25th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMuIIin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Civil Aviation. My question relates to the Albury airport which, as some critics in Albury contend, has been a costly mistake. It is said that for the months of June, July and August the airport is a doubtful proposition. First, is the Minister in a position to say whether this criticism is justified? Secondly, is it true that already more than £100,000 has been spent on the airport and that on many occasions passenger aircraft have been unable to land there and have been diverted to Corowa? Thirdly, is it true that nearly half the aircraft used on interstate runs are prohibited from landing at Albury? Fourthly, is it true that there has been considerable confusion both at Corowa and Albury because of the hop here and skip there arrangement which is uneconomic and a nuisance?
– I think I am right in saying that the Albury airport comes under the local ownership plan. It was developed by the Department of Civil Aviation and was handed over to the local government authorities which pay for 50 per cent, of the maintenance. The Department of Civil Aviation pays for the other 50 per cent. No criticisms such as those suggested by the honorable senator have come to my attention. If he places the question on the notice paper I will get the details that he requires.
– I desire to ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Has the attention of the Government been directed to a report that the United States of America will sell three million tons of wheat to India to help avert a famine in that country? Can the Minister inform the Senate whether any approach has been made to Australia to send wheat shipments to India for famine relief?
– As far as I know, no approach has been made to the Australian Government by the Indian Government for special consideration in respect of famine relief, but I do know that the Indian Government has approached the Australian Wheat Board about a parcel of wheat to meet its needs. I understand that the Board has agreed to supply wheat on special terms to meet the present predicament.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration whether the reason for refusing a visitor’s visa to 68 years old Mr. August von Elm to permit him to visit his naturalised Australian children and grandchildren was that he had at some time in the past been a member of the West German Communist Party at a time when that Party was a legal political Party in West Germany. If this is so, would a visitor’s visa be refused to a member or a former member of the Communist Party of a Communist controlled country if such a person was representing his government on trade interests? If such an application for a visa was not refused would not that indicate that the Government placed politics and trade above human values?
– The last part of the question is quite absurd and reeks with politics or attempted politics. Therefore, I do not propose to answer it. Quite clearly that part of the question which relates to a particular person should be dealt with by the Minister for Immigration. In any event, it would be quite improper to deal with an individual case by way of question and answer. As to overall policy, it has been the policy of the Department of Immigration never to give specific reasons for the rejection of an application for entry to Australia. That has been the policy of the Department for as long as I have been a member of this place and, as far as I know, it was the policy even before this Government came to power.
– I address the following questions to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General - Is the PostmasterGeneral aware that extensive alterations are being made to the entrance of the Perth General Post Office in Forrest Place?
Does he also know that the noise from compressor units and machine drills is causing great inconvenience to customers of the Post Office and surrounding business houses? Is he aware that it is almost impossible for anyone using trunk line or local call boxes to hear or be heard because of the ear shattering noise that is made by the compressors and machine drills? ls it possible to have this work done between the hours of, say, 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. and 1 1 p.m., when it would not interfere with so many people? Does the PostmasterGeneral know that postal staff who have to work in the close vicinity of this infernal din are suffering acute nervous distress because of the din?
– 1 am afraid that this is a part of the price that we have to pay for progress. I am sure that the honorable senator is delighted to know that at last Perth is getting the refinements to which it is entitled. 1 do not know whether it is possible to stagger the working hours. Private enterprise is faced with the same problem from day “to day. If the proposal were to be developed to its logical conclusion, perhaps we would never gel any sleep at night because of the noise of compressors.
– What about the workers who are using the machines?
– They are entitled to consideration, too. 1 do not suggest for one moment that Senator Branson thinks otherwise. 1 shall discuss the honorable senator’s submission with the PostmasterGeneral. If he can proffer some information or advice about how the situation may be relieved, 1 shall ask him to take the matter up with the honorable senator.
– 1 should like to ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate a few interesting questions. Did the Minister notice in this morning’s edition of the “ Australian “ that Mr. Staniforth Ricketson, the well-known financier, had stated that a modest appreciation of the. Australian £1 could have restricted the development of inflationary tendencies within the economy and perhaps have enabled us to avoid the repercussions of substantial wage increases? Has the Government considered creating a greater flexibility in exchange rates? Would such flexibility help to correct any imbalance in foreign trade? Can any tinkering with exchange rates help Australia to avoid the economic troubles of modern financial capitalism? Is the Australian Country Party in favour of appreciating the Australian £1? While on my feet, 1 ask the Minister whether he read the article entitled “ Ten Lost Years “ in the “ Austraiian “.
– 1 am sure the honorable senator will be the first to appreciate that a consideration of the desirability or otherwise of any variation of the exchange rate could not possibly be embarked upon at question time. The whole subject throws up a multitude of considerations, each important in itself, and each requiring long explanation and debate. The only thing that I am prepared to say at the moment about this particular question is that the Australian Government has not had under study or consideration in recent years a variation of the exchange rate.
The other matter which the honorable senator raises refers to a question which he asked me on Thursday last as to whether I had read a certain article in a certain journal. 1 told him at the time, Mr. President, as you may recall, that I would have some inquiries made about the article. I fulfilled my undertaking. When I left the Chamber after question time, I asked one of my staff to have a look at the article and tell me something about it. The information I received was that the article was not a very impressive one and that it comprised in a large part quotations from a speech made by Mr. Calwell, or references to what Mr. Calwell had said. This probably accounts for the warmth with which the honorable senator views the article. For my own part, 1 shall read it in the course of time, at my convenience, but I must in honesty tell the honorable senator that it is right down at the bottom of a very big pile of reading yet to be done.
– Has the Minister for Civil Aviation seen an article in this morning’s edition of the Melbourne “ Age “, which states that some civic leaders in New South Wales intend to ask the Prime Minister to receive a deputation concerning matters which relate to having the main international airport at either Mascot or Tullamarine? I ask the Minister whether he is aware that the questions they intend to ask are - Does the Commonwealth intend to bypass Mascot for Tullamarine? Are the runways at Mascot between 2,000 and 6,000 feet shorter than those of other intercontinental airports? Is the extension of the Mascot east-west runway liable to reduce the noise? Has the Commonwealth allocated £10 million to Tullamarine and only £5 million to the Mascot airport? As these questions are sickening to those of us who take a broad national outlook on these matters, would the Minister care to comment on them, to stop this mounting jealousy between these two States?
– I cannot guarantee to stop the intertribal warfare between New South Wales and Victoria. That has been going on for many, many years, and I am afraid that it will have to work itself out in time. I have already given answers to the specific questions, and I cannot be more specific than to repeat them. The first question is whether we intend to bypass Mascot as the No. 1 international airport in Australia. I say again that the answer is clearly and emphatically: “ No “. I cannot be clearer than that, surely. It has been stated quite clearly and repeatedly that Sydney is not being superseded by Melbourne as Australia’s major international airport. There is concrete evidence of this in the Commonwealth expenditure and in the major projects that have been undertaken. These provide proof of that statement.
The second question relates to the length of runways. The runway lengths at Mascot are quite suitable for international jet aircraft operating to and from Australia and for the stage lengths that these aircraft fly to and from Sydney. Obviously a longer runway is required for an aircraft flying from New York to Rome than for an aircraft flying the Sydney-Manila link.
– Why is that?
– Because of the fuel load that they carry. Sydney airport can be developed to meet the operational demands of supersonic airliners when the requirements of those airliners are known. The present runway extension at Sydney into Botany Bay will reduce noise levels affecting the surrounding community and caused by aircraft using that’ runway. City councillors have spoken of crash dangers. There is no doubt whatsover that the Sydney runways are operationally safe. They fully meet international standards. The fourth suggestion is completely incorrect. The Commonwealth has spent £13 million on Sydney airport and the project’ now in hand will cost about a further £10 million - a total of £23 million. This is far more than any past or proposed aviation expenditure at Melbourne. Melbourne airport has been an international airport since 1951. It has not been used by large international jet aircraft because of its obvious limitations. Sydney, Brisbane, Perth, Melbourne and Darwin are international airports and it would be impractical and nationally undesirable to have one international airport serving a vast continent such as Australia. Sydney’s claims and needs in international aviation have long been recognised by the Commonwealth and it is utter nonsense to say that Sydney is being bypassed in favour of Melbourne in an aviation sense.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation. Is he aware that many married totally and permanently incapacitated ex-servicemen in receipt of pensions did not secure any benefit from the T.P.I, pension rise contained in the Budget of last year, and that the same will probably apply to the 10s. rise granted this year, for the increase is taken off the benefit paid to the wife? Will the Minister discuss with Cabinet, before repatriation legislation is brought before Parliament, an increase in the ceiling limit for ex-service pensions by at least £.1 a fortnight, so that married T.P.I, diggers can this year secure some benefit from the 10s. increase granted to T.P.I, ex-servicemen?
– The Treasurer’s Budget Speech has been made and provision has been made in the Budget, as we all know, for certain rates for ex-servicemen and, notably for T.P.I, rates. I think it is rather idle, at this point of time, to suggest that there should now be a reconsideration of the Budget proposals in the hour when they are going to bc debated in this place. I suggest to the honorable senator that he take the opportunity during the debate on this aspect of the Budget, when it comes before the Senate in a separate bill, to raise the matter which he has raised here this afternoon by way of question.
– I have seen the report to which the honorable senator has referred concerning the increase in stock breeding in Japan. In reply to his question, 1 should like him to know that Japanese dietary habits have undergone a rather marked change since the war, with the consumption of meat and animal fats tending to increase in relation to the higher standard of living. It is anticipated that the demand for meat and animal fats in Japan will increase in the next two years at a rate higher than the rate at which Japanese farmers can increase their production. I understand that the Japanese Government still limits the importation of butter into Japan, but that the Australian cheese industry is finding an expanding market there. I think the figure for 1963-64 was almost £700,000, whereas some five or six years ago it was an insignificant £10,000 or £20,000.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the AttorneyGeneral. Is it a fact, as reported in today’s “ Australian “, that the Government is considering the introduction of legislation in the Australian Capital Territory and in the Northern Territory to provide for compensation for victims of crimes of violence and the dependants of murder victims? ls it further a fact that the Government expects the States to enact similar legislation? If so, when does the Government anticipate being in a position to introduce such legislation?
– This question relates to what the policy of the Government is or is going to be, and questions of that nature are not eligible for answer during question time in the Parliament.
– My question is directed to the Minister in charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education and Research. By way of preface, I refer to the great and favorable interest generated in South Australia by the offers of assistance the Commonwealth has made to education generally and, in particular, to 1 1 independent schools in South Australia - being assistance towards the building of science blocks and for science teaching equipment. T ask the Minister: Will there be additional offers to other independent schools in the future? Approximately when may the schools which missed out this time expect such additional offers to be made? In what circumstances will such schools be expected to apply? Will an application already sent in be sufficient to indicate the continuing interest of any independent school? Will any independent school, hoping for assistance in the future, suffer any loss of entitlement by going ahead now with its plans for science blocks and equipment?
– I think that most of those questions have been answered in fact by statements made in this place and in another place about how the scheme will work. However, in brief, the answers to the questions are that the Government hopes, and intends, that the grants for the purpose of assisting in the building of science teaching blocks will continue after this year. So far, the Parliament has passed legislation enabling payments to be made only during this financial year, but it is the Government’s intention to ask the Parliament to enact further legislation for the same purpose for future years. 1 trust that the Parliament will agree to this proposal. If it does so, then schools which have already applied, but which have not received financial assistance this year because of the advice of the State committees, need not re-apply, because their applications have been registered. The knowledge we already have as to the number of science teaching periods, the number of pupils and so on will be re-examined by the State committees with a view to determining what further advice should be given to the Government as to priorities for assistance in each year. There will be no need for a school to make a fresh application each year. Applications are registered and their contents are known. Any school which wants to submit an amended application will be perfectly at liberty to do so.
Schools which have not received a grant from the Government but which go ahead wilh building science laboratories with their own or borrowed money are eligible for assistance to meet the cost of such laboratries, provided the construction began after 1st December 1963. They will not be in any way debarred from receiving Government assistance in the future merely because they proceeded to build this year, with their own money and without Government assistance. Whether they will actually get assistance, and the year in which they will get it, will depend on the advice from the State committees as to the priorities to be allotted to schools in the giving of assistance.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Civil Aviation. Has a South Australian based company, the Interstate Parcel Express Co. Ltd., applied to the Commonwealth Government for a licence to purchase and operate between the States five DC4 freighter aircraft? Have negotiations been held between the Commonwealth Government and the company? Has the Minister made a determination as to such a licence application? Will the operations of the new air freight carrier reduce the freight business accruing to existing airlines?
– Yes, the company referred to by the honorable senator has made application for a licence as an interstate carrier and to import aircraft. The matter is under consideration at the present time.
– I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate whether he has seen in today’s issue of the “ West Australian “ a statement issued by the Rural Committee of the Liberal and Country League. The Committee is recommending to the Government that a financial guarantee plan be instituted to encourage farmers to build attractive homes for workers, either on their farms or in adjacent towns. Can the Minister advise me whether such a scheme may be incorporated in the proposed Commonwealth insurance corporation housing scheme? Does the Minister believe that this proposal of better homes for farm workers will attract additional labour to the farming areas in Western Australia?
– I have no doubt that any scheme which has as its objective the provision of homes for farm workers will have a very desirable affect. I am interested to learn that the Liberal Party in Western Australia has taken the initiative to determine whether such a provision could be included in any housing scheme sponsored by the Government. The honorable senator will be aware that that is a question of policy and particularly a question for the Minister for Housing, to whom I will be pleased to refer the suggestion.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Housing. Is it a fact that the £250 grant intended for housing may be spent on anything the applicant fancies and not necessarily on housing, as there are no strings attached to the grant? I ask the Minister to investigate the matter in the light of criticism voiced in the “ Sunday Times “ of Perth which states, inter alia -
Have a party on the Government. Want to go on a binge . . . throw a £250 party, buy a summer wardrobe, a car or a refrigerator. The Federal Government will foot (he bill. There are no strings attached to the money. No promise* have to be made. The money does not have to be paid back. The money is there - almost for the asking - in the new Commonwealth housing grant. People who qualify for the grant are given a cheque and the Commonwealth Government’s good wishes. They do not have to spend the money on a house nor do they have to account for it. 11 is is the biggest loophole in the complicated system which governs the grant.
Will the Minister see whether something can be done about this alleged loophole?
– I am glad that the honorable senator referred to it as an alleged loophole. The scheme is to encourage housing and to provide money to bc spent on housing, not on wild parties or the other items in the catalogue mentioned by the honorable senator. I have not seen the article but I can only regard it as having been written in a very facetious strain. As the honorable senator has asked the question I take the opportunity of letting her know the purpose of the scheme as this story has apparently gained some currency in Western Australia.
– Could the Minister for Defence tell me what his Department intends to do to further encourage the training of Army, Navy and Air Force school cadets? Has the Minister seen comments in Western Australian newspapers that the passing out parade of cadets held at the Northam camp on Sunday last was one of the finest parades which have been conducted in this historic camp? As these young men will be called on to help defend this country if it is threatened, will the Minister do everything possible to see that they have all the modern arms and equipment necessary for their training?
– Both the Department of Defence and the Department of the Army regard the cadet training as a valuable segment of their training schemes. 1 learn with considerable pleasure that the parade referred to, which was held last Sunday, was such a success. The honorable senator can be assured that, to the limits of their ability, the Department of the Army and those connected with cadet training will continue to give to this important aspect of training their best attention.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, ls the depiction of Australian wild life on the new decimal coinage a recognition by Australia of our regard for our native species? Is it not a fact that, judged by world standards, Australia is badly behind in the provision of national parks and sanctuaries for the preservation of wild life? Will the Government consider the establishment of adequate national parks and sanctuaries in order that our descendants may be able to observe our native animals in real life and not merely on coins and stamps?
- Mr. President, the question comes in two parts. The first refers to currency, and the second to parks and gardens. Currency, of course, is a Commonwealth Government responsibility. As such, the Government has seen to it that the design of the new coins has given them a particularly significant Australian identity. T think that this is something which will be applauded by most Australians. It is heartening and encouraging to see that the first comments at home and from overseas are very commendatory of the designs which have been selected. The honorable senators asks whether the Commonwealth will provide for parks and gardens. Within those areas which the Commonwealth controls, the answer is: “ Yes “. But among the multifarious obligations that the Commonwealth has taken over from the States. I have not yet heard it seriously suggested that the Commonwealth should include the establishment and maintenance of parks and gardens.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Housing. Has the Government considered, and if it has not, will it consider, extending the scope of the War Service Homes Division to allow eligible people lo obtain the benefit of war service homes finance to discharge existing mortgages, thereby relieving them of exorbitant interest rales charged by other lending institutions?
– The question deals wilh a matter of policy. 1 shall refer it to the Minister concerned.
– Does the Leader of the Government in the Senate recollect that three or four weeks ago I asked him about monetary assistance to Western Australia for flood relief and that he assured me that any application by Western Australia would be treated sympathetically, expeditiously and urgently? Can the Minister say now whether any application for flood relief assistance has been made by the Western Australian Government? If it has, what aspects of flood relief are covered, and what is the position so far as the Commonwealth Government is concerned?
– I am not aware that any such request has yet reached the Prime Minister from the Premier of Western Australia. I shall inquire this afternoon and let the honorable senator know.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for the Army read a report in the Adelaide “ News “ that special squads of Commonwealth and State police raided six Brisbane gun shops and seized 38,000 rounds of ammunition? The report concludes with the words -
It is believed the raids followed Commonwealth Police investigation of some “ leakage “ of Army ammunition.
Could the Minister tell the Senate of any leakage of Army ammunition? Would he care to make a statement on the matter?
– I have no knowledge of the incident to which the honorable senator refers. I shall see the Minister for the Army at the first- opportunity and ascertain whether I can get some information from him.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. There appears to be a sustained campaign in the newspapers, recently supported by an honorable senator in this chamber, for the compulsory use of alleged safety belts in motor cars. May we have an assurance that no interference with the liberty of the subject is contemplated by compelling the use of these strangling impediments to safety in motor car travel?
– I do not think it is the object of the Government to limit the freedom of the individual in the manner described by the honorable senator. His opinion on safety belts obviously is at variance with the opinions expressed by many organisations throughout the Commonwealth, including the Australian Road Safety Council, which has claimed that the use of safety belts helps to save people from serious injury in motor car crashes. To the extent, therefore, that it can induce people to use safety belts, it does so, but the Government, acting as such, does not intend to get down to jack boot methods to see that these new safety devices are installed in motor cars.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Civil Aviation. Has the Minister seen a report in a recent edition of a Sydney newspaper that a new safety system called microvision has been invented in the United States of America to enable pilots clearly to identify runways at fog bound airports? Has the Australian Department of Civil Aviation made inquiries about this system which might be installed as an additional aviation safety device at certain Australian airports? If not, will the Minister direct that immediate inquiries be made into the matter?
– My Department is intensely interested in every new safety development for aircraft and airports. I am sure that it would be on the track of the microvision system to which the honorable senator has referred. I have no personal knowledge of it, but I am sure that the technical officers of my Department would know of it. However, in case they have not seen the report I will bring it to their attention so that they may examine it with a view to installing the system at major airports in Australia.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry: What is the position at the present time in relation to the sale of wool by private treaty on farms and stations? Will the right to sell wool by private treaty be maintained? What will be the position if the reserve price plan is adopted? Has the Government any firm ideas on this matter?
– The right to sell wool by private treaty remains unaltered. As to the last part of the honorable senator’s question, this Government’ has always invited the primary industries to formulate their own policies and it has implemented those policies on their behalf. The Government’s policy in this regard remains unchanged. When the wool industry expresses itself on the various aspects of the report on wool marketing the Government will be in a better position to say what the future of any section of the industry may be.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Defence. Has the Minister seen a report in today’s Adelaide “ Advertiser “ stating that the Minister for the Army considers that an enlightened public opinion on defence matters was necessary, but not properly the responsibility of the Federal Government, and that the enlightenment could best be performed by other than government agencies? Does the Minister agree with Dr. Forbes’ viewpoint as to the method of making the public aware of national defence issues? If he does, what methods are likely to be adopted to keep the public informed on defence matters?
– I have not seen the report. I do not know what Dr. Forbes said and therefore I refrain from making any comment on it at all.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs. What has the Government done, and what is it doing, to make clear the distaste, abhorrence and disapproval felt by the Australian people in regard to the policies of race hatred and subversion of fundamental human rights being carried on by the Government of the Union of South Africa?
– The Government has on many occasions in this place - and 1 believe that the honorable senator was present to listen - made statements through the mouth of its Minister for External
Affairs, and on other occasions through the mouth of the Prime Minister, to the effect that the Government of Australia and the people of Australia abhor the practice of apartheid. This appears to me to be the answer to the honorable senator’s question. The Government has made its position quite clear.
– I ask the Minister representing the Treasurer whether the revenue from the extra excise duties that are imposed on manufactured tobacco will be paid to the Consolidated Revenue Fund. Will any of the increased revenue be applied to the relief of Australian tobacco growers who are suffering very severely economically?
– I am sure my colleague the Minister for Customs and Excise will agree with me when 1 say that the final collections of customs and excise are placed in the Consolidated Revenue Fund. With regard to the giving of assistance to the tobacco growing industry, 1 point out that the Department of Primary Industry, the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of Customs and Excise have held a number of conferences with industry representatives. Last year or the year before, considerable sums of money were made available for assistance to tobacco growers who were in dire need. I believe that at long last, as a result of the co-operation of the State Governments, the three Departments I have mentioned and the growers, an orderly system of growing and marketing which will bc of admirable advantage to the growers of Australia is being evolved.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Treasurer. Will the Minister ask his colleague whether, when preparing the legislation to amend the Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act which was foreshadowed in the Budget Speech, he will enlarge the proposed inquiry to cover not only the increases promised but also the unsatisfactory right of appeal at present contained in the Act? Will he look also at the possibility of having the advice of an employees’ representative when any decisions are made? Moreover, will he consider the legislation in the various States and examine the debates on Commonwealth employees’ compensation that have occurred inthis place with a view to eliminating obviously unsatisfactory sections in. the present Act and with a view to giving a lead rather than following behind in relation to this subject?
– If the honorable senator places his question on the notice paper, 1 shall see that it is conveyed to the Treasurer. I shall ask my colleague to make available a note on the subject for use in the Estimates debate or when the appropriate legislation comes before the Senate.
Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice -
Will the Attorney-General cause to be laid on the table of the Senate the file on the case between Miss Phillips and the Postmaster-General for perusal by the Leader or Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate?
– The AttorneyGeneral has supplied the following answer -
The file of my Department in the matter between Miss Phillips and the Postmaster-General is limited in the main to copies of legal advice given in connection with claims made by Miss Phillips in relation to matters within the jurisdiction of the Postmaster-General or that of the Treasurer, communications of a solicitor and client nature to which privilege would normally attach in a court of law and documents relating to court actions instituted by Miss Phillips. It is not the practice to table material of this nature.
(Question No. 155.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice -
– The Minister for Primary Industry has supplied the following answers -
(Question No. 178.)
asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice -
What progress is being made towards the issue of a new consolidation of Commonwealth Acts?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows -
As has been mentioned on other occasions in answers to questions asked by Senators Cavanagh and Murphy, before a further reprint of Commonwealth Acts could be undertaken it would be necessary for Parliament to pass a statute Law Revision Act, in order to remove enactments whose operation is exhausted and to make formal and noncontroversial amendments of other Acts. In the last twelve months, substantial progress has been made on a Statute Law Revision Bill and the Parliamentary Draftsman hopes to be able to send a draft of it to departments for their comments in the near future.
The matter is, however, complicated by the introduction of decimal currency. It would be undesirable to publish, after the conversion to decimal currency takes effect, a general reprint of Commonwealth Acts containing references to money expressed in terms of “ old “ currency. The Parliamentary Draftsman is at present considering whether it is possible to devise some legislative scheme whereby references to amounts of money in “ old “ currency in existing acts can be replaced by appropriate references to amounts of money
In decimal currency. If such a scheme is found to be practicable, effect would need to be given to it by a bill, which would be introduced next year. Subject to the enactment of such a bill and of a Statute Law Revision Bill, the AttorneyGeneral hopes that the staffing position in his Department will permit preparation of a reprint of Commonwealth Acts as at 31st December 1965.
The Attorney-General wishes to add that in the last 12 months 21 pamphlet reprints of Commonwealth Acts have been issued. It is true to say that, since the last general reprint of Commonwealth Acts was issued, there is hardly any important act which has not been reprinted in pamphlet form, and some on several occasions. As the honorable senator is aware, it has long been the practice to include a selection of reprinted Acts as appendixes to annual volumes of Commonwealth Acts. For 1962, four important and lengthy reprints wero published as a separate volume and a similar volume for 1963 is at present being printed.It is likely that a similar volume will also be published for 1964.
(Question No. 183.)
Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The Treasurer has supplied the following answers -
(Question No. 194.)
asked the Minis ter representing the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
– The Minister for External Affairs has furnished the following replies -
The Soviet Union, the United States and Argentina indicated in the course of the S.C.A.R. discussions that they might compile atlases. The Soviet Union and the United States have commenced work on their publications. The Soviet publication is understood to be nearer completion than the United States publication.
(Question No. 197.)
Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
Mas the Commissioner of Taxation expressed the belief that international oil companies are charging their refineries set up in Australia an unrcalislically high price for crude oils, thus attempting to disguise their real profits earned in this country, and so affecting their rate of taxation? If so, will the Treasurer order an investigation into the matter and take steps to ensure that this type of practice is not allowed to continue?
– The Treasurer has supplied the following answer -
The assessment of income tax upon profits arising from the operation of oil refineries in Australia is a matter for the Commissioner of Taxation who is charged by the Parliament with the general administration of the Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Assessment Act. The Commissioner is precluded by the secrecy provisions of that Act from disclosing the basis on which any particular refinery profits are assessed.
Specific provision is made both in the Assessment Act and in various international double taxation agreements to which Australia is a party for the ascertainment of the taxable income of an Australian business controlled abroad. Broadly, the effect of these provisions is that Australian income tax is payable on the profits which would have accrued to the Australian business if it were an independent enterprise engaged in the same or similar activities and its dealings with its overseas controller were dealings at arm’s length with that controller or an independent enterprise.
The provisions cited are applicable to all Aus trian businesses controlled abroad including Australian subsidiaries of international oil companies. I am assured by the Commissioner that, in assessing the income of any such business for Australian taxation purposes, an examination is made to ascertain whether these particular provisions should be applied. Where such application is found to be warranted, the taxable income of the business is ascertained in accordance with the special provisions.
– I present the following paper -
Civil Aviation Control - Letter, dated 6th August 1964, addressed by the Prime Minister to all State Premiers.
.- 1 move -
That the paper be printed.
I ask for leave to make my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
I present the following report of the Public
Proposed development of airfield pavementsat Cairns Airport, Queensland. 1 ask leave to make a statement.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator McKellar). - There being no objection, leave is granted.
– The summary of recommendations and conclusions in regard to that work is as follows -
Debate resumed from 20th August (vide page 186), on motion by Senator Henty -
That 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 year 1964-65; Expenditure - Particulars of Proposed Expenditure for the Ordinary Annual Services of the Government, for year 1964-65;
Patriculars of Proposed Expenditure other than the Ordinary Annual Services of the Government, for year 1964-65;
Government Securities on Issue as at 30th June 1964;
Income Tax Statistics;
National Income and Expenditure 1963-64 - be printed.
Upon which Senator McKenna had moved by way of amendment -
At the end of the motion add the following words - “ But (he Senate is of opinion that the
Budget does not adequately grapple with the problems of striking a realistic and fitting balance between the claims on national resources arising from defence, development and social welfare “.
Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN (Queensland) [4.2]. - When the Senate rose last Thursday 1 had been speaking for some time about the picture of development and growth which this Budget shows. I had also been speaking of the excellent work which this Government has done in the social services field during all its years of office. I had also mentioned the important part that Australia is playing amongst the nations of the world. Today, I continue by referring to a few more matters that I should like to bring before this chamber. This Budget is, of course, a looking forward by the Government in many fields. In addition to the factors I have mentioned, one notices with great interest and appreciation that there is provision for increased child endowment and also for the splendid new scheme of home savings grants. This supports the point I made on Thursday. This is a Government which considers the needs of people - and a nation is indeed made up of people.
I should like to bring before the Senate one or two matters which are not mentioned in the Budget but which are of importance to a great many people. I pay tribute to the splendid work which is done throughout the Commonwealth in the rehabilitation centres which have been set up in all our capital cities. In them, men and women who for some reason or another are handicapped and cannot have or continue in the occupations they would wish to have are instructed, assisted and given confidence. They are equipped so that they can go out and play a part in the general work force and in the community. I believe this is of paramount importance, for there is nothing more tragic than the great distress of people in the prime of life who, on a glorious sunny day, whilst driving in a brand new car for instance, have an accident and suffer a paralysis or an injury which prevents them from doing the kind of things they have been doing. Young people whose lives are sadly marred by polio are also concerned. These are real tragedies. The work of the rehabilitation centres makes it possible for many of these people to play once more an active part in the nation’s affairs, although it may not be as active a part as they would wish. This is a matter of great importance. I stress, as I have stressed before, that we need further rehabilitation centres in our large continent.
I come from Queensland - a very large State - and if you look at a map you will see how great are the distances from Brisbane to Townsville, to Cairns and to the islands of the Torres Strait. You will realize how the distances compare with the distances between Sydney and Melbourne, and Melbourne and Adelaide. Yet, in Queensland, we have one rehabilitation centre. It is excellently run, splendidly administered and gives a great service, but it is in the City of Brisbane. In Townsville we have an excellent home for crippled children. The matron and her staff and the other people who work for this home are doing excellent work. The children come from various parts of north Queensland as well as from the islands of the Torres Strait and from the great Gulf of Carpentaria. What happens when a child gets older and wants to be equipped by rehabilitation to go out and play his part in the community? If he is to have rehabilitation treatment under the social services legislation, he has to go from Townsville or further north to Brisbane - and Townsville is almost as far from Brisbane as Melbourne is from Brisbane. We do not send people interstate for this kind of treatment, because each State has its own capital city centre, yet when we send people from Townsville, Cairns or the far distant northern islands to Brisbane they are travelling over distances just as great as if they were being sent from one capital city to another in the more southern States.
I stress, as I have stressed before, that special consideration should be given to this matter so that rehabilitation centres can be set up in some of the more distant areas where there is a need for such services. Not only is a local rehabilitation centre a place where people can bc trained, assisted and given back their confidence, but it is a centre where they can be trained and assisted in the local environment. Local organisations and businesses would be interested in such a centre, and young people could find employment after their training far more easily than if they were trained in a capital city centre a long way from their local districts. Of course, there are also real family problems associated with rehabilitation if a young person or the father of a family has to go as far south as Brisbane for training. This often means the movement of a whole family. But if a person could be trained nearer to his own home - in Townsville, western Queensland, Cairns or the islands - he would bc much closer to his family unit and would be in a much better position to obtain local employment after his training. So I again put this matter before the Senate and before the Minister, because 1 believe that this most splendid work which is being done to assist many people could assist many more if it could be brought closer to those who live in distant areas. 1 should now like to bring before the Senate another matter on which 1 have spoken before and which T believe is of great moment. The needs of the children concerned are so very real that I must mention it once more. Honorable senators have heard me speak of the need for assistance for children who suffer from cystic fibrosis. This is a most terrible disease for any child to suffer from, and I. believe one of the serious aspects is that it is relatively new to medical science. I understand it was first identified as a new disease in 1936 as a result of post mortem studies, and it was given the name of cystic fibrosis of the pancreas. If you have seen children suffering from this disease, you know what it is like. You know, too, what it means to a family when a little child must sleep night after night in a plastic mist tent, where the mist is sprayed in. The child sleeps in that mist tent, because it is the only way of keeping him alive.
In the publication from America I have here details are set out concerning the pathetic little figures who are sufferers from this very serious and terrible illness. I shall quote the words of Robert L. Natal, President of the American Cystic Fibrosis Research Foundation. He said -
Only a few years ago parents faced the diagnosis of cystic fibrosis with despair. There seemed little to do but stand by and wait while a child’s life ebbed away. Now there is hope.
Because of the research being done into this disease today there is indeed a considerable improvement in treatment. I pay a tribute to our Minister for Health (Senator Wade) and to this Government which has made available free medicines for children suffering from this dreadful illness. These children have to take every day of their lives a considerable quantity of tablets as well as other medications. Not all the medicines are free and some which must be taken every day are extremely costly. I have made representations to the Government about these costly medicines and I hope they will receive sympathetic consideration.
I once more ask that there be set up on a national basis some kind of research survey to see how many sufferers from cystic fibrosis there are in Australia. This research has been done in the United States of America and it is being done now. It is believed that the research will result in great assistance for these sufferers. Already it has been discovered in the United States that cystic fibrosis is responsible for almost all the serious lung diseases in American children and is second only to cancer among diseases causing death in children under 15. These are little children and their expectation of life can be worth while only if they are given constant attention and care. Their parents face a great problem, apart from their concern for children so distressed by this disease, because of the heavy financial burden placed upon them. Their children can grow up only if the illness is diagnosed early and excellent treatment is given.
Unfortunately, I am informed, this disease is not yet widely recognised in general medical practice in Australia because it is relatively new to medical science. Many children are not discovered as cystic fibrosis sufferers as early as they otherwise could be. I speak with pride that in my home State of Queensland there is improvement’ in this regard in the big hospitals. In the Brisbane General Hospital three teams have been formed to treat cystic fibrosis patients and this is a most important step forward. Honorable senators may recall that I have previously requested the Government to assist by the distribution of aerosol machines. Senator Wade, with all the sympathy in the world and all the interest he has shown as a splendid Minister for Health, said that the Commonwealth Government could not distribute the machines and that it was a matter for the State Governments. It is with great pride that I can now report to the Senate that the machines are being distributed by the State Government in Queensland. The Brisbane Children’s Hospital has made the machines available to needy patients in recent months. This is a great step forward. If honorable senators saw, as I have seen, little children who must have the aerosol machines to inhale the mist, they would realise how necessary it is for the illness to be discovered early so that treatment can be given.
Mr. Deputy President, I ask that further consideration be given to a nationwide survey to determine the incidence of cystic fibrosis in Australia. Some excellent surveys on a variety of subjects, including the health of children, have been conducted in Australia and if the survey I suggest were to be conducted it would be of great assistance to these sufferers.
I am very interested indeed to receive from the National Cystic Fibrosis Research Foundation in the United States of America the excellent publication “ Guide to Diagnosis and Management of Cystic Fibrosis “. I am informed by my medical friends and by parents of child sufferers that the book is invaluable. On the first page it states -
This syllabus may be reproduced in toto or in part without permission.
I believe that this publication would be of invaluable aid if it was distributed through medical channels and to those who care for these children. I suggest that our Federal Government, with its great health programme, could through its health education services reprint and distribute this book. I believe that in this way the very real problem of cystic fibrosis could be brought to the notice of people and children could be given the meticulous tests which establish whether they are sufferers from the disease. Treatment could begin very much earlier in the children’s lives and the result would be a greater expectation of life for them. So, Mr. Deputy President, I put my views before the Senate believing that any improvement for sufferers from cystic fibrosis should receive our most sympathetic and, indeed, deep interest.
The Budget Papers are before the Senate. I support the Budget. I believe this is a Budget in which every Australian must be tremendously interested. The Budget Papers show the development and growth of this nation and, indeed, more and more employment opportunities for all Australians. The pattern of development of old and new Australians working side by side in the growth of this great continent is illustrated in the Budget. It shows that a very real appreciation of the needs of people exists and that we, as Australians, realise the importance of our place in the Pacific, the importance of our part in international affairs, and the tremendous importance of the need for a secure nation. Australians can indeed feel that there will be for them and for those who come after them employment opportunities in the development and growth of a nation in which those in need are cared for, a nation whose people accept their responsibilities, and a nation which indeed will play a part worthy of this continent amongst the nations of the world.
.- The subject of this debate’ is the Budget Papers. I am sure that many people wonder exactly what documents comprise the Budget Papers. I would excuse visitors to Canberra for not knowing precisely what is contained within the Budget Papers. The list is rather long, Mr. Deputy President. I have before me these Budget Papers -
Budget Speech of the Treasurer for 1964-65.
Estimates of Receipts and Summary of Estimated
Expenditure for year 1964-6S.
Particulars of Proposed Expenditure for the
Ordinary Annual Services of the Government, for year 1964-65.
National Income and Expenditure 1963-64.
Commonwealth Payments to or for the States 1964-65.
Civil Works Programme 1964-65.
Particulars of Proposed Expenditure other than the Ordinary Annual Services of the Government, for year 1964-65.
Government Securities on Issue as at 30th June 1964.
Special Supplement and the Treasury Information Bulletin on National Accounting Estimates of Public Authority Receipts and Expenditure.
Income Tax Statistics 1964-65.
Post Office Operations Adjustment furnished by the Postmaster-General.
Report of the Auditor-General for the year ended 30th June 1964.
Those documents comprise the Budget Papers. It is not possible for any honorable senator to make a complete review of all of the Budget Papers in such a manner that he would be clearly understood. It is quite beyond human abilities to do such a thing. However, an opportunity is afforded every senator when we are dealing with the Budget Papers to make his own personal review of the economy of the Commonwealth and to form an opinion whether the economy is sound or weak.It is also possible for an honorable senator to ascertain whether the amount that is proposed to be levied in taxation for the financial year is an equitable sum, and whether the services and the whole of the functions of the Government could not be executed with a smaller sum of money.
Mr. Acting Deputy President, you will pardon me if 1 quote what 1 had to say when I was speaking on the Appropriation Bill (No. 2) 1964 in May last, long before this Budget was brought down. I never quote another senator, but on that occasion 1 said - lt is my belief that no loan money will be required at all and that there will be no gap whatever on 30lh June this year. I feel that the taxation level at the present time will be quite adequate to enable the Government to meet all its commitments in respect of the current financial year from the revenues that it will receive, lt is my belief there will be a substantial increase during the current financial year in the revenue received in respect of excise, sales tax and income tax payable by both individuals and companies. This year for the first time in our history the Commonwealth Government may have revenue amounting to £2,000,000,000. Because of the buoyant revenues that the Commonwealth is enjoying at the present time by reason of certain circumstances operating throughout Australia, it is my view that some consideration is duc to the person who is within the lowest income bracket. lt is a fact that it is proposed to expend this financial year more than £2,000 million, lt is also proposed to collect in revenue more than £2,000 million. This is the first time that has occurred in the history of the Commonwealth. I think the Treasurer should suitably celebrate such a performance by taking the members of the Parliament to some half dried tree on the bank of the Molonglo River and there inserting a plaque stating, in a simple way, the fact that for the first time the Commonwealth has set out to raise in revenue £2,000 million. I have no doubt that it will succeed in raising that amount.
In May last I said that there would be no deficit in respect of this financial year. ] make the prophecy now that there will be no deficit in this financial year. Someone may ask: “ On what do you base your prophecy?” It is the same basis and the same foundation I used when I said in May last that there would be no deficit. Honorable senators will recall that last year or the year before, £20 million was made available by the Commonwealth Government to the States to bc spent for the pur pose of relieving unemployment. That was done to give a lift to the economy in J 96 1 when the credit squeeze was on. In 1962, wc entered a year which was a little better economically. Then, in 1963, there was a mild economic revolution. My prophecy was based on the volume of retail sales in Australia. Honorable senators need go no further than the volume of retail sales when they are looking for advice or real information about the future economic stability of Australia.
In May last I saw that retail sales in 1963 had risen considerably, almost to an undreamed of level. A record figure was achieved in respect of retail sales in the Commonwealth. Those sales amounted to £2,790 million which was an increase of £112 million over the previous year, 1962. This is the crux of the whole situation. Retail sales in the year 1963 amounted to £2,790 million, which means that the people had spent that amount in shops and elsewhere. That £2,790 million does not include any sum in respect of sales of motor vehicles, motor vehicle parts and petrol. So, you may well say that that amount was spent on consumable and durable goods which are purchased pretty well daily by the typical citizen. If that amount of money is being spent, does it not hold that manufacturers are operating at almost full capacity? Does it not also mean that wholesalers who are accepting goods from manufacturers for exchange to retailers are working at full capacity? Does it not follow that retailers are purchasing from wholesalers so that they can sell to consumers? There was the happy spectacle of goods going off the market and of manufacturers gearing their machinery to produce more. This activity spelt a high level of employment, something I have always advocated.
A higher level of employment was enjoyed throughout the Commonwealth during 1963 than had been enjoyed for many years. The situation I have just outlined in regard to retail sales has been carried into the current financial year. The retail sales for the six months of this year have been higher comparatively than they were last year. So, this activity is continuing. Speaking purely from a Queensland point of view, I say that things generally are better in Queensland now than they have been for a number of years. I will say deliberately that the level of employment is higher there now than it has been since immediately after the war. Perhaps you, Mr. Acting Deputy President, could support me in that view. I find that to be the situation. One is entitled to ask: “How much longer will this state of affairs continue? “ Certainly, we want to see it continue. We do not want to see any hiatus in the stream of prosperity. At the present moment, I cannot see any. In saying these things, I know that we depend largely upon what happens outside Australia for our prosperity. If the countries which have purchased our surplus primary and other products are able to continue to buy them, the position will be very satisfactory. At present the wheat farmers are wondering whether Red China and Russia will be able to purchase the same quantities of wheat this year as they purchased last year. I know, too, that many people are wanting to know whether Queensland will continue to sell as much aluminium ore to Japan and the other countries which are purchasing it. Australia has built up a fair export trade, which is of benefit to our commercial life.
Although I am dealing with the Budget Papers, I do not wish to consider each paper individually and explain the matters contained in it. In a debate such as this we can look only at the overall picture and try to fit the Budget Papers with which we are able to deal into that picture. I come now to the threat of inflation. Australia is positively not free from the threat of inflation. I have in my. hand a document which sets out the basic wage rates which have been in operation from 1921 to the present time. The figures are authentic. I notice that in October 1949 - about two months before the Federal general election of that year - the basic wage in Queensland for a male employee was £6 9s. a week. Time has passed and at the present time the basic wage is £15 a week. I leave it to honorable senators to make their own calculations. If they subtract £6 9s. from £15, they will get a figure of £8 lis. The basic wage has more than doubled during the time that this Government has been in office. I have said deliberately on many occasions that the Government has never grappled with the problem of inflation, and I say it is not doing so now. The present £15 basic wage can purchase only the same quantity of goods as could be purchased wilh the £6 9s. basic wage in 1949.
I wish to quote some information with reference to Budgets that have been brought down by this Government. In the first Budget brought down by the present Government, in 1950-51, the estimated revenue for that financial year was £738,658,000. The expenditure for that year was less than that and Sir Arthur Fadden produced a surplus of £390,000. This year the Government has budgeted for an estimated revenue of £2,500 million. The story told by those figures is the story of inflation. Perhaps honorable senators who are here in six or ten years’ time will witness a Budget being brought down which provides for an estimated revenue of £3,000 million. That will happen if things continue in the way they are going at present.
– We will have dollars by that time.
– The sums will be expressed in dollars, of course. There will be no such thing then as putting value back into the £1 ; it will be a case of putting value back into the dollar.
– You would not expect the figures to remain the same.
– The honorable senator knows as well as I do the danger of inflation. Inflation, would not matter so much if we had not to rely on markets outside Australia for disposing of our excess goods. Australia is not like the United States of America, whose main market is to be found amongst its own people. We could enjoy a basic wage of £30 or £40 a week if we did not have to rely to the extent we do upon overseas markets.
Out of the sum of £2,500 million to be raised this year the Government proposes to give the old battlers - the age pensioners - an increase of 5s. a week. This 5s. will buy only half a pound of bacon, or 2 lb. peanuts, or one dozen second grade eggs, or 1 lb. of round steak or two packets of biscuits. That is the handout the Government is giving to age pensioners this year. I am not one to quibble about these things, but when you express the increase in terms of food you find that you get very little food for 5s. these days.
I have an appreciation of the National Welfare Fund. I notice that this year the Government has included another item in the Fund, namely, the home savings grant. It has included also the 15s. a week to be paid to student children attending technical colleges and universities - children between the ages of 16 and 21 years. That item has been merged, as far as I can see, with child endowment. I cannot see any special item for those children. I am not quibbling about this. I know the history of the National Welfare Fund. I know that the Commonwealth Government collects taxes and that all the money it collects goes into the Consolidated Revenue Fund. Then a certain sum is siphoned from the Consolidated Revenue Fund into the National Welfare Fund. Actually no money changes hands. The credit in the National Welfare Fund is only a book entry in the Treasury, and the credit is drawn upon by the Department of Social Services.
– In reality, that is all the Labour Government did when it was in power. It had a fictitious National Welfare Fund. That is really what it was.
– The honorable senator is introducing another matter. We did have a National Welfare Fund and in those days the contributions to it were in the form of insurance payments. People paid their taxes and also paid social services contributions, as separate payments.
– You milked the Fund, and there was nothing in it.
– The present Government is doing the same. The Fund is only a credit, when all is said and done. The Treasurer makes a certain amount available and the social service offices throughout the Commonwealth have a certain credit. They draw their cheques on that credit. I wholeheartedly approve of this system and I should like to see the Government keep it going. I hope it will never introduce the new-fangled scheme that is operating in the United Kingdom. If the Government attempts to introduce that scheme into this country I will fight it. I believe that the Government should continue to place all forms of taxation revenue in Consolidated Revenue and then divert some of it to the National Welfare Fund. 1 wholeheartedly support that procedure.
The National Welfare Fund will have greater commitments this year and I do not think that anybody in the community will quibble about paying the extra money. I was looking at a television programme recently and I saw the Prime Minister speaking about his having been appointed father of the year. He said that he had not been a father for 36 years. He may not know it, but he is the father of more than one million children. As far as I am aware, he has not made any goodwill gesture towards them. If we have children we make gifts to them. There is such a thing as establishing public relations with your children. I know that the Prime Minister is fond of children and I have not forgotten the legislation he introduced last year which provided 15s. a week for children attending technical colleges and universities fulltime. I am one who knows the value of 15s. per week. One does not scoff at 15s. being paid to children who are attending universities fulltime because it means that on five days a week they will have 3s. a day with which to purchase a hot meal in the middle of the day. I am in full agreement with that. The only point about that legislation on which I have any regret is that the typical working man in the community cannot afford to send his children to a university. If they have not matriculated by the time they are 18 years of age, it is hopeless for them to go on to a university. If they have not gained a cadetship or a scholarship prior to their matriculating, the working man must send his children to work when they attain the age of 18 years. But the wealthy people can continue to send their children to university after they reach the age of 18. They are receiving the real benefit of the 15s. per week, to which I have referred. I am not going to say it was class-conscious legislation: I am not making that accusation at all.
I want to get back to the plea I am making to the Prime Minister at the present time. I am sorry that the Leader of the Government in the Senate is not here because I intended to ask him to make an appointment for me to meet the Prime Minister and put this proposal to him. I think it is worthy of his consideration. I mentioned before that he has not made any magnanimous gesture to all of these children who have been forced upon him.
– He is father of the year.
– That is so, and I feel that if one were to put forward a case wilh some merit in it he would listen to it. One of the proposals contained in the Budget i is to revoke the 5 per cent, income tax rebate that has operated for the last few years. The Government can take income tax from mc and from other people in the community, but 1 ask it not to take tax from teenagers. Leave them the 5 per cent, rebate. A person commences to pay income tax when he receives £105 a year. The first bracket of income tax relates to the £105-£199 range. When a child is in employment and is receiving £2 0s. 5d. a week, he has to pay income tax. In the first income tax there are 157,000 taxpayers. ]f one takes the teenagers and those who receive up to £7 13s. 8d. a week - or from £105 to £499 per annum - one finds that there are 800,000 taxpayers in that group and that they pay £6.7 million in taxation.
What is wrong wilh the Prime Minister saying: “ Leave the 5 per cent, rebate to those children. Lel it operate for their benefit. Let them open savings bank accounts and bank the 5 per cent, rebate on their taxation.” They could produce their bank books as evidence to the income tax officers to show that they had banked the rebate, in that way the Prime Minister would be conferring a great benefit on the children of the country. f submit that proposal to honorable senators opposite so that they may put it to l he Prime Minister and thus start a savings scheme for children. When the Government came into office all incomes up to the basic wage were exempt from income tax. I am not asking for too much in requesting that the 5 per cent, rebate be left to the teenagers.
– When would you allow them to spend their bank savings?
– If the Government wishes, 1 will draft the bill for it.
– I am asking you a straight-out question.
– Saving is a pleasure for some people and spending is a pleasure for all people. Later on the teenagers could be allowed to spend say half of their savings. The Government would find that if the children were coached in saving they would be placed on the right road. Do not deprive them of the 5 per cent, rebate this year or in any other year.
Time is getting on and I want to deal with several other matters. There is a serious shortage of skilled tradesmen in Australia. 1 read recently what the Minister for Immigration, (Mr. Opperman) had to say about this matter and that he proposed to bring many thousands of skilled migrants to Australia. 1 know the Minister for Immigration, and if he had asked me for advice about the matter I would have told him that he will not be successful in his endeavours to get skilled tradesmen to come to Australia. We have taken so many from various countries that those who remain in those countries are able to claim substantial wages. So even before he moves, the Minister is defeated. He said that about 25,250 skilled workers were expected to settle in Australia in 1964-65. He added that they represented about 40 per cent, of all immigrant workers. We would be lucky to have as many as 3,000 or 4,000 skilled workers from overseas by the end of the year.
For some time the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) has been endeavouring to have men trained to become journeymen. For quite a while he has had on the stocks a scheme which he has referred to as the Commonwealth supplementary training scheme.
– It is a very good one.
– Have you examined it?
– I have.
– It has not been successful to date.
– lt has not been implemented yet.
– I speak as one who handled the dilutee scheme during the war for the Commonwealth Government. I have first hand knowledge of every turn of t’his problem. I do not want to discourage the Minister, but I say here and now that his scheme is doomed to failure. Really, there are three schemes for training tradesmen. First, there is the apprenticeship scheme, which has operated in Queensland since 1928. Under this scheme apprentices are taken on as probationers at any age over 15 years. At the end of six months they are indentured for five years. In addition to learning the practical work, they have to go to a technical college regularly to learn the technical side of their trade. I understand that the apprenticeship scheme that has operated in Queensland is the most outstanding scheme in the Commonwealth.
– That is right.
– It so happens that I was one of the first advisory chairmen.
– I know you were.
– A second scheme, which I think is supported 1 y the Commonwealth Government, caters for persons from 17 years to 20 years of age.
– Is that the scheme that was submitted by the employers?
– I am sorry; I made a mistake.
– I have already dealt with the orthodox apprenticeship system, with which nobody has any quarrel. A country’s greatest asset is the efficiency of its journeymen. I was commencing to deal with the scheme which provided for youths between the ages of 17 years and 20 years. These lads are selected for their aptitude. I know of my own knowledge that at any time there are in the community youths or men who have served perhaps six months, one year, two years, three years or even four years at a trade but who have not completed the full period of training. If those men can be induced to go back to the trade at which they trained they can become excellent tradesmen. When we were looking for trade dilutees during the war we found thousands of men who had served only a year or two at a trade. They were taken back into industry and coached. Many of them became efficient tradesmen and are still in industry. However, others became industrial outcasts; they were not wanted by employers or by the unions.
Provision was made for those whom I was speaking about a few moments ago to serve a lesser period than five years, according to their educational qualifications. A youth who had passed, say, the Junior university examination got a rebate of six months and a youth who had passed his Sub-senior or Senior university examination, or who had gained passes in mathematics and science, got a rebate of as much as one year, which meant that he would be required to serve an apprenticeship of only four years. I have inquired how this scheme has been progressing and I have learned that in Queensland not sufficient labour can be obtained. This is a good scheme. The trainees are given 20 weeks’ training at a technical college during which period they are on wages. They are allotted to employers who have training facilities in their industrial undertakings. I should say that under this scheme competent tradesmen co-jM be produced. Under the scheme that has been devised by the Minister for Labour and National Service, the trainees must be at least 19 years of age before being admitted. The Minister castigated the unions for not co-operating with him and, perhaps, with the employers. I have been through the mill, and I do not blame the unions for not being co-operative.
– Some of them are.
– Some are co-operative. When one looks at the trades which are being concentrated upon, one sees that for reasons which are not wholly political the desired number of trainees will not be available. Those trades include fitting, turning, boilermaking, coachbuilding, motor mechanics, electrical fitting, bricklaying and carpentry. As I said earlier, it is proposed to bring in men at perhaps 22 years or 23 years of age, to give them six months’ solid training at a technical college, and then to allot them to an employer who will pay them wages. If you take men who have served a year or two in a trade and send them to a technical college for six months, certainly they will have an improved knowledge of the trade. It may be possible to make tradesmen of them, but I have my doubts. This scheme is not favoured by the unions, and I never thought it would be. First, one must get the co-operation of the journeymen in the establishments before there can be any training of apprentices. They encourage apprentices and coach them as best they can. That is the only possible way in which one can train apprentices. I think that the scheme which the Minister has outlined is doomed to failure.
We remember that a few years ago Senator Aylett, because of his wife’s very bad health and because of his own. failing health, went to live on the Gold Coast of Queensland, where the three S’s are well known - sunshine, surf and sand. Because he went there, the life of his wife was prolonged. She enjoyed fairly good health for a “year or so then she commenced to fail, and she died some time ago. For several years Senator Aylett has had to massage himself for 15 minutes or so before he could walk from his office into the Senate chamber. He has sat here in great pain.
– You will have us all crying in a minute.
– I would not bc able to make you cry. Senator Aylett went to live in Queensland, and the Press has castigated him for it. The Press laid the lash on him properly.
– Because he had to massage himself?
– Are you trying to be funny?
– You have no human sympathy at all.
– 1 have as much as you have.
– You are not on a wheat field now.
– You were talking about his having to massage himself before he could walk into the Senate.
– He has to massage his legs and his arms, and he is still suffering.
– I am not saying that he does not.
– Do you wish to come into the club room and watch him while he is doing it? You can see him at any time.
– You can see him here.
– He has to massage his limbs before he can walk out of the club room. He made one mistake. He never got up in his place and announced the circumstances to the public and the Parliament. Had he done that when he was compelled to seek relief for himself and his wife in another State, all would have been well. The public would have been more sympathetic. But the outcome was that he was severely castigated by the Press. One cannot blame the Press altogether because, as I said a while ago, if he had in a forthright way told the Press and everybody else they would have known the circumstances and they could have tested his statements, but he did not do so and he has paid the penalty since.
– Now tell us about Senator McKenna and why he does not live in his State.
– He is not here.
– Neither is Senator Aylett.
– I am telling of him because of his sad circumstances. A Senate election is to be held this year or in the first six months of next year. My information is that the election must be conducted in time to have all the senators declared elected before 30th June, so it must be held between now and, say, May next. Questions that should be asked of every person who stands for election to the Senate are: “ Where do you live? How long have you lived permanently in this State?”. I have examined the Constitution with respect to this matter, and I should say that it was an oversight on the part of the founders of the Constitution that they did not have in it a section stating specifically that a senator who went to reside outside his State for any cause became disqualified from holding his seat.
– That is a bit grim, is it not?
– You think that you are all right. You live in Brisbane and I think you will continue to live in Queensland.
– I am not in Brisbane; I am up in Cairns.
– I put the test to you. You try to live in Sydney and see what your party does to you. It will do to you what it did to other senators who preferred to live in Sydney.
– Why doesn’t your party do that?
– I shall tell you what my party will do. A Labour member of the Commonwealth Parliament who goes out of his State to live immediately disqualifies himself from membership of the Australian Labour Party. My party has dealt with this matter.
– You are advocating two vacancies on the Labour Opposition benches here.
– I am not advocating anything other than a change in the law.
– I would like to bc in caucus tomorrow.
– You will be in caucus tomorrow. I thought you held caucus meetings on Wednesdays. If you want to get in, I shall get a special invitation for you. I am only mentioning these ‘things. Tt is left to the people to adjust them. I could not think of anything more idiotic than, say, ‘ Senator Mattner going to live in Perth, meeting senators elected from Western Australia, being asked what he was doing over in Perth, and replying that he had just gone there for the sake of his health. It does not appear real. The same would apply to others.
– You have had a Tasmanian senator living in Sydney for 15 years.
– You are saying that; I am not. As you have taken up that argument, let me say that I may have more to say on this subject when the Estimates are going through. I give you due notice, because I believe in straightening things out and having them on a proper level.
I do not propose to say any more. I have been talking for a long time. The Budget, I have no doubt, will be passed, and legislation will be passed to provide foreshadowed amendments to certain acts. This Government will continue to allow inflation to go ahead unchecked. The Government seems to be happy, it lives from year to year. It never takes a long term view of these matters. It is afraid now to introduce a little austerity. Labour did so before it was put out of office. The Government gives the people full fling. It talks about the unnecessary stress upon the consumption sector of the economy. We hear all that economist talk, but the people today are no better off.
– Your leader in another place said that this was an austerity Budget. You say that it is not.
– I say that it is not an austerity Budget such as we had.
– It is not as severe.
– The Government introduces an additional charge of 3d. on a packet of cigarettes, and so forth. I do not know what my leader said. I certainly would not say that. The Government will not check inflation at all with this Budget. It tried to check inflation in 1961 and the people nearly checked its run of luck here. Even the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) has said that the Government has been favoured by good luck. There is no question about that. It will probably continue to be lucky. The price of wool probably will hold. As I said a while ago, the wheat growers will be able to sell their wheat once again to China and Russia. With export prospects shining fairly brightly at the present time and with a high level of expenditure in the Commonwealth, I cannot see any austerity concerning the people of Australia.
– The Senate is discussing two papers. One of them concerns particulars of proposed expenditure for the ordinary annual services of the Government for 1964-65. The message recommending this expenditure to the Senate reads as follows -
In accordance with the requirements of Section fifty-six of the Constitution o£ the Commonwealth of Australia, the Administrator of the Government of the Commonwealth transmits to the House of Representatives particulars of proposed expenditure in respect of the year ending on the thirtieth day of June one thousand nine hundred and sixtyfive, being the expenditure for the ordinary annual services of the Government, and recommends an appropriation from the Consolidated Revenue Fund accordingly.
The important words to the Senate are those which state that this expenditure is expenditure for the ordinary annual services of the Government. The other paper that the Senate is discussing concerns particulars of proposed expenditure for other than ordinary annual services of the Government in respect of the year ending 30th June 1965. The revenue that is to be appropriated in respect of the first matter amounts to £1,094,117,000. That is for ordinary expenditure. For the other services of the Government the total expenditure is £2,368,000. The Minister for Works (Senator Gorton) has circulated a paper entitled “Civil Works Programme 1964-65 “, setting out the proposed expenditure on capital works and services, and I shall quote from it at a later stage. It is because we have these three matters before the Senate that I wish - if I can - to stimulate the interest of honorable senators in the functions of the Senate itself.
During the past 25 years - that being the period during World War II and since - there has been a tendency to surrender to the Executive powers which the Senate was created to exercise. In effect, the Senate is asked, in the legislation concerned, to surrender certain of its rights and privileges to the Government of the day. Once powers are conceded to the Executive, even for a specific emergency, there is always a deep rooted resistance to their return, even though the emergency has passed. I believe that, in this legislation, the function of members of this House is being transferred from the floor of the Senate to the offices of the Civil Service. The struggle of the ordinary citizen is to exercise some influence on government and it has been truly said: “ All governments control the governed “. Here before us are two sets of proposals which, in my opinion, aim to alter the whole function of the Senate by limiting its rights, the chief of which is the right of amendment in respect of certain appropriations. It has exercised this right since Federation. In fact, we know that Federation was achieved by compromise, as it were, because the less populous States were given a number of senators equal to that of the other States when Federation was accomplished and the Senate itself was given special powers, one of which is the right of amendment. It is this power which is being challenged today because last year the Appropriation (Works and Services Bill), which was an amendable bill, appropriated the sum of £182,691,000 for works and services. This year all such appropriations have been transferred to the Appropriation Bill which may not be amended by the Senate.
Under the present proposals the Senate may amend only an amount of £2,368,000. That is all. Since 1901, the Senate has always claimed - and at times has exercised in a very proper way - the right of amendment in respect of public works and buildings. The Senate’s claim to the power of amendment in respect of public works and buildings is important to the discharge of its role as the guardian of the interests of the State and to me that is the very keystone upon which the Senate was founded. Any surrender of this - one of the Senate’s prime and most important functions and one of the chief reasons for its very existence - would jeopardise its position as a States House and the right of equal representation of the States in the Senate.
Strong support for the Senate’s case is to be found in Quick and Garran’s work the “Annotated Constitution of the Australian Commonwealth “. Quick and Garran knew how the framers of our Constitution wished the Senate to work. They knew what the framers of the Constitution understood by “ expenditure on ordinary annual services “. They understood expenditure on public works as being distinct from expenditure on the ordinary annual services. The present day argument that virtually any service that the Government sets its hand to can be regarded as ordinary annual expenditure makes almost meaningless the words “ ordinary annual “ la sections 53 and 54 of the Constitution. The framers of the Constitution intended those words to have a meaning and that meaning is set out at page 670 of Quick and Garran’s monumental work on the Constitution, where it instances public works and buildings and railway construction as examples of expenditure which is not “ ordinary annual “. If honorable senators wish to refresh their minds on this question, they can turn to page 670 of Quick and Garran’s work and read the words used by men who grew with the Constitution and who knew it and understood what was at the back of it and what its framers actually meant. This is what Quick and Garran say -
Extraordinary charges, which do not come within the meaning of ordinary annual services, are appropriations of revenue of loan money for the construction of public works and buildings, and for the application of revenue or loan money to public purposes of a special character.
It is very definite. It continues -
Whilst the Senate, however, could not amend an ordinary annual appropriation bill, it could with unquestionable constitutionality amend a public works bill, a railway construction bill, a harbour improvement bill.
So we see today a bill, providing for the expenditure of over £1,000 million, which we cannot amend, and another, providing for a little over £2 million, which we can amend. I believe that is entirely against the wishes of the framers of the Constitution. The new procedure that we have before us ignores the decision of the Senate in 1952, the effect of which was to confirm that the Senate declined to treat an Appropriation (Works and Services) Bill as a bill for the ordinary annual services of the Government. In the initiation of appropriation bills the Government must pay due regard to the provisions of section 54 of the Constitution, which reads -
The proposed law which appropriates revenue or moneys for the ordinary annual services of the Government shall deal only with such appropriation.
The purpose of this provision was to ensure that the rights of the Senate to amend should not be infringed by the inclusion of any item in the annual Appropriation Bill which was not for the ordinary annual services of the Government. In the final analysis, it is for the Parliament itself to say what are ordinary annual services of the Government. It is well established that no court of law has jurisdiction to decide whether or not the view of the Parliament is correct. To me, that is most important. The Senate is master of its own house. It was given definite powers. If it wishes to alter or change them, the Senate itself must decide; but it should zealously guard its constitutional rights. If appropriations which are not for ordinary annual services are included in the main Appropriation Bill, which the Senate may not amend, then the rights of the Senate are infringed and we have a case of what is known as tacking. I suggest that is inherent in the papers that are before us today.
I wish I could explain how I feel; I wish I could get my thought over to honorable senators. It must be remembered that there is a real difference between the power of amendment and the right to request an amendment. The vital distinction seems to me to be that in the case of an amendment the Senate actually alters the form of a bill, and it is for the House of Representatives to accept the bill as amended or lose the bill. In other words, the Senate passes a bill with or without amendment. In the case of a request, the bill has not passed the Senate. It may be said that the Senate has interrupted its consideration to request the House of Representatives to amend the bill in a certain way. If the House of Representatives does so, we then pass the bill. If the House of Representatives does not agree, there is no bill unless we drop our request. Either that, or we veto the whole bill. As I said earlier, in the case of a request the Senate does not alter the bill, but only suggests an alteration. If the request is not agreed to by the House of Representatives, the Senate is then faced with the choice of dropping its request or of vetoing the whole bill. I believe that the Senate would hesitate to veto an Appropriation Bill for the huge sum of over £1,000 million because it objected to one item. To do so could bring the government of the country to a standstill, which in the circumstances might not be realistic. It will be seen, therefore, that it is important for the Senate to ensure that its constitutional powers to amend are not infringed by the inclusion in the main Appropriation Bill of items such as public works and buildings, which for more than 60 years have been regarded by both Houses as amendment items.
Because of the importance of this matter I ask the indulgence of honorable senators while I remind them of a decision of the Senate in 1952. The question was then raised as to whether an Appropriation (Works and Services) Bill came within the category of bills which the Senate may not amend. From the Chair, I stated that a similar question had been raised in the Senate in 1901. I said that a practice was established then of submitting separate Appropriation Bills, one of which, the main Appropriation Bill, the Senate could not amend, and the other of which, for works and buildings, the Senate could amend. I stated that this practice had worked very well for more than 50 years, and because it had worked well I saw no reason to upset the existing practice. At that time, being pressed for my reasons, I said that I gave rulings from the Chair in accordance with established Senate procedure, and the Senate, being its own master, was the only power that could alter the procedure. I believe that is fundamentally correct. The matter was debated. Soon after I had made my ruling the Senate, by its vote, confirmed that the Senate would decline to treat the annual Appropriation (Works and Services) Bill as a bill for the ordinary annual services of the Government. That had never been challenged until recently. I see no reason why, even if it is challenged, we should accept the opposite view as being correct. The Senate is the master of its own house.
Now, in 1964, the long established practice of dealing with appropriations for public works and buildings as amendment items is threatened, and I urge all honorable senators to give this proposed change in the form of the annual appropriation measures their most careful and serious consideration. The Senate must uphold its privileges. I assure the Senate that, if we do not do so no-one else will do it for us. However, if we accept these papers, then almost any expenditure can go into the Appropriation Bill and thus jeopardise the position of the Senate as a States House. Again I say: “ Let us take notice of the words ‘ ordinary annual expenditure ‘ “. In my opinion, they were put in our Constitution for their definite meaning. That was part of the Federal compact. I said earlier that I would quote from the paper that was circulated by Senator Gorton and would do that to justify my contention that they contained items which are not for the ordinary annual services of the Government.
Sitting suspended from 5.30 to 8 p.m.
– At the suspension of the sitting I was stressing the point which seemed so important to me; that is, the Senate, being master of its own house, must uphold its privileges because, unless the Senate does so, no-one else will think to do so. My belief that the Senate’s power to amend an Appropriation (Works and Services) Bill is ever so much stronger than the power to request an amendment is fortified when I turn to page 43 of the FiftyFourth Report of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts. Mr. Bury, who had been and is again a Minister of the Crown, questioned Sir Kenneth Bailey, the SolicitorGeneral. Mr. Bury asked -
Do you think the Senate is placed in a superior position in being able to amend a Bill as lt goes through as distinct from requesting the Lower House to make an amendment? Assuming that the measure gets past both Houses, in what way docs the request that amendments be made place the Senate in an inferior position to that in which it can actually make an amendment?
Sir Kenneth replied ;
I should think it would depend on a very complex set of factors which Senators present would be more capable of assessing than I am, but I think that the formal power to make an amendment is probably stronger than the power to request an amendment.
From my recollection, which is imperfect, I think that history is not in fact very different with respect to the two processes . . . “. 1 can agree with the Solicitor-General that the two processes are probably not much different if a measure gets past both Houses, but, as I have pointed out, there is a very real difference when a request for amendment is resisted by the House of Representatives. This is the crux of the matter.
– Sir Kenneth qualified bis answer by saying “ probably “.
– As you realise, he was the Solicitor-General and his answer was probably his opinion. Sir Kenneth Bailey’s attitude, expressed in that reply, is strong evidence that supports my argument that we should not give up the power of amendment. I wish that I had the power to awaken honorable senators to the position. The very question that Senator
Hannaford has posed shows-
– How little we know?
– No, it shows that honorable senators may not have fully grasped the difference between an amendment and a request. That is where I may have failed. However, in spite of the interjection from Senator Hannaford I am hopeful that in the near future full realisation will come to him and that he will be on my side. 1 hope that is true not only of Senator Hannaford but of many other senators.
I will not digress. I said that I would quote some examples contained in the document prepared by the Minister for Works (Senator Gorton). I refer to the “ Civil Works Programme 1 964-65 “. I ask honorable senators to decide whether the works I shall refer to could be considered as an annua] or an ordinary expenditure. They have not been so regarded for the past 60 years.
On page 55 of the document appears the item relating to the construction of the Russell Offices at a cost of ?3,278,407. Would honorable senators say that is an ordinary expenditure? Would they say it is an annual expenditure? I turn to the item relating to the construction of the National Library at a cost of ?3,555,868. If it is a recurring expenditure, why is not the amount of ?3,555,868 spent every year on the National Library? Why is not ?3,278,407 put up every year for offices? An amount of ?1,645,976 is allocated for the erection of the Mint Processing Building. Is that an ordinary annual expenditure? In my opinion it is not. Nor is it a recurring expenditure.
I turn now to Victoria. On page 11 of the document is the item relating to the Tullamarine Airport, stage 1, at a cost of ?5,450,000. Is that an annual expenditure? Is it recurring? Have we no right to amend it, or if we offer an amendment, what happens?
– You tell us.
– The onus is on the Senate and it has shifted from the House of Representatives. An amount of ?5 million is provided for extensions of the runway at Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport out into Botany Bay; Sydney Commonwealth Offices, £3,580,389; Melbourne Commonwealth Offices, £2,296,122; Brisbane Commonwealth Offices, £1,196,200. I ask myself: “ How do the other States fare? “ That is the point which we as Senators must heed.
At page 30 I see provision for the Redfern mail exchange building at a cost of £2,909,869. That is hardly an ordinary or an annual expenditure. At page 32 appears provision of £818,477 for erection of the Edison telephone exchange building, in Queensland. For stage I of the erection of the main hospital block at the Canberra Community Hospital an amount of £2,043,530 is provided. But the daddy of them all is the Darwin thermal power station at a cost of £2,011,484. Is it ordinary or recurring expenditure? In my opinion it is not.
At page 17 there is provision for the erection of the Customs House in Melbourne at a cost of £1,947,528. 1 have taken only a few items at random from the proposed public works programme but 1 ask honorable senators whether they are satisfied. I am not. 1 want to put it on record that I hope that this Bill does not sci the pattern for future Bills. I. for one. do not wish to see the passing of the Senate. I 1 believe that if this pattern continues we might just as well close the Senate and forget all about equal representation. Wc shall become the mere puppets of the House of Representatives. ( shall turn now to one or two other aspects. 1 am perturbed by the increased telephone charges. Perhaps Senator Wade, who is the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, will attempt in some way to justify the increased charges. Perhaps he could give us some idea of what happens in New Zealand. When you are in New Zealand, New Zealanders will say to you: “ 1 will ‘phone you “. They mean what they say. There is approximately one telephone to every three people in New Zealand. There is a £5 installation charge for a telephone. The rental for a private telephone is £16 per annum and the business rental is £31 per annum. All local calls are free. If you use a public telephone, there is a charge of 2d. This charge will rise to 3d. on 1st October of this year. Most business and social transactions arc arranged on the telephone. On the question of calls and the accounting of calls, I wonder whether Senator Wade could give me an idea of the cost of accounting for the various calls that are made in Australia. In New Zealand there is no charge for local calls. As far as I can see, and as far as I can gather, even allowing for the difference in the exchange rate between New Zealand and Australia, telephone calls in New Zealand are cheaper than they are in Australia. 1 cannot see how the Minister can justify the increased telephone charges.
Although this is not specifically mentioned in the Budget, I am very glad to see that, at last, in the Northern Territory there is some attempt being made to exploit the value of the buffalo as an earner of overseas funds. During the Estimates debate in 1961-62, 1 had a few words to say about the buffalo and the potential that it held for us. This was at a lime when we were talking glibly about roads to aid beef production. The words I used were -
A few years ago, we were exporting 80,000 to 100,000 buffalo hides a year to India for manufacture into belts. Thai avenue of export i is now closed, but since hen a market for buffalo meat has developed in Australia, and in countries close to Australia. We talk about the expenditure of £25 million on roads to assist the beef industry, but it will take years to build those roads. lt will take years to build up the cattle population in that area -
Here wc have al least 100,000 buffaloes a year available for slaughter for their meat. The industry would not be a doubtful proposition. Buffaloes, killed under proper veterinary i inspection, are a valuable source of meat. The meat could be shipped abroad. … A valuable market for our buffalo meat exists in Hong Kor.g and elsewhere. We must ensure that the meat is subject to proper veterinary inspection. I believe that t the export of buffalo meat could bring a good deal of revenue into the Northern Territory.
Also, my proposal envisaged the use of cold stores. I am delighted to know that there is a move afoot in the Northern Territory to exploit the value of buffalo meat. The elimination of the buffalo in the Northern Territory will open the way for greater beef production. I repeat I am very pleased that this source of export income is about to be exploited.
There is a great deal I would wish to say about a matter which is of vital importance to South Australia. I refer to the wine industry and the production and utilisation of grapes, whether they be dried or distilled into wine and spirits. I will not weary the Senate with all the various details of the tonnages taken into the distillery. However, the figures for the last four years are these: In 1961 there were 154,686 tons; in 1962, 230,500 tons; in 1963, 166,640 tons; and it is estimated that the intake into the wineries in 1964 will be 190,000 tons. The average intake was 193,000 tons.
– Is that tuns or tons?
– Tons weight. The grapes, having reached the winery, are put into the tuns to which the honorable senator has referred. It has been reliably estimated that the industry requires 170,000 tons to 175,000 tons of grapes a year. So, it is obvious that there is a substantial surplus of stock in both wine and spirits held by the industry. This surplus constitutes a threat to the stability of the industry. There is a great deal more I could say on this matter.
I know that the wine industry is very grateful for the reduction in the excise on brandy. I appeal to the Minister to go a step further. If the excise was reduced by a further £1 per gallon this would mean 3s. off the cost of a bottle of brandy. I think that the consumption of brandy would increase and that all the grapes we are producing in Australia could be utilised. I know that some of my opponents will say: “ Well, that will be at the cost of whisky “. I am not worried about that at all. As Australians, we should look after the wine industry. It is of importance to returned servicemen and to State Governments. The Commonwealth and State Governments from the financial point of view are greatly interested to see that it is a paying industry. I appeal to the Minister to take this action. I know that I shall have quoted to me figures in regard to the thousands of gallons of proof spirit that are produced and the revenue that the excise brings in, but it is strangely true that when the excise was reduced the consumption of brandy went up, and there was no loss to the Treasury. I suggest that there would be little loss, if any, to the Treasury if this concession was granted.
Finally, I was very pleased indeed to read a report that the Minister for the Army (Dr.
Forbes) had embarked upon a programme to build more houses for Army personnel. The report stated -
A phased building programme will provide funds for an additional 1,430 homes for Army personnel during the next two years.
This was announced today by the Minister for the Army, Dr. A. J. Forbes.
Cost of the programme was estimated at £5i million and it was planned that a large portion would be completed in the first year.
This is some of the best news I have heard, as far as our defence preparations are concerned. The report continued -
The number of home units to be built had been based on the waiting list of applications for married quarters in the Army as at June this year.
This is good business as far as the Government is concerned. This action will effect great economy. I am delighted that the Minister has seen fit to embark immediately upon this programme of providing 1,430 houses. I hope that the other Services will follow suit.
– Is that the way you are going to spend the extra money?
– It is my hope that the Department of Air particularly will follow suit. As far as the expenditure of money is concerned, the honorable senator who has interjected-
– The distinguished senator.
– Sometimes I hope that he will be extinguished. Is he against the provision of these homes? I thought that great heart of his was so filled with the milk of human kindness that he would be the very first to applaud the fact that the Army is providing 1 ,430 homes. I am disappointed with him. He is more of a hidebound Tory than I thought he was. I would never have thought that the honorable senator was against progress. I would never have thought he would argue that we should not provide decent homes for our Service personnel. I am delighted with the interjection. I hope I can change his view and that he will come down on the side-
– All I asked was. whether the provision of these houses would take up the extra money provided.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - Order!
– I am not walking out on the honorable senator, but I have outside the chamber a medical problem which 1 have been asked to attend to.
– I did not know that I could solve my problem as easily as that. I wish to refer again to the question of these papers. In conclusion, I desire to place on record my strong objection to the methods used in presenting the two papers to the Senate. I will maintain strong opposition to the form of the papers, and use every constitutional endeavour to see that their form does not set the pattern for future years. I repeat that I do not want to see the passing of the Senate, and I hope to goodness that there are 59 other honorable senators in this chamber who will support me.
– I think we are obligated to Senator Mattner for reminding us of the attempts of the Government to whittle down the powers of the Senate. I am quite certain that if he ever proposed a substantive motion on the subject, as he is entitled to do, he would have at least 53 supporters. I cannot speak for the five Ministers or the Government Whip. However, I do not wish to talk on that subject tonight. Speaking for the third time in a Budget debate, I want to deal with defence, and to criticise the Government for its very parsimonious altitude to defence. 1 wish to say to all those sitting on the opposite side of the chamber that they are just as guilty as is the Cabinet in this matter because of their pusillanimous acquiescence in a Budget which does so little for defence. Senator Gorton, the Minister for the Navy, has a smile on his face. He thinks wc are doing a lot.
– He is no longer the Minister for the Navy.
– I am sorry. I mean the ex-Minister for the Navy. Ministerial changes occur so rapidly here that I just cannot keep up with them. It may be that Senator Gorton has a happy disposition and was just smiling anyhow.
As I said before, all of us in this chamber, especially those on the Government side, are just as guilty of moral cowardice in regard to the defence spending which is implicit in this Budget as are the Ministers who approved of the Budget. I do not know whether everyone on the other side did approve of the Budget. I do not know whether rank and file members get a chance to say whether they approve of it. But anyone who approves of the inexplicable complacency of the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) and the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), their rather incomprehensible inactivity in regard to defence and, regrettably, their normal lassitude and procrastination - because this has been going on for years - is just as guilty as they are. I think that some action should be taken on the matter.
Defence spending, of course, is unpopular, but I thought there were men in the Government parties who had the courage to be unpopular, and were prepared to be unpopular where the security of Australia was concerned. I have not known of one Budget brought down by this Government which has not had to be immediately supplemented, in regard to defence expenditure, as a result of criticisms made of it. Already we have heard that the Government is to spend a bit more money than it expected to spend when it brought this Budget into the Parliament. We are hearing mutterings that it is going to investigate compulsory military training. Is this Government just unable to plan ahead? I presume that it gave some thought to the Budget, but when the Budget was brought into the Parliament and someone criticised it, the Government suddenly decided to spend more money on defence. Apparently there is no advance thinking on defence.
Does any honorable senator believe for one moment that we could safeguard ourselves or New Guinea against attack? We talk, we talk and we talk. We sound awfully big when we say what we shall do if anyone attacks New Guinea or our Asian friends. Do we really believe that we could effectively assist our Asian neighbours who were in trouble? What it really amounts to is this: Are we Australians or are we just paper tigers, making a lot of noise in the hope that that will frighten our enemies away, because we once believed that the way to frighten evil away was to make a lot of noise? Each one of us will be just as guilty of betraying his country as Chamberlain was before the last war if we agree to the amount proposed for defence expenditure in this Budget. The Government’s boast of increased spending on defence is equally as misleading as the medical benefit societies’ implication that they have been distributing £100 million.
All the increase in the money that the Government is providing for defence is to be expended on the promised and necessary amenities for our present inadequate forces. In actual fact, we have not increased real defence spending. Are any honorable senators on the Government side happy about the position? Are they happy to know that, after this increased expenditure that they boast about has been completed, we shall have one admiral and one safety hatch opener for every two effective fighting ships in the Navy? Most of the fighting ships are mine sweepers and frigates. Are honorable senators opposite happy about the state of our Air Force? In the event of an outbreak of war, our aircraft would be comparable with the Wirraways which were used against the enemy at the outbreak of the last war. Are they happy about that state of affairs?
Are honorable senators happy about the fact that the Army cannot even keep up with recruiting replacements for its pathetically small and inadequate forces? We will soon have more red tabs in Australia than we will have armed forces in the field in Asia. Are we happy with a standing Army of virtually one brigade7 Do honorable senators think we can do anything at all with such an Army? Of course, we cannot. The question is: Do honorable senators want to be popular with the electorate or do they want to do something for the security of Australia? I do not think Government senators take the security of Australia seriously enough. Unless we have an Army ready to fight, there will be threats, and possibly action, against us or our allies. This problem is urgent. The Prime Minister said it was urgent in 1950, as the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) reminded us so pungently the other day. Each year we have been told, at the time of the bringing down of the Budget, that the Government knows best - that it is advised by the Service chiefs, who also know what is best and what they want. But is that the true story? Is it not that the Service chiefs know what they can get and so they say that that is what they want? If there were more of the turkey to be carved up, I am quite certain that they would ask for a bigger helping.
We must spend two to three times as much as we are spending on defence at the present time if our defence expenditure is to be in proportion with what is spent in the United Kingdom and the United States of America. How long can we expect to have protection from the United Kingdom and the United States? This country is expendable. I do not for one moment believe that if a crisis occurred we could rely on anyone. It is time we relied on ourselves. As far as the United Kingdom is concerned, if she were involved in a war she would not have forces to send to help us. As far as the United States is concerned, it can get on quite well without us. There could be a time in world politics when we were left by ourselves. That is why I say this country is expendable. As such we have to do something about it and not keep on relying on somebody else.
The ludicrous promise that the Prime Minister made in 1950 that we will be prepared is still the joke of the embassies. But preparedness is the best means of defence and, therefore, we should be prepared to do more than we are doing at present. This necessitates a very formidable Army, Navy and Air Force. If the proposition is accepted that we should have such formidable defence forces, then, of course, it follows that it is necessary to have compulsory military training. Whether it be universal short term training or selective long term training seems to be a point of argument. I believe that we must have both forms. I do not think we can get out of it. We must have short term compulsory military training to ensure that all men in Australia have some form of training. In some cases, it raises physical standards, and it provides a reservoir for the Services to draw upon. Selective training, of course, would ensure that at any given time we had forces to protect us.
I have pleaded before for compulsory military service. I have said before that I am not interested in it only from the defence point of view. I think that compulsory military service is healthy for the individual. If one looks at it as an asset to this nation, it is worth all the money that is spent on it. Any honorable senator who has seen young men go into camp and come out knows that they learn about hygiene, that their physical defects are corrected, and that many of them who were classed as medically A2 or Bl become Al. That alone is worth the money that we spend on the training.
We do not introduce compulsory military service because the Service chiefs say: “ Wc want the money for arms “. When the Service chiefs say that they do not want compulsory military training, is it not only on the ground of finance? If the finance was made available for compulsory military training, they would like to have it as well. To what use could their planes, ships and new armaments be put if they did not have the trained men to use them?
I believe it is industry which has twisted the mind of the Government against compulsory military service because industry is frightened of a shortage of labour. This, of course, could be overcome by increased immigration. When the Government was in trouble in 1961 it rushed to industry and said: “ Come and advise us on fiscal matters “. It took the advice. Now that the Government is no longer in danger it still gets together with industry but it did not take industry’s advice on fiscal matters. Unfortunately, it seems to have taken industry’s advice in regard to compulsory military training. We are told by the Ministers that those who arc opposed to compulsory military training are the Service chiefs and industry. Immigration will help to overcome the difficulty and we must have increased immigration concomitant with the proposals for increased defence expenditure. Immigration is just as vital to our defence programme as is the provision of new ships. What would be the value of purchasing an attack aircraft carrier, as is being mooted, if we had not trained men in the Navy and the Air Force to man it, and reserves for replacements?
I am not certain that we should spend £300 million on such an aircraft carrier and its equipment which would be so vulnerable unless it was associated with another aircraft carrier or with an aircraft carrier of an allied fleet. Furthermore, the development of airfields in the north would give us cover to South East Asia without the appalling vulnerability of a single aircraft carrier. 1 would rather see the £300 million which would be necessary for the purchase of such an attack aircraft carrier spent on a nuclear reactor that would be capable of making nuclear missiles. I regret that the other day, in a question I asked about commercial nuclear reactors, I suggested that they would cost £2 million or £3 million. That was an error. It should have been £200 million or £300 million. Unfortunately, the noughts were omitted. I am not sure whether I made the error. Perhaps I am getting so used to Government overestimating that I thought it did not matter whether I said £2 million or £200 million.
I firmly believe that the best method of defending a country is to be prepared with defensive weapons. If we had such weapons any rabble rousing dictator who wished to shake his fist at us would think twice before doing so. The best defensive weapons are nuclear weapons, and it is time that Australia developed its own. We cannot keep on being subservient to other nations. I know that it costs money, but we could insure against our vulnerability by creating our own nuclear weapons. We have the brains and the knowhow in Australia. )f the Government will only provide the finance we can produce the security that wc so badly need.
– So you don’t support the nuclear test ban?
– No, I do not support it.
– You think that the more weapons you have the more chance there is for peace?
– I think that the peace, such as it is, that exists at the present time is solely due to the fact that both sides have nuclear weapons. If they did not have nuclear weapons there would be war. Nuclear weapons are the only things that stop it. I say we can no longer remain subservient to the United Kingdom and the United States of America.
– We should challenge them with more weapons.
– No. That is plain stupidity. What we should do is be prepared. We should be ready and able to produce nuclear weapons if and when we require them. I say especially to the members of the Government that if they do not demand greater finance for defence they arc no better than the fifth columnists who are trying to subvert this country.
– That is about the silliest statement you have ever made.
– What has the Government done about protecting us?
– I am referring to your remark about subversion. It was very poor and undignified.
– It may be poor and undignified, but if you advocate spending less on defence, you are being a fifth columnist. If you want to challenge me on that, you may do so.
– Mr. President, I regard that remark as personally offensive and I ask that it be withdrawn.
– Senator Turnbull, you will withdraw that remark.
– I am quite happy to withdraw the remark that the Minister thinks I applied to him, but anyone who says that we are spending enough on defence and should not spend any more is a fifth columnist. We shall have no security in this country unless we do something about defence. We cannot sit around saying that we must provide this social service and another social service and at the same time cut down on defence expenditure.
– We are not cutting it down. We are putting it up.
– That is the attitude adopted by the medical benefit societies. The Government has increased the defence allocation by £36 million, but where can we see the physical side of that expenditure? The Government has provided houses and amenities, but it has not done very much to increase the defences of Australia.
– You want atomic weapons?
– Any nuclear bomb will do me as long as we have the power. We do not have to use it. Other countries have it and do not use it. It is the greatest deterrent in this world to be able to say you have the power to attack. If you can attack, you will not be attacked.
I want to get on to the subject of national insurance.
– You want to get off defence?
– No. I am quite happy to answer any questions that the honorable senator wishes to ask. If he is happy with the way the Government is spending money on defence, then let him be happy. I say that he is not being a true Australian if he is not prepared to spend more on defence to provide the ships, the aircraft and the manpower that we need.
– The expenditure is an all time record in peace time.
– It is an all time record Budget. Every year it is a record. Every year we are spending more because of inflation. It may be an all time record amount for defence, but it is still inadequate. Apart from the members of the Government, I do not think that anybody will say it is adequate. Even your friends in the Press will not support you and say you are spending enough on defence.
– Do you say the Press is right?
Senator TURNBULL__ No.
– You said they were our friends. Are they your friends?
– No, they are not my friends.
– Whose friends are they?
– I am saying that even your friends will not support you. The only support you can find comes from the 30 or 31 senators on that side of the chamber.
– We are not happy, but you have not the solution.
– If the honorable senator will provide us with a solution, I shall be very happy to accept it.
– You are simply war mongering.
– I am, but I think it is time that somebody did some war mongering. It is time we did something for ourselves. We just cannot continue to say that we will let America defend us.
– What do you suggest that we do?
– I do not think that you want to hear that all over again. I am quite prepared to say it again if you want me to do so.
– I shall listen this time.
– You may read it in “ Hansard “ - that is, if the reporter managed to take it down. National insurance is another subject which I think we ought to tackle. For the life of me, I cannot understand why we try to degrade our elderly citizens by calling them pensioners. 1 think the term is objectionable, lt connotes a charitable outlook towards them. I do not sec why, because a person becomes old, he should have to be referred to as a pensioner.
– One has not to be old to get a pension - at any rate, not a parliamentary pension.
– No. I am coming to that matter.
– Would you rather refer to them as little people, as the Leader of the Opposition did?
– No. I do not think they all are little people. These people arc entitled to share in the nation’s prosperity. Let us consider the position of the Public Service and members of Parliament. Members of the Public Service would become pensioners except that the Government is very lavish in its distribution of charity to them. Like members of Parliament, the public servants pay in a certain sum, but the Government puts in more.
– The Government is not putting in anything to our fund at the present lime because there is more than half a million pounds in the kitty.
– Let us not confine ourselves to this Parliament. If you happen to work in a privileged class, that is, for the Government, the Government is prepared to assist you to get superannuation - it is not called a pension now - when you retire from work. If one does not belong to that privileged class but happens to work for private enterprise, and work much harder, one is not entitled to superannuation.
– Any decent company has a superannuation fund.
– The big companies have, but a lot of people do not work for big companies. A lot of people do not work for companies at all. Let us consider the little plumber or the little painter. What can he do? If he were working for the Government, as such people do here, he would get superannuation.
– He could provide for himself with a superannuation policy.
– Of course he could provide for himself, but why cannot the others to whom I have referred provide for themselves? Why should we hand it to only one privileged class? Why should not everybody enjoy it? If a person works in the Government service, the Government will help him. It will supplement the employee’s contribution each year so that he can get a very nice pension when he retires. But if a person works for private enterprise, for a small firm or an individual - let us exclude the small firm if it is thought that small firms make provision for superannuation - and that employer cannot afford to provide for superannuation, why should the employee still not be entitled to it? What do people who work for themselves and who are thrifty receive from the Government when they reach old age? Not a penny! If they happen to have spent their money, they will get a pension.
– AH this is easy. Now give us a solution.
– I shall.
– I do not think you will.
– Very well. There is such a thing as national health insurance.
– They have tried that in Great Britain.
– They have. There is a man in this country who advocated it. He resigned from a government because he said that government had not introduced national health insurance. His name is Menzies.
– He was big enough to admit it.
– He was big enough to resign - to stab that government in the back - was he not? Having been in office for .15 years - you have asked for this - why has the Government not introduced such a scheme?
– Do you think it has not been studied?
– I have never seen any evidence of it.
– We would not tell you. You are on the other side.
– I have been a member of the Federal Parliament for only two years, but nobody else seems to have heard of it either. Surely it is not impossible for some brains on the Government side - if we have none on this side - to work out a scheme which would allow every person in Australia to get an equitable pension whether he had worked for the privileged government class or in the under-privileged class.
– You were going to outline a scheme. Now work it out and tell us what it was. You are throwing the onus on to other people. Why not say something yourself?
- Mr. President, I am trying to say that if we could get an actuary or a committee to work this out-
– You are suggesting that somebody else should do it. I am saying that you should outline the scheme.
– It is not my responsibility.
– You are sliding out from under.
– I am not.
-Itis your responsibility.
You said you would do it.
– When did I say I would do it?
– That is right, get out from under.
– I am a doctor first and a politician second, unlike the honorable senator who, apparently, having become a politician, knows everything about every subject under the sun. I do not know enough about accountancy to be able to tell you how the scheme would work, but there are professors who would do it for you. There was reference to one in the press just recently. There are other people with brains in this country who could work out a scheme under which every person paid in a certain sum and got a pension when he retired. If it is fair enough for members of the government service to enjoy this benefit, it is fair enough for the employees of private enterprise to enjoy it.
– You are paying in now. All the people are paying by way of taxation.
– That is right. I wish to raise another problem in regard to superannuation. This problem does not arise if one works for the Government, but it does arise if one works for a firm. . The problem I am about to mention kills any incentive that one may have to change to a better job with higher pay, because one has to consider whether he will lose his superannuation entitlement. This is another reason why there should be a universal scheme for superannuation. Such a scheme would remove a deterrent to people moving from one job to another. People who have applied for positions with the Launceston City Council have asked: “ What is the superannuation entitlement?” They have asked how much they would lose and what they would have to pay if they came into the council’s scheme. I repeat that a national insurance scheme would make it easier for people to decide to accept positions of greater responsibility.
The second part of a national insurance scheme relates to health. I have never been happy with the present setup for medical benefits and hospital benefits. Indeed, a request has been made for the appointment of a select committee to inquire into this matter, but of course there is no hope of that request being granted. We should abolish all the societies that have been formed for the purpose of servicing medical and hospital benefits. One body - a medical and health benefits commission - should be established to handle all payments. Under the scheme I envisage it would be compulsory for everybody to pay into the fund, just as it was previously in relation to the National Welfare Fund. Such an organisation would provide for easier administration, because we would be able to do away with the thousands of people who are employed in the collection of premiums and the distribution of benefits. The contributions would be collected by the income tax collector. He would pay that money into a trust account, as was done under the old system. That account would be administered by this autonomous body that I have suggested. The benefits would be paid by that body in the same manner that they are paid by the present hospital and medical benefit societies.
To do this is the only way in which to get away from the squabbles that are occurring under the’ existing scheme. The burden would be spread evenly over everybody, because everybody would have to contribute. I have never been happy with the present setup. I have never been able to understand why the Minister for Health (Senator Wade) allows medical benefit societies to have doctors as members of their boards. To my mind, that is just as unethical as it would be to have a doctor on the board of a firm of funeral directors. I should be quite happy if the Minister were to allow medical advisory committees to advise the benefit societies, but I repeat that to have doctors as members of the boards is quite unethical. Moreover, I think it results in bad public relations for the doctors themselves.
May I just come back to a subject that I told the Senate 1 would bring up every year. I still have not had an answer to my many inquiries. I ask the question straight out: When is the Government going to allot pensions to mental pensioners? Everyone on both sides of the chamber to whom 1 have spoken agrees that the present arrangement is iniquitous and archaic, yet year after year I have been waiting to hear the Government say that it will allow pensioners who go into mental hospitals to continue to be paid their pensions. I have been told that there is no-one to look after the PaY.ments, or no-one to spend their money. The answer to that contention is that there are public trustees and masters in lunacy who can look after this money. Another argument is that the Government pays for the mental institution and therefore it should not pay twice. That is also a rather peculiar argument, in view of the fact that the Government pays pensions to pensioners who go into other hospitals. After all, whether a hospital is built by a State Government or the Commonwealth Government makes a contribution, the money that is used is taxpayers’ money which is raised by the Commonwealth. Yet we can ask this question time and time again, and it will be. raised again at each conference of Ministers for Health, but we have not had a satisfactory answer.
Surely our thinking is not so archaic that we believe that there is a difference in concept between mental disease and physical disease. Does the Government really believe that someone who is mentally ill should be incarcerated? If Government supporters believe that, they themselves are really problem children. Today there is no difference at all between physical illness and mental illness. Today we do nol like to certify anyone for mental illnesses. Mental illness is more comparable to physical illness than it has ever been before. Will the Minister for Health (Senator Wade) or the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Paltridge) give us an answer to my question? Will some Minister tell us in plain simple language why this cannot be done? I I would not like to nominate a Minister to do it. There are three of them sitting here. I would not mind if they tossed up to decide who should tell us why the pension cannot be paid. I have a letter, covering a page of foolscap, which says that it cannot be done because it has never been done. That is the reason given to me.
– Would not the State Governments take all the money?
– What for?
– Because under their acts they administer all moneys paid to people in lunacy, and use it themselves.
– Every State Government would be only too happy to pass an act based on a model act of this Parliament covering any points that the Minister likes to bring up.
– They have not done it.
– You are only supposing something that has never happened and never will happen. I am concerned about money that is, or should be, paid to a pensioner. If the Commonwealth says that there will be no charge for the pensioner in a mental institution - that is the present position - the State Government cannot take any money.
– The State Government takes his pension when he goes to hospital.
– The Minister is getting confused. When a pensioner goes into hospital with an ordinary physical illness, he still receives his pension. The Commonwealth pays, and there is no payment by the pensioner to the hospital.
– That is right.
– Why can the position not be the same in the case of mental illness?
– Because the State Government takes all moneys that are payable to all people who are lunatics.
– The State Governments only administer the money
– There is some confusion here, but we can clear up the position. The Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) has only to write to each Premier, asking for an assurance that this will be done. I am quite sure that the Premiers will give it.
– It is of no use to ask State Premiers.
– It is of no use to say that because the State Premiers have not had something, therefore they do not want it. They will do it the moment you go to them.
– They will not.
– Did you raise this when you were Tasmanian Treasurer?
– No. It never arose. When I was Minister for Health, it was one of the things that we had been requesting since 1952. It has been on the agenda every year since then.
– For how long were you State Treasurer? Ten years?
– No,I was not. Senator Henry. - Did you make any effort or did you ever raise it?
– It never came up. We did not have a Senator Gorton to raise the point.
– You never raised it.
-It never applied to us.
– You mean that you did not want this to happen?
– Good heavens! I can only say in simple terms that we wanted these payments for pensioners. Noone had ever suggested that the State Government would take them away; therefore there was no question of any legislation being needed. I suggest that this is a cover for not giving me an answer to the question I have asked. One of the Ministers might do it.
I should like to refer now to two matters of preventive medicine. 1 am rather perturbed that Senator Maher should criticise safety belts. We should get each State Government to pass legislation prescribing that no car should be sold to go on the road without fittings for safety belts. In fact, they should be standard equipment. The value of safety belts in cars has been proved time and again. We should give a lead in this matter. I do not know which Minister would be concerned with it. We maintain that it is a matter just as much for the Department of Health as is any disease. When thereis an epidemic of typhoid in a town and 60 people die in a year, there is an immediate outcry. Everything is thrown into the melting pot in order to find out what has caused the epidemic and how to stop it. Yet 100 people can die from motor car accidents and not a thing is done about it. We blame everyone else. We put the blame on to each other. We do not try to do anything. Here is one simple thing that can be done, although it is not the complete solution of the problem. Safety belts should be installed in cars. The Commonwealth can certainly achieve this with the help of the States. Most States would agree that no cars without fittings for safety belts should be sold. I think it is a matter for the Minister for Health.
– Is that not contained in the report of the Senate Select Committee on Road Safety?
– The Committee recommended that it should be done, but nothing has been done about it. If fittings and belts were made compulsory it would be easier to get people to use them than if we merely asked the people to fit the belts after they got cars.
– When you were in the Tasmanian Parliament, did you advocate this?
– No,I do not think I advocated it. I was responsible for a select committee in relation to drunken drivers. This was one of the problems mentioned before that committee, but safety belts as a preventive measure have come to the fore only in the past three or four years.
The second matter that I wish to raise is smoking. Again in an answer the other day the Minister for Health mentioned what the Commonwealth was going to do. Virtually, what it is doing is absolutely nothing. The timidity of this Government in regard to tobacco companies and their shareholders is amazing. It will not do anything. The Government has shunted the matter off, saying that it is providing educational talks. It will not do simple things, such as, with the assistance of the States, stopping tobacco advertising. If that were done there would be no television advertising. That it the reason why the Government will not step in and help. It must do something. I know that people are now smoking again because the scare has passed, but we cannot obliterate those two reports, one presented by the British college, and one presented by the American Surgeon-General. It is of no use for the Commonwealth Government to say it cannot do anything, because it can. It had the opportunity. It raised the duty on cigarettes. If it had wanted to, it could have quadrupled the duty. I do not think anyone would have minded paying an extra 3d. in tax if it were for health reasons.
– I would. I like to smoke.
– What we are trying to do is to stop the young from smoking. I am not interested so much in the honorable senator as I am interested in his children. I think that they should be given a chance to grow up and be healthy. If you look at it - as I said last time we were debating this matter - from the point of view of the gross national product, it is essential that we cut down the number of chronic bronchitics and six times as many cases of this complaint occur among people who smoke as among those who do not.
– Why do you not set them a good example?
– I do. I do not smoke, except for an odd cigar when I have time to spare from my parliamentary duties.
.- I rise In support of the Budget. I consider that the tremendous work being carried out by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) and the Ministers in charge of the various Departments of the Government deserves the greatest praise by all responsible Australians. 1 think it must be conceded by all members of the Senate that we enjoy a standard of living for which we must indeed be grateful. Our people are employed and 75 per cent, of them own their own homes or are in the process of purchasing them. Recent and impending legislation will enable this proportion to increase considerably. On every side and in every State there is abundant proof of forward thinking in all aspects of development. The Budget Papers indicate quite clearly that this satisfactory state of affairs will continue, lt is interest ing to note that that most sensitive indicator, the stock exchange, showed no disturbance whatever when the contents of the Budget became known.
I contend that there is no justification for the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator McKenna). The amendment makes reference to social welfare and I think it is just as well to remind ourselves of the vastly increased expenditure from the National Welfare Fund, amounting to £35,800,000, and the total figure of the National Welfare Fund - a most impressive one - which amounts to £452,200,000. The pension increase of 5s. a week to the aged, the invalided and the widowed seems, in itself, not to be a very large increase. The increase is extended also to sufferers from tuberculosis. It is estimated that in a full year these increases will cost about £10,430,000. I was interested to read, in one of the papers presented with the Budget, that no tax is at present payable by aged persons whose net income does not exceed £481 and that the exemption will be extended to the sum of £494. In the case of a married person who is eligible for a pension the exemption will be increased from £910 to £936. Again, on the surface, this is not a very large amount, but the cost to revenue will be £400,000 in one full year.
Continuing to deal with the various contributions made by the Government to the welfare of our people, all honorable senators on this side of the House were extremely glad when the State Grants (Mental Health Institutions) Act 1964 was passed. Under this Act the Commonwealth grants to the States, for three years, one-third of the total expenditure by a State in building and equipping mental health institutions. That assistance is, of course, very greatly needed in all States, including Victoria, which has done so much in this field of social work. It is estimated this will mean increased expenditure amounting to £1,770,000 a year.
Dame Annabelle Rankin mentioned the rehabilitation services. I know how keenly interested she is in this work and I was privileged to be present at Cootharinga, the home for crippled children in Townsville, when she was addressing a meeting there quite recently. All those who were present expressed their gratitude to her for the assistance which she has given in this very worthy field of work in Queensland. Another paper presented with the Budget states that suitable persons are given rehabilitation treatment, either as inpatients or outpatients in Comonwealth and State institutions followed, where necessary, by vocational training. During rehabilitation treatment patients receive the invalid pension or unemployment or sickness benefit and, during vocational training, an allowance equal to the invalid pension, plus a training allowance of £1 10s. a week, this latter figure being free of any means test. On reading that statement I was reminded of a question asked recently by Senator Buttfield regarding disabled housewives. The answer to her question stated that there is no provision under the Social Services Act for the provision of rehabilitation without charge for the disabled housewife. The answer is, in effect, that she could be given treatment in a departmental rehabilitation centre on payment by her of the cost involved, on condition that there is space available for her to bc resident or to attend that rehabilitation centre.
I hope that this situation will be rectified as soon as possible, because there is no doubt that the disabled housewife suffers very greatly in that she is not able to attend to the needs of her family and this affects her general health and her mental health. Because of her reaction on the family, it also affects considerably the health of the whole family. Various voluntary organisations assisting in the field of disabled people in Victoria have discovered ways and means of giving assistance to the disabled housewife and of making it possible for her to carry out her normal duties. I hope that it will be found possible to give her rehabilitation treatment free of charge and on the same conditions as apply to the male disabled person. The question of rehabilitation is assuming very large proportions because it is being recognised that numbers of disabled people are employable.
Much work is being done by the Mental Hygiene Department of the Victorian Government, and I know that this is the case in other States as well. We have excellent voluntary institutions, dealing with the physically handicapped, such as the Yooralla School for Crippled Children, the Victorian Society for Crippled Children and Adults, the Spastic Children’s Society of Victoria Incorporated, the Royal Talbot Centre for Rehabilitation, the Hampton Hospital for Rehabilitation and ancillary medical schools. Much useful work is being carried out in institutions such as the Royal Children’s Hospital. All this work by voluntary organisations is made possible mainly as a result of donations from the public, with some support from the State Government. This illustrates that the public - the people of Victoria and of the other States - are doing their utmost to care for those less fortunate people who are disabled in various ways. It is indeed interesting to refer to the work being done by the Commonwealth in this field and to the success of the campaign carried out recently by the Commonwealth rehabilitation centres - a campaign in which the ability of disabled people to enter employment was advertised with the object of inducing employers to engage disabled people where it was found possible to do so.
Rehabilitation has been carried out in the geriatric field. I congratulate the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Swartz) on the post graduate course of geriatric nursing which has been instituted in his department. This course will be attended by nursing sisters from departmental institutions, from outside institutions and from all States. 1 am sure that in this course of geriatric nursing attention will be paid to the rehabilitation of elderly people. This is a matter of great interest to the Victorian Old People’s Welfare Council and, I understand, to similar organisations in other States, in that they are trying to give training to elderly citizens to prevent them from becoming dull and disinterested, leading to ill health. They are trying to train people who are approaching old age in the use of leisure. I am sure’ we all agree that this is an excellent thing.
Talking of the use of leisure, this leads me to the very welcome statement made by the Minister for Health (Senator Wade) on 14th August last, relating to a scheme for the training of professional youth leaders, with regard to the increased leisure time in community life. It is fully realised by all people who are interested in youth that there is a great need to provide the young people who have leisure lime with useful employment for their spare hours. Much mischief, of course, comes into the minds of those who have nothing to occupy their time. From time to time we read of the unfortunate young people who become delinquent and who fall into this or that bad way of living. So all youth organisations and all those interested in youth will welcome this training course which is to be instituted and which will commence in February or March next in Sydney. I gather from the statement that it is designed to train professional recreation staff and leaders for community youth work. The course will be open to Government departmental staff, local government authorities and approved youth organisations. The syllabus has been approved by the Commonwealth Council for National Fitness and I gather from inquiries that that Council is 100 per cent, behind the project outlined by the Minister. It was also heartening to read his statement that the training course will continue while there is support for it - while people are coming forward to apply for leadership training.
I am particularly interested in this, and have been for some time. When I had the honour of being President of the Victorian National Council of Women in, I think, 1956, we called together representatives of the Playgrounds Association, of youth groups, of churches and other organizations, of the Y.W.C.A. and the Y.M.C.A., of the Physical Education Department of the Melbourne University and of the Social Studies Department. Our investigations continued for about three years. We outlined a comprehensive scheme of training and we presented it to our State Government. About that time the Chief Secretary of Victoria was planning a re-organisation of the Social Welfare Department and he instituted within that Department a Training Division, lt seems a great coincidence, but a good thing, that the scheme outlined by our Minister commences in February and that a somewhat similar scheme will be introduced in February by the Training Division in Melbourne. It, too, will be a professional youth leadership training course, but of two years. The course outlined by our Minister is an intensive one of four weeks and is, of course, for people who are already trained. The Victorian course is open to young people of 18 years of age who have attained as a minimum standard of education the Leaving Certificate. As outlined by the Minister, there seems to be support from the local government authorities for such moves. Many in Victoria have expressed their interest and will participate by sending young people from their centres to attend this course.
When we think of the problems that confront our young people today we realise this is a very complicated world and that there is a sense of insecurity that affects their thinking and development. It is a big step to go from school to employment or to university life. Therefore, it is interesting to know that in this course, which is about to commence in Melbourne, time will be allotted to study the necessary adjustment to the adult world. Other matters to be studied include the use of leisure time and recreation, the problems of starting work, apprenticeship schemes and the training of apprentices. Courses will be conducted in the organisational or secretarial work relating to youth clubs. One aspect of this course which is of particular interest relates to street projects on the American pattern. The criticism is often made that youth clubs attached to churches draw in the young people associated with the churches and that police youth clubs mainly bring in other young people but that those who are in the greatest need escape attending any youth clubs. Apparently in America they are now planning street projects whereby leaders go into particular streets trying to interest and draw together the youngsters living there and endeavouring to help them. Many parents, teachers, churchmen of various denominations and lay representatives of various organisations got together and drew up, for the help of parents and teenagers, what is called the “ St. Louis Code “. This has received great prominence in some sections of the Press and on television in Victoria. It has been adapted for use in Australia and is being sent throughout the country. It should be of great use to parents and to young people who are aware of the problems, who welcome the opportunity to join youth leadership classes in a voluntary capacity, and who seek to join together in their various national youth groups.
I was interested in a recent report that came to me from the National Youth Clubs organisation stating that at the end of this month the National Youth Council has been invited to send delegates to a U.N.E.S.C.O. conference, at which the subject to be discussed is “ Out-of-School Education for Young People “. I am sure that this will include discussion of the use of leisure time. Young people themselves realise the great need for help in adjusting themselves lo this adult world.
In both youth leadership training schemes mention is made of local government centres, which should mean that the young people in the country areas will be made aware of the help that is obtainable. The leaders, who are professionally trained, will be able to visit the country areas in order to survey the needs of youth there and plan the development of the courses.
According to the report of the Training Division in Victoria it has carried out in 1962-63 other courses on child care and youth work, not only for the institutional staff but also for trainees for voluntary institutions. It is interesting to note that the staff of the departmental institutions has been receiving lectures on the care of children and the guidance of youths, because it brings to the unfortunate inmates of institutions the same opportunities as arc provided for the normal boy and girl and teenagers in our midst. The report contains this comment -
The aim of the educational training programme in social welfare institutions is the fostering in the inmates of a sense of citizenship and the development of those characteristics which the community accepts and recognises. 1 do not wish to weary honorable senators upon this question but I think the training and help we give to our young people assists to develop citizenship and upon their ideas of citizenship depends so very largely the future of our country.
I referred a few moments ago to the investigation carried out eight years ago by the National Council of Women and the help received from the Young Men’s Christian Association of Melbourne. The Y.M.C.A., I am told by that organisation, has been carrying out this work for 40 years. Many thousands of leaders in the Y.M.C.A. and in youth organisations have passed through their hands. The Association has established courses in three sections. The first is for junior leaders of young people from 12 to 14 years; the beginning of the teens is the time when young people particularly need help and when given a sense of responsibility they respond to the call. They are helped tremendously in adjusting to the new phase of life. The assistant leadership course covers young people from 14 to 16 years and the third course is the basic course for those who are 17 years and over. A nominal fee is charged.
In a report by the Y.M.C.A. which I read recently reference was made to the great need for research into methods and techniques of training to meet the needs of present day youth. What is accepted by today’s yoting people is very different from the standards of my young days. There is a need for constant research in this field. 1 hope that the programme outlined by the Minister for Health will include provision for research or, arising from that, that leadership training courses will give some very useful pointers to methods and techniques.
I turn now to another type of leadership and I shall quote from an article included in the “Australian Health Education Advisory Digest “. It describes the work of a woman of whom Australia should indeed bc proud. I refer to Dr. Joan Refshauge whom I had the privilege of meeting when I was in New Guinea last year. Tn a very short talk I had with her 1 was able to learn of the tremendously important work she had carried out. At the end of last year she resigned from the important post of Assistant Director of Infant, Child and Maternal Health Services in the Territories. In 1948 she pioneered in her field and one must be filled with admiration for her work when one considers the difficult country wilh which she had to deal. Over two million people are scattered throughout a very wide area, much of which is wild and inaccessible and possesses little in the way of transport or communications. Yet Dr. Refshauge undertook this work and the results she has obtained in 15 years arc truly commendable. In the article Dr. Refshauge states that Li 1948 she commenced with one trained Australian nurse and one interpreter, who was an Australian born in Papua. At the end of last year there were 50 Europeans and about 100 trained Papuan and New Guinea people on the staff, with 200 more in training stages.
A great deal of criticism has been expressed of the work carried out by
Australia in Papua and New Guinea, but when I read of the magnificent work carried out in this welfare field, as is carried out in so many fields in New Guinea, I think Australia can be proud of the results achieved by Dr. Refshauge. She goes on to say in the article that one-third of the children are now attending clinics and she hopes that by 1968 two-thirds of the population will have the benefits of the health services. In Port Moresby the local population attends the clinics very willingly indeed. I was present just after a new clinic had been opened and it was splendid to see the number of mothers who had travelled quite long distances with their children and were prepared to take them in to the clinics to receive examination and advice, where advice was necessary
Because of this work infant mortality has dropped from about 500 to about 42 per thousand. Of course, it is still very much higher than the infant mortality rate in Australia, but that is to be expected. Dr. Refshauge expresses the hope that in 1968 the health services will be available to two-thirds of the population. I hope that some portion of the increase of £2,751,000 provided in the Budget will be contributed towards the expansion of the basic health work that is the care of the infant, the child and the mother. The total estimate for Papua and New Guinea in the Budget is over £28 million.
I shall turn now to another group of people who are in need of help. In spite of the criticism expressed in the last several weeks by honorable members opposite I think we can be proud indeed of the economic aid and social welfare aid that have been extended to the developing countries. The Budget shows, for instance, that the increase in expenditure for 1964-65 in regard to the Colombo Plan Economic Development Programme will be £164,000. For the Colombo Plan Technical Assistance Programme the amount will be £154,000. For the World Food Programme, it will be £305,000. I would like to refer to an excellent statement that was made in regard to Colombo Plan aid on 1st July of this year by the then Acting Minister for External Affairs, Senator Gorton. In that statement, he reminded us that the Colombo Plan was initiated in 1950 with a membership of seven. That membership has now increased to 22. In his statement, Senator Gorton said that the remarkable sum of £6,000 million has been made available by these member countries to the Colombo Plan scheme to assist economic and technical development in the Asian member countries. Australia’s contribution since the beginning of the plan amounts to £53,400,000. That amount, of course, is not the total of Australia’s aid and assistance under the Colombo Plan. Australia has made awards available to 5,230 Asians to study in Australia, and 3,780 Asians have undertaken correspondence courses with Australian teaching colleges and schools. Seven hundred experts have been provided to Asian Governments in advisory capacities, or to fill urgent needs for trained staff. Senator Gorton made the further interesting statement that the total value of Australia’s contribution to internal development and relief since the end of World War II is now in excess of £360 million, £42 million having been contributed in 1963-64.
Those figures are vast indeed. We are proud of Australia’s contribution. But the figures must be related to the needs of the people. We must visualise, because of the population explosion, the millions of people who are in need and who are in fact on the starvation line. So, anything that can be done and is being done by Australia is of tremendous importance. The statement made by Senator Gorton expresses very well the whole idea of the Colombo Plan. I quote the following passage from his statement -
Senator Gorton said that he believed that Australia’s contribution under the Colombo Plan had created a sense of partnership with many Asian countries. Nothing was more important than the sharing of technological and professional skill and experience in generating economic development. The thousands of Asians trained in Australia have added to the body of skilled and competent personnel available to Asian Governments in building their economies.
Not only has Australia given aid where the need has been urgent, but it has endeavoured to assist people developing countries to develop their worthwhile projects.
Again, may I refer to the complementary work being undertaken by many voluntary organisations. They are indeed making a splendid contribution in goods and in finance which would add considerably to the figures I have given. This wonderful work is being carried out by such organisations as the National Missionary Council of Australia, which represents a great number of church societies and mission boards; the many organisations of the Roman Catholic Church in Australia; the Australian Council of Churches Division of Inter-Church Aid, Refugee and World Service; the Community Aid Abroad; the Australian Red Cross Society; the Save the Children Fund; and of course those energetic anl devoted citizens who arc members of the Apex and Lions Clubs, the Junior Chamber of Commerce of Australia, and the Overseas Service Bureau, We should not forget the many university student bodies which are taking an interest in this field of service. 1 have endeavoured by means of these quotations and figures to point to the high standard of health and social welfare services which wc in Australia enjoy. 1 have also tried to outline in some small way our endeavours to enter into and assist the undertakings of developing countries.
I am convinced that the vast number of Australians who supported the Government on election day in November last are satisfied that the Government is still continuing to govern in the best interests of the people of Australia. Our people realise the vast potential resources of our country, and they know that those resources must be developed. They are becomingly increasingly aware of Australia’s responsibilities in world affairs and they realise that our country must play its part to the best of its ability and especially within the Commonwealth of Nations. For these various reasons and because of the so obvious high standard achieved in every aspect of government, I support the Budget Papers as presented by Senator Henty.
.- One welcomes the opportunity to speak to the Budget Papers. This debate gives one the opportunity to cover a wide area, but because of the lime limitation one cannot deal with everything as fully as one would wish to do. Naturally, the Budget is supported by honorable senators on the Government side of the chamber. For the life of mc, I do not see what they have to enthuse over. The taxes and burdens which have been imposed on the people have been imposed on those least able to bear them. I want to quote to the Senate an editorial from the “ Sun NewsPictorial “, a Victorian newspaper. I am certain that no honorable senator will hesitate to agree that the “ Sun News-Pictorial “ is a pro-Government newspaper. It has never been pro-Labour. I think the editorial in that newspaper on 13th August, two days after the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) delivered his Budget Speech in another place, is worth reading to honorable senators. Under the heading “ Brake on Progress “, the editorial reads -
It was a depressing, distressing, unimaginative Budget that Mr. Hoi.’ produced last night. lis disappointments are all the more unfortunate at a time when the country has seemed to be set for real progress and expansion.
It puts the brake on national growth when we should be looking confidently ahead, lt shows that, once again, the Federal Government and ils advisers have looked too much lo control, too little to development. 1 emphasise the words “ once again “ in that last sentence. The editorial continues -
People felt that Sir Robert Menzies and his Ministers would have learned the lessons of the restrictive economic policies of 1960 that threw Australia into such serious reverses.
But they seem to have forgotten their lesson. Their arrogance is showing through again.
Their arrogance is showing through again.
The editorial goes on to say -
Most people had hoped that the occasion was one for bold, far-sighted, positive measures - not for more taxes, more restraints.
The Budget will put some costs up without bringing compensating advantages. The little that has been done for pensioners will not gel them far. Their extra 5s. a week will mostly be swallowed up.
I disagree with the “ Sun News-Pictorial “ there. It uses the word “mostly “. I say that all of the 5s. increase, and even more than that, will be swallowed. It continues -
It is sad that repressive thinking should again dominate the Cabinet and the Treasury.
The editorial finishes -
Australia deserves a much better Budget than the dreary bundle of burdens, old and new, that Mr. Holt gave us last night.
Then there is the increasing of telephone rentals to £20 a year. Honorable senators know as well as I do that many thousands of pensioners are urgently in need of telephone facilities for health reasons and various other reasons, but the rental for a telephone has increased to £20 and the installation fee has increased from £10 to £15. To have a telephone service installed at present costs £35 before you lift the receiver. A telephone is a facility that is essential to many people in the lower income group as well as to the pensioners to whom I have referred.
Questions have been asked in this and another place about whether the Government intends to lighten the burden on pensioners who, for various reasons, find that telephone facilities are absolutely essential. Requests have been made in both Houses for some concession to be allowed to pensioners and other people in necessitous circumstances. But what do we find? The Postmaster-General (Mr. Hulme) sidetracks the matter or passes it over to the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton). I heard the Minister for Social Services, speaking in another place, make what I regarded as a callous reply to a sensible question that deserved sympathetic consideration. He said that as far as the pensioners were concerned, the Government had decided to allow them a certain rate of pension and what they did with that money was their own business. He said, in effect, that he could not care less, even about pensioners who have an absolute need for telephone facilities. He gave that callous reply.
I wish to quote from a statement issued by the Australian Commonwealth Pensioners Federation. I shall quote only a few sections. The Federation said -
Soon after the Government announced the surplus, and the buoyant state of the economy, it announced a further expenditure of £50 millions, odd, on defence, but nothing to right the wrong of the 1963 Budget. To the Treasurer and his Government the pensioners are the forgotten people.
I wish to quote also from the Melbourne “Herald” of 3rd July 1964. The following statement appeared prior to the Budget being introduced -
The buoyancy of the national revenue encourages hope that the Federal Budget in August will give more help to pensioners. The Treasurer would surely be in touch with public sentiment if . . . he could give pensioners further consideration.
The Australian Commonwealth Pensioners’ Federation then went on to give an idea of public opinion on the question of pensions. It referred to -
Public opinion behind our claim for half the actual basic wage. ls there anything wrong with paying pensioners at least half of the basic wage? A pensioner is a human being and has to live, as you and I have to live. Pensioners require at least some amenities, not only the bare necessities of life. The article then stated that a gallup poll held in May 1963 showed that 63 per cent, of those interviewed said that pensioners should be paid £7 a week or more. Half the basic wage at that time was £7 4s. The article went on to say that 16 per cent, of the people interviewed said the pensioners should receive £7 a week; 12 per cent., £7 10s. a week; 17 per cent., £8 or £9; and 18 per cent. £10 or more.
I consider that those are justifiable claims on behalf of the people who are least able to help themselves at the present time. We have the spectacle every year of pensioners coming to Canberra from all States, lobbying members and making requests to see Ministers. Obviously, as they come after the Budget has been framed they cannot do much good, but at least they do put before the members of the Parliament who are prepared to meet them an unanswerable case for more consideration than this
Government is prepared to give. They put forward something that is quite legitimate and reasonable. We know that there are tens of thousands of pensioners who have been pioneers of this country and who have done an enormous amount to build up the country to the stage it has reached at present.
Not only has the Budget been attacked because of its treatment of the pensioners, but the journal of the Australian Taxpayers Association has also attacked the present Budget. I will read only a small section from the journal. It states -
Against a background of a sound and buoyant economy, astronomical revenue collections, actual and in prospect, Mr. Holt increases personal income-tax, raises the rates of company taxes to a height never before reached (even in the war years), increases sales tax on motor vehicles, raises the cost of telephone facilities and T.V. licences and has a crack at that evil doing class - “the smoker”.
With regard to television and radio licences, to which I have referred earlier, it must be remembered that for a combined television and radio licence the fee will now be £8 10s. Those are matters that do not do this Government any credit. To the pensioners, the workers and the people on the lower range of incomes, the imposts have been most savage.
There was a recent basic wage rise of £1 a week which was granted by the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission on the basis of the economic conditions at that time. What has happened since? We find that the £1 rise in the basic wage has gone. The extra sales tax that has been imposed on motor cars will be passed on to the purchasing public. Yet at the same time we find that the motor industry generally - General Motors-Holden’s Pty. Ltd. in particular - is making astronomical profits. Is not this Government conscious of the fact that you cannot continually control one end of the economy and let the other end go scot free? The sky is the limit, as far as those at one end of the economic scale are concerned.
General Motors-Holden’s Pty. Ltd. made no less than £19i million profit in one year. The Broken Hill Pty. Co. Ltd. made £18 million profit in one year. Is that just? Can the Government justify such a position at the same time as it denies the pensioners a little comfort in their declining years? The interests in General Motors-Holden’s Pty. Ltd. are held by foreign investors. Yet last year that company made a profit of £19$ million and nothing is being done to curb such activity. What can be said of General Motors-Holden’s and B.H.P. applies to almost all the large companies and monopolies throughout Australia. For instance, the Coles organisation made a record profit last year, as did Myers and all the other large monopolistic chain stores. They are making astronomical profits year after year.
We were told for three or four years by Sir Garfield Barwick, the former AttorneyGeneral, that steps were being taken to bring into this Parliament measures to deal with restrictive trade practices. We are still being told the same thing by the present Attorney-General. We have been told that progress is being made in the form of consultations between State and Federal authorities. The Commonwealth does not possess the constitutional power to deal with these matters on a national basis. It has to depend on complementary legislation being passed by the various State Governments. In answer to questions in this chamber and in another place, we have been told for the last three or four years that progress is being made, but to date we have got nowhere.
It seems that the restrictive trade practices legislation will never be introduced into this Parliament because of opposition from vested interests. Only about twelve months ago interested parties in opposition to the restrictive trade measures proposed by this Government sent delegations to Canberra to lobby Government supporters. They spent about a week in Canberra. The result was that the legislation has not seen the light of day, and I suggest it never will do so because of the opposition that is being offered to it. I suggest that these matters should be viewed seriously by all right thinking people in the community because we must ensure that the Commonwealth Parliament is clothed with power to deal with national issues on a national basis. We find that the Commonwealth Parliament does not possess sufficient constitutional power to deal with restrictive trade practices and to cover company law on a uniform basis.
There are a number of other matters, over which the Commonwealth Government has no control, which are operating throughout the community at the present time to the detriment of the nation as a whole. In 1956 the Government, realising that it did not possess sufficient constitutional power to deal with these matters that are so urgent, set up a select committee to examine the Constitution and to make recommendations to the Government for constitutional reform. The committee’s report was tabled in 1959. It has been pigeon-holed and never looked at. The report contained a number of recommendations for constitutional amendment, such as to provide for control of hire purchase interest rates on a national basis and of the phoney companies that have been operating throughout Australia over the past few years. For example, there were the Reid Murray and Testro group whose phoney activities caused the financial downfall of tens of thousands of people throughout Australia. Yet this Government has done nothing whatever to put before the people by referendum proposals to secure for the Commonwealth power to deal with matters that are so important from a national point of view.
The recommendations of the select committee were submitted to the Government in 1959, but they were pigeon-holed and nothing was done about them. Yet today we were presented with a copy of the letter sent by the Prime Minister to the Premiers of the various States indicating that the Commonwealth proposed to take control of intrastate as well as interstate airline activities. My party believes that greater power should be given to the Commonwealth to deal with these matters, but does it not fill us with suspicion? All other recommendations of the select committee - which consisted of six members from the Government side and six from the Opposition side - were pigeon-holed and no notice whatever was taken of them. Now, in order to get control of the airways, the Prime Minister has sent a letter to the Premiers of the various States indicating that the Commonwealth proposes to take action to control intrastate as well as interstate airlines. Does it not make one realise that Ansett Transport Industries Ltd., having failed in an attempt to take over East West Airlines in New South Wales not so long ago, is going in through the back door to get what it could not get through the front door. This Government subservient to Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. over the years, after ignoring the recommendations contained in the report of the select committee, is now prepared to adopt this recommendation. That indicates quite clearly that, in relation to the airlines at least this Government is under the domination of the Ansett interests.
– Can’t you get out of the gutter?
– If I were to get out of the gutter, my friend, I would leave you in it. Where you came from is below the gutter.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator McKellar).- Order!
– What do you mean by the words “ where you came from “7
– I am only telling you the truth. If you ask you shall receive.
– I asked you what you meant when you referred to where I came from.
– You said you got out of the gutter.
– No, I asked you to get out of the gutter.
– Keep quiet, Ringo.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.- Order! I shall keep order, Senator Sandford. Will you continue with your speech?
– I want to impress upon supporters of the Government in this chamber that, although the Government realised that greater constitutional power was essential to enable the Commonwealth to control company law and a number of other activities in relation to which it received the recommendations of a select committee that it appointed, it chose to ignore those recommendations. Now, at the behest of the Ansett interests, according to a letter that was forwarded by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) to the State Premiers, the Government proposes to assume control over intrastate airline activities to allow the Ansett interests to gain control over EastWest Airlines in New South Wales and possibly other airlines too - a control that they could not gain through legal processes. I repeat, Mr. Deputy President, that the Government’s action in this respect indicates that it has been for some considerable time, and still is, under the domination of the Ansett interests in relation to airline traffic.
This Government is prepared to sell out, and has been selling out, the people’s assets ever since it assumed office. I do not want to enumerate those assets, because honorable senators know them quite well. The people’s assets have been dissipated, virtually given away, by this Government. It is prepared to sell out all along the line and it is continuing to pursue its sell out policy by selling this country to overseas financial interests. The “ Newsweek “ of 10th August contains an article headed “ The American Invasion of Australia “ which sets out the amount of capital that has come from America in recent years. The article states - . . U.S. capital . . . has swept into the 3 million square mile comment on a scale unmatched by anything since the country was settled by British colonists. . . .
With a note of regret that article continues to point out that Australia is not yet a Canadian style satellite of the United States. It says -
On the present figures some 20 per cent, of all company earnings are American controlled.
The article quotes the President of the Chase International Investment Corporation as saying -
There are so many fine potentials in Australia that they call for investment not by millions of dollars but by multiples of 100 million dollars.
That indicates quite clearly that this Government is prepared to continue to sell this country to foreign interests. Those comments apply not only to American capital. It has been stated that capital from Great Britain accounts for the ownership of at least another 20 per cent, of the output of Australian industries. In addition, Asiatics - people from Japan and Hong Kong - are investing in Australian real estate and other activities to a tremendous degree. If things continue as they have for the past few years, Australia soon will not be master of its own destiny; we will be under the influence of overseas financial interests for certain. Yet this Government proposes to take no notice whatever of what is happen ing. In my view, and I am sure in the view of anybody who has any thought for the welfare of Australia, this Government has gone quite mad in its efforts to induce the investment of foreign capital in Australia.
What do we get from the investment of foreign capital here? There is only one member of the Government whom I know of who is alive to the grave danger that confronts us. I refer to the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen). An article headed “ McEwen rejects foreign ‘ buy outs ‘ “ which was published in today’s “ Australian ‘* states -
Overseas investors should not be welcomed to Australia on an unlimited basis, the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr. McEwen, said in Sydney yesterday. “I would only welcome overseas investment if it added something new, some new skill,” Mr. McEwen said. “I don’t extend the welcome to overseas investment which merely buys out an existing Australian activity. Money should not be the only factor we should try to attract in overseas investments! “
Mr. McEwen was speaking at an Executives Association of Australia luncheon.
Anybody possessing any degree of commonsense would acknowledge that a developing country needs foreign investment, but it needs that investment only to the extent of being provided with the materials and knowhow which cannot be, produced within the country. If we are getting only American or foreign capital here and are not getting the knowhow, goods and services that we need and which cannot be produced in this country, we are not getting anything at all but are merely selling the country and allowing the economy to come under the control of foreign investors. Of what benefit to this country is it for an American or English firm, or any foreign firm, to buy out an existing Australian industry? It is of no benefit whatever. I remind honorable senators of the action of General Motors-Holden’s Pty. Ltd. in buying out the Australian shareholding in that company, and of its disclosed profit last, year of £191 million. God only knows what the undisclosed profit was. All that profit is being bled from the Australian people and is going overseas to American shareholders. This Government is sitting by complacently and is doing nothing about it. We have witnessed the machinations of various bogus companies in Australia. I could continue ad infinitum to deal with such matters.
I now want to touch upon two or three other important matters which concern the people of Australia very much. I remind honorable senators of the following statement by Sir Garfield Barwick in the House of Representatives in relation to monopoly control -
As the House is aware, I have been engaged for some time in considering the need for legislation to control monopoly and restrictive practices in the business community of Australia, and in devising a scheme of legislation which would protect free enterprise against such of these practices as were harmful to it. As part of this undertaking, I have been in consultation with the Attorneys-General of the States in an endeavour to induce their concurrence in that scheme of legislation and their willingness to propose to their Governments legislation to complement that of the Commonwealth so as to make the desired control effective over the whole range of Australian business activity.
As I said earlier, that has been going on for at least three or four years and nothing has been done about it. Experience has shown that we can never hope to secure unanimity amongst the States and the Commonwealth. The Government must do what is just and proper. It must seek from the people an alteration of the Constitution to give this national Parliament the power that will make it national in fact as well as in name. Those things are well known by the Government, otherwise it would not have appointed the Select Committee to which I referred earlier.
In relation to restrictive trade practices the Melbourne “ Age “ states that even the Government group investigating the subject estimates that there are about 69 instances of restrictive trade practices in Victoria and between 500 and 600 throughout Australia. That is an estimate made by Government backbenchers. Of course, wc know that they have no say whatever, because the Menzies Government is a dictatorship. However, in regard to restrictive trade practices, in the interests of this country, in the interests of the economy, and in the interests of keeping this Australia free for Australian people, we must do something to make the Commonwealth Parliament supreme. This applies also to other matters but it applies particularly to restrictive trade practices, the control of monopolies and the governing of hire purchase interest rates.
I can deal with other matters only briefly. I come now to the subject of defence. I heard Senator Turnbull say that we should be allocating more money for defence. I have no objection whatever to expenditure on defence, provided the money is spent in a proper way. Senator Turnbull is satisfied as long as a substantial amount is spent. He has not indicated to us what he considers to be vital to Australia’s defence. He covers a much wider field than the Government has ever done or has ever been prepared to admit. The proposed appropriation for defence has been raised by about £36 million. I do not mind that increase, but we should be told where the money is going. For God’s sake, tell us where that money is to be spent. In this era of mechanisation, in this nuclear age, we do not want to concentrate the expenditure on defence of the old horse and buggy style. We must divert expenditure to matters that were not considered many years ago.
In this regard I keep repeating that national development is a most important element of any up to date overall defence plan. Can anybody say that it is sufficient to expend enormous sums of money on orthodox, conventional defence services, without regard to national development? A very fine article dealing with roads which come within the category of national development appears in today’s issue of the “ Australian “. I know that honorable senators opposite will say that these roads are the responsibilities of the States. I say that they are a national responsibility, because even if the actual building of roads is a State responsibility the States are dependent on the Commonwealth for the finance lo build those roads. The matter should be approached on a national basis. We have at present a national roads advisory council. I do not know whether that is its correct title, but it is an advisory body. We want unanimity amongst the States for the creation of a federal body with some authority and standing, because we cannot deny the importance of roads to defence. The “ Australian “ today shows pictorially the dangers and inadequacies of the Hume Highway which, I say without fear of contradiction, is the busiest and most important arterial road in Australia. These dangers and inadequacies may be multiplied a thousand times throughout Australia. Imagine the importance of that Highway in a national crisis. Imagine the chaos and confusion that would exist on it alone.
Over the years since 1949 hundreds of millions of pounds - at least £200 million a year - have been spent on defence services. If a fraction of the money that has been wasted on defence over the past few years had been directed to roads, the Hume Highway and dozens of other highways throughout Australia could have been duplicated.
Will anybody tell me that roads, railways, airports and the like are not important from a defence point of view? It cannot be denied that they are. One does not need to be a major-general, a field-marshal, or a strategist, to realise that these things are vitally important. We have had the experience of World War II. If we ever face another national crisis - naturally, I hope that we do not - we shall have to provide the armed Services with conventional weapons and whatever other weapons we can make available and we shall have to feed and clothe those forces. In addition, as in World War II, we shall probably have to help to feed and clothe other allied troops in this country. So the importance of national development cannot be overemphasised. Are we to be satisfied with what is being done? I admit that we are doing a little, but we are only scratching the surface. Invariably, the excuse is that we have not the money. What a ridiculous thing to say. The only restriction on national development should be the supply of men and materials. Money should be the last consideration. I remember quite vividly the beginning of World War II. in 1939 and what was said by all the orthodox financial experts of that time. Most honorable senators will remember that at the commencement of the Second World War all those experts were quite definite that Hitler could not last three months because he did not have the money to fight a war. What a ridiculous statement that was.
Everybody knows that a war cannot be stopped because the nation conducting it is short of money. While we have the men and material we have an institution, the Commonwealth Bank, through which money can be made available, but that docs not suit the controllers of the monetary system, because they do not make a profit out of it. The Royal Commission on the Monetary and Banking Systems in 1936 laid down quite clearly that the Commonwealth Bank can make money available at only the cost of administration. That would not be more than 1 per cent. But, of course, it does not suit the controllers of the monetary system at the present time to do that and this Government is immersed in that system. That was indicated in 1947 and 1949 when, as you know, the banks had all their employees out agitating against the Labour Government of the time because of its proposal to nationalise the banks of this country. We know that the controllers of the monetary system will raise heaven and earth before they will allow their power over that system to be weakened at all. This is just as true today as it was when Baron Rothschild said, many years ago: “Permit me to control a nation’s money and I care not who makes its laws “.
I re-emphasise that, as far as Australia’s development is concerned, we cannot afford to wait. It is later than we think. If we do not do something to develop the vast undeveloped areas in the north of this country somebody else will do it for us. We are living in a period and in an area where we cannot afford to wait. We cannot afford to dilly-dally and just scratch the surface as we are doing at present. A great deal is being said because we are spending a few hundred thousand pounds on beef roads in the north of Australia. That is an indication of what can be done, but it is only a start and should be multiplied a dozen times. One important work “is the Ord River project. As the Snowy River scheme is tapering off to a finish, why cannot we have an organisation such as that ready to transplant into some other area where parts of the country are crying out for development? I repeat that we have not time to dilly-dally on these matters because, if we do not attend to them, other people will soon come in and do it for us. These matters should be agitating the mind of the Government, but instead of that-
– I am with you.
– Righto, Ringo.
– Order! The honorable senator used that word a little while ago. I will stop you from using that word, Senator.
– I do not want to waste time on Senator Scott. We have here illuminating articles in regard to northern development. We need development throughout Australia and particularly in the north. It was indicated here not long ago that our defence radar system is not operable either between Darwin and Brisbane or between Darwin and Sydney. This indicates clearly that we cannot allow these conditions to continue. We have to realise that we must pay more attention to our neighbours in this part of the globe. That takes us on to foreign affairs. It is rather pathetic and, as a matter of fact, disturbing to find that every time responsible Ministers of this Government go overseas they raise the ire of some of our Asian neighbours. 1 wish to remind honorable senators - if they need reminding - of a Press article which appeared not long ago headed “ Indonesia Regards P.M.’s Remarks as a Threat “.
Another report is headed “ Indonesian Press Hits Australia “. That applies not only to Indonesia but to the Singapore Press as well. Another Press article is headed “ Singapore Attack on Mr. Menzies “. 1 believe that is because of statements made without due regard to the facts and without due consideration. I am not trying to minimise the importance of the position of the Prime Minister or that of the Minister of External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) but these are matters on which we must be most careful in our relations, particularly with neighbouring countries in this part of the globe. We have neighbouring countries with populations much larger than ours. Of course, this all comes back to the fact that if we do not populate and develop these vast areas in Australia - the 3 million square miles of this continent - the people of neighbouring Asian countries will very soon do it for us. However, I do not want to delay the Senate at any great length. I could, of course, go on and speak on quite a number of other matters to which one would like to refer. The Budget debate always opens up a wide field for discussion. But I say this Government stands condemned as a government of guilty men. It has had its opportunity and has failed in its responsibility to the people of this country, lt has failed dismally to carry out the job that a national government should do. It is a government that has been kept in power since 1954, as you know, by the preference vote of the Democratic Labour Party, its latest satellite. Honorable senators opposite all know that and cannot deny it. Had it not been for the preference votes of the D.L.P., this Government would not have been in power since 1955.
– You are criticising the electors.
– I am not criticising them at all. 1 am criticising you people for being so dishonest. I have heard many of you ridiculing some of these splinter parlies.
– I rise to a point of order, Mr. President. Has the honorable senator the right to say he is criticising members of the Government because they are dishonest? 1 ask for that remark to be withdrawn because 1 feel it is insulting to me.
– Hear, hear! He has got away with that too long.
– Order! Senator, you have gone very close to offending.
– He has offended.
– Do you take exception to his remark?
– Yes. If any honorable senator gets up in this chamber and says I am dishonest it is distasteful to me and an insult and I take exception to it.
– I did not say you were dishonest. You are not a member of the Government.
– Order! Senator Sandford will proceed.
– What I was emphasising was this-
– Will you withdraw?
– I have not been asked to withdraw. I said the Government was dishonest. I did not say you were. But apart from that I say the Government is politically dishonest, and I think it is. I did not say that about you, but about the Government. I did not mention you. I would not bother mentioning you. You are not a member of the Government and you never will be.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin). - Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.30 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 25 August 1964, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1964/19640825_senate_25_s26/>.