sabotage Australia. The Communists and the A.L.P. are joining together. The proof is there and nobody has denied it. We know it; even the officials of the A.L.P. know it but they are afraid to do anything about it. They think that if they do not join with the Communists, Democratic Labour Party members in the unions will take charge of the unions.
The report continues -
– The lesser of two evils.
– I know that the honorable senator would much rather support the Communists.
– The lesser of two evils.
– That is what the honorable senator believes?
– That is right.
– That is all I want to know.
You would rather support the Communists?
– Than the D.L.P., yes.
– There is the admission.
I was incorrect when I said that Senator Cant stated he would sooner vote for the Communists. He said he would sooner support them.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.2 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 28 August 1963, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1963/19630828_senate_24_s24/>.