25th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– by leave - Since the last meeting of the Senate there have been some changes in the Ministry. 1 desire now to give formal notice of those changes to honorable senators. Senator Sir William Spooner resigned from the Ministry with effect from 10th June 1964, leaving vacant the positions of Minister for National Development, Vice-President of the Executive Council and Leader of the Government in the Senate. I have relinquished the portfolio of Minister for Civil Aviation and have been appointed Leader of the Government in the Senate. I continue to be Minister for Defence. Senator Henty and Mr. Fairbairn have resigned as Minister for Customs and Excise and Minister for Air respectively. Senator Henty has been ap pointed Minister for Civil Aviation and Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate, and Mr. Fairbairn Minister for National Development. These changes have led to two new appointments to the Ministry. Mr. Howson becomes Minister for Air and Senator Anderson Minister for Customs and Excise. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) has been appointed Vice-President of the Executive Council. Mr. Hulme and Mr. Fairbairn have been included in the Cabinet.
The changes have made it necessary to vary some of the arrangements for representation of Ministers in this and in the other chamber. The arrangements which have been varied are as follows: - In the House of Representatives, the Minister for Housing (Mr. Bury) will represent the Minister for Customs and Excise. In the Senate I will, except in matters relating to education and research, represent the Prime Minister. I will also represent the Minister for National Development and the Minister for Housing, in addition to representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport. Senator Henty will represent the Minister for
Trade and Industry and the Treasurer, in addition to the Ministers for the Army and the Navy. Senator Gorton, in addition to representing _ the Minister for External Affairs, the Minister for Labour and National Service and the Attorney-General, will now represent the Minister for Territories. He will continue to deal with matters relating to education and research arising in the Senate. Senator Anderson will represent the Ministers for Supply, Immigration, Social Services and Repatriation.
Retirement from the Ministry.
– by leave - Mr. President, earlier I referred to the retirement of Senator Sir William Spooner as Leader of the Government in the Senate. J am sure that all honorable senators would deem it appropriate if I were to take this first opportunity of marking the occasion of his retirement by setting down some short appreciation of his services to the Senate and lo the Parliament. He was Leader of the Government in this chamber for a period of five years and four months, from 16th February 1959 to I 0th June 1964. Prior to that he was Deputy Leader for three years. He had, of course, a long and distinguished ministerial career. He enjoyed the rare experience, the rare honour of having been sworn in as a Minister late in 1949 without having had any previous parliamentary experience. Indeed, he was sworn in as a Minister before he was actually declared to be elected as a senator. This rather unique experience was made more unique by the fact that his late brother enjoyed a somewhat similar experience in the Government of New South Wales.
During the first eighteen months that he. was in the Ministry he was the Minister for Social Services. Early in 1.951 he was appointed as Minister in Charge of War Service Homes. He administered that portfolio for a few months until the Ministry was re-organised later in the year. In May 1951 he was appointed as Minister for National Development and he held that portfolio continuously for 13 years until just a few months ago. He was VicePresident of the Executive Council for four of the years during which he served as a Minister. In 1962 he enjoyed another rare experience, that of being appointed Acting Prime Minister, during the aBsence overseas of the Prime Minister. This is an experience that has been enjoyed by only two senators in the history of Federation.
Senator Sir William Spooner will bc remembered here and througho.it the nation for many things, but I think that those of us who sat here with him during his long term of office will best remember him for his ministerial successes. The first of them to which 1 refer is in respect of the re-organisation of the coal industry, a particularly difficult task which he undertook from the time of his appointment as Minister for National Development in 1951. Later, he was associated with other mining activities such as, for example, the successful search for, and the development and production of uranium in this country. As a Western Australian, I have a particularly fond memory of his efforts in respect of the development of the iron ore industry in Australia. His association with the development of oil also will long be remembered.
In the area of housing, which is controversial from time to time, another outstanding achievement can be marked up to Senator Sir William Spooner. In water conservation, his affectionate attachment to the Snowy scheme, to which we all became so used, was repeated in relation to other great projects such as the Chowilla Dam, the Blowering Dam in his own State, and the Ord River scheme in the north. His efforts in respect of the establishment of a policy concerning beef roads in Australia will bc long remembered. During his ministry the Northern Division of the Department of National Development was created.
All of these things, I believe, are facets of a ministerial career which we shall long remember, but I should think that all of us here, speaking as a single body of senators, would best remember him because of the fact that he .was such a Senate man, such a man for the Senate. He set the Senate star high and, I think, inspired all of us to seek for the Senate a standing and a reputation that were really worthwhile. He always gave strong leadership; and those of us on this side of the chamber remember that fact particularly.
We thank him today, as we say goodbye to him as a Minister, remembering the type of leadership that he gave. He has retired from the Ministry and I think that he now has the good wishes of all of us here for the enjoyment of the kind of leisure which was so long- denied him and which will permit him to do the many things that he always wanted to do but which, because of the pressure of ministerial business, he has never got around to doing. I wish him good luck.
.- -by leave - The Opposition found a great deal of interest in the announcement that was made by the new Leader of the Government in this chamber. I begin on behalf of the Opposition by offering congratulations to Senator Paltridge upon his promotion to the important office of the Leader of the Government in the Senate. J congratulate, too, the new Deputy Leader, Senator Henty, on his appointment, and to Senator Anderson I proffer the congratulations of the Opposition upon his appointment to the high and responsible post of a member of the Ministry. It is a signal honour, as I am sure the honorable senator appreciates, and we shall watch his progress with keen interest, even if we may from time to time be critical, needlessly or otherwise. lt was appropriate, indeed, that Senator Paltridge should refer to the work of Senator Sir William Spooner. In common, I. think, wilh every other member of the Opposition, I. was completely taken by surprise when news of the retirement was published. I had anticipated that he would continue quite indefinitely decorating the Senate immediately in front of me at this table, but he had other thoughts, quite obviously. I recall that it was on 19th December 1949 that I handed over to him in this building the office of Minister for Social Services. I am sure that he remembers the occasion quite well and, with my soft heart, knowing that he had had no ministerial experience - not even any parliamentary experience - I saw fit to proffer certain advice to him. A little while later I saw his form on the political track and, having seen that, I felt that he had been over the course before. He showed such brilliant form that I felt that all the words that, in my kindness, I had proffered to him, were wasted, because he just drew upon his own natural ability, energy and application and was very soon captain of the ship. I think we would all, from this side of the House, accord that.
He has played a very major part in keeping up the Government’s wicket, down fourteen long, weary years. We concede that to him. Whilst I express admiration of that performance, I must confess that I cannot find it in my heart to forgive him for it. We of the Opposition saw him as a very competent, hardworking and effective Minister and a very effective Leader of the Government in this chamber. His record has been put before the Senate by the new Leader of the Government in the Senate and I do not propose to traverse the ground he has covered. In Senator Sir William Spooner I found a man such as was described by the poet as: “ The foe that comes with fearless eyes “, and I respected him as such.
In the hundreds of matters, important and unimportant, that had to be discussed and arranged between the Leader of the Government in this place and the Leader of the Opposition, all those arrangements, down all the years, were made by word of mouth. I do not recall an instance in which we found it necessary to commit them to writing. I want to say quite publicly, in this place, that throughout every day of the past fourteen years I found that Senator Sir William Spooner’s word was his bond. We had no difficulty on that ground. Sir William now moves to the back bench, with honours thick upon him, and quite obviously sound in wind and limb. He has four delightful years ahead of him before he need again consult the will of the electors. We will watch his actions on the outer circle with great interest. In particular, we should like to see whether he is as good in putting questions as he has been in answering them down all the years. The Opposition concedes that he is well entitled to a respite from the arduous duties of a Minister down a period of fourteen years. A Minister’s task is not an easy one at any time and I know it demands the whole of a man’s time and the whole of his resources, both physical and mental. We concede to the Senator that he merits a respite from the arduous work upon which he has been engaged for so long, and in every personal way and in every sense except a political one we wish him well.
– by leave - On the retirement of Senator Sir William Spooner from the position of Leader of the Government in the
Senate, I take great pleasure in joining the Australian Country Party with the sentiments expressed by the newly appointed Leader of the Government. Senator Paltridge has set out, in correct perspective, the historical achievements of Senator Sir William Spooner. He referred to the piloting of the Snowy Mountains scheme, to oil search and to a host of other monuments which provide tangible evidence of the skill, and energies applied by Sir William Spooner in the administration of his portfolio - a most important one in this young country. But no recital of the achievements of Sir William Spooner would give a complete understanding of his services to Australia. There must also be some reference to his quite remarkable personal qualities.
He has proved himself a great parliamentarian. He spared neither himself nor his followers in maintaining the prestige of the Parliament, with particular emphasis on the Senate. That is the highest tribute that I can pay him. Finally, may I say that down through the years while he led the joint Government parties in the Senate his completely fair and generous approach at all times earned .for him the great respect and confidence of his colleagues. We wish him much happiness as he sheds his great responsibilities.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin). - 1 wish to add a few personal words of appreciation to the words of other speakers. Senator Sir William Spooner comes from New South Wales. He has been a colleague with whom 1 have been pleased to be associated over the years, lt is to his work as a Minister and as Leader of the Government in the Senate that I want to pay special attention. No-one could have had a more loyal Leader or one who was more approachable on matters of importance to the Senate. It is to the years when we were associated, he as Leader and myself as President, that 1 look back with great pleasure, knowing full well his great contributions as a parliamentarian. That is one of the factors that one in my position looks at. Senator Sir William Spooner has done all things well over the years. He has left many landmarks in Australia during his term of office by the work he carried out so well.
I offer a word of congratulation to the new Leader of the Senate. It is interesting to see Senator Paltridge coming forward to fill a place that is not easy to fill. I am sure he will fill it well, acting with a sense of justice and fairness and with a full appreciation of the worth of the Senate. Of course 1 could not let the occasion pass without being a little clannish and saying how pleased I am to see Senator Anderson in the position he is occupying.
– by leave - Mr. President, I would like to thank my Leader, Senator Paltridge, and the Leader of (he Opposition (Senator McKenna), the Minister for Health (Senator Wade) and yourself, Sir,’ for the very generous tributes that have been paid to me. 1 have a few things to say and I begin by expressing my thanks to those who sat behind me in the Senate over the years for their loyalty to me.’ In the past they sat behind me; today they sit in front of me and alongside me as a happy family, and I think it is the happiness, and co-operation we have shared that have produced the good work we have done. To that expression I want to add instantly my appreciation for the good personal relations that 1 have h?.d with Senator McKenna and those who sit behind him. We cannot do our work in Parliament in the seemly way in which it should bc done without co-operation between the Leaders of the respective parties and without the support of the members of the respective parties for the arrangements which the Leaders need to make from time to lime.
I support what Senator McKenna has said. We have made deals and arrangements over the years and 1 have no recollection of any one of them not being honoured by Senator McKenna and myself and by those who have sat behind us. The honorable senator and I have made arrangements so often without the opportunity to refer them to all senators.
I remember very well taking over from Senator McKenna. Little did he and I think that the transfer would be for so long a period of time. In coming to the end of such a long road I have a great feeling ofsatisfaction in knowing that 1 have gained your esteem.
My decision to retire from the Government was not taken lightly. Life as a Minister of the Crown is very arduous and responsible. lt is a life that gives one a lot of satisfaction. There is the opportunity to exercise such talents as one has in such big matters; but it is an arduous life which can seem a never ending task. It can seem never ending not only for a Minister of the Crown but also for his wife. One does not realise that position fully until returning to normal life and becoming aware of the responsibilities that one’s wife has carried. 1 came to the situation in which I felt that the responsibilities and interests I had outside Parliament were not being cared for to the extent they should be cared for and I felt that I should make a change. I felt that I was entitled to a less arduous life after the years I have had in Cabinet. I was fortified in my decision by the wealth of talent in the younger members of the Government parties. I was left with no doubt in my mind that there are others to carry on the good work.
In some ways 1 am sorry that the announcement of my retirement came so abruptly. The decision was not lightly made. It was made months prior to the announcement. I made the decision and I discussed it with the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) who, after expressing his regret that I wanted to leave the Cabinet, gave me his usual sympathetic advice and support over the rather difficult months between the time of the decision and the time that I made the announcement. I treasure greatly the knowledge that I go out of Cabinet not only with the goodwill that is expressed today in the Senate but also with the goodwill, I believe, of all my ministerial colleagues and of the Prime Minister himself.
I felt when I made the decision that the right thing to do was to obtain the Prime Minister’s concurrence. I did not like the idea of carrying on until the end of the parliamentary session with all my parliamentary colleagues knowing that I was stepping down at the end of the session. It was at my own request, therefore, that only the Prime Minister and myself knew of my decision over that period of about three months and I think it came as a bit of a surprise when the announcement was made.
So now, Mr. President, I am going to lead a more leisurely life. I am not going to rust. I am remaining in the Senate and I would hope that whilst I cannot expect to bc as big a thorn in the side of the Leader of the Opposition and Opposition members as I have been, I might still be a thorn in their side in debates and discussions in the future.
I step down, Mr. President, in the very happy knowledge that I have complete confidence in the ability of my colleague and friend, Senator Shane Paltridge, to carry on the good work. I extend my congratulations to him, the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Henty), the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Anderson), and the other occupants of the front bench, all of whom have had promotion in some way in this reshuffle. I wish them good fortune in the future with the assurance - as they know - that whatever little I can do to help them I will gladly do.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Treasurer. Is the Minister aware that the amount of beef coming into South Australia has been drastically reduced because of the sorry state of beef roads in the northern part of South Australia, resulting in a shortage of beef and high prices? Does the Minister know that the roads in the far north and north-east of South Australia have been damaged by floods and by the transportation of heavy oil drilling equipment; that the roads are not suitable for bringing good stock to the rail head at Marree; and that as a result, South Australia is losing its beef trade to Queensland? Has the Government received representations from the Government of South Australia for financial assistance in order to restore the beef roads, particularly the Birdsville and Strzelecki tracks? What is the Government’s attitude on the matter?
– I have been aware of the floods in the northern part of South Australia and the damage they have caused to the roads because I was through that area only about a fortnight ago. The honorable senator has said that part of the roads have been damaged by oil drilling equipment. I can only say that I wish the oil drillers the best of luck. I hope they succeed in their mission because the discovery of oil in close proximity to Adelaide would make a tremendous difference to South Australia. The question Senator Toohey posed to me is one for the Treasurer and if the honorable senator will place his question on the noticepaper I will get an answer for him from my colleague.
Flood Relief Donations
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Treasurer. Can he advise whether the Government has agreed to allow as a complete income lax deduction any donation to the flood relief fund recently launched by His Worship the Lord Mayor of Perth, Councillor Veryard, to aid those in distress? Has a request been received from the Western Australian Governmentfor direct financial assistance from the Commonwealth to help those people who have lost very heavily? Can the Minister assure me that, because of the urgent need to give relief to distressed victims of floods, all applications will receive immediate sympathetic attention?
– South Australia is not the only State which has suffered from widespread floods. Western Australia has also suffered, particularly, I understand, in the south-western corner. I am not aware at the moment whether donations to flood relief funds are allowable taxation deductions. If the honorable senator puts that part of his question on the notice-paper I shall obtain the information for him. I have no knowledge at the moment of any precedent for such donations being regarded as taxation deductions. With regard to the rest of the question, if the honorable senator places that on the notice-paper as well I shall obtain the necessary information from the Treasurer as early as possible.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. Will the Prime Minister have investigations made into the speech delivered by the honorable member for Yarra to the Communist-inspired Hiroshima gathering in Sydney to see whether the utterances made by this member of Her Majesty’s Parliament - and seemingly the future leader of his party - were treasonable, especially as Australia has forces in South Vietnam?
– I am not familiar with the text of the speech to which the honorable senator has referred. The mostI can do at the moment is to tell the honorable senator thatI will take the first opportunity to look at it. If any action is required, I shall take that action.
– With your forbearance, Sir, before answering Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin’s question I should like to express mythanks to you, to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, to Government members, to Senator McKenna and to other members of the Opposition for their expressions of goodwill to me.Iknow that members of the Opposition will treat me. as a new Minister, very gently at the outset. On my part, I promise, within my capacity, to treat every question they present to me with respect and to endeavour to get the best answer for them.
In relation to the question asked by Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin. I think we all recognise that her interest in the cause of geriatrics has been outstanding in the Senate for a long time. Itis understandable therefore that she should ask a question on this subject. From information supplied to me by the Department, I understand that a second post graduate course in geriatric nursing is to be commenced at repatriation hospitals and that some 25 nursing sisters are to be trained. Not all of them will come from the Repatriation Department. Fourteen sisters will come from the Department and eleven will come from other hospitals. It therefore follows that when they have completed their training not all of them will remain in the Repatriation Department. They will carry on their nursing functions in all manner of hospitals throughout Australia.
While the subject of geriatrics does not come within my jurisdiction. I think we all agree it is most important. It is significant that the Repatriation Department, being aware of its responsibilities, is training nurses in this field. When the training is completed, it will be of benefit not only to the Department, but also to the nursing profession generally.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Territories. By way of preface, 1 understand that arrangements have been made by the Minister for Territories to grant the Broken Hill Pty. Co. Ltd. a 21 year lease of the Groote Eylandt ferro.manganese deposits. The company will make supplies of manganese ore available to the Tasmanian Temco plant at Bell Bay until B.H.P. reports on the feasibility of establishing a special treatment plant in the Northern Territory. I ask the Minister: What arrangements have been made between the Federal Government and B.H.P. concerning the leases in the Northern Territory? To what extent have the possibile effects of supplies of ferro-manganese ore to the Temco plant at Bell Bay been examined? Will there be special provision to protect the Tasmanian industry in any arrangements that are made between the Federal Government and B.H.P.?
– I shall get for the honorable senator details of any arrangements that have been made. I. think he will agree that a proposal to develop ore deposits in the Northern Territory, and if possible to have them treated there, is a proper one for the development of the north of Australia. I. am sure that other interests will be taken care of. I shall obtain from the Minister for Territories the details for which the honorable senator has asked.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Customs and Excise, and I take this early opportunity of congratulating him very sincerely on his appointment to that office. The question refers to the successful intervention by the Minister regarding the increase in the price of superphosphate in New South Wales. Can he inform me under what section of the act he was empowered to take action?
– I think it is well known that there has been a reduction in the price of superphosphate in New South Wales during the last week. Senator
McKellar has asked me to state the section of the act which empowered my Department to intervene. The relevant Act is the Phosphate Fertilisers Bounty Act. It will be known here, of course, that the administration of that Act is the responsibility of the Minister for Customs and Excise. It is true that two firms in New South Wales, Australian Fertilisers Ltd. and Sulphide Corporation Pty. Ltd., increased the cost of superphosphate by some 17s. per ton. An inquiry was instituted under the provisions of the Act. I feel bound to say that the firms concerned put no bar in the way of my officers investigating the question. It will be appreciated, of course, by honorable senators that the investigation was of a confidential nature. It dealt with the whole of the financial structure of the companies concerned. Their justification, of course, for the increase was based partly on the increase of 1.3s. 6d. per ton in the price of phosphate rock. It was based also on the increase in the price of sulphur and the rise in the basic wage which recently took place. As a result of the inquiry that was instituted through my Department, the companies resolved to reduce the price by 3s. 6d., thus bringing it back to 13s. 6d. a ton. My officers believe that, in the light of the increases which I have already enumerated, that is a reasonable proposition. I should point out that the companies have said that they will ensure that rebates for the short period of the increase will be made to the persons concerned.
– Has the Minister for Defence been informed that at intervals shells which could be exploded have been dumped by a member of the defence Services in and adjacent to Moreton Bay? Has he been, informed also that the waters of Moreton Bay provide a living for hundreds of professional fishermen who trawl for fish for typical citizens and for prawns, including king prawns, for gourmets? If it is the belief of the Service department concerned that no harm can result from the practice of dumping live shells in Moreton Bay, will that department cause a quantity of the shells to be dumped in Sydney Harbour, Port Phillip Bay, the River Yarra, in the middle of the beautiful Swan River near Perth, and also in the Derwent River?
– I cannot guarantee to ask the authorities concerned to carry out the dumping programme which was suggested by the honorable senator. I recall that during the recess the Press referred to the dumping of shells in Moreton Bay. At the time I made some inquiries about the matter and was assured that no danger was involved. However, my recollection is not as good as it might be. I shall look at the files again and give the honorable senator a full answer.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Defence. Believing that Australia’s peace and security in the long term are in as much danger now as they have ever been, I ask the Minister whether it is a fact that the Government has made a firm decision to back up, as best as Australia can, those who oppose Communist aggression in South Vietnam. Can he tell the Senate, or at any rate supporters of the Government, what is the policy of the Australian Labour Party in relation to such matters? Is it as expressed by Dr. Cairns, a member of the shadow Cabinet, when he opposes or condemns American policies which are aimed at checking Communist advances in South Vietnam, or is it a stop and go policy as expressed from day to day by Mr. Calwell, the leader of the Party?
– The policy of the Government in relation to South Vietnam and other South-East Asian areas has been well stated on a number of occasions. Australia, as a member of the South-East Asia Treaty Organisation, has undertaken certain obligations in certain eventualities. It is a matter of fact that, particularly in relation to South Vietnam, the United States of America has undertaken to bear by far the greatest part of the burden. In July of this year the American Government requested other governments with democratic principles in South-East Asia to lend their support. Australia’s contribution was to increase the number of instructors stationed in South Vietnam and to give them the full function which had been undertaken for some time prior thereto by the Americans. It was decided that Australian instructors should go into the field at battalion level and lower to instruct and direct South Vietnamese forces. In addi tion to that, of course, Australia announced her intention of supplying new Caribou transport aircraft. Three of them have already arrived in South Vietnam and three will arrive a little later. It is of interest to note that the Australian reply to the American request was the first reply received by the United States President, who at the time expressed warm appreciation of the action taken by the Australian Government. At a meeting which subsequently occurred between the Prime Minister and President Johnson, the President repeated his thanks and reaffirmed his appreciation of what the Australian Government had done in respect of South Vietnam.
I have seen some reference to the speech made by Dr. Cairns. It seems at a number of points to be in conflict with what might be regarded as official Labour policy, as expressed from time to time by the leader of the Labour Party. Not only is it in conflict at some points in respect of South Vietnam but also, as reported, as a policy statement it is definitely in conflict with the statement of the Leader of the Opposition in respect of West New Guinea.
– I direct to the Minister for Defence a question which has relation to the question asked by Senator Buttfield. Has the Minister seen a statement attributed to Australia’s former Ambassador in Washington, Sir Howard Beale, that only a high level of defence could assure Australia of friends in a dangerous world? Can the Minister equate this statement of Sir Howard Beale with the article in the American news magazine “ Time “ in May of this year, which states that Australia’s Air Force is obsolete, its Navy a memory and its 23,000 man Army smaller than Cambodia’s?
– The Australian defence forces and their equipment are provided on the recommendations of Australia’s defence advisers. It is of interest to note that the Australian Government has the benefit of advice not only from its own defence advisers but also from the military advisers of the United Kingdom and the United States. I did not see the article that appeared in “Time”. I saw mention of it, but I do not think that even Senator McClelland or the author of that article would hold himself up as an authority on defence. We take notice of recognised authorities, not of newspaper correspondents, who so frequently look for sensationalism and nothing else.
– 1 direct a question to the Minister for Civil Aviation. By way of preface I congratulate the Minister on his recent visit to South Australia and his inspection of civil aviation facilities at Adelaide airport. I invite his attention to the current severe congestion at Adelaide airport, especially in the afternoons and particularly on Sunday afternoon, the congestion being most severe between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. Will the Minister make a statement in the Senate as to what plans he has to alleviate the present unsatisfactory position, first by means of airport reconstruction and, secondly, by encouragement to the larger operators to re-arrange their schedules?
– One of the reasons why I recently went to South Australia was to investigate the report of over-congestion which has existed for some time at the Adelaide airport. I found that the problem was perhaps even greater than we had anticipated and that the plans then in embryo would have to be greatly extended to deal with the congestion at peak periods at Adelaide airport. J. therefore told the Press at that time the type of plan we envisaged to cover the position, and the completion of which may yet be two or three years off. At the same time certain measures are being taken immediately to relieve the position. First, 1 am consulting with the airlines in an endeavour to .arrange for them to stagger the times of aircraft arrival at the airport, because no government can be called upon economically to provide facilities for peak periods only, and this is the position which has developed in South Australia. Over a period of one and a half hours, from six to eight aircraft arrive and depart and the number of visitors, passengers and those seeing passengers off causes congestion. But within an hour and a half one could fire a cannon across the aerodrome without hitting anyone. This is a wrong use of modern facilities and if we can arrange some staggering of the times of arrival and departure of aircraft we will get better use of the facilities and less congestion.
– In other words, some rationalisation.
– Yes. At the moment, knowing what times are best suited to picking up and putting down passengers, both the airlines concerned are anxious to have their aircraft there at those times. I want to see whether we can stagger the hours of arrival and departure so that the people who keep the airlines going - the people who pay as passengers - will have a wider variety of times of arrival and departure at the airport, thus making better use of the facilities. I admit that this is a problem which requires urgent attention.
– I address to the Leader of the Government in the Senate a question relating to flood conditions in Western Australia. Will he consider making the Government’s consideration of the position in Western Australia a matter of urgency? Does he recollect that when flood conditions existed in New South Wales Senator Sir William Spooner, as Leader of the Government in this chamber, had no hesitation in giving the Senate an assurance that the matter would be treated as one of urgency and that the military and others would bc called upon to assist? He gave the Senate the fullest assurance that the matter would be dealt with by the Government expeditiously and sympathetically. I now ask the Leader of the Government will he deal with the position in Western Australia as a matter of urgency as the Senate will not sit after today, until Tuesday next. Will he make a statement - if he can so arrange it - in respect of the Federal Government’s attitude to the suffering and loss of stock and homes and employment in flood devastated areas in Western Australia, so that the matter may be dealt with more quickly than if a question were placed on the notice-paper and not answered until we reassemble? I should like an assurance of an early statement by the Government that Western Australia will be afforded no less relief that was afforded New South Wales when that State suffered its flood calamity.
– I think my colleague, the Minister for Civil Aviation who represents the Treasurer in the Senate, lias already given the assurance sought by Sena.tor Cooke. Senator Scott earlier today asked much the same question as Senator Cooke has asked and the Minister representing the Treasurer said he would bring the matter to the notice of the Treasurer. The honorable senator will appreciate that there is a set pattern to be followed in respect of these applications. Application for flood relief is made by the Premier of the State concerned to the Prime Minister, and it is almost always made promptly. Indeed, the Premiers, as is proper, show no inclination to delay in matters of this sort. I would not be at all surprised if the Premier of Western Australia, Mr. Brand, had not already been in touch with the Prime Minister. The honorable senator referred to the alacrity with which the Commonwealth Government moved in providing relief in connection with the New South Wales floods. I think it is fair to say that a pattern of prompt action has been built up over the years, and I remind the honorable senator from Western Australia that when requests for relief have been made by that State in the past they have been promptly met. I can certainly assure him that when a request is made on this occasion it will be promptly considered.
– Senator Cooper having indicated his interest in colour television, that prompted me to confer with my colleague, the Postmaster-General. I am now in a position to advise the Senate that colour television is at present confined virtually to the United States of America and Japan. Discussions are still proceeding amongst European countries concerning the particular system of colour television which will be adopted by these countries, including the United Kingdom. Three systems are under consideration. The matter will be considered by the Television Study Group of the International Consultative Committee on Radio Communications in 1965. It would be unwise for any steps to be taken towards the development of colour television in Australia until the position in Europe is clearer. The high costs of transmitting equipment and associated receiving equipment arising from the technical complexities of colour television are still major obstacles to this type of service. The question of technical standards is also one of great importance.
– I direct a series of questions to the Minister for Health. First, is the average cost of a bed in a public ward of a public hospital in New South Wales £5 17s. 2d. a day? Secondly, does the Commonwealth contribute only 36s. a day towards that cost in respect of a pensioner patient who is the holder of a medical entitlement card and only 8s. a day in respect of a pensioner patient who is not such a holder? Thirdly, is the difference between the Commonwealth contribution and the bed cost made good to the public hospitals by the State Government of New South Wales? Fourthly, is it not a fact that for the past twenty years the State Government of New South Wales has provided free treatment in public wards for pensioners regardless of whether or not they are holders of Commonwealth medical entitlement cards? Fifthly, do not most, if not all, other State Governments either provide free treatment in public wards or give substantial concessions for pensioner patients whether or not they are holders of Commonwealth medical entitlement cards? Sixthly, in the light of these circumstances will the Minister review the statements on pages 6 and 15 of the Commonwealth publication “ Your Guide to National Health Benefits “, to the effect that such free treatment is available only to holders of medical entitlement cards and at least direct attention to the benefits provided by State Governments? Finally, is he aware that many pensioners, debarred from receiving Commonwealth medical entitlement cards, are misled by the statement in the publication on page 15, namely: “To enjoy these services you must have and produce an entitlement card.”?
– The honorable senator has asked me a series of questions, some of which I cannot answer because they refer to State jurisdictions. However, as I understand it, most of his questions revolve around a statement in a departmental booklet on national health benefits. He asks me whether I will review a statement to the effect that free treatment in public hospitals is available to pensioners with medical entitlement cards. Sir, the answer is a plain and categorical: “ No.” I will not review the statement, because it is perfectly true. You will remember that in 1963 this Parliament approved of an amendment to the national health scheme to authorise the payment of 36s. a day for the free hospitalisation of pen:sioners with entitlement cards. That arrangement was made directly with the hospitals and not with State Governments. 1 emphasise that the arrangement was made with State hospitals and if proof is required, I refer you to the users, because most of the public hospitals in Australia - with the exception of three or four which have chosen to remain outside the arrangement - provide free hospitalisation for pensioners. These hospitals subsequently receive from the Commonwealth Government 36s. a day towards the pensioners’ hospital charges.
If it is true, as the honorable senator suggests, that the New South Wales Government has provided free hospitalisation for pensioners for the last twenty years, I suggest that at least the Treasurer of the Slate Government would have some measure of appreciation of 36s. a day that has been made available to New South Wales hospitals since 1st January, 1963. The most that he ever received from any Commonwealth government prior to that date was 12s. a day, so that he has gained a clear 24s. a day. 1 now wish to’ refer to a point about which some people seem to be somewhat sensitive. The booklet was put out for the information of the Australian people in order to indicate to them the benefits which ave available from the Commonwealth Government. Of course it did not set out the benefits which are available from State Governments or from any statutory bodies. We set out merely to let the people know what is available to them from Commonwealth sources. The fact that no reference was made to other benefits does not mean that we claim the sole privilege of conferring benefits on the Australian people.
– I desire to ask the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport a few pertinent questions. (1.) Is it not true that one of the main reasons for the lack of development in northern Australia has been the lack of adequate and economic transport ‘to and from markets? (2.) Is it true that it can cost £12 a ton to ship carbide from central Queensland to Sydney and only £2 a ton to ship a similar product from South Africa to Sydney? (3.) Is it true that it is cheaper to ship some goods from southern Australia to central Queensland via London than to ship them directly? (4.) Is it true that it costs more to ship goods from northern Queensland to New Guinea than it does to ship them from overseas countries? What are the reasons for these peculiar facts?
– I think this is the sort of question that should be put on the notice paper so that the Minister for Shipping and Transport may have a chance to study the figures quoted and to give something in the nature of a statement of the services which are provided to Darwin and the costs of those services.
” EMPRESS OF AUSTRALIA “.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport. Has the Minister seen a press report that the “ Empress of Australia “, the Australian National Line’s new ferry to operate from Sydney to Tasmania, which is due to commence service on 5th December this year, is fully booked for the first 13 voyages? Does this statement mean the first 13 voyages from Sydney or from Tasmanian ports? Does the statement mean that complete bookings for passengers and vehicles have been made? Have passengers been asked to pay a deposit on their fares? If not, does the Minister agree that such publicity tends to dissuade intending passengers from seeking bookings, as has been the case with the “ Princess of Tasmania “ operating from Melbourne to Devonport, about which there has grown a belief that bookings must be made months ahead of the scheduled date of departure when in fact on most voyages throughout the year there are vacancies for both passengers and vehicles?
– ] cannot answer that part of the honorable senator’s question relating to the advanced bookings which have been undertaken but I will get the information for the honorable senator. I have heard, with some concern, that statements of this nature have led to the public thinking that there would be some difficulty in obtaining passage on these vessels. If there is any truth in this, then I am sure my colleague the Minister for Shipping and Transport would be only too pleased to take whatever action is necessary to rectify this impression.
– 1 direct a question to the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral. Is it a fact that several commercial television licensees have installed equipment that allows them to trace the origin of telephone calls? If this is so, are the licensees permitted to do this within the postal regulations? Could this equipment be used for the purpose of listening in to telephone conversations? If so, would this be a contravention of the civil liberties of those who use telephones?
– This type of question requires a specific answer and the only person capable of giving it is the PostmasterGeneral. If the honorable senator will put his question on the notice-paper, I will see whether it is possible to get the information for him.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry aware of a very serious shortage of black bore casing - sizes 5 inch, 6 inch and 8 inch - which is progressively worsening in Queensland, particularly in Central Queensland? Is the Minister aware that many graziers and well drillers have been waiting for months for supplies and are facing heavy expenses in wages and other costs? Will the Minister inform the Senate of the reasons for the excessive shortage of casing and will he ascertain from the manufacturers when sufficient supplies of casing can be sent to Central Queensland to relieve the present shortage?
– I am aware that there has been a shortage of bore casing in Queensland, because this matter was one of those I dealt with when I was acting for the Minister for Primary Industry during his absence overseas. I learnt then that the short supply of casing was mainly due to the fact that the principal manufacturers, Stewarts & Lloyds (Distributors) Pty. Ltd., lacked the equipment to meet the greatly expanded demand. I understand that this firm recently installed new equipment and new plant and is working some seven days a week in an effort to overtake the backlog of orders. I also understand it is confidently expected that this backlog will be overtaken in ‘the very near future.
– I direct a question to the new Leader of the Government in the Senate. Let us hope that the new broom sweeps clean. Has the Minister seen a report in yesterday’s Melbourne “ Age “ emanating from Sydney that the New South Wales branch of the Returned Servicemen’s League may ask the Commonwealth Government to provide free transport to Gallipoli next year for all Anzac veterans? Has any approach been made to the Government in regard to this matter? As the 25th April 1965 will mark the fiftieth anniversary of the Anzac landing, has the Government given any consideration to rendering assistance of any description to enable Anzac veterans to participate in this outstanding event? Will the Minister undertake to place this matter before the Government for sympathetic consideration and to urge the Government not to haggle over the question of creating a precedent? There is no need to remind the Minister and the Government that the one-hundredth anniversary will not occur in the lifetime of any of the participants.
– The Press report seems to be somewhat out of date. The Returned Servicemen’s League approached the Prime Minister some months ago in respect of a trip to be undertaken by Anzac veterans to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the landing. The Prime Minister publicly announced that the Government intended to support the project most generously. I regret very much I do not recall the exact amount that was mentioned.
– An amount of £20,000.
– Thank you very much. 1 thought it was more than that. Other facilities are to be made available, as I understand, to assist in the conduct of this trip. My strong impression is that the R.S.L. has expressed its complete satisfaction with the action so far taken by the Commonwealth Government.
– My question to the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration is stimulated by some deplorable intimidating Press statements published by a Mr. Martin in Victoria in relation to an application by a Mr. van der Putt for immigration to Australia. Is it a fact that 10,000 people of mixed blood - predominantly of Dutch descent - from Ceylon have been admitted to Australia as permanent residents since the last war? Can the Minister tell the Senate what selection criteria are applied in relation to the admission of people from Ceylon? Had Mr. van der Putt applied in Holland instead of in Ceylon, would his case have received any different treatment?
– J think this is a question that should be placed on the noticepaper and dealt with by the Minister directly. To my knowledge, there is no difference between the treatment of one group of people and another on this level. I know, from statements I have seen issued by the Minister, that some 10,000 Burgher Dutch have already entered Australia. If the honorable senator will place her question on the notice-paper 1 shall see that a full answer is obtained for her.
– I preface a question to the Leader of the Government by slating that in the middle of last winter, when Canberra was at its coldest, I made an unsuccessful appeal to his predecessor to lighten the burden of a new Australian who had been given six months’ gaol because he was destitute, having no job and no visible means of support.
– What was his offence?
– I think his offence was that he was caught sleeping in one of the parks in Canberra. About a week ago students from the Australian National University clashed with Royal Military College cadets, causing damage amounting to more than £1,000, including the burning of a motorcar on the Duntroon parade ground - which in my opinion is an unpardonable offence - smashing into rooms at the university, and generally putting up a most reprehensible type of socalled entertainment, ls it true that the police have not laid any charges against the culprits? If so, who is going to meet the cost of the damage done at Duntroon and at the university?
– ] know nothing at all of the incident. I shall be pleased to make some inquiries. 1 take the opportunity of assuring the honorable senator, if assurance is necessary, that the Government will see that the law is complied with by all, whether they be academic hoodlums or not. I will certainly make some inquiries and see what comes’ out of them.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General. Is the Minister aware that two separate groups from Western Australia have applied to the Austalian Broadcasting Control Board seeking a television licence to serve the Geraldton area? Is he further aware that two other groups are interested in providing television to this area, making four in all? Can the Minister tell me when the Australian Broadcasting Control Board will give a decision regarding these applications? As the applications are for commercial stations the provision of which will not involve the Commonwealth Government in any expenditure or interfere in any way with the fourth phase of the television programme, will he ask the Postmaster-General to give urgent and favorable consideration to the requests so that these very worthy country people may be provided with television?
– I do not know when the decision of the Board may be expected but 1 shall confer with the PostmasterGeneral on that question and on the other matter raised by the honorable senator and let him have an answer as soon as possible.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Territories, and it could concern also the Minister assisting the Prime Minister in educational matters. Does the Commonwealth Government subscribe to any part of the reciprocal policy operating between the State* in respect of the transfer of teachers? ls it a fact that the various State Directors of Education have without success requested the Department of Territories to discuss arrangements under which teachers from the States would be recruited for service in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, Nauru and Colombo Plan countries? Is the Minister aware that the absence of any such reciprocal policy between the States and the Commonwealth places in jeopardy the status, continuity of service and leave entitlements of teachers who offer their services in the wider national and international fields? Will the Minister investigate this matter with a view to establishing a policy to protect the rights of teachers transferring in the circumstances mentioned?
– I do not know the specific answers to the questions that the honorable senator has asked, but it would be a matter for any State Education Department, in the first place, to decide whether it would permit a teacher under its jurisdiction to travel and teach somewhere else. The Commonwealth could not instruct a State that it had to do this if it did not want to do so. I am under the impression that teachers from State departments travel and teach in other countries. I think that some have gone to Canada and that some Canadians have come here. I have an idea that one of two teachers went to Germany and that one or two came here from Germany. These arrangements, as I understand it, are made by the State Education Departments. If the honorable senator is referring only to arrangements between the Department of Territories and State Education Departments, I shall try to get answers to his questions and let him have them.
– I desire to ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs. Can the Minister guarantee the safety of the Australian police force in Cyprus and the Australian instructors in South Vietnam? If he cannot, will he ensure the return to Australia of personnel who are in areas of warfare in other than combatant forces?
– Having regard to the situation in Cyprus and Vietnam, I do not think anybody could give a guarantee of safety of persons in those areas. This does not mean that members of the police force in Cyprus or members of the instructional staff in South Vietnam will be brought back to Australia.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the AttorneyGeneral, although it concerns also the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior. Did the Minister see a Press report yesterday of a statement by the Dean of the Faculty of Law at the Australian National University, Professor Richardson, that the Federal Government does not appreciate the urgent need for revision and reform of Canberra’s laws? Does the AttorneyGeneral agree that many of the laws applying in the Australian Capital Territory are out of date and that there is an urgent need for reform? Finally, will the Minister consider the suggestion made by Professor Richardson that a law reform committee should be established immediately and that it should include representatives of the Australian Capital Territory Advisory Council, the Australian National University and other outside bodies, as well as government officials?
– I shall ask the Attorney-General to let the honorable senator know whether he agrees with the comments of Professor Richardson and whether he proposes to do anything about them.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. It follows two previous questions asked in respect of flood relief in Western Australia. As I understand it, the Government subsidises on a £1 for £1 basis moneys made available by the State Government in respect of flood relief. The Minister will be aware that the Lord Mayor of Perth has asked the public to subscribe £200,000 for flood relief in the south-west of the State. I ask the Minister: Will any part of that £200,000 subscribed by the public for relief of ‘ distress in Western Australia be subsidised on -a £1 for £l basis by the Commonwealth Government?
– It depends entirely on the form of the request which comes forward from the State. Such a request can come forward in one of two ways. It may be for a subsidy on a £1 for £1 basis, as on a number of occasions in the past, or the request may be that in addition to the subsidisation on a £1 for £1 basis the Commonwealth undertake extra relief because of the severity of the circumstances.
-I wish to ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Does the Minister recollect that in May last there were great confusion and dissatisfaction about the marketing of tobacco leaf at Mareeba, Queensland? Does the Minister know the real cause of the trouble relating to the sale of tobacco leaf in the Commonwealth? Is the problem solvable? How many pounds of tobacco leaf were produced in Australia during the year ended 30th June last? How many pounds of tobacco leaf were sold during that period? What quantity of tobacco was imported into the Commonwealth during the same year?
– I do not know the real cause of the alleged trouble in the tobacco industry in Australia, nor do I think any single person could say what the actual cause might be. It could be that there are several contributing causes. I suggest to the honorable senator that the industry is not without hope - far from it. I think that tomorrow there is to be a conference between members of the Government, growers, brokers, manufacturers and parties which have a vital interest in keeping a buoyant tobacco industry in this country. I shall obtain the statistics sought by the honorable senator and let him have them as soon as possible.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry whether the Wool Marketing Committee of the Australian Wool Board has recommended the adoption of a reserve price scheme for the sale of wool. Will this scheme, if adopted, necessitate the passing of legislation? If so, will the Government have copies of the Committee’s report distributed to honorable senators?
– The answer to the first part of the question is: “ Yes “. The answer to the second part is: “Yes”. The answer to the third part of the question is: “ Yes, if it can be arranged.”
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for National Development make a statement on the development of natural gas in the Commonwealth for the purpose of showing whether supplies are available in commercial quantities and, if they are, what action is being taken to have them used for industrial and domestic purposes?
– I shall refer the request to my colleague in another place.
(Question No. 139.)
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows -
(Question No. 158.)
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The replies are as follows -
(Question No. 159.)
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The answers are as follows - 1 and 2. The final cost of the new administrative building was £168,000.
(Question No. 160.)
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice - 1.Is the Chairman of the Commonwealth Scrum Laboratories Commission also Chairman of the Olympic Tyre and Rubber Co. Pty. Ltd.?
– The replies are as follows -
(Question No. 166.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
– The Minister for Labour and National Service has supplied the following answers - 1 and 2. During the period 1st July 1963 to 31st December 1963 there were 13 applications by organisations of employers for orders under section 109 of the Act and none by organisations of employees. Of the 13 applications made during this period, 6 were granted, 6 were refused and 1 was adjourned. During the period 1st January 1964 to 15th May 1964 there were 25 such applications by organisations of employers and none by organisations of employees. Of these 25 applications, 12 were granted, 3 were refused and 10 were adjourned. 3 and 4. During the period 1st July 1963 to 31st December 1963 20 penalties for contempt of the Industrial Court, amounting to £3,800 were imposed, under section 1 1 1 of the Act, on organisations of employees; and, during the period 1st January 1964 to 15th May 1964 31 penalties amounting to £8,700, were imposed on organisations of employees. There were no proceedings under section111 in either period against officers of organisations of employees, organisations of employers, officers of organisations of employers or other persons. On 9 occasions during the period 1st July 1963 to 31st December 1963 the Court refrained, by consent of the informants, from imposing penalties under section 111, while 52 cases were adjourned indefinitely. In section 111 proceedings during the period 1st January 1964 to 15th May 1964 there were no occasions on which the Court refrained from imposing penalties or adjourned the proceedings.
(Question No. 170.)
asked the Minister for
Health, upon notice -
– The replies to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows -
(Question No. 171.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -
– The Minister for Social Services has supplied the following answers -
(Question No. 175.)
asked the Minister in charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education and Research, upon notices -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows - 1.I am informed that the Chairman of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Sir Frederick White, in the course of his remarks in an after-dinner talk at a meeting of irrigation farmers at Leeton on 12th March 1964 which followed a field day held earlier that day, mentioned that a number of rural industries were now financially supporting research programmes and suggested that perhaps the irrigation areas should consider whether they could provide additional support by getting together,possibly on a national basis.
asked the Minister in
Charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education and Research, upon notice -
Has the pasture research laboratory at Townsville been completed?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows -
Construction of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation’s pasture research laboratory at Townsville has started recently and is scheduled to be completed early in October 1965.
(Question No. 177.)
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows -
The Research Section has undertaken research into questions such as -
Assent to the following Bills reported -
Wool Industry Bill 1964.
Wool Tax Bill (No. 1) 1964.
Wool Tax Bill (No. 2) 1964..
Wool Tax Bill (No. 3) 1964.
Wool Tax Bill (No. 4) 1964.
Wool Tax Bill (No. 5) 1964.
Wool Tax (Administration) Bill 1964.
Wool Tax Legislation Repeal Bill 1964.
Commonwealth Aid Roads Bill 1964.
Appropriation Bill (No. 2) 1963-64.
Appropriation (Works and Services) Bill (No. 2) 1963-64.
Supply Bill 1964-65.
Supply (Special Expenditure) Bill 1964-65.
National Health Bill 1964.
Apple andPear Organisation Bill 1964.
Processed Milk Products Bounty Bill 1964.
Dairy Produce Levy Bill 1964:
Dairy Produce Research and Sales Promotion Bill 1964.
Dried Vine Fruits Stabilisation Bill 1964.
Dried Vine Fruits Contributory Charges Bill 1964.
Dried Vine Fruits Contributory Charges (Collection) Bill 1964.
Mint Employees Bill 1964.
Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Assessment Bill 1964.
Explosives Bill 1964.
Cellulose Acetate Flake Bounty Bill 1964.
Sulphate of Ammonia Bounty Bill 1964.
States Grants (Science Laboratories and Technical Training) Bill 1964.
Homes Savings Grant Bill 1964.
Acts Interpretation Bill 1964.
Evidence Bill 1964.
State and Territorial Laws and Records Recognition Bill 1964.
Rules Publication Bill 1964.
Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies Bill 1964.
Petroleum Search Subsidy Bill 1964.
– I report the receipt of a letter from Senator Anderson resigning his position as a Temporary Chairman of Committees. Pursuant to Standing Order No. 28a,i lay on the table my warrant nominating Senator K. A. Laught to act as Temporary Chairman of Committees when requested to do so by the Chairman of Committees, or when the Chairman of Committees is absent.
– I have received from the President of the United States of America, Mr. Lyndon B. Johnson, a letter thanking the Senate for expressions of sympathy on the death of John F. Kennedy. President Johnson stated that the bound volume containing the resolution passed and speeches made in the Senate in tribute to Mr. Kennedy constituted . an historical document which would be deposited in the John F. Kennedy Memorial Library. President Johnson asked me to convey to honorable senators the sincere thanks of the American people for the thoughtful message and record of condolence.
DEATH OF GENERAL DOUGLAS MacARTHUR.
– I have received a letter from the President of the United States of America, thanking the Senate for the expressions of sympathy in the Senate on the occasion of the death of General Douglas MacArthur. President Johnson stated that the tribute to this great American was another chapter in the common history of our sister democracies.
Motion (by Senator Paltridge) agreed to -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn till Tuesday 18th August at 3 p.m.
– by leave- Honorable senators will recall that during the debate early in 1963 on the amendment of the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations, the then Minister for Customs and Excise undertook to report to the Senate annually on prohibited books released to individual persons and organisations for special purposes in terms of regulation 4a of the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations which was introduced at that time. Regulation 4a prohibits, except with the consent of the Minister, the importation of blasphemous, indecent or obscene works or articles. The regulation further states that the Minister’s approval of an application in writing to import such works shall be subject to a report from the Chairman of the Literature Censorship Board or the Director-General of Health. This first report will cover the period from March 1963 when the procedure commenced to 30th June 1964, a period of somewhat more than one year. Thereafter each annual report will cover one year to 30th June. In making the present report to the Senate, I propose to comment briefly on how the system has operated.
For the period March 1963 to 30th June 1964, a total of 56 applications for permission to import prohibited publications was received. Of this number 20 were refused following investigations into the bona fides and needs of the applicants concerned. The balance was approved after consideration of reports required in terms of the regulation from cither the Chairman of the Literature Censorship Board or the Director-General of Health. The categories both of the applicants and the 36 released publications are as follows -
The applications which are the subject of this report were all considered by the former Minister. Since taking up my office I have had occasion to deal with a further number of such requests. Little difficulty has been experienced in dealing with applications for technical works especially since the assistance of the authorities mentioned in the regulation has been readily available. These technical works were in the main required by persons with relevant professional qualifications, both in universities and outside, and were for the general purpose of research. On the other hand, applications received from individuals and universities for prohibited works of fiction have not been quite so easy to deal with. Some important issues have been raised and close consideration of these has resulted in a conclusion that the release of fictional works deemed to be obscene, is unwarranted, except in very special circumstances.
The custody and distribution of prohibited publications within universities to which such books have been released, follows a similar pattern in all instances. In the first place each application for release is signed by the vice-chancellor of the university concerned. On receipt, the approved books are placed in the personal custody of the university librarian who makes them available for post graduate study or research upon the recommendation, in writing, of the head of the faculty concerned. Such controls arc in accordance with the conditions imposed by the Minister in each instance mission to import a publication deemed to be a prohibited import in terms of regulation 4a of the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations.
– by leave - This is the statement being made by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) in the House of Representatives and the personal pronoun will refer to him. Honorable members will already be aware of the events in the Gulf of Tonkin on 2nd and 4th August but I am taking this early opportunity after the reassembling of Parliament to place these matters on record and to inform the House of the views of the Australian Government on the situation.
On 2nd August the United States destroyer “ Maddox “, which was on routine patrol in the Gulf of Tonkin, was attacked, some 30 miles off shore, by three North Vietnamese fast patrol boats using torpedoes and machine gun fire. The attack was deliberate and made in daylight on the high seas. The “ Maddox “ returned the fire and disabled one vessel. Subsequently the President of the United States issued a statement announcing that the Navy had been instructed to continue the patrols with two destroyers instead of one; that the destroyers would be provided with air cover; and that they had been ordered to attack any force which attacked them. North Vietnam was warned of the consequences of any further incidents.
On the night of 4th August the “ Maddox “ and a second destroyer, “ C. Turner Joy “, were attacked about 60 miles off the coast by a number of vessels under cover of darkness. This attack was planned and deliberate. It was beaten off, two of the attacking vessels being sunk and two damaged. In pursuance of the warning previously given, President Johnson announced that repeated acts of violence against the armed forces of the United States “ must be met not only with alert defence butwith positive reply “. Yet, he said, the response for the present would be “ limited and fitting “. It is well to place on record his words -
We Americans know, although others appear to forget, the risk of spreading conflict. We still seek no wider war.
Aircraft of the United States ships “ Constellation “ and “ Ticonderoga “ attacked the bases from which the North Vietnamese craft operated. Some 25 motor torpedo boats were destroyed or damaged and an oil depot was in large part destroyed. Since that action on the night of 4th August there has been no further incidents. The United States has deployed greater strength into the area. At the same time as he announced these actions, President Johnson instructed that the matter be raised immediately and urgently before the Security Council of the United Nations. This has been done and the Security Council has commenced discussion of the question.
On 6th August the United Slates Congress was put in possession of the facts and the Senate and the House passed a resolution, both parties supporting.it, approving the President’s actions. This resolution is of such historic importance that I quote the operative paragraphs in full -
The Congress approves and supports the determination of the President, as Commander-in-Chief, to take all necessary measures to repel any armed attacks against the forces of the United States and to prevent further aggression.
The United States regards as vital to its national interest and to world peace the maintenance of international peace and security in South-East Asia.
Consonant with the Constitution and the Charter of the United Nations and in accordance wilh its obligations under the South-East Asia Collective Defense Treaty, the United States is, therefore, prepared, as the President determines, to take all necessary steps, including the use of armed force, to assist any member or protocol state of the South-East Asia Collective Defense Treaty requesting assistance in defense of its freedom.
This resolution shall expire when the President shall determine that the peace and security of the area is reasonably assured by international conditions created by action of the United Nations or otherwise except that it may be terminated earlier by concurrent resolution of the Congress.
That expression by a great power, through the voice of the representatives of its people, is a signal that will hearten those who resist aggression throughout the world. Most Australians clearly recognise that, in a world where there is aggression, peace can be established and the principles of the United Nations Charter applied only after aggression has been made to fail. The Government, the Congress and the people of the United States of America have gained our respect and honour for their acceptance of the great responsibilities that come with great power and for their sober, determined, but restrained use of their power for the peace and security of other peoples. Do not let us forget that the immediate gains in security out of these incidents have been greater for the people of the South-East Asian region than for the peoples of North America.
Immediately on receiving news of the events recounted above I issued a statement on behalf of the Government, reading in part as follows -
The Australian Government believes that the United States Government could do no less than take the necessary military measures to protect its naval vessels from attack in international waters. The action by the United States in defence of its forces and in defence of the principles of the freedom of the high seas - a matter of paramount importance to Australia - has obliged the United States, in the words of President Johnson, to take action against “ certain supporting facilities in North Vietnam which have been used in these hostile operations “. The Government believes that this action was completely justified as North Vietnam could not be left undisturbed in its capacity to launch and renew such attacks.
The Australian Government notes that the action being taken by the United States Forces against North Vietnam bases and supporting facilities was described by President Johnson as “ limited and fitting “ and that the United States was seeking a meeting of the United Nations Security Council to discuss the situation today.
In confirming that statement I should like to remind honorable members of the fact that the incidents in the Bay of Tonkin are part of a long sequence of aggression in South-East Asia. They should be viewed in the context of danger throughout this region and not as an isolated event. Although all of us hope fervently for peace and for good relations with our neighbours, let none of us be blind to the realities of power. North Vietnam, which possesses the largest army on the South-East Asian mainland and which has behind it the even greater power of mainland China, has been active in war, infiltration, terrorism and subversion in South Vietnam and Laos. This is the fact that shakes the stability of the region, threatens the political independence of nations and prevents its people from enjoying the social and economic progress that could otherwise be their lot. In the face of events, the Australian Government is convinced that, whatever possibilities the future may hold for a genuine settlement in. the region, there is no current alternative to the effort of assisting South Vietnam to preserve its independence and there is no current alternative to using force as necessary to check the southward thrust of militant Asian Communism. Our own defence measures and such aid as we have been able to give to neighbouring states are influenced by this realisation. lt is our hope that the restrained but determined actions of the United States will have a strong deterrent effect on the aggressor and lead to second thoughts by those who seek peace only by crushing free nations. In seeking peace, as the final objective of our policy, we recognise the need at the present time for the deterrent effect of power, and we ourselves within the limits of our capacity arc determined to stand with our allies in S.E.A.T.O. in the defence against Communist aggression in South-East Asia. Our own security in Australia is inseparable from the security of the region. We cannot profess to be concerned with the one without being ready to do something about the other.
Although we continue to watch events closely and with deep concern there is at present no reason to assume that the conflict will extend. We will continue to use every diplomatic opportunity that presents itself to seek peace and we a.re confident that is also the purpose of our allies. The firmness and promptness shown in meeting hostile action has been matched in the past and will be matched in the future by our allies by firmness, patience and restraint in the face of more subtle threats to peace.
Australia will make its own decisions from time to time in keeping with it’s responsibility to the Australian people and its commitments to its allies and we will make our own judgments and offer, our own comments on the changing world scene. Our support in this case was considered and not automatic. At the present juncture and dealing with the incidents now under notice we do not qualify in any way our plain statement to the United States and to the world that we support the action of the United States and believe it to have been justified by the circumstances that provoked it and by its effect on the endeavours to bring peace to South-East Asia.
I present the following paper -
The Incidents in the Gulf of Tonkin.
Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN (Queensland) [5.0]. - I move -
That the paper be printed. 1 ask for leave to make my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Paltridge) - by leave - agreed to -
That leave of absence for two months be granted to Senator Hannan on account of absence overseas.
Motions (by Senator McKenna) - by leave - agreed to -
That leave of absence for two months be granted to Senator Kennelly on account of absence overseas.
That leave of absence for one month be granted to Senator Arnold on account of ill health.
– by leave - Since we last met, India has lost a very distinguished Prime Minister and the world has lost a most famous and significant statesman. Mr. Nehru was the political founder of the Republic of India and was its Prime Minister and Minister for External Affairs from the date of its independence in 1947 until his death in May of this year. He had been intimately associated with Mahatma Gandhi as a member of the non-violent noncooperation movement and with labour and nationalist movements. He had succeeded his father as President of the Indian National Congress in 1929 and had been a member of the non-violent non-co-operation movement under Mahatma Gandhi.
His international activities are well known and will be remembered. But one of his most remarkable achievements, somewhat less known, was in the domestic affairs of India. In this Senate we all know of the numerous problems that arise in the course of the government of Australia. Yet every one of us was born into a community long versed in parliamentary democracy, a community in which the general nature of democratic government and the organisation of parties and the spirit of the community had long been established. But India, when it came to ils sovereign independence, was a great group of principalities and communities and localities totalling something like 400 million people. It was a gigantic task to produce out of all these elements some political structure and coherence on a democratic basis. It is, I think, proper to believe that nobody but Mr. Nehru could have performed it.
If democratic self-government persists in India, and we all hope and believe that it will, it will be primarily due to the life work of Mr. Nehru. He had been through every conceivable political adversity, but he retained his standards. He achieved not only w ide fame in his own country, but immense moral authority. To hundreds of millions of people he was India. He may. properly and without any exaggeration, be described as one of the makers of modern history. His successor, Mr. Shastri, to whom we would all wish to extend our warmest good wishes, has inherited an immense task. He will be strengthened in the performance of that- task, not only by his pride in his predecessor but by an understanding that the things for which Mr. Nehru stood must bc carried on so that in duc course the nation of India will develop its resources, its standards and its strength.
I am taking the unusual course of moving a motion because we believe :hat it should be made clear to the Government and people of India that there is an understanding in Australia of their problem, a profound sympathy for them in their tremendous loss and a resolution to cultivate a spirit of friendship and encouragement. I move -
That the Senate records its sincere regret al the death of Jawaharlal Nehru, Prime Minister of India, places on record its admiration for his devotion to and achievements on .behalf of the people of his own country, and for his unceasing and positive interest in international affairs, expresses to the people of India its profound regret at the loss they have suffered, and tenders ils deep sympathy to his relatives.
– On behalf of the Labour Party in the Senate 1 second the motion which the Leader of the Government has moved. I begin by saying that not merely Australia but the whole world was saddened by the death of. Mr. Nehru on 27th May last. He was a remarkable man. He was a graduate of Cambridge University. He was a member of the Inner * Temple. He practised law in India. He met
Mr. Gandhi in 1916 and together they devoted themselves to two things - first, the winning of independence for India, their country, and secondly, to the welfare of the masses of their people. Mr. Nehru was imprisoned many times as an agitator, but he lived to have the great happiness of seeing his country win independence and of seeing it gain respect and stature amongst the nations of the world. He became the first Prime Minister of free India on 15th August 1947. He was a man who was respected, in the Commonwealth of Nations and in the United Nations Organisation as well. ‘
I know that one of our own Prime Ministers, Mr. Chifley, had the greatest admiration and affection for him. Mr Chifley regarded him as a world statesman, Mr. Nehru glowed with pleasure when I told him that very thing two years ago in London. The late Prime Minister was not merely an Indian, he was also an internationalist. He visited very many countries of the earth and all the time his efforts were for peace. He was probably the first Indian leader to view Indian difficulties as part of a world problem. He saw clearly the need for the introduction of scientific methods, modern technology and industrialisation, not merely into his own country but into all the emerging UnderindUstrialised countries of the world.
He was a great advocate of peace. He look up a neutral position for India in the councils of the world, but that did not prevent him from granting asylum to the Dalai Lama of Tibet when the Communist Chinese invaded that country in 1959, nor in the same year did it prevent him from warning Red China that India would resist interference on ils border by force if necessary. In recent years Mr. Nehru. was, I know, greatly saddened by the fact that such a necessity did arise. During an interview that he accorded to Mr. Nash of New Zealand and myself in London two years ago wc spent some one and half hours discussing problems connected with Britain’s entry into the European Economic Community and the problems of his own country and those of the new and emerging nations. He indicated then that he had to find 14 million new jobs a year for his people, a task of a magnitude that is simply appalling. Of course, industry had to bc expanded to provide opportunities. When I asked him what Australia could best do to help India he replied: “ Give us technical assistance and know-how in the establishment of industry “. That is a great problem not only for his own country, as he saw it, but also for the many new nations in a similar plight. Probably that is the message that the late Prime Minister, if he could determine the matter, would ask to be conveyed to this Parliament today.
I hope that the Government will keep seriously in its mind, and very much to the forefront of its mind, the great need, of India in the respect I have indicated. That certainly would be the best and most fitting testimonial that we could give to this very great man. On 27th May last there ended a life of high endeavour and colossal achievement; it was a life devoted to humanity and to his country and a life that will continue to influence the world for a long time to come.
I extend the sumpathy of all members of the Opposition to the sorrowing relatives of the Prime Minister and to the Government and people of India.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable senators standing in their places.
– by leave - Only last month, Australia lost one of its most distinguished citizens with the death of Sir John Latham, a former Deputy Prime Minister of this country and Chief Justice of the High Court. In a lifetime of nearly 87 years, Sir John had given such service to his country in the varied roles of academic, diplomat, politician and jurist, that he won the warm-hearted affection of all Australians. He had been called to the Bar in Victoria in 1904 and lectured at the University of Melbourne in logic, philosophy and law. He served with the Royal Australian Navy in the Great War, and was an officer of the Australian delegation at the Peace Conference at Versailles.
His parliamentary career began in 1922 and he was in this Parliament for 12 years. In that period, he had served as Deputy Prime Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for Industry, Minister for External Affairs and Leader of the Opposition. He became a Privy Councillor in 1933, and was knighted in 1935, during which year he also became Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia. He retired from the Bench in 1952. Sir John had also been Australian Senior Representative at the Assembly of the League of Nations in 1926 and represented Australia at the Imperial Conference in that year. He had represented Australia at the Disarmament Conference and the League of Nations Special Assembly at Geneva and the Reparations Conference at Lausanne in 1932. He left the Bench temporarily in 1940 and 1941 during which time he was the first Australian Minister to Japan.
Sir John also gave service to the public in many other ways. He was Chancellor of the University of Melbourne from 1939 to 1941 and at various times served as President of the Australian Red Cross Society, President of the Victorian Amateur Athletics Association, President of the Australian Elizabethan Trust and President of the Australian Association for Cultural Freedom. I think we all agree that his service to the people of Australia will be remembered and honored for very many years to come. I move -
That the Senate expresses its deep regret at the death of the Right Honorable Sir John Greig Latham, G.C.M.G., former member of the House of Representatives for the Division of Kooyong, Commonwealth Minister, Leader of the Opposition and Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia, places on record its appreciation of his long and distinguished public service and tenders its profound sympathy to his relatives in their bereavement.
– I second the motion which the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Paltridge) has proposed. Sir John Latham would be well known, if not personally, then certainly by repute, to each one in this Parliament, let alone in the Senate. He was the fifth Chief Justice of Australia. He succeeded great men who began with Sir Samuel Griffith in 1903, followed by Sir Adrian Knox in 1919, Sir Isaac Isaacs and Sir Frank Gavan Duffy. As we have been told, he assumed office in 1935 and had a record term of nearly 17 years. He figured in the most distinguished company and he certainly will not be the least distinguished of the many great Chief Justices that Australia has had, and undoubtedly will have. Listening to the recital of the record of his 87 years of life. 23 of which were spent in the last century and 64 in this century, one is struck by the outstanding feature that here was a life of unceasing activity at the highest levels in many diverse fields.
As we have been told, Sir John was scholar, lawyer, parliamentarian, diplomat and leader of many worthwhile community causes. He was outstanding and distinguished in each of those activities. Those who knew anything at all of Sir John must have been impressed by the utmost integrity of his character and his mind. Those who have read his judgments will see therein evidence of enormous industry and clarity of mind. Sir John never hesitated to put down at length and most comprehensively his conclusions in relation to a cause or matter before him, and he also detailed all his reasons for them, leaving people free to determine whether they were right or wrong. From his viewpoint they were right.
Sir John Latham never sought to evade issues, lt was characteristic of him that he should not do so. He lived up to that principle throughout the whole of his life and his retirement in 1952 gave him 1.2 more years of life, but it was only a comparative retirement. Obviously he had learned the secret of longevity which, it seems to mc, is to keep both body and mind in continuous and useful activity. Sir John’s activities did not cease with his retirement from the Bench in 1952. He embarked on many kinds of community activity. He was outspoken and forward looking in all kinds of matters. In particular I am interested in his continuous advocacy of constitutional reform.
I hope that this Parliament will lake note of the message that this great man has left to us. He spoke from the unique position of one highly qualified legally and technically; he spoke as one who experienced the operation of ou: Federal Constitution as a parliamentarian at the highest level, and as a judge he interpreted that Constitution at the highest possible level. Add to that his personal qualifications and his great Australianism, and allow for the forward looking nature of his mind and one must see that in presenting us with the problems connected with our Constitution, be indeed more than anybody was qualified to do so. I hope that the message that will live following his demise is the review of the Constitution for which he contended. He pictured its defects in the clearest language and, as usual, gave the clearest of reasons for his conclusions. This was a theme from which he did not depart and I know it was very dear to him. We who were members of the Constitution Review Committee hat! the privilege of very lengthy discussion with him on the subject of constitutional change. 1 think that the legacy he would have loved to leave would be the feeling that he had contributed to a better and greater Australia through the changes that he fell should be made.
The extent to which Sir John Latham was active showed in the fact that in his 87th year and only two weeks before his death, he presided over an enormous crowd in the Exhibition Building in Melbourne to celebrate American Independence Day. He was, I think, for many years the President of the Australian American Association. That is only one small example of the fields in which he was interested. He lived such a life that he was erect, both physically and mentally, right to his very last days. He was interested in everything that moved in the world and in life.
The Opposition acknowledges that Sir John was a great Chief Justice and that he was a great Australian. We acknowledge, too, that he won an imperishable place in Australian history on many counts. On behalf of the Opposition I extend our deepest sympathy to his son and other surviving relatives in their loss of such a distinguished son of Australia.
– I rise to express endorsement of all that has been said and to add one thing which should be remembered. It is that when his most promising son - who was already a student of great distinction and achievement - was killed during the Second World War. that sacrifice was born by Sir John with typical stoicism.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable senators standing in their places.
– by leave - The late honorable C. W. Frost was a former Minister foc Repatriation and a member of the House of Representatives of this Parliament. Mr. Frost was a member for the electorate of
Franklin, Tasmania, from 1929 to 1931 and from 1934 to 1946. He was Minister for Repatriation and War Service Homes from 1941 to 1946 in the difficult early postwar period when this portfolio contained many pressing problems. During his service with the Parliament, Mr. Frost was a member of the Australian delegation to the Empire Parliamentary Association which visited England in 1935. He was a member of the Joint Committee on Public Works from 1937 to 1940 and a member of the Rural Industries Committee from July 1941 to November 1941. He was Commissioner to Ceylon from 1947 to 1948 and Australian High Commissioner from 1948 to 1950. He leaves a wife, two sons and a daughter to whom our sympathy is extended. I move -
That the Senate expresses its deep regret at the death of the Honorable Charles William Frost, a former member of the House of Representatives for the Division of Franklin, and a former Commonwealth Minister, places on record its appreciation of his long and meritorious public service and tenders its profound sympathy to his widow and the members of his family in their bereavement.
– I second the motion on behalf of the Opposition. I knew the late Charles Frost personally for quite a few decades. I had the privilege of serving with him in the Chifley Labour Government for a number of years and I regretted his defeat in 1946. Thereafter he accepted a diplomatic mission. One of his sons sought on a number of occasions, valiantly but unsuccessfully, to win back Franklin for the Australian Labour Party. Franklin has remained with the Government ever since 1946.
The late Charles Frost was a giant of a man physically. He was a very earnest, sincere man and above all was impregnated with the ideals and principles of the Australian Labour Party. His loyalty to the partY was unquestioned. In him we lose not only a staunch supporter of the party but also a personal friend of many of us on this side of the Senate. I join with the Leader of the Government in extending sympathy to his widow and two sons and daughter who, with other relatives, have reason to mourn his passing.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable senators standing in their places.
– A former Senator, Robert Ernest Clothier, died in Royal Perth Hospital on Sunday 31st May 1964, at the age of 87 years. Mr. Clothier, a former bootmaker, entered politics in 1933 when, as a Labour candidate, he won the Maylands seat in the Legislative Assembly of Western Australia. He was elected to the Senate for Western Australia at the general elections of 1937 and was a Senator from the 1st June 1938 until the 30th June 1950. He took an active part in trade unionism and in 1933 was secretary of the Bootmakers Union. He was an enthusiastic worker for friendly societies and was a former secretary of the Friendly Societies Association of Western. Australia.
During his term of service in the Senate, Mr. Clothier was a member of the Standing Committee on Regulations and Ordinances from 1938 to 1943, a member of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on War Expenditure from July to November 1941, Government Whip in the Senate from 7th October 1943 to the 31st October 1949 and Opposition Whip from 22nd February to 30th June 1950. He leaves a married daughter to whom our sympathy is extended.
– Mr. President, I knew the late Bob Clothier exceedingly well. He was Government Whip in the Senate, when I came into the chamber on 1st July 1944 and he continued to be Opposition Whip until 1950. He was defeated at the 1949 elections. The late Bob Clothier was one of the most loyal members the Australian Labour Party ever had. He was ever about its business. He was bluff, genial, happy, honest and one of the most lovable men one could meet. He had a very long and full life. On behalf of the Opposition I extend to the sole surviving member of his family, Mrs. Thompson, our deep sympathy with her on his passing.
Senator PALTRIDGE (Western Australia - Minister for Defence). - Mr. Robert Wardlaw, a former Senator for Tasmania, died at the age of 75 years at his home in Launceston on 28th June 1964. He was born at Mathinna and spent much of his life at Ringarooma. He moved to Launceston when he was elected to the Senate in 1953 and remained in that city after his retirement from the Senate in 1962. During his Parliamentary service he was a member of the House Committee from 1959, a member of the Australian Delegation to the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Conference at London in 196J and a member of the Inter-Parliamentary Council of the Inter-Parliamentary Union in 1961-62.
In his early life he served with the Seventh Light Horse in World War 1. After the war he returned to Tasmania and established a general store in partnership with his brother at Ringarooma. The business was expanded to establish another store at Branxholm. He retired from this business in 1945 and took up farming. He ran two farms, a dairy and a piggery, and became one of Tasmania’s leading pig producers. For some time he was President of the Returned Servicemen’s League at Ringarooma and took a keen interest in all community activities. He was also interested in agricultural affairs and was associated with several agricultural associations. He was an original member of the Farmers’ and Graziers’ Co-operative Society, and was actively associated with the Royal Commonwealth Society. He leaves a widow, Mrs. Jessica Wardlaw, to whom our sympathies are extended.
Senator McKENNA (Tasmania-Leader of the Opposition). - 1 join the Leader of the Government (Senator Paltridge) in expressing regret at the passing on 28th June 1964 of Robert Wardlaw, so soon after his retirement from this place. He had really only been retired for about two years. Although he was 75, his death came as rather a shock Vo those of us in the Opposition who had known him in this place for about nine years. I thought he was an exceedingly well preserved and thoroughly fit gentleman. I use that last word advisedly because it was the key to his character. The late senator was by nature a kindly gentleman.
He was knowledgable in the field of agriculture, as the Leader of the Government has indicated. His contributions, on that head in particular, were always of substance and of real interest. He was a man who left a very happy impression on the Senate. 1 regret his passing. I thought I should have many more opportunities to sec him after his retirement. I join with the Leader of the Government in expressing sympathy to his widow in her loss.
– On behalf of the Minister for Health (Senator Wade), who is the Leader of the Australian Country Party in the Senate. I should like to add some words to those expressed by the Leader of the Government (Senator Paltridge) and the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) in respect of the death of Robert Wardlaw, a very old friend of many of us on both sides of the Senate. I received a shock when I heard just a while ago that he had passed away.
I should like to take this opportunity, on behalf of my colleagues of the Country Party to express our heartfelt sympathy to his widow. She is a very fine woman who stood by him throughout the ups and downs of his life and his political career. She has lost a very good husband and a very fine man. From my experience, the former Senator Wardlaw was a friendly, genuine and kindly man, as the Leader of the Opposition has said. He was one whom it was good to know, and I greatly regret his untimely passing. I join wilh the others who have spoken in supporting the expression of sympathy to his sorrowing widow.
– I should like to associate myself with the expressions of sympathy and condolence. During the years when Robert Wardlaw was a senator 1 had very close contact with him on various occasions and I always found him to be a man of great integrity, kindness and sympathy.
Those people who knew him over the years - 1 knew him before he entered this Senate - as a resident of the north-east of Tasmania can all speak of his numerous acts of kindness to people in adversity. He went about in his own very quiet way doing very kind things in a manner which did not, perhaps, direct attention to himself. However, he had the inner satisfaction of knowing that in doing what he did he was helping other people. He was a fine citizen of Tasmania. I should like to express to his widow, Jessica, my own personal and deep sympathy.
Senator PALTRIDGE (Western Australia - Minister for Defence). - Mr.
Donald James Cameron, former member of the House of Representatves for Lilley, died in the Brisbane General Hospital on 22nd June. Mr. Cameron had been suffering from chronic heart disease and had been in hospital on several occasions over a period of four months prior to his death. He was elected as member for Lilley at the general election in 1961, as the endorsed Australian Labour candidate, and he lost his seat at the last general election. He was a member of the House Committee from 1962 until the 1963 election. He was born at Cloncurry in 1917 and was a chef and catering manager prior to being elected to the Parliament. He leaves a widow, two sons and two daughters, to whom our sympathy is extended.
Senator McKENNA (Tasmania - Leader of the Opposition). - I join with the Leader of the Government in regretting the death of our late colleague, Mr. Donald Cameron. He was with us for only a very short time. At the last election, although he was our candidate, he was too ill to campaign and was defeated. One must acknowledge that his was a life cut prematurely short.
He was a veteran of World War II. He suffered injuries in that war from which he never recovered. One must regard him as a victim of that war to a very large extent. His time with us here was short, but he certainly made his mark during that time. I have the privilege of knowing his wife and famly, and I join with the Leader of the Government in conveying to them, on behalf of the Opposition and on behalf of myself in particular, our very real sympathy for them in the loss of so young and talented a husband and father.
Sitting suspended from 5.39 to 8 p.m.
Senator HENTY (Tasmania - Minister for
Civil Aviation) [8.0]. - I lay on the table the following papers -
Civil Works Programme 1964-65.
Commonwealth Payments to or for the States, 1964-65.
Estimates of Receipts and Summary of Estimated Expenditure for the year Ending 30th June 1965.
Particulars of Proposed Expenditure for the Ordinary Annual Services of the Government in respect of the Year Ending 30th June 1965.
Particulars of Proposed Expenditure for other than the Ordinary Annual Services of the Government in respect of the Year Ending 30th June 1965.
Government Securities on Issue at 30th June 1964.
Income Tax Statistics.
National Income and Expenditure 1963-64. and move -
That the papers be printed.
On 5th May 1964, the then Leader of the Government in the Senate explained changes being made in the form of the annual appropriation measures to distinguish between appropriations which are, and those which are not, for the ordinary annual services of the Government. This distinction has been continued in the documents now presented to the Senate. The paper “ Particulars of Proposed Expenditure for other than the Ordinary Annual Services of the Government “ contains those appropriations for which, in the opinion of the Government and its legal advisers, a good case can not be made out for the view that they are for the ordinary annual services of the Government. During the intervening months since the Supply Bills were passed, further consideration has been given to this classification of appropriations. Discussions on this question are continuing and pending their completion, no alteration has been made to the form of the measures which was adopted in May.
Tonight, the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) is delivering in another place his Budget speech for 1964-65. It is my privilege to outline to the Senate the Budget proposals of the Government.
Altogether, 1963-64 was a year of notable economic achievement for Australia. Admittedly we had a fair share of good fortune. At home, the seasons stood to us again. Abroad, the prices of a number of our main exports rose and some commodities, like wheat and sugar, found wider markets than we would normally have expected. Conceding that, however, it seems fair to say that the economy put up a good performance in terms of enterprise and effort and output.
To take a few main points from the record - civilian employment increased in the twelve months to the end of May by 142,000 or 4.3 per cent, and unemployment fell by 33,000. At the end of June, the total of registered applicants for jobs was a little above 1 per cent, of the work force. Most of the very large number of young people coming forward for employment in the year were speedily and satisfactorily absorbed.
Over the year there was a big increase in production as a whole and in all its main branches. Building and construction started the year high and kept on rising. Activity in transport, communications and the service occupations generally ran high. The volume of trade rose steadily and there was a further great rise in motor vehicle sales.
On preliminary figures put out by the Commonwealth Statistician, wages and salaries increased last year by 9 per cent., company income by 10 per cent., farm income by 26 per cent, and gross national product by 9 per cent. The big rise in exports had, of course, a lot to do with this.
Externally, the results of the year were quite spectacular. Exports reached £1,374,000,000 which was £309,000,000 above the high total of the previous year. Even though imports rose strongly in the later part of the year, our receipts from abroad greatly exceeded outgoings and our overseas reserves increased by £228,000,000 to a total of £854,000,000. By a considerable margin, that is the largest amount of overseas reserves we have ever held at the end of a financial year.
Yet, notwithstanding all this rise in incomes and activity and expenditure, and despite considerable increases in wage rates and earnings, consumer goods prices remained stable until the later part of the year, when they began ‘.o show a rising trend. In the June quarter of this year the consumer price index was 1.7 per cent, higher than in the June quarter of 1963. It is noteworthy also that, while the exceptional rise in exports has added greatly to incomes, the disturbing effects, which in other times it would probably have had, have so far been fairly successfully contained.
To state very broadly our expectations for 1964-65, we think that there can be, and will be, a further considerable rise in employment, production and general activity but that, for sheer physical reasons, this can hardly bc expected to equal the rather phenomenal results of 1963-64. Labour, if nothing else, is likely to be a limiting factor. There will be an increase in the work force this year - it may even be somewhat greater than that of last year. It will come partly from local sources - and there will be a considerable gain from migration, which is running strongly. But the difference is that, unemployment being now so low, there could scarcely be any great back flow of people to jobs from that source, such as occurred in 1963-64 when unemployment was reduced by 33,000. Besides, overtime working is already very high and it is probable that employers have already called quite heavily on the body of people in the community who normally take jobs, only in times of strong labour demand. There have, of course, been shortages of some types of skilled labour for a long time past and these are’ getting more serious. Now, in some industries and areas, there are shortages of unskilled labour as well.
Plant capacity seems generally adequate as yet and it is being increased all the time; but it must by now be much mere extended than it was some time ago. Similarly as to materials - there are few signs of shortages but sources of supplies are being called upon more and more heavily.
While the possibilities of increasing output are thus clearly limited, demand, in the shape of both current and capital expenditure, has been, and is, strongly on the rise. Last year, personal consumption expenditure increased by 6 per cent., public authority current expenditure by 13 per cent., private fixed capital expenditure by 11 per cent, and public authority capital expenditure by 1 1 per cent. All this adds up to a very formidable rate of growth in demand and there is every sign that it is continuing to increase. In particular, consumer spending, which is by far the largest element and which has shown the slowest increase so far, seems certain to rise as employment and earnings increase. The recent basic wage increases alone will add something like £100,000,000 a year to wage and salary incomes.
Concurrently, there has been a great growth in the volume of money. Through 1963-64 the total of bank deposits, notes and coins available to the public - already high when the year began - rose by no less than 12 per cent. Savings bank deposits alone rose by £268,000,000. Besides this cash in hand, the business world and people at large are in a position to draw upon large overdraft limits established with the trading banks. In addition, of course, there is a great wealth of consumer credit facilities available.
To put the position briefly, then, we have every reason to expect a further good increase in production this year. But there is also a strong likelihood that demand for goods and services will increase further and faster than supplies, at least in some quarters. Of course, we are in a position to afford more imports if we need them and there is no doubt that imports will in any case rise considerably. But we cannot readily get from overseas anything and everything we want and some of the things we do get are likely to be more costly than local products.
Hence, our problem is very much one of keeping things in line. Employment and production, we can be sure, will continue to grow at a quite high rate. What we have to ensure is that demand does not rise excessively. Should it do so, there could soon be over-strong competition for goods and labour and materials. Costs and prices would be driven up. Speculation could break out again. Imports could rise excessively and lead to a greater run down of our overseas reserves than we would care to see. That would be the end of the stability which has meant so much to the Australian economy and its people over the past several years.
Total estimated expenditures of the Commonwealth are expected to exceed actual expenditures last year by £224,000,000.
Such a large rise in expenditure raises, first of all, a question as to the effect it will have on the economy. The broad answer to this is simple and certain. It will have a strongly expansive effect since, directly or indirectly, an increase in government expenditures adds to demand for goods and services. The actual magnitude of this impact can be seen more clearly when an analysis is made on a national accounting basis of the Commonwealth expenditures and receipts for which provision is made in this Budget. These expenditures will be making a substantial addition to demand at a time when demand in general is rising strongly.
To say this is not at all to concede that the rise in expenditures should or could be any less than it is. In fact, if the various main items which make up the total are taken one by one, it would have to be agreed that they are either inescapable as being the costs of services required by a fast growing economy or, so far as they flow from new policy decisions, are entirely justifiable. Within the total increase of £224,400,000 we have made provision for-
Defence Services - a total of £296,800,000 which is an increase of £36,300,000 over expenditure in 1963-64.
An addition of £21,000,000 to the amount to be raised for State borrowing programmes for works and housing.
A net addition of £31,700,000 for grants to the States. For obvious reasons there will be no repetition this year of the £20,000,000 grant made last year for employment giving activities. On the other hand, financial assistance grants will increase under the formula which governs them by £22,600,000, special grants to Western Australia and Tasmania by £4,400,000, aid road grants by £7,000,000 to a total of £65,000,000, assistance for universities by £2,100,000 to a total of £19,000,000; and there will, besides, be increased payments amounting to £4,300,000 for various development projects and approximately £10,000,000 for science laboratories and technical training facilities.
Increased expenditure to be made from the National Welfare Fund this year amounting to £35,800,000 and bringing the total to £452,200,000. Besides the cost of previously existing benefits, this includes provision for increased child endowment in accordance with our election undertakings and £10,000,000 for home savings grants.
An increase of £24,200,000. for capital works and services, which covers most Commonwealth constructional activities in Australia and also includes an increase this year of £6,000,000 for rail standardisation works in South Australia and Western Australia.
An increase of £32,800,000 for redemption of maturing debt. There is an exceptional total of £347,800,000 of debt falling due within Australia this year and we have thought it advisable to allow for a substantial part of the debt being taken out in cash instead of being converted.
Amounts of £3,000,000 for petrol prices stabilisation, £1,800,000 for increased cost of the superphosphate bounty and £9,300,000 for wool promotion. Of the latter amount, £4,700,000 will be raised from wool growers.
These major items add up to £195,900,000, which is more than 87 per cent, of the total increase of £224,400,000. The remaining £28,500,000 represents the net increase in our various other budgetary commitments. There have been savings in some items such, for example, as a reduced liability, estimated at £10,800,000 on account of the wheat industry stabilisation scheme, and a reduction of £3,700,000 in the amount provided for the Mount Isa railway. On the other hand, costs of administration over the whole field, including the business undertakings, have been substantially increased by increases in the basic wage and in margins.
The Government has naturally been much concerned at the size of this increase in expenditure and its budgetary and economic implications. We have made a point of giving prompt effect to our election undertakings and all but two of those with direct budgetary consequences are now in operation. Of these two, negotiations relating to the stabilisation of petrol prices in rural areas are in train and we hope to bring the scheme into effect by the end of this year. With that possibility in view, an amount of £3,000,000 has been included in this Budget. The full year cost will, of course, be considerably greater than this. Legislation to establish the Housing Loan Insurance Corporation will be introduced during this session.
Beyond this, however, our general line has been to avoid any further commitments of a major kind which would involve adding to expediture in this financial year. We have had very much in mind the state of the economy and the importance of keeping down the pressure of demand. We have also had to give serious consideration to the trend of defence expenditure and its significance for the Budget. I do not think anyone seriously questions what we are doing to step up defence preparations but the fact must be faced - defence preparations are costly - costly in terms not only of money but of resources. The £297,000,000 provided for this year amounts to an increase of £99,000,000 or 50 per cent, over expenditure in 1960-61, four years ago. That increase is strongly reflected in this Budget. But since much of the greater part of our defence spending takes place in Australia, this also represents a heavy additional call on manpower, materials and equipment. In other words, it is also having a significant influence on our economic situation.
As to special developmental projects in the States, the general position is that we now have a large programme of them in hand, some still in the initial stages but others reaching the stage of rapid progress and heavy expenditure. For the projects to which we are already committed in various States, an amount of £23,730,000 is provided in the current Budget, this being an increase of £6,431,000 over expenditure last year. Beyond 1964-65, we have an estimated further commitment in respect of these projects exceeding £70,000,000. Plainly, it would be a mistake at this stage, especially in view of the labour situation, to enlarge further the present big volume of works activity. Indeed, it could well be self defeating if competition for labour already scarce were to delay progress and force up costs not only for new projects but for those already under way.
Nevertheless, we do not want the programme to lose momentum. There is ample work in hand now but we want to ensure continuity of progress in the years ahead. A number of projects submitted to us by State Governments have been under consideration. Some of these require further investigation but we have now decided to offer financial assistance to an extension of the Comprehensive Water Supply Scheme in Western Australia under which water will be reticulated to farms and towns in regions to the north and east of Northam and east of Narrogin. Subject to the Government of Western Australia matching our contribution on a £1 for £1 basis, we will make advances to that Government up to a maximum of £5,250,000. Our contributions, however, will not begin until the financial year 1965-66.
As announced recently by the Minister for National Development and following a recommendation by the Australian Water Resources Council, the Government has decided to support an accelerated programme in the States for the measurement of surface water resources. In addition, we have decided to offer the States financial assistance towards an accelerated programme of investigation of underground water resources. It is expected that legislation for these purposes will be introduced during the current parliamentary session and meanwhile, provision has been included in the Budget for payments to the States of £402,000 in 1964-65.
Concurently with the programme of assistance to the States, the Comonwealth is itself undertaking an extensive programme of water resources investigation in the Northern Territory.
Our grant to the Papua-New Guinea Administration this year will be £28,000,000 which is an increase of £2,751,000 on the grant for 1963,-64.
To encourage further exploration for oil, the Petroleum Search Subsidy Act has been extended for a further three years and an amount of £5,000,000 has been included in the Budget for payment of subsidies on oil search activities in 1964-65.
We propose to increase the rates of age, invalid and widows’ pensions by 5s. a week, thus raising the standard rate of pension payable to single age and invalid pensioners and to widow pensioners with children from £5 15s. a week to £6 a week.
The married rate of pension will be raised from £5. 5s. to £5. 10s. a week so that the combined rates payable to a married couple, both pensioners, will be increased from £10 10s. a week to £11 a week. For widows without children the rate of pension will rise from £5. 2s. 6d. a week to £5. 7s. 6d. a week.
It is also proposed to increase the allowance payable to persons suffering from tuberculosis by 5s. per week in the case of a single person and by 10s. per week in the case of a man and wife.
Increased pensions will be payable on the first pension pay-day after the necessary legislation has been passed. The estimated cost of the increased benefits is £10,430,000 in a full year and £7,825,000 in 1964-65.
We have also decided to increase a number of major repatriation benefits.
The special (T.P.I.) rate war pension is to be increased by 10s. per week from £13. 15s. to £14. 5s. per week.
The general rate pensions for exservicemen and wives are both to be increased. The full general (100 per cent.) rate will be increased from £5. 15s. to £6 and the “wife’s” rate from £1. 15s. 6d, to £2. 0s. 6d. per week.
War widows’ pension will also be increased by 5s from £5. 15s. to £6.
The ex-serviceman’s service pension will be increased by 5s. This increase applies both to “ single “ pensioners whose rate rises from £5. 15s. to £6 per week and to married pensioners where the increase is from £5. 5s. to £5. 10s. per week.
There is to be an adjustment in the amounts paid to appellants for loss of earnings, the cost of transport and their subsistence while absent from home when attending tribunal hearings. This adjustment will result in increased payments to bring them into line with payments made where the attendances are for medical attention or for other purposes in connection with pension claims.
Increased pensions will be payable on the first pension pay-day after the necessary legislation has been passed. The cost of these increases in war and service pensions is estimated to be £3,920,000 in a full year and £2,950.000 in 1964-65.
Legislation will be brought down to increase the benefits provided under the Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act 1930-1962, which have not been varied since 1959. The basic lump sum payable to dependants upon the death of a Commonwealth employee will be increased from £3,000 to £4,300 and the additional amount of £100 payable in respect of each child under 16 years of age will be replaced by a provision for weekly payments until the child reaches 16 years of age, subject to a minimum total payment of £100. The rates of weekly payments for incapacity will be increased from £10 to £11. Ils. for an unmarried employee and from £13 12s. 6d. to £15 8s. for a married man with a wife and one child. The cost of these increases is estimated to be £200,000 for a full year.
Taking into account the various proposals mentioned, total Commonwealth expenditure in 1964-65 is estimated to be £2,511,100,000.
For a number of reasons this is likely to be a comparatively good revenue year. So far as income tax is levied this year on the incomes of individuals, companies and other businesses derived in 1963-64, it will reflect the generally buoyant conditions of that period. There is perhaps one offset to this worth mentioning. The amount of provisional tax debited last year to taxpayers subject to provisional tax was comparatively large and since, in this year, it becomes a credit in the assessment of those taxpayers, it will diminish revenues collected from them.
As to the current year, there will certainly be a substantial rise in wage and salary earnings, partly because of increased employment and partly through increases in wage rates and other earnings. Pay as you earn collections should, therefore, increase considerably and there will also be some increase in pay-roll tax revenues.
We can expect a substantial further increase in sales of goods subject to sales tax, although it seems hardly likely that sales of motor vehicles could increase again by as much as they did in 1963-64, when they rose by 16 per cent, to the 400,000 a year mark. Also, revenues this year will bear a full twelve months cost of the removal of sales tax from foodstuffs in the last Budget.
With imports likely to increase considerably, there should be a fairly large increase in Customs revenue and, with consumer spending generally on the rise, there should also be an appreciable increase in Excise collections from the major items such as petrol, beer, spirits and cigarettes.
Accordingly, in the light of this general prospect, we have not felt it necessary to take a conservative view of taxation revenue possibilities and have put our estimate of total collections, on the basis of tax rates as they stand, at £1,759,200,000, this being an increase of approximately £160,500,000 on the amount obtained in 1963-64.
For much the same reasons, revenues from business undertakings are likely to rise and the estimates show an increase of about £12,500,000.
For various reasons, miscellaneous revenues are likely to be somewhat less than last year. On the other hand, the receipts of the National Debt Sinking Fund are’ expected to increase this year by about £5,500,000 and various other trust fund balances are estimated to show a net increase of about £6,400,000.
All told, therefore, it is estimated that, with taxation and other charges on their present basis, the total of revenue and other receipts available in 1964-65 would be £2,177,600,000, an increase of £180,900,000 over that of 1963-64.
Estimated total expenditures being £2,511,100,000, this would mean that, to obtain the necessary cash to meet our expenditures in the year, our total call on borrowings would amount to £333,500,000. Last year our total call on borrowings for budgetary purposes was £290,000,000, so that, in this financial year, there would be an increase on that very high total to the extent of £43,500,000.
Last year, we succeeded in raising by way of public loans an amount of £317,700,000, of which £281,100,000 was raised in Australia. This was a peace time record for borrowings in Australia and it undoubtedly owed much to certain exceptional circumstances and especially to the great rise which occurred in monetary liquidity.
At this stage it does not seem likely that we will be raising any new loans abroad this year for works and housing programmes on what we would regard as reasonable terms and conditions. We will make a further drawing, estimated at £10,615,000, against the International Bank loan for the Snowy Mountains Scheme; but that is all.
At home it seems probable that liquidity will remain high, but it is to be doubted whether there will be anything like the increase which occurred last year. For that, if for no other reason, it might be rather much to expect that we will be able to borrow as much on the home market as in 1963-64. On the other hand, there has now been a run of three years in which the average of local raisings has been above £250,000,000 and there is no obvious reason why, in this year, our borrowings should not again be of that order. Obviously, there is a range of possibilities but we have settled on £275,000,000 as perhaps a reasonable figure for the overall amount we can reckon on borrowing in this financial year.
On this figuring, there would be a shortfall, in terms of revenue and loan raisings from the public, of £58,500,000 which we would have to finance by temporary borrowings - mainly if not entirely by calling on the Reserve Bank. In 1963-64 we ended the year with a cash surplus of £27,700,000.
From a budgetary standpoint, then, the position is that we estimate an increase in total expenditure of £224,000,000, an increase in revenues and other receipts of £181,000,000, a borowing gap of £333,500,000, loan raisings of £275,000,000 and a deficiency of £58,500,000 to be financed from temporary sources. In point of net cash outcome, this would represent a deterioration of £86,200,000 on the results of last year.
From a strictly economic standpoint the position is shown when the aggregates are set out in national accounts form. From this it can be seen that, at present levels of taxes and other charges, the net increase in government indebtedness over the year would amount to £279,000,000 as compared with an increase of £247,000,000 last year. In other words, the amount added, directly or indirectly, to demand through Commonwealth expenditure would exceed by this large sum the amount taken from incomes by way of taxation and other receipts. In a year when so many other expansive forces are at work in the economy, this could only be characterised as inflationary finance. Frankly, we are not disposed to contemplate a Budget of that character.
After much deliberation, therefore, we have concluded that there is no alternative to an increase in taxation and certain other charges sufficient to reduce significantly our prospective call on borrowings and eliminate altogether any need to call on Reserve Bank finance. As a broad target, we have aimed at an overall result not substantially different from that of last vear, 1963-64.
Apart from economic considerations such as those just discussed, there is a financial aspect of the matter which should be brought to notice. During the past three years in which expenditures have risen steeply, there has been a long sequence of major tax concessions. These were made for a reason which was entirely sound under the circumstances - that of stimulating the economy. But while the need for such stimulation is now well behind us, the cumulative effect of these concessions has been to reduce quite heavily the resources currently available to us. It is estimated that, in the present year, the various tax concessions given since 1960-61 would have a cost to revenue above £100,000,000.
Perhaps I could emphasise the point in this way: Along with the many other factors contributing to the increase in our expenditure, defence spending has risen quite spectacularly. The amount of £297,000,000 provided for defence services in this Budget is £99,000,000 or 50 per cent, greater than actual expenditure in 1960-61. Over the same period, however, sources of revenue have been reduced by tax concessions to the extent of more than £100,000,000. The implication is plain enough. Our command of resources must be strengthened. Defence spending has increased strongly and will increase further. We simply have to put ourselves into a better position to pay for it.
It has therefore been decided to introduce a series of taxation measures.
As to income tax on individuals, for the last three income years a 5 per cent, rebate has been allowed against the tax payable by individuals. In the changed circumstances of this year the Government finds itself unable to continue this rebate in respect of 1964-65 incomes. Appropriate adjustments will accordingly be made to the instalment deductions from salaries and wages paid on or after 1st October next and to provisional tax for 1964-65.
Discontinuance of the rebate is estimated to result in additional revenue of £35,000,000 in a full year and £30,800.000 in this financial year.
Next, as to income tax on companies, it is proposed to increase by 6d. in the £1 the rates of tax payable on incomes derived by companies during the income year 1963-64. The rate of 10s. in the £1 payable where there is an insufficient distribution of income by a private company will not be changed.
It may perhaps be contended that, as there has been no reduction of income tax rates on companies during the period when individuals have had the advantage of a 5 per cent, rebate, it is inappropriate to increase rates on companies at this juncture. We considered this point. On the other hand, we recalled that, over recent years, companies have had a major share in the benefit of a very wide range of concessions which are still in force. Amongst these have been such important measures as the investment allowance for plant used in manufacturing, increased retention allowances for private companies, the rebates of pay-roll tax to encourage export sales and a variety of concessions for mining enterprises. Some of these have been available to a broad range of companies, others to companies operating in particular fields of production. In all, however, the value of these concessions adds up to a considerable sum. It is estimated that, in the current year, companies as a whole would be paying a full £30,000,000 less in taxation because of these concessions.
The investment income of a superannuation fund that does not invest a sufficient proportion of its assets in public securities is taxed at the same rates as apply to the mutual income of a life assurance company. In consonance with the proposed increase in the rates of tax payable by life assurance companies, the rates for superannuation funds are to be increased by 6d. in the £1. The increased rates will apply to investment incomes of funds derived during the income year 1964-65.
The gain in revenue from the increased rates is estimated to be £22,000,000 in a full year and £20,000,000 in 1964-65.
In conformity with the proposed increase in age pensions, it is intended to raise the income level up to which the age allowance exemption is available to residents of Australia who meet the age qualification. This age is 65 years for men and 60 years for women.
At present no tax is payable by an aged person whose net income does not exceed £481. In future, the exemption will apply to net incomes not exceeding £494. In the case of a married person qualified by age, exemption will be authorized where the combined net income of the husband and wife does not exceed £936 compared with £910 at present.
The cost to revenue of these adjustments will foe £400,000 in a full year and £200,000 in 1964-65.
Commonwealth Committee on Taxation.
Later in this session, the Government will introduce legislation to deal with matters arising out of the report of the Commonwealth Committee on Taxation and relating to the prevention of tax avoidance. An exhaustive study has been made of these matters and for some months past a special committee of Cabinet has been considering them. Our aim is to ensure that, in the interests of the great body of taxpayers who do not resort to tax avoidance practices, there will be an adequate tightening up of the law. At the same time, we have to take care that anything we do will not prove burdensome to unoffending parties.
As a further measure to secure additional revenue, it is proposed to increase from 22½ per cent, to 25 per cent, the rate of sales tax on motor vehicles of all classes now taxed at 22½ per cent. This increase will commence on 12th August 1964.
Since rates of sales tax on motor vehicles were reduced in February 1962 vehicle sales have, of course, increased greatly. Thus, in the June quarter of 1962, total new registrations were 77,500. In the June quarter of this year, they were 104,600, and for 1963-64 as a whole the total was 400,000.
It is estimated that the increase in sales tax proposed will produce additional revenue amounting to £6,250,000 in a full year and £5,000,000 for the financial year 1964-65.
Rates of customs and excise duties on cigarettes and cigars will be increased by 5s. 3d. per lb. and rates on manufactured tobacco by 2s. per lb. The increases, which will come into effect immediately, are broadly equivalent to an increase of 3d. for either a packet of 20 king-size cigarettes or a 2 oz. packet of tobacco. The additional revenue from these proposals is estimated to amount to £14,100,000 in a full year and £12,500,000 in 1964-65.
Because of insuperable administrative and legal problems, the existing duty of £6 on television cathode ray tubes, which was imposed to help pay for the national television service, is to be abandoned. To compensate for the loss of revenue involved, it has been decided to make an increase of £1 in the television viewers’ licence fee, thus preserving the concept that the cost of the national television service should be met by special levies on those for whom it is provided, namely, persons with television sets. The additional revenue expected in 1964-65 from television viewers’ licences is £1,725,000, an amount that will approximately equal the loss in excise revenue on cathode ray tubes.
Because of difficulties encountered in the administration of the Broadcasting and Television Stations Licence Fees Act, the Government has decided to revise the basis of the licence fee and to increase the rates of assessment. This measure will be announced and explained in more detail by the Postmaster-General (Mr. Hulme).
The total revenue expected to accrue from these changes is £320,000 in a full year and £302,000 in 1964-65.
At the present time it is estimated that 62 per cent, of Australian homes have licenced television receivers. Nearly all of these homes also have broadcast receivers. It has been decided, therefore, that the time is opportune to introduce a combined licence to cover both broadcast and television receivers. A compulsory combined receiving licence will have many advantages from an administrative viewpoint.
The fee for a combined licence will be 5s. less than the total fees payable for ordinary rate separate licences. Separate licences will be retained in those cases where persons possess only one type of receiver. An applicant for a television viewers’ licence only will be required to complete a statement to the effect that neither he, nor any member of his family, is in possession of a broadcast receiver in respect of which a licence is required. The combined licence is not intended to apply to hirers and lodging houses.
Including the increase of £1 in the television viewers’ licence fee, which I have already mentioned in conjunction with the abolition of duty on television cathode ray tubes, the new combined licence fee will be £8 10s., and separate viewers’ and listeners’ licences will cost £6 and £2 15s. respectively.
AIR Navigation Charges.
As a further step in its policy of seeking to recover from air transport operators the cost of maintaining and operating airport and airway facilities, the Government has decided to increases by 10 per cent, the rates of air navigation charges payable by all users. The increases will take effect from 1st January 1965 and are estimated to bring in £64,000 additional income in 1964-65 and about £192,000 in a full year.
A general review has been made of the finances of the Post Office in the light of certain important considerations. The Post, Office is Australia’s largest business undertaking and its activities . have major budgetary and economic implications. The demand for its services, particularly for telephones, has been growing rapidly. The meeting of this demand necessitates very large capital expenditure, which in turn involves a heavy demand on resources. It is essential that its activities be conducted in accordance with sound business and commercial practice, that is, that it should be required to meet its normal operating costs from its own resources.
Since the last major adjustment of Post Office charges in October 1959, the direct and indirect effects of higher wage rates have added something like £17,000,000 to yearly operating costs, and for three successive years there have been operating losses on the telephone service, which faces increasingly heavy losses at current charge rates. Demand for new telephone services is at an all-time high due principally to the provision of services at less than operating costs and the buoyant state of the economy. Despite sharply increased capital expenditure on new facilities, the number of unsatisfied applications has been growing. At current charges every new connection adds to the losses being incurred.
The Government has therefore decided that it is necessary for Post Office charges for telephone services to be adjusted to levels which reflect the cost of providing those services. This will ensure that future demand will not be artificially stimulated to the extent that it has been up to the present time.
Details of the increased charges, which will operate from 1st October 1964, will be announced shortly. The increases will relate principally to telephone rentals, accompanied by a simplification of the charging and tariff structure. The service connection fee, which has remained at £10 since its introduction in 1956, will be increased to £15, and there will also be adjustments to charges for miscellaneous subscribers’ apparatus and private telephone and telegraph lines.
There is an allocation for Post Office capital works for 1964-65 of £77,000,000, representing an increase of over 12 per cent, on actual expenditure in 1963-64. The extra funds will be spent largely on connection of new telephone services, the development of the trunk line network, television relay link facilities - including the Brisbane-Cairns link, which will also improve communications to the north - and on buildings to provide postal and telephone service, in making this very substantial provision the Government recognises the many special projects to which the Post Office is committed in its efforts to provide better service, and the desirability of satisfying as far as possible the demand for new telephone connections.
The additional revenue expected to accrue from the new charges is £9,500,000 in a full year and £8,500,000 in 1964-65.
These increases in taxation and charges are estimated to produce, in all, £77,000,000 more revenue in 1964-65 and £87,000,000 in a full year. Estimated revenue and other receipts thus become £2,254,600,000 and, if loan raisings reach our assumed figure of £275,000,000, overall cash receipts will amount to £2,529,600,000. Total expenditure being estimated at £2,511,100,000, there would then be an excess of cash receipts over expenditure of £18,500,000.
During recent times a good deal has been happening in Australia to suggest that we may be moving up to a phase of growth faster and more varied than anything we have seen hitherto. It would seem significant that the advance made in the past couple of years has not been confined to one or two sectors: it has been shared by farming, mining, manufacturing - in fact it has been more or less universal.
Fairly clearly, the idea that bigger things lie ahead has taken hold and people are acting upon it. The question is - where will it lead? Conceivably, it could lead nowhere in particular but prove to have been a mere passing flurry occasioned by recent favorable events. I doubt this; there is too much of substance in the move for it to have that transient character. Possibly it could build up into yet another boom which in due time would peter out. That is undeniably a risk but it is something we do not want to happen and must do our utmost to prevent.
On the other hand, in the context of an expanding world and with the momentum already evident here, we could move on from where we are now to an era of quite unprecedented expansion.
Certainly the foundation for a strong, steady advance has been well laid in the past two years. Our external position has been greatly strengthened so that we do nol have to fear as much as we often did in the past that any major rise in domestic activity would bring on balance of payments troubles. We still have the basic conditions of stability within Australia and, with good national teamwork, they can be preserved. But if and when circumstances arise to threaten stability, such as the big rise in expenditure, including defence expenditure, of which I have spoken earlier, at a time when our resources are already fully committed, it will not do for us merely to sit idly by and hope for the best. We must take firm and positive action in these circumstances to preserve stability. In the Budget we propose action directed to this purpose. We are confident that the community will recognise the need and recognise also that, in what we propose, we are acting in their own best interests. We believe that in this Budget we have achieved a realistic and fitting balance between the claims on national resources arising from defence, development and social welfare.
Debate (on motion by Senator McKenna) adjourned.
Senate adjourned at 8.49 p.m. till Tuesday, 18th August, at 3 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 11 August 1964, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1964/19640811_senate_25_s26/>.