House of Representatives
20 October 1948

18th Parliament · 2nd Session

Mr. Deputy Speaker(Mr. J.J. Clark) tookthe chair at 10.30 a.m.. and read prayers.

Mr. WILLIAMS- Will the Miniate: forRepatriation take steps to ensure that ex-servicemen f rom theUnited Kingdom and other parts ofthe British Commonwealth who have lived in Australia for twenty years or more shall become entitled to payment of servicepensions on attaining the ageof60 years? I point out that in myelectoratemanydeserving ex-servicemenfromotherBritish ocuntries,whoareinnecessitonscircum stances,donotreceiveservicepensions. OneinstanceisthatofaBritishex- serviceman,whohashadtoretire,after 22years’servicewithafirm,becauseheis notwellenoughtocontinueinconstant employment.Althoughhesuffersfrom chronicheartandbronchialtroubleasthe resultofinjuriesreceivedduringa GermangasattackonBeaumontHome in1917,hedoesnotrecieveapension. Cansomethingbedonetoalleviatethelot ofsuchpersons?

Mr. Archie Cameron. - I riseto order. The question askedby the honorable memberrelates to a matter alreadybefore the House, and the Ministerfor Repatriation can reply to it when the consideration of the Australian Soldiers’Repatriation Billis resumed.

Mr. DEPUTY SPEAKER. - Honorable members are entitled to ask question? concerning matters which relate to bills that areunder consideration bythe House.

Mr. BARNARD. - British ex-service- menareinadifferentpositionfromex- servicemencoveredbytheAustralian Soldiers’RepatriationAct,andnopro- visionismadeforthem.Sincethey servedwiththeUnitedKingdomforces theyaredependentupontheBritish MinistryofPensions,andIam afraid that we cannot do much about it. However, if the honorable member will give me details of the case to whichhe particularly referred in his question, I shall examine it to ascertain whether anything can be done.

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McDONALD. - Can the Minister tor Commerce and Agriculture say what action he has taken to correct the anomaly which exists because cheese manufacturers are unable, under the dairying produce equalization scheme, to compete fairly with the manufacturers of milk products? Under the present arrangement cheese iscontrolled by the Dairy Produce Equalization Committee and is unable to compete withmilk products which are sold in the markets of the worldfree from any control.

Minister for Commerce and Agriculture · BALLAARAT, VICTORIA · ALP

– The matter raised by the honorable member is one of considerable complexity. Under the dairy produce equalization scheme, manufacturers of butter and cheese belong to an organization which arranges for the equalization of financial returns from the sale of expert butter and cheese with those received from the sale ofbutter and cheese consumed locally. Up to the present it has not been practicableto bring milk products into alinement with the equalization scheme. In the case of suppliers of manufacturing industries in the Warrnarnbool district, the effect of bringing the exporting companies into alinernent would be to diminish the return to milk suppliers in that district, and I do not think that that would be acceptable to them. Although I am not satisfied that butter andcheese factories which allege unfair competition could not pay more than they are paying, it is realized that difficulties exist in regard to butter and cheese in areas adjacent to those in which milk suppliers operate, and the action which I am taking is to second an officer of my department to make an investigation for the purpose of ascertaining whether some adjustments can be made which will be more favorable to the suppliersto thebutter and cheese factories adjacent tothe milk supplyingorganizationsin that particular district.

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– Will the Prime Minister inform the House whether the so-called agreement to control the movements of Australian women abroad was, in fact, an informal understanding with a junior member of the American Embassy in Canberra? Did the Minister for Immigration obtain thatunderstanding under duress because of the following circumstances : - He had issued orders that Australian women working with American head-quarters had to return to Australia forthwith irrespective of the work that they were doing. He had made an unwarranted allegation that those women had been kidnapped by General MacArthur’s head-quarters because they had not his permission to leave Australia. Did not General MacArthur regard their services as essential to complete certain important work affecting the operations of the American armed forces in this theatre of war and his plans in relation to the occupation of Japan? Did the official of the American Embassy at Canberra accept the condition under protest as the only practical way in which tokeep thework moving? Did not the AustralianGovernment cancel any understanding that may have existed by renewing the women’s passports laterwithout any restrictions? Does the Prime Minister consider that any understanding obtained under such conditions is either morally or legally binding on the American Government? Has the Minister for Immigration any authority to conduct direct negotiations with the diplomatic representatives of another country? Will the Prime Minister issue instructions that, in future, all negotiations with the diplomatic representatives of other countries shall be conducted in the proper manner through either the Prime Minister or the Minister for External Affairs ? Will the right honorable gentleman also issue instructions that if any government department has occasion to discuss any matters relating to passports for Australians while they are abroad, such discussions shall be conducted through the proper channels, which are the accredited diplomatic representatives of other counttriesin Australia ?


– I assure the honorable member for Reid that the agreement was entered into with the American Charge d’ Affaires and not with a junior official of the American Embassy. At that time, the American Minister was absent from Canberra and the arrangement was made with the senior representative of America, who was acting in his place. The honorable member has asked a number of questions but I propose to reply to only one of them, because last night I made a statement about the general position, and any adjustments in this matter will be made between the Australian and American Governments without any advice from any person. The honorable member has asked me to issue instructions that, in future, all negotiations with, the diplomatic representatives of other countries in Australia shall be conducted, not by individual Ministers, but through either the Prime Minister or the Minister for External Affairs. When a matter arises, it is the practice for the diplomatic representative of another nation to make representations informally to the Minister who is directly concerned. That procedure has been followed hundreds of times in Australia. When the discussions reach the stage at which a formal agreement or a formal understanding can be entered into, the subject is transferred to the higher governmental level. In the matter to which the honorable member has referred, I was acting for the Minister for External Affairs, and, therefore, I was able to deal with it in a dual role. I assure the honorable member that the representative of America, to whom he has referred as a junior was the Acting American Minister in this country and I, as Prime Minister and Minister acting for the Minister for External Affairs, was fully consulted by the Minister for Immigration. The other questions which the honorable member has asked were covered by the statement which I made to the House last night, and I have nothing to add to it.

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Poster No. 19


– Has the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction seen poster No. 19 issued by the Commonwealth Office of

Education, Grace Building, Sydney ? If not, will he have inquiries made into allegations published in this morning’s issue of the Sydney Daily Telegraph that the poster is most offensive to the American nation? In view of the strained relations between Australia and the American nation brought about by the Minister for Information, will the Minister take steps to have the poster withdrawn immediately if it is offensive! Will he have inquiries made in order to ascertain who was responsible for the issue of the poster? Will he ensure that offensive posters of this nature, if this one is offensive, shall not he issued in future ?

Minister for Defence · CORIO, VICTORIA · ALP

– It is, of course, absurd to say that relations between Australia and the United States of America are in any way strained. At no period in Australian history have relations between the two nations been better than they are to-day. I have not seen the poster. The honorable member did not say whether he had seen it. All that he said was that he saw something in the Sydney Daily Telegraph this morning. The Office of Education has issued educational material of various kinds which has been of great value to the community. Some of the posters and pamphlets that it has issued are excellent. I shall obtain a copy of the poster mentioned by the honorable member and will then consider what I should do about it, if anything should be done at all.

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– I have just received a letter from a farmer in the district where I live asking whether anything can be done concerning the shortage of superphosphate in the north-western coastal area of Tasmania. The letter states -

Potato growers are unable to gut their potatoes planted mid most crops should be in by now. Almost every farmer around here seems to be in the same desperate position as T am.

Can the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture take any action to relieve that situation?


– The honorable member knows that the manufacture of superphosphate in Australia, and its transport, except by rail, is entirely in the hands of private enterprise. The honorable member also knows that the Department of Commerce and Agriculture has done everything that it can do to assist private enterprise and facilitate the transport of supplies of superphosphate to Tasmania. It will continue to do so. I shall bring the honorable member’s question to the attention of officers of the department. Although this is a matter for the private companies to arrange themselves, my department will gladly help them in any way possible. The latest information that I have received on this subject is that arrangements have been made for the shipment of 6,000 tons of superphosphate to Tasmania and that an endeavour will be made to maintain supplies pending the time when Tasmanian manufacturers can meet all of the needs of that State. The honorable member will realize that there is a great demand for superphosphate and that some manufacturers may be reluctant to send consignments to distant places when they can more conveniently fulfil orders nearer at hand. The Department of Commerce and Agriculture has no control over those circumstances.


– I have received a letter concerning superphosphate from one of my constituents who is a fruit grower. He states that the Australian Government has discontinued paying a subsidy on superphosphate to the fertilizer manufacturing companies, and is paying a reduced subsidy direct to farmers. He points out, however, that mixed fertilizers, that is, fertilizers containing superphosphate mixed with other chemicals, are not subsidized. That means that the farmer does not receive a subsidy direct, nor is a subsidypaid to the companies, with the result that the price of mixed fertilizers is now rising. I ask the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture whether that is a correct statement of the position, and. if so, whether he will have the matter examined with a view to placing mixed fertilizers on the same basis as ordinary fertilizers.


– A subsidy will be payable on the superphosphate contained in mixed fertilizers. If the honorable member will place his question on the notice-paper I shall provide him with a full answer in due course.

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– I direct a question to the Treasurer. There are in the community applicants for pensions who, through circumstances of war, are not living in their homes, which constitute their only real estate property. They have applied for pensions, which have been refused because they hold property of a greater value than is permitted under the act. Would it be possible to arrange for the granting of pensions in cases of this kind if the applicant can show that he has already approached the court in order to obtain possession of his house from a. tenant?

Mr.CHIFLEY. - This matter was raised in the House during a debate on pensions some time ago. and the proposal has been considered by the Treasury. The honorable member for Balaclava has made representations on behalf of exservicemen who let their homes before going to the war, and have not been able to get possession of them since, so that they have had to occupy flats at higher rentals than they are receiving for their homes.

Mr Beale:

– Why not give the Minister for Social Services discretion in such cases ?


– Even if he were given discretion, the matter still conies back to the Treasurer for final decision, and the. Treasurer has big enough a load now. The Treasury has considered the matter raised by the honorable member for Parkes and that raised by the honorable member for Balaclava, and in present circumstances it is not thought to be administratively possible to accede to the requests that have been made.


– Doub t less the Prime Minister will remember thatsome time ago I raised the matter of twenty years’ residence in Australia being a necessary qualification before Britishborn or other types of migrants coining to this country become eligible for age and invalid pensions. 1 think the Prime Minister knows of several instances of the inequitable operation of that requirement in his own district. Is the right honorable gentleman now in a position to inform the House whether the Government intends to relax that residential qualification, in order that migrants now coming to this country will not be handicapped by that condition, and also that migrants alreadyresident in Australia who are not people of means will not be required to work until they reach advanced age before they become eligible for a pension?


– This matter has been raised previously not only by the honorable member for Balaclava but also by other honorable members, including members on the Government side of the House. The provision to which reference has been made has been in the act since it was introduced many years ago. The Government has been endeavouring for some years te obtain agreement to a reciprocal arrangement between the United Kingdom and the other Dominions in regard to the provision of various types cf social service benefits. About twelve or eighteen months ago, a representative of the Treasury and two representatives of the Department of Social Services were sent to London to interview United Kingdom and other Dominion representatives to see whether it was possible to evolve a workable reciprocable arrangement in relation to social services benefits generally. Whilst it has net been possible, so far, to reach agreement in that regard, we shall continue our efforts to that end. The Minister has given a great deal of his personal attention to the matter, and. the Government would like to see some of the present disabilities removed

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– Does the Minister for Transport believe that, having regard to the serious world situation, the standardization of railway gauges, particularly between Australia’s largest State capitals, has become a matter- of urgent national importance? If so, will, he con.sider standardizing immediately the gauges of the railway between Albury and Melbourne? Will he consult the Minister for Immigration with a. view to obtaining the required labour from overseas if it cannot be obtained in Australia, and will he arrange to house the workers in the larger towns ‘between Albury and Melbourne, so that railway gauge standardization, immigration and decen tralization may be undertaken simultaneously ?

Minister for External Territories · EAST SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

– I do not accept the view that the international situation ds as grave as the” newspapers represent. It may he grave enough, but I think that its gravity is exaggerated in the press. The Government has always regarded the standardization and modernization of the Australian railways as matters of great importance. The reason why greater progress has not been made in achieving that end is that the Government ha? been unable to secure the full cooperation of the States and the Commonwealth lacks the necessary constitutional power to undertake the work. We are still heping that we will be able to make some progress as some States are more co-operative than others. With regard to the suggestion that I should consult the Minister for Immigration regarding the possibility of securing labour from overseas for this work, that is a matter for discussion after the work has be,en put in hand and having regard to the circumstances then existing. I dc not think it is good policy to attract considerable numbers of people to this country until we have accommodation available for them. I believe that the first consideration, of the Government in regard te housing should be to house adequately the people who are already here. Additional workers should be brought to this country only when accommodation can be provided for them and there is essential work available for them here.

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– In certain quarters of Tasmania, there is a very real fear, that as a., result of the possibility of the Tasm anion Government withdrawing from the agreement made between the Commonwealth and Tasmania, the manufacture of aluminium will not be undertaken in that State. Can the Prime Minister say whether there is any foundation in fact for fear, and also- whether- the site east of the Tamar River has definitely been agreed upon for the manufacture- of aluminium ?


– I covered this matter in a general way recently when I indicated that informal discussions were taking place which had as their objective a widely expanded production of alu minium in this country. I spoke personally to the Premier of Tasmania on the subject at the recent meeting of Commonwealth and State Ministers, and gave him a general idea of the form of those discussions. I also discussed the matter while I was in London. A new agreement on the production of aluminium can only be made with the consent of the Tasmanian Government because the existing agreement between that Government and the Australian Government is provided for by legislation. I propose shortly to set out officially in a letter to the Premier of Tasmania the matters dealt with at the informal talks, and to obtain his views on those matters. assure the honorable member, however, that no matter what arrangement is made or what form of control is exercised, industrial activity in Tasmania will be as great as is now proposed, or even greater.

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– Can the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction tell the House the number of ex-service personnel who have already commenced training under the Commonwealth Reconstruction Training Scheme, the number of courses available to trainees, and the cost of the scheme so far ?


– Approximately 250,000 ex-service men and’ women have undertaken training under the Commonwealth Reconstruction Training Scheme. The scheme covers nearly 400 vocations, callings and professions. It is the proud boast of the Department of Post-war Reconstruction that training canbe provided in any vocation. One of the latest courses of training applied for-

Mr Francis:

Mr. Francis interjecting,


– Order! The honorable member for Moreton must cease interrupting. He has been interjecting, persistently, and if he offends again. I shall deal with him.


– I was about to say that one ex-serviceman recently applied for training as a bowling-green keeper. The department hopes to be able to pro- vide him with that training: In addition to technical training, of course, a wide variety of university courses is available. At the universities to-day, more than 12,000 ex-service men and women are being trained under the reconstruction training scheme. It is probable that hundreds of doctors, dentists, engineers and other professional workers will be trained under the scheme. The cost of the scheme to the Commonwealth to date has been approximately £26,000,000 and before the scheme is completed I believe that it will cost about £80,000,000.

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– I direct a question to the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture arising from a publication issued by the information division of the Canadian Department of External Affairs in which it is stated - butterpurchases.

The Canadian Government has completed arrangements for the purchase from Denmark and Australia of an additional6,000,000 lb ofbutter: . . .

I ask the Minister whether it is the policy of the Government to sell Australian butter to Canada or North America when the United Kingdom, as the whole world knows, is so short of it. If that is the Government’s policy will the Minister indicate what quantity of Australian butter available for export is intended to be diverted from the United Kingdom to Canada or any other North American country?


– With respect to the recent contracts negotiated by both the New Zealand Government and the Australian Government in respect of exports of butter an d cheese to the United Kingdom, and. Australia’s contract with the United. Kingdom Government, the Australian Dairy Produce Board, made a recommendation that a specific proportion of our supplies available for export should be made available to countries other than the United Kingdom. As the honorable gentleman knows, I always pay very great respect to recommendation of; export control boards.

Mr McEwen:

– The Minister does not pay very great respect to the recommendations of the Australian Wheat Board.


– When we negotiated the contract with the United Kingdom Government we secured its consent or connivance, whichever you will, for the reservation of 3,000 tons of butter for markets other than the United Kingdom. It was recognized by the United Kingdom Government itself as well as by the Australian Government, that it was desirable for the Australian dairy industry to maintain links with countries other than the United Kingdom, in view of further developments likely in the industry. The 3,000 tons of butter will be allocated to other countries on the recommendation of the Australian Dairy Produce Board and I have not the slightest doubt that the board will find it desirable to recommend to the Government that some portion of it be sold to Canada, with resultant benefit to Australia’s dollar income.

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– Reports have been circulated from time to time that the Government proposes to discontinue the Hythe flying boat service between Australia and England probably by the end of this year, and to operate the service to England by means of Constellation aircraft. I therefore ask the Minister for Civil Aviation, first, whether it is, in fact, the Government’s intention to discontinue the service; and, secondly, if so, has it gi ven considera tion to the establishment of a service preferably using the new Solent flying boat which is about to come into operation in the Tasman service, so that those who wish to go to England by the more leisurely and interesting flying boat route may still be able to do so instead of having to travel by land plane?


– The question of whether Hythe flying boats will continue to be used on the service from London to Sydney is a matter for the British Government and not for the Australian Government. A parallel partnership is in operation between the Australian and United Kingdom Governments, and Australia is operating its share of the service with Constellations. The British Government is using flying boats, but I understand that it is intended to replace them with Constellation aircraft so that the service between Australia and the United Kingdom may be operated with the same type of machines, thus reducing maintenance and servicing costs. It is not intended completely to abandon the use of Hythe flying boats, because there are other services on which they can be used. Some people may prefer to travel in a flying boat rather than in a land based aircraft, but it would be very expensive to continue to maintain both flying boat bases and ordinary aerodromes between London and Sydney. If both kinds of aircraft were kept in operation. some honorable members opposite would perhaps derive satisfaction from the fact that the service was, in consequence, being operated at a loss. We do not intend to proceed on those lines, but we cannot determine what the British Government will do. For my part, I hope that the service will soon be operated entirely with Constellations and that other uses will be found for the Hythe flying boats. The Solent flying boats will, it is hoped. come into operation early next year on the Australia-New Zealand service, by agreement between the Governments of New Zealand, the United Kingdom and Australia.

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Conduct of Business

Mr. HARRISON (Wentworth- Acting

Leader of the Opposition). - by leave - On behalf of the Opposition, I desire to protest at last night’s occurrence when the motion for the adjournment of the House was being debated. My protest does not relate to the subject that was then discussed. A fundamental principle was violated when the Government gagged the debate. It is possible that I should not now be making this statement if I considered that the privileges of honorable members of this House had not been threatened by recent actions of the Government. One of our most cherished privileges, and indeed it is a custom that is common to all democracies, is that members of parliaments may take advantage of the motion for the adjournment of the House to direct the attention of Ministers to matters immediately arising which affect electorates. Apart from question time, that is almost the only occasion when an honorable member of thisHouse is permitted to make representation in the House upon matters to which he desires to draw direct attention.

When the motion for the adjournment of the House was proposed last night, the honorable member for Darwin (Dame Enid Lyons) referred to a matter which she thought was of sufficient importance to bring to the notice of the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley). When the right honorable gentleman rose to reply to the honorable member for Darwin, he pointed out that by doing so he would not close the debate because he had not proposed the motion that was then before the Chair. Notwithstanding that, after one other member of the Opposition had spoken, he effectively closed the debate, by directing the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Mr. Scully) to move the gag. [ have been informed that other members of the Opposition desired to speak upon subjects other than that upon which the honorable member for Darwin had spoken. The Opposition considers that the Prime Minister, by his action grossly violated the privileges to which its members are entitled as members of this House. Such privileges must be jealously guarded by each honorable member if the basis of our parliamentary institutions is to be maintained. It is necessary to draw attention to this matter; and I am sorry to have to do so. I say to the Prime Minister that whatever may be the nature of matters honorable members may wish to discuss on the motion for the adjournment, the power resides in the Chair to determine the duration of the debate. Honorable members have their own way of dealing with such matters according to the forms of the House, and the Prime Minister should not seek to deprive honorable members of one of their privileges in that respect.

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Motion (by Mr. Pollard) agreed to -

That he have leave to bring in a bill for an act to provide for the distribution of any ultimate profit accruing to the Commonmonwealth under thewool disposals plan, and for other purposes.

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Bill presented by Mr. Dedman, and read a first time.

Second Reading

Minister for Defence, Minister for Post-war Reconstruction and Minister in charge of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research · Cor io · ALP

by leave - I move -

That the bill be now read a second time.

Honorable members will notice that whilst this bill is very similar in form to that presented to the House twelve months ago, it presents an important change in substance. In form, it is familiar to honorable members because its purpose is simply to continue in operation for a further period of up to twelve months certain of the National Security Regulations originally retained by the principal act of 1946. A closer examination of the substance of the schedules of the bill, however, will reveal that whole major sections of the economic controls in operation in past years have either been dropped altogether or have been transferred in a modified form to State administrations. Most of this modification of the economic controls which affected everybody in Australia so closely was effected after the voting in the prices and rents referendum revealed that the Australian people had at that time been pursuaded that the Commonwealth was no longer the appropriate authority to continue by those particular means to safeguard their economic interests and welfare. Whether that vote was well advised or will be regretted is not here in question. The fact is that the Government no longer requires extension of the life of some of our former basic controls, except insofar as they apply to Commonwealth territories or insofar as the State authorities may have requested the Commonwealth to continue its regulations in force until such time as they indicate that their own arrangements are fully and satisfactorily operative.

I remind honorable members that the Government has now done a very considerable amount of work in the discontinuance transference and relaxation of the regulationsoriginally appearing in the schedules ofthe Defence (Transitional Provisions.) Act . 1946.By the time this bill is passed, ten sets of reguations, fifteen general and supplementary regulations and three orders so appearing will have been totally discontinued since the 1st January, 1947, whilst another twelve sets of regulations and nine general and supplementary regulations will have been transferred to permanent legislation during the same period.Relaxationof controls does not lend itself to statisticalassessment,butIdraw attention to theendingof all clothing, sugar and meatrationing the easing of wage-pegging requirements,and ofthe motorcar and vehiclepermit system, the discontinuance of the land freezing clause forsoldier settlement purposes in ‘the Economic Organization Regulations and the repealof the acquisition provisions in various marketingregulations.

But for the continuing unsettled state of thepost-war world,the continuing need for assisting the British economy in particular, andthe chronic stortage ofdollarsfrom which allBritish Commonwealth and sterling bloc members are suffering, the Government might havebeen ablenow to drop most, if notall,of the economic transitional powers. Unfortunately, these post-war and war-causedtroubles have continued but ‘only sofar as is absolutelynecessarydowe now seekcontinuing power to cope withthem. Supplies avail able to us comefrom Australianproduction or from imports. Home production continues to develop in volume and variety, but in manydirections it has not overhauled thegrowing demand of a happily fully-em ployed people. Our imports have also fallen short of the increased demand for two reasons.Other people are unable to supply us with all the goods for which we can find sterling or soft currencies;while for allthe goodswewant fromhard-currency countries, especially fromAmerica,we have not sufficient ac- ceptable currencywith whichto make payments.So,economic control’s have to be continued in order to ensure stability orproper priorityin meeting national needs.

While these arethe reasons for seeking retention ofnecessary centraleconomic oontrols, there are other regulations, though of a diminishing number, which cannot yetbe dispensed with. I believe, therefore, that it would be helpful here to say a word or two about each ofthe main remainingsetsof regulations. First, we havethe three sets ‘which were takenover recently by State Governments - Prices. Economic Organization, Parts III. and IIIa, and Landlord and Tenant - but whichhaveto be kept in operation by the Commonwealth asfar as they apply to itsvarious territories. I do not think I needcommentupon the decision to ‘retain these regulations. Theywillcontinue to operate withinthe territories andsome willhave a limited operation within the States to enable asmooth transfer of control to beeffected. As an incident to the continuance of land sales control by the States, theCommonwealth will continue to assess land tax upon pegged values. This is achieved by clause 7 of the bill. Land “values ‘are fixed for a period of three years, known as. the “triennial period’”, under the “Land Tax Assessment Act. The30th June, 1948, was the commencement of a newtriennial periodand thevalues adopted at that date for assessment purposes would automatically apply atthe 30th June, 1949and1950. However, if the control of rents and land sales be lifted by theStates beforethe expiration ofthe triennial period, it might be advisable to amend the Land Tax Assessment. Act to provide that a “new triennial period should commence at the 30th June immediately succeeding the lifting of those controls. [Quorum formed.]I desire therefore to make it clearthat the continuation of the,pegging of valuesby this bill will not necessarily mean that such valueswill also apply to landheld at the 30th June, 1950.

Secondly, we have the small group of regulations in the same category the function of which is to preserve the economic stability ; ofthe community andtoprotect it from the unchecked workingof the present abnormal conditions of demand. These are the Economic Organization Regulations, part . IV., whichregulate interest rates, andpart V.,which regulate wages. The wagepeggingprovisions have already beenconsiderablyrelaxed.

The industrial .authorities are now free to deal -with wage applications ‘as .they deen) fit in accordance “with the limitations of ‘then’ respective jurisdictions. The main remaining effect of the provisions is to make it unlawful for employers to pay, or workers to receive, rates of pay in excess of the rates determined by the industrial (authorities, and to require industrial authorities .to .consider .national interests .before making a consent .award or authorizing an industrial agreement.

Thirdly, we have many regulations directed to :the rationing .of those consumer goods which, for a variety of reasons, -are in .short supply. .Foodstuffs in short .supply are governed by the .Food Control, Rationing and Tea Control Regulations, by General Regulations 73 and 84, and .by Supplementary Regulations 100, 116 and .133, the .last two sets being general in .application but essential in .the administration of any remaining rationing. Butter rationing, requiring normal consumer .rationing, together with a restriction upon the use of cream, has been retained chiefly to make available greater supplies of butter to send ‘to Britain. The ‘Government has retained tea rationing ‘as a part of its continued attempt by subsidy ‘to keep down “the cost of living. Production from the sources upon which Australia relies is -still inadequate, and if the sul>sidy were lifted, the price of tea to the public would approach 6s. “per lb. As a matter of sound finance the Government will only continue to pay a subsidy upon a commodity of this sort provided it ‘continues to be .rationed. Petrol rationing is .required, not iso much because supplies are (physically unavailable, but principally as a .means towards dollar conservation. Only by the severest check upon dollar imports can this country pay its way from its trading income and -so play the game by the .sterling bloc. I need :no.t emphasize or elaborate that point to-day.

The necessity for permits to purchase new motor .cars and new commercial motor vehicles may (perhaps :be .regarded as part ‘of the Government’s -system of consumer rationing. Honorable “members will , be aware of the relaxation of this control recently announced toy the Minister .for Transport. The control does not -now apply to any motor vehicle.under .12 horse-power and from 1st December of this year at will not apply to any motor vehicles iron] the United Kingdom, Italy and France. The necessity to allocate the inadequate supplies which we can afford to buy from North America was amply proved by the figures recently .submitted to the House of applications lodged and imports available.

A .further group .of regulations .and orders, designed to prevent the effects -.of “the unregulated .movements of articles in short supply, treats of essential materials (of several types, , both raw and manufactured. To this group belong the Minerals and .Tinplate Control Regulations, and to orders .relating -to essential materials, tinplate, cordage and fibre, and jute goods. They have in common the object of ensuring that the materials go to the uses of -highest priority from the .standpoint ‘of national welfare. In some -cases it is necessary to ensure that materials like lead which are available inside Australia, and are subject to “price control, are distributed .here .and not exported .to obtain tie much higher prices (ruling abroad. In other cases we are importers of *he materials. That .raises the problem of jpr.ocurem.ent, and governments .are often in -stronger and more favorable “positions than private buyers to obtain “items like jute and tinplate. In .every case there is the need to see that unessential uses do not absorb supplies, which, without control, would happen all too soon “with items like tinplate, mica, cordage and fibre. The Essential Materials Order itself is the basis for the control of most materials necessary for housing programmes.

The same function, that of alloca tion “to the best use of limited resources, is served indirectly also by the Capital Issues Regulations. Directly, the regulations control ‘the floating of new enterprises involving the use of large amounts of capital; -but the purpose of this is, of course, to prevent the use of ‘men, capital equipment and raw materials for .speculative or less essential purposes. Under present conditions there is great competition to start ventures of all kinds. Thi? control lias been relaxed considerably since the end of the -war, tat it enables the exercise -of >a selective function between ventures to be made and should be con.tinued. lt has, I am not surprised to find, much support in business circles as well as in the general community.

Next should be mentioned the many regulations which are concerned with the armed services, and defence in its narrower sense. The clearance of this group from the schedules would, more than the removal of any other single category, lighten their appearance, lt includes the Internment Camps, Naval Charter Rates, Naval Forces, Prisoners of War, War Deaths, and Women’s Services Regulations, four General and eight Supplementary Regulations and one order, while virtually within the classification are the Disposals, Pood Control and Salvage “Regulations, and three further Supplementary Regulations. The armed services still require the powers conferred by these regulations for their present administration, and in nearly every case the provisions are also such as would be needed for defence purposes in any future emergency. The task of preparing legislation to give permanent legislative effect to many of this group of provisions is well in hand.

The next distinct group of regulations are the so-called Marketing Regulations, comprising Apple and Pear Acquisition, Australian Barley Board, Hide and Leather Industries, Rabbit Skins, and Wheat Acquisition Regulations, and, in the nature of a machinery provision for most of these, the Staff of Wartime Authorities Regulations. The general aim of those regulations was to perform, by the agency of boards, the services of marketing for the growers concerned. Under its normal peacetime powers there are distinct limitations on the Commonwealth to take such action for primary producers, and it is exercising its present defence power only until alternative provision is made by growers and States. In fact the Government is now deleting acquisition powers from most of these regulations, which will, however, serve to cover the liquidation of all operations and transactions by the Commonwealth in respect of the output of past crops handled by the Commonwealth.

The Commonwealth has an arrangement with Tasmania covering apples and pears, and will need to he in a position to continue for the time being to exercise its marketing functions. The board has still the winding up of its business to attend to and this work necessitates ite continuance into next year.

The Barley Board continues to exercise its marketing function for Victorian and South Australian growers. Both States have now passed identical legislation to set up a joint marketing board for barley produced within their boundaries, but Victoria has yet to conduct two polls of growers, one to approve the legislation and another to appoint a growers’ representative to the board. The Commonwealth board must be able to carry on until the States’ joint board is in full operation.

Negotiations for States to implement a wheat stabilization scheme are still uncompleted, and irrespective of the result of the ballots of growers, at present being conducted, if the Commonwealth now withdraws its existing cover there will be no legislative support for an Australian marketing scheme.

Hide and Leather Industries and Rabbit Skins Regulations were aimed al ensuring to the home market supplies of essential articles like hoots, shoes and felt hats at prices not greatly in excess of pre-war prices. The States and Commonwealth are negotiating for a possible transfer of something like the present hides and leather control to the States.

Another category of provisions which deserve mention is that concerned with working conditions in various industries. There are four items in this group, Coal Mining Industry Employment, Female Minimum Rates, Industrial Peace and Maritime Industry Regulations. A final decision on the Coal Mining Regulations, covering chiefly regulations of conditions and the settlement of disputes in the craft unions, has not yet been reached. The Female Minimum Rates Regulations, which establish a minimum rate for employees in vital industries, are being retained pending a decision of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, whicli may supersede their protection. The Industrial Peace Regulations, extending the powers of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court and the conciliation commissioners, will be retained pending the commissioners making certain adjustments necessary for their future operation within more limited powers. The Government will shortly be in a position to decide upon the permanent establishment of a Maritime Industry Commission to continue the work now being done under the present regulations.

Finally, there is a miscellaneous group of regulations. Three important sets are awaiting the introduction of permanent legislation to replace them, and this should be ready to place before Parliament early next year. They are the Shipping Co-ordination, Medical Benefits for Seamen and External Territories Regulations. It is intended to ascertain whether or not the provisions of the Industrial Property Regulations and Supplementary Regulation 62 can be incorporated in the Patents Act.

I have covered the most important of the regulations and orders which it is proposed to continue, and can supply any further information to honorable members at the committee stage of the bill.

The provisions of the bill itself are simple. The measure will continue in operation until the 31st December, 1949, all the regulations and orders which appear in the first and second schedules of the act of 1946, with the exception of those, which have since been discontinued or transferred. I have had prepared two lists setting out the items which have been so dealt with and these are available to honorable members. In addition, as 1 have mentioned clause 7 proposes to continue the amendment of the Land Tax Assessment Act 1940-1947, by which land values for taxation purposes are pegged at the values for 1939. The first and third schedules of the bill enumerate the regulations which are to be discontinued by this bill. I commend the bill to the House.

Mr McEwen:

– Are the regulations concerning capital issues to be continued?


– Yes.

Debate (on motion by Mr. Harrison) adjourned.

page 1871


Bill presented by Mr. Catwell, and read a first time.

page 1871


Second Reading

Debate resumed from the 19th October (vide page 1807), on motion by Mr. Barnard -

That the bill be now read a second time.

Upon which Mr. White had moved, by way of amendment -

That all words after “That” be left out. with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words: - “the bill be withdrawn and referred to a parliamentary selectcommittee of ex-servicemen appointed to inquire into and report upon the present repatriation pen sion rates with a view to better adjusting these rates to present living costs. “

Minister for Repatriation · Bass · ALP

in reply - The debate on this bill, which provides for the payment, of increased benefits to service personnel, has been most interesting from the standpoint of the number of speakers and their reaction to the proposals. Whereas fourteen members of theOpposition have spoken, only three supporters of the Government have participated in the debate. The Opposition endeavoured to make some political capital out of the proposals. I appreciate the co-operation which Government supporters have extended to me-

Mr White:

– By being dumb?


– The Government desires that this bill shall become law without delay, so that the increased pensions may be paid on the 28th October.

Mr White:

– Had the Minister accepted the amendment, the bill would have been passed yesterday.


– I shall be obliged if you, Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker, will preserve order so that I may make my speech without interruption.

Mr. Burke

– Order! I hope that the Minister is not reflecting on the Chair.


– Certainly not, but althoughI have been speaking for only a few moments I have been interrupted twice by the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White), who is as talka tive as a. parrot.

Mr Francis:

– That is an offensive remark.


– Order! Members of the Opposition were heard in silence when they were speaking in the second-reading debate. [ ask them not to interrupt the Minister.


– Honorable members on this side of the chamber appeared to be perfectly satisfied with the proposed increases of pension.

Mr Gullett:

– They did not look satisfied.


– Order ! “Whatever members of the Opposition may think about the Minister’s remarks, he is entitled to be heard in silence, and the Chair will see that he is.


– Some members of the Opposition were generous, because they offered constructive criticism of the proposals in the bill. A government should welcome constructive criticism from an Opposition, because it is the duty of an Opposition member to discover weaknesses in proposals that a government submits to the House for consideration. If, as in this instance, some members of the Opposition make constructive criticism on a non-party plane, it is all to the good. However, not all the Opposition speakers in the debate were so generous, and I shall make further reference to them later in my speech.

Honorable members opposite spoke at length about letters which they had received from various sources urging a bigger increase of repatriation benefits than that which is proposed in the bill. Whenever an increase is being granted, a logical claim can be advanced for a more substantial amount. The main criticism of the present, proposals is that the bill increases the rate for totally and permanently incapacitated ex-servicemen by only 5s. a week. It is alleged that that increase constitutes a breach of promise on the part of the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley). To refute that view, I shall read the right honorable gentleman’s statement in his budget speech about war and service pensions. It is as follows : -

The Government also proposes increases in war and service pensions. General rate war pensions will be increased by about 10 per cent., which will mean an additional 5s. a week for pensioners whose incapacity has been assessed as “ total “. An increase of 5s. a week is proposed in the present special rate war pension for cases of total and permanent incapacity.

Therefore, the Prime Minister has not been guilty of a breach of faith. The words “ general rate war pensions “. which are payable to persons whose incapacity has been assessed as total, occur in the first schedule to the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act, but do not appear in the second and third schedules, which provide for special rate war pensions. In this bill, the Government is. honouring the promise which the Prime Minister made in his budget speech.

Mr White:

– That is not so.


– I shall read the relevant portion of the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act.

Mr White:

– The Minister should read the answer which the Prime Minister gave to my question.


– The first schedule to the act provides that the general rata pension for 100 per cent. incapacity shall be £2 10s. a. week. The second schedule relates to special rate war pensions of £10 2s. a fortnight. That is the answer to the statement by the honorable member for Balaclava. The position is clear and unequivocal.

Mr White:

– For all other recipients, the increase is 10 per cent.


– It is not a matter of what other people are receiving. 1 am referring to the promise which the Prime Minister made in his budget speech. He stated that the increase of the general rate war pension would be about 10 per cent. and he made special reference to the special rate war pension. I have now answered completely the complaints by members of the Opposition in that connexion.

Some honorable members have contended that increases of pensions should be related to increases of the basic wage.I have closely examined the history of repatriation benefits since 1921, but I have not been able to discover that pensions were ever related to the basic wage. No ex-servicemen’s organizations have made representations to me that soldiers’ pensions should be related to the “ C “ series index figure. It, is true that one branch of the Australian Legion of Exservice Men and Women wrote to me some time ago about the matter, but I must be guided by the views of the central body and not by the often conflicting opinions of various branches.

Mr White:

– Ex-servicemen’s organizations have asked that repatriation benefits be increased by £1 a week.


– Of course they have, but the matter has nothing to do with the “ 0 “ series index. Without exception, ex-servicemen’s organizations dislike the idea of equating the pension rate to the basic wage. That disposes of that argument by the Opposition.

The question at issue seems to me to be very simple. It is : What should a grateful nation pay to those who have fought and suffered the ravages of war and to the women and children who have been bereft of their breadwinners? What amount should be provided from the national income to pay for the education of fatherless children, the training of exservicemen whose careers were interrupted, and the land settlement of others who wish to become primary producers? Only this morning the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) informed the House that 250,000 ex-service men and women are being trained in various callings and professions. The cost of all this must be provided in the national budget. Therefore, in the final analysis, the Government must determine how much can be expended on repatriation benefits. Since this Government has been in office and I have been a Minister, increases costing almost £3,000,000 a year have been granted to ex-service men and women and to the dependants of those who were killed. That is a fairly substantial improvement within a period of two years. It has been argued that the increases proposed to be granted to certain classes of pensioners will be inadequate. I remind honorable members that almost all of the recommendations made in 1943 by an all-party committee of this Parliament wore incorporated in a bill which became the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act of 1943. Surely, then, there is no need for a further revision of the act now. Very few anomalies have been found in it since 1943 and, therefore, the only question to be decided in this debate relates to the rates that should be fixed for repatriation pensions. The parliamentary committee recommended m 1943 that the means test then applied to applicants for repatriation pensions should be abolished. The government of the day adopted that recommendation. I remind the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen), who said that a pension of £3 a week would not be sufficient for widows without dependants, that a means test was imposed on war widows before the Labour party came into power. If a war widow had a home and let a couple of rooms in it, her pension was reduced from £2 2s. .a week to £1 3s. 6d. Each year she had to fill in an inquisitorial form, stating how much cash she had, how much income she received, and other details of her personal affairs. The Labour party abolished the means test so that such widows, under the amended legislation, received £2 10s. a week instead of £1 3s. 6d. Because there is no means test now, the Opposition has had to shift its ground. It is not able to base its arguments on criticism of the general rates of pensions or the situation of war widows in general. Therefore, it has concentrated on a particular class of widows and upon widowed mothers. The honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) will be interested to know that the Government is making arrangements to do something in the interests of the mothers of war widows. It is also planning extra benefits for other classes of repatriation pensioners.

The spotlight has been thrown upon the situation of totally and permanently incapacitated ex-servicemen, but it has been focused solely upon the case of men who have no dependent children. They are the “ diggers “ of World War I. Throughout yesterday’s debate, members of the Opposition declared that such men would receive only £10 a fortnight under the new scale. In order to clarify the situation, I shall provide a little additional information. Under the new scheme, a totally and permanently incapacitated pensioner without a wife will receive £5 6s. a week. A married pensioner will receive £6 10s. a week. Those figures show only the benefits received in cash. Medical and other benefits will also he provided. The Government has provided scores of homes throughout Australia where single men in this category can live for the remainder of their lives. No charge is made for the accommodation, and the men are permitted to draw the full rate of pension. A man provided with a home and receiving an income of £5 6s. a week is not too badly situated. A pensioner in this class who becomes sick can also draw an attendant’s Allowance of 24s. a week. Anzac House at North Brighton in Victoria is an example of the homes provided for these men. A pensioner in need of hospital attention remains in hospital as long as may be necessary and. for the duration of his stay, continues to draw the full pension for total and permanent incapacity. The Opposition ought to know something about rising costs because they were instrumental in bringing them about. They i invited the people to vote “ No “ in the recent referendum on rents and prices, and when their advice was accepted, increased prices became inevitable. The honorable member for Balaclava was one of the most vocal members of the Opposition in that campaign. The effect of rising prices is felt most by those on fixed incomes, among whom are pensioners.

Let us compare the position of a totally and permanently incapacitated pensioner with that of, say, a coal.miner on the minimum rate of £7 ls. a week. The totally and permanently incapacitated pensioner, with a wife and one child, receives a total of £6 19s., which is only 2s. less than the coalminer gets. Moreover, he pays no taxes, whereas the miner must pay taxes, transport charges, &c, as well as maintain his family. The pensioner with a wife and two children receives £7 Ss. a week, plus child endowment for one child, which brings his income up to £7 18s. a week, [f he has three children he receives a pension of £7 17s. and child endowment ti, making a total of £8 17s. a week. If he has four children, his pension is £8 16s., and child endowment is £1 10s., making a total of £9 16s. a week. He gets full medical treatment, including treatment for disabilities not due to war service, and he receives an allowance of 24s. a week should he need an attendant. Under the soldiers’ children education scheme his children are eligible to receive allowances from the age of thirteen years right through to the completion of Training with an employer, or to gradua- tion at a university. Until they are thirteen years of age, his children may receive assistance to meet the cost of books, materials and fares. I cite the following examples, which are typical, to illustrate the effect of assistance of this kind upon the weekly incomes of pensioners and their families: -

Compare that with the position of the coal-miner receiving £7 ls. a week.

Mr White:

– No man works in a mint* for £7 ls. a. week.


– Honorable members opposite do not like me to cite these figures, because they show how well the department is treating pensioners and their families. When a pensioner’s child attends a university the Commonwealth, in addition to making the education allowance, pays all fees for tuition, clubs, sports, &c, and defrays the cost of books, instruments, material and fares. En certain instances, when the pensioner is suffering from specific disabilities restricting his power of locomotion, an allowance up to £10 a month is paid to enable him to have recreation transport.

Mr Francis:

– All that was being done twenty years ago.


– It does not matter when it was done. I have stated the amounts which pensioners will receive under the new legislation^ I admit that the pensioner who is entitled to no allowances for dependants is in a position of some difficulty if he is sick, and must remain in bed. However, as the Parliament - not the Government - has laid it down that no means test shall be applied to war pensions, it is inevitable that the man on the lowest rung must be in thi1 worst position.

The honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen) referred to the treatment of” widows of servicemen. With the concurrence of the House I shall incorporate the following statements in Hansard: -

page 1875



Widows' pensions are not affected by any income from other sources : that is to say, the means twi is not applicable. Additional Benefits. [n addition to pensions and allowances as set out above, war widows and their families are entitled t<> medical and hospital benefits equivalent to those provided for ex-servicemen and cx-servicewomen with war disabilities. Also, provision is made for educational allowances and fees, fares, books, &c. ; and appended hereunder tire typical cases to illustrate the effect of these additional benefits upon the weekly income of two widow.and their families, viz. : - L shall cite two examples of the operation of those provisions, as matters of interest to the wide field of listeners to this debate. The first is that of a war widow with three children over sixteen years of age and two children under that age. She receives a. widows' pension o£ £3 a week and a domestic allowance of 7s. 6d. a week Her first child is pursuing a university course in architecture, for which an education allowance of £2 a week is paid. For the second child, who is attending a technical college, until recently 30s-. a week was paid. That was cancelled owing to an increase in the earnings of that child. In respect of the third child, who is attending a dressmaking course at a technical college, an allowance of £1 7s. a week is paid. In respect of the fourth child, a pension of 17s. (id. a week is paid, and in addition, an education allowance of 6s. a week. For the fifth child a pension of 12s. 6d. a week is paid, in addition to child endowment of 10s. a week. In this instance the total amount paid by the Government is £9 0s. 6d. a week. The second example is that of a war widow with three children under the age of. sixteen years. She receives a widows' pension of £3 a week. For the first child she receives a pension of 17s. 6d. a week and an education allowance of 9s. 6d. a week. For the second child the pension payable is 12s. 6d. a week, plus an educational. allowance of 6s. a week and child endowment of 10s. a week. In respect of the third child, a pension of 12s. (3d. a week and child endowment of 10s. a week are paid. In this instance the total amount received by the widow will be £6 18s. a week. I draw the- attention of honorable members to an important alteration that has been made in this connexion. The Government has agreed that an additional amount shall be allowed to war widows and their children, and war widows and their children have been placed on the same basis as ex-servicemen for the purpose of eligibility for these benefits. They will be admitted to repatriation hospitals when accommodation is available. I point out to honorable members that not only will the widow receive a total of £6 18s. a week in respect of herself and her three children, but, in addition, the Government says to her, in effect, " **Mrs. Brown,** should you become ill, or should any of your children need an operation or other medical attention, provision has been made for the admission of you or your children, into a repatriation hospital. If you live in the country, arrangements will be made for yon there ". Honorable members will remember that, in connexion with widows without children, by decision of this House, the means test was removed. It was decided rhat all widows, irrespective of their age, should receive a certain amount of money each week. {: #subdebate-15-0-s0 .speaker-JWT} ##### Mr FRANCIS: -- How much? {: #subdebate-15-0-s1 .speaker-JNX} ##### Mr BARNARD:
ALP -- No means test wad to be applied to them. 1 remind the honorable member for Moreton **(Mr. Francis),** who has just interjected, that when the party that he supports was in office, the amount payable was only £1 3s. 6d. a week. To-day, however, £3 a week is payable, and, in addition, medical and hospital expenses are borne by the Government. I realize that members of the Opposition do not like to be confronted with these facts, which are objectionable to them. On the other hand, however, Government members are quite satisfied after having studied the provisions of this legislation, not to delay the passage of this bill. I point out that the increase of 5s. a week to widows without children will cost the Government £S5,000 annually. If it were decided that this pension should be paid without the application of the means test, we may be confronted with a position such as the following: - **"Mrs. Brown** is in unfortunate circumstances. She has two or three children and is experiencing difficulty in making ends meet. She is at the top of the scale and, from private sources, has an income of £2,000 a year." In the absence of the means test, **Mrs. Brown** would be entitled to a pension. [ stress that the Opposition cannot have it both ways. If it is proposed that we should pay the same amount of pension irrespective of means, by the very nature of things, those on the lower scale would not be so advantageously placed as those who are on the higher rungs of the ladder. Yesterday the honorable member for Flinders **(Mr. Ryan)** cited figures in an effort to show that the present ratio of the amount of pension payable to the basic wage is lower than the ratio which obtained in former years. We must have some regard to the economy of the country, even in this matter. I point om that liability in respect of war pensions for ex-servicemen of the South African War and both world wars, as at the end of July, 1948, amounted to over £17,000,000 annually. The total cost t<> this country of providing war service pensions and hospital treatment for ex-servicemen, together with their widows and children, will be abou £21,000,000 this year. Whatever may be said about percentages, that is a large sum that the Government is liable to payout during the current financial year. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- That should not deter the Government. {: .speaker-JNX} ##### Mr BARNARD: -- Nor does it dete this Government from raising steeply the rates of pensions to those wlm fought the war to save this country from an external foe, and it is not stopping th, Government from paying what is considered to be a reasonable amount for the provision of other social services. Honorable members opposite have quoted at length from letters they have received. I should . like to read extracts from several letters that have reached me during the last couple of days. First, 1 shall deal with a letter that I have received from **Mr. Webster,** the Deputy Commissioner of Repatriation in South Australia. **Mr. Webster's** letter contains the following extract from . a letter received by him from **Mrs. E.** J. Moseley, which reads as follows : - In reference to your letter dated the 1$ October for receptacle for my girls' books, &c.. I sincerely thank you for your wonderful kindness to my children and myself. If it were not for the way the Repatriation stand by me and help me like they do I do not know how I could carry on. You are like a father watching and guarding over us all the time. I cannot speaktoo highly of what the Repatriation has done :i nd T do sincerely appreciate, **Mr. Webster,** your kindly interest in my children's welfare. I have not been able to go into town this week on account of sickness, but will try my utmost next week. I shall quote also a letter that has come r<> me from New South Wales. It was written to **Mr. Carswell,** the Deputy Commissioner in that State. It says - I feel in duty hound to write and thank you. for your promptitude in handling my wish to come up to " Berida " Red Cross Home. Bowral, and I would be lacking in my appreciation and gratitude, if I did not let you know of the great kindness of one of your officers, **Mr. Stan** Williams. I received my railway warrant and papers, and just ae I was leaving I had a nasty turn. It was then **Mr. Williams'** lunch hour, but I am afraid he lid not have it in peace. He was in and out to see me, and wanted to send me home' in a nr. I assured him 1 would be O.K. if left to myself for an hour. I suppose mine was only me of the many hundreds who would get this attention. 1 wonder how many write in appreciation. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- That refers to the Red Cross. {: .speaker-JNX} ##### Mr BARNARD: -- No. It is a Red Cross home, but the Repatriation Department pays for *a* number of beds which are made available to ex-servicemen requiring certain types of treatment. The lied Cross Society has been very good to the Repatriation Department and I cannot pay too high a tribute to the help rhat, that organization has given in caring for ex-servicemen. All over the country it has provided accommodation which has assisted the department to provide the kind of treatment required for certain ex-servicemen. I do not propose to read any more letters. The ones that I have read give some idea of the kind of correspondence that, the department receives, and the expressions of appreciation by patients of the manner in which they have been treated. Those letters rather discount the carping criticism of the Repatriation Department and its officers that one hears so frequently. Last night, the Acting Leader of the Opposition **(Mr. Harrison)** quoted a letter that he had received from me dated the 24th September. The honorable gentleman wrote to me on the 22nd September and received an answer dated the 24th. He cannot complain about delay there; but in reading my letter to the House the honorable gentleman twisted my words and distorted the sense. Eas the honorable gentleman ever spoken ro a disabled ex-serviceman in a wheel chair? Has he ever paused, as he passed by, to sit alongside a returned soldier who was suffering from the ravages of war? Has he ever visited the blinded ex-servicemen's club in Sydney? Has he endeavoured to catch some of the spirit .and outlook upon life of those men? Has he ever visited the blinded and limbless ex-serviceman who lives in a suburb on the north shore of Sydney harbour, and endeavoured to capture something of his outlook on life? That man is able to band-saw and plane timber despite his lack of sight and his artificial limbs. Has the honorable member ever been ableto abandon his "brass hat" attitude and have a look at those unfortunate menclose up? Of course he has not. He has the Rose Bay outlook. But when hereceives a. letter telling him of what disabled ex-servicemen are doing and theefforts they are making to give themselves a,n interest in life and, at the same time, supplement their pension, he twists the words and uses them in a manner which " writes-down " the ex-servicemen. I do not suppose he has ever visited any of the places I have mentioned. Probably he does not even know where the blinded ex-servicemen's club is. *[Extension of time granted.~* I appreciatethe courtesy of the House in granting me an extension of time. In my letter tothe Acting Leader of the Opposition, 1 referred to a telegram which the honorable gentleman had received asking a question about a report which had appeared in " Column S " of that very " nice " newspaper, the *Sydney Morning Herald.* The telegram stated - >Please ask Minister for Repatriation how totally incapacitated pensioner can earn 30- shillings weekly and remain totally incapacitated. I said in my letter - >The obvious answer to **Mr. Jackson's** question is that as long as a man has life, even, though he may be totally incapacitated, theability to earn exists. Is there anything wrong with that? Of course not. My letter continues - >I did not think that anybody was unawareof the fact that many totally and permanently disabled persons in the community are benefiting financially by, for instance, sales of books and papers (some from cripples" chairs ) . Is there anything wrong with that ? {: .speaker-KWP} ##### Mr Turnbull: -- We do not like tosee it. {: .speaker-JNX} ##### Mr BARNARD: -- Of course not, and God forbid that the honorable member or I should ever suffer such a disability. But when a man has to spend his life in a cripple's chair, the one thing in theworld that he wants is something tooccupy his mind and his time. I have talked with ex-servicemen selling newspapers in cripples' chairs. I can see them in my mind's eye now. I can see too the man on the north shore busy in the workshop that the Repatriation Department provided for him. His outlook on life is much better than that of the honorable member for Balaclava **(Mr. White).** {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- I believe in occupational therapy if that is what the Minister is trying to explain. {: .speaker-JNX} ##### Mr BARNARD: -- I have visited the occupational therapy institutions organized by that wonderful organization, the Red Cross Society. The society provides expert teachers, who do a splendid job for ex-servicemen. I could read quite a lot of other things in support of my arguments and in reply to those offered by honorable members opposite, but I do not propose to do so. However, before passing to another matter I should like to refer once again to the distorted picture that is given to the public by some newspapers. I havebefore me a newspaper containing a cartoon bearing the caption "Too little? Oh, butwe don't mind if you earn a few bob on the side ". It depicts an ex-serviceman in a wheel chair and a man offering him a card bearing the words " £2 15s. war pension ". Actually, the man, if he were single, would be entitled to £5 6s. a week plus £1 4s. for an attendant. In addition, he would receive hospital treatment. But that is typical of the distorted information that is published in the newspapers. I come now to the very vexed question of the presentation in this chamber of the reports of the Entitlement Appeal Tribunals. The honorable member for Balaclava said that I had tabled the report of the No. 1 Tribunal in a very hesitant manner, and his complaint was taken up by several of his colleagues later in the debate. There were two reports. One came to me early in July, not in February as has been alleged. The report from which the honorable member for Balaclava quoted was that of **Mr. O'Sullivan** covering the period ended the 28th February, 1948. The report had to be completed up to the 30th June by the new acting chairman. When it was completed, it was forwarded to me early in July. In accordance with the normal practice, I waited until I had received the report of the No. 2 Tribunal, and tabled them together. I did the same thing last year, and other Ministers have followed this practice throughout the years. I adhered to the normal practice followed in presenting reports to the Parliament. As a matter of convenience, because one report was very nicely bound and the other came to me in a slovenly condition, I put the second one inside the folder which I now have with me on the cover of which,as honorable members can see for themselves, is printed No. 1 and No. 2 War Pensions Entitlement Appeal Tribunal. Is there anything dishonest, secretive or sinister about that? No. 7 presented the report to Parliament in exactly the same manner as I presented last year's report, and as I presented the annual report of the Repatriation Commission this year, and just the same as other Ministers present reports to the Parliament. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- The Minister cannot get out of it. {: .speaker-JWT} ##### Mr Francis: -- His remarks will not " go down ". {: .speaker-JNX} ##### Mr BARNARD: -- If honorable members had looked at the annual report of the commission which I tabled a little earlier they would have found the following: >Figures relating to the number of appeals lodged, and the manner in which they were disposed, are shown in Appendix 12, as required by section 82.(2.) of the Australian Soldiers' Repatriation Act. Appeals to War Pensions Entitlement Appeal Tribunals. Before completion of this Report, a copy of the AnnualReport of the No. 1 War Pensions Entitlement Appeal Tribunal as required by section 82 (1.) of the Australian Soldiers' Repatriation Act, for the year 1946-1947 has come to the hands of the Commission. In that Report under the heading of " Onus of Proof " mention is made of the insertion into the Australian Soldiers' Repatriation Act in 1943 of Section 47 of what is now the Consolidated Act 1920-1827, and the Report goes on to say that the full implications of this change in the law are not always appreciated by the Commission's officers, including more especially the medical officers. In relation to this it is pointed out that, prior to section 47 being enacted, the matter of the onus of proof being upon theCommission inanappeal *to* a War Pensions Entitlement Appeal Tribunal was clear, and was set out in the proviso to section 45w (2.) as follows: - Provided that if the appellant or representative of the appellant shall make out a prima facie case in support of his claim that the incapacity from which he is suffering or from which he has died was caused or aggravated by war service, the onus of proof that, such incapacity was not in fact so caused or aggravated shall lie with the Commission. There was a further proviso in somewhat similar terms relating to death caused by an accident: Whensection 47 was inserted into the act by the Amending Act of 1943, the onus of proof was not expressed in such clear terms. Section 47 (2.) is as follows: - 47. (2.) It shall not be necessary for the claimant, applicant or appellant to furnish proof to support his claim, application or appeal but the Commission, Board, Appeal Tribunal or Assessment Appeal Tribunal determining or deciding the claim, application or appeal shall be entitled to draw, and shall draw, from all. the circumstances of the case, from the evidence furnished and from medical opinions, all reasonable inferences in favour of the claimant, There is more than that mentioned in the report, but that is sufficient for my purpose. Ho. 2 Appeal Tribunal has not been referred to except in a very casual way. Before proceeding to read to the House some of the tribunal's remarks I desire to say to the Acting Leader of the Opposition **(Mr. Harrison)** that I resent very strongly the implications of his statement that this tribunal was to some extent under my thumb and influenced by me. I think it is a most insulting and damning accusation against a most honorable gentleman who has no right to answer and who suffered severely in World War II. and is now without one limb as the result of his war service. I venture to say that that incapacity was not a result of leaning up against a post outside a quartermaster's store. One other member of that tribunal has a disfigurement that will remain with him for the rest of his life. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- Why did the Minister sack one tribunal? {: #subdebate-15-0-s2 .speaker-JNX} ##### Mr BARNARD:
ALP -- I should like to sack the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr: White) because he is a regular " yattler ". The honorable member cannot restrain himself. {: #subdebate-15-0-s3 .speaker-10000} ##### Mr ACTING DEPUTY SPEAKER:
Mr. Burke -- The Minister must not provoke the honorable member either. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- The Minister has been very offensive. {: .speaker-JNX} ##### Mr BARNARD: -- The Acting Leader of the Opposition has returned to the chamber and I shall advert to his reference to the position of No. 2 Tribunal and his allegation that its members were influenced by me in drawing up their report. That reference is most insulting, and offensive to men who have served in both world wars. One of them is without a limb as a result of his service and another has a facial disfigurement. Yet the honorable gentleman has made a filthy accusation against them. {: .speaker-JWT} ##### Mr Francis: -- He alleged that the Minister intimidated them. {: .speaker-JNX} ##### Mr BARNARD: -- I extended the terms of both tribunals for fifteen months. Their terms expired on the 30th June. In February, the chairman of one of the tribunals resigned. I had been watching these tribunals to see how much work they had to do, and I found that they did not have sufficient work to occupy their time, so I decided that at the end of June one tribunal would cease to operate and- {: .speaker-JWT} ##### Mr Francis: -- And it was only a coincidence that the one that ceased to operate was the one that criticized the Minister ? {: .speaker-JNX} ##### Mr BARNARD: **- Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker,** I ask for your protection. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr ACTING DEPUTY SPEAKER: -- The Minister may carry on and the Chair will maintain order in the House: {: .speaker-JWT} ##### Mr Francis: -- I think the Minister ought to be put out. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr ACTING DEPUTY SPEAKER: -- The honorable member for Moreton will have action taken against him also unless he desists from interjecting. {: .speaker-JNX} ##### Mr BARNARD: -- At the end of June, I re-examined' the position and decided that one tribunal must go. One of the two tribunals was already without a chairman, and I regarded a certain member of the tribunal that was discontinued as not being suitable for the appointment, as, indeed, did one service organization, because he was placed fourth on one list and third on another supplied to me when I had asked for three recommendations. The service organizations therefore upheld my view about him. He was not reappointed. Having come to the conclusion that only one tribunal was necessary to carry on the work, the other went out of existence. I. make no apology for that because .T certainly do not propose to authorize an expenditure of £8,000 to £10,000 annually for men to sit around and idle their time away. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- It is unfortunate- {: .speaker-JWT} ##### Mr Francis: -- I suppose the Minister will say that it is only a coincidence that the tribunal that went out of existence was the one that had criticized him. {: .speaker-JNX} ##### Mr BARNARD: -- It is not a coincidence at all. The chairman of that tribunal had resigned and that removed the problem. One member was entitled to superannuation rights and was caved for, and the other member was considered to lie unsuitable by the service organizations :in.d was not reappointed. *[Further* *extension* *of time granted.]* I desire to read an extract from the report of No. 2 Tribunal - >On the whole, remarks made iti the 1046-47 report in respect of the more liberal interpretation of the Repatriation Act made in recent years by the Commission still apply. It is not vet clear whether that body has accepted the definition of "Member of the Forces" as outlined in lust year's report. Otherwise, the decisions of tile .Repatriation Commission, though in rather more than one case out of the four reversed by this Tribunal, appear quite reasonable on the evidence available to it. There are, of course, exceptions to this, as in most generalizations. How, then, is it that <o many appeals are allowed? The answer is firstly that the Tribunal usually has the advantage of seeing the former members of the forces concerned: of making up its own mind sis to his veracity, and quite frequently of eliciting from him facts, previously not on record, which put his appeal in an entirely new light. An example is that of a former member of the R.A.A.F. air crew, whose service papers showed him to have given home service nilly, lt was discovered on questioning that he had frequently flown on reconnaissance flights outside territorial waters, even though his base was still in Victoria. He then became eligible for the benefits made available by Section 101 (I) («) to those who have seen active service", which, as defined by Section 1.00 means, *inter alia,* service "outside Australia ". The report goes on to state further reasons why the appeal tribunal allows appeals against decisions of the Repatriation Commission. If no cases passed through the net and finally found their way to the appeal tribunal, there would be no necessity for such a body. I made an examination months ago of the cases to which reference is made in the report of the No. 1 War Pensions Entitlement Appeal Tribunal. When I was appointed as Minister foY Repatriation 1 impressed upon the officers of the Repatriation Commission that decisions should be made promptly and that the commisssion should completely accept the onus of proof. Unless all appeals that are made to the State repatriation boards and to the Repatriation Commission are allowed, there will always he disputation with regard to the onus of proof. Appealswill continue to be made to the appeal tribunal. That is the reason why it was established. The right honorable member for Cowper **(Sir Earle Page)** said last night that the tribunal was established todeal with the cases of ex-servicemen who might go through the net and find themselves, without a pension, unless there was an independent tribunal' to which they could appeal. That is why the appeal tribunal was established and why the provisions with regard to theonus of proof were tightened in 1943. That is why the tribunal is, in the main, giving general satisfaction. It is easy to refer to three or four casesout of the many that were dealt with by the appeal tribunals last year. One cannot hope to grant a pension to every applicant. If that were done, some extraordinary situations would be created. Recently, I received the following letter from a firm of solicitors in Victoria: - >We beg to acknowledge your letter of the 2.3rd instant. The instructions we had from > > **Mr.- were** quite different from the- statements we now have from the Deputy Crown Solicitor and you. It now appears fains that your department had good grounds for the action it took and we -wish to withdraw our accusation that it treated our client harshly or unreasonably. When we wrote toyou about the matter we had only our client'*version before us. After the *man's* case had been considered by the State Repatriation Board, the Repatriation Commission and the appeal tribunal, he approached this firm of solicitors. An accusation was made that he had been treated harshly or unreasonably, but when the solicitors investigated the circumstances of the case that accusation was withdrawn. I examined the three or four cases that are referred to in the report of the No. 1 Tribunal to see whether somebody ought to be made to " touch his toes ". {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- What does that mean? {: .speaker-JNX} ##### Mr BARNARD: -- The honorable member for Balaclava will find out eventually. He has a lot to learn yet. I looked at the cases in order to see what could be done. As I said earlier, I want to ensure that justice is done to ex-servicemen. The Repatriation Commission is actuated by the same motive. All the employees of the Repatriation Commission are ex-servicemen, as are the members of the appeal tribunal. If an injustice is done to an exserviceman in this connexion, it is done by his fellow ex-servicemen because all the staff of the Repatriation Department are exservicemen, as also are the members of the State boards and the tribunals. That is all I have to say at this stage. Honorable members have spoken at length upon this bill and have listened to me more or less with patience. I hope that the motion for the second reading will be carried and that the bill will pass quickly through the committee stage. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- What has the Minister to say about the amendment? {: .speaker-JNX} ##### Mr BARNARD: -- The Government is not prepared to agree to it. Question put - >That the words proposed to be left out **(Mr. White's amendment)** stand part of the question. The House divided. (Mr.Deputy Speaker - Mr. J. J. Clark.) AYES: 33 NOES: 23 Majority . . 10 AYES NOES Question so resolved in the affirmative. Original question resolved in the affirmative. Bill read a second time, and committed *pro forma;* progress reported. *Sitting suspended from 12.44 to 2.15 p.m.* Declaration of Urgency **Mr. CHIFLEY** (Macquarie- Prime Minister and Treasurer) - I declare that the Australian Soldiers' Repatriation Bill 1948 is an urgent bill. Motion (by **Mr. Chifley)** agreed to - >That the bill be considered an urgent bill. Allotment ok Time. Motion (by **Mr. Chifley)** agreed to - >That the time allotted in connexion with the bill be as follows: - > >For the committee stage to the end of clause 8, until 5 p.m. this day. > >For the remainder of the committee stage, until 8.45 p.m. this day. > >For the remaining stages, until 9 p.m. this day. *In committee:* Consideration resumed. Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to. Clause 3 (Service pension in respect of a member permanently unemployable or suffering from pulmonary tuberculosis). {: #subdebate-15-0-s4 .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr WHITE:
Balaclava . -I presume that the increase of pension from 44s. to 48s. includes the increase payable in respect of children. I should like the Minister to clarify that point. {: .speaker-JNX} ##### Mr Barnard: -- This clause does not refer to children in any respect whatever. Clause agreed to. Clause 4 - {: type="1" start="4"} 0. Section eighty-six of the Principal Act is repealed and the following section inserted in its stead: - "86. - (1.) Notwithstanding anything con- tained in this Division - {: type="a" start="b"} 0. a widow of a member of the Forces shall not be entitled to receive at the same time a service pension and a war pension as defined by section ninety-one a of this Act; " (2.) A member of the Forces who is 'permanently unemployable and who would, but for the fact that he is receiving an age or invalid pension under the Social Services Consolidation Act 1947-1948, be eligible for a service pension may surrender the ago or invalid pension, and, thereupon, a service pension may be granted to him as from the date of surrender, and service pensions may be granted to the wife and children of that member as from the date of his application for a service pension." {: #subdebate-15-0-s5 .speaker-JNX} ##### Mr BARNARD:
Minister for Repatriation · Bass · ALP -- I move - Thatparagraph (b), sub-section 1, proposed new section86 be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following paragraph : - " (b) a widow who is in receipt of a war pension, as defined by section ninety-one a of this Act, in respect of her husband's death shall not be entitled to receive a service pension at the same time;". Paragraph *b* of sub-section 1 of reconstructed section 86 requires amendment to show that it refers to a widow receiving war pension in respect of her husband's death, or, in other words, where the husband's death is due to war service. It is not intended to refer to a widow of a member -who was in receipt of incapacity pension, but whose death was not due to war service. In this latter case, 'the pension the wife was receiving in respect of her husband's incapacity is continued, and if she also had a service pension, it is intended that sheshall continue to receive both. Amendment agreed to. {: #subdebate-15-0-s6 .speaker-JNX} ##### Mr BARNARD:
Minister for Repatriation · Bass · ALP -- I move - That the following words be added to sub section (2.) of proposed new section 80: - " in any case where the wife of the member is not in receipt of a pension under Part II I of the Social Services Consolidation Act 1947-1948". Sub-section 2 of section 86 relates to the case where a member in receipt of age or invalid pension applies for a service pension. It is necessary for the member in such circumstances to surrender his age or invalid pension. In such event, his service pension commence* as from the date of surrender, but the service pensions of his wife and children may be commenced as from the earlier date of his application. However, the wife may be in receipt of an age or invalid pension, or an allowance as a wife of an invalid pensioner, and, therefore, it is necessary to add word? to show that the wife's service pension may commence from the date of application only in any case where she herself is not an age or invalid pensioner. Amendment agreed to. Clause, as amended, agreed to. Clause 5 agreed to. Clause 6 - Section ninety of the Principal Act is amended - {: type="a" start="a"} 0. by inserting in paragraph (c)of sub-section (1.), . . . 1. *b )* by inserting after sub-section ( 1 . ) the following sub-section : - {: #subdebate-15-0-s7 .speaker-JNX} ##### Mr BARNARD:
Minister for Repatriation · Bass · ALP -- I move - That paragraphs (a) and (b) be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following paragraph: - " (a) by inserting after sub-section (1.) the following sub-sections: - (1a.) Where a charge or en cumbrance lawfully exists on pro perty the value of which is disregarded under paragraph *(b)* of the last preceding sub-section and the same charge or encumbrance lawfully exists on other property of the pensioner or applicant or of his wife (whenever married to him), the amount to Tac deducted under paragraph (c) of that sub-section shall be the amount which bears to the amount of the charge or encumbrance the same proportion as the value (as determined by the Commission) of that other property bears to the value (as determined by the Commission) of all the property of the pensioner, applicant or wife on which the charge or encumbrance exists. (1b.) 'Where, in the opinion of the Commission, a charge or encumbrance is a collateral .security, that charge or encumbrance, and the charge or encumbrance to which it i3 collateral (in this sub-section referred to as "the principal security"), shall, for the purposes of this section, be deemed to be one charge or encumbrance lawfully existing on any property on which either the collateral security or the principal security lawfully exists,'; and". Clause 6 seeks to insert a new mb-section Ia in section 90 relating to computation of the net capital value of accumulated property. The sub-section is to provide a rule for equitable computation where an encumbrance covers both property to be taken into account and property which is to be disregarded. The sub-section is on the .lines of an amendment to the Social Services Consolidation Act included in the Social .Services Consolidation Bill (No. 2) 1948, to be introduced shortly To make the sub-section complete, it is necessary to cover the case where property is held by the pensioner's wife and therefore sub-section Ia. is being reconstructed for this purpose by this amendment. The amendment also adds new subjection 1b to provide a rule for determination of the extent of an encumbrance where it is in the nature of a collateral security. Very few cases are experienced to which the new provisions will require to be applied. {: #subdebate-15-0-s8 .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr WHITE:
Balaclava -- I think that the amendment involves dependants other than a wife. Indeed, f can best describe the amendment as mumbo jumbo. I challenge the Minister for Repatriation **(Mr. Barnard)** to say what it means. I do not know how a poor pensioner could know how the amendment 'affects him. 'Obviously, it has reference to the means test; and the means test is pernicious as applied to war pensioners. This applies also to the dependent parents of a deceased soldier. Thus, in the case of an unmarried soldier - and "there may be two, or three, unmarried soldiers in the one family - who is killed, although he had. been subscribing to the upkeep of thehome, -his parents will not be eligible for a war pension as his dependants if the income coming into the home is just sufficient to save them from becoming paupers. In that instance, the parents would either be given only an age pension, or would be ineligible for any pension. The Minister admitted this morning that a totally incapacitated soldier and his wife who receive a pension of £5 6s. a week, and. 24s. a week in respect of the wife, are worse off than two age pensioners receiving the maximum rates. If the amendment represents a further restriction of a pensioner in respect of his means the Minister should say so. I ask him to explain clearly the mumbo jumbo of the amendment which he has just read, and to say whether it will not make it -more difficult for the pensioner to obtain what is his due. {: #subdebate-15-0-s9 .speaker-JNX} ##### Mr BARNARD:
Minister for Repatriation · Bass · ALP -- It is true that a means test is applied in respect of the upper limit where two pensions are drawn from a Commonwealth source. This provision relates solely to a "war pensioner and his wife. It does not relate to any other person at all. *[Quorum formed.']* Amendment agreed to. Clause, as amended, agreed to. Clause 7 - >After section ninety-one of the Principal Act the .following section is inserted: - >*"S1a. - (1.) Where, but for this section - ( « ) the rate of the service pension payable to a pensioner who is an unmarried person would be such that the aggregate of the rate of that service pension and of the rate of any war pension payable .to that person would exceed sis. .pounds five shillings per fortnight, the rate of that service pension shall "he -reduced by the amount of the .excess : " (2. ) In this section - -.married person ' -means . . {: #subdebate-15-0-s10 .speaker-JNX} ##### Mr BARNARD:
Minister for Repatriation · Bass · ALP . - I move. - That, in proposed new section !Ha, isuIjscction (1.). vara graph (a), after the words wiir pens. on ", tlie following words be inserted: - " n;id or any civil pension". This is purely a drafting amendment and will be quite clear to honorable members. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- If that be so, has a permissible income also been prescribed, as is the case with age pensioners? {: .speaker-JNX} ##### Mr BARNARD: -- A means test is applied in connexion with service pensioners just as is applied in the case of civil pensioners. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- Is the same amount, piescribed ? {: .speaker-JNX} ##### Mr BARNARD: -- Yes. The provision is exactly the same. Amendment agreed to. Clause further consequentially amended. {: #subdebate-15-0-s11 .speaker-JNX} ##### Mr BARNARD:
Minister for Repatriation · Bass · ALP -- I move - >That, in proposed new section !)1a, subsection (2.), before the definition of "married l<t'.rsim the following; definitions be inserted : - "''civil pension' means an age pension, nn invalid pension, a wife's allowance or a. widow's pension payable nnder the Social Services Consolidation Act 1047-4.8; "'civil pensioner' means a person who is in receipt of a civil pension; ". J," he amendments to this clause which I am introducing vary the proposed new section 91a, relating to the ceilings for various classes of service pensioners. In some instances, the member or his wife, or the widow of a member, is in receipt of a pension under the Social Services Consolidation Act. It may be an age or invalid pension, or an allowance for the wife of an invalid pensioner. The widow of a member whose death was not due to war service may have, in addition to a service pension, a. widow's pension under the Social Services Consolidation Act. Di such instances, where both departments are concerned, there must be close collaboration at all points, particularly in the matter of assessment, otherwise alteration by one department might compel a reverse alteration of the pension administered by the other department. The ceilings are expressed in the legislation as the aggre gate of the Commonwealth's payments in any particular class of case, and in observing this aggregate, the Repatriation Department must have regard to any civil pension that is paid to a war pensioner. Therefore, in section 91a the twu new definitions of "civil pension" and " civil pensioner " are inserted, and in paragraphs *a, h,* and c of sub-section *1* of section 91a, the necessary references tn civil pension or civil pensioner are inserted, so as to ensure that the administration will take into account, for the purposes of aggregate Commonwealth payments, civil pensions of the type described in the definition of "civil pension ". Amendment agreed to. {: #subdebate-15-0-s12 .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr WHITE:
Balaclava -- I have already referred to pensions paid under the Seamen's Pensions and Allowances Act. Many members of the merchant navy receive certain compensation from the Repatriation Department, but they seem to have been overlooked in other respects. I do not lay this neglect at the door of the Government, though I do say that it has not appreciated the position of those men. During the second-readinj; debate, I mentioned members of the mercantile marine who were taken prisoner? of war and lived in captivity under the same conditions as did service troops. *1* pointed out that, although some of them had died, demands were later made upon their estates for the payment of income tax. Their widows are not subjected to the same conditions as are war widows. The Minister wrote to me only this week regarding the case of a woman who is almost destitute and is seriously ill, and is seeking repatriation benefits such as are given to war widows. Notwithstanding that her husband had lost his life in the service of his country, she is not eligible for benefits on the same scale as are war widows. Will the Minister discuss cases of this kind with the Repatriation Commission, with a view to ensuring that there shall : be no differentiation between different classes of widows whose menfolk gave their lives in the defence of their country during the war? Will the honorable gentleman also ensure that they shall be granted medical attention, as are war widows? {: .speaker-JNX} ##### Mr Barnard: -- I shall examine the honorable member's representations. Clause, as amended, agreed to. Clause 8 agreed to. Clause 9 - >The First Schedule to the Principal Act is repealed and the following Schedule inserted in its stead: - {: .page-start } page 1887 {:#debate-16} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-16-0} #### THE FIRST SCHEDULE General Pensions Rates *Scale of PensionsPayable subject to the provi sions of the Third Schedule to Widowed Mother or* Widow *on Death of a Member of the Forces, or to a Member upon his totalincapacity. . . .* Wherea member of the Forces is temporarily totally incapacitated . . ". {: #subdebate-16-0-s0 .speaker-JNX} ##### Mr BARNARD:
Minister for Repatriation · Bass · ALP -- I move - >That the first paragraph of the footnote of the new First Schedule be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following paragraph : - " Where a member of the Forces is temporarily 'totally incapacitated to such an ex- tent as to be precluded from earning other than a negligible percentage of a living wage while he is so incapacitated, and where the aggregate of the rate of pension payable to that member under column 4 of the scale in this Schedule and the amount (if any) payable to him under the Fifth Schedule to this Act is less than the Special Rate of Pension specified, in the Second Schedule to this Act, the Commission may, subject to such conditions as are prescribed, grant an additional pension to the member at a rate not exceeding the amount of the difference between that aggregate sum and that Special Rate of Pension for such period, whether in excess of six months or not, as the Commission determines.". Honorable members will note that the amendment merely changes the verbiage. Amendment agreed to. Clause, as amended, agreed to. Clause 10 - >The Second Schedule to the Principal Act amended - > >by omitting the second paragraph and inserting in its stead the following paragraph: - " The Commissioner may grant a pension not exceeding the Special Rate of Pension to a member of the Forces who is suffering from tuberculosis and who has been for at least six months an inmate of an establishment for persons so suffering : " Provided that pension under this Schedule shall not be payable after the member's discharge from the establishment unless the medical officer in charge of the establishment, or a medical practitioner approved by the Commission, has certified that his being discharged is not a menace to public health.". {: #subdebate-16-0-s1 .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr WHITE:
Balaclava .- This may be said to be the *piece de resistance* of the bill. The pension rates provided for relate to totally and permanently incapacitated ex-servicemen. These men have been let down badly by the Government. The Minister has endeavoured to explain away the reason why they will not receive the same increase of their pension rate as is to be granted to other pensioners. The Minister said, in effect, that the announcement of the Prime Minister **(Mr. Chifley)** that there would be a general increase of 10 per cent. referred only to the general rate of war pension and not specifically to full pensions. Some weeks ago I asked the Prime Minister a question in the following terms : - >I preface my question by stating that, although the Prime Minister and Treasurer said in the course of his recent budget speech that pensions, including war pensions, would be increased by approximately 10 per cent., apparently it is intended to increase by only 5s. a week the pensions payable to totally and permanently incapacitated ex-servicemen, who are physically incapable of supplementing their pension by earning money. I interpose here to point out that servicemen who are totally and permanently incapacitated cannot earn anything; if they can they are immediately placed in another category. Therefore, many of the suggestions made by the Minister to the effect that incapacitated ex-servicemen are able to earn money is not correct. My question to the Prime Minister continued - >Such an increase would represent an effective increase to them of only 5 per cent. ? Will the Prime Minister examine the legislation which the Government proposes to introduce so as to ensure that the proportionate increase of the pensions payable to totally and permanently incapacitated ex-servicemen will be at least equal to that made to the pensions of civilians and other classes of ex-servicemen? The Prime Minister replied in the following terms: - >In the budget speech which I delivered *some* reference was made to an increase of pensions by approximately 10 per ecmt, and I believe that the Minister for Repatriation, who is more conversant with the details of the proposed increases than I am, has placed before the House full information about the increase. Whilst, generally speaking, the proposals which are incorporated, in the budget, which is now before honorable members, will ho implemented in their present form in the legislation which has been introduced, I shall ask my colleague to re-examine the matter in order to ensure that there are no extraordinary anomalies. It is obvious that the Prime Minister placed the responsibility for re-examining the matter on the Minister for Repatriation, and I want to know what that honorable gentleman has done about it. The measure certainly does not provide for any commensurable increase of the rate of war pensions. If a mistake had been made it would have been fair and reasonable for the Minister to have admitted it, but he has not done so. The unfortunate incapacitated ex-servicemen, who have suffered more severely than any other section of the community, are to be placed on a lower plane than ordinary age pensioners. Their present pension of £5 ls. a week is to be raised to £5 *6s.,* which is1 an increase, of only 5s., and the allowance paid to. their wives is to be raised from 22s. to 2.4s., so that the total income of a married couple will be only £6 l'Os. a week I remind the Minister that there are 3,425 totally and permanently incapacitated survivors of. World. War I. and 857 of World War II.. Undoubtedly the number, of totally and permanently incapacitated servicemen, of World War TX will increase as- time, goes on and wounds, disease and illness take their, full toll. Although each, member of an aged pensioner couple receives £2 2». 6d. a week, the wife of a totally and. permanently incapacitated ex-serviceman will receive only £1 4s. a week, although, in some instances, an. allowance is- payable for the. services of an attendant. {: .speaker-KVT} ##### Mr Thompson: -- If the wife of a totally and permanently incapacitated serviceman is over 60 years of age she is also entitled' to' payment of an age pension. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr WHITE: -- That is exceedingly generous ! It means that the wife of such n serviceman has to qualify by age.. Apparently an ex-serviceman has to qualify by stir vice to his country,, whereas a civilian pensioner can qualify merely by age. Surely that is not the idea of justice entertained by the honorable member for Hindmarsh **(Mr. Thompson),** because *1* think that he has a heart, and I do not believe that he understands the effect of this clause. For his benefit I shall explain the position again. Both members of an aged, couple may receive a pension of £2 2s. 6d. a week, and they are allowed to earn up to 30s. a week in addition, which represents a total permissible income of £7 *5s.* {: .speaker-KVT} ##### Mr Thompson: -- That is permissible income only. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr WHITE: -- But the point is that a totally and permanently incapacitated ex-serviceman cannot work, and that is the basis of my criticism of this clause. The Government is not giving fair treatment to men whose health has been impaired, by war service. Although the Minister tried to explain that away this morning,, he- completely failed to do so. and the Opposition does not intend to let him escape unscathed. We want to know from him exactly what he intends to do for incapacitated ex-servicemen. Whilst I do not desire to labour the matter, I have had many letters from incapacitated ex-servicemen protesting against the meagre scale of die proposed increases-. Some of the writers were charitable enough to suggest that the Government probably did not. realize their position, and I think that that remark might apply to the Minister: He claimed to know what has' happened and said that he was: aware of all the circumstances. However, from his utterances, I doubt whether he is aware of them. For one thing, he talked about " Anzac House ". by which I presume he meant the " Anzac Hostel " in Melbourne. and suggested that it was an institution provided by the Government.. The Anzac Hostel was, of course, a gift to the nation from the Baillieu family. I think that if the Minister made a visit to that institution and conversed with some of the inmates he would realize that ex-servicemen should be entitled to payment of a pension by service and not by age or lack of' means. Generally speaking, the Government has adopted -a wrong attitude in this matter. Whilst manyex-servicemen, who were only tooglad to doff their uniforms at the end of the war and be finished with the whole thing, spurned any assistance from the Government at that time, numbers of them have since found that their health is so affected that they need assistance. Men suffering from. facial disfigurement or from the loss of limbs are most severely handicapped. Many ofthose who have had to accept jobs as lift attendants and the like might have done much better for themselves had they not been injured. Supporters of the Government are fond of saying that the rate of pension has no relation to the basic wage, and this morning the Minister stated that he could not find any reference to the rate of pension ever having been determined by reference to the basic wage. He spoke of coal-miners who earn £71s. a week, and who, he said, are worse off than incapacitated servicemen. I should like to meet a coal-miner who works five days a. week and does not earn more than £71s. The basic wage, I point out, applies only to those who possess no skill, and is paid to comparatively few people in these days. The current basic wage in Victoria is £6 a week and in New South Wales £6 . 2s. a week, and examination of statistics reveals that the rate of war pensions has a definite relationship to the basic wage. I do not propose to mention the relevant statistics for 1920, when war pensions were first introduced, but Ipoint out that in 1934, when the basic wage was 65s. a week, the 100 per cent. pension rate was 42s. a week,or almost 65 per cent. of that amount. To-day the 100 percent. pension rate is 50s. aweek, and the basic wage is 120s., so that the full pension is now only 41.6 per cent. of the basic wage. The Minister for Information **(Mr. Oalwell)** boasted in this chamber last week that age pensions have been increased by more rhan 100 per cent. during the last few years. In 1934 age pensions were paid at the rate of approximately. £1 a week: now they are paid at the rate of £2 2s. 6d. a week, which is an increase of more than 100 per cent. However, during that time, the pension paid to totally incapacitated ex-servicemen has increased from 42s. to 55s. a week, which is an increase of only 30 per cent. That is what the Government regards as justice to disabled exservicemen. It is not too late for the Minister to correct the anomaly. We know that the Government has the numbers to bludgeon its legislation through this chamber. Last week, the Prime Minister walked into the House and said in his typical manner, " The Government will not accept any amendments ". I made the constructive proposal as an amendment that an all-party committee should be 'appointed to examine and report on the bill. Although such an inquiry would have been conducted on a non-party political basis, my suggestion is to be rejected. Through weight of numbers, the Government is able to defeat any proposals submitted by the Opposition. 'This morning, the Minister said, almost with tears in his eyes, that he was sympathetic towards the plight of disabled ex-servicemen. If he has any heart at all, he will not allow this anomaly to continue. I do not believe that the honorable gentleman knew originally that ex-servicemen's pensions would be increased by only 5 per cent. and that age and invalid pensions would be increased by 10 per cent. I emphasize that point because honorable members opposite may not have a proper appreciation of the position. Caucus should re-examine the matter, and ensure that justice is done toex-servicemen. I do : not propose to read any letters on the subject, but I am sure that all honorable members will be inundated with protests against the Government's decision. It is not yet too late to rectify the matter.. The Minister knows that Caucus will not allow him to accept , an amendment submitted by the Opposition bust at least he can say, "I think that the amendment should be adopted, and I shall endeavour to obtain the approval of Caucus in order to ensure that substantial justice is done to disabled ex-servicemen ". Mr.DUTHIE (Wilmot) [2.47] . Yesterday and againto-day, the honorable member for Balaclava **(Mr. White)** "has been most vocal on the 'subject of war and service pensions, and I am glad that he has been, but I should like him to give some reasons to support 'his statements. The anti-Labour government whichwas in office before and shortly after the outbreak of World War II., had many opportunities to do some of the things which he is now asking this Government to do. When the Menzies Government was in office in 1941, an exserviceman who was blinded, totally and permanently incapacitated or seriously incapacitated by tuberculosis, received a pension of £4 a week. Under this bill the payment will be increased to £5 6s. a week. The wife of a member in receipt of the general rate pension for 100 per cent, incapacity, or a special rate pension, received 18s. a week in 1941, but under the present proposals, she will receive £1 4s. a week. Therefore, when this hill becomes law, a member and his wife will receive £6 10s. a week compared with £4 18s. a week in 1941, an increase of 24 per cent. The honorable member for Balaclava has endeavoured to prove that the age or invalid pensioner is better off than a totally and permanently incapacitated ex-serviceman. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- That is correct. {: #subdebate-16-0-s2 .speaker-KDA} ##### Mr DUTHIE: -- It depends on the point of view. An age or invalid pensioner and his wife are now entitled to receive £4 5s. a week. As I have shown, a totally and permanently incapacitated ex-serviceman and his wife receive £6 10s. a week. As honorable members are aware an age or invalid pensioner and his wife are permitted to earn, apart from their pension, an additional £3 a week, making their total weekly income £7 5s. But their pension is subject to reduction immediately their total income exceeds £7 5s. a week. Hundreds of age and invalid pensioners have no income apart from their pensions. No limitation is placed on the income of a totally and permanently incapacitated ex-serviceman and his wife. Therefore, the analogy which the honorable member for Balaclava made is only partly correct. The Minister for Repatriation **(Mr. Barnard)** will correct me if I am wrong, hut I believe that a totally and permanently incapacitated ex-serviceman and his wife may derive unlimited income from property without their pension being affected. Possibly some ex-servicemen who were so badly injured in the war that they are now totally and permanently incapacitated had investments at the time they enlisted. Ever since they became totally and permanently incapacitated, they may have continued to derive income from those investments, hut their' pensions have not been reduced. {: .speaker-KFQ} ##### Mr Gullett: -- What awful nonsense. {: .speaker-KDA} ##### Mr DUTHIE: -- The honorable member for Henty **(Mr. Gullett)** know? everything. {: .speaker-KFQ} ##### Mr Gullett: -- Quite true. {: .speaker-KDA} ##### Mr DUTHIE: -- The honorable member is the encyclopaedia of the Parliament. I invited the Minister to correct me if my statement of the position wa> not correct. The **DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr. Burke).** - Order! Honorable members may correct the honorable, member for Wilmot in their speeches, if necessary, but not by interjections. {: .speaker-KDA} ##### Mr DUTHIE: -- From the financial stand-point, a totally and permanently incapacitated ex-serviceman is substantially better off than an age or invalid pensioner if no restriction is placed upon the amount of income that he may derive from property and investments. I have explained that position in order to show that the Government has not been unmindful of the plight of ex-servicemen who are blinded, totally and permanently incapacitated, or seriously incapacitated from tuberculosis. {: #subdebate-16-0-s3 .speaker-JRJ} ##### Mr BOWDEN:
Gippsland .- Before the "guillotine" operates, honorable members have an opportunity to make yet another appeal to the Minister for Repatriation **(Mr. Barnard)** to reconsider this schedule. I desire to deal particularly with the provision relating to totally and permanently incapacitated exservicemen. At an earlier stage. 1 was inclined to believe that a mistake had been made when, the schedule was being prepared. It waa so easy to decide to grant a flat rate of increase so that each section of pensioners should receive the same percentage increase of pension. However, when Ave make a calculation in percentages, we find that the most deserving ex-serviceman receives an increase of only fi per cent. whereas other recipients of social benefits receive an increase of 10 per cent. The Minister should correct that anomaly, in order that the stigma should, not attach to the Government that it is treating the lame, the halt, the crippled and the blind less generously than it is treating other recipients of social services. The Minister also stated that exservicemen's organizations had not agreed that war and service pensions should bear a close relation to the basic wage. That statement is true, but ex-servicemen's organizations did not agree that war and service pensions should not bear any relation to the cost of living. The basic wage is computed on the cost of living index figures, and the pension payable to ex-servicemen, although it has not the same percentage relation to the basic wage to-day as it had in the darkest days of the financial depression in 1933-34, should be based on the increased cost of living. That has not been done, as members of the Opposition have proved to i he Minister. {: .speaker-JNX} ##### Mr Barnard: -- They have not proved it to my satisfaction. {: .speaker-JRJ} ##### Mr BOWDEN: -- We have proved our case to the Minister's satisfaction, but he is in a hopeless position as a Minister nf a caucus-controlled government. He is not able to say to the Opposition, The amendment seems to be reasonable and I shall submit it to Cabinet for decision". Repeatedly, Ministers have told the Opposition that they cannot accept amendments to bills. When the Opposition makes pertinent criticisms of a bill, the Prime Minister walks into the chamber and says, " The Government will not accept any amendments regardless of their merits ". Everything in regard to war pensions is decided by caucus, the members of which are less qualified to deal with the subject than are honorable members on this side of the committee. During the depression in 1934, a 100 per cent, pension was 65 per cent, of the basic wage of the day. The new pension will be only 47£ per cent, of the present basic wage, so that the pensioner will be 17£ per cent, worse off even under the new rate than he was in 1934. Apparently, the Government takes the view that, it is doing something worthwhile for a totally and permanently incapacitated ex-serviceman by giving him a pension of £5 6s. a week been use it is somewhere near the basic wage. Ministers, and honorable members oppo site, do not realize that the sacrifice made by such a pensioner is not assessable in terms of money. He has sacrificed his health and everything that makes life worth living. He has lost his capacity for enjoyment, and his ability to participate in sport. No monetary payment can compensate him for that loss, and the Government should not boast that, it is treating him generously when it pays him a miserable pittance in these days of high living costs. The honorable member for Wilmot **(Mr. Duthie)** said that the honorable member for Balaclava **(Mr. White)** had not stated the position clearly. I say that the honorable member for Wilmot himself conveyed a wrong impression by comparing pre-war pension rates with present rates. His comparison was misleading, and if the debate were being broadcast I should say that it was deliberately misleading. The honorable member said that, before the war, a totally and permanently incapacitated exserviceman received a pension of £4 a week, whilst the new pension would be £5 6s., an increase of £1 6s., but would he dare to say that a pensioner can buy as much with £5 6s. now as he could buy with £4 before the war? Let us have an end to this hypocrisy and to such attempts to justify an inexcusable situation. Let honorable members opposite cease their efforts to justify the Government's shortcomings by referring to events in the misty past. All the honorable member for Wilmot wanted the public to notice was that the pension rate had been increased by £1 6s. a week. He wanted to create the impression that this magnanimous Government was paying the pensioners £5 6s. a week, whereas former non-Labour governments had paid them only £4 a week. He conveniently ignored the fact that the cost of living had increased tremendously. Eoi: instance, matches now cost ls. 6d. a dozen, whereas before World War I. they were only about 2½d. a dozen. It is misleading to compare pension rates before and after the war in terms of money, just as it is misleading for members of the Government to speak of our export in terms of money value, rather than in terms of quantity. It creates a false impression, and is intended to do so. Of course, if" honorable members of the Government were to tell the truth, they could not justifytheir continuation in office. I am not criticizing the Minister for Repatriation, because I believe that in **Ms heart** he is sympathetic, and sincere in his desire to do. the: best that can' be done for pensioners; but he is stultified by the decisions of the Government and of caucus. Yesterday, I asked the Ministter to ensure that an ex-serviceman vho has been, classified as. totally and permanently incapacitated, and granted a. pension for his incapacity, should never have that pension reduced or taken from him.. At present, such a pensioner may be called before a. medical board) and, if his blood pressure) is down a few points or if his heart, is beating somewhat more regularly, he may lose his pension. There have been actual instances of this, and it is then necessary for the pensioner to go before an appeal tribunal to have his pension restored. When I mentioned the matter yesterday, the Minister said, that the matter was in. process of being adjusted, but there is nothing about it in the bill, and no appropriate amendment has been brought down. A pensioner in the circumstances which I have stated should not be harassed with the thought that one day he might lose his pension. Any such worry might well have fatal results. The honorable member for Wilmot created a false impression by stating that many war pensioners received incomes from investments, and were not wholly dependent upon their pensions. I maintain, however, that when we are considering pension rates, we must keep in mind the most deserving cases. This also applies to war widows. It hasbeen argued by Government supporters that a war widow can receive as much as *£9* 2s.. 6d. a week for. herself and her dependent children. That is true, but it. is of no help to- the widow who- has; no children of school age. This. Government has always stressed that point in taxation, and it is completely analogous to the case we are stating to-day. It is not a matter of whether the tax. is equitable, and that it applies equally to all people, but rather, of whether the amount of money that will be leftafter the. tax is deducted is equitable. That, the Government says, is the test. {: .speaker-JNX} ##### Mr BARNARD:
BASS, TASMANIA · ALP -- That is: a means test. {: .speaker-JRJ} ##### Mr BOWDEN: -- I say that in these cases the Government attacks the most deserving people in the community, that is widows who are not receiving money for ediucational and other purposes. Let us consider what such widows have left after dispersing the miserable pittances that some of them get. After paying tax and room rent, they have, of necessity, to pay for other services, because they are incapable of doing things for themselves. This matter calls for serious attention when approached from that aspect:.I know that the Minister has had some tragic personal experiences as a result of the war. Men in the totally and permanently incapacitated group have lost something, the value of which cannot be assessed in pounds; shillings and pence. Other men, who are not totally incapacitated and who receive pensions, enjoy reasonably the normal pleasure of life, but the totally and permanently incapacitated men, in many instances, can only sit in wheelrchairs and look on from the outside., The Government should not consider that the pittances given to those people are in any sense compensation for what they have lost. Such money merely enables them to continue to live under miserable circumstances: {: #subdebate-16-0-s4 .speaker-JNX} ##### Mr BARNARD:
Minister for Repatriation · Bass · ALP -- I think, the. honorable member for Balaclava **(Mr. White)** has beaten the gun. on this clause. I have not yet moved my amendment, but shall now do so. I move - >That, in. the proviso to the new second paragraph of the Second Schedule, the word " Schedule " he left out, with a view to inser in lieu thereof the word " paragraph ". The honorable member for Balaclava has re-stated his point of view on the promise made by the Prime Minister **(Mr. Chifley)** when making his budget, speech. So that the matter will be perfectly clear, I propose to re-state the position again. The relevant statement in the budget speech reads as follows: - War and Service Pensions The Government also proposes increases in war arid' service pensions. General Rate war pensions will he increased by about10 per cent. That refers, to the general rates which is set out very clearly in the First Schedule of the Australian Soldiers' Repatriation Act. There doubt about the meaning of that schedule. The Prime Minis: ler continued - >That will mean an additional os. a week for pensioners whose, incapacity has been assessed, as " total ". An increase, of 5s. a week is proposed in the present special Bate pensions. . . . In the Second Schedule of the Australian Soldiers' Repatriation Act the rate of special pensions is prescribed at £10 2s. a fortnight. The Prime Minister's statement is clear and unequivocal, and it is of no use for honorable members to try to twist it. around by a play on words. The Prime Minister's speech was printed', and it is readily available. The increase is approximately 10 per cent, on the 100 per cent, rate, and 5s.,. or about 5 per cent., on the special rate. {: #subdebate-16-0-s5 .speaker-JNX} ##### Mr BARNARD:
ALP -- I am referring to what the Prime Minister said, not to the difference. Last year the Government gave the special I ate pensioners a 5s. increase. Whilst I do not claim that to be a very great amount of money, at least the Government did that. Nothing was1 given to the general rate pensioners. Over the two budgets the special rate pension has been increased by 10 per cent., which equals the rise that the 100 per cent, pensioners have received over the same period. The honorable gentleman, when speaking about the increase to pensioners, referred to the shortcomings of the Government. Of course this Government has shortcomings. Whilst it does not meet everything that people think it ought to meet, no government has ever done that. As a matter of fact the sins committed by the Government in which the honorable member for Moreton **(Mr. Francis)** was, for a short period, Minister for Repatriation, will he remembered by honorable members. That Government had a wonderful record. More soldiers were evicted from their homes by the honorable gentleman, when he was a Minister in that Government, than by any other Minister in any other government in history. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- I rise to order. The honorable! member for Moreton **(Mr. Francis)** is. not ki- the chamber at, the moment. The statement tha* the Minis ter has made about him is untrue, and I ask that it be withdrawn. The honorable, member for Moreton never evicted any one from his home. The- TEMPORARY **CHAIRMAN (Mr. Lazzarini).** - There is- no point, of order involved and the honorable gentleman has been, a member of this House long enough to know it. {: .speaker-009MB} ##### Mr McEwen: -- I rise to order. There is a Standing Order which provides a member may request that words uttered by a speaker in the chamber shall be recorded. In accordance with that Standing Order, I now ask that the relewant words uttered by the Minister be recorded, so that the honorable member for Moreton, who is outside the chamber, may be able to peruse those words as recorded by the Clerk, and thus have an opportunity to declare his own position. The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.As the honorable member knows, the statement has. already been recorded by the *Hansard* staff and I am quite sure, now that the honorable member for Moreton has come into the chamber, that the Minister for Repatriation will repeat what he said so that the honorable member for Moreton, in his turn and when he gets the call, may reply if he wishes to do so. {: .speaker-009MB} ##### Mr McEwen: -- If my memory serves me right, Standing Order 229 specifically provides that the Clerk of the House shall record the utterance, not the *Hansard,* reporter. The Clerk of the House should record the words. It is under that standing order that I ask that the words uttered by the Minister shall be recorded The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.I think that my own suggestion was a much better one. However, the Clerk will record the words. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- I rise to order. You ruled, sir, that an honorable member could' not take a point of order regarding an utterance that was offensive to another honorable member if that, honorable member was absent from the chamber. {: #subdebate-16-0-s6 .speaker-10000} ##### The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN: -- Ord'er !> The honorable* gentleman must resume his seat. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- I have not yet explained my point. T.he TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.The honorable member has said enough for the Chair to understand it. The Minister referred to some action that was taken by the honorable member for Moreton when he was a Minister of the Crown. There was no reflection upon the honorable gentleman personally. The Minister's remarks referred to his administration of a government department. The honorable member for Moreton is a member of this committee. If he is called, he has the right to attempt to rebut anything that the Minister has said. The honorable member for Balaclava has been a member of the Parliament long enough t.o know that. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- I point out- The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order ! The honorable member for Balaclava must resume his seat. {: .speaker-JNX} ##### Mr BARNARD: -- May I point out to the honorable member for Balaclava that this Government has at least provided the ex-servicemen with work, while the government of which he was a member merely gave them preference to carry a swag. That statement is perfectly true, and the honorable member cannot deny it. In his speech last night the right honorable member for North Sydney **(Mr. Hughes)** boasted about the preference that was given to ex-servicemen by a government of which he was the leader. The only reply that I desire to make to that boast is to point out that the right honorable gentleman's son led to the steps of Parliament House a deputation consisting of hundreds of men who were out of work, many of whom were ex-servicemen. {: .speaker-JWT} ##### Mr Francis: -- If the Minister will repeat what he said in my absence, I shall deal with it. {: .speaker-JNX} ##### Mr BARNARD: -- What did I say? The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order! The honorable member for Indi asked that certain action should be taken in regard to that matter. It has been taken. That is all that will be done about it by the Chair. {: .speaker-JNX} ##### Mr BARNARD: -- I presume that I still have the floor. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- That is about all that the Minister has. {: .speaker-JNX} ##### Mr BARNARD: -- The honorable member for Gippsland **(Mr. Bowden)** is always temperate in his remarks. I say quite seriously that I have a great deal of respect for what he says. When the honorable gentleman rises in his place in this chamber, he has something to say, and he says it. He makes his points clearly, and, if I may say so, in a very gentlemanly fashion. He referred to the special rate pension. That seems to be the only point upon which honorable members opposite are able to seize. There was a notable weakness in the argument that was presented by the honorable gentleman. He referred to income tax, and pointed out that it is assessed upon the basis of the taxpayer's income. The honorable gentleman's argument presupposed that there should be a means test. A totally and permanently incapacitated ex-serviceman with a wife may lie in receipt only of the special rate pension of £6 10s. a week. He may have no private income or private property, and be unable to supplement his income in any way. Another totally and permanently incapacitated ex-serviceman with a wife may have a private income of £2,000 a year, but he still receives the special rate pension of £6 10s. a week. The property that he owns or the private income that he receives does not affect his eligibility for the pension. *Opposition members interjecting,* The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order ! The Minister was subjected to much criticism by honorable members opposite. He listened to it in silence. He is now attempting to reply to that criticism, and I insist that he shall he heard in silence. Honorable members must cease interjecting. {: .speaker-JNX} ##### Mr BARNARD: -- The honorable member for Gippsland knows that income tax is based upon the taxpayer's income, or upon his ability to pay. If he argues on that basis, he says, in effect, that a means test should be imposed in respect of war pensions because some people are receiving too much and others not enough. That was implicit in his remarks. Honorable members know that the wives of totally and permanently incapacitated pensioners who were married after 1938 do not receive a pension. Mr.White. - I was going to mention that. {: .speaker-JNX} ##### Mr BARNARD: -- I have mentioned it for the honorable gentleman.If a blinded totally or permanently incapacitated pensioner married after 1938, his wife receives an attendant's allowance, but if they have any children, no allowance is paid in respect of them. That causes hardship. I know something of these matters about which the honorable member for Balaclava chooses to be flippant, but if he knew as much about these cases as I do he would realize that [ consider them much more realistically and feelingly than he does. {: .speaker-JWT} ##### Mr Francis: -- Why did the Minister make a dishonest statement about me? It was utterly dishonest. Where was his honour ? {: .speaker-10000} ##### The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN: -- Order ! I have told the honorable member for Moreton that he will have an opportunity to reply to the Minister's statement. {: .speaker-JNX} ##### Mr BARNARD: -- When I refer to the hardships suffered by war widows I speak from experience. Honorable members opposite cannot tell me anything about war widows and their sufferings, because I know all there is to know about them from practical experience. {: .speaker-KFQ} ##### Mr Gullett: -- The honorable gentleman is not a war widow. {: .speaker-JNX} ##### Mr BARNARD: -- My son was killed in the war, and he left a widow and one child. Honorable gentlemen opposite were probably not aware of that. If I cannot regard the case of the war widow sympathetically, I do not know who can. {: .speaker-JWT} ##### Mr Francis: -- The Minister should exercise common sense in addition to extending his sympathy. The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.The honorable member for Moreton can prove that he has some common sense by refraining from interjections. {: .speaker-JNX} ##### Mr BARNARD: -- When the Australian Soldiers' Repatriation Bill of 1943 was before the House honorable mem bers were unanimous in the view that there should be no means test. They said that, in respect of those who served in World War I., wives married or children born after 1938 should not receive pensions, and, in respect of those who served in World War II., wives married or children born after fifteen years following the end of the war should not receive pensions. Those provisions are now contained in the act. They were the recommendations of the non-party committee that reported to Parliament, and which recommended that there should be no means test. I can tell the committee of cases of greater hardship than those that were mentioned by the honorable member for Gippsland. I know the persons concerned. Unless a means test is imposed, how can the sufferings of this limited number of people be alleviated. The cost of the extra repatriation benefits that were granted in1943 was £1.600,000 a year, and the cost of those granted in 1947-48 was £462,000 a year. Representations were made to the Government that war widows with one or two children suffered much more severely than any other class of pensioners. The Government gave close consideration to those representations and as a. result it agreed to the payment of a domestic allowance to such war widows. The payment of that allowance involved an annual expenditure of £210,000. Following representations made to it the Government also increased the funeral benefit from £15 to £20. That cost an additional £9,000 per annum. Throughout the years the soldiers' children's education scheme, which was instituted many years ago not by a Labour government but by one of the political complexion of the honorable member for Balaclava, in association with the **Sir Samuel** McCaughey bequest, has been helped by contributions from the Consolidated Revenue. These contributions have been increased by this Government, the annual cost to the Consolidated Revenue now being £30,000. In every way the Government has improved the legislation along lines suggested by deputations of interested persons and by honorable members generally. Representations were made by deputations which waited on me relative to the plight. nf war widows who 'need medical attention. The Government subsequently decided to provide for the treatment of war widows in repatriation hospitals on the same basis as that provided for exservicemen. Honorable members had to look for something about which to be critical. .They said that the Government had fallen down on its job and, in order to bolster their case, they had to seize upon some aspect of repatriation administration. I frankly agree that there will be some' disappointment among the exservicemen who may not receive all they expected to receive from these amended provisions. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- The .Minister will undoubtedly hear from them. {: .speaker-JNX} ##### Mr BARNARD: -- I have already heard from some of them; but I have assured them, as I do the honorable member for Balaclava, that if I can see any way to correct anomalies I shall do so, and that I shall do everything in my power to relieve hardship among any section of the people that comes under Mie administration of my department. I do not promise that this or that will be done. I do not believe in making promises. If I do not make a promise I cannot break a promise. {: #subdebate-16-0-s7 .speaker-KNX} ##### Mr HARRISON:
WENTWORTH, NEW SOUTH WALES -- That is a policy of which the Minister should not be proud. {: .speaker-JNX} ##### Mr BARNARD: -- The honorable member for Gippsland said that there is a fear in the minds of totally and permanently incapacitated pensioners that they might lose their pensions. I think T then said that I would look at "this matter- {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- The " new look ". {: .speaker-10000} ##### The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN: -- Order! {: .speaker-JNX} ##### Mr BARNARD: -- It will be a much mare effective look than that .given by the honorable -member for ^Balaclava when he was a supporter of .anti-Labour governments. The Government's record over the last two years shows that it has had a very close look at these things. What I am undertaking to do to-morrow may therefore be described as a readiness to give the matter a new " new look ". The honorable member for Gippsland also said that we cannot assess in monetary terms the sacrifices of our ex- servicemen. I agree that the sacrifices made by ex-servicemen 'who have returned from the war maimed for life can never be assessed on a monetary basis. I do not know whence the honorable member for .Gippsland got his. story that there is a fear among totally and permanently incapacitated pensioners that they might lose their pensions. {: .speaker-JRJ} ##### Mr Bowden: -- I cited a case yesterday in which such a fear was actually expressed. {: .speaker-JNX} ##### Mr BARNARD: -- I do not know whether the honorable member referred the case to me. I assure him that I would be glad if he would do so. The Repatriation Department may he regarded, in the main, as a personal department. Most-of the cases dealt with by it must be considered from the personal angle. Subject to other claims on my time I am always available to discuss with honorable members any cases Of hardship that may 'be submitted to them. If I am not available, they can leave details of the cases with my secretary. *Opposition members engaging in audible conversation.* The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order ! If members of the Opposition want to hold a public meeting, they had better go outside. Their conversation is too audible. This is the National Parliament and not a circus. {: .speaker-JNX} ##### Mr BARNARD: -- Certainly no instances of such a fear as that expressed by the honorable member for Gippsland have been referred to me, except in the case of totally and permanently incapacitated pensioners who have been working and earning some money. If such earnings "are very_ small, no action is taken; but if "the men accept jobs -and continue to work, they are not entitled 'to the special pension granted to them, as I am sure the honorable member for Gippsland will .agree. {: .speaker-JRJ} ##### Mr Bowden: -- I agree. {: .speaker-JNX} ##### Mr BARNARD: -- Those the honorable member probably had in mind were men in what may be regarded as the intermediate category, who are neither totally and permanently incapacitated nor 100 per .cent, disabled. They are what is known as "TTI ". Temporarily totally incapacitated cases, as distinct from "TPI", or totally and permanently incapacitated cases. Such men receive a special pension which is reviewed from time to time in accordance with the degree of their disablement. If their health improves they may be paid the 100 per cent, disablement rate ; but if it worsens they may be placed on the rate appropriate to totally and permanently incapacitated men and become entitled to certain additional educational benefits. The honorable member questioned my statement relating to the total amounts which may be derived by pensioners in pension and income, and said that all pensioners in the categories 1 had listed do not receive the a mounts stated but only "may" receive them. I have been very careful in what I have said on this important subject. I have not quoted hypothetical cases. The details of the cases which I quoted were furnished to me by one of the deputy commissioners, who described them as typical cases. Provision is also made for children under the age of thirteen years to receive school requisites. The pensioner must make application in order to obtain that assistance for his children, and I am. afraid that some do not know that they are entitled to receive it, whilst others regard it as too much trouble to make the application. However, a totally and permanently incapacitated member with no family receives the rate of £6 10s. a week, and a member who has a family receives the rates which I read to the committee this morning. Honorable members will agree that that treatment is not ungenerous. I have mentioned two actual typical cases. A member with a wife and two children over sixteen years of age and one child under sixteen years of age receives a payment of £10 15s. 6d., whilst a member with 'a wife and one child over sixteen years of age and three children under sixteen years of age receives £10 13s. 6d., including the educational allowance and other benefits which I have mentioned. If honorable members desire any -more details, I .shall supply them. **Mr. FRANCIS** (Moreton) [3.38".There are in this > chamber two gentlemen who have shown how futile they are in the Parliament. One of them is the honorable member for Lang **(Mr. Mulcahy),** who, some time ago, saw fit to make some poisonous and untruthful statements about the honorable member for the Northern Territory **(Mr. Blain).** The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order! The honorable member for Moreton must relate his remarks to the clause under consideration. {: #subdebate-16-0-s8 .speaker-JWT} ##### Mr FRANCIS: -- My remarks are not out of order, because I desire to reply to the observations which the Minister for Repatriation **(Mr. Barnard)** has made, and to the honorable member for Lang, who, on a. previous occasion, made a statement similar to that which the Minister made this afternoon. The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order! That cannot be related to the clause. {: .speaker-JWT} ##### Mr FRANCIS: -- I submit, with due deference, that it can. The honorable member for Lang made statements similar to those which the Minister has made to-day, and I made a personal explanation in rebuttal, which showed beyond a shadow of doubt that his statement was absolutely untrue. The Minister knows that, because he was present when the statement was made. Having examined the records, I know that I am giving an accurate account of what occurred. The Minister knew that that statement was untrue. He has professed in and around the chamber that he is one of the few persons in the Parliament who has a halo. Therefore, it ill-became him to make a statement which he knew to be deliberately untrue. The Minister does not help himself by making untrue statements. In the handling of this bill he has given the most lamentable exhibition that I have ever seen. The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order! I ask the honorable .gentleman to resume his seat. {: .speaker-JWT} ##### Mr FRANCIS: -- I am replying to. the Minister. The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.I deliberately gave the honorable member the call because he claimed that he had been misrepresented. He may state his case, and show that the statements made by the Minister are not true, but he is -not entitled, .and T shall not allow him, to criticize actions of the Minister which are not relevant to the clause. {: .speaker-JWT} ##### Mr FRANCIS: -- I submit that I am entitled to direct attention to untrue statements by the Minister. I am distinctly in order in pointing out that he is trying to throw a smokescreen over his own incompetence. I have studied the Standing Orders closely, and I observe them. The Minister has made misstatements, and I consider that he and the honorable member for Lang are two of a kind. As you, **Mr. Temporary Chairman,** were a member of the House of Representatives in the early 1930's, you will recollect the frightful mistakes and the muddle that the Scullin Government made of administering the war service homes scheme. The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order ! The administration of war service homes is not related to this clause. {: .speaker-JWT} ##### Mr FRANCIS: -- The administration of war service homes by the Scullin Government is completely relevant to the problems of administering the war service homes department. You, **Mr. Temporary Chairman,** know that the depression was accentuated by the maladministration of the Scullin Government, because you assisted to defeat that Government on the floor of this chamber. The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order ! {: .speaker-JWT} ##### Mr FRANCIS: -- Following that muddle and maladministration which intensified the problems of the depression, I became the Minister charged with the responsibility of administering the war service homes legislation. I recommended to the Lyons Government the appointment of an independent committee to examine the problems associated with war service homes. [ had done everything humanly possible to help ex-servicemen in their difficulties. As the result of my submissions, the government of the day appointed a committee of inquiry consisting of three senior members of the Public Service who were ex-servicemen. They had an intimate knowledge of public administration and finance. They were given an " open go " to examine all the ramifications of the department, and make recommendations further to assist ex- servicemen who were endeavouring to complete the purchase of war service homes in those difficult times. That committee unanimously agreed that because of the sympathetic and competent manner in which I had administered the department, it had very little to recommend. Its report was a complete endorsement of the generous, warm.-hearted and sympathetic manner in which the department and I, as Minister, controlled war service homes. That report, which is an official parliamentary paper, completely rebuts the lying statements of the Minister. {: .speaker-K0K} ##### Mr Conelan: -- I rise to order. The honorable member for Moreton has accused the Minister for Repatriation of making a lying statement. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- Quite right. {: .speaker-K0K} ##### Mr Conelan: -- That accusation is objectionable to me, and I submit that the honorable member should be asked to withdraw it. {: .speaker-10000} ##### The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN: -- Objection has been taken to the observation by the honorable member for Moreton that the Minister has made a lying statement, and I ask him to withdraw it. {: .speaker-JNX} ##### Mr Barnard: -- I also ask that the statement be withdrawn, because it if offensive to me. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- I rise to order. The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order! I ask the honorable member for Balaclava to resume his seat. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- I desire to take a point of order. The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order! The honorable member may not take a point of order until the honorable member for Moreton has withdrawn a statement to which objection has been taken. The only other course open to the honorable member for Balaclava is to submit a motion of dissent from my ruling. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- With respect, **Mr. Temporary Chairman,** the Standing Orders provide that a point of order shall take precedence of all other business. The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order! The honorable member will resume his seat. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- Perhaps the Chair will hear my point of order. A little while ago, the Chair ruled that an honorable member may not take a point of order in respect of an allegedly offensive remark about another honorable member. {: .speaker-10000} ##### The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN: -- The Minister has stated that the observation by the honorable member for Moreton is offensive to him. Therefore, I ask the honorable member for Moreton to withdraw the statement. {: .speaker-JWT} ##### Mr FRANCIS: -- 1' did not hear the Minister ask for a withdrawal of the statement. {: .speaker-JNX} ##### Mr BARNARD: -- I shall repeat my request. The honorable member's remark that I had made a lying statement is offensive to me, and I ask that the honorable member be requested to withdraw it. {: .speaker-JWT} ##### Mr FRANCIS: -- All I can say is- {: .speaker-10000} ##### The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN: -- The honorable member must withdraw rite remark to which objection has been taken. {: .speaker-JWT} ##### Mr FRANCIS: -- I withdraw the remark, in compliance with the Standing Orders, which require me to do so. {: .speaker-10000} ##### The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN: -- Order ! The honorable member must withdraw the remark unconditionally. {: .speaker-JWT} ##### Mr FRANCIS: -- I have done so. The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.The honorable member must not attach any qualification to his withdrawal. {: .speaker-JWT} ##### Mr FRANCIS: -- If you, **Mr. Temporary Chairman,** have been listening to mc, you will have heard me withdraw the remark. The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.The honorable member will withdraw the remark. {: .speaker-JWT} ##### Mr FRANCIS: -- I withdraw it. I had already done so. {: #subdebate-16-0-s9 .speaker-KWP} ##### Mr TURNBULL:
Wimmera -- As the result of all the argument that has taken place, we have forgotten the plight of the totally and permanently incapacitated ex-servicemen. I realize the futility of speaking on this subject now, because the Minister for Repatriation **(Mr. Barnard)** will not accept any amendments submitted by the Opposition. The honorable member for Wilmot **(Mr.** Duthie), in defending the proposed new rates of war and service pensions, made the ridiculous statement that perhaps some totally and permanently incapacitated ex-servicemen are deriving income from property. Perhaps they are, and perhaps they are not. An examination of the records will show that a very small percentage of them have any income apart from their pensions. I do not know what totally and permanently incapacitated pensioners who are listening to this debate are thinking about it- {: .speaker-JTY} ##### Mr Archie Cameron: -- The debate if not being broadcast. {: .speaker-KWP} ##### Mr TURNBULL: -- Whether that is so or not, some of them are listening to our speeches. Doubtless they are thinking that their cause has been forgotten in the tangle of parliamentary procedure. The purpose of this legislation is to increase the pensions of ex-servicemen in order that the recipients shall he able to meet the rising cost of living. A totally and permanently incapacitated pensioner, who is not able to earn any money, now receives £5 ls. a week, but a man on the 100 per cent, basis who is able to earn receives a pension of £2 10s. a week. When this bill becomes law, each of those two classes of pensioner will receive an increase of 5s. a week. Let us, for the time being, accept the statement by the Minister that the amount of £5 ls. a week is a reasonable weekly income for a totally and permanently incapacitated ex-serviceman. The 100 per cent, pensioner needs to earn £2 lis. a week in order to have the same income as a totally and permanently incapacitated pensioner. Both amounts are to be increased by 5s. a week, which will bring the pensions to £5 6s. and £2 15s. respectively. The man receiving £3 15s. must still earn another £2 lis. to bring his income up to £5 6s. We must not overlook the fact, however, that there has been a general increase of wages so that, on a comparative basis, the supplementary income of £2 lis. a week should now be more than £3 to serve the same, end. Indeed, we may assume that the 100 per cent, pensioner has probably increased his total income to at least £6 a week, but the Government proposes to leave the totally and permanently incapacitated pensioner on £5 6s. a week. so that' he> is at? a, disadvantage of at least 1 4s; a week, as compared with the 100 per cut. pensioner earning other income. {: .speaker-JNX} ##### Mr Barnard: -- What about the allowance for his wife? {: .speaker-KWP} ##### Mr TURNBULL: -- She used to get 22s. a week, and it is now proposed to give her 24s., but: it also costs her much more to live than it used to. How can the Government justify leaving the totally and permanently incapacitated pensioner in a position where he is at least 14s. a week worse off on comparative standards than he was before? Certainly; no accountant or trade union advocate would attempt to justify such a situation. It is no wonder that war pensioners believe that they have been given a raw deal. If this action of the Government can be justified, then I must learn all over again what two and' two make. {: #subdebate-16-0-s10 .speaker-KVT} ##### Mr THOMPSON:
Hindmarsh -- I cannot see that there is any justification for the heat which, has been dis. played by some honorable members opposite. When I spoke in the second reading debate on this bill, I said that it was unfair, and sometimes misleading, to compare one section of the community with another in trying to arrive at equitable pension rates. This afternoon, the honorable member for Balaclava **(Mr. White)** attempted to show that a couple drawing age pensions totalling £4 5s. a week was better' off than a totally and permanently incapacitated pensioner and his wife on £6 10s. a week. He said that the age pensioners could receive an income of £3 in addition to their pensions. There is nothing to- prevent the totally and permanently incapacitated pensioner from receiving additional income of £3 a. week, or even more, except that if he were able to go out and do an ordinary day's work he would not be eligible for his- pension.. In some instances men who have been classified as totally and. permanently incapacitated cannot do any work at all; in. others,, they are able to do some-. The honorable member for Balaclava said that the wife of the service pensioner received, an allowance of only 24s. a- week,, while- the wife of the age pensioner received £2 2s. 6d. a, week. If r.bat is- a fair comparison, then it- would: be fair to compare, the- aged man's pension of £2 2s. 6d. a week with an exserviceman's pension of £5 6s. a week. I do- not believe that. such, comparisons should, be made, but that is where the logic of the honorable member for Balaclava leads him. The age pensioner must be at least. 66 years of age in order to qualify for a pension. The totally and permanently incapacitated pensioner receives £5 6s. a week even if. he is single. If his health is bad, and he needs medical or hospital treatment, it is given, to him. without cost. If he suffers from tuberculosis, he. receives treatment in a Government hospital, without cost to himself, and without its affecting his pension. If. we compare the war pensioner with other members of the community we must. admit that a single man receiving a pension of £5 6s. a week is not in a desperate position, as some honorable members opposite have suggested. A married war pensioner receives an allowance of 24s. for his wife, bringing the total pension up to £6 10s. a week. If the wife is able to earn anything more, she may have that in addition. I do not suggest that she should go out to work ; I am only saying that she is permitted to earn extra income. A war pensioner with a wife and one child receives £6 19s., and if he has two children, the pension is £7 Ss. If there are three children the pension is £7 17s., and if there are four, the pension is £8 6s. Those figures are exclusive of what the wife can draw in child endowment. If honorable members opposite argue that the- rates are inadequate, they must admit that the basic wage is also inadequate. The needs of a family, whether it be the- family of a pensioner or of a wage-earner, are much the same-. Honorable members opposite may point out that the war pensioner pro'-a-bly needs medical attention, from time to time, hut if he does, that attention is available to him without cost. On the other hand, the ordinary worker ha? to pay out of his wages the cost of medical treatment for himself and his family. If we are to make comparisons between the position, of pensioners and other members of the community, we should; compare- the total! incomes which come into the homes. The Government has tried to. place was pensioners on, a comparable footing, with other- members of the. community. Honorable members. will argue. no- doubt, that some workers receive extra income because- of aver ti roe* or because of special skill, which, brings their earnings up to ais much as £10 or £12 a week. That is true of some, of them, and it is also true that some- incapacitated ex-servicemen have incomes in addition to their pensions'. However, I maintain' that no account, should be taken of that fact when fixing war pension rates. It is not right that one section of the community should be. placed on a different footing-from other sections. To do so. would create ill feeling. Honorable, members opposite, say that, war pensioners, and their families are at a disadvantage compared with other members of the community. It is true that some workers are receiving more than is received by the family of an incapacitated ex-serviceman, but others, with families of two or three children, are not receiving even as much as ex-servicemen will get under this bill. The Government has tried to do the fair thing. The position that was put to honorable members was that all pensioners should, as soon as possible, receive the 5s: increase. I do not include in the term pensioners " the wives- or children of invalid pensioners, and the desire, on the part of this Government, to grant to shem an all-round increase of 5s. a week. Whilst honorable members opposite contend that an increase of 5s. a week is inadequate in some instances, I think that they will agree that that is a step in the right direction. In those circumstances I do not consider that we on this side of the committee are acting in any way irregularly, or that we are differentiating between different categories of pensioners, in agreeing to this increase of 5s. a week in soldiers' pensions. Whilst I have no desire to go back over old history, we must, realize that what is being given now is an increase on what was given by previous governments. Honorable members opposite have referred to percentage increases. I remind those honorable' members that there was no. alteration in the rates of soldiers' pensions for over twenty years, though quit© a. lot of variations, were- made in the basic- wage when, soma members! of the: present Opposition' were: in' office: They conrend now that this matter should be con sidered in conjunction with the bad,wage. Evidently they did not think along those lines when they were in office. If they had done so, regular adjustment1 would have been made in pension, rate* whenever there was a variation? in the basic wage during those, years. For that reason, I am not. impressed with the view? which, have been expressed by the Opposition in this connexion. **Mr. ARCHIE** CAMERON (Barker) [4.SJ. - When listening to the honorable member for Hindmarsh **(Mr. Thompson).** one might be. pardoned for imagining that he was an understudy for the Minister for Labour and National Service **(Mr. Holloway).** He has developed a capacity for complex reasoning that I did not. know him to possess in former days when I. sat with him in another parliament. He endeavoured to compare the age pensioner with, the totally incapacitated man. There can he no comparison between those two classes of pensioners. On the- one- hand the. age pensioner has lived an ordinary life-, and at the age of 65 years, has qualified for an age pension, whilst on the other hand, total incapacity has unfortunately resulted to youths as the result ot their experiences whilst on active service. Obviously the Government wishes to drag, the returned soldier pensioner down into the common pool of social services. That is- one thing to. which, this Opposition will never consent. This Government ha* held itself up to the world as doing something out of the ordinary, but we are reminded of what happened when Epimetheus opened Pandora's box. There issued from it all1 the evils and distempers, that have since afflicted the human race. The Government introduced this, measure into the Parliament only a few days ago. Yesterday the press announced new increases in the basic, wage* In Sydney, Brisbane and Adelaide the increase will, be 2s. a week, in Melbourne and Hobart the increase will ba 3s. a week, and in Perth the increase will b& 4s. a week: Increases in the cost of living usually follow a rise ira the basic wage, and therefore a good deal of the value of the increase- in pensions, which will result, from this 'bill,, will ba taken away from the- pensioners in one Ml swoop, even bef ore the- law; is on. the statute-book. At the very best 40 per cent, to 60 per cent, of what the Government proposes to grant will be taken away again from the pensioners. Until mob time as the Government can evolve a scheme with a closer relationship between pensions for soldiers on the one hand, and the constantly increasing costs of living due to the Government's crazy financial policy, on the other hand, we cannot be satisfied. I am quite prepared to go into ancient history if honorable members should wish me to do so. Time and again Government members have accused Opposition members of taking no action no vary pension rates when they *wore* in office and the cost of living was continually increasing. It is claimed that at that time merchants could not give commodities away. It is of no use to compare conditions obtaining in those days with the conditions which exist to-day. "When members of the parties now in Opposition were in office, at least they did not find it necessary every twelve months to alter the rates of pensions. The complaint of the honorable member for Hindmarsh a few minutes ago was that the pension rate was not altered when the tendency in living costs was downward. The alterations that the present Government is making bear no relationship whatever to the daily increasing cost of living. [ therefore contend that everything so far advanced by Government members on this score is completely beside the point. To hear the Minister for Repatriation **(Mr. Barnard)** speaking this afternoon, one would imagine that a high proportion of the people receiving these classes of pensions are millionaires like Midas and Rockefeller. I assure the Minister that if he were to take the trouble to interview some of these people, he would find that in many cases they have been completely and utterly smashed to pieces, and that they have no resources on which to draw and that they depend on the pension. The bill under consideration provides a pension of £5 6s. a week for a single man. The new basic wage rates in the various Australian cities will be : Sydney, £6 2s.; Brisbane, £5 15s.; Melbourne, £6; Adelaide, Perth and Hobart, £5 16s. Those are weekly rates. Not in one instance does this Government consider that the totally and permanently incapacitated man is entitled to the basic wage. These are the men who went to the war and took risks, and who, according to the Government's own medical advisers, were unable to earn their living when they came back. The Government continually claims that production figure? are up. {: .speaker-KQK} ##### Mr McDonald: -- Taxation is five times as heavy to-day as in former years. {: #subdebate-16-0-s11 .speaker-JTY} ##### Mr ARCHIE CAMERON:
ALP -- Surely to heaven, in view of all the facts of the case, these people are entitled at least to the basic wage. The Government should be ashamed of itself for bringing before the committee a 'bill providing for such niggardly rates, and expect that the committee will pass it. {: #subdebate-16-0-s12 .speaker-K2A} ##### Mr RANKIN:
Bendigo .-] did not intend to speak on this matter, but I cannot concede that an age pensioner should be on the same footing a.= the man who is incapacitated as a result of war service. {: .speaker-KHL} ##### Mr Holloway: -- I do not think any member on the Government side of the committee has made such a suggestion. {: .speaker-K2A} ##### Mr RANKIN: -- Statements have been made to that effect. The men who died on the fields of battle paid in full for the freedom of this country, whilst the tuen who have returned blinded, wounded or incapacitated in any shape or form are paying for it by instalments every day of their lives. I am amazed that the honorable member for Hindmarsh **(Mr. Thompson)** should try to compare the two categories of pensions. It is utterly unfair and stupid of him to try to do so. {: .speaker-KVT} ##### Mr Thompson: -- I said that they could not be compared. The honorable member for Balaclava **(Mr. White)** endeavoured to make such a comparison. {: .speaker-K2A} ##### Mr RANKIN: -- Honorable members on the Government side of the chamber implied that the sufferings of these men are cf no consequence and that their wives and children are entitled only to the very minimum that the Government can give them. They claim that such a man is not entitled to what he would have been able to provide for himself and his family had he stayed at home in perfect safety in this country, under the best conditions, as did many others. In their opinion he is not entitled to any compensation for his suffering, for the risks and mental stress that he underwent, or for the reduction of his expectation of life hy up to ten years. Doctors support the view that the expectation of life of ex-servicemen has been so shortened. I listened with absolute disgust to comments by members on the Government side of the chamber, and no doubt many people throughout Australia have also done so. The people will form their own conclusions on this matter. {: #subdebate-16-0-s13 .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr WHITE:
Balaclava .- both the honorable member for Barker **(Mr. Archie Cameron)** and the honorable member for Bendigo **(Mr. Rankin)** have effectively answered the honorable member for Hindmarsh **(Mr. Thompson)** who cited a mass of figures in an endeavour to show that totally and permanently incapacitated men have been granted, progressively, bigger and bigger amounts. His reasoning was preposterous and fallacious. I shall requote the correct figures, because, as has been said by the honorable member for Barker, the Government is attempting to drag the incapacitated soldiers and their dependants down to the ordinary social services scale. The new rate for totally and permanently incapacitated men, including the proposed increase, is £5 6s. a week, and wives will receive £1 4s. a week, a rise of 2s., making a total of £6 10s. a week in all. On the other hand, age pensioners will receive £2 2s. 6d. a week, and in addition will be permitted to earn 30s. a week. The total amount received by a married couple, both age pensioners - and one does not deny that they should get a fair pension - will be £7 5s. a week. The total pension payable to a man with a wife who is blinded or otherwise totally and permanently incapacitated, will be £6 10s. a week. The Minister for Repatriation has said that the amount of the age pension has risen by over 100 per cent, since 1934. And well it might! But, if honorable members will refer to the scale of war pensions, which has been incorporated in *Hansard* on previous occasions, they will see that the total increase granted since 1934, including the present increase, is only 30 per cent. Something should he done about it. That is the reason why I suggested that this debate should proceed on a non-party basis. The Minister made a long speech. The major portion of his remarks was irrelevant to the clause, but towards the end of the speech the honorable gentleman said, that he would have a look at our submissions. We tried to persuade him to say that weeks ago. The Minister explained that his statement that there would be a 10 per cent, increase of pensions referred to general rate pensions and not to those which are paid to totally and permanently incapacitated men. These men believed that it is proposed to increase their pension.1 by 10 per cent., whereas the proposed increase is only 5 per cent. If the Minister means that he will take the matter to caucus and then to Cabinet to see that the totally and permanently incapacitated pensioners get something in addition to what is proposed, there is still a ray of hope for them . and for him. There is another point that has a bearing upon this clause. After the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen's Imperial League of Australia 32nd annual congress in Canberra in October of this year, its federal executive suggested to the Prime Minister and to the Minister for Repatriation that the time limit applicable to wives married and children born after 193S should be abolished. That provision is a survival of the financial emergency legislation of 1930. It means that if an ex-serviceman pensioner married after 1938, hi? wife does not receive a pension, and that children born after that date do not receive a pension either. An allowance and not a pension is granted to the wives of such men. In the all-round increases that are now proposed, the wives of these men. for some reason, have been completely overlooked, although the wives of totally and permanently incapacitated soldiers who were married before 1938 are to have their pensions increased by 2s. a week. The Minister may not be aware of that. {: .speaker-JNX} ##### Mr Barnard: -- I do not understand the honorable gentleman.. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr WHITE: -- I thought I had made myself clear. Wives of pensioned exservicemen who were married after 1938 receive an allowance and not a pension. They have been overlooked in the general Increase of pensions that is now proposed. The pensions for wives married before 1938 are to be increased, but those wives who receive an allowance instead of a pension have been forgotten. It' may he purely an oversight, and I hope that it is. The Minister has apparently just heard about it. It may be a small point, but the position should be rectified. While the honorable gentleman is taking advice upon that matter, may I mention the case of the children of such people? If they have one child, the child receives no pension or allowance, and is not entitled to the educational concessions that are granted to the children of disabled soldiers who married before 193S. In addition, the parents receive no child endowment for the child under the social services scheme. I am , sure that the Minister for Labour and National Service **(Mr. Holloway)** will agree that that is inequitable. {: .speaker-KHL} ##### Mr Holloway: -- The parents would receive child endowment. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr WHITE: -- The social services legislation provides that the parents shall not receive child endowment for the first child. Under the repatriation legislation, if the child is the child of a person who receives an allowance and not a pension, he gets nothing. He is not entitled to the educational concessions that the Repatriation Department grants to other children. I think that all honorable members 'will agree that those are anomalies, and I ask the Minister to rectify them. {: #subdebate-16-0-s14 .speaker-KVT} ##### Mr THOMPSON:
Hindmarsh -- I wish to reply to the remarks that were made by the honorable member for Bendigo **(Mr. Rankin).** I consider that the honorable gentleman either intentionally or unintentionally,, reflected upon me. I -referred to the pensions that are paid to civilians and to ex-servicemen in an endeavour to deal with the comparisons that were made by the honorable member for Balaclava **(Mr. White).** I said distinctly that I did not consider that such comparisons could justly be made. I pointed out that if one embarked upon a comparison of these pensions, many other factors had to he taken into consideration and no reliable con clusions could be arrived at. The honorable member for Bendigo misconstrued my remarks or did not hear them correctly. I stated that I was opposed to the making of comparisons between age and invalid pensions and war pensions for the purpose of proving that war pensions are or are not adequate. {: #subdebate-16-0-s15 .speaker-JPT} ##### Mr BLAIN:
Northern Territory -- I intervene in this debate only to reply to the remarks that were made by the honorable member for Hindmarsh **(Mr. Thompson).** Although the honorable gentleman has now spoken a second time, he has not effectively answered the criticism that was made of him. The reason for that is obvious. The pensions legislation states either expressly or by implication that there is equality between the sacrifices that were made by exservicemen and civilians. I deny that that is so. It should be quite obvious to the Government that there can be no justification whatever for the watering down of the pensions that are paid to exservicemen and war widows and for placing these people in the same class as civilians and ordinary widows. In botany or plant pathology there is a process known as osmosis. If two solutions of different densities are placed in a tank and separated by a membrane, they will eventually mix and form a solution of one density. The Government apparently wishes to apply a similar process to war pensions and those paid under the social services scheme. I recently received a letter from a widow. She was not a war widow. In her letter she asked me to press for an increase of the widows' .pension, and I said that I would do so. .She said, in effect, "We .know that there is no equality of sacrifice, but we feel that we are not getting as much as we are entitled to, although we -do realize that, because of the inequality of sacrifice, .we must mot expect the same pension as a war widow ". I received another letter from a war widow who lives in Victoria. Having lost her husband in World War I., she was left with two young sons. They fought in New Guinea in World War II. She is now trying to prevent her boys from going to war again. She wrote an abusive letter to me after listening to a speech in which [ said that Australia should be so strong that it will never have war widows again. {: #subdebate-16-0-s16 .speaker-KXB} ##### The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Mr Watkins:
NEWCASTLE, NEW SOUTH WALES -- The honorable gentleman may deal with the case of war widows when the next clause is being discussed. {: .speaker-JPT} ##### Mr BLAIN: -- I shall reserve my remarks upon that subject until later. I was surprised when the honorable member for Hindmarsh did not make his position clear on the second occasion on which he spoke. I contend that the sacrifices of civilians and those of men who were killed in the war or who returned from it with the scars of battle upon them cannot be compared. There is no equality of sacrifice in that connexion. I hope that the Government will heed the remarks of honorable members on this side cf the chamber and not allow it to be suggested in future, either in legislation or by its supporters, that equality of sacrifice does exist. {: #subdebate-16-0-s17 .speaker-JNX} ##### Mr BARNARD:
Minister for Repatriation · Bass · ALP -- The honorable member for Balaclava **(Mr. White)** referred to the allowance that is payable to wives of ex-servicemen pensioners who married after 1938. That is not provided for in the bill. {: .speaker-K2A} ##### Mr Rankin: -- They will get no sympathy unless they are *de facto* wives. {: .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr Pollard: -- The Government of which the honorable member for Bendigo **(Mr. Rankin)** was a supporter made provision for *de facto* wives. {: .speaker-K2A} ##### Mr Rankin: -- You are a liar. {: .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr Pollard: -- I request that the honorable member be required to withdraw that remark. The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.The remark of the honorable member for Bendigo **(Mr. Rankin)** is. distasteful to the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture **(Mr. Pollard).** I ask that it be withdrawn. {: .speaker-K2A} ##### Mr Rankin: -- I withdraw it. The Minister does not like the truth. {: .speaker-10000} ##### The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN: -- I ask for an unqualified withdrawal of the remark. {: .speaker-K2A} ##### Mr Rankin: -- I withdraw it. {: .speaker-JNX} ##### Mr BARNARD: -- The matter referred to by the honorable member for Balaclava will be adjusted by regulation. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- Are the children provided for too? {: .speaker-JNX} ##### Mr BARNARD: -- We are not doing anything for children in this legislation. No increases are being granted in this bill in respect of children. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- Cannot the children to whom I have referred be granted the same concessions - as are given to other children? Will the Minister consider that? {: .speaker-JNX} ##### Mr BARNARD: -- I shall have a look at it. We are not doing anything for children at all just now. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- The Government should do something. {: .speaker-JNX} ##### Mr BARNARD: -- There are" some things that we cannot do. The honorable member for Barker **(Mr. Archie Cameron)** attacked this legislation. He said that the Government was endeavouring to bring war pensions down to the level of pensions paid under the social services scheme. The honorable gentleman knows that that is humbug. The two classes of pensioners are dealt with separately. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- The war pensions are lower than those paid under the social services scheme. {: .speaker-JNX} ##### Mr BARNARD: -- They are not lower. The honorable gentleman persists in making that statement. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- I can give the Minister the figures. {: .speaker-JNX} ##### Mr BARNARD: -- A married couple who draw an age pension receive £4 5s. a week between them. The pension for a totally and permanently incapacitated exserviceman with a wife is £6 10s. a week. The two classes of pensions are kept in separate compartments, and the only link between them is when service as " burnt out" pensions are paid. The honorable member for Barker referred to the basic wage. That is based upon the needs of a man with a wife and one child, but it is also the basic wage for a single man. The honorable member was only trying to confuse- the issue and to deceive the people. The honorable member for Bendigo made some observations upon this matter which were not to his credit. {: .speaker-K2A} ##### Mr Rankin: -- At least I did not suffer by proxy. {: .speaker-JNX} ##### Mr BARNARD: -- The honorable member often suffers through a little too much liquid. {: #subdebate-16-0-s18 .speaker-KXB} ##### The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN Mr Watkins:
NEWCASTLE, NEW SOUTH WALES -- Order! {: .speaker-K2A} ##### Mr Rankin: -- The Minister is a nice man. {: .speaker-KHL} ##### Mr Holloway: -- It serves the honorable member for Bendigo right. No decent soldier plays on sentiment all the time as he does. {: .speaker-K2A} ##### Mr Rankin: -- I carry a few scars I got in battle. The Minister for Labour and National Service did not take the chance. The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order! I ask the Minister to continue his remarks. {: .speaker-JNX} ##### Mr BARNARD: -- If the honorable member for Bendigo **(Mr. Rankin)** makes comments that do him no credit he must expect criticism whether one be a returned soldier or not. He must learn to take his medicine. {: .speaker-K2A} ##### Mr Rankin: -- I can always take it. {: .speaker-JNX} ##### Mr BARNARD: -- The honorable member should do so without becoming offensive. {: .speaker-K2A} ##### Mr Rankin: -- The Minister should complain about offensiveness. {: .speaker-JNX} ##### Mr BARNARD: -- Some honorable members opposite have said that this is a non-party measure. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- It should have been. {: .speaker-JNX} ##### Mr BARNARD: -- The honorable member's leader made it a party measure and the honorable member for Bendigo is seeking to do likewise. The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order ! I ask the Minister to discuss the clause. {: .speaker-JNX} ##### Mr BARNARD: -- As there is nothing more I need to add, I leave the matter rhere. Amendment agreed to. Clause, as amended, agreed to. Clause 11 (Third Schedule). {: #subdebate-16-0-s19 .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr WHITE:
Balaclava .- This clause relates to the Third Schedule of the principal act dealing with the pensions of dependants. When the subject of dependants' pensions has been debated in this chamber on other occasions, some members of the Government supported the views stated by the Opposition, but when amendments founded on those views were put to a division, honorable members opposite werenaturally placed in a difficult position and could not vote with Opposition members for the amendments. I ask honorable members to treat the proposals embodied in this clause in a non-party spirit. I appeal to those honorable membersopposite who are favorably disposed towards our views to insist that the means test imposed upon dependent parents.. which is a survival of the financial emergency legislation, be abolished. 1 have received the following letter froma dependent parent: - >Another scandalous imposition is the appli cation of the Financial Emergency Act, Section- 43, to the Repatriation Act, whereby parentswho were partly dependent or wholly depen dent on their single sons prior to enlistment and unfortunately the lads lost their lives on service, the parents are debarred from receiving the provisions of the Repatriation Act. both in regard to the . 1914-18 and 1930-45 wars, unless they are without adequate means of support. . . . Is the Commonwealth in a state of financial emergency? If not then why is this Section 43 still operating. It is pertinent to ask such a question. Whatever reasons there may havebeen for the imposition of the means test in the past - I do not excuse anybody for not abolishing it - it is unnecessary to continue it at a time when the Government is taxing the people to the amount of more than £500,000,000 annually. Having regard to the humanities of the proposal, the abolition of the means test in respect of dependent parents would not involve tinGovernment in heavy expenditure. {: .speaker-KFX} ##### Mr Hadley: -- The honorable member did not think so when he was a member or a supporter of anti-Labour governments. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr WHITE: -- I did so. I excuse the honorable member for Lilley **(Mr. Hadley),** who is a comparative newcomer to the Parliament, for his lack of knowledge of this subject, which is of such vital concern to many old people. Many aged fathers and mothers are suffering great deprivation by the imposition of the means test, and its continuance so long after the financial emergency which it was designed to relieve has passed. Amongst other things the Financial Emergency Act, which was passed when the Scullin Government was in office in 1930, imposed a means test upon dependent parents. Probably the existence of that restrictive provision has been forgotten excepting hy the people who still suffer from it. One by one the benefits withdrawn by the Financial Emergency Act have been restored, but the means test still remains. It should be abolished. I could quote many letters which I have received from parents on this subject. I know the plight of many parents of men with whom I served. The whole families of some of them have been lost, but because they receive a small income from one source or another they are ineligible for the dependant's pension. Their small incomes disqualify them from receiving, not only the age pension, but also the dependant's pension. As the honorable member for Barker **(Mr. Archie Cameron)** has said, ex-servicemen are being dragged into the social services category. I exhort the Government to give earnest consideration to the claims of these old people. Only about once a year do we get a chance to say something on their behalf. {: .speaker-KDA} ##### Mr Duthie: -- What test is imposed ? {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr WHITE: -- The same test as is applied to invalid and age pensioners. If dependants have vacant blocks of land, or houses of which they cannot obtain possession, or an income from any source of approximately £4 a week, and they do not pauperize themselves by selling their assets, they are disqualified from receiving the dependant's pension. Some of them are too proud to dispose of their assets which form a sentimental link with their lost sons. I have no desire to become emotional upon this subject. I merely say that the Government has apparently not given sufficient thought to the plight of these people. The honorable member for Hindmarsh **(Mr. Thompson),** and the honorable member for Wilmot **(Mr. Duthie),** who study civil social problems, are too little acquainted with the problems of ex-servicemen and their dependants. I appeal to the honorable member for Brisbane **(Mr. George Lawson)** as one of the older members of the Parliament, to press for the abolition of the means test in respect of dependants' pensions. Let the honorable gentleman discuss this subject in the caucus and let the nation du the right thing by these most deserving people. I trust that the Government will rectify this anomaly. {: #subdebate-16-0-s20 .speaker-JNX} ##### Mr BARNARD:
Minister for Repatriation · Bass · ALP -- It is most amazing how the honorable member for Balaclava **(Mr. White)** can so frequently talk about this Government putting thing.right when past governments of which be was a member or a supporter did nothing about them. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- What a sickening excuse ! The Labour Government, which has been in office for seven years, has done nothing about them. The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order ! {: .speaker-JNX} ##### Mr BARNARD: -- Honorable members will see what the Government has decided if they read the schedule as amended by the clause. The subject of dependants' pensions was debated in this chamber in 1943 on a recommendation made by the all-party committee appointed to inquire into the Australian Soldiers' Repatriation Act. The Parliament then accepted the recommendations of thi1 committee and the Government does not now propose to depart from them. Clause agreed to. Clause 12 agreed to. Clause 13 - (1.) Where, but for this sub-section, thf amendment effected by section seven of thiAct. would have operated so as to reduce the rate, in force immediately prior to the dab' of commencement of this Act, of the service pension payable to a person, that amendment shall not operate so as to reduce that rate. Amendment (by **Mr. Barnard)** proposed - >That, in sub-clause (1.), after the word "by", the following words be inserted: - " section four or the amendment effected by " {: #subdebate-16-0-s21 .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr POLLARD:
Minister for Commerce and Agriculture · Ballarat · ALP -- I desire to refer to a matter which was the subject of an exchange of interjections across the chamber between the honorable member for Bendigo **(Mr. Rankin)** and myself when something was said in relation to *de facto* wives- {: #subdebate-16-0-s22 .speaker-10000} ##### The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN: -- I doubtwhether the Minister's remarks would be relevant to the clause. {: .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr POLLARD: -- The clause deals, *inter alia,* with widows' pensions. *De facto* wives were first provided for by an amendment of the act made in 1920 by the Nationalist Government led by the right honorable member for North Sydney **(Mr. Hughes).** I do not quarrel with that humane provision, but merely point outth at an anti-Labour government was originally responsible for it. As the result of the outlook and work of a former member for Bourke, the late **Mr. Blackburn,** a *de facto* wife is now more humanely referred to in the act as a " female dependant ". That was the situation until 1940- The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order! The Minister's remarks are not relevant to the clause under consideration, which has no relation to *de facto* wives. Amendment agreed to. Clause, as amended, agreed to. Clause 14 agreed to. New clause 7a. {: #subdebate-16-0-s23 .speaker-JNX} ##### Mr BARNARD:
Minister for Repatriation · Bass · ALP -- I move - >That, after clause 7, the following new clause be inserted: - " 7a. Section ninety-nine of the Principal Act is amended by omitting from clause (2) of sub-paragraph (iii) of paragraph (b) of subsection (2.) the words ' (not being, in the case of an adopted child, an ex-nuptial child of the member )," Section 99 of the principal act specifies the classes of dependants eligible for war pensions in respect of members of World War II. The amendment concerns the reference to the eligibility of an " adopted child ". The portion of section 99 of the principal act to be amended states that " dependants " includes - >A step-son, step-daughter or adopted child of the member (not being, in the case of an adopted child, an ex-nuptial child of the member), who became dependent on the member before or during 'his service or within seven years after his discharge. An ex-nuptial child of the member would be eligible if born before or within nine months after his discharge from the forces. The provision was inserted in 1940 when the act was amended to cover World War II., and it agreed with what seems to have been the intention of the provisions for World War I. However, those provisions were not clear, and it was possible for an ex-nuptial child to be admitted as an adopted child even though born more than nine months after the member's discharge from the forces. Moreover, as the provisions for World War II. now stand, it will be seen that although the member's own ex-nuptial child cannot be admitted if adopted, it is possible for an ex-nuptial child of another party to be adopted by a member and admitted to eligibility. It has been decided that the provisions shall agree with those relating to World War I., and that an ex-nuptial child of a member may be admitted where the member adopts the child, and it becomes dependent upon him within seven years after his discharge. The purpose of the amendment, therefore, is to apply to World War II. the principles adopted in respect of World War I. and which, by some mischance, were omitted from the earlier amending legislation. New clause agreed to. Title agreed to. Bill reported with amendments ; report *- by leave* - adopted. Third Reading. Motion (by **Mr. Barnard)** - *by leaveproposed* - >That the bill be now read a third time. {: #subdebate-16-0-s24 .speaker-KNX} ##### Mr HARRISON:
Acting Leader of the Opposition · Wentworth -- Last night, I made some observations about No. 1 War Pensions Entitlement Appeal Tribunal, and to-day, the Minister forRepatriation **(Mr. Barnard),** when replying to my statements made certain remarks about the third member of that body. The Minister described that gentleman as unsuitable for exservicemen's organizations. Throughout the whole of the debate on this bill, the Minister has made charges against certain honorable members and persons 'outside the chamber. {: #subdebate-16-0-s25 .speaker-JUQ} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Clark: -- Order! Tlie remarks of the Acting Leader of the Opposition are out of order. {: .speaker-KNX} ##### Mr HARRISON: -- Then I shall not proceed on that line. I have received telegrams from ex-servicemen's organizations protesting against the Minister's statement. **Mr. J.** R. Lewis, secretary of the New South Wales branch of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen's Imperial League of Australia sent the following communication : - >Kew South Wales branch of Returned Soldiers' League protests at Repatriation Minister's statement to-day *re* third member- {: #subdebate-16-0-s26 .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -- Order ! The Acting Leader of the Opposition should have discussed a matter of that kind during the second-reading debate. He is not entitled to discuss it on the third reading. {: .speaker-KNX} ##### Mr HARRISON: -- Am I not entitled to answer a statement which the Minister has made? {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -- On the motion for the third reading, an honorable member may refer to the report of the committee, but he is not entitled to engage in a general discussion of matters which should have been dealt with during the second-reading debate. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- The Acting Leader of the Opposition is directing attention to a statement which the Minister made in committee. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -- At this stage the Acting Leader of the Opposition is entitled to discuss only the report of the committee. **Mr. - HARRISON** - I place on record the fact .that the New South Wales branch of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen's Imperial League of Australia and the Tubercular Soldiers Association are protesting against the Minister's reference to a man in whom they have complete confidence. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -- The remarks of the Acting Leader of the Opposition are distinctly out of order. {: .speaker-KNX} ##### Mr Harrison: -- May I make a personal explanation? {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -- Yes, if it relates to this bill. {: .speaker-KNX} ##### Mr Harrison: -- The Minister for Repatriation, in his "reply, made a reflection on me. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -- Does the Acting Leader of the Opposition claim that he was misrepresented? He will not be in order in introducing newmatter. {: .speaker-KNX} ##### Mr Harrison: -- I have been misrepresented. I understand that while 1 was absent from the chamber this afternoon, the Minister made some reference to my war service. He made it in an indirect way, but honorable member.' could not have failed to draw the inference that he had me' in mind. The statement to which I take exception if that my war service was confined to a quartermaster's store. On a previous occasion, when another Minister made a similar statement, the Chairman, at my request, asked him to withdraw it. The Minister for Repatriation has seen fit to repeat the. statement, at least by implication. {: .speaker-JNX} ##### Mr Barnard: -- Did I mention thi name of the Acting Leader of the Opposition ? {: .speaker-KNX} ##### Mr Harrison: -- The Minister wa.not game to mention my name, but he implied that I had served in a quartermaster's store, and he used exactly the same terms as the other Minister employed on an earlier occasion. Therefore. I desire to inform the House that I was a gunnery sergeant- {: .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr Pollard: -- When did the honorable gentleman start? {: .speaker-KNX} ##### Mr Harrison: -- I did not fight anywhere but in the front line. I was not in a quartermaster's store, but I desire to say that the quartermasters of units, such as the one to which I was attached, were at least in the front line and did not take advantage of a coward's castle by remaining at home, as the Minister for Repatriation did. They were men. {: .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr Pollard: **Mr. Pollard** *interjecting,* {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -Order! This debate is getting entirely out of hand. The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture **(Mr. Pollard)** is engaging in an irregular debate, and the Acting Leader of the Opposition is getting beyond the bounds of a personal explanation. {: .speaker-JNX} ##### Mr Barnard: -- I rise to order. The remark by the Acting Leader of the Opposition that I had remained in a coward's castle is a reflection on my personal character and service in World War I., and is offensive to me. I ask that the remark be withdrawn. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- The Minister is getting ' touchy ". {: .speaker-KNX} ##### Mr Harrison: -- If the remark is offensive to the Minister, I withdraw it, but the fact remains that I served in World War I., and, during that period, my family suffered severely, and so did [ by fighting to help preserve the conditions which the Minister enjoys to-day. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -Order ! The Acting Leader of the Opposition must not proceed on that line. {: .speaker-KNX} ##### Mr Harrison: -- I want to make it. clear to the Minister- {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -- Order ! The honorable gentleman is not entitled to do so. {: .speaker-JNX} ##### Mr Barnard: -- My statement got under the honorable gentleman's skin. {: .speaker-KNX} ##### Mr Harrison: -- A lying statement can always get under the skin of an honest man. {: .speaker-JNX} ##### Mr Barnard: -- I rise to order. The remark by the Acting Leader of the Opposition that I had made a lying statement is offensive to me, and I ask that it he withdrawn. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -- I ask the Acting Leader of the Opposition to withdraw the remark, and apologize. {: .speaker-KNX} ##### Mr Harrison: -- In deference to you, **Mr. Deputy Speaker,** I withdraw the statement. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -- And apologize. {: .speaker-KNX} ##### Mr Harrison: -- Why must I apologize? {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -- The Acting Leader of the Opposition must apologize. {: .speaker-KNX} ##### Mr Harrison: -- I apologize to the Chair for the statement which I made. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -- I shall leave the matter there. **Mr. Harrison.** - The Minister attempted to rouse me by interjecting. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -Order! The apology must not be qualified. **Mr. Harrison.** - I am not qualifying it. The Minister caused me to make that remark by interjecting about a certain matter. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -- Order .' The Acting Leader of the Opposition i? trying to engage in a dog fight. He has made his personal explanation, and I ask him to resume his sent. Question resolved in the affirmative. Bill read a third time. {: .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr Pollard: -- **Mr. Deputy Speaker,** I was on my feet before the bill was read a third time. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -Order! The bill has been read a third time. I ask the Minister to resume his seat. {: .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr Pollard: -- I am not going to be sat down by you when I was on my feet before the bill was read a third time. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -- Order ! {: .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr Pollard: -- You, **Mr. Deputy Speaker,** know that I was on my feet. {: #subdebate-16-0-s27 .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY" SPEAKER: -Order ! The Minister will apologize to the Chair for that remark. {: .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr Pollard: -- I apologize. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -- The Minister will resume his seat. {: .page-start } page 1910 {:#debate-17} ### SALES TAX (EXEMPTIONS AND CLASSIFICATIONS) BILL 1948 {:#subdebate-17-0} #### Second Reading Debate resumed from the Sth September *(vide* page 257), on motion by **Mr. Chifley** - >That the bill be now read a second time. {: #subdebate-17-0-s0 .speaker-KNX} ##### Mr HARRISON:
Acting Leader of the Opposition · Wentworth -- Before I analyse the concessions which will be granted under this bill, I propose to examine the peculiar history of the sales tax in Australia. If honorable members take their minds back to 1930, when sales tax legislation was first introduced, and note what was then intended, they will realize that we have progressed far in exacting this form of indirect taxation in ever-increasing sums from the unfortunate and unthinking taxpayer. Let me quote what was said by the then Prime Minister, the right honorable member for Yarra **(Mr. Scullin),** as recorded in *Hansard,* volume 126 for 1930, at page 4935 when the original bill was introduced. The honorable member for Moreton **(Mr. Francis)** had asked whether the sales tax legislation was to be temporary, and the then Prime Minister replied - lt lias been introduced because of the state of Com mon wealth finances. How long it will operate I cannot say. 1 do not assert that it is temporary or emergency legislation. The legislation was introduced in a time of emergency during the economic depression, and the tax imposed in those halcyon days was a mere 2J per cent. We have progressed a long way since then. Indeed, in this year of grace, 1948, when the country is at peace, and the national coffers are overflowing, when prosperity, reckoned in terms of pounds, shillings and pence, is greater than it has ever been, sales tax on some items is as high as 25 per cent. The then Prime Minister continued - >The Government hopes that in the course nf time the rates may be reduced and the exemptions increased. Decreased from *2* per cent. ! We know, of course, that the rates have been progressively increased. He continued - >In a full year, we expect to collect £0,230,000. This year the estimate is £5,000,000, allowing for the loss of revenue for approximately two months, a month's delay in applying the tax, and certain extensions of time. The demand at that time was very modest, and yet the Prime Minister of the day visualized that the rates would he reduced and exemptions granted. In the course of the debate on that first bill, the present Treasurer **(Mr. Chifley)** had this to say - >Members of the Labour party realize that the imposition of increased taxation is un- I >al a t il bie. I ask honorable members to reconcile that statement with his attitude to-day. He went on - >The indirect taxation which the people have been paying for years through the Customs Department has not been noticed by them, and r venture to say that twelve months hence the ordinary retail purchaser of goods will not realize that he is paying sales tax. " The Treasurer is to-day applying exactly the same technique that he approved in 1930. He has not changed one iota. His attitude has always been that the public will forget that they are paying indirect taxation, so there is no need to worry about them. Indirect taxes are camouflaged in the price of the goods, so that the Government may with impunity wring from the public millions of pounds in this way. He continued - 1 do not view with pleasure, either thi- necessity for, or the application of, this tax. Well, let him' apply that sentiment to the present situation. If he wishes to make some concession of a worthwhile nature, let him do so, because it is obvious that the finances of the country could stand it. However, in 1930, the Treasurer was merely rendering lip service to the cause of low taxation, and he does the same now. I quote further from his speech as follows : - >I do not deny that a large portion of this tax will finally he borne by the great mass of the people. A little earlier, however, he comforted himself with the thought that they would quickly forget all about it, so there was no need to worry. {: .speaker-A48} ##### Mr Chifley: -- Was I right? {: .speaker-KNX} ##### Mr HARRISON: -- I do not agree thai the right honorable gentleman is right. 1 believe that the people are " taking a tumble " to this form of indirect taxation. They are not likely to forget what sales tax means to them. This was made evident at the triennial conference of the Labour party in Canberra on the 30th September of this year. Honorable members will be interested to learn that the rank and file of the Labour party have not forgotten the sales tax. They know how it bears on them. The conference recommended that plank 6 of the Labour party platform should read, " Sales tax to be abolished ". Therefore, if the Treasurer still thinks that the people will forget about sales tax, he is out of step with the members of his party. Let us now consider the position that has arisen since 1930, when the rate of sales tax was *2* per cent., and the total annual collections about £5,000,000. Those were the lovely bygone days! {: .speaker-A48} ##### Mr Chifley: -- They are bygone, but they were not lovely. {: .speaker-KNX} ##### Mr HARRISON: -- In his recent budget speech, the Treasurer said that it was proposed to grant concessions of indirect taxation amounting to £475,000 for a full year, or £350,000 for the remainder of the present financial year. The bill now before the House has been introduced to give effect to that purpose, Indirect taxation makes a major contribution to the national revenue. For the financial year 1943-44, which was the peak year for war expenditure, no less than £97,000,000 was collected in indirect taxation. In this year of peace, the estimated yield from indirect taxation is £153,000,000, or £56,000,000 more than was collected during the height of the war. In 1943-44, sales tax yielded approximately £28,000,000. This tax bears with equal severity upon people on low incomes and those on high incomes. In 1931, only £5,000,000 was collected in sales tax; in 1943-44, the amount had increased to £28,000,000, and it is estimated that, for the present financial year, the yield will be £38,000,000. Yet the Treasurer claim.?, that the Government has granted concessions. Estimates of revenue from sales tax have always been on the conservative side. For the last financial year,, it was estimated that the tax would yield £29,000,000, or £3 16s. 2d. per head of population. It is necessary to express the yield in terms of so much per head, so that the people may realize just how much they are contributing in this form of indirect taxation. Although the tax was estimated to yield £29,000,000, actual collections were ap. proximately £35,000,000, or £4 lis. a head. All forms of indirect taxation were estimated last year to yield £131,000,000, but the actual yield was £150,000,000, or an extra £19,000,000. This amount, by a strange coincidence, represents the bulk of the amount of income tax concessions granted by the Government. It is quite on the cards that the estimate of sales tax revenue for this year will also prove conservative, and that for the financial year 1948-49 the amount collected will exceed £38,000,000, with the amount per head approaching £5. This amount will be collected irrespective of the standard of living of the persons who have to pay. The claim that the Government has been generous in granting tax concessions is therefore not supported by facts. The Treasurer proposes to return to the public only a small proportion of the £6,000,000 which sales tax yielded over and above the estimate. For this financial year, he expects that the tax will yield at least £3,000,000 more than it yielded last year. For the first few months of this year, sales tax yielded over £1,000,000 more than the estimated return for the period, so that he has already recovered much more than the amount of £350,000 which, under this bill, it is proposed to remit, and this notwithstanding the fact that the return from sales tax is increasing all the time. Indeed, that must inevitably he the case. The withdrawal of subsidies automatically increased prices, and a = prices increase the yield from sales tax must also increase. In the circumstances, one would have thought that the Treasurer would have made a real concession tei the lower income groups by substantially reducing sales tax, thus doing something effective to keep down the cost of living. In fact, worthwhile reductions in sala? tax would have a material effect in keeping the living costs down, especially in view of the Government's withdrawal from the field of price stabilization toy discontinuing subsidies amounting to about £26,000,000. I think I quoted that figure a little while ago as being a little over the amount by which the Treasurer **(Mr. Chifley)** is reducing income tax payments. Subsidies were originally introduced as part of the Government's policy to keep prices down. That has been said time and again. However, now that the Government is stepping out of the subsidy field, that amount will of necessity be added to the cost of living. The amounts of the subsidy will still have to be paid, but with this difference, that they will be paid by the people who will be taxed on higher margins than when subsidies were paid by the Government. Now, the poor man will pay as much for his potatoes, for example, as the rich man. The subsidy is being withdrawn from that necessary and essential article of food. Formerly the rich man, by way of increased taxation, contributed towards the subsidies. Now he is no longer contributing towards them, and is paying exactly the same for the potatoes he consumes as does the poor man, who did not contribute in any great measure before towards the subsidies. Indeed the poor man will be paying much more for that commodity, because in the main he is a man with a much larger family than the rich man, and the increased price of this essential commodity will constitute an added drain on his resources, and so increase his cost of living. Previously, the cost of price stabilization was borne by Consolidated Revenue. The rich man paid on a rising scale, and made a major contribution to the maintenance of price stabilization. Now, however, both rich and poor man alike will pay higher prices for commodities on which subsidies have been withdrawn. The amount of £26,000,000 which was formerly provided for price subsidies represents a cost of about £3 a head of population. Sales tax concessions amounting to £350,000 represent only about ls. a head of population. Honorable members will therefore see that the public will have to pay more in sales tax than they have been paying. I cannot see where the concession comes in. It is obvious that a serious price rise will result from the removal of these subsidies, and therefore indirect tax concessions necessary to offset the increased cost can only be countered by one or both of two methods which I shall outline. The first is by a decrease in both direct and indirect taxation. By that I do not mean a decrease that will ultimately result in the Treasurer obtaining greater revenue from that gesture, but a genuine reduction that will give back to the people more than the Government is likely to take from them from the same source of revenue. The second .is by an increase in productive efficiency, so that unit costs of production will fall, and increased costs will be absorbed. One is complementary to the other. That gets us back to the remedy suggested by the Opposition time and again, which is the necessity for a reduction df taxation in order to create an incentive to produce. It has frequently been emphasized, both inside and outside of this chamber, that the best immigrant this country could possibly have is the young Aus- tralian. Ways and means have been dovised of helping prospective mothers and encouraging larger families, by making" reductions in income tax. The Government also pays maternity allowances and child endowment, and extraordinarily large sums are being paid out to try toattract immigrants to this country. With revenue surpluses on almost every hand, I contend that the Government could have provided some incentive to young couples to marry and set up homes, with the ultimate prospect of their bringing young Australians into the world. In this measure, which should be correlated with all the other actions it is taking, the Government has not made even a gesture in that direction. Such a gesture could have taken the form of a really helpful sales tax concession. The Government could have removed sales tax on furniture and other articles which go to make a home. But, unfortunately, the sales tax remains on those articles. The difficulties associated with home building are bad enough, but the position is accentuated because the full sales tax has not been lifted on all of the things which go into the home when constructed. {: .speaker-A48} ##### Mr Chifley: -- Sales tax has been lifted from 95 per cent, of those things. {: .speaker-KNX} ##### Mr HARRISON: -- A house does not consist only of walls and a roof. It is the things which are contained in the house to make it comfortable that matter. {: .speaker-A48} ##### Mr Chifley: -- A house is not necessarily a home. {: .speaker-KNX} ##### Mr HARRISON: -- The Government has an opportunity now to make every house a home for the young people. Young couples, who are embarking on married life, in addition to having to pay exorbitant prices to get their homes built, must pay sales tax on their bedroom suites, the mattresses on which they will sleep, the tables and chairs that they will use, and the knives and forks that they will use when having their meals. They will also have to pay sales tax on the ice chests or refrigerators in which .they will keep their food, and the pots and pans in which they will cook their meals. They must also pay sales tax on the linoleum for their floors, the Venetian blinds for their windows, and even the soap containers and rubber mats that they require. All of those things are essential and necessary in a home. The happiness, harmony, and satisfaction of young couples would mean far more to this country in the long run than the obtaining by the Government of even hundreds of thousands of pounds by way of sales tax on these commodities. To he thankful for small mercies is an old virtue which undoubtedly merits present-day application. As a result of the ever-rising aggregate collections from this vicious indirect tax, the Government lias magnanimously decided to remove from the taxable list a number of items. An examination of that list would no doubt cause surprise to the average Australian housewife. I doubt very much whether the majority of people who purchase those items have any idea of the amount that they are thereby contributing to the Treasury coffers. I recollect that on one occasion the Prime Minister said, in relation to sales tax on those items, that the people will forget that they are paying sales tax. I remind honorable members that sales tax has been lifted on baby napkins, 'baby bags, infant binders, eye -hades, hair nets, shawls, scarfs, mittens, muffs, waders, and other similar articles, hut it has been retained on household furniture. No logic has been applied in this connexion. Out of the fullness of its heart and its pocket, the Government has decided to remove the items I have enumerated from the list of items on which sales tax is payable. Tt is interesting to consider certain items which will still be subject to sales tax. I shall cite only a few which affect the struggling housewife. Sales tax remains on domestic floor cloths, polishing cloths, serviettes made of paper, tea cosies, and towels made of paper. These are items which are used every day in the average household, and yet out of every shilling spent on them, the Treasurer takes 3d. Not by any stretch of the imagination could it be suggested that that is helping housewives and war widows, .who are working on meagre domestic budgets, successfully te negotiate the economic difficulties attendant on rising costs. I shall now draw the attention of honorable members to the existence of another grievance in respect of which no remedial provision is made in the bill now under consideration. Cosmetics which have become an accepted part of the lives of our womenfolk, and can no longer he regarded as being in the luxury class,, are still to lie subject to sales tax. This will be a burden on a vast army of housewives, business girls, female factory workers, and shop assistants, and practically all other sections of women in the community. The remarks I am about to make in this connexion will prove that the women and girls of Australia are being taxed heavily by this Government every time they use powder puffs or apply glamorous lipsticks. Cosmetics, which are listed in the Third Schedule to the act, are subject; to sales tax of 25 per cent. In other words, for every fi paid by Australian women for cosmetics, they receive only 15s. worth of those goods ; the remaining 5s. goes into the Government's pool to help to finance its extravagant and wasteful expenditure. I can assure the Government that if the Australian women knew that when they bought four lipsticks, in effect the Prime Minister took one, they would be very concerned. I do not suggest that many of them would object to **Mr. Chifley** improving his appearance by the use of lipstick, but they would resent being denied value for their hard-earned money. I trust that members on the Government side of the House will take due notice of the anomalies associated with the sales tax. The Government takes from all of the people who purchase essentials still subject to sales tax some amount of taxation. I contend that if there is a genuine intention on the part of the Government to give some redress to the people who contribute to this form of indirect taxation, sales tax concession? should be reviewed, The Treasurer should tell us what he meant when he said, in days gone by. that it was unfortunate that it was necessary to impose this tax. He should also take notice of the resolution of the triennial conference of his own political party. Therefore, in order to afford the Prime Minister an opportunity of remedying the position T move - That all words after "That" be left out, with a view to insert in lion thereof the followin? words: - "the bill be withdrawn and redrafted for the purpose of correcting grave anomalies ill thu present, and proposed incidence of sales tax in order to provide adequate relief to persons with family responsibilities and to protect the healthy and economic . conditions of family groups". That is in complete accord with the resolution that was passed by the triennial conference, which advocated the complete abolition of sales tax. Honorable members on this side of the House are prepared to ask the Prime Minister to make the concessions to the family unit for which I have asked and to help him to give effect in part to the resolution to which I have referred. Because honorable members opposite are anxious to secure pre-selection, I have- no doubt that we shall find them rising manfully in their places to support the resolution of that conference. If they do so, the people who have been oppressed for so long by these taxes may at last receive fair treatment at the hands of the Treasurer. {: #subdebate-17-0-s1 .speaker-F4T} ##### Mr FADDEN:
Leader of the Australian Country party · Darling Downs -- The bill that is now before the House is similar to one that was introduced as a temporary means of raising revenue in II 931. Like the poor, this pernicious but easy method of raising revenue is still with us. The estimated collections of sales tax for 194S-49 are assessed at the record figure of £3S,000,000. Collections for the first three months of the current year have totalled £9,740,000. Consequently, the estimate of £38,000,000 for the full year will probably he exceeded. Total sales tax collections, from the inception of the tax in 1930-31, by all previous Treasurers amounted to £105,600,000. By the close of the financial year 1947-48, the present Treasurer had collected. £217,800,000 in sales tax, or more than twice as much as all previous Treasurers combined. "When the present estimate of £38,000,000 is added to that figure, the amount that will have been collected by the end of the financial year 1948-49 will be the colossal <um of £250,000,000. The accumulation of this vast total has naturally had a serious effect upon the budget of the average Australian household. Sales tax is a flat rate tax. A married man with children has to pay just as heavily and at the same rate as an individual with no family responsibilities. Having regard to the size of his family, a married man with children will pay more in the aggregate than a man with no family, and therefore, his standard of living and that of his family will have been reduced to a greater extent. There are no means of avoiding sales tax because it is imposed on many necessaries that the family man must, purchase if his family is not to live in unhealthy squalor and want. Anomalies, have been pointed out to the Government from time to time, but little or no effort has been made to rectify them. The sales tax legislation is as full of anomalies a9 a colander is of holes. At a time when the Government hopes, as a result of what is described as a vigorous immigration policy, to increase the population of this country, it neglects the necessity to maintain and improve the standard of living of the people who are already here. The basis of the home life of Australia is the engagement ring, but, in his grasping way, the Treasurer has imposed a tax of 5s. in the £1 on these articles, the cost of which may average about £20. Consequently, young couples who become engaged commence their engagement by contributing £5 to the Treasury. A tax of 5s. in the £1 is imposed on wedding rings, and when the bridegroom buys one he contributes another 10s. to the Treasury. Thus, the Treasurer has, in effect, imposed a marriage tax of 10s., although the coffers of the Treasury are overflowing. When we come to the first child, we find that the Treasurer is present in the nursery with his sales tax of 2s. in the £1 on baby soap and baby powder, both of which are necessaries where there is a young and growing family. It seems anomalous that the sales tax on diamond wrist watches is only 2s. in the £1, whilst that on engagement rings and wedding rings is 5s. in the £1. It is also anomalous that dog soap has no sales tax imposed upon it, while baby soap attracts a tax of 2s. in the £1. Tooth paste, washing soap, soap powders, dusters and dish cloths are essential aids to cleanliness and to the maintenance of healthy living standards, yet they are all subject to sale9 tax at the rate of 2s. in the £1. Surely prevention Ls better than cure in this case as in others. Is it not ridiculous that the Government should spend tens of millions of pounds on social services, and at the same time place a heavy tax on essential aids to a healthy existence ? We are told that Australian babies are the best immigrants, but even the smallest of these babies contributes his mite to the Treasurer's swollen sales tax coffers. Every time a child gets a toy, a birthday party cap, sweets or an ice cream, the Treasurer is there to take his 2s. in the £1 on the transaction. These may not be regarded as strict necessaries, but is there any parent who would allow his child to grow up through a toyless and partyless childhood, or without some indulgence in sweets- or ice cream? It is only those of us who have experienced the intense happiness that children get from the simple pleasures, who can appreciate the official niggardliness that taxes them so severely. Large areas of Australia are subject to climatic conditions in which foodstuffs must be kept cool if they are not to become a menace to health. Those who can afford refrigerators are fortunate in that there is no sales tax on an active refrigerant, such as electricity. However, there are hundreds of thousands of people whose financial position does allow them to spend £100 upon a refrigerator. These people spend a few pounds upon an ice chest, and they purchase ice daily in the summer months. On every block of ice that they purchase, the grasping hand of the Treasurer takes 2s. in the £1 as sales tax. Although basic foodstuffs are exempt, sales tax is imposed upon the ice that is necessary to keep food in a fit state for human consumption. The Government's policy is to provide free stomach powder for the person who becomes ill through having eaten contaminated food, but it imposes a heavy tax upon the commodity that would have obviated the illness in the first place.' Another anomaly that demands immediate rectification is the 2s. in the £1 sales tax on wildflowers and wild ferns. It has been represented to me that in many areas, and especially in parts of my own State, country children make a little pocket money by picking and selling wild Christmas bells, ferns and other plants. Believe it or not, children have had demands served upon them for the payment of 10 per cent, tax on these sales. Cultivated flowers such as roses and orchids can he sold at high prices, but no sales tax whatever is payable on them.. Ten per cent, of the amount for which children sell their wildflowers is only a few shillings, but it is proposed that those few shillings shall be extracted from them. The Treasurer would surely not regard smoking as a luxury. If ever he subscribed to the view that it- should be dispensed with, he would have more strikes on his hands than he could manage. Not content with imposing heavy excise duties on cigarette papers and matches, the right, honorable gentleman also imposes sales tax on these two items, which most men regard as necessities. When we endeavour to get a little rest at night and to forget the taxes that are extracted from us by the grasping hands of the Treasurer, whose security officers are all around us, what do we find? The mattresses and pillows on our beds are subject to a sales tax of 2s. in the £1. These items are indispensable in the normal household, and they are expensive enough already without having sales tax superimposed on the retail price. Some relief will certainly 'be afforded by this legislation, but who would say that the housewife with a growing family will benefit from the new exemptions that are imposed? Kilts are to he exempted from the payment of sales tax. Probably the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction **(Mr. Dedman),** or perhaps I should say, the Minister for Post-war Redestruction, is responsible for that exemption. Spats and waders are also to be exempted from sales tax. What a magnificent relief will thereby be given to the average Australian family man ! Honorable members can imagine how relieved he must be to he informed that kilts, spats, puggarees, puttees and waders are to be exempted from sales tax! Many articles that are subject to sales tax and other indirect taxes continue to rise in price, thus adding to the inflationary spiral. Among these are tobacco, soap powders and so on. As the revenue can certainly afford a reduction of these taxes, it would be much sounder economically if the price increases were absorbed by reducing or eliminating the indirect taxes on these items. There would then be no need for sharp increases in the basic wage to cover their higher costs. The whole administration of sale3 tax in this country is a farce. The anomalies that exist are too glaring to escape the notice of a responsible Treasurer, and the time has arrived when they should be rectified. The place at which to start is the base, and the base of social justice is the homelife of a community. The Government has ignored factors that contribute to increases of the cost of living and a consequent deterioration of the living conditions of Australian families. The bill should be withdrawn and re-drafted on a sensible basis having regard to our economic requirements and the indispensable need for an improvement of the home life and health of the community. {: #subdebate-17-0-s2 .speaker-JTF} ##### Mr BURKE:
Perth .- I am glad indeed to see the awakening consciousness of honorable members opposite to the inequities of indirect taxation. When this Government is able to abolish the sales tax we shall expect to have their full support even though, from then onwards, greater reliance must be placed on direct taxes as a means of financing the cost of government. It is true, as honorable members opposite have said, that of the various forms of indirect taxes the sales tax bears most heavily on those in the lower income ranges. The proportion of sales tax paid to the total income received by those in higher income brackets is considerably less than in the case of people on the lower income ranges. For that reason we hope that we shall ultimately be able to abolish the sales tax altogether. This Government has made progressive reductions of sales tax from time to time, removing the tax from items which made the greatest impact upon the family budget. These are the items to which the Government has first directed its attention. When the Leader of the Australian Country party **(Mr. Fadden)** was Treasurer he introduced most of the complexities into our sales tax legislation by establishing three different rates of sales tax. He said at Ihe time that it was better to increase the revenue by that method than by increasing the overall tax rate. Whether that method was or was not the better of the two is open to considerable doubt. Certainly it has created many complexities and, to say the least, its beneficial results have been doubtful. I shall deal in detail later with the specific items which the right honorable gentleman has referred to as constituting anomalies in our sales tax legislation. Foi- the time being the Government accepts the sales tax as one of the least desirable forms of taxation. It also accepts the fundamental principle of the Labour movement that greater reliance should be placed on direct taxation as a means of financing the country's needs. That principle has been endorsed not only by the Labour movement - although it is- true that it was first spotlighted by the Labour movement - but also by every public inquiry that has been held into the subject of taxation throughout the world. The inquiry in Great Britain presided over by Lord Colwyn pointed out that reliance on indirect taxation by governments throughout the world could only be regarded as a carry-over from the time when the knowledge of income tax, its effect and its equity, was not so well known as it is to-day. The views of Labour governments and of the Labour movement on this subject have been endorsed by public inquiries throughout the world. Direct taxes have always been resisted by honorable members opposite and thenconservative and tory friends throughout the world. They have always argued that the revenues of any country should be made up partly by direct and partly by indirect taxes. It is generally suggested that the proportions should be equal, though some have said that as much as 60 per cent, of the national income should be provided by indirect taxes. I welcome the more enlightened views expressed today by honorable members opposite. When, at some future time the Labour Government proposes to abolish the sales tax I trust that they will give the proposal their whole-hearted support. *Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.* {: .speaker-JTF} ##### Mr BURKE: -- On previous occasions and again to-day, honorable members opposite have described the abolition of the sales tax as one of their principal objectives. I direct attention to that statement because I recognize that the Treasurer **(Mr. Chifley),** when considering a reduction of taxes, must choose between reducing direct taxes and reducing indirect taxes. If the Government is able to forgo revenue totalling £37,000,000 a year, it must decide whether to grant that relief by a reduction of income tax or by abolishing sales tax. Frankly, I prefer the reduction of sales tax before any further major reductions of income tax are made. The Leader of the Australian Country party **(Mr. Fadden)** criticized what he described as the grasping nature of the Treasurer regarding sales tax. From time to time, we hear similar speeches in this chamber, and I have also seen in the press statements and graphs indicating i hat the Treasurer is continuing a form nf sales tax which it is stated he has personally introduced since he came into office in 1941. If honorable members will examine the history of sales tax in Australia, they will discover that that opinion is not correct. The Leader of the Australian Country party, when Treasurer in 1940, made the following statement : - >After a careful examination of various SUK . qestions, the Government is convinced that the present form of sales taxation is to he preferred to tax of any other type yet tried out in the various countries of the world. Evidently, the right honorable gentleman considered that sales tax which he imposed had better features than sales tax which the present Treasurer has imposed since 1941. The Leader of the Australian Country party also stated, in 1940 - ft is now proposed to enlarge the field of poods subject to taxation and to classify thu goods included into three sections according to the urgency of the needs they satisfy. In the section it' is proposed to levy differential rates of tax at 5, 10 and 1.5 per cent, respectively. In this way more revenue van be raised without increasing heavily the taxation on more essential goods. That is the important point. The Leader of the Australian Country party, when Treasurer, applied sales tax to a wide range of goods. He stated, in fact, that the Government would achieve an increase of revenue by - bringing back into the taxable field goods, al present exempt, nf an estimated value ot' £47,000,000. Those goods, he pointed out, would, with one exception, bear tax at the relatively low rate of 5 per cent. That statement shows clearly that the Labour Government inherited a legacy from the anti-Labour Government. The Leader of the Australian Country party was, first, the Treasurer in and later the Leader of that Administration. The right honorable gentleman substantially increased the number of items subject to sales tax, and, in the circumstances, he should not object when this Government exempts a number of articles. The right honorable gentleman pointed to certain anomalies. While sales tax is levied, anomalies will be inevitable. He cited several classic examples to prove his observation that the present Treasurer had a grasping nature and imposed extortionate rates of tax. He specifically mentioned sales tax on ice which, he said, was used to preserve food, thereby saving wastage. He emphasized that ice was used for that purpose by people in the lower ranges of income. I was interested to read what the right honorable gentleman said about the same item in 1940. The former member for Capricornia, **Mr. Forde,** directed attention to the fact that ice was subject to sales tax, and asked the right honorable gentleman to exempt it. The Leader of the Australian Country party replied - >Sales of ice amount to about £840,000 per annum. Whilst the request of the Deputy 1'ji-nder of the Opposition **(Mr. Forde)** will receive serious consideration, 1 remind him that if wu exempt a number of items each of similar magnitude we shall derive no revenue > >M.fc all from sales tax. The Leader of the Australian Country party also pointed out this afternoon that baby soap was subject to sales tax whilst, dog soap was exempt. The right honorable gentleman was not even original in directing attention to that anomaly. He must have recalled a question which the honorable member for Werriwa **(Mr. Lazzarini)** directed to him in his capacity of Treasurer on the 14th March, 1941. as follows: - >Will the Treasurer inform the House why the undertaking given during the passage of > >Mk- recent sides tax legislation, that the Government would annul the provision whereby children's, medicine is subject to sales tax, and dogs' medicine is not, has not been carried out? The Leader of the Australian Country party then replied - 1 cannot remember whether such an undertaking waa given. This afternoon, however, the Leader of the Australian Country party complained that the retention of sales tax on baby soap, whilst dogs' soap was exempt, was a serious anomaly. The simple fact is that articles which are still subject to sales tax were subject to sales tax when the right honorable gentleman was Treasurer. The anomaly which exists to-day in regard to baby soap existed when he was Treasurer. How can he sincerely declare that the Government is remiss in regard to sales tax when he was responsible for the imposition of the levy on many items ? {: .speaker-009MB} ##### Mr McEwen: -- What are the honorable member's views? {: .speaker-JTF} ##### Mr BURKE: -- I shall explain my views to the satisfaction of the honorable member for Indi **(Mr. McEwen)** at. a later stage. Reference to *Hansard* of the 5 th December, 1940, will reveal that the present Minister for External Affairs **(Dr. Evatt),** when a member of the Opposition, asked the Leader of the Australian Country party whether he had reached a decision about representations which had been made to him in connexion with the proposals to levy sales tax on cd nea tiona! books and books published in Australia. The right honorable gentleman replied definitely "No". **Mr. Deputy Speaker, Mr. Clark,** also asked thu following question: - >Has the Treasurer received a communication with reference to made-to-measure clothing, mid the basis nf computing sales tax upon it, which results in a (if) per cent, increase nf the tax on this class of clothing V The right honorable gentleman replied that he had no recollection of having received such a communication. However, the right honorable gentleman's attitude towards sales tax in 1940 did not deter him this afternoon from making charges against the Treasurer for continuing the sales tax. The Leader of the Australian Country party was responsible for bringing hundreds of articles into the sales tax net, and increasing the complexity of the legislation by introducing new classifications. This Government, which inherited a complex act, from the anti-Labour government, has approached the problem in a sensible manner, lt has gradually reduced the sales tax, and, from time to time, has exempted important articles which have a direct bearing on family budgets. The Commissioner of Taxation, in his twentyseventh report, pointed out that further substantial relief from sales tax had been granted by the Government on the 5th November, 1946. He set out a long list, of items which had been exempted, and others on which the rate of tax had beer reduced. In this debate, members of the Opposition have endeavoured to mislead the public. They have claimed that they are opposed to the imposition of sales tax which, they have said, this Government has introduced. Reference to *Hansard,* however, will show that the anti-Labour government in which the Leader of the Australian Country party was Treasurer widened the field of goods subject to sales tax. As some honorable members opposite may still disagree with my remarks, I shall quote another statement by the Leader of the Australian Country party. It is as follows : - >For many years it has been a principle of sales tax to exempt from it as far as possible the necessaries of life and goods used in primary production. To that principle my Government adheres. It has not been possible to carry out the principle in its entirety because of the practical difficulties encountered in separating necessary goods from other goods in certain groups, such as clothing. However, these exceptions hare been kept to a minimum. The right honorable gentleman, who was guilty of the actions which he has alleged against this Government, also pointed out why anomalies must exist. It is impossible to specify that some articles shall be subject to tax whilst similar articles shall bc exempt. The Treasurer must work in broad classifications, and while sales tax is imposed, many anomalies and hardships must result. The Leader of the Australian Country party cited a classic example when he referred to sales tax on rings. There can be a difference of opinion as to whether engagement or wedding rings are a luxury, but any attempt to make a classification of rings would be too complex. I believe that the Government, in the time at its disposal since the cessation of hostilities, has acted wisely in reducing sales tax. Before the outbreak of World War II. it was a widely held belief in ' conservative circles that there should be a roughandready relation between income from indirect and direct taxes. That opinion, I am glad to see, has been abandoned, because to-day honorable members opposite have demanded that sales tax be abolished immediately. The Labour Government is aiming at that objective. A few years ago, indirect taxes represented about 60 per cent, of governmental revenue, and returns from direct taxes accounted for the remaining 40 per cent. To-day, that position has been reversed. That policy indicates the Government's sound approach to the problem on the basis of equity. When the situation has been favorable, the Government has exempted many articles from sale9 tax. A big proportion of materials required in the erection of homes, and for the internal fitting of homes has been granted exemption. Generally, the Government has also broadened the field of exemptions and reduced the rate of tax on various items by transferring them from one schedule to another. When the time is opportune, the Government will give effect to the desires of the Labour movement and abolish the sales tax. Then the choice will have to be made whether remissions of income tax amounting to £37,000,000 shall he granted, thus directly benefiting those in receipt of the larger incomes, or whether sales tax should be abolished. I believe that, even if the choice lay between the abolition of sales tax and the reduction of income tax, the Opposition would still clamour for the reduction of income tax. I am of opinion that sales tax rates should be progressively decreased as circumstances permit. The public has not forgotten that sales tax rates were heavily increased by anti-Labour governments, and it also realizes that it is the policy of this Government to reduce the rates as much as possible. While I do not condemn anti-Labour governments for having widened the field of sales tax, and increased the rate, it is politically dishonest for Opposition members, having agreed to those things being done, to blame the Labour Government now for the existence of sales tax. {: .speaker-KX7} ##### Mr Ward: -- It is hypocritical. {: .speaker-JTF} ##### Mr BURKE: -- Yes, and it does not deceive the people or win votes for the Opposition parties. It merely brings discredit upon them. {: #subdebate-17-0-s3 .speaker-L0G} ##### Mr RYAN:
Flinders .- Sales tax was introduced some years ago during a time, of emergency. At that time, the rate was low, and the understanding was that the tax should remain in operation for only a limited time. However, like the petrol tax, it has continued, and the rate has 'been steadily increased. I agree with the honorable member for Perth **(Mr. Burke)** that sales tax is wrong in principle. It is an oppressive tax in that it penalizes those in receipt of low incomes. Moreover, the sales tax legislation is full of anomalies, as was pointed out by the right honorable member for Darling Downs **(Mr. Fadden).** It is time the anomalies were removed. Finally, sales tax has the effect of increasing the cost of living. It is true, as the Treasurer **(Mr. Chifley)** pointed out, that the tax has been removed from many of the necessaries of life, but it is still collected on some articles in. common use. On some of them it is as high as 25 per cent. {: #subdebate-17-0-s4 .speaker-K0K} ##### Mr CONELAN: -- Which are they? {: .speaker-L0G} ##### Mr RYAN: -- Furniture is one, and some articles of clothing are also taxed. When the honorable member for Perth said that we on this side of the House were seeking the immediate abolition of sales tax, he obviously misunderstood the purport of the amendment moved by the Acting Leader of the Opposition **(Mr. Harrison).** The amendment merely asks that the bill be withdrawn and redrafted so as to remove certain anomalies. I do not believe that sales tax should be totally abolished at this time, but I believe that we should get rid of it as quickly as possible. When sales tax legislation . was being discussed last year, I asked for a reduction of rates on two items. The first was trailers used for the carriage of goods on farms and grazing properties, but my request was not acceded to. 'The second item was photo frames. The amount of tax collected on photo frames is not great, but there happens to be in my electorate a firm manufacturing such frames, many of which are in-' tended for export. I showed the Treasurer one of the frames with a photograph in it, and he appreciated the beauty of the subject. {: .speaker-K0K} ##### Mr Conelan: -- Was she nice? {: .speaker-L0G} ##### Mr RYAN: -- She was very nice, indeed. The Treasurer said that he hoped sales tax on photo frames would be removed. When he was delivering his recent budget speech, he departed for a moment from the prepared text, and said - >The honorable member for Flinders will be pleased that sales tax on photo frames will be removed. Of course, I was pleased, and acknowledged the Treasurer's announcement. When I returned to my electorate, I told the manufacturer of photo frames that the Treasurer had decided to abolish sales tax on the frames. He was very pleased, and consulted sales tax officials in Melbourne about it. He was then informed by the officials that what I had told him was wrong, and that he would still have to pay sales tax. It appears that the tax had been removed from certain kinds of photo frames, but the kind which he manufactured were made of nickel, and were not exempted from tax. Naturally, I' felt let down. I had been misled by the Treasurer, who had, himself, apparently, misunderstood the advice given to him by officials. It was unbecoming that he should have been placed in the position of having misled a member of the Parliament, who, in turn, misled one of his constituents. I interviewed the Treasurer on the subject, and was told that the tax could not be removed from nickel photo frames because if it were, firms manufacturing other nickel articles would want to1 know why sales tax was not removed from their products, also. I recognize that the removal of the tax from photo frames might create an anomaly, but there are already so many anomalies in the administration of sales tax legislation that another one would not matter. For instance, I note in the document which has been placed before ns that section 127 carries a heading, Blankets, Bunny Rugs and Travelling Rugs ". They will continue to be taxed at the rate of 25 per cent., but among goods to be exempt from taxation are cuddle rugs. I have not the slightest idea what cuddle rugs are for. I can imagine what they might be used for, but, personally, I have never found it necessary to use a rug for that purpose. If a cuddle rug is to be exempt, why not a travelling rug; and if a travelling rug is to be exempt, why not a bunny rug? I suggest that the Treasurer, who, I am certain, dislikes letting people down, should review my application, and honour his undertaking that sales tax be remitted on photo frames. If it cannot be done immediately, I ask that it be done before the end of this year, or early next year. {: #subdebate-17-0-s5 .speaker-009MB} ##### Mr McEWEN:
Indi .- I listened with attention to the speech of the honorable member for Perth **(Mr. Burke),** and whilst I could understand his words, I could not understand his process of reasoning. He declared over and over again that it was the policy of the Labour party progressively to reduce sales tax until it was abolished; and that his party recognized that the tax bore heavily on the mass of the community and increased the cost of living. He did not say in so many words that it increased the cost of living for the workers, but that was implied in his speech, as was the suggestion that the Australian Labour party was opposed in principle to sales tax. That was the general theme of his speech. He did not mention that it was the Australian Labour party which invented the idea of the sales tax and introduced it in the parliament in 1930. The country has endured the sales tax since then. Notwithstanding that, the honorable member for Perth purported to claim some credit for his party in its supposed abhorrence of the sales tax. Many of the members who comprise the present Government, including the present Prime Minister **(Mr. Chifley),** were responsible for first imposing the sales tax upon the Australian people. It is true that governments formed from this side of the House did not subsequently abolish the sales tax. The tax was not abolished for reasons that were in part, explained by the honorable member for Perth. The honorable member said that general budgetry considerations from year to year, according to the judgment of the government of the day, precluded the abolition of the sales tax. To-day, however, he declares that it is the wish of the Government to relieve the consuming public of this country from that rax. The honorable member applied an extraordinary process of argument in an attempt to substantiate his claim. He quoted from the speeches of members of his party, and referred to the speech of the honorable member for Werriwa **(Mr. Lazzarini),** in which that honorable gentleman criticized certain items of sales tax when the Leader of the Australian Country party **(Mr. Fadden)** was Treasurer. He quoted the Minister for External Affairs and the Deputy Prime Minister **(Dr. Evatt),** who criticized the principle to the sales tax. How could the honorable member hope to sustain his argument by involving his own colleagues, one of whom later was appointed to assist the Treasurer? According to the speech of the honorable member for Perth, although that honorable gentleman was against the imposition of this tax, he did nothing about it during the period that he was assisting the Treasurer. Why he should expose the present Deputy Prime Minister as having been against the sales tax when that right honorable gentleman was in Opposition, but as sustaining it when in the Government, I cannot understand. I shall leave that to him to explain in the caucus room, if he can. The honorable member did no credit to his colleagues by reminding us of the inconsistencies of leading members of his own party. Let us consider the claim of the honorable member for Perth on behalf of the Australian Labour party respecting that party's supposed abhorrence of the sales tax. The Acting Leader of the Opposition **(Mr. Harrison)** was quoted as saying in 1941 that he was unable to abolish the sales tax or to exempt certain items. The Government that was in office in 1941 had of necessity to cast around and look for everything that it could tax in order to provide funds to (surry on the most dreadful war that the world has ever known. We imposed taxes that we did not like imposing, just as the Australian Labour party, also, was compelled to do later on. That party did not like taxing certain items, I admit. However, the sales tax which was imposed by the Australian Labour party has been continued progressively. The rates have been increased, and it is of no use for honorable members on the Government side of the chamber to continue to say that the Australian Labour party wants to abolish the sales tax, when in every budget the Government further increases the total collections from that source. In 1946-47 the Labour Government collected £4 16s. 8d. a head of the entire population in sales tax. That included men, women and children. This year, according to the budget estimates. £4 17s. 6½d. a head will be so collected. Without exception, during the regime of the present Treasurer, the Estimates have proved to be less than subsequent collections. I am quite sure that the actual collections will be much higher than the amount anticipated to be collected this year. According to the scanty figures provided in the budget, speech, last year there was collected in sales tax, £34,72S,579. The Government, whilst professing to abhor the sales tax. has not shown any willingness to abolish it by progressive steps and collect £3S,000.000. or approximately £3j250,000 more than last, year. The figures in the budget therefore belie the declarations of the honorable member for Perth. I do not suggest that if there was a change of government tomorrow, sales tax would be abolished. I do suggest, however, that there is scope for *a.* more comprehensive overhaul of the impositions of sales tax than this Government has given, and than this budget envisages. An effort, should be made to abolish sales tax on those items which hear heavily upon the normal cost of living. We should attempt to abolish sales tax because, as I said in my general budget speech, this is one of the rare taxes which imposes a very much heavier burden on the ultimate payer of the tax than is revealed in the budget figures. This year the Government intends to collect an average of just short of £5 from every citizen by means of the sales tax. I think it is a quite reasonable deduction that the head of every family will pay this year in sales tax not less than £20. Whilst this tax is imposed at the point of wholesale sales, we know in the ordinary processes of trade, the retailer who buys his goods at the listed wholesale prices plus sales tax, makes his profit "write-up" on the total of the wholesale price and sales tax. If the head of a family is to be mulct in £20 this year by way of sales tax, and the retailers' average " write-up " is 40 per cent., then it is quite evident that he will be compelled to pay not the £20 which the Government still receives, but £28. I am not engaged in the retail trade and I do not know what the average retailers' " write-up " is. When I have asked various people in business about this matter, I have been told by some tha t it is 331/3 per cent. Others have told me that it is 50 per cent. Frankly, whilst I do not know what it is, I do not doubt that it is between 30 per cent, and 50 per cent. The sales tax impositions by the Government are increased by exactly that percentage before they arc ultimately paid by the purchaser of consumer goods. 1 point out that it is no use for the Government to say to basic-wage earners on £6 a week, who have families, that they have no tax to pay because the Labour Government is in office, or that they have only1s. or 2s. a week direct tax to pay. Neither is it of any use to pretend that that is the full extent of their tax liabilities. This is an inescapable tax liability for the head of any family in this country, and in sales tax alone ] have not the slightest doubt that the bead of a family in the moderate income group would pay in sales tax not less than 10s. a week. This is a tax, the details of which should be more carefully overhauled than they have been. Although over three years has elapsed since the cessation of hostilities, I know that we in this country are still paying for World War II... and I am not going to suggest that the Government should abolish the sales tax altogether. We must be very careful, however, to ensure that we are not maintaining, unnecessarily, the worst kind of tax. As I have said, the average head of a family pays 10s. a week for sales tax-- {: .speaker-JYV} ##### Mr Fuller: -- What does he pay it on ? {: .speaker-009MB} ##### Mr McEWEN: -- I am not here to educate the honorable member on that; aspect. He can easily refer to the schedules containing the items, and work it out for himself. I was about to say that even the moderate income wageearner is entitled to a smoke, and added to the sales tax imposed on him, is excise tax. He is likewise entitled to a glass of beer, and added to the sales tax is the excise duty which is imposed on beer. The pretence that the basic wage man has been freed by the Australian Labour party of all taxation is thus exposed The average income wage-earner is still paying indirect taxation, as well as in sales tax and a proportion of the excise duty on tobacco and beer, very much more today under Labour administration than before the Australian Labour party came to office. There is no chance of controverting that because it is a fact. There are other aspects of the sales tax which do not make an impact instantly on normal consumer goods, such as in connexion with the cost of home construction. I know that most items involved in home construction have been freed from sales tax, and I am very glad that that has been done, and that relief has been granted in that regard from this most pernicious form of taxation. All other kinds of taxation are at least discharged in one year, but sales tax imposed on building materials is a lasting addition to the capital cost of home construction, and the man who is attempting to pay off his home by some process of extended purchase, carries the liability for so long as that house exists. The imposition of sales tax on certain kinds of manufacturing equipment and capital equipment has a similar effect. Although it may be thought that sales tax imposed on equipment employed in a big company is something the worker can disregard, that is not so. That is a superficial approach to the problem, because such costs arc passed on to the consumer in the form of increased charges for the goods that are produced. The intention continually to increase the total collections and the *per capita* collections from indirect taxes is not a good feature of this or any other budget. I do not believe that a sufficiently careful scrutiny has been made on the items from which sales rax could and should be removed. There is no need for me to refer to them in detail, because that was done by the Leader of the Australian Country party **(Mr. Fadden)** before the sitting was suspended. The speech of the honorable member for Perth **(Mr. Burke),** which prompted me to intervene in this debate, was merely " eyewash ". {: #subdebate-17-0-s6 .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr WHITE:
Balaclava .- Sales tax is a *hereditas* *damnosa* from an earlier Labour government. The original sales tax was imposed by panic legislation that was introduced during the time of the depression.. The Scullin Government, which was casting around for means to raise revenue, brought a Canadian tax expert to Australia. He suggested that a sales tax should be introduced. It was imposed at the rate of 2-J per cent. During World War II., when the Government had to find large sums of money for the conduct of the war, it was increased to 10 per cent., and, in many instances, to 25 per cent. Upon many articles it remains at 25 per cent., and upon a wide range of goods it i3 still 10 per cent. In his budget speech the Treasurer **(Mr. Chifley)** said - lt is proposed to make certain sales tax concessions which will cause a loss of revenue estimated at £475,000 in a full year and approximately £350,000 in the current financial year. That prediction may prove to be as erroneous as some of those that were previously made toy the right honorable gentleman with regard to income tax. When tax reductions were proposed in January, 1946, July, 1946, and July, 1947, the Treasurer said that the annual cost to revenue would be £20,000,000, £17,000,000 and £33,000,000 respectively, making a total of £70,000,000. Yet the Government received more revenue. What can happen with direct taxes can happen to a greater degree with indirect taxes, because, being indirect, they are hidden taxes. The general public of Australia does not appreciate that it is paying in flated prices for many articles because of the effects of sales tax, which has a snowball effect. The merchant or shopkeeper who sold certain articles used to add 2-J per cent to his invoice, and later 10 per cent. The prices of the articles have increased and 10 per cent, sales tax is imposed on the higher prices. Therefore, the Government receives more revenue, and prices are forced up to inflated levels. I submit that a sales tax is very unfair to our young people. It does not. punish those who have houses, furniture and other things that they require to the same degree as it punishes young people, who are establishing themselves in homes. Some concessions are proposed in the bill in regard to clothing and furniture, but a young man who is about to marry or an ex-serviceman who is setting up in life after service abroad finds that everything he needs is very expensive. When he looks at a piece of furniture in a shop window and sees that its price is enormous he wonders why that is so. A major reason is the snowball effect of an indirect tax applied to the source and carried on as the article is sold to one person and then another, until it reaches a tremendous figure. I submit that the Government has not given sufficient consideration to this effect. While the prices of wool and wheat are as high as they are at present and while the country is prosperous - although in many ways it is a fictitious prosperity - prices and wages increase and hours of work decrease. Every one seems to be happy and prosperous. A slight recession in wool prices, however, would throw the prices of many other articles into sharp relief because people could not afford to pay them. The Leader of the Australian Country party **(Mr.** Fadden) referred to some of the ridiculous anomalies that now exist. At one time sales tax was imposed upon sandwiches, but if the meat and the bread were put upon different plates no tax was payable. The tax was imposed upon certain kinds of cake and not upon others. Those anomalies have been rectified, but others still exist. The list of articles from which the tax has been removed includes 'muffs and other articles of attire. as well as many items of drapery and the like, but many articles that are required in the home, such as refrigerators and ice, are still subject to tax. The Government should have abolished sales tax upon everything associated with building. The tax has been removed from timber and other building materials, but it is still imposed upon certain items of builders' hardware. Therefore, building costs are higher than they should be. The Government does not need this revenue. Before the war the annual revenue from sales tax was £9,000,000, but last year it was £36,000,000. That is an indication of the degree to which the taxation of the Australian public has increased. It is time that the Government began to pare taxes down. The budget, part of which this bill is designed to implement, envisages the extraction from the people of over £500,000,000 in taxes. A few years ago no one would have imagined that the Australian public could find that amount of money. The Treasurer **(Mr. Chifley)** has said that the proposed sales tax concessions will cost £475,000 a year, but it is almost certain that the revenue from the tax will be greater than it was previously. Why should aircraft which are imported into Australia to improve our air services be subject to sales tax at the rate of 10 per cent., whether they come from Britain, the United States of America or anywhere else? The effect of the tax is to increase the capital cost of aircraft to an operator. Two years ago two young English airmen bought two second-hand Proctor aircraft and proposed to fly them to Australia. They went to Australia House to find out whether they would have to pay any taxes when they arrived here. They were told that, as the aircraft were British aircraft, they were free of duty and of primage tax and all other taxes. With their families, they set out to fly to Australia and, having encountered many difficulties *en route,* they arrived here. Upon their arrival, the aircraft were impounded and they were asked to pay sales tax upon them amounting to hundreds of pounds. They did not possess the necessary money, and they lived in tents on the Albury aerodrome. I took the matter up and, after a lengthy correspondence, I pointed out to the Prime Minister that the customs authorities had a fund which could be used in cases where mistakes had been made or where it was obvious that the Government should intervene and that the Treasury had a similar fund. The right honorable gentleman saw my point of view. These young men had not the money to pay the tax that was demanded of them and they were prepared to fly the aircraft back to Britain. That incident is one of many which prove that the effect of a sales tax has not been properly considered by the Government. Aircraft are still subject to sales tax and at the same rate. Although the Government has exempted some items, it could exempt many more. I have no objection to sales tax being imposed upon luxury goods that we could well do without. During the war the British Government introduced what it called a purchase tax. We call it a sales tax. The British tax on many articles was 100 per pent. As a result, they became so costly that manufacturers ceased to produce them. Many articles that were required by the ordinary working man and family man were, however, entirely exempted from the tax. We have not done that in Australia. We have imposed a broad tax right through the commerce of the country. It is of the nature of a turnover tax. It has a snowball effect, and the Government receives immense amounts of revenue from it. If the £36,000,000 a year that is now paid in purchase tax were in the hands of the Australian people, it could be used by them to improve the conditions of their everyday life. I ask the Government to consider abolishing this tax, not only from the stand-point of the economic situation of the country and the welfare of the people but also from the stand-point of relieving them as soon as possible of a tax that is irritating them in business. Members of the Australian Country party have pointed out that even wildflowers which little children pick are subjected to sales tax. Could anything be more ridiculous? There is an obligation on every trader who sells goods subject to sales tax to include the tax on his invoice. Any trader who fails to do so is liable to prosecution. I appeal to the Government to extend the list of exemptions from the tax. If the tax be genuinely reduced either by reducing the number of items on which it is imposed, or by an alteration of the rate, great good will follow. I do not contend that it is possible for the Government completely to abolish sales tax at present. I agree with the honorable member for Indi **(Mr. McEwen)** that that is not possible yet; but I appeal to the Government not to wait another year before it again revises the list of exemptions. Let it bring down a supplementary bill in three months' time after the officers who administer the sales tax legislation, and who, incidentally, do an extremely good job, have reported upon the additional items which may be included in the list of exemptions. I. assure the Government that it could greatly add to the list of exemptions without incurring any substantial loss of revenue. Question put - >That the words proposedtobe left out **(Mr. Harrison's amendment)** stand part of the question. The House divided. (Mr. Deputy Speaker - Mr. J. J. Clark.) AYES: 34 NOES: 20 Ma jority . . 14 AYES NOES Question so resolved in the affirmative. Amendment negatived. Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without amendment or debate; report adopted. Bill - *by leave* - read a third time. {: .page-start } page 1926 {:#debate-18} ### STATES GRANTS (TAX REIMBURSEMENT) BILL 1948 {:#subdebate-18-0} #### Second Reading Debate resumed from the 8th September *(vide page* 258), on motion by **Mr. Chifley** *-* >That the bill be now read a second time. {: #subdebate-18-0-s0 .speaker-KOL} ##### Mr McBRIDE:
Wakefield .- This bill is one of a series of measures designed to reimburse the States in respect of taxes collected by the Commonwealth. The necessity for these reimbursements arose when the Commonwealth decided to introduce uniform taxation in Australia. That was done, as honorable members will recall, during the war when most people considered that as the Australian Government had the responsibility for mobilizing the resources of Australia and for providing the necessary finance to wage the war, it should have priority in the field of income tax. Honorable members will also recall that when the uniform tax legislation was introduced into this Parliament it was stated to he a temporary measure designed to meet the exigencies of war. [t was expected that on the termination of war we would revert to the old system under which the States and the Commonwealth collected income tax separately. I mention this because there has been some misapprehension as to the intention of the Parliament when the uniform tax legislation was first introduced. If honorable members will examine the Income Tax (War-time Arrangements) Act under which uniform taxation was introduced they will find that in common with other measures of a similar kind it contains a section which reads - >This Act shall continue in operation until the last day of the first financial year to commence after the date upon which His Majesty ceases to be engaged in the present war, and no longer. At least one Statu questioned the constitutionality of this legislation by an appeal to the High Court of Australia. I have no doubt that the High Court looked very carefully into the acts then upon the statute-book, and, realizing that they were emergency measures, decided that the Commonwealth, using its defence powers in the widest sense, had constitutional authority to impose a system of uniform taxation on the people of this country. I am also convinced that, if the matter were referred to the Hight court to-day a very different verdict would be given. The constitutionality of the uniform tax legislation will not again be tested until some State, being thoroughly dissatisfied with the treatment accorded to it by the Commonwealth, appeals to the High Court to determine the matter under peacetime conditions. It would he interesting to ascertain the present attitude of the High Court on this subject. The basis upon which the original allocations of tax were made to the various States was questioned in the initial stages of the operation of the uniform tax legislation. Honorable members will recall that a committee, which was established to consider this matter, made a recommendation, which, in general terms, was accepted by the government of the day. However, that recommendation was extraordinary in that it upheld Unmaking of grants to States which had been extravagant in pre-war years on a basis which enabled them to continue their extravagance, not only during the war period but also during the postwar years. Conversely the recommendation of the committee tied down thrifty States to the thrift which they had exercised in pre-war years. As an indication of the extraordinary allocationsmade, it is worth while noting that New South Wales received an extraordinaryly good deal as the result of the recommendation of that committee. In the first year of the operation of uniform taxation New South Wales received a grant equal to £5 10s. a head of the population, or 29 per cent, of the total income tax collected in that State. On the other hand, Victoria received a miserable allocation of £3 10s. a head of the population, or 18 per cent, of the total tax collected in that State. When the legislation was passing through the Senate, of which I was a member at the time. Opposition senators questioned the proposed allocations and moved an amendment designed to bring about a more equitable distribution of the tax collected by the Commonwealth. We pointed out that New South Wales would actually receive compensation for widows' pensions and child endowment, both of which services had been taken over by the Commonwealth. The taking over of these services by the Commonwealth relieved the New South Wales Government of an expenditure of approximately £1,500,000 per annum, yet provision was included in the original allocation to cover that amount. Queensland also got a remarkably good deal under the original allocation. It received an allocation equivalent to £5 17s. 6d. a head, or 36 petcent, of the total income tax collected in that State. I mention these figures to show how inequitable and unscientific the original allocations were. Consequently, when in a measure such as that now before us, we decide the future allocations to the States, and we understand that the formula for the allocations this year is based on the original allocation, we can realize how dissatisfied some States will be. On practically every occasion when State Ministers have attended conferences of Commonwealth and State Ministers to consider the allocation of income tax for the ensuing year, they have made requests for substantially greater amounts than the Treasurer has been prepared to grant to them. Gatherings of that kind are not conferences in the true sense of the word. The Premiers come cap in hand asking for certain allocations, and the Treasurer, representing one vote against six, says, " No ", and that is all there is to it. It is obvious that on that count alone this system cannot continue indefinitely. There is another serious weakness in it. 1 believe that it is a very good axiom of public finance that those who expend money should have the responsibility of raising it. Under the present system the Commonwealth takes the responsibility for collecting the money, and any odium that may attach to that responsibility, but the States are enabled to expend the moneys allocated to them without any real responsibility in the matter at all. Another factor which is looming very large on the political horizon is the fact that, willy nilly, whatever grants are .made under this bill to the States, some State Treasurers will continue to budget for State deficits. In spite of the reimbursements proposed under this legislation, nearly every State Treasurer is budgeting for a deficit. Because the hands of the States are tied as the result of their inability to impose and collect income tax, the Commonwealth will ultimately be obliged to help to pay the piper. The Prime Minister, in his budget speech, said - >The Australian Government trusts that if tin's revised formula is brought into operation, the States will be in a position in future to assume complete financial responsibility and to formulate their budgets without making yearly requests to the Commonwealth for special assistance. I share with the Prime Minister the desire to see the States in that position of financial responsibility, but I cannot share his apparent belief that the amounts which will be paid to them in accordance with the formula can be expected to achieve that objective. I cannot agree that the present position of the States can be properly regarded as one in which they " make yearly requests to the Commonwealth for special assistance ". Under the Constitution the Commonwealth has certain defined powers and responsibilities. It is given the right to certain revenues. The States have certain other powers and responsibilities, and also the right to certain revenues. The income tax was always considered to be a concurrent power exercisable by the Commonwealth and the States. Before the outbreak of World War II., the States, it was recognized, should have first dip into the pockets of the taxpayer, and. the Commonwealth should take second place. The major source of revenue to meet, the constitutional functions of the Commonwealth and the States is the income tax, which is not the exclusive right of either the Commonwealth or the States. By the administrative arrangement to which the States consented readily in war-time but to the continuance of which at least some of them now submit only because of their difficult financial position, the whole of the income tax is now levied by the Commonwealth to meet the combined requirements of the Commonwealth and the States. The annual meeting of Commonwealth and State Ministers to review the allocation of tax receipts cannot fairly bc regarded as a conference at which the States make requests for assistance. Rather should it be regarded as a meeting at which the Commonwealth and the States endeavour to agree on a fair and reasonable apportionment of tax collections. That those conferences might appear to have degenerated into meetings at which the States request assistance is due entirely to the unreasonable attitude of the Commonwealth in behaving as if the total proceeds of income tax belong to it, and any apportionment to the States should be regarded as kindly assistance and not as an obligation. The Prime Minister has given to the House figures which indicate that the total income tax revenue in the current financial year, after allowing for the proposed reductions of rates, will amount to about £246,000,000 or nearly £13,000,000 more than last year. If we are to regard the Estimates for this year as having been understated to the same degree as they have been in recent financial years, perhaps the correct figure will be £280,000,000 or nearly £50,000,000 more than last year's collections. The Government proposes, under this legislation, to determine the States' share at £63,680,000, which is probably t'20,000,000 less than a reasonable estimate of their requirements. That allocation is tragically small when it is realized that, in the last financial year before the outbreak of World "War II., the States raised and received 72 per cent., and the Commonwealth raised and received 2S per cent, of the total income tax collections. The total receipts for that year amounted to about £41,700,000, and the States received approximately £30,000,000 and the Commonwealth approximately £12,000,000. Therefore, the broad picture is that the total tax revenues have been expanded nearly sixfold; but, whereas the States' share has been increased by nearly four-fifths, the Commonwealth has taken sixteen times as much ns it did in 1939. I recognize that the national income lias doubled compared with the pre-war figure, so that the same rate of tax as that which operated before the outbreak of World War II. would, allowing for the graduation of rates, have raised between throe and four times as much in tax revenue. Actually, the present rates must be, on an average, between 60 per cent, mid 70 per cent, more severe than the ron bin ed Commonwealth and State income taxes were before World War II. Yet, although the Commonwealth continues to impose those higher rates of taxes and obtains nearly six times as much as it did before the war, it proposes to allocate to the States only one-half of what they would have received had they retained their own tax rates at n level no higher than the pre-war figure. I shall express the position in another way. Although the people of Australia are taxed much more heavily than they were before the war, the States will receive, under this bill, no more than they would have received had they reduced their prewar tax rates by one-half. By utilizing their war-time monetary reserves against the burden of the cost of maintenance and the like, the larger States, New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland have so far been able to avoid a serious financial predicament as the result of their unreasonably low share of income tax revenues. The three less populous States, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania, have been obliged to exercise even greater economy, and have been able to maintain only a precarious equilibrium on special grants recommended by the Commonwealth GrantCommission. As the result, of those recommendations, the grants to thi States have been increased from £2,000,000 in 1938-39 to an estimated amount of £6,750,000 for this financial year. The lastnamed figure will undoubtedly be inadequate. A further indication of how unreasonably low are the proposed allocations to the States from income tax revenue is given by an analysis of their pre-war budgets and the great increase of costs since 1939. The total expenditure by the States upon all obligations before World War II. was about £130,000,000 annually. If public utilities and all debt services were excluded, the expenditure on the remaining government functionwould be substantially affected by increases of wages and prices. In 193S-39. the cost of services amounted to approximately £47,500,000. Allowing for the increase of population and the increase of wage rates and material prices affecting governmental expenditure in this financial year, the costs for the same services have almost doubled in the la-st ten years. That calculation illdictates that the States are now required to provide an additional amount of approximately £45,000,000 in order to maintain the Mme general governmental functions on standards no higher than those in existence 'before the war. That figure does not allow any margin to meet increased costs of operating public utilities. The whole of those increased costs could have been met by the States, had they been able to retain their right to impose income tax at a rate of 25 per cent, less than the pre-war rate. The proposal contained in this hill will meet less than £24,000,000 of the £45,000,000 represented by increased costs, and the States will be forced to meet the balance by increasing other taxes which they are allowed to impose, increasing charges for public utilities, keeping down the standard of their social services, and failing to make proper provision for deferred maintenance and replacement of public assets. Whilst the States are forced to take all those measures, the Prime Minister, in thi.? House and elsewhere, exhorts them to place further imposts on the people by increasing the charges for public utilities. At the same time the Commonwealth is rapidly increasing its provision for social services and is making enormous provision out of revenue to meet items which, normally, are met from loan. It has established organizations such as Trans-Australia Airlines, but a loss of £500,000 on the annual operations of such an instrumentality does not mean anything to the Commonwealth. The Government is now forecasting that it will enter the shipping industry. If experience is any guide, the Commonwealth will lose millions of pounds in the venture. In spite of its own activities and lack of economy in all those matters, the Commonwealth Ministers, particularly the Prime Minister, continually exhort the States to economize. It is bad for the community as a whole when one governmental authority, the Commonwealth, is an affluent and rapidly extending condition, while six other governmental authorities, the States, are in financial difficulties in meeting even pre-war standards. That position might be bad eventually for the Commonwealth itself. As I have already pointed out, the probabilities are that when the States do not meet their commitments, the Commonwealth will be obliged to shoulder their responsibilities for them. That knowledge will create an even greater degree of irresponsibility among the States than any other system that I can conceive. I now desire to refer to the mystical formula which the Minister mentioned when moving the second reading of the bill. The Government appears to be confident that the formula will provide for the appropriate allocation between the Commonwealth and the States of receipts from income tax in future. As the basic figure of the allocation is inadequate, the formula, however efficient, will not operate successfully. There also appears to be no reason to believe that the formula is the final answer to the problem of determining the allocation between the Commonwealth and the States. The previous formula, which the Government confidently predicted would meet the position, has not sufficed for even one year. When the Prime Minister introduced the budget, for the last financial year, he forecast an allocation of £40,000,000 to the States. Before the conclusion of the financial year, the right honorable gentleman had increased that amount to £45,000,000/ Despite that experience, the Prime Minister has suggested to the House that the amended formula will suffice for all time. My own opinion is that the present system governing Commonwealth and State financial relations will defeat itself. The federal and provincial governments in the Dominion of Canada take *a* much more realistic view of their financial relations. Whilst a system of uniform tax is in operation, it has the concurrence of the federal and provincial governments. I understand that two of the provinces have stood out from the agreement, and from them the central government collects no revenue at all. To the others, the central government hands over an agreed-upon percentage of the revenue it collects. Thus when revenue is buoyant, the provinces get more. Their revenues are not determined by any pre-war standards. Obviously, when the national income is expanding, costs are also increasing. The State Governments in Australia have to finance certain very important, services, and the cost of those services has risen considerably. I do not oppose the bill, but I suggest that it is not likely to achieve the purpose which. the Treasurer has in view, nor will it give satisfaction to the States and the people. {: #subdebate-18-0-s1 .speaker-K0E} ##### Dr GAHA:
Denison .- There are certain features of this bill which call for comment, having regard to the position in which the States find themselves though I did not expect to speak on the subject this evening. The" States have raised a hubbub about the effects of uniform taxation, and I am concerned about its effect upon Australia's economy generally. After the recent referendum on prices, Commonwealth subsidies, previously paid for the purpose of keeping prices down, were discontinued, one of the reasons advanced being that it was wrong in principle for the Commonwealth to grant money for a particular purpose without, exercising any control over its expenditure. "With rhat view I concur. However, under the system of uniform taxation, the Commonwealth raises revenue *which it* hands over to the States without exercising any control whatever over the way in which it is expended. For some years past, the Commonwealth has made annual grants to Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania, which are described as claimant States. The amount of the grants is recommended from time to time by the Commonwealth Grants Commission, a body which examines the finances of the claimant States, and compares their expenditure with that of the other three States, known as the standard States. The recommendation of the commission then come before this Parliament in the form of a bill which, when passed, authorizes the payment of the grants. In this way, the Commonwealth Parliament exercises a measure of control over the expenditure of the grants made to the claimant States. However, in the case of tax reimbursements to the States, the amount is decided from year io year at conferences of Commonwealth and State Ministers, and no attempt is made to compare the expenditure of one State with that of another. The total amount of the reimbursement has progressively increased. In 1946-47, it was £39,000,000; in 1947-48 it was £44,000,000; and for 1948-49, it will be £53,000,000. Wo control is exercised by the Commonwealth over the expenditure of this money. It is simply handed over to the States for expenditure by them as they choose. I am sure that the honorable member for Reid **(Mr. Lang)** when he was Premier of New South Wales, would have liked to be relieved of the responsibility of raising the revenue which he expended. Under the system of uniform taxation, the Commonwealth has to bear all the odium of raising revenue for the States without being able to earn any of the encomiums arising from its expenditure. I am sure that if the people were asked t,o vote upon the system of uniform taxation they would vote for its continuation, because those on the lower incomes are hotter off under this system than they were before. For instance, in 193S-39, when the Commonwealth and the States respectively collected their own income tax, a man with a wife and two children began to pay State income tax in Victoria on an income of £150 a year. In most of the other States the limit was £250. Now. under uniform taxation, no income tax is paid on incomes below £350. This is sufficient to ensure the support of the majority of the people for the continuation of the present system. Under uniform taxation, a man with a wife and two children pays £3 7s. tax on an income of £350, but under the old system, a man receiving £350 a year would have paid £21 in New South Wales, £18 in Victoria, £23 in Queensland, £25 in South Australia, £24 in Tasmania and £20 in Western Australia. Under the Commonwealth social service scheme, the Commonwealth contribution for the upkeep of a hospital bed has been increased from 6s. to 8s. a day. The average cost of maintaining a hospital bed is £1 a day, of which the Commonwealth provides 8s., leaving 12s. to be provided by the States ; but even this 12s. is raised by the Com.monwealth under the system of uniform taxation, and handed over to the States to be expended. This applies to the standard States, but in the case of the claimant States the Commonwealth actually meets the whole cost of maintaining a hospital bed - 8s. in the form of a social service grant, and the other 12s. in the form of a grant in accordance with the recommendation of the Commonwealth Grants Commission. I believe the Commonwealth should take more credit to itself for what it is doing. If uniform taxation is to continue, some sort of machinery should be set up to control expenditure by i he States. I have heard that the Tas.manian Government proposes to budget for a deficit of £375,000, an unheard of thing. Something will have to be done about it. **Mr, TURNBULL** (Wimmera) [9.42 1. - As the honorable member for Wakefield **(Mr. McBride)** has stated, uniform taxation was introduced as a war-time measure, bur. the. Australian Government, having once acquired the sole right to impose income tax. refuses to relinquish that right. However, there is more to it than that. The honorable member for Denison **(Dr. Gaha)** apparently takes it for granted that the States have been robbed permanently of their sovereign rights, and his entire argument was based on that assumption. He said that price subsidies were discontinued because the Commonwealth had no control over the expenditure of the money. That is not correct. The subsidies were discontinued because the Government was annoyed at the result of the referendum. It withdrew the subsidies so as to make it appear that the resultant price increases were due to the fact that its referendum proposals had been rejected. In the referendum, the people were asked to confer upon the Commonwealth power to control prices permanently. {: #subdebate-18-0-s2 .speaker-10000} ##### Mr ACTING DEPUTY SPEAKER:
Mr. Lazzarini -- The honorable member must not go too far along those lines. The honorable member for Denison made a passing reference to price control, and the honorable member for Wimmera is not entitled to do more than that. {: #subdebate-18-0-s3 .speaker-KWP} ##### Mr TURNBULL: -- I have finished my reference to the subject. That is the reason why the subsidies were withdrawn. They were not withdrawn hecause the Commonwealth could not see its way clear to control every detail. The statement made by the honorable member for Denison is entirely without foundation. He said he rose quickly and without thinking seriously of the subject. The honorable member need not have told us that because it was obvious by his words. He averred that the Commonwealth has not any control over the money, and there should be established a body, on the lines of the Commonwealth Grants Commission, that would control effectively the amount of money that is to be spent by the States. As a representative of Victoria, I regard the whole system of uniform taxation as wrong in principle. The States have sovereign rights to levy their own taxation, and they should he permitted to raise and spend money from thai source as they think fit to bring about progress and prosperity in the State in which the money is collected. Why should the Australian Government have complete control nf that money? That suggestion also seems to me to be' quite wrong. The honorable member also made another mean point in his speech about hospitals being granted a rise from 6s. to Ss. a day out of the proceeds from taxation. He said that the Commonwealth not only pays that, but also provides the balance of up to 20s. a day in respect of certain States. No doubt the honorable member said that to try to impress upon the people of this country that the Government is doing a wonderful job. He further suggested that there should be some kind of publicity campaign to draw the attention of the public to the extreme generosity of this Government. 1 maintain that the difference between 8s. and £1 a day is not made up out of this uniform taxation reimbursement and even if it were, the result would be that there would be even less than the present small amount to provide, for major undertakings which are essential to the sound functioning of any State in Australia. If all of this money is available, why is it that the Victorian Government cannot obtain more, so that progress in that State will not be impeded ? Why- is it that at the conference of Commonwealth and State Minister.0 the Prime Minister- **(Mr. Chifley)** said, in effect, " I shall give you certain amounts of money, and no more ". That was his decision, and the Premiers had to take it. {: .speaker-KCF} ##### Mr Dedman: -- That is according to the Constitution. {: .speaker-KWP} ##### Mr TURNBULL: -- The Prime Minister also told the Premiers to increase their railway fares and charges and get money from sources other than by taxing the people in the usual manner. The Premier of Victoria said that charges were high enough in that State already. As honorable members know, an amount of about £2,500,000 is required immediately in Victoria for a water conservation project. That money should come from this taxation. How can the honorable member for Denison justify the statement that amounts from reimbursement of uniform taxation are sufficient to provide for the hospital accommodation in Victoria? I know that in country towns in that State, efforts are made by conducting hospital Sundays and raffles, for which permission has been granted, to raise additional money for the hospitals which are always in need of money. In a certain country town in Victoria *a* motor car was raffled recently in order to obtain money to keep the hospital going. 1 should like the honorable member for Denison, who is a medical man, to look into this matter a little further. He should realize that a large portion of the money which is made available by this reimbursement cannot, be given to hospitals alone, because so many other undertakings have to bo financed out of the amount reimbursed. Why is it that this Government wants to continue uniform taxation and rake so much money from the States? 1 have figures that disclose that the estimated amount to be collected from Victoria, in income tax for the year 1947-48 is £70,000,000. Of that amount it is estimated that only £12,000,000 will be returned to Victoria. {: .speaker-BV8} ##### Mr Calwell: -- Only £12,000,000 out *nf* £70,000,000? {: .speaker-KWP} ##### Mr TURNBULL: -- Yes, under the tax reimbursement arrangement, although 1 know that other money will go back to the people of Victoria by way of social services. That brings the amount up quite a lot more, but I should say that between £15,000,000 and £20,000,000 will be retained by this Government. Why does the Government want to hold that money? It is only another step in the Government's move for the implementation of the policy of the socialization of industry, distribution and exchange. That is the reason behind the plan. The Government wants to make the States appear in a very poor light. The honorable member for Denison dealt with the system of taxation that applied before uniform taxation was introduced. He referred to the amount being collected in those days, and the different rates levied on the people. There are two ways of looking at this subject. First there is the amount of money the people pay, and the amount they receive back in various ways from what they pay. The proportion of the money that the people receive back by way of reimbursement is very small. If the people were not awake to what is happening, the States would appear in a poor light. The Australian Government, is made to appear as a benefactor. The fact that the Prime Minister wants the States to raise their charges shows definitely that he wants to get the idea spread throughout the country that, charges are higher under State than under Federal legislation. Then, with the object of helping the move towards unification, the States would be told to handle things in a better manner. It is obvious that the Government is squandering millions of pounds of money which it collects under the uniform taxation scheme. {: .speaker-BV8} ##### Mr Calwell: -- Where is that squandering taking place? {: .speaker-KWP} ##### Mr TURNBULL: -- On Qantas Empire Airways- {: .speaker-KNX} ##### Mr Harrison: -- And the Department of Information. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr ACTING DEPUTY SPEAKER: -- The honorable gentleman would be more in order if he disregarded interjections. {: .speaker-KWP} ##### Mr TURNBULL: -- The States are pleading and asking in every way to be granted a greater reimbursement. They have tried to get the whole system cancelled so that they may revert to the prewar method, but this Government, laid hold of the money will never let it go, because it may be useful in promoting its socialization programme. {: #subdebate-18-0-s4 .speaker-KDA} ##### Mr DUTHIE:
Wilmot .- This debate has centred around the problem of uniform taxation. In introducing the measure on the Sth September, the Prime Minister referred to the need to amend {: type="A" start="I"} 0. he formula that was adopted in .1946. He said - >Accordingly, it is proposed to amend the formula in a way which will not only increase the basic amount on which the formula operates but will also make greater allowance for the effect of movements in the level of average wages - a factor which was included originally in the formula in order to relate the aggregate grant to trends in prices and wages. That was the basis of the formula. The Prime Minister continued - >These amendments would increase the aggregate grant in 1948-4!) to £53,700.000 - an increase of £8,700,000. He then went on to say- - >On present trends in population and average- wages the amended formula would bring about a further increase of about £0,000,000 next year. The right honorable gentleman then stated the actual amounts which each State would obtain under the reimbursement plan. 'In that connexion he said - >The effect on the tax reimbursement grant to each State in this financial year is estimated as follows : - In regard to the general basis of uniform taxation, I shall read statements that have been made by some honorable members of this House who are now sitting in Opposition, and who, like the honorable member who has just resumed his seat, attacked uniform taxation most bitterly. It is interesting to note that the following statement which is reported in *Hansard,* Vol. 171, at page 1743. was made by the honorable member for Indi **(Mr. McEwen),** when the bill of 1942 was introduced : - >I find myself on no new ground in saying that I entirely agree that there should be a complete re-alinement of the constitutional authorities of this country - the Commonwealth Government and the State Governments. I have always held the view, and often express it here, that the States should be sub- ni di iia te to the Commonwealth, and that they should legislate and administer in respect of matters delegated to them by this Parliament. When speaking in the same debate, the honorable member for New England **(Mr. Abbott)** made the following statement, which appears in *Hansard,* Vol. 171, at page 1736.- 1 maintain that all these avenues of taxa tion should be controlled by the Common wealth Government and brought into line . . . 1 maintain that the national income is the only reservoir from which we can draw taxes in the Commonwealth and that the Commonwealth should control the whole of the revenue-raisin? I ii i were of the States. ... 1. suggest that the Commonwealth should go even" further than those proposals, and provide that tin- compensatory grant to a State which has n surplus should be reduced by the amount of that surplus, and that States should not be allowed to increase, their rates or to levy new direct or indirect taxes ... I shall vote for the bills because they will bring about" simpler form of income taxation, and will prevent competition between the Commonwealth and the States in the income tax field. I believe that the people, having once experienced the benefits of this simplified system, will not be prepared to go back to the bad old system of other days. On page 1688 of the same volume of *Hansard,* the honorable member for Flinders **(Mr. Ryan)** is reported as having said - >No one in Australia, and certainly no one in Victoria, objects in principle to uniform taxation. In fact, most people are very much in favour of it, because they realize that the present system has produced grave anomalies, chiefly due to the over-lapping functions of the Commonwealth and the States. Therefore uniform taxation as a principle is not in dispute. The Flinders electorate is in Victoria. The honorable member for Wimmera **(Mr. Turnbull),** who criticized this system a few moments agc, also represents a Victorian electorate. The honorable member for Warringah **(Mr. Spender)** has also had something to say about thi? matter. At page 1691 of *Hansard* of the 28th May, 1942, the honorable gentleman is reported as having said - >Personally I I am satisfied that the Government is not concerned with introducing some form of unification, but is resolutely facing its responsibilities for the conduct of the war. I make no apology for supporting this measure. If this were a step towards the centralization of power in the Commonwealth Parliament, I should support it on that ground alone . . . If it were only on the -ion nil of unification, which is so condemned by many members of my own party, this legislation would bc a majestic step forward to nationhood. The Acting Leader of the Opposition **(Mr. Harrison),** who changes his mind very often, also spoke in that debate. His speech is reported at page 1730 cf *Ilansard* of the 2Sth and 29th May, 1942. The honorable gentleman said - >Some opponents of .the bill when driven into a corner, have asserted that the Commonwealth should be' the sole taxing authority. A few minutes ago the honorable member for Fawkner **(Mr. Holt)** was challenged upon this point. He was opposing the bill to the best of his ability when he was asked whether he would support a scheme of uniform taxation. Thereupon he stated that he preferred a uniform taxation scheme to a uniform income taxation scheme. That is the general attitude of honorable members who are opposing the bill. I subscribe wholeheartedly to that view, hut T. believe that this legislation is the first step to unification. Because of that I wish to take that initial step . . . > >This legislation will remain in operation ostensibly for the duration of the war and twelve months thereafter. I venture to sugest that once the people experience the benefits of uniform taxation the acts will never lie repealed. As I stated, these bills are the firststep towards complete unification. It is a matter not of legal argument, but of plain common sense. > >This legislation has been attacked not so much because it provides a uniform tax system .but because its critics fear that it is the first step towards unification. The States which those critics represent cannot be persuaded to adopt an Australian outlook favorable to unification. They think that, if they can effectively oppose this bill, they will bc 'able to stave off for a little while longer the inevitable unification of Australia- He concluded by saying - . In dealing with legislation of this kind, which is entirely new and, I hope, will remain permanently on the statute-book, we should start off with a system sufficiently simple to enable the average taxpayer to calculate his tax. If we desire to develop to full nationhood, and to protect those things which as a nation we prize so much, we must accept the responsibilities of nationhood, and no longer permit the States to interfere with the natural and essential development of this country. I shall now refer to a statement on uniform taxation made by a person who is not a member of this Parliament. I q'uote from a report that was prepared for the Government of Tasmania on federal financial relations in Canada and Australia. The author is **Mr. K.** J. Binns, M.A., B. Com. On page 47 of the document **Mr. Binns** wrote as follows : - >Under uniform taxation, the taxpayer is required to pay a single Commonwealth income tax in place of a Commonwealth tax, plus one or more State income taxes. Prior to the introduction of uniform taxation in 1942. eleven separate taxes on incomes were levied by the six States. Individual taxpayers deriving income from more than one State were required to make separate income tax returns to each State from which income was derived if the income exceeded the taxable exemption allowed to absentees. Companies trading in more than one State were required to keep separate records of the profits earned in each State for State income tax purposes. Thenwas some reciprocity between States, but because of differences in State Assessment Acts, double taxation was common. On page 48 he stated - >It is probably true to say that those taxpayers who profess to favour the return of State taxation rights do so in the mistaken belief that their liability to taxation would thereupon be reduced. It is most unlikely that the Commonwealth Government would reduce its taxation hy more than the minimum amount required by the States for their purposes. "Rut. apart from the question of the severity of taxation actually imposed, uniform taxation possesses great advantages from the taxpayers* viewpoint. There is a considerable saving in clerical work when only one income tax return has to be prepared. In addition, the taxpayer is able to assess more accurately bis liability for taxation. That statement agrees with the views expressed by the Acting Leader of the Opposition. On page 50 of the report **Mr. Binns** put forward the following considerations : - lt would be a very strong argument in principle for the abolition of uniform taxation if the States would thereupon be relieved of all financial dependence on the Commonwealth. This, however, would not be so, as can be seen from the financial position of Tasmania. Each year, since 10.12, that is for 30 years prior to the introduction of uniform taxation. Tasmania has received a special grant from the Commonwealth under Section 06 of the Constitution. If the Government were now imposing its own income tax, it would have required to raise in 1947-48 approximately fi, 0.10,000 in order to balance the budget, assuming no alteration in the special grant of £747.500 of that year, or £2.400.000 if there had been no special grant. To raise this revenue would have involved the imposition of State income taxation rates at least 10 per cent, and 60 per cent, respectively above those levied in 1041-42, the last year of State income taxation. Such heavy rates of State income taxation would obviously be impossible. lie concluded by saying - >In other words the Tasmanian Government would need to tax about 50 per cent, more severely on the average than the New South Wales Government to obtain the same revenue per head of population. It follows, therefore, that uniform taxation has the advantage, so far as the smaller States are concerned, of tending to lessen their financial inequality. That document was prepared for the Tasmanian Government by a gentleman who has studied this question very closely. The honorable member for Denison **(Dr. Gaha)** pointed out that persons in the lower income group would be required to pay more taxes under a scheme of separate Commonwealth and State taxation than they are paying at present. A taxpayer with a salary of £300 a year and with a dependent wife will pay this year under the uniform tax scheme £7 Ss. in tax and social services contributions. In 193S-39, taking the combined Commonwealth and State taxes that were then in operation, he would have paid in combined Commonwealth and State taxes,, £8 7s. in Tasmania, £11 5s. in Western Australia, SIO 4s. in South Australia, £9 6s. in Queensland, £5 in Victoria and £6 7s. in New South Wales. If he has a wife and one child, he will pay £1 5s. this year in income tax and social service contributions. Under the old system of combined Commonwealth and State taxes as it operated in 1938-39, he would have paid £7 4s. in Tasmania. A man earning £400 a year, with a wife and one child, will pay £12 8s. this year in income tax and social service contributions. Under the old system which operated in 1938-39 he would have paid £1 3 6s. in Tasmania and more in Western Australia, South Australia, Queensland and Victoria. Let us examine the position of a taxpayer with a wife and two children, which is the size of the average family in Australia to-day. If he earns £300 a year he will pay nothing this year in income tax and social service contribution. In 1938-39 he would have paid in combined Commonwealth and States taxes £6 3s. in Tasmania, £8 ls. in Western Australia, £6 7s. in South Australia, £7 5s. in Queensland, £2 8s. in Victoria and £4 ls. in New South Wales. A man on a salary of £400 a year, with a wife and two children, will pay £8 5s. this year in income tax and social services contributions. In 1938-39 he would have paid in Commonwealth and State taxes £11 5s. in Victoria and more in Western Australia and South Australia. Those figures illustrate that, in respect of incomes up to £400 a year, the uniform tax system is much better for the taxpayer. The members of the higher income groups are paying more to-day than they would have paid in combined Commonwealth and State taxes, and it is from those people that most of the opposition to uniform tax comes. However, the principle of taxation should be that the family man and persons in the middle income and low income groups should be looked after and encouraged. There is, in my opinion, an unanswerable case to be made out foi' the Commonwealth single tax as far as those income groups are concerned. The people of Tasmania generally appreciate the increased allocation of £295,000 per annum granted to that State. A responsibility devolves upon the State Government not to indulge in reckless expenditure. Responsibility also devolves upon the Commonwealth to put its own house in order by preventing unnecesary or wasteful expenditure. If we expect the States to economize, we must also be prepared to do so. At the recent, conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers, the Premiers of the various States expressed satisfaction "with the proposal of the Treasurer to grant to the States from income tax collections an increased allocation of more than £8,000,000. The Premiers returned to their respective States feeling that the Commonwealth had done the right thine by them this year. {: .speaker-KOL} ##### Mr MCBRIDE: -- They did nothing of the kind. {: .speaker-KDA} ##### Mr DUTHIE: -- I adhere to my statement. I support the bill, and 1 remind honorable members opposite that they cannot, by anything they say to-night, escape from the words that they uttered when the uniform tax legislation was first being considered by the Parliament. {: #subdebate-18-0-s5 .speaker-KEP} ##### Mr FALKINDER:
Franklin -- This- bill brings into sharp focus the rather regrettable situation of State finances, inasmuch as most of the State Treasurers are .now budgeting for deBeits and have te come cap in hand to the Commonwealth Treasurer **(Mr. Chifley)** to seek assistance. Tasmania, which submitted a claim for £1,265,000, has been granted £900,000. According to the Premier of Tasmania that reduction will - mean a budget deficit of at least £100,000. .How can that deficit be mat without any detrimental effect on Tasmanian economics? According to the report of the Commonwealth Grants Commission, the production potential, which is the real yardstick of the ability to maintain a reasonable standard of living, ' has fallen .substantially since the Labour party took office. Whereas in 1939-40, Tasmania produced 38,300,000 lb. of wool, production in 1946-47 declined to 16,600.000 lb. In 1942-46 meat production totalled 24,500 tons, and in 1943-44 it.totalled 28,000 tons, but in 1946-47 it had declined to 18,100 tons. Butter production has fallen from 5,295 tons in 1939-40 to. 4,561 tons .in 1946-47. In thesame period, cheese .production dropped from 1,447 tons to 1,163 tons. In 1944-45, Tasmania produced 345,000 tons of potatoes but production of that commodity dropped to 150,000 tons in 1946-47. One of the .mainstays of Tasmanian production, apples, fell from a gross production of 8,500,000 bushels in 1945-46 to a new low figure of only 4,200,000 bushels in the following year, a .reduction of .more than one half. Even the production of copper ore fell from 13,453 tons in 1939-40 to 9,380 tons in 1946-47. According to paragraph 53 of the Commonwealth Grants Commission's report, an acute shortage of breeding ewes has retarded the production of fat lambs. Beef cattle have been in short supply, and this deficiency is not expected to be remedied for some years. The strength of dairy cattle herds is still well below pre-war figures. Paragraphs 54 and 55 of the commission's report point out that there has been a big decrease of potato production, and that orchardists have experienced a bad year. The last apple harvest was approxi- f««l mately 3,000,000 bushels below the average of the previous five years. Tasmania depends largely on primary production for its prosperity, and such serious declines in its primary production must constitute a definite set-back, which the Government must take into consideration. The second reason why Tasmania's finances are in such a parlous condition is the decline of railway revenue. Paragraph 56 of the Commonwealth Grants Commission's report states - >Largely owing to a change from agricultural farming to pastoral production tonnage of agricultural produce carried by the railways decreased by 37 per cent., and revenue by 3D per cent, compared with the previous year. Any curtailment of railway services will cause a further serious setback to food production, and in view of present "world conditions, the Australian Government should not allow that retrogression to occur merely in order to save an expenditure of approximately £100,000. Tasmania, in common with the other States, is hamstrung financially. As a leading constitutional lawyer in Sydney, **Dr. Louat,** recently pointed out, the States cannot share in the Commonwealth's surplus revenue, and they have no right to borrow, except through the Loan Council, which is dominated by the Commonwealth Treasurer. They cannot raise money by income tax, but are dependent on Commonwealth handouts. A press report of the speech delivered by **Dr. Louat,** reads as follows : - > **Dr. Louat** said that the fraud began In 102S, when the Commonwealth abolished the system that gave the States n guaranteed share of federal money, based on population. > > *Nest -move* was the Financial Agreement, which stripped the States of their right to borrow. > >Power to control borrowing passed to the Loan Council, a creature of the Commonwealth, dominated by the Federal Treasurer. " The final step was the so-called uniform tax in 1942," **Dr. Louat** added. > >This stripped the States of effective power to raise their own revenues, and left them dependent on discretionary handouts from Canberra. > >The Commonwealth has carried out each of these moves with shrewd legal advice, so that to-day the States have no right at all to complain to the High Court. > >Yet the Commonwealth has undermined their whole position. > >The Commonwealth is not obliged to give these annual handouts to the States and can fix them at their own figure. > >Without them every State in the Commonwealth would be insolvent at once. > >Money is power, and this means all power is getting into the hands of Canberra in spite of everything the Constitution says to the contrary. > >The States no longer control their own policies. Tasmania is a neglected State because Canberra, with its centralized Labour, administration, spends more on socialized enterprise than it expends on maintaining production in the more remote States. Notwithstanding his record revenues, the Treasurer has adopted a most niggardly attitude towards the southern-most State. I appeal to the right honorable gentleman to review his decision and to give to Tasmania at least the additional £100,000 whichit needs to balance its budget. The resultant increase in production would, I surmise, be worth much more than that comparatively small sum. Even the Labour Premier of Tasmania has admitted in a press statement that that State is in a poor financial position. The Treasurer is rather like a fat goose which will not lay a golden egg sufficiently large to meet the requirements of the States. I appeal to the Treasurer to produce the golden egg which will enable the States to meet their commitments. Whilst I support the bill because it increases the allocation to Tasmania, I appeal to the right honorable gentleman to reconsider his decision on this matter before the bill is finally passed. Question resolved in the affirmative. Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without amendment or debate; report adopted. Bill - *by leave* - read a third time. {: .page-start } page 1938 {:#debate-19} ### PA PER The following paper was presented : - >Commonwealth Public Service *Act* - Appointment - Department of Works and Housing - R. H. Thomas. House adjourned at 10.27 p.m .

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 20 October 1948, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.