17th Parliament · 3rd Session
Mk. Speaker (Hon. J. S. Rosevear) took the cb air at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– I give notice that, at the next sitting, I shall move -
That the Chairman of Committees does tint possess the confidence of this Souse.
I ask the Prime Minister to direct his mind to that notice of motion. It concerns the position of the presiding officer of the Committees of this House, in a very important debate that is now current, in which a vital amendment has been moved on behalf of the Opposition. It is eminently desirable, therefore, that the matter which arises out of incidents last night, and concerns the rights of honorable members in relation to the whole of the budget debate, should be disposed of before that debate proceeds. I therefore invite the right honorable gentleman to waive the ordinary rules, so that the House may deal with the motion forthwith.
– I am- sorry that I cannot accede to the request of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) to have the matter dealt with at this stage.
Implementation of Industrial Aw abd.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping whether, in November last, His Honour Mr. Justice Drake-Brockman made an award on a plaint lodged by the Federated Engine )rivers and Firemen’s Union, on behalf of those of its members who man the Cockle Creek Power House, which supplies electricity to seventeen mines, and that a wage increase of 5s. a week, together with a war loading of 4s. a week, is not yet being paid? I have been informed that the men concerned propose to hold a meeting next Sunday, and that it is their intention to cease work immediately. Can the Minister intimate to the men that, if the facts are as I have stated, he will ensure the immediate implementation of the award?
– I have no knowledge of the award mentioned. If, as the honorable member states, a decision was made by the court last November, and it has not yet been given effect, a strange position would seem to exist. I shall ask the Solicitor-General to discuss the matter to-day with the Registrar of the court, and I shall endeavour to provide the honorable member with some information on it before he leaves Canberra this afternoon.
– Can the Treasurer say whether is it a fact, as published in the Sydney Morning Herald on Wednesday, that he deleted from the draft of his budget speech the following passage : -
At the 30th June, the Commissioner of Taxation estimated that there were still 275,000 assessments to issue with a tax liability of £33,000,000. and substituted therefor -
It is also expected that some arrears of income tax will be collected in the current year.
Can the Treasurer, from memory, indicate whether the - figures cited in the extract to which I have referred are substantially correct?
– I do not remember all the things which I deleted from the advance draft of the budget speech. My intention was to keep the speech as short as possible. I myself have been wearied by listening to long budget speeches at various times. I had hoped at one stage to get the document down to six pages, but I could not quite reach that objective, although I have hopes for the future. It is true that I deleted a number of paragraphs, perhaps including the one to which the honorable member referred. It would be just as well for the honorable member, in the interests of certain people, having regard to the courtesy extended by Treasurers to the press, not to pursue the matter which he has raised.
– The Treasurer should elaborate that statement.
– I shall do so. It has been a practice of Treasurers, in order to meet the convenience of the press, to give newspaper representatives an advance copy of the budget before the final clean copy is prepared for presentation to the House. This has been done to enable them to summarize the main points of the budget, but it has always been understood that pressmen would confine their final remarks on the budget to what appeared in the clean copy presented to the House. This practice was followed in regard to the recent budget, and I am prepared to believe that the disclosure of paragraphs subsequently deleted from the budget was made in ignorance of that standard of decency which has hitherto been observed between Ministers and press representatives. 1 am not attempting to disguise anything in connexion with the budget. I have promised the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) that all the information’ which he desires on the point mentioned will be supplied to him, including figures indicating arrears of taxation and particulars of assessments which have not yet been issued, and this information will be supplied, not only for last year, but also for other recent years. A very prominent representative of one newspaper has said that he believed the disclosure was made in ignorance of the understanding between pressmen and Ministers to which I have referred. I am accepting his assurance. I do not know whether the paragraph mentioned in the newspaper was one of those deleted from the draft of the budget speech, but it may have been.
– Does the Treasurer expect that the figures which he has promised to give me will be available before the end of the budget debate?
– I have given instructions that the figures should be prepared.
Releases - CO-ORDINATOR of Demobilization’ and Dispersal.
– It is clear from numerous replies received from the Army authorities to requests for the release of servicemen that they are sticking rigidly to the points system, irrespective of the serviceman’s former occupation, or whether he is at present usefully employed in the Army. Even applications for release on compassionate grounds are being disregarded, and the assurance of the Minister for the Army that men now in Australia would not be sent hack to the islands is not being honoured. I have here particulars of a case in which a man serving at Lae applied for compassionate leave on the ground that his wife was seriously ill, and her doctor had recommended that she undergo an operation. The doctor is Dr. C. “W. Champion, area medical officer of the military district in which he lives. The soldier has had three years and four months of service, including 21 months in the Pacific islands. He has a job in vital food production wait ing for him. I have no doubt that some excuse will be found for this action. I ask the Minister to investigate the files in this case personally, not merely to ask for a report. I also ask him to ensure adherence to the policy laid down that such men shall not be sent back to the islands and to ensure the exercise of common sense and discretion by the military authorities in dealing with their cases.
-The honorable gentleman’s question is so involved that I shall have ‘to have it before me in order to make a complete reply. I point out that demobilization based on the points system will not come into operation until the 1st October. Applications for discharge from the Army on occupational and compassionate grounds are being made. Discharges on occupational grounds are made on the recommendation of the man-power authorities after investigation. Hundreds of discharges are being made every day on compassionate grounds. I have found that the Army authorities are implementing fully the decisions of the Government. I will ensure the continuance of that policy. It was decided that men on leave in Australia from the islands would not he sent back to the islands. I am assured by the Adjutant-General that that decision is being carried out. If the honorable gentleman can supply proof to the contrary, I shall take immediate action to ensure that the Government’s direction shall be obeyed.
– I understand that the Government intends to appoint a Coordinator of Demobilization and Dispersal. Will the Minister in charge of demobilization state whether that gentleman will be clothed with the necessary authority to break through bottlenecks such as now are caused by the fact that every application for the release of a serviceman on occupational grounds has to pass through the Man Power Directorate?
– The Government has decided to appoint a Co-ordinator of Demobilization and Dispersal, who will have the duty of co-ordinating the work of demobilization on the civilian side with the service requirements. I cannot say, at the moment, whether he will be in a position to decide which men shall he released from the services on occupational grounds.
– I have received a telegram- from the Lismore City Council requesting that the council’s; electrical engineer, Captain Jackson, who is in the Army, be released at the earliest possible date, and indicating that the Man Power Directorate’ recommends his release. The council- is without the services of an electrical engineer and desires to secure Captain Jackson’s services as soon as possible.
– This appears to be an urgent case, and as,, according to the honorable member, man-power recommends the discharge, it should be possible to- arrange it- at an early date, provided that the engineer is on the mainland.
– I am not sure where he is at the moment.
– 1 shall have an inquiry made immediately to see whether the honorable member’s request can be acceded to.
– At the date of the termination of the war. with Japan, the release of some serving soldiers, recommended by the Man Power Directorate, had been refused by the Army on various grounds. Will the Minister in charge of demobilization direct that all such recommendations shall now be adopted, and that the releases shall be granted without a further recommendation by the Man Power Directorate?
– I do not know how many applications would fall within the category mentioned by the honorable member. If the number is very large it will, I consider, be impossible to . give effect to all of them immediately, but they may be given effect over an extended period. I shall have the matter examined, in order to determine what may be done with a view to meeting the request of the honorable member.
ACr. RYAN. - Will the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping confer with his colleague with a view to allowing the Commonwealth Disposals Commission to make available to ex-servicemen, or servicemen, if necessary, surplus tools instead of parcelling them out to dealers? An alternative way to meet the situation would be to allow the Repatriation Commission to buy the tools from the Disposals Commission for distribution to returned men.
– That suggestion is good, and I shall ask the Minister for Supply and Shipping to take it up with the- Commonwealth Disposals Commission with a- view to having it arranged.
– Can the Treasurer say when money lent free of interest tothe Government during the war by charitable and patriotic organizations will be refunded ?
– Since I have been Treasurer, when applications have been made for repayment of interest-free loans, immediate repayment has been made. Generally some good reason has been advanced for the repayment. If the honorable member will supply details of any particular case be has in mind 1 shall he glad to look into the matter.
– Last Thursday, I posted in Canberra a letter addressed, to a Sydney business house, and it was not delivered until Monday morning. On inquiry, I ascertained that no mails leave Parliament House, or this Capital City, for Sydney or Brisbane on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. These arrangements are causing inconvenience and congestion at the city post offices. As there are not the usual facilities on Tuesdays and Thursdays for dispatching mail from Canberra, and as no mail is received here from the outside world on Wednesday and Friday mornings-
– I do not believe that mail is not received on Wednesday and Friday mornings. T get letters every day.
– They are “ hang-overs Will the Prime Minister make some arrangement so that at least when the Parliament is in session, mails may leave this Capital City every morning and evening? This is another of the many hardships and inconveniences resulting from the continued strikeof the rebel coal-miners of New South Wales.
– Order ! The honorable gentleman may not debate the reasons, but may ask for relief from the situation.
– I also ask the Prime Minister whether he will insist upon the observation of the democratic principle that the Government, not the coal-miners, shall govern this country?
– On a previous occasion, I informed the House that if honorable members, when asking questions, engaged in political propaganda instead of seeking information, I would seriously consider not replying to them.
– Will the Prime Minister apply that decision to Government supporters as well as to members of the Opposition ?
– When asking questions, honorable members should not engage in political propaganda. If information is sought, Ministers should make every endeavour to supply it. I shall forget the latter portion of the question asked by the honorable member for Wide Bay, and deal with his inquiry regarding mail services. I am surprised to learn that mails do not arrive in Canberra on Wednesday and Friday mornings; my mail does not appear to. fall off on any day of the week, and doubtless other honorable members have a similar experience. The honorable member stated that on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, no mail leaves Canberra. I shall have that matter examined for the purpose of ascertaining whether the service can be improved.
– Has the Minister for the Navy observed in the Melbourne press complaints from relatives of survivors of H.M.A.S. Perth regarding notification of the release of the prisoners? Can the honorable gentleman inform me what steps are being taken by the Department of the Navy to deal with this matter?
– I have not seen in the press the complaints to which the honorable member referred. Nor have I any knowledge of any protests made to the department on that particular matter.
However, I shall have an investigation made and inform the honorable gentleman of the result.
– Will the Acting Minister for Commerce and Agriculture direct the attention of the Government to the urgent necessity to establish in Australia at the first opportunity a reserve of phosphatic rock, so that we shall never again lack supplies of this fertilizer, which is so essential to primary production? The establishment of the reserve should be possible in the near future, when supplies of rock from Nauru Island again become available.
– Consideration will be given to the honorable member’s suggestion, but I remind him that because of the great damage done by bombing on Nauru and Ocean Islands, production will not be more than 100,000 tons in the first twelve months after the resumption of operations. As the requirements of Australia from those sources exceed 1,000,000 tons per annum, it will not be possible for some considerable time to create a reserve of phosphatic rock. However, as a long-range objective, the honorable member’s suggestion is a good one.
Industrial Finance Department
– ils the Prime Minister able to indicate when the Industrial Finance Department of the Commonwealth Bank will be established? In the meantime will it be possible to make arrangements, through the Secondary Industries Commission or some other authority, to provide finance to assist certain bodies which require it in order to convert their operations from war to peace activities?
– I hope that the Industrial Finance Department of the bank will be able to commence operations shortly, but both staff and accommodation difficulties have been encountered. Parts of the Commonwealth Bank building have been occupied during the war by certain authorities connected with war operations. The Minister for Defence is investigating this matter and he hopes that very shortly, perhaps next week, he will be able to make some accommodation available. The manager of the Industrial Finance Department was appointed last week. I was in conversation with the Governor of the bank on Monday, and it is hoped that the new Industrial Finance Department will be able to commence business at an early date. I do not think that it will be possible to arrange for finance to be made available through the Secondary Industries Commission, but if certain bodies apply for assistance for industrial purposes prior to the establishment of the .Industrial Finance Department consideration will be given to them.
Oil From Coal: German Process.
– Having regard to the importance of doing everything possible to stimulate the employment of personnel who will be discharged from the forces, and also to the need for oil for transport and for use in our various industries, I ask the Prime Minister whether he will request the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt), who is in Great Britain, to inquire whether the new German process for the extraction of oil from coal at an estimated cost of 9d. a gallon, information concerning which was obtained by an expert body of British scientists who visited Germany, can be made available to Australia and the whole Empire? I asked a question on this matter several weeks ago.
– I shall ask the Minister for External Affairs to look into the matter.
Direction of Girls to EMPLOYMENT in Mental Asylums.
– Is the Acting Attorney-General aware that prosecutions are pending in Queensland against girls who refused to obey man-power directions to work in mental asylums? Was there a recent coronial inquiry into the death of a girl who was directed to this work and committed suicide as a result? Will the honorable gentleman suspend any pending prosecutions until the coronor’s report has been studied ?
– I am not, aware that many prosecutions are pending, but agree that there may be some. I am not sure as to which of them apply to Queensland. I have not read the report of the inquiry by the coroner, and shall have to examine the matter carefully before making a decision.
Japanese SURRENDER at Koepang.
– Has the Prime Minister read in to-day’s press the statement that the failure of the Australian Government to invite Dutch service representatives to participate in the signing of the surrender document by the Japanese at Koepang caused keen disappointment and surprise to the Dutch authorities, and that, although Dutch Army, Navy, and civil personnel were present- at the surrender ceremony, Brigadier Lewis Dyke made it clear that no Dutch representatives were to append their signatures to the document? Are these facts? If so, what was the reason for the refusal ?
– I have not read the statement, and am not aware of any circumstances such as the honorable member has mentioned. I shall ascertain the facts and advise the honorable member.
Cancellation of Contracts
– In view of the cessation of hostilities, and the consequent cancellation of contracts, principally in the food-processing industry, has the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture a statement to make as to what compensation, if any, will be paid to the contractors whose contracts have been cancelled, and what will be the method of assessing such compensation ?
– There are many files dealing with this subject, to which active consideration has been given by the Government. I shall obtain the information, and supply it to the honorable gentleman as soon as possible.
Governmental Control - Victorian
– Has the Prime Minister any information concerning the attitude of the Government towards the suggestion attributed to the Minister for .Supply and Shipping that the control of coal-mining should revert to the States? I assure the right honorable gentleman that this is not party political propaganda, and that members of the Opposition are merely curious to know what is the attitude of the Government. Will the right honorable gentleman state whether the Government has been able at any time to control the production of coal?
– The first portion of the question is couched in perfectly fair terms. I propose entirely to ignore the latter portion, and any other questions of a similar character. The honorable member has asked me whether the Government has made any decision in connexion with the industrial control of the coalmining industry. As the Minister for Supply and Shipping has indicated, the Government now has that matter under consideration. It must be clear to honorable members that I am referring to the industrial control of coal-mining. The distribution of coal is a matter which, it would seem, will probably have to remain under Commonwealth control, otherwise there might be unfair distribution between the States. I am not in a position to say what decision will be reached by the Government. I hope that it will be reached at a very early date. The honorable member will then be informed of it.
– A Melbourne report states that coal stocks in Victoria have reached the lowest level on record. Can the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping confirm that report from the information that he has, and indicate what action is being taken by the Government to meet the possible consequences?
– I am unable to say whether the stocks in Victoria are the lowest on record, but they must be very low. I shall discuss the matter of distribution with Mr. Mighell, a most competent, officer who has done his best to meet requirements with the limited resources at his disposal.
– The Prime Minister doubtless is well aware that during the last two or three years country districts have been at a great disadvantage in the matter of securing supplies of galvanized iron. I am informed that at the present time Lysaght’s Proprietary Limited is turning out approximately 2,000 tons of galvanized iron a week, but that none of its service orders have been cancelled and practically the whole of the output is still being absorbed by the Government, with the result that none of it is available to civilian users. In view of the great importance of country people being able to secure supplies of galvanized iron, will the Prime Minister ascertain whether it is possible to divert to civilian use a large proportion of Lysaght’s output?
– The honorable member states that the whole of the output of Lysaght’s is at present going to the services.
– Practically so, I am informed. I should like the right honorable gentleman to check that.
– The services may still need some supplies of galvanized iron. I am fully aware of the great need that exists for this material, not only in the country but also in the urban districts. I shall have the matter examined immediately, with the assistance of the Minister for Munitions and of the service Ministers.
– ls the Acting Minister for Commerce aware that companies engaged in the processing of fruit and vegetables are being refused permission to process for the civilian market? In view of the world shortage of foodstuffs will the Minister expedite consideration of an application made between two and three months previously by the Tamar Valley Co-operative Company for permission to process fruit and vegetables for the civilian market?
– I was not aware that the position is as the honorable member has stated, but I shall have immediate inquiries made as to whether it is possible to meet his wishes. Whilst there will be in the near future a great falling off in demand for foodstuffs by Allied forces, itis necessary to increase production for civilian use and for export.
– Can the Treasurer say whether there has been any exchange of views between the. Commonwealth Government and. the Government of the United Kingdom on the subject of trade preferences arising out of the Ottawa, Agreement, with special reference to the discussions which are taking place between representatives of the Government of the United Kingdom and the Government of the UnitedStates of America on the subject of lend-lease? If so, what views were offered to the British Government on behalf of the Commonwealth Government? Is the Commonwealth Government considering the matter of Australian trade with Great Britain in terms of the Ottawa Agreement ?
– From time to time the matters mentioned by the honorable member are referred to in discussions between Ministers and high officials of the governments concerned, but there has been no set discussion of the Ottawa Agreement arising directly out of a government direction. Although I have no desire to conceal relevant information, it is not possible at the present time to give particulars of discussions taking place in the United States of America on’ the subject of lend-lease, or to disclose what I understand to be the views of the Government of the United Kingdom. Any such disclosure might embarrass the governments concerned, and the representatives who are engaged in the discussion. The termination of lend-lease arrangements creates problems which affect the economic life of the United Kingdom in particular, and also of this country. Indeed, the position is a very serious one, and I am anxious that the Commonwealth Government should co-operate closely with the Government of the United Kingdom in any effort to make the position easier. We all are conscious of the great part played by Great Britain in the war under conditions of the most extraordinary difficulty, and of the heroism and courage of its people, as well as of the distinction of their leaders who guided the country to final victory. Generally speaking, the views of the Commonwealth
Government are in line with those of the Government of the United Kingdom on this subject. I am sorry that I cannot give the honorable member any further information at this stage, but when it is possible to give information of any value I shall do so.
Motion (by Mr. Beasley) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for anact to amend the Bankruptcy Act 1924-1933.
Motion (by Mr. Forde) agreed to-
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to approve an agreement between the United Kingdom the Commonwealth of Australia, the Dominion of New Zealand, and the Union of South Africa in relation to the disposal of wool and to pro.vide for the carrying out of the. agreement on the part of the Commonwealth of Australia, and for other purposes.
In Committee of Supply: Consideration resumed from the 13th September (vide page 5432), on motion by Mr. Chifley -
That the first item in the Estimates under Division No. 1 - The Senate- namely, “Salaries and. Allowances, £8,820”, be agreed to.
Upon which Mr. Menzies had moved by way of amendment -
Thatthe first item be reduced by £1.
Mr.FADDEN (Darling DownsLeader of the Australian Country party) [11.11]. - The Australian Country party agrees whole-heartedly with the amendment of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies), who has moved that the item be reduced by £1 as an instruction to the Government to withdraw the budget and redraft it for certain reasons. I can, 1 think, prove conclusively, as the result of a careful analysis of the budget, that a reduction of at least £100,000,000 could have been made without adversely affecting the economy of the country. This is the second occasion in the history of the Commonwealth that a budget has been issued to mark the transition from war to peace. Such a budget should be in the nature of a prospectus for prosperity after the long and tedious years of war. Instead, the budget is as mechanical, unimaginative and soulless as an adding machine. This mechanical combination of figures shows no faith in the recuperative power of Australian enterprise’ in a brighter, peace-time future. Practically the only ray of hope in the budget is the proposal for a small reduction of income tax; and this ls in keeping with the general spirit of the budget because the reduction has been mathew matically limited to a mere 6 per cent., for the benefit of harassed and overburdened, taxpayers.
Of charity there is even less in the budget, which provides for a heavy social services contribution payable- by all those who earn £104 a year and more, while the- benefits to be received under the scheme are subject to a means test. The Social Services contribution is in the form of a costly and pernicious contributory system, and does not provide adequate advantages to offset the heavy contribution. For the £22 10s. a year which the taxpayer, without dependants, on an income of £300 a year will have to pay, he will be entitled to get a bottle of coloured medicine free- - provided he does not become ill before J January, 1946, and provided the High Court does not throw out the Pharmaceutical Benefits Act altogether as a result of the case- now before it. He will receive an old-age pension when he is no longer able to work - provided he has not’ got more than a meagre few pounds in the bank. Again the man on £300 a year with a wife and two children will get an increase of 2s. 6d. a week, or £6 10s. a year, in his child endowment, in return for a social services contribution ,of £15 4s. a year, plus the coloured medicine, plus a cheap hospital bed when he is ill, which, in all probability, is at present being provided by a friendly society at about one-tenth of the cost and ten times more satisfactorily. The higher the range of income, the more apparent is the gap between maximum payment and minimum benefit.
Formerly, pensions, child endowment in excess of pay-roll tax collections, and other social benefits were payable directly out of revenue, to which the higher ranges of income contributed more than a proportionate share. 2Tow, however, the- specific ear-marking through the social services contribution, shifts the burden disproportionately on to the lower ranges of income, in a way which is a complete reversal of what the Labour party has always maintained as being its. policy. How otherwise can be explained the £15 a year, or more than 5s. 9d.. a week, social .services contribution that the unmarried taxpayer on the £200-a-year income has to pay ? This so-called social services contribution is based on a “ hit-or-miss “ series oftables worked out on a system of political expediency, instead of being actuariallycalculated. Any insurance companyoperating on similar lines would get very little business and might rapidly become insolvent. A person paying into a superannuation fund, or for a life assurance policy receives a definite contractual right to. specific benefits. For this social services contribution, now introduced for the first time, the amount of which could vary from year to year, a man may receive an old-age pension, if he is very poor; his widow may begiven a widow’s pension at the whim of the government of the day, provided her husband has not been thrifty enough to leave her with too much property. A sum of £50,000,000 is to be taken out of the community as the foundation of the social securityscheme, and there is a possibility that _tlie amount will increase year after year. Fifty million pounds <a year of national thrift is a vast sum, and this £7 a head of the population should be spent only after a sound and equitable plan, based on a comprehensive survey of the economic, financial, and actuarial aspects, has been formulated. A poor, ill-fashioned thing like this may be the Treasurer’s own, but £50,000,000 each year of other peoples money is being’ collected - money which many will have to deny themselves and their children, to pay - and its redistribution must be undertaken according to a scientifically adjusted plan, instead of the present method, which is obviously of a political character and will be subject to alteration at tie whim of successive governments.
There are several sound and demon* strable reasons why this budget rings like a cracked bell to any one with a financially trained ear. The first is found in statements annexed to the budget speech, which indicate that payroll tax, at £11,000,000 is estimated to yield £8S,000 less this year than last year. The tax is a direct barometer of employment, and even if there were no other reason, this committee should ask whether the Estimates are founded on the result of a thorough survey, and whether the Government is genuine in asserting that its policy is one of full employment, when it anticipates that £SS,000 less will be collected from the payroll tax this financial year - ten months of which will be under peace conditions, than last financial year, when we were engaged in total war. This fact is in itself sufficient for the amendment of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies). The estimated revenue from th pay-roll tax makes us suspicious of everything in the budget. An estimate of a lower amount than last year, when there was a record man-power shortage and a full twelve months of war, indicates one of two things - either a deliberate attempt to conceal anticipated revenue or that there will be no largescale employment of demobilized soldiers in private industry during the coming year; in other words, that full employment is officially admitted as something for the dim and distant future. Provision of almost a like amount to that expended last year on the Man Power Directorate, namely, £700,000, provides confirmatory evidence.
The second point that does not ring true, is the assertion that war expenditure this year is estimated at £360,000,000, or only £100,000,000 less than last year, when there really was a war in progress. The figures disclosed present a misleading basis for consideration of this important item. Is it any wonder that the Leader of the Opposition and all honorable members on this side and all the deserving taxpayers of Australia ask what -justification there is for these figures? That alone would be bad enough, but it is not the full story. The £360,000,000 must be analysed with an accountant’s eye. That is the net amount arrived at after deducting from the gross amount of £433,000,000 of de- tailed expenditure certain credits which) have no relation whatever to the subject year, but are “ carry-overs “ from previousyears. The first is “ miscellaneous credits, £25,000,000 “. They are credits from theexpenditure and exertions of previous years, which now become available thi* year. Therefore, when we consider the proper basis of expenditure, we must ignore the net amount and take intoaccount the gross expenditure. The next credit is “ Other Administrations - Recoverable Expenditure, £20,000,000 “. Those two items total £45,000,000. Either they are definitely the credits of previous years or they relate to the very fact towhich the Leader of the Opposition and the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) drew attention yesterday. The Government cannot have it both ways. The next item is “ Less Credits from Disposals Commission, £28,000,000 This refers to the disposal of goods which were created in previous years and do not relate to the year in question. The grose expenditure provided in the Estimates i» £433,000,000, but after taking into account the credits to which I have referred and which have no relation to the subject year, I arrive at the figure of £360^000,000.
Bad as that figure is, I ask honorable members to appreciate how much worse i3 the amount of £433,000,000 as a basis of comparison. Leaving credits from disposals out of consideration, I find that the gross expenditure for 1944-45 was £462,500,000. The difference between £462,500,000 and £433,000,000 is £29,500,000. For ten months of this year, Australia will not be at war, but the reduction of expenditure, compared with last year, is only £29,500,000. That is not the whole story. If we deduct from both years the item of reciprocal lendlease, we find that the net expenditure for this year will be £39,500,000 more than in 1944-4>5. That is on the assumption, in the absence of requisite detailed information, that the credit of £56,800,000 shown on page 68 of the Estimates rightly relates to 1944-45. If this is not so, and the Treasurer is the only person who can clarify it, the position is that the expenditure for the last financial year, ignoring lendlease, was only £17,000,000 more than is the estimated expenditure for the current financial year.
What is the position ? Have these Estimates been correctly formulated, are they honest, and do they present a proper prospectus for the future of Australia, particularly when we must consider in conjunction with them the taxes which the people must pay in order to maintain these Estimates? Or has the estimated war expenditure for this year been deliberately inflated to create secret reserves to be used for a drastic pre-election reduction of taxation next year? Are they reserves which will show the difference between actual expenditure and estimated expenditure in order to obviate an essential and effective reduction of taxation to-day? The basis of taxation is the expenditure of the Government, and obviously the Estimates have been inflated, as I have shown. The facts that I have stated are indisputable.
The Auditor-General, in his last report, which relates to the year ended the 30th June, 1944, has supplied many examples of wasteful and extravagant expenditure. A few of them, taken almost at random, are -
Those figures shew a most alarming position. These are only a few examples of governmental extravagance, and lack of proper control of the expenditure of the taxpayers’ money. The list could be enlarged one hundred-fold, if necessary, covering the wasteful expenditure of millions of pounds; but as the AuditorGeneral’s report was made available only a few days ago, I have not had an opportunity to analyse it thoroughly.
A second and allied cause of high taxation, which could be eliminated, is the disproportionate expenditure on unnecessary articles, particularly in the Department of the Army. What excuses can be offered for ordering 190,000 pairs of gauntlets for despatch riders? Having been declared surplus stocks, they are now available for disposal. That information is contained in an official bulletin issued by the Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde) a few days ago. And what of the surplus 55,000 civilian suits, and the 51 tons of horseshoes ordered by the Department of the Army and now regarded as surplus stocks available for disposal?
The total estimated expenditure of the Department of the Army this year under the heading, “Defence and War (1939-45) Services” is £175,700,000, or slightly more than £1,000,000 greater than the actual expenditure last year. Let us look, for a moment, at some of the items in this expenditure. Under the heading, “ Camp Expenses. Training and Maintenance,” the expenditure last year was £25,626,087, and the estimated expenditure this year, as mentioned by the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) yesterday, is £20,000,000. How can such an expenditure be justified ? Is there to be a repetition of the procedure in connexion with the pay-roll tax? The only explanation I can seeis that the Army intends to ensure that demobilization shall be a slow process; if so, avoidable waste and extravagance will continue. If this is not to he so the Estimates have undoubtedly been inflated for purposes which I mentioned earlier. Where are all the blue-prints and schemes for post-war activity of which we have heard so much? Was all that was said in this connexion so much “hooey”? There can be no justification whatever for an expenditure of £20,000,000 on camps, training and maintenance during the remaining nine and a half months of this financial year. The estimated expenditure in the Inspection Branch is £570,000. It would be a gigantic joke even to suggest such an expenditure if the matter were not so serious. Last year an amount of £27,S13,024 was expended under the heading, “ Arms, Armament, Ammuni. tion, Mechanization, Equipment and Reserves “. The estimate for this year is £24,183,000. How on earth can such an expenditure possibly be justified?. The Government’s adherence to these figures explains the reason why proper reductions of taxation are not being granted to the people.
The Auditor-General has been particularly outspoken regarding the methods of accounting adopted in the various- departments. Such criticisms are a further indication of the wasteful use of resources. Typical comments in bis report are -
Allied Works Council. - Expenditure on jobs continued to exceed the Estimates and financial authorities.
Tea Control Hoard. - The board has not maintained satisfactory accounting records.
Department of Information. - Certain funds expended on the referendum were not clearly related to the purpose for which they were used and not legally available and applicable to meet the expenditure referred to. “We all know that there was no proper parliamentary appropriation for this expenditure.
– That is so, though not in the sense in which the term is usually employed. Here are some further comments by the Auditor-General -
War Workers’ Hostels. - Unsatisfactory position in regard to the accounting procedure and internal cheek of transactions at various hostels.
Department of the Army. - Departmental officers were investigating unsatisfactory features relating to stores transferred from the Middle East to Australia. Efforts to remedy the position have been unsuccessful.
Unit Stores. - The standard of accounting at many units leaves much to be desired , . at some of these units discrepancies have been particularly heavy.
Meat Supply to the Armed Forces in Northern Territory. - Field butcheries’ records disclosed considerable underweight deliveries and condemnations due to emaciation, but rebates were not claimed from the contractor.
Department of Air. - Stocktaking position still far from satisfactory.
Salvage Board. - The books of account do not reflect, the correct position of canteen accounts.
Department of Aircraft Production. - Incompleteness of departmental records of assets held at annexes and absence of stocktaking: of such assets. These unsatisfactory featuresstill continue. Satisfactory records have notbeen maintained in the department to control the receipt, usage and return of materials by the contractor.
Attention was drawn last year to an unsatisfactory position relating to stocktaking ot stores for the manufacture of aircraft. It was then reported that competent authority had not been given to adjustment of deficiencies which had been written off in the departmental records. This position still exists.
It is understood that the directorate took delivery of many lend-lease items without furnishing the necessary documentary evidenceof delivery. Audit has not been able to ascertain the location of the relative accountancy records since the directorate ceased operations about November, 1943. Representations have been made to the department on the foregoing matters but at the date of preparationof this report, the queries had not been satisfied.
The position of outstanding amounts due to the department in respect of machine tools sold and loaned on a rental basis is not satisfactory. . . . Until control accounts are introduced a satisfactory audit of these accounts cannot be completed.
Department of the Army: Losses in Consignment. - Large losses of stores and supplies have occurred in consignments to New Guinea and Darwin. Losses were particularly noticeable in “ rationed “ commodities and stores of an attractive nature. The department has advised that it is considered that the above precautions and the service instructions issued from time to time provide as full safeguards as are possible. Notwithstanding the safeguards in force losses continue to occur on a considerable scale.
Many similar examples could be given. From those quoted it is abundantly clear that such lax methods constitute a considerable drain on taxpayers’ money, for it must be remembered that it is the taxpayers’ money, or the yield of public loans, which is being wasted. The taxpayers are entitled to something more than the miserable token reduction of 6J per cent, in income tax, and I have no doubt that they will demand their rights.
The Commonwealth is still the senior partner in every profit-making business.
It holds at least the equivalent of 30 per cent, of the shares in every successful company, because of the 6s. in the £1 company tax which it imposes. It has a large interest in the milking herd of every farmer, and it shares in the fruits of the labour of every industrial worker, especially those who have contributed to national production by working overtime -during the war years. The Government could easily have made greater concessions in taxation which could, have Com.menced immediately, except that it most probably intends to hold back drastic reductions until just prior to the next election.
In my view, the proposed scale of reductions will never, in fact, come into force. Their introduction into this budget is merely a sop to the public which must, be kept quiet with crumbs until the fruit cake is distributed at election time. Yet, the Treasurer may be obliged to introduce supplementary Estimates, because it may not be- possible to -maintain expenditure at the exhorbitant rates- indicated in the budget, however much that may be desired in some quarters.
With the conclusion of hostilities, customs and excise and sales-tax returns, liven with the contemplated reductions, should he considerably higher; the national income, and, consequently, the taxable field, should be much greater, tooth because the men discharged from the forces should be re-entering civil occupations, thus coming once more within the taxable field, and because the tax exemptions enjoyed by them as members of the forces will cease. Further, if private enterprise is. allowed to use government munition factories and machinery for the production of civil goods, more taxation will be payable on that account. Obviously the taxable field must be enlarged as more and more men are discharged from the forces to enter civil occupations, for there will be a revitalizing of every aspect of the industrial life of the Australian community. If those enterprises which are governmentally operated to-day -were handed over to private enterprise, as they should be, that would be an additional field of taxation.
I have dealt effectively with the inflation of the estimates, and have revealed waste, maladministration, and lack of control of expenditure in previous years by quoting from the report of the AuditorGeneral. Let us look at the report of that officer for the year 1944, which has just become available. In it, he say? that in the year ended the 30th June, 1944, £331,721 was expended on thirteen projects that had been worked as Commonwealth Government enterprises, and that recoveries during the year had totalled only £62,428 - less than one-fifth. Coupled with past experiences, especially in- Queensland, where 16 of 2-1 State enterprises incurred losses totalling £4,500,000 out of borrowed capital aggregating £5,000,000, this indicates the losses that can be expected from nationalized airlines and other projects, for which the taxpayer will have to “ foot the bill “.
Let us now look at the total fund available to the Government for tax reductions, without taking into account any revitalization and increased earning capacity in Australia’s industrial life. This can be conservatively estimated at £80,000,000- even on the basis of the maintenance of these extravagant estimates’ of contemplated expenditure. I do not believe in being critical without being constructive. I believe that I can take credit for having always endeavoured to be constructive in my criticism. I submit that there is a visible fund available, apart from potential invisible funds in connexion with expansion, revitalization, or the reduction of expenditure which must be effected. The fund? available for the transition period must be. taken into consideration in conjunction with the following year, because it would be useless to enrich this year at the expense of other years. The tax carryover for this year, namely, the outstanding tax not collected at the end of the financial year recently completed, was approximately £3S,000,000, according to the answer that was given to a question that I asked in this chamber.. This compares with £8,250,000 at the 30th June, 1941. Surely the exertion, used in the collection of this tax should be comparable with that applied to the raising of loans. If it were, the money would quickly become available to the Government. Obviously, the Government is legally entitled to it, and can reasonably be expected to recover it; because if “ Peter “ does not pay, the burden must fall on “ Paul “. In other words, if an amount of £38,000,000 is owing by some taxpayers, the tax position is being maintained by imposing too high a rate on those who meet their commitments. I am sure that neither the Treasurer nor. any of his officers will claim that £30,000,000 of that £38,000,000 could not be collected this year. To these arrears of tax must be added the assessments which could have been issued last year but were held back. I speak with some authority in that regard* because as a taxation consultant I know that most of the big companies on whose behalf my firm acts, have not yet been assessed. I have made a survey of the position from reliable sources throughout Australia. It is estimated, that the amount involved in dormant assessments, to which the Government is entitled, is £70,000,000. £ shall not exaggerate as the budget does. I halve the amount, and say that £35,000,000 must now be available to the Government, particularly as it has the necessary man-power and facilities to make the assessments expeditiously. The actual collections last year were £15,500,000 in excess of the budget estimate. Immediately the budget estimate is reached, and the position appears to be rosy, the assessment and collection of income tax are discontinued, and the amount uncollected becomes a carry-over in the ensuing period. I venture the opinion that the £35,000,000 which I have mentioned is by no means excessive.
Let us now consider the pay-roll tax. Obviously, as I have shown, it has been underestimated. Not by the widest stretch of imagination could one envisage employment, which is the basis of the pay-roll tax, not being greater in 1946 than it was in 1945. Should it be less the Government will have fallen down on its job. Regard must be had to the difference between the estimated yield from the Social Services contribution for the half-year beginning on the 1st January next, and one-half of the estimated yield from that source for a full year. It is estimated that the yield will be £51,000,000 in a full year, yet the Treasurer has taken into account a yield of only £20,000,000 for the period of this financial year during which the contribution will be made, and that is £5,500,000 less than one-half of the £51,000,000. 1 suppose the argument will be advanced that because of inability to collect the whole of the tax it is reasonable to assume that only 80 per cent, of the total amount will be collected. Yet it cannot be denied that the balance will be a legal liability on the part of the taxpayer, which could and should be discharged, and consequently must be regarded as a financial resource equally with customs, excise and other revenue. The addition of this £5,500,000 would bring the progressive total to approximately £70,000,000. To this should be added the difference of £12,000,000 between the estimated yield of £40,000,000 from disposals and* the £28,000,000 which is the maximum amount taken into consideration in arriving at the net war expenditure of £360,000,000 shown on the Estimates. [Extension of time granted.] Thus the total pool which could be utilized for tax reductions, ignoring all invisible factors, would appear to be £82,000,000.
– That is a conservative estimate.
– Certainly it is not over-optimistic. That will be a very handy sum for the Treasurer to have “up his sleeve” in a pre-election year. These factors, considered in conjunction with the budget speech, prove that the Treasurer has not done anything comparable with what he could and should have done by way of expeditiousand effective tax reductions. One is asked to accept the proposition that the tax reduction of 6£ per cent., and other minor concessions, mean that the taxpaying community will be relieved of the necessity to pay £10,000,000 on account of the half year commencing the 1st January next, and that there will be a corresponding loss to revenue. What are the facts? The tax collections from individuals last year amounted to £155,600,000, plus the payroll tax of £11,000,000, a total of £166,600,000. The Treasurer estimate, that the yield from individuals for the year that will end on the 30th June, 1946. will be £132,000,000, that the social services contribution will total £20,000,000, and that the pay-roll tas will amount to £11,000,000, making an
Aggregate of £163,000,000. Even accepting the estimate that the yield from the social services contribution in a half year will be only £20,000,000, although the estimate for the full year is £51,000,000, the revenue received last year from all the sources I have mentioned was almost equal to the revenue estimated to be received during the present financial year. Therefore, how can it be claimed that taxation is being reduced? The facts prove conclusively that a reduction of the rate of tax effectively increases the quantum of tax received, because of the greater incentive to enlarge the base upon which the rate is assessed. It is incumbent on the Government and its advisers to implement reductions which already have been shown to be practicable. Methods for implementing the reductions should be - 1. An immediate substantial reduction of income tax, by flattening the steep curve of taxation rates throughout all ranges. 2. Straightout deductions should replace the present cumberstome rebate system. :3. Greater concessions should be given to the taxpayer with family responsibilities, to enable a more equitable spreading of tha burden, 4. Special taxes, such as certain classes of sales tax, should be reduced or abolished, especially on building materials, essential furniture, home fixtures and those farming requisites which at present are not exempt. 5. Anomalies should be removed, such as double taxation, certain aspects of company tax and the like, as the most effective means of revitalizing industry. Concessions such as these would be more welcome to the average taxpayer than illusory benefits under the social services schemes to be financed out of the National Welfare Fund, which was originally established as a political buffer against the criticism which resulted from making persons, whose taxable income was £2 a week, liable for income tax.
Payments to 4h<e fund - which is a trust fund under the Audit Act - were to be £30,000,000 a year, or one quarter of the income tax received from individuals, whichever was the less. The balance of this fund, amounting to £53,000,000, forms a part of the £89,000,000 of temporary treasury bal ances, which the Treasurer admits have been used for war purposes, and replaced by treasury-bills - in other words by I O U’s. An amount of £25,500,000 was used in 1943, and £27,500,000 for the year ended the 30th June, 1945, making a total of £53,000,000.
The promised millions of pounds from the fund which were to provide social services for the low wage-earner have already been spent, and the proposed social services contribution, the new tax, is consequently a stark necessity designed to replace the vanished millions, and to make the bankrupt fund solvent. The spending of this money and other trust funds is unobtrusively described by the Treasurer as “ the temporary use of treasury balances “, which, over the financial year just completed, totalled £32,000,000. Whilst it is not improper to use trust funds in this way, it is necessary to ventilate the facts, because the Treasurer has stated that, last year, the treasury-bill issue was not increased from the previous year’s figure of £343,000,000. It was, ‘in fact, increased by a total of £32,000,000. The National Welfare Fund is in rather a peculiar position, in that the taxpayer is being mulct twice for social benefits, because he will be called upon next calendar year to replace in part the illusory balance in the fund.
We may fairly conclude -
According to a memorandum circulated in March last by the Treasurer, Commonwealth expenditure from taxation for 19*6-47 is estimated as follows: War and repatriation - including the 1914-1S war and future defence programme - £176,000,000; social services based on budget figures, £77,000,000; miscellaneous, including payments to States, subsidies, &c., £48,000,000, or, in round figures, £50,000,000. These amounts total £303,000,000. Even if it is ::i tended to meet all this expenditure out in revenue there should still be a surplus of £2S,000,000. According to the Treasurer’s budget speech, the estimated revenue- for 194l5-46 will be £343,000,000. Take from this the amount -of £33,000,000 for refunds to the States and taxation adjustment and to -give effect to the estimated full year’s taxation deduction of !2£ per cent., amounting to £10,000,000, and we have a total remaining figure of £300,000,000. Add to this the extra social services contribution of £31,000j000 in order to bring this fund up to the estimated amount of £51,000,000, and we have a total revenue for the year of £331,000,000. Therefore, the surplus revenue is £25,000,000, after providing for all war ‘expenditure, and this without recourse to loans, without regard to the proceeds from the disposal of war materials, factories, &c, and without allowing for increased tax revenue arising from the re-establishment of servicemen in civil occupations, and from postwar expansion and development. Therefore, taking the transition year and the following year together, there should be h minimum surplus of approximately £10S,000,000, without taking into account the possible reduction of war expenditure, or any saving which might be effected by avoiding wasteful expenditure.
In conclusion, I draw the attention of honorable members to a statement made by Edmund Burke in the House of Commons many years ago. I quoted it in this chamber in 1939, and because the words are so appropriate to the present occasion, I take leave to quote them again -
Our resources may be as unfathomable as they .are represented. Indeed they are just whatever the people possess .and will submit to pay. Taxing is an easy business. Any projector can contrive new impositions; any bungler can add to the old. But is it altogether wise to have no other bounds to your impositions, than the patience of those who are ‘to bear them?
.- 3 listened to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) deliver ‘his breezy speech on the budget. It was a speech with a strong .political flavour, very like some of those which ;he delivered in Queensland during the last federal election campaign. He was then appealing for the support of the people, but his’ appeal .had singularly little ‘effect. “Most people in Australia have seen the country pass through two of the worst wars the world has ever experienced. In the first world war we were told the country was fighting to end wars. “We were soon disillusioned, for 21 years later (lie world was once again thrown into a conflict more devastating and terrible than before. Fortunately right triumphed. The democratic nations were again successful in defeating those that stood for t’he subjection of the people - for tyranny and ‘the abolition of the freedoms that are so dear to us. The two major matters that are exercising the minds of the people as a consequence of the sufferings of the people during the two wars and the depression that intervened are - (1) What can be done to prevent future wars ? (2) “What steps must be taken by the governments of Australia to ensure that never again shall the people be placed in the degrading position of having to accept a dole to secure the few necessaries of life? As to the former, as time went on nations began to realize the impotence of - the League of Nations - constituted as it was - and to-day they have set up another body that they hope will -succeed” where the League of Nations failed. “We all pray that it will succeed, but time alone will tell. “We all hope that the Charter of the United Nations, wilt achieve its objective, but having learnt a bitter lesson from our previous unpre- paredness I arn nevertheless of opinion that we dar© not let our defences drop to the state they were in prior to the two wars, and that we must for both defence and economic reasons push ahead to the greatest degree possible with the establishment of secondary industries. Had it not been for the industrial might of the United States of America, which was able to supply ships, aeroplanes, arms, munitions, &c, to an extent never thought possible by our enemies, the war to-day would be only half won. As a consequence, we must build up our secondary industries, encourage primary industries to ensure that there shall never be a shortage of food, and build our own ships, aeroplanes and the thousands of other things that in the past we relied upon other nations to supply.
In the past, vested interests have gone overseas for requirements because they could get them a little more cheaply. Their main objective is always immediate profits. They have no regard for the welfare of the nation or the people. To have a greater measure of national security, we must be prepared to pay for it, and it is a short-sighted policy that refuses to utilize the brains, man-power and material available because of a little additional cost to the nation. We all remember the Australian Commonwealth Line of Steamers, which was sold because in times when hardly any shipping companies were doing well it was showing a loss of about £500,000 a year. The previous benefits of the line to the nation were disregarded; it was a menace to private enterprise and had to be sacrificed, despite the economic loss to the country. Companies bought their ships overseas and as a consequence our shipbuilding industry practically ceased to exist.
We have expended over £2,000,000,000 on this war. All have made great sacrifices to bear the cost. Nobody complained of the expenditure when our very ex is te ure was at stake, and no exception should be taken to any action by the Govern ment to ensure the military safety and economic security of the nation. Reasonable monetary considerations must not bc a bar to our industrial and economic progress. Everywhere the people are expressing their approval of the Government’s proposals for the future. Despite the hostile criticisms of a small section, the Government’s banking legislation will go a long way to enable the Government so to act that never again will the people suffer the miseries of a depression. In this regard, the people should remember that should the Liberal party unfortunately secure office at some distant date - and for the sake of the nation, let us hope it will be very distant - one of its first acts will be to repeal most of the banking legislation and again give the power of finance to the private banks. Although the Liberal party has not yet evolved any specific policy, mainly because its members cannot agree amongst themselves as t o policy, I would point out to the people, that despite the outward concern expressed by members of the party for them, the Liberal party is, as the honorable member for Fawkner pointed out, the same old tory United Australia party with a different name. The same influences are behind it as were behind the United Australia party. Its aims are the same. Its outlook on life, which is “ self “, is the same, and these influences will ensure that consideration for that shall come first. Since its defeat, the Opposition has tried desperately to consolidate its forces without success. Only a little while ago, ] was informed that its members could not even agree upon a constitution for the party, each State having differ eni views on the matter. Whether they have been able to overcome that obstacle I cannot say. One of the names they decided upon was “the Liberal Democratic party” - not that they have any right to the word “ democratic “, as it i.« foreign to their outlook. Mr. R. W. D. Weaver, the president, referring to the . amalgamation of the conglomeration of parties that made up those opposed to Labour, according to a press report, told the people -
We have decided to ride to heaven on the same chariot under the name of the United Democratic Party of Australia.
How the anti-Labourites like the name “ United “, although they are the most disunited party that exists ! However, that new party seemed to lose its sense of direction and crashed, but not in heaven. For a party that has failed- so ignominiously, I often wonder how the Opposition has the audacity to criticize the legislation of the Government, which is solely designed for the welfare of the people and the progress of the nation. For years, both the Liberal party and the Country party were in office. Why did they not do some of the things they now advocate? The Country party has suddenly become very concerned about the man on the land, but what did it do to place primary industry on a sound economic basis? In this regard, Labour has accomplished what the Country party could not, or rather, would not, do, and as a consequence all primary industries, I care not to which you refer, are on a sounder economic basis than ever before. The plain truth is that the Country party was -always more concerned about securing and retaining office than it was to assist those interests it was supposed to represent. The Liberal party has tried desperately to secure the sympathy and support of the soldier and his dependants, but, as the result of the Fremantle by-election showed, in this regard they have failed badly. Those who fought in the last war have not forgotten how the nonLabour governments let them starve during the depression, and the servicemen’ of this war have not forgotten the parsimonious pay and allotments that the Menzies Government proposed to give to the soldier and his dependants when war broke out. The welfare of the people is the main concern of the Labour Government. That is where the Liberal party and Country party fail. Their chief concern is for the vested interests TheY represent.’
The record of the Government is one of outstanding achievement and one of which we can be proud. Our rehabilitation scheme is designed to ensure the placing of all in useful employment, and in this regard the Government will stop at nothing to ‘achieve its objective. I remember how, when the Government brought down its White Paper for full employment, it met with jeers and derision from members of the Opposition. The Opposition and those behind it do not want full employment; they always want to have a reserve of unemployed in order to hold the whip-hand over the worker.
The Government’s proposaLs for the rehabilitation of ex-servicemen are contained in its Re-establishment and Employment Act, its land settlement proposals and its Repatriation Act, all of which provide more benefits than honorable members opposite would have granted if they had been in office. The increased social services granted by this Government are most generous, and J have no hesitation in saying that, had the Opposition been in office during the last four years, not 5 per cent, of this legislation would now be on the statute-book. For many years, members of the National party, the United Australia party, and the Liberal party, or whatever other name they assumed, promised to introduce legislation to provide for unemployment insurance, but they did nothing. They did not consider that it was an obligation on the part of the Commonwealth Government to give some assistance to those people who were so unfortunate as to be out of work. In 1929, the Prime Minister of the day, Mr. Bruce, referring to unemployment insurance, declared that his government did not intend to proceed with its plans because they could be given effect only by increasing the burden on industry. According to the Advertiser of the 8th October, 1929, he saidIt would be almost criminal to add to it.
Evidently it was not “ criminal “ to allow women and children to suffer the agonies of hunger and want. His concern was not for the people but for vested interests. And that attitude has been followed by his successors to this day.
The Government has every reason to be proud of its achievements since it took office, because it has succeeded where its predecessors failed. The outstanding feature of the Government’s war record is the confidence which the people had in it, and the co-operation which was extended to it by all sections of the community. Finding £2,111,000,000 for war purposes alone was a colossal task. It is true that we have been heavily taxed ; that, unfortunately, is one of the sacrifices which we have to make in war-time, but it is gratifying to see that the Government has decided to grant a measure of relief from taxation. The principal complaint about the budget - most of the criticisms come from vested interests - is that taxation has not been more substantially reduced. “Whilst we all should like a reduction of the burden, we must face the facts. For the financial year 1945-46 the Government must obtain £492,000,000. Revenue will provide £340,000,000, leaving £152,000,000 to be secured by other means. Some misconception appears to have arisen regarding the Government’s taxation proposals. In some quarters, it is believed that the social service contribution will be an additional tax. That is not so. The rates of income tax which will operate from the 1st January, 194.6, will be reduced by from 10 per cent, on the higher incomes to 12^ per cent, and 15 per cent, on the middle and lower incomes. The amount of tax which will be collected after this reduction will be paid into two separate funds, namely, the Social Services Fund, and the Consolidated Revenue Fund. The social services contribution will not cause any person who at present is not liable to pay income tax, to become a contributor whilst his income remains unaltered. Under the Government’s taxation proposals, a married man with two children in receipt of £6 a week will pay approximately ls. in the £1, not as income tax, but as a social security contribution. For that payment, he receives the advantage of maternity allowances, free medicine, and unemployment and sickness benefits. People should not forget that although that man pays 6s. a week as a social services contribution, he receives 7s. 6d. a week as endowment in respect of his second child, provided that both the first and second children are under the age of 16 years. Thus he pays fis. into the fund and receives 7s. 6d. from it.
To-day, social services cost £64,000,000 compared with £17,000,000 in 1939-40. No Liberal government or Australian Country party government would have made such provision to improve the social conditions of the people. They made many promises, particularly at election rime, but apart from the child endowment legislation, they failed dismally to introduce urgently needed social services. Two things stand out prominently in the Government’s legislation, namely, its determination to press forward with its objective of work for all, and its humane social service legislation. Associated with, its plans to provide employment for all’ are its plans for public works, housing: and the standardization of railway gauges, and its determination to establish to the fullest possible extent secondary industries throughout Australia. The Government has also formulated plans to encourage and assistiprimary production. Every primary industry has benefited as the result of” assistance rendered to it by the Government. Therefore, I am confident that the people of Australia will welcome thi*budget.
Sitting suspended from 12.89 to 2.15 p.m. [Quorum formed.^
– The budget speech reveals that the Government has no plans for the futuredevelopment of the Commonwealth or of” Australia’s trade. Many times in thecourse of the war, we heard honorablemembers opposite declare that when the war was over, Australia would be a land flowing with milk and honey ; vast irrigation schemes would be undertaken; developmental authorities on the lines of theTennessee Valley Authority would be set up; and so far as possible, the effects of droughts would be mitigated, all resultingin an increase of Australia’s wealth. We find, however, that the budget, which has been praised so generously by Government supporters, but severely criticized by honorable members on this side of the chamber, makes no provision for those works about which there was somuch talk in the days of war. Whilst the budget expresses the pious hope that peace-time production will be restored as rapidly as possible, it does not indicate any effort by the Government toachieve this end, and no reference ismade to concrete proposals for expanding Australia’s export trade to, or beyond, the pre-war level, in accordance with the increased productivity that we hope for. I support the deductions of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies), the Leader of the Australian Countryparty (Mr. Fadden), and the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) in regard to the estimated yield from the pay-roll tax. Last year, revenue from this tax amounted to £11,088,000, and the estimated revenue for this year represents ia reduction of approximately £S8,000. It would. appear. therefore, either that there will not be any substantial increase of civil employment in the current year, or that, if there is, the wages of workers will be reduced, as the total wage fund on which the tax is levied remains the same, despite the repeated assurances of the Government that this will not be so.
Expenditure by service and other government departments will remain at a high level. This indicates that the Government does not intend to give to private industry an opportunity to create the wider employment, which, according to the Treasurer’s speech, is so necessary. The Government will compete with private industry for the available manpower, and will thus contribute to a state of chaos in this country, whilst doing nothing to remedy the acute shortage of consumption goods which exists at present. The Estimates indicate also that the Government intends to retain many men in the services. Despite frequent announcements that servicemen are to be discharged at the rate of up to 4,500 a day, it is apparent that releases will be much slower. Correspondence received by honorable members shows that discharges are being refused, not only to service personnel stationed in the island territories north of this country - >a refusal which may have some justification - but also to B class men performing clerical jobs in base areas. Clearly, the Government intends to maintain a high level of employment in government factories, and to hold as many men as possible in the armed forces. This policy will deny to private industry a chance to develop, and meet the huge demand for consumer goods. These are vital blunders in the budget, because private industry alone can rapidly supply the needs of the people of this country. It is all very well to argue that production in aircraft factories and certain other government industries must be maintained, but surplus munitions being returned to this country from war areas have been dumped in the sea, as happened recently in .Sydney, where there was a strike of wharf labourers when snakes were found in the crates taken from the holds of ships. Whilst the denial of man-power to private enterprise is hindering the housing programme, man-power is being used in making munitions that are not required. The Government should not compete with private industry for available labour, when employment in private industry is at a maximum, but should come in vigorously when employment shows signs of slackening, due perhaps to overseas trends. Then it will have ample opportunity to maintain the purchasing power of the community by expenditure on national undertakings. The aim of the budget should be to ensure maximum employment throughout the community, and the -maintenance of the highest possible living standard. That can be brought about only by larger remissions of taxation than are provided for in the budget. Income tax, including the -social services contribution, is being reduced by only £3,000,000. The Auditor-General’s report reveals that income taxes outstanding at the 30th June, 1944, amounted to £32,S94,000, or an increase of almost £14,000,000 over the figure of £18,784,000 for the previous ..year. The wartime company tax outstanding at the 30th June, 1944, was £812,000, or almost £200,000 more than at the corresponding date of the previous year. There were outstanding amounts also in other taxes. It is plain from these figures that the taxation burden in this country has become intolerable, and that a much larger cut than is provided for in the budget is warranted. How can we effect the savings in government expenditure that are so essential if man-power is to be released to private industry to increase the production of consumer goods, acceleratithe building of houses, and build our export trade? In my view, not only must government expenditure be reduced, but also the burden of taxes must be eased. A reduction of taxation would create an increased demand for consumer goode, thus giving an impetus to civilian production, and would also permit of investments being made in the production and manufacture of ca.pi’ ta] goods, about which I shall have something to say later. There has been some talk in this debate about surplus funds. I say, if we have surplus funds let us manufacture capital goods and make capital investments in those countries of low purchasing power like India and China to enable our raw products to be consumed there.
Taxation remissions outlined in the budget will provide little relief for the lower income-earners, taking into account the social services contribution. For :instance, a taxpayer without dependants receiving £150 a year will pay ls. 2.6d. in the £1 as his social services contribution, and his total tax will be £9 3s., which represents a saving on the present tax of 3d. a week. That -is a miserable reduction. Looking at the position of a taxpayer with a wife and -two children, we find that the man on an income level of £250 a year will have to pay a social services contribution of -£2 12s., compared with his present income tax bill of £2 18s. He will have a saving of 6s. a year, ‘whereas a single man on the same income level will have a saving of £6 12s. a year. If the two classes of taxpayer were taxed on a basis of equality according their family responsibilities, it seems to be most unjust that the single man should receive so much greater benefit from the reduction than the married man with two children.
The budget savings could be made under several headings. Services expenditure should show a much greater reduction than is provided for, and I shall point out certain items which could be curtailed. An amount of £22,653,000 is owed to the Government by overseas governments, presumably for munitions and war services rendered by Australia. Has any effort been made to collect that debt in order to offset it against ‘commitments that we may have in other parts of the world 1 This budget hides things so much, aud the Treasurer was so secretive in his speech, that one does’ not know whether anything has been done to collect those funds and thus ease the burden on the Australian people.
There are many departments, apart from service departments, in which expenditure could bc greatly reduced without damaging the employment situation and with general advantage to the taxpayer. I do not propose to refer in detail to the waste that has been disclosed in the Auditor-General’s report. This occurred some time ago, but it suggests that considerable waste may be still occurring. A committee of this House should be appointed to investigate public expenditure and bring it to the notice of Parliament so that a constant and careful check may be maintained. The examples cited by the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) showed that large savings could be effected by preventing waste.
According to press reports, which were mentioned in a question asked in the House this morning, more than £33,000,000 of uncollected income tax is outstanding, due to the fact that 275,000 overdue assessments had not been issued to taxpayers up to the 30th June. 1945. Had this money been collected, the budget would have been in a much better position to allow for further tax concessions. The Estimates show that war expenditure is expected to amount to £360,000,000 and non-war expenditure to £132,000,000, making a total of £492,000,000; the estimate of revenue is £340,000,000, leaving a gap of £152,000,000 to be bridged by loans. A great amount of saving could be effected in those Estimates. For a start, the overseas debts which I have mentioned might be collected, and ‘taxation assessments for last year should be issued as soon as possible. I do not expect that the full amounts due could be collected this year, but, if they could, the budget would benefit to the amount of £55,653,000. Service Votes disclose colossal expenditure, indicating that no attempt has been made to curtail spending because of the cessation of hostilities. In the Navy, estimated expenditure for the permanent forces is £11,250,000, compared with £12,666,000 for the previous year, a saving of £1,416,000. Naval establishments expenditure is estimated at -£2,290,000. compared with £2,740,000 expended last year, a saving of £450,000. The general expenses of His Majesty’s ships are estimated at £7,500,000, coinpared with £8,’598,000 expended last year, a -saving of £1,098,000. Naval construction expenditure is estimated at £2,000,000 in this year of peace. Furthermore, it ‘is very doubtful, in the light of i bo discovery of the atomic bomb and its probable influence on naval warfare, whether present types of warships will be of much value in the future. I am very doubtful of the wisdom of devoting £2,000,000 to naval construction. The Government should make an effort to reduce expenditure by 33 per cent, on these items. It is ridiculous that the general expenses of naval ships should be £7,500,000 and that £11,250,000 should be expended on the permanent naval forces. Has the Government no idea of laying up these warships? Are we to derive no benefit from the United Nations conference at San Francisco and the peace proposals which emerged from it? In the post-war world, are we to have enormous and increasing expenditure on armaments, thus placing an additional burden on the taxpayers so that they will have to waste perhaps one-fourth of their working lives constructing armaments instead of homes? The Minister for Works and Housing told us to-day that we should need about “i)0,000 houses within the next ten or twelve years in order to provide adequate accommodation for the people. We cannot maintain this enormous expenditure <>ii the armed services, and, at the same time, develop an adequate housing programme and provide the people with the comforts to which they are entitled after years of self-denial.
I direct attention now to the estimates of expenditure for the Department of the Army. Gross extravagance is even more noticeable in these estimates than in those for the Department of the Navy. Army pay and allowances for the current year are estimated at £1.20,000,000, compared with £104,927.000 for 1944-45. I know that honorable members opposite will refer to the deferred pay of £54,000,000, which will have to be met in the near future, hut that still leaves far too large an expenditure. I hope that men will not be retained in the services because the Government has been laggard in devising proper plans for civilian employment. If our soldiers are returned rapidly to civilian life, the Army estimates can be greatly reduced, even though we have to meet this commitment of t’5+,000,000 for deferred pay in respect of all three services. The amount set Ifr. Abbott. aside for Army pay and allowances is a false estimate; it is swollen beyond all reasonable needs. Estimated expenditure on the civilian services in the Army is £1,050,000, compared with £1,085,000 last year, a saving of £15,000. Is it necessary to maintain this huge volume of expenditure on civilian services for the Army? Is it necessary to retain so many civil clerks and other employees for an army which must be rapidly reduced? When new departments are created, civil servants and temporary civil servants build the staffs up to a great size and then resist any attempt to reduce their numbers. The honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) has already directed attention to the item of £20,000,000 for camp expenses, training, &c, which shows a saving of only £5,600,000 compared with the expenditure last year. This is a monstrous state of affairs. Why should £20,000,000 be needed to train men who should be discharged t.hi3 year as rapidly as possible and returned to their civil occupations? Does the Government intend to continue calling up men for military training on the same scale as for war? Estimated expenditure on general services for the Army is £6,000,000, showing a saving of £1,826,000 compared with the previous year’s expenditure. This is an enormous volume of expenditure for general services, yet no explanation has been given, in the budget speech or elsewhere, as to the necessity for it.
For another item, armaments, &c. the estimate is £24,183,000. With our population of 7,000,000, this involve? an expenditure of over £3 a head of the population in a year of peace, when the. greatest menaces to the safety of the democratic world have been utterly destroyed. There does not seem to be any sign of war for many years to come. There is only a certain amount of man-power available in Australia for the production of civilian goods and such export goods as are required to obtain essential imports. If we continue to immobilize an enormous number of our people, by employing them to produce arms and armaments to the value of £24,000,000 a your, the taxpayers will go short for many years to come of the houses which they have ‘been led to believe that’ the
Government intends to provide for them. Another item in the Army estimates relates to the acquisition of sites for building. Huge numbers of camps and Army buildings are scattered throughout Australia, and I cannot see why it should be necessary to expend £300,000 on this item. This estimate shows a reduction of only £24,000 compared with the expenditure last year.
An examination of the estimates for the Department of Air shows that proposed expenditure on the Royal Australian Air Force has been reduced considerably more than in any other service department. Nevertheless, pay and allowances for the Air Force are intimated to be £50,000,000, compared with. £45,230,000 in the previous year, uri increase of £4,470,000. Parliament should be informed of the reason for the increase.
The expenditure on civilian services and salaries i3 to be £950,000, a saving of only £11,000. On general services, there is to be the considerable reduction of £7,163,000, from £18,163,000 to £11,000,000. The proposed expenditure on aircraft equipment, &c, is £21,000,000. The estimate of the administrative costs of the Munitions Department is £1,750,000, which represents a saving of only £519,000. One would imagine it to be quite unnecessary to have a high level of munitions production at the present time. The amount to be expended on standard ship construction is £3,000,000, compared with £2,690,000 “last year, an increase of £310,000. The total amount to be expended on aircraft construction has risen from £1,855,000 last year, to £4,724,000 this year. From his it is reasonable to infer that the Government intends to embark on a /.. aircraft building programme. As a matter of fact, we have read in the press within the last couple of days the Announcement that the construction of 60 Lancasters and a number of Tudors is proposed, at the very time when, in other parts of the British Empire, these aircraft are surplus and are being consigned to the scrap-heap. It is wrong to establish government factories and thus starve private enterprise and other avenues, of employment of ,the man; power that they need, and at the same time place a tremendous tax burden on the people.
The total of the savings which might be made is approximately £126,000,000, on the basis of a 33 per cent, reduction of the service votes, reductions in other departments, and the collection of money owing by taxpayers on account of lat year’s assessments, as well as by overseas governments. If we were to halve the amount, bringing it to a figure that is well capable of achievement, the burden on the people would be lightened by at least £63,000,000. Such saving? as I have indicated would enable real tax reductions to be made, instead of the anaemic proposals that have been brought down by the Government, which will not be the means of maintaining the level of employment or investment that if? required in this country. I have shown clearly, T hope, many places where reductions could be made and *so relieve the people of the present crushing burden of taxation.
There is another matter which cause* anxiety to one who represents, as I do. a rural constituency, and a party which is particularly concerned with the representation of rural industries. That party is not so biased as not to pay heed to the requirements of the nation as a whole, but it has a special interest in the export industries. The budget does not make any mention of the future of those industries, or of the developments which must be made if production is to be maintained, and new oversea? markets are to be secured. The lowering of the prices of primary products, as occurred in 1931, 3932, and 1933, would be reflected disastrously in every phase of the Australian economy. Our export industries are dependent on the British market. In 1938-39, 54.5 per cent, of the total exports from Australia went to Britain. There is very grave doubt as to whether the absorptive capacity of the British market will be as great in the future as it has been in the past. Britain, it is stated, has lost foreign investments to the value of £3,386,000,000. and at the same time has incurred enormous debts with other countries. Prior to the outbreak of the war that has just terminated, India owed’ £600,000,000 to Groat Britain. At the present time.
Britain owes India about £l,20Q,000i000. Egypt, too, is a heavy creditor of Britain. Therefore, it is most important that we should do everything possible to ensure that we shall share in whatever is available in the British market in the future. I draw attention to a fact nhat has not been mentioned previously in this debate, namely, the position in connexion with our export industries which has been occasioned by the destruction of the purchasing potential of Germany, Italy and Japan, which in 1938-39 absorbed 7.4 per cent, of the total exports from Australia. If that purchasing power be withdrawn, the effect on production in this country will be bad, and the gap must be filled by markets elsewhere. Our hopes- lie in the industrialization of eastern countries. The quickestway to achieve that is to strip enemy countries of capital goods. The mistake that was made after the last war was that the reparations imposed on Germany and Austria were accepted in the form of consumption goods. This was most destructive to our own economy. If w,e strip Japan and Germany of their factory equipment, and place it in countries of low purchasing power and very little industrial development, such as India and China, those countries will be raised to a higher standard of living and there will be an increase of their consumptive capacity for the products of countries like Australia. The budget does riot make any suggestions for better banking arrangements to induce the export of goods, from Australia to the markets of India and China. Nor is there any indication of action by the Government for the shipment of capital goods from Australia, or the development of manufacturing industries in those countries for the consumption of our raw products, such as wool.
I was impressed- recently by an article in the- July issue of the Readers Digest by Eric Johnston, president of the Chamber of Commerce of the United States of America, in which he discussed what- he described as “America’s world chance “. According to- him, its chance is to invest capital goods in countries of low consumptive power; such as India and China, thereby arousing ‘a consumptive demand from them in two ways - first, by raising- the purchasing power of the workers so that they will clamour for the raw products of other countries for manufacturing purposes in their own country; and, secondly, by- raising their capacity to export consumer goods overseas and bring. in the manufactured goods of the highly industrialized countries. I make this quotation from the- article - =
I’m not talking about gifts. Nor am 1 talking about loans. In loans the money gets spent hy the foreign borrower with little or no control over it by the American lender.. I am speaking of what is called direct investment. I am speaking of American money that goes into a foreign country and buildsa plant which remains substantially under American direction and is operated with American skills of engineering and management. This is better for us because then we can watch our money.. It is better for a backward country, because then it gets theproductive benefit not only of American capital but of American know-how.
We move- into the age of co-operative effort by advanced countries and undeveloped countries together for mutual- profit. I am happy and proud to say that this .principle is already recognized as cardinal in the future economic development of the Americas.
In Argentina there is a large glass company owned jointly by the Corning Glase. Works, the- Pittsburgh. Plate Glass Company and Argentine citizens. Dividends therefore go to citizens of both countries. But the big point I’ want to make here is not dividends but. wages. The glass company’s 3,800 employees, with the benefit of North American machinery and management,, ace earning roughly 60 per cent, higher wages than they ever earned before.
The investment of our surplus capital abroad enlarges our exports in two ways. First, iswhat arc called “ producers’ goods “ - machinery and equipment. This wave of exports, to undeveloped countries could go on for many decades.. But it is the second wavethat brings real human welfare with it foi the peoples of these regions.
This second wave almost instantly overlapsthe fi.r,st. ‘ As soon as the people of an undeveloped region begin to get the higher incomes that industrialization generates,, they begin to buy more “consumers’ goods”: clothing, furniture, kitchen appliances, automobiles, radios, and all the- “ gadgets “ of modern living.
The raising of the living standards of the people of overseas countries is of the greatest importance to Australia, because we have large surpluses of primary products, and, in view of the> rapidindustrialization’ of the ‘Commonwealth, we shall soon have also large quantities of secondary products available for export. A good deal of Commonwealth expenditure has been incurred in the development of the export industries of this country. We have only fourteen representatives in overseas countries in the commercial intelligence services, including trade commissioners and clerks. The cost of these services in 2944-45 amounted o £13,980, whilst the present cost is 19,230.
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Riordan) The honorable member’s time has expired.
– This is the first peace-time budget presented by the present Treasurer (Mr. Chifley), and [ compliment him upon it, although the proposed expenditure is nearly five times as great as that provided for in the record pre-war budget. No doubt the Treasurer will be confronted with many problems in the immediate post-war period, but I am confident that if we exercise a little patience, the Government will steer the ship of state through the post-war period as well as it did during the difficult period of war. I hope that in dealing with post-war problems the Government will take first things first. [ know that it has many long range plans, and that all available man-power will be required in the early stages for such work as the housing of the people aud overcoming the lag in housing that developed in the pre-war period. A great deal of man-power will be required for the production of food and clothing for the civil population, including the demobilized members of the armed forces. The lag in house construction will probably not be overtaken for at least five years. A considerable amount of labour will then become available for such long-range schemes as water conservation and the standardization of railway gauges.
The Government should establish a department or ministry for the reorganization of industry generally. Those engaged in secondary industries have become perplexed at the sudden termination of the war. Industrial managers and workers alike are now in the dark, particularly with regard to the prospects <>f overseas trade. One industry in my electorate desired to tender for an order worth £2,500,000 for the supply of railway rolling stock to India, but, through an oversight on the part of one of the departments, it was unable to tender. Had its tender been accepted it would have been able to provide employment for a large number of men who had been engaged in war production. It is regrettable that a good opportunity has been lost to assist in building up Australia’s oversea, trade. If a department of such a nature were established, many of our industries would be assisted back to peacetimeproduction.
I am glad that the Government contemplates the appointment of a coordinator of demobilization, in order to eliminate various bottlenecks in industry, and ensure that the members of the armed forces shall be demobilized as quickly -a* possible and re-habilitated in civil life. I hope that the appointee will have not only administrative capacity but also a sympathetic attitude to the policy of the Government. The best case can be spoilt by poor advocacy. The only factor which I can foresee as capable of leading to the defeat of the Government at the next general elections would be to entrust such important matters as the co-ordination of demobilization to persons not sympathetically disposed to the policy of the Government. Certain people who co-operated with the Government in bringing the war to a successful conclusion will now have an eye to their own interests.. Therefore, if the Government’s post-war policy is to be given effect, it is vital that the appointee should be sympathetic to the Government’s aims.
The four main problems confronting the Government are housing; the treatment of members of the fighting services, including their rehabilitation and repatriation; the repeal of the National Security Regulations and the lifting of restrictions; and the reduc tion. of taxes. As for housing, it is pleasing to note that the Government has taken the matter in hand. It is a matter of great importance both to the civil population and to members of the forces who, upon their discharge, will want homes for their families. The present position in regard to housing is due to cumulative neglect for many years.
There was a shortage of 100,000 houses in Australia in 1939, and that shortage has now increased to 250,000. The Government has given evidence of its sincerity by setting up a Department of Works and Housing under a full-time Minister. Even before the end of the war it had given first priority in the matter of releases from the Army to men experienced in the building industry, and it had also given a high priority to building materials for use in house construction.
The shortage of timber for house construction is due largely to the fact that many saw-mills had to be closed down for lack of labour, and they cannot be put into production again till men are released from the forces. Many brickworks in New South Wales were also closed down, some because of lack of labour, and others because they had been bought by the brick combine and closed as a matter of policy, even though the combine continued to pay dividends to former shareholders. I hope the Minister will take this matter up with the State Government, if the Commonwealth has not power to deal with it itself.
– I understand that there is an item on the noticepaper dealing with housing.
– The honorable member for Parramatta (Sir Frederick Stewart) is disorderly. The honorable member for Reid (Mr. Morgan) is in order in discussing housing.
– I rise to order. Is the honorable member forReid in order in discussing housing, seeing that housing is the subject of a bill of which notice has been given!
– There is reference to housing in the budget. Therefore, the honorable member for Reid is in order.
– In the course of a newspaper interview, Mr. F. L. Parker, secretary of the Brickmakers Union in New South Wales, recently made an interesting statement on the subject of the brickmaking industry. The interview was reported as follows: -
Complete nationalization of the building industry was necessary to solve Australia’s housing problem, the secretary of the Brickmakers’ Union, Mr. F. L. Parker,said in an interview to-day.
This applied both to production and erection of houses, he said. “ It is useless to talk of any extensive housing scheme,” said Mr. Parker, “ unless an adequate supply of building materials is organised.” Whether Australia could secure some types of building material, especially timber from abroad, was largely problematical, continued Mr. Parker, but, he added there was no shortage of brick and tile making material anywhere in Australia.
Plans Needed. “ It is doubtful whether private enterprise can carry out modernisation of brick and tile making plant to produce all the bricks and tiles necessary and at a substantially reduced price,” declared Mr. Parker. “ This can only be done by the erection of one or two central plants which will permit the greatest degree of mechanisation. Mechanisation will not only make possible the production of bricks, tiles and pipes at a reasonable cost but will end for ever the drudgery and downright hard work associated with the industry in the past. Mechanisation is possible now in a number of brickyards, but only on a limited scale. The hard work of breaking and trucking in the pits could be done away with by the use of mechanical navvies, but this would not solve the problem for other workers, including machinemen, wheelers, setters and draggers whose work would remain as arduous as ever. “ Conditions of employment in the industry must be completely revolutionised if men are to be attracted in the future. Mr. Lazzarini is wrong in his belief that because men worked in the industry before the war they will return to it in the future. Before the depression we had over 3,000 brickmakers employed in metropolitan brick yards. In 1941 this number had dwindled to 1,800. This was due to the closing down of a number of yards by the employers. It must be remembered that few ‘ new men have entered the industry and the other men are dropping out because of the passage of time.
Mechanisation Need. “ I do not favor taking over any of the existing yards or re-purchasing the State Brickyard. A fresh start must be made by the establishment of a new undertaking which will be completely mechanised in all departments. This means navvies and crushers in the pits, automatic brick producing machines, conveyors and tunnel kilns. If necessary a representative commission should be sent abroad immediately to investigate modern methods in the USA and Great Britain. “ Modern methods will mean that workers can be given 52 weeks pay a year, receive sick pay and adequate holidays and be freed from the strain of working in kilns at an excessive temperature or in all weathers without shelter. A modern welfare block would enable the men to enjoy up-to-date factory amenities.” Mr. Parker said there was no reason why the range of colors in bricks should not be extended considerably to make brick cottages and flats more attractive to the eye.
I ask leave to continue my remarks at a later date.
Leave granted; progress reported.
House adjourned at 3.15 p.m.
The following answers to questions werecirculated:-
Common wealth Disposals Commission: Motor Vehicles.
Mr.Langtry asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice - 1.What is being done by the Army authorities to dispose of motor ears and motor trucks that are now surplus?
Mr.forde.immediatelyonthetermination of the war in Europe, action was taken to review the Army requirements of mechanical transport, so that releases to the Commonwealth Disposals Commission of vehicles no longer required for Army purposes could be effected. On the 16th May, 1945, a total of 9,000 motor vehicles and motor cycles had been made available to the Commonwealth Disposals Commission, and by the 22nd August, 1945, this had been increased to 17,500, of which slightly over 18,000 had actually been released or were about to be released to the public by the Commonwealth Disposals Commission. With the termination of hostilities with Japan, and the very great reduction of future Army commitments of a non-operational nature, arrangements are now being made to replace the more conventional commercial type of vehicles still held by the Army on the mainland by the four and six-wheeled drive War Department vehicles previously held in operational areas, or in operational reserves, to meet the contemplated operational requirements during the war. Consequently, it is expected that approximately 25,000 additional vehicles will be notified by the Army for disposal during the next four to six weeks. It will be appreciated that the release of these vehicles will throw a very heavy strain on the Commonwealth disposals organization which, I understand, is being geared up to meet the position. The Commonwealth Disposals Commission is expediting the sales of all vehicles made available for disposal. Whilst, from my investigations into the action being taken within the Army to release motor transport vehicles for use by the public, I was by no means dissatisfied with the position, action was taken by me to appoint a board consisting of Mr. Maurice Shmith, chairman of directors of Yellow Cabs of Australia Limited and director of Yellow Express Carriers Limited, of Melbourne, and Mr. Harold I. Johnson, secretary, National Roads and Motors Association, Sydney, to investigate the position in regard to releases of Army motor vehicles for sale to the public. The report of this committee, when received, will be considered by me and by the Minister for Supply and Shipping, who is the Minister in charge of the disposals organization. It will be seen that all possible action is being taken within the Army organization to make surplus motor vehicles available for sale to the public.
A ustkaliak Broadcasting Commission: Public Interest Broadcasts.
n asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– Inquiries are being made, and a reply will be furnished as soon as possible.
s asked the Acting Mini ster for External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
n asked the Acting Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
y. - On the 19th July, the honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Conelan) sought information regarding a number of crawler-type tractors reported to be lying idle in Brisbane.
The position is that a small number nl tractors, which ‘vere obtained from the United States of America under lend-lease, are stored in Brisbane. These
Tractors. are part of a consignment which was imported to meet the needs of the Australian services and the Allied Works Council. The council is the co-ordinating authority for this type of tractor, and allocations from the number stored in Brisbane are being made from time to time. The most recent allocation was on the 25th July. As the tractors stored in Brisbane are new tractors of lend-lease origin, they can, of course, only he released for the specific purpose for which they were requisitioned, i.e., use by the Australian services and the Allied Works ‘Council. However, the needs of local government authorities for equipment of this type are appreciated, and it is suggested that they approach the Allied Works Council for advice as to whether suitable tractors oan be made available. It must be realized, however; that equipment of this type, crawler tractors in particular, is in short supply throughout the world. The Division of Import Procurement is assisting merchants to import crawler tractors for uses outside the scope of lend-lease, but it will be some time before all requirements oan be met.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 14 September 1945, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1945/19450914_reps_17_184/>.