25th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) look the chair at 1 J a.m., and read prayers.
– I ask the
Leader of the Government in the Senate: In view of the current establishment of a commission to control restrictive trade practices and other nefarious activities, would the Minister refer for immediate prosecution the cases of all profiteers by whose actions the costs of commodities have considerably risen, thus destroying already the effect of the recent increase in the basic wage? ls it not a fact that the basic wage is determined on the basis of the cost of living at the time of the hearing, and that goods or commodities should not rise in price because of the findings of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission.? If positive action cannot be secured from the source suggested, what action is contemplated by the Government to prevent people from profiteering?
– I think the honorable senator discloses by his question that he is not quite aware of the duties of the proposed commission. thought he was aware that the Commonwealth has no jurisdiction in peacetime in relation to price control. Price control is a matter for the States. If the honorable senator puts his question on the notice paper, 1 shall ask the relevant Minister what type of answer he can supply to the somewhat incomprehensible question the honorable senator has asked.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for National Development. Will the Minister ask his colleague whether he is aware that some fruitgrowers with properties along the Murray River in South Australia and Victoria are worried that there will be an increase in the salt content of the river as a result of the construction of the Chowilla Dam, which is to be built in South Australia, up river from Renmark? Is the Minister further aware that Mr. J. B. Seacamp, Chairman of the Renmark Fruitgrowers Co-operative Co. Ltd., who is a drainage consultant and who has recently returned from investigations abroad, is to be the principal speaker at metings to consider action in Renmark and Mildura, where it is claimed that great evaporation from the proposed storage and retarded flow of the river will cause salinity? As the claims by Mr. Seacamp and his associates are made in all seriousness, will the Minister let the Senate know what he, his Department and the Murray Waters Commission think about the question of the increase of salt content? Can the Minister give an assurance that if there is any increase of salt content, it will not harm irrigated properties and that adequate river flow will be maintained after the building of the Chowilla Dam to flush any salt build-up to the sea, and that drainage waters will not be allowed to re-enter the river?
– Naturally, the question asked by the honorable senator is of great importance to people holding irrigated properties along the River Murray. I read an article on this matter with a great deal of interest, but I must confess that I have not consulted the Minister for ‘National Development on this particular matter. Now that the question has been raised, I think the Minister should be given an opportunity to answer it and I suggest that it be placed on the notice paper.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior. Some time ago I asked the Minister how much money had been expended in connection with the now postponed referendums. 1 have received a reply in which it is stated that $192,518 had been spent to that date. I now ask: How much was expended on the production and printing of the six million pamphlets associated with these postponed referendums? In what manner were the pamphlets disposed of?
– I will refer the honorable senator’s question to the Minister for the Interior and see whether T can obtain a reply for him.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral. Will he bring to the notice of the Postmaster-General the long delay, extending at times to more than one hour, in obtaining a telephone connection between the north west coast of Tasmania and Canberra, as well as other mainland centres? ls it not a fact that more than 12 months ago the Postmaster-General promised that there would be an improvement in this respect because of the inauguration of a new system? This improvement has not taken place. Will the Minister follow up this matter with the Postmaster-General with a view to bringing about some improvement in the existing service?
– I am very sorry to know that there has been undue delay in telephone communications between the north west of Tasmania and the mainland, particularly Canberra. The responsibilities of parliamentarians in that part of Tasmania is an important added reason why I should take up this matter immediately with the Postmaster-General to see whether I can obtain some information on it for the honorable senator.
– My question to the Leader of the Government relates to resources of natural gas. Can the Minister give any information to the Senate on the submissions made by the South Australian and Victorian Governments for Commonwealth financial aid in their pipeline and distribution plans for the natural gas resources in those States?
– I regret that, at this stage, I have not any information to give to the Senate in relation to the matter.
– My question to the Minister representing the Minister for Defence follows the Prime Minister’s announcement yesterday that engineers would be asked to examine the possibility of establishing a naval base at Cockburn Sound in Western Australia. Will this establishment be used by the United States in association with its communications base at Learmonth? If so, will the United States contribute in any way towards the cost of construction of the base?
– The announcement by the Prime Minister, to which the honorable senator has referred, was confined to a feasibility study’ of a base at Cockburn Sound. That is the only statement which has been made so far. Consequently it is impossible at this stage to say who would use the base if a base were built as a result of the feasibility study.
– Will the Minister representing the Treasurer advise whether it is accepted practice for a doctor who owns a motor vehicle to hire a vehicle owned by his wife or other relative and then claim the hiring charge as a taxation deduction?
– I would not have information about such an isolated incident as that to which the honorable senator has referred. I think it would be better for him to refer this matter direct to the Treasurer. If the reply that he receives does not satisfy him and he wishes to ventilate the matter in the Senate, he can adopt that course. Such an isolated matter in the vast taxation law would not necessarily be in the mind of any Minister. I suggest the honorable senator follow, the course I have mentioned.
– I preface my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry by emphasising the importance to Australia of increasing our export income and by stating that Tasmania already is increasing its export income and has a great potential for further expansion. Has the Minister’s attention been drawn to the publication “ Overseas Trade “, Volume 18, No. 16, of 19th August, which sets out details of Australian firms to be represented at the First Asian International Trade Fair in Bangkok in November and December of this year? Has he noticed that all mainland Australian States and the Australian Capital Territory will be represented, but that Tasmanian trade and commerce will not be displayed? Has the Minister any information as to why Tasmania has missed out, and will he institute inquiries to see whether any action can be taken to arrange Tasmanian trade representation at the fair?
– I share with the honorable senator a feeling of disappointment that some Tasmanian firms are not to be represented at the Bangkok fair. An invita-tion was extended to all Tasmanian firms to make some display at the fair but none of them accepted the invitation. However, the arrangements have not yet been completed. I shall now ask the Minister for Trade and Industry whether he will be good enough to seek from Tasmanian firms an assurance that none of them is interested. He may persuade some of them to make a display at this fair.
– 1 direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Defence. Is it a fact, as recorded in this morning’s Press, that investigations are being made into a proposal to establish a naval base in Western Australia? Is this not the course which I have frequently requested over the last 15 years or longer? In regard to question No. 920 on the current notice paper, asked by me in relation to this matter on 1 1 th May and to which no reply has yet been given by the Minister, will he please inform me when f may expect an answer, or whether I am to take the Press report as the answer, as the reported statement of the Prime Minister is on identical lines with what I have been advocating for so many years?
– It is a fact that an investigation is proposed into the feasibility of establishing a naval base in Western Australia, lt is also true that Senator Tangney for a considerable time, year after year, has been saying that a base ought to be established, although this in fact has not yet been, the result of the feasibility study. lt is also true that during the time when Senator Tangney was saying this, the question was constantly under review, and during that time the circumstances did not justify a feasibility study, but they now do.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral. The Postmaster-General announced on 15th August that a new microwave trunk system was brought into operation between Adelaide and Melbourne on that day and that he expected to introduce limited subscriber trunk dialling over the route in November. Will the Minister ascertain from his colleague, first, what section of Adelaide subscribers will constitute the initial group and, secondly, in what order subsequent groups will be granted this excellent facility?
– Yes, I shall seek the information from the PostmasterGeneral, as requested by the honorable senator.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. Did the Prime Minister observe three large motor vans hidden in the trees on the lawn at the rear of the Senate premises on Tuesday last? Were the vans the property of the Australian Broadcasting Commission and were they used to transport television equipment from Sydney to the Parliament to permit a telecast lasting for five minutes to be made? Was a 10 minute telecast also made of the Treasurer after he delivered his Budget speech? Will the Prime Minister inform me what was the cost of the two telecasts referred to? Will he also say whether the cost could have been entirely avoided? Should the Prime Minister find that the total cost of the technicians’ wages, their away from home allowances and travelling costs and the expense of running the vehicles used in connection with the telecast from Sydney to the Parliament in Canberra and back to Sydney exceeded the sum of $1,000, will he dismiss the Treasurer from his Ministry for misspending money which could have been better used by persons in the rural industries to rehabilitate themselves after suffering heavy losses through the drought?
– I think the question hardly deserves an answer, but I point out to the honorable senator that the Australian Broadcasting Commission is an autonomous body. If it wishes to obtain information in one way or another, this is a matter for the Commission’s judgment and has nothing to do with the Government. This is a matter of an authority’s judgment in the securing of news, and I think that any message that the Prime Minister or the Treasurer could give would be well worth the expenditure involved in recording it.
– I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate whether he has seen the “ New York Times “ of 6th July last, in which the Prime Minister is reported, referring to Indonesia, to have said -
Wilh 500,000 to 1 million Communist sympathisers knocked off, 1 think it is safe to assume that a reorientation has taken place.
Is this an accurate report? If so, does it reflect the Government’s assessment of the situation?
– I have not read the article to which the honorable senator refers. I have been long enough in this Parliament not to take at face value reports appearing in the Press anywhere in the world.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Repatriation. I draw his attention to a report appearing in this morning’s issue of the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ of a case in which an award of $81,000 compensation was made to a quadruplegic who sustained injuries by reason of what was called negligence or want of reasonable care in Army exercises. I ask the Minister whether he will undertake a complete scrutiny of the repatriation bene”fits available to men who, under the requirements of compulsory military service, engage in hostilities, where the risks are great and, 1 would think, impose a much more imperative obligation for compensation than does mere negligence. Will he take this occasion to compare the system ‘of civil compensation with Service compensation, so as to ensure that we do complete justice, so far as money can do it, to men who become casualities in war zones?
– As the honorable senator well knows, the question of repatriation benefits came up for quite lengthy discussion during the discussions which were held prior to the formulation of the Budget. In my view, the decisions arrived at then will remain at least until the next Budget is introduced. That is the only answer I can give at present.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. In view of the success of General de Gaulle in making France an independent nation, not subservient to any other, has the Government given consideration to inviting this outstanding statesman to visit Australia for consultation after his visit to Noumea.
– I think that question should be put on the notice paper, for a reply by the Prime Minister himself.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport: Is he aware that passengers from the north of Tasmania who wish to travel to Sydney on the “ Empress of Australia “ are not permitted to embark at the Bell Bay terminal, but are obliged to board the vessel at Burnie? Will he undertake to have a review made of the present policy, which leads to the practice to which I have referred, with a view to having Bell Bay proclaimed a full terminal, so that passengers can both embark on and disembark from the “ Empress of Australia “ at Bell Bay?
– As I recall it, when the service was introduced there was a quite substantial amount of discussion in Tasmania as to both the schedules and the point of embarkation and disembarkation. Far be it from me to be drawn into the very strong feelings in the matter held by people in various parts of Tasmania, but I shall certainly refer the honorable senator’s question to the Minister. I should think that the judgment in this matter would be one for the Australian National Line, in terms of the economics, the scheduling and the ports of embarkation and disembarkation. However, I shall refer the question to the Minister and ask him to communicate a reply to the honorable senator.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, the Treasurer or whoever is the appropriate Minister. I refer to the Budget proposals of the Government to provide a bounty on the nitrogenous content of naturally occurring sodium nitrates and products manufactured from inorganic chemical nitrogen. Is the Minister aware that in the areas of users, particularly in the fruit growing industry the greatest application of this fertiliser has occurred within the last few months? Realising that the period for the payment of this bounty commenced on 17th August of this year, will he consider making the payment retrospective for some three months?
– As the administration of this new proposal which has found its expression in the Budget will be the responsibility of the Department of Customs and Excise perhaps I could reply to the honorable senator’s question. As 1 understand the situation, the bounty comes into force from the date of the presentation of the Budget by the Treasurer. Quite clearly, legislative provision must be made for it. In terms of the Budget, arrangements will be made to pay the bounty from the date when the Budget was brought down. I am not prepared to comment on the administrative side of the arrangements at this point of time. In view of the Treasurer’s Budget speech, there certainly cannot be any suggestion of the bounty being paid prior to the introduction of the Budget.
– I desire to ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services, the Minister for Health or whoever is the appropriate Minister, ls the Minister aware of the terrific social problem posed by the rise in illegitimate births during the last year? Particularly, is the Minister aware that so many of these young unmarried mothers are in the teenage groups, some of them being only between 13 and 15 years of age? Will the Minister consider setting up a committee to investigate the moral and social problems of youth which, if left unresolved, could undermine the whole fabric of our society?
– As I represent both the Minister for Health and the Minister for Social Services, I shall be very pleased to bring the honorable senator’s question to their notice and let them decide who will answer it.
– I wish to direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs. I refer to an article in this morning’s “ Sydney Morning Herald “, in which I read the implication that discouragement has been given by the Australian Government to the establishment of a base in Western Australia as an alternative to the Singapore base. I ask the Minister whether any statement has been made of the Government’s view, following upon the visit to Australia by the British Minister of Defence, and whether he can make a statement concerning this country’s present attitude to such a proposal.
– There was one important word that I failed to hear in the honorable senator’s question. I am not sure whether he said that he read into the article encouragement or discouragement.
– I read into the article the implication that the Australian Government has discouraged the establishment of a base as an alternative to the Singapore base.
– I do not know where that implication could have come from. I have not seen the article to which the honorable senator refers, but I know of no such discouragement. In fact, I would have thought that the announcement of the feasibility study into the establishment of a naval base in Western Australia, which is partly due of course to the fact that we are now in a situation where the Australian Navy has so considerably expanded that the facilities required for it should not all be concentrated in one place, but be spread indicated no discouragement towards the establishment of alternative bases.
– I am prompted by the answer given by the Minister for Customs and Excise to Senator Webster to ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services. The Minister for Customs and Excise said that the bounty on artificial fertilisers will be paid from 16th August 1966, the day the 1.966-67 Budget was introduced. I ask: Will the same procedure be adopted in. connection with the increases granted in pension rates?__ ,
– The honorable senator who has been in this chamber a very long time and has long experience in these matters, will know that the normal practice will be followed this year as has been followed in previous years after the legislation is passed by the Senate.
– 1 direct a question either to the Minister responsible for the administration of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation or to the Minister representing the Minister who is responsible for the administration of all meteorological services in Australia. Has the Minister heard any official opinion as to whether or not the city of Canberra and the Canberra airport have suffered by more occurrences of fog and by the longer lasting harmful effects of fog because of the construction in the Canberra area of that large, beautiful and valuable expanse of water, Lake Burley Griffin?
– I think that this is a question for my colleague, the Minister for the Interior. I will refer the question to him.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Housing. Is the Minister aware that notwithstanding a huge stockpile of bricks in Sydney, caused principally by a decline in the rate of house construction, brick manufacturers recently substantially increased the price of bricks, thus enabling them to make large profits on their surplus production? Because such action on the part of the brick manufacturers will further eat into the homes savings grant of $500 awarded to some young married couples to assist them in the construction of their homes, what action, if any, does the Minister intend taking to ensure that the real value of the grant goes to the people for whom it is intended and not to those who are making excess charges completely above their actual costs of production and reasonable profit margins?
– Mr. President, the honorable senator draws the attention of this chamber to the very excellent gift that this Government is making available to young married couples in the form of the homes savings grant. I believe that the scheme has been of tremendous benefit to very many people. I think that the benefit is recognised by the number of young couples who are saving in the acceptable form so that they may receive the maximum grant. I know that the Senate will be Interested to learn that already in the two years that this scheme has been operating since July 1964 the $25 million mark has been passed in respect of the grants that have been made available. This is assisting young couples to get their own homes. It is a benefit which the Government wants them to enjoy. I believe it has been recognised that the grant has been of very great assistance. I hope that as many young couples as possible will take advantage of the scheme.
– Can the Minister representing the Postmaster-General inform the Senate of the time that is allotted by commercial broadcasting stations in Australia to the broadcasting of music which is the work of Australian composers, as required by section 114(2) of the Broadcasting and Television Act 1942-1963?
– Quite clearly, I shall have to seek the information from the Postmaster-General and then give it to the honorable senator.
– Has the Minister in Charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education and Research asked the ViceChancellor of any Australian university not to appoint persons of eastern European or Asian origin to the academic staff of his university?
– I have not asked the Vice-Chancellor of any university not to appoint anybody. I am not sure what is behind the honorable senator’s question.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for National Development. Does the Government realise that it is urgently necessary for the Government to define the role and policies of the Commonwealth within the framework of a consistent national water policy, taking into account the functions and activities of the States, and that this definition has never been given?
– I shall draw this somewhat important question to the attention of the Minister for National Development and ask him to reply to the honorable senator. 1’ suggest that the question be placed on the notice paper.
– Now thatI have the honour to have a question of mine which was asked on 17th March last at the head of the notice paper. I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate whether he is prepared to prod his dilatory colleagues into giving me a reply.I point out also that on 13th May I received a letter from one Minister saying that he would get another Minister to answer a question for me as soon as possible. How soon is that when only a very simple answer is called for?
– I shall direct the question to the attention of the relevant Ministers, whoever they might be. The second part of the honorable senator’s question does not give me much elucidation as to who the responsible Minister is. However, I shall see what I can do to have replies expedited.
– I address a question to the Minister for Works. Some 12 months ago. in answer to a question upon notice that I asked, it was stated that the construction of a Commonwealth office block in Adelaide to house some of the 27 departments that are now occupying private accommodation was being considered. Will the Minister investigate this matter, having particular regard to the need to stimulate the building industry?
– I shall find out what the present position is and let the honorable senator know.
(Question No. 915.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
Is a different standard of education required for volunteers to the Regular Army from that required for national service trainees?
– The Minister for the Army has provided the following answer to the honorable senator’s question -
No. The minimum educational standard for entry is the same for national servicemen as for volunteer recruits of the Australian Regular Army, and is equivalent to that achieved by a Grade IV pupil in the Victorian primary schools system.
(Question No. 931.)
asked the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice -
– I have the following answer to the honorable senator’s questions -
and 2. The novel “The Blinder” is deemed to be a prohibited import in terms of Item 22 of the Second Schedule to the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations which covers - Literature which, by words or pictures or partly by words and partly by pictures, in the opinion of the Minister -
If the honorable senator makes a request through the Parliamentary Librarian, the book will be made available to him, for perusal in the Library.
(Question No. 932.)
asked the Minis ter representing the Minister for Immigration, upon notice -
– The Minister for Immigration has supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions- -
– On behalf of the Public Accounts Committee ] present the following report -
Eighty-first Report- -Supplementary Report of the Auditor-General - Financial Year 1964-65. 1 seek leave to make a short statement.
– There being no objection, leave is granted.
– Following our examination of the Auditor-General’s Supplementary Report, we decided to confine our inquiry to the Canberra Community Hospital and, as the Hospital had previously been examined by our Committee in 1960, we felt that the present inquiry could, with advantage, be widened to include matters beyond the immediate scope of those referred to by the Auditor-General.
The evidence submitted to your Committee showed that since 1960, substantial changes have occurred in the Hospital’s internal administration and the Hospital itself has been enlarged in response to the needs of a rapidly growing population in the Australian Capital Territory.
Although four amendments have been made to the Canberra Community Hospital Ordinance since I960, your Committee is disturbed to find that the Ordinance requires redrafting to convert it to a modern piece of legislation, and that the Department of Health has not yet given attention to such a revision and the resolving of basic policy issues which must evidently precede it. Your Committee is also disturbed to find that the by-laws which relate to the domestic daily operations of the Hospital are seriously out of date, and are inconsistent with the Ordinance. Early positive action is required to recast the by-laws in association with the redrafting of the Ordinance.
Your Committee commends the investigations being undertaken by the Department of Health to minimise delays and provide closer liaison to ensure that hospital staffing matters are discussed at an early stage by the various authorities concerned. We are disturbed, however, by a suggestion made that copies of staffing proposals and the Public Service Board’s advice on them should pass informally between the Hospital Board and the Public Service Board. Your Committee feels that such an arrangement could prove embarrassing to all the parties involved.
Your Committee believes that the employment by the Hospital of dieticians and nursing sisters to conduct sectional stocktakes should cease and that such officers should be used only to assist administration officers engaged in stocktaking to identify unfamiliar items of equipment.
Your Committee is not satisfied with the present form of the Hospital’s Asset Register. No control account is maintained as part of the Register and the removal of cards for hand posting must inevitably lead to inaccuracies. Additional machine facilities for the purpose of maintaining the Register are required urgently. We believe that the Hospital administration has been at fault in failing to implement more strenuous remedial measures than it took when faced with the discrepancies revealed in evidence. In this regard your Committee will examine the reports of the Auditor-General for 1965-66 and, depending on the stale of affairs reflected, will have further discussions at an early date with the AuditorGeneral on the financial administration of the Hospital.
It is clear that an unwise decision was made in authorising the construction of cubicle type private wards at the Hospital.
Their proposed conversion to single rooms at a cost of $12,000 will result in unnecessary temporary inconvenience to the Hospital and will also prove more costly than would have been the case had they been designed as self contained single rooms initially. The evidence shows that, on the basis of its present services, the Hospital is, in effect, a large private hospital operated by the Government. The claims made in relation to hospital medical services indicate that some aspects of the present services provided by the Hospital call for review.
Your Committee regards as most unsatisfactory the failure of the Department of Health to make known its plans for the construction of the Woden Hospital until the details were announced to us during our inquiry. Although the Canberra Community Hospital Board has been represented on the Hospital Planning Committee, an advisory committee to the Minister, the Hospital Board has been unable to ascertain the decisions made by the Minister arising from recommendations made by that Committee. This has created uncertainty for the Hospital Board as to the services which it will be required to provide in the future.
During the inquiry it was claimed that the Hospital Board should be made autonomous. Whilst the question of autonomy is a matter of government policy, your Committee feels bound to observe that the evidence submitted during this inquiry strongly suggests that the present form of hospital control is not conducive to the provision of a high standard of hospital administration in the Australian Capital Territory. Your Committee therefore feels that careful consideration should be given to the question of whether a greater degree of recognition might be accorded the Canberra Community Hospital Board in line with the position relative to hospital administration in the States of the Commonwealth. 1 should mention also that in respect of the Eighty-first Report your Committee has been able to make available for the use of honorable senators, for the first time since 1956, printed copies of the minutes of evidence on which the Report is largely based. I commend the Report to honorable senators and move -
That the paper be printed.
Debate (on motion by Senator Tangney) adjourned.
– by leave - I wish to inform the Senate that the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) will be leaving Australia nextweek to attend the Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ Conference in London, which will open on 6th September and continue until 15 th September. He expects to be away not longer than three weeks, during which time the Deputy Prime Minister, the Right Honorable John McEwen, will be Acting Prime Minister. The Minister for External Affairs, the Right Honorable Paul Hasluck, will accompany the Prime Minister to the Conference. Senator Gorton will act for the Minister for External Affairs during his absence overseas.
Motion (by Senator Henty) - by leave - agreed to -
That Senator Bull be granted leave of absence for two months on account of absence overseas.
– I have received a message from the House of Representatives acquainting the Senate that in accordance with the provisions of the Public Accounts Committee Act 1951-1965 Dr. Gibbs, a member of the House of Representatives, has been appointed a member of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts in the place of Mr. Cockle, deceased.
Debate resumed from 24th August (vide page 102), on motion by Senator Henty -
That the Senate take note of the following papers -
Civil Works Programme 1966-67.
Commonwealth Payments to or for the States, 1966-67.
Estimates of Receipts and Summary of Estimated Expenditure for the Year Ending 30th June 1967.
Particulars of Proposed Expenditure for the Service of the Year Ending 30th June, 1967.
Particulars of Proposed Provision for Certain Expenditure in respect of the Year Ending 30th June, 1967.
Government Securities on Issue at 30th June, 1966.
Income Tax Statistics.
National Income and Expenditure, 1965-66.
Upon which Senator Willesee had moved by way of amendment -
That all words after “ That “ be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof - “the Senate condemns the Budget because: -
lt fails to recognise the injustices wrought upon wage earners because real wages have fallen as prices have risen faster than wages.
lt makes inadequate adjustments to Social Service payments.
lt fails to recognise the serious crisis in education.
lt does not acknowledge the lack of confidence on the part of the business community in the future growth of the economy.
It does not recognise the need of further basic development, public and private, in addition to the need for adequate defence, and that balanced development can only take place by active encouragement to Australian industry and cooperation with the States.
lt does nothing to relieve our dependence on a high rate of foreign investment to finance the deficit in our balance of payments.”
– When we adjourned last night I was discussing the question of the erosion of wages and fixed incomes as a result of price increases. It is a subject into which 1 do not wish to delve very deeply, because no doubt som,e of my colleagues will deal with this matter very adequately as the debate on the Budget proceeds. However, it is true to say that this Government, by having an unplanned economy, has, over the years, allowed the assets of people on fixed incomes to be eroded to the extent that they are now in a position of poverty, whereas during their working period of life they had made provision to be able to live in reasonable comfort during their period of retirement. With respect to wage increases, it is a fact that no one can dispute that wages are adjusted in accordance with movements in the consumer price index to take care of events that have happened in the past, and that immediately a wage increase is given there is a reassessment of costs and prices are again increased.
In this context, (he Treasurer (Mr. McMahon) has said that the increase of $2 in the basic wage is a factor which will make the Budget an expansionary Budget. It istrue that there will be more money in the hands of the people as a result of the $2 a week increase in the basic wage but, with increased prices, it will not mean that there will be any increase in the quantity of goods purchased. It will require approximately the same amount of money to purchase the same amount of goods. If this policy is to continue, the system of arbitration as it operates in this country will have to be reviewed, lt is useless to say that you can tie one section of the economy to a fixed price and allow the other sections of the economy to run loose as they wish.
– But the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission went to all sorts of trouble to explain that what they fixed was a minimum wage.
– That is true; but immediately the employers’ federations throughout Australia advised employers to absorb over award payments in the wage increase. It is true that the arbitration system at all time fixes only a minimum wage and immediately workers start to agitate for wages in excess of the minimum prescribed by the court, even to the extent of having to take strike action, they are condemned. The minimum has become the maximum and honorable senators well know that this is the problem in respect to wages. The Government exhorts employers not to pay over award payments because it is claimed they are inflationary.
– The Commission said specifically that it encouraged over award payments and the honorable senator knows that millions of over award payments are made.
– I am not satisfied that millions of over award payments are made. I am satisfied that there is a large unused capacity in industry today, not only in technology of production, but in manpower of production. Until the Government takes note of the unused capacity that is within the economy, the gross national product of Australia will not improve. I do not want to delve very deeply into this subject. I want to talk about other things. However, I urge the Government to take some action to stabilise prices if it is taking action to stabilise wages. The two things must run together.
Now I want to refer to the proposed visit overseas by the Prime Minister (Mr.
Harold Holt). The Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Henty) has just informed us that the Prime Minister intends to go overseas next week to the Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ Conference. I hope that on this occasion the Prime Minister will be a little more rational than he was when he was overseas on a previous occasion. It does this country little good for the Prime Minister, the leader of the Australian Government, to go to one country and criticise another and then, when he visits the second country, not express his critical views where they can be answered. It does this country little service for the Prime Minister to go to our great and powerful allies and be as subservient as he was recently.
I know that when views such as I have expressed are made public they are said to be the views of the extreme left in this country, whatever that term might mean. No one has put any definition on it. But anyone who opposes the Government’s policies is said to belong to the extreme left, irrespective pf whether he does belong to it. I warn the Prime Minister that he is not trained in external affairs and that he should leave statements on external affairs to the man who is trained in them. The Prime Minister should be very cautious of what he says overseas on behalf of the Australian people. It is not only the socalled extreme left which expresses views contrary to his own. To support that statement let me read an extract from a journal which is not a Communist journal but rather one prepared by the ship owners and coal owners of Australia. They express views that the Prime Minister should heed when he is representing Australia overseas. The journal has this to say -
Despite the enthusiasm of his attendant corps of Press advertisers a lot of people in the inner circles of politics have some grave misgivings about Mr. Holt’s operations overseas. His “all the way with L.B.J.” programme has certainly created interest, if not joy, in Washington. Australia and New Zealand are the last outposts which have stuck to the British Commonwealth, not merely from loyalty to the Crown and their British origins but for economic reasons.
In the long term these are as sound today as they have always been. The Americans have always been there when there has been a chance of weakening the links between the United Kingdom and any part of the old British Empire.
– From what publication is the honorable senator quoting?
– I am quoting from “ Australian Coal, Shipping, Steel and the Harbour” a journal which has been published since 1919 and which represents the views of the ship owners and coal owners. It continues in this way -
They would very much like to establish here a position like that which plagues and worries Canada, under which the Australian Commonwealth would be flooded with American capital, advertising and journalism. They have used all their blandishments for this end. There is no doubt that our defence interests will always lie with the United States but whether the United States will always be in the same dominating position as it is at present, largely through the exploitation of British inventions like jet aircraft, nuclear technology, radar and a few others, remains to be seen. Our Asian and American relationships are both unstable. A shift in Chinese politics or Russian politics in the East and a cessation of a war position that keeps American heavy industry booming might completely alter the status of the United States. Apart from the huge investment of British capital in Australia there are plenty of reasons why we should stick close to the United Kingdom.
These are the views of one of the most conservative publications printed in Australia. They are not the views of so-called left wing people. The Prime Minister, when going overseas, should take note of what journals of this type publish.
Earlier this year the Senate had before it a bill to authorise a loan of $54 million for the purchase of airline equipment for Trans-Australia Airlines and Qantas Empire Airways Ltd. During that debate I was invited by Senator Wright to make some comments on the so-called cheap money that is available to T.A.A. in competition with Ansett-A.N.A. This is a most difficult subject to try to unravel because of the ramifications of Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. and the many subsidiaries which that company is operating in conjunction with its aircraft industry. Nevertheless, I have gone to some trouble to take out what figures are available. I might mention, too, that this matter has received considerable publicity as a result of a statement made by Sir Giles Chippindall and replied to by Mr. Reg. Ansett. I want to make it perfectly clear in this debate that I do not criticise Mr. Ansett or Mr. Ansett’s operation of his airline. The criticism must, of course, fall at all times on the shoulders of the Government. The Government has passed legislation which has given Mr. Ansett, as the Chairman and Managing
Director of A.T.I. , the opportunity to exploit a position that exists.
In Mr. Ansett’s reply on behalf of A.T.I. , his two main lines of complaint were the alleged access to cheap money by T.A.A. and that organisation’s use of superannuation funds in the operation of its industry. Over the years the Commonwealth Government has agreed to guarantee the repayment of loans, and the interest on those loans, raised by T.A.A. for the purchase of airline equipment. This includes aircraft and spares. Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. has availed itself at various times of those guarantees, which are published in the first report of the Minister for Civil Aviation for the year ended 1961. Without wearying the Senate with a lot of detail in respect of that, I point out the facts arc that at 30th June 1961 the Commonwealth Government had guaranteed loans of $18,620,992. The balance outstanding at that time was $6,968,166. The total comprised five separate loans for the purchase of aircraft and spares. A sum of S8.974.000 carried interest .at the rate of 5i- per cent., rising to 5i per cent.; $3,799,462 carried interest at the rate of 8 per cent. The rate started off at 6 per cent., but in 1961 it had risen to 8 per cent. Very little of the money had been repaid, so that I think, for convenience, it is reasonable enough to give the rate of 8 per cent, for this particular loan. A further $5,847,530 carried interest at the rate of 5i per cent. This is cheap money that Ansett-A.N.A. had access to and made use of, yet Mr. Ansett complains that Trans-Australia Airlines had access to cheap money through government to government borrowing.
– Was it a complaint or a comparison?
– It was a complaint. He complained enough to advise the Government to sell T.A.A. and to accuse the leader of the Australian Labour Party, Mr. Calwell, of wanting to socialise the airlines industry. That is sufficient complaint. If the honorable senator wants any greater complaint, he is hard to satisfy.
– I thought it was a Press controversy, in which he made some comparisons. I did not read it as a complaint.
– I do not know. During last April I had the pleasure, or the displeasure, whichever the honorable senator likes to call it, of seeing Mr. Ansett on a “ Four Corners “ programme associated with the two airlines policy. He had other complaints, of course, but these were the two main complaints he put forward. I had the pleasure of seeing Mr. Ansett on another “ Four Corners “ programme in July of this year, when he again raised these two particular subjects as the main prop of his opposition to T.A.A. Anse’t Transport Industries Ltd. did not take up the guaranteed loan of S4 million to purchase F27 aircraft, and it was withdrawn. The company has not requested the Com.monwealth Government to guarantee a loan up to $12 million for the purchase of Boeing 727 aircraft, despite the fact that the figures I have produced show that Mr. Ansett had access to cheap money. Yet he complains that T.A.A. has access to cheap money. He has access to it, but will not avail himself of it. I think that in this context it is pertinent to inquire why Mr. Ansett is not taking the opportunity to avail himself of this cheap money.
– Why is it? What does the honorable senator think is the reason?
– I do not think at all. I know what it is, and, for the honorable senator’s education, I propose to give it. Under the Airlines Agreements Act 1961, which binds the Commonwealth Government and the two airlines, we find, in clause 16 of the agreement contained in the Second Schedule, the following -
For so long as a loan or any interest on a loan the repayment of which has been guaranteed by the Commonwealth under clause 3 of the Civil Aviation Agreement .1952 or clause 4 of this agreement remains unpaid, officers employed in the Commonwealth Service shall have full access at all reasonable times to the financial accounts of the Company when authorised in writing by the Minister for that purpose and the Company will do everything within its power to ensure that the officers so authorised have similar access to the financial accounts of any company or firm in which the Company, whether directly or indirectly, now has or hereafter may have an interest.
I suggest that that is the reason why Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. does not want to take up government guarantees. If it did so, Mr. Ansett would have to expose the whole of the ramifications of his empire of transport industries. As it is, he is able to place before the people a completely ambiguous story as to how he is able to pay a 10 per cent, dividend on his capital. If the accounts of Ansett-A.N.A. were separated from the accounts of Ansett Transport Industries Ltd., and exposed to the public, there might be a different story told in respect of the differences between the two airlines. I suggest that is the reason why Mr. Ansett has not taken up the guarantees that have been provided or offered to him by the Commonwealth Government.
– Had Sir Giles Chippindall resigned when he issued that newspaper statement?
– How long before had he resigned?
– I do not know, but it was issued shortly after his retirement.
– It seems to me extraordinary that such a statement was not made by such a responsible man when he was carrying his official responsibility.
– I ask the honorable senator to take into consideration whether Sir Giles Chippindall was in a position to make that statement while he was in the service of the Commonwealth.
– Did the honorable senator hear the statement this morning by the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral that the Australia Broadcasting Commission is perfectly independent to do what it likes?
– The Australian Broadcasting Commission is not necessarily the Australian National Airlines Commission.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Tangney). - Order!
– I thought this was a place for debate, not just for monologue.
– Other honorable senators can argue if they wish. I want to make my observations.
– If the honorable senator does not want to be listened to or understood, we know what to do.
– If the honorable senator does not want to listen to me, he can please himself. He invited this comment earlier this year. If he does not want to listen to it, he need not; but I will make my remarks just the same.
– Is this cant or humbug?
– The honorable senator cannot keep it any higher.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - Order!
– Just how low he is would be hard to estimate with instruments. With regard to some of these other financial arrangements that were made in favour of Ansett Transport Industries, we have to look at the subsidies that are paid to Trans-Australia Airlines on developmental and rural routes and to Ansett-A.N.A. and Ansett subsidiaries. Trans-Australia Airlines is also paid subsidies. These are payments directly out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund. Between 1961-62 and 1964-65, Ansett-A.N.A. received $1,805,716 and T.A.A. received $905,650, making a payment in favour of Ansett-A.N.A. of $900,066, which is not chicken feed by any means. This was money handed to AnsettA.N.A. out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund. But this does not end the story of financial assistance to Ansett Transport Industries. We also have to look at the taxation problem as it affects the two airlines.
We find that since 1957, T.A.A. has made provision for the payment of taxation and in fact has paid taxation to the extent of $3,433,201. As I said earlier, the balance sheets and profit and loss accounts of Ansett Transport Industries are not available. But enough has been published over a period of years to show just what Ansett pays in taxation. The published figures have not yet been refuted by Ansett Transport Industries, Mr. Reg. Ansett or anyone else.
– Who provides T.A.A.’s legal services and advice? Are they free of charge to T.A.A.?
– I do not know whether T.A.A. gets them free of charge. I know that nearly all Government departments use the services of the Crown Solicitor’s Office.
– That is socialism.
– Of course it is socialism, but the Government does not dispose of any of these things, lt carries them on, yet Government supporters claim that they arc anti-socialists. But over this period when T.A.A. paid $3,433,201 in taxation, Ansett Transport Industries paid $269,686 in taxation, which is a difference in favour of Ansett Transport Industries of $3,163,515. What has Ansett to squeal about in respect of cheap money, when he is getting benefits of this kind handed to him all the time? 1 think that it is pertinent to have a look at the so-called rationalisation system that exists in this country and to see whether it is operating in favour of Ansett-A.N.A. or of T.A.A. We find that in 1959, Ansett was granted permission to operate three services a week between Mildura, Broken Hill and Alice Springs. T.A.A.’s application to operate a regular service over the same route was refused. This is an interstate route. It is not an intrastate route on which, under the Constitution, T.A.A . is not allowed to operate unless under agreement with the State Governments. In .1959 Ansett-A.N.A. was refused permission to operate services between Sydney. Brisbane, Longreach. Mount Isa and Darwin and between Melbourne, Adelaide, Alice Springs, Tennant Creek and Darwin. In 1959. an application by T.A.A. to have AnsettA.N.A. withdraw from the Brisbane to Mount Isa route was refused. This was because there was insufficient traffic to support two airlines on this route at the particular time.
In 1960. an application by T.A.A. to operate additional services to additional points on the Melbourne, Corowa. Wagga. Canberra and Sydney route and the Melbourne. Cooma, Canberra and Sydney route in competition with Ansett-A.N.A. was refused, lt was stated that it would affect the economy of operation of Ansett-A.N.A. and would allow T.A.A. to operate too extensively intrastate. In 1960 it was agreed that T.A.A. Would operate three Electra and six Viscount and DC6B flights per week on the Perth route and that AnsettA.N.A. would operate four Electra and five DC6B flights per week on the same route. Ansett-A.N.A. undertook not to advertise the extra Electra service. In 1961 Ansett-A.N.A. operated six DC6B flights per week to Perth and T.A.A. operated five DC6B flights.
– From what is the honorable senator quoting?
– I am quoting extracts from the annual reports. In 1961 AnsettA.N.A. operated six DC6B flights per week to Perth and T.A.A. operated live services per week. Each airline operated two direct Electra flights per week between Melbourne and Perth. In 1960 T.A.A. made an application for the rationalisation of freight load factors and freighter aircraft. I want honorable senators to remember that T.A.A.’s load factor was 80 per cent, and Ansett-A.NA.’s load factor was 60 per cent. The load factor was fixed at 68 per cent., but subsequently it was altered to 70 per cent. T.A.A. was ordered not to provide more than 40 per cent, of freighter aircraft capacity at a 70 per cent. load factor.
– Ordered by the DirectorGeneral?
– By the Rationalisation Committee. We must remember that T.A.A. has never been given the right to appeal from the decisions of the Rationalisation Committee or the Co-ordinator to the Arbitrator.
– Has T.A.A. asked for permission?
– I do not know. I will place a question on the notice paper in a few days with respect to the Perth to Darwin route. Ansett-A.N.A. was ordered not to provide more than 60 per cent, of freighter aircraft capacity at ;i 70 per cent, load factor. Later on I shall refer to this position again.
In 1960 Ansett-A.N.A. made an application for a greater share of the passenger traffic in and out of Canberra. T.A.A. was carrying 66 per cent, of the passengers at a load factor of 59.5 per cent. AnsettA.N.A. was carrying 34 per cent, of the passengers at a load factor of 31.4 per cent. In 1961 it was determined that T.A.A. should not provide passenger capacity in excess of 59.5 per cent, and that Ansett-A.N.A. should provide passenger capacity of 40.5 per cent., both at a load factor of 58. per cent. Both the freight and passenger traffic to Canberra were fixed in the same terms. They were fixed on the basis of the amount of freight and passenger traffic that each airline was carrying at the time, plus 10 per cent, for growth. Later on we shall see what happened with respect to the Ansett-A.N.A. division of die Canberra traffic. T.A.A.’s division still stands at 40 per cent, for freight traffic. lt went further and said that this capacity should be adjusted on the basis of a 5 per cent, increase in passenger traffic over a base period. The idea of this adjustment was that as the 5 per cent, was divided eventually the two airlines would come together and share the traffic on this route.
In 1960, both T.A.A. and Queensland Airlines, a subsidiary of Ansett-A.N.A., made application to serve additional ports on the Longreach service. The application of Queensland Airlines was approved and the application of T.A.A. was refused. In 1960, Ansett-A.N.A. made a fresh application to operate the Brisbane-Mount IsaDarwin service. The application was refused. In 1961, Ansett-A.N.A. made a further application to operate the BrisbaneMount Isa-Darwin service and the SydneyMount Isa-Darwin service. It made application to operate the Adelaide-Alice Springs-Tennant Creek-Darwin service also. This application was granted on the basis that each airline should operate a once a week service, Brisbane-Mount Isa-Darwin and Adelaide-Alice Springs-Tennant CreekDarwin and a once a fortnight service, Sydney-Mount Isa-Darwin. Previously, T.A.A. had serviced Darwin with two services per week from Brisbane and with one service per week from Sydney. All this meant was that T.A.A. had to take off services and let Ansett-A.N.A. take them over. If I understand the accounts correctly, this involved a direct loss to T.A.A. of $200,000 per annum. That is what the transfer of the capacity of this one route involving Mount Isa-Darwin meant to T.A.A.
In December 1964, the arbitrator decided that Trans-Australia Airlines should reduce its twice weekly F27 service between Adelaide and Darwin to one service each week and that Ansett-A.N.A. should provide the service discontinued by T.A.A.
– Who was the arbitrator at that time?
– I think the arbitrator was the man who holds that position at the present time. The arbitrator decided also that T.A.A. should provide a fortnightly F 27 service Adelaide-Alice Springs instead of a weekly service, and that AnsettA.N.A. should provide the service discontinued by T.A.A.
In 1965, T.A.A. was directed to share the following services with Ansett-A.N.A.: One Viscount service each week, BrisbaneLongreachCloncurryMount Isa; and one F 27 service, BrisbaneLongreachWintonMount Isa. The result of this decision is that each airline provides a fortnightly service on each of these routes. In 1956-57, T.A.A. made application to operate an intrastate service in Western Australia. Negotiations with the Western Australian Government were just about completed. The Act provides for an airline wishing to establish a State service to obtain the permission of the State Premier who then notifies the Prime Minister in writing. But when negotiations were just about completed and the result favorable to T.A.A., that airline was instructed by the then Minister for Civil Aviation, the late Senator Sir Shane Paltridge, to break off negotiations. That fact appears in “ Hansard “ because the senator admitted that he had instructed T.A.A. to break off the negotiations.
In 1965-66, T.A.A. made application to the rationalisation committee for the right to operate on the Darwin-Perth route. The published result of that application is that it has been refused but no reasons have been given. Summing up the applications, I indicate that every one of importance has been decided in favour of Ansett-A.N.A.: Every one of importance has been adverse to T.A.A. It is interesting to note that the co-ordinator is the top adviser of the Minister for Civil Aviation. The co-ordinator is the Director-General of the Department of Civil Aviation, who has displayed already his subservience to his Minister with his attitude in the I.P.E.C. case.
There is one other rationalisation decision that is of importance. This came into operation in July of last year. I refer to the Melbourne-Canberra and Canberra-Sydney services. Ansett was limited under the agreement that I read earlier to a 40.5 per cent, share of the traffic. In July 1965 Ansett was granted rights to operate into Canberra on an equal footing with T.A.A. No direction was made but the airlines were to consult and prepare an agreed plan for the implementation of the decision on their operations on this route. The decision in summary was -
I decide therefore that as from the date to be fixed by agreement between the airlines, but not later than 1st July 1965, each airline shall have equal access to the Melbourne-Canberra and CanberraSydney routes.
This is important -
The airlines should consult and prepare an agreed plan for implementation of my decision which does not inconvenience the travelling public, and in the event that the airlines are unable to so agree the matter may be referred to me again for decision.
The operative words that I bring to the attention of the Senate are “ which does not inconvenience the travelling public “. I have given already the figures of the traffic that was handled by T.A.A. and Ansett-A.N.A. on this route.
What was the result of the agreement? It was that T.A.A. had to reduce its services on scheduled flights to equal those flights of Ansett-A.N.A. No transfer of services took place on this occasion. There was no transfer of flights to give the travelling public an equal service in and out of Canberra as there had been on the other services. In this instance, T.A.A. had to knock off flights to allow Ansett-A.N.A. to run the same number of flights as T.A.A. This had the effect not only of decreasing the number of flights available to the travelling public but also of bringing about overcrowding on certain flights. The load of traffic was increased. Whereas the load factor was running at 58 per cent, previously, as a result of this decision it built up. I want to emphasise what I said earlier. This was on scheduled flights only. A large number of special flights operate in and out of Canberra. These flights are not scheduled and therefore do not come within the agreement.
With respect to the agreement in relation to the service between Darwin-Perth, I think it is pertinent to have a look at the Australian National Airlines Act and see whether this Act is being carried out as it should be carried out. Section 19 of the Act provides - (1.) For the purposes of this Act and subject to the provisions of this Act and of the Air Navigation Regulations and with full regard to safety, efficiency and economy of operation the Commission may do all that is necessary or con venient to be done for, or as incidental to, in relation to, or in connection with, the establishment, maintenance or operation by the Commission of airline services for the transport, for reward, of passengers and goods by air -
Sub-section (2.) provides -
It shall be the duty of the Commission to exercise the powers conferred by the last preceding sub-section, as fully and adequately as may be necessary to satisfy the need for the services specified in that sub-section, and to carry out the purposes of this Act. (Extension of time granted.]
This Act casts a responsibility upon T.A.A. to conduct the service between Perth and Darwin, but the airline is inhibited by the actions of the co-ordinator and the Minister.
Lest there be any question about whether Trans-Australia Airlines shall pay taxes, the Act provides in section 37 - (1.) The Commission shall pay all rates, taxes and charges imposed by or under any law of the Commonwealth and such other rates, taxes or charges as the Minister specifies. (2.) The Commission is not a public authority for the purposes of paragraph (d) of section twenty-three of the Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Assessment Act 1936-1952. (3.) The Commission is not a public transport authority for the purposes of item 77 in the First Schedule to the Sales Tax (Exemptions and Classifications) Act 1935-1952.
That is a clear indication that T.A.A. must pay taxes. Section 38 (2.) provides -
For the purposes of the last preceding subsection, the expenditure of the Commission properly chargeable against the revenue received or receivable in respect of a financial year includes -
provision made in that year for income tax,
I have quoted the taxation figures. J shall now refer to the Airlines Agreement Act 1952-1961 and show how it favours AnsettA.N.A. I do not think it is doubted that Mr. Ansett recognises the favorable terms that he enjoys under the Agreement. In 1963 when the Agreement was amended to enable it to continue in operation until 1977, he said that the value of it was incalculable. Even when an appeal was lodged against the decision in the I.P.E.C. case and it was thought that the Government might have to allow Ipec-Air Pty. Ltd. to fly interstate, Mr. Ansett was reported in the Press as having said that if I.P.E.C. was given a licence to fly interstate he would sue the Commonwealth Government. Clause 5(1.) of the 1 952 Agreement, which is still operative, provides -
In providing for the carriage of mail by air, the Commonwealth will take all steps necessary to assure to the Company during the continuance of this agreement, subject to the Company providing efficient services with suitable timetables in accordance with the requirements of the PostmasterGeneral, a share of the air mail carried on the routes over which both the Commission and the Company operate air services substantially equal to the Commission’s share of that mail.
That means in plain words that AnsettA.N.A. has equal access to airmail that is carried interstate.
I come now to a matter which is perhaps a little out of context. We in Western Australia have very few defences to defend our 4,000 miles of coastline. We have been told that the reason why we have not more defences is that the Australian armed Services are designed for mobility. With some reservations, the people of Western Australia accept this explanation. But one wonders just how mobile the Australian Services are. Clause 12(1.) of the 1952 Agreement provides -
If at any time during the continuance of this agreement the Commonwealth is involved in war or the Minister informs the Company that there is an immediate danger of the Commonwealth being so involved, the Company will, if requested to do so, by the Minister, make available for use by the Commonwealth in such manner and for such time as the Commonwealth requires the whole or such part as may be required of its aircraft, spares, accessories, equipment, hangars, workshops, buildings and facilities. 1 pose this question: Where between Brisbane and Pearce in Western Australia, with the exception of Darwin and Meekatharra, could we put down Electra, Boeing 727 or Boeing 707 aircraft? That is the type of aircraft that we are now using. The absence of the necessary landing facilities reduces the mobility of Australia’s defence forces in almost all the area north of the 26th parallel of latitude. I direct the attention of the Senate to that fact while I am dealing with the airline problem.
In the preamble to the 1961 Agreement Ansett is guaranteed the existence of only two airlines in Australia until 1977. The preamble states -
And whereas one of the objects of the parties to this agreement is to secure and maintain a position in which there are two, and no more than two, operators of trunk route airline services, one being the Commission, each capable of effective competition- 1 emphasise those words - with the other, and the parties intend that this agreement shall be construed having regard to that object: lt is debatable whether at the present time the two airlines are capable of effective competition. When one looks at the buildup of intrastate services which give to AnsettA.N.A. a tremendous amount of on-carriage on the interstate services, one wonders whether there is effective competition. Clause 4(1.) of the 1961 Agreement commences with these words -
Subject to the provisions of this clause, if, after the commencement of this agreement, the Commission is authorised to purchase or otherwise obtain any turbo-jet aircraft . . .
I shall not read more of that clause. All it does is to guarantee Ansett access to a loan of £6 million or $12 million, for the purchase of Boeing 727 aircraft, or as the clause states, turbo-jet aircraft. Tremendous advantages flow to Ansett-A.N.A. under the two airline policy of the Government. Ansett has little reason to squeal at the attitude of the Government to the operations of his airline.
There is one matter on which I should like to have information but I have not been able to get it. When a passenger flies interstate, he is provided with meals and other services such as light refreshments. This is done also by subsidiary companies. I should like to know who supplies Ansett-A.N.A. and T.A.A. with these provisions and what the airlines are charged for them. When there are interwoven companies making charges one against the other, it is quite easy to inflate charges and so break down profits. These are matters which should be investigated when an opportunity occurs. During the life of the new Parliament after 26th November and if the Australian Labour Party permits, I shall move for the appointment of a select committee of the Senate to inquire into civil aviation because 1 believe there are rackets within civil aviation in Australia that should be exposed.
Yesterday I asked a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Civil
Aviation. I tried to ascertain whether reports had been received from the two major airlines suggesting how the two airline policy might be reviewed. The Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Anderson), who answered the question, tried to shelter behind policy but the question did not involve a matter of policy. I want to know whether the reports that are submitted to the Government suggesting how the two airline system might be reviewed will be made available to honorable senators. I refer to the reports from Ansett-A.N.A. and the Australian National Airlines Commission. I think I have demonstrated adequately that there is reason for mixed feelings as to whether the system is operating to the best advantage of Australia and the two airlines. I am aware that this is an experiment in air transport and that it is being closely watched in the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Canada. If properly administered, our airlines system could be a model of air transport; but I submit that as it is being operated now, so that all the perks are going to one airline, it is not operating in the interests of the public or in the interests of Australia.
Sitting suspended from 12.43 to 2.20 p.m.
– I address myself to the Budget with considerable satisfaction. I endorse it and support in in every way. I ask the Senate to reject the amendment that has been moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Willesee). I draw the attention of the Senate to the clauses of that amendment. I must assume that members of the Opposition gave some consideration to the order in which those clauses are placed. One does not deprecate in any way the value of the various items that are listed; but in a year in which everybody recognises that the emphasis has to be on Australia’s national relations and security, and therefore its defence, it is interesting to observe that the only reference to this matter is well down the list. I ask the Senate to deal appropriately with the amendment by rejecting it when the opportunity to do so comes.
In giving consideration to the kind of contribution that one will make to a debate on an Australian Budget, one is aware of a number of facets associated with it. An obvious one is the content of the Treasurer’s Budget speech. Here let me congratulate the Treasurer (Mr. McMahon) on the presentation of his first Budget. It was prepared and presented under conditions which were not easy, to say the least, and in which the utmost care had to be taken concerning Australia’s solidarity at home and its relationships abroad. We are aware of the circumstances in which a Budget is prepared and presented. We are aware that at this time in Australia’s history consideration must be given not only to Australia’s total development within but also to the new role - I do not suppose “new” is the appropriate word, but I will use it for now - that this country is called upon to play and is playing in this part of the world.
Then we look, as all members of Parliament do, at the reactions that a Budget speech produces - not only any effect that it might have on immediate personal behaviour such as a stimulus to spending or a restraint of it, but on the total solidarity of the nation and particularly on the state of relationships between the Commonwealth and the States. In this sphere a certain amount of, I suppose we could call it, tension exists. Maybe tension is not a completely bad thing. After all, it produces many fine commodities, both material and moral. In this case I suggest that what I have described as tension throws both of these authorities - the States and the Commonwealth - back on their initiative, on thencontributive skill and on their sense of responsibility. Because of the controversy between the States and the Commonwealth that emerged in various ways following this Budget, I believe that it is pertinent to mention that this is one element of the background against which a Budget is prepared and presented at this time in history.
The Commonwealth has the responsibility of deciding which States merit favorable treatment and why. The States, I suppose fairly naturally, continue to expect more from the Commonwealth. They have their areas of responsibility for education, development and relief from certain conditions such as drought, and various other special opportunities. More and more people are expecting the Commonwealth to extend its generosity. It is true that it is the taxing authority. But there seems to be an increasing number of what I will call special reasons for which special treatment is demanded or asked. One does not deny that these special reasons exist. The submission is made that formulas do exist. Perhaps a new formula might be looked at or perhaps there should be some discussion. I think we have also to look very carefully all the time at the position of the Commonwealth both in terms of responsibility and control. If additional funds are asked for and are constantly made available, sooner or later some authority along the way will want to exercise a greater degree of control.
The Budget produces again this kind of argument, lt is part of the pattern of the nation against which the Budget has been prepared and presented. I give full marks to the Treasurer for its presentation. In spite of what the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator Willesee) has said, I maintain that the Treasurer did not go electioneering in presenting the Budget. His was a task that called for a very special interpretation. As others have said, there are areas of drought to be considered and also areas of international responsibility abroad. There is a continuing need to build Australia’s population, develop its resources, increase its industrial capacity and improve the systems of education and health, and especially to build for our welfare and security. I have seen the Budget described as one that places security before affluence. It is not bad that a sense of responsibility should be exercised in that way just now.
Looking at the Budget along these broad lines I think we can agree that the Treasurer did a good job in view of our commitments - a heavy defence obligation, increasing demands in the field of education and claims for the people in the community who are elderly or in need. To find the money in those circumstances and to spread the burden fairly throughout the community did not leave the Treasurer very much room to move. The Budget is designed to contribute positively to the economy. It is true, as the Treasurer said, that it is of an expansionary nature. He was able to achieve his objectives in a fairly finely balanced situation.
Our defence commitment has occasioned the expenditure of a great deal of money provided for in the Budget this year. Defence is the measure which people throughout Australia, in looking at the newspapers, have said would inevitably require increased expenditure. That burden has been accepted by the Australian community. After all, we have to fulfil many obligations at this time. In addition to maintaining our forces engaged in defence, we have to fulfil treaty obligations. It is our job as a nation to be on duty and on guard. This relates to what I said at the outset of my speech as to Australia’s place at present in its geographical situation. In the last few years enormous changes have occurred in the South East Asian area. There have been strong rising nationalism and invasion and counter-invasion, border attacks, aggression, infiltration, insurrection and all kinds of difficult situations in the nations that are our near neighbours. One would not dream of saying that this situation had in any way resolved itself or, indeed, had settled down in any way. Nevertheless, I think honorable senators would agree that there is a feeling throughout the South East Asian area which recognises certain stable influences. One of these influences is the Australian contribution and the Australian nation. Australia has remained firm in her determination to maintain a stable situation for as long as possible. Nations in this area know where Australia is going. She has matured in her status. She has remained consistent and prepared to defend and support. One of the reasons is that our instruments of defence have been built up. They have been on guard and on duty, not only to protect but also to act as a symbol of protection.
In the last three years, our defence costs have risen by about 90 per cent. We are a nation of peaceful people and nobody likes to see vast sums of money - huge percentages of our expenditure - spent in this way. But it is necessary and whilst we recognise that we must take our place and must be prepared to spend this money, the fact that Australia has been prepared and is prepared and has given indications through the Treasurer in the Budget that it will continue to be prepared in this way is surely a guarantee of our sense of responsibility to our immediate neighbours and to our people at home to defend their free and Australian way of life. I think it would be wrong to leave the matter there. Let me emphasise that this sense of responsibility is not confined to building up a large and efficient defence force for one particular area in which troops are engaged, but also to being on guard, and to assisting and associating with other forces in other places in order to maintain stability and peace throughout the South East Asian area.
Our activity is far more than that and the Budget has provided for more in terms of what is called “ external economic aid “. For this we give full marks to the Government because of its positive and constructive nature all the way along the line. In the current year, proposed expenditure on external economic aid is $103 million. Last year it was $95 million, which included $7 million for special projects in India. The Colombo Plan allocation has been increased, but this is only part of the programme. I think it is well to remind honorable senators, taking Vietnam as a case in point, that Australia was giving economic aid to that unfortunate country before it was giving military aid. We gave, not only money, but also aid in terms of gifts in kind and the services of Australian civil engineers who were engaged in vast projects of water supply installations. We have read and heard of the splendid Australian hospital teams that are in Vietnam - surgeons, anaesthetists and nursing sisters. We have also sent radio engineers. We are responsible for the installation of transmitters and ancillary equipment for radio stations. All of this is part of a total programme of aid.
In 1965 the student programme accounted for the training of over 200 Vietnamese students in economics, engineering, medicine and public administration, whilst Australia has provided Vietnam with experts in agriculture and education. These examples indicate the sense of continuing responsibility that the Government has had in a difficult situation and how it goes hand in hand with the huge vote for defence that the Treasurer has included in the current Budget. Obviously, this type of programme goes on in other Asian areas and in other ways. The Budget refers to them. The Budget includes an appropriation for the International Development Association which this year will increase from just over $1 million to over $7 million. This considerable increase is additional to our first contribution to the Asian Development Bank. Honorable senators will remember that it is not so long ago that we were debating in this Senate a measure in relation to the Asian Development Bank. This is a symbol of Australia’s entry into international finance. It adds to an impressive contribution.
This year’s contribution to external economic aid represents about 2 per cent, of total budget expenditure. I want to put that alongside another figure which relates to the estimated total Budget increase of $600 million. This includes an increase of 8 per cent, in the field of external economic aid. I think all honorable senators would like to see an increase in economic aid. We are concerned. We have a sense of responsibility and it is up to us to assist people to help themselves and make a very valuable, positive and worthwhile contribution. I emphasise this because I think it is something in which Australians have to share. A Budget is not the only answer. We give marks to the Treasurer for making these inclusions in the current Budget but a Budget is not the only answer. People must be encouraged to share and to have some personal involvement. Too often it is easy *o leave it to governments. There is perhaps a feeling abroad that governments are the only instrumentalities to do things. I think we must provide for people to do things.
I pay my tribute, which I think would be shared by all honorable senators, to the wide variety of agencies and associations throughout this country which not only raise money but also send teams of people and all manner of goods in kind for the benefit of the nations to our north. It would be distinctly helpful to us all if at some time in the not too distant future the Government considered allowing the value of certain kinds of gifts or certain donations in specified circumstances to be treated as allowable deductions for income tax purposes. I appreciate the problems associated with a gesture of this kind. After all, it would amount to a government contribution to this form of aid, but I commend .it because, in my view, it would represent the joint effort of government and people in the field of external economic aid. So, looking at only this small section of the Treasurer’s Budget speech, we must admit that it represents not only something worthwhile but also expresses our sense of responsibility to our neighbours, to our allies and to people who are involved with us one way or another in current international exercises.
The Treasurer said that defence expenditure and related matters dominated our budgetary problem this year, but I think it should be observed and stated fairly firmly that this is not to be regarded merely as a defence Budget. Indeed, in many fields it makes significant advances. I want to refer to one of them - the field of social services. I repeat and emphasise that as a party and as a government we have a record of action in social services extending over many years. I could list many benefits which have been introduced by Liberal governments over the years. Some of them are age and invalid pensions, child endowment, hospital benefits, pharmaceutical and medical benefits, medical services for pensioners, homes for the aged and homes savings grants. These benefits, which, as I have said, have been introduced by Liberal governments over the years, represent in this Budget 91 per cent, of expenditure from the National Welfare Fund. I stress that statement because it needs to be stressed. I think someone said that it is rewarding to separate fact from fiction in the story of social services in Australia.
I want to take only a moment to refer to an area in which I have been involved, namely, assistance for the aged. I have always felt that in framing national social health legislation the Commonwealth should make adequate provision for the needs of pensioners. The Government’s policy all along has been to extend relief to those in greatest need. We have been consistent in adhering to this principle, and over the years, as circumstances have permitted, relief has been extended in this area. May I make a point that is sometimes overlooked? The Government introduced what we now describe as the merged means test. This means that with every pension increase there is now a further liberalisation of the means test and more people become eligible for part pensions and all the benefits that flow to pensioners or part pensioners.
Our policy, which is aimed at relief for those who are in need, has been consistently pursued. But let me say also that as time goes on, as certain people become older and as circumstances change, so the programme needs to be changed. For this reason, the current Budget provides for. health services for age pensioners to be extended to cover all recipients of pensions and part pensions. The fact that we have been able to increase pension rates in this Budget means that more people will be entitled to part pensions and, thereby, to pensioner health services. We have gone further than that, because there is a very welcome addition to the aged persons’ homes scheme. On many occasions in debate in the Senate we have mentioned the tremendous value that this Government’s Aged Persons Homes Act has been to the Australian community. The Budget before us provides for an improvement and an extension of the services which already are being provided.
On the subject of the frail aged, the Old People’s Welfare Council of Victoria reported in this way -
People coming within this category-
That is, the frail aged, those needing nursing care - are perhaps the most needy of all. For reasons of increasing age and frailty . . . they are at a very dependent time of life.
To emphasise my endorsement of and my satisfaction and pleasure at what has been done I could not do better than read an extract from the Treasurer’s Budget Speech relating to this aspect. He said -
Important modifications will be made in the administration of the Aged Persons Homes Act to permit an eligible organisation to receive grants towards accommodation for residents requiring continuous nursing care.
Then he spelled out what is required in this way -
This will apply when the number of beds in such accommodation does not exceed one third of the total number of beds in aged persons homes conducted by the organisation in the particular city or town.
One very great problem relating to persons in aged persons’ homes, or indeed any aged persons, arises when they need continuous nursing care. I express my appreciation at the fact that this aspect has now received the Treasurer’s attention. The Budget provision is most welcome. It fulfils a great need and gives a sense of relief and security not only to the aged people concerned but also to those whose job it is to care for them or to arrange for their care.
I want to say something about another matter in the Budget which, as expected, received some attention. I refer to education. The Treasurer observed in his speech that a major part of State expenditure on education was indirectly financed through the Commonwealth in its general assistance grants. In recent years this assistance has been greatly extended. The Government has shown its concern for education at the national level by its practical interest, in terms of grants, and by its many researches and the implementation of the results of those researches.
Five years ago expenditure on education was $52 million. Last year it had doubled to SI 10 million, and in the current Budget provision is made for an expenditure of $140 million. Of this amount, some $84 million will be available to the States for their programmes and other amounts will be used for establishing and servicing colleges of advanced education, science laboratories and technical training facilities. In recent years the emphasis has been on the scientific and technical field of education. This has been of tremendous benefit to Australia as a whole. Science is very much a leading light in this part of the 20th century and it will continue to grow in importance.
In our involvement in the spheres of space exploration, research, computers and all this kind of thing, and in relation to our defence and economic effort and almost everything else to which we turn, the world of science is the leading world. The Government does well to place emphasis on science not only now but also for the future. However, in a total programme, science is not all of the answer. May I plead, as others have done, for emphasis on some future occasion and in some circumstances upon recognition of the humanities in our total education system. History, literature, languages and philosophy may seem to sound, as I say them, cultural overtones and some people may not regard them as being terribly practical, but if science simply becomes a completely dominating line, even with all of the will in the world it may get out of hand and we may find that we are educating people who are inclined to become machines rather than human beings. I hope that on some future occasion there will be an extension into the world of humanities. It is not that this aspect is being overlooked, mark you, Mr. President. If you examine the speeches made earlier concerning the establishment of Colleges of Education, you will see that considerable provision is made for just this sort of thing, but I repeat that I hope that in due course more emphasis will be placed on the development of human beings with hearts, souls and minds that can be employed to use science not only for our material progress and benefit but also for the development of other phases of the life of mankind.
The principle of State aid to independent schools has been canvassed in this debate already. I think I would be right in saying that it is a principle that is now pretty widely accepted. It is the duty of governments, especially in this country, to provide a State system. Indeed, we recognise the very high standard and the great contribution of State systems of education today. But for the overall development and advancement of the nation it is important, I think, that we should preserve a system that provides, in one way or another, for a choice, if possible, and for variety in education. My figures indicate that in Australia .today three children out of four are educated in government schools and one in four is educated at an independent school. This relieves the State system in a very real way. Education today is a very expensive business. Equipment, buildings, teacher training and all the other material that goes into our education system run into vast sums of money. If groups of people within the community can be encouraged to take some of this responsibility upon themselves, this is a very good thing.
The Government’s increasing recognition of this work and its assistance to independent schools are to be commended. This is not preferring a section within the community. This is not assisting people who may have money just to enjoy an exclusive situation. Rather, it provides for a choice, it provides for a variety of types of education, and it assists people to give to their children the kind of education that they want them to have, so that we raise a race of people with - shall I say - a diverse education of high standard, and with a sense of responsibility, and an interdependence, one upon the other, of groups in the community.
The Government’s inclusion of education in this programme is further proof of its investment in people. Indeed, it emphasises and highlights the point that I made right at the beginning, that this calls for a sense of awareness and responsibility on the part of governments and the people. While I applaud and support the programme of Commonwealth aid to education, let us preserve State control of the State education systems so that people will be able to accept and carry their own responsibilities and apply their own initiative and enterprise. I hope that the day will never come when, because of the allocation of Commonwealth money in large amounts to education, there may be any sacrificing of control of the systems that we have at present.
One could debate at great length many other items within the Budget. I assert that in my view this is a wholly practical Budget. The Treasurer has obviously indicated that he has confidence in the progress of Australia. Indeed, the very terms of the Budget show a recognition not only of growth that is taking place but of growth that is envisaged in the future. I like the reference to the immigration programme. I am appreciative of the reference to the fertilisers bounty, as I am, indeed, of the reference to the arrangements made for research in industry. I shall not canvass these at this stage but I shall take such other opportunity in the session as is available to me to underline and support them and commend them to the Senate.
I support the motion and I ask the Senate again to reject the amendment for the reasons that I put forward at the beginning of my speech. The amendment does not show any sense of responsibility as far as priorities are concerned. After all, we are concerned with our security at home and security abroad. This year of 1966 requires a greater emphasis on our security abroad. This is provided for in the Budget while at the same time we are building up our security within Australia’s borders.
– I rise to oppose the motion and to support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator Willesee). I never criticise a Treasurer to the extent of saying that anything that he does is of no value or that he is wrong, without first examining what was attempted to be achieved. Senator Davidson said that we must consider the Budget in relation to the times that we are going through and what was hoped to be gained by a particular budget, and in that light we must see how far the Budget succeeds.
I have the greatest sympathy for the Treasurer on this occasion. He was faced with an inevitable increase in defence commitments and with the basic wage increase, which must add to the cost of administration. He was faced with the need for pension increases, for some better return to social service beneficiaries. He was faced, if the Government were to pursue a policy of development for Australia, with putting something into the economy to ensure that we would not suffer the slump that unfortunately might come about as a result of the Budget. But faced with all the possibilities of big increases in Commonwealth expenditure, the Treasurer was up against his inability to increase the revenue of the Commonwealth by virtue of the fact that this is an election year. Therefore, he had to present a budget providing for increased expenditure for the ensuing year, with an inability to increase revenue because he could not present a budget which would lose an election. It was hoped that he would present a budget that would win an election and, if that were not possible, that he would present a budget that would not lose votes for the Government. I do not discredit his effort in achieving this. He has met the increased expenditure by financing for a deficit of $270 million. He is using credits obtained from America, but possibly the greatest factor is the transfer of tax raising from the Commonwealth to the States. Let us examine this method of financing the Budget. In 1963 the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), in his 1963 policy speech, proposed deficit financing of the Budget if he was returned to office, but the then Prime Minister said that that would be ruinous to the country, that it could not be tolerated and that it would throw the country back into the wilderness from which his Government had just rescued it. What would be ruinous to Australia when proposed by Labour is beneficial in a year when the Government has to face the electors.
While I am on this subject, let me remind the Senate, that in today’s Press there was a report of an announcement in another place by the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold
Holt) that the Federal Government has taken the first step towards the establishment of a naval base in Western Australia. Western Australia has been deprived of a naval base, which would be of value to it, for at least three years. It took the present Government three years to recognise the value of such a base. In the 1963 policy speech of the Leader of the Labour Party, as printed, sold and distributed, we find at page 1 9, under the heading “ Navy “, the following -
We will establish a naval base in Western Australia. This will include a dry-dock.
So what Labour proposes on one occasion becomes Government policy to rescue this country on a future occasion.
The Budget provides no assistance for development of the economy, and I think it has been correctly described as a “stay put” Budget. We will be using American credits to the extent of £114 million to finance the country. The Leader of the Opposition in this chamber (Senator Willesee) said last evening -
I do not want to get off the track, but the money is being spent, not on defence projects but where young Australians are sacrificing their lives. Many of them will carry the scars as long as they are on this earth. While these young people are dying in other parts of the world, not one of us in this chamber and not one person listening to the broadcast tonight has to put his hand in his pocket in order to contribute a 10 cent piece to his effort.
It is apparently considered by the Government to be right not only that those who survive the conflict in Vietnam and return to Australia, possibly with the scars of battle on them, should receive repatriation benefits so insufficient that Senator Webster complained about them in condemnation of the Government, but also that those people should help to pay for the adventure in Vietnam, because the Treasurer (Mr. McMahon) ?aid in his Budget speech that all this will have to be paid for at some time in the future.
Figures just published by the Commonwealth Statistician show that production of 19 out of 35 major commodities in Australia was down last year. These items include Portland cement, sawn timber, domestic refrigerators, washing machines, television sets, lawn mowers, cars, station wagons, trucks, tobacco, cigars and cigarettes. The industry hardest hit has been the motor industry, with a 10 per cent, reduction in production last year compared with the previous year. This is an industry which affects South Australia more than the other States. It is the one big industry in South Australia, employing a huge number of people in the construction of motor bodies. One would have thought that the Budget would give some boost to the economy for the purpose of ensuring that the decline does not continue, but, other than in respect of fans and home air conditioning plants, no assistance has been given to industry to enable it to pick up. One can expect the present position to become worse and to find unemployment increasing because provision has not been made in the Budget for the necessary protection of industry.
But the Government hopes that the electors will forget its shortcomings. I think the average elector, knowing that there would be an increase in expenditure, was expecting some tax increases to be announced in the Budget, and that he gave a sigh of relief when there were none. The people will pay in other ways, due to ‘the transference of taxation from the Commonwealth to the States, but the Government hopes the electors will blame the State Governments for that. Increased hospital charges, increased transport rates and other increases will be brought about by legislation enacted by State Governments, and this Government hopes the electors will not recognise that such increases have been made necessary by the Federal Government not giving the States sufficient finance. If the blame is placed where this Government hopes it will be placed, we could see a change of State Governments throughout the Commonwealth, which would not be of benefit to the parties in power in this House. But no doubt the Treasurer had this in mind when thinking of the vital election on 26th November. The most important point about the Budget - one which the Government will find it difficult to justify - is that it claims that the development of Australia must be sacrificed for what are termed defence purposes. Development must be sacrificed for weapons of war. The Treasurer said -
Do not let us forget that some reduction in the rate of increase of consumer demand had to take place in order to release resources for defence purposes and for other high priority uses.
Later he said -
Some allowance must be made for price and cost increases;-
He was dealing with the increase in defence expenditure for the year - even so, it is obvious that, in this comparatively short space of time, defence has come to claim a very large additional amount of resources that would otherwise have gone to developmental or consumption uses.
Further on, he said-
In fact, as 1 have said, we have been able in these years to ensure both a big increase in the defence effort and also a large expansion of our productive capacity. And yet, with each successive rise in defence expenditure, we have become increasingly conscious of a developing conflict between major national purposes - between the requirements of defence and those of growth, lt is a real and substantial conflict. For Australia, more than for most countries, growth in its more fundamental forms is vital and of great urgency. To build up our population, to develop our resources, to enlarge our industrial capacity, to increase our exparts, to improve our standards of education and health - all these are highly important not merely for the welfare of the nation but for its security.
The Treasurer recognises the importance of industrial expansion and national development, not only for the future welfare of the nation but also to build up our security. Developmental work, which is one avenue to our security, has to be neglected for what we are told is the necessary defence of Australia. As Senator Gair said last night, all other expenditure will be valueless if its results are taken away from us because we have not sufficient security. The astronomical expenditure of $1,000 million on defence this year could be justified if we adopted the outlook of Senator Gair and some Government supporters who can see a Communist hiding behind every lamp post and who believe that the Communist threat to Australia is coming closer every day. When a person becomes obsessed with the idea that there are spiders, snakes or pink elephants chasing him, generally he is locked away. But if he is obsessed with the fear of Communism, he is sent to the Federal Parliament to support a large defence programme.
It is necessary to refer briefly to what Senator Gair said last night because he, perhaps more than anyone else, showed the need for this defence expenditure. He said that China will dominate South East Asia and take it over as far south as Indonesia. President Johnson, the supporters of this Government and Senator Gair are the only people who believe that the countries in South East Asia down as far as Indonesia will be swallowed up in the domino theory, although Indonesia does not believe that the threat is of sufficient importance for it to send troops to Vietnam. Since the October coup, Indonesia has had a strong antiCommunist military leadership. The Indonesian foreign affairs Minister has been strong in his condemnation of Australia’s involvement in Vietnam. Surely the Indonesian Government knows of the threat of Communism, lt knows of the attempt to take over Indonesia. If it believed that there was any real threat of Communist expansion throughout South East Asia, surely it would be loud in support of our s and in the conflict in Vietnam at the present time. Is the Indonesian Government incapable of understanding the position? Are we the only ones with the ability to understand it?
Senator Gair said that the top brass of China had said that this was China’s policy. I do not know how the words of the top brass of China become the authority or justification for sacrificing developmental work for defence expenditure. But when Senator Gair was asked: “ What top brass said that?”, after some hedging he said that he could mention plenty of authorities. When I asked him to give me the name of one authority for the purpose of verification, he said, as reported at page 88 of yesterday’s “ Hansard “-
It is evident beyond doubt and is supported by authorities on defence, both in this country and outside it, that the aim of Red China is to take over South East Asia. In any case, we have had no evidence from the Red Chinese . . . that China does not propose to conquer South East Asia. We have no assurance and so we are entitled to the benefit of the doubt.
This discussion began with the statement by Senator Gair that this could be backed up by authorities from the top brass of China, whoever they might be, but it ended with the disclosure that the authorities do not exist. China has never given us an assurance that she does not intend to take over South East Asia, but neither have many other countries. I do not know whether we have asked for such an assurance. We do not defend South East Asia against countries such as Germany and France because they have not given us assurances. But this is the flimsy pretext upon which Senator Gair relies to justify a huge defence expenditure at the sacrifice of developmental works in Australia which would be beneficial to the welfare of the community and our future security.
We must establish on proper grounds a basis for the statement by Senator Gair last night that there is a threat. We must also establish that the method of meeting the threat is by military means and not by other means. If there is one country that has progressed more than any other since the Second World War, it is Japan, which has adopted a programme of peaceful progress. lt has adopted practically a pacificist attitude to world affairs today.
– What about Malaysia, which has the second highest income per head of any Asian country?
– I am referring to a country that has made great progress from a very backward stage. Japan has pursued a peaceful policy in world affairs since the Second World War. It has concerned itself with developmental work. There would be less risk to its security today than there was when it was a warlike nation before the Second World War. we want to consider whether our future security lies in the build up of arms or the sacrifice of lives in Vietnam.
– How is it that Malaysia has the second highest annual income per capita?
– Malaysia is a rich country, but surely the honorable senator is not suggesting that Malaysia has achieved its present position by warlike action. I think that Malaysia has peaceful intentions. It has pursued a policy of peace. It has no idea of adopting aggression against any other country. It was subject to an invasion of some sort.
– What sort of an invasion?
– Malaysia has overcome it. It is achieving further development - possibly greater development than in the past. One cannot say that Japan has not progressed from being a backward nation as a result of the policy that it has pursued.
Senator Gair pointed out that we will spend $103,300,000 on foreign aid this year, of which $70 million will go to Papua and New Guinea. We all accept the fact that we have a responsibility towards Papua and New Guinea. Although this assistance to Papua and New Guinea may be a form of foreign aid, it will not stop Communist expansion or prevent countries from turning to Communism, which it is thought is the alternative to military build up. We should be giving aid to these countries so that we can improve the conditions on which Communism thrives.
Apart from our contribution to Papua and New Guinea, this year we will give $33,300,000 to other countries in foreign aid. That is not much when we consider that we will spend $1,000 million on defence. A great deal of the defence allocation will be spent in Vietnam. It is worth, considering whether aid should be given to Vietnam at the present time when there is no guarantee that it will not fall into the hands of the Vietcong or that it will not be devastated by the war in that country. Surely we have a greater responsibility to try to give aid to countries in which we know uprisings will occur unless they overcome their economic problems and improve the living conditions of their people. In leaving the position at that, let me say that this Budget - and I think that this has been admitted by all speakers on the Government side - is essentially a defence Budget, and the urgency in this respect has been created on false premises only because the Government believes that there is a threat to Australia in Vietnam.
The only tax deductions that we have received are in relation to electric fans and air conditioning units used for home purposes. The Leader of the Opposition last night pointed out how essential these items are in homes. The Government has acknowledged that they are essential by reducing the sales tax on them from 12i per cent, to 2i per cent. As the Leader of the Opposition asked, why was the tax of 21 per cent, left on these items if they are essential and are required for home comfort today? If this is so and if the reason for reducing the tax is that these items are essential, why has some action not been taken regarding the consistent representation by those honorable senators who have been presenting petitions to the Government for some considerable period on the matter of the 12i per cent, sales tax in relation to toilet requisites and who claim that this represents a tax on health.
Sales tax of 12i per cent, applies to toilet soaps. But, as I understand the position, there is no sales tax on dog soaps at the present time. If there is a tax on dog soaps, it is only 2i per cent. Detergents are used in every home and are essential for the purpose of cleanliness. Why do not detergents receive the same treatment as electrical fans and air conditioning units are receiving? If electric fans and air conditioning units are regarded as essential, are not toilet requisites essential also? 1 seek from the Government some explanation as to why toilet requisites and the like are still included in the list of items subject to the sales tax of 12± per cent, in view of the representations that have been made time and time again against the application of this tax to them.
Madam Acting Deputy President, I desire to deal briefly with the question of education. Time limitations cause us to be brief in our remarks on most subjects. In dealing with the subject of education in his Budget speech, the Treasurer pointed out -
Immigration increases the number of our people. Higher standards of education help to raise the quality of our people as citizens and as contributors to the work and life of the community.
Yet the Treasurer deprives us of all the things in which he can see benefits. I repeat what he said in this regard -
Higher standards of education help to raise the quality of our people as citizens and as contributors to the work and life of the community.
If higher standards of education do help to raise the quality of our people as citizens and as contributors to the work and life of the community, we should make sacrifices in a number of other directions to meet the requirements of education. It has been said that there is a crisis in education. This statement has been repeated and has been denied only by the Minister for Works (Senator Gorton) who is the Minister representing the Prime Minister in relation to Commonwealth Activities in Education and Research.
What do we see if we consider the state of primary schools today whether they be State schools or private schools? In this morning’s Press we read that New South Wales, after cancelling in desperation, contracts amounting to millions of dollars for the construction of schools last year, now of necessity has to erect temporary schools to house the children who are seeking education in that State. We are told that no crisis exists in education at the very period when the work force which is usually engaged in the building of schools in New South Wales is unemployed. Some temporary schools were constructed in South Australia after the Second World War because men and materials were not available for the construction of permanent schools. But some of those temporary schools are still there. They are uncomfortable - cold in winter and extremely hot in summer. The conditions in these temporary schools are a distraction to the pupils and to the teachers.
The accommodation of children in such temporary schools is not conducive to the development of our education system. But, as a result of the Government’s failure to provide finance for education the New South Wales authorities have no alternative but to erect temporary schools. The New South Wales Government is insisting that the uprights in these temporary schools be rustproof. The schools will be of aluminium construction. The insistence on the use of rustproof uprights and aluminium construction implies that length of life is the important consideration. There is no evidence to suggest that these schools will be temporary other than in name. This is the stage that we have reached in our educational system, the very system that the Treasurer says is so essential for greater citizenship and the welfare of the community. Where are the provisions for teacher training which, contrary to the report of the Committee on the Future of Tertiary Education in Australia, the Government will not provide. On the question of finance for teacher training, let me point out that it is reported in all States today that the educational standard of school teachers is declining.
There is another field of education to which I wish to refer mainly because of a letter which I received from the Department of Adult Education at the University of Sydney. I ask the Senate to consider the value of adult education to the community and also the value of adult education over the years to those people who were not educated sufficiently in primary school, who desired education in later life or who were educated to a high standard but sought to improve their standard by way of adult education. Adult education is of benefit to the individual and to the community generally. Adult Education Associations have been formed in all States of the Commonwealth.
The Department of Adult Education of the University of Sydney, among its claims to show the progress that it has made in the development of education, points out that it initiated and was largely responsible for the U.N.E.S.C.O. Regional Seminar on Adult Education for Asia and the South Pacific which was held in Sydney in January 1964. The Department in its letter to me states -
As a result of this Seminar the Asian-South Pacific Bureau of Adult Education was formed, and it is largely through the Association that Australia participates in this.
So, we see the value of this Department. I think that it is of benefit to hold seminars in different regions rather than in the individual countries where adult education is to be found. It was through the intitiative of the Department of Adult Education of the University of Sydney that this seminar was held in Australia.
However, this Department is up against a problem with regard to finance. The letter that I have received continues -
We first approached Senator Gorton last year, seeking £7,000 which we estimated was just sufficient, together with the £500 annually we can collect from our own membership and publications, to set up an office and pay the kind of secretary we must have. Senator Gorton undertook to- present our case to Cabinet with the recommendation that we be given half the amount asked for, on the understanding that we were to raise the other half from State governments, foundations and other sources in order to establish the kind of secretariat we had indicated. His recommendation was rejected by Cabinet, but we were told to apply again this year. On this occasion we have asked for $16,250, having had to raise the amount because of the recent increase in university salaries, and we have indicated to Senator Gorton that, on further consideration, we feel there is little chance of our being able to raise money from State governments. As each of the organisations in the Association is constantly pressing its State government for more help it is hardly possible for us to ask effectively for moneys for the Association as well.
There is an appeal that had the sympathy of the responsible Minister. But Cabinet was not prepared to grant money for this work which is very beneficial to the community. Cabinet refused to grant the Association’ assistance and asked it to apply again this year. No provision has been made in the Budget this year for an allowance to be paid to the Department of Adult Education at the University of Sydney. We have been told that no such provision can be made because it is essential that provision be made for expenditure on defence. Honorable senators will recall that yesterday I asked the Minister in charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education and Research whether he had said that it would be necessary to reduce the standard of living in Australia if all our educational needs were to be met. Without any hesitation the Minister said that he did not know whether the report which I mentioned was correct but that in effect that would be the position. Is the Government saying, in effect, in its Budget that we cannot meet our educational requirements unless we are prepared to reduce the standard of living? I point out that it has increased expenditure on defence.
I come now to the Australian Labour Party’s policy on education, principally because the matter was dealt with at some length last night by Senator Gair, who maligned some Labour Party members who attended the 1957 Conference of the Party. He mentioned Senator Toohey, Senator Drury and Senator O’Byrne. I do not know whether he said they were at the 1966 Conference. He failed to say whether they had changed their opinion, but he suggested that they would do so. He referred to Mr. Colbourne and Mr. Oliver, who he said were at the 1957 Conference, and he tried to indicate to the Senate that they had adopted an entirely different attitude as a result of the influence of the Australian Democratic Labour Party. If in fact they do adopt an entirely different attitude now, we would accept his statement. As Senator Gair told us, in 1957 the plank which provided for State aid for independent schools was deleted from the platform of the Australian Labour Party. But it was not reintroduced in 1966. To say that Labour has changed its policy is quite incorrect, even though that is the impression which one would gain from reading newspaper articles, as a result of being misinformed, or if unable to interpret decisions.
The Labour Party’s policy on education, of which we are somewhat proud, is as follows - (3.)_It is the obligation of the State to provide a universal free, compulsory, secular system of education, open to all citizens and planned to develop the set of values enunciated above.
Labour’s policy does not support the establishment of private schools but provides, as I have indicated, that the obligation shall be on the State to provide a universal free, compulsory secular system of education, open to all citizens. Clause 4 (a) of the Party’s platform in relation to education states -
Citizens who do not wish to use the school facilities provided by the State, whether for conscientious or other reasons, shall have the absolute right to develop an independent system of schools of a recognised standard provided that the cost of the capital development of this system is not a charge on any government;
I pause there to emphasise that, if citizens wish to use the facilities of an independent school, Labour is pledged to providing that they shall have the absolute right to develop an independent system if the cost of the capital development is not a charge on any government. The clause continues - further that the existing policy of a full public inquiry by the Commonwealth into primary, secondary and technical education in both government and non-government schools be confirmed.
I repeat that it is the policy of the Labour Party that citizens should have the right in certain conditions to establish schools and that there should be a full inquiry into the various aspects of education. Clause 4 (b) provides -
Pending a determination of conditions under which assistance may be given under clause 4 (a) any forms of benefit existing in a State or Territory at the time of this Conference may be supported in any State or Territory.
One of the first duties of the Labour government would be to conduct an inquiry to ascertain what assistance should be given to independent schools. Pending a determination, that government could give aid to schools in the State or Territory if it was already being provided.
– Including capital aid?
– Aid granted up to this point of time, yes. Because of disagreement on this matter, the July Conference adopted the following motion of interpretation -
Pending determination of conditions-
It will be noted that the principal matter in mind is the holding of an inquiry - under which assistance may be given the prohibition against providing the cost of capital development to private schools as contained in clause 4 (a) shall not operate if in fact capital grants are being made to private schools in any State or Territory at this date.
I repeat that the Australian Labour Party acknowledges the absolute right of citizens to develop their own system of schools provided they do not call on governments for the capital cost. The decision as to whether aid should or should not be given to independent schools would depend on a Commonwealth inquiry into all facets of education, but, as I have pointed out, the Labour Party is not opposed to governments giving aid where they think it is justified. There is nothing ambiguous about our policy. It is not right to say that we have changed our policy and that whereas formerly we did not support the giving of State aid to independent schools we now do. Having examined Labour’s policy in regard to education, it is not right to say that some who attended the 1957 Conference changed their minds at the 1966 Conference, even though they could possibly justify a change of mind if there had been a change of circumstances.
Senator Gair stated that it costs a State government $200 a year to educate a child at a State primary school but that it would cost that government only $50 to educate a child at a private secondary school and $30 at a private primary school. Any government, whether it was a Labour government or a Liberal government, would be foolish to maintain a State system of education if the same standard of education could be provided more cheaply by a private system. Senator Gair has not given us facts to support his statement. We would afford him an opportunity to present the facts to any Commonwealth inquiry to see whether there was any substance in his claim. He said the reason for the lower cost of education at private schools was that those schools were not bound to award wages and conditions. Education of children at private schools has been cheaper than at State schools because award wages and conditions have not applied. Whether such arrangements are permissible now should be taken into consideration. To divert money into other fields and reduce our standard of living is one matter. While many persons have been prepared to enter religious orders and work under the conditions I have mentioned, there has been no complaint; but the problem with private education has been that persons with teaching qualifications have not been prepared to enter such orders in sufficient numbers. Therefore, it has been necessary to employ lay teachers. We should not permit the sanctimonious exploitation of this section of the teaching profession simply to provide cheap education. The policy of the Australian Labour Party is definite. If an inquiry is justified, we will support it.
In the time remaining to me I want to speak briefly on repatriation. Last night Senator Webster expressed concern about repatriation benefits for our servicemen in Vietnam. I do not remember his exact words but he expressed doubt whether adequate benefits would be provided for those engaged in this campaign under the Repatriation Act as it stands. The Returned Services League believes that those who served in the First and Second World Wars and in Korea are not receiving just repatriation benefits to compensate for their sacrifices. According to Press reports this week the National Executive of the R.S.L. meeting in Canberra sent “ the strongest possible protest “ to the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) and demanded a supplemenary Budget to cover proposed pension rises. I do not know what is meant by “ the strongest possible protest” but the. national president of the R.S.L., Sir Arthur Lee, told a Press conference that this was the first time the R.S.L. had taken such direct action to gain pension increases. He is reported to have said -
In 1949 it was used. Promises were made which were honoured in 1950. But from 1950 the value of pensions has slipped gradually back.
I have no doubt that repatriation pensions will be used as a political football in the next election.
This is a deplorable state of affairs. The livelihood of ex-servicemen and women should not be used as a political football.
I believe that, true to his political outlook, Sir Arthur Lee does not want returned servicemen to divert their votes from the Government which has not given them justice and put into office a political party which would give them justice. Of course, pensions and repatriation benefits have always been a political football and I suppose they always will be. The top brass of the R.S.L. does not want the membership to realise that the solution to their problems and their salvation lie in a change of government. Although the R.S.L. has received no satisfaction over the past 10 years in relation to its just claims, Sir Arthur Lee claims that he does not want repatriation benefits to become a political football however meagre the benefits provided by this Government might be. However, 1 respectfully ask that consideration be given to the provisions of the Repatriation Act and its implementation.
I do this following a recent personal experience. We are continually told that the Repatriation Act is one of the greatest pieces of legislation and that it is designed to give the most benefit to applicants under its provisions. We have a set up now, mostly based on the recommendations of returned servicemen or their organisations, protecting the interests of those entitled to benefits. We have War Pensions Assessment Appeal Tribunals and War Pensions Entitlement Appeal Tribunals. This is supposed to be a very good set up designed to help exservicemen. I want to refer particularly lo the Assessment Appeal Tribunals in relation to section 47 of the Repatriation Act which states -
The Commission, a Board, an Appeal Tribunal and an Assessment Appeal Tribunal, in hearing, determining or deciding a claim, application or appeal, shall act according to substantial justice and the merits of the case, shall not be bound by technicalities or legal forms or rules of evidence and shall give to the claimant, applicant or appellant the benefit of any doubt-
That means, any doubt at all must go to the benefit of an applicant or appellant. The Act does not refer to any reasonable doubt but to any doubt at all. The section continues -
Therefore, there is no need for the applicant or appellant to produce any proof or documents of any sort. The lodging of a claim entitles the claimant to what he seeks unless the person or authority who opposes it or contends the claim should not be granted or allowed to the full extent, can bring proof that the claim should not be allowed. I do not doubt that this operates with the Entitlement Appeal Tribunals. These Tribunals deal with appeals against the decisions of a lower tribunal. They consider the evidence given before the lower tribunal to ascertain whether it was wrong in reaching a decision to reject a claim on the evidence before it. But it is different in the case of Assessment Appeal Tribunals.
I had experience of such a case because the applicant in these circumstances is permitted to get an advocate who is not a legal man. A report showed that a number of medical doctors were more or less in agreement on the case although some went into interpretations of the Act. One acknowledges the qualifications of a doctor of medicine to diagnose a complaint or assess the disabilities of an applicant for repatriation benefits, but it is outside the field of a doctor’s special knowledge to interpret the provisions of the Repatriation Act. Therefore, no notice should be taken of an attempt by a doctor to interpret those provisions. It is for the tribunals to interpret the Act and reach a decision on the medical evidence.
One medical report in the case I have in mind stated that the applicant for benefits was not unemployed within the terms of section 85 of the Act. This section contains provisions relating to the granting of a service pension instead of a pension for total and permanent incapacity, if the applicant has an injury which was not war caused, but the applicant must prove that he is totally unemployable. It is not necessary to be totally unemployable to get a T.P.I, pension. In such a case it is necessary only to be permanently unemployable or to be permanently incapacitated and to be unemployable to such an extent as to be able to earn only a negligible portion of a living wage. A T.P.I, pensioner may accept work for a short period or light work. But the tribunals say that this man is not unemployable in accordance with section 85. It was never claimed that he was. But he is not regarded as unemployable in accordance with the conditions for the granting of a T.P.I, pension.
– Does the honorable senator know the number of the tribunal that judged this case?
– It was the
Adelaide Assessment Appeal Tribunal. I made out a case for this man. His medical history included definite evidence from the repatriation doctor who has been treating him for three years that he is totally and permanently incapacitated because of war caused injuries. All of this evidence was rejected by the Tribunal. It did not even create in the minds of the members of the Tribunal a doubt, the benefit of which would be given to the appellant.
This matter of giving the appellant the benefit of the doubt has been discussed many times. I have records of statements made by responsible Ministers of the day; but time will not permit me to read them. It. is obvious that one cannot create a doubt by going around and finding a doctor who disagrees with the other doctors. The doubt must be in the minds of the members of the Tribunal. We went along to the Assessment Appeal Tribunal. On all the evidence that was before the lower tribunal, the Assessment Appeal Tribunal should have found that this man was totally and permanently incapacitated. If we failed on that count, the Tribunal must have found that at least there was a reasonable doubt.
This Tribunal consists of a Mr. Mooney, a solicitor from Melbourne, who looks after the legal side and sees that it keeps within the Act, and two doctors who are appointed in accordance with the Act and who specialise in the complaint of the particular appellant. When I submitted to the Tribunal that on the evidence before the lower tribunal the Assessment Appeal Tribunal could not possibly come to the same conclusion, the chairman said: “ But we do not deal with the matter that way, Mr. Cavanagh. We make an examination of the appellant to see whether he is totally and permanently incapacitated. We have specialists in his particular complaint.” The claim was that as a result of fibrositis, or one of the bone diseases, the appellant was totally and permanently incapacitated. But it has also been accepted that his complaints of anxiety neurosis, gastric neurosis, spondylitis, arthritis in the hip joints and fibrositis in the knees were all war caused, and he was receiving a 100 per cent, general rate pension in respect of them.
Apart from Mr. Mooney, the Tribunal consisted of Dr. Sangster, who is a specialist in arthritic complaints, and Dr. Salter, who is a specialist in neurotic diseases. They took the appellant into a room and examined him. The specialist in arthritic complaints examined him for arthritis while the other doctor looked on. The result was that when each doctor made his decision there was no doubt in his mind that this man was not totally and permanently incapacitated, despite all the medical evidence which would seem to prove - or, if not prove, then create a doubt - that he is. We have no right to say that either tribunal was wrong in making the decision that it made on the evidence. But the point is that one man examines the applicant and decides whether he is entitled to a T.P.I, pension. That is the set-up in respect of the Assessment Appeal Tribunals under the Repatriation Act.
The Act contains provisions relating to the methods to be adopted by these Tribunals. It says that the methods shall be as prescribed. I asked the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar) about the methods adopted by the. Tribunals. Only today I received a reply in which he says that the methods are prescribed in regulations. But the regulations say only that the Tribunal will give the applicant notice; that he has the right to have someone attend with him; and that the Tribunal can adjourn from time to time. We appreciate that there should be medical experts on the Tribunals so that no attempt will be made to put something over them. These doctors were experts on this man’s complaints. But without the assistance of X-rays and without considering whether the other tribunal was right or wrong, the medical experts there and then make an examination to decide whether an applicant comes within the Act. As this man had two types of war caused diseases, two specialists dealt with his case and each of them, after examining him, decided that he was not totally and permanently incapacitated. Each of them decided that there was no doubt in his mind, the benefit of which would go to the appellant. Yet all the other medical evidence would create a doubt.
This is not a question of this particular individual. The method of conducting Assessment Appeal Tribunals is wrong and does not permit an appellant to receive the benefit of the onus of proof provision of the Repatriation Act on any occasion. That provision might as well be taken out of the
Act, for all the value it is. Unless the appellant can create a doubt in the mind of the particular examining doctor, in spite of what 100 other doctors have said, there is no doubt, the benefit of which the appellant can receive. I respectfully ask the Minister for Repatriation to look into this matter. As I said before, I support the amendment. I wanted to say much more, but I ask the Government for full consideration of what I have said. There is no doubt that members of the Government have in their minds the idea of introducing at some time in the future an additional budget to meet the requirements of the States; but they would not attempt to do that just before an election campaign. I have no doubt that we will feel the effects of such a budget in the future.
– I support this Budget which provides for an expenditure of $5,930 million, and I reject the amendment. I commend the Treasurer (Mr. McMahon) on the presentation of his first Budget. I hope that he will be able to introduce many more. This Budget maintains general stability in the Australian economy and provides a large sum of money for defence. There is no increase in taxation, despite a large defence vote, an increase in costs and an increase in social services and other expenditure.
Members of the Opposition say that the Government should have provided much more money for social services. They want reductions in the tax on some items. Yet not one of them has yet said where the extra money to provide for these things would come from. We can only assume that it would come from a staggering increase in income tax. The second half of the fifth clause of the amendment that was moved last night says that balanced development can only take place by active encouragement to Australian industry. What would be the “ active encouragement to Australian industry”, according to the thinking of members of the Opposition? It would be a staggering increase in income tax - nothing more, nothing less.
Defence dominates this Budget to a large extent. The Treasurer, in his Budget speech said that defence expenditure is not to force a curtailment of other activities which are fundamental to our growth as a nation. There is a changing pattern in world defence, and especially in the Pacific area where we happen to be situated. It seems inevitable that the United Kingdom forces east of Suez will be withdrawn gradually. Perhaps it will be over a long period, but it seems inevitable. To counterbalance that, we are fortunate in having a powerful ally and friend, the United States of America. We must never forget our natural defence advantage of being an island nation. We must always, as we have done in the past, defend our country from outside its shores and not wait until we are invaded, as apparently our political opponents would have us do before we started to defend our country. It would then be too late and we would lose our advantage of the defensive strip of water which makes us an island nation. A narrow strip of water has prevented the invasion of the United Kingdom for 900 years, whereas 20 miles away France has been invaded three times in the last century through its land boundaries. I notice that at present not one member of the Opposition is in the chamber. [Quorum formed.]
We have forces in Vietnam to support our ally, the United States of America, to prevent domination and the overrunning of a small country and the loss of its independence. We have forces there also, despite what the Opposition says, to stop the onward march of Communism. It is real, and not imaginary as we were told this afternoon. If allowed to continue, it will overrun and dominate us all. It has become increasingly obvious to most thinking Australians that a United States base at Manus Island would be a powerful factor in our defence today. However, just after World War II when the Australian Labour Party was in office, it would not allow the United States to continue its base at Manus Island. I understand that now there is just a heap of rotting iron there. A few years ago the Opposition provided a spectacle by doing all it could to prevent the establishment of the North West Cape communications centre by the United States Navy.
After considering defence, we must look to the balanced development of all of Australia. It is possible to obtain most things necessary for our development. It is possible in certain circumstances to get money, technical knowhow, equipment, materials and all the other things necessary, but the essential in shortest supply in this country is people. People are our most precious possession. Therefore every encouragement must be given by the Government to continue the immigration policy and to do all we can to encourage suitable people to migrate here.
The Government is to be commended for assisting the development of secondary industry and for encouraging secondary industry to seek export markets by means of the Export Payments Insurance Corporation and by means of double deduction allowances for expenditure incurred in obtaining overseas markets. Australia’s great expansion of secondary industry since World War II has been a remarkable phase of our development. This expansion, together with the great strides forward taken by mining recently, have made the decades of the 1950’s and 1960’s one of the most remarkable periods in our history. Australia has become a great trading nation and we have expanded rapidly. For almost two decades Australia has had a LiberalCountry Party Government.
Unfortunately, New South Wales and Queensland have been hard hit by drought over the last two years. It would be impossible to say what is the cost to the nation but many individuals will know what it has cost them. In the Budget, the Treasurer has made available $35 million for drought relief in New South Wales and Queensland. Our stock numbers are down. I understand that sheep numbers are down by over 12 million and cattle numbers by over 1 million. The last wheat crop in New South Wales and Queensland was very light. Unfortunately the drought has affected many different parts of our economy. The development of country towns has been set back and this has been reflected in some city industries. Some relief rain has fallen but not, I believe, general drought breaking rain in the big drought areas. The drought could not be considered to be broken in many parts of New South Wales and Queensland, but some relief has been gained. We will not recover’ overnight or in one year from the drought. It will take a considerable time to replace the stock numbers. It will not be easy. It is all very well to say that we can lend money to primary producers to restock, but livestock are simply not available in eastern Australia. Many people are deeply in debt. It will take them years to clear the debts which have been accumulated in trying to save stock. In some cases, in addition to accumulating debt people have lost their stock.
We must give every encouragement in the future to primary producers to help them to alleviate the effects of constantly recurring droughts and to make mitigation of drought effects more of a practical possibility. Many of our primary producers who have seen the effects of drought in the past have done much towards improving conditions so that they can tide themselves over recurring drought spells. However, droughts such as the present one in New South Wales and Queensland are too severe for ordinary precautions to meet. We must do as much as we can to overcome the effects of severe droughts, as well as the effects of droughts that occur more often but are of less severity.
I suggest that the Government should examine the possibility of lower freight charges on fodder all the year round. This would encourage more storage on farms. It would enable stabilisation of the fodder growing districts. I consider that it could be done comparatively easily by our railway systems at their convenience, because there are many occasions when we have empty wagons of various kinds going to these areas. There should be more encouragement, possibly through taxation concessions, to store fodder, to build sheds for storage, to improve pastures and to increase the water supply. Research into the possibility of storing fodder has given rise to one point. Some people have large stocks of fodder on hand when they die and their estate has to pay a large sum in death duties on the current value of that stored fodder despite the fact that it was stored as an insurance against drought, and nothing else. That is a point which could well be considered.
The Commonwealth has helped the two States concerned with drought relief loans. One allocation has already been made of what is called carry-on money and another allocation will be made, when the Commonwealth is in a position to do so, to help with restocking if stock is available.
– Does the honorable senator know of any farmer who has been helped?
– I could name dozens in Queensland. The scheme is working extremely well in my State, but I cannot speak for any other areas. Although these loans have been of assistance, in certain areas a lot more help will need to be provided. The Government should look at that angle.
I should like to refer to a new concept of rural finance, which was introduced during the last sessional period, known as the farm developmental loan fund. This is a new concept in our banking system, because a term loan is made. Apparently the Australian banking system generally is leaning more towards term loans. The banks now do not like so much the daily balance to which we have been accustomed since our earliest days, because considerable sums have to be kept available to cover unused overdraft balances. The loans are to be, as stated, for a term and for a specific purpose of primary production, namely, to help develop farm and station properties, to help lessen the effects of drought and - this is a very important departure - to help young men who have the experience and are otherwise suitable, but do not have sufficient finance to purchase a farm or a property. The banks have been asked, and have agreed, to relax normal security standards in the latter case. This scheme has only just been put into operation, with an available fund of $50 million. If it develops as we hope it will, that sum will be completely insufficient and more will have to be provided. This new concept of rural finance could make a great difference to our development.
Other provisions in the Budget concern primary industry. There is the enlargement of the averaging scheme for taxation purposes, the permissible income for purposes of this scheme being increased from $8,000 to $16,000. There is the provision to enable primary producers to carry forward losses for more than the present permissible seven years, and 1 here is the provision by which a taxpayer who has two wool clips in the one year because of drought can elect to spread the amount received for the wool over two taxation years.
I should like to mention a scheme which was recently introduced by the Queensland Government to lend money to dairy farmers to help them improve their pastures. This is a new concept in assistance to a primary industry and it will be very interesting to see how it works out in practice. If it works satisfactorily, as is hoped, it could mean a very big step forward in that industry’s economy.
In his Budget speech the Treasurer said -
Given good fortune with the weather over the next few months it is expected that total farm output will rise - though by how much is, of course, uncertain at this stage.
There should be a large increase in the output of minerals and metals, especially as large new projects in iron ore, alumina and so on come into production.
Over the past few years expansion in our coal and mineral output has been great. Iron ore, bauxite, manganese, silver, lead, copper and coal, mostly for export, have become big business. Fortunately, much of this expansion is in the northern part of Australia. I should like to mention Weipa, which I visited recently. A new wharf is under construction there, with the aid of Commonwealth funds, and a completely new town with all modern amenities is being built. The plant at Gladstone is not yet finished but the alumina company concerned has announced that it now has plans for doubling the size of the plant and output before the first phase is completed. But let me come back to Weipa. As is well known, the bauxite ore is in only a very small seam. There is perhaps only seven or eight feet of topsoil. I asked the manager what was proposed after this very large area had been mined. I asked: “Will you let it go back to nature?” He replied: “ No, we are restoring the area and planting large hardwood forests “. This plan could make a future for that district.
– What is the rainfall?
– I will have to check it but I think it is about 35 inches.
– That is sufficient for hardwood.
– Yes. Weipa is a developing town but it has practically no road communications. Odd vehicles can get through in the dry weather with a lot of trouble. This is something that we as a nation cannot allow to continue indefinitely. It is most unsatisfactory that this area and the area to the north with about 10,000 people have no road communication with the rest of Australia, but I am pleased to see in the beef roads agreement which is now before the Parliament that the road between Mareeba and Laura, 160 miles, has been included as a beef road. At least this is a start in constructing a road up the Cape York Peninsula.
– A road 160 miles long will not be constructed. Funds are being allocated only for bridges.
– Yes. Now let me refer to Mount Isa. The town, the mine and the whole complex there are expanding rapidly. The company has spent a very large sum of money on a big new shaft. Called K57, it is one of the biggest and most elaborate in Australia. I understand it is to be opened by the Premier of Queensland next month. This will increase Mount Isa’s output of ore seven or eight fold and will make a very big contribution to the development of that mine. I had the good fortune to be underground at Mount Isa about three months ago and travelled up and down this shaft. In addition to hauling ore, it allows the haulage of 220 men at a time to and from the lower levels. It is designed to take up and down as required all of the machinery and heavy equipment. 1 have also been told that good prospects exist in the McArthur River area just across the border in the Northern Territory, in which Mount Isa Mines Ltd. is interested. This area, with its associated port works on the Gulf of Carpentaria could provide an even bigger project than the existing Mount Isa mine.
I turn now to coal production in Queensland. The railway from Gladstone to Moura is now well under way. When coal starts to move along the shorter route from Moura to Gladstone, Blackwater will come into production to use the existing line, and coal from this mine also will be exported through Gladstone. Coal production and exports in Queensland are now far greater than they were ever before. It is interesting also to see the development of iron ore exports from Western Australia. They are actually under way now and are being stepped up.
Northern Australia is benefiting considerably from these various projects. One of the biggest benefits that have been given recently as a result of action by this Government is the $20 million new Army base in Townsville. A big Army establishment in the northern part of this country will help in decentralisation, in the development of the area and in many other ways. With the o;her developments in the Townsville area, a larger number of people will be concentrated in the region, to the benefit of the whole of Australia.
I should like to mention development taking place in the pastoral areas of the Cape York Peninsula, where several American syndicates have acquired some land. The land has not been given to them. It is not theirs forever. They have taken out leases for 30 years, knowing that they will lose the land at the end of that period. Still, they have been prepared to come and develop it, as we Australians have not yet been prepared to do. They tell us that they are prepared to invest their money there and become Australian citizens, not expecting to take any profits out of this country. It is interesting to see what is going on. From the air one can see miles and miles of fencing. Water improvements have also been installed and the country has been fertilised. A road will become vitally necessary for the transport of cattle as this development proceeds. This development offers great promise for that part of Australia.
The Budget provides for continuation of the subsidy on superphosphate. Probably largely as a result of this subsidy, sales of superphosphate have increased by 50 per cent, in the past three years. The subsidy will cost $28 million this year. The proposed new subsidy on nitrogenous fertilisers is something for which we in Queensland have been pressing for a long while. The soils of Queensland, as well as some other parts of Australia, are deficient in nitrogen. This subsidy will go a long way towards enabling the improvement of pastures in areas that were not previously economic. It will also have a big impact on the sugar industry, which uses large quantities of nitrogenous fertiliser in the form of aqua ammonia. But even with these fertilisers and subsidies, much more research by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation is still needed to make the best use of the facilities that we have available.
I should like to refer also to the reduction of sales tax on household air conditioners and fans from 12± per cent, to 2i per cent. Some members of the Opposition have criticised this reduction, saying that it does not go far enough, but this is a big concession to people in tropical areas where these appliances are so essential. It will do no more than bring the sales tax on these articles into line with the sales tax on radiators and other heaters used by people in temperate areas. I commend the Government for this reduction. It will be a big step forward in development by making conditions more livable in tropical areas.
Another matter I should like to mention is sales tax on freight, which affects north Queensland probably more than any other part of Australia. The Government has not yet seen fit to do anything about this. I for one, along with others here, will continue to press this matter. It seems very unjust that people who have to pay freight on the carriage of an article over a distance of 1,000 miles then have to pay sales tax on the freight component in the cost of that article. As I indicated in a question, I should like to see the report of the Loder Committee on freight rates in the north. Freight affects the economic position there to a large extent by making everything much more expensive. I believe that sooner or later we shall have to look at some form of equalisation of costs of transport to far away areas, whether by subsidy or otherwise, to put all people on an equal footing in the various parts of the Commonwealth. The partial equalisation of petrol costs is proving a tremendous boon in areas where the local price was more than 4d. a gallon above the price at seaboard. This is a start towards the equalisation of transport costs. We should not let it stop there but should carry it further.
I should like to refer now to development in the Torres Strait area, where pearling has gone ahead tremendously. There are now seven pearling stations employing quite a number of Australians. Oil prospecting in the area is going ahead with the use of a cable dragged behind a boat to get echoes from the sea bed. We hope that these efforts will meet with success. Development in the Weipa and Thursday Island areas has proceeded to such an extent that the airline concerned has had to increase its services by 50 per cent. That ShOWS the development that taken place. One aspect of conditions on Thursday Island concerns me a lot. Until recently only primary education has been available to the people of Thursday Island, but the Queensland Government has now provided a high school there, making secondary education available in the area. However, if we provide the Torres Strait Islanders and the various people on Thursday Island wilh secondary education to matriculation level, and do not also provide them with something to go on to - some form of employment, whether in that area or elsewhere - this will not be in the best interests of those people or of the whole of Australia. One might wonder what industries could be established there, but I think this matter must be given serious consideration. Employment must be available for these people after they have matriculated.
I would like to mention one thing that has struck me with regard to the Gulf of Carpentaria area, and that is fisheries. We have no canneries of any kind in north Queensland or elsewhere in the north of Australia, but from inquiries that I have made I believe that tuna fish, very suitable for canning, are to be found in those waters in very large quantities. The Japanese are fishing very close to our shores and are taking away for canning the fish that we, as Australians, should be catching and canning to develop this industry.
I would like also to mention the brigalow lands scheme in Queensland. The No. 3 scheme is just getting under way, and the No. 1 and No. 2 schemes are in an advanced stage of development. When we have good rains, a definite boost to the economy of the State and of the areas where this money has been spent should soon be apparent. Beef roads in our State have definitely helped the economy. They have helped very much in the movement of stock. I am pleased to see that, in the agreement which is now before the Parliament, more money has been allocated for beef roads.
I would like next to mention tourism, as it affects Queensland. I do not think enough notice is taken of the value to our country of tourism, especially overseas tourism, and of what could be earned in overseas exchange by giving encouragement to tourists. I have been told that the income of our Gold Coast area from tourists, both internal and external, is $70 million per year. We should not lose sight of the fact that tourism is a money spinner for us in respect of overseas earnings. We should encourage it in every way we can. As well as the Gold Coast, we have two other big tourist centres in Queensland, the MackayWhitsunday area and the Cairns area, which attract a lot of tourists.
Let me mention a couple of other matters that concern Queensland very much. One of them is television. We are in the last phase of television development, but Mackay still has not got a television station, although we are told that one will be in operation there towards the end of next year. A temporary television station has been erected at Cairns, because of the difficulty of building a road to the site of the permanent station. I hope this temporary station will not become a permanent temporary station, as has sometimes happened with other projects in the past. I think we should keep before the Postmaster-General (Mr. Hulme) the fact that the permanent station in Cairns should be gone ahead with as soon as possible. We have in our inland centres such as Mount Isa, Charleville and Longreach, which do not look like getting television in the foreseeable future, but every effort should be made, using new technical developments and new knowledge, to provide this essential service for the 10 per cent, of the Australian people who are now denied it.
I would like to mention another matter concerning the Postmaster-General’s Department. I refer to continuous telephone services in the rural areas. I know it is the policy of the Department to provide everybody with continuous telephone services. I know that there are formidable difficulties in the way of this, and that big developments have been made in fast developing areas to keep abreast of the need for telephone services there. I agree, from what I can see, that our Post Office provides one of the best telephone services in the world, but it is a fact that approximately two-thirds of the telephone exchanges in Queensland still operate for restricted hours. I believe this is not good enough in a country where so much of the business is done by telephone. The people who need the telephone most cannot get service in the weekends. Every effort should be made to provide a continuous service in every telephone exchange in Australia.
– That is a criticism of the Government, is it not?
– I have said that the Postmaster-General’s Department has done a great job, but we should step up this facet of its work.
I want to refer now to a development in our shipping industry which is going to affect the whole of Australia and which could affect Queensland particularly. I refer to containerisation. Somebody suggested that some of the meat ports in Queensland would be eliminated and that refrigerated ships would not call at those ports under the container system. But we now have the assurance that this is not the case and that they will still call at those ports for cargoes. Probably fewer ships will call, but they will take bigger cargoes. This will be all to the good if it means that freight rates can be held down.
– Does this mean that Cairns will close down?
– It does not mean that.
– Or Gladstone?
– We have been assured it will not have that effect. But if we are to get the lowest freight rates on goods coming into and going out of the country in the future it will be necessary to have container units of approximately 20 tons, and this will be difficult. It will probably take a lot of organisation to have 20-ton units moving from factories to particular areas, but if the system speeds development, benefits our shipping services and holds costs this will not be an insuperable obstacle.
I again commend the Budget. It makes provision for all sections of the community and it will keep our economy on an even keel. Tt will provide for our defence, for development and for expansion. I support the Budget wholeheartedly and reject the amendment.
– I support the amendment. I think it is only fitting that I should reply to some of the submissions made by Senator Lawrie. On the question of Manus Island, let me say, without going too far into the past, that it is well known that at the time when negotiations with the United States of America were going on in regard to that matter we were confronted with the situation that the cost of operating the base there would have been too great. In the immediate postwar period in Australia there was a tendency for people to relax from the sacrifices of war. It was quite obvious that the cost to Australia of maintaining the Manus Island base would be such that the people would not accept it. But there are other aspects of it. As a matter of fact, at the time when negotiations were taking place, quite a number of Formosan interests had been buying up certain material. So that while nominally it appeared on the surface to be a reasonable base, the fact is that Australia would virtually have had to re-equip it in the light of postwar armaments developments.
I think that we can go a little further. General Montgomery, probably one of the leading World War II generals, had consultations with the Chifley Government. I think that even at that stage reference was made to the concept of push button warfare. Obviously, in these days of guided missiles and other attendant equipment, it might be argued that the concept of island bases is somewhat outmoded. It is conceded that even the base at Singapore might not have entirely the same role today as it had in years gone by, and as a result, I think it will be found that some myths have been created in regard to Australian postwar security.
I think that my role is to reply to a number of counter attacks that have been made by Government speakers against our amendment. I was absent from the chamber when Senator Gair referred to the 1957 Australian Labour Party Federal Conference. I do not intend to regale the Senate with a lengthy discourse on the operations of the Labour Party, any more than I imagine that members of the Government parties would do so in regard to their party meetings. They have their own Federal conference discussions which are given a minimum of publicity. In deference to my former deputy chief, Bill Colbourne, I should say something on this matter. Senator Gair, in a rather cavalier fashion, referred to Mr. Colbourne. In any party people endeavour by persuasion to have certain views accepted. I think that Mr. Colbourne did what other members of big political parties do. As the honorable senator knows, one may be defeated today on an issue, advance a cause tomorrow and win adherents to it
I would like to make a point on the question of the independent and State school systems. As the economic position worsened in the last four or five years, the fact is that, whether the aid was to be given to the pupils or to the schools, a vast amount of the expenditure certainly would have gone back to the schools, and I think that Senator Gair knows that only too well. The most effective answer that I can give in this regard is to refer to the introduction of increased scholarship allowances by the State Labour Government in New South Wales. Obviously, while the Federal Government made capital grants for science blocks and things of that nature, the question was how to supplement the weekly income from school fees. If Senator Gair had studied some of the utterances at speech day ceremonies he would have found that well deserved tributes were paid to the State Government in this respect.
The important point is the question of need. Decisions have to be made by any political party, whether it be the Labour Party, the Liberal Party or any other party. There is no question that in the next four or five years a high degree of statesmanship will be required to disburse funds on an equitable basis. I say without apology that my conception has always been that the distribution should be made on a needs basis. Independent schools in industrial areas have an unanswerable case. I do not think it was ever considered that there should be a right to have parallel education systems at all times and in all circumstances. Some schools, such as those at Pott’s Point in New South Wales and Toorak in Victoria, receive very large bequests from old boys and girls. By all means, let private schools in those areas continue to exist, but I do not think they should compete in the queue with independent schools in the much more difficult areas where low income groups live.
We have been told about the high number of recruits who have been rejected by the Army. It is more than 12 months since this Government, through the Minister for Health, spoke about publishing a booklet on physical fitness. We find that some tobacco companies have published health booklets, probably because their consciences have pricked them regarding cancer. For 12 months nothing has been done by the Government in relation to publishing a booklet on physical fitness. We find also that nothing has been done to reduce sales tax on sporting equipment. I know that in the larger cities a great deal is said about the big sporting clubs and the assistance which they give to particular sports, but I think that we should all be concerned about teenage clubs, lt might be a cricket team in a small country town or a girls vigoro team.
I think one would find, on a close study of the matter, that sales tax on sporting goods increased considerably between 1951 and 1959. It has never returned to the 1953 rate. We have not adopted large programmes in relation to health and physical fitness. Recently in the United States, senators were going on 50 mile hikes and the President was mentioning how many push ups he did every morning. I am not being facetious. We speak about leadership and the need for physical fitness, but I believe that the Government is culpable for its failure to reduce sales tax on sporting goods.
At the same time, the Government has failed to give any reason why the physical fitness booklet, which was supposed to have been in stock 18 months ago, has not been produced. If the Government wants to set an example and create a physical fitness cult, one of the ways in which this can be done is to reduce sales tax on sporting goods. In a gigantic Budget such as ours, I cannot see why the Government cannot provide for the cost of publishing a physical fitness booklet. If the booklets were handed out gratis, they would have a tremendous effect on the community.
Senator Lawrie referred to the question of overseas investment in Australia. He spoke of the overseas interests that come to this country to carry out developmental work. He said that there are areas in Australia that require development and that these people are prepared to carry out the development. There are two aspects to be examined here. There is a fundamental criticism that can be advanced against the post-war economic life of this country. In the capital cities a great deal of money has been wasted on buildings such as the Chevron Hotel in Sydney, when there was no need for the construction of such building. I believe that finance should have been directed to other avenues and that better priorities should have been established.
I think that Country Party senators will agree with me when I say that a lot of the talk about whether particular areas of Sydney and Melbourne are the best means nothing at all. lt is obvious that the Government has to adopt a firmer policy regarding the direction of credit. Today we are in an age of the public relations operators. We hear slick slogans about what breakfast food we should eat and what brand of cigarettes we should smoke. But millions of dollars are being channelled through these public relations agencies. I suppose some people would say it was the thin edge of Marxism if we were to argue that the Commonwealth Treasurer should defeat that development In this big continent of ours it is time that we woke up to the situation. There ought to be a deliberate curbing of these manifestations in relation to credit. I ask for leave to continue my remarks at a later date.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Senate adjourned at 4.45 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 25 August 1966, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1966/19660825_senate_25_s32/>.