28th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Magnus Cormack) took the chair at 9.59 a.m., and read prayers
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. In view of the recent rescinding of several of the Prime Minister’s statements by Caucus- for example, the siting of Sydney’s second airport, the subjects on which the Government wants a referendum, and, most notoriously, last night’s decision on interest rates- would it not be more appropriate for Senator Brown, as Chairman of Caucus, to announce Government policies instead of the Prime Minister and thus prevent the present confusion in which our country finds itself?
-The Leader of the Opposition is not as well informed as he thinks he is. I do not know of any rescinding of any decision by the Prime Minister in respect of the matters that he mentioned. All I know is that certain statements were made. I think he will find, as events occur, that what is proposed will be in the interests of the people and consistent with the course of action which the Australian Labor Party in Government always has pursued. As for interest rates, it is important that the people of Australia watch the democratic process in action. Our Party operates in an open Federal Conference which makes decisions. That is important because the Parties represented opposite in this place have conferences which for the most part meet in secret. Even when they do meet they do not seem to make any decisions. At least the Australian Labor Party makes some decisions. This great Party was elected by the people odAaetralia and it is going about their business. If the day comes when a decision of the Prime Minister or of any other Minister is rescinded, what is wrong about that? That is the democratic process. We elect a party to do that. I think the people of Australia would applaud the notion that we have a regular democratic process operating at the highest levels of Government.
– My question, which is addressed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, is asked in the hope that we might clear away some of these clouds of prevarication with which he responded to the question asked by my Leader, Is it a fact, as reported in virtually the whole Australian Press this morning, that a significant part of what the Government has been pleased to call its policy on inflation has been rejected by the rank and file of the Parliamentary Labor Party? If so, what argument does the Leader of the Government in the Senate offer in this very vital area to suggest that the rank and file are right and the Government, acting on the decisions of its advisers, is wrong? Is the Government’s approach to be regarded as a stop-go policy or is it more accurately to be described as an on-again off-again policy? In short, when will the Government make a clear, comprehensive and consistent statement on what it proposes to do in this grave situation of inflation in this country?
– The answer is simple. This is a hypothetical question based on the honourable senator’s first proposition which was: ‘Is it correct that a significant part of the policy has been rejected?’ The answer is no. The rest of the question then does not matter.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Treasurer. Did the Minister read a copy of a speech made by the Treasurer to the Grocery Manufacturers Association in Melbourne on 6 September? Did the Treasurer say:
The real test of people ‘s buying power as far as you -
That is, the grocers- are concerned is whether incomes have risen faster than prices. They have. Over the last decade, average weekly earnings have consistently risen around 3 per cent faster than prices. Even allowing for the fact that income tax reduces the growth of average weekly earnings, the margin has still been favourable.
- Senator DrakeBrockman, are you quoting the Treasurer or are these your words?
– I am quoting the Treasurer. I now ask the Minister whether this statement can be taken as evidence that in the view of the Treasurer and the Government it does not matter how high inflation goes as long as wage rises stay ahead of the rate of price increases and that the Australian worker has no real quarrel with the Government’s inflationary policies?
-The Leader of the Australian Country Party in the Senate has quoted a portion of a statement made by the Treasurer to the Grocery Manufacturers’ Association. I note that the Treasurer is in the habit of explaining carefully to various sections of the community what the Government’s economic policy is, and I do not think anything of significance can be drawn from what he said on that occasion. The history books show that inflation has been with us for some 700 years. I suppose if incomes keep level with or ahead of prices over the years, one could say in one sense that broadly it does not matter that much if the value of money changes. What is important is to protect from being hurt those who have savings and fixed incomes. This involves a redistribution in the community. It is important to observe that this Government is setting about to see that the national income is dealt with in such a way that those sections of the community which would be hard hit by inflation have the inflationary effects mitigated.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for Transport noted the Press reports that a National Roads and Motorists Association survey has declared that large sections of the Great Western Highway in New South Wales are unfit for high speed driving? In view of the Government’s proposals to develop a regional growth centre and industrial complex in the Bathurst-Orange area, will the Minister undertake to investigate the criticisms made by the NRMA of this important national highway?
– Yes, I have noted the criticism of the highway to which the honourabe senator has referred. That highway, together with many other highways in Australia, has some deficiencies in relation to high speed travel. A study of all highways is being made by the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads together with the State road authorities. The results of that study are presented from time to time to conferences of Transport Ministers. In relation to the Bathurst area, this study team has recommended to the Conference meeting this month that another highway be built to the Bathurst area in view of the proposed growth in that area. I might mention that the study team is making a study of all main highways in Australia for the purpose of helping the Commonwealth Government and the State governments to formulate a new Commonwealth Aid Roads Agreement after the present one expires in June of next year.
-Is the Minister representing the Prime Minister able to confirm that the group of Public Service personnel who are becoming well known as fat cats have increased in number from 957 at the end of January this year to 1,121 at the end of July this year, an increase of some 17 per cent in just 6 months? By ‘fat cats’ I mean anyone in the Second Division or higher in the Public Service and earning in excess of $17,000 per annum. If the number of fat cats has increased to this extent, will the Minister say whether it is anticipated that the rest of the Public Service will increase proportionately as the empire building goes on? In other words, will the Minister confirm that the fat cats are breeding like rabbits but that the bunny will be the Australian taxpayer?
– I am not sure of the exact number of personnel in the Second Division of the Public Service. But it is clear that new responsibilities have been undertaken by the new Government. There has been a movement into areas which have not been dealt with by the previous Government. This was necessary in order to carry out the program which was put to the people. Whether the increase in the number of Second Division officers should mean an automatic and comparable increase in the number of other officers is a very important question. My understanding of it is that that does not and should not automatically follow.
For example, there are certain departments where one would need high level officers and probably not other officers in the Third and Fourth Divisions. By no means are all the departments of the same structure. Perhaps we could learn a lesson from other areas. I understand that in the United Nations there was one office which had 2 very high level officers at the top expending many tens of millions of dollars, yet the rest of the staff consisted only of 2 stenographers. This may be an ideal, but certainly Parkinson’s Law would not be encouraged by the present Government.
– I address my question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate in his additional role as the Minister representing the Treasurer. Does the Minister agree that after last night’s Caucus meeting and decisions the Opposition was quite correct in declaring that the Government has no economic policy and has replaced its rule by Cabinet of two with a rule by caucus of ninety?
– I ask a question of the Minister for the Media. Does the Government intend to take any action to control film distribution and exhibition outlets? Further, on the premise that where there ls smoke there is fire, and in order to give some assurance to television interests as to where they stand in the matter which is vital to them, can the Minister advise the Senate whether or not the Government plans to assume control of commercial television through the establishment of a governmentally directed independent broadcasting authority?
– In the first part of his question the honourable senator asked me whether the Government intends to take action to control film distribution throughout Australia. The honourable senator will be aware that early this week the Tariff Board report on the state of the film industry- a report which was commissioned by the previous Government- was referred to Cabinet, and after consideration Cabinet referred the matter to me to bring down recommendations to the Government on the course of policy which it should pursue. A statement to that effect was made last Tuesday by the Prime Minister in the House of Representatives and by me in the Senate. My Department is now working on those recommendations, bearing in mind what was said by the Prime Minister in his statement.
As regards the last portion of the honourable senator’s question which referred to an independent television authority, it is my Party’s policy, determined last July at Surfers Paradise, that a feasibility study should be undertaken on this aspect. As yet that study has not been undertaken but I have received some details on the matter. I understand also that the Senate Standing Committee that is inquiring into all aspects of radio and television is looking at that matter.
-On 28 August last the Leader of the Government in the Senate stated that on average higher prices should not be charged for cigarettes and tobacco until early September, and for spirits until the end of September. He then went on to say- and I quote from Hansard:
If it should come to my notice that any company is seeking to make excess profits by increasing prices before old stocks are exhausted I shall not hesitate to name that company in the Senate.
I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate whether he has done any checking on this matter. If so, is he aware of any instances in which increased prices were charged before old stock was exhausted, and what action does he intend to take?
-I have indicated that the department is checking on this matter and I will do what I said I would do. I do not expect to make any announcement about this matter immediately. But as soon as the results of the checking by the Department of Customs and Excise are completed I will advise the Senate.
-I ask the Minister for Primary Industry whether during his ministry he has been responsible for directing any negotiations to secure acceptance of Australian apples into the Japanese trade. Can he give the Senate a statement as to any step that he may have taken in that respect?
-No, I have not been directly involved in any negotiations. As I indicated to the honourable senator on Tuesday, I am quite sure that the work that has been carried out by my Department and the Department of Overseas Trade is directed towards maximising our efforts to break down the present barriers that exist on the importation of Australian apples into Japan. As the honourable senator would know, the Japanese authorities are of the opinion that codling moth is a barrier to their import of our fruit. Constant research is going on in this area in an endeavour to overcome the problems and to meet the Japanese requirements. I am quite convinced that maximum efforts are being made.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Transport. Is the Minister aware of the many letters which are flowing from rural cities and rural municipalities regarding Labor’s promise to allocate funds for roads under the Commonwealth Aid Roads Act? Is the Minister aware of the promise by Mr Charles Jones, the present Minister for Transport, who is reported in Hansard as saying:
When we become the Government we will change the system and allocate the total amount of money collected in fuel tax to our road system.
The Minister would be aware that that was Labor policy when in Opposition. I ask the Minister: As that was a promise from the present Minister for Transport, will that promise be carried out?
– I am not aware of the huge amount of mail that apparently Senator Webster has received criticising the volume of funds provided for country roads. There is a recognition that money collected in the form of fuel tax should go to road construction. This Government has given more funds for the purpose of road construction than any previous government. The Government has just allocated $6.4m to the States on a $2 for $1 basis for the purpose of upgrading transport facilities in urban areas. As I said in reply to an earlier question asked by Senator Mulvihill, the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads is now examining the position for the purpose of entering into a new agreement next year. I repeat that more has been done for roads by this Government than has ever been done previously. I would be surprised if the revenue collected in the form of fuel tax is not being paid back for road purposes.
– Has the Leader of the Government in the Senate noted the concern of the New South Wales Premier, Sir Robert Askin, at the absence overseas of Mr Alexander Barton, a person whose financial activities have caused hardship to many companies and individuals? Is the Minister aware that reports are circulating that Mr Barton and/or his companies have been involved in selling aircraft to the illegal regime in Rhodesia in defiance of the policies of the United Nations Organisation? In the circumstances will the Government help Sir Robert Askin in his endeavours to have Mr Barton return to Australia to face the grave allegations made in the New South Wales Parliament by temporarily withdrawing Mr Barton’s passport?
-The Government will do whatever is appropriate in response to any requests by the New South Wales Government in order to assist it and members of the public who have been affected by these transactions. As to the specific matter of the passport which has been raised by the honourable senator, I think it is proper that that should be referred to the Minister for Immigration.
-My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Defence. I refer to the science article in last Saturday’s Adelaide ‘Advertiser’ which relates to what it calls the displacing of some 22 of Australia’s top scientists and the abolition of the space research section at the Weapons Research Establishment. I ask the Minister whether he has seen the article and whether the claims made in the article are accurate. Can the Minister say what is to happen to the millions of dollars worth of scientific equipment including the celebrated item known as the big dish at Island Lagoon?
– I answered a question from Senator Jessop in relation to this matter yesterday. I have seen the article but the position is not yet clear. As the honourable senator knows there will be some retrenchment in South Australia. I have indicated that there will be discussions with all the professional and trade union bodies concerned in the matter at a meeting on Monday convened by Mr Barnard. Mr Barnard, Mr Clyde Cameron and I will be in attendance. We will be looking at measures which could be taken to obviate any sudden displacement of personnel or redundancies at this stage. That is the best I can tell the honourable senator, as I told Senator Jessop yesterday.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Education whether he can provide me with the details required to enable an independent school to prepare an appeal against a decision by the Minister for Education to place it in category A. I speak on behalf of the Kobeelya Church of England Girls’ School at Katanning which has been trying to obtain a reply from the Minister since 15 August. The Minister might take this matter up with the Minister for Education.
-Last week I noticed an advertisement inserted in the New South Wales newspapers by the Department of Education stating that schools could appeal to the Interim Committee for the Australian Schools Commission on matters of this nature. I cannot recall the details of the advertisement but I think, from recollection, that the appeals close at the end of this month. However, I shall obtain the information for the honourable senator and give it to him as soon as possible.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. In view of the events of recent days, including the varying decisions on the Galston airport site, possible referendums and interest rates, is it to be understood by the Australian people that decisions made and announced by the executive government- that is the Cabinet- of this country are to be regarded only as tentative at the point of announcement and liable to be reversed or altered by the Labor Caucus? When is a Cabinet decision, having been taken and duly announced, to be regarded as final? Do Caucus decisions override Cabinet decisions?
-I hear the honourable senator talk about varying decisions. Lest these go along with the other myths and legends let me deal with one of them. The first related to the Galston Gorge. I was asked questions here and I said what the Government’s position was. Let the honourable senator look up the answers which I gave him here and then come in and say where there has been some change. The honourable senator referred to reports about a meeting of Caucus on interest rates. The Australian Labor Party has, in accordance with the democratic processes it follows, decided to consider some aspect of its economic policy. Let the honourable senator say where there has been a change in a decision that has been made. As to the other matter about reports that legislation will be prepared in respect of a possible referendum, let him show where there has been a change in a decision that has been made. Let us be rid of this talk about the varying of decisions that he said have been made.
asked when will we know that a Cabinet decision is going to be final. Let me recall some of the things that have happened in this Parliament. I refer firstly to the Cabinet decision of the previous Government in, I think, 1963 to set up a superior court. A Bill to give effect to that proposal was introduced in, I think, 1 968. What happened to it? It lay about and was never proceeded with. A month before being removed from office the previous Government said that it was not going on with the proposal. What about the territorial sea and submerged lands proposal? A former Prime Minister made an announcement about it but the previous Government would not push its own legislation on that proposal through the Parliament. The supporters of the previous Government fought like Kilkenny cats all the time they were in office. Any Cabinet decision taken in the time of the former Government was not worth the paper it was written on. The honourable senator ought to understand that the present Government has promised to implement an enormous number of proposals and that it is intent on doing so. The Cabinet will consider matters and the Labor Party will, in accordance with the democratic processes it follows, discuss those matters. I think the people of Australia are pleased that decisions are at least being made and discussed by the Labor Party in its Party room and that it is not being dictated to by people outside the Cabinet and the Party room, as happened during the tenure of office of the previous Government.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate in his capacity as the representative in this chamber of the Treasurer. Has the Leader of the Government seen the report in the Melbourne ‘Herald’ of 12 September- last night- under the heading Profit Boom Goes On’, that 85 per cent of the preliminary reports presented by companies in the last 8 days showed higher results than in past years and that of the 291 companies reporting a profit 142 had increased dividend rates? Does this not indicate, despite the prophets of gloom on the Opposition benches, that companies involved in textiles, timber, paper, wool broking, mining, oil and numerous other ventures are expanding and prospering under the progressive and constructive policies of the present Government?
– The answer is yes, it does. I am indebted to Senator O ‘Byrne for bringing such detailed information to the attention of the Senate. It bears out what I was saving to the Senate yesterday about the era of prosperity which has been ushered in by the present Government and the wise administration of the Treasurer.
– I wish to ask a question of you, Mr President. It refers to urgency motions. I think it was about 2 years ago that some discussion took place in this chamber about the form in which urgency motions are moved. Has anything been done by the Standing Orders Committee in regard to this matter? I ask that because people listening to debates on urgency motions think it is rather peculiar that the Senate should spend 3 hours discussing whether it is going to sit one minute earlier than normal the next day. Could something not be done about the matter? There must be a few people with brains in this chamber who could evolve a different form of urgency motion from the rather stupid one that we go on with.
– I wish to advise Senator Turnbull that there are a few people with brains in the Senate who have examined this problem. The Standing Orders Committee has examined it and has made recommendations on it. Those recommendations will be brought before the Senate for its endorsement, rejection or amendment when the report of the Committee is brought down in the Senate.
-Can the Minister representing the Treasurer confirm or deny the statement of Dr J. F. Cairns on the Australian Broadcasting Commission radio program ‘AM’ this morning that he was not told of the Government ‘s decision to increase interest rates? If this is true, does this not make Dr Cairns look rather foolish in the eyes of the members of the conference of which he is a member, particularly considering that his is a senior member of the Australian Government?
-I did not listen to the radio program ‘AM’ this morning. I am not able to say anything more than this: Whatever Dr Cairns said no doubt would be correct.
– My question, which is also directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, is supplementary to the question asked by Senator Bonner. Will he seek the assurance of the Prime Minister that in future on such matters that are so vital to the exporters of Australia he will have full consultation with the Minister for Overseas Trade and Minister for Secondary Industry and not pull the rug from under his feet?
– It is really not for the Senate to concern itself with how the operations in the Cabinet are conducted. It is not appropriate for this legislative branch of government to be concerned with the internal workings of the Cabinet and what procedures are used to arrive at the decisions that are made there. Everyone understands the importance of procedures in connection with revaluation. The circumstances in which they are conducted may depend upon decisions taken by other persons and all sorts of other issues which make sometimes for urgent decisions.
– My question is directed to my Tasmanian colleague, the Minister for Primary Industry. In view of the many sided and regrettably long drawn out representations to both the Australian and Tasmanian Governments on behalf of drought stricken farmers in south east Tasmania which have not reached finality, can he, for the benefit of those suffering financial hardship make now or in the near future a statement defining what prospects there are that the Federal Government will assist by releasing the farmers from the burden of the 1967 bushfire loan repayments or by providing a subsidy for the many thousands of tons of stock feed wheat which it has been necessary for them to purchase during the current winter or by taking both these measures.
– During and after the 1967 bushfires the then Federal Government did make what I think can be said to be fairly generous arrangements with the Tasmanian Government to assist those people who had been affected. Since the change of Government there have been representations from Tasmania to the present Federal Government seeking assistance to relieve the repayment burden in view of the circumstances prevailing particularly in south eastern Tasmania. The Prime Minister replied to the Tasmanian Premier last May indicating, as I interpret his letter, that the Australian Government would share on a 50-50 basis with the Tasmanian Government in meeting arrears of payments in excess of 12 months. Since then, as the honourable senator is aware, there has been a difference of understanding about the interpretation of that letter and just precisely what was meant by the Prime Minister. I have referred the matter back to the Prime Minister for clarification and I am still awaiting clarification. Only yesterday I inquired again as to the position. I hope that within the next few days I can get some finality on this subject, and I will advise the honourable senator accordingly.
– Has the attention of the Leader of the Government in the Senate been drawn to a full page advertisement in this morning’s Press calling for assistance and support for the persecuted Russian dissidents Solzhenitsyn, Sakharov and others? I assure the Minister that I had nothing to do with the advertisement. Will he act immediately to have discussions with Mr Whitlam upon this matter which I raised with him during the adjournment debate last night and upon which he gave me such a courteous hearing?
-Yes. I said that the matters would be referred to Mr Whitlam. No doubt the advertisement in question has also been seen by Mr Whitlam.
-Is the Minister for Customs and Excise aware that for many years the Western Australian Government has carried out a strictly policed kangaroo culling and harvesting program? Is he aware that with the enforcement of Commonwealth policies and with good seasons kangaroo numbers in Western
Australia are increasing rapidly and that this increase is causing growing concern among graziers and pastoralists? In view of these facts will he give special consideration to allowing Western Australia to re-engage in the export of kangaroo products?
– It is true that a there is a control program in Western Australia. I do not accept that for many years it has been strictly policed, but I do not want to be thought to be unduly critical. There has no doubt been a genuine attempt by Western Australia to have some kind of regulation and a move towards a proper conservation program. It has quotas and some enforcement of these quotas. The tragedy is that in Queensland, where the greatest number of Kangaroos is taken, the steps which Western Australia considered to be absolutely essential for maintaining the species- that is, this kind of control program- were not implemented. Queensland had no quotas. One might say that it was an open slather in Queensland. That means that the overall Australian picture was that there was no proper conservation program.
The honourable senator will be aware that in pursuance of the powers which were vested in me as the Minister for Customs and Excise to consent to the export of kangaroo skins- the policy had been that although export should be prohibited the Minister could consent to waive that. I decided that the waiver would not be given after 1 April. In January I had given a warning of this. Since 1 April there has been a meeting of various Ministers of the Australian Government and State Ministers, and it was agreed that an endeavour would be made to work out a conservation program which would deal with measurers such as the one which the honourable senator has mentioned. Some endeavour has been made to do that. Some kind of program has been worked out and it is currently under consideration by the various States. As a result, something may come out to alleviate the position in Western Australia. I will agree that it raises the problem that there is a State which is trying genuinely to achieve the objectives which we had hoped would be achieved all over Australia. The argument is put that that State is being penalised although it is doing the right thing. I am conscious of that fact, and I hope that there can be a satisfactory resolution of this matter.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Works as representing the Minister for Transport. I was interested in his reference, in answer to previous questions, to a survey of the important national highways of the country. I ask the Minister whether he could tell the Senate what stage has been reached in upgrading the Stuart Highway from Darwin to Alice Springs; secondly, as I have always held the view that a real highway from Adelaide to Darwin would be a great stimulus to development and tourism for all Australia, I ask him whether, quite apart from the survey of the railway to Alice Springs, any consideration is now being given to building an up to date highway from Adelaide to Alice Springs?
– I agree with the honourable senator on the need for a sealed highway from Adelaide to Alice Springs. Two months ago I travelled the Stuart Highway from Darwin to Katherine, and my information was that the sealing had reached Alice Springs, that a contract had been let by the Department of Works for a further 50 miles of highway sealing and it was hoped to extend it in the near future to the border with South Australia. There is still the problem of the section from Maree, or Hawker, to the border of South Australia and getting the South Australian Government to seal that portion of the highway from its grant funds. My briefing notes inform me that the Commonwealth Aid Roads Act which was passed in 1969 to cover a period of 5 years and will expire on 30 June 1974 provides grants totalling $ 1,253m over that period. A new survey of road needs after 1974 is about to be completed, and the Bureau of Roads expects to submit this report, which will be tabled in the Senate, in about October this year. The Government’s proposal will then be discussed with the State roads authorities. It is anticipated the discussion will take place at the Premiers Conference early in 1974. We hope that consideration can be given to the report at the time of tabling it and I anticipate greater assistance to highways than has been given previously.
-My question is directed to the Minister for Primary Industry. I understand that the Minister received an invitation to attend a meeting of canning fruit growers at Berri in South Australia tomorrow night. Can the Minister indicate whether he will be able to attend this meeting to hear the problems of fruit growers in the area? If not, will he undertake to consider submissions that might be made as a consequence of this meeting?
– Yes, I did receive such an invitation, but I have since advised the organisers of that meeting that I will not be able to attend because I have a commitment in Tasmania tomorrow night. I appreciate the problems which do exist there and I will be only too ready to accept and give serious consideration to any submissions arising from that meeting tomorrow.
– I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate to reply, if possible, to my question in the context of his earlier reply that the Australian Labor Government does not change its mind or does not have its mind changed. I hold a Press release, dated 28 August, on behalf of the Department of Civil Aviation, in which the Minister for Civil Aviation, the Honourable C. K. Jones, states: ‘Galston has been chosen by the Australian Government to meet Sydney’s airport needs from the 1980s.’ I ask: Has that decision been varied?
-Any such statement must be read in the context in which it is made and with an understanding of the background. The Australian Government had announced that such projects are subject to feasibility studies and environmental impact studies. If we announce that we are going to build a dam somewhere it is understood that the project is subject to these studies. If the honourable senator purchases a copy of the platform of the Australian Labor Party he will find that set out fairly and squarely in it. He also will find it in statements made repeatedly by the Prime Minister and by the Minister for the Environment and Conservation. If honourable senators opposite are going to pick one sentence out of statements made by Ministers and say that is the whole, that is absolute, and is not to be read in the context of other Government statements they will spend a lot of time to their own satisfaction but with little profit to the people of Australia.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for the Media. In view of the fact that Papua New Guinea soon will receive independence, has the Australian Government made any attempts to make that country better known abroad? Will the Australian Government be taking any steps to help Papua New Guinea publicise its coming independence?
– I can inform the honourable senator that Film Australia, a branch of my Department, currently is on location shooting a film called ‘Unity in New
Guinea’. That film is being shot for the Department of External Territories. The same film unit also has produced a series of 9 colour films on a New Guinea tribe. That series is called ‘Towards Baruya Manhood’. That has been shown abroad and it has received wide acclaim, particularly in France and the United States of America.
– Not France, surely?
– It was shown in France, yes. Recently after it was shown in New York at the Museum of Modern Art, there was considerable publicity for Papua New Guinea throughout the United States of America. I can tell the honourable senator also that a new information post has been established by my Department in Papua New Guinea and it is expected that an officer will be appointed there in the near future.
-Will the AttorneyGeneral confirm that if a person is not prepared to answer questions asked by a census taker, such as the number of people in a house during the week, the number of hours worked, whether the house is owned or rented, and the amount of overtime worked, that person could be fined and even committed to gaol. If the answer is yes, does this not look like a serious invasion of privacy?
-The area of census taking has been a very troublsome one over the years. The Government needs statistical information for all sorts of reasons. There are pressures from those in various departments and on various bodies for statistical information to be more accurate so that they may do their job properly. Census taking occurs all over the world. Census taking of this kind has been resented from the time of the Doomsday Book. People in England used to scatter when the census takers came around. We have the same problem today. As I understand it there have been very serious complaints about the paucity of the material that is gathered by the Australian census takers. These complaints have come from those who are interested in the type of information which would be of assistance for various social purposes. What seems to be a most annoying intrusion into people’s private affairs is mitigated, I suppose, only by the endeavours which are taken to ensure that the information is used only in a statistical sense. My understanding is that over the years this practice has been very carefully preserved. In no way does the information become public and in no way is it used for any individual purpose. A census is simply for the purpose of gathering statistics. That is my understanding of the situation. There are two conflicting points of view. There is a social purpose to be served but this can be seen as an intrusion into the ordinary affairs of people. We must find a proper solution to the problem and try to provide a means of ensuring that above all the information is protected and not used for ulterior purposes.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Works. In view of the vital importance to the continuing development of South Australia that no impediment be placed on the expeditious construction of Dartmouth Dam, can the Minister give an assurance that the Commonwealth Government will not pursue its suggestion made to the participating States that work on the dam be slowed down or deferred?
– I answer this question in my capacity as Minister representing the Minister for the Environment and Conservation, who is responsible for water resources in Australia. There has been a lot of false propaganda about Dartmouth Dam. The Coombs task force reported that consideration should be given to deferring the letting of future contracts for the Dartmouth Dam and utilising other available water which flows into the Murray. The Prime Minister sent letters to the Premiers setting out the recommendations contained in the Coombs report. He asked the Premiers to consider the matter and reply. The Prime Minister has pointed out that the construction of Dartmouth Dam is a matter of agreement between 3 States and the Commonwealth. The agreement has the approval of the 3 State Parliaments and the Commonwealth Parliament. Any alteration to the agreement can be made only by getting unanimity among the 4 partners to the agreement and subsequently resubmitting the legislation to the various Parliaments for approval. As a result of the Prime Minister asking the Premiers to give consideration to this proposal, we have an indication that South Australia and Victoria are opposed to any deferment in the construction of the dam. I think it can be readily accepted that under the conditions of the agreement the construction of the dam will go on as proposed originally.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. In view of the soul searching events of the last 24 hours, does the Minister still adhere to his doctrinal theory supporting higher all-round interest rates, including interest rates on housing loans, which he advanced so forcibly during the debate yesterday on the matter of urgency and which he saw as a major weapon for reducing inflation? If not, to what current doctrine does he at least momentarily adhere?
-As I believe I indicated yesterday, I stated in the urgency debate the reasons which had been advanced by the Treasury for the steps which have been taken.
– By the Government.
-And by the Government. I think I indicated yesterday to the Senate that the Government’s view was that there ought to be cheap interest for people, especially for buying homes, and that this was the view of our Party not only when in Government but over the years. It is part of the Australian Labor Party’s policy. I think I have consistently advocated that there ought to be cheaper interest and that it is oppressive to people purchasing homes to have to pay these heavy rates of interest, and that is what the Government is aiming at.
Any measures which are taken temporarily are not to be considered as inconsistent with the Government’s policy in that regard. I would hope that the rates which are being charged, especially on home loans, are rapidly brought to a position where they are even lower than they are, if that is possible when interest rates are rocketing and there are currency changes all over the world. The Government’s policy ought to be obvious to the honourable senator. We want to make it easier for people to own homes. We want to reduce the cost of building, the cost of land and the cost of interest charges, and if at any stage the Government has to take measures which temporarily appear to be contrary to any part of that policy, it is only in order to stabilise the economy and to pursue our aim.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Primary Industry. I do so because of the question asked by Senator Donald Cameron and the answer which the Minister gave to the honourable senator in which he said that he would not be able to attend the meeting at Berri in South Australia on Friday night and that he wished he could because he would give serious consideration to the proposals put forward.
– We heard his answer.
-Sir, I give that as background. Is it not a fact that the Minister has had many submissions over many months from the fruit growers in the River Murray areas on the problems facing the canned fruit industry? Has tie given serious consideration to these previous submissions? How much longer will he be giving serious consideration to the submissions before he takes some action?
-I think that that is a most inappropriate question by the honourable senator because I dare say that if there was one rural industry that was in a mess, which this Government inherited, it was the canned fruit industry. I know, as he knows, that the previous administration made very significant payouts of money in order to assist the canneries to pay their growers. I am aware that some of the growers still have not received their payments for as far back as, I think, the 1971-72 season. In the past I have indicated in answers to questions concerning canned fruits that it is not an industry in which the problems will be solved quickly. The structure of the industry needs attention. It has deep seated problems. Some of the co-operatives and canneries have been able to function effectively- I think more so in Victoria than in the other States- - but it is hardly my responsibility or the Government’s responsibility to restructure the industry because the industry seems to feel that it should operate in a certain way. It ought to be said in fairness- I think that Senator Young ought to concede this-that the previous Government was not able to solve the problems either. I do not think that this Government will solve them too quickly. But I hope that whatever we can do in the future will not simply be a matter of paying out money for no really worthwhile end. I hope that I can find the time as quickly as possible to look at the complete structure of the industry. I think that is what we are dealing with. That has been the inhibiting factor all along.
– I ask a question of the Minister for Works in order to clarify in my mind a matter relating to Dartmouth Dam. In effect, the question is supplementary to that asked by Senator Laucke. Under the heading ‘Legislation’ in paragraph 9 of item 69 of the report of the Coombs task force the following statement is made:
The unanimous agreement of the three States would be required; if obtained no legislative changes would be necessary.
Does this paragraph suggest that the Commonwealth Government could in fact take legislative action unilaterally with respect to the construction of this project?
– It is obvious that the Coombs task force has given deep consideration to this question. On every item it indicated what legislative action would be necessary. The honourable senator has just read to the Senate what action the Coombs task force considered would be necessary in the case of Dartmouth Dam. I cannot see how I can improve on that examination. The report states definitely that agreement between the 3 States would be needed if its recommendations were to be adopted. As I pointed out in my previous answer 2 States have definitely stated publicly that they do not agree to any deferment of the project. In accordance with the study that was made by the Coombs task force, there will be no alteration in the Dam project.
– I ask the Minister for Works who represents the Minister for Transport in this chamber whether he noticed an article in this morning’s Press which stated that Dr Cass, the Minister for the Environment and Conservation, had said that all international air travellers should use the Tullamarine Airport at Melbourne and domestic travellers should use the Sydney Airport. Is it the thinking of the present Government to concentrate all international travellers at Melbourne and domestic travellers at Sydney or is this just the stupid suggestion of the Minister?
– Each receiver of information evaluates the quality of the statement that has been made. Dr Cass is not noted for stupid suggestions and in his belief he thinks he has found a solution to our problems of international transport. This is a question to which the Government is giving consideration. A study is to be made of the question of siting an international airport in the Canberra-Goulburn area. But these are only studies. I do not think that one can, by governmental action, direct people or air companies where they will land. Demand will create a need for airports and governments build airports where that demand exists. But nothing definite has been decided at this stage. I do not think that the question of interstate jealousy arises in the matter of where we should land international passengers. It is a question of overcoming a difficult problem and providing suitable facilities so that we can attract international travellers to Australia.
-I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate whether the Australian Government has yet had an opportunity to evaluate its attitude to Chile having regard to the violent way the course of the political pendulum was arrested?
-No, the Government has not had the chance. I have no doubt that everyone would be appalled that a democratically elected leader was overthrown and caused to commit suicide. Everyone would hope for the speedy restoration of democracy in Chile.
-I ask the Minister for Primary Industry: Is it not a fact that the financial predicament in which the South Australian cooperative canning fruit industry finds itself is directly attributable to currency realignments? This being so, will urgent consideration be given to helping this export industry to meet commitments which it has been unable to meet through factors which are beyond its control and which have led to its present position?
-I do not really think that that statement can be upheld. As I indicated in my answer to Senator Young and as I think Senator Laucke will be well aware the canneries, particularly in South Australia, were in very grave financial difficulties long before the revaluation of the currency. It should also be pointed out that the Victorian canneries have been able to pay their growers for the 1971-72 season. The implication of what I was attempting to convey earlier is that I do not think that it is -this Goverment ‘s responsibility any more than it was the responsibility of the previous Government to tell these business interprises how to run their business. I daresay that in relation to the number of people engaged there are few industries which have received the financial assistance which has been given to the canning fruit industry, not only from this Government but also from the previous Government. The canning fruit growers all received revaluation adjustment payments earlier this year as a result of our decision to revalue last December. I do not think that they received any payment from the revaluation decision of the previous Government. I am not sure of that. We do appreciate the problems but I think, basically, they are caused by the manner in which the industry is being operated by those who control it.
– For the information of honourable senators I present the report of a working group appointed to study costs and revenues of the Department of Civil Aviation.
-Is Government Business Notice of Motion No. 1, standing in the name of the Leader of the Goverment in the Senate, formal or not formal?
– Formal, I think.
– I wish to say something on the matter. I do not regard it as formal.
– All right; not formal.
-Is it desired to postpone or rearrange the business of the Senate?
That Business of the Senate be postponed until after consideration of Government Business and that consideration of Government Business Orders of the Day Nos 2 and 3 be postponed until after consideration of Order of the Day No. S.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Suspension of Standing Orders
Motion (by Senator Withers) agreed to:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent Senator Withers from moving a motion relating to the order of business on the notice paper.
– I move:
That at 8 p.m. this day General Business Orders of the day Nos 1 to 18 be postponed until after consideration of General Business Order of the Day No. 1 9
I wish to explain briefly that General Business Order of the Day No. 19 relates to the motion moved last Thursday night by Senator Sim concerning atmospheric nuclear tests by China and France.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I wish to inform honourable senators that I have received a letter from Senator the Honourable Sir Kenneth Anderson requesting his discharge from the service of Estimates Committee D and a letter from the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Withers) nominating Senator Dame Nancy Buttfield to fill the vacancy.
Motion ( by Senator Murphy) agreed to:
That Senator the Honourable Sir Kenneth Anderson be discharged from the service of Estimates Committee D and that Senator Dame Nancy Buttfield be appointed to fill the vacancy.
– I move:
Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet
Department of the Special Minister of State
Department of the Treasury
Department of the Capital Territory
Department of the Media
Department of the Navy
Department of the Army
Department of the Environment and Conservation
Department of the Northern Territory
I do not know whether anybody wishes to offer any criticism of the manner in which the consideration of the estimates of the various departments has been distributed among the Senate Estimates Committees. I am not aware of there being any alteration- certainly any alteration of significance- in the distribution of the departments among the various Estimates Committees. The distribution is dealt with in paragraph (2) of the motion. Paragraph (3) of the motion requires the Estimates Committees to report to the Senate on or before 1 5 November 1973.I am not aware of anything which ought to be considered in that respect. I understand that to accord with the normal working of government it is necessary for the Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 1973-74 to be passed by some time in November.
-The Leader of the Opposition has informed me- his comments accord with my recollection- that the Bill has to be passed by the end of November. The date selected was chosen in order to fit in with that. If there were some view that the 15 November is too early, no doubt that could be amended either now or subsequently by the Senate. I would suggest that this motion is in order. What needs to be moved is a consequential motion setting out the sitting times and the days. I know that proposals have been advanced and that there has been some discussion and difference of opinion, frankly, as to just when the Committees should be sitting and how many of them should be sitting. That is not really pertinent to this motion. It would be the subject of a consequential motion on which there has been some discussion. I have not yet put up a proposal in that regard. I know that some honourable senators hold views that the Estimates Committees ought not to be interrupting the ordinary sitting of the Senate. There is a strong view that the Estimates Committees ought not to be sitting concurrently because this deprives senators of the opportunity of raising points when they might be dealt with by the Committee concerned.
– There is a view that the Committees ought not be sitting.
-There are all sorts of views. However, the system is here and it is proposed to proceed with it. I would hope that fairly soon we can set down a time table which will be acceptable. Obviously, it will not suit everybody but I would like us to get some time table that we can accept and resolve the different points of view.
– Does the honourable senator propose to bring that forward by moving a motion?
-Yes, I propose to bring forward a motion to suggest a time table. The proposal that 3 Estimates Committees would sit concurrently has struck a considerable amount of opposition. The suggestion that only one Committee sit at a time would meet the objection from some who say that they cannot be in two places at once and yet they do not want to be deprived of their rights. That course would be extremely desirable, but the objection to that is that we will not be able to get through the business in time if we do it in that way. I would like to have a resolution of the Senate on this matter as soon as possible. I do not think that a time table can be worked out in the Senate. I suggest that although the proposal to start the hearings of the Estimates Committees next Monday has been put down on paper and circulated, that is really impracticable now. We will have to look forward to setting out an agreed time table early next week and perhaps make a start on the Estimates Committees on Thursday. But this is all a matter for the will of the Senate. The present proposal is merely the formal one that the particulars should be referred to the Committees and a statement on what Committees there will be and it sets a point of time by which the Committees shall report to the Senate.
– On behalf of the Opposition, I indicate that we do not oppose the motion. That is why I was prepared to let it go as a formal motion. I regarded it as a formal motion merely for the reference of the particulars of proposed expenditure to these Estimates Committees. I knew that Senator Murphy had said that another proposal would be put forward in relation to when the Committees were to sit. For that reason, we regard the motion as being the same as that which has been put up twice each year for the consideration of the Estimates. For those reasons, we do not object to it.
– I have the strongest objection to the third part of the motion which sets the final date on which the Estimates Committee may report as 15 November. We have no intervening program to define the opportunities that the Senate Committees will have to examine these Estimates. We have had shilly-shallying over this matter that defies description. We have no time table for the presentation of the ordinary business of the Senate but in regard to such a matter of specific responsibility to the Senate as the Estimates
Committees we ought to have the time and days allotted and the number of Committees sitting on any one day known before anybody accepts a proposition that the Committees report to the Senate on or before 15 November. I regret that these Estimates Committees, which can be channels of great energy and purpose on the part of the Senate, are being relegated into the background. They provide the opportunity for the private member in the Senate to examine in detail Government expenditure.
To group 4 or 5 items in the Estimates and allow 2 hours for questioning on them is a denial of responsibility. I individually ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Murphy) to postpone the moving of the motion before he asks us to accept paragraph 3 so that he can provide a statement of the program of times to be accorded to the Estimates Committees to do their work. I do not care whether they meet on Mondays or Fridays. I will be available. I stand for the simultaneous sittings of Estimates Committees. I think that 3 Estimates Committees sitting at the one time is quite practicable. I have been attending the meetings of Estimates Committees for 2 years now. The number of honourable senators who choose to attend Committee meetings who are not actually members of the Committee which is meeting is negligible. Therefore, if we could have 3 Committees sitting simultaneously, after they have presented reports, if necessary we could allocate 2 extra days for the debate in the Committee of the Whole. During that time those honourable senators who felt that they had been denied an opportunity to ask questions during the hearings of a specific Committee could do so during the debate in the Committee of the Whole.
The purpose of my rising to speak is to ask for some practical businesslike program for the meetings of Estimates Committees to be put forward at least today. I ask that we do not fix the time by which the Estimates Committees are to finish their work without knowing what opportunities they will have to do their work. We would then be sensible of the purpose of Estimates Committees.
-I do not place so much importance on the actual date for the Estimates Committees to report to the Senate, 15 November, as my colleague Senator Wright does because the Senate is the master of its own destiny. If 1 5 November appeared on the horizon and the hearings of the Estimates Committee were not finished, we would move the date back. But I go along with his cry for a businesslike decision and some purposeful result.
The Parliament has been in session for 3 weeks now. The Government has known that the Estimates Committees have to meet. It was the great supporter of them, and honourable senators on this side of the Senate went along with them. I have no inside information. I speak with complete innocence of what is going on in the background. But I do know what is happening in the foreground The Government knows that the Estimates Committees have to sit. The Estimates have to be passed, refused or requests made in respect of them. That is as plain as night follows day.
Honourable senators opposite comprise the Government. This week the Government sent around to each senator a list of suggested meeting times for the Estimates Committees. I see a head being shaken, but I read the list. I was given one. I presume that it emanated from the Government. If so, the Government should be firm. Are we having this governmental decision overriden because of some meeting of the Caucus or for some other reason? I go along with Senator Wright. Let us meet on Mondays or Fridays or on both days. We are paid full-time salaries to do a full-time job in the Parliament. At the present time we are overridden with committees. But over and above everything, as far as committee work is concerned, the Estimates Committees must have precedence. Regardless of anyone in the Parliament, I will support the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Murphy) any time he moves a motion calling for 1, 2 or 3 Estimates Committees to meet on any day of the week barring Saturday or Sunday. I hope that he will show firmness of decision and leadership on a matter that is of the utmost importance and stop letting the Senate make a fool of itself.
– in reply- There was really no substance in what was put by Senator Wright about the date 15 November. As Senator Marriott has indicated, that date was selected because it was a convenient one. If we are not able to finish the business by then no doubt we will extend the date. The motion is a formal proposal to refer the Estimates to the committees. It is important that we get a proper timetable for the Bills. It has never been easy. In the past, under the previous Administration, each year there were troubles about when the committees would sit and whether we should interrupt the Senate so that the committees could sit. It is an awkward problem to get a timetable. Without all this fulmination about the matter, we will try to get a timetable. It will not be satisfactory all round. There is no hope of pleasing everybody, but we will try to get something which will be acceptable to the majority. I would like to do it as soon as possible. There is nothing that I would wish for more than to get the Estimates off our hands after a thorough examination of them, as the Senate ought to do. If the Senate agrees to this motion I will endeavour during the course of the day to work out a timetable. If I cannot work it out today perhaps it will be ready on Tuesday.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 11 September (vide page 436), on motion by Senator Bishop:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– On Tuesday night I was concluding my comments on this Bill. I simply wish to say that it is one of the measures which complements the other legislative actions which the Government has taken in respect of servicemen to provide the benefits and increased entitlements which are part of Government policy. With those comments I thank those who have spoken in the debate for their contributions and suggest that the question be put.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 30 August (vide page 350), on motion by Senator Murphy:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
-On behalf of the Opposition I indicate to the Senate that we do not oppose the Bill. The Attorney-General and Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Murphy) said in his second reading speech:
The purpose of the Bill now before the Senate is to extend the operation of the cellulose acetate bounty until 30 June 1976. This is in conformity with the Tariff Board ‘s suggestion that the bounty be continued until the Board has examined this and other acetyl products in its 1975 general review of the chemical industry.
I gather from the Bill that the bounty has been in force since at least 1956. It seems a sensible and reasonable proposition that it be extended until the Tariff Board reports. Therefore we wish the Bill a speedy passage.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 12 September (vide page 507), on motion by Senator Willesee:
That the Senate take note of the following papers:
Payments to or for the States, 1 973-74.
Estimates of Receipts and Summary of Estimated Expenditure for the year ending 30 June 1974.
Particulars of Proposed Expenditure for the Service of the year ending 30 June 1974.
Particulars of Proposed Provision for Certain Expenditure in respect of the year ending 30 June 1 974.
Government Securities on Issue at 30 June 1 973.
Review of the Continuing Expenditure Policies of the Previous Government.
Report on Possible Ways of Increasing Imports.
And on the amendment moved thereto by Senator Withers:
At end of motion add ‘, but the Senate is of the opinion that the Government has failed to honour its election promises in respect of defence, per capita grants to independent schools, pensioners, company taxation, the revision of taxation burdens, the home owner, its claim to come to government with malice towards none and its subsequent unfair discrimination against the rural community and its disregard of inflationary pressures and that this budget therefore deserves condemnation in the Senate as the budget of a government that has exposed itself as a government of double standards’.
– Last night I mentioned Senator Carrick’s excellent contribution to this debate. He referred to the various confidence tricks which had been employed by the Labor Government. In particular, I was taken by the way in which he pointed out the methods employed by the Labor Government to delude the electorate into believing that the Government had increased expenditure on education by $404m when it had reduced the grants to the States for tertiary educational purposes by $ 144.6m, which gives a very different picture altogether. The expenditure on education has increased by only $259.4, when the Government would have the public believe that the figure was $404m. I refer to another trick which has been played on the people of Australia. It relates to the Post Office. I will read to the Senate the pertinent part of the Budget Speech of the Treasurer (Mr Crean). He said:
To provide additional resources and at the same time reduce the heavy deficit in prospect on the postal services, some increase in Post Office charges and certain cost- saving measures are proposed. Certain concessions which the Government considers no longer justified will be eliminated. Among these are concessional postage rates on registered newspapers and periodicals, concessional telecommunications charges to the media and the low telephone rentals that have applied in non-metropolitan areas up to now.
Newspapers in the provincial areas will be heavily penalised. One newspaper reporter told me only yesterday that his company will be penalised, because of added telecommunications charges, to the tune of $100,000, which is a not insignificant amount. The Treasurer also said:
The basic postage rate of 7c will not be changed.
He also said:
The telephone connection fee for new subscribers will be raised from $50 to $60.
That is an added penalty on many workers who are anxious to have the telephone connected to their homes. On postage rates I think I can do no better than refer to the statement made by the right honourable Bill Snedden when he drew attention to the Government’s action in this regard. He said:
The Treasurer in his Budget speech said the basic postage rate would not be changed. What has been done however is to significantly reduce the weight of letters that can be posted for 7c Many whichcould previously be posted for 7c now are 1 5c. The present rate is 7c for 1 oz which is 28.35 grams. Now the charge will be 7c for 20 grams- a reduction of about 30 per cent. For mail weighing between 20 grams and 28.35 grams the increase in the price of postage will be more than 100 per cent
– That is cheating on the public.
– That is precisely what the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Snedden, said: The Government is guilty of deceiving the public. He went on to say:
The double standard is related to the advantage they have taken of the introduction of the metric system to achieve hidden price increases.
That is another example of what Senator Carrick referred to- the confidence tricks that are being employed by the Government in this Budget.
I would like to turn for a few moments to the penalties that have been imposed upon the mining industry, particularly with respect to exploration. I had a long interview the other day with a person who has been affected by this. He was in my office and he gave me his thoughts on the penalties that have been imposed upon the mining industry particularly with respect to exploration. He was a chief geologist for a mineral exploration company which was forced to conserve funds and cut down on exploration, and in the process of cutting down expenditure it had to dispense with his services. He told me that this is the problem of many geologists throughout Australia. Many students at universities are finding it impossible to obtain suitable professional positions owing to the actions taken by this Government.
The geologist concerned went on to say that he had found it extremely difficult to find employment with other companies and has at last decided to do some free-lance work. So far he has been able to survive- but only just- and his outlook for the future is very dismal. He informed me that he had worked for several companies which have been seriously affected by the Government’s, restrictive policies on joint ventures with overseas companies. Many of these exploration companies of course go throughout Australia, identify an ore body, prove it, conduct feasibility studies on it, and then allow the area to be developed by other companies that have more capital and are able to take advantage of the exploration which they have carried out. I would like to draw attention to a publication that I received only this week- the ‘Western Prospector’. On the front page is a very bold statement, but a short and significant one, made by the Labor Attorney-General of Western Australia, Mr Evans. It reads:
This is a time when we should show Canberra once and for all what we mean.
It appears to me that not only has the Premier of South Australia been reacting against the penalties suggested for his State by this Budget but also the Western Australia Labor Party has equally severe thoughts about it. In fact in Western Australia, as illustrated by a report from the Australian’ of 27 August, some miners suggest that Kalgoorlie secede from the Commonwealth because of the Budget’s effects on the gold mining industry. I was interested to read also some thoughts expounded by Mr Jim Mazza, the President of the Mining Law Review Council. He has set out his views of significant points concerning the gold mining industry. It is interesting to read them, I think, from an historical point of view apart from anything else. Mr Mazza says:
Gold made the Australian colonies in the 1 850s. Gold made Western Australia in the 1890s. Gold made Federation possible in 1 900. Gold saved Australia during the Depression of the 1 930s. And gold will again save Western Australia in the immediate years to come.
That is, provided the Government recognises this, and that the Minister for Minerals and Energy (Mr Connor) in particular recognises it- the Minister who has accused the mining people in Australia of being nitwits and hillbillies and who, in my view, insulted valuable people who have been responsible for the continuing development of the mining industry in this country.
– He only indicated his own mental state when he made that statement.
– I understand that he was at one time a coal miner and it seems to me that he is still groping in the pit pony age and is blind to the realities and advantages of encouraging private company development in Australia.
– I think many people consider him brilliant.
-That may well be. But I can assure the Senate that as a result of going around the State of South Australia in particular I have had many comments from mining people suggesting that Mr Connor has been a disaster for development in Australia.
– You would agree with that, Senator?
– I agree with that- and not only I but also many people who drive around South Australia with a certain car sticker on their vehicles. I saw motor vehicles with stickers which carried this very significant statement: ‘You are now doing time with hard Labor’. I think the actions of the Minister for Minerals and Energy are contributing largely to the popularity of such a sign being displayed on motor vehicles in this country.
There are many other things apart from the mining industry to which I have referred which will cause the people of Australia to be further penalised. Here I refer to latent costs that will cause increased pressures on the pockets of Australian people. I refer to private company taxation. We find that in 1972-73 private companies will pay tax on the whole of their 1972-73 taxable income at the rate of 45 per cent, the old rate being 37.5 per cent on the first $10,000 and 42.5 per cent on the balance. Further, from 1973-74 private companies will pay the normal company taxation rate of 47.5 per cent on the whole of their taxable incomes. These measures, the Government suggests, are expected to yield additional revenue of $50m in 1973-74 and $90m in a full year. That in itself will place heavy burdens on the private companies in Australia which are very close to becoming unviable and this sort of thing must be reflected in the long term in increased prices.
After all I suppose the increase in prices is the most serious problem facing Australia today. It seems to me that this will bring the Labor
Government down prematurely. When we look at the approach of the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) to inflation and study what he has said we find that he wants to control prices. In my view this is a ridiculous method to adopt. The cost of production cannot be ignored, and when considering that factor we cannot ignore the incessant demands from all sectors of the community for increased wages. I recall what was said by a Labor friend of mine, a man who has voted for the Labor Party all his life. I doubt very much whether he will do so again. When we were in Government he said to me: ‘Do you know what I would do if I were in your position to help arrest the inflationary trend?’ Not being an economic genius by any means, I was prepared to accept suggestions from this Labor supporter. He said: ‘I would keep wages at the present level and I would increase the hours in the working week’. That is a very significant thing for a Labor supporter to say.
– Who was he? Tell us. Do not let him remain anonymous.
– I can tell you his name. He is a personal friend of mine in spite of the fact that he chooses to exhibit a complete lack of political sense by supporting the Labor Party. I think his basic thought about the economy was sound but I do not suppose we could expect a party to win an election and become the government on that platform. However I am pointing out the significance of his statement. If the Australian people, in every profession and every trade, could be persuaded to resist the temptation to ask for more money in their pay envelopes, if they could be persuaded to put in an extra, say, 2 hours work a week at full productive capacity, and if wages could be kept at the same level, even for 12 months, I suggest that the inevitable result would be a lowering of the prices of commodities in Australia. It seems to me this very simple suggestion by a Labor supporter ought to be considered. This is what I think the Government ought to be doing. I support the idea of the Leader of the Opposition in the other place who suggested that there ought to be a 90-day freeze of prices and wages. That in itself would not be a long term solution to the problem, but at least it would provide the opportunity for governments, trade unions, industry and commerce, and, perhaps more importantly, consumer representatives to get together and work out whether the thoughts propounded by organisations and people such as the Labor supporter I mentioned are worth the encouragement of the Government. It is time that we looked at the incomes aspect because if we do that prices will look after themselves.
If I wanted to talk about every matter in this Budget which concerned me I would be here for another hour. I think I have delivered my message over the way that the Federal Government has penalised the people of South Australia, particularly through the increase in the excise on brandy. I mentioned the possibility of further increases in Leigh Creek coal freight charges which could also have an impact on the pockets of South Australian consumers through further increases in electricity charges. I demonstrated the severity of the increase in petrol prices on the populace generally and mentioned other matters that I believe are of particular concern. I will satisfy myself with those few remarks. I suggest that the Government ought to adopt a more realistic approach to inflation, such as that suggested by the Leader of the Opposition in another place.
-This is the first Budget of a Labor Government after the Australian Labor Party has been in Opposition for 23 years. Everyone knew that it would contain something revolutionary when compared with previous Budgets. The Budget totals $12, 1 68m, an increase of $ 1,938m, or 18.9 per cent, on that for the previous year. This is set out in the Budget. This Budget was introduced at a time when this country is enjoying possibly the greatest prosperity that it has seen. The Budget has done nothing damaging to that prosperity. This Government is assured of office for a long time if it continues to produce Budgets which have the result that this Budget has had. The Opposition has a responsibility to try to discredit it in some way but lacking the means, because of the figures and the results set out, we find that a scurrilous attitude has been adopted by it.
We just had Senator Webster pose questions to Senator Jessop for the purpose of assassinating the character of a particular Minister, the Minister for Minerals and Energy (Mr Connor). Whatever the Minister’s origin, he was a solicitor in Wollongong and is well known in the legal profession. Probably his capabilities are as high as those of any other person in either the New South Wales Parliament or the Federal Parliament. (Quorum formed). An attack was made on the Minister. Not only does he have academic qualifications far superior to those held by the people attacking him, but he has done more for the minerals industry in Australia than any previous Minister. He has done more for the Australian population because he is ensuring that minerals will be held for Australian industry. He is ensuring that we own and exploit our own heritage and not sell it out to overseas companies. He is ensuring that profitability in the coal mining industry increases by his insistence that our coal be sold at realistic prices when compared with those applying on world markets and not given away as it was before he became responsible for Australia’s minerals and energy. He is responsible for the building of a most efficient gas grid in Australia which, under the control of the Commonwealth Government, will ensure that every capital city can call upon any gas deposits which are developed anywhere in Australia.
– When do you reckon it will be finished?
– It will not be finished by the time the honourable senator leaves the Parliament. It will not be finished by June of next year. Although there has been some condemnation of the Victorian branch of the Liberal Party, I think it should be praised for giving preference on the ballot paper to one of its own members and rejecting members of the Country Party, which it has had to put up with in the past because of its affiliations. Not only have Opposition senators attempted to condemn the Minister for Minerals and Energy but also Senator Jessop has given as an authority for this condemnation an unnamed mythical character. Senator Jessop mentioned the recommendations of this authority, but in Senator Jessop ‘s mind there can be no greater reason for condemning the working man, his hours of work and the wages he receives than that he voted Labor. A man who has always voted Labor is put up as an authority on how we should control inflation in Australia. I suppose the Treasury should try to get the name of this individual who votes Labor for the purpose of advising Treasury on how it should control inflation in Australia.
The commodity of labour, which is the only commodity that the working man in our community has to offer, is under control. We have set up machinery for this purpose. It has the effect not only of controlling wages but also hours of work. Now because someone who has voted Labor in the past told Senator Jessop that there should be Government intervention to prevent working hours from being fixed, he has put this man up as an authority. How stupid can one get? How low can one get? Where is the criticism of the Budget in that? The Opposition’s criticism of this Budget is that the Labor Government has not carried out its policies. From time to time it is said that Mr Whitlam said such and such in his policy speech which he has not carried out. I do not think it was ever a possibility that the Labor Government could implement in its first Budget the whole of the policies contained in Mr Whitlam ‘s policy speech. Those policies were meant to be implemented over 3 years.
The Labor Government has acted more quickly and in a more determined manner than any previous government in carrying out the policies which it presented to the electors and which it was returned to power to carry out. Certain things were done even before a full Ministry was appointed. A 2-man Administration was set up- this was criticised by the Opposition- for the sole purpose of putting into effect policies for which we had a mandate and in relation to which legislation was not necessary. I refer to such things as relieving conscripts of their obligation to go to Vietnam, the withdrawal from Vietnam and the recognition of China. All of these things were achieved by regulation within the first fortnight of the Government coming to office.
During the last election Labor’s approach to the people was on the basis of stopping handouts being given to political friends throughout the community, and we have been criticised for doing this. It was our policy to improve the quality of life in Australia. It was a policy for people; it was not a policy for individuals or for industry. We pledged that we would give assistance where the need was greatest. We have that obligation because that is what we said in our election policy speech. The spoon feeding had to stop. We had to stop the payment of bounties to wealthy industries and wealthy companies. When we were returned to office we had an obligation to do that, and this Budget reflects that policy. The prophets of doom were saying what would happen if Labor came to power. The farmers who have been deprived of their subsidies are more prosperous today than they ever were when the subsidy was being paid to them.
A question asked by Senator O ‘Byrne this morning about an article in the financial section of the Melbourne ‘Herald’ last evening showed that industry is more profitable today. The economy is more buoyant today. Employment is more plentiful today than it was in the latter years of the Liberal Government’s administration. The unemployment situation was aggravated by the measures contained in the last Budget of the previous Government. Because unemployment was one of the areas where the need for action was greatest we were determined to solve the problem, and today we find that there are more job vacancies in Australia than there are people to fill them. Those people who are unfortunate enough not to be skilled or those who are unfortunate enough to have physical disabilities and unable to find secure employment are today receiving an unemployment benefit which allows them to live a decent life. Of course, the Labor Government does not have the easy remedy for inflation that the Opposition says it has. I have always had an admiration for Treasury because of the way in which it rectifies the evils in the economy by budgetary measures. Every time there was a threat of inflation- it is a world wide problem- during the administration of the previous Government it brought down a mini-budget, a horror budget, for the purpose of creating a pool of unemployed who did not receive sufficient sustenance.
– That was never the purpose.
– It was the purpose. Whenever there is a demand for the commodity of labour none of the rights of those who supply it should be taken away from them. We have seen the unemployment crisis occur and re-occur in Australia. The previous Government eased the inflationary problems in Australia at the expense of human beings. Further profits were paid to political friends but the poor labourer on the job who Senator Jessop now wants to work longer hours for less money was the one who paid in the past because of inflation. He and his family suffered as a result of inflation. When he returned to the work force he had to meet his hire purchase commitments. Now Senator Jessop is advancing the same solution on behalf of an authority higher than the Treasurer- someone who votes Labor. He advocates that the working man should pay in order to reduce inflation. He is the only member of the community who has some control over his labour power at the present time. There is no control at all over the profits that may be made from the sale of the product of that man’s labour power. Today we are told that price control is not the solution to the problem. It is agreed that it is not the solution but it is one of the measures which we can take for the purpose of attempting to find a solution to this problem. It is an alternative to asking the family and the individual to make a sacrifice. We have appealed for action to control prices. This is something that the States could do tomorrow, but there is a lack of desire by the States- other than the State of South Australia- to do anything about it. The States are carrying on the old traditions of giving benefits.
The first action of this Labor Government was taken for the purpose of meeting our commitment to develop a new quality of life which we promised and for which we have a mandate. This has to be financed from somewhere. We do not find the money to spend on the matters on which this Government has expended money and which I do not think have the endorsement of the Senate, simply by the Opposition’s voting for the benefits that we have granted under the Budget. We cannot do these things without getting the money to pay for them. In the amendment that has been moved by the Opposition there is no condemnation of the Budget. There is a condemnation only of some of the reductions that we have made, some of the limitations we have placed on finance, or some of the subsidies that we have withdrawn. The motion which we are debating now is the motion that the Senate take note of the papers, and the papers are those tabled by Senator Willesee. They are known as the Budget papers. It was not a motion for endorsement. Voting for the motion does not indicate endorsement, although the motion has been used as a vehicle for discussing the Budget.
Rather than using this motion as a vehicle for condemning the Budget and voting either for or against it, the Opposition has seen fit to make political capital by moving an amendment, which reads:
At end of motion add, ‘but the Senate is of the opinion that the Government has failed to honour its election promises in respect of defence, per capita grants to independent schools, pensioners, company taxation, the revision of taxation burdens, the home owner, its claim to come to government with malice towards none and its subsequent unfair discrimination against the rural community and its disregard of inflationary pressures and that this budget therefore deserves condemnation in the Senate as the budget of a government that has exposed itself as a government of double standards*.
That is all political jargon. There is no meaning in any of the words. The Opposition has accused Labor of breaking promises, but its accusation relates not to something we have given but to something we have taken away. Let us look at what Labor has done, as set out in the Budget. It is recognised that handouts and benefits have been granted. As I have said, this has been supported. This has been done with the knowledge that we had to give where the need was the greatest, and the need was the greatest in the areas of big population, in the clustered communities which are to be found in the cities of Sydney and Melbourne. It is regrettable that in directions. (Quorum formed.)
– Order! Before the Senate resumes its business, I inform honourable senators that this is the second time the Senate has lapsed for want of a quorum in the last half an hour. It is the responsibility of honourable senators to be in their places, but it is the primary responsibility of the Whip on the Government side to see that he keeps the House. I look to the
Whip on the Government side to keep the House. I do not want to see any more quorums called in this chamber.
-Mr President, I seek leave to make a statement.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I think most honourable senators are aware that the Senate has taken upon itself the responsibility of carrying out committee work. Many honourable senators on this side of the chamber are loaded up with work and they are taking whatever opportunities they can to do preparatory work, to hold sub-committee meetings and the like. It is becoming extremely difficult to continue the normal practice of keeping all honourable senators in the chamber at the same time. Your ruling, Sir, means that at least 2 1 senators on the Government side will have to be in the chamber at all times. Under the present setup in the Senate, it will be extremely difficult to carry out that ruling. The Senate cannot function unless it receives some co-operation from all senators. I notice that after the long ringing of the bells there are 7 Opposition senators helping to keep the House.
- Mr President, on a point of order -
– Order! Senator O ‘Byrne asked for leave to make a statement.
– Is he entitled to be provocative, because I tell him straight out that he is leading into a debate.
– I conclude by saying that if the Opposition wishes to play it hard other things will have to suffer. I ask for a little temperance and co-operation from the Opposition. I think that if this happens the Senate can continue to get on with its work as it is expected to do.
-I seek leave to make a statement.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– It is I think the concern of the whole Senate that there should be present in the chamber when a debate is taking place a significant number of senators. The Standing Orders provide for a quorum of twenty. But I am quite sure that if there are 15, 16, 20 or 25 persons present this gives no concern to anybody because it does represent an adequate number to give attention to the debates that are taking place. This is the way in which the Opposition has viewed this matter. I only want to say that this morning 2 quorums have been called and on the occasion of the last quorum I think there was one Government senator sitting behind the Minister for Works (Senator Cavanagh) who was speaking at the time. I might add that there were a great number more- I cannot give the exact number- Opposition senators present.
We believe that there is an obligation primarily on the Government to maintain a quorum. There is equally an obligation upon the Opposition to ensure that a number of its persons are present when a debate is taking place. But we reject the imputation in what was said by Senator O ‘Byrne. The Government certainly has an obligation to maintain the chamber and to ensure at all times that there are Government senators in the chamber, not as has happened this morning when there were one or two senators sitting behind the Minister for Works.
-I seek leave to make a statement.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I appreciate the point that has been made that the Government is responsible for maintaining a quorum. I accept the right of the Opposition to attract attention to the state of the House as a tactic to force Government senators who are outside the chamber to be present in the chamber. It is unfortunate that we are not aware of the position of the chamber at a particular time when we are away from the chamber. We are not in a position to know this. I think it is unfortunate that the Opposition should use this tactic because it is one which stirs tempers and leads to all sorts of recriminatory actions.
– What a shocking memory you have.
-I indicate to the honourable senator that we did on occasions use the tactic that was used by the Opposition this morning.
– Full of double standards.
-I believe that it has been made fairly clear at the present time that our Whip is responsible for advising us of the state of the House when we are in a variety of places. Might I say that sometimes we could be in a place which is on the other side of this building. But the Government Whip is now responsible for reminding us of the state of the chamber. I think that we will accept that responsibility. But I suggest to honourable senators that we have taken on a large work load. Honourable senators can argue as much as they like about whether the work load is too great. I think it is too great. The President has pointed out that staff members and others also are under an excessive work load. They have to work longer hours, more days and service more committees. I think it is a little outrageous for the Opposition to be calling quorums in these circumstances and dragging us from work for which we consider we are responsible.
– What about when we were in Government? We had the same situation.
– If the honourable senator wishes, he can take that attitude. I am suggesting that the Whips get together on this matter. It is unfortunate that it was the Opposition Whip who called the first quorum. If the Opposition Whip had felt so strongly on this he should have seen our Whip and said: ‘Look, it is not workable. We are going to be forced to call a quorum’. As Senator O ‘Byrne said, if Opposition senators want to play it hard so early in the piece, hard we will play it and our tempers will get very short in the very early hours of the morning. Senator Marriott may laugh. But we will meet the Opposition word for word and challenge for challenge.
-I seek leave to make a short statement in relation to the statement made by you, Mr President.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
- Mr President, I recall you saying that it was the responsibility of the Whips to see that honourable senators were in their places. I was in the chamber when Senator Young, the Opposition Whip, called the first quorum. I was in the chamber from the time the Senate met this morning at 9.59 a.m. until I left the chamber a few moments before the second quorum was called. I want to state that Senator Young immediately after calling the first quorum left the chamber and did not return to the chamber right up until the time that the second quorum was called. I think that Senator Young is playing the game a bit hard. He knows quite well that we have a lot of work to do in Senate and Caucus committees. I think that he ought to be a little fair in what he is doing and let honourable senators do their work.
– I think this matter has been discussed adequately. I remind honourable senators that during the time of a previous Government I also drew the attention of honourable senators to the matter of a quorum and I directed the then Government Whip to see that a quorum was provided. There are 2 matters on which there seem to be some misconceptions. One is that committees, whether they are ad hoc committees or committees of the Senate, are not the place where the business of the Parliament is conducted. The business is conducted in this chamber. It is the function and responsibility of honourable senators to be in their place. That is why they are senators. The second matter is that it is part of the practice of the Senate to regard the Government Whip as being responsible for the maintenance of the Senate so that it will not be counted out. I suggest, though, that the Whips, having, I understand, re-formed a union, might put their heads together on this matter. I think this matter has been adequately ventilated and discussed and that the Senate should resume its business. I call Senator Cavanagh.
– I did not ask for leave to make a statement on the calling of the quorums because one is permitted unlimited rights to rove over various questions when speaking to the Budget and I will take the opportunity now to say one or two words on this subject. I suppose that during the period we were the Opposition I would have acted in the way that Senator Young and Senator Laucke acted today in calling quorums. If I had had then the cooperation that they have now I would have organised our side better to ensure, as they did, that our senators did not come into the chamber when a quorum was being formed and thereby forced the Government at that time to form the quorum. I am not condemning them for using that tactic. I recognise that the Government has an obligation to maintain a quorum. I support the principle that it is the duty of honourable senators to be in the Senate. But I think that the proposition has been put validly that there is too much pressure being placed upon honourable senators. I have maintained all along that we are sacrificing the Senate for the purpose of developing committees which to my mind do not seem to be doing much good. Because of committee work honourable senators are not able to carry out much of their present responsibilities. What will happen if honourable senators opposite insist that a quorum of this chamber is maintained at all times? Although a quorum will be maintained a lot of other initiatives of this organisation will be unable to operate and will be destroyed. However, this will be one of the decisions which will have to be made in the future.
I was saying when I was interrupted that the Government has a mandate to distribute the wealth of Australia where the need is the greatest. The Government has a mandate to carry out the goals and aspirations of the people of Australia to change this society into one in which the quality of life counts for more than any other consideration such as commerce and industry. The needs are the greatest among the aged, the sick, the unemployed, the city dwellers, the educationally starved and those who are battling on pensions and from invalidity. What has this Government done? It has been said that we have greatly boosted education. The fact is that the vote for education this year is $843m which is an increase of $404m or 92 per cent over that of last year. This has been the claim of educationists throughout Australia. Education is the most essential requirement in this day and age for our growing community. It is a requirement for which provision has never been made until committees of inquiry were appointed and the Government was prepared to finance it. Senator Carrick tried to belittle this amount by saying that it was supplemented by $ 144.6m which will be taken from the grant to the States. This amount will not be given to them. That is a method of financing. That was the subsidy which we were giving towards education.
If one takes away the amount of $144m the amount granted is still higher than that previously given to education. This gets over the restrictions which were placed on education before. By distributing $843m we are removing the impossibility of the less privileged child in our community to receive the same education as children who went to category A schools and to higher schools. We have reached the stage where we have the goal of producing a certain standard of education by 1988. Why should we finance those schools which already have a standard which is higher than the standard we expect to create by 1988? To delay the period when the less privileged school will reach that standard is unfair to the less privileged scholar in our society. This was an area where the need was greatest and the situation had to be rectified. There is no breach of promise in this. We will effect grants. We have doubled the grant to education and to independent schools. We have greatly increased the grants to Catholic schools throughout Australia.
The Commonwealth has accepted financial responsibility for all tertiary education. We can no longer leave it to the States which have to place quotas and charge for tertiary education. Not only will tertiary education be free to those children who can receive it but also they will, subject to a means test, be granted a living allowance. This will assist the child who had to terminate his education at the tertiary level because of the inability of his parents to keep him at school because of his inability to exist on the pocket money which the parents could afford. Children will now receive a living allowance for the purpose of attending school. This will give a right to the children of the lower marginal worker to attend school. They did not have this right before. A $10m unmatched grant will be given to the States for the building and equipment costs of technical schools and colleges. Also $304 per annum will be given to low income families to educate children in the last 2 years of secondary school. This is the period when in most cases under the State education system the compulsory school age ends. Many brilliant scholars at school when the compulsory age was reached had to terminate their studies in order to supplement the family income. This will not be the position in future. This is where the need is and this is where the Government has allocated its money.
Does anyone condemn the grants which we have given to education and our method of allocation? During the life of this Government there has been no opposition to the grants which it has given to education.
Everyone knows that in relation to health we are pledged to see that in times of adversity, distress and sickness the best medical attention can be obtained no matter what income the patient receives. There will be free hospitalisation, doctor and medical care. The proposed health scheme will come into operation in July next year. It will be the subject of legislation which is to be introduced into this Parliament. I shall leave this subject to other Ministers. How far did we go in our promise on social services? We promised the pensioners an increase every 6 months of $1.50 a week until such time as we brought the pension up to a quarter of the average Australian wage. When the pension reaches a quarter of the average wage the standard of living for pensioners without other sources of income will be the highest it has ever been in Australia. Pensioners have never received a pension equal to one-quarter of the average wage. An increase of $1.50 was given to pensioners in the Budget in accordance with our promise. The Budget specifically promised that in the autumn session there will be another increase of $1.50 and more if necessary to catch up this lag and to bring the pension up to a quarter of average weekly earnings. An increase of 50c has been provided for dependent children. Of course all repatriation benefits have gone up accordingly.
The tuberculosis benefit has gone up and for the first time we do not have a class A, class B and class C widow. There is one pension rate throughout Australia. If the pensioner has no other income she will simply receive the rate recognised as the social service benefit. We will pay $ 10 a week to children where neither parent is alive. A payment has never been made before. It was the responsibility of the State or of some relative to keep such children. On many occasions such children were neglected and were the responsibility of organisations which exist for such purposes. In accordance with our promise to abolish the means test within 3 years the Budget makes provision for no means test over the age of 75 years. A retired politician who retires on a pension at such an age now will receive the social service pension as well as his parliamentary superannuation.
- Senator Webster will not qualify.
Senator CAVANAGH No, I do not think he has been here long enough to qualify for a pension. By the time Senator Webster reaches 75 years of age- if society is good enough to permit him to survive to that age- he will qualify despite the wealth he may have in Victoria in the form of investments, I believe, in timber, etc As I said, the means test is to be abolished over the age of 75. Next year it will be abolished over the age of 70 years, and, in accordance with that promise, in the third year no means test will apply at the age of 65 years. We have increased the subsidy for the home care service from one-half to twothirds in the various States. The subsidy to senior citizens centres will be increased to $2 for every $1 donated or made available by the States or local government. The Government has decided to increase the basic rate of subsidy paid to Meals on Wheels organisations. It has also decided to increase the rate of subsidy to eligible organisations providing personal care services for the aged in approved hostels from $ 10 to $ 12 a week. It has doubled the handicapped children’s benefit to $3. There would be very few needy sections in the community that the Government has not provided for in the Budget The Government has made a massive amount available for social service benefits in the areas of need. It has not been condemned by anyone for its actions in this respect.
I turn to the field of housing. It was stated during this week, I think, that the sum of $2 19m- an increase of 26 per cent- is to be made available for welfare housing. The Australian Labor Party took office at a time when there were 93,000 applicants for housing authority homes. People who were trying to bring up their families in one room and who were being exploited by landlords who were demanding high rentals of them as well as people who were living in shanties, huts and garages were among those who were applicants for housing authority homes. The number of homes available for rental in Australia was declining when the Government took office. This position had to be rectified. So the Government decided to make grants available to the States on the condition that they rectify the position by allocating accommodation according to need. This is perhaps one area in which a greater proportion of the amount made available has gone to Sydney and Melbourne than to other capital cities but there is a greater need in Sydney and Melbourne.
The Government has been condemned for not making interest payments on mortgages deductible for taxation purposes. It has been said that the Government has broken its promise in this respect. The Treasurer (Mr Crean) assured us in his Budget speech that a measure to bring this about will be introduced during the autumn session of the Parliament. The Government promised that it would introduce such a provision during the life of the Parliament. Because it has not been provided for in its first Budget the Government has been accused of breaking a promise. Honourable senators opposite should be reasonable in their attitude towards this matter. It would be better if they were to comment only when they had some valid criticism to offer.
Some of the benefits formerly available had to go in the Budget. Among those which had to go was the homes savings grant scheme, which is to terminate on 31 December 1976. Anyone who commenced to save under the scheme prior to December of last year will still qualify for the grant. No one who is entitled to it will be deprived of the benefit to be gained from a promise which the previous Government made. However, the homes savings grant scheme will no longer apply to those who commence saving now for the purchase of a home. Everyone knows that I have condemned the scheme from its inception. It is a most unfair system of subsidisation. It has resulted mainly in saving builders from going bankrupt rather than in increasing the number of homes being built in Australia. While this grant was being made available as an encouragement for the building of homes in Australia the list of those whose circumstances did not permit them to invest in a home was continuing to grow. The previous Government had a responsibility to house those people but it neglected them. It should have been making more homes available for rental. The Government has made available $2 19m at the lowest rate of interest on record- 4 per cent. One of the conditions it is insisting upon is that the State governments make an effort to control land prices. We will do more for home ownership than was achieved by the introduction of the homes savings grant scheme.
While on the subject of the homes savings grant scheme, I wish to rectify a statement which appeared in the Press about what the Minister for Housing, Mr Les Johnson, said about the grant being spent on other than the purchase of a home. I do not know what the Minister for Housing in fact said. Because of my concern about the matter, I read up on the debate on the introduction of the homes savings grant scheme. The grant was never meant to be one that had to be invested in a home; it was one that was designed to encourage long term saving. It was a grant which was designed to make money available for housing. Those were the 2 reasons for the introduction of the homes savings grant scheme.
On many occasions a contract for the purchase of a home was arranged before a person knew whether he would be eligible for a grant under the scheme. The grant was a payment which was made often after a contract had been entered into. Once a person complied with the conditions and had arranged the necessary finance for the purchase of a house it was not legally or morally binding upon him to spend it on his house; he could spend it in whatever way he liked when he received the money. The homes savings grant scheme was introduced to create a reserve of money for home construction. The embarrassing situation has arisen today where the amount of money available for homes is in excess of the labour and materials available to build them. The encouragement of long term saving has obviously been successful because of the level of savings bank deposits throughout Australia.
The Government is to make available to the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory an amount of $38.6m for housing, which represents an increase of 40 per cent on the amount available during the previous year. Possibly the most revolutionary step the Government has taken has been the setting up of the Cities Commission. It is to make available $ 136m this year for the development of new cities in Australia. After only 9 months in office the
Government is in the process of planning completely new cities in Australia. Perhaps the greatest need in Australia today is to be rid of the degradation, hardship and suffering caused by overcrowding in the main capital cities. To overcome this problem we will have to establish and develop planned cities in less populated areas. In order to attract people to these cities we will have to attract industry to them. It will be possibly the largest venture ever undertaken by a government in the history of Australia. The Government has made provision for the planning of such cities.
In parts of our capital cities which have been occupied for up to 100 years there are properties which are still without sewerage. The Government will make $30m available this year for the provision of sewerage services in those areas where the need for them is greatest. This amount is to be distributed among the States according to an agreed formula. Surprisingly enough the State which has the largest proportion of homes without sewerage services is Western Australia. It will benefit from this provision.
The Government is concerned about the welfare of the people. It intends to provide $3.2m for community recreation complexes. I point out to Senator Jessop, who spoke about the hostility of South Australians towards the manner in which they have been deprived of any additional benefits by the Budget, that 2 community recreation complexes already have been developed at Angle Park and Thebarton. Because of this provision there will be more.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– Before the suspension of the sitting I had itemised some of the benefits in this Budget. I had pointed out that nobody disagrees with the benefits that have been proposed. Everybody is satisfied with them. I did not mention, however, that the Government is also looking after the youth of Australia and trying to get their activities organised in more fruitful sports and occupations. The Commonwealth national fitness donation, previously $600,000, has been increased to Sim. We are also giving Sim in support of representation at sporting events overseas. Australia will not now lack representation at those events because of the inability of sporting bodies to finance representation as has happened in the past. As far as parks are concerned, we have granted the sum of $3m. We have also granted a $2 for $1 subsidy for the upgrading of urban transport.
All this represents a remarkable commencement to our plan to put into operation the whole of Labor’s election policy. There has been a great deal of criticism that Labor is in breach of its promises because it has not done this or that. The action which the Government has started to take to which I have just referred shows that we have started to advance towards the goals and aspirations for the accomplishment of which we were elected. It is true that some people may no longer receive a benefit which they formerly received. This Government does not aim to finance the wealthy of Australia. Some 141 recommendations were contained in the report of the Coombs committee. We accepted very few of them. Everything in the nature of a subsidy will have to be re-examined in order to ensure that it does not represent a contribution from the poor taxpayer to the wealthy taxpayer. Subsidies such as those on butter fat or wheat give to the wealthy and deprive the poorer sections of the community.
What of the future? The Government is satisfied with the progress that it has made up to date despite the Labor man in South Australia, mentioned by Senator Jessop, who may not vote Labor again because we did not adopt his philosophy on inflation. The general quality of life of the Australian people has been enriched under the Labor Government much more than it has ever been enriched before. I think there is a general appreciation of that fact. I think that we need have no fears for the future and that this Government can look forward to continuing in office for as long as we were kept out of office in the past.
-The Minister for Works (Senator Cavanagh) who has just resumed his seat indicated to the Senate in his own words how in the past when he occupied this seat that I now occupy he used all forms of the Senate to try to frustrate and impede Government legislation. He did not have to tell honourable senators on this side of the Senate of his actions. But I can promise him that those are not the sorts of tactics that we will follow. I want to say to Senator Cavanagh that over the years we who were in government until last year always respected his fighting qualities. But for all his fighting qualities and for all his experience both inside and outside the Senate he failed to make an impression on us in defending the Budget today.
It was rather interesting to listen to Senator Cavanagh telling us why subsidies have been removed from many of the items from which this Budget removes them and trying to reconcile his explanation with that given by another rural representative in the Labor Party, Senator Primmer. He told us last night that in his view the people in the rural areas were very satisfied with this Budget. He then went on in support of his argument to read to us some comments made by someone in the dairying industry. I say that this Budget is a betrayal of all the aspirations to growth of the major rural industries. The assistance given in this Budget to rural industries has been cut back by record amounts. No account has been taken of the effect such pruning could have if there is a downturn in the rural economy. We heard Senator Cavanagh explain how in his view everything in the rural industries at the present time is perfect. But I want to remind the honourable senator that a few short years ago the Premier of Western Australia approached the then Prime Minister seeking further Commonwealth financial assistance for that State. He did this because a survey carried out in Western Australia at that time indicated that if the downward trend in regard to primary industry continued 3,000 farmers would walk off their farms.
– But they changed the government and changed the position.
Senator DRAKEBROCKMANGovernments do not change seasons, droughts and overseas prices. At the present time there is a world wide shortage of wheat and so prices are high. Thank God’, says the Government. Producers of wool are reaping some benefit after the last few years when they went through seasons of impoverishing prices. Stocks of wool all over the world had been used up and now there is a demand for it. With the production of wool down, prices have risen. This Government has been lucky that it has come to power at such a time so far at’ rural industries are concerned.
I want to say to the Government that I am not against giving benefits to sections of the community. But I remind it that firstly money has to be earned before it can be handed out as benefits. The industries which will earn the income are the mining industries, the rural industries and the manufacturing industries. Yet the Budget contains repressive provisions in regard to those 3 groups of income earning industries. For the reasons which I have just given, my Party supports the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Withers). I ask for leave to have that amendment incorporated in Hansard.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse)- Is leave granted?
– No. It is in Hansard already.
– I will adopt the same practice that the honourable senator has adopted and read it. I just wanted to save time.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Leave is not granted.
-The amendment which the Country Party is supporting states:
At end of motion add-
But the Senate is of the opinion that the Government has failed to honour its election promises in respect of defence, per capita grants to independent schools, pensioners, company taxation, the revision of taxation burdens, the home owner, its claim to come to government with malice towards none and its subsequent unfair discrimination against the rural community and its disregard of inflationary pressures and that this Budget therefore deserves condemnation in the Senate as the Budget of a government that has exposed itself as a government of double standards’.
The Budget has made a mockery of the Government’s professed concern for decentralisation by its increase in transport costs. It has become obvious, from the small type in the Budget, that it contains many provisions which were not apparent at first. This is one of the reasons why I, my Party and people generally have become concerned. Because of that concern I looked at some of the Budgets which had been presented previously and at some of the Budget debates. I was very interested to find some remarks on a previous Budget by Senator Murphy who was then Leader of the Opposition in the Senate who is now the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Because they so aptly fit this situation I shall quote them for the Senate. I quote from page 256 of Hansard of 26 August 1 970. Senator Murphy said:
My Party has decided to do whatever it can to drive this Government from office. Any government guilty of this Budget is not entitled to hold office.
What words could be more apt at present? Senator Murphy continued with something else which I think is very apt at present. He said:
This is a convenient time to have an election. An election now for the House of Representatives, even with only the normal half of the Senate due for election before July next, would bring the 2 Houses back into gear and avoid the burden of so many Federal elections.
I do not think that we could disagree with that statement. Then he said:
If the Government is confident that the people approve its Budget policies and its performance in other fields, it will not hesitate to accept this challenge by the Australian Labor Party.
I would substitute ‘Australian Opposition’ for Australian Labor Party’. They were very apt words. He continued:
The shock of this Budget was so great that its provisions have percolated through to our citizens more than any Budget of recent times.
I am sure that Government senators would not disagree with that statement. It is rather apt that the Leader of the Government should have made those remarks which so aptly fit this occasion.
I wish to place on record some views that I and my Party have about the Budget. After its introduction into this place and after having listened to some of the speeches made by Government members, I believe that we are debating what is virtually an interim Budget. By that I mean that the Government will not be able to continue to ignore the concert of pleas for a lead in the attack on inflation which is this country’s biggest single problem. With inflation running so high and rapidly growing worse, the Government will have to impose further monetary measures. Because the passing of time only accentuates serious maladies, these measures will have to be tough. In the light of Sunday’s announcement by the Prime Minister, I would say that the first of the axes has fallen. Given the information that Australians are to be caught in a mammoth credit squeeze, we now know that the Budget was a huge confidence trick.
The editorial in the ‘Australian’ on Monday summed up the position very aptly with this sentence:
Last night the country got the bill for the Labor Budget.
What the Budget did was to give effect to some- I repeat some- of Labor’s pre-election promises. Senator Cavanagh, during the course of his speech, said that the Government could not implement all its policy promises. It also broke some promises. What the Budget did not spell out was that Australians would have to pay promptly and dearly for the promised measures to be produced. On Sunday the Prime Minister said that inflation must be fought on all fronts, that there was no panacea and no simple solution and that inflation had to be tackled head on. If he intended to wage the fight on all fronts I would congratulate him, but the Government’s actions or inactions prove that the Prime Minister was uttering empty words. If the Government intended to fight inflation on all fronts it would do 2 other things. Firstly it would cut its own expenditure. Secondly it would face up to the fact that the control of incomes is an essential ingredient in the control of inflation. What we are getting is a patchwork deal, with the emphasis on hope, and fingers crossed that the new measures will prove to be anti-inflationary. I venture to say that it is much more likely that inflation will continue with no discernible reduction in living costs and with the imposition of further hardships particularly on younger home seekers and on people engaged in our mining and agricultural industries.
The absence of anti-inflationary policies was not, by a long shot, the only major fault in this year’s Budget. I am deeply concerned about the serious erosion of Australia’s defence capabilities and the betrayal of the people in the rural industries. The Minister’s announcement of a cut in defence expenditure in terms of its relationship to the gross national product blatantly broke a pre-election promise and placed the security of Australia in jeopardy. The Labor Party has been crowing from one end of Australia to the other that its election victory last December gave it a mandate to do just about everything one can conceive. That, of course, is a ridiculous claim. But in whatever areas the Government may genuinely claim a mandate, it certainly was not given a licence to break promises and this, I am sure, it will discover to its own cost. Labor made a crystal clear promise during the election that it would maintain defence expenditure at between 3.2 per cent and 3.5 per cent of the gross national product. Within a few months that promise has been flippantly shrugged aside and we have learned that the percentage will be reduced to 2.9 per cent. The Government can be certain that the people of Australia are taking careful note and registering their disgust not only at this broken promise but also at two or three others equally blatant.
Any government which downgrades defence priorities is courting trouble. Defence requirements should not be assessed in terms of immediate threat from within or without or in terms of the apparent absence of immediate threat. This Government has said that it cannot see a major threat to Australia in the next 15 years. I am sure we all wish that the international situation was such that every country could opt for token defences on the same premise. Very few can. The majority wisely heed the bitter lessons of the past. I would be foolish for me to challenge any person in this Senate to rise and predict that Australia will never face a military threat. Surely none would make such a claim. But I confess that I wondered whether I should do so when I first saw what was to be done to our defence establishment by the Labor Government. The proposed sweeping cuts leave me no option but to conclude that they were blueprinted by a government which does not envisage that this country will ever come under threat or which underestimates or ignores the need to stand adequately based for an emergency. I wish I could say that the rest of the world, in the light of the Government’s announcement, sees Australia as a nation wisely tuning down for prolonged world peace. Of course, I cannot. I believe that most countries will look upon us as a foolhardy country making itself more vulnerable and taking unnecessary chances with the destinies of its future generations.
In his statement to the Parliament, the Minister for Defence (Mr Barnard) said that the nation’s security was the Government’s first responsibility and that Labor policy called for a strong and valid defence capability which would demonstrate beyond all doubt the nation’s intention to defend itself and its vital interests; there could be no neglect of defence. He also said it was necessary to assess not only the immediate situation but also the likely situation in the future. I am amazed that after thus outlining the Government’s defence philosophy, the Minister went on to devote pages to explaining why he considers there is no threat to Australia. And I was stunned by the penny-pinching reductions he then announced in an area he so rightly refers to as the nation’s first responsibility. The Government cannot have it both ways. If it believes that defence is its first responsibility then no volume of argument can save it from the charge that to reduce savagely expenditure on defence equipment and manpower is a contradiction of the principles it purports to hold and follow.
As I have said, our defence expenditure as a percentage of the gross national product is proposed to be 2.9 per cent. This will be among the lowest of any country in the South East Asian region. The latest figures I have show that of South East Asian countries in 1971, only Indonesia 2.2 per cent, Japan 0.7 per cent, New Zealand 1.7 per cent and the Philippines 1.8 per cent, have a smaller defence to gross national product percentage than ours will be. It must be remembered when comparing those figures that Australia has a much longer coastline than any other country in the area and therefore has to spread its defences wider at greater cost to gain even reasonably adequate security. I quote again from the Minister’s statement:
The modern situation requires Australia to be more selfreliant than in the past, and this is very much in accord with this Government’s view of our independent national status. We must have forces in being for surveillance and patrol of the environs of this continent.
The Minister said also:
Above all, it will be important to maintain in being sufficient skills and capabilities to allow timely expansion of the forces, should this again become necessary.
I would have thought these were statements to be uttered by a Minister or a government seeking to justify a buildup of defence facilities. But what follows? Deferment of programs for new ships and aircraft, abandonment of one squadron of Mirage aircraft, a reduction of 2,300 or 3.2 per cent in service manpower and so on.
I do not think we have felt anywhere near the effects of this. Here I refer to my question yesterday to Senator Bishop as Minister representing the Minister for Defence, in regard to future workload at the Commonwealth Aircraft Factories, and I am sure this is going to be a great problem to the Government in the months ahead. The effects will run right through the Services. They will manifest themselves in reduced Service morale, resignations of highly-trained long-term officers who will see a brighter future outside the Services, recruitment problems because of the eroded incentive to join the Navy, Army or the Air Force, reduction of civilian employment opportunities, and the loss to the economy of country cities and towns where Services installations exist. The new defence decisions do this Government great discredit. They are an insult to the previous Government. They betray the people of Australia and reflect the extent of the danger of the left wing influence within the Labor Party.
– That is offensive. There are many good soldiers on this side of the chamber, you know.
-I am criticising the Budget as a whole. As much as I welcome the increased benefits it provides, particularly in the social welfare and education fields, I deplore the imbalance of the total measures. It is true to Labor form that Australia’s rural industries have been victimised in this Budget- at a time when many of the industries were getting back on their feet after a crippling series of setbacks. There is no sympathy for the primary producer in this Government, just as there was none when Labor last governed. It is estimated that loss of concessions, reduction in subsidies and bounties, and imposition of new levies and charges will cost primary producers close to $150m, at a time when rural indebtednessneither of the previous speakers I referred to said anything about this- stands at more than $2,000m. Is it any wonder that country people are bitter at their lot and disgusted with many of the policies of the city-based Labor Party. I do not propose at this stage to debate these new hardships at length but I do register a strong protest on behalf of the people in Australia’s rural areas. How can the country dweller think other than that he has been betrayed by this Government? He is to pay over 500 per cent more to receive his local newspaper through the post. His petrol bill will not only rise steeply but he will pay more for fuel in relation to city motorists than he did before. He will pay considerably more for his telephone and his air fares to the city, and he is discouraged from investing in new plant for his farm or factory.
Australia should be taking steps to encourage production not only for her own needs but the needs of the world. But this Government’s endeavours, so far as the agricultural industries are concerned, are taking us in the reverse direction. Actions taken on capital expenditure, the investment allowance and the accelerated depreciation provisions will stifle the new investment that is so urgently needed in agriculture and agricultural machinery. There is good reason to believe that rural industry will continue to lose Government benefits under Labor. Apart from the Budget slugs, the Coombs task force believes the following concessions and assistance should be reduced, withdrawn or phased out. Cattle tick control and research; dried vine fruits stabilisation; freight subsidy on breeding stock to the Northern Territory; special rural research grants; superphosphate transport subsidy to the Northern Territory; wool deficiency payments scheme; wool marketing assistance; wool objective measurement research; national water resources development program; investigation of potential irrigable land in the Northern Territory sector of the Ord River scheme; Namoi Weir project; brigalow land development scheme; softwood forestry program; averaging for income tax purposes; estate duty concessions; and indefinite carry-forward or primary producers’ losses for tax purposes.
I want to touch briefly on the Government’s new postal and telephone charges. The Labor Government, in typical anti-country fashion, obviously set out to squeeze more money from rural dwellers without regard for the particular difficulties and disabilities associated with living in the remote areas. Earlier this year the Prime Minister announced the appointment of a royal commission to inquire into the Australian Post Office and make recommendations to the Government. The commission naturally was not able to complete its task before the Budget was prepared, yet the Government chose to introduce, without the benefit of the Commission’s recommendations, wide-ranging increases in postal and telephone charges. This means that the Government was so frantic to tap every source of revenue that it deliberately usurped the royal commission’s responsibilities. The Labor Party, on that score alone, should be severely censured.
My concern is not only for those engaged in our great food producing industries, but also for the rnining industries. Minerals already are our greatest single export income earner, with the real extent of the national wealth from this source still to come. We as a nation stand to gain immeasurably by continuing to encourage mineral exploration. Yet this Government chooses to stifle the industries by withdrawing existing taxation exemptions from all gold mining profits and from 20 per cent of the profits from certain prescribed minerals. The result is that incentive is rapidly disappearing in what has been and should be a tremendously lucrative industry. The deep concern of the mining industry in Western Australia at this action was manifest in a mammoth protest meeting held at Kalgoorlie on 30 August. I quote from a report of this meeting published in one newspaper. It stated:
Kalgoorlie has taken the lead in the fight against the taxation measures in the Federal Budget that will bring prospectors big and small to their knees- to elimination. Already Kalgoorlie people have marched with banners. Prospectors, mining men, company men and shire leaders have met with the common bond of saving the industry and their towns.
Premier Tonkin said he was prepared to take the case to Canberra. Industry, local governing bodies and the State Government each pledged $1,000 for the case, to be prepared by Professor Alex Kerr. The document for Canberra promises to be one of the biggest cases prepared h: this state since the Jarrah-bound secession document was taken to the Privy Council in 1934.
That report needs no further comment from me. It speaks for itself. The good that the Budget does is more than offset by the bad- and the good will be eroded and the bad accentuated by its failure and subsequent feeble attempts to break the stranglehold of inflation. As a result of this Budget a number of Bills will be brought into this chamber. I will go into them in further detail at that time. I support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Withers).
– I wish to concentrate mainly on the section of the amendment dealing with the Opposition’s comments about the rural sector. The amendment states that in the Budget there is unfair discrimination against the rural sector, Before dealing in more detail with that subject I want to comment on one or two points made by Senator Drake-Brockman. Naturally, as the former Minister for Air in the previous
Government, he no doubt still retains considerable interest in the defence activities of this Government. He has given us the impression that the Australian nation has been left virtually defenceless. This, of course, is not true, as we all realise. My mind went back to one or two of the feats of his administration. Before he became Minister for Air the then Government made the historic decision to purchase the Fill aircraft. That happened just before the 1963 election and the decision was no more than an election gimmick. It was not a responsible decision but one which involved this country in an enormous expenditure which was unwarranted. This was not exactly an example of the sort of action which any responsible government would take.
It is quite out of place for the honourable senator to suggest that the defence efforts of this Government are inappropriate. He also made the comment that the Government’s spending ought to be reduced if the rate of inflation is to be reduced. It would interest me to know in what areas the honourable senator suggests we should reduce our expenditure. Should it be reduced in the field of health? Should it be in the field of education or social welfare or housing? Every government has to make its decisions and has to establish its priorities. Any government coming into power after 23 years is obliged to look at the whole structure of the economy. When in opposition we did not hesitate to make it clear to the Australian people that we intended to redirect those priorities and that we intended to concentrate in the areas which had been neglected for so many years. Is it reasonable to suggest that any government in its first year in office after 23 years in opposition- bear in mind that this is fundamental to the whole position- should spend as much as $843m on education, $36 lm on health, $2 1 9m on housing which is an increase of 26 per cent on the last Budget, undertake to implement the elimination of the means test for people over 65 years of age, introduce national superannuation and do a number of other things which benefit not only people who live in urban areas but also those in rural areas? The principal reason for adopting the approach that we have is that we want to benefit all Australians. We are not concerned with sectionalising the Australian community, which I am afraid has been so much the case in the past.
I want to concentrate my attention now on matters of rural interest. One of the most significant things that has happened in the Australian rural scene in the last 23 years has been the decline in the rural population. In 1950 31 per cent of Australians lived in non-urban areas,
which includes the country centres as well as the strictly rural areas. By 1971 that figure had declined to 14 per cent. So in the space of 20 years the rural population of Australia declined by one-half. This is not anything unusual; it is a world wide trend. Consistent with that decline in rural population has been an increase in productivity. Despite the policies pursued by the previous Government of giving fairly large handouts in the form of subsidies it was unable to arrest this trend.
I think the most significant thing contained in the Budget is the implementation of the Government’s policy of encouraging the establishment of growth centres outside the cities in order to create economic activity in rural areas. We will not maintain the present population in the nonurban areas if we imagine that it can be done purely in the area of rural production. It has not worked in the past. But I believe this Government is identifying the problem and doing something about it. The provision in the Budget of $33m for this purpose is designed to create opportunities in rural areas, especially for younger people, and to encourage other forms of activity so that the people living in rural areas are freed of this bondage whereby they are dependent on the rise and fall of rural fortunes. When one looks back over the last 20 years one cannot help but think of what might have been done with the very large sums of money expended in trying to stimulate growth in the areas not strictly concerned with rural activity. In my mind there is little doubt that if this money had been properly spent we would not have seen the tremendous decline in the rural population in Australia over those 20 years.
I would be the first to concede that the rain did not come as a result of the election of this Government. We came into power, of course, in the midst of a drought- something over which no government has control. I accept Senator DrakeBrockman ‘s comment that in that respect the rural community has been fortunate. I dare say to a large extent I have been fortunate in inheriting that situation. Also, world prices are good. But if a government intends to redirect its priorities so that they are different from those of the previous government in order to put into effect an objective which it has in mind, that objective being to create industries which are as self sufficient as possible, it has to take steps which almost certainly will be unpopular in some respects. But that should not deter a government from taking those steps. I am not under any illusions about the fact that some of the things which we have done may appear on the surface to be somewhat harsh. I will deal with a couple of the measures we have taken in more detail later, and we will see how harsh they have been.
But looking at the current situation, would this not be the best possible time for a redirection of resources in the rural sector in this country? I think few people would disagree with that suggestion. Although it is politically dangerous, I suppose it is a fairly simple matter to say to certain sections of the community the sorts of things they want to hear. Politically that is the easy way, but it is not so easy to take decisions which one knows will not be popular but which one believes, after proper consideration, in the long term will be of benefit not only to the people directly concerned but to the nation generally.
I do not want to dwell on the matter of defence, but it does bring to mind the fact that the subsidies which are alleged to have been taken from the rural community total something like $110m. It should be recalled that there was a period when the Australian primary producer was being denied markets to which otherwise he would have been entitled. I refer particularly to the Chinese market. But as a result of the policies of this Government that market has been reopened and now there are prospects for vastly expanded marketing in that country. The same situation will apply in other countries. It may be that Senator Drake-Brockman does not consider this to be significant but I think the Australian primary producer would consider it very significant that for 2 or 3 years he lost a market worth possibly $50m to $100m a year. Unfortunately he lost that market at a time when he badly needed it.
– That is not quite true and you know it.
-I think generally it is a pretty fair statement.
– That is not quite true.
-It may not be quite true. We would probably differ in our opinion as to the authenticity of what I said, but in general it is correct. Farm incomes in Australia for the year 1 972-73 will be at a record level.
– They will need to be to match the inflation.
-I think the honourable senator will find that farm incomes will increase by something like 4 or 5 times the rate at which inflation is increasing. According to the estimates of the Bureau of Agricultural Economics, the average net farm income for Australian primary producers for the year 1972-73 will be $9,500, which will be an increase of 65 per cent over the preceding year. This is a good thing because it is quite true that over the last 2 or 3 years the Australian farmer has had difficult times because prices have been down. But as I said earlier, it is very difficult for any government to have any influence over the world markets, although it can have some impact on them. It certainly cannot affect the weather. So to a large degree the matter is out of our hands on these important aspects of farming. But it also follows that if the Government is going to allocate part of the national resources to a particular section of the community it ought to do that with some purpose in mind. That should not be done simply with the intention of plugging holes here and there and playing up to particular groups. I think it would be fair to say that this has been the policy down the years insofar as the rural sector is concerned. It is very doubtful whether the average man on the land really wants it this way.
We saw, for example, the Government’s decision to phase out the dairy bounty, a decision which, of course, is contained in this Budget. It was the cause of a lot of criticism. In fact the dairy bounty was a most inequitable bounty. It was giving the most assistance to those who needed it least. I think it was Senator Cavanagh who so correctly said earlier in his contribution to this debate that it is our intention to redirect our resources to help those who in fact need the help most. Giving assistance to those who need it least has been the pattern throughout the years of Liberal-Country Party rule. During the course of his comments Senator Drake-Brockman nominated one or two areas of assistance that had been removed. One that comes to mind is our taking away of the subsidy on sea freights on phosphate for the Northern Territory. As a matter of interest, I inquired into that subsidy and found that in the last financial year there were 114 recipients of that bounty payment in the Northern Territory. Of those 1 14 recipients, ten were receiving 90 per cent of the bounty payments and the other 104 were receiving the remaining 10 per cent. This has been the pattern with all the subsidies which have been paid out by the former Government over the years. I would doubt very much whether Senator DrakeBrockman himself would defend that situation.
We are trying to break the traditional policy of giving most to those who have most. In respect of the dairy industry, which is important, we hope we will be able in the next 3 or 4 years to redirect finances which are being made available to the dairy industry in an effective way, which will not be the continuation of a scheme which even 13 years ago the McCarthy Committee recommended should be phased out. Last week I was looking at an article in the ‘Murray Goulburn News’, which I think is the official journal of the Murray Goulburn Co-operative Co. Ltd in Victoria. This article was written by the Chairman, Mr E. Curtis. He made some interesting comments.
-We had them all read last night.
-Well, I am just going to repeat them for Senator Webster because I think that if there is one person in this chamber who might have put up a better fight for what he is alleged to have represented over the years, it is Senator Webster. Mr Curtis said:
Let us be frank. The subsidy has been useful for most of us. In slim years it has put a little cream on the skim. Other times it has helped buy that replacement car.
He went on to refer to the fact that the subsidy was not giving to the dairy farmer value for what the community as a whole was required to pay out from revenue. So it is not just a matter of playing the role of Father Christmas with public money; it is a matter of looking purposefully at what you want to do with the money and to assist in those areas of the community where the money will have the biggest impact.
Reference was made earlier to the question of rural debt. Of course, it would be foolish to suggest that the rural community does not always five under the problems of debt repayments. It is not peculiar to the primary producer. I do not suppose even in this chamber there is anybody who does not have a debt around his neck. In fact, I would be surprised if the average urban dweller has a debt around his neck of less than $10,000, or perhaps $15,000. Debts are something which unfortunately most of us have to put up with during the whole of our lives. So it is not really a significant argument to single out the primary producer and say that he is carrying a debt which is proportionately any greater than that of his counterpart who lives in the urban areas.
– Your colleague tried to say that everything was rosy.
-I do not know about his saying that everything was rosy. He was pointing out- quite correctly, and I think Senator DrakeBrockman would agree with this-that at the present time there is a buoyancy in rural industries for many reasons. The fact is that it is there. I want to refer quickly to the question of rural debt. The 1972-73 edition of the ‘Quarterly Review of Agricultural Economies’, which is published by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics, refers to this question of debts and states:
The higher farm income is also tending to restore in farmers and in lending institutions confidence in the future of rural industry and consequently a greater willingness to borrow and to lend. As a result, during 1972-73 there is likely to be both increased repayment of existing debt and increased new lending.
TI his is the pattern with debts in the rural areas. When times are buoyant, the lending institutions are encouraged to lend and the farmer has the capacity to enter into lending arrangements. I know that Senator Wright has very strong views on this matter and no doubt he will express them during the course of his contribution. But that has been the pattern over the years and it should not be seen as something which concerns only the rural producer.
I want to wind up with one or two quick observations in generality. We, as a government, are endeavouring to give to all Australians the widest benefits that we can. We are not concerned with trying to please one sector at the expense of another sector. I reject completely the suggestion or statement in the amendment that this is a Budget which discriminates against the primary producer.
– What a lot of rubbish. What other sectors have you discriminated against? You should be ashamed of yourself as a Minister.
– If Senator Webster were so concerned about it he might be more active in his defence of the primary producer, because as a representative of the dairy industry in this place he would be about the weakest representative that it has. I suggest that he might show a little more concern for the dairy industry than he has shown over the last few weeks.
– The Government has been so bribed by the margarine industry that you would not know what to do.
– You are suggesting that I have been bribed by the margarine industry?
– He said ‘the Government’.
-I am glad he did not refer to me but I do not think it is quite right that he should be allowed to use the word ‘bribed’. However, it is not unusual for him to use such terms. It is sufficient to say that the Government’s intention is to create the viability in primary production that every farmer in Australia wants to see. I do not believe for one moment that Senator Drake-Brockman ‘s expression is correct- that there is in the community great antagonism against this Government. I have talked to many industry leaders and many farmers over the past few months. I am heartened by the comments which have been made to me that at last a Government is trying to bring about viability in rural industries which has not been attempted in years gone by. We will continue this policy because we believe in the long run that it is in the interests of the Australian community as well as the rural community.
– The Crean dreamtime Budget has the appearance of an academic exercise drawn up in an unreal situation. The Government has in my view brushed away the prospects of runaway inflation as being of little importance. Just 3 weeks after the Budget the Government has realised the dreamtime nature of its Budget. It has brought in stringent monetary measures which will make the producers lot a great deal more difficult. There will be higher interest rates, revaluation of the Australian dollar and credit restrictions. These will all hit industry. The Government is merely playing around at the fringes of the problem of runaway inflation. The Government will not recognise that increasing wage costs allied with low productivity are major factors in the inflationary scene- not the only ones but major factors. In its first year of office the Australian Labor Party has made, as I said yesterday, a complete hash of the economy. It has first allowed a tremendous boom to develop and in the Budget it has failed to make any attempt to bring the boom within control.
– What do you want to seeunemployment?
-Well, Senator, perhaps it would be better if you remained silent in your normal state of total ignorance. The Treasurer (Mr Crean) said in his Budget Speech that the Budget will not add to inflation. That is what he said last month obviously in a dreaming condition. The enormous rise in Government spending must occur at the expense of the private sector and for people in general this must mean a rise in interest rates. This is much the same thing as a tax rise; both mean less purchasing power in the pay packet. I am on record as having said much earlier than this that without any doubt one thing and possibly two, would happen in this governmental economic scene- a rise in interest rates and a rise in taxation. Every Australian is familiar with the evils of persistent inflation. We have no monopoly of concern, I am sure, in the community in regard to that. This is referred to quite casually by the Treasurer in his Budget
Speech. I think that Australians look for a lead from Government to cope with this problem. The action taken at the weekend, I suppose, was an attempt to cope with that problem. I think that I demonstrated yesterday that this was not much of an attempt. Last night I think that Caucus demonstrated its lack of confidence in the attempt.
The Australian people do not expect governments to ignore inflation or to welcome it as a solution to economic problems caused by a failure to face up to reality. Nothing has been done in this Budget or since to add to the more efficient use of resources. The Government in my view is involved in a conjuring trick. We have to control inflation. We all know that. We have offered to play our part. But we believe that the Budget does nothing to do this but only aggravates the problem. We believe that the Budget condones inflation. We believe that it is part of the Budget structure.
– What have you done, Senator?
-With a little patience and time I will seek to demonstrate my argument. I hope that I can do this validly and calmly. The honourable senator can later demonstrate his view if he thinks that what I have to say is not correct. This is the process of a Senate debate. We believe that the Budget brushes the fact of inflation under the carpet. It gives favours and it offers handouts which we believe will be shown to be, in the end, of little economic value. The Treasurer stated:
Despite competing demand for resources the whole thesis of the Government policies requires that there be some increase in the share of resources going to the public sector.
This is the fundamental fault in the whole Budget proposition- not that an increased share is wrong in itself in certain economic circumstances but that the Government will do it at the expense of the private sector. The Government will not admit this but I think that this is the truth of the situation. So I believe that with this Budget we are back in the days of what I call the unreal men- men who know what is best for us all and whose opinions and views cannot be questioned. These people are the big time spenders and in my judgment are out to dissipate the resources very carefully built up over a long period of time by a better style of operating in a market economy with a strong free enterprise emphasis.
– What resources?
-Goodness me, the honourable senator understands so little. We are going to witness a transfer of resources from the productive to the non-productive sectors of society. We are embarking upon a phase of declining living standards through time in real terms. It is the private sector- the free enterprise or market economy; call it what you will- or the productive sector in a mixed economy such as the Australian economy is that produces the growth and resources to spend on Government and social purposes.
Over the years in Australia we have seen the total proportion of resources that governments of all kinds- ours as well as yours- have appropriated for the purpose of governments rise to 32 per cent or nearly one-third. It is a well held view, and one that I certainly hold, that this is the top level and there would be merit in seeking to have the private sector do more as far as possible and the Government sector do less. Evidence has accumulated that the present Government intends to go well above this level and lift the proportion of resources allocated to government purposes to 40 per cent. I have stated in the Senate that I believe that this will prove to be a fundamental error. As the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) said, this is an expansionary Budget at a time when we are in boom conditions. Expansion is not the right treatment for an economy which is under resource pressure. The Leader of the Opposition has 2 very powerful allies for the view that he has given. Firstly, the Treasurer in his Budget Speech said:
With resources under strain, however, we would be foolish to overload them further.
Th e Australian Treasury, in its publication ‘The Australian Economy, 1973’ published in August 1973 stated:
Two observations stand out. The first is that prospects for exceptionally strong growth in output are bright. The second, pardy on account of the first, is that it will be difficult to prevent inflationary pressures from intensifying.
Another quotation from the same Treasury publication of August 1973 stated:
The Government is committed to a policy of far reaching expansion in the provision of public facilities and transfer payments in the fields of education, health, the cities and welfare generally. When such programs are proposed the question is often asked, ‘whence is the money coming from?’
The Treasury in the same publication furthered those observations by stating:
The present situation is no longer one of any appreciable underutilisation of resources and the question of ‘where is the money coming from ‘ takes on real significance. It is not really a question of money of course, but of man hours and capital installationsof real resources. The need for additional resources for greater relative expansion in certain parts of the public sector implies that these resources cannot be available for alternative uses elsewhere.
So I just draw to my side as a witness or guarantor of my view statements of the Australian Treasury which is responsible to the Treasurer. In connection with this latter paragraph of the Treasury’s publication I think it is relevant again to quote the Treasurer who, in his address to the Co-operative Federation of Australia in Canberra on 25 August 1973, said:
Real pressure on labour resources is now appearing. At an unemployment rate of 1.5 per cent of the work force we are at virually full employment and shortages of skilled workers have developed in a number of areas such as the building industry and steel and motor vehicle production.
The Treasurer should have a talk to his colleagues, the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) and the Minister for Labour (Mr Clyde Cameron), amongst others. Perhaps they might eat their words of just a little while ago. Perhaps the Minister for Labour and the Minister for Immigration (Mr Grassby) might be induced, as I think they are beginning to be induced, to let some more people in to help the steel industry. We all witnessed a fair torrent of abuse from Mr Clyde Cameron and Mr Grassby against people who thought that they might need some extra labour. Mr Crean has now quite clearly said that we are in a state of over-full employment with unemployment at the rate of 1.5 per cent.
It is a good thing to go back and read some of the observations that were made about last November. In my view the Budget is expansionary at a time when we do not need expansion. It is inflationary because it adds to demand pressures substantially through the acts of the Government. In short, many of the social aspirations and the transfer propositions of the Budget find some echo of sympathy in one’s heart but one would hope that these things could be achieved more sensibly and more rationally. There will not be enough resources to go around. Someone will have to go short. Inflation will take over and will erode the final result of social purpose transfer. At the Canberra meeting Mr Crean also said:
Inflation has been and remains our major economic problem.
TI ie Treasury in its Information Bulletin for the 6 months ending 3 1 December 1972 states that the rate of price increase was declining and had fallen to 4.6 per cent. The Australian record for inflation over a span of years amongst a group of developed countries showed a rate lower than the average. This fact is recorded by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. For those who doubt that authority, as Senator Murphy seems to do, I point out that I obtained these figures from the Treasury early this year.
That under this Government we are launched on an upward trend of inflation of substantial magnitude seems to me to be beyond doubt. The Budget has added to this upward trend. Governments of Australia have certain prime responsibilities. Senator Wriedt, who has responsibility for primary industry, endeavoured to assert that one must do unpopular things, that one cannot do what one likes. There are certain prime responsibilities. I suggest that among the leading responsibilities is the one to safeguard the currency and preserve its stability. This is a prime fact of economic and monetary responsibility. It is so important that the basic guideline laid down for the Reserve Bank, which has a clear instruction, can be read on the front cover of the Bank’s Annual Report. It states:
It is the duty of the Board, within the limits of its powers, to ensure that the monetary and banking policy of the Bank is directed to the greatest advantage of the people of Australia and that the powers of the Bank under this Act, the Banking Act 1959 and the regulations under that Act are exercised in such a manner as, in the opinion of the Board, will best contribute to the stability of the currency of Australia; the maintenance of full employment in Australia; and the economic prosperity and welfare of the people of Australia.
It is in the spirit of that guideline and instruction that I have always believed we should try to operate the economy of Australia. Perhaps the present Government should read that instruction again and see what it should be doing. I believe that the Treasurer in a previous Labor Administration whom I held in high regard, the late Ben Chifley- he was also Prime Minister- would probably have looked at this situation at the present time and wondered what was going on. He was a highly responsible Treasurer.
– I think the honourable senator ran against him once.
-I ran against him; I voted against him. I think that he would have been happy to support me if I had stayed around. As has been said, this is a spend now and pay later Budget. The pay later bit is already with us in the taxation increases in the Budget. This is in the face of the Labor election promise that this would not happen, that it would not be necessary, because of growth in Government revenue on a regressive taxation system with inflation. Now we can see what the Government means. It is going to finance by inflation. That is very clear. This is part of the structure and strategy of the Budget. In the process of doing this the Government must debase the currency. I say to honourable senators that this is a most irresponsible thing to do.
Popularity as Senator Wriedt tried to observe to us- I observe it to the Senate now- is not the name of the game for the Treasurer and the Treasury if they are to serve the people properly. Efficient management of resources is their concern. The Department of the Treasury, I imagine, must be quite unhappy at some of the remarks which have been made about it by some of the people now in this Government. I think Mr Clyde Cameron is on record as having made some very rude remarks about the Treasurythat it did not know what it was doing, or something of this kind. I thought to myself at the time that I would opt for the Treasury view and not the view of Mr Clyde Cameron.
I think that the current economic scene as we witnessed it until the weekend clearly indicated a great number of people running against what I would call traditional, wise, monetary, economic, bank and Treasury advice. I think that there has been a change over the weekend. It is the first change which I have seen but the Government has been going along for a long time in the other direction. Now let us look at the increase in government expenditure proposed by this Government and at the unreality of some of the calculations. Budget outlays, in total, are estimated to increase by $ 1,934m. I have seen some calculations which estimate that in the resource state of material and labour available in Australia the maximum amount by which it should be lifted was $800m. Therefore the difference of $1,1 34m must be inflationary. In due course, on a simple calculation, money will lose its value to this extent. It will adjust itself accordingly in an inflationary scene. The Government has opted- it must have opted on a similar set of calculations which I have been able to look at- for an inflationary rate of 1 0 per cent in order to make the books work as a sort of standard practice. That appears to be the adopted rate. Experience since that time and what has been happening recently indicate that the position may well become worse than that. It tends to have an overrun as I have observed before. I think that is axiomatic. The Government’s financing demonstrates an acceptable inflation rate of 10 per cent to make the amounts come together.
– To what rate would one assume from that that the interest rate will be raised?
– It would be very hard to say. The honourable senator is asking me to offer him a case which the Government will not offer. But if there is an inflation rate of 10 per cent in the society and if that is accepted, I do not see how one can get borrowers and lenders to operate except as a margin above that. But I can go no further. To refer again to the proposed increase of $ 1,934m in government expenditure, we find that offsetting this in upward charges in tax rates is a sum of only $339m. The balance of $ 1,595m will be achieved by inflation on the regressive tax scale. It is the thimble and pea trick with which we are all familiar; now we see it, now we do not. What we are really witnessing here- this is my view and my theoretical approach to this matter- is a great increase in expenditure which is only partially backed up by a real increase in revenue. The rest is coming from Government designed inflation. Here is the great illusion.
To make matters worse the private business, manufacturing and family sector has been under pressure and restraint. The intention is to depress that sector so that the Government can spend more. This would be non-productive expenditure at at time when the Australian scene was posted for a real chance to grow in both productive and living standards. There has been a dramatic change in the last year in what I call the terms of trade, that is, the relative value of primary and mineral products as against the relative value of manufactured goods. If ever there was a time to stimulate production and expansion in primary industry and the mining industry with a view to adding to living standards and to real resources for later and a better transfer to people of real value, this is the time.
The possibility of a dramatic change in the situation has been negated by what I might call the governmental hammering down of the primary, manufacturing and mining sectors. I put it to honourable senators, including those on the Government side, that what has happened in the Government’s economic rationale and Budget situation is that it has taken the wrong road. I ask honourable senators to consider the expansion of the Government itself. The previous Government had 27 departments. I have believed that it could well have had 2 1 or 22, which was the sort of situation we had in the time of Sir Robert Menzies. Nevertheless, after careful study, I think that government departments could reside at about 25. That is the kind of management responsibility and structural scene that is fit for the Commonwealth Government. But the situation is that instead of having 27 departments as we had we now have 37 departments- that is 10 new departments of State- 47 new boards and commissions and 10,000 more public servants have been appointed in the first 6 months of this Government. Many of them are quite highly priced. It is easier, better, more payable and more secure in Australia to work for the Government than to chance your arm and take the risk of working for yourself or in private enterprise to build something for yourself and your family and, in the process, build a bigger and better country. I have some published figures on the ratio of public servants to total population. They were given to me and therefore the source is one for which I cannot vouch. But this is what was said to me: The United Kingdom has one public servant for every 70 in the population. Canada has one in 33. Australia is said to have one in 1 1. One thing which we do know and at which we can look accurately is that people employed by governments today- this is in the total employed work force- number one in 3. So I suggest to the Senate that in this country we are becoming the new banana republic of the Pacific. I think it would have been clear to any observer of the Government that upon taking office it would fail in 3 areas- in managing the economic and monetary affairs of government; because of industrial unrest, industrial disputes and low productivity; and because of trouble with foreign relationships and trade partnerships. All of those things are happening. It is to the first that we are devoting our attention in this debate on the Budget.
– The honourable senator cannot accept the decision of the people.
-That is not true. I stood against Ben Chifley twice and was defeated. I accepted the people’s decision then. I stood for the Senate and was elected to it. I accepted that decision. The next time I stood I was again reelected. I accepted that decision, too. So I am happy about the decision of the people. Whether the people are happy with you is another thing altogether. The Budget and what happened in the 8 months that led up to its presentation indicate quite clearly that economic and managerial incompetence are now the order of the day.
– One cannot rectify 23 years of misrule in 6 months.
-It is possible to have more if people are prepared to pay more, otherwise in reality inflation will quickly rob them of anything they get for nothing. One can say that this is a Budget of broken promises.
– You ought to get a few indigestion pills because you have a sour stomach.
-Not really; nor do I have gout. Country people, smokers, drivers and those who enjoy a social drink are the ones who will have to pay for the welfare benefits that are due to be eroded shortly by the rate of inflation that has been set in train by the Government. There have been some broken promises- I think that can be fairly said- by both Mr Whitlam and Mr Crean. I assume honourable senators opposite are prepared to associate themselves with those two gentlemen.
I turn to the financing of the Australian Labor Party’s policies. Mr Whitlam, Mr Crean and their colleagues are on record as having promised that all Labor policies will be financed without an increase in taxation. They said that the tax rates would be restructured. What has happened in respect of taxation? There has been no reduction in income tax. Private company tax has been increased. There are to be additional imposts on petrol, diesel fuel, liquor, cigarettes and postal charges. Sales tax has been imposed on citrus and carbonated drinks. A limit has been imposed on the amount claimable as a taxation deduction in respect of water rates. What has happened to the pensioners? They have been given an increase of $ 1.50 a week, but it is being eroded at a dramatic rate by inflation. They will probably get no real value from the increase. Their pensions have become taxable.
What about the help to the home buyers? Interest rates are to be increased. Housing costs, land values and building costs have risen. The proposal that interest paid on mortgages be allowed as a taxation deduction has been deferred for one year. The homes savings grant scheme is to be phased out. What about the family concessions about which we have heard so much from the honourable senators opposite? They say that they love the family man and his children. They say that they are their people. There have been no tax cuts. No concessions have been granted. There have been no sales tax cuts. There has not been an increase in child endowment. What about industrial peace? We are experiencing one of the highest rates of industrial unrest that we have known for a long time. What about the defence promises? Labor promised to keep defence spending to between 3.2 per cent and 3.5 per cent of the gross national product. In reality it is 2.9 per cent. Labor implemented a 25 per cent across the board tariff cut despite its promises to consider tariff cuts industry by industry.
Things have been very difficult for honourable senators opposite because they have been caught up in a series of broken promises and misdeeds. If I were in the same position I would be as unhappy and would feel as uncomfortable as honourable senators opposite. The Labor Government has claimed that it will be responsible for a tremendous increase in expenditure on education. Most of this increase has been due to the transferring of the responsibility for education from the States to the Commonwealth. We do not regard our job in opposition as being simply to criticise the misdeeds of the Government. But I must point out that we did have a sound record when we were in office. Honourable senators opposite quarrelled with my observations about that at the time; I am now quarrelling with theirs about their own record. I believe that we did have a good record; honourable senators believe that we did not. That will be for the people to judge in due course. Senator Poke would like that to happen. So would I. It cannot happen soon enough for me. I think that the people have had the present Government, just as I have.
Let us query the popularly held view that this country is highly taxed. Some individuals and some companies in this country certainly are being highly taxed. I am awaiting the result of the inquiry by the Asprey Committee with some interest. Figures are available which demonstrate that Australia is not in fact one of the most highly taxed countries in the world but that it ranks at the lower end of the scale. Honourable senators opposite can look at them if they like. It has been claimed that at 28 per cent of the gross national product we are fifth lowest of a group of twenty. Other countries are higher than we are. To be fair it is true to say that Japan, Spain, Greece and Switzerland are lower than we are. I think honourable senators opposite will agree with me when I say- they will probably find themselves being persuaded to agree, despite their unease and discomfort- that inflation needs to be stopped. I would suggest that inflation helps the people who are fast on their feet. Honourable senators opposite protest that they are interested in seeing the galloping rate of inflation brought to a stop, but the candidate they are supporting for the Parramatta by-election has said that inflation is just a big joke. I heard him say it.
The Australian scene does have some areas that are particularly sensitive to inflation. We ought to admit and acknowledge that. They include the arbitration system and the way in which it works, the general shape of the economy, the federal system itself and the methods of demand management. I intend to deal with each of them individually. In dealing with them one must not ignore the effect on the economy of decisions to increase wages and decrease working hours without regard to productivity. It is not my purpose- it never has been- to ascribe blame for inflation to the area of wages or cost push alone.
That is not true. But it is certainly a very important part of the scene. It might well be what one could call the market leader.
– What did you do about it during the 23 years you were in office?
-The previous Government appeared before the industrial courts and tried to do something about it but the supporters of honourable senators opposite prevented it from doing too much about it. I wish to quote from a book written recently by F. A. Hayek, a former Professor of Economics at London University, which is not regarded as being an area for the training of right wing economists. The book is entitled ‘A Tiger by the Tail’. As I have said, London University is not an area for the training of right wing economics. In his book F. A. Hayek wrote:
While a mild degree of inflation is regarded as not too high a price for securing a high level of employment the fact that inflation achieves this result only if it accelerates means that sooner or later the other effects of inflation will cause increasing discontent and a growing dislocation of economic progress.
– Tell us about the famous Minister who said: ‘All the way with LBJ’.
– I listened very carefully to the honourable senator’s interjection because I thought that while I was in the Parliament there would be some sense come out of the mouth of Senator Poke. That has not happened. One welcomes as being constructive, wise and sensible the approach and offer of the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Snedden, on both the need for a prices-incomes policy for a period and his willingness to co-operate totally to make it work. The Government’s approach of concentrating only on the price aspect and of not having regard to what causes price rises demonstrates the unreality of its approach. The talk of price referendums to achieve price control demonstrates a failure to learn the lessons of history. Once again I wish to quote from the book written by Professor Hayek of the London University. He said:
It is probably no exaggeration to say that although open inflation that manifests itself in a rise in prices is a great evil it is less harmful than a repressed inflation, that is, an increase of money which does not lead to a rise of prices because price increases are effectively prohibited. Such repressed inflation makes the price mechanism wholly inoperative and leads to its progressive replacement by central direction of all economic activity.
Does anybody who takes time off earnestly to study this matter doubt that we are now being led up that path now- I believe by conscious design? Australia does have some problems in the management of its inflationary scene. These flow from the type of country it is and its size. It is a small economy and it is rather diverse. It does not have in manufacturing areas the benefits of economies of scale based upon a high production for high domestic market. There is a high external trade and we are at the vagaries of world pricing trends and demands. There are cost problems both because of remoteness from the rest of the world and because of our internal distance and geography. There is in some areas a low level of competition. Honourable senators can see that I am trying to be fair. We have a very high internal liquidity based upon expansion of the money supply.
Figures are available from the Parliamentary Research Service to any honourable senator which demonstrate that the increase in money supply has been aggravated extremely during the last 8 months. There is an excess of liquidity in the world at large. It is well above the level needed to finance international trade. Some of that excess liquidity is bound to wash up on Australia ‘s shores. It is a part of the economic problem of managing inflation. The overall matter of demand management- that is, the equating of the needs with the real resources available- in my view calls for an understanding and a method to be found of working the Federal system. I am not a believer in what I call a stand-off in government.
It may take me a little longer to express my views on this aspect. Honourable senators opposite do not have to remain and listen to them if they do not want to. In my view we have for too long talked about the solution of the Federal problem without doing anything about it.
At a seminar on this subject at the Australian National University in Canberra in 1971 I gave my views. They are public views and they will be published. I do not abandon them in the slightest degree. They are as real today as when I expressed them. At the same time, Mr Whitlam gave the view of the Australian Labor Party. I do not imagine that he abandons his views. So we have a difference of view as to how we approach this problem. I want to give the view that I expressed then in some detail. Honourable senators may find themselves in sympathy with it or they may not. If they do not, I shall not be upset. I still think that it is a good view.
The central proposition of the proposal that I made then and make now is that the proper management of the Federal system is critical to the future of the Australian people. Solutions should be of interest to the people as a whole and not to any one section of them. Fundamental to the belief that I held then and hold today is that a managed Federal system is the best for Australia and that a centralist socialist approach is not. I believe that we have now embarked on that latter approach by conscious design. I also refer honourable senators to one of the authorities that I then used. He said:
It is unlikely that the level of taxation acceptable to the electorate will even match their demands for public expenditure.
I added the view then, as I have now, that governments should try not to fool the people by promising them things for which there are no resources. Two points are very clear in the problem of Commonwealth-State relationships which must be mastered if we are to run the economy properly and retain inflation within any conscious bounds of responsibility. I refer to the interdependence of Australian governments, Commonwealth, State and local. They do not cover separate people. They deal with the same people. Competition will always be part of the scene between all levels of government for resources that are always too scarce to do all the things that governments want to do. I believe that governments should work together in a co-operative federalist style to achieve the best results for the Australian people. I suggested a method of doing this. I may say in fairness to the Government that not all of my colleagues agree with me. I do not mind. But I suggest a method of dealing with the problem that is pragmatic, realistic and which will work if we make a start on it.
Firstly, there must be a review of the total demand by governments of resources and there must be some attempt to establish a situation of priority and responsibility. One thing is clear in my mind: If governments insist totally on making bigger and bigger claims on resources year after year they will run the economy into trouble. The tendency of governments is for their resource demands to be pushed up progressively year by year. This is true of all governments. We operate under a federal system. I believe that despite the Australian Constitutional Convention we will continue to remain as one. We have a responsibility as the Parliament of Australia to sit down and make that system work and to stop just talking about doing this. I think that the way to do that is by co-operative federalism and not by coercion. I do not think that any one parliamentarian or parliament is all wise, all powerful or all knowing.
My suggestions were these: An attempt should be made to look at the total of calls on resources by governments whether they be Commonwealth, State or local. Those calls should be examined with priority considerations. The areas of Commonwealth expenditure such as defence, social welfare, administration and debt servicing would have to have first call on Commonwealth resources. Similarly, the revenue of the States derived from their own activities should be theirs to make their own judgments about. We could well establish a national economic and works council operated between the Commonwealth and the States to consider these matters which would operate in a rational style. Particular groups of people should be drawn into it such as the Commonwealth Grants Commission. Also, re-examination should be given to one of the old positions, that of the Federal Co-ordinator of Public Works. He functioned very effectively during the war years and the years after the war. I suggested that increased power was available under section 101 and 104 of the Constitution and that the inter-state commission might be available to help. Also, I suggested that the concrete pipes case might allow for clearer definition.
Then I said something like this: A national economic and works council should be created. It should be in what I would call three tiers. There should be a standing committee consisting of treasury under-secretaries from the States meeting the Commonwealth Treasurer to consider the monetary aspects of all these matters. That Committee should meet every 2 months. Also, there should be a State and Commonwealth committee composed of people from various departments of works which also would meet every 2 months on matters affecting capital works. Those standing committees would advise the national economic and works council consisting of the Prime Minister and the State Premiers with the State and Commonwealth Treasurers sitting in as advisers. That council would meet every 6 months. It would meet in Canberra once and the State capitals in rotation. The whole problem would be examined by a group of people in a cooperative style looking at the total resources on the one hand against the total available demand on the other. The Commonwealth’s priority for defence, security and social welfare, justice and general well-being would have to be ensured together with the ability to manage the economy and maintain stability in the currency.
The Australian Loan Council would be maintained as it exists now unchanged because there must be what I call ‘Australian credit’ for national borrowing if you need to do so. This is best established in a Loan Council situation. We would look very carefully in such a situation at the State governments getting more revenue in their hands from their own activities. The method I suggested was to consider transferring sales tax to a value added tax and passing its control to the States. That would be done after later examination. It was only a suggestion at the time. I then suggested that if all this were done by a group of governments dealing with the one group of people- all Australians- and with the one allocation of total available resources we might begin to do a useful job for the Australian people. We could then balance the revenue between the more powerful States and the smaller States by means of grants commissions and out of general assistance. This could be done under section 96 of the Constitution. I then stated that general revenue assistance grants could very largely disappear. The removal of the feeling that one State is in a charity situation when compared to another State would be to the good.
They were the views I advanced on how to operate the economy. They are views that I still hold. I believe that in the end these measures will have to be approached in some rational style. Having said all that, I return to where I commenced my remarks. The Australian Labor Party persuaded the people to vote for it last December. I think that they were mistaken in doing this. I think that time will prove this to be the case. When the Australian Labor Party formed the Government last December, this is what it had in its hands: After 22 years of operating in a style that suits me more, the free enterprise style, Commonwealth revenue had grown ten times. The gross national product had grown ten times. Real wages had risen to third in the world on the basis of total purchasable power. Exports had increased sixteen times. Inflation was running at one of the lowest rates in the free world. Overseas reserves covered the rate of imports for 13 months instead of 6 weeks. The overseas debt was a little less than it was in 1947. 1 suggest to Government senators that this was achieved by the kind of approach that I have advanced. It is a productive approach and represents a wish to increase living standards and improve opportunities.
During the time that we were in government and using this way of doing things Australia grew to be a medium economic power. It enjoyed the confidence and respect of the world as a country of economic capacity. This fact is witnessed by the fact of so many demonstrations of the wish to invest in Australia. I believe that as a government we did what we said we would do and we maintained that record. Our record over approximately 20 years is there to be seen. The record of the Labor Government is now to be seen after 8 months. I have given what I think is a fairly detailed and critical examination not only of the Budget but also of the economic scene. Viewed through the eyes of one who sees the position in this way, 2 things become very clear I think very little of the Labor Party ‘s ability and its performance after 8 months and I support the amendment.
– The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Withers) said with some satire during his contribution to the Budget debate that this Budget could be the last that this Government would bring down. The honourable senator, who is well known to us on this side of the Senate, is not often completely right. More often than not, he is only partly right. This could be one of those occasions when he is only partly right. What he said has some credence in that it could be the last Budget that this Government will bring down in this Parliament. If the Opposition persists with its tactics of frustrating the Government from introducing its legislative program and denying it the opportunity to implement the policies which it has a mandate from the people to implement it could very well be the last Budget of this Government. We could go to the people in a double dissolution of the Parliament.
Surely to God Opposition senators do not think that the Australian public is so nonsensical that it would turn this Government out of power so soon and return to the conditions that existed prior to December 1972 when the Australian Labor Party came to Government? People can remember what the conditions were like prior to December. They know the state of affairs in which the economy was placed and the stop-go method of approaching things. There was no planning. There was despair in the community and a lack of confidence. It was so apparent to everybody that even the anti-Labor newspapers which traditionally have been against Labor openly and publicly castigated the then Government and did everything in their power to organise and bring about a change of government. Those newspapers have been against Labor ever since there has been an Australian Labor Party. Many people in organisations which were as traditionally anti-Labor as the newspapers were, in public statements in the Press, said that things were so bad that confidence in the community had been destroyed and it was about time that there was a change of government. Those people who, over the years, had been traditional antiLabor supporters supported the Australian Labor Party and helped to return it to government. They looked to the Labor Party. Why did they look to the Labor Party? They looked to the Labor Party to put the affairs of this country in order, to introduce some sanity into the economy and to bring in progressive policies which had some initiative.
Senator Withers seemed to suggest that we would be in trouble over our Budget. I assure him that the ones who would be in trouble if there were a double dissolution would be himself as the Leader of the Opposition in this chamber and Mr Snedden, the Leader of the Opposition in the other place, because when the anti-Labor parties were defeated at the polls, which they most assuredly would be, their colleagues here and in the other place would want a spill of leadership and would be looking for new leaders. The 2 Leaders would be the only people who would be in trouble. I would feel very much distressed and I would regret very much if those circumstances did come about. I hope that the Leader of the Opposition in this place and the Leader of the Opposition in the other place keep their positions for many years to come because neither of them has shown any ability to lead his Party successfully in an election. What is more important, neither of them has shown any ability to forecast accurately. So we hope that this state of affairs does not come about. We would regret it if it did. I repeat that the only people who would be in trouble would be the Leader of the Opposition in each House because there would be a spill of positions and their colleagues would elect new leaders.
The Leader of the Opposition in this chamber seemed to give the impression that the Labor Party was relying on the Budget for electoral popularity. This is not so. In the months in which the Labor Party has been in power it has relied on its progressive policies and its initiatives. It feels confident enough to know that when it has to go to an election it will stand on its own feet. It will rely on those policies. The Budget is an economic and social document. It was not introduced to gain electoral popularity. It wai brought in by a responsible Treasurer (Mr Crean), with due regard to all the circumstances. If we have to go to the electorate we will stand on our policies, and we will be capable of winning on them.
– I am glad that you think so.
-Senator Wright can lead the cheer squad for Opposition senators. I remind him of what I said in this chamber shortly after the Parliament was opened. I said that in the first 100 days the Whitlam Ministry achieved more in the way of legislative policy than the previous anti-Labor governments had achieved in 23 years. The people of Australia will recognise that fact.
There are many items in the Budget on which one could speak- social services, education and other things- but I was always told that a postscript should never be added to a good letter. I think the Treasurer has produced a good letter. The Budget has already been canvassed by previous speakers on this sic 3. On this occasion I prefer to direct my attention to what I said during the debate on the matter of urgency yesterday when time did not permit me to finish my speech. I wish to deal with spiralling land prices and the reason for them. I think the inflationary rise in land prices- the galloping inflation in land prices- is more serious than the inflation in the consumer price index. I think that the Senate should be directing its attention towards doing something to remedy that inflation. Honourable senators will recall that yesterday I said that the average block of land in an average suburb in Brisbane now costs $6,500, and the cost is still spiralling. It will not be long before it is $10,000. The average cost of a wooden home is $12,000. If the 2 figures are added, the total is $18,500. The prospective home buyer has to find a deposit of $4,200 and must have a wage of $1 15 a week before he can obtain a building society loan. This is in excess of the average weekly earnings of $ 100 a week. This cost does not take into account that the buyer has to furnish his home. So honourable senators can see that the average working man today is not in the race in buying his own home.
Honourable senators will agree that a traditional part of our way of life is that everybody aims to own his own block of land and to build a home on it. I hope that the Senate will permit me to direct my attention to the land price scandal, as I call it. The Australian tradition of a person owning his own home on his own block of land soon will be no more. The reason is that the price of land is increasing out of all proportion. Five years ago the land cost component of the price of a block of land and a house was 25 per cent. Today it is nearly 50 per cent. Yesterday I told the Senate of the plight of the young man who wants to buy a home. I have repeated it today because it is worth repeating. Unless he is earning $1 15 a week and has a deposit of $4,200 he has no hope; he is not in the race in owning his own home. This is occurring not only in Brisbane or in Queensland; it is the situation throughout Australia. Recently a Mr Alan Vogan, the President of the Urban Developers Institute of Australia, was reported as saying:
I think that we have to act urgently because the price spiral is socially and morally wrong.
Very few people will disagree with that statement. It is a correct statement, but nobody is interested in pious words. Mr and Mrs Average in the street want to know the cause of the spectacular increase in land prices. Mr Vogan also said:
The real cost of land comes from the profit of the original vendor, the high standards demanded and from the carrying costs a developer bears.
I ask the Senate to remember those 3 points. Mr Vogan was supported by another person who has some right to speak with expertise on these matters. Mr Brian White, of Ray White Pty Ltd, a major Queensland real estate firm, said: “he reason for the high land price is a case of supply and demand.
That statement is true. I believe that more land would be available for those who are genuinely interested in using it if the people who bought the land had to build on it without a certain period. I claim that, if there is a covenant or a clause that after having purchased the land a person has to build on it within a reasonable time, this would stop the speculator from buying land and would make more land available for the genuine home builder.
Some weeks ago, because I was researching this item and because I wanted certain information, I asked a question in the Senate about the percentage of subdivided residential land sold to speculators and the percentage sold to people who intended to build a home of their own. The reason why I asked the question was that I genuinely felt at the time- I still do- that if that information were disclosed and made public, and if there were an imbalance which could be corrected, we would be getting at the centre of the problem. It must now be apparent to all those who display an interest in this field that the land speculator is the cause of the land price scandal. All honourable senators here will recall that the stock exchange boom burst in 1971 and that those speculators then looked for other avenues for investment or speculation. It is not just coincidence that the stock exchange bubble burst in 1971 and that this enormous boom in land prices occurred. The plain fact is that the people who no longer thought it exciting or profitable to play the stock exchange directed their attention to and speculated in land where they could see sure, safe, large and quick profits.
The other important fact about their speculating in this field was that it appeared to be beyond the capacity of government to control those spiralling prices. I think it is fair comment for me to make in this chamber this afternoon that had there been a genuine desire on the part of the
State anti-Labor governments and the then Federal anti-Labor Government to control what they regarded and publicly stated as a normal free enterprise activity- the use of capital to make profit- we would not have been put in the serious situation in which we are today regarding land prices. I think it is fair comment to make here that it was the attitude of all the anti-Labor governments in the State Houses and of the then Federal Government in this place that they had no desire to control what they regarded as a normal free enterprise activity: The use of capital to make a profit. Land developers knew that they could sell land and put a price on it according to the demand that there was for it. They knew they could subdivide the land and, having subdivided it, put it on the market and if speculators were still prepared to pay the price they could put the price up at any time they wanted to do so. True, from 1971 onwards local authorities in the various areas told the developers that they would have to provide more services such as sewerage and underground electricity supplies.
– Did that take place in your area only in 1971?
– I am not going to be pinned down to the exact figure. I am trying to develop the case that this great spiralling of prices started in 1971 and that it is not a coincidence that it happened when the stock exchange bubble burst in 1971. But these extra services were brought in -
– I wanted to know -
– If the honourable senator wants it in detail of fact and figure I will supply it to him later. But for the purpose of developing this argument I repeat that local authorities asked developers to provide extra services such as sewerage and underground electricity. These are good things and no one could raise any objection to them. Honourable senators will recall that the sub-dividers at first threw their arms into the air and said: ‘This will add costs to the already inflated price of land’. But when they found that the speculators were still prepared to pay the prices they were asking, even after they supplied these services, they just forgot all about that problem, except that they turned the story round and when they were under attack about the inflated prices which they were asking for their land, they said: ‘Do not blame us. Blame the local authorities who have added these extra costs by asking us to provide these additional services’. Senator Wright need not take my word for it, for that is exactly what Mr
Vogan referred to as ‘the high standards demanded’. That is quoting him precisely. He also referred to the carrying cost which the developer bears.
I want to stress in this chamber that what the developer does not tell is this: Depending on the cost of raw land, which can cost as little as $3,000 a block for acquisition, holding, construction and realisation costs, these blocks in Brisbane are at the moment selling for upwards of $6,500 and, as I said previously, it will be only a matter of time before they cost in the vicinity of $10,000. Nobody, as I said before, objects to the local authorities asking developers to provide these additional services such as sewerage and underground electricity. They are necessary services and everybody is prepared to pay for them. But what the average home seeker is objecting to is the high mark-up in addition to the top cost which is put on land by developers. Evidence has been produced that the mark-up price has been as high as 100 per cent. While speculators- and this is the message I want to give to the Senate this afternoon- are prepared to pay the price, the home seeker will continue to suffer. Speculators are withholding land so that they can get higher prices. This is land which would otherwise be made available to home builders. Later in my speech I will produce proof that the developers are withholding land. I asked a question in this chamber and I was flooded with letters from developers asking me to state where this land is and what land they were withholding. I take this opportunity of the Budget debate to tell them and the Senate where that land is which they are withholding so that high prices can be maintained for it.
What are the speculators doing? Everybody on this side of the chamber knows what they are doing, and I am sure that if honourable senators opposite will be honest about it they will say they know what the speculators are doing. The speculators are withholding land which would otherwise be available for home builders. They are buying out estates as soon as they are released and after adding $1,000 or $2,000 a block they are immediately offering those blocks for resale. These blocks are sold three or four times before they are eventually sold to the home buyer, and as a result the eventual home buyer has to pay the capital gains which are made on three or four sales. One has only to go to the Queensland Stamps and Titles Office to see that there is a lag of nearly 2 years in the search for documents, not because more land is being transferred from A to B and stopping there but because before it gets from A to B it has changed hands six or seven times and the Stamps and Titles Office cannot possibly keep up with it. It is common knowledge that these blocks change hands three or four times before being built on and the capital gain is added all the time. Then when the genuine buyer seeks to purchase a block to build a home on it he has to make up for the inflation that has been brought about by these deals.
Speculation is the major factor in forcing up land prices. It must be controlled and I am happy to say that the Australian Labor Party has a policy to control it. It is public for anyone to see, for in our policy speech and throughout our campaign we said the acquisition of land for subdivision on a leasehold basis with a convenant specifying building within 12 months would be achieved, and Mr Uren, the Minister in charge of the Department of Urban and Regional Development is presently drawing up plans to implement this policy of the Australian Labor Party. It has been said that something must be done immediately. Planning will take time, as was said earlier in this chamber. No person of common sense would expect the Austraiian Labor Party to correct in 6 months all the maladministration that went on for 23 years. So planning will take time. But for the short term I advocated in this chamber yesterday the imposition of a capital gains tax. I would like to have seen it as part of the machinery of the present Budget. I sincerely hope it will be in the next one. A specific capital gains allowance will have to be arrived at- for example, 7 per cent- and any gain over that percentage should be taxed at the rate of 100 per cent.
– That is the figure you mentioned yesterday.
– Have I mentioned the same thing?
– You gave that figure yesterday and I wrote it down.
– I think that should be done. I am pleased that the honourable senator heard me say it again today. He will know that I am consistent in my advocacy. I have had opponents to my ideas. I have heard arguments advanced by opponents of a capital gains tax. They claim that it will create a black market and that people will pay 2 amounts. They will pay the legal amount in the first place and then will pay a second amount in another way. I have more faith in the Australian people. I know that the people who would want to indulge in that sort of criminal practice would be in the minority, just as in the taxation field those people who indulge in tax avoidance are in the minority, and it would only be a matter of time before they were caught. I believe this. If that is the best argument you can put up against a land capital gains tax. it is not based on a very solid premise.
Another method that can be investigated- it is advocated- is a land price freeze. Opponents of this suggestion say that its effect is only of a temporary nature. A freeze may have the desired effect in the short term but immediately it is removed prices soar again and go as high as ever. At least all these things can be considered. It shows that we on this side of the chamber are doing our homework. We are putting some thought into this serious problem that is in the community today. It is all right for Senator Wright to smirk. He also was in the power base, the Cabinet and the Ministry, and could have spoken up and done something for the prospective home buyer. But he believes that capital should be able to make a profit, no matter how excessive it might be.
What has to be done? I believe that the Government and all concerned have to face up to the situation and realise that land is not a speculative commodity. This is a chance to impose a tax to make it unprofitable. Until we do that we are not going to come to grips with the situation. I am sure that the result would be that the demand would come only from people who are genuinely seeking land on which to build a home, and that is what the name of the game should be. While it may not reduce land prices it certainly would go a long way towards stabilising them. One would expect that a reduction in the demand for residential land would automatically flow on to the demand for raw land. The demand for raw land would decline and with that decline there also would be a fall in the price of raw land. I believe that this is the sensible way for us to approach this very serious problem of spiralling land prices. The fault lies with the speculator. Until some action is taken by the Government to eliminate speculators from the field of land dealings the position is not going to change.
I said earlier that during previous Senate sessions I had asked certain questions in this chamber about what percentage of land was available for speculators and what percentage was available for genuine home builders. Previously I claimed also that developers were withholding land in many areas so that prices would go up. I quoted certain projects and what I said appeared in Hansard. I do not propose to repeat what I said before but I want to give an example of what I said. There is the instance of Cambridge Credit Corporation Ltd which had 20,000 allotments in the Ormeau town development worth $66m but which would not be developed until 1980. I referred also to Alfred Grant who had some 14,000 allotments that were being withheld and would not be developed until 1982. 1 gave 2 pages of such instances. These figures were not supplied to me by the trade union movement, as was suggested at the time; they were figures taken from an official State government document in Queensland which was issued by the Public Affairs Department. That document shows developmental expenditure in Queensland in 1973. It refers to expenditure in southern Queensland. I think that total for that area was something like 70,000 allotments and an investment of $ 173m. Those allotments would not be developed before 1980. Of course, after having made that statement in the Parliament I received letters from the developers who asked me in what name the land suitably zoned for development which is not currently being developed or in the process of being developed’ was held. All the letters stipulated- they were all similar- what land suitably zoned for development was not being developed. I did not mention land suitably zoned for development; I mentioned land being withheld. I wrote to one of the developers and expressed that opinion. In a letter dated 21 June I asked:
If you have just cause for delays in not having this land on the market, I would be pleased to hear of it and assure you of my assistance in remedying it.
I received a reply from that firm which said, shortly:
May I respectfully state, however, that you do not appear to have answered the request contained in my letter of 12 June last.
That firm ignored my questions and skilfully turned the game around and referred me back to land suitably zoned for development.
– He knew a few of the fundamentals.
Senator M cAULIFFE And I have responded, as a good soldier should. The honourable senator will find that I will respond to him if he ever puts me to the challenge. I wrote back to that company and pointed out that I did not mention land suitably zoned for development. I pointed out that the reply I received was evasive, to say the least. I was not talking about land zoned for development. I said: by choosing to answer in such a way I am led to believe that your Company or an Associate Company of Hooker Corporation Ltd must be withholding land. Your refusal to supply information regarding local authorities’ delays with regard to sub-division gives further credence to this assumption.
Here is the punch line because I produced the proof. I said:
I am now informed that the land I referred to as being withheld by your Company, Middle Park, Jindalee, of some 1,300 allotments, is actually held by an Associate Company of the Hooker Corporation Ltd, but here is a perfect example of what I was referring to in the Senate.
This Middle Park sub-division has been sitting untouched in the middle of the Jindalee area while prices have increased from an average of $8,000 in January 1972 to an average of $16,000 (Westlake) in June 1973. Admittedly, the land at Middle Park is not as desirable as that at Westlake, but with the high prices obtained at Westlake and the fact that Middle Park will be the last area available at Jindalee, the Corporation will no doubt be asking extravagant prices for it. I believe, but would be willing to be convinced otherwise, that this land is being deliberately withheld off the market in order to make exorbitant profits. In the period January 1972 to June 1973 total costs of sub-division have risen to nowhere near the same extent that prices have and I can only conclude that profits which I believe the community would also consider exorbitant are being made.
That letter is dated 10 August. I responded adequately to the request made by the company. I have received a letter dated 14 August which bears the signature of the general manager, and it reads:
I acknowledge receipt of your letter of the 10th instant in which you now refer to the land in Middle Park, Jindalee which is actually owned by Centenary Estates Pty Ltd.
There is no denial. The letter continues:
Your previous correspondence and remarks were directed at Hooker-Rex Estates which is a separate division of the Hooker Corporation and it is not directly connected with the development of Centenary and its suburbs, which is the largest residential development in Australia.
I have forwarded a copy of your letter to the General Manager of Centenary Estates requesting information regarding the land specifically referred to in your letter upon receipt of which will communicate with you further.
It is more than one month since I received that letter and I have received no further communication because I have hit a bull’s eye. So much for that. I have been challenged by the developers. I have only limited time at my disposal and I do not want to weary the Senate by repeating the litany of events. However, I could instance many cases similar to the one I have mentioned. If any honourable senator doubts it I am prepared to table the correspondence for his perusal later.
I now direct my attention to another area. I have said that land is being withdrawn from the market and that speculators are causing land prices to soar. No government can be responsible in its activities if it does not do something about this situation. I now direct my attention to the Gold Coast area. I refer to Griffin Island and Andy’s Island in the Broadwater off Paradise Point. They are referred to as being in portion 121 in the parish of Barrow. On 1 April 1969, under special lease 32810, a special lease was granted to a firm known as Coastal Reclamations Pty Ltd. The lease was granted for a term of 1 5 years at a rental of $ 100 per annum in relation to an area of 150 acres used for residential and business purposes. This lease was granted on agreement with the Gold Coast City Council and, allegedly, the Queensland Minister for Lands. One of the conditions of the lease was that the lessee should not in any way assign or sub-let the said land or any part thereof without the consent of the Minister for Lands. At that time the alderman for the area was the former Country Party candidate, Alderman Gibbs.
That lease was issued on 1 April 1969. Let us move forward to 1971. In the interim Alderman Gibbs had been replaced as alderman for the area by Alderman O’Donnell. Alderman O’Donnell, being conversant with the situation in the area, successfully moved in the Council on 6 August 1 97 1 to have the area rezoned as public open space so that it could be conserved as a natural area. It was to his credit that he obtained the approval of the Council in that regard. That occurred in 1971. At the subsequent Gold Coast City Council election Alderman O’Donnell was defeated by Alderman Gibbs who is the present alderman for the area and also the chairman of the Health Committee. There is a letter on the files of the Gold Coast City Council dated 24 July 1973 which reads:
A company of which I am the General Manager, namely Marland (Queensland) Pty Ltd, is purchaser of an area of land being reclaimed under an agreement between Coastal Reclamations Pty Ltd and the Minister for Lands for the Crown. Advice that I have received from the vendors is to the effect that your Council has been asked to proceed and advise on the matter of rezoning of the subject land to urban zoning.
As under the terms of the contract the purchasing company incurs the immediate liability of $2,500,000 and there are of course enormous consequent outlays in terms of roads, drains, sewerage and water reticulation to present a high class residential development, your urgent advice is requested as to the present position of progress made in the matter of rezoning.
The sale for $2. 5m will take place only if the land is rezoned as urban. It should not be forgotten that this applies to land in relation to which there is a lease for 15 years at a rental of $100 a year. Now it is in the process of being sold for $2. 5m. What did the Council recommend on 7 September 1973, which recommendation was processed by the Chairman of the Health Committee, Alderman Gibbs? It recommended that prior to the commencement of any rezoning procedure the applicant and prospective purchaser be requested to submit basic plans of the development proposed for the purpose of looking into a legal agreement with the Council. Without wearying the Senate, the recommendation in effect is to rezone the land for urban development.
It is reported in the area that at some time Alderman Gibbs had some association with Coastal Reclamations Pty Ltd and he is claimed to have had business interests with directors who represent Marland Pty Ltd. I do not know whether that is true. It is freely rumoured. However, it will be readily seen, having related those facts, that, irrespective of what association Alderman Gibbs has with Coastal Reclamations and irrespective of whether he has any association at all with the directors of Marland, Alderman Gibbs showed tremendous enthusiasm in having the area rezoned for urban development. I think it is in the interests of Alderman Gibbs that he and all the other people connected with this proposed development and the generous conditions that go with it be given the opportunity to explain their position. I believe that the Queensland Minister for Lands should instigate a judicial inquiry or some other inquiry into the matter as well as explain his own position, because it is of particular note that no land can be rezoned without the permission of the Minister. I do not know whether that permission has been granted. Knowing the Minister as I do, I am sure he will relish the opportunity to explain his position. I believe he should instigate an inquiry of some sort so that Alderman Gibbs and all those people associated with this matter can clear their names and explain their position. I feel too that the Senate should give some consideration to referring the matter for investigation to the Senate Standing Committee on Social Environment, under the chairmanship of Senator Keeffe who is a Queenslander and who knows what is going on.
– On rumour?
– I recall that on one other occasion I made certain allegations in this Parliament and at 2.30 a.m. I was challenged and refused permission to incorporate certain documents in Hansard. The accusations made by Senator Wright and some of his colleagues at that time were meant to try to defame me and make out that I was careless with the truth. Subsequently I tabled the documents which gave positive proof of my stand. Now on this occasion the same honourable senator interjects and asks where I got my information.
– No, I said: ‘On rumour’. You said it was a rumour.
– His association with these companies?
– If I were the subject of rumours concerning land which was being let at $100 a year and about to be sold for $2. 5m, I would want the matter cleared up too. I would want a public inquiry so that I could put my cards on the table. That is all I am asking for. Even if it does not achieve anything else, it will prevent a piece of land which was being rented for $100 a year being sold at the inflated price of $2. 5m. (Quorum formed.)
- Mr President, I ask for leave to make a short statement before Senator McAuliffe continues.
– On what subject?
– On the subject of the absence of Government senators temporarily from the chamber.
– Order! Senator Murphy, it is unusual for a senator to be interrupted in the middle of his speech. If Senator McAuliffe will indicate to me how much longer he will be -
– Do you mind, Senator McAuliffe?
– I do not mind. I will yield. the PRESIDENT- No. I asked you, Senator McAuliffe, to indicate o me for how much longer you will be speaking.
– I could conclude in one sentence.
– I suggest that you conclude your remarks, and then Senator Murphy can ask for leave to make a statement.
– Thank you, Mr President. I feel that the Minister for Lands in Queensland should investigate the matter by establishing a judicial inquiry or an inquiry of some sort so that those connected with the matter could explain their position and he should tell the people of Queensland whether he granted the necessary permission for their land to be assighed. This chamber might consider referring the matter to the Senate Standing Committee on Social Environment, under the chairmanship of
Senator Keeffe, to inquire into and explain the position so that we all will know the facts.
- Mr President, I ask for leave to make a short statement.
-Is leave granted?
– I think that leave should be granted. The Leader of the Government in the Senate should be extended that courtesy. Would you reconsider it, Senator Wright?
– No. A senator has the right to deny leave.
– I know that. I just asked you whether you would reconsider.
– I said no.
-All right. That is the end of the matter. Leave has not been granted.
- Mr President, I had not intended to speak in the Budget debate, but if I may I will make a few remarks in the course of this debate.
– It is usual to follow the list. If one Labor senator speaks -
– Order! The Leader of the Government in the Senate always has a privileged position, and I now call him to address himself, as he has indicated to me he will do, to the Budget.
- Mr President, I intervene to say that the Budget is concerned with a lot of matters. It is concerned not only with the various departments of State, but also with the provision of expenditure for this Parliament, and that includes the Senate. In considering the expenditure for the Senate it is customary to consider the workings of the Senate. This morning a grave complaint was made by Senator Wright about the failure to put forward in the Senate some timetables regarding the sitting of Estimates Committees. Government senators have been conscious of the necessity to provide for the smooth working of the Senate.
- Mr President, I rise to a point of order.
– What is the point of order?
– Is it proper that a Senator should speak twice in the Budget debate, because that is what you are allowing the Leader of the Government in the Senate to do? I suggest that he is out of order.
– Order! I accepted Senator Murphy’s assurance that he had not spoken in the Budget debate. On that basis I called him.
– Up to a few moments ago Government senators were engaged in a meeting just across from the chamber in an endeavour, which was successful, to arrive at a proposal to put to the Senate regarding a timetable for the Estimates Committees. I regret that because of that absence of Government senators a quorum was called. Government senators were quite nearby endeavouring to do something which had been requested by Senator Wright. It is regrettable that he saw fit to call a quorum and to interrupt the meeting in which Government senators were engaged. There was no discourtesy. It was merely in an attempt to facilitate the business of the Senate that Government senators were engaged in this meeting.
I do not want to repeat what was said in great detail by Senator Willesee, by other honourable senators, and by the Treasurer (Mr Crean) and others in the House of Representatives. The fact is that the Budget is designed to implement the program which was put to and accepted by the Australian people. There have been movements into great new areas of concern of the public. It is a Budget which has had to deal with the problems not only of finding large sums of money to meet great new expenditures on health, education and social security generally but also of coping with the price instability and the residues of unemployment which had been left by the previous Government. In all, it is a Budget which has indicated prosperity for the Australian people, and which, when pursued, will lead to that prosperity. It is a Budget which will enable Australians to be confident that the ship of state will move out of the troubled waters left in the wake of the previous Government’s absurd mismanagement. We and our children will enjoy the benefits of the wise government which will last for a long time.
I intervened in the debate only to make those very few remarks. It was mostly out of courtesy to you, Mr President, and to the other members of the Senate. At the earliest convenient opportunity I will put to the Senate this timetable for Estimates Committees. If it were convenient I would state it now but if I did so some honourable senator might think I was departing unduly from the debate. The general intention was that the proposed times should be adjusted. Mr President, do we have to endure this constant babbling away by Senator Wright? I do not like to have to say this, but it seems that Senator Wright is embarking upon some campaign not of making intelligent interjections which can be accepted but of merely babbling away in a manner which is explicable only to himself. Under this proposal the Estimates Committees would meet two at a time. This would be programmed until 15 October but, if necessary, it could be continued after that. We would be able to review the position at that time.
– Order! It is my intention to call Senator Guilfoyle next to speak, but I wish to announce to honourable senators that I must leave the Chair as I have been requested to attend on the Governor-General, and I hope that they will excuse my absence.
– When the Treasurer (Mr Crean) introduced the Budget he spoke of the economic context and said that the main elements of the economic situation are strongly rising demand, vigorous growth in output, full employment and external strength. These favourable features are, however, coupled with persistent inflation. It is to that latter part of the economic context to which I address some of my remarks. It was essential for sound economic management that the Government showed some strong fiscal discipline at this time. This would have led to the expectation that the 1973-74 Budget would be close to a situation of a net domestic balance, that is, that there would have been a reduction in the domestic deficit of some $200m instead of the reduction of only $53m which was involved in this present Budget. In terms of the Budget’s total figures such restraint would have been responsible and simply would have shown that Government expenditure needed the application of sensible priorities to create a responsible Budget.
An increase of 18.9 per cent on actual outlays in comparison with last year’s Budget adds to the inflation which Australia is sustaining at present. I argue also with some of the proposals in the Budget and their discriminatory application. But essentially I deplore the accelerating effect which - this Budget must have on inflation in our economy. As I said yesterday when speaking on the urgency motion, it is the effect of the Government’s policies and lack of economic management on the private sector which is disquieting. There must be a confident and active private sector for a healthy economy. We need to read this year’s Budget in conjunction with other economic policies which have been undertaken by the present Government. Therefore it must not be overlooked that we have had 2 currency revaluations, a 25 per cent indiscriminate tariff cut and the establishment of the Prices Justification Tribunal. These are all policies which have an effect on our economy. It is to these measures that I wish to direct some further remarks. When looking at the economic conditions of the present time we note that there has been a jump in consumer demand which in recent quarters has been moving at an accelerated rate. This has allowed broad sections of industry once again to reach satisfactory levels of capacity utilisation. This could be the buoyancy of which the Treasurer spoke in some of his remarks, but when combined with the streamlining measures which we have already noted the result has been a substantial gain in efficiency and productivity. This is good for our economy. But the limiting factor on continuing gains in the longer term will almost surely stem from the long investment drought in new capital expenditure, and this will determine the long term effect of some of the Government’s proposals.
There has been some growth and regeneration in investment in capital equipment by the private sector. There was a modest gain in the June quarter. But it is still below what the spending in that sector was some 2 years ago. There is still uncertainty about forward planning, development and expansion in the private sector. The actual realisation of anticipated spending in the Australian economy fell to its third lowest level in 30 years and that surely indicates that the confidence that was displayed by investors shortly after the election has been tempered by caution completely inconsistent with market conditions. Despite the accelerated spending and buoyancy which we have had in consumer demand there is a lack of confidence in the private sector in the investment of capital. This is a result of the uncertainty by the private sector over Government actions and Government policies. Unless we get a significant growth of new investment it does appear imminent that there will be a flattening of the productivity curve and it is essential that that should be sustained and grow if we are to develop the economic conditions that we would want to see for Australia in the future.
There is a need for investment to keep pace with consumer demand. The Opposition consistently has talked about the need for growth in productivity and we link this always with what we say with regard to the level of prices in Australia. When we talk about prices we talk about all of the components of costs that are involved such as wages and the service of capital that is needed. We take into consideration all of those other factors of cost which must be put into balance when we talk about increasing prices, the increase in consumer spending and the increased level of inflation which inevitably follows rises in wages unrelated to rises in productivity or efficiency. These are the things that are important to talk about when we are considering the national Budget. We should not simply say how much we are able to spend because the spending involved in this Budget has anticipated at least a 10 per cent rate of inflation over the next year. If we are to live with that and say we can spend more simply because the money value of the currency is such that inflation has an inbuilt factor of 10 per cent, in real terms our spending and our program is not something that is growing or expanding; it simply has an unreal relationship to the true value of the dollar.
Circumstances make the Budget decision to terminate the 20 per cent investment allowance on new plant another disquieting factor to the private sector. This again is a Government policy related to forward spending which should have taken into account the need for confidence, growth and expansion in line with those other things I have mentioned. Also I would like to say something about the policy which has been announced with regard to the reduction of tariffs on imported goods. I spoke yesterday of a figure obtained from the Statistician which related to a 5 per cent reduction in the price of imports since the revaluation decision last December. I question that in the context of actual consumer prices as they reach the consumer because my understanding of the statistics which are available in Australia is that they do not relate commodity by commodity at landed price and so it is very hard- almost impossible- for us to measure in real terms to the consumer what the effect of the revaluation decision would be on a price level. If we are talking about imports over the whole spectrum, these may be measured and I do not question the validity of the 5 per cent which was quoted by the Prime Minister in his statement. But I simply want to say that it is very difficult to see the benefit of this tariff cut flowing through to the individual consumer on an individual item. This is why the revaluation decision which was taken last weekend may also have a limited effect on the actual price levels in the Australian domestic scene.
We would know from our experience that imports which reach Australia are very often in the form of machinery and equipment which may have a quite high level of labour cost in its installation or in its assembly. We know that other forms of imports are partly manufactured or form part of our manufacturing process. When we add to this the high level of wages in Australia, the high level of transport charges and other costs, we realise that the cutting of a tariff or the revaluation of the currency in our present context can have a very limited effect on domestic prices. This is why we must question why at this time the Government saw fit to add to the cost of petrol the increased charge imposed by the Budget. Here we have an essential commodity which is involved in the transport and distribution of all of our consumer goods. We have a Government which is on record as stating that it did not see why people living in decentralised Australia should pay a different price for petrol from that paid by those people who live in the highly developed capital cities. Yet, this charge has added to the cost of possibly every consumer item because of the related cost of transport. This increased cost must flow on to the community. I mention that as one area of the Budget which I question.
– Will those costs be added on?
– This petrol cost will be added on to every commodity as it reaches the consumer. At a time when we are asking for restraint on prices and when we are hoping that consumer prices will be more in line with real value we are adding, because of Government policy, a cost which must inevitably flow to almost every commodity which is purchased in Australia. I question that as being compatible with the Government’s policy to endeavour to restrain price movements and to contain the inflation which we are experiencing. It seems to me that in that philosophy we have a somewhat different approach to the containment of price increases. The policy of the Government is to establish a Prices Justification Tribunal. It will be interesting for me to watch its development and the effect which it may have on consumer spending or community opinion or buyer resistance or any of those other factors which are, in real terms, simply attitudes. The way in which the Tribunal has been established does not give it the power to set price levels or to fix price movements. It is simply a justification through a bureaucratic process of price movements. I am wondering just what the actual effect of that will be in the long term. As I say, maybe it will be simply one of buyer resistance or community attitudes if publicity is given to decisions which show that price movements are not justified.
I wonder what the effect will be of the further revaluation announcement that there is hoped to be an increase in imported goods. This could be a factor that affects the supply and demand of consumer goods. This also needs to be taken very much in balance with the employment situation which we have. The imported goods which reach us very often compete with locally manufactured goods in relation to many factors which are important to our employment conditions. At the present time we are given statistics which show that there are employment opportunities consistent with employment applications. We also need to consider whether the Government in its statement that it wants to increase the volume of imports markedly has in mind that this could affect much of our decentralised employment. I am thinking particularly of manufactured shirts. At the present time there is a quota on the importation of this product. If we had a government policy which removed that import quota and allowed a free flow of imported shirts we would jeopardise the whole of the Australian shirt manufacturing industry. These are things in relation to which we need to have composite policies. Industries should not be taken at random or without discrimination as some may have special conditions and circumstances which need evaluating in different ways.
The drop-off in unemployment figures is something which the former government predicted. It is consistent with the rise in consumer demand and with the increased production activity in the industrial sector. Unemployment will become more of a problem when the effects of the tariff cuts are coupled with the record number of school leavers who will be seeking domestic employment next year. I feel that the tariff proposals are important to the whole of the Australian employment scene. I am hopeful that the Government sees this in context and not as a popular measure or as a philosophical attitude and one which it can take as a short term measure to suit a particular set of circumstances. But when we talk about inflation and the difficulties it presents to the Australian consumer, it is unreal to consider it without regard to labour costs which are the continuing main cause of inflation and a challenge to the maintaining of profit levels for the whole of the private sector.
We have figures which show us that the average weekly wage is going up by 13 per cent but that is nearly twice as fast as the increase in productivity. Also substantial new demands are being made for such non-wage benefits as an extra week’s annual leave, shorter working hours and other improved conditions. Obviously demands for maternity leave will follow the Commonwealth Government’s decision in its own sector.
There are continuing demands for improvement in wage conditions and these must inevitably add to costs. If wage levels are increasing twice as fast as are efficiency and productivity gains surely it is simple to see that there must be a rise in prices. I believe that attitudes have been expressed which lead to the impression that by cutting profit we will be able to restrain prices. Yet the figures which I have seen show that company profits are not increasing at the rate of wage levels. There is not the gap which it is thought can be absorbed in profit levels; rather we must be realistic about cost components when we are talking about prices. The statement made by the Treasurer that the most important factor confronting us is persistent inflation would have led us to expect that it would be an inflation fighting Budget, but instead it is an inflation feeding Budget and is one which will add to the pressures in all sections of the community through the growth in the public sector of the 1 8.9 per cent which I mentioned.
There are some interesting aspects with regard to business itself which I feel ought to be placed on record. I mentioned the increased duty on motor spirit. If we combine that with the widening of the petrol price equalisation margin, particularly with regard to rural areas, we have to accept that this will increase rural transport costs by up to 27 per cent. This will lead to a consequential increase in food prices which, of course, will affect everyone and not just the rural sector. It will affect city dwellers, rural people and all those who purchase the inescapable food part of the family budget at this increased cost which is due to Government policy. It is important to remember those increases and the other increases which will undoubtedly affect the rural sector.
I saw some interesting figures with regard to increases in postage rates. As we are talking of industry and its uncertainties I think that these rates should be mentioned as another factor in rising costs as they will affect the ordinary consumer. I have some figures which contrast the rates of postage in comparable countries with those which are projected by the Government in its new proposals. I will not read all of them. In Australia the postage rate is 10c in Australian currency for 20 grams and 15c for 50 grams. In New Zealand the cost is 4c up to 1 ounce and 6c up to 2 ounces. In the United States it is US8c for each ounce and in France it is 10c for 20 grams and 18c for 50 grams. We find that Australia is not the highest but that it is high in comparison. But the most important factor is not to compare with other countries. It is more important to look at the effect that the increase has on prices within our own context and on the. printing industry in general. I have some figures in front of me on the postage rates for category B and category C articles. They are the categories under which a great volume of printed matter is posted. An increase in those rates must have .an effect on every printer who is manufacturing or producing in Australia. Any change in the ordinary postage rate is going to have a very serious effect on those printers who are involved in the greeting card section of the industry, which is a growing part of the industry. Anything which deleteriously affects it is going to have a very serious effect on the whole of the printing industry throughout Australia.
It is important to point out that the Government appears to be combining conversion to the metric system of weights and measures with an increase in postal rates. If I may divert a little, I hope that no rate will be increased at the time of metric conversion simply because the confusion provides an opportunity for a change to be made in it or that the price of a commodity will change simply because a different volume is involved in the packaging. At present we have to pay 7c postage on an article of up to 28 grams. On conversion to the metric system we will have to pay 7c postage on an article of up to 20 grams. If, however the article weighs over 20 grams the postage will be 15c up to a maximum of 50 grams. The interesting thing is that the greeting cards we send on special occasions- the cards that we send at Christmas, during Easter, on Father’s Day and so on- are generally over 20 grams in weight. One of the problems with which this industry is faced is that it needs to plan the preparation of greeting cards on a long term basis. The artwork, the display, the machinery involved, the typesetting needs to be planned well ahead. A range of greeting cards for 1974 is already being produced. That, together with the increased cost involved in the ordering of materials, makes it extremely difficult for this part of the industry to know how to deal with what inevitably will be an inordinate increase in the postal rate for communication by this medium.
If I may I wish to refer again to the category B and category C items and point out that the increase will not only affect the printers but the whole of the industry as catalogues, advertising material and the various sorts of brochures which are produced all come within these categories and therefore must attract the higher rate of postage. A reasonable amount of educational material also falls within these categories. It is regrettable that some of this material no longer will be posted because the extra postage involved will make it impossible for such a service to be continued. I think we should consider postal charges as being an important part of consumer spending. They are very much a means of communication and the dissemination of information. Inevitably they are a strong part of consumer spending. Again we have an example of the Government adopting a policy of introducing new charges at a time when the strains on consumer spending are extreme.
Let us examine the figures I have in front of me for category B and category C postage. They show the changes which will take place on 1 October 1973, 1 March 1974 and 1 March 1975. In order to avoid having to read out these figures, which show the movement in postal charges that will affect the commodities which fall within categories B and C, I seek leave to have the figures incorporated in Hansard.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Wood)- Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows)-
– My remarks concerning postage rates are another instance of increasing price. I was interested to read, as part of the Budget strategy, that there is an expectation of a strong increase in the labour force. It is expected, as shown in Statement 2 on page 6 of the documents accompanying the Budget speech, that the prospects in 1973-74 will show an employment growth of some 3.5 per cent to 4 per cent and that there is an expectation of a productivity growth of 2.5 per cent to 3 per cent. It has been stated that this implies a marked increase in the labour force participation rates and that this will be achieved only by greater female participation. That prompts me to ask: What has happened to the child care centres program which was envisaged? It seems to me that for too long we have been talking about the implementation of such a program. Child care centres are undoubtedly essential if there is to be greater female participation in the workforce. They are essential at this stage for the participation which is already involved and the numbers of pre-school age children and young school age children whose mothers are working mothers and who need the assistance of child care centres to combine their domestic and family reponsibilities with that of their employment.
I have asked what has happened to the program because no specific mention has been made of it so far by the Treasurer or any other Minister.
I also recall that not so long ago I asked how much work has been done in the research program instituted by the previous Government and what findings resulted from the research which was undertaken. It is important to the Australian community that the development of child care centres be a program which protects the strength of the family and gives the children of the working mother an opportunity to develop at all stages of their emotional and educational needs. It also allows the women of Australia to exercise a choice whether to be totally engaged in household responsibilities or to combine them with some form of employment for which they are trained or for which they seek to be trained. I hope there will be some acceleration of the proposals in this regard and that a child care centres program will be developed to enable the expec- tationwhich the Treasurer has mentioned of a growthinthe number of women in the workforce tocomeabout and also to enable those women whoareatpresent occupied outside of the home tohavetheir children cared for during their workinghours.
Thewhole of the Budget, from the point of viewofthose of us who see it as being important toeconomicmanagement, is a matter of concern. Idonot wish to criticise the fact that there is to be increased expenditure on education and social welfare programs or the development of health care programs. They are all things that we would want to see come about as part of Australia’s government for the people. But we do have to askourselves whether this is the appropriate time for everything to be undertaken at once, regardless of the effect on the economy. If a growth of i 8.9 per cent has the effect that inevitably it will have on the inflationary spiral in our community, surely a responsible government would have adopted priorities in respect to the implementation of some of the things that it regards as being important. The Budget could have been designed to suit certain priorities chosen by the Government. Perhaps it could have given priority to those matters in relation to which the Government felt it had a mandate. But to endeavour to enlarge the public sector to such anextent and to have policies which have tended to diminish the confidence of the private sector in its development seems to me to be unsound economic management. I feel it could be quite disastrous for the Australian economy. We could have robbed from us the growth and the expectations which we would have for all of the things that we feel are important.
I agree with the remarks of all the Opposition senators who have stressed the need to contain inflation and who have reminded the Senate that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden), in his response to the introduction of the Budget, gave the policy that the Liberal Party of Australia would regard as being of necessity, that is, the introduction of a prices and incomes policy for a limited period until the inflationary spiral has been arrested. I hope that some of the facts which have been presented and some of the statements which have been asserted will lead the Government to sounder economic management and to the taking of a sense of responsibility in the handling of the Australian economy.
– It is with great pride that I rise this afternoon to take part in this debate on the first Budget presented by a Labor government for 24 years. Much criticism has been levelled by speakers opposite against the Australian Labor Party and its Budget, particularly to the effect that the Labor Party in this Budget has been harsh on primary producers. It has been insinuated also that the Labor Party is a city based Party. I say at the outset that at the time I was elected to the Senate I was a practising primary producer. One way or another, I have been engaged in primary industry all my working life. At the time that I was elected to the Senate as a member of the Australian Labor Party, Senator Primmer was also elected. We were both practising primary producers. This does not say very much for the credence of the Opposition when it says that the ALP is a city based Party and that its members have no consideration for people who live in the country.
When I look at my parliamentary colleagues in the Senate from South Australia who sit opposite, I notice thatthere is not one of them who lives in the country. 1 should say that one of them, Senator Laucke, lives in the country. But not one of them has his office in the country to service the country electors. When I was elected to the Senate it was on the understanding that I would remain living in the country and open my parliamentary office there for the service of country people. I have carried out that undertaking. Some honourable senators from South Australia were living in the country before being elected to the Senate. But immediately upon gaining preselection as a candidate they moved into the metropolis of Adelaide. So much for honourable senators opposite and their concern for country people.
I always think that the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Honourable senators can talk their heads off in the Senate about what they believe. But it is what they do in the electorate that counts. We are proud in the Labor Party that Senator Primmer and I who were elected as country people and as successful primary producers represent primary producers. I think that Senator Withers put up a very weak effort in his speech on the Budget as Leader of the Opposition. I thought that I would have a look at the newspapers next morning to see how he was reported. I found the report on his Budget contribution buried away in the real estate pages of a weekend newspaper. So even the media thought very little of what Senator Withers had to say. An amendment was moved to the motion before the Senate by Senator Withers. I think that it was one of the weakest efforts that could be made. He moved:
At the end of the motion add -
But the Senate is of the opinion that the Government has failed to honour its election promises in respect of defence, per capita grants to independent schools -
My colleagues have pointed out already that the Labor Government has allocated for education in this Budget 92 per cent more than was allocated by the previous Government in its last Budget. The amendment goes on to mention failing to honour promises made to pensioners. It deals with company taxation, the revision of taxation burdens and the home owner. We have allocated extra grants to the States to house those 93,000 people who were denied a home under the previous regime which was in office for 23 years. It had no concern for the average wage earner or whether he had a home. The main concern of honourable senators opposite was for the people who lived on the north shore of Sydney, in Toorak in Melbourne, in Burnside in Adelaide and up around Cottesloe and Kings Park over in Perth. They are the people whom honourable senators opposite represented. I am proud to say that I represent the battier in the community of Australia. I hope that I will always be able to continue to do that.
Honourable senators opposite have made great play on the fact that the primary producer had suffered tremendously since we came to office. Yet we read in ‘The Advertiser ‘-the daily newspaper in Adelaide- of Friday, 7 September that a world record price of $36,000 was paid for a merino ram. If primary producers, particularly wool growers, are suffering, where do they get the wherewithal to pay $36,000 for one merino ram? Other merino rams were also bought at that sale. One of them was purchased for $17,000. 1 know Mr Puckridge who purchased that merino ram for $36,000. I was a shearer for Mr Puckridge in 195 1 on his station at Bon Bon out from Kingoonya when he received One pound for a pound of wool. Along with many other shearers, I was one of the slaves who helped to put the wool growers of the day on their feet. Yet, we hear complaints today that they are suffering. Also, we hear complaints that they cannot get shearers. Why is this so?
– What about the motor car that he bought his wife?
– He bought a Mercedes Benz for his wife to go shopping in. If woolgrowers can afford to pay $36,000, a world record price, for a merino ram, why cannot they afford to provide proper accommodation and decent working conditions to the men who have to shear their sheep? That ram would have about 8 motor tyres around the neck. I am sure that when the shearer was finished shearing it he would be walking around like a half shut pocket knife because his back would be so sore. The shearers are the ones who do the real work in the wool industry. These people would not be able to live in their mansions in the city if it were not for the shearers, the boundary riders and the station hands. Some of these people would not know the front end of a sheep from the back end. I hope, now it has been proved that the wool industry is back on its feet- the Government is not claiming credit for this- and wool growers can afford to pay prices such as these for merino rams, that they can afford to update the accommodation and the working conditions for shearers so that young people can be attracted into the shearing industry to do a workmanlike job.
When I was engaged in the shearing industry, wool growers did not want to employ learners. So the position prevailing today is their own fault. They did not want to employ a man if he could not shear 150 sheep a day. If a shearer could not sheer that many, he could not get a shearing pen. So no one was learning the trade. Now, the wool growers are reaping the results of this short sightedness. There are no young shearers coming on to remove the wool from the sheep. Science will not be able to devise any method but the physical hard work of a human being of getting the wool off sheep. A man has to bend his back, hold the sheep with one hand and brush off the wool with the other.
I was a little sad to learn that Senator Jessop who spoke in the debate last night apparently had not read the farmers’ newspaper in South Australia, ‘The Chronicle’. It is the farmers’ bible. An article appeared in the edition of ‘The Chronicle’ dated 7 September 1973 headed Farm Talk’. It is written by a person who writes under the nom de plume of ‘Victoria’. Perhaps he is the same person who writes for the Financial Review and who had to produce his Press pass in order to ask questions at the Prime Minister ‘s Press conference the other day. This article states:
The Budget was good for agriculture, although a shock to most farmers. It was hard on those of us actually farming, but we must be realistic and remember that for more than 20 years we have had marvellous political opportunities given to us.
I might say that many such people have not availed themselves of or made good those opportunities. The article continues:
Mr Crean ‘s Budget was rather like a stern father confiscating a bag of sweets from his adolescent son, and telling him to grow up and learn to eat the same food as everyone else in the family! Just like that boy, we have to learn to live without the grabbag of political lollies we have had for so long.
Of course, we hear honourable senators, particularly those on the other side of the Senate who represent farmers always running down the Labor Party because it is a socialist Party. But the members of the Country Party have always been prepared to accept with both hands socialism in the way of subsidies. They have adopted a philosophy over the years that farmers should capitalise their profits but socialise their losses at the expense of the man in the street who cannot do that. If the man in the street is not making a decent living wage, he cannot afford to buy what the farmer is producing. I have always maintained that each section of the community depends upon the other. The members of both sections to which I have referred have to be treated on a fairly stable basis, receiving good incomes so that each can support the other. The article finishes by saying this:
It’s up to us to make country living a happy healthy way of life, with ample opportunities for our children by concerted community effort, rather than a politician ‘s bag of promises.
And, I might add, handouts. Of course, this is what the country people received under the previous Government with the Country Party always putting the pressure on the Liberal Party. I might say that the Liberal Party could be more appropriately termed a city based Party than the Labor Party. The Labor Party has far more members in the Parliament, both in the Senate and in the House of Representatives, who represent country areas than does the Liberal Party. As a matter of fact, we have as many members representing country electorates as the Country Party. The Country Party had an article in this same newspaper ‘The Chronicle’. It is headed: ‘How Tax Changes Affect Farmers’.
This is the whole crux of what is worrying some of the Country Party people. We have endeavoured to give a somewhat fairer and more equitable distribution of taxation concessions. Of course, many primary producers were getting a pretty fair crack of the whip in years gone by. Having been a primary producer, I know at first hand of all the lurks that can be used in regard to taxation of which the man on wages cannot avail himself. Under the heading ‘Rates and land tax’ the article states:
The Budget proposals relate to ‘concessional’ not ‘business’ rates.
Under the old Act, a person could claim as deduction all shire rates and land tax paid on his dwelling and on any other house or property owned by him, as well as any rates on farm land, business premises, or dwellings from which he was receiving rent.
Now he will be able to claim rates and land tax on his private dwelling only to a limit of $300 a year as a concessional deduction.
If, for example, he also has a seaside home allotment from which he receives no rental income-
How many people on the average wage have a seaside home? Not too many that I know of. The article continues: he can no longer claim deduction for this additional property.
However, he is still allowed in full, as a business deduction, all rates and land tax on farm, business property or dwellings, etc., from which rental is received.
In the case of a person living in a home owned by him in town and having also a farm property in some other place, he is allowed to claim, up to a limit of $300, the rates on his home as a concessional deduction, and he can also claim in full the rates and land tax paid on his farm as a business deduction.
I do not think there is anything fairer than that.
– Who wrote that?
-The Country Party. One of the things which is really upsetting members of the Country Party is that they cannot claim as a taxation concession what they pay in land tax and council rates on their nice seaside homes to which they go every weekend. The working man has not got a seaside home and would not have the wherewithal to purchase one unless he won the lottery.
I return to what the Leader of the Opposition said in his speech on the Budget and to his comments, as reported in the ‘Australian’ of 3 September. The heading of the article is:
Two-man poll not popular.
Senator Withers is very worried that the coming Senate election and the Parramatta by-election will develop into a 2-man contest. The article quotes him as referring to a popularity contest between the Prime Minister, Mr Whitlam, and the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Snedden. This is what he is afraid of. The Liberal Party does not have a policy on which to go to the people. We have not heard about it, if it has, in all the remarks which have been made on the Budget by Liberal Party senators. So Senator Withers is very much afraid that both the Parramatta byelection and the coming Senate election will develop into a contest between the Prime Minister, Mr Gough Whitlam, and the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Snedden. We need look only at the gallup polls to see why Senator Withers is so worried. The Prime Minister is so far in front that he would have to stop and kneel down for Mr Snedden to catch up.
There has been very great condemnation in this Parliament of the report of the task force headed by Dr Coombs. What members of the present Opposition have not told us is that Dr Coombs was an adviser to the previous Prime Minister, Mr McMahon, so much so that Mr McMahon took Dr Coombs overseas with him. I do not know what the Prime Minister said to Dr Coombs, but it was reported in the Press that the Prime Minister got clouted over the head with a squash racket. I am quite certain that our Prime Minister will not receive the same treatment. A lot of criticism has been levelled at the report of the Coombs task force. Although I do not agree with all the recommendations, at least this Government had the courage to publish that report with the Budget. When the present Opposition was in government it called for a lot of reports. I asked many questions and participated in many arguments in this place to try to get those reports tabled in the Parliament before a decision was made. Would the previous Government table them? Of course it would not.
There was the Randall report on the wool industry. How long did we have to wait for that, and how many questions were asked in the Parliament before the previous Government was forced to table it? There was the Grant report on the wine industry. How long did we wait for that? The previous Government had 3 reports on that industry. None of them was made public so that we could see what was recommended. There was the report of the Bureau of Transport Economics on timber and concrete sleepers. How long did we have to force the previous Government to drag that report out of it? We did not get a copy until the Monday morning after Mr Sinclair announced that he had awarded the contract. It was awarded so that it would favour the chances of the Country Party candidate in a seat which it wanted to win. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. The Country Party candidate won that seat from the Labor Party.
Then there was a report on a hydro-electric scheme for Dartmouth. Long before I was elected to the Senate I said to South Australian senators: ‘Look, there is a nigger in the woodpile with Dartmouth, the way that Bolte has pulled the wool over Hall’s eyes. I believe he wants to construct a hydro-electric scheme there. Can you get me the information from Canberra?’ They would return and say: ‘No. They deny all knowledge of it’. After I was elected to the Senate I asked question after question about the feasibility report on a hydro-electric scheme at Dartmouth. I was told that I had no chance of getting it. So one morning I telephoned the office of the Minister for National Development, Mr Swartz, as he then was, and asked for a copy of that report. The lass said: ‘Yes, it is available ‘. That is the first time that I knew that there was one. I always thought that there was one, but she admitted it. She said: ‘I will send it around’. So an hour or two after that I got a telephone call. I was told: ‘The report is secret. You cannot have it’. I kept hammering in the Parliament until just prior to the last election when a Senate attendant came to me and said: ‘Senator, here is that report that you have been after. We have only one copy. You can have a look at it’. I had a look at it and made some copies. So there are quite a few of them available now.
How long did it take to get those reports? Yet honourable senators opposite condemn this Government for making public the report and recommendations of Dr Coombs. How many reports did the previous Government call for and how many recommendations were made to it upon which it did not act? We will not act upon all recommendations that Dr Coombs has made. One recommendation which is in question at present is the one which states that we should curtail construction on the Dartmouth Dam. The Prime Minister wrote a letter to the State Premiers. All he did was ask them to consider what Dr Coombs had suggested. I wish to quote the pertinent parts of that letter because previous speakers have not been prepared to quote what the Prime Minister said in that letter. I quote from the Hansard report of the House of Assembly of South Australia of 23 August. The letter was tabled in that Parliament by the Minister for Works, Mr Des Corcoran. The pertinent part of the Prime Minister’s letter states:
It would not be our wish to jeopardise necessary supplies in the Murray River system, and we have budgeted for expenditure as planned by the River Murray Commission in the current year -
To hear Opposition speakers talk, one would think that we had cut off all financial assistance for Dartmouth this current year. The letter continues: bit if some reduction in expenditure could be achieved in the next few years without any harmful effects, I believe it would be to the advantage of the 4 governments concerned. This is obviously a complex question, involving consideration of water availability and demand, as well as construction and financial planning. Since the project is under the control of the River Murray Commission, I would propose that the 4 Ministers responsible for River Murray Commission matters be asked, as a matter of urgency, to consider whether, having regard to all the circumstances, it would be feasible to defer the letting of any further contracts, or to reduce or delay expenditure by other means.
Note that the Prime Minister said ‘whether it would be feasible ‘. The letter continues:
It is evident that action would have to be taken quickly if it is to have any chance of success, and I would therefore appreciate your earliest possible advice as to whether you agree that this matter should be studied as suggested.
M r Corcoran then said:
I repeat the assurance I gave the Leader -
That is Dr Eastick- earlier today that the Government will oppose any slowing down or any deferment of work in connection with Dartmouth, and a case will be prepared accordingly and placed before the Commonwealth Government.
Immediately the letter was received the South Australian Labor Government said that it would not agree to any deferment. Senator Bishop said the same thing when the matter was raised during the adjournment debate on the Thursday night. No notice was given to him that it would be raised. He had to speak on the spur of the moment. He said that he had the support of all South Australian Labor senators. I agree. There will be no curtailment of the work at Dartmouth. Honourable senators opposite have tried to make political capital out of that letter, but their attempts certainly have not been supported.
We know that the Dartmouth-Chowilla issue was debated here. Although the Labor Party was opposed to Dartmouth in preference to Chowilla, once Chowilla was sold down the drain by the previous Premier of South Australia, Steele Hall, we agreed that Dartmouth should be proceeded with. I am conversant with this matter because I am one of the persons who organised the petition to the South Australian Parliament when Steele Hall sold us out. It was eventually used as the basis for a debate in the South Australian House of Assembly, on a private member’s Bill. The debate continued for a long time. Eventually a vote was taken, and Steele Hall had to go to the people. So I am a little conversant with what happened there. I look forward to the day when Steele Hall and I lock horns in the Senate after the next Senate election. It seems pretty evident that he will come here. We will welcome him because he has some progressive ideas, although he is a Liberal. I think he will liven up this place.
– Whose place would he take, Senator?
-He will take Senator Young’s place, because Senator Dame Nancy Buttfield by various means- probably like those used against Senator Webster- has been dropped to the death seat on the ticket. Senator Dame Nancy Buttfield cannot get back because we shall have Dr Neal Blewett here as a senator from South Australia and he will be a very capable senator. If Mr Hall comes in he must replace Senator Young. I have a lot of respect for Senator Young even though we lock horns here in this chamber; when we sit together on committees, we are good friends. I will be sorry to see him have to leave that suburban area in which he lives and go back to Kadina to live on the farm; but he will enjoy it because he likes being with the farmers. I am pleased to see that he has just entered the chamber for I have just been saying what good friends we are.
Another matter very dear to my heart concerns the Liberal Country League. In South Australia it is called the LCL. It is used to be the LiberalCountry League but as a result of differences of opinion the Country Party has gone its way and the Liberal Party has gone its way. Now the LCL is termed in South Australia the Legislative Council League because that is where the real strength lies- with Mr Ren DeGaris: He is the real leader. I want to return to what the present Government is doing to get the people out of the cities and into the country areas and to put its policy of decentralisation into operation. Decentralisation has been our policy and we put it into operation. The others have talked about decentralisation but every time they have an opportunity to do something about it, they welsh on it. I shall quote articles by members of various parties who say they support decentralisation but in fact oppose it.
I want to quote also from a statement delivered in this House on 28 August by the Minister for Works (Senator Cavanagh). This is relevant to what happened to the country dwellers under the previous regime and how the people had to leave the country and go to the city to get work. Between 1947 and 1970 the population of the non urban areas in Australia declined from 3 1 per cent to 14.7 per cent of Australia ‘s total population. Now we are going to make every effort to get those people back into the non-urban and country areas. Of course, we have been severely criticised- I am referring now to South Australia- by the Liberal Party, the Country Party and the Democratic Labor Party which are trying to frustrate us in our efforts to get the new town of Monarto under way. This is what Senator Cavanagh said:
What was so clearly necessary was what all governments, and particularly the previous Australian Government, failed to do. This was to select and promote a certain number of growth centres. To the exasperation of the citizens of congested metropolises and to the despair of the people in the country areas, no commitment was made by previous governments to a meaningful policy of new city development, except in repeated platitudes and cliches. This Government has made its commitment In this Budget the commitment stands at $33m. It is only a beginning in our program. One of the major planks of our election platform, and the chief reason for the Labor Party winning the last election, was our commitment to the improvement of the quality of life and standards of service in existing dues. Our new cities program is only one part of our overall urban and regional development strategy.
The Government has allocated $33m to the Cities Commission with which to develop new cities. But what do we find? What is the attitude of one of our Liberal friends from South Australia to this proposal? He is on record and is reported in the Murray Bridge ‘Observer’ as again misleading the electors of South Australia. I have had to refer to this on various occasions. I am referring to Mr Giles, the member for Angas. He got headlines in the paper: ‘ “Mean” Budget Hits Monarto.’ He went on to say that the Government has allocated $3 3 m to the AlburyWodonga complex. That is a complete fabrication of the truth, because the total amount allocated- $3 3m- was for all States.
– No- $ 134m.
– It is shown as $33m in the ‘Estimated assistance for growth centres and other urban and regional development projects.’ That is what I am referring to and that is what he refers to. He tried to hoodwink the electors of South Australia by saying that the $33m was entirely for the Albury-Wodonga area when that was the overall amount for all States. It was split up in this way: New South Wales, $13,900,000; Victoria, $9,500,000; Queensland, $4,400,000; South Australia, $1,200,000; Western Australia, $3,500,000; and Tasmania, $500,000. 1 want to go on record as saying that the $ 1 ,200,000 which has been headlined ‘ “Mean” Budget Hits Monarto’ is exactly the amount of money which the South Australian Government asked for and was given. I was well aware of this for a long time but being a member of the Caucus Committee for Urban and Regional Development I could not counteract his argument. I had to wait until today to say in this Senate that once again he is trying to mislead the electors. Of that amount $750,000 is to be used for acquisition purposes and $200,000 to establish a nursery to grow trees and to beautify the area. The remainder is to be used for administration and consultant purposes this financial year.
The Premier has stated that consultants will be engaged as soon as possible so that preparatory work can begin without delay. Of course, that gives the lie to the statements which are made continuously by our opponents in South Australia. In a report in the Murray Bridge ‘Standard ‘ of 8 March this year of an election speech by the Leader of the Opposition, Dr Eastick, in the Murray Bridge Town Hall in which he too got on the band wagon and tried to frighten the people, the headline was: ‘ “Economic Sink” Warning On New Town ‘. He was frightening the people. He said:
The proposed new city of Monarto could be an ‘economic sink’ which would drain the resources of the State for many years to come . . .
We have received $1.2m from this Government which will be supplemented, though not to a great degree, by the State Government. We got all the money we asked for and we will be able to carry on. The Leader of the Opposition was further reported thus:
He said the announcement of the new town had been premature since feasibility studies had not been completed.
That is another fabrication of the truth and a deliberate attempt to mislead the electors of the State of South Australia. The report of the Monarto New Town Site Selection Committee was a public document in October 1 972. We then had the research report to the steering committee as a public document in December 1972, the Land Tenure Research Group delivered a report in January 1973, a report on the industrial and commercial incentives for the city of Monarto was made in January 1973, and the report of the Development Corporation on the Murray and its relationship with local government came to hand in 1973.
So, honourable senators, I think I have proved that the LCL has done what our opponents are doing about this Budget and what they do in the States. They try to mislead the electors of Australia and it is time the electors of Australia woke up to them, particularly in the States of New South Wales and Victoria, as they did at the Federal election in December 1972. This is what the LCL has done. Now consider what the Country Party has done. In the Murray Bridge ‘Standard ‘ of Tuesday, 7 August, is another headline over a story which began:
The South Australian Country Party Conference held last Friday, declared its opposition to the proposed Monarto New City.
Yet in the Melbourne ‘Herald’ yesterday is a headline: ‘Limit The Growth Of Big Cities’, over an article by a Country Party spokesman saying that we ought to develop the urban areas. Yet when the Country Party had an opportunity at its regional conference in South Australia which was attended by the Federal leaders of the Country Party, it opposed the very thing which it said in the Melbourne ‘Herald’ of yesterday ought to be done. So where do the Country Party members go? They do not know where they are going. Yet these people opposite say to this Government that we do not know where we are going. Consider the Democratic Labor Party which is always arguing that it is the friend of the farmers and the country people, but not one of its parliamentary representatives lives in a country area. I daresay that if any of the 5 representatives went 50 miles from the metropolis he would get lost. An article in the ‘Standard’ of 28 August is headlined: ‘DLP Knocks New City’. The story is:
A recent State conference of the Democratic Labor Party carried a resolution to condemn the planned Monarto New City project.
TI lis is what we get from these people opposite. They criticise this Government but I have yet to hear them put any concrete proposal. They had 23 years in which to do it but what did they do? They did absolutely nothing except help their friends. It really does not astonish me when I find that the Australian Democratic Labor Party and the Australian Country Party are knocking the new city because they now have to agree with one another. We only have to look at the crocodile tears shed by members of the DLP in this chamber since they can no longer bring pressure to bear on the Australian Government. They have lost the happy position that they were in when they could dictate to the previous Government. They said to the previous Government: ‘If you do not do what we want you to do you will not get our preferences’. Then again, if that Government wanted to do something they said: If you do that you will not get our preferences’. In effect the DLP was wagging the dog along behind the Country Party. But it cannot do that today and that is why its members in this chamber are so upset. You can see it.
They cannot wag this Government because it won office without preferences from the DLP. That was something that the DLP thought would never happen. It thought that while it gave its preferences to the conservative party Labor would be in Opposition for ever. However we have proved ourselves and have proved to the people that we are capable of winning an election in our own right. There has been a lot of criticism today about our Caucus meeting last night but at least when decisions are made in that Caucus they are made by financial members, and elected members, of the Australian Labor Party. We did not have to go cap in hand to people like those in the DLP and the Country Party to see whether we could make that decision. We have our own right to make those decisions because we all belong to the one party. If one looks at parliaments and governments around the world one cannot point out any of them that have ever governed any country successfully when they have had to rely on a coalition partner. It just cannot be done. We have to have a 2-party system in this country and the sooner the Liberals realise that the sooner they will have the chance of again becoming the Government.
– We would not give them that chance.
– I always have been a charitable person. I believe that any party which gets 50 per cent plus one of the votes of the electors is entitled to govern. But of course the Country Party does not believe that. One only has to look at what has happened in Queensland where there is a Country Party Government which got only a little more than 19 per cent of the vote. You cannot tell me that that is democracy. We have heard a lot of boasting about the result of the Victorian election and the wonderful victory that the Liberal Party had there. But the boasters never talk about the percentage. The Labor Party got an equal percentage, or a little more, but won half the number of seats that the Liberal Party won. Yet they talk about democracy.
I want to get back to what I was saying about Monarto. Not only the elected members of Parliament are opposing the construction and development of Monarto; a little group of people in our local government is doing so also. They are the Mayor of Murray Bridge and the Chairman of the Mobilong District Council. They are both members of the Liberal-Country League. Mr Doecke, who was a candidate for Murray and did not do too well, and Mr Green, who stood for pre-selection in the Liberal-Country League, have combined to try to destroy the concept of the construction and development of Monarto. I often wonder what their attitude would have been if Mr Hall or Mr Eastick had been in government in South Australia when the decision was made to develop Monarto. It would have been a wonderful scheme and something to be proud of. But because ti e Labor Government in South Australia decided to do this it is just no good and there is nothing to it.
I recall what happened many years ago when Sir Thomas Playford, then Premier of South Australia, decided to develop Elizabeth. There was a hue and cry in my area along the River. People said: ‘Why can you not bring the city out to the River? Bring the city to the water instead of taking the water to the city’. Yet now those people have taken the reverse attitude when we are bringing a city there under the auspices of a Labor Government. They say that the development should not be there; it should be somewhere else. They say that the people should be kept in the city. When one looks at Country Party philosophy one realises that there is a lot of logic in keeping the people in the city because in that way all the Labor voters are crammed into a little corner. The Country Party wants country areas to have just a few people scattered all over the place like a few onion weeds or horehounds. Its members have nobody to see when they drive around. One only has to look at the program of Mr Giles which is set out in the Press. I sat down one day and worked it out and he had to be travelling in a motor car at 200 miles an hour to go from point A to point B in one day if he wanted to get to all the places he was going to visit on his whistle stops, as he calls them. This is the way they hoodwink the people. Getting back to what I was saying about Monarto -
– Keep it up. You are helping all the time. They are a wake up to you, son.
– I am not helping you. I am saying that there is collusion between members of the Liberal Party in Government and members of local government at Murray Bridge. They desperately tried to sell the story to the people, particularly those in Murray Bridge, that Monarto was going to have a detrimental effect on Murray Bridge. I am a member of the Murray Valley Development League. I am sure Senator Cotton will remember the League because he attended a conference here in Canberra a couple of years ago and got a pretty hectic passage.
– It is a very nice place. There is only one thing wrong with it; the wrong man is talking about it. It is a nice place and they are good people.
– I had a lot of sympathy for Senator Cotton on that day because what happened was not his fault. He did not write the speech he had to read. He had to read a speech written by somebody else.
– You have the wrong man. I was there for gliding.
– However, the Murray Valley Development League has come under a lot of criticism from Mr Doecke. It conducted a public opinion poll in Murray Bridge. It sent out 250 circulars to the people there to see what their reaction would be to Monarto. It is very interesting to read the results. I have the interim report which was given to the meeting of the Mobilong District Council last Friday and to the Murray Bridge Corporation last Monday. It was given to those bodies so that they could study it. I understand that there is quite an article in yesterday’s Murray Bridge ‘Observer’ but I have not been fortunate enough to obtain a copy of it. I have a copy of the results of the public opinion poll showing what the people thought. The first question was: ‘Are you in favour of the Monarto City?’ Of the 150 people who returned ballot papers 106 said yes. This meant that 70.6 per cent of the business people contacted were in favour of Monarto City. Yet we hear Mr Green, Chairman of the Council, and Mr Doecke trying to sell the story that the people of Murray Bridge do not want Monarto.
– You should be telling this to the ratepayers, not to the Senate. That is where it will have its effect.
– I am relating my remarks to the money which this Federal Government has allocated to the development of Monarto, something which your Party is trying to kill. This is why I am saying this and it is hurting you.
– Who said that we are trying to kill it?
– Of course you are trying to kill it. I have read the remarks of your Leader in that State and the remarks of Mr Giles. This is what I am relating my remarks to. The second question was: ‘Do you wish to see Murray Bridge keep growing?’ The result was that 141 people or 94 per cent said yes. The third question was: ‘At what rate of increase- 3 per cent, 5 per cent, 10 per cent or 20 per cent?’ The majority, 36.6 per cent of the people- that is 55 ballot papers- were in favour of a 10 per cent growth. The next question was: ‘How far should a shopping complex be from Murray Bridge?’ Of the people contacted, 94 out of 150 said: ‘adjoining’. That means that 62 per cent of the people agreed with the idea of a shopping complex adjoining Murray Bridge. The next question was: ‘Do you wish to see a town plan with zoning?’ The reply from 144 people out of 1 50 was: ‘Yes’. I have no need to read any more about that although the report does go on. That report on the ballot is conclusive proof. The business people of Murray Bridge are completely in favour of the scheme. Replies to the ballot came from 7 banks and insurance companies, 9 land and general agents, 18 car sales, service and parts, 1 1 roadhouses, 7 hotels and accommodations, 10 fruit and delicatessens, 50 retail stores, 28 other services and 10 manufacturers. The Murray Valley Development League did not contact the man in the street in conducting that survey; it contacted business people, the people who have a financial interest in the town of Murray Bridge.
I have been proud to live in Murray Bridge for the last 23 years. I am proud to know that the present Labor Government in South Australia is going to develop a new town adjacent to Murray Bridge. The wisdom of the scheme has been seen by the present Australian Government. Some of the good features are that the area is on the Murray Bridge- Hahndorf pipeline; it is on the main Melbourne-Adelaide road; and it is on the main Melbourne-Adelaide railway. It is in close proximity to the Murray River and the lakes and in close proximity to the pleasure resort of Victor Harbour. It has everything going for it. However we hear arguments put forward by people opposed to the scheme who cannot see their way clear to support the project merely because it is promoted by the Australian Labor Party. If people want to read more about Monarto I recommend that they look at an article headed Monarto Madness’ in ‘Nation Review’ of 13 September. It was written by Bruce Muirden, a distinguished journalist in South Australia. Honourable senators will get the facts from that article about why local government in the area is opposed to the development of Monarto.
In conclusion I want to comment on a remark made by Senator Jessop who suggested that workers should work an extra 2 hours a day for no increase in pay. What a wonderful slogan. He says that the worker should put in an extra 2 hours a day for no increase in pay. That is his philosophy for overcoming the inflation which was forced on to this Government by 23 years of Liberal Party rule. It is all very well for a person like Senator Jessop to say that the slave ought to work an extra 2 hours a day. I doubt very much whether Senator Jessop has ever done a hard day’s work from which he got a backache. In his occupation he would not get a backache.
It grieves me very much to hear honourable senators opposite talking about increased production from the working man. They should go into some of their places of work and see the conditions which the working people have to suffer. I refer to the conditions of work on assembly lines and the rat infested and fly infested dining rooms in which they have to eat their lunch. I have suffered all of these things in my life when I worked for some primary producers. I spoke about wool growers in this regard. Many years ago I used to go to Ballarat digging spuds. I have done all sorts of hard jobs. I am not saying that all primary producers treat their workers in this manner; they do not. I have been to many places which have ideal working conditions, and the people who own these places never have a problem in getting employees. They never have cause to gripe that there are no workers available. Last year when there was a song and dance about the shortage of fruit pickers in the Riverland district, I had a talk with certain people in that area when I attended a citizenship ceremony there. I asked them who in the main were the fruit growers who could not get labour. On every occasion I was told it was the people who did not have decent working and living conditions. In those places the workers were expected to sleep out under the tree, under the vine or in the fowlhouse. I do not blame the working people for not working in these places. If a farmer has decent living conditions to offer and treats his workers as human beings he will never have a problem in getting labour. One has to be engaged in seasonal work in primary industry to find this out because seasonal workers talk about these things. When I was working in the shearing industry, at night around the camp fire we would talk about the best places to work, where the best sheep were to shear and where the tough ones were.
– And you would publish it in the ‘ Worker ‘.
-We do publish these things in the ‘Worker’, and it is a good thing. The reason that a lot of these people cannot get labour is that the workers talk, and so they are always clamouring for workers. There is never a shortage of people wanting to go to the places which offer good conditions. When the shearing contractor comes around to ask whether a worker will go to a certain place he might say: No, I will not go there because I have heard bad reports’, and the person who owns the place will find it hard to get labour. It serves him right if he cannot get it. He deserves to have to shear his sheep himself. The same situation applies in the fruit industry and in other primary industries, as well as in secondary industries. The only people who find that they cannot maintain a continuous work force are those who continually niggle away at the workers, penny-pinch, and do not provide proper working conditions for their employees.
I have much pleasure in supporting this Budget which was introduced by the Whitlam Government, and I look forward to standing in this place in future years supporting many more Labor government budgets. I look forward to seeing Senator Wright sitting opposite for a few years to come but I am afraid that although I would like to see Senator Young sitting there, because of political consequences in the world in which we live I might not see him there for too much longer because he has to battle it out with Steele Hall at the next Senate election for his place in the Senate.
Sitting suspended from 5.59 to 8 p.m.
– I inform the Senate that I have received letters from the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Murphy), the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator Withers) and the Leader of the Australian Country Party in the Senate (Senator Drake-Brockman) nominating Senators Keeffe McLaren, Marriott and Webster to be members of the Joint Committee on the Northern Territory.
Motion (by Senator Murphy) agreed to:
That Senators Keeffe, McLaren, Marriott and Webster be members of the Joint Committee on the Northern Territory.
– I inform the Senate that I have received a letter from the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Murphy) requesting the discharge of Senator James McClelland from service on the Senate Select Committee on the Civil Rights of Migrant Australians and nominating Senator Georges to fill the vacancy.
– I move:
I should inform the Senate that that is intended as a temporary replacement during the absence overseas of Senator James McClelland.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 30 August (vide page 374), on motion by Senator Sim:
That the Senate deplores the Government’s double standards in respect of atomospheric nuclear testing by China and France.
-Mr President, there has never been any doubt as to where the Australian Labor Party stands on the matter of nuclear testing. We are very aware of the assualt on mankind that happened at Nagasaki and Hiroshima. We realise, of course, that there was a challenge to mankind in the reactionary fascist regimes that were astride the world at the time when an atomic device was exploded in Japan. This resolved temporarily a problem that faced the world.
History will judge those who made those decisions and whether it was justifiable to end a war in that way. There is no doubt that that atomic device ended a war that was testing man’s capacity to live as he wanted to live and freed man from one of the greatest scourges that was ever devised by man- a fanatical psychopath who had been built up by the fascist forces. The reactionary capitalist forces of the world had built up Hitler and he in turn was able to suborn others of his ilk like Mussolini and the powers in Japan in order to form a triumvirate or a troika, or whatever one likes to call the trio that challenged the rights of man to live in freedom on this earth.
Some of our great scientists found the solution by splitting the atom. This was a change in the course of history. The experiment of man against his fellow man where he could resolve his problems by annihilation is not really part of the evolutionary process of mankind. Man has evolved from the mud and the depths into his present estate by the use of intelligence. That is the differentiation between man and the animal. The animal can destroy. The jungle makes it possible for brute strength to defeat the lesser species. But the human who claims to have devine origins is supposed to be above the level. Yet here we are in 1 973, after the experience in 1 945 of Nagasaki and Hiroshima, with people like Senator Sim who come into this Senate and try to justify the extension of this wicked, animal approach to the solution of man ‘s problems.
– You do not know what you are talking about.
-The testing of bombs to destroy your fellow man. It is as simple as that.
– Show me one word that I have ever said that would justify that accusation.
-The fact that the honourable senator has this motion on the Senate notice paper shows that in his inner-most soul he would like to use the thermo-nuclear bomb to solve his problems. He has proved this. The honourable senator’s colleague who sits on his left hand side- that is the only time that he has ever been on the left- would aid and abet him.
– You are mad.
– I would have a good companion in that state while you were in the same chamber. One need only instance our friends who were killed in Chile yesterday to appreciate that we are living in a crisis. At the present time there are desperate people in the world who will take desperate measures. It is only a small step from a militarist coup that would destroy a democractic Government to the same desperado who will press the button and drop a thermo-nuclear bomb if he believes this will give him an advantage. You think that over, you clever intellectual. But I express my own attitude towards these things. I am bringing you into gear, Senator Sim.
– Order! I ask you to address your remarks through the Chair, Senator. I also ask you to advert to the subject matter of the debate.
– If I can advert to the subject matter, Senator Sim has brought before the Senate a motion which is No. 1 9 under the orders of the day. It is entitled ‘Atmospheric Nuclear Testing by China and France’. His motion states:
That the Senate deplores the Government’s double standards in respect of atmospheric nuclear testing by China and France.
I opened my address by saying that there has never been any doubt about where the Australian Labor Party stood with regard to nuclear testing and nuclear bombs. We want to give the Opposition the message loud and clear, that whether it is the French, the Chinese or the Russians -
– Exactly what I say.
– Exactly what we all say.
– You do not say that at all. You want to be able to test on the one hand and then condemn someone else when they carry out a test. I am against all nuclear testing. The United Nations is against nuclear testing.
– Led by Nigel Bowen.
– With all respect to the past Attorney-General, he was humanitarian enough, far-sighted enough and Christian enough, if I can give him that appellation, to know the basic commandment: ‘Thou shalt not kill’. During the course of the Budget debate honourable senators opposite asked: ‘Why do you not spend more money on armaments?’ They thrive on fear; they thrive on hatred; they thrive on divisiveness; they thrive on being able to keep the old idea that we are still in the jungle where we need to have brute force. I have had enough experience of wars in my lifetime; I have seen numbers of wars. I was only a babe when the wicked First World War with all its suffering and purposelessness was in progress. What happened at the end of these 4.5 years of stupidity? The nations concerned got around the table at Versailles. And Versailles was turned into the reason for the Second World War because of people with a vested interest in war, in armaments, in keeping people ignorant and fearful and on the animal level- people like honourable senators opposite who have a vested interest in the perpetuating of war because their friends make money out of it.
- Mr President, I raise a point of order. It is completely offensive, to me at any rate, for the honourable senator to say that I have a vested interest in war. My family has suffered as much as the honourable senator’s has. I am absolutely offended and I ask for a withdrawal.
– I would like to speak to that point of order.
– Order! I am dealing with one point of order at the moment.
– I am speaking to the point of order which Senator Marriott has raised.
– Order! I am dealing with the point of order raised by Senator Marriott. He objects to the words used against him- that he has a vested interest in war. I address myself to Senator O ‘Byrne and suggest that he withdraw.
– To Senator Marriott I offer my humblest apologies if I have offended him because I know that his dear father was blinded by war. He had a beautiful character and was a fine man. Much of the enjoyment of his life was diminished by the loss of his sight through war. This only accentuates the point I am making about the uselessness -
– Order! Senator O ‘Byrne, do you withdraw the remark?
– I have withdrawn it if it has been offensive to the honourable senator because I know the background of his father, himself and his family.
- Mr President, I raise a point of order. Senator O ‘Byrne accused every honourable senator on this side of the chamber in relation to this matter. I ask him to withdraw his allegation unconditionally.
– If I had been allowed to raise -
– Order! Senator Georges, I have not seen you yet. I do not think that honourable senators have to be so testy about this sort of matter. Senator Marriott quite honestly had deep feelings about it because he was included. It was a rhetorical phrase. I have heard it used around here many times. An honourable senator has said that one side had a vested interest in capitalism and someone else has said that another had a vested interest in socialism, and one thing and another. I am sure that rational thinking on this will lead honourable senators to realise that it was a rhetorical device and that it ought to be treated as such.
– The President is included in this too, I think.
– Yes, I know, but I am a tolerant man. Senator O ‘Byrne, I think that you should get back to the substance of the motion.
– I realise that this is a very contentious subject. I wonder why Senator Sim has raised it. Of course he is a most undiplomatic person in many respects. He has offended persons without knowing it. He has offended me tonight and possibly stirred the possum in me, because I have very strong attitudes about nuclear testing.
– So have I.
– You have not. Honourable senators opposite have been condemning the Government all week for the decision it has taken to reduce the strength of Australia’s defences. The Government takes the view- quite properly- that Australia is not likely to be attacked. Australia has its diplomatic service moving among its neighbours and trying to make friends with them. In 1963 the previous Government ordered the FI 1 1 aircraft for use in the defence of Australia against a possible attack by Indonesia, which it regarded at that time as being a threat to Australia’s security. This move backfired in its face. Indonesia is under surveillance at present, as is every country, and it is unlikely to want to attack Australia because it has much more to gain from being friendly with Australia than from being hostile towards it. The people of Papua New Guinea also have an affinity with us. They would rather be our friends than our enemies. Tonight I attended a reception at the Philippines Embassy in honour of General Romulo.
– Where were you?
-At a reception at the Philippines Embassy. I went to it because my wife had never been to such a reception in Canberra and she wanted to see what one was like. General Romulo was met in a very friendly way by a South African dignitary. If General Romulo had been in South Africa he would have been down on the wood heap.
– What does this have to do with atomic explosions?
– What I am getting at is that members of the Opposition, including Senator McManus, used to talk about the red arrows coming down from China and about China going to attack Australia. The propaganda put forward by the Australian Democratic Labor Party has been that we need to have a thermonuclear power and a large Army to protect ourselves. It wants to drain away much of our manpower and divert much of our capacity to produce for the betterment of mankind in order to perpetuate the old pecking order of the system and have enough people around for a coup d’etat to overthrow a democratic government.
– Like what happened in Chile.
– Exactly. That is the mentality of members of the Opposition. The Australian Labor Party has always made it clear that it abhors the proliferation of nuclear weapons in any shape or form. I want to get that message home to honourable senators opposite. The Australian Labor Party is just as much opposed to nuclear testing on Mururoa Atoll as it is to nuclear testing in part of China or, for that matter, in any part of the universe. We unanimously support the declarations by the United Nations on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. We take the stand that mankind cannot gain from the use of nuclear devices. Man has been able to create a device which can either make the world a better place or destroy it.
I do not think members of the Opposition have ever attended a survival course. I attended one at Mount Macedon in Victoria. At that course I discovered the stupidity of building shelters or hospitals under mountains. The very vegetables that one needs will not grow without photosynthesis. They will not grow in shelters under mountains. So, after one has done all of one’s preparations, one has to go out and round up the tucker. One has to go out and pick contaminated vegetables and kill the beasts that feed on radioactive food. If there were a thermo-nuclear war there would be no hope for anyone. I want to throw the purpose of this exercise tonight back into Senator Sim’s face. Whether China is testing nuclear weapons or France is testing nuclear weapons is only a superficial argument. What the Parliament of Australia should be doing on behalf of everyone in this country is taking a united stand to denigrate and to ostracise any country that tests a nuclear device. Honourable senators opposite are inconsistent. They know in their own hearts that they are militarists. They know that they want war. They know that their organisations are all behind the pack order of war, the generals and the old traditional way of keeping the ordinary working man in subjection.
– America is testing nuclear weapons.
– Of course, the United States of America is testing them. The United States is top of the pecking order. Yet, under that great umbrella of nuclear power there is the rottenest society in the Western world. It is corrupt. This is the type of thing that happens. We have jungle law with the power, the strength, the claw and the tooth as an umbrella. Underneath it all, there is corruption that goes with this power. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. This is what is happening because members of the Opposition are sympathetic to nuclear testing. They know that it is an armament of conquest.
– They want Australia to doit.
-Of course they do. They want Australia to test nuclear weapons. They want to introduce an Omega station into Australia. It is a subterfuge for the operation of nuclear submarines.
– The honourable senator is not going to throw it out.
– Nor is Mr Whitlam.
– I will admit that this is a controversial issue. It is doubtful whether any issue has caused such a universal outcry as these nuclear tests. I remember the French people. I was in a hospital in France when they had virtually run away from the advancing German Army. The French people were funny people. They had a Maginot line- an imaginary line. It only took the French about 10 minutes to give up the ghost. If it had not been for England, they would have been in the yoke of the Germans. Now, like cockyolly birds, they want to strut again. Like a cock with spurs, France wants to strut around the world as a nuclear power. Honourable senators should have seen the French when I saw them. They were so effete and so depraved that they were prepared to lay down like ducks and let the Germans run over them. The British were the ones who saved the French. They stood their ground and got the French over to England from Dunkirk.
– But the honourable senator said a minute ago that the British were rotten.
– I am telling the honourable senator the story of history. I am talking about the cheek of the French to come out into our area to test nuclear weapons. If there is no fallout from nuclear testing, why did not the French drop the bombs in the Mediterranean or on their own soil? Why did they come out into our area and pollute our atmosphere? There are none so blind as those who will not see. We know very well that this shower is not like the quality of mercy that falleth like the gentle rain. This shower rains down over a period of time. It goes through the grass and it goes into the babies and the future generations. That is where the genetic disturbances will take place. It will be in our babies who have to drink the milk that comes from the cows that eat the grass which the fallout pollutes. This is true.
– Stop talking a lot of absolute nonsense.
- Senator Jessop would not know. He is like Robinson Crusoe.
– You sound more like Warren Mitchell every day.
– Whoever I sound like I want to sound like myself, trying to show people who will not see that motions such as the one before the Senate tonight are reactionary, negative and dangerous to mankind. They show that there are enough people on that side of the chamber, who hold a majority in a democratic country who, to repeat that offensive phrase by paraphrasing it, would not mind if there were another war as long as they thought that they could win it.
– I love to hear the warriors accusing everyone else of being warmongers.
– The little snipe from way back who has a vested interest in porno, indirectly, never heard a shot fired in anger. He does not know what a nuclear war would be like because he does not know the first thing about war. I know only what the old boys’ wars were like. They were bad enough. Honourable senators opposite are laying the groundwork for another war because they tolerate the testing which must inevitably result in the fanatic pressing of the tit.
– You are in the wrong school.
– Do not worry about saying that it is wrong. There are enough reserves of thermo-nuclear bombs to destroy the fabric of the earth’s surface. Honourable senators opposite must admit that. Man does not realise what he has done by discovering this fantastic thermo-nuclear energy. So, they will not solve anything. They may as well cut their throats as think that they can win a thermo-nuclear war. They will finish up the same way as the film ‘On the Beach’ finished. I would like all honourable senators to see that film again. That is what could happen to mankind if enough countries continue thermo-nuclear testing and develop the techniques of the bomb. Eventually fanatics will get power by a coup. They will be of the ilk of some people whom I can see reflected in honourable senators on the other side of the chamber. These fanatics will think that they can dominate the world because they are the master race- the herrenvolk. I can see their reflections in my mind’s eye. Honourable senators opposite would be prepared to support people such as that because they have friends in South Africa and Rhodesia. Their friends are racists and sectarian. They have lots of friends in strange places.
I pay tribute to my colleague and friend Senator Lionel Murphy who was in the forefront of the attack against the French testing.
– He did not do any good.
– Yes, he did. The International Court of Justice has given a message to mankind. The French are temporarily so egotistical that they think that they can affront the International Court of Justice. The wheel might turn. One day they might want to go there and get under its shelter because it is their only hope. Man cannot live in little cells any longer; man is interdependent. The conquest of communication and transport problems has brought man closer together. I tell the story about the man who asked: ‘What nationality is he?’ The reply was: ‘I do not know what he is, but as long as he is British that will do me’. That idea is no longer tenable. Language difficulties divide people and this is international: It affects all mankind. I started by saying I wanted to pay a tribute to Senator Murphy because he is one of the world leaders in this attitude that we must get people to accept that this device which man has developed has within it the possibility of destruction of the earth’s surface and all mankind. Every manjack of us here should be united in denouncing tests whether they be by China, France, the United States or the Soviet Union- any nation which is developing this fiendish device which is such a danger to mankind. This is a lily-livered, weakkneed, watery sort of motion: ‘The Senate deplores the Government’s double standards . . .’ We have no double standards. We are against nuclear testing anywhere and always. I would like to conclude by saying that if the Labor Party does nothing else, the history of this country when it is written will show that we have done the right thing by condemning nuclear testing and the Opposition will be shown for what it is: a group of parochial, antidiluvian hopeless people who- as I said before, and objection was taken to it- like wars because they think wars can solve human problems, but they cannot.
- Mr President, I wish to make a personal explanation.
– Do you claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. Senator O ‘Byrne- and I do not take him seriously- alleged that I and the other members of the Opposition supported nuclear war. I wish to make quite clear what I said, and therefore I shall quote from page 369 of Hansard of 30 August. I said then:
Let me make it clear at the outset that the Opposition condemns all atmospheric nuclear testing wherever it is conducted and by whomever it is conducted. Our attitude was made clear when in Government; our attitude has been made clear in Opposition. The former Minister for Foreign Affairs, the honourable Nigel Bowen, led in the United Nations the condemnation of all atmospheric nuclear testing. We stand alongside any country in the world in our condemnation of these tests.
That is my attitude, it is the attitude of the Opposition, and any allegation to the contrary is not only irresponsible but completely and utterly false, and the person who makes it should be condemned.
Senator O’BYRNE ( Tasmania )-I wish to make a personal explanation.
– Do you claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. Senator Sim in quoting something has backed away from his original motion. He said that I had misrepresented him, but let me read from the notice paper which sets out the official business before the Senate:
No. 19. Atmospheric Nuclear Tests by China and France … On the motion by Senator Sim- That the Senate deplores the Government’s double standards in respect of atmospheric nuclear testing by China and France.
TI hat was the motion to which I was speaking.
– You never mentioned China.
– I did mention China. I mentioned the Soviet Union and the United States.
– Anyway, I have made my point.
– We have just listened to one of the most remarkable speeches I have had the misfortune to hear in this place. I know that this debate was adjourned on the motion of Senator Poyser but Senator O ‘Byrne rose to speak. I do not know whether Senator O ‘Byrne is the third emergency or the fifth emergency but it was obvious from his speech that he did not know what he was talking about. He had no idea what motion Senator Sim moved last Thursday night. If he had listened to Senator Sim’s speech or had read it in Hansard he would have known something about the subject matter.
I want to say quite clearly that I am very happy to support the motion moved by Senator Sim. To my mind the double standards of the Government in respect of atmospheric nuclear testing by China and France are indicative of its standards in everything it does. There is no question about that. If a nation happens to be a member of the Communist camp it can do no wrong. Senator O ‘Byrne did not mention one word about China. It is open season on any nation which is not in the Communist camp. What about the United States of America? This Government was not in office for a fortnight before Ministers were racing off and attacking the United States. They attacked every nation that has been loyal to this country and that has been helping this country. The obvious reason is that they are doing what their masters say back in the Trades Halls in the various States. If they want endorsement to come back to this House or to the other place they have to get up and make a great song and dance about the Communist front because the left wing of the Labor Party controls the whole organisation.
One can understand how the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) got into so much trouble last night. After all, Senator O ‘Byrne is the Government Whip in this chamber. He has to whip around and get all the troops. If his knowledge of the subject matter dealt with last night was as poor as his knowledge of this issue I have no doubt that he rallied a lot of troops around to embarrass the Prime Minister. No doubt the Prime Minister will not be game to leave this country in the future while the House is sitting; he might not have a job when he returned.
I want to state clearly that my Party, the Australian Country Party, goes along with the Liberal Party in this respect. We oppose nuclear testing wherever it occurs and no matter which nation carries it out. Let there be no doubt about that. The whole object of this exercise we are engaged in is the Government’s attitude. People who listened to Senator O ‘Byrne’s speech would know that he does not even realise that China has exploded atmospheric nuclear weapons. The Prime Minister said that the French tests were concerned with the exploding of a far worse bomb. It was a monstous bomb. Government supporters, because of what is said by their masters back in the various States, have to play up to the Chinese. This Government and the trade unions were organising trade bans against the French while the Minister for Overseas Trade, Dr Cairns, was racing over to China and negotiating special, favoured treatment in trade relations with that country. He was doing this despite the fact that both China and France were carrying out atmospheric nuclear testing at the same time. We even saw the Australian Council of Trade Unions racing around and seeing that French firms in this country could not carry on their affairs. There was one notable exception in this regard and that was the French company which was building the Prime Minister’s suite. We noticed that work did not stop at that end of this building. I do not know who was responsible for arranging that special treatment. Did honourable senators notice that the work did not stop down there, even though a French company was doing the work?
– Double standards.
-Double standards again. In his great speech a short time ago Senator O ‘Byrne mentioned -
– He thinks it was a great speech anyway.
– He thinks it was, so I will give him credit for that. After all, Senator O ‘Byrne was once a ringer out in western
Queensland, and no doubt the heat out there had an effect on him.
– There is no disgrace in being a ringer.
-That is all right. I was a ringer also in the same part of the country. The Opposition has made it clear that it opposes nuclear testing. We are opposed to any build-up of nuclear weapons. For most of his speech Senator O’Byrne told us that we on this side of the chamber are war mongers. As was mentioned by Senator Carrick, I trunk, our Foreign Minister, Mr N. H. Bowen, moved in the United Nations for the banning of nuclear testing. Yet Senator O’Byrne tried to make out that we on this side of the chamber are war mongers and that we want to destroy people.
To come back to the terms of the motion before the Senate, it states that the Senate deplores the fact that the Government has not been prepared to protest to China in the manner it has protested to France. What has happened in relation to France? There has been strong condemnation not only by the Government’s leader, the Prime Minister, but also by members of the Cabinet. It has been estimated that it cost some $ 138,000 for Senator Murphy and his entourage to go to Paris and put on a great show of ballyhoo in attacking the French. Where is evidence of the same type of action being taken against China? Can honourable senators opposite tell me that? All I can recall hearing in that regard was that Gough Whitiam, while in Canada, said: ‘Oh well, the French tests were monstrous compared with the Chinese tests. After all, the Chinese are under threat of attack’. He did not say who was threatening to attack China. I presume it would be Russia. When we get down to the issues, the interesting thing is that when it suits him the Prime Minister says that we cannot oppose the Chinese tests because they are under threat of attack. He did not say who was threatening China but we know he was referring to Russia.
– Did not Mick Young go to China a week afterwards?
– I do not know what Mick Young was doing over there.
– He was on the VIP flight.
-He was on the VIP flight. Let me get back to what the Prime Minister says when he wants to justify Chinese nuclear testing. One can imagine that if China is under threat of attack and that threat is posed by Russia, the whole of the world will be involved in any conflict which might ensue. Such a conflict will spread through the South-East Asian area where the Russians have their submarines and then the rest of the world will become involved. But the Government is going to sabotage the Australian defence forces. It says that we can be sure there will be no threat to this country for another 15 years. This is another example of its double standards. When it suits the Government it applies one standard in one instance and when it suits it it applies another standard in another instance. These are the facts. As far as I am concerned we have to see that nuclear testing is stopped. We must not only protest but also, if necessary, organise nations and group nations together to stop it. We also have to try to break down the build-up of nuclear weapons and we have to endeavour to try to promote peace throughout the world. We can do that only if we adopt an objection and unbiassed approach to all nations. We have to deal unbiassedly with those who break the rules. Does it matter whether a test is carried out on a Pacific island or in China, in the southern hemisphere or in the northern hemisphere, whether it is close to Australia or whether it is not? Is not the principle whethere you test or not test?
If we do not want nuclear fall-out around the world- we have no proof whether it will be dangerous, but let us assume that perhaps it could be dangerous- let us stop nuclear fallout or radiation where it is possible to stop it. There are many areas where radiation takes place and we cannot stop it. But we must have one standard and we have to be completely unbiassed in our approaches towards other countries. This is the very reason why Senator Sim has moved this motion and why we on the Opposition side are supporting it. There is no doubt that this Government is prepared to do everything possible to frustrate France while at the same time it does absolutely nothing to oppose nuclear testing by China. I have much pleasure in supporting the motion.
– I think that there has been a tendency, particularly by the last speaker, Senator Maunsell, to get a bit emotional about this matter. Let us look at the motion which is the subject of order of the day No. 19. It reads:
Atmospheric Nuclear Tests by China and France: Adjourned debate … on the motion by Senator Sim- that the Senate deplores the Government’s double standards in respect of atmospheric nuclear testing by China and France.
I say quite unequivocally that this matter was put on the notice paper by Sentor Sim as a smokescreen for the retention of nuclear armaments throughout the world and not as a protest against the alleged double standards by the Government or anything else. Let us go back a little into history. (Quorum formed).
I should like it to be known that I did not call for a quorum. This is one of the tricks that the Opposition is using these days in order to get an audience in the chamber to hear its interjections. In 1966 I spoke at a meeting in Brisbane and drew attention to the fact that strontium 90, caesium 137 and iodine 131 were in very heavy concentrations in fallout over the food bowl of north Queensland- the area in which the vegetables for Queensland north of the Tropic of Capricorn and a very large bulk of milk and cheese are produced. The concentrations were about 10 or 15 times heavier than they were in Launceston or Hobart or other southern areas of Australia. At the time Professor Titterton, who was then the chief adviser of the government of the day- this was in 1966- claimed that the figures being quoted were incorrect. But since the new Government has come to power an analysis of the tables produced back to that period and before in fact indicates that the statement which I made on 6 August 1966 was correct. The previous Government used all the dodges that it could use to conceal from the Australian public the fact that nuclear fallout was in heavy concentration over this country. It was in the Government’s best interests to do it, too. At the time the Australian Democratic Labor Party was advocating a nuclear deterrent. The Liberal Party, fearful of offending the Democratic Labor Party, thought that perhaps a nuclear deterrent would not be a bad idea and facilities were made available to people who wanted to test and train in this country.
Any nation must stand condemned for nuclear explosions, whether they be in the atmosphere or underground, and for the operation of nuclear power stations where the waste cannot be disposed of safely. There is a moral responsibility on everybody in all of the parliaments in this country to see that nuclear weapons are not brought into Australia and that facilities for the explosion of nuclear weapons are not made available anywhere near Australia. I note that Senator Maunsell ‘s interest in the debate was fairly shallow because he is no longer in the chamber. He ought to be the last person to say that nuclear weapons or nuclear explosions of any form have not proved to be dangerous. His children and my children live in an area where the food they eat is subjected to the greatest fallout in the country. I do not know what he has done about his children but my children have to drink milk substitutes because I will not run the risk of their contracting leukemia or any of the other diseases that can be caused by nuclear fallout, or of their children being born with birth mutations. It is quite silly to say it has not been proved that there is a danger from nuclear fallout.
– You do not agree with Mr Hayden?
– I am not talking about anything that has been said anywhere else. I am stating the facts as I know them, and if Senator Hannan disagrees with them he has a right to contradict them afterwards.
– I am just asking you whether you disagree with Mr Hayden.
– I have not seen Mr Hayden ‘s statement. Senator Hannan can quote it afterwards. In April of this year the Australian Academy of Science prepared for the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) a report setting out the biological effects of nuclear explosion fallout. There are 3 pages of the report which contain fairly detailed technical material, and I ask for leave to have the relevant information incorporated in Hansard.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse)- Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows)-
THE BIOLOGICAL EFFECTS OF NUCLEAR EXPLOSION FALL-OUT
Explosion of nuclear weapons in the atmosphere releases material (fall-out) which is radioactive- that is it emits ionizing radiation which effects living organisms. The evaluation of the effects may be divided into two parts; the evaluation of the doses of radiation from fall-out, and the assessment of the resulting biological damage. The important biological damage consists of the initiation of cancers and leukemias and the induction of genetic defects.
SECTION 1: LEVELS OF RADIATION
In this section assessments are made of the radiation doses to humans in Australia, arising from the testing of nuclear weapons at the French test site in the South Pacific. Prediction of average effects of fall-out can be based on the past fall-out measurements.
Radiation doses may be internal, resulting from ingestion of radioactive material, or external, resulting from irradiation by radioactive material in the air or on the ground.
Radiation doses may be expressed as a dose rate (in millirad per year for example) or as a dose commitment. The dose commitment due to a given amount of radioactive material is the total dose which it delivers over its entire effective life, which may extend over many years in the case of long lived radioactive substances.
Outside the local fall-out area, most evidence suggests that only a few of the radioactive elements produced by a nuclear explosion are a serious hazard to human health. These elements comprise the short lived fission products notably iodine- 131; the long lived fission products strontium-90 and caesium- 137; and carbon- 14, which is produced in quantity by thermonuclear explosions(1) .
The radiation doses due to short lived fission products from past French nuclear weapons tests may be estimated directly from observations made in Australia.
It must be stressed that predictions will be based on previous experience which probably contained no instance of certain rare atmospheric events which could markedly increase these effects. These events would include unusual global circulation in the troposphere in an east to west direction and/or some singular occurrence producing local effects, such as the penetration and souring of the main depth of the radioactive debris by a tropical storm (see Appendix Section 1 ).
Iodine-131 (half life 8.1 days)
Radioactive iodine- 1 3 1 is concentrated largely in the thyroid gland; the whole body dose from iodine- 1 3 1 is about one thousandth of the thyroid dose(2). Table 1 (Appendix, section 2) shows the average thyroid doses to young children in various localities which resulted from the French nuclear weapons tests in the years indicated. Adult doses may be taken to about ten times smaller(3). The highest average child dose, received in the Malanda area in 1966, was 128 millirad, while the typical dose in any year was about 20 millirad.
The estimated typical total thyroid dose, or dose commitment, resulting from all the French tests to date, is: to young children- 1 20 millirad to adults- 12 millirad
In future tests, an exceptional atmospheric event could lead to doses to children of up to 2 rad at peak geographical locations in Australia, with the average over the child population approaching 200 millirad.
Other short lived fission products
Most evidence suggests that the only important human doses from short lived fission products other than iodine-131 result from external radiation(4) . Table 2 (Appendix, section 2) shows the ‘unshielded’ doses due to external irradiation by short lived fission products in various localities and in each year in which nuclear weapons test occurred. To obtain the whole body dose allowing for shielding by buildings and other objects, these figures should be divided by 3(4) . A dose rate of 0.25 millirad per annum may be taken as representative.
In similar future tests an exceptional atmospheric event might produce a dose of 2 or 3 millirad from a single large explosion.
The tyical dose commitment from all past French tests may be taken to be about1.5 millirad.
Strontium-90 (half life 27.7 years) and caesium-137 (half life 26.6 years)
These two substances remain radioactive and remain in the immediate human environment for many years. Moreover, they do not stay in their hemisphere of origin. The radiation levels observed in Australia at a particular time therefore contain contributions from nuclear weapons tests in earlier years, including those which occurred in the northern hemisphere. It is nevertheless possible to make an estimate of the radiation levels and human doses resulting from the French tests alone ( appendix, section 3 ).
The estimated whole body dose commitments from the French tests due to caesium- 1 37 are: extemal-3.0 millirad internal- 1.3 millirad
Strontium-90, which is concentrated in bone, is estimated to contribute the following additional dose commitments: to blood forming cells- 6.2 millirad to bone cells- 8.5 millirad
These dose commitments may be expressed as dose rates by dividing by the period of testing, seven years. The corresponding dose rates are: caesium- 137 (external)- 0.4 millirad per year caesium- 1 37 (internal)- 0.2 millirad per year strontium-90, to blood forming cells- 0.9 millirad per year strontium-90, to bone cells- 1.2 millirad per year.
These are the steady dose rates which would be expected to result from continued testing at the French test site at a rate similar to that of the past seven years. They provide a very rough basis for comparison of the estimated dose commitments with the estimated actual dose rates based on observation of radiation levels in Australia (Appendix, section 4).
Carbon-14 (half life 5,600 years)
The French nuclear explosions to date have added comparatively little carbon-14 to the human environment. The dose rate to human tissue due to carbon-14 from all nuclear explosions which have occurred is in any case rather small, roughly 0.5 millirad per annum. Carbon 1 4 cannot necessarily be neglected however since, once released into the atmosphere it continues to be effective in irradiating human beings for many generations.
A reasonable allowance for the dose commitment due to French nuclear tests, taking into account only doses delivered up to the year 2000 (Appendix, section 3 ) is: 0.2 millirad.
Total dose commitments and dose rates
In the following table, the above estimated dose commitments, in millirad, due to past French nuclear weapons test, are collected together. The last row shows the estimated total dose commitments.
– I thank the Senate. This will reduce my contribution to the debate by about 1 5 or 20 minutes. In relation to iodine 131, which is one of the radioactive elements, I draw particular attention to the following paragraph:
In future tests, an exceptional atmospheric event could lead to doses to children of up to 2 rad at peak geographical locations in Australia, with the average over the child population approaching 200 millirad.
That is a fairly heavy dosage.
– Nothing of the kind.
– As one of the eminent scientists of this country, Sir, but not one of the eminent politicians, no doubt you would know something about it. I would like to refer briefly again to some of Senator Maunsell’s remarks. The honourable senator referred to the ballyhoo that went on in Paris when Senator Murphy appeared before the International Court of Justice. Just to get the record straight may I point out to my honourable opponent that the International Court of Justice met at The Hague and certainly not in Paris. How the honourable senator got his countries and cities mixed I would not know. But
I think that part of the record ought to be corrected.
The French Government has just put out a White Paper on French nuclear tests. I would like to put on record part of what was stated in that White Paper to show the hypocrisy of some of the official statements that have come from the French Government. The document states:
In the absense of the genuine world disarmament measures :hat the French government has vainly advocated -
That would be news to a lot of people- and will continue to advocate, measures which would, under international supervision, assure a ban on nuclear arms and their manufacture as well as the destruction of existing stockpiles, France is pursuing her policy of defence; given the present state of world armaments, the development of a nuclear armament is essential for French security and independence.
A very small number of nuclear tests -
These are the words of the French Government have been carried out at the Pacific Tests Center. Every precaution has been taken to ensure that these tests cause no harm to people, or to the world ‘s fauna and flora. The technical and scientific information which has been compiled in this document explains why we are convinced of the harmlessness of these tests.
Moreover these tests do not contravene any provision of existing international law. Therefore the French government cannot accept the argument presented at the International Court of Justice by the governments of Australia and New Zealand. There is no justification for evaluating the French tests on the basis of new rulings unknown to positive law and fundamentally different from those which were applied to the atmospheric tests effected by other countries.
Against those who think they can restrict the freedom of a state by a series of campaigns based on uncertain or fallacious arguments, the French government will set not only the clear conscience it has of national interests but also facts which have not been refuted.
I think that this is one of the best pieces of political hypocrisy that has been set out in a so-called White Paper by any government of any country in the world. The scientific evidence given to the International Court of Justice was sufficient to prove, in my view, even if it has not convinced Senator Hannan, that there is a possible danger from all nuclear explosions wherever they may occur.
I said earlier in my contribution to this debate that every country which conducts nuclear explosions of any sort stands condemned in the eyes of the free people of the world. In 1972 the Second International Parliamentary Conference on the Environment was held in Vienna, in Austria. This Conference was made up of a very large number of representatives from many parliaments. The only people who consistently opposed resolutions on nuclear weapons or nuclear devices of any sort were the people of France, although a couple of other countries abstained from voting. The report of the Conference under the heading ‘Nuclear Weapon Testing and Radioactive Wastes ‘ stated:
On this subject, the Conference expressed the following three major concerns: the need to cease immediately all nuclear weapons tests in the atmosphere; the need to obtain as soon as possible a comprehensive test ban; and, the need to find a satisfactory solution to the problem of storing radio-active wastes before developing nuclear fission energy plants on a large scale.
An immediate ban on nuclear weapons tests in the atmosphere was considered imperative. Several speakers criticized those nations persisting with such tests for their sovereign indifference to the effects of accumulating amounts of radioactivity in plants and animals and in particular, in the people who eat them. As such tests were about to take place in the Pacific area -
This was just before the French testing last year - it was proposed to send immediately a telegram to the President and the National Assembly of France.
The Conference agreed to this proposal by a large majority.
On the third concern, the disposal of wastes from fission nuclear energy plants, a member argued that such plants were intended to avoid many of the environmental problems caused by the exploitation and use of traditional energy sources. For this reason, he disagreed with the warning contained in the final paragraph of the resolution against the development of nuclear fission energy plants. This statement was disputed by several other speakers who insisted that, as stated in the original resolution, development on a large scale of nuclear fission energy plants should not continue until the storage problem had been solved. The orginal text was retained.
The Conference went on to say:
Convinced that, on the evidence available, nuclear weapons tests in the atmosphere are a dangerous source of pollution; and
Convinced that available evidence does not support the contention that underground nuclear weapons testing is free from the possibility of radio-active pollution;
The Conference calls on all countries -immediately to agree to a cessation of atmospheric tests, and -to make a renewed attempt to overcome the small remaining obstacles to a comprehensive test ban.
There are a number of other references but that is the crux of the resolutions that were carried at that Conference. My friend from the Opposition benches obviously in his attempt to support the continuation of the tests, and the Opposition by throwing up this smokescreen, become political hypocrites. At the beginning of the French tests honourable senators on this side of the chamber who were then in Opposition requested that something positive be done in respect of banning the tests, but the Government brought out a little note of protest. In other words, it was saying boo’ to the French and the French, being the people they were, were not impressed by a very tiny ‘boo’ coming from the Government of Australia at that time.
The campaign of the present Government has been a much more positive one and the very production of the White Paper to which I have referred indicates that the French Government is conscience stricken about exploding its nuclear devices so close to this country. In addition, the French Government has brought out in the last few days some very expensively produced literature showing the results of research conducted by France. These publications are top quality from a printing point of view. But, as I have said, France is very worried about the damage it is doing to Australia by the continuation of its tests. (Quorum formed.)
It is interesting to see the childish behaviour of the Opposition in calling for that quorum when people have committee meetings and other things to attend to. But no doubt in its juvenile way it is enjoying this exercise.
– We have better things to do than listen to the honourable senator. That is another way of putting it.
– The honourable senator has called for a quorum but he has not been in the chamber all night. It was probably the honourable senator’s turn on the roster to come in and call for a quorum. No doubt while honourable senators opposite can frustrate the work of this Government, while they can hold up legislation and while they can frustrate the legislators, in their own juvenile political way they will enjoy it. So I suggest they should enjoy it while they can. I again refer to the fact that in the days of the early French tests the then Government of this country with its feeble voice of protest made no real attempt to stop the explosion of nuclear devices within wind range of Australia. At that time China was exploding such devices but the Government did not make a murmur about that. It did not enter any protest against China because it was not playing speaks with China. The only time the previous Government played speaks with China was when it was able to sell tallow, wheat and iron ore through various back door countries. These products could be used as weapons of war by the North Vietnamese troops against the Australian troops. Let honourable senators opposite try to deny that.
I recall years ago reading out a list of the Australian firms which were making money out of the killing of Australian soldiers in Vietnam. Now for honourable senators opposite to come back at this stage with such a hypocritical motion on the notice paper shows them up for what they are- tiny, pokey little political men who were making money out of the war for their own greasy little fingers and for the companies with which they were involved. At the same time as they were taking the money behind their backs they were shouting out from the Government side of the chamber in support of the war in Vietnam.
- Mr President, I raise a point of order. I require the last words spoken by Senator Keeffe to be written down. I take exception to those words. He suggests that I made money out of the war in Vietnam. Members of my family were fighting there. I want those words taken down and I want them withdrawn.
– If those words offend the honourable senator and as he is not going to be long with us I will withdraw them. I point out that what I said was basically true. There were men who were then in government who were making a fortune out of the Vietnam war. They sent the kids of this country who did not even have a vote to fight their battles for them. Now they come here with the greatest show of hypocrisy of all time and say that this Government has double standards. The Labor Party has never had double standards either in Opposition or in Government. We were at the stage where we condemned atomic weapons tests right around the world, underground or in the atmosphere. We are still doing that.
As I said a few moments ago, anybody who tests nuclear weapons and anybody who uses nuclear power or nuclear powered powerhousesunless there is a safe way to dispose of the wasteis doing damage to mankind. When the previous Government wanted to set up a nuclear power house in this country it arranged to bury the nuclear waste in north Queensland. Honourable senators know that as well as I do, even though they told lies in this chamber about where they were going to bury the waste. Perhaps to be a little more gentle and in case somebody objects again, I should say that they evaded the issue. Let us not have this hypocrisy. If the Opposition had any sort of conscience at all it would withdraw this motion and not have any further debate on it.
– I feel that as those honourable senators who have spoken on behalf of other parties have stated their parties ‘ policies on this matter I should state the policy of the Australian Democratic Labor Party. The policy of the DLP is that we support world nuclear disarmament. We have supported every move which has been made at the United Nations and elsewhere to achieve world nuclear disarmament. But in the world in which we live it has not been possible so far to obtain world nuclear disarmament because of the refusal of the communist countries- particularly the Soviet Union- to agree to a system of inspection which would make any system of world nuclear disarmament trustworthy. In the circumstances we say that, as it is not possible because of this refusal to co-operate by certain nations which are already armed with nuclear weapons, it is necessary that other countries in their own interestsand Australia- should endeavour to obtain a deterrent which is the only method of defence against nuclear attack.
Like Senator O’Byrne, I attended the Civil Defence School at Mount Macedon. Like most of those who attended that School I came away with the firm conviction that it is impossible to do anything really worthwhile for civil defence where one nation is attacked and other other has no means to deter the attacker by the ability to reply. In those circumstances we came to the conclusion that the only defence against nuclear attack was the ability to reply. But it is only in those circumstances that we have declared that Australia should seek to have a deterrent available, preferably a deterrent made available by one of our allies which has the ability to use that form of attack.
In our attitude we are not without support. When the recent nuclear disarmament treaty was under consideration a number of countries refused to be associated with it. One of these countries was India. Nobody would describe Mrs Ghandi as a warmonger. Nobody would describe her as a person who believed in war and in the use of nuclear bombs. But Mrs Ghandi refused to allow India to accede to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty because she said that under that Treaty the nations which already possessed nuclear arms would be safeguarded and there would be no guarantee of safeguards for other countries.
At the moment India, on her border, has 2 powerful neighbours with nuclear arms- the Soviet Union and China. One can understand the attitude of Mrs Ghandi who, at the United Nations through her representatives, said frankly that she would sign the Nuclear NonProliferation Treaty if the nations which had nuclear arms- great nations like Britain, the United States and the Soviet Union- would guarantee to defend, if necessary with nuclear weapons, any country such as India or Australia which might be attacked by a country having nuclear arms. She made it perfectly clear that that would be the condition under which India would renounce the ability to obtain the bomb. The nations which have backed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty have made it clear that if a nuclear war broke out and they were attacked they would use their nuclear weapons as a deterrent. They have also made it clear that in the event of some other countries like India or Australia being attacked they would regard what happened with the utmost sympathy. They would have the utmost sympathy for Australia, France or India, but they would not guarantee that they would under any circumstance necessarily use the nuclear bomb to protect those countries. That is why countries such as France and India refuse to be associated with nuclear disarmament as propounded by the great nations which already have the bomb. Australia wants nuclear disarmament. India wants nuclear disarmament. West Germany wants nuclear disarmament. The trouble is that they are faced with the problem that they are a part of a world in which the great powers which have the bomb are determined to retain it but refuse to guarantee the defence or protection of other countries which do not have the bomb should they be attacked by a country which has the bomb.
That is the situation today. We of the Australian Democratic Labor Party, like the President of India, Mrs Ghandi, and the rulers of other countries, believe that everything possible should be done to achieve world nuclear disarmament, but in the event of certain powers refusing to guarantee the protection of countries which are not nuclear armed, we believe that Australia should seek, preferably from her allies, guarantees of protection which include, if necessary, the provision of the bomb as a deterrent for our own country.
Australia’s indignation over nuclear testing has been somewhat belated. I was a member of this House 16 years ago when members of Parliament were invited to go to Maralinga for the purpose of witnessing the first explosion of such a bomb in Australia. When the aeroplanes left I found that they were jammed with not only members of the Liberal Party and the Australian Country Party but also members of the Australian Labor Party. The members of the Australian Labor Party did not seem to be interested then in expressing considerable indignation over what was happening. The trade unions, which today pass eloquent motions about imposing bans upon France, did not impose a ban upon the work which was necessary to enable that bomb to be exploded. They provided their skilled workers. Their workers were quite prepared to go there and do the work. They were quite prepared to provide all the necessary expertise. The Labor Party also made no protest when shortly afterwards the Monte Bello Islands, which are on the border of our country, were made available to Great Britain for testing atom bombs. I did not notice at that time any of the frenzied protests which have been made about the French tests. It appears as though the indignation, as Senator Sim’s motion suggests, has been very belated. I think the French are entitled to say ‘Let him that is without sin cast the first stone’ in response to our attacks upon them.
The Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) and the Government has, even if belatedly, now taken a stand. I agree that they should have protested against the French explosions. But I also agree with the suggestion implicit in the motion, that is, that they could have and should have shown much greater indignation over the explosions which have been carried out by China in the past and which are going to be carried out by China in the future.
Many people have expressed indignation over the French bomb but very few of them have attempted to examine the reasons why the French have insisted upon proceeding with their tests. If it is good enough for us to say that we object violently to a course of procedure being followed by certain people, I think it is also good enough for us at least to examine the arguments which those people have put forward in support of their case for following such a course of procedure. The French say they have no particular desire to spend their money upon nuclear explosions and that they have no particular desire to busy themselves with preparing for nuclear defence. But it should be remembered that France is a country that was twice invaded during the course of a half century under the most distressing circumstances. The French are perhaps as much defence conscious as any people in the world. They are also in many ways a people of extreme common sense. They have examined the situation in Europe today and have come to the conclusion that because the Soviet Union has the bomb, Great Britain has the bomb and the United States has the bomb and because they have had no guarantees from any of those countries that they will be protected or defended against nuclear attack, they have to defend themselves from nuclear attack. They have faced up to the situation that an attitude of isolationism is growing in the United States. (Honourable senators interjecting)-
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse)- Order!
– It appears as though a debate is going on around me, Mr Deputy President, in which I am not involved.
– It is between one of Senator McManus’ colleagues and me.
-I think Senator Keeffe is the one who has been contributing most to the discussion.
– I interjected because -
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order !
– France has been a battleground on 2 occasions. The French people consider that the United States cannot be relied upon to continue to provide the nuclear umbrella that it provides at present in Europe. In view of the situation in Europe and as no other country in Europe has the military power to stand up to the Soviet Union, the French have decided that their only hope, faced with the possibility of an American withdrawal from Europe, is if they have a nuclear deterrent. Honourable senators may agree or disagree with what the French are doing, but at least they should try to understand why the French have adopted the attitude that on this occasion they are going to try to look after themselves. The French are not proposing to arm themselves from a nuclear point of view to the same degree as the Russians or the Americans because that would be beyond their power. What they are proposing to do is to obtain for themselves a form of deterrent which will offer them some prospect of being taken notice of by the Soviet Union in the event of the Soviet Union attempting to take over Europe. The final point which should be taken into consideration is that the French, like others, are a proud people. They believe that the great nations have made possession of the bomb a symbol of their power in the world today. The French believe that in order to ensure their own independence it is necessary for them to be able to protect themselves to some degree in the nuclear field.
I do not think enough people have attempted to examine the reasons which the French have put forward for their actions. Some of the reasons have been put forward quite well by Professor Burns of the Australian National University. Professor Burns has said that he is opposed to the French explosions in the Pacific Ocean, but at least he has been fair minded enough to examine the reasons which they have put forward for their actions. He said that the French have gone ahead for the same reason as the British and the Chinese- also the Americans, if it came to the point- that is, because they are afraid of the Soviet Union. Professor Burns said that both
France and Britain believe that if the Soviet Union threatened them they could not be certain that the United States would place its own cities at risk in order to save its allies. The French, British and Chinese have all done the same thing in a world in which the large nations which have nuclear weapons at their disposal will not promise to protect anybody else who is attacked. They have said that they will develop their own nuclear weapons for their own protection.
The point that has to be taken into consideration is that although the indignation has been focused upon them the French are not actually proposing to arm themselves with nuclear weapons to anything like the degree that the major powers have nuclear armed. I point out that according to Professor Burns the weapons which the French are preparing are infinitely less potent than those of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. However, their purpose is to inflict unacceptable damage on the Soviet if it attacked France. Professor Burns points out further that the only power that would be immediately disadvantaged by France’s development of an efficient thermo-nuclear warhead is the Soviet Union. He says that is why we hear what we do against the French tests from Moscow orientated Communist Union leaders who were silent when in 1961 the Soviet broke the unofficial mon.torium on nuclear tests with a 50 megaton explosion and later on with at least an 80 megaton explosion. So I think that there are reasons for the attitude that the French have adopted that should be looked at. From their point of view, it is self-preservation. Whether we agree with it or not, we have to concede at least that in the present balance of the powers in Europe under which no country could stand up to the Soviet Union the French have an argument which ought to be looked at.
The next thing I want to point out- Professor Burns mentioned it- is that the French propose to obtain nuclear armaments to an infinitely lower degree than the major powers which already possess them and in regard to which there appears to be no criticism. The French have not yet proceeded very far along the way. Probably, their missiles will be able to be fitted with warheads only by 1976. What they are doing now in the Pacific is working on an atomic fusion trigger. That is to say, their tests are not at the present time at a very advanced stage. People who are fair to them admit that they have tried to a degree to carry out their tests in the least objectionable way. The French tests are being carried out with infinitely stricter precautions than those adopted for the tests of the United States of
America, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and Great Britain. The French have gone much further in setting up precautions against possible dangers than the major powers which, as I have pointed out, are not being criticised.
As some people suggested, the French gave consideration to conducting their tests underground. But they claimed that they found it was too difficult. They considered other areas such as Kerguelen Island but it was felt that that spot would present much the same problems as the site they are at present using. All we can say about the French is that so far as their bombs or their armaments are concerned, they are proposed to be infinitely less than those of the other major powers. The French say that they are developing nuclear weapons only because the major powers refuse to guarantee protection. Mrs Ghandi, the Prime Minister of India, has stated that there is no argument against a nation seeking nuclear arms when major powers will not protect her. Under those circumstances, the French propose to go on. I believe that we in Australia should continue to protest. But we should not adopt an attitude that we will be infinitely stronger in our protest against a middle grade nation than we will be against the major countries. Further, I do not think that we should adopt the attitude that necessarily there is no argument for what they are trying to do.
I now turn to the People ‘s Republic of China. This motion is based on a statement that there is selective indignation and that the indignation against France is infinitely greater than any form of indignation suggested by this Government in regard to China. We have been told by Dr J. F. Cairns and others who have been to China that Mr Chou En-lai, the Foreign Minister of the People’s Republic of China, informed them that the Chinese personally supported the attitude of the French in carrying out these tests. Premier Chou En-lai said that he believed that France, like China, had to have nuclear armaments because of the threat from the Soviet Union. He also said that China would continue to conduct these nuclear tests. I would have expected that when Australia was so strong in its protest to France it would have been similarly strong in its protest to China. But that is not so. We were told when we asked why Australia did not take this matter to the International Court of Justice at The Hague that it could not be done. I am somewhat surprised at that because we have always been told that when a country became part of the United Nations Organisation, the act of becoming part of that Organisation meant that that country was automatically a party to the statute constituting the Court.
– That is not so.
– I have an authority who claims that this is so. It appears to be a matter of legal argument. When we went to the International Court to determine the legal arguments in regard to France, I think that we ought to have tried to determine the legal arguments in regard to China. Let us get down to brass tacks: The Prime Minister, Mr Whitlam, was asked at his weekly Press conference the very question which Senator Cavanagh has debated with me during the last few minutes. Here is the question that Mr Whitlam was asked:
Prime Minister, can you elaborate on the statement you made in Parliament this afternoon that there were reasons why Australia could not consider an approach to the International Court on Chinese nuclear testing?
He was asked why would not Australia approach the International Court. Here is his answer
Because the winds from the Chinese nuclear testing don’t come within thousands of miles of Australia. The winds from the French ones do.
I merely ask any fair-minded senator: Do you consider that it is an argument against Australia’s taking action against China that the winds will blow the nuclear fallout over Asian people and not over Australian people? I would say that when Mr Whitlam gave that answer he exploded completely any pretence that he and his Government were actuated by humanitarian motives in opposing atomic testing. Let me read again the answer he gave in regard to why he would not take action against China:
Because the winds from the Chinese nuclear testing don’t come within thousands of miles of Australia.
He went on to say:
The winds from the French ones do.
So the attitude of the Government is that it does not mind or that it is OK if Asians are threatened with nuclear fallout but it is not OK if Australians are so threatened.
– That is an entirely false interpretation.
– That is the Prime Minister’s statement.
– No, it is not.
– It is in the statement issued by his own Department.
– But the honourable senator is putting a wrong interpretation on it.
– First of all, Senator Cavanagh says that the Prime Minister never made the statement. Then, when I prove that he did make it, he says that I am putting the wrong interpretation on it. I am putting the right interpretation on it but probably not the interpretation that Senator Cavanagh sees. This puts the position of his own Government in a light which no honourable person could support. The Prime Minister went on to say:
The basis of our claim is that the French are committing a nuisance in our environment and we are hoping that the International Court of Justice will take steps to restrain that nuisance; to enjoin the French from committing it- the same way as can happen between neighbours -
He is not worried about fallout over Asians; he is worried only about fallout over Australians. He was asked:
That environment applies only to Australia?
No, no. It applies to all the countries of the same latitudes.
He was asked:
Doesn’t the same argument apply to China, that other countries are being affected by fallout?
The Prime Minister said:
No. Not Australia. Australia is not discernibly affected.
Therefore it is all right for atomic fallout to be scattered over Chinese, North Vietnamese, South Vietnamese, Siberians or Japanese. The objection of this Government is to atomic fallout being scattered over or near Australia. I think that is a truly noble international and humanitarian attitude.
What has happened in regard to China? If the Government says that it does not think that it can get to the World Court in relation to China at least it could show its disapproval. Can anybody suggest that the relationships between the Peking Government and this Government indicate any form of disapproval at present? The Minister for Overseas Trade (Dr J. F. Cairns) went to China at a time when China was exploding atomic bombs which threatened the welfare of people all around it. Remember that in that area the population is in millions, while around Tahiti the population is only in hundreds. Dr Cairns went to Peking and signed a treaty which declared that in the eyes of the Australian Government China was the most favoured nation. That nation says that it approves the French bomb tests and that it will carry out bomb tests. That nation carries out tests in areas where there are millions and millions of people. All the indignation that is lavished on France is not lavished on China. Instead we tell the Chinese that their Government is the Government of the most favoured nation. Could hypocrisy go any further?
The Chinese bomb is a good deal worse than the French bomb. To illustrate the selective and misleading arguments that are being put forward, let me quote what was said by the head of the Research School of Physical Science at the Australian National University, Sir Ernest Titterton; He was very critical of some of the statements made in recent weeks about the French bombs. He said:
Attacks on the French are selective and misleading.
Speaking at the Australian and New Zealand Association for the Advancement of Science Congress he said:
If you want to show indignation against nuclear tests, then it should be a great deal higher against the Chinese than the French, because the Chinese tests intercept about 7 times the population than the French tests.
The French site in Polynesia is one of the best in the world from a humanitarian point of view, if one can use that term.
We are attacking the French with intense indignation. What are we doing to the Chinese? We are telling them that they are the most favoured nation. I think the proper attitude for the Labor Government to adopt would be to say that it will break off its present relations, particularly from a trade point of view, with China until China promises to cease atomic testing.
I believe that there has been a good deal of undercover negotiation in regard to the French situation in recent weeks. I notice that, although the French intend to continue tests, Mr Whitiam asked the Australian Council of Trade Unions to lift the trade union ban on French communications. I was interested to see that shortly afterwards that was done. I have no doubt that the reason why Mr Whitlam asked the ACTU to cease its action against the French was that a number of unions had placed on the agenda of the ACTU congress motions seeking similar condemnatory action to be taken in regard to China, because of its tests, as had been taken against France. It was a decision of the unions recently, following a request from Mr Whitlam to the ACTU, to lift the ban. I repeat that the reason why it was lifted was that certain unions had put an item on the agenda for the ACTU conference asking that China be similarly condemned. Our Government, which at present is making trade treaties with China, which calls China the most favoured nation and which will set up a high priority visit by our Prime Minister and other Ministers to China, felt it was very embarrassing that certain trade unions said that they ought to be honest enough to do to China what they were doing to France. I have no doubt that they were asked to help the Government out of a hole by lifting the bans on the French temporarily. In short, it was another instance of double standards and another instance of the blantant hypocrisy of the Government which would condemn a country which is not communist and treat with kid gloves a country which is communist.
We are getting all kinds of foreign policy decisions from this Government. It is taking action in regard to all kinds of countries at present. I hesitate to say that it is interfering. For example, we are told that Rhodesia is beyond the pale because human rights are not observed there. Recently there was the anniversary of the takeover of Czechoslovakia by the Red Army. A communist government which tried to be a bit liberal was wiped out and replaced by the most illiberal government in the world today. In Czechoslovakia today there is less liberty than there is in any other civilised country. Does our Government, which is so anxious to condemn South Africa and Rhodesia, condemn the Czechoslovak Government? Not at all. Representatives of the Czechoslovak Government, a government held in power by the bayonets of the Red Army, were here. The Czechoslovak Government is so illiberal that recently it built a high wooden fence around the grave of a youth who sacrificed his life in the course of liberty 3 years ago, and the graves of others, so that the people of Czechoslovakia could not lay wreaths on those graves, and it told the people that they were prohibited from going there. The Government in Czechoslovakia is the worst government in the civilised world. There is less liberty there than there is anywhere else. What happens? It has its ambassadors and its consuls here. Members of the Government attend their functions, welcome their football teams and all the rest of it. It is different. How can this Government deny that it is actuated by selective indignation?
– Do you oppose the recognition of China?
– Do not try to drag red herrings across the trail. Our foreign policy today is a shambles because it is conducted on the basis that Australia will be violently indignant to the governments of countries which are not communist and our protests will be of the mildest form if communist countries interfere with human rights. I do not think that Communist China ought to be a most favoured nation.
– What do you think?
– I wonder if you think it. Do you think it should be?
– You answer my question and I will answer yours. Do you think China should be recognised?
-I think Senator McAuliffe does better at rugby league than he does at debating this kind of question. The Government is asking for trouble while it interferes in what are the internal affairs of country after country throughout the world on the ground that it must protest against attacks upon human rights. Of course a government has the right to say what it thinks about deprivation of human rights in other countries but it does not have any right to adopt an attitude of approval. It does not have any right to call a country a most favoured nation which does the very things for which it is condemning other countries.
I would say to this Government that it would probably help itself in the eyes of the people of Australia if occasionally it made some strong protests against deprivation of human rights in communist countries. It is becoming painfully obvious that the protests are directed against countries which are not communist. From the point of view of ordinary electoral support it is about time that this Government got up and made some protests. I do not mean the statement in which the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) said: Yes, it is very naughty of them, is it not? It is very unpleasant’- that sort of thing. I would like to see Australia being just as tough in regard to China as it is in regard to France or Rhodesia or South Africa, and just as tough in regard to what is happening in Czechoslovakia. If it did, it would avoid motions such as this, alleging that it is activated by selective indignation. I say again that the Government has not a leg to stand on. Its indignation is selective. It is prepared to do anything against the French, up to a point. It has removed the ban simply because it looks a bit awkward when the Australian unions are wanting China to be attacked. So under the present circumstances I conclude by saying that the charge of selective indignation has been proved. I look forward to the day when the Government will attack deprivation of human rights in a communist country.
– This debate has been one of variety but the salient point seems to be world peace. I commenced with the assertion that if we can confine the argument to the super powers that have nuclear weapons we reduce the danger of nuclear wars. In this present equation the United Kingdom and the United States are superimposed on the Soviet Union and China. My greatest fear is that when France or one of the middle powers almost achieves parity as far as nuclear weapons are concerned it should sublet them to lesser powers; I have in mind particularly the Middle East. The Australian Government’s foreign policy includes the limitation of major aggression and that is the approach I take. On the question of world peace, Senator McManus referred to doubts. I think it is inevitable, even disregarding ideological reasons, that there be a conflict of interest between China and the Soviet Union.
I particularly picked up the last segment of Senator McManus ‘s speech in which he talked in a general way about the role of our Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam). Accepting the conclusions which Senator McManus voiced and substituting Kissinger for Whitlam, if I were an American I would equate Kissinger with Benedict Arnold and say that he ought to be impeached. In all the welter of the Watergate inquiry Kissinger is claimed to be the man who defused Vietnam and achieved a better dialogue with Peking and Moscow. If these standards are applauded in that field and the Australian Government has maintained a flexible policy- I contend that it has- we are in a new era. It would be futile to argue about the cold war era and about who was at fault. One recalls the argument on justification of Marshal aid- -incidentially I believe that in many areas it was justified- and one can say that there were over reactions. But these are generalities.
I commence this submission by stating that whilst the non-proliferation pact applies and is limited to three or four countries there are fewer difficulties. Anyone who has read articles about the British Staff College and its assessment of pressure points, one knows that they use the term brushfire wars’. Bad as some of these border squabbles are, the day that a Middle East power- be it Israel on one hand, or Syria or Algeria on the other- is let loose with atomic weapons, I do not know what will happen. We all know from the released memoirs of President Nixon and some of the Russians that they are all aware that the Middle East is a powder keg. The situation will be compounded if France in a Bonapartism of the 1970s decided to flow to these countries some nuclear weapons. That is the first submission I make.
Let me take it a little further to the question of venues for nuclear tests. It is true, as Senator McManus says, that we have had tests conducted here. It is a little ironical because at that time we were supposed to be doing Britain a favour. Having listened to the debate on the Australian Citizenship Bill about our link with Britain I wonder what role Senator McManus and his party would have taken if they had been around at the time of the tests. Had it been the attitude that Senator McManus implies now they would have been more less curbing the expansion of post war British technological improvement. This is the crunch of my assertion: Whether the tests were held in Australia, underground in the Urals in the Soviet Union, or in the Nevada desert in the United States, they were held on home ground. The greatest indictment that can be made against France is that France held her tests not in Corsica but in the western Pacific.
I was astounded when Senator McManusand I am conscious of his forebears- said loftily: Well, there were only a few hundred West Pacific people involved’. Their lives are equal to those of French citizens. By a country that coined the phrase ‘Liberty, equality and fraternity’, this action was a prostitution of those values. This is one of the tragedies. If we accept Senator McManus ‘s argument about the existence- of Soviet imperialism, one could almost make a case as to why Willy Brandt should do the same thing. Nobody questions German technological efficiency. Remarkably, one of the by-products of the cold war- fear of the Soviet Union- put Japan and West Germany back on their feet. These are the realities of life.
I will deal in a moment with criticism that honourable senators opposite advance against China. The fact is that France conducted its tests away from the homeland in the Pacific. Australia and New Zealand were countries that could have suffered as a result of them. I heard Senator Jessop, who is no longer with us, talk very scornfully about what will happen to unborn children. We are still groping in relation to problems of future births. We know that in 5 years we will have to revise many of our theories about cancer. This is why so many women joined in these crusades. It is important to realise that the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Snedden, was equally vocal about this issue. He had to come to the party. That was the first time I had ever seen a leader of the Liberal-Country Party coalition get out on the battlements and say: ‘Yes, it should not be done.’
Let us take this matter a little further. You cannot criticise the ideological attitudes. You can ask how the Marxist concept relates to Christianity. The French claim to be a highly educated country but I look back at some of the things they stood for in the postwar world and I am afraid I must say that some of the old ideals they strove for went out the window. Let us turn back the clock to the period from 1945 to about 1948. We know that at least the British Government of the day acted as a safety valve to reduce tensions in India, Pakistan, Burma and Ceylon. I think that even the Australian Government assisted in the case of Indonesia. We did not have any Algerias But what was the record of the French? I indict every party. I am sure that the Liberals, particularly Senator Hannan, will be happy when I say that the Mouvement Republicain Populaire, the Communist Party and the Christian Democrats have to be allied with all the parties of the Right in France. Think of their slowness and the way in which they resisted independence among the Tonkinese. There was no story about that. I was in Noumea in 1957. Tonkinese people were working in New Caledonia. I was with some of these people at a Sunday church service and when I returned to their homes I found that they were talking about how long before it would be before France would give them independence. Some of these fellows had made a packet in the nickel mines and were going back to what was North Vietnam. I have no doubt that they were the future revolutionaries. It was the old story which Aneurin Bevan so aptly put about delayed reform breeding revolution. This was the situation that was created. That is the reason why we were so critical about the role of France in 1 973.
As for China, I do not know what honourable senators on the Opposition side wanted. Let us consider this idea of decorum and protocol at banquets. When the Minister for Overseas Trade, Dr Cairns, differed with the Chinese Ministers the news was leaked out and made public. Dr Cairns is a man of stature and has strong views. It would have been very nice to have heard polite platitudes or to have had the wraps on if he had differed but the news became public. This question goes a lot deeper than that because honourable senators opposite always want to toss with a double headed penny. I am sure that if the Labor Party, as a result of what honourable senators opposite call extremism, threatened or jeopardised our wheat sales the representatives of the Country Party would have another go at us. I know the hatred that they have for the Minister for Northern Develpment (Dr Patterson) because of his early operations in connection with wheat deals. There will be a bit of jealousy when he negotiates the sugar deals. The situation is that if honourable senators opposite do not attack us on foreign policy they try to do so on trade.
Senator Keeffe earlier rightly criticised honourable senators opposite about the hypocritical attitude they take. I can remember time after time, when Senator McManus questioned the government of the day about wheat sales,
Senator Drake-Brockman would say: ‘Look, it is the Australian Wheat Board doing this and not the Government’. How silly can you get. This is the attitude that always antagonises us. Honourable senators opposite talk about criticism of foreign policy and the undoubted imperialism of some of the actions of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. An honourable senators who sits on my right, Senator Wheeldon, was a vocal critic of what happened in Prague. He went on record in the Press as saying he regretted what happened to Dubcek. He said it two or three times. I know also that the Minister for Urban and Regional Developement (Mr Uren), who was on friendly terms with most of the Eastern European diplomats in Australia, was quoted in the Press as saying the same thing. What more can people do? I recall what was said by the late Dr Evatt about what happened in Budapest.
On the other hand I waited in vain today for some of the humanitarians opposite to get up and ask what would be the fate of the trade unions in Santiago and other cities in Chile tonight. I can imagine that people who fought for their trade unions in that country are now being hunted down like dogs by certain members of the military junta and their troops. Nobody on the Opposition side said a word about that matter. They talk about double standards but when we look at these matters we realise what the situation is. We have been critical of France and we have been critical of China. I repeat that in the past we have been critical of happenings in Prague or anywhere else.
I want to retrace my steps on one point. Senator McManus spoke about India. The fact is that there were a number of middle powers- I think that Italy came into this category- who were not so strong in their views about the military limitations of nuclear power but who had some fears that their industrial expansion would be curbed if they did not share in nuclear knowhow, I think it was a complete distortion by Senator McManus to link nations which had a rightful concern about the limitation of their commercial expansion with other nations that took a different attitude on the military aspect. To sum up, we refute completely the assertions of the sponsor of this motion, Senator Sim. We admit that we are in an era of flexibility. Even the parties represented opposite will not deny what happens with the cold war attitude. Consider the United States and the people like Senator Knowland or even Senator Goldwater. They are no longer with us. I know that most honourable senators opposite believe that President Nixon has been done wrong in the Watergate matter.
They are prepared to be a bit tolerant and say that he achieved some understanding with the Soviet Union and China and that there has been a reduction of tension in South Vietnam, although there are a few other odd things still happening in that country. I suppose I must exclude Thailand when I talk about reductions in tensions.
Let us get away from these double standards. If the Prime Minister Mr Whitlam, is able to move effectively in the big league, and goodness knows he is, then to my way of thinking it means that in the final crunch we reduce the fear of another war and its nuclear dangers. If that means stepping on the toes of France then that has to be accepted. That is the thought I leave with honourable senators on the Opposition side.
– The Senate is debating a very important motion which is:
That the Senate deplores the Government’s double standards in respect of atmospheric nuclear testing by China and France.
The test is simply this: Is the Government handing out even handed treatment and justice to France and to China? Both China and France in recent weeks and months have exploded nuclear devices in the atmosphere. Both countries have taken similar action. The attitude of members of the Opposition is clear and unequivocal. It was expressed quite clearly on behalf of the LiberalCountry Party Government by the then Foreign Minister, Mr Nigel Bowen, who in the United Nations led a successful resolution condemning atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons anywhere in the world. The stance of the Opposition is quite clear. We oppose atmospheric nuclear testing by any country and our opposition is equally strong to any country conducting these tests. We are interested in the lives of all people of this world and the lives of future generations in whatever hemisphere they may be.
The test of this motion is- this: Has the Whitlam Labor Government dealt out equal justice? It says that it is opposed to nuclear testing. Its protest to the Chinese was an apologetic squeak. Its protest to the French was a continuous and sustained roar of wounded rage. Here was the double standard. Senator Mulvihill laughs but it is no laughing matter. We are talking about the genetic mutation and the mauling of future generations. He laughs because he is willing to acquiesce in this terrified, nervous little squeak to the Chinese, but he accepts the roar of rage to the French. There is a double standard.
That is my first point. Secondly, let us see how the Government has approached this question of standards. It, of course, establishes a major alibi. It says: ‘We were able to go to the world court only with regard to the French tests because the Chinese do not recognise that court. We have to accept that. So we will really roar with rage at The Hague about the French tests but we will do nothing else about the other alternatives available to us as far as the Chinese are concerned’. The Government considered that the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Murphy) should go to Europe twice, at great expense and great consumption of time to mount a campaign against France. Did the Attorney-General go to China at all for any reason? Did any Government Minister- the Foreign Minister or the Prime Minister- go to China directly for the reason of protesting against the Chinese tests? The answer is no. So the Attorney-General went to Europe to protest against the French tests. He looked for opportunities to talk to the French ministers not only at The Hague but also in Paris in order to try to talk them out of carrying on with the testing. Did he seek to go to China? No, he did not. So we have, first of all, the degree of the protest. Secondly, we have the monolithic approach to the protest. The protest was directed against France but not against China.
Thirdly, this Government, through its Dr Cairns and members of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, urged bans against French trade and communications with France. If the Government says that it did not start out to do this, is it so pusillanimous and has it so abdicated its responsibilities that it would stand by and see the trade unions of this country breach in a major way diplomatic relations in terms of trade and communications and take no action? So by its very acquiescence it supported the ban imposed by the ACTU against France in terms of trade and communications. That was a standard it adopted.
What did the Government do in relation to China in terms of trade and communications? My other colleagues have made it clear. It opened its arms with welcome to the Chinese and made a trade treaty on a most favoured nation basis. Is it not adopting a double standard that the Government permits a ban against France and encourages an expansion of trade with China? Is that not a double standard? Is it not a double standard when the Prime Minister goes around the world as he did in recent weeks, trying without success to drum up world support -no one would go along with him- to single out
France and ignore China in protesting about nuclear testing? Because of the double standard he could get no support in Mexico because the Government of Mexico said that it would not go along with this double standard. It was prepared to go along with a protest against France and China but not just against France. So off the Prime Minister went to Ottawa to try to drum up support for a protest against France but not against China. What did he find there? The countries of the Commonwealth of Nations said: Not on your life. We will not have these double standards’. It is ample support for the motion before the Senate that the nations of the world would not go along with the double standards of this Government.
Now let me have a look at the approach of the Prime Minister to standards. I for one have been trying for some 6 months to elicit information from the Prime Minister and Attorney-General by means of questions without notice and questions on notice. I have been totally without success, except in obtaining adminissions from the Prime Minister that what he had said on a number of occasions was wrong. When we the Opposition asked: ‘Why do you not protest against China’? The Prime Minister came out with this famous statement: ‘Well, of course China does not concern us because it is situated thousands of miles away. The winds are thousands of miles away and they blow in the other direction’. He gave a statement to the Press in this regard. The merest schoolboy knows that when the Krakatoa volcano in Sunda Strait erupted it scattered its ashes uniformly thoughout the whole world. The textbooks of the late nineteenth century stand as proof of that. But the Prime Minister would not know that.
Secondly, any schoolboy or schoolgirl knows of the cosmic mix. This talk of winds is nonsense because of the total cosmic mix. No matter where in this world a bomb is exploded, sooner or later everybody will suffer its fall-out. But the Prime Minister said: ‘Yes, I made a mistake. It has some discernible effect but it is not as great’. When we pressed him he said: ‘It is about onetenth of the intensity of the French tests ‘.
– You look like him now.
– You flatter the Prime Minister. When we pressed the Prime Minister because of his double standards and because he said that the Chinese bombs had no discernible effect but the French bombs had, he said: ‘I must correct that. That is wrong. They have about one-tenth the effect’. For 6 months I have had a question on the notice paper. I have asked the
Attorney-General continually to give this information to the Senate and, through the Senate, to the people of Australia so that they can judge what is the real threat to every person in the world. I thought it only reasonable that if the Government was to take its case to the International Court of Justice the people of Australia were entitled to know what the issues were, and I asked for the facts. The Attorney-General sought to berate any of us who asked a question by twisting it around so that it looked as though we were favouring the French tests.
I shall read to the Senate question No. 130 on the notice paper which is still unanswered. It has been on the notice paper since 13 March 1973, which is some 6 months. The information sought is not as yet forthcoming. The scientific advisers of the Attorney-General or the Prime Minister have it within their competence to answer it. I have gone elsewhere to obtain the answer. Because I wanted the people of Australia to know the facts I asked this question:
What is the present radiation level in Australia?
That is something the people ought to know. I asked further:
By how much has has it varied over the last 5 years?
That is something the people ought to know. I asked further:
What are the current radiation levels in (a) the United Kingdom, (b) the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, (c) United States of America, (d) Canada, (e) New Zealand, and (!) the inhabited parts of the French nuclear testing?
My question continued:
By what percentages has the present radiation level been contributed to by past nuclear testing by (a) the United Kingdom, (b) the United States of America, (c) the Union Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, (d) The People ‘s Republic of China, and (e) France?
These are vital questions that demand proper factual answers, and 6 months after I put them on the notice paper they are not answered. What happened was that the Attorney-General embarked upon a deliberate scare tactic to the people of Australia to support his melodramatic claims. I say that against the fact that I, like my colleagues, am totally opposed to nuclear testing. But I am equally opposed to distortion. I now say that the average natural radiation in Australia at any one time is 100 millirads or 100 units. If the wise men opposite who are following a star want to question that figure let them get up and do so. It can come from cosmic rays. It can come from radiation in the natural rocks. It can vary according to altitude. It can vary by aircraft flights. It can vary by geography. But it is normally 100 millirads, and that is what the human body is sustaining at any one time, maintaining its ordinary metabolism and not as such consciously producing malignant neoplasms in the ordinary body of knowledge of science.
We, of course, by our own actions contribute to this by flying in aircraft, by moving to Canberra, by raising our altitude. A permanent move to Canberra in terms of altitude contributes more radiation to the human being than all the French tests that have been so far conducted. We contribute to it by making aircraft flights at altitudes. So those poor persons who travel from Western Australia to Canberra regularly week by week contribute to themselves year by year infinitely more additional radiation than that contributed by the French or Chinese fallouts. We do this by X-rays and we do it in terms of nuclear power stations. These are elective processes and the Australian people are entitled to know what are the risks, what are the additional units of radiation that they absorb.
So I ask: What is the additional artificial manmade radiation in Australia as at March of this year compared with 100 millirads- the normal? I now answer the question: It is 2 millirads, or slightly less, 2 millirad on top of 100 millirads. Of those 2 millirads, I say to honourable senators that the best expert advice is that some 60 per cent of this man-made fallout has been contributed by the French, some 20 per cent by the Chinese and the remaining 15 to 20 per cent is the residium of the Russian and British tests, going back to the original Bikini tests. No one has denied these figures. I have stated them in this chamber and asked for their refutation. Indeed, I have tested them on the Government’s scientific advisers. The Chinese contribution to the artificial fallout in Australia is not one-tenth of the French; it is one-third. It seems to me to be an extraordinary thing for a Prime Minister first to say: ‘There is no effect at all because the winds do not come; there is no discernible effect’, and then to say: Oh yes, there is; it is one-tenth of the French. ‘ In fact, it is one-third.
– Who gave you those figures?
– They are from the best scientific advice that I can obtain. They are from former members of the Government’s radiation advisory committee. They are from nuclear physicists of the various universities. I have checked them also from the publications of the Australian Atomic Energy Commission. These are in fact accurate figures as measured and published, and the Parliamentary Library itself will give honourable senators these figures. So the Prime Minister presented absolutely double standards. But he he did worse than that because he said: ‘The French bomb is more monstrous than the Chinese bomb’. Let us have a look at that. Here is a standard: One bomb is more monstrous than another. So they are different standards. The 2 bombs were exploded in the atmosphere, but one was more monstrous than the other. We will go on with that in a moment. But it is interesting to note that the Chinese bomb was exploded over land. It was a large bomb. It was a missile, a weapon in itself, and it was exploded over land. Therefore, it was calculated by scientistsand this is beyond dispute- to create more danger in terms of long term fallout, nuclear isotopes throughout the world, than one exploded over the sea.
I do not quote the White Paper on French Nuclear Tests in any other way than to invite the Government to challenge it on this point. The French White Paper firstly says that the French tests so far, being some 43 tests as at January of last year, represented 5 per cent of all the testing in the world, or 1.8 per cent of the power in terms of megatons in the atmosphere. Then it went on to say:
The tests are carried out from a balloon and not on the earth’s surface; this affords considerable advangtages as far as safety is concerned.
In a surface atomic explosion, heavy activated debris and fragments are tom from the soil and incorporated in the fireball by fusion or vaporisation. After cooling, these debris still exist as particles and carry fission products. The solid particles thus formed are radioactive and may be suspended in drops of water. Gradually these particles and water droplets fall back to earth.
The process is different in the case of an explosion high above the ground. The method of firing from a balloon at a sufficiently high altitude prevents any interaction between the fireball and the earth ‘s surface or ocean. In this case, the radioactive particles which are formed are minuscule (a few hundredths to a few tenths of a micron); they then rise into the atmosphere very quickly. They can reach very high altitutes and even penetrate the stratosphere.
These tiny tiny particles then float in the atmosphere for long periods and are subjected to the action of winds; they are consequently diluted quite considerably in the upper layers of the atmosphere. In addition, according to a strict law in physics, the radioactivity of fission products gradually diminishes.
I invite the Government to deny the basic scientific statement there.
I asked the Attorney-General- and the Minister for Primary Industry (Senator Wriedt) who is sitting at the table will remember this- long before the tests in France or China occurred this question: ‘Where will the Chinese tests occur?’ Ultimately I was told: ‘We do not quite know, but we think it might be Lop Nor in the Sinkiang Province in the north west of China.’ I asked: Do you know when they are likely to occur?’ I received the most fatuous answer of all fatuous answers. I was told: ‘It is not the habit of the Chinese to tell us before they have the explosions; they tell us afterwards’. That was the Attorney-General’s announcement. It is in Hansard, and the Minister for Primary Industry can read it. Why did I ask that question? It was because it seems to me to be more monstrous- if I can use, this time properly, the Prime Minister’s words- to explode a bomb over a mainland where about one-third of the world ‘s population is gathered than to do so over the sea.
I do not defend the French explosions, but I say to the Senate that here was another double standard. Why was the French bomb more monstrous? They were nuclear bombs with nuclear fallout. The Prime Minister went on and did a fascinating thing. He delivered a diatribe against the French. He sneered at them; he sneered at their sense of nationalism, although nobody promotes narrow jingoistic nationalism more than our own Prime Minister. He literally poured a bucket of abuse on to the French about their Gaullism, and he said: ‘They are only building this bomb in the interests of their own ego and Gaullism’. He went on to say: ‘But the Chinese are more justified in going atomic’. He then started to defend the Chinese for going atomic, for building bombs and exploding bombs. This is what the Prime Minister said.
– When did he say that?
– In due course I shall produce the Prime Minister’s statement. He then went on to say: ‘France does not need one because there is no threat against France’. Does Senator Wheeldon sit there? As a matter of fact, he does not; his absence is happily noted. Do honourable senators opposite who are sitting there remember 1968 and the second rape of Czechoslovakia, once the great democracy of this earth. Do they sit there and say that there cannot be any threat to France? Do Government senators sit there tonight and listen to a most outrageous string of abuse by Senator O ‘Byrne against a gallant, democratic nation, France, which has suffered not only 2 World Wars but over hundreds of years the death and bleeding of its youth and hear him talk about them being cowardly, ineffectual and running away? On behalf of the Opposition I reject that view and I hope that Government senators will have the decency to get up and reject it. I hope the Minister for Primary Industry who is at the table will read Senator O ‘Byrne’s attack upon the French people and his allegation of cowardice in his abuse of them. I hope that the Minister in his reply will tell us whether the Government agrees with the statements made by Senator O’Byrne. I hope that the Minister in his reply will tell us whether he thinks that China has a greater right to build a bomb; whether, in the Prime Minister’s words, China is under a greater threat.
I commend Senator Maunsell because tonight he exposed the humbug of the Government on this. He said that here is a Prime Minister who says that there is justification and who understands that the justification in China’s mind for building a nuclear deterrent because China is under a real threat. A the same time the Prime Minister published a defence and foreign affairs statement saying that in the world as we know it there is no conceivable threat to world peace in the next decade or more. How do we reconcile these 2 statements? If indeed there is a threat why are we demolishing our defences today because no ohe- no country and no man- is and island. If Mr Whitlam is right in one view he is wrong on the other. With one standard he said yes, he could understand China -
– Your Prime Minister was wrong on everything.
-Does Senator Keeffe agree that it is right for China to build a bomb but wrong for France? I listen to the deathly silence.
– Was the honourable senator not here to listen to me?
-I listened and learnt nothing.
– I said that they were all wrong.
– The Senate will note that Senator Keeffe refused to answer. He refused to say anything because like his Caucus he is divided against the Prime Minister. This is the dilemma of the Government. But here are the double standards so far: First of all, a squeak of a statement of protest in the form of a letter handed through the Charge d ‘Affaires timidly to the Chinese Foreign Minister with no follow-up. When I asked Senator Willesee in the Senate whether the Government had had a reply, he said: ‘No’. In reply to my question whether the Government had asked for a reply, he said: ‘No’.
In reply to my question whether the Government had asked China when it was likely to explode bombs he answered: ‘No, we have not done anything of the sort ‘.
As a matter of fact, Dr Cairns, the Minister for Overseas Trade and Minister for Secondary Industry, was slightly less timid until he saw that Mr Chou En-lai got irritated when he talked about it. What a lovely thing it is that Dr Cairns did not pursue this question of maiming, mutilating and killing humanity because one of our friends was a little testy. So we have this standard on the one hand- the method of protesting. The second standard is that we drum up world opinion unsuccessfully stage by stage to try to attack France but not China. We sent our Minister abroad to attack France, but we sent no one on a mission to china. The Labor Government supported the banning of trade and communications with France but welcomed with open arms trade with China.
But what is more, this Government allowed its Australian ambassador to France to return to Australia and make what to me is an outrageous statement which, since it has not been denied, must be the words of this Government. The Australian ambassador to France said that he was remaining in Australia for some weeks to display to the French Australia’s strong protest against the French atmospheric nuclear tests. I take it that since this statement has been reported and not denied, it is this Government’s policy. If it is this Government’s policy why is it that we did not recall our ambassador from China and have him sit in Australia putting on a petulant sulk for some weeks as well so that we could have the same standard for China as we have had for France.
– Order! It being 10.30 p.m., in conformity with the sessional orders relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.30 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated:
asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows: ( 1 ), (2) and (3) The bounty, introduced in 1942, was devised in the light of conditions in the industry and the economy generally at the time, in the context of the need for effective prosecution of the war. The reasons were outlined in detail in a statement to the House of Representatives by the then Prime Minister on 2 October 1942 (Hansard: House of Representatives 2 October 1942, page 1415) to which I refer the honourable senator.
Australian Council for the Arts
– On 11 September 1973, Senator Bonner asked the following question without notice:
Can the Minister inform the Senate as to the qualifications of the Acting Director of the Theatre Board of the Australian Council for the Arts. Further, can he inform the Senate how, and by whom, he was appointed?
Is it also a fact that the Acting Director of the Theatre Board was a former business employee of the Chairman of the Theatre Board?
I have been provided with the following reply:
Mr Richard Wydell, the Acting Director of the Theatre Board of the Australian Council for the Arts, is an experienced administrator who met the Board’s requirements of immediate availability for a short-term appointment, extensive financial and administrative experience, and a capability for the analysis of the financial standing of major companies seeking support from the Board.
The various Boards, including the Theatre Board, operating under the Council for the Arts appointed temporary Directors pending advertising for and selecting permanent occupants.
Mr Wydell was selected by a panel of the Theatre Board, comprising the Chairman and nine Members.
Before his present temporary engagement by the Theatre Board, Mr Wydell was employed as Site Manager for Messrs Todd, Hall, and Littlemore, Architects. Mr Hall, a partner of this firm, is Chairman of the Theatre Board.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 13 September 1973, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1973/19730913_senate_28_s57/>.