27th Parliament · 2nd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMuilin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– Mr President, I would like on behalf of the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) to inform the Senate of the following ministerial arrangements. The Minister for External Affairs, Mr McMahon. left Australia on 7th September to attend the high level meeting of the Development Assistance Committee of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, which is being he’.d in Tokyo on 14th and 15th September. Mr McMahon will then go to New York to attend the early stages of the United Nations General Assembly debate and he will later participate in the first Australian-Canadian consultative talks in Ottawa. During his absence, the Minister for National Development, Mr Swartz, is Acting Minister for External Affairs.
The Treasurer, Mr Bury, left Australia on 12th September for Cyprus to attend the annual meeting of the Commonwealth Finance Ministers which is being held in Nicosia during this week. Mr Bury will also visit Copenhagen to attend the annual meetings of the Board of Governors of the International Monetary Fund and International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and Affiliates. The Treasurer is expected to return to Australia on 10th October and during his absence the Prime Minister is Acting Treasurer.
The Minister for Shipping and Transport, Mr Sinclair, left Australia on 13th September for Fiji to lead the Australian delegation to the South Pacific Conference. Mr Sinclair is expected to return to Australia on 19th September. During his absence, the Minister for Civil Aviation, Senator Cotton, will act as Minister for Shipping and Transport.
The Minister for Works, Senator Wright, left Australia on 12th September to visit the United States of America, at the invitation of the United States Travel Service. Senator Wright is expected to return to Australia on 20th September and during his absence the Minister for Customs and Excise, Mr Chipp, is Acting Minister for Works. Senator Wright’s absence will also necessitate some changes in ministerial representation in the Senate. Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson. Minister for Supply, will represent the Acting Minister for Works, and the Ministers for Labour and National Service, Education and Science, External Territories and the AttorneyGeneral.
– On behalf of Senator Fitzgerald I would like to withdraw notices of motion Nos 4 and 6 under General Business. They deal with proposals for an inquiry into men ally and physically handicapped children in Australia. This matter has already been dealt with by the Senate.
Notices of motion - by leave - withdrawn.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. 1 refer to the action of the Australian Government at the United Nations on 16th December 1969, when it voted against a resolution on chemical and biological methods of warfare. Australia, alone with the United States of America and Portugal, voted against 80 other nations to oppose a resolution forbidding as contrary to the generally recognised rules of international law as embodied in various protocols and the Geneva Convention of 1925 the use in international armed conflict of any chemical or biological agents of warfare. In view of the recent statement by Sir Philip Baxter of the Australian Atomic Energy Commission suggesting the acquisition by Australia of chemical and bacteriological weapons of war, will the Government make a formal statement to the Parliament, making clear to Australia its attitude on the use by Australia of chemical and biological methods of warfare?
I am sure that the Leader of the Opposition would not expect me at question time to give an answer to a statement that links a resolution carried at the United Nations on 16 December 1969 with a recent purported statement by Sir Philip Baxter. But it is a fact that in this place more recently, in response to requests made not only by the Leader of the Opposition, 1 think, but certainly by Senator Georges and Senator Wilkinson, I have made some definite statements in relation to the problems associated with chemical and biological warfare. However, J take on board the question the Leader of the Opposition has asked. I ask him to put it on the notice paper. Then I will have an answer prepared and presented to the Senate. If that answer is not acceptable to the honourable senator or to the Senate, he will be able to take up the running from there. 1 certainly will take up the question and obtain a reply for him and the Senate.
– Is the Leader of the Government in the Senate in a position to say whether any approaches have been made by the State Government of Tasmania to the Commonwealth Government with a view to securing Commonwealth relief from recent flood damage in that State? If representations have been made, has any decision been arrived at by the Commonwealth as to what assistance will be granted?
The Commonwealth Government naturally is concerned about the unfortunate effects of the floods in Tasmania. I can say, for instance, that the Army was able to provide considerable assistance in support of rescue work that was necessary at the time. A request for Commonwealth financial assistance has been received by the Commonwealth from the Tasmanian Government. That request would be from the Tasmanian Premier, ft is being given very prompt and careful consideration at the present time. I am not in a position to go beyond that today.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration enlighten the Senate regarding the participants in the Barry McKenzie kidnapping case by answering the following questions: (a) Did Mr and Mrs McLean and Mrs Joan Smith conspire to circumvent passport regulations when they took Barry McKenzie to Europe? (b) Have prosecutions been launched against these people? If not, why not? (c) Does this episode merit a change in passport application procedures? (d) Do Mr and Mrs McLean and Mrs Joan Smith possess Australian or British passports? (e) Does the Department of Immigration propose to cancel such passports? (f) Was Mrs Rita Heisler ever a visitor to Australia, and what passport does she possess? (g) If Mr and Mrs McLean are still overseas, . where are they and will they be extradited to Australia to face prosecution? (h) Finally, what is Mrs Heisler’s country of origin?
– Because of the interest that has been shown in this case I have quite an amount of information from the Minister for Immigration which I think will answer the questions the honourable senator has asked. In reply to questions (a), (b) and (g): Barry John McKenzie left Australia on a ship from Sydney on 3rd April 1964. In March 1964 a Mrs McLean applied in Sydney for a passport for herself and 3 children, including one named Joseph. Her husband also applied for a passport. As there was no reason to doubt Mrs McLean’s statement that she was the mother of the 3 children, a passport including the name of the 3 children was issued to her. Later information indicated that the child Joseph was Barry John McKenzie. There is nothing in departmental records to connect Mrs Smith with the official application for the inclusion of the child, now known to be Barry John McKenzie, in Mrs McLean’s passport. The question of launching prosecutions under the Passports Act was previously considered but in the light of legal advice that a prosecution was unlikely to succeed, no action was taken.
So far as the Migration Act 1958-1.966 is concerned section 62 makes it an offence to take away from Australia any child under the age of 17 years in respect of whom there exists a court order as to custody, guardianship or access or where proceedings have been instituted in an Australian court for the making of such an order. As no such order was in existence or was being sought at the time Barry John McKenzie was taken away from Australia in -1964 no offence against section 62 of the Migration Act was committed. Section 64 of the Migration Act requires that an Aboriginal who resides in a State in which there is in force a law making provision for the protection, control or welfare of Aborigines shall obtain a permit to depart from Australia unless exempted by the Act. An offence is committed if a person takes or sends away from Australia an Aboriginal to whom the section applies, Unless a permit has first been obtained. Inquiries made following Barry McKenzie’s departure revealed that he did not come under the control or protection of the Native Welfare Department of Western Australia, and therefore did not require a permit to depart from Australia.
In reply to (c): Mr and Mrs McLean returned to Australia last year. In July 1964, after the circumstances of Barry McKenzie’s departure had come to notice, passport procedures were amended to require the production of a full birth certificate, which names the parents of the child, when persons seek to have the names of children included in their passports at the time of issue or added subsequently. Prior to this the procedures did not require any documentary evidence of the birth of a child to be produced for passport purposes. A general review of the Passport Act is to be undertaken.
In reply to (d): Mr and Mrs McLean hold Australian passports which have expired. Mrs Smith holds an Australian passport val.ied until November 1973. There is no basis for action to cancel the document. In reply to (e) and (g): Mrs Heisler was born at Copenhagen and was naturalised in Britain in 1948. She resided in Western Australia for some years prior to her departure for overseas late in 1963, when she held a British passport issued by the British High Commission, Canberra.
– I ask the Minister for Civil Aviation a question. What special precautions, if any,, have been taken to protect Australian lives and property in the event of any Qantas Airways Ltd aeroplanes being hijacked? Does insurance cover these planes and personnel should hijacking take place?
– Qantas crews are very fully instructed in connection with action to be taken should their aircraft be hijacked. Every possible precaution is being taken, of course, by governments and airlines to avoid a situation arising in which a hijacking may occur. The company’s fleet insurance policy covers aircraft in relation to hijacking.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for National Development. Has the petroleum exploration well in the adjacent area of the Northern Territory - Petrel No. 1 - yet been brought under control? If not, when is it going to be controlled? When is this wilful waste of Australian resources going to stop?
Quite obviously it will be necessary for me to advert back to the appropriate Department to get an answer to this question, t would hope to get an answer to the first part of the question, and I might make an observation as to the last part of the question when I get the answer to the first part.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry aware that General MotorsHolden’s Pty Ltd has announced the appointment of its first Australian born managing director, Mr Gibbs, who is a South Australian? Does the Minister agree that this appointment, together with appropriate appointments made by other car manufacturers, would seem to predict a programme of a large scale sales drive in the Asian area? In view of the description of the South East Asian area as having the greatest automotive potential in the world, and because of the importance of this industry, can the Minister indicate what steps are being taken through Australia’s various posts in the area to assist the total automotive industry in its sales export drive in Asia?
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONI have read in the Press that a new Managing Director of General MotorsHolden’s Pty Ltd has been appointed. The announcement made was that he is an Australian. I think everybody in Australia will be highly delighted at the appointment and will wish the new Managing Director every success in his new position. I think all Australians are very proud of the contribution that General Motors-Holden’s has made to the automotive industry and of the vast employment opportunities it provides for Australians, particularly in South Australia. That is all I can say about the appointment.
Senator Davidson also asked me about our automotive export potential in Asia. It is true that the Department of Trade and Industry has appointed trade commissioners to significant posts throughout the world. I believe - and 1 am sure it is true- -that the prime purpose of such appointments is to promote Australian industry in the countries concerned. Where there is a potential market for the Australian automotive industry the trade commissioners would be very much alive to that fact, lt goes without saying that they would do everything within their charter to exploit that potential and that if the matter went beyond their charter they would refer the matter back to the Department of Trade and Industry for help with promotions that might be undertaken in those areas.
I think we all accept - and this is not in any way a political matter - the great need in Australia for diversification of our overseas trade. During the last decade, and even before that, emphasis has been placed on this need for diversification of our trade. Any expansion of the export potential of the Australian automotive industry would be a wonderful help to our economy. I know that not only the Department of Trade and Industry but also its representatives in posts overseas are very much alive to any such developments.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister for Civil Aviation, refers to a previous question that I asked him about whether the use of detection devices which have been developed and which are used at overseas airports might be practicable in Australia. The devices could be directed to passengers, to luggage and to cargo as a means of preventing hijacking, fs the Minister at present able to advise whether such devices are practicable and whether they might be used in Australian aircraft?
– All 1 would like to say is that such devices do exist. They have been tested and examined very thoroughly. The honourable senator may rest assured that Australian authorities use every possible precaution, device or arrangement which affords greater protection to Australian air travellers.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Civil Aviation and is complementary to others asked on the subject of hijacking. Have the international air authorities made any investigation whether the death penalty could be imposed on people convicted for attempted hijacking? If not. will the Minister raise the matter with the Australian Government to see whether such a penalty could be imposed on a person convicted of such an offence in Australia?
– I think all honourable senators are conscious -of the responsibility which the Minister for Civil Aviation has in answering many of the questions directed to him about this matter and which is of concern to many people. One or two things might usefully be said, J. think, in our common interest. In common with 119 governments which are members of the International Civil Aviation Organisation, the Australian Government has taken ali possible steps at an international level to protect the security of airline transport aircraft, their crews and passengers. We joined with 90 other nations in the Montreal Declaration of June 1970 which condemned all acts directed against the safety of civil aviation. Our delegation at the June extraordinary assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organisation included representatives of the Department of Civil Aviation, Qantas Airways Ltd and the Australian Federation of Air Pilots. We are putting into effect the recommendations of that conference.
This Parliament itself ratified the Tokyo Convention and in addition has enacted legislation providing very severe penalties for offences against civil aircraft. Over the years airline aircraft have been hijacked by citizens of many countries. Our policy towards hijacking is simple and clear: We deplore all acts directed against the safety of civil aviation and will continue to collaborate with the member states of 1CAO to find an international solution to the problem. In the meanwhile, our civil aviation and airline authorities will also collaborate in maintaining the highest possible security standards, and 1 can assure honourable senators that I myself have seen to it that they are indeed doing that.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Civil Aviation. I ask: With the considerably reduced flight times for internal airline flights as a result of the introduction of new aircraft, has consideration been given to reducing the internal airline fares by making a substantial reduction in the number of special services provided to passengers, such as the provision of meals and liquor? Could a substantial reduction in fares be effected by such means?
– I read the article to which no doubt the honourable senator refers. Of course, the interest of all of us is in the last part of his question: Could a substantial reduction in fares be achieved? I would like the honourable senator and my colleagues in the Senate to know that the Department has been directing its attention towards the overall cost structure of the airlines operating in Australia. The point that the honourable senator has raised is one that we have been considering, but it is perhaps not quite as simple as that. On first, examination it did not appear to offer much scope for effecting a reduction in costs. The Australian air travelling public enjoys, I think, a fairly high standard of service, except in some cases involving bad weather and other problems which we have all experienced. Broadly speaking, what the Department seeks to do in its economic research section is to examine continuously the costs of operating aircraft in Australia, particularly in the domestic field, with a view to seeing that Australians travel as cheaply as we can allow them to do, bearing in mind convenience and comfort and with safety being always the No. 1 consideration. So what the honourable senator asks to be done is in fact being considered. I myself have reservations as to whether it will mean anything real in the way of savings.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General. I advise the Minister of a recent announcement in Tasmania concerning the intention of the PostmasterGeneral to divide the State into 3 regions for dialling purposes and to issue separate telephone directories for each region. The announcement also stated that 3 directories-
– Order! You are giving a lot of explanation.
– I shall ask the question now. I merely add that the announcement was that the 3 directories would be available free of charge to subscribers on application. Will the Postmaster-General give an assurance that the 3 regional directories, bound in one volume and covering all subscribers, as at present, will be issued to all Tasmanian subscribers, rather than waiting for subscribers to make separate applications for them, and that the composite directory will also be issued in the mainland States?
– I have noted the points raised by the honourable senator concerning the directories. This is an interesting suggestion which I shall take up with the Postmaster-General so that I may get a reply for the honourable senator.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Defence in a position to provide any information as to when a decision on the establishment of an Army base in Western Australia can be expected?
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONI would prefer this question to be put on notice so that I may get a comprehensive answer from the Minister for Defence. I appreciate the honourable senator’s very real interest in that area as he comes from Western Australia, but in truth it would be wise to put the question on notice so that I may get a detailed reply from the Minister.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General. In view of the savage charges to be imposed by the Government on a number of organisations by the proposed increase in postal charges, which will cost the National Roads and Motorists Association an additional $100,000 per annum and the Australian Workers Union more than $26,000 per annum to post their free newspapers to their members, as well as adding to the costs of numerous religious organisations, friendly societies and trade unions which will be similarly affected but which are too numerous to mention individually, will the PostmasterGeneral reconsider the huge increase in charges to be made on journals or newspapers which are posted free to members of such organisations?
– I shall place this matter before the Postmaster-General and get a reply for the honourable senator.
– I direct my question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Is it not a fact that at the time Cambodia was attacked and invaded by North Vietnam, General Lon Nol, the Prime Minister of Cambodia at that time, requested from Australia aid in the form of communications equipment and not arms?
– lt is .true that a request was made for assistance and it is true also that in certain areas Australia has given assistance. I have already had a question on a wider canvass from Senator Georges into which he imported some views of his own. In the circumstances I think it would be better if 1 were to obtain a considered reply incorporating the point raised by Senator Young.
– 1 should like to direct a question on Aboriginal housing to the Minister representing the MinisterinCharge of Aboriginal Affairs or the Minister for Housing. What has been the total expenditure at Wave Hill Commons and how many houses have been built there? What is the total anticipated expenditure in that area? Is there any truth in the suggestion that the Gurindji people have stated that they will never live on the Commons? If this is untrue, how many Gurindji have to date applied for a house at Wave Hill?
– That question should be directed to the Minister for the Interior, whom I represent in the Senate. The total cost of the construction of 20 houses now being erected at the Wave Hill residential centre is estimated at $360,600 and the total expenditure by the Government in that area is estimated at $487,000. This figure includes the cost of electricity, water and sewerage services which are being provided as part of the Government’s plans to develop the residential centre and, later, a township in this area. The figures for the final cost of the present development will be available within 6 to 8 weeks when all houses are expected to be completed.
Apart from the expenditure by the Government, the Baptist Church has been granted a lease for a church and residence in the residential centre and it is understood that the planning is to have these buildings erected within the very near future. In addition, the social club which is operating at the Wave Hill centre has indicated its plans to build a new store and the possibility of the later development of a service station and a motel on the site. Any further expenditure at the Wave Hill residential centre apart from that will depend on the need for additional houses or services to meet the requirements of the people living in this area. Some of the Gurindji people who are living at Wattie Creek have stated that they will not live in houses which are being erected in the residential centre. Other members of the Gurindji tribe who live over a wide area of the Territory have not expressed this view. Nine Gurindji families have to date applied for the tenancy of one of the houses at the Wave Hil) residential centre.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. What stage has been reached in negotiations between the Government, the Australian Wool Industry Conference and other wool grower organisations in regard to the introduction of a single statutory wool selling authority?
– I understand that the Minister for Primary Industry expects to receive this week a report setting out the details of a proposed wool marketing authority. As honourable senators know, the Minister for Primary Industry has said in another place that he will present the detailed proposals to the Government and the wool industry for consideration. A meeting of the Australian Wool Industry Conference has been arranged for 14th October. The proposals will be put before this meeting for discussion. The proposals, which are based on a report of an advisory committee of the Australian Wool Board, have been drawn up and officers of the Department of Primary Industry, Sir John Crawford and officials of the wool industry are having a look at them at present. That is the position as far as I am aware.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Civil Aviation. I ask: In view of the rash of hijackings of international aircraft, is it likely that the insurance rates of such aircraft will increase, as a consequence of which the fares will increase? If this is likely, is there any way in which the Government could prevent this happening to Australia’s international line?
– I do not think it is hard to imagine that if hijackings continue and aircraft destruction continues - I think about $45m worth of aircraft were destroyed recently - those who insure aircraft will be looking to increased premiums. Qantas Airways Ltd, as an operator, does carry some of its own insurance, but it also insures outside. It is quite impossible for me to go beyond that except to say that the honourable senator can rest assured that every effort will be made to keep costs down in a manner which is consistent with making sure that the risk is covered.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior. Is the Minister aware that the welfare sister stationed in the Wattie Creek area left her employment approximately a week ago? Can the Minister inform the Senate whether, as a matter of urgency, the welfare sister will be replaced? If so, on what date will the new appointee commence duty?
– 1 was not aware that the welfare sister had left Wattie Creek Station. As it is a matter of urgency, I will take it up with the responsible Minister this afternoon.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Has the Minister received a further request from citrus growers in Western Australia for orange juice to be provided to school children when desired in lieu of free milk? If so, will the Minister give further consideration to this request? I may add that orange juice might be more suitable to children who live in areas where it is very difficult to transport milk.
– I am aware of the fact that representations have been made by the citrus growers, but I am not aware whether these representations have been made to the Minister for Primary Industry. I shall certainly take the matter up with the Minister. I shall provide the honourable senator with a reply to his question as soon as possible.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Will the Government, per medium of the Department of Shipping and Transport or the Australian National Line, identify the overseas shipping consortiums that intend to intervene in the determination of higher freight rates on Australian primary exports?
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONI think the honourable senator’s question should be put to the Acting Minister for Shipping and Transport. I would rather imagine that he would ask that it be put on notice because it seeks some information and asks for an opinion on a matter of policy. I suggest the honourable senator put the question on notice and see what happens.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry inform the Senate of the purpose of the meeting in Sydney today between representatives of all States and the Commonwealth at which it is understood an Australia wide policy on drought and associated problems is being discussed?
Senator Lawrie, like a number of other honourable senators in this chamber from Queensland has been interested in the matter of drought for some time. Some time’ ago he expressed to me his interest in this meeting and 1 obtained the following information for him: I understand that the meeting in Sydney today, attended by representatives of all States and the Commonwealth at departmental level, is the first meeting of the new Consultative Committee on Drought. This Committee was set up by the Australian Agricultural Council at its last meeting. The Committee has been established to consider recurring drought problems on an interstate, multiState or Commonwealth-State basis. Drought is virtually a normal feature of Australia’s weather pattern,’ and the Committee hopes to be able to examine matters such as drought relief, rehabilitation and mitigation, and means of combating drought or at least lessening its effects on our rural industries.
The Committee’s immediate objective can be summed up as attempting to give greater predictability to the ways in which governments and farmers respond to drought. The Committee wants to coordinate and standardise where practicable and desirable, the various kinds of relief measures provided. This will allow farmers to know in advance the nature and extent of the assistance they can expect. I think honourable senators will agree with me that no committee can take away from the farmer himself the primary responsibility to do all he can on his own property to fortify himself against the droughts which will inevitably affect him. However, the Government will continue to give him material encouragement to do this.
– Is the Acting Minister for Shipping and Transport now in a position to answer my question of 10 days ago on oil pollution at Kurnell and couple with it a progress report on the oil slick which remains undissolved on the
New South Wales south coast having last been seen in the Shellharbour-Wollongong sector?
– I hoped to have the answer for the honourable senator today. I have not yet received it but I shall make inquiries when I leave here after question lime.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration explain the refusal to provide a visa to a Mr R. Meier of Southern Rhodesia? How can the Government justify this refusal in view of the continuing co-operation with Southern Rhodesia in other ways, especially in trade to the value of $3m a year? Will the Minister deny that this action is a petty attempt to balance out the refusal to grant visas to Dick Gregory and the Rev. McGraw of the United States?
– 1 think the last part of the honourable senator’s question has nothing whatever to do with the first part and I therefore ignore it. In reply to the first part of the question concerning Mr R. G. Meier the South African citizen residing in Rhodesia, I inform the Senate that applications to visit Australia lodged by citizens or residents of Rhodesia are examined against Australia’s response to the United Nations Security Council Resolution of 29th May 1968. Part of this resolution calls on member nations to take all measures to prevent their nationals or persons in their territory from promoting, assisting or encouraging immigration to Southern Rhodesia. Another part of this resolution calls on member nations to take all measures to prevent the entry into their territory of persons whom they have reason to believe to be ordinarily resident in Southern Rhodesia and whom they have reason to believe to have furthered or encouraged, or are likely to further or encourage, the unlawful actions of the illegal regime in Southern Rhodesia. The Minister has stated also that he was informed that Mr Meier advertised extensively in Australia for staff for a Rhodesian newspaper of which he is the editor, and that he took these factors into consideration before refusing permission to Mr Meier to visit Australia.
– Has the Minister for Air noted that the first Fill aircraft have been delivered to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation forces for full flying duties? Can he indicate why those aircraft have been passed and accepted as suitable for use while Australia’s Fill aircraft have not yet been found suitable for delivery to and acceptance by the Royal Australian Air Force?
– I noticed the report to which the honourable senator has referred. All I can say is that the programme to return all Fill aircraft to operational status is proceeding. I understand that nearly 100 aircraft have been through the test and that about half of that number have been returned to operational squadrons.
– What about the other half?
– I will come to that. Al present the programme is being monitored closely by Australian engineers and scientists in both Australia and America. The results of the programme and their relevance to the RAAF’s F1J IC aircraft are being assessed continually. As the Minister for Defence said some time ago, a judgment will be made towards the end of next year at the earliest on whether the aircraft ultimately will reach the operational technical requirements of the RAAF.
– In other words, you do not know.
– I do know.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Air. Has he seen a newspaper report that yesterday the Western Australian executive of the Australian Country Party carried a resolution calling on the Australian Country Party to withdraw from the present Government coalition unless a statutory wool marketing authority is established by the Commonwealth Government? Is the report correct? If so, does the Minister agree with the Western Australian executive of the Australian Country Party or with the Government?
– I have always understood that a question based on a newspaper report is out of order, so I think the honourable senator’s question is out of order.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service. Is Brian Ross still incarcerated in the gaol at Sale in Victoria for his conscientious opposition to killing? Has Mr Justice Smithers held an inquiry at the instigation of the Department of Labour and National Service into whether Ross had a conscientious objection justifying non-compliance with the National Service Act which led to his gaoling? When will the decision on the inquiry be known? When may I receive replies to questions nos 581, 582 and 583 relating to this matter which were placed on notice on 26th August?
The honourable senator has asked a question relating to a matter which comes within the administration of the Department of Labour and National Service and has linked that question with questions nos 581, 582 and 583 already on the notice paper. I am not in a position to give the answers to those questions but I will add the question he has now asked to my inquiry in relation to them. If t can get an answer this week I will certainly make it available to him.
– Why not tomorrow?
Yes, if T can.
– It is easily answered.
– That will be the day, when Senator Cavanagh asks an easy question. Speaking seriously, I understand that the person concerned is still in prison and that an inquiry has been conducted. I will get as much information as possible as quickly as I can.
– Can (he Minister representing the Minister for Social Services inform the Senate whether the Department of Social Services could carry out an investigation into the possible abolition of the property form, better known as the pink form, which is required to be completed annually by pensioners? Alternatively, can the Minister advise whether a more simplified form can be made available?
– I will take this matter up with the Minister for Social Services. As I understand the question, it is a request for a more simplified form to be made available to people applying for pensions.
– I ask the . Leader of the Government in the Senate: Is it not generally accepted that the Jervis Bay nuclear power station is intended to provide an opportunity to develop the skills necessary for the design of a nuclear deterrent? If so, will the Government consider providing the cost from the defence funds and so free $130m for allocation to the States for legitimate power requirements? Will he consider giving priority to Queensland, the most deprived of the States?
The honourable senator has made some assumptions and has put them in the form of a question. He said in effect that the nuclear power station proposed for Jervis Bay is designed to provide an outlet for the skills of the people involved so that they will be able to ensure production of a nuclear deterrent. This is a false assumption. It is true that we are to have a nuclear establishment at Jervis Bay. It is also true that we are in the process of providing an opportunity for scientists and technicians to work in this field in Australia. To that extent we are operating against the brain drain from Australia, but the Jervis Bay proposal has the purpose of providing nuclear power. It seems to me that everybody other than Senator Georges knows that that is its purpose.
– Does the Minister for Air recall stating during the last sessional period that there were about 6 pilots in the Royal Australian Air Force who at that stage had been trained to fly Phantom aircraft, which were to be accepted from the United States of America as the delivery date of the Fill aircraft was unknown? Now that Australia has taken delivery of some Phantoms from the United States, can the Minister say how many pilots in the RAAF have since been trained to fly Phantoms?
– I do recall saying that 6 pilots had been fully trained or were receiving training at the time the honourable senator asked a question about Phantom aircraft. At present about 20 Australian pilots are in the United States receiving training on Phantom aircraft. Two of the pilots of the 5 Phantoms that arrived yesterday are Australians. They have received about 30 hours training on Phantoms and will go on to receive about 90 hours training before they become fully operational. Some of the American pilots who arrived yesterday will be staying in Australia to train pilots at Amberley on Phantoms. No doubt when our pilots become more experienced they will become instructors on Phantoms. At this moment I cannot give the number of pilots who are partly or fully trained on Phantoms.
– Is the Minister for Civil Aviation aware of the number of domestic flights which are now overbooked and which reflect the urgent need for additional aircraft in Australia? What steps is his Department taking to ensure sufficient seat capacity? When are the next DC9s or Boeing 727s due for delivery?
– It is true, to some extent, as the honourable senator suggests, that some aircraft on domestic flights are overbooked. I think it can fairly be said that in the last stage of their equipment programme the domestic airlines estimated a requirement to cover a certain growth rate in Australian civil aviation demand, but the growth rate has been substantially greater than that. The equipment programme therefore has been speeded up. I imagine that within a month or so we should have a few additional aircraft which may help to solve this problem. The delivery of these aircraft will be accelerated from about February next year to early October this year. In Australia it is a problem to measure the need for aircraft for the domestic fleets against the demand. The demand pattern seems to be growing at a faster rate than has been expected. One of the problems the airlines have is not to have aircraft capacity standing idle because they have overestimated the demand and equally not to have overbooking because they have underestimated the demand.
(Question No. 566)
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice:
Have some Australian solicitors,’ accountants and other professional persons established offices in the New Hebrides for the purpose of advising Australians on ways and means of establishing offices in the New Herbrides for tax evasion purposes, in the same way and for the same purpose as certain individuals have been operating on Norfolk Island for many years.
The Treasurer has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
It is known that branch offices have been established in the New Hebrides by a small number of Australian solicitors. Investment through companies incorporated in the New Hebrides has attractions for investors who are not Australian residents but there is no evidence as yet that the establishment of branch offices by Australian solicitors is designed solely for the purpose of enabling Australian taxpayers to avoid income tax.
(Question No. 568)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice:
– The Minister for External Affairs has furnished the following reply:
(Question No. 570)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice:
– The Minister for Trade and Industry has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
(Question No. 476)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development the following question, upon notice:
In view of the statements made by Mr H. J. de Bruin, a nuclear expert and former Principal Research Scientist with the Australian Atomic Energy Commission to the effect that the establishment of the Jervis Bay nuclear power station could not be justified on economic grounds, and that as a pilot plant for the future nuclear development in Australia the $130m installation at Jervis Bay would be utterly extravagant, and in view of similar expressions of opinion which have been voiced against the economics of the power station and expounding the dangers of water and thermal pollution, will the Government delay acceptance of a tender until further expert investigation of all the possible contingencies has been undertaken.
– The Acting Minister for National Development has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
No. We will not delay the acceptance of a tender for this project until further investigation is undertaken into the economic aspects of the station and possible dangers of pollution arising therefrom.
The Government has never claimed that the station could be justified on economic grounds. Its reasons for the project are to gain experience in all phases of tendering, construction and commissioning of a nuclear power station; to encourage the commencement of a nuclear industry in Australia; and as a result to be in a better position to be able to adopt fast breeder reactors when they become available.
The Australian Atomic Energy Commission is aware of the characteristics of all types of nuclear reactors in relation to the possible dangers of their releasing pollution. Full precautions will be taken against possible pollution of the environment during the construction and operation of the station.
(Question No. 439)
Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice:
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONThe Prime Minister has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question: (I), (2) and (3) The reasons for increases in interest rates have been explained in various statements which I have made and in statements by my colleague, the Treasurer. These measures have checked and are continuing to check expenditures and, in doing so, have relieved inflationary pressures in the economy.
(Question No. 453)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development the following question, upon notice:
Can the Government obtain any predictions of the likely extent to which global atmospheric pollution by carbon dioxide could limit the feasibility of electricity generation by fossil fuels in the future.
– The Minister for National Development has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Although the use of fossil fuels for electricity generation and other purposes adds carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, the gas is absorbed by the oceans and by growing vegetation. The possible future trend of the carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere will therefore depend upon the trends of both the productive and absorptive processes, and the balance thereby achieved, and is not predictable from estimates of the likely trend of the productive processes alone.
At present, there is no unanimity of opinion on the quantitative effects of any specific change in the carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere. In addition, no reliable prediction can be obtained of the extent to which it might be desirable to limit electricity generation by fossil fuels at some future time. It may be noted that the bulk of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere at present arises from sources other than electricity generating stations burning fossil fuels.
(Question No. 531)
asked the Minis ter representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice:
Has the Commonwealth Film Unit acted on a recommendation from the Canberra Rural Fires Conference of July 1969 that a film be produced on human safety and survival in bush fires.
– The Minister for the Interior has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Subsequent to the Canberra Rural Fires Conference the Department of National Development approached the Commonwealth Film Unit on this subject. As a result of discussions the Commonwealth Film Unit has programmed a number of short films covering aspects of human safety and survival in bush fires, for distribution through television stations.
(Question No. 543)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
– The Minister for Shipping and Transport has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
(Question No. 549)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
– The Minister for Shipping and Transport has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The Australian Coastal Shipping Commission is required under ‘ the provisions of the Australian Coastal Shipping Agreement Act to arrange for the booking of cargo carried in its vessels in coastal shipping services to be provided by one or more of the signatory companies to the Agreement, lt must pay for the services al such rate as shall yield the company a reasonable margin of profit.
Estimated operating results for modern ships recently introduced in other coastal services also indicate that, because of increasing costs and in spite of the greater efficiency of the Line’s new ships, the freight increases are required before the Line’s overall position in the coastal trade will even approach a reasonable profit level.
(Question No. 55.0
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
– The Minister for Shipping and Transport has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
These amounts represent the assistance paid hy the Commonwealth, either iti the form of an establishment allowance or shipping subsidy, to K. H. Houfe and Co. Pty Ltd which operates the shipping service between Melbourne and King Island.
(Question No. 554)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
There are legal aspects involved in the questions. Arrangements have therefore been made to have them examined by the Attorney-General’s Department. A more detailed reply to the question will be prepared in due course.
(Question No. 555)
asked the Minister repre senting the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
Will the Neptune Orient Line’s new shipping service between Singapore and Australian east coast ports include calls at any Tasmanian ports, if so, which ports and under what circumstances.
Since the Neptune Orient Line was granted membership of the Australian/Singapore and West Malaysia Conference on 1st August, it has not established a firm sailing schedule for its vessels. The agents have informed my Department that the Line would combine with other Conference members to provide a service to Singapore which should meet the expected requirements of Tasmanian exporters.
(Question No. 575)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
The first two parts of the question are answered in the attached broadsheet prepared by the Department of Trade and Industry with respect to outwards cargo shipping. As far as inwards cargo shipping is concerned full details of conferences operating are not known, but by and large the same shipping lines operate in the inwards conferences in the trade as operate in the outwards.
The information necessary to answer the last part of the question by the honourable senator is not available. The cargo carried by individual lines is known only to those lines and is regarded by them as private information.
– For the information of honourable senators I present the annual report of the Commonwealth Bureau of Meteorology for the year ended 30th June 1970.
– For the information of honourable senators I present the interim annual report of the Australian Meat Board for the year ended 30th June 1970. When the final report is available I shall present it in accordance with statutory requirements.
– Pursuant to section 7 of the Tobacco Industry Act 1955-1965, I present the Fifteenth Annual Report on the operation of the Act for the year ended 30th June 1970.
– On behalf of the Public
Accounts Committee I present the One Hundred and Twentieth and One Hundred and Twenty-first reports of the Committee. Mr President, I seek leave to make a short statement.
– There being no objection, leave is granted.
– Honourable senators will recall that when 1 tabled your Committee’s One Hundred and Sixteenth report which related to a Treasury minute I reminded the Senate of the basis of the Treasury minute arrangements which have operated since 1953. I also emphasised that these arrangements have proved their value over the years as an important element in ensuring that, through your Committee, the Parliament maintains an important and significant role in the financial administration of the Commonwealth. The One Hundred and Twentieth report, which relates to the Treasury minute on your. Committee’s report on expenditure from the Consolidated Revenue Fund for the financial year 1967-68, affords further evidence in support of that view. The One Hundred and Twenty-first report relates to your Committee’s inquiry into the financial administration of the Department of Shipping and Transport.
During the course of our inquiry in mid- 1969 a major re-organisation took place in the central office of the Department located in Melbourne. This involved a transfer of some senior officers to Canberra, a regrouping of some of the Department’s main functions, a strengthening of its top structure and the establishment of a policy group of 50 positions in Canberra. The transfer of the remainder of the Department is not envisaged before 1973-74. Regarding the transfer of positions to Canberra in 1969-70, we note the admission made in evidence that difficulties could arise in communication between the Canberra and Melbourne-base sections of the branches of the administration concerned. On the basis of its experience, your Committee recognises the difficulties that could arise in this area. Every effort must be made to ensure that the efficiency of the Department is not impaired due to the geographical division of the central office between Canberra and Melbourne. Your Committee is concerned that such a physical division of central control could result in a series of duplica tions of positions at many levels, a heavy cost arising from necessary departmental executive travel and added expenses arising from the need for constant communication between the two sections of the central office, all of which potential costs and expenses could have been avoided had it been decided to transfer the central office to Canberra in a single move.
The evidence taken in your Committee’s inquiry shows that penalties imposed under the Navigation Act have remained virtually unchanged for many years and in some cases relate to matters that are no longer appropriate. Moreover, the manner in which some of the Regulations made under that Act have been framed and the way in which cases have been presented by the Department and the Deputy Crown Solicitor have raised difficulties for the courts in deciding some cases where prosecutions have been launched. In these circumstances your Committee believes that the Navigation Act and Regulations require urgent revision and that the Regulations require continuous review. lt also appears to your Committee that, particularly in the years prior to 1965, when the Department established an Organisation and Methods Unit, widespread inadequacies existed in the Department’s administration. This was particularly evident in the important areas of internal audit and stores management. We commend the Department for the action it has taken more recently to revise its arrangements and procedures in these areas. However, in view of the Department’s history in these areas of administration we expect it to make certain that ils assurances of improved operations in the future are realised fully and that the staffing of these units is brought to full strength without further delay. Your committee also believes that the Department should take steps to ensure the adequacy of its storage arrangements for microfilm, which in recent years has become an important, repository for departmental records. As the improper use of telephones can prove costly, we also consider that the Department should issue a staff instruction covering the use of these facilities in all circumstances.
Your Committee commends the Department for its efforts, through the provision of training facilities, to solve its recruitment problems. However, the evidence indicates that the facilities available in Australia for formal training of nautical and marine engineering officers, particularly for those requiring higher qualifications, are inadequate. The Department has considered thequestion of whether a nautical academy should be established in Australia or alternatively whether greater opportunities should be provided in universities. Any delays in solving these questions can only aggravate existing difficulties. Your Committeebelieves, therefore, that these unresolved questions should be examined promptly by all of the parties concerned, including tertiary education institutions.
In relation to the Department’s revenue collections we believe that the Department should re-examine the principle adopted for the identification of specific miscellaneous items. In the area of departmental expenditure, we consider that the Department should continue to remind the State authorities concerned with expenditure under the railway agreements of the availability of additional estimates within the Commonwealth financial framework.
Your Committee believes that, in view of the new organisation accorded the Department of Shipping and Transport in mid-1969, which implies a strong policy connotation, the Department of Shipping and Transport should move to a greater extent into the field of co-ordination of transport and transport developments and should provide greater assistance than it has been able to offer in the past in the development of policies to ensure maximum efficiency of transport at minimum cost. Your Committee also believes that as part of that development, the Department of Shipping and Transport could now assume direct responsibility for some functions which, in recent years, have been undertaken by the Exports Transportation Branch of the Department of Trade and Industry. At the same time your Committee is mindful of the need for both of these departments and other departments concerned with aspects of transport and trade promotion to continue to work closely together in areas of mutual interest. We believe that if these objectives are realised, a considerable saving could be achieved in the public interest.
I commend the reports to honourable senators and move that they be printed.
Ordered that the reports be printed.
– In accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1969, I present the report relating to the following proposed work:
Transportable Houses and Classroom at Exmouth, Western Australia.
Motions (by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) - by leave - agreed to:
That Senator Prowse be granted leave of absence for 2 months on account of absence overseas.
That Senator Turnbull be granted leave of absence for 2 months on account of absence overseas from the termination of the sitting this day.
Motion (by Senator Murphy) - by leave - agreed to:
That Senator Ridley be granted leave of absence for 2 months on account of absence overseas.
Motion (by Senator Byrne) - by leave - agreed to:
That Senator Little be granted leave of absence for 2 months on account of absence overseas.
Debate resumed from 2 September (vide page 445), on motion by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson:
That the Senate take note of the following papers:
Commonwealth Payments to or for the States, 1970-71.
Estimates of Receipts and Summary of Estimated Expenditure for the year ending 30th June 1971.
Particulars of Proposed Expenditure for the Service of the year ending 30th June 1971. Particulars of Proposed Provision for Certain Expenditure in respect of the year ending 30th June 1971.
Government Securities on Issue at 30th June 1970.
Upon which Senator Murphy had moved by way of amendment:
At the end of motion add “, and the Senate condemns this deceptive and negative Budget because it fails to meet the real needs of the Australian people, especially with respect to (a) standards of social service and war pensioners, (b) assistance to schools, hospital and urban authorities and (c) restructuring of stricken primary industries, and because it introduces and increases taxes and charges of a regressive and inequitable nature”.
– When I spoke previously I referred to the position of primary producers in this country. I note that the Opposition has moved an amendment which includes the words ‘restructuring of stricken primary industries’. That is a most desirable end, but during the course of this debate we have not heard any practical method advanced as to how this can be done. There is nothing new about the position through which primary industries are passing. I believe that at least twice in my lifetime conditions in primary industries have been as bad as they are today. But there is a difference. Never before has the primary producer had to face up to the exorbitant cost system under which he is compelled to operate today. 1 believe that in most cases the great factor facing the primary producer is that his margin of profit has disappeared. This factor does not face the primary producer in the dairying industry and the beef industry. The primary producer is in this position with regard to almost every aspect of production and his profit margin has gone.
– He cannot expand; that is the problem.
– I agree that he cannot expand. The depletion and constriction of his traditional markets have been tragic and have been among the factors which have caused his decline. But he has had to face up to the restriction brought about by a loss of markets and a cost system in which costs are always increasing until he is no longer able to meet them. I believe that, apart from those in drought stricken areas, the man who owns his property, who does not have a heavy debt commitment or an interest bill to meet each year, has a chance to survive. He has to tighten his belt to be able to carry on. But in my opinion the man who has to meet an interest bill is in an almost hopeless position. For that reason it is good to see that the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) is giving consideration to interest bills that primary producers find themselves compelled to meet.
In referring to cost rises borne by primary producers, I do not for a moment place all the blame for these rises on the shoulders of trade unionists, although much of it can be attributed to them. I have a publication by the Secretary of the Productivity Groups Advisory Council in which he speaks of obsolete methods indulged in by the management of some of our industries in Australia. He speaks of factories running at about half their capacity and mentions many other factors which, he claims, militate against cheap production. He ends with a statement that appeals to me very greatly and should appeal to the Opposition. He says that getting a better return from the same resources enables the nation to spend more on education and social services without having to short-change investment in the future and provisions for defence to do so. The truth of that remark is perfectly obvious. But let us consider another aspect to which I was referring when I spoke previously in this Budget debate. I mentioned the spate of strikes in the United Kingdom and what was described as a boom year for strikes. The report to which I was referring mentioned that the number of days lost through strikes had doubled and in some cases had more than doubled over a few months. The report ended with the comment that some people suggested that the increase in strikes over the previous 12 months was a direct result of a surrender by the previous Labour Prime Minister, Mr Wilson, to the Trade Union Congress on the matter of anti-strike legislation.
If we come back to a consideration of the position in Australia we find that we are in much the same position as that in the United Kingdom. It was only a few days ago that the Treasurer (Mr Bury) made a statement in which he said that strikes and rising wages - by which he meant rising wages which did not take with them a rise in productivity - were a threat to the growth of the Commonwealth. That seems to me to be so perfectly obvious as to be beyond argument. A lot of Australians are alarmed because we have reached the position in this country where, in the main, only those people who strike receive benefits from the arbitration tribunals. 1 believe that this is a most frightening position to exist industrially in any country.
A few months ago I attended a meeting at Launceston called by an organisation which was not content with the position in which it found itself. This organisation spent a lot of money taking its case to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, only to be met with a deadlocked decision - I think the result was 2 to 2. I was impressed with the case which the organisation put up. I thought it a good case. I. said to members of the organisation: ‘Why have you had so much trouble uplifting your conditions to a standard which is commensurate with the conditions of your counterparts in other parts of the world?’ The conditions which existed in the United States of America, Canada. New Zealand and the United Kingdom had been referred to at that meeting and there seemed to me to be a great disparity between the conditions which exist in those countries and the conditions which exist in Australia. 1 repeat that I thought that this organisation had a good case. I said: ‘Why have you had such difficulty in getting your case heard and securing a decision, which is favourable or unfavourable to your organisation?’ One member of the organisation replied: lt is simply because we do not. strike, but if the conditions go on as they are we will be compelled to take some action’. Is the state of industrial lawlessness - that is the only way one can describe it - which has been bedevilling the Australian economy for the past few months due to a decision by the Communist Party in Australia to launch a campaign against industrial law and order?
– Which Communist Party? There are 4 of them now.
– A report of the decision appeared in the Press. I suppose the honourable senator has read it. That is what was decided upon. The campaign would be conducted, of course, through the agency of the Communist dominated trade unions. I was amazed when I read a statement made by the Secretary of the New South Wales Branch of the Builders Labourers Union. Mr Mundey, who is a member of the Communist Party, concerning the industrial unrest which exists at present. Honourable senators should remember that a few months ago m Sydney there was a lot of wilful destruction of property by members of the Builders Labourers Union. The appalling thing is that, as a sequel to the strike, last week Mr R. H. C. Watson of the Arbitration Commission brought down a decision on the claims of the builders labourers which effectively gave wage increases of close to the $6 a week claim which had stimulated the strike.
– What is the purpose of all this?
– There is something wrong with the arbitration system if an arbitration commissioner can be bedevilled into taking such action by wilful destruction of property and other activities by builders labourers. If, after such things have happened, these people can, through the Arbitration Commission itself, get what they demanded in the first place there is something wrong with the system. The action which should have been taken is the placing of their claims at the bottom of the list. The Arbitration Commission should have delayed hearing their claims in such a way that any inference that they had been rewarded for their actions could not be canvassed. It is worth quoting what the Secretary of the New South Wales Branch of the Builders Labourers Union had to say because I would say that the Builders Labourers Union would be regarded as a fairly responsible organisation.
– From what newspaper is the honourable senator reading?
– The ‘Australian Financial Review’. His remarks appeared in other newspapers, too. This is not the only newspaper in which I have read them. Mr Mundey is reported as saying that private property was smashed where arrogant employers ignored the democratic decisions of mass meetings. Why should employers take any notice of the democratic decisions of mass meetings? Mr Mundey is also reported as saying:
It was this destruction of private property which struck fear to the very hearts of the employing class.
If a relatively small union could successfully mount such an attack, what could be achieved by the more powerful unions with more resources if they acted in a similar way?
The article continues:
Predicting longer strikes and total stoppages, Mr Mundey says that tactics in strikes particularly since 1949 have been so tailored as to give a high priority to the penal powers threat and thus the need to ‘get them back to work’ to avoid fines.
The general idea among officials was to try to win strikes quickly, and, failing that, to beat a retreat and make the best of it, he says.
The next paragraph of this article is very significant indeed. It states:
With the removal of some of the teeth from the penal powers in May 1969, longer strikes including general strikes are likely to become the order of the day.’
This is what will happen as a result of the amendment by this Parliament during the last session of the penal provisions of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. In my opinion this indicates the absolute impossibility of placating a Communist. It has been proved internationally and domestically that the more you placate a Communist the more he will demand and the less amenable he will be to reasoning. If the present industrial lawlessness is to continue and costs continually increase not only will primary producers be put out of action altogether but also, to put it mildly, the economy of this country will be placed in a very parlous position indeed. If the primary producers in Australia could be so organised - and this has been mooted - as to be able to say to the general public: ‘You will not get another ton of food until you dance to our tune’ the boot would be on the other foot. It would not be a laughing matter if the professional people were to say: ‘We are not going to provide you with any services until you do what we want you to do’. Because one section of the community is so constituted that it is in a position to bring unified pressure of a lawless nature on the rest of the community, it can hold the rest of the community to ransom. That is the position. If this country is to go forward this lawlessness must come to an end.
I believe this Government has to give a lead in making lawlessness come to an end because nothing is more certain than that the great majority of people in this country would follow without question a government which gave a strong, positive lead in these matters and which came out stoutly in defence of the law and showed the people of the Commonwealth that it firmly intended to uphold the law. You get nowhere by equivocation. 1 speak as a man who has been on the land all his life. I say without hesitation that if all these costs, whether through mismanagement or industrial anarchy - and that is what it is - keep on going up and up as they have done over the past 12 months or so without a commensurate increase in productivity, to talk about reconstruction of primary industries wiil be just a vain and foolish dream, because it will be positively impossible of accomplishment. Not only will the primary producers go down the drain but the rest of the economy will go down the drain with them. One has to bear in mind that some people in key positions have a vested interest in the destruction of the Australian economy. That is all I want to say. I agree with the Treasurer (Mr Bury). I have spoken about something which, as he described it, is of No. 1 priority because if this situation keeps going on and on one thing is perfectly certain and that is that it will catch up with the whole of the economy of the Commonwealth.
– I intend to direct my remarks to what I believe are serious problems facing the State of Tasmania and to draw the attention .of the Senate to the manner in which Tasmania is falling behind the average level of development of the Commonwealth. Before doing so I would like to make a brief comment on the remarks made by Senator Lillico. From listening to him I presume that he attributed the problem of rising costs of the primary producers to the alleged industrial lawlessness of the Australian trade unionists.
– Not entirely.
– Well, I would not doubt that there are instances in which this sort of thing occurs but also there are other very important facors which create cost increases for primary producers and which I think would be of more concern. I know Senator Lillico is one of those persons who have expressed concern about shipping freight rates. But the reason I mention this is an answer to a question which I received today and which I think is pertinent. The question I asked on notice concerns the activities of various shipping conferences operating in and out of Australia. Portion of my question was:
What is the share of trade, both inwards and outwards, handled by members of each conference?
The last sentence of the answer reads:
The cargo carried by individual lines is known only to those lines and is regarded by them as private information.
If this Government after 20 years in power can allow this right to overseas shipping lines which have a far greater influence on the welfare of primary industry than the sort of thing Senator Lillico was concerned about, then quite obviously I cannot see why he should be emphasising so much the activities of certain trade unions. If the employee organisations of this country are not given a commensurate share of industrial and economic advancement then it is quite apparent that they will take action which they consider necessary to obtain that share. This Budget is a regressive Budget. It is unjust and it is selective in its discrimination against the Australian wage earner, lt has been presented by a Government which is regressive and unjust in ils philosophy and which is destined to be destroyed by the majority of Australians. lt is well recognised that small and isolated communities in any economy suffer certain disabilities which are not shared by their larger counterparts. This is relevant in the case of Tasmania. Not only is Tasmania a smaller State but it is also isolated and it has certain inbuilt deficiencies and problems in its economic growth which I believe have not been recognised to date by the Commonwealth. Unfortunately this is an accelerating tendency. Some very serious problems are confronting the State and it is to these matters that I wish to draw the attention of the Senate in my remarks. The other day during the course of a debate concerning increases in freight rates to Tasmania I. had occasion to quote from a Hunter Valley Research Foundation report which was entitled ‘Tasmania in the 70s’. I intend to quote again from that source because this information, I believe, should be made apparent to the Government side of this chamber. It is of very great importance to us. The report states:
Economic growth for Tasmania will not be possible without the expansion of trade flows with the mainland and other parts of the world as well as the development of trade within Tasmania itself. Tasmania’s economy cannot operate within a framework of self-sufficiency if a modern growth pattern is an objective.
The report goes on:
Tasmania’s domestic markets will always be relatively small. For this reason, manufacturers and producers should look towards opportunities available in other markets to sustain growth programmes in their activities.
It is quite apparent that many private investors and private firms in that State are very concerned about these factors because they are inter-related with the question of shipping and transporting their goods to the markets on the mainland. The Launceston ‘Examiner’ of 9th July in its survey of the report made ‘this comment:
A surprising number of well-established Tasmanian firms have undertaken full-scale comparative cost studies to examine the feasibility of shifting to the mainland.
The Hunter Valley Research Foundation report says that these firms include several which are regularly quoted in official literature and news media as examples of successful industrial development in Tasmania.
For some firms the critical influences were external, such as unfavourable changes in mainland and overseas markets’, the report said. ‘Hut in most, cases the problems result from the progressive reduction of production costs advantages and rising transportation costs’. . . . Rising transport costs to the mainland were the most dominant factor.
Those are the kinds of things with which any investor or any person intending to establish secondary industries in Tasmania will be confronted. It is understandable, as the report points out, that if you arc to produce goods in a State it is essentia) that you have a ready market for them. This is not available in the smaller States such as Tasmania.
There are 2 main sources of investment available to any economy. These are basically private and public moneys. In the past the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics has not kept a record of the amount of private investment in the various States. It is only in the past 12 months that the Bureau has attempted to collate information of this nature to try to learn just where money is being invested privately in the Commonwealth. If we attempt to obtain a comparison of private investment in the various States the nearest that we can get, according to the advice given to me, is from the increase in the value of plant and machinery in the Commonwealth. The figures relating to the value of plant and machinery indicate the manner in which Tasmania is falling behind the Commonwealth average.
Between June 1963 and June 1968 the value of plant and machinery throughout the Commonwealth increased by 51 per cent whereas in Tasmania it increased by only 34 per cent. This is a graphic illustration of the fact that investment in secondary industries in Tasmania is not as great as it is in the Commonwealth as a whole.
Let us look at other factors which indicate the situation. The ‘Treasury Information Bulletin’ of July 1970 contains figures relating to the construction of nonresidential buildings. It is generally accepted that the building industry, like the motor vehicle industry, is a very good barometer of the economic health of the community. On page 35 of the publication we find figures relating to approvals of non-residential buildings for the June quarter of 1970 and the percentage change from the June quarters of 1969 and 1968. For the Commonwealth as a whole approvals in the June quarter of 1970 showed an increase of 46 per cent over approvals in the June quarter of 1968 whereas in Tasmania there was a decrease of 67 per cent. Only some of that decrease was attributable to the aftermath of the bush fires in 1967. Comparing the June quarter of 1970 with the June quarter of 1969 we find an overall Commonwealth increase of 34 per cent but in Tasmania there was a fall of 41 per cent. These are significant figures which show beyond any shadow of doubt that Tasmania has a very real problem and is lagging badly behind the national average. For the June quarter of 1970 nonresidential building approvals in Tasmania represented only 1.6 per cent of total Commonwealth approvals.
In the field of motor transport, which is another very significant indicator of what is happening in a State, the number of new motor vehicles registered in the Commonwealth in 1969-70 was 12.6 per cent greater than the number registered in 1967-68. Every State except Tasmania showed an increase. In Tasmania the number of new motor vehicles registered fell by 2 per cent. Compared with 1968-69 the number of new vehicles registered in Tasmania in 1969-70 increased by 3.6 per cent - the lowest in the Commonwealth - compared with a national increase of 8.7 per cent.
Even in the field of retail sales Tasmania is lagging behind the other States. The figures for the March quarter show that the largest increase in retail sales occurred in South Australia and the smallest increase occurred in Tasmania. These are statistics which cannot be overlooked because they show conclusively that Tasmania has very grave difficulties confronting it. Obviously the Commonwealth has a responsibility to ensure that the level of development in Tasmania does not fall behind that of the Commonwealth. The same position applies to employment in non-residential building construction - factories, commercial buildings, warehouses and so on. There is a significant difference between the position in Tasmania and the position in the Commonwealth as a whole. The rate of construction of factories in Tasmania in the past 5 years is significantly below that of the Commonwealth as a whole.
The Hunter Valley Research Foundation makes this very significant comment in its report:
It is recognised that the source of government funds is largely outside the control of the State. However, it is our view that the additional financial assistance made available to Tasmania by the Commonwealth is a virtual subsidy to maintain the status quo in the State. While this is indeed the aim of special assistance to the States, more benefit would be obtained by relating such funds towards economic expansion.
It is in the field of economic expansion that there lies the real hope of bringing Tasmania to a level of development commensurate with that of the other States, but the Commonwealth is not accepting this responsibility. In the booklet entitled Commonwealth Payments to or for the States 1970-71’ we find information relating to the financial assistance grants which have been paid to the various States since 1959-60. This shows that whereas in 1959-60 grants paid to Tasmania represented 4.47 per cent of the total, the percentage has fallen progressively so that in 1969-70 it was down to 4.06 per cent and it is estimated that in 1970-71 it will fall again to 3.95 per cent. This progressive decline is due to the fact that population is one of the important factors in the formula on which grants are based, and Tasmania’s population continues to fall as a percentage of. total population in the Commonwealth. Population in the Commonwealth over the past 5 years has been increasing at the rate of 1.9 per cent. The increase in Tasmania, has been 1.18 per cent; that is a little over half of the national average. As this factor is taken into account in the formula Tasmania continues to receive every year a progressively lesser amount. If Tasmania were to receive the same proportion as it received 10 years ago, the amount payable to Tasmania as financial assistance grants this year would be $59m, instead of the sum of $52m it will receive. The difference may not sound very much to people in the mainland States, to whom a million dollars or so a year does not make much difference, but to a small State like Tasmania with its small economy it is a very significant difference.
– It is about 10 per cent or 12 per cent.
– It is of that order. One can appreciate the reaction of a State Treasurer who suddenly found that he had an increase of between 10 per cent and 12 per cent in his finances to play with. I am quite sure that it will be claimed that the Commonwealth Grants Commission makes up the difference. This is simply not true, because the task of the Grants Commission is to ensure that the standard of living in any State does not fall appreciably below the standards of the other States. If there is a financial stress from any cause, the Commonwealth has the responsibility through the Grants Commission to ensure that the State undergoing that stress is not falling behind the other States.
It is my very strong contention that Tasmania is falling behind quite dramatically. If this tendency is allowed to continue, and there appears to be no recognition by the Commonwealth of the need to arrest the trend, more and more taxes will have to be paid by mainland taxpayers simply to keep Tasmanians fed. One of the significant features of the financial grants is that between the financial years 1964-65 and 1970-71 the increase in Commonwealth grants to the States was 94 per cent, but Tasmania’s share of the increase was only 77 per cent. I have taken some trouble to cite these figures. I appreciate that it may be a little difficult to absorb them at one hearing, but the important thing is to convey to the Government that in fact Tasmania is not being properly provided for. If my figures are correct it is the responsibility of the
Government to intercede so that a greater amount of finance is allocated to Tasmania.
I wish now to devote a few minutes to expenditure by Commonwealth departments in Tasmania. This is one of the most significant fields in which a State can receive a stimulus. A State can receive vast sums of money not only in grants and loans, but also in straight out departmental spending. The majority of the Commonwealth departments do not spend in Tasmania anything like the proportion of their funds expended in other States. Tasmania provides 2.57 per cent of the net tax collected on personal income by the Commonwealth, but expenditures by the various Commonwealth departments fall well below, that figure. In Tasmania the Department of Immigration spends 1.11 per cent of its total expenditure; AttorneyGeneral’s Department 1 per cent; Department of the Interior 1.25 per cent; Department of Customs and Excise 1.81 per cent: Department of the Navy .128 per cent; Department of Trade and Industry .144 per cent; Department of Air .032 per cent; Department of the Army .98 per cent; Department of Works .74 per cent; Department of External Affairs .45 per cent; and Department of Supply 1 per cent. Some of the departments are spending a commensurate proportion of their incomes in Tasmania. However, the average amount by which Commonwealth spending exceeds net tax collections in the States is about 46 per cent
– Would not that calculation rely on the proposition that all Commonwealth revenue is expended in the States, whereas some of it goes elsewhere?
– That is true, but. I am looking at the position in the aggregate and calculating the relative position on a percentage basis. My calculations show that some States receive a higher percentage of Commonwealth spending than other States. Tasmania, at 28 per cent, has the lowest excess of Commonwealth spending over net tax collections. This is a significant difference. I do not wish to quote an officer of the State Treasury whom I consulted, but he considered that this is a significant area at which he had not looked and in which Tasmania could well be missing out. I realise that the individual departments should not be expected to say: ‘We will spend a particular percentage in that particular State.’ Obviously that would be unrealistic, but I question that the Commonwealth recognises the existing differences in its expenditure in the States. The figures I have cited are significant, as is the trend in some departments. I refer, for example, to the Department of Civil Aviation. In this area apparently Tasmania is regarded as being only an appendage of Victoria. I could not obtain a breakdown of the expenditure figures for Tasmania, but over the past 5 years the number of employees employed by the Department in Tasmania fell from 3.5 per cent of its total number of employees to 2.7 per cent. The total increase in employment by the Department of Civil Aviation over that period was 39 per cent, but the increase in Tasmania was 7.1 per cent.
Expenditure by the Department of Works in Tasmania has been progressively falling, from 1.42 per cent in 1963-64 to 732 per cent in 1968-69. The trend in the Department of Primary Industry is similar. I could cite many figures to support my contention. I am quite convinced that the field of Commonwealth departmental expenditure is one in which the Commonwealth ought to look more closely at the disadvantages experienced by the smaller States. Before concluding 1 wish to refer again to the shipping position and the increases in freight rates. The Commonwealth has been approached to give Tasmania more favourable consideration in this field, but it has not been forthcoming. Apparently the Commonwealth is not prepared to subsidise the shipping trade to Tasmania in order to ensure that freight rates can be held at their current levels.
The Department of Shipping and Transport spends in Tasmania .223 per cent of its total expenditure. This percentage has declined progressively over the last 5 years. The Department has been consistently reducing its expenditure in Tasmania. If Tasmania were to receive expenditure by the Department equal to its average expenditure in the other States it would be sufficient to subsidise the freight rates to Tasmania. I personally appeal to the Commonwealth to recognise that Tasmania is missing out on millions of dollars of Com monwealth spending. Unless this is recognised and the Commonwealth takes some action, Tasmania will become a load which is a grind and an imposition on the Commonwealth as a whole.
– It seems that the Government has retreated from the debate. 1 grant that there is not much to defend in the Budget it has presented. But we would have thought that it would be the duty of the Government to maintain the business of the Senate. It seems that the Opposition must now provide speaker after speaker, witout any contribution by the Government, and maintain this debate. We do not hesitate to do so.
I listened with interest to Senator Lillico who spoke effectively on the plight of the farmers. But it was a pity that he shifted his ground and began to lay all the blame for the position in which the farmers find themselves on the trade unionists and the trade union movement. He seemed to indicate that the costs the farmers have to meet are the result of actions by trade unionists and trade union organisations. But that is not so. It is the inflation that exists within the price structure which is responsible for the state we have reached. It is this galloping inflation which increases the costs of the farmers and places them, as the Australian Labor Party admits, in a serious situation.
Senator Lillico, and also other members of his Party, must be aware that, if the income of the worker is increased by a fraction and if the cost of the article he produces is increased by lc, because of the percentage-type additions to the cost, including the sales tax which this Government imposes very heavily and which it increased just recently, that increase of lc can be inflated to several cents. So the very small amount that the worker receives by way of a wage increase is taken away from him savagely by price increases. Whilst on the one hand the Government is prepared to place restraints on wages and to oppose wage increases, it has done nothing to place -restraints on price increases. Its attitude is exemplified by its recent action in the Northern Territory in opposing and disallowing regulations that would impose some price control on certain commodities.
These cost increases, which are the result of faulty policy, place the farmer in the dreadful situation in which he finds himself today. Whereas the workers have the ability to wirthdraw their services and to demand some justice, the farmers are not in that situation although, by a very substantial protest march through the streets of Melbourne, they did endeavour to put their case. Unless the Government is prepared to review its policies and to place some importance on price restraint and profit margin control, it serves no purpose for members of the Liberal Party or the Country Party to rise and try to place the blame at the feet of the workers. By workers’ I mean the industrial workers of the country.
The factor which I believe hinders the cause of the farmers most of all is the coalition that exists between the Country Party and the Liberal Party. The Country Party, in supporting the Liberal Party, supports those who gain most, from the fanners’ efforts. The Liberal Party supports the interest of those who control the distribution of the commodities that are produced in this country. Members of the Country Party are prepared to accept a coalition with a party that protects those interests. The costs of distribution of our primary products are far too high. Members of the Country Party would be well advised to look to their coalition partners and criticise them for their actions and the high margins of profit that are obtained on primary products, instead of looking across at us and accusing the ordinary basic wage employees of this country.
It is this unhappy coalition between the Country Party and the Liberal Party which has hindered the economic development of this country. The reason is that the policies of the 2 parties clash; in clashing they neutralise one another; and, while they neutralise one another, outside exploiters and foreign investors fake over and control our interests.
– Perhaps we could get some advice on happiness from your Victorian Executive.
– If the honourable senator wants to refer to the problems that exist within our party organisation at the present time, perhaps he should give some attention to the question Senator Wheeldon asked Senator Drake-Brockman concerning the conflict within the Country Party in Western Australia. There are divisions of opinion within each of the parties. But whilst ours are merely exercises, and sometimes exercises in semantics, the divisions that occur within the Government parties affect very much the future and the economic stability of this country. So, honourable senators opposite should look to themselves.
The Budget needs to be attacked vigorously because it does nothing to provide for the ever-increasing areas of poverty that exist in this country. According to Mr Justice Nimmo - he has been quoted before and he will be quoted again - I million Australians live in poverty. Obviously the figure will vary according to what is chosen as the poverty line. The poverty line is much higher than most Australians have been accustomed to thinking it is. J. K. Galbraith calls people poverty stricken when their income, even if adequate for survival, falls markedly behind that of the rest of the community because they then cannot have what the larger community regards as the minimum necessary for decency and they cannot wholly escape the judgment of the larger community that they are indecent. I ask honourable senators to mark well that it is no longer possible for a man working 40 hours a week to keep his family decently, in comfort and in dignity and to provide for them.
The line of poverty is where a person can live with decency and with dignity in this community. It is not a survival level. I believe that the Government considers it to be a survival level. It says: ‘If you can survive and if you have sufficient nutritional supplies to live from one week to the other, that is good enough’. Incidentally, it is in this survival area that the people on fixed incomes, including the pensioners, have been placed.
People who are living in poverty in this country are degraded in the literal sense of living outside grades or categories which the community regards as acceptable. The worst aspect of poverty in Australia is that most of it is not caused by some sudden family crisis such as illness but rather is inherited. Tt is passed on from generation to generation. It is particularly difficult for a person to break out of the area of poverty. The National Union of the Austraiian University Students statement on poverty reads:
Children are born into a situation which is already one of chronic economic, social and intellectual disadvantage. Their families are already aware of defeat.
They are beaten before they sturt.
The fact that they faced the struggle with inadequate facilities and opportunities does not soften the frequent feelings of inferiority.
In short, the children of the poor - and this is to be found in areas of Sydney in particular, and in Melbourne, in some areas of Adelaide, to a lesser extent in Brisbane and perhaps even to a lesser extent in Perth - are trapped in a circle of poverty. The most marked effect on their chances of breaking free is found in the denial of educational opportunities.
There is limitation in education opportunity in this country at the present time, but 1 will deal with that later. According to Dr Henry Schoenheimer, for the child of a professional or senior executive family the chances of obtaining a tertiary education are 18 times higher than those of a child with semi-skilled or unskilled parents. Honourable senators cannot deny these figures. The cause of this is not only a lack of scholarships to universities and institutes of technology, but primarily a lack of scholarships to complete secondary school. Ft is in this area where more emphasis has to be placed. lt is strange that secondary scholarships seem to go to those people who least need them, The reasons for this are obvious. I think a survey is being carried out at present to see whether those who receive secondary scholarships actually need them. I know a little about this survey because it concerns my own child and children of friends of mine, lt has been found that scholarships were going to children of families which could economically afford to send their kiddies through secondary school and on to university. It is obvious that scholarships are going to those kiddies who are more aware and more intelligent but are not more aware and more intelligent because of any hereditary ability. It is because they have had more nutritional advantages in their younger days and because they have parents who are more aware, more understanding and better educated. The secondary scholarships, instead of flowing to those who really need mem to break out of what I term a circle of poverty, are going to those who need them least. This is the basis for the figures which show that the chances of obtaining a tertiary education are 18 times higher for a child who has professional or senior executive parents than they are for a child who has semi-skilled or unskilled parents. The children of the unskilled have not the same opportunities for enlightenment as those whose parents have had the advantage of secondary education and tertiary education.
Housing costs are a second major component of the cycle of poverty. The advice which should be given to young people who want to buy a home these days is: Do not gel married. Stay unmarried for :is long as you can. You should both work and save your incomes. If you do get married you should continue to work and have no children. Do not make the mistake of getting married first and having .children because housing costs are such that you will never be able to obtain a home.’ Those people who seek to do what society demands - to marry and raise a family as early as possible - are at a distinct disadvantage. They have not the economic ability to save even the deposit which is required to build a home or to take advantage of bank finance when it is readily available, it is not readily available at the present time. Even the $8,000 which is provided through the banks by way of building finance under the Government’s policy is not readily available. The higher the cost of a home the higher is the deposit that is required. The person who is married and has a family but does not own a home has less chance of obtaining a home. What rent does he have to pay? In Brisbane today it would be very hard to get a cheap family flat for less than $16 to $20 a week. In a flat you cannot raise a family. Flat owners seem to object to having as tenants couples who have children, so of necessity a family man who does not own a home must rent a house. To rent a house in the suburbs in Brisbane would cost from $25 to $30 a week or more, which lessens the ability of a man with a family to save sufficient to purchase a home. 1 ask the Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin) to look carefully at this and to consider increasing the amount of $8,000 to a reasonable amount for the building of a home so that it is not necessary for people to raise a large sum by way of deposit. I ask the Minister to consider the position of the person who in this community should be the most important - the man with a wife and family. The family is the most important single unit within society. The family should be assisted in as many ways as possible. There is no provision in this Budget by way of child endowment to assist the family. Rather, the Budget increases the taxes which flow indirectly and become a penalty on the family. It is anticipated that legislation will be introduced to increase receipts duties which will further escalate and inflate the costs of basic requirements for the family.
Does this Budget concern itself with the problems of poverty and the low income earner? I say simply but accurately that it does not. Let me deal with social services. Almost without exception social service benefits expressed as a percentage of average earnings are lower now than when the present coalition parties came to power in 1949. This means that while the bulk of the community faces rising expectations - I still say that the bulk of the community is affluent but there is an increase in the area of poverty each year and we must concern ourselves with this increase because it can affect the stability of the whole economy - those on social services face the prospect of a continuing fall in their standard of living relative to the rest of the community. Australian society to-day is a good deal wealthier than it was in 1949 and it should be able to allow its social service beneficiaries at least to maintain their position.
In this Budget we find that the 50c increase in benefits is not even sufficient to keep pace with the increased cost of living. The 50c a week increase to pensioners was so pathetic that rather than insult these people by giving them such a paltry increase it would have been better not to give them any increase. That any government could come to a decision to give an increase of 50c a week to people who are in extreme need is reprehensible. To think that the Government could fix a sum of 50c a week, which represents about 7c a day, is reprehensible. I think the Government must reconsider its attitude toward those on fixed incomes and particularly those who have to live on pensions. It must reconsider the position of a man who reaches 65 years of age and becomes entitled to a miserable pension but whose wife is below the pensionable age and receives nothing. In that situation 2 people have to live on $15.50 or thereabouts a week. I cannot conceive how any government could arrive at such a decision.
As soon as possible the Government should provide some added subsidy which would alleviate the payment of rates and the cost of transportation and which would allow pensioners some rebate on car registration and give them other indirect benefits. If the Government is not prepared to help them directly, it should provide some indirect benefits.
– You are not suggesting that they do not receive considerable benefits already? You are saying that the indirect benefits should be greater?
– The indirect benefits are mainly by way of medical benefits, but such indirect benefits are useful only to the sick pensioner. The $15 a week which a pensioner receives is not sufficient for him to maintain any dignified way of life. I think the Government ought to have a close look at the matter and try to relate the pension to the basic level of earnings. The main criticism of the social service section of the Budget must be that it has failed to tackle the long overdue overhaul of the welfare system. Instead of recognising that a person is in need, and providing to meet this need, the rates of benefit seem to be based on how that person came to be in need. For example, an invalid pensioner gets $15.50 a week. A Totally and Permanently Incapacitated pensioner, who is in effect also an invalid, gets $38 a week. An unemployed adult gets $10 a week. A 17-year-old invalid pensioner gets $15.50 a week. An unemployed 17-year-old gets $4.50 a week whether he is living at home or away from home. I am trying to emphasise the need for a complete overhaul of our social service and welfare programme. Perhaps the rates are based on the worthiness of the assistance. I do not know. But it is of little use to the wife and 3 children of an unemployed man to know that the family would be getting more money to meet their needs if the husband was an invalid or a TPI pensioner. The needs of all people similarly placed are exactly the same, but our social welfare programme seems to indicate that there are some differences. What is required in Australia in our social service system, simply on the money level, is a determination of the needs of a family according to the size and rate of benefit adequate to meet their needs, regardless of whether the breadwinner suffered a setback due to poor seasons or loss of markets in the case of a farmer, or due to unemployment or physical incapacity. 1 refer now to taxation. At. present the minimum wage could hardly be claimed to be an adequate income for men with large families. Such men are not helped by this Budget in which the maximum tax cut of $500 per annum goes to the man with a taxable income of $16,000 a year. This is 25 times more than the reduction for the low income earner. There is no justice here. Justice should have been applied in the granting of taxation relief. Perhaps it is too much to expect of this Government that it should apply the ordinary rule of justice when it comes to providing for the needs of the ordinary people in the community. The ordinary low income earner is not helped by the present structure of tax deductions. Deductions for a wife and child, superannuation, health costs and so on are worth far more, to those on a high income than to those on a low income. This is self-evident. If the intention of tax deductions is to assist the lower income man with dependants, he would be much better off if deductions were abolished and the extra revenue raised given back either as a form of negative taxation or as drastically increased child endowment.
I come back to this subject of child endowment. The Government has not seen fit to recognise the needs of families. In effect, it has not recognised the existence of families; rather it has tended to place importance on large scale and expensive immigration programmes and deprive Australia of the best source of population - that is the children born in this country. The Government has not recognised the needs of families for extra income. It would be far better if no tax deductions were allowed and if families were subsidised in some direct way; then those who are able to pay would be able to meet the needs of those who are in a much less fortunate position. The society is a society as a whole; it does not consist of just the affluent, it consists of the afTluL.it and the poor. The sooner we spread the income of this country across the whole range of people the better. We should give to those who require. The affluent would still have more than they really require. If the increased amounts of child endowment were taxed, this revenue could be redistributed back to where it is most needed.
The disadvantage of a flat rate tax deduction is that it gives most money to the wealthy. In this Budget the Government has added to that. It has given more money to the wealthy and less to those on lower incomes. The disadvantage of flat rate benefits such as child endowment is that they are the same regardless of need. They should at least be taxed. This way the rate could he increased without increasing the net cost to Consolidated Revenue. Low income families would receive higher net benefits especially if tax scales were revised equitably, lt is well known that inflation has shifted upwards the percentage of real income paid as tax since scales were last changed in 1954-55. I suggest that the best thing that could happen to low income earners in Australia would be for the tax scale to be revised so as to decrease the burden on low income earners. 1 would urge the abolition of tax deductions and the use of money saved by this manner or by any other manner to pay to low income families such amounts as are necessary to ensure that they can enjoy a decent standard of living. This would apply whether the head of the family was working or not. whether he was a farmer or a cleaner. There may be some objections to the abolition of deductions, but surely they defeat the whole purpose of a progressive income tax scale.
If any member of the Government is prepared to indicate that he would like to join the debate, I will shorten my remarks. As I indicated earlier, it seems that the Opposition has to carry on the business of the Senate. If I wished, I could introduce into my speech on the Budget a little about Cambodia. I would like to speak on the subject of Vietnam. On 2 previous occasions when I spoke during the Budget debate I ignored the importance of our foreign policy in the way it affects the whole of our cost structure. I will leave that until another time. I have strong views about the situation in Cambodia. We have heard points of view expressed by those who visited Cambodia recently. They have reinforced their attitude by a first hand view of the situation. I would have been more convinced if they had left the beaten path. There are contrary stories as to what is happening in Cambodia. There are some fears that we might go back into Cambodia. There are some people who say that we left Cambodia at this stage because of the inclement weather.
– What does the honourable member for Wills say?
– I have read the circulated statement which put the widely published views of the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant). What I have said is that those who went to Vietnam and Cambodia during a recent visit to South East Asia should perhaps have left the beaten track. Perhaps they should have gone out into the countryside and the villages. Perhaps they should have met not only those on the government side but also those who resist. If they had done this perhaps they would have returned with a balanced story. But at another time I shall be prepared to enter into a debate on Cambodia, Vietnam, South East Asia, the Middle East or any other areas of conflict and to answer any argument that the Government is prepared to advance. The tragedy of the situation is that it is not just a matter of words at this stage. If we were talking about these matters, we could amicably agree to discuss them across the table. But while we argue and dispute, people are being injured in Vietnam. A nation is in the process of continual destruction. We are faced with a war which is escalating. We are faced with a situation where violence now seems to be the answer which is sought to solve problems - whether that violence be inflicted by the Israelites or the Arabs or the North Vietnamese or the South Vietnamese or the Cambodians or the Russians or the Americans-
– Or in the streets of Australia.
– The violence that has occurred in the streets of Australia is isolated and does not compare in any way with the major violence in Vietnam for which this Government is responsible. Our intervention and our stupid political thinking in 1954 caused the first violence and has perpetuated the continuing violence. How can one compare the odd incidents of violence in Australia with the violence which we have inflicted upon one of the smallest nations in the world?
– Violence is a matter of degree.
– Violence is a matter of degree, but when one is at the centre of the violence it becomes much more than a matter of degree because the degree is measured in pain.
– Who started the violence in Cambodia?
– I am tempted to answer that question. Mr President, I could save quite an amount of the Senate’s time if I were given leave to incorporate in Hansard an article from I. F. Stone’s biweekly of 18th May 1970. If I am permitted I will incorporate in Hansard pages 1, 2, 3 and 4 in order to enable honourable senators opposite to hear an alternative view of our intervention in Cambodia. I seek leave to incorporate those pages in Hansard.
– Is leave granted?
– Leave is not granted.
– I thank you, Mr President, for asking whether leave is granted.
– You are not disappointed.
– I really do not feel any illwill towards honourable senators opposite who refused leave to incorporate these pages in Hansard. I know that it is the intention of honourable senators opposite to allow me to take as long as I wish, because the longer I take the less obligation there is on the part of Government senators to come back into the Budget debate to defend the Budget which the
Government has presented. However, I believe that in fairness to the Senate I ought not to read at this stage the 4 pages from this periodical, 1 have already indicated what the periodical is.
– What is Stone”s biweekly? I am unaware of it.
– For the benefit of the honourable senator on my left-
– That is geographically on your left.
– For the benefit of the honourable senator geographically on my left - I hesitate to measure how far he would be to my right - it is a periodical which is published bi-weekly in the United States. It would be wise for any honourable senator, no matter what his opinion may be, to read this bi-weekly because it gives an alternative view. It quotes from various reports, lt quotes from reports of speeches in the United States Congress - in the House of Representatives and in the Senate of the United States - and it comments upon them, lt gives an alternative point of view. Perhaps accidentally, opposition senators may be receptive to new ideas and having accepted new ideas they may have a change of heart.
– You said ‘opposition senators’. I hope you will have a change of heart.
– Getting away from flippancy, we seek a very important change of heart in the Government attitude towards Vietnam. We seek a change of heart which might bring about a unilateral ceasefire on our part so that we can get back to talking about the situation and do what the Minister for the Army (Mr Peacock) stated we should do, that is, make far more balanced and enlightened statements on the situation. In other words, let us talk about it and think about it. Let us not fight, kill and maim. That is the attitude of the Australian Labor Party and, irrespective of what Government senators would like to say, that is the basis for the Moratorium which, incidentally, is to be held this week on Friday the 18th, Saturday the 19th and Sunday the 20th. The Moratorium will bc supported this week as it was supported formerly. Despite the hopes of the Government, the Moratorium will be held without violence. Wc who sup port and lead the Moratorium - I am Chairman of the Queensland Moratorium Committee and I am proud of it-
– I do not think your heart is really in it.
– My heart is in it ail right. In spite of what has been said about us, we believe that violence solves nothing, lt has not solved anything in the past. War is no longer a solution to our problems, and the sooner that we get back to taking action through our world body, the United Nations, the better it will be. The sooner we get back to the agreements which were signed in the past, the better it will be. With those few words I suggest to the Government that it it should take a close look at its Budget.
– How are we going to get back to the agreements that were signed originally?
– By stopping our aggression.
– Who is the aggressor?
– The words of Senator Cavanagh are the words needed here. We can get back to the 1954 Agreement by stopping the aggression. It is as simple as that.
– Whose aggression?
– If the honourable senator wants me to outline the history of the intervention I shall do so.
– lt is only foreign troops in Vietnam who are fighting against the North Vietnamese.
– ) want to hear what Senator Georges says.
– Last week the United States was extolled as the great supporter of civil liberties.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Lawrie) - Order! I call Senator Georges.
– I thought that if I made merely the odd remark here and there the interjections would take up the remainder of the time. I should like the Senate to take particular note of the assistance that I have received from honourable senators on this side of the chamber and to ignore the remarks which have been made by Government supporters. If we trace carefully the history of Vietnam, which is something that Government supporters have refrained from doing, we will see that we are the aggressors in Vietnam.
– Who are ‘we’?
– I would say we, Australia, together with the United States. After all, ours is a token representative force only in Vietnam, and no matter what may be said we merely make the intervention of aggression there respectable for the sake of America.
– How can you make aggression respectable? We should be ashamed of ourselves.
Sector GEORGES - We cannot make aggression acceptable or respectable. But let me get back to what I was saying. If. while the proceedings of this chamber were being broadcast, I had made the statement that we with America were the aggressors in Vietnam there would have been a roar of objection from Government supporters. Our very might in Vietnam makes us the aggressors. The history of the Vietnamese conflict, going right back to 1945, shows that we made the political mistakes and that we made the mistake of intervening with arms. We make the action in Vietnam respectable merely because America needed the support of at least one other white nation. We cannot include New Zealand in this because she has a very small force. We have supported America in Vietnam to make the intervention’ respectable.
– Who are the aggressors in Cambodia?
– I have been drawn in 0 this debate on South Vietnam and Cambodia. I shall seek at a later stage to enter much more aggressively into the debate on our foreign policy in South East Asia because we are .being committed to a continuing involvement in South Vietnam. By way of a question today I intimated that 1 believe that we intend to intervene in every internal conflict in South East Asia in support of American policy in that area. I believe this policy to be misguided. I come back to the Budget.
– Give him a go.
– During the last 20 minutes I have done the work for Government supporters who should have been engaged in this debate on the Budget but have renegued. Coming back to the
Budget, I ask the Senate to support the amendment moved by the Opposition and so bring some sort of sanity back into a Budget which has neglected the needs of this country.
– Mr Deputy President-
– It is all right, Senator: I have been waiting anxiously for Senator Georges to finish. We all know that last Thursday night the Senate indicated quite clearly that honourable senators should be able to speak their minds and we wished to give him free and full rein. I suppose it is true to say that anybody who has been sitting here this afternoon would say that this Budget debate is about as dead as the amendment moved by Senator Murphy. Senator Georges had the fascinating experience of addressing his remarks in this debate to 3 of his colleagues. I hope that I do not have the same success in driving my colleagues from the chamber as I speak.
– Yes, you had 3. This is the sort of interest which the Opposition is showing in the amendment moved by Senator Murphy. 1 am grateful to Senator Rae and, if I may. I shall adopt his remarks in drawing attention to the fact that when Senator Murphy moved this great amendment he had spent 27 minutes only on a speech condemning the Budget. This was a Budget which was to be fought at every stage, condemned on all hands. I think it was Senator Webster who, quite correctly, pointed out that the only time that primary industries were mentioned was when Senator Murphy read out his amendment to Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson’s motion that the Senate take note of the paper.
– That is quite right.
– Yes, and it has been a fascinating experience. Here we have this new, vital Opposition which is going to attack the Government right, left and centre, yet Senator Murphy spoke for only 27 minutes and primary industries were mentioned only twice. It was a wonderful experience. This afternoon we have heard Senator Georges complaining, even though we were prepared to allow him to speak for an hour if he wanted to do so. We were prepared to grant him an extension of time and to give him every right to criticise. But he is complaining that he has had to keep talking when he wanted to sit down because he was sick of trying to attack the Budget. He was scratching about for something to say. He scratched around Vietnam, but he passed over Cambodia - that was a bit difficult and he did not want to get. mixed up in that one. He talked about all sorts of things. He was upset. One would have imagined that we would have heard more from this new, vital Opposition which is going somewhere, which does not believe in intervention in Vietnam but which will go down to Victoria and fight the Vietcong there. Opposition senators do not mind a bit of federal intervention or aggression down there. They see nothing wrong with that. I do not know who was fighting whom. I suppose that was a civil war, but Opposition senators have said here ad infinitum that we should not interfere in civil wars. Yet in this instance we find the Feds going down to Victoria interfering in small nations, in small enclaves and small States. People have been told they should keep out of affairs in Victoria, but it is a good trick when the Feds move in on the Vietcong in Vittoria
– But was this not one of the most exemplary branches in the whole of the ALP?
– lt was the model branch, an exemplary model which was receiving loud cheers.
Sentaor Cavanagh - Do you suggest that we should send the Army in?
– They have sent the Army in, but they are odd looking soldiers. This model branch which has been praised by honourable senators in this place has suddenly been found to be not the model branch that we were told about Over the weekend we have seen this interference in the business of a small nation.
– Do you think the Federal Executive will apologise to Mr Harradine for having proved him right?
– That is being a little hard, lt has not even apologised to
Senator Gair for being right 15 years (igo. I think he is entitled to an apology. Why not do the thing properly?
– At least the Victorians had the privilege of an inquiry by the Federal Executive, lt did not bestow that honour on me.
– No, but it believes in a sort of execution when it suits its purpose. lt has been rather fascinating to hear the sorts of speeches that we have heard in this place about Vietnam, Cambodia, civil liberties and the rights of individuals - except when it suits the Opposition’s book to say nothing about them. If 1 may I should like now to say someting about the Budget. 1 have sat in the chamber and listened to most of the speeches and I have been fascinated by some of them.
Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m.
– Prior to the suspension of the sitting 1 had commenced my contribution to the debate on the Budget, having followed Senator Georges in the debate, and I had begun to roam somewhat, as he had, over all sorts of topics. What / do want to say is that l. have been somewhat surprised that the attitude which the Opposition has adopted to the whole of the debate on the Budget. Comments have been made to the effect that the Opposition will attack the Government on its Budget provisions and will fight the passage of the Appropriation Rills through the Parliament. This is all very well, but if a political party considers itself to be not only the Opposition party but also the alternative government it should, in my opinion, be more than jast critical of what the Government does. The Opposition must be prepared to put forward what it would do if it were framing: the Budget.
The only suggestion I have heard made so far concerning financial policy in the debate on the Budget to which I have listened was put forward by Senator Georges prior to the suspension of the sitting. My understanding of his proposition is that child endowment should be increased and be made a part of one’s taxable income so that the rich will pay income tax on it and the lower income group will not. This is about the only constructive suggestion [ have heard from the Opposition as to what it would do if it were in government. 1 think we should be very grateful to Senator Georges for being the only Opposition senator to put forward a constructive proposition. The other honourable senators opposite who have contributed to the debate have adopted the usual approach of broad, sweeping condemnation. They have said that not enough money has been provided for the States, for social services, for education and for the primary producers.
– They have not mentioned the primary producers.
– Senator Murphy mentioned them once in his amendment. We have to be fair to him. The cry from honourable senators opposite has been for more money for everybody. It seems to me that they believe that there should be no excise on wine; that it was wicked of the Government to increase the duty on petrol; that the Government should not have increased the duty on cigarettes and that there should have been greater reductions in income tax. As I understood the Budget, the Treasurer (Mr Bury) was aiming at a difference of some S5m between revenue and expenditure. If one were to work out what the Australian Labor Party has said it would increase by way of expenditure and deducted therefrom what it would take off in the form of tax reduction one would find that there was a difference of $ 1,000m or $ 1,500m between revenue and expenditure. I do not know how the Austraiian Labor Party would finance such a difference.
– It would bring the boys home from Vietnam.
– I knew the honourable senator would come in. I could be wrong about it, but as I understand the situation the total amount we are spending on defence is about $ 1,000m. The Opposition would still have to find another $400m to finance its proposals even if the boys were brought back from Vietnam. The other night Senator Murphy quoted some quite fantastic figures concerning what it is costing to keep our troops in Vietnam. He was forgetting that whether they are in Vietnam or Australia they must be paid, clothed, fed and accommodated. We must incur some expenditure regardless of whether they are stationed in Canberra,
Papua, Malaysia or Vietnam. As I see it, the only extra expenditure is the material fired out of the end of a gun. They would probably be using ammunition if they were back home anyway.
It is absolutely ridiculous to suggest that the cost of keeping a couple of battalions in Vietnam would be sufficient to finance the whole range of what the Australian Labor Party would spend in this country whilst allowing for the taxation deductions as well. I remember saying 4 years ago that such ridiculous suggestions are all that one could expect from a party which has been in Opposition for so long that it now has an Opposition mentality, lt can think only in destructive terms. The Opposition is incapable of offering one constructive suggestion, apart from the suggestion of Senator Georges. I suppose this is fair enough to expect because they have been in Opposition for 21 years now. Honourable senators opposite like being in Opposition because they have the power to fiddle around with what we do in the Senate without accepting any outside responsibilities. As I have said honourable senators opposite have an Opposition mentality.
– The problem is they have had too much trouble inside to worry about what is happening outside.
– Let us not worry about their problems. I think we should be kind to them because they have enough problems of their own. I have been fascinated by the new found interest of some the honourable senators opposite in the rural community. The Australian Labor Party has discovered that it has some supporters who have views on the plight of the primary producers. The Opposition wants to jump on the bandwagon. It is going to solve the problems of the primary producers overnight. I would suggest to you, Mr Deputy President, that this is humbug because the Opposition does not have one tittle of interest in the people who live in the rural areas. It is just adopting this policy for cheap political purposes. In this regard I think I should quote what was said on 19th August 1970 by the Minister for Air (Senator Drake-Brockman) in a debate on Australia’s rural economy.
– The honourable senator should make up his own speech instead of reading the speech of somebody else.
– Apparently honourable senators opposite do not wish to hear what the Leader of the Opposition (Mr vvhitiam) said. However, I think it should be repeated day in and day out throughout the rural areas of Australia. On 2 1st August 1965 he said that we should concentrate on better cities. Of course, honourable senators opposite do not like me repeating this statement. He went on to say that too much attention is being paid to the wishes and needs of rural areas and too little to the needs of the cities. Honourable senators opposite do not like me quoting his remarks, but 1 think it is a duty of all honourable senators who really represent the interests of the rural community to keep reminding members of the rural community of what was said by the Leader of the Opposition so that they will be awake up to the nonsense of honourable senators opposite. Let us have a look at what the honourable member for Perth (Mr Berinson) said in the other place on 27th August this year.
– Where is the honourable senator’s farm?
– 1 was born in the country and 1 have lived there all my life. I am not one of those people who believe that the only people who live in the country are farmers. The majority of the people who live in the rural areas are not farmers. I am mighty interested in our rural community. I enjoy living in a rural area.
– You have sheared everyone.
– At least people come to me voluntarily. The people who support the Australian Labor Party are compelled to pay to keep its institutions going, but nobody is compelled to consult me.
– We have never sheared them as you do.
– 1 am in good company because I was at law school with one of the honourable senators back bench colleagues. I suppose Senator Murphy is also shearing the workers. Mr Whitlam belongs to the same shearers’ union as myself. I am in fairly good company when it comes to being a shearer. The honourable senator -should not forget that people come to me of their own volition. No body is compelled to come to me. Let us have a look at what Mr Berinson said. He said:
In my brief experience in the Parliament 1 have found myself continuously impressed at the proportion of the Parliament’s time and concern which is devoted to matters of specific rural interest This occupation with rural problems is very marked, even considered in isolation, but it becomes quite remarkable when contrasted against the virtual absence of any Commonwealth interest in specifically urban matters.
Mr Berinson is being critical of the Parliament for devoting so much of its time to rural problems, yet at the same time the Opposition is saying: ‘We are doing nothing for the rural community.’
– The Government is not.
– Honourable senators should make up their minds. We are either devoting too much time to it or we are not doing anything about it. According to page 618 of the House of Representatives Hansard of 27 August Mr Berinson said:
I believe that the least one is entitled, and even obliged, to do is to ask the Parliament to pause and consider the rationale of our rural assistance policies with a view to judging whether the present imbalance of concern as between city and rural problems is justified.
Mr Berinson said that there is an imbalance and that we are devoting far too much time to rural problems. Honourable senators should make up their minds. Is there too much emphasis? Is there an imbalance? Honourable senators do not like these remarks but they cannot expect to keep on trying to pull the wool over the eyes of the people in the country with that sort of attitude. One should never forget what Mr Hawke said as reported in the Australian Financial Review’. Do honourable senators remember when he talked about the cost price squeeze argument?
– We read all that.
– I will read it again. This is going to be said day in and day out because honourable senators are going to be exposed for what they are. The report stated:
The cost-price squeeze argument, he said . . . amounted to little more than a plea for maintenance of a rural production structure which includes a substantial number nf inefficient marginal producers without whom we would all be better off.
Yet. the Liberal Party is accused of saying: Get big or get out.’ Mr Hawke referred to: . . a substantial number of inefficient marginal producers without whom we would all be better off.
All the great proponents of the problems of the rural areas-
– Does the honourable senator agree with that?
– No. I do not.
– What about the dairy farms reconstruction scheme?
– The dairy farms reconstruction scheme will not force men off their land. They may volunteer to go if they so desire. By Government assistance they will be helped to leave the land with dignity. Mr Hawke with his cost price squeeze is going to force off the land these inefficient producers without whom we would be better off. So what the Labor Party really feels about the rural community is exposed.
– We will use that.
– Of course we will use it because I think it is high time that members of the Australian Labor Party who are elected to represent the rural constituencies faced up to their electors and told them on whose side they are. Are they on the side of Dr Patterson who appears to have one policy, the honourable member for Riverina (Mr Grassby) who has another or are they on the same side as Mr Whitlam, Mr Hawke and now Mr Berinson? We know that the Labor Party has been run on a 3 wheel cart for years. They have a left wing, a right wing and a no-wing-at-all.
– Let us gel on to the Estimates.
– Suddenly, everybody is anxious to get on to the Estimates. Why do honourable senators opposite want to run away from a debate on the Budget and the other issues we can talk about? Prior to the suspension of the sitting tonight Senator Georges was saying that the Government does not want to talk about the Budget. Now that I want to talk about it he says: ‘Sit down so that we can do something else.’ Again he cannot make up his mind. This is typical of the sort of imbalanced attitude with which we go on and on.
– All the honourable senator does is read another man’s speech. That is not very good for us. It is very boring.
– I have been bored in this chamber by many a better man than has been bored by me. I do not claim to have any expertise in boring. What J have gained in being able to bore other people I have learned since I have come into this place.
– The honourable senator is pretty efficient.
– Yes, I think I am doing well. Senator Cavanagh seems to be enjoying it. At least I have a lot more of my colleagues listening than listened to Senator Georges. He had 3 of his colleagues listening. I have more honourablesenators opposite listening to me than were prepared to listen to their colleague, Senator Georges. Therefore, one would imagine this must be a far better speech than Senator Georges made prior to dinner when he ran away from all the issues. He was not prepared to answer the question as to who was the aggressor in Cambodia.
– He did answer it.
– I thought one of my colleagues asked several times who the aggressor was. We did not seem to obtain an answer. Tonight 1 am rather flattered that I have 5 honourable senators opposite and an awful lot more of my colleagues listening to me - a jolly good lot.
– ls the honourable senator stuck for words?
-As a matter of fact I am. 1 wanted to talk about the amendment moved by Senator Murphy but the more 1 look at it the more I realise there is nothing in it. What can one say about it?
– The honourable senator cannot say anything. Sit down.
– That is right. I will sit down, but in my time and not when Senator Cavanagh wants me to because, peculiarly enough, he has only I vote in this place. The matter before the Chair, strictly, is the amendment moved by Senator Murphy. It is not Senator Sir
Kenneth Anderson’s motion that the Senate take note of the Papers. The more one looks at the amendment the more it appears to be deceptive and negative. I am grateful to Senator Murphy for using those words because that is the most one can say of the amendment moved by Senator Murphy. For those reasons it should be rejected. It is an amendment which is deceptive and negative.
– I congratulate Senator Douglas Scott on his initial contribution to this Senate. I believe his maiden speech was well prepared, well presented and in my opinion it was an outstanding effort. He is worthy of the congratulations of all honourable senators for the way in which he presented his maiden speech. Having said that, I know that Senator Douglas Scott expects me to say that the Australian Labor Party will be trying to take his seat away from him at the next Senate election. Nevertheless, that point does not affect his contribution at this time. I support the amendment moved by Senator Murphy, f do so with a great deal of enthusiasm notwithstanding’ what Senator Withers has just said. In my opinion and in the opinion of the Australian Labor Party the Budget is deceptive. The Budget is negative. Let us have a look at this first word ‘deceptive*. How do we arrive at the conclusion that the Budget is deceptive? On the one hand it gives to some sections of the community supposed relief from taxation but on the other hand it increases hidden taxation to such a point that it nullifies any advantage which may appear at the initial event to be gained. Consequently in our view it is a deceptive budget. As to its being negative, I propose to address myself to that later.
I question whether in the history of politics in Australia anyone has heard so much universal disapproval by the people of a budget. Not only are members of the Australian Labor Party condemning it: all sections of the community are condemning it. The trade union movement has condemned the Budget and supporters of the Government might say that one would expect trade unionists to do so, but it has been condemned also by the Associated Chambers of Manufactures of Australia, the Chamber of Commerce, the Royal Automobile Club of Queensland which is a motoring association, the pensioners - most certainly they have not approved the Budget and have been trenchant in their criticism - and, last but not least, that powerful organisation in South Australia, the Young Liberals Association. There could not be a broader cross-section of the community to condemn this Budget as being unworthy of the Government of Australia. That is exactly what is being done by all sections of community. Why have they done this?
– We do not know.
– You do not know because you do not read. You are not interested in what people say. You are not interested in people; you are interested in big business. You are not interested in trying to protect the interests of the people. If you were you would look at this Budget and see that the Country Party has put it over the Liberal Party. The Liberal Party is in isolation. These days it takes 3 parties to run the Government. It takes the Country Party, which is miles ahead of the Liberal Party these days, it takes the Liberal Party and it takes the Australian Democratic Labor Party.
– Where would you be without big business?
– I am not condemning big business. I believe that I have had as much dealing with big business as has the honourable senator or anyone else in this place. But let me deal with the subject that I am pursuing. A broad crosssection of the community has condemned the 1970 Budget because it does not meet the requirements of the 1970s. The Government is not prepared to say whether this is an inflationary Budget, nor is it prepared to say whether the country is in good physical condition and whether the Budget will assist or cause a deterioration in conditions in Australia. The Government’s own publications say that the country is in a very good financial situation. The introduction to the ‘Treasury Information Bulletin’ No. 59 of 1970 is in these terms:
This Bulletin presents the main statistics so far available on economic trends up to the end of 1969-70. Although the picture is far from complete it shows clearly enough that 1969-70 was a year of strong growth in both output and demand.
How many times have we heard honourable senators on the Government side criticise the workers of Australia who produce for Australia? Surely it is the workers who produce for Australia. This document says, in effect, that the workers have done a good job for Australia yet we hear supporters of the Government say that the workers are a lot of scallywags. 1 just do not recall the term that Senator Maunsell used today in such a disparaging way but it was a term that was not worthy of an honourable senator.
– What about Mr Hawke?
– I hear an interjection about Mr Hawke. The other night I issued a challenge to honourable senators opposite to debate any issue with Bob Hawke in their electorate but they declined to do so. They all ran for cover. There was not one taker. They were all silent. There was no response from them. It is unfortunate that we should hear in this Senate - I say this seriously and I hope that honourable senators on the Government benches will listen to what I say - this form of character assassination of someone who is not here to defend himself. That kind of behaviour is not in the best interests of the community. Mr Hawke is doing a particularly good job for the workers and I am proud to be associated with him. He is an honourable Australian, a good Australian. Apparently the Chamber of Commerce in Perth thinks so too because the Chamber invited him to Perth today to discuss with its members, 1 have no doubt, matters of importance of which they believe he has some knowledge.
Now I shall deal with some of the other inane interjections that have been made. There was an interjection about big business. Let me refer to Mount Isa Mines Ltd, I suppose one of the biggest businesses in Australia. Who helped to make the profits earned by Mount Isa Mines Ltd this year? Of course it was the workers. It was the combined skills of all the workers engaged by that company. Government supporters are talking now about law and order as they seem to do on the eve of an election. I ask them this question: ‘Have you seen any industrial discontent at Mount Isa notwithstanding the fact that it made a profit of S54m? Have you seen the workers there demanding some part of that money?’ You have not and you have never attempted to find out why in your ignorance of industrial matters. I will tell you why. Mount Isa Mines Ltd entered into an industrial agreement with the workers of Queensland, such agreement to remain in existence for 2 years. The agreement does not deny workers the right to take industrial action if they care to do so nor does it tie the company other than to honour the agreement that it has made with the workers. The company honours the agreement to the fullest extent.
– It is industrial blackmail.
– One of my misguided Country Party colleagues says that it is industrial blackmail. That indicates the stupid and infantile approach to industrialism today of honourable senators opposite.
– What would you call it?
– Even the title of the relevant Act is the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. Mount lsa Mines Ltd enters willingly into conciliation and arbitration with the workers of Queeusland - it does not have to do so - yet the honourable senator made the inane remark that it is industrial blackmail.
– Tell us about the last strike there.
– I could give you tons of information about the last strike if you want me to do so. I was involved in it and I know a lot about it. Had Mount Isa Mines Ltd shown the same tolerance to the workers during the strike as it does today that prolonged industrial dispute would never have taken place.
Senator Withers spoke about what he believed to be difficulties within the Labor Party. I wonder whether Senator Withers and his colleagues on the Government benches ever examine their own consciences and look closely at their own parties. I wonder how honourable senators from Western Australia - Senator Withers comes from that State - feel about one of their colleagues being denied endorsement recently. I wonder how honourable senators on the Government side feel about the independent member of the DLP in the
House of Representatives, the honourable member for Lilley (Mr Kevin Cairns), who immediately prior to the last Federal election said: ‘I have no confidence in the Prime Minister of Australia’.
How many times has the Liberal Party endeavoured in Queensland to discipline, if you like the word, or chastise, if you prefer that word - perhaps a preferable expression is ‘withdraw endorsement from’Senator Wood, because he wanted to express his views? Do not tell me that honourable senators opposite do not know about that. They are not game to face up to their responsibilities. They should look in the mirror and examine their consciences and the structure of their Party. They will find that there was far more bitter internal warfare in . their own Party than was ever in ours. I am sorry that I must speak in this way, but I am forced to do so because Senator Withers introduced this matter and 1 am answering on behalf of my Party. Senator Withers is holding up his hands in horror. He may well do so, because he has been shot down in flames.
Senator Withers also complained that the Opposition does not put forward financial proposals in relation to the Budget. Surely he is aware that it is the responsibility cf the Opposition to criticise the Budget, not to put forward proposals at this time. During an election campaign the parties put forward their proposals for the following 3 years. At the last Federal election an overwhelming number of voters endorsed the proposals put forward by the Australian Labor Party. Senator Withers should realise the stupidity of his criticism.
Government supporters claim with a great deal of pride that they believe defence is imperative for Australia. They say that we must do everything to ensure that our defence is paramount, but actions speak louder than words. Notwithstanding increased costs and the effects of inflation, and the claim by Government supporters that pegging workers’ wages will prevent price increases - those price increases have occurred - the appropriation for defence in this Budget has been increased by only 3.1 per cent over last year’s defence expenditure. Taking into consideration the inflationary spiral of the last year, defence expenditure is actually to be reduced in this Budget.
I say in all seriousness to Government supporters that they should examine objectively what is happening in the national service scheme. I could quite easily say things that might hurt, but I do not propose to do so. It appears to me that those people who advocate national service have had an opportunity to do something about defending their country, but have not exercised their right. They have committed young people to national service by an unfair method of roulette. This is why I ask honourable senators opposite to do what they can to correct what I regard as a stupidity.
I know lads who, on discharge after completing their national service, have complained to me that their period of national service has been substantially wasted. Whilst accepting the obligation of national service they have been frustrated in their efforts to learn the requirements of the armed Services. Half their period of training has been spent walking around parade grounds picking up bumpers and goodness knows what else. I ask the Government to examine this scurrilous waste of manpower whereby lads are engaged in menial tasks after having been conscripted for another purpose.
Another point in relation to national service is that many Government supporters do not realise the extent of the financial sacrifices that some lads are making. I know of many tradesmen who have been called up for national service. The difference in the payment they receive for 6 months of national service and the wages they would have received as tradesmen for 6 months can be at least $1,000. They could earn about $1,000 more in 6 months as tradesmen than they receive for that period as national servicemen. These lads should not be asked to make such a financial sacrifice.
I ask the Government to examine the scheme in order to ensure that lads who are conscripted for national service do not lose financially as a result. I believe it is a tragedy that lads who have gained a professional degree, after completing their final year of university, are thrown into camp for 2 years. They are obliged to lose a substantial interest in their profession after working so hard to obtain degrees. I believe that if the Government examines the national service scheme it will find that what . I am saying is correct. I believe that the period of national service of 2 years, is too long altogether.
I turn dow to a section of the Budget to which reference has not yet been made in this debate. The Treasurer (Mr Bury) in his Budget Speech referred to sheltered workshops. Many honourable senators are interested in this type of activity and in trying to help people unfortunate enough to be maimed. 1 wonder where the Government got the idea for the scheme which is described in the Budget Speech in these words:
It is also proposed to encourage sheltered workshops to graduate more of their employees to work in open industry by paying the organisation a training fee of $500 for each eligible employee who is placed in open employment for not less than 12 months.
A cynic might say that the Government is snapping its fingers at sheltered workshops. Surely it. is the desire of all sheltered workshops to rehabilitate people - to place them in employment. Putting aside a cynical approach one might ask: How are they to qualify for the fee of $500? Is it with 1 employer or a series of employers? I suggest with respect that the Government would be far better employed in taking another look at the whole matter and deciding to make a grant rather than to provide in the way proposed for people sufficiently trained to enter open employment. A sheltered workshop may train a person for 4 or 5 years for open employment. It costs a lot of money for that training. On the other hand, a sheltered workshop may help with about 6 months training someone who is not particularly handicapped before that person enters open employment, thus qualifying the organisation for the training fee of $500. I suggest that it is an unfair situation.
I come now to the increased postal charges that are to be levied on the public. It is a strange thing that last year the Post Office made a profit of $8m, but the people who use its facilities are to be called upon to pay more. I have always believed that when an enterprise is profitable - and I repeat that the Post Office made a profit last year of $8m - it should not have to increase its charges. Honourable senators opposite will probably resent my saying that we on this side of the chamber know that they are anti-working class. They are opposed to the workers. We know that in this chamber they have condemned postal workers in Australia. I do not have to remind honourable senators of the debate in which they did that. We all participated in it and we know the views of members of the Government parties. Let me therefore deny all that has been said by Government senators concerning workers and workers’ leaders by referring to the annual report of the Australian Post Office for the year ended 30th June (969. At folio 6 it says:
Apart from matters of pay and conditions of service, most of the unions have been concerned wilh improving efficiency of departmental operations in the interest of the public as well as to provide a more satisfying work environment for their members.
In addition to facilitating effective communication between staff and management, union officials have usually brought to bear a degree of knowledge and experience which has enabled them to highlight any need for a more positive approach or quicker action which they feel might be justified in times of changing technology and increasing productivity and prosperity.
They are not the words of any honourable senator in Opposition today; they are the words used in the annual report of the Australian Post Office. So please do not let us hear any more rubbish from Government senators who endeavour to ridicule workers and trade union leaders.
My time has almost expired, but before 1 resume my seat I want to make 2 observations. The first relates to the 50c increase that has been granted to pensioners. I do not know whether I move in different circles from those in which anybody on the other side of the chamber moves. If honourable senators opposite move among the cross-section of the community among which I move, I am sure that they must have heard people say: ‘It were better that the Government gave the pensioners nothing than the miserable pittance of 50c that has been offered to them’. I say no more than that, except that I hope that Government senators will put themselves in the position of a pensioner trying to eke out an existence on the paltry amount of money that is paid to pensioners today. A substantial part of their income is eaten up by electricity charges and matters of that nature, without taking into consideration other things.
What has been left out of the Budget? In the first place, the Government has failed horribly in relation to child endowment. We spend millions of dollars bringing migrants to this country. Yet good Australians who rear a family in an atmosphere that we applaud, in the main, are denied an adjustment of something that has been in operation for years. Surely the Government must hang its head in shame when it realises that it has failed parents by not providing better child endowment than is paid today. We have also heard in the past of the Government’s policy of abolition of the means test. Is there any reference to abolition of the means test in this Budget? That policy is brought out only as a carrot offered to the people at election time. The Government has promised in the past that it will abolish the means test. This Budget does nothing in that direction. On the previous occasion an election was coming up and the Government said: ‘Now we have a tapered means test*. But the taper has been extinguished. There is no more tapering of the means test.
Members of the Government parties pride themselves on having observed their policy of reducing the incidence of taxation. If we look at the new scales of taxation we see that what the Government has done for the average person in Australia is minimal compared with what it has done for people in big business. For instance, a worker with a taxable income of $5,000 a year will save about $114 as a result of the magnificent reduction announced by the Government. But the workers have already been offered by the National Employers Policy Committee - under no industrial blackmail, I point out to Senator Webster; this offer has been made off the cuff - a 2 per cent wage increase, and they said that that is insufficient. So we can expect that the workers will receive considerably more than that from the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. If they win an increase of $400 in the next 2 years, their savings by way of this taxation concession will be exhausted completely. It will be a losing proposition because the tax saving on a taxable income of $5,000 a year is about $114 and on a taxable income of $5,400 a year it is about $129. So, they will be about $16 up. That is really magnificent!
What about the people whom the Government represents? A person with a taxable income of $25,000 a year receives a reduction of about $244. Who wants the money - the fellow earning $5,000 a year or the person receiving $25,000 a year? Let us not forget that people receiving $25,000 a year can employ what is regarded as legitimate tax evasion, but the worker cannot do that. The ‘Taxpayers Bulletin’ of 18th August 1970 refers to the case of a fellow whose wife is supposed to do some filing, answering of the telephone and entertaining at home. Mr President, do you know how much he is allowed as a taxation deduction for that? He is allowed $780 a year. What wife of a worker or ordinary person in the community does not do work of that nature for charitable organisations, sporting organisations and bodies of that nature?
– Come off it.
– The honourable senator says that because she represents people such as the fellow who is allowed that amount of money as a taxation deduction. I hope I represent the worker, who cannot chisel on his income tax.
– It is no wonder that you are in Opposition if you cannot produce better logic than that.
– If the honouroble senator regards that as illogical, he should tell the worker on the job why he cannot deduct anything for his wife who is engaged in activities such as Meals on Wheels, assisting lads in sporting organisations, assisting charitable organisations and spending money on this and that. He cannot deduct anything for that, but the colleagues of honourable senators opposite can. That is where the system is manifestly unfair and where the schedule of taxation concessions is totally wrong.
I believe not only that the amendment moved by Senator Murphy is justified but that we would be unworthy of being called the Opposition if we did not draw attention to the deception of the Budget and the negative type of Budget that has been presented. Surely the Government is deceptive when it gives something on the one hand by way of tax relief and takes it on the other hand by way of increased charges and hidden costs. Surely it is a negative Budget when it fails to do what the Government in the past has promised to do; that is, to pay attention to the abolition of the means test or alternatively, if it has not the courage to do that, to proceed with a further tapering of the means test. I commend to all honourable senators the amendment moved by Senator Murphy. I ask Senator Young and his colleagues to have a look at what the pensioners are receiving today, if Senator Young does that, perhaps he will not be so vocal in his support of this iniquitous Budget.
– I think the best way to approach this Budget is to begin by quoting the concluding remarks of the speech of the Treasurer (Mr Bury) because it would be refreshing if we did from time to time in the Budget debate address ourselves to the subject of the Budget and the economy in general. The Treasurer said:
In introducing a balanced Budget we have kept firmly in mind the need to help create conditions under which a sound economic growth may proceed. we have made provisions which secure to the State Governments a larger and growing share of our gross national product. At the same time this Budget helps to achieve other great national objectives in important areas such as defence, social welfare and the economic welfare of industry - including our great woolgrowing industry .. .
The Treasurer went on to say:
We have sought to make this a precautionary Budget and not a repressive one.
This is the real keynote of the Budget which I believe we could properly examine, but not totally because time does not permit us to cover the whole range of Budget documents in the short time allowed for a Budget debate speech. One can only, therefore, bring to bear on the position various aspects by which one, perhaps, is more attracted than by others. This does not give one aspect any greater priority, but a selection has to be made.
Looking at the Budget I can see phrases that seem to me to be ones to which we should direct ourselves. We are concerned with its economic context because it is an economic document which is designed to express policy and intent in economic terms. It cannot do this in any other way. There is no other way - much as one might regret it, much as one might wish for a pot of gold at the foot of a rainbow or much as one might hope that these things could be dreamt up. This is not the way it is done. These things have to be worked out. We have to be able to get the resources. The resources have to be accumulated. They have to come from somewhere and they have to go somewhere. We have to decide whether to go into debt or perhaps pay off some of the debt. These are the fundamental facts of the nation’s economic life and no part of human progress or no hope that any honourable senator has for a better deal for some section is achievable without the. general economic context of the Budget being both sensible and possible. What are we talking about? We are talking about a sound economic growth, a fair and increasing share to State governments of the gross national product: social welfare; the consideration of the importance of defence; the economic welfare of industry: assistance to the wool growing industry: and tax relief to lower and middle income groups.
Any one of those items by itself is more than enough for a speech by an expert without trying to traverse all of them. It has been said - and I think properly said - that this Budget could be described as a savings and an incentive Budget designed to encourage savings in the community and designed to give tax relief so that people will, in effect, have incentive to save more and produce more. I suggest that these arp worthy economic objectives for a government and a country to espouse. What are we trying to do in Australia in addition to securing the country and making it stable? We are trying to see that living standards and opportunities rise. Living standards and opportunities rise only out of economic growth and economic growth is the product of a great number of things. It is not only the labour that we hear so much about from honourable senators opposite. We hear about the man who has nothing to sell but his labour. What rubbish. The economic growth in the country is a combination of a great number of factors. Labour is one of them and it is a very important factor but it is not the only one. We have in this country in this particular year a number of references to which we can direct ourselves if these are matters which interest us. If they are matters which bore honourable senators I apologise but it cannot be helped because this is a serious subject and there is an important array of documents to which one should direct oneself. This is no light exercise that we are engaged in here.
The principal document attached to the Budget Speech, is a very, very valuable document and to which one would like to have more time to direct oneself, lt shows that the estimated Budget outcome, in both the conventional classification and the national accounting classification is that Commonwealth receipts will exceed expenditure by S4m in 1970-71. In 1969-70 there was a small deficit of $7m. This country has for the last 2 years - with my total and unqualified approval - been running what is equivalent to a balanced Budget. I could not agree more, lt is extremely sensible and very wise. Proposals are sometimes made to spend a great deal more money without raising revenue from somewhere. With none of these expenditure proposals which I have heard about have there been accompanying statements for revenue raising. To spend a lot more money without raising more money would be to pass again back into deficit budgeting, which I think would not be wise. It is estimated that the net result of Commonwealth receipts and expenditure within Australia will be a surplus of about S550m in 1970-71 or about S50m more than in 1969-70. I would not apologise for this. I would not quarrel with it. lt is a wise time for Australia to be running a domestic surplus. The Treasurer in his Speech said:
Unlike 1969-70, however, il appears that, as a result of other factors, there will be a relatively large build-up in liquidity by the end of the first half of 1970-71 so that, though the Commonwealth’s domestic financial transactions will again draw in funds in the latter half of the year, this should lessen the possibility of severe monetary stringency towards the end of the period.
That is an extremely important statement by the Treasurer because it is on record and it is an economic forecast of the kind of liquidity situation wc should have in this country in the coming 12 months. I think it is a demonstration of the bonafides and the genuineness of the Treasurer and the Treasury that they go on record with economic forecasts of this kind which are not easy for anybody to make and very often, as anybody who has been involved in these things is aware, they are very hard to live up to.
I am unable to do more than quote from a statement which I drew up myself in order to try to get some understanding on this matter. I have taken three 10-year intervals. I have taken the budget year 1949-50, which is the year of the beginning of governments of this character and the last year of governments of a Socialist character in the Commonwealth of Australia. I then took the middle period 1959-60 and then the year 1970-71. I have taken the full run of Commonwealth expenditure over that period and the full run of Commonwealth revenue over that period. These are relevant things to do because 1949-50 was the year of change from what I call the running of a Socialist economy to the running of a market economy and 1970-71 this is the year in which we are now, so we have a useful bracket of time. Both are years of a balanced Budget. There was a balanced Budget in 1949-50. The year 1970-71 provides the equivalent of a balanced Budget. There is no discrepancy in disturbance of the figures because of deficits or surpluses of magnitude. What do we get? We get this situation. From 1949-50 to 1970-71 we have had 20 years of market economy, Liberal-type government, sound economic growth, great opportunity and great growth in living standards.
– Great inflation.
– Yes, I shall de ;t I with that later, lt is not as bad as one might think. Wc have a multiplication factor in those 20 years. The total revenue of the Commonwealth has been magnified 7 times and the total expenditure of the Commonwealth has been magnified 7 times because these are balances, but how has this taken place in the structure? On the income side, first of all, although the total revenue has been magnified 7 times, indirect income tax has only gone up 5 times but direct income tax itself has gone up 8 times. I do not quarrel with this situation at all. I spoke a long while ago - I think 3 years ago - on my personal belief that the time had come for a study of direct and indirect rates and that there was some justice in following the more advanced countries of Europe and the United Kingdom in looking at the indirect tax scale because it provided an opportunity for the taxation burden to be shared more equitably. It also tended to impose taxation on the basis of consumption. Therefore, it seemed to me to add something to incentive, if the direct scale were broken down somewhat. Any tendency to bring this about gradually and with equality would have my support. What do we have? Indirect taxation has shown a fivefold rise, the total rise in expenditure being sevenfold, and income tax has risen eightfold. We can see how the burden has altered. I think there is a case for redress.
We hear a great deal about expenditure. Again I direct the attention of honourable senators to these figures. Total expenditure over 20 years in the Commonwealth has risen by 7 times. These figures are rather gigantic to quote, but in the thousands of dollars they show that in 1949-50 the total was $1,161,000 thousands and in 1970-71 it was $7,882,708 thousands. That is a sevenfold increase. In that period of 20 years Defence expenditure has risen by 10 times. I put this to honourable senators: If they want to study a country’s real. progress and what it is doing in economic terms they should be careful not to take isolated year against isolated year but to take a run of time. Twenty years is not a bad period of time in which to examine what is going on. Defence expenditure has risen 10 times.
– Is the Minister proud of that?
– Yes, I am proud of it. 1 do not apologise. I have never been at all ashamed of being part of a group of people who will defend this country against all comers any day; do not worry; I am delighted. The other thing we hear a lot about - and I have heard a lot of mouthings in the Senate and in other parts of Australia from time to time - is the shocking deal that is given to the States. Let us look at the reality of the situation. Commonwealth expenditure has risen by 7 times. Total payments to the States in 20 years have risen by 1 1 times.
– The Minister is not allowing for natural growth.
– The honourable senator does not understand economics. I do not know much about it, but it is evident that he knows a lot less than I do. Let us direct ourselves to this pattern. These figures cannot be argued against. They are in the Budget speeches. Senator Georges can turn them up. He will find the figures for the earlier years in earlier books. They cannot be contradicted because they actually state the figures. The total growth in expenditure in that 20 years was by 7 times. Defence expenditure rose by 10 times. Payments to the States rose by 1 1. times. Debt charges, on the other hand, went down substantially. I think anyone who has been involved in trying to run things would look with some respect on an institution which, after 20 years of great growth, as has been the case with the Commonwealth that produced this growth and reduced its overall debt. We hear a lot about departmental running costs, that departments are too expensive and the Public Service costs a lot of money. My experience has been that the Public Service is admirable. I admire the people who work in it. They are great servants of this country. Their total costs have risen by 5 times. Overseas aid has risen by 8 times. These are the kinds of factors in which 1 thought some honourable senators might be interested.
Some references to taxation have been made. Tonight I will not be able to develop the full case, but I have some material available on this. What it says is something like this: The immediate taxation concession will be $300m and before long this will amount to about $400m a year. I have never yet seen a situation in which somebody gave a concession and all the people were satisfied. It has always been the case of ‘he got too much and I got too little.’ The Government has the difficult job of giving a total sum and of making the best balance it can. That is what it has set out to do. For those honourable senators who are interested in the figures on this, income tax reductions to individuals will be $289m, age allowance $3m, excise removal of duty Sim; making a total of S293m. This S293m, which is in effect reductions to a range of individuals, is obtained by increasing tax on companies by $81m, by customs and excise duties on petroleum of $79.6m, tobacco S31m, wine S15.2m, an increase in sales tax of S29m. air navigation charges SI. 8m, licence fees for radio and communication $600,000, light dues 5600,000; so that the total of $23 8m for the extra charges balance against the $293m left a net reduction in receipts of $55m.
It is anybody’s guess as to whether a different system could have worked. Honourable senators might have liked it done a different way. They might have liked the reductions to have been more. They might have liked someone to have received a benefit rather than themselves or myself or someone else. Within the balance of what the Government tried to do, it seemed to me a reasonable amount of money by which to reduce the total taxation burden and, equally, to make some change between the burden of direct taxation and indirect taxation in favour of reducing the former and increasing the latter. 1 know that all people will not agree with that. I suggest that in any earnest study of the problems involved in financing the demands of the country we must direct our minds to the considerations of the equity of such a proposition. Honourable senators might not agree, but I think they are honour bound to examine it as. a method by which an advanced country with a high demand may have to consider how it finances these demands.
Earlier I mentioned that I was one who approved very much of running a balanced budget in this phase of Australia’s economic life. We have all been the beneficiaries of the 1960s when we had a substantial run of years of deficit budgets. If honourable senators wish, they can again direct their attention to pages 52 and 53 where they will find set out the order of deficits in the Commonwealth Budget since 1960-61. 1 will quote some of those figures. We began in 1960-61 with a deficit of $32m. In 1967-68 it rose to a figure of $642m. Then it began to taper off. It came down to $385m. Now the figure is back nearly to balance. Those were the years in which we, as a group of people, invested and spent a lot more money than we were getting in. I would not criticise that for a 10-year period because it provided a solid base of economic infrastructure for growth and development. But, we could see at the time what was happening. What we were really doing in the 1960s was maintaining our living standards but at the same time going into debt to make the country grow and prosper. There was another alternative. It was to ask the Australian people in the 1960s to do without improved living standards and to put all the extra cash that could be obtained into growth. We did both things. We grew. Proof of this is available to be seen by those who want to study it. We grew by deficit budgeting and by borrowing the balance. At the same time we maintained our living standard growth. At the end of the 1960s and coming into the 1970s we had a country with full employment, with high living standards, with great prosperity and with great equality in the economic scene. Anybody who doubts this can measure the factors against other world figures.
– We had increasing poverty. The Minister cannot ignore that section of the community.
- Senator Georges. I think what we could well do is to direct ourselves to closing our mouths and opening our ears because we might be better off if we did. I do not think the honourable senator is adding anything to my knowledge. I was trying to add something to his, but he does not help me much. If we look at pages 32 and 40 of the document to which I referred we will see how the Government finances its operations. 1 find that in most debates this is not referred to very much, but it is worth referring to because if we compare the years 1967-68, 1968-69 and 1969-70 we find something like this: In the year 1967-68 the Government financed its operations by a net overseas borrowing of $73m and a net Australian borrowing of $568m, which gave its deficit of $642m. In the next year 1968-69 our net overseas borrowing was $137m. Our net Australian borrowing was $248m. Our net deficit was $385m. Last year, the year ended in lune 1970 - and this shows the dramatic difference in passing from a deficit budget to a balanced budget - our net overseas borrowing was in reverse. In effect, we reduced our overseas debt by $131m. Honourable senators could make a very strong case for the 1970 decade, or at least for a part of it, to be years in which we balance our budget and do something about retiring the public debt, considering what we spent and what we borrowed In the 1960s. In 1969-70 we borrowed only $138m from the Australian people as against $568m in 1967-68, passing therefore to a net Australian position of only $7m. In defence purchases from the United States, instead of paying out money we had a net improvement of $3m.
We have to borrow money overseas for Qantas Airways Ltd and Trans-Australia Airlines. Debt reductions overseas exceeded new loan raisings by SI 12m. These factors are of interest to those who are interested in this matter. They can be summarised over the long run of years in balance of payment calculations and statements. These are not available for balance of payment studies in the Treasurer’s Budget Speech, but some are available for those who are interested in the Treasury Information Bulletin of July 1970, to which I think Senator Milliner referred. On page 40 of that publication will be found some comment on the balance of payments position for that year.
If one looks at the Australian situation since 1958 one finds that in most years the balance of trade position of Australia has been favourable, but because of invisibles such as freight, insurance, dividends and things of that nature overseas, the net current account balance has been in deficit in this country every year since 1958. If we had not had a net capital inflow in every one of those years we could not - I repeat that we could not - have gone on financing the expansion of this country in the 1960s which has given practically every one of us greatly increased living standards.
Our net monetary movements in each of these years can be calculated. Our overseas reserves as at June 1970 totalled $ 1,984m, compared with $1,2 16m in 1958. So internationally we are a stronger, wealthier country. We are able to sustain our growth and able to be supported. Our ability to grow, to survive and to raise our living standards depends on 2 things. We are looking for a continuation of growth and a rise in living standards and prosperity. So if we are prepared to study these figures we will see that this depends upon 2 things. It depends upon performance and stability, but it also depends upon the confidence which people outside Australia have in this country and their willingness to continue to send capital here. The improvement about which I am speaking - the multiplication of our economy - depends upon the confidence of overseas investors. Of course, this depends upon economic and political stability, which this country has had in good measure for the last 20 years.
Earlier I referred to the fact that we hear so much of this phrase: ‘He has nothing else but his labour to sell’. 1 suggest that this is a comment or a remark that, might well not be mentioned again because it is not really true. Those days are gone. People have their energies, their time and their training. The training of some of the older people in society has not been as good as we now try to give to the younger people, but this is balanced by experience. In my eyes, all people have more than labour to sell. I rate human dignity higher than that. Labour is not the only factor in the creation of prosperity in a society. There are other factors such as inventiveness, overall resources, a past that created a balance of ability and resources, ingenuity and human skills, natural resources freely available, cheap power and fortunate geography. So a country progresses because of a number of factors. Labour is one of them. Skill is another.
I think we all ought to recognise that what we deal with in a Budget is not a give-away programme but a highly responsible economic exercise. How do we achieve improved living standards? How do people get better off? How do they get more money to spend? There is a number of ways. One of the ways in which living standards can rise in a society is for productivity as such to rise at least as much as the annual rise in the wage rate. There are some figures available on this. Australia’s record of productivity increase per annum is not very good. Japan has an annual figure of, I think, 6.5 per cent. France, Italy, West Germany, the United States and the United Kingdom have a figure of 3.5 per cent. We have a figure of about 2.6 per cent.
I took out some figures on this matter because at one stage before I came into this Parliament I was very interested in productivity. My own company has been highly involved in productivity groups. When Mr Bury was Minister for Labour and National Service he said that if national productivity had increased by only i per cent per year in the last 10 years it would have added at least £4 or £5 a week to the average household. In the end of the exercise, a country and a group of people get what they produce. And they get something else. They get help from people outside their country if they are worthy of help, and this adds to their prosperity. This is what happens in this country. Earnings rose by almost 9 per cent during last year, but statistics of industrial production for the period ended last June show that 17 categories increased and 14 decreased.
I should like to mention one or two other factors that bear upon the overall Australian problem. Senator Georges has been vocal from time to time about primary industry, but as one who has been involved in it for a large part of his life, I do not have to be told that it has its problems. I know that; 1 have some grey hairs and corny hands to show for it. But one of the things we must bear in mind when considering primary industry is that the consumption of primary products in Australia is growing at a slower rate than the production.
The overall economic problem facing primary industries today is simply that they have to sell more and more of their output overseas. This is one of the problems we will all face because to a very great extent Australia is a primary industry country and all of us depend a lot upon the pastoral economy for our wellbeing. Increasingly, primary industries are producing more and Australian consumption as a percentage is less. More and more of the products have to be marketed overseas under increasingly difficult conditions. This is a matter on which we really cannot afford to have too many political divisions. Every manjack in Australia is talking about his own welfare and wellbeing. 1 think that Senator Georges, amongst the many comments that he has been making from time to time, referred to price increases. I have some figures which show that for the 10 years ended last December Australia’s performance is relatively good. Japan’s consumer price index increased by 57 per cent in that time. There was a 39 per cent increase in France, Italy and Sweden; a 30 per cent increase in the United Kingdom; a 28 per cent increase in New Zealand; and a 23 per cent in Germany and Australia. The countries that have done better than Australia are Canada and the United States, which are running at about 20 per cent to 17 per cent. The picture in Australia, on the other hand, is nowhere near as bad as it is sometimes painted.
I think we will be better if we continue to operate on the basis of living within our means. Of course, one of the ways in which we could improve the position would be to direct ourselves towards making improvements in productivity. I have spent some part of my life with very responsible people of the trade union movement who have been in my own industry and I know that it is possible to get substantial increases in productivity without in any way doing anybody any harm at the same time leading to better living standards. I suggest as an exercise in responsibility that an increase in productivity in Australia is the best way to keep prices down in an economy with full employment. If that is what honourable senators opposite want, they have my full support. Like them, I am interested in keeping prices down - by increasing productivity.
– But competition does not bring prices down and you know it. What action has been taken under the Trade Practices Act?
– Senator Georges is a fascinating exercise in incompetence and irrelevancy. But what I really wanted to say to the Senate, if with the Deputy President’s help Senator Georges will permit me to have a moment of silence, is that we have in this country this year a highly responsible Budget which is giving whatever concessions it is proper to give and which is operating a balanced-Budget economy. Against this background we have a Budget which I trust and hope will achieve its purpose, to stimulate savings and provide incentives to increase productivity. It is a Budget designed to ensure the continuation of growth, stability and prosperity, one which will enable the record of Australia continually to be held so high that overseas investors will have confidence in this country and continue to support it. For all those reasons it would be quite impossible for me to support an amendment which seems to me to consist of a fairly substantial load of rubbish.
– 1 rise to take part in this Budget debate because, as a Government supporter in the Senate, I believe that the Parliament should have every opportunity to debate this motion for the tabling of the papers. The Budget is the most important document brought down in any Parliament in any year, so important that the first reaction to the Budget by the Opposition was that it would have it defeated. Members of the Opposition knew that they, together with those who occupy the centre benches, could by joining together out-number the senators within the Government parties and, on a vote, throw out the Budget papers. For all they knew they might even have been joined by one or more honourable senators from this side of the chamber because we have the freedom to vote how, when and where we like. Sometimes it is not until we have spoken to a measure that it is known whether we are supporting it.
All the indications were there that the Australian Labor Party would endeavour to cause the defeat of the Government in the Senate on the Budget paper. I believe that such a defeat would have meant a general election with perhaps a double dissolution of the Parliament. This would have provided an opportunity for the people to ask: After 21 years of Liberal and Country Party coalition Government, do we require a change? Has an alternative government come over the horizon from out of the wilderness? And so the debate started in the Senate on a Wednesday evening with a speech by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator Murphy). We must always emphasise that he is the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate because he is terribly frightened lest people readme Hansard should think he is the Leader of the Opposition, the leader of the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party, who is, of course, the Leader in another place, Mr Whitlam. Senator Murphy feels that that would not do his political reputation any good.
So the stage was set for a fighting debate and Senator Murphy took 27 minutes of at least an hour that he would have been granted in talking over the air to a listening public. Later that night my colleague Senator Rae took part in the debate and had an experience that I have not witnessed in this place in 17 years. He talked to Labor Party benches which were not occupied; they were as vacant as the minds of those who usually sit in them.
– As they are now.
– Just a minute.
– I believe that it is typical of the courtesy that I can expect from my friend and colleague of the Senate Select Committee on Drug Trafficking and Drug Abuse, Senator Georges, that he has agreed to represent his Party in this important debate and to honour me with his presence. Honourable senators opposite show a complete and utter disregard for their political responsibilities when they will not enter the debate. Is it because they are so overwhelmed by the shattering internal blows being delivered to them, conference after conference, and that they cannot concentrate on politics today? The Opposition Whip comes into the chamber lonely and disconsolate; he cannot get his colleagues behind him. This is the situation we find - not an Opposition speaker ready to put forward concrete criticism of the Budget papers, not one to stand up and say what Labor would do if it were in Government or to say: ‘We will send you to the people in a state of disarray.’ With their internal takeovers they have forsaken the people of Australia while they lick their wounds and cure their sores.
I want to talk about the Budget because it should go on record, even if very few Labor people are listening, that this Budget is anything but the deceptive and negative document that Senator Murphy suggested in his amendment, which was hardly supported by his speech. Is it negative to put into operation a promise and to go further than the promise by reducing direct income tax payable by the lower and middle income group by $228m in what is left of this financial year? Is that deceptive? ls it negative? We come then to social services, health, repatriation and housing for which the Budget provides S 1,820m of the people’s money, an increase of SI 57m over last year. Apparently that is deceptive in the eyes of the Labor Party, the so-called alternative government. I refer next to education. If ever a House of Parliament has debated education it has been this Senate in the last 4 or 5 years in what 1 termed earlier as the era of the academics in charge of the
Labor Party. In this deceptive, negative document the Government has announced that it is to spend S3 12m on a part of administration which it has no constitutional requirement to finance. That S3 12m is an increase of $63m over the expenditure on education last year. Is it negative or deceptive to increase by 25 per cent in one financial year the vote for education?
I refer next to the amount to be paid to the States under the Commonwealth and State financial agreement, an agreement which is a problem and which is one part of the administration that 1 believe needs to be cleaned up. I think I was almost in agreement with the Australian Democratic Labor Party, which initiated the debate. There is need for an inquiry into Commonwealth/State financial arrangements. The Australian Labor Party claims that the Government is being negative and deceptive in this Budget. But the Commonwealth is returning $2,708m to the States, which represents an increase of $29 1m. This is described as negative and deceptive by a political party which not only has vacant seats in this chamber tonight but also has vacant minds.
The Government is also providing over $200m in this Budget in external aid, which is not a bad donation. It is also providing assistance to primary and secondary industry. Certain social service benefits have been increased. The Budget provides for $21 5m in direct assistance to the rural industries, which were completely ignored by the mover of the amendment in his contribution to the debate on the Budget. This represents an increase of $77m over the amount of assistance provided last year. I know that the Postmaster-General’s Department comes in for a lot of criticism when trunk line calls are delayed or people cannot get telephones connected to their premises. All sorts of minor forms of criticism aredirected at this Department. But, the Government will be providing from revenue on amount of $408m for capital works. I believe it is true to say that Australia has high standard internal and external telecommunications networks. We are more than keeping abreast of the times. Yet the Government is said to be deceptive and negative in its approach!
Australia is developing rapidly. People throughout the world are evincing great interest in our development. We are a lucky country because of our natural resources. Our good fortunes are not al) due to the Government. Through the initiative of our people, the great wealth and knowledge of private enterprise and the ability of the Australian work force, we are tapping our natural resources. We are enticing money for development from overseas sources. When it suite the narrow minded Australian Labor Party to do so, it criticises the Government for the amount of outside money which is coming into Australia to help us develop our resources. But the resources which are being developed are providing the work force with employment. I believe that we should be proud of the Australian worker. However. I am afraid that certain elements which are working their way into some of the unions are eating into the vitals of trade unionism and are spoiling what has become a very great and valuable body of working people. However, I have enough faith in the average Australian and in the good people we are bringing into this country from overseas to believe quite confidently that they will in the not too distant future be awake to those who are trying to eat into the vitals of the Australian economy.
I believe that, just as the Victorian Executive of the Australian Labor Party has been told where it can go. the Communist agitators and others who seek to harm the country through the work force will be told where to go. If I must be sidetracked momentarily bv honourable senators opposite, Mr Acting Deputy President, I would say that I believe the time is near when every ballot for the election of a union official and particularly every vote as to whether to go on strike will have to be conducted by officials in secret. This would be of greater help to a greater number of Australian workers than any other law or regulation in Australia. It would be a great advantage to the whole Australian economy. The Australian Labor Party seems to forget that the healthier the Australian economy is the better will be the living standards of the Australian workers, ft has forgotten about the welfare of the people and what can be done for them. Honourable senators opposite have negative, deceptive minds which try to pull down everything that this Government puts up for the good of Australia. If I get talking about defence I will criticise honourable senators opposite further.
Australia, because of its natural resources, the ability and calibre of its people, and partly because of its stable Government, is progressing. However, I believe that there could be better government in Australia. The better the Opposition the better the Government. The only thing which kept the Labor Party in office in Tasmania for so many years was a very good, strong, unified Opposition. The situation today indicates - historians will record this and some commentators already see it - that a particular and peculiar political sickness is sapping the Labor Party’s energies. In the years I have been here fantastic winds of change have been blowing through the Labor Party. I would not say a word about this if the Labor Party were not Her Majesty’s Opposition. But it is and, as 1 have managed to attract some of its supporters into this chamber to hear me, I shall talk about it. It might do them good. I will not be sorry if it does them good.
I believe that the sickness from which the Labor Party is suffering is political flatulence. We hear of such things as mad hatter’s parties and the Leader of the Australian Labor Party talking about his Executive as witless men. We see the doors being closed at some hotels - not over a funeral parlour this time, I admit. The doors of some hotels were closed on Mr Brian Harradine. As someone said by way of interjection this afternoon, it has taken many years, for the Labor Party to wake up to the fact that Mr Brian Harradine was right and that he should not have been locked out when he was locked out. We have seen the extraordinary actions of the members of the Executive of the Labor Party who come from Brian Harradine’s own State. What happened to the unity of the Labor Party in Tasmania? One section went one way and the other went another way. There is a right wing and the Poke wing. Unity is strength. The winds of change have blown them apart. So we find the Senate suffering in itself because of the sickness in the Australian Labor Party. From the subjects chosen for debate and from the lack of interest in debate displayed by the Opposition we find there is a one-track mind of pure unadulterated destructive criticism of Government policy. I am asked: ‘Why is the Opposition here?” I am glad I have aroused some interest and honourable senators opposite are willing to learn. I do not deny the right of an opposition to critise but I do believe it is the right of every public man in this public forum - this national Parliament - to try to add something by way of speeches and representation to improve the lot of the people and to improve the Government.
– When is the honourable senator going to start?
– I am going to start shortly but I am trying to help honourable senators opposite first. I believe it is important for a country to have a hardworking, capable, sincere, cohesive Opposition. We do not have that at this time. I believe the Opposition has lost all thought of national responsibility and is clouded with isms and with strife within its own organisation. I hope it soon gets over it. But as the winds of change have blown over Australia and are blowing through the Labor Party so, I am glad to say. they are blowing through this Senate. It does my heart good and pleases me to see developments for good coming within this Senate. As I look across this chamber I see honourable senators who have served on committees which have done a great amount of good. I believe the committee system is going to be a continuing value to the people of Australia. Senator Murphy quite rightly remarked on the Publications Committee on which he and I served as, from memory, did Senator Buttfield. The good from that Committee is still flowing and will continue to flow not only for the good of Parliament but also for the people as the years go on. That is a Committee on which action was taken and good is continuing to flow from it. 1 see Senator Poyser and I am reminded of the Senate Select Committee on the Metric System of Weights and Measures. I remember that half way through the conduct of that inquiry we predicted that Australia would go metric. Australia is now on its way into the metric system of weights and measures. I am firmly of the belie’ that if there had not been a Senate select committee on that subject the Government would not have realised that the time had arrived when Australia should join other nations in the cause of uniformity and efficiency and adopt the metric system of weights and measures. Then 1 remember Senator Sir Denham Henty, as he was then, now retired, whose name will live in his home town for many reasons, and in this Parliament. Above all, his name should live because it was he who personally woke the Government, the Government parties, the Senate and then Australia to the fact that pollution of the air and the water was with us as dangerous problems and a challenge to our security. As soon as those committees were set up arid report* flowed through the news media good came because State governments. local governments and industries-
– What about Sir Henry Bolte?
– The exception proves the rule and 1 would think that of all the remarks that Sir Henry Bolte, Premier of Victoria, has made off the cuff thai one will live the longest and be regretted by him the most. I refer to the remark that he would not read the Senate’s report. Actually, I do not blame him for not reading the full report. I do not know that the Premier of a State would have time. But I hope he has seen to it that the relevant Ministers and heads of departments have not only read the report but are studying all angles to it.
I must briefly touch on another committee of which I am privileged to be Chairman and from which 1 can only hope now that lasting good will flow to the people of Australia because of what it may recommend in the not very distant future. I refer to the Senate Select Committee on Drug Trafficking and Drug Abuse, lt was brought into the Senate - let us be honest and candid about it - by the Leader of the Opposition. I am never sure who had the first thought - perhaps the Leader of the Australian Democratic Labor Party (Senator Gair). But the proposition was put forward and the Government agreed to the servicing of the Committee. Every Commonwealth Government department and every State Government is co-operating with this Committee which I believe is probably the first committee of the Senate to inquire into an important sociological question.
I will say about this Committee at pre* sent what I have said in support of other committees in trying to give my view of the good which flows to the people of Australia through the Senate’s entering this sphere of activity of committees. It is my belief that State Governments and Commonwealth Government departments have been wakened to their responsibilities. Interest has been engendered through the news media giving publicity. Dialogue has started between the various disciplines in the professions of medicines, pharmacology and pharmacy. In education, people are striving to get in first with ideas to help teach all age groups and all sections of the community of the dangers that face Australia if this question is to be faced in a definite manner. I hope the Senate will always be willing to carry on with its work of Senate select committees.
A danger exists that there will be a perhaps mischievous intent to try to get party political questions brought in as subjects for discussion. I believe that if that kind of attempt succeeds it will ruin the Senate select committee system because no government worthy of its salt will allow a committee of Parliament to inquire into and report on something which is of specific policy or administrative responsibility. That is my view and I am sticking to it. We are about to see whether we can cope successfully with standing committees. This is a further wind of change which I hope is a healthy experiment. I hope it will be successful. That will depend on those who man the committees and the subjects which are given to the committees to inquire into. My view is that they should be subjects requiring immediate inquiry by fairly minded unbiased senators, male and female.
Because of these changes I am convinced - 1 think perhaps for the first time tonight Senator O’Byrne will agree with me and my colleagues - that sincere true participation in the work of the Senate is now a full time occupation which in itself gives rise to personal and political problems. The longer the Parliament sits, the more committees that have to be serviced and the number of meetings that they require - the public does not realise that the committees will meet only when the Parliament is not in session - the more difficult will it be for senators to participate in the electoral life of their home States and attend to the people who send them here as their representatives. This is a problem which each of us will have to meet. 1 cannot give an answer to the personal problem but 1 am not crying about it. The public does not realise that one great problem which confronts all of us here is the loss of opportunity to spend time with our families. I believe that the average member of the public who pays any attention’ to political life, even the commentators who write about us, and one commentator in particular who does nothing but ridicule the national Parliament and its members, has no idea of the sacrifice that members of the national Parliament make willingly in. the loss of home and family life.
Let me make a further suggestion for improving the Senate. The difficulties of servicing committees and of solving the other problems which arise convince me that a suggestion I made a number of years ago when I was comparatively new in the Senate - it cannot be said that J am making it now at the latter period of my service in this place - is worthy of consideration. Tt is this: I do not believe that any Ministers of State should be in the Senate.
– You will have 5 opponents in your caucus now.
– There is nothing personal in this. I like all Ministers and I avoid as many as possible because I know how busy they are. I sincerely believe that the House of Representatives is the place where all the Ministers should be situated, and that each Minister should be represented in the Senate by, for the want of a better term, a ministerial under-secretary. I know that the Constitution would have to be altered to provide for this but I believe my suggestion to be very sensible and practical. We have 5 Ministers in the Senate with their own portfolios. They have a full time job. We are conscious too that they represent 5 other Ministers in another place, so they must handle not only questions but also all statements that are made by those Ministers and all legislation that is presented by them. This is a hopeless and a hapless task to put on human beings. People would be less inclined to call us - wrongly so - the rubber stamp of the other place if we were free of the domination of the Executive and if the Executive were only represented here. The undersecretaries, to give them a name, would have a chance to study the legislation that they would have to father through this chamber, and they would be better informed, keener in debate and of great assistance to the Parliament, irrespective of their Party. That is my View of the ideal Senate and I believe that serious consideration should be given to it.
This is a House of review. It is not the executive chamber and was never meant to be the executive chamber. 1 believe that all those who are in the Executive should be gathered together in the executive chamber and be represented in this chamber by people of their own Party. The only minor alteration that I would want would be that there would be no questions without notice in the Senate. We would be better informed by getting proper answers to questions on notice, and it would be up to the under-secretary to see that the Minister concerned provided answers as soon as was reasonably practicable.
I have given my reasons why I believe that the Budget before us is a wise one. Repatriation and social service benefits are of such importance that they should be dealt with when the legislation comes before us instead of being taken piecemeal in a general Budget debate. I hope to be able to speak to that legislation in due course. I believe that the Budget is in the interests of the Australian people as a whole. It does not worry me to hear Senator Milliner quote the criticism of various employer organisations and associations. That is a healthy sign. It shows that we are not being ruled by them, and it is nice to hear that from a Labor senator. We listen to the criticism from outside and we answer it. That is good. We do not mind criticism if it is constructive. I agree with the Budget and have given plenty of reasons why I disagree with the amendment proposed by the Opposition. In my view the amendment is couched in the weakest form of words that T have ever seen as an amendment to a document in the 17 years that I have been here. It masquerades as a censure of the Government, but because the Opposition is not game to mount the censure properly it has produced this piffling form of words as an amendment, hoping and praying that it will be defeated. The Opposition will get its answer and its desserts. 1 oppose the amendment. I scorn it. 1 support the Budget and congratulate the Government for producing it.
– 1 rise to support the motion that the Senate take note of the Budget papers and to oppose the amendment. Although the Opposition has been critical of the Budget I am surprised to find tonight that it is not putting up any speakers to criticise the Budget as it has done in the past. The Opposition is being shown in its true colours. Most contributions to this debate by members of the Opposition have offered destructive criticism rather than constructive suggestions. I regard the Budget debate as one of the most important debates of the Parliament. It provides an opportunity for the Government to place before Parliament details of revenue and expenditure over the preceding 12 months. lt is also the function of the Government to furnish details of financial proposals for the current year. The handling of finances by any national government is one of the most responsible functions it has to perform.
Quite a deal has been said in this debate about whether the Budget is inflationary or deflationary. At a time when all members of this Parliament, irrespective of party affiliations, arc concerned about the effect of inflation on our national economy it is only natural that a great deal of comment should be made outside the Parliament by the Press and leading economists. The fact that the Government is budgeting for a surplus and is prepared to introduce measures to restrain inflation indicates that the Government proposes not to take deflationary action to the point where the economy will be harmed, but to control inflation as is considered necessary.
At present our export industries are facing tremendous difficulties. I refer particularly to our primary industries. I hope that the Government will continue to maintain tight control of the economy so that inflation does not increase. This is of tremendous importance. Members of the Opposition have not put forward constructive measures. They have not said what they would do in the present situation if the Australian Labor Party were in power.
I have been concerned with rural industries all my life and naturally I am particularly interested in this field. It must be remembered that the main reason for the present difficulties of the primary industries is the fall in export prices for our primary products. Statistics show that prices now being received generally for our export commodities are at about the level of those received in 1961. As costs have increased by about 2i per cent each year our primary industries have faced great difficulties. This situation is also creating problems for secondary industries in the export field.
At present wool producers are receiving about 30c per lb for their product, a fall of about 30 per cent over prices paid at this time last year. Restrictions on the growing of wheat have of necessity been imposed. It is clear that great difficulties confront primary industries irrespective of the political party in power. Even industries like the rice industry which have had a tremendous record of profitability in the past are running into trouble because of difficulties in finding export markets. Overproduction within Australia is another aggravating factor. One reads that the rice industry is facing problems that were not apparent a year or two ago. It must be acknowledged that the difficulties have been greatly aggravated by a very serious drought in many States, particularly in Queensland where primary producers are enduring one of the most disastrous droughts in history. These conditions have made it extremely difficult for primary industries.
I think we should consider the action that might be taken to alleviate some of those difficulties. When suggestions are made to give financial assistance to primary industries a howl of protest is raised by the city Press. I have never suggested in this chamber at any stage that subsidies should be a permanent ingredient of any industry. For that matter, I have never advocated tariff protection as a long term measure. However, I think honourable senators will agree that the assistance given up to this year to primary industries has been largely directed to lifting profit in those industries. This has been a wise course, particularly at a time when export markets have been available to us.
I refer particularly to the superphosphate subsidy. It has cost the Government a good many millions of dollars each year, but I am quite sure that the returns to the producers and the national economy, and in good times to the Treasury through taxation, have more than paid for the cost of the subsidy. The payment of subsidies must be studied very closely. By paying subsidies at a time of over-production the Government would probably create more troubles than are faced at the moment. But I am the first to acknowledge that some assistance must be given immediately to most of our primary industries. If assistance is not forthcoming very quickly many people at present in financial difficulty but still credit worthy will be forced unfortunately to leave the land. The people affected are not only those engaged in rural production, but also the workers in country towns. They are feeling the pinch a great deal at this time.
Recently I attended a meeting at Forbes in central New South Wales. If my memory serves me correctly, a man engaged in the machinery business there said that at this time last year he had 84 employees but this year the number is down to 17. That decrease indicates the falling off in the sale of machinery, and probably also in sales of distillate and other products. I could list a whole range of businesses which are dependent upon profitable rural industries and which are affected at present.
– Shop assistants and transport workers.
– All these people are affected. Today the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Snedden) tabled in the Parliament a report which referred to the small number of unemployed in Australia. However, a disturbing feature is that in the last month as many people have become unemployed in rural areas as in all the city areas of Australia. That has increased the seriousness of the situation. Nowadays we hear a great deal about air pollution, water pollution, transport difficulties, health and other such matters. I do not think that at this time as a nation, when we are trying to build up our economy and improve our quality of life, we can afford to have an exodus from the country to the cities. That is another result of the decline in rural exports.
In my speech in the Budget debate last year I referred to the danger of a fall in our rural exports at a time of cost inflation and during a period in which we need more than an inflow of capital to maintain our credit position overseas. Methods that might assist in this direction include long term loans at reasonable rates of interest to people in primary industries so that they might be enabled to get into production again. Many of them have extensive assets, but they lack the credit to enable them to replace stock lost as a result of drought and other reasons and to get back into production. I believe that the Government must come to their assistance by means of long term loans at reasonable rates of interest.
I am very glad that the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) announced just recently that the Government is making a detailed study of the rural position and the need for rural reconstruction, both from the point of view of the indebtedness of primary producers and from the point of view of land tenure, and that it is conferring with the States on this matter. This is a wise step that the Government k taking. From what I know, New South Wales is the only State that has available at the present time the machinery for rural reconstruction. If this assistance is to be given to these producers, I think it will be necessary for it to be done through the machinery that is available in New South Wales, namely, a rural reconstruction board. Because we must have a uniform system of assisting people, I hope that the machinery will become available in other States in order that we may be able to do this.
There is one thing that I am very disappointed the Government has not done; that is, to give more direct assistance to local government. The cost of local government is one of the heaviest costs that rural people are forced to pay at the present time. In some cases rates have risen to such an extent that they now represent up to $1 per sheep or beast. Whereas when the rating system was introduced some years ago the idea was for the local council to construct the roads to the properties of rural people and the people along whose properties the roads went were probably the only ones who derived any advantage from them, nowadays the general public use these roads. 1 believe that our rating system as it applies to rural producers is completely out of date.
The New South Wales Government has a local government grants commission, which 1 believe is the machinery through which the Government could give assistance^ - -perhaps on a dollar for. dollar basis or an even more favourable basis - in order that local councils might be able to assist rural producers. It is high time the public realised that the ratepayer is not available to provide the amenities now more or less demanded by many of the people who live in the towns and many of whom are not ratepayers at all. I hope that before long the Government will recognise this need. Whilst I appreciate that it is a State responsibility to find finance for local government. I believe that the need is so immense that the States are unable to do so. I hope that the Commonwealth Government will come to their assistance in this regard. So much of our production is sold overseas that I believe the Government, commodity boards and producers generally must make a maximum effort to expand our sales. I seek leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) proposed:
Thai the Senate do now adjourn
– I wish to devote a few minutes to a fairly important local subject. A few days ago I asked a question in this chamber in which I reminded the Government that the Commonwealth car pool in Canberra was seriously undermanned in relation to both staff and vehicles and that local taxis were required to do many thousands of trips each year with Commonwealth passengers, thus causing frequent inconvenience to the civilian population of Canberra through long waiting periods for taxis. I asked what action the Minister for the Interior (Mr Nixon) would have taken to rectify the situation.
The Minister supplied what I believe was a rather evasive answer through the Minister representing him in this chamber.
He said that the Department had engaged a firm of consultants to examine the operations of the passenger car service in Canberra and that an analysis of all the work undertaken by or on behalf of the Department over a 6 weeks period was being made. I now find, from information that came subsequently through various avenues, that an organisation known as Pak-Poy and Associates apparently is undertaking this survey. It is significant that the Minister omitted to mention that in his answer. He also omitted to mention the cost of the survey which has been variously estimated at between $50,000 and $100,000. 1 would like to know what the actual cost of the survey is.
Another interesting point, which was not mentioned in the Minister’s reply either, is that the survey was taken in June and July - 2 months during which the Parliament does not sit and a minimum of major national conferences are held in this city, so that there is less call on the Commonwealth car pool then than probably at any other time in the year. At that time of the year very few Cabinet Ministers are in Canberra because most of them are making their overseas trips or taking their winter holidays. An analysis of the figures - I defy anyone to prove these figures incorrect - from a survey taken between 17th August 1970 and 21st August 1970 and 24th August 1970 and 27th August 1970 shows that the number of trips done by cars from the local Commonwealth car pool was 6,866 and the local cab companies were required to do 7,136 trips. In other words, the local cab companies did 270 more jobs than the Commonwealth car pool.
On 18th February 1970 the local branch of the Transport Workers Union wrote to the Minister for the Interior. I quote the following from the letter, which was signed by the secretary of the Canberra Branch of the Union and addressed to the Minister for the Interior:
Following a press report, the Canberra Times Thursday 22nd January 1970, ‘Taxi fares go up’ and subsequent investigations, I have been instructed by the Branch Committee of Management of my Union to bring to your notice statements that are designed to mislead the public.
It is of concern to the Transport Workers Union that the taxi owners claim as a reason for fare increases wages paid to relief drivers. It is common knowledge that relief or casual drivers in the taxi industry depend entirely on a commission for their remuneration. How the practice of paying commission could affect the owners’ expenses is beyond comprehension, particularly if the commission paid remains static. Considering the above, it would be interesting to know if the taxi owners substantiate their claim for higher wages for relief drivers by the production of times ‘ and wages documents.
My members are concerned that the taxi industry operates on a scally wag basis, that is, the industry apart from the owners does not provide a permanent media of employment under established conditions, such as rates of pay, recreation leave, holiday pay, hours of work etc, and therefore competes against established industry and union members at an unfair advantage.
The Press report further indicates that approval has been given for 6 additional taxi plates and refers to many complaints from the public with difficulties getting taxis within a reasonable time.
My members are well aware of the reasons that taxis are not readily available to the public and for your information the following is a breakdown and comparison of taxis and Commonwealth cars engaged on departmental work during periods when Parliament’ was in session and recess.
With the concurrence of honourable members 1 incorporate in Hansard a table which sets out the use of cars and taxis from 15th September 1969 to 22nd January 1970.
For the year 1968-69 there were 26 car drivers, 42 spares and 10 local car drivers - a total of 78 - in the local pool. All spare drivers relieved for car work when Parliament was in session. During 1969-70 there was a deterioration in that there were 37 car drivers, 46 spares but only 5 local car drivers - a total of 88. There were 24 spares required for bus work. This shows that even though the city of Canberra is growing the administration has not looked at future requirements with a view to making suitable provision. But an even bigger scandal is seen when one looks at local hire cars. Some honourable senators will recall that a few years ago a great story was put up for the introduction of hire cars in Canberra. There are now 5 hire cars employed full time by the Department from 6 a.m. Frequently cabs are paid more than 1 fare. The way in which this is achieved is rather intricate and I do not propose to go into the details of it now.
The Commonwealth fleet has approximately 75 cars. This aspect is worthy of consideration if we are to give service to the people in this establishment and in other Government departments who use these cars when required. Probably our greatest responsibility is to ensure that the local population has adequate service. One of the biggest worries is to be caught in Civic or somewhere else in need of a taxi. There are none available. There are not sufficient cars to cover the official jobs which are done in this city and thus the local taxi fleet is called upon to fill the gap. Senator Rae is vainly trying to interject and I say to him that he can go and hire a cab now if he wishes. 1 am concerned about the people of Canberra and about the service to the community. The biggest problem arises with mothers with young children who require the use of taxis. It is normal at cab ranks in the city area to see a mother with 3 or 4 toddlers and half a dozen shopping bags waiting an endless period for a taxi. The responsibility comes right back to the Department. It is estimated that at least 30 extra drivers and at least 20 extra cars are required for the pool. For the benefit of Senator Rae I might say that Mr Leedman, the leader of the Liberal Party whose team was so soundly defeated in the Advisory Council election only a few days ago, said that one of the main reasons for the defeat was that the Government and the Minister were worried about the appearance of Canberra and not worried about the people. I suggest that this is a matter of importance to the local community and deserving of a very close investigation in the shortest possible time so that some sort of justice is given to the local population, and so that departmental officers, members of Parlia ment and others will be able to go about their jobs with the speed and efficiency to which they should be entitled.
– I have listened to the comments of Senator Keeffe and it seems to me that they amount to this: On behalf of the Minister for the Interior (Mr Nixon) I gave an answer to a question asked by Senator Keeffe which referred to surveys of departmental car usage and the need to use taxis. Senator Keeffe feels that the basis of the survey is inaccurate and that therefore it needs to be re-examined. He also feels that there is a substantial shortage of taxis in the city of Canberra because they are excessively used by the Government departments.
– I did not say that at all.
– That is the impression I gained. He raised a number of matters which he properly regards as serious. I want him to understand that this is all I can do: I will see that the Hansard report of his speech goes to the appropriate Minister and 1 will ask that Minister for a reply. I tried to make a note of the matters raised. In the morning I will read the speech of the honourable senator, mark it and ask the Minister for replies to the points raised by Senator Keeffe. I think that the proper way for these points to be answered is by way of written communication from the appropriate Minister. This is all that can be expected of a Minister in the Senate who represents a Minister in another place.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.26 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 15 September 1970, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1970/19700915_senate_27_s45/>.