25th Parliament · 1st Session
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Drake-Brockman) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– Will the Leader of the Government in the Senate assure the Senate that the proposed revised version of the Lord’s Prayer will not replace the traditional form now in use until the Senate had had a chance to discuss the proposal?
– I suggest that the question be put on the notice paper. I do not know what the procedures of the Senate arc in this respect.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral. I refer to the 34th annual report of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, in which reference is made to the fact that 94 per cent, of the Australian community now have television available in a primary service area. Would the remaining 6 per cent, of the Australian community largely live in the Eyre Peninsula and Upper Murray areas of South Australia, which have either no ability or very little ability to enjoy television? What plans has the Australian Broadcasting Commission to make television available in these areas of South Australia?
– It is my understanding that the Eyre Peninsula is one of the areas where television has not yet been introduced. The honorable senator referred to the annual report of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. My understanding is that the decision in relation to areas in which television services are to be brought into operation is the responsibility of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. It is also my understanding that the Board is currently examining the areas that still remain outside the coverage of the network of television stations. The fact that such a tremendous percentage of the population - 94 per cent. - are enjoying the benefit of this great medium shows a wonderful perform ance, having regard to the size of Australia and the problems inherent in that situation. I am sure that the areas in which stations have not yet been brought into operation are currently being examined by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board, which will make a report to the PostmasterGeneral, who in turn will make a statement on the matter.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Territories. Does the Commonwealth Government mail to each member of the Papua and New Guinea House of Assembly any government publications, such as “Current Notes” published by the Department of External Affairs? If not, will the Government consider mailing to each member of the Papua and New Guinea House of Assembly copies of appropriate publications, so as to counter the biassed and Communist viewpoint presented in “ Tribune “ and other Communist publications which they receive?
– I do not know whether the Government has in fact mailed to members of the House of Assembly the publications to which the honorable senator has referred, but I will find out for him and see that his suggestion is brought to the notice of the Minister for Territories.
– I address a question to the Minister for Housing. Has the Minister’s attention been drawn to a statement by the Tasmanian Minister for Housing that all housing societies must insure all properties with the Tasmanian Government Insurance Office, thus completely excluding all private enterprise companies from this business? As there is an implication in the statement that the Commonwealth Department of Housing approves of this socialistic and dictatorial policy, will the Minister indicate whether or not the matter comes solely within the jurisdiction of the State Labour Government in Tasmania, even though the money provided is entirely made up of loans from Commonwealth Government sources?
– I have seen the statements; in the Press concerning this matter. They have been drawn to my attention and I have been interested in this matter. It was only recently that it came to my notice that the Tasmanian Government does require all dwellings financed with loans made by Tasmanian building societies from Home Builders’ Account funds to be insured with the Government Insurance Office. As far as I can ascertain from my inquiries, the Tasmanian Government did not consult the Commonwealth before imposing this requirement some years ago. When this was brought to my notice I was most concerned about it, and the matter was taken up with the Tasmanian Government. The question is still unresolved, but it appears unlikely that the State Government will be persuaded to change its present attitude. The operations of building societies in the States are jealously controlled by the States in accordance with their own laws and practices.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Health: How many cases of brucellosis have occurred in humans in the last ten years? How many of these cases could be definitely attributed to imported cheese?
– I have taken this matter up with the Minister for Health and he has given me some information about it. He informs me that during the ten years up to 31st December 1965 a total of 541 cases of brucellosis in humans was reported in Australia. The provisions for the notification of diseases do not require that the source of this disease be notified. Because of this, it is not known how many cases of brucellosis were attributable to imported cheese. The number of cases reported in each of the last ten years was: 1956, 37; 1957, 51; 1958, 46; 1959, 33; 1960, 33; 1961, 43; 1962, 74; 1963, 69; 1964, 73; 1965, 82.
– My question is directed to the Minister in charge of war service homes. In view of the assistance received by ex-servicemen under the War
Service Homes Act, and of the downward trend of applications . 20 years after World War II, would the Minister examine and extend this Act to include ex-service women who enlisted to serve their country in any theatre of war where they might have been required? I remind the Minister of the great financial benefit that accrues to the nation from the interest payments made by beneficiaries to the Commonwealth under the Act, and I point out that to include exservice women would mean a continuation of this financial benefit.
– The honorable senator has asked whether consideration will be given to extending this benefit to include ex-service women who are not now eligible under the Act. As honorable senators know, this is a matter of Government policy which has been considered from time to time. Such matters cannot be dealt with in answer to questions without notice.
– I have further questions for the Minister representing the Postmaster-General and I refer again to the 34th annual report of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. Reference is made in the report to the fact that further plans for television translator stations which will service restricted isolated areas are now in the state of development and that already translator stations have been opened at Queenstown and Rosebery in Tasmania. My questions are: Have the Queenstown and Rosebery stations been entirely successful? Can the Minister state whether plans have been formulated to develop translator television stations in any areas of South Australia? If so, in what areas? When will they be developed? If no areas have been developed in South Australia, will the Minister ascertain for me why they have not been developed?
– I believe that the answer I gave to the honorable senator’s first question is tied up with the second series of questions he has asked me in that, as I understand the position, the current consideration of these matters by the Australian Broadcasting Control
Board encompasses translator stations as well as normal procedures. The honorable senator also asked me some general technical questions as to the efficacy of the translator stations. As these are technical matters, I ask him to put that portion of his question on notice and I shall obtain an answer for him from the Postmaster-General.
– I direct a question to the Minister in Charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education and Research. Has the South Australian Government notified the Minister that it will be essential next year to cut the projected rate of expansion of tertiary education because of a shortage of money and the inability of the State Government to match Commonwealth grants? Will the Minister consider an emergency additional grant to South Australia to prevent any curtailment of tertiary education?
– I hope to present to the Senate next Wednesday the report of the Australian Universities Commission and the decisions of the Government on that report, these decisions having been made in consultation with the various State Governments. I can only add that no State can he singled out for some particular kind of treatment in this field.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Treasurer. Is the Minister aware that the prospective incidence of probate duty, both State and Federal, tends to discourage investment of liquid funds held by senior citizens? Being aware of the urgent need to encourage investment in developmental works in Australia, will the Minister request the Government to consider establishing an investment fund to which citizens may contribute, the funds being available on loan for selected private developmental work at a low rate of interest? The encouragement for some such investment would be that it would attract no Federal probate duty.
– This is very much a matter of policy. I have always understood that State probate duty is the one which really seriously inconveniences senior citizens. Secondly, I suggest that there is no better investment than the Commonwealth loans that are available to citizens two or three times a year and which carry a reasonable rate of interest fully protected by Commonwealth Government guarantee. If the honorable senator wishes to put the question on the notice paper, I certainly will convey it to the Treasurer and get him-
– I referred to probate duty.
– Yes. As I said, the honorable senator has introduced a matter of policy and I have no intention of giving a reply to it in answer to a question without notice.
– Has the Acting Minister for Civil Aviation seen reports that an American travel writer, Robert S. Kane, has said that Australia’s internal airlines are vile and that the food served on board Ansett-A.N.A. and Trans-Australia Airlines aircraft is appalling? Can the Minister tell me how Australia’s internal airlines compare with internal airlines in other countries as far as food standards are concerned?
– I have not read the article to which the honorable senator refers. The writer is entitled to his own opinion. I do not know what standard he enjoys in his normal life. Quite frankly, having travelled fairly extensively overseas, I think that our domestic airlines compare very favorably in respect of the matters to which the writer has referred with any other internal airlines on which I have been a passenger.
– I desire to ask the Minister for Customs and Excise a question. Will the Department of Customs and Excise permit counsel briefed by any interested person or organisation feeling aggrieved to view any prohibited film or read any prohibited book for the purpose of advising whether the prohibition order of the Department could or should not be contested before a court?
– In view of the fact that this question has some legal implications, I ask the honorable senator to place it on the notice paper. As I understand the question, Senator Cavanagh asks whether or not counsel acting for a person who is before a court in connection with the importation of a prohibited book should be allowed to examine that book.
– I referred to a person who might intend to go to court.
– If that is so, the answer is clearly: “ No “. The position regarding legal proceedings is quite clear. If a case in relation to prohibition proceedings is before a court, counsel will have the prohibited document in their possession. It would be a nice exercise indeed if everyone said: “ I think I will go to court; therefore I should like to read certain prohibited material.” That situation would be completely unreal. There are provisions in the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations regarding this matter. Honorable senators will recall that I presented several days ago an annual report in which various accredited persons and organisations that receive under Regulation 4a copies of books and publications which are otherwise prohibited, were set out.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Is it not a fact that the gathering of a greatly enlarged work force on the west coast of Tasmania to meet the need to work valuable, newly discovered mineral resources and to provide increased hydro-electric power has been assisted because the Australian Broadcasting Commission and commercial television stations have provided modern television translator stations to service efficiently the entire west coast with this modern amenity?
– As the honorable senator says, there has been an accumulation of additional workers on the west coast of Tasmania - one of the great mineral belts of Australia - because of discoveries that have taken place in that area. I believe that both the Australian Broadcasting Commission and commercial interests are to be congratulated on what they have done to provide television services for the increasing population of that area. I have not heard any report other than that the services are working very satisfactorily in that area.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Health, is supplementary to the question asked by Senator Turnbull concerning the incidence of brucellosis in humans. Has the Minister a breakup by States of the figures on the incidence of brucellosis? If not, would it be possible for us to be given such a breakup?
– I personally have not such a breakup; but I will be very pleased to put this request to my colleague, the Minister for Health, and to see whether I can obtain the figures for the honorable senator.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport. What progress has been made in talks between the Commonwealth and the States on the future of the Silverton Tramway Company and the adoption of an alternative route for this portion of the standard gauge railway track?
– My understanding is that discussions on these matters are currently being held and that the Minister for Shipping and Transport hopes to be in a position to make a statement on them very shortly.
– Can the Acting Minister for Civil Aviation inform the Senate of the position in regard to charter passenger flights to the United Kingdom and the United States of America? Who is responsible for Australians being denied this cheap means of air travel?
– For some considerable time there has been a Government policy on international charter flights. Under that policy, groups wishing to travel overseas to such countries as the United Kingdom and the United States of America on charter flights are not denied the opportunity to travel at reduced fares, provided that the applicants for charter flights meet the basic requirements in respect of the fare to be charged on a per capita basis, which may under Government policy be reduced to as low as 70 per cent, of the approved economy class fare charged on the regular airline services for the journey concerned. The chartering group is required to meet the International Air Transport Association rules governing such flights, and as a normal rule the charter is performed by one of the airlines providing regular air services between the country in which the charter is to originate and Australia.
– 1 ask the Minister representing the Minister for Health the following question: In a statement on poliomyelitis vaccine that was read in the Senate on behalf of the Minister for Health it was stated -
The Committee . . . also recommended that a full course of three doses of Sabin vaccine should be given whether or not a person had hud a full or partial course of Salk vaccine.
Will the Minister inform the Senate why this is necessary in respect of those people who have had a full course of Salk vaccine?
Sen.tor Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN. - The Minister for Health has given me some information concerning this matter. I think that it will answer the question which the honorable senator has raised. Salk vaccine is a killed vaccine which is given by injection. It contains the three types of poliovirus - Types I, U and III. It gives immunity to the recipient systemically but probably does not confer bowel immunity and therefore probably does not prevent spread of poliomyelitis via the gastrointestinal tract. Four injections are recommended. lt is not known with any certainty for how long immunity is retained after Salk vaccine. It is thought that at least five years immunity is retained. Salk vaccine does not confer full immunity as cases of poliomyelitis and even paralytic poliomyelitis have occurred following a full course of Salk vaccine.
On the other hand, Sabin vaccine consists of a live attenuated virus which combines the three types of poliomyelitis virus present in the Salk vaccine, lt is given by mouth and is not injected. For successful immunisation a take of all three types in the gastro-intestinal tract is necessary. Theoretically speaking, one dose should give satisfactory immunity. However, there is a danger that one type may outgrow the other two. Therefore, to ensure that there is to be a take of all three types, the Epidemiology Committee has recommended that three doses at intervals of eight weeks should be given, whether or not the recipient has or has not had partial or full immunisation with Salk vaccine. Even although antibodies may exist in the body as a result of previous Salk vaccination, the Epidemiology Committee considers that it is necessary that each recipient of Sabin vaccine be given a full course as otherwise the immunity which is conferred by the Sabin vaccine may be deficient in one type. Sabin vaccine acts in a different manner from Salk vaccine. Its efficacy depends initially on a satisfactory take in the gastro-intestinal tract which is then followed fairly quickly by systemic immunity. It is known that the Tasmanian public health authorities prefer to give two rather than three doses of Sabin vaccine, whether vaccinees have or have not had previous Salk cover.
– 1 ask a question of the Acting Minister for Civil Aviation. Have any recent applications been received from European or Asian airlines for approval to extend their services to Australia?
– If any applications have been received, I am not aware of the details of them. I suggest that the honorable senator place the question on the notice paper. If he does not wish to do that, I shall see whether I can get an answer and, if I can, I will send it to him direct.
– I would like to ask a question of the Leader of the Government in the Senate. In view of the secrecy surrounding the date on which the Prime Minister will give the Government’s policy speech for the forthcoming election, is there any truth in the suggestion that the Melbourne Stadium has been booked so that Government supporters may have an all in donnybrook and a better go at one another than they have in their party room?
– I should have thought that this was one question that would never have come from the Opposition. Having noted over the last few months the performances by members of the Opposition in and out of the Opposition party room, I should have thought that this was the last thing to which the honorable senator would have referred.
– I direct a ques tion to the Minister representing the Minister for the Army. Has the Minister taken up with the Minister for the Army his delay in answering my question No. 828 on the notice paper? If he has, what is the answer of the Minister for the Army? Is the Minister aware that a father and his son have now been waiting six months for a reply to this question, which affects them vitally even if it does not affect the Minister?
– If the honorable senator had been here yesterday at question time he would have heard me refer to questions that are still unanswered.
– The Minister is not in the House all the time, either.
– Does the honorable senator want an answer or not?
– Well, he should keep quiet. The position, as the honorable senator well knows, because it has been explained to him on several occasions is this: When a question is asked in this place of a Minister representing a Minister in another place, if an answer is not available, the question is referred to the appropriate Minister for a reply. Until a reply is received, of course, it cannot be given in the Senate. My policy is this: When I do not receive answers to questions directed to Ministers in another place, I remind the Ministers that answers are outstanding. This is always done, and in the case of the honorable senator’s question, I still have not received an answer.
(Question No. 956.)
asked the Minis ter for Supply, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows -
The Organisation is responsible to account both for the revenue received from the contributions of member States other than Australia, and for the expenditure of these funds in each of the member States. Expenditures have been incurred in establishing necessary capital facities in all member States as well as in developing the various stages of the rocket and the test satellite, and the hunching of the rocket at Woomera. The launchings from Woomera cause expenditures not only by my Department but also by each of the member Slates whose representatives take part in work at Woomera associated with assembling the rockets, testing of equipment, and finally launching the rocket. The cost of the rocket is therefore comprised of expenditures incurred by each of the member Slates and recovered from ELDO as part of their overall capital and developmental activities in the programme.
The Organisation has not attempted to publish information in terms of either cost per rocket or cost per launching. From the brief account 1 have given of the financial arrangements followed by the Organisation, it will be appreciated that in order to establish information of this nature, it would be necessary to undertake a detailed costing analysis of the relevant expenditures of all member Stales. This, the Organisation has not seen fit to do and therefore the information is not available to me.
The action taken by the flight safety officer ensured that the rocket came to earth within the predetermined safety boundaries. Even so, the vast majority of the technical objectives of the launching were fully achieved.
– Yesterday Senator Bishop asked whether discussions had been held with importers or representatives of the textile industry on the question of children’s clothing made from highly inflammable materials. In reply to Senator Bishop’s question 1 would advise that this matter is under examination in connection with a question on notice in another place. The Commonwealth has no legislation to restrict the importation of inflammable clothing and textiles and I understand that the States have no legislation either. However, because of recent publicity, some States are considering introducing appropriate legislation. An import control at this stage would not be effective whilst similar goods may be manufactured locally and sold without restriction. However, if all States legislate to prevent manufacture and sale of inflammable textiles and clothing, the Commonwealth would be prepared to support the States’ action by introducing similar controls over imports.
– I present the report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works relating to the following proposed work: -
Extensions to Repatriation Hospital at Concord, New South Wales.
I ask for leave to make a short statement.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.- There being no objection, leave is granted.
– The recommendations and conclusions of the Committee are -
New Kitchen at Repatriation General Hospital, Heidelberg, Victoria.
Senator DITTMER (Queensland). - I present the Report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works relating to the following proposed work -
New Kitchen at Repatriation General Hospital at Heidelberg, Victoria.
I ask for leave to make a short statement.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.- There being no objection, leave is granted.
– The recommendations and observations of the Committee are -
Additional Facilities at Repatriation General Hospital, Springbank, South Australia.
Senator DITTMER (Queensland). - I present the report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works relating to the following proposed works -
Additional Facilities at Repatriation General Hospital at Springbank, South Australia.
I ask for leave to make a short statement.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - There being no objection, leave is granted.
– The recommendations and conclusions of the Committee are -
– by leave - Beginning on 1st July 1964 and extending over a period ending on 30th June 1968, the Australian Parliament has made provision to give$40m. to the States, as a grant requiring no matching funds from the States, in order to promote buildings and equipment for technical training.
The amounts available to each State, during the first three years of the period, are given in the table below.
Should a State not spend, in any year of the period, all the money available to it the Commonwealth, in order that technical training may receive the full benefit of the grant, is prepared for the amount underspent to be carried forward and to be available in the subsequent years of the period. I should like to emphasise the words “ of the period “. Of the $20m. available in the first two years of the scheme the States have received $16,229,700.
This statement has attached to it sheets showing, in the case of each State, the amounts available, the amounts sofar spent and the projects on which those amounts have been spent. This indicates that to September 1966, throughout Australia $19,686,218 will have been spent on 99 projects. With the concurrence of honorable senators I incorporate those particulars in “ Hansard “.
– by leave - The report of the Housing Loans Insurance Corporation shows that at 30th June 1966 the Corporation had insured, or had undertaken to insure, 809 housing loans to a value of $6.3 million. I am pleased to be able to announce that as at 13th September these figures had risen to 1,413 loans for an amount of $11.0 million. At the present time Housing Loans Insurance Corporation is insuring housing loans at a rate in excess of $25 million per year. With the concurrence of honorable senators I incorporate details of these most recent figures in table form.
Motion (by SenatorHenty) agreed to -
That Government business take precedenceof general business after 8 p.m. this sitting.
Motion (by Senator McKellar) - by leave - agreed to -
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act to amend the Repatriation Act 1920-1965.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Standing Orders suspended.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The main purpose of the Bill is to give effect to the Government’s Budget proposals in the repatriation field. As honorable senators know, this year the Government has again provided for greatly enlarged expenditures in the defence area, and has had to meet other substantial commitments over the very wide range of Commonwealth activity. As well, the Government has again reviewed the scope of the repatriation system, and has been able to propose some valuable assistance for repatriation pensioners and their dependants, particularly for the most seriously disabled and needy pensioners.
The Hill provides for an amendment to the Second Schedule to the Repatriation Act to give effect to an increase of S2 per week in the special or total and permanent in-
Capacity rate of pension, which in future will be $30.30 per week. For married pensioners there are additional payments for wives and children. This rate is payable to those whose war caused incapacity is such as to prevent them from earning more than a negligible percentage of a living wage, and to the war blinded, lt is also payable to ex-servicemen who are temporarily totally incapacitated and ..<o certain sufferers from tuberculosis. In addition, following the increase in the special, or total and permanent incapacity, rate of pension, the additional amounts payable to certain amputees under the first six items of the Fifth Schedule to the Repatriation Act are being increased by S2 a week to SI 8.50.
The intermediate rate war pension, which was introduced into the First Schedule to the Repatriation Act as a result of last year’s Budget and which is payable to those who, on account of war caused incapacity, are able to work only part-time or intermittently, will also be increased by $1 per week to $21.25. The pension known as the Class B rate for tuberculosis, which is paid under the Second Schedule to the Act to tuberculosis sufferers who are capable of only part-time or intermittent work, is also to be adjusted to provide an increase of SI to $21.25 per week. Under the Schedule the rate is fixed by the Repatriation Commission.
Following the increases 1 have mentioned in the rates of pensions, there will be corresponding increases in the rates of medical sustenance. Sustenance payments are made to ex-servicemen at appropriate rates in respect of in-patient and out-patient treatment and during investigation of pensions claims. The present Bill also provides for an amendment to the First Schedule to the Repatriation Act to give effect to an increase of $1 per week in the rate of pension for a war widow, the new rate being $14 per week. War widows with children, or who qualify because of age or ill health also receive a domestic allowance of $7 per week. The great majority of war widows qualify for this benefit, and the widow in these circumstances will now receive for herself $20 per week.
There will also be some advances in the service pension area. As honorable senators know, increases for “ member “ service pensioners parallel those for social service age or invalid pensions.
The first of these changes is that there will be an increase of $1 per week in the “ standard “ rate service pension payable to single ex-servicemen. This rate is also payable to the married service pensioner whose wife is receiving a wife’s service pension, and the maximum rate will now be $13. The maximum combined service pensions for husband and wife will now be $19 per week. In the case of a married service pensioner, whose wife is receiving a social service pension or tuberculosis allowance in her own right or is herself a “ member “ service pensioner, the combined increase in their means test pensions will be $1.50 per week. This will give them a combined maximum means test pension of $23.50 per week. No amendment to the Repatriation Act is necessary to give effect to these increases as that Act applies the rates payable under the social services legislation.
A further change is the insertion in the Repatriation Act of a provision in line with the provision being made to ease the income means test for social service pensioners with children. This will provide that, when assessing the rate of service pension a “ member “ service pensioner is eligible to receive under the means test provisions, a deduction of $3 per week will be made from the income of an ex-serviceman in respect of each dependent child. This easing of the means test in relation to income will represent a substantial . benefit to the family man who is either aged or seriously disabled, or both, and who still has the responsibility of providing for his dependent child or children.
An entirely new benefit which the Bill introduces for “ member “ service pensioners is the payment of up to 12 weeks arrears of service pension to a patient discharged after treatment in a mental hospital. Hitherto a “ member “ service pensioner, on admission to a mental hospital, has had his service pension continued but at a reduced rate known as the institutional rate. On discharge his service pension has been increased to its former rate, or such rate as was then applicable having regard to the means test provisions. For the future the service pensioner will receive on discharge a lump sum payment of the difference between his normal rate of service pension and the institutional rate. This will apply in respect of periods of up to 12 weeks and, of course, his normal continuing rate of payment will be resumed.
A change is also to be made in the payment of decoration allowances to war pensioners of the 1939-45 war and subsequent operations, who have received certain awards for gallantry during their service. Under the repatriation regulations, the Commonwealth is required to pay these allowances on the same basis and scale as apply to members of the United Kingdom forces. Decoration allowances, for which the Commonwealth is responsible will, in future, be payable at a uniform rate of SI per week, in Heu of several lesser rates at present in force. For most, this will mean an increased rate of allowance; for a very small number, who at present receive slightly more than Si per week, special provision will be made to ensure that existing payments continue. This proposal will be given, effect by amendment to the repatriation regulations.
The opportunity is being taken in this Bill to make a necessary minor amendment to the Repatriation Act resulting from a beneficial appeal provision introduced in 1963. That provision was made by introducing a new section, the present section 64 (1a), into the Act. To ensure uniformity in operative dates of appeals decisions, references to the new section should have been made in section 78. This is being done in the present Bill. It is a technical drafting amendment as to which further information can be supplied if required at the committee stage.
In accordance wilh usual practice the foregoing Budget proposals will, where applicable, be extended to those eligible by amendment to the Native Members of the Forces (Torres Strait Islands) Benefits Regulations. The amendments will come into force from the date on which the Act receives the royal assent. For the convenience of honorable senators, a table which summarises the Budget repatriation proposals has been prepared for those interested. This is attached to copies of this speech being circulated to honorable senators.
Again this year, these Budget repatriation measures confer valuable benefits on repatriation pensioners and I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Bishop) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Anderson) read a first time.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of the Bill now before the Senate is to extend the operation of the Phosphate Fertilisers Bounty Act 1963. The decision to extend this Act from 14th August 1966 to 31st October 1969 was recently announced by the Treasurer (Mr. McMahon) in his Budget speech. The opportunity has also been taken to change all references to money amounts in the existing Act to the equivalent values in decimal currency.
Because Australian soils generally are deficient in phosphorous, superphosphate has over the years been by far the most important inorganic fertiliser used by primary industry in this country. The bounty on inorganic phosphate fertilisers was introduced in August 1963 to stimulate the use of superphosphate and ammonium phos phate, which is also an efficient means of supplying phosphorus to the soil as a readily available plant nutrient. Since the introduction of the bounty the usage of phosphate fertilisers covered by the scheme has increased, in terms of the phosphorus content, by about 46 per cent. This is made up of an increase of 19 per cent. in 1963-64, with progressive additions of 15 per cent. in 1964-65 and 12 per cent. in 1965-66. It has long been recognised that chemical fertilisers containing phosphorus have a major role to play in the development and expansion of production in primary industries which earn substantial export income. The estimated expenditure on this bounty for the next twelve months is $28 million, which represents a very substantial contribution towards a reduction of costs of primary producers and an encouragement to expand production.
Prices of superphosphate have risen significantly in recent years but the price to consumers in Australia still compares favourably with prices overseas. F.o.b. prices for standard superphosphate in terms of Australian currency in the United Kingdom, New Zealand and the United States of America are $24.69, $25.48 and $20.59 per ton respectively. The Victorian and New South Wales prices on a comparable basis, net of bounty, are $19.45 and $20.10 per ton respectively. Price increases since the inception of the bounty scheme have been caused by rises in cost of imported raw materials, sulphur and rock phosphate, from which phosphate fertilisers are made, as well as some increase in manufacturing costs. The price of superphosphate is important in connection with this legislation since, for administrative purposes, the bounty will continue to be paid to manufacturers who are required in the terms of the existing Act to pass bounty on to purchasers of the fertiliser by means of a reduction in price.
The existing Act provides for a check of manufacturing company accounts and bounty applicants are co-operating with the Department of Customs and Excise to supply these accounts. However it must be pointed out that the historical accounting records only show retrospectively the results achieved and do not establish the reasonableness of price increases as they are made from time to time. To do this, the Department of Customs and Excise assesses the position in respect of each price increase by requiring reasons in support of each particular change from the companies concerned. The producers of phosphate fertilisers have co-operated by supplying details based on objective evidence of cost increases, in particular increases in Australian pool prices of sulphur, phosphate rock, packing materials such as jute, and increases in labour costs. All these increases are matters of general knowledge and are readily confirmed from independent sources. The system of critically examining cost increase information supplied by manufacturers has resulted in one reduction of an announced price increase. In August 1964, I was able to announce that producers in New South Wales had reduced a price increase of 17s. per ton by 3s. 6d. down to 13s. 6d., retrospectively to the operation of the increase, following consultations between the Department and New South Wales producers. This bounty makes a very significant contribution towards cost reduction in and development of Australia’s primary industries. I commend the Bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator O’Byrne) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 1 3 th September (vide page 339), on motion by Senator Henty-
That the Senate take note of the following papers -
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.
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. 3.It 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.
lt does notl 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.”
.- Last Tuesday night I was able to make a few introductory remarks to the comments that I want to make on the Budget. For the purposes of continuity, I will now summarise those remarks. I expressed concern that a party claiming rights as an alternative government - an opposition does that - should be so confused on the great issue of external policy and external security. I also expressed concern about and was critical of the failure of members of the Australian Labour Party to inform themselves on certain basic defence facts of life. I referred to the firepower demonstration on the 26th of last month. Further, I expressed concern about their attitude to one of the greatest internal issues that we face; that is, the economic health of the individual. Today I propose to develop one of those points to some considerable extent. First of all, the vital issue of external security and the confusion that apparently exists on it among our opponents were debated very thoroughly yesterday, and I do not propose to add to that debate. But it must be considerably distressing for genuine supporters of the Opposition Party to see this confusion so widespread within its ranks.
Secondly, I am critical of the failure of certain members of the Opposition to inform themselves on the facts of life in regard to defence. I have referred to the firepower demonstration that was made available to members of the Federal Parliament by the Australian Army on the 26th of last month. This was one of the most interesting and informative demonstrations that I have ever seen. We were able to view and see the effect of new types of weapons that are coming into use in our defence forces, and particularly in our Army. I acknowledge that, when I stated that to the. best of my knowledge no Opposition senator was present at this display and was thus able to inform himself, Senator Mulvihill interjected and said that he and one of his colleagues saw a similar type of demonstration in Melbourne. 1 stated that I was very glad that they had done so.
The reason why I hope all members of Parliament, and especially of the Federal Parliament which is essentially responsible for the defence of our country, will inform themselves on these matters is the huge change that has taken place in the volume of firepower available to our armed forces, and especially to the Army in this instance, and also the different types of responsibilities that fall on the shoulders of an infantry officer today compared with the breadth of an infantry officer’s- responsibilities during World War II. I think most of us who have seen war service tend to look back on the years of the 1939-45 War and to relate the manpower that was required then to the manpower that is required in our Army today. This is just too unrealistic to be any guide at all. The responsibilities of a company commander today are infinitely greater.
What is more important is that the volume of firepower that is available to a company commander today is almost equivalent to the volume of firepower that Was available to a brigade commander during World War II. I believe that this shows the vital importance of members of the Federal Parliament having a wide knowledge of modern firepower. I was staggered when I discovered that today a company commander can call to his assistance firepower of enormous strength and variety. I am seeking words other than those to describe it more adequately, but I just cannot find them at the moment. Suffice it to say that the offensive and defensive capacity of a company or of 100 men is astronomically greater today than it was during World War II. The point that I am trying to make is that the number of men required today to do the type of work that could be done by, say, 10,000 men during World War II is infinitely fewer.
When we examine the defence forces of this country we should recognise this change and realise that it is much more important today that our troops should be able to use the weapons that are at their disposal and use them effectively, and that therefore they are required to be much more highly trained in the use of their weapons than were the forces of years gone by. Unless we recognise that, I think we lose all relativity in our consideration of what our defence forces of today should consist of. I hope that all members of Parliament will try to see these demonstrations when they are made available to us. They are made available by the Army not easily. The Army goes to considerable trouble and effort to give them. I believe that it is our responsibility to see them. I repeat that I was most disappointed when I did hot see any Government senators at this demonstration on 26th August.
– Government senators?
– Did I say that? I am sorry. I meant Opposition senators. A great number of Government senators were present. It was very interesting to hear their expressions of opinion. They recognised the very big change that has taken place. I am sure that Senator Ormonde will bear with me if I used the wrong word. I deplore the fact that Opposition senators were absent.
Thirdly. I want to express my concern regarding the Opposition’s failure to recognise the improved economic health of the individual today vis-a-vis his counterpart in 1948 or 1949. Here I must refer to the amendment which was moved in the Senate by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Willesee). In fact, it is this amendment that we are considering at the moment in conjunction with the original motion that the Senate take note of the papers. Senator Willesee’s amendment condemns the Budget because -
It fails to recognise the injustices wrought upon wage earners because real wages have fallen as prices have risen faster than wages.
The other five parts of the amendment more or less impinge on this one, which is the pivot of the Opposition’s case, lt troubles me that the Leader of the Opposition and other Opposition senators can base hours of argument on a fallacy. It is quite easy to demonstrate that it is a fallacy, and I propose to do so.
All of us are working in one sphere or ano;her to provide the necessities of life. We work to provide food and clothing. Some of us work to provide means of transport and other things. If we want to judge the health of the economy, there is no better way than to ascertain the working time needed to provide certain basic necessities at one period and compare it with that of another period. Surely this is the fundamental basis for judgment. There are certain things that go to make up a broad coverage of such needs. Although there may be other items, I suggest that we should consider the provision of a stated amount of food for a family, a man’s suit, a man’s shoes, a motor car, a refrigerator, a home and a bedroom suite. That gives a fairly broad coverage, but of course there may be other items. If we go to the trouble of discovering how may hours a man was required to work in, say, 1950 to provide the items which I have mentioned and then discover how may hours he has to work today to provide items of equal quality, we can get a firm foundation for establishing whether in fact real wages are better or worse today than they were previously. This is the real crux of the amendment which has been moved by the Leader of the Opposition.
I have been most interested in following this comparison year by year. I remember that very early in my political career I regarded this as possibly the best basis that one could use to discover whether our present economy is as good as it was in years gone by or whether it is better or worse than previously. The first thing we must realise is that you cannot say that because a person has “ X “ number of pounds one year and “ X “ .number of pounds ten years later, that is a true guide. It is not. We must relate it to the amount of work that a person needs to do to provide the necessities of life. I would like to pay a tribute to an organisation which has devoted a great deal of time to following the details of these changes. I refer to the Institute of Public Affairs, which is probably well known to honorable senators. From time to time 1 have contacted it to ascertain the relativity between costs and hours of work. I did so on 29th August - a little over two weeks ago. This is the analysis with which I was provided. in 1950 one had to work for three hours to obtain a certain amount of food. In 1966 one had to work only 21 hours to obtain the same amount of food. In 1950 a man had to work 50 hours to obtain a suit of a certain quality. In 1966 he has to work only 40 hours to obtain a suit equal in quality to that which he would have bought in 1950. A man had to work 10 hours in 1950 to obtain a pair of shoes whereas he has to work only eight hours today. To apply the comparison to a Holden car - and I think this is a good application because the Holden is a widely used car - a person was required to work 3.770 hours in 1950 lo obtain a Holden car but in 1966 he has to work only 1,300 hours. In 1950 a man had to work 600 hours before he could purchase a refrigerator, whereas in 1966 he has to work only 200 hours to purchase a refrigerator of a similar quality. I,n 1950 a man was required to work 14,500 hours before he could purchase a home, whereas today he has to work only 9,000 hours to purchase a home of similar quality. This is largely due to the great help which this Government is giving to home builders at the present time. Here I want to pay a tribute to my colleague from Queensland, Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin, who is administering the Department of Housing with such great skill and capacity. We in Queensland are mighty proud of her work.
– The honorable senator is embarrassing her.
Senator MORRIS__ Perhaps, but I think that one of the happy things in life is that sometimes we can pay a well earned tribute. I take much pleasure in doing so on this occasion. As I have said, thanks to the administration of this Government, although a man had to work 14,500 hours in 1950 before he could purchase a home, now he has to work only 9,000 hours. That is a tremendous improvement. The other item to which I referred was a bedroom suite. In 1950 a man had to work for 200 hours before he could purchase a bedroom suite, but in 1966 he has to work only 150 hours to purchase a suite of similar quality.
I defy anybody to produce a range of necessities broader than the one I have produced and to find a different answer. I know that this matter has been examined by a number of people and that the results have been precisely the same as those which I have given. So far, honorable senators have accepted my word, I hope, and are aware that I have quoted as an authority a very reputable organisation. But I will go further. Over award wages today are widespread, notwithstanding the fact that this contention has been quite strongly opposed by some of our opponents in the Labour Party. Today one cannot use award wages as a guide, because in almost all industries throughout Australia, over award wages are not only widespread, they are the norm. I shall give my authority for that statement.
A recent university investigation revealed that the average electrical tradesman in New South Wales was paid about $10 a week more than his award wage. Largely because of over award payments, the real weekly wages of all Australian employees - I want to emphasise this point - have increased by nearly 50 per cent, since this Government took office. In the light of those figures I have cited to the Senate and the authorities I have named, anybody who says that the average employee today is worse off than he was in 1949-50 is making a statement which is not based on fact.
– Is the honorable senator saying that the Government has put money back into the £1?
– Here is money back into the £1. Real wages today are worth 50 per cent, more than they were when this Government took office. It does not matter very much whether the basic unit used is £1 or $1, or any other monetary unit. The real point that any man wants to know is: For my week’s work, am I better off?
– And he wants to know how much he can buy for £1 or $1.
– Yes, but he has also to take into consideration how many pounds and how many dollars he gets. In the end result, the real issue lies in this question: For a week’s wages, can he get more or can he get less? Today he can get 50 per cent, more for his week’s work than he could when this Government took office. The figures are quite interesting if one studies them year by year. To cite them all would occupy too much time, so I shall cite some of them. Working purely on award wages, the proportionate increase has been 100: 120. But if the calculation is made on real wages, including over award payments, the proportionate increase is expressed as 100: 150. In other words, the people are 50 per cent, better off than in 1950.
Should any honorable senator question the accuracy of the figures I have given, I ask him to analyse them. I now refer honorable senators to the judgment of Mr. Justice Wright in the basic wage hearing this year. He examined the question of over award wages most carefully and in the extract of his judgment some cogent points are made. Mr. Justice Wright said -
Because the Electrical Trades Union made a more methodical survey of its tradesmen members in all States, except Western Australia, under the advice and direction of Mr. R. A. Layton, Master of Economics and Senior Lecturer in Economic Statistics in the University of New South Wales, I think it appropriate that a more detailed synopsis of the results should be recorded.
Then he gave the results. He went on to say -
Evidence was given by Mr. McBride, research and industrial officer of the Electrical Trades Union, who had the overall general organising of the union surveys, that with only microscopic exceptions there are no shops known to the unions which made no over award payments.
The learned judge was quoting a statement by a leader of one of Australia’s major unions made at the basic wage hearing this year. I am not referring to statements made by people who are desirous of contradicting or supporting the claim I am making. They are statements by people presenting evidence at the basic wage hearing, or giving judgment therein.
Honorable senators who care to examine this matter a little more deeply may be interested in figures appearing in the Commonwealth Statistician’s survey of weekly earnings in 1965. The survey confirms in broad detail the statements I have made. I will not stress it any further than to say that anybody who advances an argument that people are today worse off is basing it untruly. He is merely building a house on sand. I think that expression aptly describes the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator Willesee). I say with a great deal of emphasis that the broad general spectrum of employees today - I do not care what trade or industry is selected - has shown infinite improvement since 1949-50. We have as a government put value back into a man’s earnings, and that is what he wants. Irrespective of whether you use £1 or $1 as a basis, you must come back to the hours of work in your calculations. If a man today can buy 50 per cent, more after a given number of hours of work, he is better off than he was previously.
– Does the honorable senator claim that Mr. Justice Wright said anything like that?
– If the honorable senator were sitting in his accustomed seat, I would hear him. I did not expect that he would even attempt to interject from a place other than his correct seat in the chamber. I would be transgressing even to attempt to answer his interjection. I want, now, to move to a subject in which I have taken a great deal of interest over the years. I refer to tourism. At one stage I was Minister in charge of tourism in Queensland. 1 have always been interested in the general effect of tourism in Australia. Before making the comments on tourism that I want to make, let me say that Australia is very fortunate in having quite a number of basic industries such as meat, wool, sugar, wheat, flour and minerals, all of which at some stage of our growth have helped to sustain the economy and will continue to do so as the country develops in the future. Admittedly, there are times when the general prosperity of one industry falls. Thank Heaven, this does not happen to all industries at the same time. But all these industries are wonderful export income earners.
Then we have the tourist industry which, notwithstanding fluctuations in industry generally, seems to maintain its rate of growth each year. Even when there has been a mild recession, for some reason - I think it is fairly obvious to many of us - the tourist industry does not experience a setback. The tourist industry is of very great value not only to Australia but to every
Stale in Australia. Every State has its tourist attractions. 1 defy anybody to say with reason or logic that one State is better than another as a tourist attraction. When 1 think of Queensland’s Barrier Reef, what I have said proves my modesty. 1 repeat that the tourist industry is of very great value to every State. It is wonderful that it should be glowing as it is. But 1 want it to grow more rapidly, and I believe I know how it can do so. The national character of the tourist industry has changed in the past decade. When I became Minister in charge of tourism in Queensland in 1957, most people said to me: “ You are a little bit off the beam in putting so much effort into developing the tourist industry “.
– We agree with them.
– At least I am on the beam sometimes. I cannot say that for some honorable senators. These people thought that efforts to expand the tourist industry in Queensland were fruitless. I am happy to be able to say that those people have been proved to be wrong. Since 1957-58 there has been a tremendous surge of interest throughout Australia in the development of this industry. Let me quote the remarks of no less a person than the former Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies. He said in 1964 that the tourist industry was ninth on the list of Australian income earners overseas. We should note that fact very carefully.
In the era before World War H the first movement towards recognition of the tourist industry commenced, partly with the formation of the Australian National Travel Association and partly through the efforts of one or two States which saw the potential of the industry. The industry started to grow, but it did not grow very much at that stage. The promotion of tourism was interrupted by World War II, when this kind of effort could not be pursued. It was some years after the end of the war when the industry started to gain some impetus. Early in 1955 there was a substantial recognition of the Australian National Travel Association by the Commonwealth Government, which started to give to the organisation funds to assist it in its work. The Government’s action was noted fairly widely. In 1958 efforts were made to form a Tourist Ministers council. In 1959 those efforts proved to be successful and every State decided to participate in a conference of Tourist Ministers. I am happy to be able to say that that conference was attended by senior Ministers from every State. That in itself indicated that interest in the development of the tourist industry had grown throughout Australia. Western Australia and South Australia were represented by the Premiers of those States, and the other States were represented, as I said, by senior Ministers. That was a very good thing. The conferences of Tourist Ministers have brought a degree of co-ordination into the development of the industry that did not exist previously.
From 1959 onwards there has been a constant increase in the amount of money that has been given to the Australian National Travel Association to develop the tourist industry within Australia and to promote travel to Australia from other countries. The Association has gone from strength to strength. 1 do not think I am being extravagant with words when I say that the growth of the Australian tourist industry since the late 1950’s has been phenomenal. It has grown phenomenally for three principal reasons. First, it has grown because of the superb efforts of Mr. John Bates, who has been the Chairman of the Australian National Travel Association over its whole period of existence. He has been most ably supported by Mr. Basil Atkinson, the General Manager of the Association. The Association carries out its work, which as I have said before consists mainly of the promotion of Australian tourism outside Australia, because it gets funds from the Federal Government, the State Governments and the industry itself.
– Where is its headquarters?
– Its headquarters is in Melbourne, but it also has an office in Sydney. I am very glad that Senator Wood is now in the chamber. He of almost all people in Queensland has recognised since the very early days the value of the tourist industry to this country. He and I may not agree on some things, but I must say that over the years the tourist industry in Queensland and in Australia generally has had no stronger supporter than he. The second reason for the phenomenal growth of the tourist industry over the last decade has been the enthusiasm of every State through its Tourist Minister. One State has lagged a little. 1 do not presume to name it; suffice it to say that it is not Queensland. The third reason for this phenomenal growth has been the efforts that have been made by the travel industry itself, the travel agencies, and those who provide transport such as the airlines and shipping companies. All have made a great contribution to the growth of the industry. Up to the present time, although this industry has grown, and grown wonderfully, it has not grown as well as it Could, because efforts have not been co-ordinated. Today, we have come to the s’.age where these efforts must be co-ordinated.
For that reason, 1 was completely delighted to receive a copy of “ Australia’s Travel and Tourist Industry 1 965 “, which is an examination of Australia’s travel industry. This report, which is current, examines the development that has taken place and emphasises that, there must be a more co-ordinated effort in future if our tourist industry is to grow as we would hope it would grow. This is a wonderful analytical report. The preface, written by the Chairman of the Australian National Travel Association reads -
This report, now colloquially referred to as the “ HKF Report” (after the initials of the principal contracting firm), is the first comprehensive survey of the travel and tourism industry to be carried out in Australia and probably the most detailed of its kind to be done for any country.
Commissioned in 1964 by the Australian National Travel Association on behalf of the Commonwealth and State Governments as well as tourist interests generally, it had as its general object the provision of an authoritative assessment of, and guide-lines for, the development of travel and tourism in this country.
Behind it lies a widespread recognition of the fact that in the 1960’s travel and tourism in Australia - both domestic and international - entered a stage of dynamic growth; and that this in turn has made imperative a general “ stock-taking “, a recognition both of our opportunities and our problems, and of the increasing need for cooperation in tackling them.
There is the crux of what I want to say. Up to now Australia has grown as six individual States. The time has come when Australia must grow as a nation. I should like to have time to read further from this report but I have not. I have talked too much, perhaps, on other things. The report sets out in great detail the responsibilities that should be faced by the Commonwealth Government, by the State Governments and by the trade itself. 1 believe that if the plan that is set out in this book is followed, co-ordination of this industry will follow and it will develop as we hope it will. From being the ninth largest export earner in Australia, as at present, it will move to a much higher place on this list.
The Commonwealth Government has helped magnificently in the development of this industry, but has done very well out of it. In return for the money that it has provided year by year it has invariably collected in taxation a lot more money. I do not mind that. I want it to do that. I do not believe that it is a good thing to advocate further Government expenditure without a recognition that that further Government expenditure will bring very much greater Government income, too. The more money that is spent, within reason and wisely, by the Government on this activity, the better it will be for Australia. In 1960-61, the Government gave $200,000. In 1966-67 it will give $862,000. I hope that the Government, in recognising the great work of the Australian National Travel Association, will make the Association a statutory body with fairly autonomous powers, and will increase its donation to a figure which is much more realistic when one looks at the amounts spent by other countries. If the Government does this and provides a lot more money for the A. NT. A., it will get back in taxation infinitely more than it spends, a wider range of people will benefit as a result of tourist industry development in Australia than from the development of almost every other industry. I make a strong plea for the Government to establish quickly the A.N.T.A. as a statutory body that is fairly autonomous, and to increase its subscription to this organisation by at least twice as much as it is providing. The Government will find that it will get back its bread from the waters.
Sitting suspended from 12,45 to 2.15 p.m.
– When the Budget was presented to the Parliament we heard a spate of words from the mouth of the Treasurer (Mr. McMahon), but they really meant very little. When we read the Press reports we saw that the Budget had been described as a “ stay-put “
Budget, a “ watered “ Budget and so on; but what came into my mind at the time was that if the Budget had to be given a name it should be called a deceitful Budget, because it misled the public in so many ways. The Treasurer claimed that this was an expansionary Budget, lt must be obvious to any intelligent person that that is not so. I presume that most of the financial writers in the Australian Press are fairly intelligent, and they all laughed because the Treasurer had had what was virtually the impertinence to call this an expansionary Budget. So lbc first act of deceit was to describe tha Budget as expansionary. I think that the Treasurer allowed himself to be rather led by the nose by his Department, instead of thinking for himself.
Secondly, the Budget is deceitful because it purports to be a national Budget whilst it is. of course, strictly speaking, a political Budget. Everyone knows that there is to be a general election this year. We all knew - everyone tipped it - that there would be no increase in taxation, because when an election is impending no government is prepared to make such an increase.
– That is an unfair statement.
– lt may be unfair from the point of view of the Liberal Party, but it is true.
– And from the point of view of the Country Party, too.
– [ beg the honorable senator’s pardon. 1 include the Country Party. The statement that I have made is true, even though it may not be acceptable to members of the Country Party and members of the Liberal Party. We live in these days in a sort of cocoon. We hear what people tei I us, but quite often they tell us what they think we want to hear. As I have said, in my view this is a political Budget and is deceitful for that reason. No extra taxation was imposed by the Commonwealth, and the Budget was framed to ensure that the States would impose the extra taxation required. This, in effect, has been one of the results of the Budget.
Thirdly, the Budget is deceitful in relation to defence. The Treasurer spent some time in talking of defence in his Budget speech and tried to persuade us that the Government was doing wonderful things in this field. However, he omitted to tell us that at least one half of the money appropriated for defence will not, in fact, be spent on defence. A considerable proportion of it is to be spent on an aeroplane that may not fly. After constant urging by members of the Democratic Labour Party and myself - I think that in every Budget debate during the time I have been here we have advocated increases in defence spending - the Government has now devoted roughly 4.4 per cent, of the gross national product to defence. However, this is totally insufficient in a country that has very few friends near it. It is most unpopular to spend money on defence when money is wanted for development, but if we think as Australians rather than as politicians we will spend more money on defence. The United States of America spends 1 1 per cent, of its gross national product on defence and the United Kingdom 9 per cent. In view of our effort in this sphere, we should be the last to squeal when the British want to pull out from east to Suez.
There is no reason why we should not try to defend ourselves. I do not want to go over the ground that I have covered in nearly every Budget debate in which I have participated, but let me say that I still maintain that the best form of defence is to be prepared. I think we should have the atom bomb. We have been told that this is financially impossible, but recently an atomic scientist, in an article published, I think, in the journal of the Australian Political Science Institute, stated that the total cost of developing such a bomb would be roughly only £40 million. That might sound a lot of money but it would ensure the defence of Australia far more than will the sending of troops to Vietnam.
Finally, this Budget is deceitful because it is a deficit Budget. This is one time when we should not have a deficit. In a country as prosperous as this is, it is financially wrong to produce a deficit budget. However, we know the reason for this. The deficit for which the Treasurer has budgeted on this occasion is one of roughly $200 million. That being so. Government members should never again, when members of the Democratic Labour Party or myself mate suggestions that certain things be done, ask where the money is to be found. When the Government wants to find money, it hides it as a deficit. It budgets for a deficit because it does not want to impose extra taxation lest it lose a couple of votes. In a time of prosperity we have a Budget deficit of $200 million, and I say that this is completely wrong from the point of view of the people of Australia. I think that the Labour Party insists that if there is a war, we should be paying for that war. What the Government is doing is leaving it to future generations to pay. That, again, is a deceitful aspect of the Budget.
I should like to turn now to the question of national superannuation, which raises also the question of the abolition of the means test. Please do not let me ever again hear members of the Government parties asking: “ How can you abolish the means test? How could this country afford that? “ We could afford it. We can afford anything we want to do. If we can have a Budget deficit of $200 million just because that suits the Government for election purposes, surely we could do something in the field of national superannuation, especially in view of the great benefit that would accrue to Australia. Let me remind honorable senators that the ex-leader of the Liberal Party is a man who resigned from a Government on a matter of principle relating to national superannuation. National superannuation legislation is still on the statute book. The legislation was passed by the Commonwealth Parliament. Sir Robert Menzies resigned from Cabinet, stabbing Lyons in the back, because that legislation was not being implemented. Yet recently he was Prime Minister of this country for 17 years and never once during that time did he appear to remember the matter of principle on which he resigned previously, and stabbed Lyons in the back. In the Budget debate last year I quoted his remarks as recorded in the “ Hansard “ of that day. I do not have the reference with me now, but he resigned because the Government had gone to the country on the basis that it would introduce a national superannuation scheme, and, the legislation having been passed, had not implemented it. Then subsequently for 17 years he led a government in this country which did not even touch on that subject. He considered that a national superannuation scheme was feasible in those earlier days, but when it was put up to him in recent years he dismissed it as an exercise in extravagance.
Why should not we have a national superannuation scheme to which everyone contributes? There are many, many thousands of people who are not as privileged as members of the Parliament or as public servants. I believe that 25 per cent. of Australian people are in the public service, and the taxpayers of Australia subsidise them so that they can have huge pensions when they retire. Some members of this Parliament retire on pensions of £38 a week, although, admittedly, they have had to be elected for two or three terms. It seems to me to bequite wrong that many people who do much moreuseful and more essential work cannot get any superannuation at all. I admit that some big business firms are now starting superannuation schemes of their own, but people who are self-employed are not covered. Why should not they be allowed to have a share of the bounty from the Commonwealth? We provide superannuation for public servants and for politicians, but we do not provide it for people who are self-employed. It is quite wrong in principle that such a state of affairs should exist.
One effect of the lack of a national superannuation scheme is that it is very difficult for firms to get competent men. Suppose that the Sydney City Council has a vacancy for an engineer and advertises the vacancy. If an applicant is from another State the first thing he asks is: “ What do you do about superannuation?” When he is told what the Council’s superannuation scheme is, very often he says that he would lose too much by way of superannuation and cannot accept the job. A national superannuation scheme, would be, so to speak, interchangeable, and people would be more willing to take jobs in other States. They would not be held back by the fact that they would lose the superannuation benefits they obtained in their own States. I am not sure that this situation would not come within the sphere of section 92 of the Constitution, which deals with trading between the States, because this is a sort of trading in brain power between the States. As I have said, private enterprise now has to introduce its own superannuation schemes because the Commonwealth provides superannuation for only 25 per cent. of the people. The Commonwealth subsidises its scheme but private enterprise puts the cost pf superannuation on the price of the goods it produces. The effect is not so evident on goods sold on the local market but it does make all the difference between a competitive and non-competitive price on the foreign market. In other words, it might just mean the difference between exporting and not exporting.
For those three reasons alone the Government should have another look at the abolition of the means test and the introduction of national superannuation. Much can be done, and many schemes have been suggested. One is that the abolition of the means test should start with one group. Some suggest that it apply to persons at 70 years of age. Everybody over 70 would get superannuation immediately. The cost of contributing to the scheme eventually will not be as much as it is in the initial stages. For a Government which pledged itself to put this Act on the statute book, this Government has acted very slowly. The Act is still waiting for the royal assent. Of course, in some ways 17 years is not a long time.
– What 17 years?
– The 17 years that the previous Prime Minister was in office.
– 1 thought the proposal was before the Parliament in 1937 or 1938.
– I think the Bill went through in 1938 but the previous Prime Minister was in office for 17 years and he did not introduce the enabling legislation. I feel that members on all sides of the Parliament should try to do something about this. We should introduce a measure to put into active operation a national superannuation scheme and to abolish the means test. There is nothing more degrading than to have to treat pensioners as pensioners. They have just as much right to superannuation as has any public servant.
– What would be the cost of the scheme?
– I could not care less what the cost is. The former Prime Minister thought it was such a wonderful thing that he resigned on principle when it was not introduced. He did not worry about the cost and I do not think we should worry about the cost. You can do anything with money. No one can tell me that it is beyond the means of this country which is so prosperous. We can afford it. That has nothing to do with the justice of the case. The fact is that every man and woman in Australia is entitled to superannuation and the abolition of the means test. No matter what the cost, we must face up to our responsibility and pay it.
– What was the Act of 1938 to which the honorable senator referred? Was it the National Health Insurance Act?
– I think that was the one.
– I would not have thought that it provided for general superannuation but it had such an idea.
– Yes. As to social services, I have always advocated and still advocate that all pensions and social services should be tied to the basic wage. I have even gone so far as to say they should be tied to parliamentary salaries. As honorable senators know, in the past 10 years parliamentary salaries have risen something like 88 per cent, and the basic wage has risen nearly 1 30 per cent. But most of the endowment or pensions schemes introduced by various Governments whether medical benefits, hospital benefits, age pensions, maternity benefits or child endowment have remained practically static. Certainly every now and again there is a little increase. We have had the expansionary increase in pensions of $1 but other payments have remained fairly static.
If these payments were introduced for some purpose such as the relief of hardship they should be increased in value with the decrease in the value of the currency. I might interpose here that there were only a few honorable senators in the chamber when Senator Morris gave quite an interesting speech to the effect that the value of the £ had not fallen but had risen considerably. He said that you could now buy 50 per cent, more than you could previously.
– I said the value of money had risen.
– The only one the honorable senator convinced was himself. Nevertheless, it was a most interesting mental exercise in finance. We have said that certain people are entitled to child endowment or maternity benefits. We say: “ This is a wonderful thing we are giving you “. But we leave it at that. If they were entitled to $1 15 or 20 years ago, surely now the benefits should be worth $2. Child endowment and maternity benefits have not increased very much at all.
– When related to the basic wage, the value of child endowment is about half.
– Yes. This is something we should look at in all seriousness from another point of view. If we should have to rely on an internal increase in population, we should be doing everything we can to help those who are having children. Everyone knows that the effect of the contraceptive pill eventually will reduce our population increase, lt has already become noticeable in Australia. With the introduction of certain measures affecting immigration, it may be that migration to Australia will decrease. Surely the best new settlers we can have are our own children. So we should be doing everything as- a Parliament to increase benefits that will help people having children. That is why I refer especially to child endowment and maternity benefits. I know that one argument is that if you increase the maternity allowance, the doctors will immediately put up their charges.
– You have a guilty conscience.
– No, I have not a guilty conscience but I have been reading the Melbourne “ Age “ and that made me think of this point. Nevertheless that is not quite so. I doubt very much if a doctor gets anything out of the maternity allowance, but it is essential to the parents that they have it. Another way to increase the population growth is to provide assistance to families by way of housing loans. I give the Government credit for doing quite a good job in regard to loans for housing but the Government should be doing something along those lines because it will be necessary for us to increase population and we should tackle the problem of further gifts to people who produce children. This is the only way we can encourage people to get off the pill and get on to having more children.
– Incentive payments?
– I am all for incentive payments. These things help when people have to weigh up what they will do. I come back to another aspect of this question which I have raised on at least three occasions. We seem to have a hard hearted Minister for Social Services although actually this might apply to the Minister for Health. I refer to single girls who have children. It is nonsense to say that a girl who is single and registered with a medical and hospital benefits fund is not entitled to any Commonwealth allowance in such circumstances. How petty can the Government become? This is the time when a girl needs all the help that she can receive. She is single and usually very young. She needs every penny she can obtain to help her through this trouble. What do we do? We say: “ You are so immoral, because you are having a baby, that you cannot receive anything from the Commonwealth.”
– It is because she is a minor?
– No. It is because she is immoral. A number of these girls are 17 or 18 years of age. Once a girl is over 16 years of age she has to rely on her own medical benefits. Then we come to the case of people who get married because the woman is pregnant. Let us face it: This happens quite a lot. These people are not entitled to the medical and hospital benefits if their baby has been born within 10 months of the date of their marriage. Again, how childish can we become? We can talk to many people - I am sure that everyone on the Government side will agree with me on this - who will say that this is wrong. But the Government does not do anything about the situation. It sits there complacently and will not lift a finger to help. We argue and argue about the subject. There are two things that the Government can do. Quite simply, it can say that the Commonwealth will make its contributions and that the medical and hospital benefits schemes will contribute likewise.
– Is the maternity allowance not payable in such a case?
– The maternity allowance is payable to single girls. It is a straight out Commonwealth payment. But in respect of the medical and hospital bills which must be paid, the Government says: “ You are in this position illegally. You have done an immoral act. You cannot receive the benefits.” Surely it is not loo much to ask that the Minister for Health demand that the medical and hospital benefits schemes pay for these unfortunate girls. A special fund has been established for the chronically ill. A special fund could be provided for these girls. The Commonwealth Government could subsidise the medical and hospital benefits schemes if they fell into debt regarding such a fund. I believe that the Government should consider the question not only of the single girl but also of the girl whose baby is born within 10 months after marriage. Such a girl, although she is married, is still not eligible for hospital and medical benefits. These are two things the Government could look into. If we keep nagging at the Government long enough perhaps it will do something.
I am grateful for what the Government has done with regard to mentally ill people. After hammering this matter for four years I can say now that the Government has done something for those people who are suffering mental illness. As I have told the Government time and time again there is no difference between those suffering from an acute physical illness and those suffering from an acute mental illness. In fact, the number of hospital beds required for people in both categories is exactly the same, five beds per 100,000 population. Actually, I think the number of people suffering from mental illness is increasing. But, for years, the Government has not paid a pension to a pensioner who goes into a mental institution. Admittedly, the Government did something last year and it has done something again this year in this field. Thank heavens the Government has done a bit more.
A pensioner now will have his pension paid to him for the last three months that he is in a mental institution. Why a pensioner who goes into a general .hospital can retain his pension and a pensioner who goes into a public hospital cannot retain his pension is beyond my knowledge. This seems to be one of those ridiculous bureaucratic decisions that are made from time to time. Originally, I think, the Commonwealth paid so much for the mental institutions. The Commonwealth said that that was enough and that it was not going to do any more. Surely the individual, whether he is mentally or physically ill, has his rights. Because a pensioner is unfortunate enough to go into a mental asylum, out goes his pension. Nowadays, we are curing these people much more quickly-
– Out goes what pension - the invalid pension or the age pension?.
– Out goes the invalid or the age pension - any pension at all.
– Out goes any pension that the patient is receiving?
– Not all mentally ill persons are pensioners.
– He becomes a ward of the State.
– Yes. He becomes a ward of the State. But he is sti a human being. Why should he be classed as a different person from the person who has an acute physical illness?
– When the honorable senator was Minister for Health in the Senate of Tasmania, did he do anything for such persons?
– Yes, I did. If Senator Henty wants to raise this point, let me tell him that at the first conference of Ministers for Health that I attended, this was the first matter that I raised. The Minister will find that on record.
– What did the honorable senator do?
– What could I do? Was it rn my power as a State Minister for Health to do something regarding Commonwealth pensions?
– I did not raise that point. What did the honorable senator do in Tasmania when he was Minister for Health there?
– If the Minister has half an hour, I am prepared to tell him what I did. But it would be so embarrasing for me to tell him all the good things that
I have done. I am pleased that the Commonwealth has done something this time regarding the mentally ill. Certainly, the pension will be paid only for the last three months that the pensioner is in the mental institution but it is a step along the way towards helping these people who are in mental institutions.
I make a plea again, apart from the plea that I have made for the single girls and the young mother whose baby is born within 10 months of marriage, for the handicapped workers. Now, I understand that it is an official Commonwealth Government policy to employ people who are handicapped or to try to obtain employment for them. But every time I come in contact with one of these unfortunate people I find that he is already in Commonwealth employment and is being kicked out of that Commonwealth employment. Handicapped people can do certain work. Admittedly, a handicapped person cannot work as fast as a normal person because a number of these people who suffer physical crippling suffer a mental crippling as well. Tt may not be quite so marked, but there is a slowing down in their work capacity. They certainly cannot work as hard as a normal person. But two oases have come to my notice recently where the Commonwealth has said to handicapped people: “ You are not fit enough to pass the Commonwealth Public Service Board’s medical examination.” Of course these people are not fit enough to do so. But why cannot they be retained either on a temporary basis permanently - this can be done; they have the right to remain in Commonwealth employment - or by an alteration of the Commonwealth Public Service Board regulations to permit them to remain in Commonwealth employment? Here we have the chance of taking these people off unemployment and sickness benefits and giving them some work. They are of some use in the community. It is wrong for the Public Service Board to say: “ You are not physically fit. Out you go.” Again I plead with the Minister who has the responsibility in this field to look at the matter and see what he can do about it.
I wish to speak shortly on education. Let me congratulate the Government on what it has done in regard to tertiary education. I take my hat off to the Government because in the last few years it has been a most wonderful thing to see what has been taking place with regard to tertiary education by way of Commonwealth assistance. It is not the business of the Commonwealth to assist in tertiary education. Yet the Commonwealth Government has handed out millions of dollars to assist with tertiary education. It has provided scholarship schemes, allowances and so on. Each year, the Commonwealth payments become better and better. The contribution to science education by the Commonwealth Government has been a wonderful thing for Australia also. I give full credit to the former Menzies Government and now the Holt Government for all that has been done in the education field. Now I come to the question: Is the Commonwealth Government doing enough?
This is where I would like to make some suggestions. Every State cries out: “ We cannot do anything regarding education because the Commonwealth does not give us enough money.” It is not the business of the Commonwealth to run the State education systems. If the States want it that way, a referendum to give the Commonwealth power to take over education should be held so that the Commonwealth can administer education just as it has administrative power regarding social services and health.
– Would that include primary education too?
– I say that it should include the whole field of education, if the States keep continually crying that the Commonwealth is not providing them with enough money for education. I do not mind this cry. I raised it myself in my own State. But we find the Tasmanian Minister for Education now denouncing the Commonwealth Government for what it is doing with regard to education. He says that the Commonwealth is not doing enough. He has said to the teachers of Tasmania: “ We cannot afford to give you a teachers’ training college.” At the same time, we see that contracts have been let for the construction of new ovals, new tennis courts and new assembly rooms at high schools and secondary schools. All of these facilities are quite necessary in the end but they are not essential. Surely first things should come first. The thing that Tasmania needs more than anything else is teachers’ training colleges. It is essential that In respect of our teachers a proper standard should be achieved. This is where, I think, the Commonwealth could lend a hand. It is wrong for the States to clamour for more money when they do not do anything themselves. I have no sympathy for Tasmania asking for more money when it has not been trying to help itself. I say that the Tasmanian Government should stop building the playing fields and assembly halls - these are necessary and I do not say that they should not be built - but first things should come first, and Tasmania should concentrate on establishing teachers’ training colleges. This is where the Commonwealth could assist just as it has assisted regarding universities. After all, this is tertiary education. If the Commonwealth is sticking to tertiary education, it should try to help each State to have teachers’ training colleges which are properly equipped and which produce properly trained teachers.
– Does the honorable senator mean to say that Tasmania has no teachers’ training college?
– We have one, but it is not really teaching 16 and 17 years old boys and girls to be teachers. It is not a teachers’ training college in the accepted sense.
– Its course is a four year one.
– Yes, but it is limited.
– It is only limited as to numbers of personnel.
– Well, I am sorry. I did not think we had such a teachers’ training college. I must apologise to the State Minister for Education. However, we still need more. If the college is limited as to personnel, we have insufficient accommodation for teacher trainees. I know that in Launceston alone there are more than 100 junior teachers who have been trained in different categories from the ones about whom we have been talking. I believe that all teachers should have to go through a university and be properly trained before they qualify as teachers.
– The position in Launceston arose because that city wanted a branch of the college, did it not?
– The college in Launceston was established on an intermediate basis.
– That is so. I do not think it takes the trainee teachers up to the same standard as the other college. Of course, it meets a need that has to be met. Although there is such a great shortage of teachers, there is one method of teaching that we do not seem to have adopted; that is, television teaching. This has been advocated. It has been shown to be a most successful venture. Here again I believe that the Commonwealth could come into the picture and help with television teaching.
– But surely the honorable senator knows that there are lessons on Australian Broadcasting Commission television every day of the week in every State.
– Yes, but there is not as much television teaching as there should be, and it is not properly organised, as it is in America. The final thing that I want to say about education is that I believe it is time we had an inquiry into the whole matter of education and how far the Commonwealth should commit itself. This would be of great help to us. Such an inquiry would lay down to the States and the Commonwealth where the division lies between State help and Commonwealth help.
I support Senator Wright in one of his contentions in regard to life assurance for people who enlist and serve overseas. I understand that what is happening at present has happened in respect of each war. As soon as war breaks out a young man’s life assurance premium is loaded. This happened to me in relation to the Second World War. I was a bit annoyed about it because after the war the life assurance companies did not take off the loading. I am not sure whether this was Senator Wright’s idea, but I saw it attributed to him. I am referring to the suggestion that the Commonwealth Government should take out a life assurance policy on every soldier. I believe that that is a splendid idea and is well worth considering. The Commonwealth could easily do that.
But I want to attack the life assurance companies which have such colossal reserves. One company alone has reserves of about 51,000 million. The others are nearly as big as that. They have these tremendous reserves; yet as soon as war breaks out they load the premiums of young men.
– Is the honorable senator sure of his facts now? Is that the position now?
– Well, it was the position until recently. I cannot tell the Minister whether the companies have changed their policy in the last two months. They may have done so.
– The loading is imposed on the premium of an individual only after he is posted to a war area.
– Even so, why should not the life assurance companies carry the risk? Evidently there has been a change in the right direction, so that the premium is not loaded until the person concerned is posted overseas. But why should his premium be loaded when the companies can well afford to carry the risk? When I protested against the loading on my premium, the life assurance company said: “ Wc have to have reserves to cover the war risks “. But fewer people die in war than in road accidents. The whole thing is just nonsensical. I believe that the Government should take a firm stand. I know that it is very difficult for the Government to do that because the assurance companies fill the loan market for it. The Government is sort of committed to do what they tell it to do at times. But surely in a matter such as this it is not too much to ask the life assurance companies to carry this risk or to make them carry it.
Another thing that surprises me under this free enterprise Government is the whole Australian banking system. The banks have now given up their traditional role and have joined in with the hire purchase companies. This means that if a person wants to obtain a loan he is sent around the corner to a hire purchase company in which the bank has a 40 or 50 per cent, interest and which, instead of charging the bank overdraft interest rate, charges a flat rate which may go up to 12, 13 or 14 per cent. This position has been brought about solely by Commonwealth Governments of both political colours interfering with the banking system. The present Government has been in office for so long that surely, in the interests of private enterprise, it should have freed the banks from their subservience to the Reserve Bank of Australia and allowed them to take more interest in the lending of money.
The present situation costs the individual money, apart from the fact that if he wants a new refrigerator or a new car he has to borrow from a hire purchase company instead of borrowing from his bank. Now we find personal loans coming in. Every bank will make these loans. They will be made at interest rates of 12 or 14 per cent. This should not happen at all. People should not have to be robbed to that extent in the payment of interest. I lay the blame for this on Commonwealth Governments - not only the present one, but both types of government - and their interference with the banking system.
Finally I want to say a few words about the road that was built by the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority from Khancoban to Thredbo. I must admit that I have a very personal interest in it. It is a skiing road, especially for Victorians who want to visit the New South Wales snowfields. The story of this road is a tragic one. The Commonwealth has spent millions of dollars on building this most magnificent highway from Khancoban to within about eight miles of Jindabyne. Now, because we have such little men floating around, the New South Wales Government says-
– Does the honorable senator mean floating around or skiing around?
– Floating around. Only big men with big minds ski. The New South Wales Government says: “ We did not ask for this road to be built. We will have none of it.” The Snowy Mountains Authority quite rightly says: “ We built the road to enable us to build our dams. We have now built our dams and we have finished with the road. It is of no use to us.” One would think that somewhere along the line the Snowy Mountains Authority and the New South Wales Government could get together and devise some means of keeping this road open. One traffic count showed that about 100,000 vehicles went over it in a year. That is a lot of vehicles. Even if a toll charge were imposed on the use of the road, that would ensure that it was maintained and kept open.
It is a tragedy that a road which cost nearly $2 million to build - I have not the exact figure in my mind - and which was built by a Commonwealth authority, should now go back to nature. The road has been closed and, with snow drifts and trees falling across it, it is impassable and will remain so unless somebody comes to the picnic and says that it will be prepared to keep it open. This is clearly the duty of the New South Wales Government. The road is in that State. Actually, it assists the revenue of that State because Victorians go skiing at Thredbo and Mount Kosciusko by using this road. I make a plea to the Minister who is in charge of the Snowy Mountains Authority to ensure that until some agreement is reached with the New South Wales Government, the road be kept open. It is a tourist road which is used as much in the summer as it is in the winter, but of course it is essential to Victorians when the winter sports are in progress. With those remarks, I conclude my speech in the Budget debate. I hope that some good will come from some of the remarks that I have made regarding those unfortunate people who require help. I hope that the Government will lend an ear to my pleas on their behalf.
– I wish to support the motion that the Senate take note of the papers before us. I oppose the amendment which has been moved by the Opposition. In my remarks this afternoon I propose to devote some time to the drought position, the economy, a statement made by Senator Cavanagh regarding repatriation, a statement made by Senator McClelland, the Vietnam question and to the 13 deadly sins of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell).
– Thirteen? I could give the Minister more than that.
– I shall give chapter and verse. First of all, I turn to the drought, which is one of the considerations that has affected the Budget we are now discussing. Whilst the drought has had a bad effect on our Budget, inevitably it will have a worse effect on the New South Wales and Queensland Budgets. One valuable lesson that has been imparted very vividly and forcibly is that we cannot have a big reduction in primary production without that having an effect on the whole community. Apparently this is a lesson that many people have not yet learned. 1 am afraid that they will learn it the hard way on this occasion. Fortunately, we have had very beneficial rains over the major portion of the wheat belt in New South Wales. We had recurring rains this week, and I hope that we will get more rain today and tomorrow. The rain will make a tremendous difference to the wheat production which eventually affects all individuals throughout the Commonwealth.
The drought has had a bearing on the economy, particularly in relation to car manufacture and sales. When I read some of the optimistic statements that were made about an expected improvement in car sales in December of last year and January of this year, I hoped that the statements would prove to be right, but I was afraid they would be wrong. The optimism that was voiced then unfortunately was not justified. In my view, the present situation in the motor vehicle industry is due to the reduction in primary production. I was very pleased to read this morning a report that there has been an improvement in the price of wheat on the overseas market and that it is expected that the income from this year’s crop will be considerably greater than it was last year. Here again the whole community will benefit.
I said that I intended to refer to a statement that was made by Senator Cavanagh in his speech in the Budget debate. It concerned repatriation. While I do not intend today to deal at any length with repatriation because we will be discussing it next week, I think it would be advisable for me to give Senator Cavanagh some information that apparently he does not possess at the present time. He referred to a case which was heard by the Assessment Appeal Tribunal in South Australia. He did not give the name of the appellant in the case. I understood firm to say that he was the advocate for the appellant. Senator Cavanagh castigated the Tribunal. He said it appeared that the evidence which was given by one doctor was considered before the evidence that was given by doctors on behalf of the appellant. I want to explain to Senator Cavanagh that this was not the case at all.
The Chairman of the Tribunal must be a barrister who has had experience in these mailers. He is recommended by an exservicemen’s organisation. He is assisted by two medical men. These men are not there to decide whether or not a man should have an entitlement. He already has an entitlement. Their job is to assess the pension that the man should receive. The files are placed before the Tribunal. The evidence of the doctors to whom Senator Cavanagh referred would have been, and should have been, before the Tribunal if the advocate had been doing his job. Consideration is given to the reports furnished by the doctors who have examined the appellant up to that point of time. So it is entirely wrong for Senator Cavanagh to suggest that because one doctor expressed an opinion, that decided the case for or against the appellant.
Senator Cavanagh does not appear to realise the meaning of section 47 of the Repatriation Act. Legal judgment has been given on the meaning of this section on several occasions. I want to tell Senator Cavanagh that when I took over as Minister for Repatriation, I was told by men experienced, in matters concerning repatriation that the Repatriation Department bends over backwards to give appellants the benefit of the doubt. Indeed, only a few weeks ago when addressing the Assistant Commissioners and Medical Directors in the States, I told them that they could take it as a direction that in the case of an application for admission to hospital, the benefit of the doubt was also to be exercised in favour of the applicant.
Senator Cavanagh said, regarding section 47
There is no need for the applicant or appellant to produce any proof or document of any sort.
This point was dealt with at length by the present Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia, Sir Garfield Barwick, when, as Attorney-General, he expressed an opinion about the operation of section 47. This opinion is now widely known and has, in fact, been incorporated in the Senate “Hansard”. Amongst other things, the then Attorney-General said - lt is important to realise that the shift of onus of proof docs not of itself relieve the serviceman of the need to give any evidence.
Later, when dealing with the provision that the claimant need not furnish any proof to support his claim, the Attorney-General said -
In this connection, it is important to identify what is his claim. His claim must be that his current illness or condition is war-caused or, if I could use the expression, war-contributed. To say that he need furnish no proof of his claim just cannot mean that every ex-serviceman could present himself and simply say “ Here I am “, leaving the Commission to establish either (1) that he is in perfect health; or (2) that any aberration in his physical or mental condition from the normal is not duc to war service. I cannot imagine that that is a tenable point of view. If the Parliament had wished to say such a thing, I should imagine that not only would different language have been used, but that the whole structure for hearing and resolving these claims would, have been different.
Although I could elaborate, further, I. think I have said sufficient to indicate the present position regarding the interpretation of section 47. I hope that it will be of help, not only to Senator Cavanagh, but to others who may be in doubt as to what the onus of proof provision means.
Another matter which 1 wish to raise refers to a remark by Senator McCelland that was made outside the Senate. It was widely publicised iri one of the Sunday newspapers in New South Wales. If my reading of the article was correct, I gained the impression that Senator McClelland intended to raise the matter in the Senate. He referred to an answer that he had received from the Minister for the Army (Mr. Malcolm Fraser) regarding the number of soldiers who had been placed on bread and water. Apparently Senator McClelland was of the opinion that it should not be tolerated. I want to say to the honorable senator, without making a song and dance about it, that the present training and disciplinary action of Australian troops has been responsible for producing some of the best fighting soldiers in the world today. I had the privilege of being on the saluting dais in Sydney when the battalion that had been in Vietnam marched past. I want to say quite frankly that I had not before experienced such a thrill of pride as I did on that occasion. They were really magnificent.
I have seen some of the fellows in Concord hospital who, unfortunately, were casualties in Vietnam. Last week I went to Ingleburn to see some fellows who had arrived the evening before. Their morale is still high. Those of them who will be able to return to Vietnam expressed a desire to me to get back to their mates. As to the idea that the disciplinary action taken against Australian troops today is harsh, I can only say that the proof of the pudding is in the eating.
I want to say something about Vietnam before 1 get to the 13 deadly sins of Mr. Arthur Calwell. On 22nd March, in the House of Representatives, Mr. McEwen supported the Government’s policy on Vietnam and the disptach of national servicemen to Vietnam. He pointed out that the moral issues warrant our help in South Vietnam. He added that American initiative in Vietnam and strong determination make our help practical and worthwhile. In May of last year in opening the Returned Services League Congress in Tasmania I said that I fell Australia has more at stake in Vietnam than has the United States of America. 1 am still of that opinion. On 29th March in the House of Representatives Mr. McEwen supported the claim by the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) that the Australian Labour Party under its present leadership would not honour Australia’s treaties and obligations. Mr. McEwen said that Labour’s policy was periodically to review its defence treaties and alliances to meet new situations as they arise. He argued - and I might say, successfully - that Labour had removed from its policy the vital words “ honour and support Australia’s treaties “. Who will review the policy? Will it be Mr. Calwell, Dr. Cairns or Senator Cavanagh? I support the attitude of my leader in stating that he would refrain from canvassing the ideological views and record of the honorable senator, but I say that many of us know enough to have real doubts. Yet Senator Cavanagh is one of Labour’s advisers on foreign policy and defence. .
I come now to the 13 deadly sins of Mr. Arthur Calwell. Over the last six months the Parliament and the people of Australia have been witnesses to some extraordinarily stupid and dangerous statements on the Vietnam situation by the Leader of the Opposition. He has presented five or six different policies on Vietnam and on the use of national servicemen in that area. For the record, and so that the people can judge for themselves the inconsistencies of those statements, I shall repeat them. They may also be of benefit to honorable senators. The statements have been documented.
– The same inconsistencies exist among Opposition senators opposite the Minister.
– Indeed they do. Senator Ormonde has been rather quiet but probably we will hear from him later on. I turn to Mr. Calwell’s first statement. On 13 th April in a speech at Launceston he said that he would live or perish politically on the issue of conscription. In that statement he tried to whip up all the hysteria and controversy that have been lost, thank God, in the pages of history. In that particular speech he promised that if Labour won the election it would immediately bring home all national servicemen serving anywhere overseas.
– Mr. Whitlam did not say that, though.
– Never mind about Mr. Whitlam. I shall repeat Mr. Calwell’s statement. He promised that if Labour won the elections it would immediately bring home all national servicemen serving anywhere overseas. He admitted that he was making part of a policy speech for an election.
– Is that a newspaper report?
– This is the statement that was distributed to newspapers before Mr. Calwell spoke. Again, it is documented. Mr. Calwell and his party have modified the statement many times over. The Government has accepted the challenge of 13th April to join with Mr. Calwell and his bedraggled party on the ground he has chosen to fight the forthcoming campaign. Such a policy as announced on 13 th April not only would render our task force in Vietnam completely inoperative, but would be the equivalent of smacking our chief ally, the United States, fairly and squarely in the eye. This has been recognised by some honorable senators opposite who have been to Vietnam to see for themselves what is the position. They voiced these sentiments when they returned. Events subsequent to 13th April have shown that a promise of the nature of that made by Mr. Calwell would be a crushing burden on a Labour Government, if Australia were unfortunate enough to have one in this present period of world crisis. ] come to No. 2 of the 13 deadly sins. Twelve days later in Brisbane - that is 24lh April - Mr. Calwell had second thoughts on his “ immediate withdrawal “ statement which he had made in Launceston. He told his Brisbane audience that the A.L.P. would work for a reversal of the present Government’s policy on Vietnam, but would not endanger the lives of conscripts or volunteers. How could anyone in his senses say that he could withdraw one section of troops and not the other? It is too shamefaced a policy for words and has been widely condemned by every right thinking Australian. Mr. Calwell’s Launceston and Brisbane speeches were widely condemned in the responsible Press of Australia. The Brisbane “ Courier-Mail “, which has been very critical of the Government in the past, as we all know, said that senior front benchers of the A.L.P. should make up their minds about Labour’s Vietnam policy and overseas service for national servicemen. The editorial truly pointed out that Mr. Calwell, Mr. Whitlam and Dr. Cairns all had different views. How true it is.
I believe that Mr. McEwen put in a nutshell the Vietnam situation and the question of the use of national servicemen in that area in a widely circulated article in which he pointed out succinctly and clearly that Australia’s action in Vietnam will be vindicated by the judgment of history. He continued -
By our actions in this critical period of time history will show that Australia helped to protect a small nation, showed her unbreakable alliance with the United States and contributed to her own security while the danger front was still distant from our shores. In this modern world no country any longer feels that a military political or ideological development can be regarded as no threat, merely because it is occurring 5,000 10,000 or 12,000 miles away.
We stand with the Americans in South Vietnam to continue to contain the expansion of Communism, because expanding Communism threatens Australia. And I ask honorable senators also to consider the threat of domestic Communism. We are in Vietnam to make clear that the substance of our alliance with the United States - as Mr. McEwen said - is not one sided. Their cause is our cause. I come now to item No. 3.
– Do we have 10 to go?
– Yes. There is plenty of time. On 1st May in Melbourne, in a television interview, Mr. Calwell again had a change of mind on the Vietnam issue when he accused the Australian Press of malevolent reporting of his Launceston statement. But the Press was quick to point out that Mr. Calwell, in fact, had said all the things he was reported to have said in his Launceston speech in a specially prepared statement previously issued to the newspapers, as I told honorable senators earlier. Now I come to item no. 4. Only eight days later Mr. Calwell had this to say on Vietnam -
That is Labour - form a government we will not maintain troops in Vietnam any longer than we have to, but we will not walk out on anyone.
– That statement cancels out the other statement.
– Just a minute. Mr. Calwell repeated his promise to bring home conscripts. Now we come to No. 5 of the deadly sins in the sorry story of Labour’s switches and changes. That story continued with an announcement by Mr. Calwell on 15th May that Vietnam and conscription would be the most important of the 12 points on which Labour would fight the election. Now I shall mention No. 6 on the list. On 22nd May Mr. Calwell made the sickening statement that national servicemen in Vietnam were being kept out of the most dangerous battle areas until after the election. I say it was sickening, because most Australians must have been nauseated by such a statement coming from the lips of the Leader of the Opposition. Since then, of course, we have learned of a battle in which our troops took part and acquitted themselves magnificently but in which, unfortunately, some casualties were suffered.
– Did he not say that the Vietcong did not want to kill the Australians?
– Yes, he also said that. On the very same day that Mr. Calwell made the statement that I have just referred to, Mr. Whitlam without any consultation with his leader - that might be so; I am not sure - accused the Government of magnifying the military threat to Australia when an election was due. That is something he ought to be ashamed of to bis dying day. Six months before an election! How absurd! A day later the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) described Mr. Calwell’s statement about “ keeping our servicemen out of the Vietnam fight “ as being “ mischievous and offensive “. 1 think they are mild terms. Now we come to No. 7 of the 13 deadly sins. Mr. Calwell reached the all time low in his political judgment when on 24th May he forecast that conscription would have a decided influence on the Queensland election result. Every Australian knows just how wide of the mark he was in that forecast.
– It did have a decided effect.
– Yes. I refer now to No. 8 on the list. A day later - on 25th May - Mr. Calwell made his infamous comment about the loss of the first national servicemen in the Vietnam fighting. He said -
The Government parties and the D.L.P. . . . must share the terrible responsibility for sending voteless 20 year old youths into action. . . . Thank goodness the Labour Party has opposed Australian involvement in Vietnam. . . .
On 29th May the newspapers published a gallup poll which found that the Australian public remained two to one in favour of calling up 8,400 young men each year for two years military service, even though 1,400 national servicemen had been sent to Vietnam.
I mention now No. 9 of the deadly sins. Mr. Calwell excelled himself when, at the New South Wales Labour Conference on 12th June, he said -
If a Labour Government is returned at the next Federal elections it will begin withdrawing Australian troops from Vietnam at the end of this year. . . .
Senator Cormack. How does that square with the third deadly sin?
– You tell me. Mr. Calwell remained strangely silent for nearly a month. Now we come to No. 10. He broke out again on 8th July, again in Brisbane. There must be something about the Queensland air that led him to do this. He attacked Australian participation in the war saying -
That is, the Australian Labour Party - want to bring back our troops without endangering their lives or those of our allies.
On 25 th July the “ Age “ carried a reference to the Vietnam war by Senator Cohen, who a few weeks ago was a candidate for election to the important office of Leader of the Opposition in the Senate. This newspaper reported him as having said that the A.L.P. would withdraw all Australian troops from Vietnam at the earliest possible moment. Let me mention No. 11 of the 13 deadly sins. When Mr. Calwell said on 3rd August - he was widely quoted in the Australian Press - that the Vietcong was avoiding killing Australians in the war, I thought that this was the most irresponsible and mischievous statement ever made by a responsible - would I be more accurate in saying irresponsible - Leader of the Opposition. Now listen to No. 12. He was attacked by the Press - rightly so - several days later when he said that the Government was exchanging Australian lives in Vietnam for American trade. If that is not enough to condemn him in the eyes of Australians, I do not know what is.
– They did not say anything about trade with China and North Vietnam.
– I know this is hurting you. This is the last of the 13 deadly sins: In Darwin on 9th July, Mr. Calwell said -
The Holt Government will dig Australia’s grave if it continues its present course in Vietnam.
When he said that, I thought that he was digging his own grave politically. I have stated in some detail what Labour’s Leader and potential leaders - do not forget the potential ones - have said about Vietnam, because 1 believe that what is happening in South East Asia is of paramount importance to our future. On the outcome of the conflict in Vietnam depends our ability to hold this country for our children and our children’s children. Let there be no mistake about the threat of atheistic Communism to our shores.
I have come to the end of the recital of the 13 deadly sins. The Australian Labour Party’s views as related are surely in line with those which caused several things to happen in the past. One with which most of us are familiar was the occasion during the last war when the United States of America refused to share secrets with Australia because she could not trust the Government of that time. Then there was the terrible fiasco of Manus Island, which everybody surely has regretted ever since.
– That was before my time.
– The honorable senator ought to read a little bit of history. If that incident was before his time, surely the next one was within his time. Only comparatively recently Labour expressed its attitude to the North West Cape project. Then, when we were trying to assist our allies and to assist in the defence of this country, obstacles were placed in the way. Let me say to the honorable senator in particular that if ever there was a time when the Australian people could say: “Thank God we have not got a Labour Government governing Australia “, this is the time.
There has been quite a bit of criticism of national service - I think this matter was mentioned yesterday - and reference has been made to the penalties that should be imposed when people refuse to serve. Horror has been expressed at the thought that penalties should be imposed on men who refuse to serve. Indeed, I saw two petitions presented on behalf of people allegedly members of the Greek community, castigating the Australian Government because Greeks in Australia possibly could be called up for national service. It is interesting to note what happens to people in Greece who are called up for national service and who refuse to serve. In that country all males on reaching the age of 21 years must present themselves to the authorities for national service. All males are liable to call-up up to the age of 55 years. Service is for two years in either the Army, the Navy or the Air Force.
– What service could 55 year olds render?
– I do not think the honorable senator would be of much use in the Services. He talks too much. Greek conscripts are paid very little. They are clothed, fed, housed and armed. They are paid a small amount of money each month for cigarettes. That would not matter to me, because I do not smoke. There is no voluntary system of enlistment in Greece. Heavy penalties may be imposed for failure or refusal to take up arms. The Greek law provides for imprisonment and the death penalty in certain circumstances such as in the case of a young man who, after the second refusal to take up arms, was given the death penalty. That penalty was later commuted by a court martial to 41/2 years’ imprisonment.
Let us consider what happens in the United States of America, which has been fighting our battles. That country’s Services are manned by conscripts. Only within the last two or three weeks the Press has reported a case in which a man had been sentenced to three years’ gaol because he had refused to serve. Two other persons received a sentence of five years’ gaol. If people think that we are treating our fellows harshly when they refuse to serve, they should have another think about the matter. I have devoted quite a bit of time to this aspect which is facing the Australian people today but, in view of the importance of it, I think that the time was well spent so far as the Government is concerned. I only hope that it is not too late even yet for the Opposition to see the light and to fall in behind the policy to defend this country and try to make it safe for those who come after us.
.- In making my contribution to the Budget debate, I want to say first that I support the amendment as moved by my Leader. In introducing to the discussion the problems on which I hope to speak, I want to quote statements made by Treasurers. I want to draw a comparison between Mr. McMahon, the present Treasurer, and the previous Treasurer, Mr. Harold Holt, now Prime Minister -
As Federal Treasurer and Deputy Liberal Leader, Harold Holt, in a speech to the Associated Chambers of Manufactures in Canberra (24th November, 1965) declared his, and his Government’s, complete opposition to economic planning, irrespective of the state of the economy. He said -
It is, of course, the Government’s aim to achieve a belter balance than we have had in the past year or so between supply and demand. At the same time we wish to effect some redistribution of resources; in particular, the defence effort - up £85 million, or 27 per cent, onlast year . . .
The comparison, of course, is 34 per cent. this year -
I emphasise that part of the sentence -
Mr. Holt’s approach to economic planning as Treasurer is no different from the opinion he expressed in 1943 . . .
That was 23 years ago.
– Is the honorable senator still quoting?
– I will have something to say about the honorable senator later - . . when he attacked the Curtin Government for placing the Department of Postwar Reconstruction under the control of the Treasurer, which he described as “ a serious blunder “, and then declared -
It is notorious that the job of the Treasury is not to put forward progressive schemes . . but to scrutinise closely the proposals of other departments. Its policy is invariably one of retrenchment, and that is the mental approach of its officers in the proper exercise of their duty.
So Mr. Holt on that occasion thought that his job was not to be progressive but to engage in retrenchment.
– Mr. Deputy President, J raise a point of order. The honorable senator is allegedly quoting from a newspaper, the source of which he has not disclosed, andI require that it be tabled.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.- If the honorablesenatorwantsthepaperto be tabled, he can move at the end of the speech that it be tabled.
– Thank you, Mr. Deputy President. Now that 1 have been rudely interrupted-
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order!
– I should like to refer to some statements made by the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar). One of the main features of his contribution was that he completely avoided, even when interjections were made, any reference to trade with Communist China. Secondly, when he was making his statement on troops for Vietnam he deliberately evaded any reference at all to the currently popular rumour, which I think is founded on fact, that another battalion of Australian troops will be going to Vietnam before May of next year, if this Government is lucky enough to be returned.
– Where is the honorable senator’s proof of that?
– I am making the statement. It is up to honorable senators opposite to disprove it, to prove that it is wrong. If anybody wants to look at this article from which I am about to quote, it is available to them -
Government members are apparently not familiar with official publications of the Government which are available to members of the public at large. However, on a careful reading of backbench contributions to the recent debate in both the Senate and the House of Representatives on Government policy, this is the only conclusion which can be arrived at.
I want to add these quotations -
During the course of the debate, Labour members referred to growing tradewith Communist China–
I am referring to the last session and I am quoting from a document of 25th March last -
They indicate that steel has been shipped to the Chinese People’s Republic in the last two years, but it is strip steel for making beer cans, fruit cans or jam tins.
The report continues -
– Rutile has been sent there.
– Rutile is forbidden, as the honorable senator knows. As a strategic material, its shipment is prohibited.
I should like to know where Senator Cormack obtained this information. If rutile is a prohibited export, as he asserted, somebody is breaking or was breaking the law. Official government publications show that in the year 1963-64 mainland China was Australia’s ninth best customer for rutile concentrates. Bulletin No. 61, entitled “ Overseas Trade 1 964-65 “, issued by the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics shows that mainland China received 99,401 cwt. of rutile concentrates valued at £181,837. No exports of rutile concentrates are shown for mainland China in the equivalent publication of the Bureau for 1962-63, which was the previous financial year. Senator Cormack also described Senator Kennelly’s statement that steel was being set to mainland China as patently untrue and dishonest, and he said that Senator Kennelly had been misled. I am going to prove that our statements in this regard are correct. The “ Overseas Trade Bulletin “ shows that Senator Cormack was wrong and not Senator Kennelly. The publication gives the following information of steel shipments to Communist China. This relates to iron and steel plates and sheets -
The year 1963-64 is the period in respect of which the Government is being so pious about these exports.
In 1959-60 chemicals exported to China were valued at £292,747. There was a decrease in 1962-63 to £2,882. In 1963-64 the value was £3,651, which was an increase on the previous year’s figure. As late as December 1965 the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Anderson) provided information in reply to a question asked by Mr. Luchetti, a Labour member of the other place, which also proves Senator Cormack to be hopelessly wrong. “ Hansard “ for the House of Representatives for 2nd and 3rd December 1965, at page 3575, records a table setting out types and values of minerals which had been exported to China. These include rutile ores and concentrates; coal; iron and steel - low and medium carbon - plates and sheets, plain, cold rolled under i inch in thickness, galvanised, not corrugated, tinned, excluding waste, and tinned plate waste; zinc and zinc base alloys, unwrought; and other ores. I hope this information will finally convince the House that the Government has not told us the truth in this regard. In a book entitled “ Australian Policies and Attitude Towards China “, recently published by Princetown University and distributed by Cheshires - the price is $13.75 - Professor Albinski deals at considerable length with the question Of trade with China. He points out that in mid- 1957 a second hand rolling mill was sold to China and also that the peak year of exports of iron and steel plate and sheet to China was 1958-59, when the exports reached a value of $5 million. The Professor also states that whilst there is an embargo maintained by the Department of Trade and Industry, the list can be modified by the Department of External Affairs. He asserts that the shipments of steel and the sale of the rolling mill had to be cleared by the Department of External Affairs. Those are two things that Senator McKellar refused to tell us about, because it was politically unwise to talk about them.
– Who was the man quoted then?
– I have given names; they are here if honorable senators want them. When this Budget was produced a number of people described it in different terms. The underprivileged sections of the community were most condemnatory in their remarks, but there were some who thought it a very good Budget. I might add that they do not include any members of the Australian Labour Party. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Bury), speaking in the Budget debate, as reported at page 309 of “ Hansard “, said -
If we are to make economic progress, it is essential to foster a dynamic spirit of hard work and to avoid the excesses of the welfare State.
In other words, he did not approve of any increase in pensions. The Country Party member for Canning (Mr. Hallett) said, during his contribution to the debate -
But in the field of social services, those who depend on fixed incomes are now in a position in which they cannot gain in income as the economy gains momentum. As a consequence, they are at a definite disadvantage. Therefore, we should do our utmost to help them.
At a later stage I will show that wide differences of opinion between the Liberal Party and the Country Party are leading to unstable government. That was one of the shots that the Country Party is having at the Liberal Party. The honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Kevin Cairns), as reported at page 328 of “ Hansard “, said -
Everybody knows that if the States impose additional taxes, that if the yield from taxes in Victoria and New South Wales is altered, this alteration will have an effect on the overall movement of the economy.
The Country Party member for Lyne (Mr. Lucock) said - lt may be argued that a wage increase will stimulate production and industry and keep up the purchasing power of the wage earners, but constant increases in the prices of goods rather destroy the benefit of wage increases.
He agreed with his colleague, the Country Party member for Canning. These two members of the Country Party were having a shot at the Liberals. As reported at page 416 of “Hansard”, the Liberal Party member for Bowman (Dr. Gibbs) said -
We know that pensioners have been feeling increasing hardship and they have been, in many instances, finding it difficult to live in a manner which encourages their self-respect. I believe that the payment of an extra $1 per week will go a long way towards fulfilling this need.
I could go on quoting statements by Government members which border on the hypocritical, if one analyses them, but there would be no great merit in doing that because these people merely echo each other and indulge in a game of mutual backslapping. The Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt), when making his contribution to the Budget debate, continually complained that in the time allotted to him he was not able to spell out in detail all the good things that, he said, were contained in the Budget. But he confused himself, his supporters and all Australians, because when the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) endeavouredto obtain for him an extension of time we saw the sorry spectacle of a Prime Minister crossing the floor of the House and voting to stop himself from speaking for longer. How ridiculous can you get? I submit, with due respect, that the reason why he took that action was that he knew there was nothing in the Budget which he could defend and that he realised that the sooner he got his speech over the better off he would be. There is a tradition that Liberal Party Prime Ministers are frustrated poets and lovers and that the objects of their affections live across the seas. I will quote a poem which, as far as I know, was composed by the previous Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies - now Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports. It was recited to Queen Elizabeth when she last visited Australia. The words are -
I did but see her passing by,
But yet I’ll love her till I die.
His successor has-shifted his loyalties in another direction and now composes poem to L.B.J. Let me quote four lines of a poem, with apologies to the author of “ Original Anzac “. The poem is dedicated to Prime Minister Holt and is as follows -
All the way o’er crimson path, with L.B.J.
And never count, what tragic price we pay.
All the way, through years of bitter sacrifice
While youth alone, pays bloody wars’ full price. 1 have quoted those lines merely to show that the political sands of time are shifting for successive leaders of the Government forces. The “ Bulletin “ expressed pessimism regarding the Budget. I think this journal is looked upon as very reliable by members of the Liberal Party because normally it backs them up fairly strongly, but on this occasion it was fairly critical of the Treasurer. It stated -
Personal consumer spending is by far the most important single item in the health of the economy, since it provides directly about two-thirds of the total market for goods and services produced.
What sort of stimulus did this Budget give to the economy? The only stimulus, if one could call it that, was the few crumbs that were handed to the pensioners. But when will they get their increases? Not for weeks yet. I felt very sorry for the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Henty) when the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Kennelly) was speaking in the Budget debate for the Opposition recently and was very critical of the Government. He said that anything the Government hands out to its own friends it makes sure they get in a hurry, but when it hands out something to the underprivileged section of the community - he was referring specifically to the pensioners - it makes them wait. The Leader of the Government sat on the front bench, grinning like a Cheshire cat when this reference to pensioners was made, and then he lay back in his seat and did not worry too much about Senator Kennelly’s other statements. He knew, as did all members of the Government, that the friends of the Government would be happy about the other things contained in the Budget. Last financial year consumer spending rose by only $600 million - from $11.8 billion. Allowing for the 3.3 per cent. price rise, this amounts to an increase of a mere 1.8 per cent., or a little less than the population rise. The slackness here, as much as the more spectacular falls in car sales and housing construction, has been reponsible for the recent slowdown in the economy.
Yet the Government claims there is no slowing down in the economy. We are told the economy is in a buoyant condition and that we are on the eve of an affluent era. However, this magazine which normally supports the Government condemns it in very strong language. This article also states -
Simple theory has it that consumer spending will remain a constant proportion of people’s after-lax incomes . . .
Recently I read another analysis which showed that at least 55 per cent, of the recent increase in the basic wage had gone out of the pay packets in the first week. This was taken away by increased charges, fares and taxes which inevitably find their way back to Canberra. That is why Sir Henry Bolte and Mr. Askin are so sour. They think the Government is not giving them a fair share of its revenue and intend to take a piece out of the Government’s political hide. The article to which I have referred also states -
To sum ip then, without governmental stimulus, the economy looks like slowing down further in the year ahead, with unemployment continuing to rise and utilisation of factory plant declining.
Is not this a sad state of affairs? The Government tells the people that we are an affluent society and there is plenty of money for everybody and no poverty, yet this analytical article, of undoubted veracity, points out clearly that we are not geared to go ahead but in fact, because of the Government’s Budget, we are geared to go in reverse The article also stated -
Only now are many businesses beginning to realise the full effect which the past 18 months’ stagnation in spending has had on their profitability, and only now are they finding they do not really need extra plant capacity or office space. So, instead of a levelling off in capital expenditures, there could well be a sharp fall, unless the Budget promises a resumption of general growth.
To the disappointment of those associated with this magazine, the Budget did not provide an incentive. I want to quote also another reliable statement contained in an editorial in the “ Australian “ of 27th August 1966. The Minister for Defence (Mr. Fairhall) had said in the Budget debate that we could look forward to a period of considerable budgetary inflexibility. Commenting on this, the “ Australian “ stated -
His statement could be dismissed lightly except for the fact that he must have played a critical role in the formulation of the last two Federal
Budgets, because he is a senior member of Cabinet and now holds the Defence portfolio.
So the Government has become famous for its boom and bust approach to the economy. This happened in 1952, 1956, 1960 and 1961. Now in 1966 it is acting in precisely the same way. As a result of the dead Budget presented by the Government, the New South Wales Government will spend at least $1.4 million on portable school classrooms. The State Government has not the money for education and it has no chance of getting money out of this Government. That would be like getting blood out of a stone.
Queensland has had a long history of free hospitalisation but according to the last political forecast, supported by the Liberal convention, there is a demand that the free hospital system be abolished or that alternatively the means test be introduced. The scheme has been whittled away ever since the advent of the Liberal-Country Party coalition in Queensland. I put it that way, although the Country Party has superiority in numbers, because the Country Party is still doing what the Liberals tell it to do. Today the free hospital scheme in Queensland is only a shadow of the scheme that operated under a Labour government.
Drastic action is aimed at cutting the cost of running mental hospitals in Victoria. The State Government has put out a circular telling the hospitals how to use cheaper drugs. The principals of Victoria’s 26 mental hospitals and clinics have been told that staff overtime must be cut by 15 per cent. This will mean that many patients badly in need of treatment and supervision may be left unattended for up to two hours. In New South Wales hospital costs have also been increased. So three States have come out and stated quite clearly that they must put up hospital charges. This is tragic in the case of Queensland because what is left of the free hospitals scheme could disappear entirely.
I have always maintained that two of the most reliable barometers indicating the state of the economy are the motor trade and the housing construction programme. Both have shown significant declines recently. For the first seven months of this year, car sales fell by 12 per cent. This is a significant drop but in July and August the fall was increased by 8 per cent, to 20 per cent. Obviously, the situation is deteriorating. Earlier this year the Volkswagen manufacturers had to sack some 400 employees. In the last three or four weeks 1,085 additional employees have been put off by the Ford company, British Motors Corporation and the General Motors-Holden’s group which alone sacked 700. The president of the New South Wales Chamber of Automotive Industries, Mr. Basil Clifton, said that the Commonwealth Government had written off the automotive industry by refusing to provide a Budget stimulus. When this matter was referred to» the Minister for Territories (Mr. Barnes) in another place, he said it was unfortunate that General Motors-Holden’s had been forced to sack 700 men. He said a lot of other things about the car industry, but of course, this gentleman is known for speaking before he thinks. I wonder what would happen if we took away the Minister’s salary for three months or if we sold some of the very fine horses he has on his property. That would be a national tragedy; it would not be “ unfortunate “. But here are 700 employees of the automotive industry in one firm alone without a job because of the actions of this Government.
The Government has played a first class swindle on the motor car industry and on other sections of industry as well. I do not know whether the Government hopes to continue with this down turn in production, after its experience in 1960-61. Recently a warning came from the secretary of the North Australia Workers Union in Darwin who is reported by a reliable section of the Press to have said - lt is impossible to find married accommodation for less than $30 a week and even some of that is sub-standard. Opportunities for skilled men in Darwin are limited. Accommodation is hard to get and very expensive. There would not be vacancies for more than 12 skilled men in Darwin.
This is in an area the Government is supposed to be developing.
The Government from time to time blames anybody but itself for the things that go on. I want to mention two points in this regard which were made by the Treasurer at page 4 and page 7 of the circulated Budget speech. He said that certain things will be all right provided that the weather is all right. I do not know whom the Government would have blamed or what it would have done if the drought had not affected some parts of New South Wales and Queensland. This has been the good old parish pump for the last couple of years. Everything that goes wrong in relation to the Government has occurred, according to the Government, because it has not rained. Obviously, rain has not fallen in these two States. But what is the Government doing to see that this sort of drought does not happen again? The amount of money that is being made available from Commonwealth funds for water conservation is nothing short of disgraceful.
Again I wish to quote from an official government publication which sets out the capacity of water held in storage in the dams in Queensland. I find that the Tinaroo Falls Dam in Queensland at this time is holding 65 per cent, of its capacity. Irrigation weirs on the Burdekin system are holding 18 per cent, of their capacity. The Government is not doing anything to make sure that the resources of the Snowy Mountains Authority are made available at this stage for a long range plan for water conservation in this area, which is one of the best catchment areas in Queensland. The Callide Dam on the Fitzroy River has .6 per cent, of its capacity. This dam has been completed two years but has never been filled. The Borumba Dam in the Mary catchment is one of the best dams in this regard as it is filled to 95 per cent, of its capacity. But the Leslie Dam on the Condamine catchment is filled to only 35 per cent, of its capacity.
I mention these facts because they illustrate that this Government does not know where Queensland is. On the occasional times when the Government does find Queensland - once every three years - it does nothing to assist the State. The total capacity of water for irrigation that we are using currently is about 4 million acre feet. But we have the potential as far as conserving water is concerned for up to 250 million acre feet. The ratio of 4 million acre feet being consumed to the 250 million acre feet potential represents a pretty sad state of affairs. There is room for a vast water conservation scheme particularly in the central and northern parts of Queensland.
I wish to make some reference to some of the things said by Senator Lawrie. I feel that this is desirable because it is possible that some of the things that he said will prove to be confusing as far as Queensland is concerned. 1 quote first of all from page 137 oF “Hansard” of Thursday, 25th August 1 966. The honorable senator made reference to Vietnam and said -
We must always, as we have done in the past, defend our country from outside its shores and noi wait lin ul we are invaded. . .
Thai is Senator Lawrie’s contribution, to which he added a few other equally inane comments on the Vietnam dispute. As I spoke on this matter during another debate in the Senate yesterday, 1 do not propose to elaborate on the subject, because 1 feel (hal I answered most of the statements made by Senator Lawrie. The honorable senator then made reference to the alumina plant at Gladstone. He said -
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 plum and output before the first phase is completed.
I suppose that Government senators saw recently a statement in the Press that some doubt exists whether the company at Gladstone will be able to dispose of the production of the factory and whether or noi this development will be proceeded with.
The honorable senator went on to say -
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 10,0(10 people . . .
Remember that Senator Lawrie is a Country Party representative in this chamber. He is having a shot at the Government. I agree with Senator Lawrie that we need these roads. But Senator Lawrie went on to say -
I urn pleased to see in the beef roads agreement that 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.
Liberal Senator Morris had to interject at this stage -
A road 160 miles long will not be constructed. Funds are being allocated only for bridges.
Senator Lawrie endeavoured to get out of his troubles by saying -
Yes. Now let me refer to Mount Isa.
The honorable senator shifted 500 miles across the State. If Government members do not know what the developmental plans for
Queensland are, how are we or the members of the general public to know? Let us face up to the fact that the plain truth of the matter is that the Government has no plan for the development of my State.
Senator Lawrie then referred to the development taking place in the pastoral areas of Cape York Peninsula. It is a well known fact - I will have more to say on this later - that development has taken place already with the aid of foreign capital. The Labour Party has never protested about the introduction of foreign capital provided that it stays here, that people come out here to use it, and that the profits stay here. What we do object to are the takeovers of industry when money comes into this country and large interest earnings go out of Australia. We are violently opposed to matters of this nature. 1 will be able to quote figures to show some of the things that are happening in this country at the present time. Senator Lawrie then referred to the fact that he would like to remind the Government that no fishing industries were established in Queensland and that continuous telephone systems are not operating everywhere that they ought to be operating. This is very true indeed. There has never been a proper survey of the potential of Queensland. In fact, it is the only State in Australia - do not quote me on this; a member of the Government Parties said this not a long time ago at a public meeting - where there has not been a proper survey made. Consequently, such a survey is long overdue. I hope that Senator Lawrie pursues this line of throught in some other area.
I wish to refer to one or two other things mentioned by Senator Lawrie. He mentioned the lack of a continuous telephone system. In Queensland, the number of continuous exchanges is being reduced, not increased. This is happening in the underdeveloped parts of the State. [ said during the adjournment debate on Tuesday evening that in relation to television in Queensland the Postmaster-General (Mr. Hulme) ought to have a closer look at the situation. He should have a thorough look at the telephone situation as well.
Another section of the Budget is devoted to our help for overseas territories. This is of the order of $103 million. What a magnificent sum. Approximately $70 million of this is allocated for the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. This amount is to be spent in the current financial year-. If this was not done, the Government would be in trouble with the United Nations. Then there is a commitment of something over $13 million for the Colombo Plan in addition to other fixed sums that the Government is paying out for various territories and areas. But very little has been provided for assistance in other territories. The other day, a Liberal senator asked a question - and he was fobbed off by the Minister concerned - whether Australia is to give any assistance to the starving people on Lombok Island.
This reminds me of something that took place not so long ago when many millions of people were in dire straits in India. It took this Government so long to make shipments of wheat available - while it was still selling wheat on credit to China - that tens of thousands of people died during the time that the Government was thinking about the matter. It appears that the Government will not give financial aid to the people of Lombok Island until the Indonesian Government carries out a survey and then a report and then a statement are made on the situation. It is alleged that 80,000 people are hungry in this area. The first newspaper report said the figure was 20,000 but the number has been increased in television and newspaper reports since then to a much higher figure. Is the Government going to dillydally for a further period of weeks while a few more thousand people die of starvation? The Government could help those people at a very small cost to this country now. After all, at this stage the Government is fairly friendly with Indonesia. In this regard, I refer honorable senators to a report in the “New York Times” of Wednesday, 6th July 1966, in which our Prime Minister in one of his numerous overseas Press statements said -
With 500,000 to one million Communist sympathisers knocked off -
What a nice dignified statement for the Prime Minister to make -
I think it is safe is assume a reorientation has taken place.
The Prime Minister was talking about Indonesia. I assume that he was passing the information on to his Government. The Prime Minister said that half a million to one million Indonesians have been knocked off by Communist sympathisers. One of the Indonesian Ministers - I think it was Dr. Adam Malik - said recently that this was not correct. He said that it was a mistake and a misunderstanding that this number of people had been knocked off. These are not my words. They are the words of the Prime Minister who leads honorable senators opposite. If this is his choice of Australian language, somebody ought to give him a course in framing his statements with more diplomatic words.
– We will get the honorable senator to do it.
– I would probably do a better job than the honorable senator who interjects.
– The honorable senator is not showing it so far.
Senator KEEFFE__ I refer briefly now to the subject of social services. There will be more opportunity to discuss this matter when the relevant estimates are debated by the Committee. I want to make a comparison between the figures for social services in Australia and New Zealand. Apparently these figures are United Nations figures. I do not guarantee their accuracy right down to the last decimal point. But they are reliable. Australia’s expenditure in this regard is approximately 3.4 per cent, of its gross national product. The figure for New Zealand is 2 per cent. When we look at the other end of the scale we find that the New Zealand expenditure on social services is 9.8 per cent, of gross national expenditure, compared with the Australian figure of 6.6 per cent. The Government tells us that it has gone bankrupt through looking after the underprivileged section of the community. Of course, it is able to find an extra $252. million for defence. As I said in a previous debate, much of that money is being wasted on a war which neither we nor anybody else will win. Yet, when it comes to looking after the people who have made this country and have given their lives and many other things for it, the Government is able to find only a measly $50,150,000. That is for a full year and covers all the Government’s increases in social services.
There are many political theorists who say that the instability of the Government is brought about by a number of factors, one of which is its inability to plan economically. Another factor suggested by people who are a little more uncharitable is that members of the Government parties are fighting too much among themselves. They say that the Government is unstable because members of the Government parties cannot get on together. I point out that during the selection of Senate candidates prior to the Senate elections in 1964 the Government parties produced first class trouble spots in Victoria, Western Australia and Queensland. In Queensland there was a big time, first class brawl. Yet members of the Government parties tell us that they are a happy political organisation. There are continual divisions between the Country Party and the Liberal Party in Victoria. They do not make for stable government in that State. The divisions between the people whom the Country Party and the Liberal Party in Victoria send to this chamber do not make for stable Government here, either.
In Queensland the divisions were so great in 1964 that the third Government candidate was not elected. At that time the Government might reasonably have expected to have that candidate elected. Of course, it will not win the election for the casual vacancy in Queensland this year. Quite recently, when the Government had to select someone to fill a casual vacancy in the Senate for Queensland, another first class brawl blew up. Alderman Ron Witham, whom I respect on a personal basis even if I do not agree with his politics, withdrew because he knew that he would get the axe and he did not want to be the meat in the sandwich. He made a very guarded Press statement in which he said, in effect, that he was fed up with what was going on in the Liberal Party in Queensland. Of course, all this is spilling over into the Federal sphere.
In the Queensland elections this year, there were three way contests in the electorates of South Coast, Albert, Murrumba and Redcliffe. The sitting Country Party candidate for Murrumba said that if he was defeated in the election-
– And in East Toowoomba, too.
– In East Toowoomba and in two or three other electorates that I have not mentioned. The ones I have mentioned were those in which the greatest brawls took place. The sitting Country Party member for Murrumba said that if he was defeated he would oppose the Postmaster-General (Mr. Hulme) in the Federal electorate of Petrie and defeat him. There is no guarantee that the PostmasterGeneral will not be opposed even now.
The honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) was so disturbed when he found out that the Liberal Party intended to call nominations for the 18 Federal electorates in Queensland that he used pressure to have a meeting of the full State Council of the Liberal Party called to try to oppose that move. Then the Queensland President of the Liberal Party rushed madly to Canberra and talked to the Prime Minister and other people behind the scenes who throw big sticks and stones around. He was able to go back to Brisbane and say: “I think it is all right. We will not oppose two of the Federal Ministers now “. Yet members of the Government parties, tell us that we have problems in our Party. I say that what is happening in the Liberal Party-Country Party coalition is bringing about a disintegration of proper government in Australia.
After the State elections in Queensland in 1963 the Country Party and Liberal Party hierarchies in that State said: “ Let us get together “. They decided that they would allocate seats around the Government side of the State House; that all the members of the Government parties would sit together; that Country Party members would sit next to Liberal Party members; that they would all be happy boys. But what did members of the Liberal Party say? They said: “ We will not sit next to members of the Country Party. We want our own area.” They won the day. They did not sit next to Country Party members, and they still do not do so. In many instances members of the Liberal Party and the Country Party are not on speaking terms. As recently as last week, no fewer than five Liberal backbench members of the Queensland Parliament threatened to vote with the Labour Party against the Government.
– They are the militant minority.
– They are the extreme right wing, reactionary minority in the
Liberal Party in Queensland. They are now being led by Mr. Charles Porter, the new member for Toowong. When Mr. Porter vacated his position of State Secretary of the Liberal Party in Queensland, no Liberal in Queensland was fit and proper to take over his position. The Party imported a man all the way from Western Australia.
– And the honorable senator will be sorry.
– He probably will be sorry. Mr. Killen is in trouble in the electorate of Moreton because the local branch of the Democratic Labour Party has said to him: “ We will not give you our preferences because we think you are too right wing, too reactionary”. Senator Gair, as the spokesman for the Democratic Labour Party, has said: “ I think Mr. Killen is a nice bloke. He will receive our preferences.” So, at the moment nobody knows who will receive the D.L.P. preferences. But we do know that Mr. Killen will not be the member for Moreton after the election this year. So it does not matter who receives the D.L.P. preferences.
I mentioned earlier that in 16 of the 18 Federal electorates in Queensland - and perhaps in all 18 - there will be three cornered contests. Members of the Government parties in the past have condemned us for having so called faceless men behind the scenes. We do not. We meet in public; or if we do meet in private we make regular Press releases after each session. But quite recently the Federal Executive of the Liberal Party met in Canberra in absolute secrecy. Not once during the two days session was any mention made in any Australian newspaper that the Executive was in meeting; nor was a single statement issued by the Liberal Party before, during or after the meeting.
I want to tell honorable senators opposite a couple more things just to let them know that they have their problems. Maybe they will solve those problems in some way. Recently Mr. Holt, during one of his many Press conferences in America said - . . we have a coalition government and in the two Houses of Parliament and in the two Parties we have unanimous support for the Government’s policy on Vietnam and in relation to the programme of national service.
I will now quote a statement made by an honorable senator who is a member of the Government parties. I do not quote this with any disrespect at all. He is entitled to make a statement if he wants to, although other members of the Government parties do not think he is. Of course, I am referring to Senator Hannaford. Referring to his statement to a meeting of the South Australian Council of the Liberal and Country League, he said -
I have been very unhappy about Australian involvement in Vietnam right from the outset. I said (to the Council) quite clearly that 1 was against Australian involvement in Vietnam and that I was not in favour of conscripting 20-year olds. The chief reason for my stand is that I think Australian involvement in Vietnam is building up a legacy in Asia against Australia.
That is what we have said, too. When Mr. Holt made his statement in America he was unaware of the resolutions of the University Liberal Club and the Maylands Branch of the Liberal League at the annual conference of the Western Australian Liberal and Country League, demanding that only volunteer national servicemen be sent abroad. Mr. P. G. Cross, a delegate from the University Liberal Club, in moving his organisation’s motion, said that the Government had not done all it could to attract volunteers. A Maylands delegate, Mr. A. Wares, said that there was a strong feeling in parts of the community against sending conscripts to battle zones and that the methods employed to get volunteers for the Korean war should be used now. If anybody wants to check that, it appeared in the “West Australian” of 5th July 1966. Of course, the divisions in the Government parties do not stop there. Honorable senators opposite became so excited in the chamber last night when a Country Party Minister from another place walked over into the adviser’s area, that they drew the attention of the Acting Deputy President to the fact that there was a stranger in the chamber. They had no legal right to throw him out. It was significant that Liberal Party senators were most anxious to get a Country Party Minister out of the chamber. Although the day before he was a hero when he extinguished a fire in somebody’s backyard in Canberra, honorable senators opposite did not treat him as a hero in this chamber. They got rid of him as quickly as they could. That shows the animosity which exists between the two parties.
I turn now to say something about the faceless men who control the parties of honorable senators opposite. It is no wonder that honorable senators opposite are so anxious to stick with L.B.J, when we see that some of the most influential companies in this country are American owned. I shall read out the list shortly. But before 1 do so, I want to point out that this Government recently did nothing when copper prices w<»re increased. It was quite happy to sec the prices increased by 25 per cent. Steel prices also were increased. There were protests from all sections of the community, saying that this would mean increased costs to the community. Some building contractors, on the larger scale in particular, came out and said that it would put an astronomical sum on to the cost of building a house. What happens is thai unscrupulous people always take advantage of an increase in the price of commodities to treble their own profit rate. Honorable senators opposite know that as well as I do.
The faceless people who direct the parties of honorable senators opposite would be associated with one or more of the following companies which I shall mention together with their ownership -
A well known economist, Mr. E. L. Wheelwright, recently estimated that of the 119 large firms engaged in processed and building materials in 1962-63, 51 were overseas controlled. Tn the field of machinery equipment and engineering products, 32 of the 60 large firms were overseas controlled. Four of the five firms engaged in manufacturing paint were foreign controlled; three of the four engaged in the manufacture of electric wire and cables were foreign controlled, and three of the four engaged in producing communications equipment were also foreign controlled. It can be seen that 75 per cent, of Australia’s main industries are controlled by people outside this country. I believe that that position should be put before the Senate.
In February 1965, Mr. Wilson, a director of Australian Paper Manufacturers - he would be a friend of honorable senators opposite and would not vote for us - gave the following table showing the percentage of foreign control and equity in Australian industry -
lt is estimated that up to 40 per cent, of Australian manufactures are controlled by overseas ownership.
My time has almost expired, but there are a couple of things to which I want to refer quickly before I complete my contribution to the Budget debate. I want to draw particular attention to the dividends that are payable overseas. This income has to be paid, which means that money is flowing out of the country to overseas interests. The total investment income payable overseas by companies in Australia amounted to £25.7 million in 1947-48 and in 1963-64 this figure had risen to £135.9 million. Total income payable on direct investments rose from £21.9 million in 1947-48 to £121.4 million in 1963-64. To conclude my speech, I wish to quote a statement which was made by Mr. McEwen on 3rd July 1963. He said -
If you become dependent for your growth upon the decisions of overseas people to invest or to refrain from investing then the development of your own country is no longer completely in your own hands.
How true that statement is. I do not know whether the other members of the Country Party agree with it. I am pretty sure that members of the Liberal Party would not share the views which were expressed by the Deputy Prime Minister. It is doubtful whether some members of the Country Party would share his views these days because they are being driven completely towards the conservative element in the coalition Government.
The Budget has introduced one good thing. The Government has increased by 25 per cent. the vote for the purchase of historical and other works of art, including the commissioning of portraits of the Prime Minister. It is significant to note that this vote has been increased by 25 per cent., which is almost the percentage by which the Government increased the defence vote.
– Are they going to hang them in Kings Hall?
– I express the view that when the Prime Minister’s portrait is painted, it be hung at Bingil Bay because after this year’s election the Prime Minister will not be here to look at his portrait in Kings Hall.
– I raise a point of order under Standing Order No. 364. The Senate may recall that Senator Keeffe, early in his speech, referred to a speech which I think he said the Prime Minister had made regarding the state of the economy. As the honorable senator did not give an exact reference, for the sake of clarity and so that the Senate may be better able to follow the honorable senator’s speech, I move -
That the honorable senator lay the document on the table.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Wedgwood). - Is the motion seconded?
– I second the motion.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - The question is: “ That the papers quoted from by Senator Keeffe be tabled “.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I take it the motion refers only to one document. I present the following paper -
Talking Pointers No. 4 - The Words of Harold Holt.
– Senator Keefe has three habits. First, he has a lively imagination for his facts - a pretty unreliable imagination; secondly, he makes quotations and places his own interpretation upon them; and thirdly, he makes completely unsupported allegations. He never produces one tittle of evidence in support of any of them. Many of his statements are complete fabrications. 1 suggest that he is careless with the truth. The rest of his remarks are unworthy of comment.
– Prove which ones are fabrication.
– Senator Keefe read out a long list of companies and said that they were our controllers. That is a complete and utter fabrication. I ant not going to argue the point with Senator Keefe. He is unworthy of any further notice.
I turn to the Budget. The six points set out in the amendment which was moved by the Opposition make complete economic nonsense. They are, in fact, in contradiction of one another. The first proposed amendment states - the Senate condemns the Budget because -
The validity of that statement is in some doubt. If we accept Labour’s amendment as truly reflecting the position, it means that prices have risen faster than wages. This would indicate an inflationary trend. Then the Opposition proceeds in its proposed amendments to censure the Government for not spending more money. It condemns the Government for not spending more on education and social services, and advocates greatly increased expenditure on development, particularly northern development.It then proceeds to condemn the Government for a lack of confidence in the private sector of the economy. If all this means anything at all, it means greatlyincreased Government expenditure. This would mean either a greatly increased Budget deficit, which would merely accentuate the inflationary problem and therefore greatly affect the problems of wage earners, or greatly increased taxation which would have a further depressing effect on the private sector of the economy. lt is true that there is a hint - indeed more than a hint - of prices control. This is a Socialist myth that a government can engage in highly inflationary policies, the effect of which can be contained by prices control. Tn case memories are short, I remind the Senate and the Australian people that in 1948 - the last year of a Labour Government in which prices control operated - prices rose by 10 per cent. If prices control operates, as the British Government has recognised, wages control must operate. If it does not, there is a continual pressure on prices because wages make up a rather large item in the cost of production. If the industrialist and the businessman cannot raise their prices to meet the increased cost, there is a further depressing effect upon the private sector of the economy. If ever Labour’s amendment were accepted, it would prove an economist’s nightmare. I think there is the same degree of irresponsibility about this programme - which we can only accept as being an election programme - as has characterised Labour’s past election programmes, which have always been condemned by the Australian people.
Senator Willesee made a very moderate speech when he opened for the Opposition in this debate and moved the proposed amendment. He engaged in the rather interesting exercise of quoting the words of leaders of various organisations on the morning after the Budget was introduced, who expressed disappointment at certain of its aspects. In the reasoning of the Opposition, those views supported the Opposition’s condemnation of the Budget. I suggest that this attitude shows unmatched cynicism, because Senator Willesee quoted the words of the very people whom, day in and day out, the Opposition condemn as exploiters, profiteers and, indeed, as racketeers. Suddenly they achieved some merit in the eyes of the Opposition. I have no quarrel wilh those people or their comments. The plain truth is that they were expressing their disappointment that they did not receive some relief or handout. Therefore they cannot be regarded as a very authoritative source from which to quote. It is a very weak foundation on which to build a case of criticism of the Government. One rather suspects that the Opposition was hard put to it to find any reliable criticism or state ments which would support the proposed amendment.
Any Budget seeks to achieve two objectives. One is to find the necessary financial resources to carry on the business of the Government. Secondly, it influences the trend in the economy prevailing at the time or predicted. I think these objectives can at times be found to be in conflict. This may well be so today, because the great responsibility of any government is national security. Regrettably, we are living in an area of great political and military instability. Central Europe was once regarded as the cockpit of Europe. Today Asia is the cockpit of the world and the position of leadership which we are having to assume with the United States in this region is placing new and heavy burdens upon us.
I think everybody accepts that our future can never be secure unless Asia is secure. The British withdrawal, in part or in whole, from Asia will add new responsibilities. I shall direct some remarks to that subject a little later. Before doing so, may I remind the Senate that following successive budgets the Labour Party through its prophet of doom, Mr. Calwell, has been predicting dire consequences for the economy. The plain fact is that during all this time full employment has been maintained and the economy has moved forward at a fast rate. The prophet of doom - and Senator Keeffe joined him in his predictions - will again prove wrong, as in the past. They have never yet been able to predict accurately.
It is true that from time to time some weaknesses develop in a particular sector of the economy. It is inevitable in any economy. But these temporary weaknesses in no sense suggest a general economic run down. They can be due to a number of factors, some quite outside the influence of Government policy. For the Opposition to seize continually on what may be admittedly a minor weakness, and to attempt to build it into <an economic crisis, is an act of desperation which shows a lack of constructive thinking.
In its proposed amendment, the Opposition expresses concern at the situation confronting the private sector of the economy. In Senator Willesee’s speech, he commented on what he believed were large funds which are not being utilised. He advocated what is virtually a conscription of money. I am sorry to use the word “ conscription “ in relation to the Labour Party, because I know that its supporters are very sensitive about it. I shall quote Senator Willesee’s words, to put them in their true perspective. At page 81 of “ Hansard “ he is reported to have said -
For years a tremendously large amount of taxation has been directed into the financing of capital works. This, of course, is the subject of an age old debate which i do not want to renew tonight. Taxation revenue has been applied for this purpose because the Government has never encouraged - or if necessary demanded - people who have surplus money - there is a lot of surplus money in the community - to invest it in Commonwealth loans.
I suggest that this so-called surplus money, which Senator Willesee fairly enough said could avoid increases in taxation if directed into Commonwealth loans, would also have the disastrous effect of depriving the private sector of the economy of a sizable proportion of its investment funds. This might be good Socialist policy, but the private sector might well note this proposal before it becomes convinced of the Labour Party’s interest in its welfare. 1. have no hesitation in saying that the proposal would have a most damaging effect upon economic development. It is difficult to believe that the Opposition really believes that large amounts of surplus money which have not been invested are floating about. Money which is not invested does not earn anything, and very few people like to have money which is not earning money. As I said, I find it difficult to believe that floating around in the community is surplus money the availability of which would have the effect of an increase in taxation being avoided, presumably to finance the policy of greatly increased expenditure which has been outlined by the Labour Party.
I wish to comment on only one other aspect of the Labour Party’s submissions. I refer to Commonwealth and State relations. The Leader of the Opposition was pleased to describe the Commonwealth’s attitude to the States as being a most cynical approach. It is quite true to say that the Premiers of New South Wales and Victoria were loud in their protests and in their statements that the Budget had forced them to raise taxation. They were squealing before they were hit. But I refuse to accept the proposition that the Commonwealth Government should bow to every State demand for increased finance. Such a proposition is untenable. The State Governments cannot have it both ways. They cannot claim sovereign rights - Sir Henry Bolte is the loudest proclaimer of such rights - and escape the obligation to provide ‘part of their own financial needs. The absence of that obligation would encourage financial irresponsibility and wasteful expenditure. I do not deny that there might be a case for a review of the formulas which govern tax reimbursements, but there rs no case for complete Commonwealth responsibility. The State Governments must answer for their financial actions and not be just spending authorities. I cannot go along with the argument advanced by State Governments that they have not a responsibility to raise taxation to meet at least some of their requirements if necessary.
– What field of taxation does the honorable senator suggest is still open to them?
– Sir Henry Bolte found one or two fields that were open to him. The provision of $1,000 million for defence in this year’s Budget demonstrates the position in which we find ourselves and the dangers that face us. These are the result entirely of Communist Chinese aggression and interference with the rights of other countries. This state of affairs stems from the announced objective of subjugating Asia. We must not forget that other countries besides South Vietnam are feeling the pressure of Communist aggression. Tibet has been subjugated. India has been invaded twice and is under continual pressure on her borders from the Communist Chinese. As I said last night, Asia, ia particular South East Asia, lives in fear.
Another factor that must cause us concern is the possible withdrawal of Britain from Asia, for economic reasons, in both the military and political sense. This is causing uncertainty in an already unstable area. During talks that I had with them, some leaders of South East Asia expressed considerable concern at this possibility. They believe that the British withdrawal will leave a vacuum, and it was put to me quite bluntly that they believed that Australia would have to fill that vacuum in part. One fact of life which we must never forget is that Britain and the United States of America can withdraw from Asia, but we cannot. Vietnam is a major problem. But it is only a part of the whole problem of Asia. Some sections of the Opposition are not able to see this. I believe that Senator Willesee is not one who does not see it. I thought that last night he dealt very fairly and very well with the general situation in Asia. He reminded us that southern Asia, particularly the Indian sub-continent, cannot be disregarded in our thoughts.
Some members of the Opposition have failed to understand that Australia must accept new responsibilities and obligations. From talks I had in Asia, particularly on the sub-continent of India, I am convinced that the people of this area not only are looking to us to accept a greater degree of leadership but expect us to do so. Incidentally and perhaps strangely, this was put to us in far away Afghanistan, where the British ambassador told some members of the visiting Australian delegation that he had been astonished recently to be told by leaders in Afghanistan when discussing our visit that they were increasingly looking to Australia to provide leadership in Asia.
We will have to take on, within the limit of our powers, the role that has been filled by Britain for hundreds of years. We have lived under the protection of a few British. I use the word “ few “ in the sense in which Senator Willesee used it. British troops have maintained law and order and have provided stability and protection throughout the world for hundreds of years, and many have sacrificed their lives in doing so. So when we speak of equality of sacrifice, let us not forget the part that has been played by humble British troops for hundreds of years. Because of their inability to continue doing the job, the responsibility is falling not upon the United States but upon our shoulders in this part of the world.
– The part played by Tommy Atkins.
– Yes, by Tommy Atkins. That is a name of which we can be proud. Despite what we have been told, Australia has a very good name in Asia. Our policies are understood. Our troops are welcome and are wanted in order to provide stability and protection. Our troops in Asia are very good ambassadors. When we consider these added responsibilities and these new burdens, we must accept the fact that defence will become an increasing burden upon the Australian Government and the Australian people in the years to come.
I come now to an aspect of the matter which we cannot ignore - economic aid. Australia has provided valuable economic aid to Asia. I am not arguing that we are doing enough. I believe that what we have done has been within the limits of our power. I do not suggest that we will not have to do a lot more. But we must bear in mind that Australian aid is given in the form of outright grants. With the possible exception of Canada - she has departed from this practice in the last year or two - Australia is the only country that has given aid in the form of outright grants. The aid of other countries is given on various terms - on most favorable terms in nearly all cases - but either in goods or kind repayment is expected over many years. Therefore, the money which we provide has this added advantage to the recipient: He does not have to repay it. I saw in Asia many of the advantages being taken through the funds being provided by Australia and I believe that in the main that not only has this money been well spent but also it has been spent in fields in which we are best able to assist.
The countries of Asia - particularly India and Pakistan - are giving new priority to agricultural development. This is becoming first priority, and it is here that we have been giving the most valuable aid. Australia has built in several countries faculties of agriculture. The thanks of the governments and people for these gifts were expressed to us. We have also provided a good deal of agricultural technical assistance. I shall refer to that a little later. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation has co-operated very closely with the research organisations in Asia and has provided most valuable assistance. I come back to technical assistance in agriculture, because I believe that this is a field in which we may have to do - in fact, I believe we should do - a lot more. Scientists in India, Ceylon and Pakistan, who are in my opinion first class, have proved that by the introduction of new varieties of rice and new practices production can be trebled. We can imagine what this means in a country like India. It means that India could almost feed itself. The great problem is to get this story over to India’s 80 million farmers. They are making progress but it is slow. We do not require agricultural scientists of university standard for this purpose, but I believe that some of our dip.lomates from agricultural colleges could perform a most valuable task in those countries in assisting to get this message over. This has a great degree of urgency about it. Time is running out. It is a field at which we should have a very close look, and in discussions with those countries we should offer to provide greatly increased aid in this direction.
I could say a lot more on this subject but time does not permit. One of the most valuable aids we are giving is in the training of students. In addition to providing great assistance to the countries concerned, it is, more than other type of aid, winning goodwill to Australia. In Afghanistan, from which we have only 22 students either trained or in training, we were thanked by the Prime Minister for this assistance. He expressed the goodwill that those students feel towards Australia for the wonderful training they have received and he mentioned the valuable help that they have given to Afghanistan since they returned. We met some of them. They came to us and expressed great appreciation for the help and friendship of the Australian people. Everywhere one goes one finds students who have been trained in Australia now assuming quite responsible positions. In Malaysia I was told by one of the heads of the Treasury and the Secretary for Agriculture how many Australian trained students were in their offices and what a major part they were playing in agricultural and Treasury developments in Malaysia. I hope that we never have to cut down on this type of aid. It seems to me that it is most valuable and should always have a very high priority.
I want to refer only to two other factors in relation to aid. One of the most valuable types of aid we give is in the construction of roads, particularly in Thailand. May 1 say that Thailand is one of the most encouraging countries in Asia. We have, through the help of engineers from the
Snowy Mountains, maintenance men and equipment operators, been able to assist the Thais to build in the Khon Kaen area in the north east - a troubled area - some 170 kilometres of road. The great value of this is that we have trained Thai engineers, operators and mechanics. People taken from the villages at ground level have been trained to operate and maintain this machinery. Engineers have come to Australia and have received training. Apart from the tremendous economic advantage of this aid, Australia has gained tremendous goodwill by the training of these people to open up and develop areas which were formerly completely closed. This activity is opening up a troubled area of Thailand, which is of great political significance. I want to pay a tribute to the Australian engineers, to Mr. Doughty, the project engineer, a young man of great intellect and understanding, and to all of the operators with whom I spent a very happy two days and learned the great respect and affection that the Thais have for them. It is very heartwarming to see. These men are not only doing a valuable job to assist Thailand. By their actions they are also winning great friendship and goodwill towards Australia.
– How many of them?
– Only a handful, probably 30 or 40. We are now extending this activity into another area near the border of Burma - Tak - where a five years road project is under way. This is a type of aid that is a great value and that I would like to see extended wherever possible. I want to make only one other reference to external aid. There has been some criticism of the amount of external aid that Australia is giving. In addition to the aid that was announced in the Budget we are giving a great deal of aid under various schemes. We are the only member of the South East Asia Treaty Organisation that is operating the special S.E.A.T.O. aid programme. We also have a programme in education. We are providing money for the International Finance Corporation and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and now for the Asian Development Bank, to which we are contributing $85 million. We are contributing to the United Nations and to’ defence support aid for various countries in Asia. When these amounts are added to the figures given in the Budget, this means a pretty sizeable sum. I do not think we need be ashamed of the aid that we are giving.
I come back to the point that I made earlier. I do not believe that we can avoid giving greatly increased economic aid to Asia. As the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) reminded us, a prosperous Asia is essential to a prosperous Australia. It is in our own interests in the long term to provide economic aid to assist these countries to develop as quickly as possible, as long as we direct the aid into the fields in which we are best able. I believe that the British withdrawal will place upon us an increased burden in this respect. I believe that the Australian people will support the Australian Government in this field.
I wish to make only one other comment, dealing with the decision of the Government to provide a subsidy for nitrogenous fertilisers. I welcome this subsidy because it is in line with recommendations that I and others have made to the Government over many years. Thanks, to a great extent, to the work of our agricultural scientists, nitrogenous fertilisers are playing a bigger part in agriculture today. Their use is being extended to land development, which makes this a far more economic proposition than it used to be. I could quote interesting figures to prove this, but I wish only to say that in my view the Government’s decision was a good one. The whole question of subsidising fertilisers, including potash - which is becoming increasingly important as its use increases - will have to be given close attention.
I conclude by saying that I believe that this is a sound and sensible Budget. I can never understand why terms like “ inspiring “ and “ imaginative “ are applied to Budgets, or why Budgets are criticised as being uninspiring or unimaginative. What is required is a sound and sensible Budget which meets the needs of the times. I believe that, whatever its faults, this will prove to be a Budget of that sort. I am confident that Australia will continue to develop as it has in the past and that the prophets of gloom will again prove to be wrong. I sup port the Budget and I strongly oppose the amendment, for the reasons that I gave earlier.
– I rise to support the amendment but I would like, in passing, to deal with a few of Senator Sim’s remarks. He said that Mr. Calwell had claimed that dire consequences would follow certain Budgets. On some occasions Mr. Calwell’s prophecies proved to be incorrect, because extraordinarily good seasons saved the Government. However, Mr. Calwell predicted that the 1952 Budget would have dire consequences, and it did. Within about six weeks of its being presented 150,000 or more people were unemployed. In 1960 Mr. Calwell said that the actions of the Government at the commencement of that year and its Budget provisions would have dire consequences, and in fact 1961 was a year of almost electoral tragedy for the Government. So his prophecies were not far wrong, except for those occasions when the Government was saved by extraordinarily good seasons, not by any particular genius for accurate budgeting in relation to the needs of Australia or the rights of the people.
Senator Sim claimed, further, that State Premiers have a responsibility to raise some of their own revenue, and Senator Gair, in a pertinent interjection, asked what were the new avenues of taxation. I read in the Press that Premier Bolte of Victoria has already said what his new avenues of taxation are to be. He is going to levy taxes on gas and electricity and increase car insurance premiums in order to increase the revenue of his State. These new burdens will fall most heavily on those least able to bear them.. Senator Sim claimed also that the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Willesee) had spoken about the conscription of certain capital.
– In all fairness, that was my term, not his.
– I know. Before I go on to deal with that matter, let me say that honorable senators opposite are supposed to be great State righters, not centralists or unificationists. However, they have placed new taxation burdens on the States, and they are now copping the squeals. Squeals have already come from the Premier of Victoria, the Premier of New South
Wales and the Treasurer of Queensland. They will come from others also - the kith and kin of Government senators, whom they should be looking after. Supporters of the Government say that they believe that this is a Federal system in which there should be a measure of predominance of State rights, and that the powers of the central government should be limited to specific matters, but whenever those powers are challenged, particularly in relation to section 92 of the Constitution, those supporters come out with boots and fists flying, trying to justify the retention of an abhorrent power which negates the authority not only of the States but also of the Commonwealth.
The Leader of the Opposition spoke of the conscription of certain capital, but it is important to point out that he did not speak in terms of confiscation. He spoke merely of direction. We in this chamber have considered legislation, emanating from another place, in which this Government sponsored the direction of capital from certain instrumentalities and then provided some taxation rebates. Therefore, what was wrong with the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate speaking of what he thought should be done, in the national interest, in relation to the direction of certain capital?
Senator Sim said that the United States of America could withdraw from Asia. Of course it could; but the question is whether it would be in its own interest to do so. We appreciate America’s sense of responsibility, not only as regards South East Asia, including South Vietnam, but also as regards the nations of Africa and South America. Over the years since World War II the Americans have been particularly generous, but whether the aid they have given to other countries has been used wisely is a matter of dispute. However, we must concede that the American people have been particularly generous since the conclusion of World War II, first, in the rehabilitation of the nations of Europe, and subsequently, in giving help throughout the world. I do not think the honorable senator is entitled to speak with authority of what the Americans believe will serve their best interests from an international point of view. Whether they should withdraw from South Vietnam is a matter for them to decide, and I do not think the honorable senator is such an eminent authority that I or anybody else should accept his opinion on that matter. Of course the Americans could withdraw, but I do not know whether that would serve their international interests.
– I said they could withdraw. That is all I said.
– The honorable senator gave an interesting resume of his trip through South East Asia, and we are all grateful to him for that. He filled in time, and that is what the Government is anxious to do. The honorable senator certainly referred to faults in the Budget. I will be quite fair, as I always am. He commended the Budget, but although he said it had certain weaknesses he did not outline them. He said also that Australia will continue to develop. Of course it will. This is a country with tremendous natural endowments inhabited by a virile people. Despite the type of government that has occupied the Treasury bench since December 1949, Australia has continued to progress. It has done so inspite of the inefficiency and deficiencies of successive Liberal Party Governments.
The honorable senator then said that the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition had no substance. Let us look briefly at the amendment. I will mention, in a few minutes time, what the Government is anxious to do in regard to the discussion of the Budget. Do not be anxious, Mr. Deputy President; I do not propose to take too long. I know that the people are anxious to get out the axe on 26th November, if that happens to be the election date. The amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition was as follows - “ the Senate condemns the Budget because -
The Leader of the Opposition dealt with the Budget adequately and efficiently after moving his amendment, and if time permits I will contribute my point of view. However, I may not have time to do so as investigation has revealed that the Government is more’ than anxious - in fact, it is determined - to conclude the Budget debate tonight. We can understand this anxiety. It was suggested earlier in the week that the Government was prepared to allow this debate to continue till next Tuesday, but I received an urgent message before lunch that the Government was determined to conclude the debate today irrespective of any other considerations. It does not want the deficiencies of the Budget to be revealed. The Government has to face an election in two months’ time. It knows it has to face the people and is anxious that there should be the minimum discussion of the Budget.
– Did not the honorable senator say something about filling in time?
– I will speak as long as I am permitted. I intend to deal adequately with the Budget. The Treasurer (Mr. McMahon) is about to enter on one of the most exciting periods of his life. He is a man of great ability and tremendous energy. But what does he produce? The Budget has been termed even by his best friends a “ stay put Budget “. By others it has been called a stagnation or a bogged down Budget. It is not exciting, imaginative or thrilling. The Treasurer is facing a period when one would expect from him something imaginative, exciting and thrilling but we get from him only a dull Budget with no appeal. It offers nothing in the way of great developments in any field. The Treasurer has followed the pattern laid down by his predecessor who was appointed in 1958.
Year after year we have had Budgets called “ stay put “, “ holding inflation “ and “ holding prosperity “. One would have expected something worth while from this Treasurer but we have merely a document placed in our hands. It is a tragedy that the speakers on the Government side do not deal with its deficiencies or even its good points, supposing that there are some in it. In this Budget we see the dead hand of the Treasury. It has been there for years and apparently if the Liberal-Country Party coalition is returned to office, the dead hand - if it is capable of writing - will write another document such as this again next year.
The Treasurer has claimed that there is to be a tremendous increase in expenditure on defence. I do not propose to go into the details of defence expenditure. The right honorable gentleman has said that the Government will spend $1,100 million on defence but $114 million of this will be expenditure under a hire purchase arrangement and will not actually be provided this year at all. In 1952-53 the expenditure was $453 million. When you allow for the marked depreciation in the value of our currency under successive Liberal-Country Party Governments, that is practically equivalent to the amount provided this year although supporters of the Government say we are facing dire peril.
According to them we are in such peril that it justifies the conscription of 20 year old boys although they do not have a vote and cannot say whether they approve of the system or not. Nobody seems to know why the Government has picked on the 20 year old boys. If Government supporters believe in conscription, I do not deny them the right to say so. But if they believe in conscription, why not conscript those who are 21 or 23 or 25 years old? Why do they have to pick the 20 year olds who have no voice at the ballot box? They select the conscripts in a hidden secret way. A marble bearing a birth date is drawn out of a barrel. It is such a sporting event that they have even had the former captain of Australian cricket teams to pick the marble out of the barrel. The selected date of birth is not disclosed to the public. The Government simply sends a notice out to the boys whose birthday is shown on the marble drawn out of a barrel by a cricketer, a brigadier or somebody else. That indicates how much the Government is spending on the defence of Australia.
When you add up the figures, up to $6 billion has been spent on defence by successive Liberal-Country Party Governments since 10th December 1949. What have we to show in the way of permanent defence establishments? Much of this money has been wasted. We now know that there is continual change in matters pertaining to defence. Weapons become obsolete. Ships are no longer serviceable. Buildings have to be altered. Locations have to be changed. But it would be interesting to have a survey to show just how much value the people of Australia have had from this expenditure in the way of permanent assets for the National defence. It has been said repeatedly over the years that Labour has opposed defence expenditure. I have never known the Labour Party to oppose expenditure for the protection of Australia but I have heard it quarrel with the basis of expenditure. The Labour Party has said that certain moneys should be spent on the rehabilitation of railways or on the establishment of an effective roads system. Incidentally, we have no effective roads system yet except perhaps in some of the southern States. There is no standardised system to serve Queensland. In the Second World War, as Senator Gair knows, the Queensland railways were utilised 24 hours a day conveying men and supplies to the north. This system might be required again if we have a standard type of war fought with ordinary weapons as distinct from a nuclear war. The Government has no reasons to be particularly proud of its defence expenditure.
As to the States, the Government is wedded to Federalism. It has certain powers and rights as have the States. We find that in this Budget the Government has increased the grants to the States by $59 million. This is supposed to be enough for the States to meet their greater responsibilities associated with increased population and developmental projects. The States are supposed to provide better roads and health facilities. They are supposed to meet the growing needs of children, adolescents and adults in the way of education. All this has to be done with an additional $59 million.
Now we come to the details of the Budget. For the Department of Health, the Budget provides $ 1 1 ,509,000 for administration. The estimated expenditure on mental health institutions in the States is $5 million. Under the heading of the National Welfare Fund there is the following provision: Medical benefits, $43,500,000; medical services for pensioners, $14,750,000; hospital benefits, $45,470,000; nursing home benefits, $23,000,000; pharmaceutical benefits, $68,600,000. Under this heading also the Government has provided $29,050,000 for pharmaceutical benefits for pensioners, $9,300,000 for milk for school children, $3,674,000 for miscellaneous and $11,845,000 for tuberculosis medical services and allowances. This makes a total of $249,209,000 for the National Welfare Fund.
That is not the whole of the expenses in relation to medical care. I am sorry if I weary honorable senators by quoting these figures but they are an essential preliminary to dealing in a measure of detail with what I ‘believe is the tremendous expenditure on an incomplete medical service at a cost much greater than the cost in other countries which provide an equal if not better service. In relation to repatriation hospitals and other institutions we find that the Budget provides $6,704,000 for salaries and allowances, $9,742,000 for temporary and casual employees and $383,000 for extra duty pay, making a total of $16,829,000 for salaries and payments in the nature of salary. With regard to administrative expenses, the appropriation is $1,542,000 for provisions, $1,414,000 for medical supplies, $2,282,000 for other general stores, $1,743,000 for fees for visiting medical specialists, $363,000 for fuel, light and power, and $580,000 for incidental and other expenditure, making a total expenditure of $24,753,000.
This is not the end of medical expenses that are involved in repatriation benefits. We find that the Budget provides $7,264,000 for specialists, local medical officer and ancillary medical services, $13 million for pharmaceutical services, $4,106,000 for maintenance of patients in non-departmental institutions, $900,000 for dental treatment, $2,442,000 for medical sustenance allowances and $1,371,000 for expenses of travelling for medical treatment. I am not going to include in my summary the cost of the Soldiers’ Children Education Scheme, telephone rental concessions to pensioners, Returned Services League - grant for employment placement activities - and the miscellaneous item also, some of which would be involved in relation to medical care and medical treatment. The appropriation for miscellaneous is $1,380,600. The total provided in the Budget for repatriation benefits excluding the items I have mentioned is approximately $29 million and it is reasonable to assume that that amount is spent.
Thinking of those enormous sums, I have gone carefully through all the Budget papers and nowhere can I see that the Treasurer has made provision for any expenditure on an inquiry into medical costs and hospital care in Australia. Since the medical and hospital benefit schemes were introduced, increased improvements have been provided each year. But these improvements have been totally inadequate in relation to the costs that are imposed on the people today. Are we to drift on without an inquiry? Will the present state of affairs go on willy nilly? Will we provide each year a small improvement as the Minister for Health (Dr. Forbes) did when he said that 2s. extra benefit will be provided as a Commonwealth subsidy in respect of a visit by a patient to a general practitioner and a few shillings more in respect of patients referred to a specialist? As has been said, the allowance to pensioners in hospital is to be increased from $3.60 to $5. The Government has increased in some measure the aid to nursing homes. This situation just cannot go on.
The pharmaceutical benefits scheme and the medical and hospital benefits scheme have proved a bonanza for doctors. They will all admit that. It has proved an El Dorado for the retail pharmacists. It has proved an Aladdin’s cave for the wholesalers and the drug manufacturing firms. This state of affairs is just not good enough. Only recently I saw a report in which it was said that the provision of health services in this country is costing the Federal and State Governments $800 million a year. This figure does not include expenditures by people who pay for their own medical attention, those who buy drugs outside the pharmaceutical benefits scheme, or those people who purchase so called ethical preparations which are available to them on a doctor’s prescription. The figure does not include the amount spent on pills or potions - call them what you will - that people buy willy nilly over the pharmacist’s counter. It is reasonable to assume that the sum could exceed” $1,000 million a year, which is much more- than the cost of the complete national health service for all persons in England.
I am not going to say that the health service: in England is ideal. I know the deficiencies of it. I have seen them. I know of the complaints of the doctors and of the complaints of the patients. But, at least, since the scheme was established in 1946 by Mr. Aneurin Bevan as Minister for Health, a substantial improvement has taken place in the standard of health of the people of Great Britain. I know that there are many other contributing factors. I do not want any honorable senator who follows me to say that I did not disclose the whole truth. That is not typical of me. I disclose the whole facts even if they happen to be against me or my Party. I seek always to establish a case in the interests of the cause that I am espousing at a particular time. The peo-:le in Great Britain under the national health scheme receive spectacles, dentures and other benefits at a cost much less than these things can be provided for here.
It seems to me that an inquiry should be held. I make this request as there appears to be no provision in the Budget for an inquiry. I hope that the present Minister for Health or the Minister for Health after the coming election - let us hope in the interests of Australia that he comes from the Labour side of the Parliament - will hold an inquiry to determine what should be an effective system to serve the health needs of the people of this country at the most economic cost. I am not suggesting that there should be any reduction of the cost consistent with a reduction in the standard of service provided. But I do claim that the Government has developed over the years the most expensive system of health services in the world.
I do not say that that claim applies in relation to costs in the United States of America. We have to realise the different values of money in relation to wages, costs of services and so on in the two countries. But when I talk in terms of comparable services I mean that the Australian service is the most expensive. The monetary rewards, incidentally, are not going to the most competent and to those most entitled to receive them. The average amount received by a retail pharmacist is approaching $8,000 a year under the pharmaceutical benefits formula. That is not a bad start when we realise that that amount is paid to one individual who, in addition, has certain other income in relation to sales of various items that he stocks. He provides drugs and he sells the ethical preparations that are not provided in the pharmaceutical benefits formula. These are many. They include the pills and potions that I mentioned. So honorable senators will realise that here is an adequate return or, should I put it this way, a basic return. I am not saying that $8,000, after allowing for rent and so on, is necessarily excessive; but that is the payment to the average pharmacist.
I refer now to general practitioners in medicine. I admit readily that general practice has its disabilities and difficulties. Some of these men took six years to qualify. That justifies an adequate and reasonable return - a return in excess of that which the competence of an ordinary tradesman might justify. We think in terms of money as the reward for services. That seems to be the system under which we labour at present and it appears that it will endure for some time. Some general practitioners - not necessarily the most competent - earn between $30,000 and $50,000 a year net. Then there are the specialists, who are recognised by their fellow professional men as being extremely competent, but who certainly are not confronted with the disabilities or difficulties of some general practitioners. They receive much less than some genera] practitioners.
I have pleaded repeatedly for the registration of specialists throughout Australia. 1 believe that, if the Commonwealth Government approached the State Governments, they would consider the registration of specialists. Then there could be a reasonable distribution of the money provided for medical services. There is justification for an inquiry. I would be the last person to deny hospitals legitimate payment for services rendered. I certainly would be the last person to deny medical practitioners an adequate return for the use of the talents with which nature has endowed them, for the energy that they have displayed in pursuing their courses and for the dedication that they have to the call of duty.
The pharmacist should not be neglected. I pay due regard to expenditure on research, whether in Australia or overseas. By and large, the research that is done for the pharmaceutical firms that are established in Australia is done by the parent bodies overseas. Unless there is an adequate return on money spent on research, research will die. When money is spent it has to produce an adequate return. However, 1 cannot see that we in Australia can go on paying more and more for perhaps less and less.
Payments under the medical benefits and hospital benefits schemes are just getting beyond the people. The other day I saw a suggestion of a $1 a week contribution solely to provide protection in respect of hospital accommodation. The companies or the benefits funds - term them what you will - are saying that they do not know whether they can face up economically to accepting the higher costs that are likely to be entailed in hospital accommodation. They seem to think that people will elect to gamble against ill health rather than pay $1 a week. They suggest that a person will say: “ I am not likely to be sick, and if I am not sick for three years I will then be able to afford to pay for a couple of weeks in hospital “. The medical benefits and hospital benefits funds think that some of the people who will elect to pay for the higher benefits will be people who have been hospital patients previously and have chronic illnesses that they have contracted since joining the funds. They will be entitled to move from one table to another. So we may ‘be facing a breakdown in the hospital benefits funds of various types. In regard to the medical benefits funds, last year there was a miserable increase of 2s. in the benefit payable in respect of a visit to a general practitioner and an increase of a few shillings in the benefit payable in respect of a visit to a specialist. But within six months the fees of the general practitioners were increased by 4s. 6d. or 5s. 6d. a visit. Now the specialists are investigating the justification of increasing their fees.
Surely some consideration should have been given to these matters in this Budget by a man who ordinarily has shown himself to be imaginative and who was able to outstrip a colleague in the race for second place in the Liberal Party heirarchy. But his imagination and his urge to work must have left him when he won that race, because nowhere in this Budget do we see any suggestion that he will provide money for an investigation in the interests of meeting the health and hospital needs of the people of Australia. I leave it to the Minister for Health to make a submission to the Cabinet to the effect that itis time - in fact, it is past time - a real investigation was made of the health needs of the community and of the economic cost of providing an efficient health service.
Incidentally, although it may be said that there has been an improvement in health standards in Australia the surveys of national service trainees, as reported in the Press, do not suggest that. Apparently, onethird of the young men who register are rejected because they are medically unfit. All of these things could come into an inquiry conducted by competent people representing all sections of the community, including the medical profession, the pharmacists, the wholesale druggists, the public and hospital employees. I believe that the time has long past when such an inquiry should have been conducted.
Now I want to speak for a few minutes on a matter that appears to be missing from this Budget, as it has been missing from previous Budgets. I refer to development and water conservation. I refer particularly to a State which is known as Queensland, but which is relatively unknown to the authorities in this Liberal Party-Country Party Government unless it faces a near electoral tragedy, as it did in 1961. Suddenly, in 1962 and 1963 it became vitally interested in Queensland. If time permits, I will also refer to Western Australia and the Northern Territory. It is interesting to note that the two States that earn the highest overseas credits on a per capita basis are Queensland and Western Australia and the States that benefit from those earnings are primarily New South Wales and Victoria and secondarily South Australia. Without these overseas earnings from primary production and metals production, the latter States would not be able to bring in the imports that they are able to bring in to develop their secondary industry and to employ a great number of people^
I am not denying the justification of secondary industry in Australia. We realise that it is the greatest employer of labour. But the greatest overseas income earner is primary industry, if we include the metals industry. In primary industry I include agricultural production, pastoral production and metalliferous production. Yet the Go vernment, which is couched in Canberra and which by and large lives in Melbourne and Sydney, is determined to deny the justification of providing large sums of money for development in the outlying States - the States which have a great future and on which Australia must depend more and more until its secondary industries become so stabilised, in terms of costs that are competitive with those of overseas production, that they can sell their products on world markets. Some people will say that the number of sales of secondary products overseas is increasing. I know that. On the other hand, many of the secondary industries are so tied down by overseas concerns that their franchise to export is limited. If this position is going to continue, we will have to depend more and more on what we can earn from our primary production.
What do we find? Australia is the driest continent in the world. The Government intends to spend a few hundred thousand dollars on a hydrographic survey when we all know that billions of gallons of water flow into the sea each wet season. If we take a line from Brisbane across the continent, the Brisbane line - I am not going to say whether or not the Brisbane line exists; I am using it in the geographical sense, not the military sense - almost 70 per cent, of Australia’s rainfall occurs north of that line. Yet in Queensland no water conservation scheme has been sponsored by this Government. Only recently it was announced, after much pressure, that the Snowy Mountains Authority is to be retained as a functioning authority. But the Government was miserable in its approach to this particular problem. It said that it will retain the personnel of the Authority and make them available to the States at their request and, I think ancillary to that, at their expense.
The Fitzroy River basin in Queensland provides a most admirable setup for water conservation. There are 58,000 square miles of land which contain millions of acres of fertile soil. Suitable dam sites have been investigated on the Nogoa, Comet, Dawson and Fitzroy Rivers. Then there is the Burnett River serving the Bundaberg, Gin Gin, Wallaville and other areas. The people in those areas who produce sugar have experienced two years of drought. Some honorable senators might say that sugar is at a low price on the world market. But it was not always at a low price. If the people in those areas had had an adequate water supply, the money received from the sale of sugar could have paid for the provision of a water conservation scheme, which is estimated to cost between $30 million and $40 million. The Pioneer River, which serves Mackay and the surrounding districts, is suitable for irrigation purposes. The watershed and tributaries of the Burdekin River have not been completely investigated.
This Government has a Department of National Development and it has established a Northern Division of that Department. I am not denying the talents of the men employed in the Northern Division of the Department. All I am saying is that their efforts go for practically nought in that they have not put forward one scheme that is being applied in Queensland other than the brigalow scheme which was submitted originally by the Queensland Government and for which originally £7i million was provided. Another $8 million has been provided for the development of Stage III. Incidentally, not one penny of it has been provided by way of a grant. All of the money has been provided by way of loan carrying interest.
Townsville’s community is expanding, and its harbour needs are increasing. An amount of £52 million is to be spent on building an alumina refinery at Gladstone. An amount of £100,000 has been granted, by way of a loan, to the Queensland Government for the extension of the facilities at Gladstone harbour. But hundreds of thousands of pounds may have to be spent there. With the export of coal, grain, aluminium and alumina, we might find that possibly millions of pounds will have to be spent in the Gladstone area. Extra housing will be needed, extra services will have to be provided and extra roads will have to be constructed. The demand for facilities is increasing, but not one penny is being provided toy the Commonwealth Government.
I am the first to concede the achievements of this Government, but they are so few in number that one does not require much in the way of a memory to recall them to mind. The Government has provided, over a period of two years, £ 1, 600,000-odd for the development of harbour facilities at Weipa to serve, not the people of Queensland, but an enterprise, one half of w’hich has 93 per cent. British ownership and 7 per cent. Australian ownership, and the other half is owned by United States interests. But when, for some reason or other, Queenslanders seek assistance for themselves, the Federal Government adopts a miserable approach. Nothing was more miserable or parsimonious than the Federal Government’s approach to the Queensland beef roads scheme.
For years we have made the plea that there should be a long term programme for roads. It has been conceded on all sides that a long term beef roads programme and the establishment of an efficient beef roads scheme in Queensland are justified in the light of the certainty of increased cattle production in that State. There is a demand overseas for high grade and also lower grade meat. But what do we find? Just before the Dawson by-election was held, the Federal Government promised that it would provide $3,900,000 for the construction of beef roads in Queensland. Recently a Bill authorising the expenditure of that amount of money was passed by this Parliament.
Madam Acting Deputy President, how many miles of road would that amount of money provide in a State the size of Queensland, which has an area of almost 650,000 square miles? If the roads were sealed, it would construct less than 150 miles of road. This demonstrates how generous and how seised of a sense of responsibility the Federal Government is. It is to provide the miserable and parsimonious amount of $3,900,000 for Queensland beef road construction in the coming year. The Government says that it will have a look at the position. It will have a look at the position after this year’s election results which, I can assure the Government, will be disastrous for it in Queensland. The hope for Queensland depends on whether or not the Liberal-Country Party Government is returned to office.
I now turn to the Ord River project in Western Australia. Is the Government simply going to leave these people there, like the people whom Lane took over to South America seeking a Utopia? An amount of £8,200,000 has been spent on the Ord River project, of which £6,200,000 has been provided by the Federal Government and £2 million by the State Government. There was no suggestion of economic hazards or anything like that when people were being encouraged to settle on the Ord. They went there under the impression that if they were successful in growing the crops which they expected they would be able to grow, the major part of the Ord River project would be espoused. The Western Australian Government has not asked for money by way of a grant on this particular occasion. It has asked for $35 million by way of a loan to be repaid over a period of years.
The Federal Government has been adamant in’ its refusal to meet this request. The Government has not suggested that it will entertain the proposal. No one knows whether the Government proposes to announce that it will accede to the request of the Western Australian Government, which is seeking to meet the needs of the people who have already settled on the Ord. Perhaps the Prime Minister will make an announcement on the Ord as a lure, or as an election bait to win votes in Western Australia. I do suggest that the Government should adopt a more responsible approach towards the developmental needs of the States that contribute so much to the earning of overseas income which in large measure contributes to the standard of living of the Australian people.
I do not want to speak in terms of inquiries, but I did refer to a possible inquiry into the medical needs of the Australian community. This matter is crying out for a complete investigation, as any sensible and intelligent person must admit. Even those supporters of the Liberal and Country Party Government who individually are intelligent say it is necessary. It is extraordinary that, as individuals, they are intelligent, sympathetic and considerate. They have all those dualities when they are on their own. but collectively they are the most stupid people and most ill considered in their judgments that I have ever met as a group. But individually they are lovely. Collectively, they seem to have no sense of efficiency, no consideration, and no sense of responsibility. Let us hope that an electoral lesson will so instruct them that collectively they will become as intelligent as they are individually.
The Treasurer (Mr. McMahon) and the Minister for Works (Senator Gorton) have boasted repeatedly of the contribution that has been made to education. 1 understand that $141 million is being provided in a special vote from the Commonwealth for the coming financial year. I will be fair and say that that amount does not include the money granted to the States by way of taxation reimbursement or as loans for the construction of schools. Over the years I have repeatedly paid tributes to Sir Robert Menzies, the former Prime Minister, for his interest in universities. He recognised their dire financial need and in some small measure he met that need. Under electoral pressure the Commonwealth made grants for the establishment of science laboratories. The grants have been comparatively small in relation to the tremendous finances handled by the Commonwealth. A disbursement of $5,930,000,000 is visualised for the coming financial year in the Budget. We recognise that scholarships have been provided in the fields of secondary academic and technical training. Provision has been made for the establishment of tertiary technical establishments. All of this involves only an expenditure of $141,000,000 and all of it is to be spent on secondary and tertiary education.
The Government does not realise that to every building, large or small, there is a foundation. So it. is with education, and the foundation is in the primary sphere. Repeatedly, the Government has rejected requests by Labour leaders, teachers, parents’ organisations and associated bodies, university staff bodies and so on, that a full inquiry should be conducted into primary and secondary education. For some reason the Government will not face this problem. It throws out a few sprats to catch an electoral mackerel. That is all it does. It will not proceed any further. Children are receiving an inefficient primary education and their talents are not being developed to the maximum in the secondary or tertiary fields of education. School buildings and classrooms are unsatisfactory. Teachers are untrained. Classes are overcrowded and no amenities on a national basis are sponsored by the Federal Government.
Teachers are threatening to strike. At one time we thought the right to strike was the province and privilege, although denied on many occasions by anti-Labour Governments, of the trade unionists - the manual workers. But today white collar workers and qualified men in the teaching profession are threatening to strike. That has happened in Queensland and Victoria. I have read today that in New South Wales teachers have just called off a threat to strike on the assurance by the State Government that their claims will be investigated. Teachers are seeking higher salaries commensurate with their qualifications, but that is not their only problem. They are dissatisfied with the accommodation provided for children and with the general facilities and amenities. They are dissatisfied with teacher training facilities and with the overcrowding of classes.
Surely the Government is not so irresponsible that it does not realise that the future of any modern nation lies in the educational standards of its people, either in the academic or technological fields. A nation must educate its people, apart from any human basic right as to the justification of provision of amenities and facilities, to develop to the maximum the talents with which its citizens are endowed. A nation economically needs the maximum utilisation of its talents. That can be achieved only by the provision of adequate educational facilities and the Government has avoided this issue.
In the first place, the Government provided some millions of pounds for universities. That amount was increased. It endowed new universities and assisted in the payment of staff. Tt provided extra money for teaching hospitals and £5 million for the establishment of science laboratories. In some cases, the money for science laboratories has been advanced not in relation to the need for money but in relation to the need for the facilities. No recognition has been made of the actual want of money.
The Government has increased its educational assistance by providing a number of scholarships in the secondary academic field and in technical training, but nowhere has it faced up to its responsibility. That is why I say that the Budget must be condemned, not necessarily because of the amendment moved so ably by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator Willesee), which time does not permit me to deal with in detail. I have dealt with the deficiencies of the Budget. I remind honorable senators that it is an unimaginative Budget, a stagnation Budget. It is not thrilling to the people of Australia. It means little for the development of Australia and does no credit to the great ability and the tremendous knowledge of a man who should be in his new youth, in the greatest and most exciting period of his life. I say that the Budget should be condemned and those honorable senators opposite who are sensible and sane and seized with a properly realistic view of their responsibility to the people and the nation will vote for the amendment.
Sitting suspended from 5.52 to 8 p.m.
.- Mr. Deputy President, I join with my colleagues who have already spoken in congratulating the Treasurer (Mr. McMahon) on his first Budget. Contrary to the opinions that have been expressed by some members of the Opposition, I believe that the Budget gives a realistic appraisal of the economic state of the nation and our national commitments. It has pointed out very clearly that the domestic and foreign policies of the Government must be closely interwoven. We can be extremely thankful that from time to time the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) has spoken firmly and clearly about Australia’s role as a nation in relation to the developing countries in the area in which Australia is situated. This area is of prime importance to Australia, because it is inhabited by more than one half of the world’s population. What happens to the peoples of these countries is of direct and’ tremendous importance to Australia. We are gradually building up sympathy and understanding and a knowledge of these peoples. We are anxious that they should have the same freedom that we have to develop the form of society and government that is best suited to their needs. Unhappily, these countries are hindered in their efforts to build up their standard of living, because they, like us, have to concentrate on methods of defence and the necessary financial commitments to resist the tide of Communist aggression which has threatened Malaysia, Korea and now South Vietnam.
With many other women, and of course many men, in Australia, I very strongly deplore the need for warfare in any form and its resultant loss of life and suffering. Our obligation to help the people of South East Asia to achieve freedom to live .’S such that we must help countries such as South Vietnam. I support the Australian Government, the United States of America and others who are working so splendidly to achieve the wellbeing of the people of South Vietnam.
Conditions in this part of the world have meant that defence has been the dominating factor in the preparation of the Budget. We are a nation of fewer than 12 million people. Each of us must accept a share of the heavy responsibility for the development of Australia and of our obligations to others. The fact that Australia is developing and is accepting her obligations is due to the strong leadership that has been given by this Government over the last 16 or 17 years. This strong leadership throws into contrast the confusion that exists in the ranks of the Opposition and which is reflected in the amendment that has been moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Willesee). The various facets of the amendment indicate a lack of comprehension of the tasks that confront us as a nation.
My colleagues have spoken fully about defence. I believe that the people of Australia realise that there is a great need to strengthen our defences to safeguard our shores and to help us to discharge our treaty obligations. Since 1963-64 annual defence costs have risen by more than 90 per cent. In that period a very large additional proportion of our resources which normally would have been devoted to developmental or consumption purposes has been devoted to defence. Despite this diversion of resources, real progress has been made in building up our population, in developing our resources, industrial capacity and trade, and in improving our standards of health, education and housing. Our standard of living has been maintained at a high level and has even been gradually raised to a higher level.
I have had opportunities to visit various parts of Australia, and it has been most exciting to see the development that has taken place. One cannot help but be filled with admiration for the work that is being done by our people in all States. Of course, the problems associated with growth differ from one State to another. Financial assistance from the Commonwealth Government is needed for the exciting development that is taking place in the north of Western Australia and Queensland. Necessarily New South Wales and Queensland must be assisted to recoup the heavy financial losses that have been caused by the recent long period of severe drought. Tasmania and South Australia have their problems. My own State of Victoria has been described as the most rapidly developing State in the Commonwealth. Its work force is increasing, because the proportion of the country’s intake of migrants who settle there is very large. However, it must be realised that this general expansion entails a tremendous increase in health and educational facilities and general community amenities. The Premier of Victoria has asked for a reconsideration of the allocation of moneys to that State in view of its financial problems. I understand that the Prime Minister will hold further talks with the Premier of New South Wales and the Premier of Victoria in relation to these problems. It seems to me that the progress of Victoria must be maintained, not only for the sake of that State but also because of its contribution to the wellbeing of Australia as whole.
Reference to the growth of population within Victoria leads me to speak about immigration and to offer my congratulations to the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Opperman) and his departmental officials. The migrants who have come to our shores have made a tremendous contribution not only to our work force but also to our culture. Recently the Prime Minister said - if you take the younger age groups in this country, one in every four is a migrant of this postwar period. One in every four in employment in manufacturing industry. One in five of the work force of the nation. This constitutes a very considerable addition to our national strength. . . .
In 1960-61 the settler intake was nearly 86,000 and in .1965-66 it was more than 144,000. In 1966-67 we aim to bring 148,000 settlers to Australia. Special provision has been made for assistance to various voluntary organisations and agencies which over a long period have helped migrants to travel to Australia. Help will be given towards the passage costs of certain categories of assisted migrants, including refugees, thus cutting down on the amount of the loan that those migrants will have to repay for their passage money to the International Committee for European Migration. We can be proud, Sir, of the help that Australia has given to the resettlement of refugees who have come to our shores. I would like to mention here that in United Nations Week there will be an appeal for those refugees and I feel quite sure that the generosity of the Australian people will be shown again in response to this appeal. lt is good to know that in the Budget there is a proposal to remove any nationality qualification for age, invalid and widows’ pensions. That means elderly people, those who are suffering, and those who are widowed will receive, irrespective of their nationality, the help that they so urgently need. We must welcome the fact that there is to be an increase of $1 a week in the standard rate of pension. I feel sure that as it becomes economically possible the rate will be further increased by the Government, because our record in this regard is a very fine one. More increases have been given by this Government in the last 16 or 17 years than have been given by any Labour government. Let me illustrate this. In 1949 the age and invalid pension rate was £2 2s. 6d. The Class A widow, that is, the widow with children, received £2 7s. 6d. With the increase announced in the Budget, single age and invalid pensioners and widow pensioners with children will receive $13 a week. For widows without children the maximum rate will be $11.75. The combined pensions of a married couple will be increased by $1.50, thus increasing the maximum basic payment to them from $22 to $23.50. Other increases have been made in pension rates, mothers’ allowance for children, child alowance and so on. It is also provided in the Budget that pensioners with dependent children who have been allowed a deduction, for means test purposes, from income apart from pension, of $1 a week for each child, will have this amount increased to $3 a week.
This, Sir, has been a matter of great concern to many voluntary organisations. I speak especially for my own State of Vic toria and for my colleagues on the Government Members Social Services Committee. We have been most anxious that the Class A widow with children who is able to help her children and earn should be allowed to increase her earnings. It will now be possible for an additional number of those women in necessitous circumstances and who are earning to receive a pension. From a recent small survey that has taken place in Victoria, it is quite obvious that many of the mothers who leave their children in the care of day nurseries are in employment because they can earn more than they could obtain from the pension. May I quote from the last report of the “ Victorian Association of Day Nurseries “ for the period from June 1965 to June 1966? It states-
During the period under review the demand for the services of day nursery care has been greater than ever before, our clients being deserted wives, deserted husbands, widows, widowers, unmarried mothers and a few unmarried fathers.
This is a matter of very great concern and I should like to give just a few figures illustrating the growth and importance of this problem, having regard to the ever increasing number of women who are in employment. The 1961 census figures showed that just over one million women were working; at that time one out of every four in the work force was a woman. This represented an increase of 25 per cent, from 1954 in the female work force. In the same period the increase in the male work force was only 11 per cent. In 1961 married women constituted 38 per cent, of the female total in the work force. In 1954 the proportion was 31 per cent. Back in 1933, it was only 1 in 10. Figures issued by the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics for May 1966 showed that the total female work force was 1,091,700. The greatest increase, Sir, in the number of women who are seeking employment and are in employment is in the 35 to 39 years age group.
These various facts that I have brought forward show that women are entering the work force. We are told from time to time that the total national product must be increased, and that the chief source of labour will be not only migrants but also the female portion of the population. If that is so, I consider that a number of problems must be looked at in order to help the women who are needing assistance. Those in the 35 to 39 years age group need training and retraining. Those in the age group with young children should be allowed to obtain part time employment. These are questions that need a great deal of careful examination. The full implications of the employment of mothers with young children and so on should be the subject of very careful scrutiny. These problems have been and are being encountered in the United States where, according to the latest figures that I have read, 27 million women are in employment. In the United Kingdom women constitute 50 per cent, of the work force. These problems are common to those countries and they are increasingly applicable to conditions in Australia. I read that at the 15th conference of the Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Clubs which was held recently in Melbourne, 150 different occupations were represented, showing that the opportunities for women are being increased and that women are increasingly taking advantage of those opportunities.
The Minister for Social Services (Mr. Sinclair) pointed out in a statement made subsequent to the presentation of the Budget that three-quarters of a million people will benefit from the pension increases in the Budget; 550,000 single pensioners will receive the $1 rise and 270,000 married pensioners will receive $1.50. Moreover, concessions will be given regarding property income limits for pensioners. A property limit of $10,800, beyond which no pension will be paid, will apply to single pensioners with no other income. They will receive a full pension when the value of property is not more than $4,040. Full pensions will be paid to married couples with property worth up to $8,080, and pensions will continue to be paid to persons with property to a limit of $20,300. Widows with children will be able to receive the full scale if their property is within the limit of $4,500, with the pension cutting out at the figure of $14,480. In addition, the ability to earn an extra $3 a week for each child will mean that these people will be able to have an additional income of $156 a year for each child.
Another matter which I consider to be of great importance is the modification made to the administration of the Aged
Persons Homes Act. This Act is a most important piece of legislation and has resulted in a vastly improved standard of living for many people. I received a letter from the Assistant Director of the Old People’s Welfare Council of Victoria, expressing utmost gratification at this provision in the Budget. The letter says that because of the Aged Persons Homes Act many senior citizens have been given a greater feeling of personal security, in that they have been enabled to take up residence in homes built under the Act. It goes on to say -
Inadequate provision for the continuous nursing care of frail and infirm residents has, however, been a very serious problem for many homes.
So the Council feels that it is of great importance that a modification has been made to the administration of the Act to enable eligible organisations to receive grants towards providing accommodation for residents requiring continuous nursing. Many of these organisations have previously been unable to provide such accommodation and care, or have done so only with very great financial difficulty. The letter from the Assistant Director of the Council points out that the eligibility of such residents for Commonwealth hospital benefits will be of great assistance to the organisations, which previously had to incur heavy expenditure in maintaining sick bay accommodation where residents could be cared for only in the case of temporary illness. The Council is also gratified that not only will this assistance be received on account of older citizens already living in the homes and needing care, but also by others in the community who may be admitted provided that accommodation is available. The grant of $2 for $1 to permit approved organisations to build such accommodation will involve an expenditure of over $40 million in a full year. There is a further benefit in that if the nursing accommodation is approved by the Commonwealth Department of Health under the National Health Act, the Commonwealth nursing homes benefit will be provided.
I would like to say that, together with other people in Victoria interested in social welfare organisations, I am gratified indeed that some improved payment of pension is to be made to patients in mental hospitals. This is something in which Senator
Wedgwood and many others have been interested. It is pleasing to see that the Budget provides that on discharge from mental hospitals patients will receive their pensions for twelve weeks of their stay instead of for only four weeks, as now. Further, sickness benefit will be paid to eligible persons discharged from mental institutions for up to 12 weeks of their
Public hospitals, of course, are giving us great concern, particularly in Victoria, so the rise in the hospital benefit paid in respect of pensioners from $3.60 a day to $5 a day - which apparently will take effect from 1st January next year - will be of considerable benefit. This increase will bring the total amount expended in this way to over $21 million a year. Another health benefit is mentioned in the Budget. At present the Commonwealth pays $2 a day for all insured hospital patients. In the case of hospital patients with chronic illnesses or conditions of ill health existing at the time when they were insured, a benefit of $3.60 a day is paid from the special account maintained by the hospital insurance funds and guaranteed by the Commonwealth. This is to be increased to $5 a day. Necessarily, registered hospital benefit organisations have special rules regarding such patients. The plight of people with chronic illnesses has been causing concern for some considerable time to people in my State who are interested in health matters, so this special account benefit will be very welcome. The increase to $5 a day will operate from 1st January next year and it is estimated that the increase will cost somewhere in the region of $2,500,000 in a full year.
As I said before, my colleagues have touched upon many other important matters included in the Budget. I was very glad to hear Senator Sim speak so eloquently on the splendid external economic aid that has been given by our Government under the Colombo Plan and through multilateral as well as bilateral agreements. He spoke from his knowledge of what he saw on his trip abroad this year. When I was on holiday last year I also was able to see a great many of the countries of South Bast Asia and learn from the people of those countries their appreciation of the help that had been extended to them under these various schemes. Their appreciation was most heartening. We hear from time to time from members of the Opposition criticism of what we are doing to help South Vietnam, and requests that the aid should be extended. I would like to reiterate what Senator Sim said earlier. Australia is the only one of the major donors giving all its bilateral aid in the form of grants. No other country gives its total help in this way. We ask for no repayment whatever. Again, when we are criticised about the percentage of our national income devoted to this aid, I point out - Senator Sim has already done so - that only four other countries devote a larger percentage of their income to external aid and, unlike them, Australia is itself a developing country. The vote for the International Development Association will increase this year by over $1 million to just on $7 million, and we will make our first contribution of $3,800.i000 to the Asian Development Bank this year. I have here a pamphlet which was produced by the Department of External Affairs and which is well worthy of study by every Australian. I have submitted this pamphlet to quite a number of people and they have asked for copies so I have distributed quite a few. The people who have read it have expressed appreciation of the work that is being done and of the concise way in which the pamphlet explains the many fields in which valuable aid has been given.
As is stated in the pamphlet, a great amount of help has been given in the development of Papua and New Guinea. This is necessarily so because that Territory is our first obligation in expending overseas aid. The proposed expenditure for 1965-66 was estimated at more than $73 million and that was 15 times greater than the grant made 20 years ago. Not sufficient is known by the mass of Australians about what the Government is achieving in this very important Territory for which we have taken responsibility. T. was glad to read in a statement by the Minister for Territories (Mr. Barnes) that a factual, up to date and illustrated booklet entitled “ Australian Territories Today” is to be published. I hope that it will be distributed widely in conjunction with this pamphlet on external aid. I hope that what I have said bears out my opinion that the provisions of the Budget refute entirely the case of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Willesee) is support of his amendment. I support the motion that we take note of the papers.
– I have listened closely to the speech of Senator Breen. While I give respect to lady senators, I cannot agree with her submissions. In Australia today the cost of living is so high and the effects of inflation are so great that families live under great difficulties unless husband and wife go out to work. Unless they do that, they do not enjoy the benefits about which supporters of the Government speak. This Government wins votes on anti-Communist utterances yet it hopes to gain more votes with pro-Communist trade. I shall return to that subject later.
Tributes have been paid by supporters of the Government, to the Treasurer (Mr. McMahon). I cannot do that but I do pay tribute to the officers of the Australian Labour Party in this House and particularly to Senator McKenna who has served the Labour Party and the nation for so long both in Government and as the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate. I know I am expressing the opinion of other honorable senators who have spoken on this matter. I want to congratulate our new Leader (Senator Willesee). I believe he will make his mark, as he has already done, by virtue of his leadership in the Budget debate and with other speeches that he has made and will make in the future.
I am fully aware that speeches made towards the close of the Budget debate are the most important. Those who speak early in the debate make their contributions but much of the force of them is lost in the final analysis. It is the closing speeches that win the votes. This Senate is the protector of the States. Honorable senators, realising how the States have been treated in the Budget, should say in no uncertain terms that they want to see the interests of the States given the proper attention. New South Wales and Victoria in particular have been treated most shabbily. That is evident from the statements made by the Premiers of those States and I am sure the representatives of Victoria and New South Wales in this Parliament, irrespective of party, will do their best for the people they represent. The Budget is a report of the nation’s activities. I have read or listened to Budgets in this place and in the other chamber and outside as well since 1949. Some of them have been difficult Budgets. We have had horror Budgets and supplementary Budgets and the Budget of 1961’ which was a Budget of arrogance and indifference. This Budget is almost similar in character. Ministers have shown their arrogance in presenting it and this will tend to be a danger to them in the coming election campaign.
The Budget in an election year is window dressing. The Treasurer has provided in the Budget for a deficit of $270 million but there is little to show for the proposed expenditure. Despite all the arguments of Government supporters in favour of the Budget, it will be shown up in its true light’ when the people have their say at the elections. Personally, 1 believe it is a shocking Budget and I support the criticism that has been levelled at it by the State Premiers, the Press and other people.
– Where is the window dressing in the Budget?
– I shall fell honorable senators in a few moments.
– It is a salad Budget - a little oil and a lot of vinegar.
– That is true. It has been kicked to death in both Houses of the Parliament and there is little further that is new to be said about it. The Press has said shocking things about the Budget. I shall not repeat what has been said by so many people and by the Press very effectively over past weeks. The State Premiers have been most vocal. Sir Henry Bolte and Mr. Askin have criticised the Budget on behalf of their Governments because the State Governments have been forced to become governments of lurks. They have to find all the lurks to overcome the problems facing them because of the lack of finance available to them from the Budget.
In the State Parliaments there have been references to increased fares. I should like to know from this Government whether the pensioners will get any assistance in meeting the increased fares which will operate in New. South Wales. There have been protests from the teachers about schools and rates of pay. Hospital charges are to be raised. Nurses have threatened to strike. All these problems have been brought about, according to the Premiers of New South Wales and Victoria, in the first instance by the attitude of this Government, by its disbursement of funds through the Budget and by its new defence commitments. The latest proposal I have read about is a horribly imposition, lt is planned to increase parking fines. The situation is shocking. People go miles out of the city of Sydney to park and they are chased all over the metropolitan area so that fines imposed on them will provide increased revenue for the State Government.
I find that the same situation applies in relation to the protest by pensioners. As one who plays an important part in this field, 1 know just exactly what protests are taking place. All honorable senators have letters sent, to them regarding pensions. Senator Breen has mentioned communications that she has received. I have a communication in my hand at the moment that is signed by the honorary secretary of the Australian Commonwealth Pensioners Federation. The letter makes quite clear the intentions of this Federation with regard to the forthcoming election campaign. The letter says -
The failure of the Government to curb prices is one of the biggest factors in our thinking, and of course the cheeseparing in any general rises granted - the 75 cents for the married pensioner - gives ample proof.
These people circularise members of Parliament. They circularise the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Sinclair). This is done by way of petition and other means, before the Budget is brought down, setting out their feelings, desires and hopes. I recall petitions being presented to this Parliament in regard to pensions in this fashion -
To the Honorable the President of the Senate in Parliament assembled - the petition of the undersigned electors of the Commonwealth humbly showeth that by pegging the social service pension of aged, invalid and married couples at (1961) levels, is causing grave concern to these persons, we believe the proposed increases in social services (pensioners) do not meet the requirements of a just pension, and do not improve the present standard pension rate of civilian persons. We the undersigned propose to put the value back in the pension. The discrimination against a section of pensioners should be removed, and we humbly petition the following amendment to the (1966) “ Budget “; for aged, invalid and married couples be included and 50 per cent, of the male basic wage with cost of living adjustments tied granted under the Social Services Act. And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
Whilst the Government indulged in a bit of window dressing in the first place by suggesting that pensioners would receive an increase of only 5s. the Government introduced an increase of 10s. or $1 and thought that the pensioners would be happy and satisfied with that amount. 1 can tell the members of the Government that there will be a day of reckoning. These people are on the march. They are determined that they will use their great numbers - there are over 800,000 pensioners throughout Australia - in a campaign against this Government because of the shabby way in which it has treated pensioners for such a long time. I say that the standard of living of these people presents a serious situation.
The Returned Services League also has protested and is continuing to protest against this Budget. The R.S.L. has shown by a communication sent to all honorable senators as well as all members of another place that the rate .of pensions during the period 1949 to 1966 has deteriorated. The communication includes a chart showing the pensions. We see that a Special Rate T.P.I, pensioner was receiving 84 per cent, of the then basic wage. In 1950 he was receiving 101 per cent, of the then basic wage. Today the T.P.I pensioner is receiving 93 per cent, of the present basic wage. The general rate 100 per cent, pensioner received 43 per cent, of the basic wage in 1949. He received 51 per cent, of it in 1950 and today is receiving 37 per cent, of the present basic wage. The general rate pension today is lower than the general rate in 1949.
I come now to the position of war widows. In 1949 a war widow received 47 per cent, of the then basic wage. This rose to 55 per cent, in 1950. But the war widow today receives only 40 per cent, of the present basic wage. This is the situation that applies to returned service men and women. The ratio between the pension and the basic wage is almost the same as that which applies to age pensioners today.
– It is a poor payoff for all the knighthoods.
– That is right. The Government felt that it could win these people over by granting knighthoods to their leaders. But the knights of the Returned Services League are completely incensed at the moment because of the way the Government is treating and has been treating these ex-service men and women.
I turn now to the subject of the Australian motor vehicle industry. In the document “ National Income and Expenditure 1965-66 “ that was presented in conjunction with this Budget, we see the losses that have been suffered by this industry in comparison with the figures of the last few years. Migration has increased: 140,000 people arrived here last year. A tremendous increase has taken place in the workforce. Yet when we study this document we can see the evidence of the maladministration and neglect of this Government. Much that should have been done has not been done. Benefits that might well have been given to the people have not been given to them. We will continue our endeavours and I am certain that when a change of government takes place on 26th November the discontent in the community will disappear. The Australian Automobile Association has issued a statement in no uncertain terms expressing its resentment at what the Government is doing at the moment. The Association says -
We deplore the retention of the 25 per cent, sales tax on cars on two grounds. It shows that the Government still clings to its mistaken belief that cars are a. luxury, whereas they are undoubtedly an essential means of personal transport. It shows that the Government does not believe the motor vehicle industry needs a “ shot in the arm “, whereas it undoubtedly does.
We censure the Government for its measly increase of $50,000 in the road safety grant (from $300,000 to $350,000). In announcing this paltry increase the Treasurer is reported to have said that road safety is “ of course “ predominantly a matter for the States. Constitutionally this may be so but, nevertheless, it is a specious argument. The Commonwealth Government has a great moral responsibility in this matter - a responsibility which it continues to shirk.
The Australian Automobile Association points out that total revenue received by the Government from this industry amounted to £266.3 million in the financial year 1964-65. These figures can be confirmed by reading the document “ National Income and Expenditure 1965-66 “. The motor vehicle industry is one in which sales have dropped considerably.
Looking through the document “ National Income and Expenditure 1 965-66 “ I also find that if it was not for Government expenditure the nation at the present moment would be in dire circumstances. Private industry has failed or is failing in comparison with the past year. It is important that something be done to assist industry. Unfortunately this Budget does nothing along the lines that have been suggested to provide assistance. The future of such a great institution as the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority is threatened at this juncture. The Minister for National Development (Mr. Fairbairn), in answer to questions on this subject, makes statements about what the States can do and what they should be doing, lt is not a question of what assistance the Commonwealth will provide. To the Minister, the question is: “What can the States do?”. That is the only comment we receive on the matter. Members of the Snowy Mountains Authority are performing great work not only in Australia but also in other parts of the world. I had the opportunity to see a number of these people at work in Thailand and Malaysia. It would be a great tragedy to this nation, which needs the talents of these people so urgently, if an organisation such as this, which is so important to the development of Australia, were to become defunct. The Government must do something in this field.
We have heard criticism of the treatment of Trans-Australia Airlines in comparison with the treatment of Ansett-A.N.A. A very important dignatory - a member of the Government party in New South Wales - was speaking to me in Kings Hall the other day. He asked: “ Where is Reg Ansett? Don’t tell me that the Government has not a photograph or painting here to honour his greatness and all the things that he is doing for the Government?”. I said: “ Well, the Speaker will be leaving very shortly. The Government might put a portrait of Ansett there in his place “. This gentleman replied: “ No. He will not want that. He will probably want the statue of His Majesty, King George V removed and a statue of himself placed in that exalted position “. I have no doubt that if Mr. Ansett asked for that, the Government would bow and scrape to him and install a monument of that type to this man who runs not only AnsettA.N.A. and subsidiary organisations but also this Government on behalf of all the organisations, including the shipping ring and overseas oil interests, for which he is the spokesman in this country.
– How silly can you be?
– I say to Senator Wright that 1 have heard Ministers in this chamber say what a horrible individual Mr. Ansett is to deal with. Yet every time he opens his mouth members of this Government bend their knees. They are forced to bend their knees to the interests that he represents.
I remind the Senate of my earlier statement that the Premiers say that the hardships that have been inflicted on their States are due to the extra war expenditure by the Commonwealth. I had the privilege of going, with a number of my parliamentary colleagues from this chamber as well as the other chamber, to see South East Asia. I saw Vietnam. It is true that we spent only a week there. I made my report to my Party. In the remaining few minutes that 1 want to occupy in this Budget debate, I will say a few words on this matter. I was very impressed with the civil aid programme and the Colombo Plan aid programme operating in South East Asia. I would like to see a great deal more of that work performed.
Wc saw Air Vice-Marshal Ky, who at that time had been in office for only .12 months. In our discussions with him he advised us that the war in Vietnam could go on for another 25 years.
– He said that the war could go on for another 25 years. That means that we are committing children yet unborn as conscripts to this terrible war. It is a terrible war. I do not suppose we have ever seen a war like it before. The guerrilla type of warfare that is being waged there could go on for 25 years because there may be a lull in proceedings for a period of weeks or months and then something may flare up. I repeat that Australia has to take a very serious look at this situation. I know that Senator Hannaford has expressed his viewpoint on this matter.
I wish to say a few words about our Australian forces whom we saw in Vietnam. We visited them. I want to make a statement which I hope the Press will publish. The lads there are concerned about mail. As they put it, they would prefer letters to lunch. Messages from home are very important to them. I hope that the Government can do better than it has been doing in the way of ensuring that the mail gets to these lads ‘much more quickly than it has in the past. They are also concerned about receiving newspapers from home. It is too costly for their own families to send newspapers to them individually. I believe that the large newspaper organisations ought to make a sacrifice by seeing that newspapers are forwarded to the lads at frequent intervals and quickly. The Government also has a responsibility to provide Australian rations. At the present time the lads are still receiving American rations. They like those rations, but they would prefer Australian rations. They want Australian tobacco, cigarettes and beer. I hope that the Australian Government which I believe thinks as much of them as does any person in Australia, will be able to do something along those lines.
We saw the doctors and nurses in the various hospitals. Ths Australian medical teams are doing very great work. When we were in Long Zuyen they lacked the simple drugs, as they put it. They said: “ We cannot treat heart failure, asthma or skin conditions. We have no drugs to treat tuberculosis, from which half the population are suffering. We have cortisone, but no calamine lotion for skin complaints, which are so prevalent.” I hope that the Government will take note of these matters. I am certain that the leader of our delegation has mentioned them to the Government. But I want to mention them in this chamber.
It has been said that the Vietcong came into Saigon and interfered with the elections in Vietnam. I mention these matters to show honorable senators what type of war is being waged there. Before I finish I will say what I believe the Australian Government should be doing. I will also tell the Senate what we members of the Australian Labour Party would do if we were in office. We discussed the Vietnam elections with American representatives and South Vietnamese Government representatives whom we met there. We also met two people who were somewhat opposed to that Government’s policy. One was Mr. Tran Van Tuen, a barrister and a former Deputy
Premier - not in the Ky Government. He was asked by Ky to accept the post of Ambassador to London, but he refused it. He was not taking part in the elections because, he said, no purpose would be served by the constitution assembly that would be brought into existence.
About 1 1 7 members will be elected. There will be one representative for every 50,000 electors in the 43 provinces. In the elections people IS years of age and over were allowed to vote, provided they were enrolled. The Australian Government believes in all the things that have been done in Vietnam. So it. might give consideration to IS year olds being allowed to vote in Australia. As 18 year olds are permitted to vote in Vietnam and Australia is so committed there, our Government might be interested in following that example.
Dr. Quan Dan, who spent 4;i years in gaol when the French were in control of Vietnam and 2i years in gaol under Diem, was standing in the elections. Many people openly suggested that he would be the new president of the constituent assembly. I do not think there is anything wrong in that. I do not know whether he will be the president, but that suggestion was made frequently. I suppose that anyone who stands in an election, if he is a prominent and popular person with some knowledge and is the leader of a group, is a potential leader of his country, particularly if his group wins the election. I hope that this man will be the president of the constitution assembly, because I believe that he is a man of some consequence.
On the question of the North Vietnamese coming into South Vietnam during the election campaign, I mention that one night when we were with the former Australian Army Commander in Vietnam and were being told about the Chieu-Hoi programme, which is operating quite successfully, he mentioned that within 15 minutes drive of the heart of Saigon he could take me, or any of the other people who were with me and who also heard him say this, to a Vietcong controlled village. I can assure honorable senators that I did not go. I was very eager to get out of that place. I will not use the words that I used in our Party room. But I assure honorable senators that I was not very happy about the prospect of going to a Vietcong controlled village.
Colonel Rouse, who would be the No. 3 man in the Australian Task Force, under General Mackay and Brigadier Jackson, mentioned in one of our discussions with him that along Route 15, which runs from Saigon to Bung Tau - I think that would be a distance of between 50 and 100 miles - in the hamlets and villages that the Vietcong controls a toll is paid as people drive along. Even the drivers of the big oil tankers pay that toll.
– Who supplies the oil?
– I think the Shell company is mainly responsible for supplying it. It has the contract for the supply of oil. This is an amazing situation. Almost one million men are there under arms and they know that these villages are controlled by the Vietcong; yet the Vietcong are not wiped out. There are 300,000 American troops, 600,000 South Vietnamese troops and almost 100,000 troops from other countries, making a total of approximately 1.000,000 men under arms in that area. I mention this fact to show the type of war that is being waged in Vietnam.
After we left Vietnam we went to Kuala Lumpur. We were discussing where we had stayed in South Vietnam, and an Australian Broadcasting Commission representative, who had been there for a number of years, said: “Where did you stay, Senator?” I said: “We stayed at the Majestic Hotel”. He said: Oh, that is a V.C. controlled hotel “. The hotel is situated in the heart of Saigon. Believing that somebody was trying to pull my leg, I turned to our High Commissioner in Malaysia and said: “Would that be right?” He said: “It could quite easily be right. That is the only hotel in Saigon that has not been blown up at some time or other. It was the headquarters of the Vietminh during the period they had control.” I mention these matters because I want to give the lie to the reference to the Vietcong’s activities in the election campaign. The fact is that the Vietcong are there all the time. One does not know who they are or who is associated with them.
The members of the Australian forces perform all their own menial tasks in their camp which is three times the size they wanted. I am certain that if this Government is returned to office at the end of November, it will double or treble the number of our forces in South Vietnam. If it was not for the Australian Labour Party’s opposition to conscription, the forces would have been doubled or trebled by now. The people of Australia should know these facts. If it was not for the stand taken by the Australian Labour Party the number of Australian troops serving in Vietnam would be three or four limes the present number.
The Australian Labour Party has made its position quite clear, lt is opposed to the sending of conscripts to this unwinnable war. We could be committing children, yet unborn, to this terrible conflict. I believe that the Labour Party would, through the United Nations Organisation and other channels, try to bring about immediate peace in Vietnam. When 1 saw the bombers taking off from Da Nang at 15 minute intervals in the night to bomb North Vietnam, and when I saw the desolate look on the faces of the people in the streets, I thought that if Dr. Evatt was alive and was Australia’s representative at the United Nations, the United Nations would not function unless it dealt with this grave and difficult situation. The Australian Government should be exercising some degree of influence in the United Nations in an endeavour to bring about peace in Vietnam.
I want to conclude by saying that the Labour Party can and must produce another great Australian who can go to the United Nations and endeavour to bring about peace in Vietnam. Surely we, who last year exported goods to the value of $135,633,000 to Communist China, should demand that that country be present at the conference table. This problem has to be solved. The parties have to be brought around the conference table. If it takes 10 years or 20 years, they will ultimately get around the conference table to bring peace and we should endeavour with every means at our disposal to achieve this now.
– How can we do that?
– 1 think that we must make every possible endeavour to bring the parties around the conference table. Dr. Evatt once said: “ The difficult is something you do today. The impossible is something that may take a little longer.” We have to strive in an attempt to bring about a peaceful solution in Vietnam. People’s lives are being lost. North Vietnamese, South Vienamese, Americans and Australians are being killed. All the nations must endeavour to resolve this terrible conflict. Australia must play its part. We have been hanging around agreeing with L.B.J, and everything that he does. I think it is about time that we started to talk to L.B.J, and other people. Do not forget that there are a lot of people in America today who are making the same plea, that the parties should be brought to the conference table. It could be that we will have to admit China to the United Nations. This situation must be faced, and the sooner it is faced the better it will be for the people, not only of Australia but of the world.
– I rise to support the Budget and to intimate that I will vote against the amendment that has been moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Willesee). I would like to say at the outset how interested 1 was in Senator Fitzgerald’s speech, particularly the sincerity with which he said that it was his firm belief that the Australian and American Governments, together with every other government in the world, should do their best to bring the Vietcong to the conference table. This is quite true. It is exactly what the Australian and American Governments and other governments have endeavoured to do on 15 occasions.
– They have never tried to get the Vietcong around the table.
– The North Vietnamese who are controlled, if you like, by the Vietcong, and the Vietcong who run the National Liberation Front, have not as yet agreed to come to the conference table. Senator Fitzgerald said he was horrified when Air Vice-Marshal Ky informed him that the war could go on for another 25 years. I think we all are horrified to hear this. But what must we do to stop Communist aggression? Do we walk out? Senator Fitzgerald has not given a solution to this problem. We, together with the Americans, will go to the conference table tomorrow, if we can get somebody with whom to confer. Senator Fitzgerald did not say that we have tried on 15 separate occasions to do what he wants us to do, but we have not succeeded.
The other point that Senator Fitzgerald raised which was of great interest to me referred to the question of Trans-Australia Airlines and Ansett-A.N.A. He said that Ansett was running the Government and that we were going to put up his portrait in Kings Hall for everybody to see. The Government treats Ansett no differently from anybody else. We have a two airline policy operating in Australia, and Ansett Transport Industries, which has a couple of hundred .thousand shareholders throughout Australia-
– There are 54,000 shareholders.
– I thought there were more. However, Ansett is the managing director of that company. I believe that he is running a very efficient airline.
– In 1924 he was a bus driver and he has reached his present position by his own energy and ability.
– I am informed that he was a bus driver in 1924. He has come up from the bottom. Is there anything wrong with that?
– No-one is complaining.
– Honorable senators opposite get very sore when the question of Ansett Transport Industries is raised in the Senate, and we know why. It is because they believe differently from honorable senators on this side of the chamber. They do not believe in private enterprise or competition. They are Socialists. The say: “ We want one airline.” I might inform them that when the Labour Government was in office and started one airline, it did not show a profit for the whole time Labour was in office.
– Like the Western Australian Trans-continental Railway.
– Or Western Australian hotels. Under a Labour Government they did not show a profit. The story goes on and on. Members of the Labour Party have only one view. 1 would like to refer to a couple of points I heard Senator Keeffe make in his speech. He said: “ I do not mind how much foreign capital comes into this country, but I and the Labour Party are violently opposed to the repatriation of profits overseas.
– Hear, hear! So am I. They should be salted back.
-Will Senator O’Byrne tell me quickly how he could expect overseas capital to be invested in this country for its development if the overseas investors are not allowed to repatriate 57i per cent, of their net profits to their home countries? The moment that foreign investors are stopped from repatriating their profits overseas capital will cease to come into Australia to assist in its development. I was horrified to hear Senator Keeffe make that statement on behalf of the Labour Party, because this country needs capital for development. In my opinion, we cannot get enough of it. On many occasions, overseas capital conies here and does not show any profit at all.
– Does the Deputy Prime Minister agree with the honorable senator?
– I am making my speech. The Deputy Prime Minister makes his speeches in another chamber. I have the utmost respect for him. I would like to say to Senator Cant and Senator Keeffe that some companies have invested over $200 million in Australia in a search for oil and have not shown a profit. If that type of capital is stopped from coming into Australia in the hope of gaining a profit to be repatriated after paying company tax amounting to 42± per cent, of the profit, the development of Australia will not be carried on.
I do not intend to speak for very long in this debate and I wish to talk about only one subject. On 29th July last a statement to which 1 wish to refer was made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) when opening the new Lavarack headquarters, on which $26 million was spent against the advice of the defence chiefs. The headquarters were built against the advice of the defence chiefs because the Prime Minister and the Government believe in the development of northern Australia for the security of the nation. It was decided that the sum of $26 million would be spent on the new Lavarack headquarters at Townsville in opposition to the recommendations of the defence chiefs who wanted the headquarters built on the Mornington Peninsula.
– Who made the statement that the defence chiefs opposed its location at Townsville?
– The Prime Minister, according to the statement that I read. The Prime Minister is increasingly interested in northern development. In recent months the Premier of Western Australia, accompanied by the Deputy Premier and Mr. Court, the Minister for Industrial Development, came to Canberra to present a further case to obtain finance from the Commonwealth to complete the final stages of the Ord River scheme. Figures have appeared in the Press and have been made available to the public. I hope that the Commonwealth Government’s answer will be favorable when a decision is made early in October. I agree entirely with the Government’s refusal at the present time to grant the necessary finance because at no stage, according to the figures that have been given, has the Western Australian Government yet been able to prove that cotton can be grown without a subsidy in the Ord River area.
– Is the same test applied to the growers at Narrabri and Wee Waa?
– As the honorable senator knows, no test is applied at Narrabri and Wee Waa. All he and I know is that a cotton subsidy is paid which is not to exceed $4 million a year on the production of lint in Australia. A dam on the Namoi River was finished in 1960 by the New South Wales Government. It did not need any help at all, I suppose, from the Commonwealth other than the funds paid to it in its own right.
The colton industry is one of the world’s largest industries. World production of cotton is conducted on an area exceeding 27 million acres, of which 13 million acres are in the United States of America. About 51.3 million bales of cotton are produced annually of which 15.2 million bales are produced in the United States. The United States has a large market for cotton in Japan. Japan imports 3,180,000 bales of cotton lint a year which, at two bales to the acre, requires about H million acres to produce. Of the fibres produced in the world, cotton represents 61.5 per cent., man made fibres 29.5 per cent., and wool 9 per cent. Australia’s annual consumption of bales of lint is 113,328 a year, of which in 1964 we produced 11,570 and used 8,469. That is only 7.4 per cent, of the Australian requirement. I suggest that if the Ord scheme were commenced tomorrow, and if it were extended over 15 years wilh an expenditure of $5 million a year, it would not be finished until 1980. By then we will have a population of between 15 million and 16 million people and, if we do not grow cotton in Australia, will need to import in excess of $180 million worth of lint and cotton goods a year. So we are faced with the position where, if we do not produce any lint in Australia and if we continue to import cotton goods at the rate of SI 00 million worth a year and lint at the rate of $20 million worth a year, our imports will run at the rate of $120 million a year. By 1980 that will rise to between $180 million and $200 million a year. So we not only have to encourage the erection of our own spinning mills in Australia but must endeavour lo encourage more cotton to be grown. It is interesting to note that at the present time five-sixths of the cotton used in Australia is imported in the form of fabrics.
People who are producing cotton at Narrabri on the Namoi River are going to no end of trouble in an effort to prove to the satisfaction of the Government and the people of Australia through the Press that cotton should be grown on the Namoi and that the Government should not extend the Ord River scheme, because they believe that the cotton produced on the Namoi and the Ord is sufficient for our needs. But they add that, if extra cotton is to be grown, then the Government should find sufficient money to provide extra water storage on the Namoi River lo cater for the needs of the Narrabri growers. 1 am approaching this subject from the Australian angle. 1 believe we should do so, because of the amount of money that is involved. The Keepit Dam on the Namoi was commenced in 1942-43 and completed in 1960 at the terrific cost of approximately $123 per acre foot of water conserved. After the dam was completed, it took two years lo fill. In the six years since its completion it has been full to the brim for only four to five months, lt has been half full for only a little over one half of the period.
The producers in this area have written to the Press saying they are the biggest producers in Australia. Let us see what they have done. When they started production in 1961 they produced what has proved to be a record harvest of about 700 lb. of lint per acre on 65 acres. In the following year production dropped to just over 500 lb. of lint per acre. In 1964, when heavy rains fell in the area, production dropped to a little over 300 lb. of lint per acre.
– On the same number of acres?
– In that year 10,250 acres were grown. In 1964-65, which was a year of drought, 16,000 acres were planted and they produced about 900 lb. of lint to the acre. In the last year they produced almost 1,200 lb. of lint per acre.
– How much water is in the Keepit Dam at the present time? What is the projected rate of production for the coming season?
– I have here a chart which I worked out very carefully. It shows that at the present time the Keepit Dam is filled to 6 per cent, of its capacity. They require water to enable them to prepare their ground.
– ls the honorable senator with us or against us?
– He is against us.
– I say I am not. I am all in favour of development, but I do not like people writing to the Press so that it will persuade the Government to adopt the wrong attitude. I am speaking on this subject tonight so that the Government will be enlightened. As I said earlier, at this moment the Keepit Dam is filled to less than 6 per cent, of its capacity. I hope that the Namoi receives six or eight inches of rain next week and that the dam is filled.
Let us face the facts. The growers in the Narrabri area have done a marvellous job. I went to this area and the first thing I did was to ask these people where we could build another dam so that we could help them. They flew us around the area, but they could not point out a dam site. That was a tragedy. But having prepared this chart after a considerable amount of time, I find that even if we did build another dam on the Namoi River to satisfy the cotton growers of the area, it would not conserve any more water. As I pointed out, the Keepit Dam has been filled to capacity for less than five of the past 72 months. It is a wonderful area; the soil is beautiful. But there have been ups and downs in regard to the supply of water just as there have been ups and downs in regard to production. These people have been throwing mud at the Ord growers in the Press and have been saying that the Namoi area can produce the most cotton. Just let us examine the position. They have been growing cotton in that area for five years at an average rate of production of 714 lb. of lint per acre. The Ord scheme has been in operation for only three years and its average production has been 611 lb. per acre, or 103 lb. less than the Namoi average. An interesting aspect of this matter is seen if we take the first three years’ production. Everybody has to learn to grow cotton in a new area. In the first three years the average production of the Namoi growers was 506 lb. of lint per acre. The Ord growers in their first three years averaged 6.12 lb. of lint per acre, which is 106 lb. higher than was produced by their counterparts of the Namoi in. their first three years. This, I think, is a very interesting subject, at which the Government must look very closely.
Let me compare the two catchment areas. The Ord has a reliable quantity of 1,100,000 acre feet of water which can be drawn annually. There would be no restrictions whatever on its use. This is the average volume of water, according to information gained over 40 years. Each year the farmers could grow on approximately 120,000 acres, including 100,000 acres of cotton. The reliable quantity of water which can be drawn annually from the Keepit Dam is 175,000 acre feet, with restrictions in dry years. That is on information that has been supplied over 70 years. The growers could, in some years, if they did not have restrictions, grow up to 25,000 acres of cotton. Another interesting aspect, of course, is the capital cost involved to the farmers in the two areas. On the Ord they start off at S200 an acre. On the Namoi the figure is $400 an acre. It is interesting also to know that the Namoi growers do not pay a penny for the water that they use but the Ord growers are charged 30s. an acre foot.
Let us look at the claim that has been made by the Commonwealth that the growing of cotton on the Ord has not been successful up to the present time. The latest figures that are available to me show that the total cost amounts at present to $123.30 an acre. Estimating the return at 20c per lb. of lint, we get a return on 800 lb. per ‘acre, which .1 believe the Ord will produce on the average this year, of $164, giving a net return of $40.70 per acre for each farmer. The figures are based on 450 acres.
– That is without subsidy.
– This, of course, is without subsidy, but we must take into considration that these are the latest figures on costs because of the kindness of this Government in granting in this Budget a nitrogenous fertiliser subsidy and also because of the new method of growing stub cotton in the area. We are informed that half ot the acreage of cotton this coming year will be grown by the stub cotton method, which means that after the cotton is harvested the plants are cut and left to come up in the following year. This will make a difference of about $20 an acre. This is why we can now produce cotton on the Ord and show a profit, including a living allowance of $4,000 a year to the grower, of approximately $40.70 an acre. Therefore, the break even point prior to stub cropping and the nitrogenous fertiliser subsidy is 716 lb. of lint per acre. With nitrogenous fertiliser subsidy and the stub cropping method, the break even point, including a managerial salary of $4,000 a year would require 616 lb. of lint an acre.
Therefore, we have to look at this matter very closely. I have read several booklets on the matter and I have plenty of material here that I could talk about. Because of the importance of this industry to Australia I thought I would devote this speech to cotton growing in Australia. The Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) having gone to Townsville to say that we will build defence establishments there, because he is interested in the development of the north, I hope-
– Why did he not visit Charters Towers?
– I do not know anything about Charters Towers. That is what the Prime Minister said. If the honorable senator wants to talk, he can talk for as long as he likes. I will not take the slightest notice of him. The Prime Minister said that we would build defence establishments in Townsville because he believed we ought to keep the north secure and because he believed in the development of the north. I hope that the Prime Minister and the Cabinet, after reading my speech - if they will - give serious consideration to granting the finance necessary for the final construction of the Ord River project.
– I. with the rest of my colleagues on this side of the chamber, support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator Willesee). The debate on the 1966 Budget has taken a different trend from that of previous budgets in the seven years that I have been in this Parliament, because Government supporters have used this debate as an opportunity to speak on foreign policy and to justify Australia’s participation in the undeclared war in Vietnam. I believe that the Government is doing this for one reason and one reason only, that is, to cloud the issue that is prominent in Australia today - ‘the economic situation - to cloud the minds of the Australian people and make them forget that the economic situation is not as rosy as this Government would have us believe it is. It is done for a purpose - to take their minds away from the real issues, the bread and butter issues that concern the people of Australia.
One of the past masters of this sort of thing was President Sukarno of Indonesia, who for many years hoodwinked his people into thinking that they were going to become a great nation, and forgetting that he was spending almost 70 per cent, of the gross national income on defence while the internal economy was running down and their standard of living was decreasing every year. I feel that this Government has taken a leaf out of Sukarno’s book and has adopted the same attitude. But this attitude did not prevail. The people of Indonesia realised at the finish what was going on, and we know what the results of this have been over the past few months. Government senators have been very vehement in their criticism of the Australian Labour Party’s policy on foreign affairs and have held up, as a shining example of what they criticise, distorted Press reports of statements supposedly made by members of the Australian Labour Party. Surely the people of Australia do not believe that every honorable senator opposite thinks the Government is right in its actions in Vietnam. I, for one, know that there are some Government senators who do not believe in the policy the Government is at present adopting in Vietnam. But we do not hear anything about that. Such views are not blown up by the Press. However, as soon as a member of the Labour Party makes a statement there are headlines in the papers saying that there is another split in the Party.
I feel that the Government’s attitude is one of insincerity. We have been told that mainland China is a threat to Australia; that she has to be contained in South Vietnam or Australia will eventually be taken over by the Communists. Yet Australia continues to sell to mainland China raw materials which could be used against our fighting forces in Vietnam at present. When honorable senators on this side of the House say this, they are told that it is not true and that certain materials classed as strategic materials are prohibited from being exported from Australia to mainland China.
When Senator Kennelly said in a speech on Government policy some time ago that Australian steel was being exported to mainland China he was told by members of the Government that his statement was patently untrue and dishonest. From memory, I think it was Senator O’Byrne who interjected on a Government speaker and said that rutile was being sold to mainland China, but this was denied. We will see how untrue and dishonest the statements of Labour senators were when they said that Australia was selling strategic materials to mainland China. 1 would like to quote from the “ Hansard “ of another place for 2nd and 3rd December 1965. Other Opposition speakers may have quoted these figures as recently as this afternoon. I. do not know whether they did so, as I was not in the chamber at the time; but in any case I think the figures will bear repeating because they show how insincere the Government is when it asks how we are to stop Communist aggression. The only way to stop that aggression is to stop sending China our raw materials and thus deny China the wherewithal to use against us in any conflict. The figures relating to exports to China that I wish to quote were given in another place in answer to a question on notice by Mr. Luchetti. They are recorded at page 3574 and 3575 of “ Hansard “. They are as follows -
These are strategic materials in my view and in the view of the Australian Labour Party. If the Government is genuine in its opposition to Communist countries, surely it can do something about the exporting to mainland China of these strategic materials which are being used against our troops in Vietnam at present.
Some time ago I asked a question in this chamber relating to a statement made by a Philippines senator, who said that materials were being exported from mainland China to North Vietnam. In answer to my question I was told that it was true that cereals were being sent from China to Vietnam, but that it was not possible to pinpoint whether they were Australian cereals. Regardless of the type of those cereals, even if they did not come from Australia, the selling of our wheat and other cereals to mainland China would make it possible for that country to export cereals obtained elsewhere into North Vietnam. How naive can this Government be if it believes that Australia can be taken in by this attitude?
On the one hand we are told that mainland China is a threat to Australia and that her prime object is the full control of South East Asia, yet these materials are exported to China. It is true that we want overseas markets, but this is not the right way to go about getting them. There are other markets. There are starving millions in India, although perhaps they have not the money to pay for these materials at present. But surely extended credit could be given to these people to enable them to purchase our wheat and other commodities so that they would not be sent to our enemies. The Government’s attitude in this matter is nothing but humbug and pure hypocrisy. That is all I have to say in that regard.
Government members have criticised the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate. One of the criticisms, speaking from memory, was that although it contained six clauses, the clause relating to defence was No. 5, not No. 1. This is not fair criticism. When the Australian Labour Party moves an amendment it does not move it in a classified way. It is an amendment moved to the whole of the Budget papers.
– The Labour Party must have some sense of priority.
– It could have been a typographical error, yet we are criticised for the way in which the clauses of the amendment are numbered. We of the Australian Labour Party have told Government senators before that we are concerned about the defence of Australia, that we want to see this country defended at all times. Let us takethe clauses in order. The amendment begins -
That all words after “ That “, be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof - “ the Senate condemns the Budget because: -
Nobody can deny that.
– I will.
– Of course the Minister for Supply will deny it. He is not living on the basic wage, but many thousands of people are. If the Minister moved among his constituents he would see the hardship under which some people are living. Perhaps if he did that, he would adopt a different attitude. It is clear that little of the recent increase in wages will be of benefit to the basic wage earner. It will never be a real addition to consumer spending of the wage earners. For a start, approximately 55c of the $2 will be taken out on the average by the Commonwealth Government for income tax. This will affect the weekly subtraction from the pay packet. But in addition, at the end of the year, the extra$2 a week will place the wage earner in a higher income bracket and the taxpayers will pay a greater proportion of each dollar in tax than they did before they got the increase. Only the Treasury and the Taxation Branch will reap any benefit from the increase. They alone will get a profit from it.
From time to time the States have complained about the deal they are getting from the Commonwealth Government. They will have to pay more in wages from the money granted to them by the Commonwealth. They do not receive any reimbursement from the increased revenue that the Treasury receives until next year. Therefore, they will have 12 months leeway to make up.
The only way to stop this sort of thing is for the Commonwealth Government to introduce prices control. Years ago, the Government saw fit to freeze the basic wage but it has never seen fit to freeze the price of commodities. Yet from that time prices have risen repeatedly until now one can buy out of the basic wage only about half what it would buy in 1949. Prices control is the only solution, lt might be a cumbersome solution but if there is no other way of bringing value back in to the wage earner’s pay packet, at least let us give prices control a try.
In New South Wales we have had a typical example of what will happen throughout the States. Hospital charges will take 20c out of the S2 pay increase. This will be taken out of the average family man’s pay to meet contributions to maintain cover for hospitalisation in a public ward. For the average train traveller, higher fares will take approximately 25c. With the 55c taken out for income tax, three items alone will account for half the S2 rise in the basic wage which was granted for the increase in prices over the past 12 months. How can the wage earner win?
Certain facets of the Budget have been satisfactory, although 1 do not think the Government has done enough in those fields. I refer to social services. It is true the age and invalid pensioners will have an increase of $1 for a single person and $1.50 for a married couple. Some married couples will have their permissible allowance as income increased from Si to S3 if they have children under 16 years of age. This is for the purposes of the means test. But there is nothing in the Budget to lift the ceiling of permissible income. This remains at £7 or $14 a week for a married couple and has so remained for a number of years. lt has remained at $7 for a single person. If the ceiling were raised only to $10 for a single person and $20 for a married couple it would not make great inroads into the national income or cost the Government a great deal of money.
The increased payments to age pensioners are welcome but actually they are not gaining any spending power. They are in a similar position to the wage earners. The cost of living has gone up over the past 12 months to such an extent that they will receive little or no benefits from the increase in pensions. Supporters of the Government might say that the pensioners would be worse off without the increase. Perhaps that is true. They might be able to buy some little luxury they could not buy before. They might be able to have it now on a minor scale. But the increase they will receive from the Government under the Budget has been swallowed up by the rise in prices over the past year. The Government will not make the increase retrospective. From time to time the Opposition has asked the Government to make such payments retrospective to the date of the Budget or from 1st July. But the Government will not do that. This increase in pensions will not become law until the enabling legislation gets the royal assent; yet the Budget provides that the bounty on nitrogenous fertilisers will be retrospective to 17th August. I cannot see any fairness in this. If it is good enough to make the bounty for nitrogenous fertilisers retrospective to 17th August, surely the Government could have done the same with the pensioners’ increases. Just how mean can a government get?
I can understand its attitude up to a point because some years ago the present Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Hold) was not so keen on giving age and invalid pensioners a go. This feeling is still prevalent in the Liberal Party today. I quote from Volume 195 of “Hansard”, 20th November 1947, at page 2411, the words of the present Prime Minister who was then in Opposition -
This Parliament has voted substantially increased amounts for invalid and age pensions, widows’ pensions and the like, but those are social services of the hand-out variety. 1 do not begrudge the payment of those pensions, but, in importance, they do not compare with such constructive social services as health and education. Commonwealth payments for social services are made, in the main, to the older groups of the population - to those who have become invalid, or who have reached the mature years of their lives. However admirable that may be, they are not more important than expenditure on health and education for the benefit of the younger groups in the community, In their hands is the future of Australia, and if we have large amounts of money for expenditure on social services it should be expended proportionately upon those in the younger age groups, lt is one of the evils of the expansion of Commonwealth revenues at the expense of the States in recent years that insufficient attention is being paid to health and education services and that, if anything, an extravagant provision is being made for social services at the other end of the scale.
I do not think that is a very good statement. On one hand it is condoning the increase but the sting is in the tail to the effect that the increases are being given at the wrong end of the scale. How can age and invalid pensioners enjoy a decent standard of living unless they are assisted by the Government? These people have done their share over the years. They have paid their taxes. I have never believed that these pension payments represent a handout. I believe that social service benefits are an entitlement and not charity payments.
I come now to the third point made by the Leader of the Opposition in the amendment that he has moved to the motion that the Senate take note of the Budget papers. This is that the Budget -
There is a crisis in education in Australia today. I feel that although the Government is taking some steps to alleviate the situation this action is not moving fast enough to meet the crisis that has arisen. The Australian Labour Party has said that on becoming the government it will make provision for immediate and adequate financial aid for education and scientific research to meet all the urgent needs. The Labour Party has said that it will introduce a five year plan for education. This is what our country needs. We need something that is planned. Other countries can do it. Communist and non Communist countries work on a three year, five year or ten year plan. All we have in Australia is a plan from year to year. Sometimes our planning is not even for one year. On occasions, supplementary budgets are brought down during the first session of a newly elected Parliament. This does not do the country any good.
My colleague, Senator Fitzgerald, mentioned the protest that was made by the Returned Services League. These comments of the R.S.L. are well worth reading again because they show the thinking of the people who are interested in the welfare of returned servicemen and servicewomen. It is true that certain concessions have been granted. Increases have occurred in the T.P.I, and some other pensions. But let us consider the case of the ex-servicewoman who, through some disability, is receiving a war pension and who also is married. The amount that she receives by way of pension is in excess of the permissible income that is allowed by the Taxation Branch. The husband is not allowed to claim the customary wife’s allowance as a rebate for income tax purposes. This is the sort of thing which the Government should examine. Not a great many exservicewomen are receiving war pensions. If the Government did something to help to alleviate some of the anomalies that exist, it would be giving ex-servicemen and exservicewomen a much better go than they are receiving at the present time. I ask the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar) to look at this matter and to see whether he can talk the Treasurer into having this matter corrected. If a woman is entitled to a war pension because of war disability, her husband should not be penalised because of it. Such a concession would not cost the Government a great deal of money in lost income tax payments because very few ex-servicewomen would be in receipt of a war pension.
The fourth point in the amendment moved by Senator Willesee is that the Budget - . . does not acknowledge the lack of confidence on the part of the business community in the future growth of the economy.
I invite honorable senators to read the criticism that was made of this Budget by people in all walks of life in the business world and in the field of commerce. It is not only the Labour Party that is criticising this Budget. People from these sections of the community are criticising it also-. I wish to quote some of these criticisms which appeared in the “ Adelaide Advertiser “ on Wednesday, 16th August. The first comes from the Premier of New South Wales, Mr. Askin, who said -
The Commonwealth has left New South Wales with no alternative but to follow Victoria and increase taxes and charges for services.
The Premier of Victoria, Sir Henry Bolte, said that the Commonwealth was forcing his Government to increase taxes in the State Budget that he would deliver. He went on to say -
There is no ray of hope for the States’ finances from this Federal Budget.
Let us look now at the South Australian point of view. The newspaper reports -
Mr. G. E Pryke, industrial director of the South Australia Employers’ Federation said in
Adelaide last night that the Budget was not a direct stimulus to industry. lt was directed in the main to the avenues of defence and social services. “ Clearly the Government has provided a higher level benefit to the aged section of the community and maintained personal taxation of the work force at the present level,” Mr. Pryke added. “ This will not provide a motive for greater spending but will invite a continuing conservative attitude by the community generally.”
And so the comments go on.
Other people have voiced their criticism of this Budget. Last but not least is a statement that appeared in the Melbourne “ Herald “ of Wednesday, 31st August. This was attributed to Sir Henry Bolte. The report reads - lt was bad enough for the States to be lectured by the Commonwealth Treasurer, without also being given advice by a junior Minister, the Premier, Sir Henry Bolte, said today.
In the House of Representatives yesterday, the Minister for Air, Mr. Howson, who is also Minister assisting the Treasurer, Mr. McMahon, said State Governments must retain, some development, however desirable or essential it might appear to be.
Mr. Howson said the big increase in defence costs made a conflict inevitable over plans for major growth and development projects.
Sir Henry said it was interesting to note how Federal Ministers continue to make statements without knowing the facts.
He said: “ The simple fact of life is that there is never any easing of any Commonwealth expenditure in any field. “ They don’t cut down their expenditure and apparently expect the States to bear their defence costs.”
So, nol only the Labour Party is criticising this Government. I would say that these people whose comments I have quoted would have no brief for the Australian Labour Party.
The fifth point made by the Leader of the Opposition in the amendment he has moved is that the Budget - . . does not recognise the need of further basic developments, 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 co-operation with the States.
I have stated the attitude of the Australian Labour Party as far as the defence of Australia is concerned. It is true that $1,000 million is provided for expenditure on defence. But I have heard some honorable senators explain how this money will be swallowed up in increased costs of goods and commodities.
The sixth and final point in the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition is that the Budget -
We believe that foreign investment is necessary in some respects. But we believe also that this investment should be controlled by companies having at least 51 per cent. Australian content. This would give the Australian people and our Australian industries a controlling interest in this investment so that moneys by way of profits, etc., made in Australia would not be repatriated overseas.
– What about moneys that are lost?
– 1 have not heard of any overseas company that is going broke.
– The honorable senator has not?
– No, I have not. If any company is, 1 would like Senator Webster to pass the information on to me.
– The honorable senator should recognise that the Australian content would lose if the company was losing and win only if the company was winning.
– If there were a 51 per cent. Australian content, it would mean that most of the money that was lost would be Australian money, would it not? We believe that a 51 per cent. Australian content is essential. We do not say that foreign investment should be cut off altogether. We believe that it is essential to the development of this nation. Australia should reap some benefit from the development of our mineral resources that is taking place today, including the development of our iron ore deposits, oil and other minerals that have been found in Australia. We have found natural gas. I believe that, as soon as the Labour Government in South Australia oan find enough money to construct a pipeline from Gidgealpa to Adelaide, that State will go ahead in leaps and bounds.
I suggest that the Budget is not as good as the Government is trying to make the Australian people believe it is. One further point is that we spend millions of dollars a year on immigration; yet the overseas drug houses are making millions of dollars out of selling contraceptives - one type is known as “ the pill “ - for the purpose of birth control. I will not go into the morals or ethics of birth control. But 1 believe that there is an imbalance here. On the one hand we spend millions of dollars on bringing people to Australia. On the other hand, we allow other people to make millions of dollars by limiting our natural increase. To my way of thinking, it does not add up. I believe that the Government should have a look at these matters. I say that the Government has not brought down as good a Budget as it could have brought down. I think it has in mind that a supplementary budget could be brought down in February. That budget will probably be called a little horror budget, as such budgets have been called in the past.
– We have now spent about a fortnight discussing the Budget. A number of suggestions have been made from both sides of the chamber - some of them worthwhile; some of them not so worthwhile; and some of them would have been better not to have been recorded. However, 1 would like all honorable senators who have spoken in this debate to know that their speeches and the suggestions that they have made have been recorded and will be given consideration. Unfortunately, at the moment I am not able to cover all of the suggestions, as 1 would like to do. I have them all noted and I would have done so if I had had the voice. I am afraid that something has got the better of me. I will make the best of the short time for which I will be able to continue to speak.
I believe that the Budget is a realistic one. lt deals with the essential requirements for stability in the economy. The fact that we are going into deficit to the extent of $270 million this year - 1 have not heard much about that during this discussion of the Budget - shows that the Treasurer (Mr. McMahon) has grasped the situation as it is at the moment and has dealt properly with it in the Budget. I want to spend a little while referring to the points which Senator Drury has just made and which other honorable senators have made on the Opposition’s amendment. They should be answered, whatever else I cannot do before I run out of voice. The first point in the Opposition’s amendment is that the Budget -
That is a pretty glib and easy thing to say. But it has no factual backing and no statistical backing, as I propose to show the Senate. The statement that real wages have fallen because of price increases is not supported by the available statistics. Even without the last basic wage rise, which I have not taken into account, between the March quarter of 1956 and 1966 the average earnings per employed male unit rose by 54.8 per cent., and over the same period the consumer price index rose by only 26.7 per cent., or only half of the rise in average earnings. So real wages, in fact, have increased considerably over the last 10 years. In the last two years, average earnings have risen by 12.6 per cent, and the consumer price index has risen by 7.5 per cent. So even in the last two years - again the last basic wage rise is not taken into account at all - there has been an advantage of 5.1 per cent, on the side of average earnings compared with the consumer price index. The second point in the Opposition’s amendment is -
It makes inadequate adjustments to social service payments.
Let us have the facts on this matter. Tha proposals to increase the standard rate of pension by $1 a week and the married rate by 75c a week more than maintain the relationship that existed between pension rates, the basic wage and the consumer price index in 1949 - the last year of office of the Labour Government. If pension rates had merely moved up proportionately to the basic wage, a pension of $10.80 a week would maintain the 1949 relationship. To retain the 1949 relationship with the consumer price index, a pension of only $8.90 would be required. In fact, the Government’s proposals now are for a pension of $13 a week for single pensioners and a pension of $11.75 for married pensioners. So it is easy enough to say that the Budget makes inadequate adjustments to social service payments; but, in fact, compared wilh the relationship in 1949, the last year of office of the Labour Government - 1 know that that is a long time ago, but it is a long time since the Labour Party was in office-
– It will not be long before the Labour Party is in office again.
– It will be a long time before the Labour Party is ever in office again. Using the latest available figures, on a comparative basis, the pension is considerably more than it was in 1949. The third point in the Opposition’s amendment is -
It fails to recognise the serious crisis in education.
The facts of what the Government has done in the field of education over the last 10 years are well worth recording, lt has given direct assistance to certain sections of the State education systems. That assistance has risen from S3 million in 1951-52 to $85 million in 1966-67. That includes assistance for universities, colleges of advanced education, the building and equipping of science laboratories in State and independent secondary schools - that is on an unmatched basis - and for the provision of technical training facilities. The States have also received general financial assistance of substantial and increasing magnitude, by way of general revenue grants and Federal support for State borrowing programmes. During the course of this debate we have heard over and over again from the Opposition that the States have not been adequately treated in this Budget. But it is only a couple of months ago that the State Premiers assembled in Canberra for the Premiers Conference. They all went away saying that they had had a complete victory over the Federal authorities and the Federal Treasurer.
– What are they saying now?
– This is what they said then, but they are like the honorable senator; they can change their colour, shape and form and almost their politics in the course of a couple of months. They come to Canberra to the Australian Loan Council meeting, sit around the table as the responsible representatives of the States and agree to a formula and a sum of money. They go away saying that they have gained a victory over the Federal authorities. Then, when the Budget is introduced a couple of months later they say that they have not been treated fairly. They have received substantial increases in general revenue grants and assistance from the Federal Government.
The Commonwealth’s scholarship scheme was introduced in 1951. Expenditure in the first full year was $1.4 million, and in the current financial year it is $22.7 million. These are the facts and figures on education. During the course of the debate we have been criticised for not assisting with teacher training. I want to spend a moment or two on this matter because the Martin report recommended that- we should do something about teacher training. For myself, I believe that the decision not to assist the States with teacher training was perfectly sound and proper. I feel that the States have had considerable assistance in education matters.
Because education is a State matter, the States, from the money which they have been able to save because sums have been made available to them by the Commonwealth, could have dealt with this question of teacher training. If ever the Federal Government goes as far as assisting the States with teacher training - and it may well decide to do so, I do not know - then I believe that that will be the end of State control of education and the beginning of the Federal takeover of education. This may be a good thing or a bad thing. I am not arguing that point at all. I am saying that once the Federal Government goes to the extent of assisting the States with teacher training, then that will be the end of State control of education under State auspices.
– Does the Minister agree with that?
– I said previously that I was opposed to the Commonwealth assisting the States with teacher training. I believe that this is one aspect of education which the States, having been saved a considerable amount of money by additional education grants by the Commonwealth, could well look after themselves. It is their responsibility.
– The Minister knows that teacher education is completely inadequate and inefficient throughout Australia.
– I think it certainly must have been totally inadequate when Senator Dittmer was a child. The fourth point in the Opposition’s amendment states that the Budget - does not acknowledge the lack of confidence on the part of the business community in the future growth of the economy. 1 have not found in the business community in Australia any worry about the continued growth of Australia’s economy. 1 have found that the greatest confidence exists in the economy, as well it should. Whilst there arc one or two soft spots at the moment
– The Stock Exchange is one of the soft spots.
Senator HENTY__ 1 think that the Stock
Exchange today is much sounder than it was two or three years ago, which is the period to which the honorable senator refers. It indicates today far more moderation and much less speculation. I think that the general economy is sounder today than it was perhaps four or five years ago. I have found no worry in the business world concerning the future development of Australia. As 1 have admitted, at the present time there are one or two soft spots in the economy. The position regarding car sales is giving some concern, but the motor car industry throughout the world is one that varies greatly. There have been some soft spots in consumer commodities but, after all, we are only now emerging from a two year drought. Only tonight I read an article in which it is estimated that the wool industry in Queensland and New South Wales alone will lose $310 million as a result of the two years of drought. This type of drought must have its effect, but we are now moving out of it. I have found no fear in the business community about the long term development of Australia’s economy.
The fifth point in the Opposition’s amendment is that the Budget - 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 co-operation with the States.
The assertion that the Budget does not recognise this need makes no sense in relation to the record of the Government in this field or to the provision made for development in the Budget for 1966-67. In 1965-66, the Federal Government underwrote State works and housing programmes to the extent of $384 million. In 1966-67 the amount provided for this purpose will be $645 million. For the same years, payments to the States of a capital nature were $72 million and $273 million, which is almost a fourfold increase. Taken together, the amounts underwritten and capital payments total $918 million in 1966-67, which is an increase of 100 per cent, over the decade.
The Budget makes provision for an increase of $40 million in State works and housing programmes and $35 million in payments to the States of a capital nature. The direct assistance provided by the Federal Government for development is impressive. Expenditure on capital works and services is estimated at $471 million in 1966-67. In 1956-57 it was $215 million. Subsidies and assistance to industry are estimated at $142 million in 1966-67 against $31 million ten years ago. This class of expenditure is estimated to increase by $55 million in 1966-67. Substantial increases are proposed in expenditure on immigration and in the Territories. Primary producers have received many concessions in the past and more are given in the Budget for 1966-67. I think that that more than adequately answers the fifth point raised in the Opposition’s amendment.
The sixth point in the Opposition’s amendment states that the Budget - does nothing to relieve our dependence on a high rate of foreign investment to finance the deficit in our balance of payments.
Ever since I have been here, which is now almost 16 years-
– Too long.
– The Labour Party has been in Opposition for 16 years, although Senator Dittmer has not been in this chamber all that time. For 16 years I have heard this same story, that we were living on our overseas investment borrowings and the time was just around the corner when, because of this, we were going into a depression. We have heard this type of wailing from honorable senators opposite.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Drake-Brockman). - Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Question resolved in the negative.
– For 16 years we have been listening to this sort of wailing and, instead of the predictions being correct, Australia’s economy and development have gone leaping ahead for Budget after Budget under the sound guidance of the Liberal and Country Party Government and the principles for which it stands. I think honorable senators on this side of the chamber have more than answered the six points included in the Opposition’s proposed amendment.
I was very interested to hear Senator Drury referring to overseas investment in Australia. One of the scarcest things in the world today is capital for our development. I do not know where the honorable senator would get it. He said that we should have a51 per cent. share in all undertakings in which overseas capital is invested. From where would we have obtained 51 per cent. of the money spent on oil search to develop our oil and natural gas resources? I do not know, because that amount of capital is not available from Australian resources. It is all very nice and girlish and cheerful to talk about some of the businesses that are making profits. At the same time, it must be realised that a number of industries have not made profits. Rice growing in Northern Australia was undertaken with overseas capital and the venture lost over £11/4 million, I understand. Do we want a 51 per cent. share of that? These are the cliches used by the Opposition in an attempt to deride what I believe is a sound and effective Budget which will cover the economic needs of this country and maintain stability with growth.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be left out (Senator Willesee’s amendment) be left out.
The Senate divided.
The Deputy President - Senator T. C. Drake-Br ockm an .
Majority . . . . 5
Question so resolved in the negative.
.- As I foreshadowed a fortnight ago, it is my intention to move a further amendment to the motion -
That the Senate take note of the Papers.
On behalf of the Democratic Labour Party, I move -
At the end of motion add the following words - “ but condemns the Budget because it fails to -
recognise the injustice of wage earners caused by the real wages having fallen behind the cost of living;
adequately raise social services, which should be taken out of the field of politics and determined by a tribunal of experts;
provide that pensions increase as the cost of living rises;
make progressive steps towards elimination of the means test injustice suffered by Australians, by providing for those receiving superannuation and small fixed incomes; ultimately a comprehensive national insurance plan is the answer;
make a worthwhile contribution to solving the crisis in education by providing a $100 million special grant for the training of teachers in both State and independent schools, and for buildings, equipment and research, pending provision for a per capita payment for children attending independent primary and secondary schools;
stimulate national development, particu larly by a vigorous decentralisation programme with special attention to the north;
encourage the birth rate by a programme of increased family allowances, child endowment and maternity allowances;
eliminate the housing lag, with special assistance to co-operative housing societies;
make a worthwhile contribution to foreign aid to counter allegations that our overseas interests are purely military; and
adequately provide for Australia’s defence.
Normally, we would have moved an amendment to the original amendment that was moved by the Australian Labour Party. As I have explained previously, we found that difficult, and indeed impossible, to do. We found that the amendment moved by the Australian Labour Party was purely negative, and we believed that an amendment moved in relation to a Budget such as the present one should be positive. Therefore, we adopted the procedure that we have followed tonight. I speak subject to correction, but I believe that this is possibly the first time that this procedure has been employed in the Senate.
I shall not deal at any length with our objections to the Budget. Those objections and the reasons why we have moved this amendment were stated very fully and clearly by Senator Gair in the main debate. Therefore, my remarks will be very brief. I believe that the Budget is not likely to be the successful expansionary Budget that the Treasurer (Mr. McMahon) believed it would be. I am fortified in that opinion not only by my own criticism of the Budget but by much criticism that has come from quarters which normally support the Government. I have collected a very large quantity of criticism from what usually are pro-Government sources. I shall not deal with all of it. The attitude of many of those sources has been summed up in the leading article of the journal “Australian
Coal, Shipping, Steel, and The Harbour”, which I think is forwarded to most parliamentarians. To some extent the title of the journal reflects the interest of business organisations concerned with shipping, steel and the waterfront.
– It has a Fascist attitude on foreign policy.
– It is a real wastepaper basket job.
– Apparently Senator Mulvihill and Senator O’Byrne have not a very high opinion of it. The leading article to which I have referred sums up the Budget rather well. It states -
No more colourless, innocuous budget or budget speech has ever been delivered by a Treasurer since the Neanderthal man invented dog-tooth money. It was so dull that it didn’t even send the listeners to sleep.
The one flash of fire came from Mr. Askin and Sir Henry Bolte. The wail that went up from these two Premiers was like that of thwarted jaguars.
– Having quoted that passage, can the honorable senator tell us who the author was and what sponsorship he has? I find it to be a very peculiar expression of policy. Can the honorable senator tell us something about these people?
– I have no knowledge of them, other than that they forward their journal to me. A reading of the journal indicates the interests that they represent generally. I shall conclude by summing up very briefly what I regard as being the main objections to the Budget. First, its effectiveness in regard to defence has yet to be demonstrated. A great deal of the proposed expenditure is in anticipation of the delivery of equipment in years to come. This expenditure will provide us with only 10,000 combat troops. The second objection has to do with aid which should complement military action. In spite of all the pious promises that have been made in regard to foreign aid, the amount allocated in the Budget for this purpose represents a reduction.
The Budget has failed to grapple with important aspects of education, particularly teacher training. We all have heard from people interested in education about the urgent need of action to stimulate teacher training. We had hoped that the representations of those people would bear fruit. Apparently the Australian Labour Party believed that they would bear fruit, because prior to the introduction of the Budget that Party announced that it would support teacher training if it got an opportunity. I suggest that it will be very dangerous for the Government to go before the people at the forthcoming election without indicating that it proposes to take action on this vital matter.
One of the biggest failures of the Budget concerns social welfare and insurance. I should think that one of the most progressive moves a Treasurer could make today would be to deal with the means test. There is no party represented in this Parliament, either on the Government benches or on this side, which has not promised to take action in regard to the means test. I am amazed that the Government has not taken action, particularly as a large number of deserving people on fixed incomes have been loyal supporters of the Government over the years. But in regard to this particular issue, they are being left for dead. I predict that if nothing is done in this direction these people will become the underprivileged, the depressed, class of the future. I believe that in the short term action needs to be taken in relation to the means test. The long term action needed would be the introduction of a scheme of contributory national insurance. I predict that, unless a scheme of contributory national insurance is introduced, the cost of social services will become astronomical and almost impossible to bear, particularly as the decline in the birth rate will mean that the younger people will become fewer in number and the older people greater in number.
More should be done to encourage cooperative housing. The co-operatives will build more houses for a given sum of money than any other building organisation. Finally, the ordinary wage earner will not get much out of this Budget other than increased prices and increased costs. It is for those reasons that I have moved the amendment.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT__ Is the motion seconded?
– I second the motion.
– The amendment that has been moved by the Australian Democratic Labour Party cannot be accepted by the Australian Labour
Party. If members of the D.L.P. had any memory at all, they would realise that because of the way in which it is worded the amendment could not be accepted by the Australian Labour Party.
– That might have been done deliberately.
– Tha t may well be so. I repeat that because of the way in which it is worded, the amendment cannot be accepted by the Australian Labour Party.
– The honorable senator does not suggest that we have an obligation to word our amendments so that they will suit the A.L.P., does he? That would be a remarkable state of affairs.
– I do not think the asides will be necessary if I get a chance to tell Senator McManus why we cannot accept the amendment. I am sure the honorable senator remembers that a few years ago the D.L.P. proposed a motion embodying the proposition that is contained in paragraph (b) of the amendment now before us. The relevant part of the amendment states -
At end of the motion add the following words - “ but condemns the Budget because it fails to -
adequately raise social services, which should be taken out of the field of politics and determined by a tribunal of experts;
When this proposal was before the Senate previously the Australian Labour Party voted against it. Over the years the Labour Party has never had reason to regret the stand it took on that occasion. 1 do not think that the payment of social services can be taken out of the realm of politics. I say that that is precisely where it belongs. The suggestion is that this matter should be put in the hands of some other body. This is pretty vague. The amendment is not specific. This would be putting the matter just as much in the field of politics as is the question of the basic wage and wages in general. Even though it is taken out of the field of parliamentary enactment, I do not think anybody would ever suggest that wage policy has been completely removed from politics. It could hardly be suggested that this body is going to be a very impartial body. By “ politics “ I assume Senator McManus means the parliamentary arena, and that he suggests that the matter be taken out of the hands of the Government as such.
The amendment next suggests that pensions should increase with the cost of living. Later, it refers to encouragement of the birth rate by a programme of increased family allowances, child endowment and maternity allowances. I would imagine that all these matters come under the heading of social services and that this outside body would be asked to determine them. But if this amendment were carried, it would be incumbent on the Government not only to set up the body but also to insist that the body do these things. This is not to argue that these things should not be done. We have argued this in our amendment, but we say that these matters are the direct responsibility of the Government. We say that the Government has failed in these respects, as we have outlined in our amendment, and it should not have the opportunity to sidestep these issues and place them in the hands of an outside body. For that reason alone, we could not support the proposition contained in paragraph (b) of the amendment.
I do not think that I should delve deeply into the Budget again. I have already had something to say about it in moving our own amendment condemning the Budget. But let us have a look at the reference to education in Senator McManus’s amendment. It is suggested that we condemn the Budget for not looking at this crisis in education and taking into consideration the enlargement of the field and the new types of subjects that must be taught. This is one of the matters in respect of which the Democratic Labour Party’s amendment goes into a fair amount of detail, lt specifies the provision of $100 million for the purpose of doing certain things. I do not see how anybody who is not the Government of the day could specify an amount of money without some sort of inquiry or some sort of expert advice as to the field into which we must move. The Government is the body which is in a position to do this. We charge that it has not done it sufficiently.
I think that the amendment is badly worded. Paragraph (c) suggests that the Budget be condemned because it fails to provide that pensions shall increase as the cost of living rises. Pensions have done that. That they have not done so sufficiently is quite another argument, particularly when we consider the false figures that are frequently used in comparisons with the basic wage, without taking into consideration the periods during which the basic wage has been pegged. The manner in which the basic wage is fixed today is vastly different from the manner of fixing with which we grew up, but I think that the latter still dominates a lot of our thinking. The basic wage is now fixed every 12 months in relation to capacity to pay. Quarterly adjustments are not made. It is false to say that pensions have not increased as the cost of living has risen. They have. We say that they have not risen sufficiently. We say the whole approach is wrong.
– There is not an automatic increase as the basic wage rises.
– And the Democratic Labour Party is not asking for that. The amendment refers to failure to provide that pensions increase as the cost of living rises, lt makes no reference to an increase being automatic.
– According as it rises.
– The amendment does not suggest that it be automatic. It asks that pensions increase as the cost of living rises.
– In the same way as the Canberra Trades and Labour Council asked for it the other night.
– There is nothing in this amendment about the Canberra Trades and Labour Council.
– The Leader of the Opposition is playing with words.
– It is not plain at all. The amendment seeks to condemn the Budget because it fails to do something which is already done. This is one thing with which I am not charging the Government. I repeat that pensions have increased as the cost of living has risen, but not sufficiently. We say that this is the responsibility of the Government.
– The trade union movement does not say that.
– There is nothing about unions in the amendment. The honorable senator has had plenty of time to draft this amendment. He should let me make my comments. He wants to redraft it, from the way he is interjecting. The question of foreign investment is not mentioned, although there is a lot of room for argument on this. We feel pretty strongly about it. That is why it has been mentioned in several of the speeches of my colleagues. We do not say that foreign investment is not necessary to Australian development. We realise that it is. What we do say is that it could be channelled in a much better direction.
In the second paragraph of the amendment, Senator McManus asks us to do something that we in this House have already rejected. Over the years we have never thought that we should go back on that attitude. We believe that these matters are firmly the responsibility of the Government. If the Government is to be censured it should be for its misdeeds, for its sins of omission and commission, and it should not be suggestedthat an outside body should move into this field.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be added (Senator McManus’s amendment) be added.
The Senate divided. (The Deputy President - Senator T. C. Drake-Brockman.)
Majority .. ..31
Question so resolved in the negative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator Henty) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I regret the necessity to take up the time of the Senate at this late hour, but when people use the Houses of Parliament as a public rostrum for the purpose of maligning, smearing or condemning members of political parties, one must take the first opportunity available to refute some of the things that have been said.
– That is what Parliament is for.
-I think there is a misunderstanding. Senator Wright says that is what Parliament is for, but he does not mean it is a vehicle for smearing. In view of some statements that were made during the adjournment debate in another place last night I want to tell the Senate what transpired earlier between the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Giles) and myself. I was called out of this chamber yesterday afternoon and was told that the member for Angas wanted to see me. When I got outside he said: “ I want to talk to you. I gave two lectures at the Adelaide University, supporting Government policy on Vietnam “. Do not misunderstand me. It was the member for Angas and not myself who was supporting Government policy on Vietnam. The member for Angas then said: “ On the second occasion, which was in the afternoon, when I walked back to Parliament House on North Terrace I saw there a few bearded youths, whom I recognised as having been in my audience, holding anti-Government policy placards regarding Vietnam “. He went on to say: “ I went up to them and asked them what they were doing. They handed me a pamphlet which indicated that the election to be held in Vietnam was not a democratic election. I then asked them where they got their facts from, and they said they got their facts from Senator Cavanagh.” The member for Angas then said to me: “ Nowlook, can you assure me that you did not give these students this information? I am bringing the matter up on the motion for the adjournment tonight but if you assure me that you did not give the information I will not mention your name in the discussion.”
This attempt at blackmail, this suggestion that he would give me some privilege if I would accept certain conditions - that he would then refer to the lads as irresponsibles making statements that were untrue - somewhat shocked me. My reply was that I did not know who was giving out the pamphlets and that. I could not say whether I had told the people giving them out that the election in Vietnam was undemocratic, because I did not know who they were. I said that if they were people who had spoken to me and asked my opinion on the election in Vietnam, I probably would have told them that, in my opinion, on the facts that I could bring to mind, the election was undemocratic. I said 1 had stated this at public meetings in Adelaide and would say it at other public meetings before the election. I said that if it was a condition of keeping my name out of the discussion that I had to give an assurance that I had not told these youths that this was an undemocratic election, I could not give that assurance. I gave the member for Angas full permission to go ahead and mention my name.
Following that, he said: “ You know that this is not a democratic election as we would know it in Australia, but it is a lead up to some system of democratic elections.” The member for Angas has toured South Vietnam and South East Asia and he knows the conditions there; yet he was the first to admit that this was not a democratic election as we would know it. I said I could not accept it as a democratic election when neither a Communist nor a neutralist could stand for election or vote, and when a person would have to be a supporter of American policy and of the Ky Government before he could stand for election or vote. I said it did not matter much to the ruling classes of Vietnam who was elected because people were obliged to be supporters of the government before they could stand for election.
The member for Angas said: “ But the vote was a success. It was an 80 per cent, vote.” I replied that, according to the Press, 80 per cent, of those eligible had voted, but I did not know whether 80 per cent, of the voters had attended the polling booths. I said that it could have been that an 80 per cent, vote was recorded by far fewer than 80 per cent, of those eligible. The member for Angas then said: “Even conceding you 20 per cent, in that respect, it was still a good vote on British or American standards for free elections.” The person who was maintaining that this was a democratic election conceded that there might have been some duplication of votes, but as I was unable to give him the assurance he wanted we parted company.
In the other place last night the honorable member spoke, as he had said he would, in the adjournment debate. He began by saying that in South Australia in the last week two unusual happenings occurred, the first being the burning of an American flag by a group of students from the Adelaide University. That was almost the whole of his contribution on that matter. He did not say whether he was opposed to the burning of the flag, whether in his opinion the burning was good or bad or anything like that. He merely told the House about something that had been published in every newspaper in Australia as a news item. His reference to that matter, without making any comment on it, must have been meant to link it with something else. He then said that he had confidence in the University. He explained that he saw a group of lads demonstrating and he went on to say -
I stopped and spoke to them quite plainly. I asked: “ Why are you against the process leading towards democracy in a nation like South Vietnam? “ They said straight away: “ We have been authorised by a member of Parliament - of the Australian Labour Party … to produce facts if we are challenged which prove that this is not a democratic election and not part of the process towards democracy in South Vietnam “.
Now you see the difference. This was not a question of verifying with me that it was not a democratic election; it was a suggestion that Senator Cavanagh had authorised them to produce facts, whatever that might mean.
– Did the honorable member use your name?
– No. He said they claimed to have been authorised by a member of Parliament who was a member of the Australian Labour Party. That was never suggested in the honorable member’s conversation with me. I could have said, first, that 1 had no authority to authorise anything. I did not know the lads and I did not authorise anybody to do anything. Then the honorable member went on to say that the students said -
We have been authorised to produce facts if we are challenged which prove that this is not a democratic election . . .
Why this complaint was made about the production of facts f do not know. It is not a question of someone’s belief. That is what the honorable member said the students told him. Then he went on -
The interesting feature of the demonstration to which I have referred was that this small group of university students evidently had behind them a prominent member of the Opposition today putting ideas forward and backing them in their judgment that this was a process that did not lead towards some semblance of democracy in South Vietnam.
You see there avoidance of the name. As I was not prepared to comply with the blackmail conditions, the name was still not mentioned. The incident was linked up with the burning of an American flag. By not mentioning the name of the member of Parliament and by giving a description which does not properly fit me - “ a prominent member of the Opposition “ - but could fit more properly any other member from South Australia in this Parliament, the honorable member smeared 11 members of Parliament when he knew that only one person was concerned. He was challenged by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) to produce the name but by refusing to do so, he smeared the Labour Party. The honorable member stated -
But, Mr. Speaker, when it is quite apparent that a group of students has been egged on by a member of the A.L.P. in this way can I be blamed . . .
I want to make my position clear: What facts I have known or have discovered about the election in Vietnam have been available to everyone who has spoken to me. When anyone has discussed it with me, I have expressed the opinion that to my mind there was no question of the elections in Vietnam being free elections. So far as that goes, it could well be what was in the pamphlets issued by the university lads - I do not know what was in them - and that verification could have been obtained from my office. I make no apology for it. But in his reply, Mr. Calwell denied that he had any intimation of it and added -
I am not in favour of any anti-American demonstration by anybody.
I want to make it quite clear that on no occasion would I be a party to the burning of the flag of any nation, be it American or any other. Any action that demonstrates anti-American feeling would not be true to my beliefs because I have the greatest admiration for and trust in those thousands of Americans who are demonstrating against American policy in Vietnam. 1 have great faith and confidence in those who are demonstrating for civil rights in America. 1 am pleased to call them brothers. Because 1 condemn the action of the United States Government, do not brand me antiAmerican. It would be just as wrong to brand me anti-Australian because of my opposition to the Australian Government. While neither I nor anyone else from the Labour Party is accused of having participated in the burning of the flag, the reference to the burning of the flag was made for one reason only and that was to associate the Australian Labour Party with that incident. This is a dirty attack. It is a smear by small minds who have tried to make the attack in the form of an approach to a member of Parliament.
I hope I have made it clear and the fact is publicised that I was the member in South Australia referred to. Any smear that the honorable member for Angas or any other supporter of the Government can direct at me is not harmful. I was brought into this Parliament because of the publicity given to smears by Government members. Since the Democratic Labour Party has gained representation in this Parliament my election prestige has increased because of some statements made by one of them. I can flourish on such campaigns but I do not want others to be victims of such smearing tactics or for it to be thought that they were directed to somebody in another place.
– We have just heard from Senator Cavanagh a quite spirited defence against a charge which in fact was never made against him and which quite clearly was never made against him as would be apparent to anybody who heard the debate in the House of Representatives or who read the report of it. What occurred last night in another place is recorded in “ Hansard “. Before I go on to indicate what did happen, I direct the attention of honorable senators to the fact that in dealing with this matter, Senator Cavanagh - that great opponent of smearing - has accused a member of another place of blackmail on two occasions and has accused him of lying on one occasion. Let us see what in fact occurred. Let us examine whether there was any attempt to associate Senator Cavanagh with the first incident - the incident of the flag burning. What was said in the House of Representatives by the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Giles) was this -
In South Australia in the last week two rather unusual happenings occurred. The first was the burning of the United States flag by a small section of the Adelaide University.
We were told by Senator Cavanagh that the honorable member for Angas did not comment on this, but he did. He went on - 1 think honorable members will agree that this was a pretty disgusting demonstration.
Then he said -
I do not wish to harangue or deal with this topic further.
That completed that reference. He then said -
The second matter 1 wish to deal with briefly did not excite the same amount of attention. It was a small demonstration extending over five or six days by a group of five or six university students . . . against the holding of an election in South Vietnam.
He went on to say, without mentioning anybody’s name, that they had said they had behind them encouraging them in this demonstration a prominent member of the Australian Labour Party. Let us see the history of that. In fact, as we are now told, those holding the demonstration said to the honorable member for Angas that Senator Cavanagh was the man who was authorising this. But the honorable member for Angas, I think quite properly, not wishing to mention Senator Cavanagh’s name on mere hearsay of that kind, took the course of approaching Senator Cavanagh himself to ask him whether that was in fact true.
– He did not say “authorise” at all. He said “verify”.
– I see. I will take the word “ verify “. The honorable member for Angas took the course - and this is a significant point - of not mentioning Senator Cavanagh’s name because some students told him that Senator Cavanagh had authorised it. He took the course of approaching the man himself and saying: “ ls this true or is it not true?” What has happened because of that action? The honorable member for Angas has been accused by Senator Cavanagh of blackmail. We heard this story from Senator Cavanagh himself for the first time. Senator Cavanagh was unable to say whether in fact he had authorised it or whether in fact he had not authorised it; whether he had encouraged it directly, or whether he had not. He did not know who the people were. He did not know the precise position about it. So, Senator Cavanagh’s name was not mentioned. We heard in relation to that again the use of the word “ blackmail “. But it is perfectly clear, I suggest, from what we have heard tonight from Senator Cavanagh - and I speak not of direct incitement of any four or five people to do some particular thing at some particular time - that he quite openly, and it is his right, says that he in fact does encourage demonstrations of that kind.
– Demonstrations of what kind? Who said that?
– Demonstrations against action in Vietnam, and demonstrations against what the honorable senator has described as undemocratic and unfree elections in Vietnam. Senator, I quote your words not directly, but the sense of them quite fairly. You have gone, as you said, to meetings. You have put this point of view against action in Vietnam and against elections in Vietnam. You have treated us to a quite long conversation that you allege you have had with the honorable member for Angas in which you repeated those things. I do not question this. I say to Senator Cavanagh that it is his right to do so. But it is also what Senator Cavanagh has done. It is encouraging also that sort of demonstration. Now, that is all right. This is a free country. But, senator, it is not right to cry all over the place when somebody says that you are encouraging that sort of thing. At least, it is not right in my book. If you do that, you stand up for it and you stand up to it. 1 wish now to move, because it was mentioned by Senator Cavanagh himself, to the question of these elections which he deprecates, which he regards as undemocratic, at which he looks askance while establishing his brotherhood with those who carry on demonstrations here and in other places against action in Vietnam. Of course, this recent election in Vietnam was not a democratic election in the sense that we have democratic elections in Australia in time of peace. Of course it was not. Communist candidates are not allowed to stand at such elections. To suggest that Communist candidates should be allowed to stand at such elections is analogous to suggesting that at the height of the Battle of Britain in the last war Nazi candidates should have been allowed to stand for electorates in Great Britain. But many shades of opinion were allowed to stand in this election. A cross section of the community comprising civil servants, peasants, school teachers, judges, businessmen and army officers have been elected to the constituent assembly. There were 530 candidates for the 108 seats to be filled at the election. Between 75 per cent, and 80 per cent, of those eligible to vote did vote in fact. An informal vote of only 15 per cent, was recorded. I think that this is of some importance. If people do not want to vote, if people are forced to do something that they do not want to do, they have the weapon of spoiling their ballot paper or casting an informal vote. Yet there were few more informal votes than we have in a Senate election in this country.
The election was carried on in the face of terrorism which resulted in 30 killed and 167 wounded. These people had to be punished because they exercised their right to vote for a constituent assembly. Why do you think that this occurs, Mr. Deputy President? Why do you think the Vietcong have the same opinion or seek to disseminate the same opinion about these elections in Vietnam as Senator Cavanagh seeks to disseminate here? I suggest that the answer is pretty obvious. I suggest that it demonstrates that the Vietcong do not control the proportion of the people that they have sought to suggest by propaganda that they control. I suggest that it shows that, as in the case of Nazi dictatorships and Communist dictatorships next door to places where votes are being cast, they see themselves threatened because people under their control do not have the same means of expressing their opinions. For these reasons, this election had to be denigrated in every possible way, with propaganda, with terrorism and with murder.
But the election took place, lt took place with the limitations that I have mentioned. I, for my part, am much happier to associate myself and to regard as brothers those who, with these handicaps, went to cast their ballot at that election, and those who are helping to support their right to do so and, in time, to advance to a country where they can have elections of the kind that we have and not live without them as the people in the north do live and will live until they can assert their own freedom.
– I consider that Senator Cavanagh has a complaint, lt is justified because, in my opinion, if the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Giles) wished to make a charge about Senator Cavanagh’s position in relation to Vietnam, the burning of the American flag or the election just held, the just thing to do obviously would have been to charge Senator Cavanagh straight out privately and in the chamber. This the honorable member for Angas, as Senator Cavanagh has reported, did not do. My knowledge of this matter, second hand, corresponds with and backs up what Senator Cavanagh has said. So, in the first place, it seems to me that the common sense and honest thing to do, if a member wanted to make a complaint about a member of the Opposition, would be for him to see the member concerned and say: “ You are responsible, and I intend to make a protest in the Parliament “.
The honorable member for Angas did not do this. He went privately to Senator Cavanagh and apparently wanted some qualified acceptance of the position regarding the university students. He never received it. The second point I make is that I cannot understand the action of the honorable member for Angas. Either he is naive or he has taken action which, Senator Cavanagh claims, is intended to smear Senator Cavanagh and other South Australian Labour men. Obviously this is not fair. If I were involved in another matter, I would tell the Government member concerned that I had a complaint against him and that I intended to mention it. This, to me, is the practical and common sense thing to do, and it cannot be disputed.
The other aspect is the way in which the Press treats these incidents. Of course, we on this side of the Parliament have a lot of experience of this. We have often mentioned - 1 think this is pretty well established - that we do not receive treatment equal to that received by Government speakers in respect of statements that we make. The words that I am about to quote are taken from the Adelaide “ Advertiser “ of today. The heading on the article is in very heavy type and capital letters and reads: “ Labor Man ‘ Behind Students’ Protest ‘ “. The article refers to what Mr. Giles said. I suggest that the reference can be read as implying that Senator Cavanagh was behind the burning of the flag. Senator Cavanagh is a Labour representative. The Labour Premier of his State, Mr. Walsh, has discredited the people who were involved in this incident. He does not agree with it. So I suggest that, to some extent, the raising of this sort of thing in this way could lead to a smear of. Senator Cavanagh and other people. I quote the following from the article -
Canberra, September 14 - A prominent Labour parliamentarian was behind a small group of University of Adelaide students in their protest against the recent South Vietnamese elections, Mr. Giles (Lib., S.A.) said in the House of Representatives tonight.
In the adjournment debate, Mr. Giles said two unusual things had happened in Adelaide in the past week involving small groups of University students.
One was the burning of a U.S. flag - about which he did not intend to talk - and the other was the election protest.
Then, referring to the students making a protest outside Parliament House against the election, the article stated -
He had told them that, if challenged, they should produce facts that the elections were not democratic and would not lead to democracy in Vietnam. lt is obvious to me that Mr. Giles was being fairly aggressive in this instance. He saw the student protest and decided to intervene in it. From the “ Hansard “ report of his speech and from what the Minister has said tonight, it is clear that the honorable member for Angas accepts the proposition that the elections were not completely democratic; that they were only partly a process of obtaining an electoral point of view. There is not only the statement of the honorable member for Angas; there is also Senator Cavanagh’s statement. Who can say that the honorable senator should not say these things or support people who say them? His position is no different from mine. I accept the proposition that the elections in South Vietnam are worthwhile; but nobody can say that they are a democratic process. In fact, the Minister said something like that.
I want to remind the Senate of something else. How long is it since the Government realised the need for political democracy in Vietnam? In 1962, 1963, 1964 and 1965 honorable senators on this side of the chamber pointed out the need for political democracy in Vietnam and said that it was up to the’ Government to see that one of the measures taken in that country was to establish some sort of democracy, to have elections and to meet the requirements of the 1954 Geneva Accords’. Those Accords required elections. We are all familiar with the statements of Ministers and Prime Ministers. Until very recently, each of them in his turn has said that we could not have elections of any sort until we settled the war, the subversion or the struggle against Communism in Vietnam. That is clear. I have referred to it in my speeches.
Although it is well established, 1 want to make one quotation to establish it beyond doubt. I wish to quote a statement made on 4th May 1965 by the then Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies. He was talking about the position of the Labour Party on this matter. Our position on it has been very clear. We have said that if we are to defeat Communist subversion we have to have democratic processes, social reforms, economic reforms and political democracy of some sort. The Australian Government should have said that too, but it has not said that in the past. In replying to the Leader of the Opposition in another place (Mr. Calwell), Sir Robert Menzies referred to the comments that we had made. Referring to what Mr. Calwell said, Sir Robert Menzies said, as reported at page 1112 of “Hansard”-
But to say, “They are corrupt. They do not have ordinary elections in South Vietnam “, what sort of nonsense is this? On the honorable gentleman’s own showing, South Vietnam is torn apart. torn to pieces, by the activities of the Vietcong in all their little pockets around the country. In those circumstances there cannot be the peaceable processes of election, there cannot be what we call a democratic self governing system if people are in that position.
As I have said, only recently have Government speakers become aware of the arguments that we have advanced, including the argument that we cannot win. This is the essential part of the argument with which we are dealing tonight. This important question has to be allied with the criticism that we are getting both outside the Parliament and inside it.
I will conclude by referring to a statement by Denis Warner on this question of elections. Nobody would say that he is anything but a well informed reporter of the scene in South East Asia. On 11th August J 966, in a magazine called “ The Reporter “, he dealt with this question in an article called “ Vietnam Prepares for Elections “. He referred to the difficulties in conducting elections and to undemocratic processes. It is sufficient for me to quote a short paragraph on page 15 of the magazine. As 1 have said, any move towards elections is a good one. But nobody should say that nobody is entitled to criticise the limitations that are imposed. For example, the limitations imposed on neutralists are most unfair because the Australian Government is already doing business with a neutral country. In this article Denis Warner said -
Whether the government will be ready to apply reasonable restraints lo itself is another question.
He was referring to the position after the elections. He continued -
The Buddhists, moderates and extremists alike, and most political groups had expected that the constituent assembly would, in the process of drawing up a constitution, turn itself into a national assembly from which a new government would be drawn. They were mistaken. By rejecting the drafting committee’s proposals that the constituent assembly should have legislative powers and insisting on a second election for the national assembly, Ky ensured the prolongation of military government until next year, confident that by then the country will accept as its new “ civilian “ leadership the military leadership of today.
I conclude my speech with the same complaint as-
– Hear, hear
– I know that honorable senators opposite have heard this before, but I also know that they have realised only recently the importance of political democracy in Vietnam, as we have suggested. I put it to the Government that what we in this Parliament want is not the summaries that have been given by the Minister as to what he thinks took place in the elections. We ought to be well informed on how the elections were conducted and whether the statements that have been made in the Press are true. The Government should give us at least that information. I trust that as a result of this debate it will do so.
.- So far from causing us to regret any delay that might be occasioned by this debate, the vigour and steadfastness with which expressions of opinion have been freely exchanged across the chamber should excite us to a renewed sense of our privilege of free speech. One cannot hear Senator Cavanagh take up this challenge without admiring his courage but at the same time having profound compassion for the want of judgment that leads him to declare, first, that the approach of the honorable member to whom he referred was one of blackmail, whereas it was one of taking a decent opportunity to be assured of the lack of responsibility for this incident. It should be noted that in the second place Senator Cavanagh stated emphatically that he dissociated himself from any incident involving the burning of the flag of the United States, but with equal emphasis made it clear that he dissociated himself from the burning of the flag of any enemy of that country. The third thing that I gleaned from the debate was the fact that Senator Cavanagh, exercising his undoubted right of free speech in this chamber and in this country, made it clear that he was on the side of those who opposed the policy of the American defence of a small community in South Vietnam against aggression from the Communist North. Those are the points that this Senate, in my judgment, should register from this impressive debate.
– It is my view that Senator Cavanagh has a legitimate complaint and that that complaint has been aggravated by what has been said in this chamber tonight. Senator Cavanagh dissociated himself from the burning of the United States flag and said that he objected to the burning of any country’s flag. He did not refer to any enemy of the United States. He said he was against the burning of any country’s flag. It is wrong for Senator Wright to restrict this in some way as though Senator Cavanagh said that he was against the burning of the flag of any enemy of Australia. Senator Wright had no reason to bring in that smear against Senator Cavanagh. Senator Cavanagh said: “ I am against the burning of any flag.”
Mr. Deputy President, if you turn to what was said in another chamber in order to examine whether there is a legitimate cause for complaint, you will find that the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Giles) said -
In South Australia in the last week two rather unusual happenings occurred. The first was the burning of the United States flag by a small section of the Adelaide University. I think honorable members will agree that this was a pretty disgusting demonstration, lt attracted a lot of comment in the Press from ordinary decent Australians. I do not wish to harangue or deal with this topic further.
Although he said that he would not deal with it further, I will demonstrate that he did, because he went on to say -
The second matter I wish to deal with briefly did not excite the same amount of attention. It was a small demonstration extending over five or six days by a group of five or six university students outside the South Australian Parliament House in Adelaide. I must assume that the group consisted of the same five or six students who held a demonstration with placards and hand bills and what have you, purporting to be against the holding of an election in South Vietnam.
The same what? Nowhere else in this speech is there mention of any other demonstration or any group other than the one which burnt the flag. I defy any honorable senator to point to any group which was mentioned, other than the one which burnt the flag. The honorable member referred to the same five or six students.
Leaving aside what the honorable member for Angus said to Senator Cavanagh, if we read on we will find that the honorable member said -
Mr. Speaker, when it is quite apparent that a group of students has been egged on by a member of the A.L.P. in this way, can I be blamed or can you be blamed - I am sorry to put you in a difficult position - or can anyone else be blamed for thinking that the Vietcong is trying to stop an election in South Vietnam by any terror tactic it can produce, and in South Australia a futile attempt to stop the same sort of thing is made, backed as far as I can see by a member of the A.L.P.
Why did the honorable member make this conjunction between terror tactics in Vietnam and the burning of a flag in South Australia? Surely the honorable member for Angus did not get up in a House of this Parliament to object to a peaceful demonstration and to link terror tactics in Vietnam with a peaceful demonstration in South Australia. He was speaking of the disgusting demonstration to which he referred earlier - the burning of another country’s flag. If one reads on one finds that the honorable member said -
I am not naming him, for reasons that will be my own. I have approached him. I have told him of my intention to speak on this matter tonight. He has the chance to explain himself or to say that what the students told me is incorrect, if he wishes to do so. The point I make tonight is that unfortunately for the Opposition, once again another connection is established between a line of action in another country - in this case by the Vietcong - and parallel action in Australia, evidently helped and promoted by an active member of the Opposition.
This was after Senator Cavanagh had told him that hp had in no way authorised what was done. The honorable member continued -
I shall sit down at this point, but I make the suggestion that an explanation is due, because I and other people cannot be blamed for wondering what on earth is going on when this sort of thing happens today in a country such as Australia.
What was the purpose of introducing the burning of the flag except to smear Senator Cavanagh? This was the object of the whole exercise, to speak of terror tactics in Vietnam and action in Australia. It is obvious that the Government has set about on a tactic of smearing the Opposition. The Government, before it enters into the election campaign, wants to smear the Opposition as much as it can. We know that libellous statements have been made in the electorate of Lang. There has been filthy propaganda in Tasmania. This kind of tactic has already been commenced in the National Parliament. It is disgraceful that Ministers should stand up and support the kind of conduct that has been indulged in by the honorable member for Angas. Senator Wright, to his eternal discredit, endeavours to worsen this matter by putting a smear on Senator Cavanagh, who said in this Parliament that he was utterly opposed to any country’s flag being destroyed.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.47 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 15 September 1966, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1966/19660915_senate_25_s32/>.