House of Representatives
21 August 1952

20th Parliament · 1st Session

Mr. Speaker (Hon. Archie Cameron) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.

page 513




– Will the Prime Minister state whether there is any basis for the rumour that the term of office of the present Governor-General of Australia is to be extended ? If not, when does the Prime Minister propose to announce the name of the Governor-General’s successor.

Prime Minister · KOOYONG, VICTORIA · LP

– I regret that I am not in a position to make any announcement about the Governor-Generalship.

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– I address my question to the Prime Minister. Does the Government contemplate the introduction of a bill to control trading or financial corporations formed within the limits of the Commonwealth, in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution, Part V. - Powers of the Parliament - section 51, placitum (xx.) I point out that the company laws of the States are apparently unable to control, amongst other things, various forms of share hawking and evasions of the Capital Issues Regulations.


– No such legislation i.s in contemplation at the present time.

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– Will the Minister for Supply state whether the Government has decided by whom developmental work at Rum Jungle shall be carried out whether by outside interests or by a governmental instrumentality? Will he give an assurance that the Government’s plans for the development of the deposits will provide that any treatment of the ore that is necessary shall be carried out in the Northern Territory, and that the ore shall be treated for its copper as well as its uranium content? In view of the recent new discoveries of uranium in the n 7i

Northern Territory, will the Government consider the establishment of an atomic energy commission to co-ordinate the production and marketing of this vital material ?

Minister for Supply · PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP

– No decision has been made along the lines indicated by the honorable member. The Government will consider the suggestions made by him.

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– Has the Minister for External Affairs seen a statement in which it is alleged that the French Government has approached the Japanese Government with a view to obtaining approximately 2,000 workers to augment the labour force in New Caledonia? If so, is the Minister able to say whether there is any truth in the statement?

Minister for External Affairs · LP

– Yes, I saw a statement in the press, which was reproduced from a Japanese newspaper, to that general effect. I have no information about the proposal other than what I obtained from the press statement. I arranged for telegrams to be sent immediately to France and Japan in order to discover the facts. Last year the French Government indicated reasonably clearly that it had no intention to introduce Japanese labour into the New Hebrides. Before the war approximately 1,000 Japanese labourers were working in New Caledonia. Most of them were interned in Australia during the war. Although the Japanese have recently started trading, particularly for nickel ores, with New Caledonia, this is the first indication that I have had - and that, of course, from an unofficial source - of French and Japanese intentions regarding the employment of Japanese in the islands. The matter is being watched close v.

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– Has the Minister acting for the Minister for Immigration considered the question that I asked a fortnight ago about the plight of British immigrants in hostels where they are unable to pay the high charges imposed for . full board and lodging? I asked whether the immigrants could be permitted to find their own food and do their own cooking, so that they would have to pay only rent, and I directed attention to the fact that many women had to sit idly by, being unable to obtain outside employment, while high wages were being paid to other persons to do the cooking and other work at the hostels.


– I gave immediate consideration to the honorable member’s question and I thought that he had already received a reply to it. I am sorry that he has not, and shall see that a reply is forwarded to him very shortly.

page 514




– As one who served on Manus Island for some months during the war, and who realizes the full potentialities of the place, I ask the Minister for External Affairs to state what arrangements hare been made with the United States of America for the reoccupation of Manus Island.


– No positive arrangements have yet been made, although I naturally took the opportunity to discuss the matter at some length with Admiral Radford when I was in Honolulu. I believe that in the near future more American ships and aircraft will be calling at the island than was the case in the past. However, this matter will be discussed with military representatives at t he Anzus Pact meeting at Pearl Harbour in a few weeks’ time.

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– Can the Prime Minister say whether consideration has been given to increasing the pensions of superannuated public servants? If so, what action is it proposed to take?


– The honorable mem- ‘ ber’s question should, I suggest, be deferred until the Treasurer is present to answer it. I have certainly had no discussions on the matter.


– Commonwealth public servants, when transferred to country towns and to other cities, are sometimes unable to get houses. Will the Prime Minister consider the provision of houses for such officers as a part of the general (sousing scheme ?


– The honorable member’s question touches on a matter of policy regarding which I cannot now make a statement.

page 514




– Has the Prime Minister seen the statement that President Truman is about to issue a report on the restrictive practices of the major oil companies in the United States of America and other parts of the world, including Australia? Will the Government defer its decision on the proposed sale of Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited until that report is available in Australia?


– In the first place, I have no knowledge of the statement attributed to President Truman. The second part of the honorable member’s question contains an assumption. I have made no statement on the subject of oil. It was only yesterday that I indicated that when a statement could be made it would be made.

page 514




– Can the Prime Minister state the amount of the subsidy that is paid by the Commonwealth on every ton of coal imported from India and South Africa, and on that produced in Queensland?


– Oddly enough, I cannot give that information. I did not suppose that anybody would expect me to be in a position to do so.

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– I wish to address a question to the Minister for Social Services.


– Order ! The Minister is not here.


– Then I address my question to the Prime Minister.


– Order ! The Prime Minister does not administer the Department of Social Services.


– May I address my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services?


– The Minister for Social Services is not represented in this chamber by another Minister. The honorable gentleman should place his question on the notice-paper.


– My question is directed to the Minister acting for the

Minister for Labour and National Service. What steps does the Government intend to take, following the decision given last Monday at the Liverpool Small Debts Court to the effect that all residents in Commonwealth hostels are, in law, lodgers ? In view of the position that has now arisen, can the Minister give to the House any information about the policy of the Government regarding charges payable by the residents of such hostels?


– Order ! Questions relating to government policy are out of order. The honorable gentleman should place his question on the notice-paper.

page 515




– I preface my question to the Prime Minister by reminding him that in 1949 he announced his intention to submit to the House a bill to alter the Constitution with a view to preventing the introduction of legislation to nationalize any industry or undertaking before the approval of the people had been secured at a referendum. Will the right honorable gentleman inform me whether the Government intends to proceed with such legislation? If his answer is in the affirmative, will he state when the bill will be presented to the House? If the Government does not intend to proceed with the proposal, will he state the reason for its abandonment?


– I can well understand the anxiety of the honorable member for East Sydney on this point. When the Government has an announcement to make on the matter, it will be made.

page 515




– Can the Minister acting for the Minister for Labour and National Service inform me how many persons are receiving the unemployment benefit in Australia at the present time? Are persons who are able and willing to accept any kind of work included in that number? Will the Minister state why those able-bodied persons have not been given the addresses at which the 31,000 vacant positions exist, in order that they may obtain employment?

Minister for Defence · WAKEFIELD, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · LP

– According to the latest figures in my possession, more than 15,000 persons are now receiving unemployment benefit, and I imagine that all of them are willing and able to work. It is true to say that 31,000 vacant positions have been registered with the Commonwealth Employment Office, but it is not the policy of the Department of Labour and National Service to give the names and addresses of employers who have registered vacancies with it. To do so would be to commit a breach of confidence. The fact is that when suitable applicants go to an employment office they are directed to employers who have registered vacancies with the office.


– Does the department, or do its officers, take steps to ensure that the list to which the Minister has referred shall be kept up to date and be really a live list of effective vacancies ? How often is it checked in order to ascertain that die figures are correct and that the stated number of opportunities for employment are actually available?

WAKEFIELD, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · LP; LCL from 1951; LP from 1954

– I am given to understand that at short intervals, a check of the registered vacancies is made. In addition, as the Prime Minister has pointed out, the employment officers themselves thoroughly canvass employers in order to learn whether vacancies exist which are not registered with the Commonwealth Employment Office. I assure the right honorable gentleman that the employment officers are very active, in order not only to obtain particulars of additional vacancies but also to ensure that the vacancies registered have not since been filled. I should like, at this juncture, to correct an error that I made yesterday which, it will be remembered, caused so much concern .to the honorable member for East Sydney. I stated that the Prime Minister had ‘said that 4,000 vacancies a month had been obtained by employment officers in the manner I described. The true position is that 4,000 vacancies a week were obtained during the months of June and July.


– Is the Minister aware that 200 applicants for work attend ‘at the Brunswick employment office daily? As the honorable gentleman has informed me that in July last at least 625 persons were registered for work .at that office, and as many of those persons w.ere new Australians with little knowledge of the English language, will he .consider .the appointment of a special officer to ascertain whether opportunities exist for .the employment of such persons and also to act as an intermediary between applicants and employers?

Mi-. MCBRIDE.- The present officers are most active in attempting to obtain work for both, new Australians and old Australians. However, I shall have the suggestion of the honorable member examined in order to see whether any real benefit would flow from the appointment of such an. officer.

Mr. CHAMBERS.^! should like the Minister to state why it would be a breach qf faith on the part of the Government to tell honorable members the names of the firms that required the 31,000 employees. I should imagine that it would be in the interests of the firms concerned to make , their names known.


– Any employer who wishes to call for general applications fora position may use the advertising columns pf the press for that purpose. Those, who have registered with the Commonwealth Employment Office obviously do not wish tq adopt that course, and the Government considers that it would be a breach of confidence to publicize them. It has always been the practice in employment offices to treat as confidential the names of employers who have employ? ment available until an applicant is. interviewed whom the employment officer considers would be suitable for a particular position, in which case he is referred, to the employer,

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-Has the attention of the ^Minister for External Affairs been directed to the large volume of pro,paganda, written in Moscow, which is at present entering Australia and is directed to furthering treasonable active ties in this country? Is he aware that recently some of this propaganda - and I refer particularly to the book that I have in my hand and shall make available to him - quotes with approval the recent pro-Communist statements of the person who was appointed as head of the Department of External Affairs by the present Leader of the Opposition and who retained that post until shortly after the return io office of the present Govern^ ment ? Does npt this further link between that person and the Soviet propaganda machine give to the Minister further cause for ‘anxiety and underline the urgency of action to ensure that no other Communist agents shall be left within the Commonwealth Public Service, in either the Department of External Affairs or any other department ?


– Yes, I am generally aware pf the matters of which the honorable gentleman has spoken. Having recognized tile coyer pf the journal that he has in his hand, I believe I am also aware of the particular instance to which he hae directed my attention and that he has referred to the Soviet propaganda journal News, in which is published a laudatory concerning the attitude taken by the individual of whom the honorable gentleman has spoken. I consider that it would not he in the public interest to make known at present the details of action that has been taken in respect of this matter.


-Will the Minister for External Affairs explain how he was able so readily to identify the person referred to in the question addressed to him by the honorable member for Mackellar? Would he regard the answer that he gave as being a further attack on a man who is npt here, to defend himself?


– The description given by the honorable member for Mackellar did not admit of any great problem in identifying the individual concerned. The article in question, written about this individual, has been widely read by people in Australia who have happened to see this Communist publication Nevis. If his identity has not already become evident to the community, the retreat from Moscow must have been a little delayed.

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– In the absence of the Prime Minister, can the Vice-President of the Executive Council inform me which government was in power when the Commonwealth Employees Furlough Act became law? It will be remembered that the honorable member for Wills presented a petition in connexion with this legislation on Wednesday, the 6th August The Prime Minister promised to investigate the matter and to answer the question on the following day, which was yesterday, but I have not yet received a reply.


– It is true that the Prime Minister promised to give to the honorable member an answer to his question regarding the Commonwealth Employees Furlough Act. As the right honorable gentleman has been called from the chamber he has authorized me to reply on his behalf.

Mr Daly:

– How did he know that the question was going to be asked?


– If the honorable member had been listening to what has been said he would have known that the Prime Minister promised on Tuesday to give an answer to this question.

Mr Daly:

– I rise to order. Does this matter come within the category of an urgent and important question, Mr. Speaker? Is it in order for the honorable member to ask a question on notice and receive a verbal answer from the Minister two days later?


– I am afraid that the standing order in regard to questions is repeatedly broken by honorable gentlemen on both sides of the House, usually in collusion with one or another Minister. This it not an unusual occurrence. If the Vice-President of the Executive Council has been deputed by the Prime Minister to answer a question the matter is one for the Ministers concerned.


– The answer to the honorable member’s question that the Prime Minister has supplied is as follows: - On investigation, I find that the Commonwealth Employees Furlough Act was enacted in March, 1943, during the term of office of the Curtin Government. By an amending act which was assented to in December last year, the present Government took steps to liberalize certain of the conditions relating to the. granting of furlough to tem porary employees. Prior to the commencement of the current session some members of the Government raised the question of further amendments to this act and these are, at the moment, under active consideration.

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– In order to assist the Government’s drive for increased food production will the Minister acting for the Minister for Labour and National Service consider whether the conditions of call-up for national service could be relaxed in respect of lads who are engaged in rural production and on whose efforts that production depends? I have received information from my electorate that parents have applied for the deferment of call up of their sons on the ground that they would be unable to continue to work their properties if their sons were called up for national service, and that because of the existing regulations those applications have ‘been refused.

WAKEFIELD, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · LP; LCL from 1951; LP from 1954

– The honorable member will realize that under the National Service Act 1951, complete exemption cannot be granted to any person eligible for national service training.

Mr Haylen:

– There is also no provision for an appeal from a magistrate’s decision.


– That is so, but when national service trainees register they are always asked what periods of call up would be most suitable in view of their occupations. Particular attention is given to those youths who are engaged in rural pursuits so that their seasonal occupations may be taken into account when they are due to be called up. I am sure that the privilege of selecting the call up period is exercised by most rural workers and I believe that sympathetic consideration is given to their desires about this matter. However, under the National Service Act 1951, the total exemption from service of any person is not possible.

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– My question is directed to the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture. By way of explanation. may I say that on the 3rd June the Minister stated that he had been informed that the AustralianWheat Growers Federation had suggested to the Government, through the Australian Wheat Board, that as the suspension of the payment of bounties under Commonwealth and State legislation had effected a saving to the Commonwealth, the Government should offset the saving by paying interstate freight charges on wheat for the remainder of the year. Has the Minister had an opportunity to present that proposal to Cabinet, and if so with what result ?

Minister for Commerce and Agriculture · MURRAY, VICTORIA · CP

– The matter was immediately placed before Cabinet and approved by it. The outcome of my negotiations with the Australian Wheat Growers Federation and the Australian Wheat Board, and of Cabinet approval, was that I arranged with the QueenslandGovernment that it should rescind its proclamation on an agreed date. This was fixed at a point of time up to which there would have been a saving of subsidy to the Australian Government equal to the obligation which the Government was then prepared to assume for the payment of freight to the end of the current wheat season.

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– I ask for leave to make a short statement on the ANZUS council meeting at Honolulu recently.


– Is leave granted?

Dr. Evatt and Opposition Members. ;No.


– No?

Dr Evatt:

– No.


– Is that in the public interest - to introduce politics into the field of international affairs?

Opposition Members. - Sit down.


– Order !


– This is a fine exhibition.


– Order ! I point out to the House that the procedure in these cases requires that leave to make a statement must be requested. If one honorable member refuses leave, then the matter cannot proceed. Several honorable members refused leave in this instance.


– I hope it is noted that the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) refused to grant leave for a statement to be made on international affairs.

Dr Evatt:

– Of course I refused leave. W e want to get on with the budget debate, because the Opposition’s amendment is tantamount to a censure motion.


– Party politics in international affairs!


– Order ! If the House does not maintain order, I shall promptly suspend the sitting.

page 518


BUDGET 1952-53

In Committee of Supply: Consideration resumed from the 20th August (vide page 506), on motion by Sir Arthur Fadden -

That the first item in the Estimates under Division No.1 - The Senate - namely, Salaries and Allowances ?13,500 be agreed to.

Upon which Dr. Evatt had moved, by way of amendment -

That the first item be reduced by ?1.


.- The budget proposals of various governments in the post-war years have followed the lines of certain economic policies rather than those of party politics. However, the statements of the Leaderof the Opposisition (Dr. Evatt) and other honorable members opposite in this debate have conformed to a pattern of malicious party politics, and such elements of economics as their proposals have contained would be completely disastrous for this nation if they were put into effect. During the budget debate last year, I was able to point to certain elements of similarity between United Kingdom and Australian fiscal policy, although a socialist government was in office in Great Britain and a non-socialist government was in office in Australia. Unfortunately, the Opposition in this Parliament, under its present leader, has revealed a determination to make capital out of political issues and to subordinate the economic requirements of the nation to those issues. As aresult, it has formulated a policy that would have calamitous effects on the Australian economy.

The Leader of the Opposition probably prefers to make a party political stand in this debate because he is ill-equipped to deal with matters of economic theory. In fact, after he had first considered this budget, he declared, in a statement that was reported in the press all over Australia, that it was an inflationary budget. Then, having considered the matter further or been advised by his advisers to adopt another line, he accused the Government on the following Tuesday of having introduced a deflationary budget. He stated that the Government was trying to cause a depression and unemployment. By those accusations, the right honorable gentleman showed how little he understood the true nature of the budget. Adopting a policy of striking out in all directions, he accused the Government of having caused inflation in the past. Now the right honorable gentleman proposes that further inflation be caused by the issue of unlimited bank credit. In effect, he has suggested that as Australia has been living on the heady champagne of inflation for years, another bottle of it should be consumed and the hangover will never catch up with the victim.

The truth is that Australia’s national income has remained static by comparison with last year’s income. Wages and prices have risen but overseas balances have fallen. Consequently, real purchasing power has been reduced by about 15 per cent. Trade statistics show that purchases of groceries for food were down by 10 per cent, for the March quarter of 1952 compared with the corresponding period of the previous year. Trading in those goods. shows the least elasticity because there is a fairly constant demand for then,. Purchases of textiles have fallen by about 23 per cent, this year compared with last year and trade in hardware and other goods has ‘also declined. That fall of purchasing power does not spring from reduced wages because they have risen, in proportion to the national income, by from 51 per cent, to 59 per cent, in the last year. Purchasing power . has fallen because of the adverse seasonal conditions, a decline of exports and the rising cost structure in Australia. What has the Leader of the Opposition suggested as a remedy? He would have this Government appear before the Commonwealth Arbitration Court and advocate increased wages and shorter hours although the whole trend of the economy shows clearly that we are pricing ourselves out of world markets and discouraging the expansion of industry because of the fall of real purchasing power. The obvious solution of the problem is to increase the national income and bring the proportion of wages to national income back to a level at which the economy can function efficiently. We must have higher productivity generally and more exports. Prom those facts, it is clear that the responsibility for maintaining full employment does not rest upon the Commonwealth alone but must be shared by the State governments and by all sections of the community. I do not need to go further for my authority for that statement than the White Paper on Full Employment which the Labour Government tabled in this chamber in 1945. Paragraph 24 of that document states -

To carry out a full employment policy will require the closest collaboration between the State and Commonwealth Governments and between Governments and trade unions along lines some of which have already been worked out.

Any one who has studied relationships between the States and the Commonwealth knows that some States have not co-operated fully with the Commonwealth in its efforts to stabilize the economy and to maintain full employment. I do not need to go into details in that respect. However, the recent announcement by this Government that it will return taxing powers to the States should quickly bear fruit in awakening the States to their responsibilities, which some of them have totally ignored during the last few years.

I turn now to the contribution that employees must make towards the maintenance of full employment. As a result of the coal strike that occurred in New South Wales in 1949, more than 630,000 employees were thrown out of work. In the light of that figure, the claim made by the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) that 100,000 persons are now unemployed will be seen in its true perspective. As a result of that coal strike immediate production to the value of £33,000,000 was lost whilst the loss of future production was valued at £100,000,000. Those figures reveal the effect of strikes upon the cost structure and show them to be a cause of the falling off of purchasing power in the community. Coming more up to date, I direct the attention of honorable members’ to the disastrous strike in Western Australia in the metal trades which has just been settled. In: that instance, in which 800 government employees and 200 private employees went on strike, 1,000 employees caused 4,000 other workers on the State railways to be placed on half-time, or even less. One thousand other employees were stood down and 1,200 miners on the Collie coal-field were reduced from eleven shifts to only six shifts a fortnight. During the preceding two years, not one shift had been lost on that field because of industrial stoppages but the small section of the community that was responsible for the recent strike in Western Australia caused those miners to be placed on half-time.

It is interesting to examine the cause of that strike because it reveals the irresponsibility of some trade unionists in blindly falling for the Communist technique. The metal trade workers in Western Australia are employed under a State award, and a new award came into force on the 26th November last. The Galvin award on margins, which did not affect the metal trades in that State, was delivered on the 16th January of this year, and shortly after that date the strike was called as a protest against that award. Oddly enough, before the State award for the metal trades was delivered in November, 1951, the Communist newspaper, Tribune, had advocated the payment of double marginal rates. Such a claim was never made before Conciliation Commissioner Galvin, yet the metal trades strike was called in February, 1952, in an attempt to force the payment of the double marginal rate. After the State award had been made and had been accepted for some months, and after the Galvin award, which did not apply to Western Australia, had been made, that strike was called, and it tied up Western Australian industry for six months. Is there any wonder that honorable members opposite do not know where they stand in this matter? As I have said before, unless we have the co-operation of the whole community in order to secure high efficiency in our output we shall not get anywhere with our policy of full employment. The Labour party did not face up to its responsibility. It very piously claimed that it stood by arbitration, and that it did not approve of the strike, but it did nothing to settle the dispute. It could have done the following three tilings: It could have arranged for a secret ballot to be held; it could have sanctioned the employment of additional tradesmen who were really fitters’, mates, as was done when there was a shortage of labour during war-time; and it could have declared the strike black. The president of the Australian Labour party in Western Australia was in a position of some delicacy, because he was contesting the pre-selection ballot for the Division of Swan, in which the Midland railway works are centred. Although many of the workers there were on strike, many of the moderates disapproved of the strike.

Mr Tom Burke:

– What was the attitude of the Communists?


– I can understand the interest of the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Tom Burke) on that point because he gained his seat in this chamber only after the Communist preference votes had been distributed.

We might well ask why there is now industrial peace throughout Australia. Does that state of affairs suit honorable members opposite, or have they willingly or unwillingly been persuaded by the Communists to co-operate to maintain industrial peace, so that they can attack the Government on the unemployment issue ? Both honorable members opposite and the Communists are attacking this Government. Whether or not they are willing or unwilling allies at present, the fact remains that there is practically complete industrial peace throughout the country. If the harmonious state of industry is not attributable to the reasons I have mentioned, honorable members opposite should admit that it is due to the good policy that has been applied by this Government.

Mr Curtin:

– What about the money that the Government parties put inti the coffers of the Communist party?

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr. Bowden). - Order ! The honorable member for Watson (Mr. Curtin) will cease attempting to assist the honorable member for Forrest.


– The Leader of the Opposition has attacked the Government’s policy in relation to Australia’s overseas balances. It is true that the decline of our overseas balances has led to an acute position in this country. What happened was that, having increased our overseas reserves from approximately £500,000,000 to £800,000,000, we had to draw on them until they had been reduced to the lowest level consistent with safety. Then, as far as was practicable, we reduced our overseas expenditure by a quantitative restriction of imports. The right honorable gentleman, suggested that that was a wrong approach to make to the matter. I should like him to look again at the pronouncement of policy upon this subject made by the Labour party in 1945. Strangely enough, our practice has been completely identical with that policy. In the White Paper on Pull Employment published in 1945, the following passages appear : -

Minor fluctuations in export income will, as in the past, be met by running down oversea reserves in poor years and building them up in good years.

That is exactly what this Government has done.

If there is a prolonged and severe fall in export incomes, it will not be possible to meet the deficit in the balance of payments merely by drawing from oversea reserves, and we shall then have to reduce expenditure on imports.

Again, that is exactly what this Government has done.

In the past, necessary reductions in imports have usually been allowed to come about by permitting a fall in export incomes to result in reduced spending by export producers, thus bringing about unemployment and a general fall in incomes to the extent necessary to reduce imports to the level at which they could be paid for from export income. This deflationary method is inconsistent with a full employment policy, and serves the interest neither of the people of Australia nor of the people of the countries with which Australia trades. The Government will not countenance this method in future.

Other means of reducing imports -will thus be required. If the deficit in the balance of payments is primarily due to a permanent decline in oversea demand for Australian pro ducts, and if it is not possible to restore export income by shifts of productive resources to meet charges in world demands, an alteration in the exchange rate may be the appropriate method of correction.

We have not come to that yet.

If, however, the fall in export income ib one which, although prolonged and severe, is not permanent, the more appropriate method may be quantitative restriction of imports.

That is exactly the process that this Government has adopted.

The next point made by the Leader of the Opposition was that the solution of the problem of how to expand investment in this country is cheap money. Despite the generosity of the Prime Minister in this regard, he has suggested that there should be a fixed interest rate of 3$ per cent, on long-term government borrowing. That is completely typical of the socialist mind. The socialist argues that because he says a thing must be so, necessarily it is so. The Leader of the Opposition believes that if he says the interest rate should be fixed at 3-gr per cent., there will be more investment at that rate. In recent years, the practice throughout the world has been to increase interest rates. I remind the right honorable gentleman that when the British Labour party increased interest rates in 1951, the following comment was made by the Economist on the 3rd February of that year : -

The Government has conceded the important principle that the rules of the market place cannot long be defied with impunity.

The problem of fixed interest rates has vexed economists for a long time. Despite the assertions of the Leader of the Opposition, no economist, whether he has been advocating cheap money or dear money, has ever suggested that a fixed and invariable interest rate should be maintained through all stages and processes of the economy. The British White Paper of 1944 on Employment Policy stated -

High interest rates are more effective in preventing excessive investment in periods of prosperity than are low interest rates in encouraging investment in periods of depression.

The British Labour party, which is infinitely ahead of the Leader of the Opposition in economic theory, believes that low interest rates are not of much use in a period of depression. The right honorable gentleman exhibited the typical socialist state of mind when he said that we must adopt an inflationary policy to keep inflation going. He has offered us, as, so to speak. a packet of aspros to use when the hangover catches up with us, bank credit to increase prices and prices control to keep prices down. He has suggested that that will achieve wage stability. There is a great deal of very loose thinking on this subject. Trying to determine whether, if prices are kept down, wages will automatically stay down, is rather like trying to determine which came first, the chicken or the egg. Wages will not necessarily stay down with prices control. Honorable members opposite would surely suggest that prices should be fixed only in order to allow a reasonable minimum profit to the producer. Under these circumstances do they suggest that external costs that are superimposed on production costs should not be allowed to the producer? For instance, if a coal strike adds millions of pounds to costs, should those increased costs not be allowed to the producer?

Mr Joshua:

– We have not had a strike.


– The truth of the matter is that 64 per cent, of all industrial stoppages between 1945 and 1949 were due to disputes over matters other than wages and hours of employment. Obviously, under prices control, external costs due to industrial stoppages or to prices increases overseas, would have to be added and prices would have to rise. Wages, too, would have to rise; and to say that, in such circumstances, prices control could be anything more than a method of recording increased cost3, is just fantastic. The Leader of the Opposition is well aware of that. Some members of the Opposition may be expected not to try to reason it out for themselves. Indeed, some of them are hardly capable of doing that if one can judge by the nonsense that one hears from them in this chamber over and over again. The Leader of the Opposition has been thwarted at two referendums on this question. He resents the fact that the Australian people will not acquiesce in this short step towards socialization. The alternative policy offered by the Leader of the Opposition and his supporters shows not only political irresponsibility and malice, but also a trend towards the socialist State, towards denying the rights of the State governments, and towards the centralization of power in the Commonwealth. Not only is such a policy politically irresponsible and malicious, but also it is economically unsound, and would spell disaster for this country.


– It is amusing to hear apologists for the Government claiming that the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) lacks the ability to restore stability to the Australian economy. I know, and the people of Australia know what would be the result of an appeal to the electors now. Therefore, I rise with much pleasure to support the amendment that has been moved by the Leader of the Opposition, and to give expression to the belief of the vast majority of the Australian people that this Government, which is bringing Australia to ruin, should be destroyed at the earliest opportunity. As I travel round my electorate, which includes the Waverley and Bondi districts, I am asked repeatedly, “ When are you going to defeat this Government? “ At the conclusion of this debate my vote will be recorded to that end. This is the third budget that has been introduced since I was elected to the Parliament. The first of those budgets was a window-dressing arrangement which was produced as a forerunner to the double dissolution that ultimately was obtained by the Government last year.


– With very disappointing results for the honorable member and his party.


– With very disappointing results for the whole people. The second of those budgets has been aptly described as the “horror” budget. It was introduced last year as a cure-all for all forms of inflation, and for the purpose of securing a surplus of £114,500,000. Any surplus that resulted from it has been whittled away, until there is not a penny of surplus money in the national coffers. Now we have the third budget, which the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) introduced a fortnight ago. The tremendous reception that he received on that occasion from his followers in the Liberal and Australian Country parties has never been equalled in this chamber. I believe that Hitler in his heyday never received in the German Reichstag such a hysterical welcome as members of the Liberal and Australian Country parties gave to the Treasurer when he introduced the budget. It will be tremendously interesting to hear what explanation the tory back benchers will give to the many thousands of dissatisfied voters in their electorates, and to the unemployed, the pensioners, members of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia, and housewives, of their attitude to this budget.

Members of the Labour party recognize that the budget is the most important document that is presented to the Parliament, It is the Government’s report to the nation. “We all realize our responsibility in this Parliament, and the necessity to work for the development and advancement of this great country. Members of the Opposition have been critical of the budget, although it contains some pleasing features, one of which Ls the increase of the level pf adequate maintenance of blind pensioners between the ages of sixteen and 21 years. Other pleasing features are the proposed increases of pensions, unemployment and sickness benefits, and, in some instances, repatriation benefits. The increases will not be great, and will not evoke much enthusiasm from the people who are to receive them. That is understandable, because the basic wage has risen by £2 a week since the last budget was introduced, and has risen altogether £5 3s. since the Government took office on the 10th December. 1949, less than three years ago. This is the Government that was going to stop inflation and put value back into the £1. Its supporters made tremendous promises that have not been kept.

I consider that the means test should have been eased to some degree this year. The Government has claimed that nobody should exploit the unfortunate pensioners or recipients of social services. I agree with that sentiment, and I am sure that a majority of honorable mem bers also agree with it; but it is the responsibility of the Government to provide the greatest assistance possible to. widows, sick people and the aged. This is not being done. Many members of the Opposition have compared the payments made by way of social services benefits now with those made during the Labour Government’s regime. In any such comparison regard must be had to the changed value of money that has resulted from the various increases of the basic wage that have occurred since the Government took office. I suggest that the Government establish a joint committee of this Parliament to investigate social services payments. The establishment of such a committee would remove all political party spleen from consideration of this important matter and end the pandering for votes that is associated with social services legislation. Let us cease to make pensioners a. political football. It might be possible to call in Mr. Justice Nicholas to make a complete analysis in regard to social services payments. I consider that if he worked on the basis that he used in the inquiry on parliamentary salaries, especially in relation to Ministers, pensioners might get a fairer deal than they get at present. It is possible that an independent committee could do something about removing the means test. After all, 5s. in every £1 of tax collected is devoted to the provision of social services. The National Welfare Fund, which was left in a healthy state by the Labour Government, is now being whittled away. If these matters were investigated by an independent committee such as I have suggested, it might well be to the benefit of those poor unfortunates in the community who are at present on the verge of starvation. The ex-servicemen’s organizations, the members of which were so carefully cultivated by honorable members opposite before their election to this Parliament, have been most critical of the Government and its supporters.

During the last twelve months the federal president of the Returned Sailors Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia, Mr. “ Bill “ Yeo, has made special appeals to ex-servicemen who support the Government to honour the pledges which they made to their mates, but his appeals have fallen upon deaf ears. Mr. Yeo has pointed out to them that the Government rode into office on the backs of ex-servicemen and appealed to honorable members opposite to do the right thing for those who suffered in the defence of their country. Is it a matter for wonder that the ex-servicemen’s organizations want to expel all politician members who have made no attempt to induce the Government to honour the pledges to ex-servicemen? I agreewith my colleagues that this budget will neither result in the provision of a single job for an unemployed person, nor restore confidence in the Government to the business community.

The Leader of the Opposition, in his speech on the budget, gave a masterly exposition of Labour’s policy and plans for the future. The Canberra Times, commenting on his speech had this to say-

The Leader of the Opposition, Dr. Evatt, in baking up the issues, has delivered more than a criticism of the Government. His was also apolicy speech, indicating what steps the Opposition would take in the circumstances and what it would do should it come to office…

The primary aim of public policy is to establish confidence. Dr. Evatt has scored a palpable hit when he attacks the raising of interest rates. His proposal that lower interest should be stated as the objective of Commonwealth policy would make a first contribution to confidence in business activity. Australian history demonstrates that high interest has been the forerunner of financial disaster and many of our current troubles spring from heeding the advocates of higher interest.

Labour has offered advice and a plan to the Government. Whilst it is not the responsibility of the Opposition to save the Government from the unholy mess which it is in, the Opposition is so concerned about the plight of the people that it has offered a constructive policy to replace that applied by the Government. The rapid growth of unemployment, the decline of rural and secondary industries and the general worsening of the economic position, call for statesmanlike action. Labour realizes that the nation has become anaemic and needs a transfusion of credit and confidence torestore it to health.

Let us not be fooled by the recent statement of the Minister acting for the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McBride) on the subject of unemployment. It is impossible for the workless to secure jobs in Sydney to-day. All the Minister’s talk about the existence of 32,000 unfilled vacancies is stupid. If these vacancies exist, why are they not advertised by the Commonwealth Employment Service, in the metropolitan and provincial press as they were in earlier years? The plain truth is that these vacancies are non-existent.

Mr McBride:

– Do not be stupid.


– I have approached the Minister and those of his colleagues who are associated with the works programme of the Commonwealth and begged them to provide employment for hundreds of my unemployed constituents, many of them under the age of 40 years, who are prepared to go anywhere in Australia to provide for themselves and their families. I beg the Minister to tell me where these jobs are located. When I approached the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) he referred me to the Snowy Mountains Authority. When I approached the commissioner of that body on the subject he gave me an evasive reply. Many tradesmen and unskilled men in my electorate are prepared to go anywhere to secure a job.

Mr Curtin:

– There are no unfilled jobs.


– That is so. It is of no use for the Minister to burke the issue. The Government should not try to lead us up the garden path; it should give to the Parliament the fullest information about the unemployment situation. It is a standing disgrace that in a young country like Australia men who are able and willing to work should walk the streets fruitlessly seeking employment. The unemployment situation has arisen only during the last six months. Vast developmental works that await commencement or completion throughout this country would provide reproductive work for many thousands, if not millions, of our people. This country has produced many men of outstanding ability. Their activities should be directed to overcome the effects of drought conditions in Central Australia, to develop the empty north and to harness the rivers throughout this great land. Honorable members may ask : “ Where is the money for these works to come from ? “ If war broke out to-morrow there would be no difficulty in providing the money with which to meet such an emergency. Why, then, should there be difficulty in providing money to finance necessary and urgent public works in peace-time?

The- importance of rural production has been stressed by honorable members on this side of the chamber. The basic position in relation to rural production has deteriorated. In 193S-39-, there were 253,536 rural holdings in Australia; but by 19.50,-51 there were only 243,626, a decrease of approximately 10,000, although,, during the same period the Total area of holdings increased by approximately 43,000,000 acres. Instead of striving, to. place more men on the land and to make land available to the people the Government is acquiescing in the- aggregation of large estates,, with the result that the number of persons engaged in production is lessening year by year. En many instances small holdings are being acquired by large land-holders with a> consequent adverse effect upon rural production*.

In spite of” our- adverse- overseas’ trade balance, the Government, in the budget, has given no incentive to primary pro.ducers to’ increase the production of export commodities. Interwoven with this problem of reduced rural production are the> problems of full employment, and immigration. Primary producers are entitled’ to fair- market prices- for1 their products, and to just and,, indeed’,, to generous’ treatment. Without their, cooperation the’ organization, of the community would collapse: Equally; the primary, producer must realize the need for– co-operation with those engaged, in secondary industries. Good prices,for The primary producer do not necessarily mean increased production.. Planning and organization, are essential. Increased prices arc not”, of themselves,, automatic incentives., The’ truth is that in Australia to-day! much. land, which, is suitable, for intensive: food, production* is not’ being fully; utilized. Productive land which, is shut off from young, Australians unlocked’., The; owners are entitled to, and, should be guaranteed, just, terms. The breaking up of large estates, is. a matter of great urgency, not only to bring about increased production, but also to absorb a large number of new Australians. The land is given to- ns as a trust; it must not be allowed to remain unused. All sections of the Labour movement are expressing views similar to those I have stated. I trust that the Government will give close consideration to them and that it will- not consider that this- matter can be disposed of merely by a higher price arrangement. As a country man,, you, Mr. Acting Chairman, must agree with the representations that have been made by Labour speakers on this subject. You will agree”, Mr. Acting Chairman, that the analysis made’ by the Leader of the Opposition- was- accurate. There is room for the immediate employment of more- labour- ku rural industries. Australian- workers and immigrants are plentiful,, a,nd should- be employed at award rates under. award conditions. The under-pay meat of immigrants must, cease. Mr. Tom Doherty, general secretary, of- the Australian Workers Union, has attacked the Government on this issue; and has. demanded, that new Australians, .be paid award wages. Addressing the Australian Workers’ Union convention he urged that a deputation should’ wait on the Minister for Labour and National’ Service* in order to urge that new Australians employed on work that came* within- the scope of the’ Australian Workers* Union should be* compelled’ to* join that organization.. He declared- that in Now South Wales 1,600 new Australians were’ not working, under- award, conditions-.- Exploitation,, he said’, was rife throughout the State; At present,, a person, who- is not a, member of a. union is- not entitled under- the law to claim the award, wage which applies to- the work he is doing. It is’ a disgraceful’ thing that, the Government has not made the same arrangement with the Australian Workers Union as it has made with some- of the Communistcontrolled unions under which information.! about new Austr.alia.ns is supplied, to the unions. Apparently this arrangement exists between the Immigration Department and unions in the meta trades group that are under Communist domination. I believe the- department makes, available to them the names of new Australians employed in their industries, and the Minister hears representations from the unions at any time. The Australian Workers Union, which is without a tinge or taint of communism, is being sabotaged by the Government.

There has been much talk in this Parliament about communism. I warn the Government that if unemployment is not checked, and if people are allowed to go hungry, communism in Australia will grow out of all proportion. Communism thrives on unrest and chaos, and conditions are much more favorable to its growth now than they were under the prosperous regimes of John Curtin and Ben Chifley.

It is important to analyse the reasons which have caused the Government’s popularity to decline. Its present unpopularity is due to the way in which it has mismanaged the affairs of the nation. The Government’s first mistake was the lifting of import restrictions, thus encouraging the importation of goods of all kinds. This was followed by the lifting of control over capital issues. Then, after the internal and external economy of tho country had suffered serious injury, the Government reversed ite policy and imposed rigid import restrictions, re-imposed capital issues control, and imposed credit restrictions of a kind that had been unknown since the dark days of the depression. Those were the basic causes that destroyed public confidence, and brought about unemployment and the closing down of numerous industries.

Honorable members opposite have said that the policy of the Labour Government was unsound. Such talk fools no one. All Australians know that there were no hungry men, women or children in Australia, under Labour rule, when either John Curtin or Ben Chifley was Prime Minister. Unfortunately, that cannot be said to-day. Every one knows how Labour demobilized approximately 1,000,000 men from the armed services and placed in industry 400,000 immigrants without causing unemployment. Every ore knows how, while the Chifley Government was in power, all Commonwealth loans were oversubscribed, wherea.s the loans issuer! by the present Government have, with few exceptions, been under-subscribed. Every one knows that while Labour was in office Australia’s London balance increased month by month, whereas under the present Government that balance has been reduced to a dangerous level. Australians remember that Ben Chifley reduced our foreign indebtedness, whereas this Government has increased it. When the Chifley Government went out of power it left more than £180,000,000 in the National Welfare Fund for social services. The Menzies Government has used that money.

It may be interesting to honorable members opposite to hear a comment on the present economic situation by a man who was formerly a candidate for Parliament in the Liberal interests. He stood for the electorate of Bondi in the last State elections, and was hailed as a glamour candidate for the Liberal party. I refer to Alderman Weekes, of the Waverley Council. This is what he wrote for a local newspaper which circulates in hisdistrict -

Everywhere I po the man in the street is complaining about the high cost of living under the Menzies-Fadden Government.

There seems to be no ceiling for costs under the present regime.

Remember, when dear old Ben Chifley . the often maligned Chifley . . was in. power, the basic wage was £6 12s., and you. could get rump steak for 2s. 2d. per lb. and butter “for ls. lid. per lb.

That was less than three years ago.

Now the basic wage is nearly £11 a week steak is 6s. 6d. per lb., and butter 3s. 2d. per lb. (if you can reach under the counter) .

The comparison between” pre-Menzies and present-Menzies costs is the same all through.

Dozens of businesses are going smash every day, and the unemployment market is swelling.

A cheerful old Easter, indeed!

You would think some of those members of Parliament in borderline seats would be raising merry hell . . . bringing some pressure to bear on the Government.

The way things are going, there’ll be a lot of new faces in the next Parliament .

If we don’t all die of starvation in the meantime, and fail to see this Parliament out

That was published on the 3rd April last. The Labour Government successfully controlled inflation. The basic wage rose by only 8s. - from £3 37s. to £4 5s. - during the six years of war. During the postwar years, until the defeat of the Chifley Government, the basic wage increased from £4 5s. to £5 15s.

Mr Turnbull:

– Why was that?


– Largely because of the successful opposition of the antiLabour parties to Commonwealth control of prices. The present Government has been in office for two and a half years, and during that time, the basic wage has increased by £5 3s. a week. The claim made by Government supporters that such a sharp increase is due to Labour is complete nonsense and fools nobody.

The oration of the Prime Minister last week steadied the rapid declining of the morale of Government supporters. The brilliance of his oratory is unquestioned, but I believe that the right honorable gentleman is the worst administrator that this country has known. He failed the nation in 1940, and he is failing it again at the present time. A man of words, he is in his element while he can talk. He is a Liberal giant with feet, of clay. I felt sorry for him. When he spoke in this debate last Wednesday evening, he could draw no inspiration from the “ claquers “ on the benches opposite. He then looked to the Labour party for interjections, but the absence of them left him floundering. The Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) is even more despised than is the Prime Minister, and will say and do anything in an endeavour to gain his own ends. I direct attention to the attitude that he adopted last May when Marcus Clark Limited, a Sydney retail firm, was testing the validity of the Defence Preparations (Capital Issues Control) Regulations in the High Court of Australia. In a statement submitted to the. court he referred to the inevitability of war, and said that Australia must prepare for possible mobilization by the end of 1953. He also issued a warning to Cabinet that economy measures this year must be ruthless, and that governments would be “ scratching “ for money. He declared that reductions of taxes were out of the question, but be thought that substantial remissions would be likely in 1013. His last statement was most significant because an election w:ll Ve held ^ t,11.1 year. ‘ The Prime Minister is ,7.dor the domination of th: R unfortunate Treasurer The leader of the Government considered that the revaluation of the Australian £1 was a possible panacea for our economic ills, but that small coterie, the members of the Australian Country party, which controls the Government, objected to that proposal and clamped down hard upon it. That little coterie of nineteen members, in reality, controls the destiny of this nation. The Australian Country party holds *the Prime Minister in the hollow of its hand. He is a mere puppet to-day, and the people are greatly concerned about that situation. In my

Opinion, the Liberal party and the Australian Country party do not represent 40 per cent, of the electors at the present time, and as soon as this Government vacates office, happiness will be restored to the people of this great country.

Wide Bay

– As one who offered some criticism of the previous budget. I desire to emphasize my whole-hearted support of the effort of the Government, as expressed in the present budget, to grapple with the difficulties of the changing economy. Unfortunately, many of those difficulties are of Australia’s own making, because of the constitutional position. The people have not entrusted to this National Parliament, or to any other parliament in this country, complete authority to deal with important problems as they arise. The economic position is becoming dangerous, a situation which is being assisted by the efforts of the Communists. This Parliament has no power to prevent the recurrence of economic difficulties similar to those that are now being experienced. The changed circumstances to-day are best illustrated by the introduction of a shorter working week by some State governments, exercising their sovereign power. Australians have a greater degree of freedom, in the constitutional sense, than have the people of any other non-totalitarian country. Sovereignty has been divided between thu Commonwealth and the States, and some people claim that such a division of authority is causing the country to head for disaster. If that be so, it emphasises more than ever the necessity for holding a constitution convention in the hope that the national Parliament, or the State parliaments, will, like Canada and New

Zealand be given adequate power to manage the affairs of the country, meet contingencies as they arise, and enable Australia to fulfil’ its great destiny.

Mr Joshua:

– What about prices control 2


– Prices control is supposed to be administered by the Sta-tes. If they have failed to administer prices control effectively, as the interjection of the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. Joshua) implies, it serves only to emphasize the difficult constitutional position of the Commonwealth. This budget will confer benefits on all sections of the community. Tax remissions will total .50,000,000, and the provision of £164,000,000 for social services will ensure that the less fortunate sections of the community, including pensioners shall receive the additional assistance that they require. Incidentally, the provision for social services this year exceeds the allocation last year by £26,000,000. This Government, during the first 14 months it was in office, was obstructed . by a hostile Senate, and had :io opportunity to give effect to its legislative programme. The Government has introduced three budgets since 1949. The first and second of them as well as conferring other benefits, increased pensions by 10s. a week on each occasion, and this budget provides for an increase of 7s. 6d. a week.

Mr Joshua:

– Shame I It is not enough.


– Is it a shame that this Government is to pay pensioners £1 7s. 6d. a week more than the Chifley Labour Government provided for them in 1949?

Mr George Lawson:

– The cost of living in 1.949 was substantially lower i him it is to-day.


– Prices control is administered by State authorities, so this Government cannot be blamed for increased prices. The present Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) made no such Statement in the form alleged by members of the Opposition to the effect that if he were returned to office, he would put value back into the £1.

Mr Curtin:

– Has the Government put value back into the £1 ?


– The Prime Minister’^ statement on that occasion was* an indication ; as’ the honorable member who- has- just interjected, has admitted that- value had been taken out of the £1 before he assumed, office. Day after day, the Opposition screams that the Government, has failed, to put value back into the £1. Obviously, the £1 was losing, it3 value when the Chifley Government was in office, and the alleged promise of the Prime Minister was evidence of the necessity to restore value to it. Every possible effort has been made by tHe Government to fulfil that promise, but it- is hampered by constitutional limitations and the actions of the States.

The referendum held last year, when the Government sought constitutional power to ban the- Communist party, was most important.. The Government hoped to obtain authority to deal with the enemies of the country, the traitors within it, the Communists who had wrecked industry and are causing unemployment to-day. By their activities the Communists have reduced the output of coal, iron and steel, and paralysed our transport systems. Opposition members who blame this Government for the unemployment situation should direct their criticisms against the Communists and the State governments. I read in the newspapers to-day that the Labour Government of New South Wales had a deficit of £3,150,000 in its railway and tramway accounts. Does the Opposition blame the Menzies Government for that loss?

Mr Tom Burke:

– Yes, because the Menzies Government has allowed costs to go haywire.


– Some people are so unfair that they will say anything. The New South Wales Government instituted the 40-hour week. Now it is opposing an effort to halt the quarterly increases of the basic wage under the present system. According to the- press, the Government of New South Wales must reduce the losses incurred on its transport services by effecting economies. If the required amount is to be saved by dismissals, 1,400 men must be sacked. If they are dismissed, the Opposition in apparent delight will immediately claim that the Menzies

Government is to blame for the situation. The Nev/ South “Wales Government is considering the withdrawal of tenders tor the construction of locomotives and railway rolling-stock work that would give employment to many men. The New South Wales Government has just imported a locomotive which was built in another country. That Government endeavours to blame the Australian Government for the unemployment and the lost wages which have resulted from its own actions.

When His Excellency Sir John Lavarack opened the Queensland Parliament yesterday he was obliged to state, in the course of his speech, that the Queensland Government is contributing ten times as much as is the Australian Government towards war service land settlement in Queensland. I have here statistics which show the amount of money that has been provided by this Government for war service land settlement. Honorable members no doubt remember that rather than adopt the scheme proposed by the Chifley Government, the Queensland Government, in company with the governments of New South Wales and Victoria, decided that they would conduct their own war service land settlement scheme rather than act as agents for the Commonwealth. Those three States therefore receive no financial assistance from the Commonwealth in respect of war service land settlement. The agent States, on the other hand, have received large grants. South Australia, for instance, has received £7,000,000 for development and improvement of land, in addition to £1,666,000 for land acquisition for soldier settlement. On that basis, it is reasonable to assume that Queensland, with its greater population, would have received from the Commonwealth approximately £10,000,000. I suggest that that is the answer to the statement that the Queensland Government contributes ten times as much as does the Australian Government to war service land settlement in Queensland. The truth is that already this Government has provided a total of £171,000,000 for the re-establishment of ex-servicemen. Altogether, approved allocations to Queensland total” £24.216.292, but all of this has, not been expended.

Sir John Lavarack was also obliged to say that his advisers had been unable to obtain from the Australian Government an increased contribution towards the cost of establishing ex-servicemen on the land, because of reduced loan allocations. I suggest that the greatly increased establishment cost flows directly from the 40-hour week and the unfortunate method of quarterly wage adjustments. This Government cannot control either of those matters. Sir John had the unenviable task of contending that the failure of the Australian Government to control prices, combined with reduced loan allocations to the . States, is making it increasingly difficult for the Queensland Government to maintain the desired rate of settlement of ex-servicemen on the land. Every honest Australian, knows that during the time this Government has been in office the States have received more loan money than ever before and to-day, Queensland has available an unexpended balance of about £17,000,000.

The fact that the New South Wales Government cannot run its trams at a profit and, indeed, cannot guarantee to meet the wages of the men and women whom it employs on the trams, even though fares have increased threefold, is due in no small measure to the introduction by that Government of the 40-hour week. Nevertheless, it is considering the withdrawal of orders, which have been placed with Australian factories, for additional plant for the tramways. It should not be forgotten that if people are unemployed because of the action of the New South Wales Government in that connexion, the Australian Government will have to provide them with unemployment relief, which it proposes to increase by 100 per cent.

During the last three years of office of the Chifley Government, the States received from the Commonwealth £62,000,000, £66,000,000 and £93,000,000 respectively. Since this Government has been in office the States have received £164,000,000 and £225,000,000. In the light of those facts, I do not know how any government could expect a State governor to read, without blushing, statements such as those contained in th.p speech delivered by Sir John Lavarack.

Of the £225,000,000 to which I have just referred, the loan market supplied only £70,000,000, so that the Australian Government provided, from revenue, £155,000,000 for the States during the financial year. I hope that it will not be long before State governments, which spend the money, are responsible for its collection. In my opinion, if Australia desires to construct projects for the benefit of future generations, the cost of such projects should be so apportioned that those who benefit will also help to pay for them.

During the recent visit of the Prime Minister to Brisbane, he addressed a meeting in the City Hall, during which he said that in the last three years, 1951-52-53, the government works programme of Australia will amount to £630,000,000. Before the war it averaged £25,000,000 a year. Of that £630,000,000 the Commonwealth will have found £505,000,000. The right honorable gentleman added, “ I hope I may be allowed to say that the Government which finds five-sixths of the money ought to be given credit for doing five-sixths of the work The more that statement is repeated the more forcefully will we drive into the minds of the people an idea of the honest effort which this Government has made to obtain the money necessary for developmental works. It might also be said that the Government should receive the credit for providing fivesixths of the wages that have been paid in connexion with the works that it has financed.

This is a pleasing budget because it will give relief in all sections of the community. Under the Financial Agreement the Australian Government has provided £108,000,000 for reimbursement grants to the States, an amount which is £22,500,000 more than it is obliged to pay. In 1948 this grant amounted to £45,000.000. The sinking fund payments by the Government under the Financial Agreement will amount to £10,326,000. Grants for special financial assistance to the States amount to £33,500.000. Although the Government was obliged to pay only £96,789,000 to the States under the Financial Agreement in 1951-52 it paid £14i0,888,000.

The Government has undertaken to provide £152,865,000 for the Australian Loan Council, including a sum of £30,000,000 for use by the States in the construction of housing generally, and £28,000,000 for the construction of war service homes. Despite what was said by His Excellent the Go vernor of Queensland on behalf of the Queensland Government, the Australian Government has provided £6,000,000 for the purpose of war service land settlement. The Government, has allocated £13,600,000 for expenditure on the Snowy Mountains scheme this year, which, represents an increase of £3,000,000 ‘ob last year’s expenditure, and £6,700,000 for the development of civil aviation. The provision of these moneys by the. Government has made it possible to provide work for thousands of people in these difficult times. The Commonwealth has provided £15,500,000 for the construction of State roads; it has paid £1,880,000 for the importation of houses, and. it has given £1,200,000 to assist universities.

The present budget represents an honest attempt to meet the difficulties that face Australia. Until the Constitution is altered to vest in this Parliament the authority to control economic conditions its task will not be very pleasant. The international outlook is not bright and honorable members should co-operate in the handling of the difficulties of this country. .Representatives of the employers in New South Wales have stated that recent increases in the basic wage have necessitated their paying an additional £440,000,000. That, is why people have been put out of work. The man on the land will not now pay £12 a week to an employee who will not work. Consequently, those who refuse to work for their money are not now employed. The benefits to the taxpayer under this budget will be very considerable. The removal of the special levy of 30 ner cent, will leave an additional £36,500.000 in the pockets of the people. Australians are one of the lowest taxed people in the world. A man with a wife and child who earns £250 a year pays no income tax.” If he earns £300 a vear he pays 17s. If a man with a wife and child earns £1,500 in England cr New Zealand he pays £342 in income tax. In Australia he would pay £223 this year.

Mr Curtin:

– The honorable member is not taking the exchange rate into account.


– I do not chink that the honorable member for “Watson (Mr. Curtin) really understands bow the exchange rate operates. The budget has provided for reductions of sales tax amounting to £6,000,000, and although many people would have been very pleased if this form of taxation had been further reduced, no doubt it has been reduced as much as is possible at the present time. Six million pounds of company taxation has been remitted and chat essential commodity, butter, has been subsidized to the amount of £16,000,000. The reduction of £36,500,000 in income tax will be welcomed by grateful taxpayers. The amount of money that the Government proposes to allocate to social services during this financial year is more than has been expended by any other government in the past. Honorable members should notice that child endowment will cost the Commonwealth £53,800,000, or about £7.000,000 more than last year. Age pensions will be increased by £24,000,000 to a total of £72,4S5,000 this year. Widows’ pensions, maternity allowances and allowances for- the blind, mentally deficient, sick and unemployed have all been increased. Medical and pharmaceutical benefits have been increased to £7.000,000 and hospital benefits will be £8,000,000, which is much more than last year. Allowances to sufferers from tuberculosis will increase to £4,500,000. This great increase of social services payments has been proposed at a time when some would say that there is not even sufficient money available to pay for these services at last year’s rates. Honorable members should also remember that during the last three years greater sums have been raised in Australia by way of loans than had previously been raised in any similar period of our history.

At present the international situation, is grave. There is trouble in Europe and Asia, and even Indonesia has put forward a claim modelled on the well- known Communist pattern. There is trouble also in Borneo caused by bands of Indonesian Communists.


– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.

Port Adelaide

– I was interested and amused when I heard the objections raised by honorable members on the Government side to the way in which the Opposition is debating the budget. I remind them, particularly the Postmaster-General (Mr. Anthony), that when a Labour government was in office many of their number, during budget debates, merely tried to discredit the then Government to the very best of their ability. I remember particularly the PostmasterGeneral and the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Mr. Eric J. Harrison)-


– I do not think that is correct. It is impossible to discredit a discredited government.


– The discredit of the present Government is so great that it cannot be compared with the so-called discredit of the previous Labour Government. The motion at present before this chamber is -

That the first item in the Estimates under Division No. 1 - Thu Senate - namely, “ Salaries and Allowances, £13,500”, .be agreed to.

Upon which the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) has moved by way of amendment -

That the first item be reduced by £1.

Therefore, honorable members on this side are really speaking to what may be considered a motion of censure of the Government. It is not incumbent upon honorable members of the Opposition to put forward what they consider should be the Australian budget; it is for us to show the people how wrong the Government is in presenting its 1952-53 budget to the Parliament. We have to show that there is justification for the amendment that has been moved by the Leader of the Opposition. In this debate the Opposition intends to show that the Government has lost the confidence, not only of the Parliament but also of the people. Let us consider how this state of affairs has come to pass. I am not particularly interested in the money increases that may be granted to pensioners, or what money is to be set aside for the improvement of roads, because to talk of money values and money comparisons may be completely misleading. If the real value of the social services is considered it will be seen that they are worth much less to the people than they were worth during the regime of the Chifley Government. Not only is the value of social services less but the value of grants of all kinds is also less. For instance, municipal bodies cannot get as much for their money now as they could four or five years ago. Why is it that the basic wage is so high and that it is necessary to allocate so much for the payment of pensions and other social services? The Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) has been praised for his financial ability, but he must accept a large measure of responsibility for our present inflation. When the Government assumed office in 1949 it deliberately set about altering the Chifley Government’s financial system and abolishing financial controls.


– This Government has increased social services to a degree never contemplated by any Labour government.


– But the real value of those social services is not as great as it was four or five years ago. However, I shall deal with that matter later. One of the first acts of the Treasurer upon his assumption of office - and he though it was a very clever one - was to practically abolish capital issues controls. He instructed the treasury officials to give automatic consent to every application for an increase of capital. When the people rejected federal price control the States took over the task of controlling prices. At that time the Premier of South Australia said in effect, that he intended to control the prices of essential goods, but that he would not control the prices of luxury goods. I informed him that I considered that he was making a big mistake because I believed that the people producing luxury goods would compete for labour and materials with those producing essential goods, and that consequently the prices of essential commodities would be greatly increased. Later he found that what 1 had said was correct. When the Treasurer decided to allow all businesses to increase their capital, the result was much the same. Expanding luxury industries pushed up the prices of essential commodities. After that had occurred the Government and its supporters cried out against the people who were manufacturing luxury goods, although they well knew that the Treasurer had first fostered such industries. However, that state of affairs lasted only for twelve months. It is unfortunate that this Government always realizes twelve months too late that the result of its actions will not be what ithad hoped. The Government then realized that luxury industries were forcing up the prices of essential goods. At the end of twelve months it decided to reimpose capital issues control. But, in the meantime, luxury industries had prospered and employers in essential industries were crying out for labour.

The re-imposition of capital issues control did not restore stability to the economy and, therefore, the Government decided to take a further step; it instituted control of bank credit in order to restrain the development of luxury industries. The result was that many of these mushroom undertakings were forced to close down. Even the honorable member for Bennelong (Mr. Cramer) had complained about the excessive number of such industries arid had said that their development had led to over-employment. The Government realized too late that its policy had led to the expansion of unessential industries, and it3 restrictive action was too long delayed. But the amazing feature of its conduct was that, although it decided eventually to halt credit issues to luxury manufacturers, it continued to allow importers to have an open go. It had lifted the restrictions that the Chifley Government had placed on imports. Honorable members should recall that, at a time when our London balances amounted to £300,000,000, the Chifley Government was asked by the Government of the United Kingdom virtually to freeze those funds and to draw only upon the credits established by current exports. Mr. Chifley acceded to the request of the British Government and maintained a strict control over our sterling balances by limiting withdrawals from the funds to the value of our exports. This Government, however, shut the door om Australian manufacturers, thus forcing workers to transfer to essential work, and at the same time opened wide the door to the products of overseas manufacturers. It thought that it had done a good job but, again after twelve months had elapsed, it realized that it made a catastrophic mistake. Because local luxury industries were severely restricted, importers lodged large orders for goods overseas and were able to obtain bank -credit to finance the transactions without difficulty.

Suddenly the Government realized, early this year, that the sterling balance of £800,000,000 that Australia ha<l accumulated in London was being dissipated rapidly. Our London funds had increased from about £500,000,000, when the Chifley Government was in office, to £800,000,000 largely as a result of high wool prices, not as a result of any action that this Government had taken. The Government failed to realize that wool prices would not remain at the high level that they had reached and did not prepare for the inevitable day of reckoning. Once again it realized, twelve months too late, that it had made a disastrous mistake. It slammed the door, which it had opened wide earlier, in the faces of Australian importers. The result was that Australia was discredited in the United Kingdom. Traders in that country could not understand why this change of policy should be made so precipitately. They could not understand why Australian companies that had lodged firm orders for goods had to cancel contracts. One result of the sudden change was that the great textile industry of Great Britain was forced to discharge thousands of workers. Was the Chifley Government to blame for the situation in which Australia found itself? No! It had carefully controlled imports. The fault lies entirely with the present Government. It had hoped that, by permitting the unrestricted importation of all sorts of goods, prices would be forced down in Australia and that, at the same time, Australian workers would be obliged to transfer from dying luxury industries to essential work. I have repeated these facts because

I want the people to remember what this Government has done and not to be carried away because the 10 per cent, levy on income tax is to be removed. I want them to realize that the big incomes that they earn to-day provide them with less than their relatively small wages were able to buy in 1949. It is of no use to pretend that the situation is otherwise.

The honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Bernard Corser) spoke of putting value back into the £1. The truth is that this Government has succeeded in dangerously weakening the purchasing power of the £1. We are facing an economic recession. Why? Because this Government fails to recognize economic dangers until the time for action is past, it always acts too late to prevent disaster. Had it been alert and active, the primary producers to-day would not be wondering how to find money with which to pay their taxes. The Government’s decision to discontinue the taxation averaging system for primary producers was made twelve months too late. The result is that many primary producers have already spent the money that they should have retained for the purpose of paying the taxes to which they became liable when their incomes rose temporarily to record high levels. Anybody who has a sound knowledge of business practice thinks of the future and prepares in advance for his commitments. He does not live from hand to mouth and spend his entire income as he receives it. However, unfortunately for Australia, the people generally have developed the habit of ignoring that sound system and following bad business practices. Primary producers, big manufacturers and workers think only of the present instead of preparing for the future. The Government is to be condemned also for its decision to increase the rate of interest on Government bonds from the former level of 3 per cent. I have spoken before- of the unfortunate situation of men who invested funds in government loans in the belief that they would be able to obtain their money .back at any time.


– The Government did not increase the interest rate, and the honorable member is well aware of that fact.


– All of a sudden it increased the interest rate-


– I had expected the honorable member for Port Adelaide, at any rate, to be honest.


– The Minister blames the Australian Loan Council for The decision to increase the interest rate. Why did he not deny the statement by the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Bernard Corser) that the Australian Government should receive most of the. credit for the achievements of the State governments because it had provided the States with money that it had raised by way of loans? He allowed that statement to pass without comment, hu t now he says that the Australian Government was not responsible for increasing the interest rate on Government bonds. The honorable gentleman cannot have it both ways.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr. Bowden). - Order! There is too much noise in the chamber.

Silting suspended from 12.1(5 to 2.15 p.m.


– When I was = peaking before the suspension of the sitting, the Vice-President of the Executive Council intimated that he was hurt by some of my remarks.


– I was only surprised that the honorable member was not speaking the truth.


– I was referring to the rate of interest on loans, and I said that when the rate of interest was 3-£ per cent., many people, who could ill afford to lose money, invested in loans. Then the rate of interest was raised and those people were losers as a result. The VicePresident of the Executive Council has stated that that was not the truth. He meant that the Australian Loan Council and not the Government was responsible.


– That is not what the honorable member said, nor is it what I said.


– My statement about the increase in the rate of interest was correct. Before the suspension of the sitting, I was recapitulating the record of this Government since it took ‘ office in 1949, and I charged it with being responsible for the present position. In doing so, I wassupporting the amendment that has been moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt). No government can administer . the affairs of the nation properly unless it has the confidence of the people. When a government has lost that confidence, it should not attempt to continue in office. This Government has done so much to injure the nation by its vacillating policies over the last three years that it has lost the confidence of the people. I am fully appreciative of several decisions of the Government that have been incorporated in the budget, particularly the provisions for better sickness and unemployment benefits. The increased payments that are proposed may not meet the needs of the recipients fully, but they provide something more than I expected from the Government. I appreciate also the- Government’s action in allowing £50 as a deduction for income tax purposes for the education of each child. However, I believe that the Government has failed to realize the true position of the taxpayers who have a dependent wife and children.

When this Government came into office in 1949, it altered the system of taxation assessments and re-introduced the concessional deduction system. It allowed a deduction for taxation purposes of £104 for a wife, £78 for the first child and £52 for other children. Since then the cost of living has increased by more than £2 a week, but the allowances for keeping a wife and children have not been raised. The Government should do something to alleviate the difficulties of those people. The Leader of the Opposition has stated that most taxpayers now are paying more taxes than they did last year. That is correct. As a result of cost of living adjustments, wages have increased by at least £100 a year, but the position of taxpayers is no better. In some cases it is worse, because they have ro pay a higher rate of taxation. I suggest to the Government that it should review and increase the deductions that are allowable for income tax purposes. I suggest that it increase the allowance for a wife from £104 to £156, the allowance for the first child from £78 to £104, and for other children from £52 to £78. The basic wage has been computed to provide for a man with a wife and two children. When the late Mr. Chifley was Treasurer, he provided that a man on the basic wage with a wife and two children would be exempt from income taxation. When, this Government reintroduced the deduction system two years ago, it made a similar provision but because of the increase of the cost of living and the level of the basic wage, a man on the basic wage with a wife and two children has to pay a substantial amount of taxation.

Two years ago when the basic wage was about £350 a year, a man with a wife and two children paid 16s. in taxation. On £350 he would pay the same amount this year, but because of the increased cost of living adjustments, a man on the comparable wage level now receives £450 a year on which he will have to pay £4 14s. income tax. His standard of living is no better now than it was a year ago but his income tax will be higher. If a man on £450 were allowed the increased deductions for his wife and two children that I. have suggested he would pay 14s. this year compared with 16s.. on £350 two years ago, and £4 14s. under the provisions of the budget that is now the subject of debate. A man with a wife and two children who was receiving £400 two years ago paid then £2 Ss. in taxation. To-day, with an increase of £100, making his salary £500, he will have to pay £8 14a. under the Government’s proposals. If he were given the benefit of the allowances that I have suggested, he would pay £2 4s. compared with £2 8s. two years ago. Comparable benefits would be derived throughout the whole scale by a man with a wife and two children. A. married man with one child would get the -benefit of about 75 per cent, of the amount that I. have indicated. A married man with a wife only would get half the benefit, and an unmarried man or a man -without dependants would pay the scale that has been set down by the Government.

Members of the Opposition have been accused of failing to put forward anything constructive. I suggest that my proposals are constructive and T n’V the Government to consider them. They may result in some loss of revenue, but would that be of any serious consequence? Should not justice be done to married men with families? Under the tables that I have suggested, a man on £5,000 a year would get an appreciable reduction if he had a wife and children, but. a man with dependants should get a commensurate benefit in taxation whether he is receiving the basic wage or £5,000 a year. I suggest that the Government can be asked fairly to make the concessions that I have suggested. One ex-servicemen’s association in South Australia has carried a resolution along the lines that I have indicated.

The claim made by Government supporters that the Leader of the Opposition advocated the use of unlimited bank credit is entriely unfounded. Whilst the Labour party advocates the use of bank credit in certain circumstances, it has always recognized that it should be used within limitations. The late Mr. Chifley emphasized that point, and my colleagues and I have emphasized it at every opportunity. When the Government can serve the interests and needs of the people by using bank credit it should, within limits, adopt that method of finance. Last year, the Government relied upon bank credit to the amount of £50,000,000 and the Leader of the Opposition has suggested that it should extend that limit to £60,000.000 . in respect of the current financial year. If the Government were justified in using bank credit, how can its supporters claim that the proposal advanced by the Leader of the Opposition cannot be justified? The Labour party advocates the use of bank credit when a government has no alternative but to adopt that method of finance in order to serve the interests of the community as a whole. The point I emphasize is that the Labour party does not advocate unrestricted use of bank credit. The credit so relied upon must be not merely nominal but tangible, whether it be the potential capacity of the people or actual money in the bank.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- Order ! The honorable member’s time has expire(


.- I confess that I am a little bewildered by the manner in which this debate has been conducted. It appeared to me that the honorable member for Port Adelaide (Mr. Thompson) and the honorable member for Darebin (Mr. Andrews), after they had presented certain propositions with which I could agree, and in so doing gave free rein to their natural honesty, which I recognize, then proceeded to indulge in distortion in their criticism of the budget. The chorus from the Opposition about the attitude of the Government towards a depression is rather remarkable. The charge that the Government is engineering a depression has been the theme song of speeches of honorable members opposite in this debate; and when they departed from it, we heard all the discordances that are characteristic of the Opposition. I do not wish to go over the ground that has been covered so well by my colleagues) the honorable member for Paterson (Mr. Fairhall) and the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Joske). They pin-pointed what I regard as the irresponsible and reckless statements that honorable members opposite have made with respect to the Government’s attitude towards our present problems, particularly that of unemployment. I remind the Opposition of the old fable about the wolf. One can cry wolf too often; and the Nemesis that overtakes those who cry wolf continuously is well known. Honorable members opposite would do well to recall the moral of that fable, particularly when they persist with their charge that the Government is engineering a depression.

I can say for my colleagues and myself that no one abhors more than we do a condition of unemployment. Some of us have had the misfortune of seeing relatives, and in some instances friends as well, caught up in the transition that has developed during the last twelve months. We are sore at heart when our relatives and friends are forced to look for employment which is not so easy to procure at the moment, but which, as every one realizes, will be easier to get during the nest few months. Government supporters would welcome sympathetic collaboration and co-operation from honorable members opposite with the object of remedying conditions that exist at present. Every one knows that many people have burnt their fingers in recent years because they believed that the chill winds of competition would never blow on them. As a result of the shelter that was afforded to business in Australia during the recent war and the immediate post-war years, many people set up businesses and placed large orders for goods from England. Recently, I received a letter from a man who ordered £80,000 worth of fish, with the object of catering for the market, in Sydney. To-day, he cannot obtain a renewal of his licence to enable him tocontinue to import goods of that kindPersons of that type will be hurt. I was much distressed when the servicesof persons between the ages of 50 and 60 years, the majority of them women, whowere formerly employed in temporary positions in the Public Service, were dispensed with because the Public ServiceBoard is now able to obtain adequate numbers of juniors whom it is appointing to permanent positions. However, irrespective of our sympathy for such persons, their dismissal from the Public Service was inevitable having regard to the conditions under which, at the direction of the Parliament, the board must conduct the Public Service.

I wish that members of the Opposition would exhibit signs of sympathetic cooperation when Government supporters put forward positive suggestions. What would honorable members opposite say to any young soldier who asked them to assist him to get a house built? Would they advise him to build or buy a house under existing conditions? It is all very well to say that building materials are becoming available in increasing quantities. The fact remains that present labour costs of building a house practically price any young man out of owning a house. I admit that I could not help a young man to buy a house to-day. Indeed, I should advise him not to saddle himself with the debt that would be represented not by the cost of materials, but by the cost of labour. This state of affairs has arisen because when there was an over-supply of labour, when members of the Opposition were in office, they did not raise their voices against blackmarketing in labour, particularly during the week-ends. _ That practice introduced a -kind of public- corruption- into the whole of our system. But honorable members opposite, when they were in office, did not utter any warning that that practice would react adversely upon the community, or body politic. They just let it go. That was the greatest disservice that members of the Labour Government did to the community. They should have said to the workers as a whole, “ This is all a summer holiday for you, but do not forget that the winter is coming: and when it comes the winds will blow hard”. The winds are blowing hard now.

The Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) endeavoured to raise the’ level of this debate. He endeavoured- to pursuade members of the Opposition to favour the introduction of something of the new methods that have been tried in industry in the United States of America and England. In those countries, there exist systems of joint consultation between employers and employees, of training within industry (T.W.I.), and of incentives. Many honorable members opposite received his remarks coldly. Their reaction was, “What is the boss getting out of this?”. Two or three years ago I had the privilege in England of investigating relationships between management and labour. Organizations that employ over 40,000 persons down to the smallest firms, have introduced the system of joint consaltation between employer and employee, and are endeavouring to develop new kinds of collaboration. I recommend honorable members to read the English bulletin Target, which deals exclusively with this subject. Systems of the kind to which I have referred have been introduced by about 15 per cent, of employers in England, with amazing results, and it is gratifying to know that many employers “in Australia are applying similar ideas. When the Minister for External Affairs advocated the encouragement of that spirit in industry in this country. honorable members opposite appeared to ridicule rather than arrent his suggestion as being worthy of trial. I want to indicate to the committee the way that people who are not politically-minded. in the sense that they are ridden with party politics, are thinking. The following is an extract from the presidential address by Mr. 0. H. Woodward at the annual meeting of the Australian Mines anc! Metal Association on the 24th June last : -

The 40-hour working week in normal occupations has now operated for over four years, since its general adoption at the beginning of 1948. It has been the subject of criticism from many sources ever since, its introduction. I do not intend to add my voice to the clamour already raised against it, but I have one plea to make, which I am certain will not be regarded as unreasonable by any fair-minded person, lt is, that the 40-hour working week should be in reality and not merely a name, and form, a 40-hour week. There is to-day in industry generally a widespread and damaging: tendency to whittle away the corners from ihe 40-liour week by late starts, by early finishes, and by unnecessary and unjustifiable breaks for various purposes during the working period. This light-hearted and irresponsible approach to industrial duty, which i? perhaps due aa much to thoughtless indifference as to any planned attempt to retard output, can and will in the long run react to our general disadvantage and it will certainly have unpleasant repercussions also on those who are at present taking their tasks sf> lightly.

If thu 40-hour standard working week is earning for itself a bad reputation as the chief single factor in slowing up the nation’s production campaign, and if by increasing cost* of many essential goods it is, or is said to be. adding fuel to the flame of inflation, it is because it is not being given a fair trial by some of those whose representatives worked so hard to obtain it. In this country, when opportunity knocks at everybody’s door, a fair and honest day’s work for a fair and honest wage is a prerequisite to progress and prosperity. I feel, therefore, that I can make thi? call to everybody without fear of criticism or reproach.

That is my approach also to the problem of unemployment, which is the outstanding problem that faces us to-day, So much has been said about the subject already that it is not necessary for me to go into it at length. Instead, I intend to direct my attention to another line of thought in which I have a more personal interest. First, I want to refute immediately certain statements that have been made about the budget. I believe with all my heart that it is not only an incentive budget, but also an anti-depression budget. It is not necessary for me to traverse all the reasons why it is an incentive budget, because they have already been mentioned by the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Bernard Corser). Suffice it for me to remind the committee that the budget proposes to reduce taxation and to increase social services payments.

I claim that the budget is an antidepression budget, because there will not be the slightest chance of a serious recession developing while the governments of Australia arc expending £1,500,000,000 a year. I shall not make a detailed reference to the proposed expenditure on various items in the budget. In round figures, about £111,000,000 is to be provided for war repatriation services; £178,000,000 for the States; about £164,000,000 for social services; and about £200,000,000 for defence. It should be impossible for a severe recession to develop while the Commonwealth is expending so much money. The present slight recession is due, as honorable members opposite are well aware, to the fact that the costs spiral has caused buyer resistance. Nobody is prepared to outlay money until he finds out how the cat will jump. I regard the budget as one of the most far-reaching budgets that have ever been introduced by an Australian Government. It is in the epoch-marking class.

The honorable member for Wide Bay has referred to the necessity for constitutional reform, which I have no time to discuss. . For my immediate purpose, the three most important features associated with this budget are, first, that it has been brought down at the beginning of the present financial year; secondly, that the Government proposes to abandon uniform taxation; and thirdly, that amending banking legislation will be introduced. The Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) has already stated specifically why the budget has been introduced earlier than in former years. I agree that it is essential that taxpayers should know as early as possible what their obligations are. Indeed, much of the criticism of last year’s budget arose from the lateness that taxpayers learned about what they had to meet. It is true that the conditions that had existed in March, April, and May of last year justified the budget, but there had changed by the time the budget had passed through the Parliament in November, and there was a further change by the time taxes were being collected to implement the budget proposals. I suggest to the Treasurer that it is also important to bring down the budget at the beginning of a financial year to enable administration to be carried on efficiently and economically. If the Estimates are not approved until the beginning of September or October, the departments cannot expend their appropriations efficiently. Furthermore, they must then speed up work in progress so as to expend in six months the amount of money that it was intended they should expend over twelve months. We should follow the example of Great Britain and the United States of America in this respect.

The proposal to abolish uniform taxation amounts to a declaration of faith, and I note that the Treasurer insists that it is imperative that taxing powers shall be restored to the States. Unless this is done the parliamentary system, as such, will be destroyed. The States should bear the responsibility of imposing taxation in order to meet their commitments, and the Australian Government should be freed from the obloquy associated with the raising of money by taxation in order to defray the expenditure of the States. Every one knows how the Commonwealth has been blackguarded by the States during recent years, without the slightest justification for such criticism. It was to overcome this state of affairs that the holding of a constitutional convention has been suggested.

The honorable member for Moore (Mr. Leslie) outlined the method that I believe should be adopted in a discussion of the budget. We need to get away from the general to the particular. I hope that on this occasion this Estimates will be considered department by department, and not en bloc, so that there can be a detailed discussion of each proposed vote. I am glad that the Treasurer has committed himself to a specific determination to amend the 1945 banking legislation. If the budget had contained no proposal other than this I should have considered that it was worth while introducing it. The problem to which the banking legislation has given rise is well known to most people. We cannot continue to have a hanking organization with inconsistent and incompatible duties. There must be a separation of the functions of the Central Bank from those of the trading bank department of the Commonwealth Bank. That point has been made so eloquently by many speakers lately that it is unnecessary for me to say anything about it.

Let me make my confession of faith about constitutional reform. I have resisted every attempt to alter the Australian Constitution in such a manner as to give greater powers to the Commonwealth because I have been afraid that the alterations would not strengthen parliamentary government but would encourage a party dictatorship. I fear a party dictatorship because members of the Opposition have agreed to accept dictation from -an outside body, and are no longer free to express their own opinions upon the fundamental problems of this country.Because I am afraid that we might be ^governed, not by the Parliament but by an outside body, I am determined to resist by every means at ray disposal the grant of extra powers to the Commonwealth until the Labour party understands the real implications of its attitude. When the Labour party believes in parliamentary government, I shall ask that the Commonwealth be given more power, but while it does not believe in parliamentary government I shall oppose requests for more power with all my strength.


.- The honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Bland) and the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) have referred to the necessity for greater consultation and co-operation between employers and employees. I am heartily in agreement with such a policy. On more than one occasion in this chamber, I have referred to the necessity for a greater understanding between the organized Labour movement and organized bodies of employers, and for closer consultation between them upon problems common to both. My experience as a trade union leader has convinced me that the people who require to be converted to that view are not the trade unionists, but the employers. Let me cite examples of the failure of efforts to achieve closer consultation and greater co-operation. In 1942, during the last war, the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt), who was then AttorneyGeneral, established a consultative advisory council for the express purpose of solving the industrial relations problems with which we were faced then. I was the leader of the trade union representatives on that council. After three meetings of the council had been held, the employers refused to attend further meetings, and the scheme, lapsed. In 1948, the Australian Council of Trades Unions suggested to the then Prime Minister that, in order to settle differencebetween organized bodies of employer? and the organized trade union movement, it was desirable to hold a federal conference, and that he should convene itThe conference met in August, 1948. L attended it as the spokesman and representative of the trade union movement. For two days, the conference discussed problems affecting both employers and workers. Finally, a joint statement was prepared, in which the opinion was expressed that similar meetings should be held in the future at regular intervals. But, unfortunately, after the statement had been published, the employers, so to speak, went cold on the matter, and every subsequent suggestion that a further conference should be held fell upon deaf cars.

In my maiden speech in this chamber, I stressed the necessity for consultation between employers and employees on .i Commonwealth-wide basis to grapple with the many economic problems which then confronted Australia. Subsequently. I wrote an article upon the subject which was published in the Sydney Sunday Sun. I have done everything in my power to encourage this idea, but the organized employers have not been prepared to agree to such an approach to our problems. I believe that it would be exceedingly valuable if there were frequen consultation between the employers and the trade union movement upon major economic problems. If that were done, wo should get somewhere.

I propose to deal now with matters raised by the honorable member for Paterson (Mr. Fairhall) and touched upon by the Minister for External

Affairs. Let me deal first with the suggestion that the rigid and rapid manner in which wages are adjusted at the present time is, in effect, the basic cause of our difficulties. If time permits, I shall deal later with the remarks that the Minister made about production, and also with his comparison of the workers of Australia and the workers of America. Honorable members opposite who have linked the problems of inflation and employment with that of wage adjustment have concentrated upon the symptoms of our economic illness and have failed altogether to deal with the causes of it I believe that the greatest threat to stability and employment in Australia is not wage adjustment but the applications that now await decision by the Commonwealth Arbitration Court which affect the wages, working hours and living conditions of the workers of this country. Those claims are causing instability and, because of the almost total cessation of expansion of private industry, are likely to cause further unemployment and additional difficulties.I say incidentally, that the Government has exhibited weakness, hesitancy and indecision by not adopting a positive attitude to those applications. The honorable member for Paterson has said, in effect, that wages are adjusted in accordance with a cost of living index when they should be adjusted in accordance with a production index, that the factors that cause inflation are beyond the control of the Government, and that the long fight for increased real wages has been abortive and has not produced a better standard of living. I shall place before the committee the whole story of wage adjustments in Australia. In so doing. I shall he guided not by an academic study of the subject, but by my own knowledge and experience. I shall speak with a personal knowledge of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration extending back to 1914. In 1907, when Mr. Justice Higgins made the classical Harvester award, with its standard of 7s. a day, or 42s. a week, he based his finding upon evidence that had been placed before him about the cost of commodities, rents, &c. Until 1911, when the late Sir George Knibbs, tinder direction from Mr. King

O’Malley, established an index of the purchasing power of money, there was no means by which wages could be adjusted in accordance with rising prices, except on evidence brought before the court by “ the butcher, the baker and the candlestickmaker”, to say nothing of the grocer. In 1931, the first prices index was compiled, and from then on a record of price fluctuations was kept. In 1913, Mr. Justice Higgins decided that the Commonwealth Statisticians’ index was a more reliable guide to prices than any other means then available. The result was that the court ruled that the basic wage should be calculated by means ofthe purchasing power of money figures so as to produce a figure that would give to the workers the equivalent of 42s. a week in 1907.

At first, wages were adjusted on the average cost of living for the entire preceding year. The result was that the wages were always twelve months behind the cost of living. Some of the older members of this chamber will recall that, afterWorld War I. had ended in 1918, there was a twelve months period of intense inflation, followed by a minor depression in 1920 and 1921. The cost of living had increased considerably. Wage adjustments had not kept pace with the increasing cost of living. Labour reports for that period show that, in the three years following World War I., there were numerous strikes throughout Australia for this reason. The situation became so had that many organizations of employers and trade unions agreed to half-yearly adjustments of wages. I made such an agreement with the Woolbrokers Association of Victoria in respect of wool store employees of the union with which I was associated. The result of all that was that, in 1922, Mr. Justice Powers decided that wages should be adjusted quarterly. Because he found that cost of living increases during the preceding three years had reduced the value of the basic wage to less than the Harvester standard, he decided to add to the wage determined at the end of each quarter the sum of 3s. which, upon the evidence that had been placed before him, he considered would be sufficient to prevent the purchasing power of the basic wage falling below the Harvester standard during any quarter.

Dr Evatt:

– It was called the ‘ Powers 3s.”


– As the Leader of the Opposition reminds me, it was called the Powers 3s.” I was present in court when Mr. Justice Powers made his pronouncement. He indicated quite clearly that the policy of the court was that the purchasing power of wages should at no time fall below the Harvester standard of 1907 and that, for all time, it should be so adjusted as to maintain that standard. 1 cannot emphasize too strongly the fact that, under the Commonwealth arbitration system the basic wage cannot be increased until there has been an increase of the cost of living. That is a matter about which there is considerable ignorance throughout the community. On more than one occasion since 1922, wages have risen temporarily for one quarter while prices have been falling. If honorable members care to peruse the records of that very interesting period in our economic history between 1922 and 1929, they will find that, in some quarters, wages went up, and in other quarters, chey went down, always following prices, In that seven-year period, which one American economist has described as the seven sound years “, the average basic wage was 85s. For a period of roughly eight or nine years, wages varied between 5 per cent, above that figure and 5 per cent below it.

I come now to the difficult period of wage fixation between 1930 and 1937. The figures that I shall cite relate to the average basic wage for the six capital cities. In 1929, this wage was £4 10s. 6d. En 1930, there commenced a sharp decline in prices which was reflected in the basic wage adjustments. From February, 1930. the basic wage gradually receded, from !& 10s. 6d.. until, in February, 1933, it reached its lowest figure, £3 ls. Sd. That decline was aided, of course, by a 10 per cent. cut. The point that I am endeavouring to make is that prices were falling in spite of the fact that wages had been adjusted previously when prices were rising. There comes a time, now and. again, when, first of all, there is a decrease of the price of basic raw materials.

This is followed by a decrease of the retail price of consumable commodities. There is a slump from rising prices to falling prices. As I have said, on the occasion to which I have referred, the process of declining wages was hastened by a 10 per cent, cut because of the economic crisis.

My object in drawing the attention of honorable members to these matters is to show that the system of quarterly adjustments of wages, which has been attacked in many quarters during the last six months, has operated fairly for 30 years, including seven years of prosperity, seven years of depression, six years of war, and the years of economic crisis through which we are now passingTo suggest that the economic problem can be solved by the mere process of discontinuing the automatic adjustment of wages is simply to pay attention to the symptom when the cause is ever so much deeper than is realized.

Turning now to wages as they have been throughout the war period and since I point out that from September. 1930, at the beginning of the war, to August, 1945, at the end of it, the fluctuations of wages were remarkably small. When war broke out the basic wage was £3 19s. When it ended the wage was £4 16s. Strange as it may seem, even during that period the workers on some occasions experienced quarterly decreases of wages. Therefore during the war the basic wage adjustment system worked fairly and in a manner that upheld the standard of living that was laid down by the Harvester judgment in 1907. In August, 1945, as I have said, the basic wage was £4 16s., and in November, 1949, when the last quarterly adjustment of the wage prior to the defeat of the Chifley Government was made, it was- £6 9s. In the intervening period of four and a half years, therefore, the wage had risen by 33s. Of that increase 7s. was an increase of real wages, bting an interimbasic wage increase awarded by the court. During that period, therefore, wages had” not risen by very much. Now let usexamine what has happened to wages in the two and a half years of office of the present Government. In November. 1949, the wage was £6 9s. To-day it is £11 7s. So in the period of office of this Government wages have risen by no less than £4 183. a week. One pound of that total increase was an increase of real wages that was awarded by the court in December, 1950. In fact the cost of living has risen by 50 per cent, in the last two and a half years. I think it was the Postmaster-General (Mr. Anthony) who said last night that in the two years prior to the election of this Government prices had been rising at roughly between 11 and 12 per cent, per annum. The unfortunate thing is that during the last two and a half years ‘ prices have risen by 20 per cent, per annum. Paced with the problem of arresting this inflationary trend, the Government, instead of coming forward with a positive policy, supports, if we are to judge by the views expressed by some of its members, suggestions for the abolition of the automatic adjustment of wages. But worse still, the curious suggestion has been mad. outside this Parliament that not only should automatic adjustment of wages be abolished, but also that wages should be decreased by 20 per cent, and working hours should be increased by 10 per cent. The Government, so far, has not enunciated any policy upon this matter. I ask the Minister for External Affairs, who is at the table, whether anything is more inclined to produce class hatred and embittered feelings between employers and employees than a proposal to cure, our economic difficulties by abolishing automatic adjustment of wages and increasing working hours?


– That is not the Government’s policy.


– It is not the Government’s policy, as far as we know. Despite the serious economic effects that these moves may have on our way of life, the Government has enunciated no policy. I shall use some figures to illustrate the present position and the effects of adoption of the suggestions that have been made. On the basis that 2,500,000 persons are employed in industry to-day, if hours were increased by 10 per cent., and if the workers maintained the same hourly rate of output in a 4.4-hour week as they have been maintaining in a 40-hour week, an increase of four hours in the working week would mean that 250,000 workers would become surplus to requirements. I point out also that, according to the figures of national income, the total received in wages and salaries, and payments to members of the defence forces, is £1,870,000,000 a year. To be on the conservative side I shall take the figure of £1,570,000,000 as being the total annual income of salary . and wageearners, leaving the pay of members of the armed services out of consideration. A cut of 20 per cent, in the incomes of salary and wage earners would mean a loss of national income, in one year, of £335,000.000. I say to members of the Australian Country party that if the present exchange rate between Australia and England, which gives a 25 per cent, advantage, in Australian currency, to our exporters, were abolished, the economic position of the man on the land would become disastrous. Yet apparently it would be regarded as of no consequence whatever if 20 per cent, were taken off the earnings of salary and wage earners. If 20 per cent, were deducted from the earnings of companies, the annual loss of income would amount to £85,000,000. If such a deduction were made from farm incomes, the annual loss would be £86.000,000. If a similar deduction were made from the incomes of unincorporated businesses and professions, the annual loss would be £75,000,000. Such losses would total £246,000,000, or almost £100,000,000 less than the amount that would be lost by wage and salary earners. On every occasion when Australia has been faced with economic difficulties, the persons who who have been called upon to bear the burden and make the sacrifices that are designed to achieve economic rehabilitation have been the workers. I remind honorable members that when economic trouble was looming in 1929, Mr. Stanley Bruce, who was then Prime Minister, could see the difficulties into which the nation was falling, and he proposed to abolish the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitraton. “We know what happened at the ensuing general election.

Mr Casey:

– Is that a fair statement?


– It is. The general election of 1929 was fought on the proposal of the then Government to abolish the court. In 1930, after that proposal had been defeated, it was proposed to overcome the economic depression by reducing the wages of the workers by 10 per cent. A case based on that proposal was stated to the court. The then Labour Government’s policy was that wages should not be reduced. But wages were reduced. Now, when we detect a faint breath, just a slight breeze of adversity, as it were., disturbing our economic life, we find that the employers are again rushing to the court. That indicates how panic-stricken they are about existing conditions. They are now asking for a 10 per cent, increase if hours and a 20 per cent, decrease of wages and, on top of that, they also want the system of automatic adjustment of wages to be frozen. The workers once again are to hear the brunt. No suggestion has been made by the Government that profits should he limited, that interest rates should bo reduced or” that the prices should bc controlled. No action has been taken by it even to impose a tax upon excessive profits. The Government has failed to state its policy in connexion with the proposal to reduce wages and increase hours.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr. Bowden) . - Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.


. One honorable gentleman, opposite has complained this afternoon that the Government has accused the Opposition of having failed constructively to criticize the budget. That is a fair charge because very few, if any, of the speeches of Opposition members have been of a constructive character. One feature of the Opposition’s contribution to this delate that has disturbed me, and probably also the public, is the ghoulish gloating over the unemployment situation that has been indulged ‘ bv some Opposition members. They regard the unemployment situation as a ‘possible vehicle upon which they can ride back to the treasury bench. Unemployment would be a poor vehicle upon which to attempt to essay such a journey. It amazed me that some Opposition members should criticize the Government for its decision to abolish the federal land tax. It was suggested by many Opposition members that the abolition of that tax would not assist primary producers, but would confer a benefit upon the owners of big city properties. The former Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard), who should know better, contended that the abolition of the tas would in no way assist the man on the land.

Mr Pollard:

– The fruit-growers of the Huon Valley, in the honorable member’s electorate, do not pay federal land tax.


– An examination of the holdings of farmers in Tasmania will reveal that many Tasmanian farmers will derive a benefit from the abolition of this impost.

This is the last day of the budget debate which has been in progress for a long time. I shall not traverse the fields that have been covered by many honorable members whose speeches were upholstered with a great deal of padding. One regrettable feature of the debate has been the degree to which personal abuse and unwarranted attacks have been indulged in by some honorable members. I do not adopt a “ holier than thou “ attitude, nor do I suggest that abuse and unwarranted attacks come from only one side of the chamber. Sharp divisions of opinion between opposing political parties is inevitable, but the fact that each believes the other to be incapable of a single good act does nothing to assist the country. Such an attitude is fundamentally wrong. I do not pretend to be a model of perfection, but at least I can claim that I have never been guilty of making a personal attack upon another honorable member. That, however, is merely by the way. My point is that those who indulge in such abuses bring the Parliament into deep contempt among the people, demean the honorable member guilty of the offence and lower the prestige of this democratic institution. Political attacks are justified when there is reason for them. The strong difference of opinion ‘between opposing political parties can surely be discussed without resort to personal abuse. The people are sick and tired of listening to the abuse that marks the proceedings of the Parliament. The people rightly complain that the proceedings of the Parliament frequently sound, over the air, like a meeting of Kilkenny cats. The people claim, with justification, that their elected representatives waste a great deal of time in this way, and that if they refrained from so doing legislation would be dealt with more expeditiously. Some personal attacks have been made deliberately for the purpose of trying to oust a member from the Parliament. The attacker works on the principle that if he slings sufficient mud, some of it will stick. There is another axiom - I think that it is attributed to Confucius - which reads, “ He who flings mud loses ground “. In two notable instances deliberate attempts were made, one of them successfully, to hound a person out of the Parliament. Honorable members will recall the vicious campaign conducted in this Parliament against the former honorable member for the Northern Territory, Mr. Blain, which culminated in his subsequent rejection by the electorate. That was one of the most disgraceful exhibitions of unwarranted and unfair attacks that I have ever witnessed in my lifetime..


– Where is Nancy Wake?



– The other instance to which I refer concerned the honorable member far Fisher (Mr. Adermann), against whom an unwarranted attack was launched by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell). The charges that he made against the honorable member for Fisher were subsequently proved to be wholly untrue. Obviously, they were made on the principle that if sufficient mud were flung at the honorable member for Fisher, some of it would stick.

I have not made these comments without prior reference to the Standing Orders and to May, and consultation with the officers of the Parliament. Standing Orders 77 and 78 read as follows: -

  1. No Member shall use offensive word.” against either House of the Parliament or any Member thereof, against any Member of the Judiciary, or against any statute unless for the purpose of moving for its repeal.
  2. All imputations of improper motives and all personal reflections on Members shall !» considered highly disorderly.

The Standing Orders are clear and definite. On occasions Mr. Speaker has attempted to apply them, but very rarely has he been accorded the co-operation of honorable members in so doing. May is a little more precise on the point. Dealing with the rules governing the contents of speeches, May, at page 431 of the fourteenth edition, has this so say about, a negations against members -

Good temper and moderation are the characteristics of parliamentary language. Parliamentary language is never more desirable than when a Minister is canvassing the opinions and conduct of his opponents in debate.

The same right to claim courteous treatment in debate is due alike between both House* m Parliament; and abusive language, and impota.tions of falsehood, uttered by members u’ the House of Commons against members of thiHouse of Lords have been met by the immediate intervention of the Chair to compel the withdrawal of the offensive words, or, is. default, by the punishment of suspension.

But the matter is put more precisely on page 433 from which I quote as follows : -

The House of Commons will insist upon all offensive words being withdrawn, and upon all ample apology being made, which shall satisfy both the House and the Member to whom offence has been given. If the apology be refused, or if the offended Member decline to express his satisfaction, the House takes immediate measures for preventing the quarrel from being pursued further.

That, I think, is the point, which bears upon proceedings in this Parliament.


– Tell us about the budget.


– I propose to make my speech in my own way. Some honorable members may think that this is a matter for hilarity, but a large section of the public thinks otherwise. It sometimes happens that disturbances are created in order to hold up proceedings in this chamber, but the effects of such behaviour go far beyond this place. I -suggest that the Standing ‘Orders Committee .’consider .adopting the practice outlined In May, so that when some stupid trow .occurs in ‘the chamber immediate action may be taken to stop it by en a retraction of the offending words, and by pi-eventing the matter from being pursued any further. If I, as the youngest member of this House, may be permitted to say so without offence, I believe that honorable members themselves can do a great deal to assist the Chair by seeing that incidents of the kind I have referred to are not prolonged. A. great deal of time is wasted in the Parliament, and that is the opinion of many members of the public, also. Some time ago, I delivered a speech in this chamber on .the Japanese peace treaty. I spoke for only a few minutes and then sat down. I refrained from adding a lot of padding of the kind that is so often heard here, and that does not mean anything, but after I sat down I was criticized by the next Opposition speaker for the brevity of my speech.

The budget has been very fully discussed by honorable members on both sides of the chamber, but I wish to make just one point. If I may make bold to do so, I wish to protest . on behalf of private members against the application of the gag in the Parliament. I do not want to discuss whether the gag has been applied more frequently by governments drawn from one party than by those drawn from another party. As a matter of fact, it has been used by all governments. I believe that the application of the gag represents the denial of a fundamental right of members of the Parliament, and here I refer particularly to private members. The application of the guillotine “ is a different matter, and I agree with the practice of applying the “ guillotine “ in certain circumstances. When the “ guillotine “ is applied, honorable members know what opportunity there will be to speak, and can make arrangements accordingly, but the application of the gag is, I believe, an improper practice. I ‘hope it will not be thought that I am attempting to lecture any one. I am merely expressing what I think. I hope that the goodwill of the Parliament will permit of the adoption of some of the suggestions that I have made.


– The honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Falkinder) deplored the making ‘of personal -attacks on members of the Parliament. I, too, deplore it, and I congratulate the honorable member upon the stand that he has taken. However, since I have been in this Parliament, the most vicious personal attacks that 1 have heard have ‘been those made by members of the Government and its Supporters upon the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) in a deliberate attempt at character assassination. They have done everything within their power to besmirch the character of a man who has held the highest offices in Australia. I hope that Government supporters Will accept the advice tendered to them by the honorable member for Franklin.

I do not intend to attempt to answer the false assertions that have been made by Government supporters during the course of this debate. It is an old saying that-

You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot tool all of the people all the time.”

I am convinced that this budget was designed to fool the people. The presentation of the budget should be the most important political event of the year, because the budget determines the shape of economic events during the year ahead. On this occasion, more than usual interest was evidenced in the budget because, owing to the serious currency inflation, cost of production has soared, wages haVe reached an all-time high, and are still rising, industries are closing down, economic and financial restrictions are numerous, the loan market has failed, and unemployment is spreading. Therefore, all sections of the community awaited anxiously the presentation of the budget by the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden), and all sections of the community have been disappointed. There is not one item in the budget which is calculated to provide employment for those now out of work. It is not proposed to provide money for those who want to buy homes, or to set up in business, or to go on the land. Instead, it would appear that of the vast amount of more than ?1,000,000,0.00, which it is proposed to expend this year, a great deal is to be wasted. The Parliament has not been told how the money is to be expended.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies, addressing himself to the budget, spoke for 55 minutes, and his speech consisted exclusively of an attack on the Leader of the Opposition. In this he was ably assisted by his cheer squad sitting behind him. Time and again since I have been a member of this Parliament, I have heard the Prime Minister and his supporters condemn the Leader of the Opposition, and other honorable members on this side of the chamber, for what they described as our destructive criticism. They claimed that the Opposition, instead of putting forward suggestions for improving the Australian economy, were really out to destroy it. That form of attack was persisted in particularly during the debate on the Communist Party Dissolution Bill, the Defence Preparations Bill and the National Service Bill. Now, however, when the Leader of the Opposition places before the Parliament alternative proposals designed to bring about increased production, full employment and lower taxation, the Prime Minister devotes his entire budget speech to an attack upon him. I assure honorable members that the people of Australia will not go on being fooled. They are now fully awake to the false promises of the Prime Minister, and their disillusionment will be made, apparent at the next general election.

The speech on the budget by the Leader of the Opposition was a gem. It indicated what the Labour party would do if and when it was returned to office: Although it did not suit some sections of the press, including the Daily Telegraph, other newspapers gave full credit to the right gentleman for having put forward definite proposals in the national interest. !’ remind those honorable members who persist in stating that the economy was unsound when the present Government assumed office that Mr. Chifley warned the people on at least two occasions that there was a movement towards inflation. In fact, Mr. Chifley appealed to the people, by way of a referendum, to grant authority to this Parliament to enable the Government to prevent inflation; but the voices of the present Prime Minister and his supporters were raised to foil Mr. Chifley’s proposal. Honorable gentlemen will recall that, in May, 1948, Mr. Chifley asked the people to confer upon this National Parliament power to control prices. Once again, the present Prime Minister and his supporters raised their voices in protest against that proposal. They said, in effect, “ Do not allow the socialists to have such power. They will destroy the economy, and your freedom”. The Prime Minister is now reaping his reward in the form of uncontrolled inflation.

Apart from a few concessions, such as small increases of pensions, the abolition of the means tost so that invalids between the ages of 16 and 21 years shall be eligible to receive a pension, and an increase of unemployment and sickness benefits, the budget contains nothing for the majority of citizens. I mention, in passing, that the unemployment problem will cause the Government to have a severe headache during the next twelve months. The people can dismiss from their minds the idea that the levy of 10 per cent, has been removed from the tax on income derived from personal exertion. I hope that, later, I shall have an opportunity to elaborate that point.

If the present Prime Minister could claim, during the general election campaign in 1949, that the Australian economy was unsound, it would be interesting to know what are his views about the state of the economy to-day. The right honorable gentleman, in his policy speech in that year, referred to the supposed evils of socialism, and declared that they were destroying the value of the fi. He said -

The pre-war pound - the Liberal pound, the Country party pound - has been converted into a Socialist pound which in terms of what it will buy is, even on the “ C “ series index, worth only 12 shillings and not 20; and in real terms has certainly fallen to 10 shillings.

That statement certainly shows the right, honorable gentleman in a bad light. If the Chifley £1 was worth only 10s. in terms of the pre-war £.1 when the basic wage was £6 12s. a week, what is the Liberal or Menzies £1 worth, to-day, when the basic wage is £11 15s. a week? What will the Menzies £1 be worth as the basic wage continues to rise? The inability of this Government to halt inflation is causing gross instability and uncertainty. Industry is being brought to a standstill, work is not available and even skilled tradesmen are out of jobs. Last week-end, some carpenters called at my home to ask me whether I knew of the existence of jobs, in which they could be placed.

The Minister for External Affairs (Air. Casey) said in his speech on the budget that Australian workmen were telling one another to go slow or they would work themselves out of a job. I invite honorable members to consider the facts. Was it necessary for textile workers to work themselves out of a job? Have not Australian textile factories closed their doors as a result of an increased flow of imports? There has been over-production, and, consequently, men are out of work. Is it not true that the electrical trades are producing more goods than the market can absorb? Is it not true that 250 men have been laid off at the lamp works, Newcastle? Is it not true that the coal mines are suspending operations because consumers do not want the class of coal that is being produced from them ?

The honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Bland) attempted to explain away the situation with the statement that we are passing through a period of transition. What kind of a transition is it? Is it a transition from full employment to unemployment ? Is it a transition from full stomachs to empty stomachs for the unemployed? A massive hospital which upon completion will have five floors, is being erected in Newcastle. Only two floors have been finished, yet men are being dismissed from the job. Unfortunately, money is not available for the construction of quarters for the nurses who would work in that institution. Hundreds of tradesmen in various industries are out of employment. Men are being dismissed from the power house project at Wangi, because sufficient money is not available to enable operations to be continued on capital works. More than 50 carpenters in Newcastle are registered as unemployed, yet such conditions exist as five families living in one house, old people living in small rooms and on verandahs, and hundreds of persons living in tents. When housing is still an urgent requirement, why are carpenters unemployed? Is it logical or reasonable to believe that such conditions should be permitted ?

I believe that the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) was correct when he said that the depression has already begun. The Department of Railways in New South Wales is dismissing employees. Partly completed factories, on which work has been suspended, may be seen in my electorate. Some coal mines are working part time, and open-cuts are closing down. One of the largest coalloading screens at Branxton, in New South Wales, has closed. Up to last week, 50 big motor trucks were carting to this screen. Thirty of them are now idle, and their drivers are unemployed, and the remaining 20 are carting coal to screens at Liddell. Those haulers invested their savings in that industry and bought houses because they believed that there would be no more unemployment. They are now head over heels in debt.

Irrespective of the contention of the honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Dean), a dangerous threat exists to the continuity of employment in the coal industry. In fact, development in_ the coal-mining industry has been one-sided. Hundreds of thousands of tons of coal have been produced from open-cuts, but much of it will not be used. It is lying at grass, and some of it is burning. Some of this coal is completely useless. Before it will burn, oil must be poured over it. The best of it is useful only for steaming purposes, and industries avoid taking it when that is possible. I believe that hundreds of thousands of pounds have been wasted in the production of coal from certain open-cuts, and that the development of underground mines, which could now be producing valuable coking and gas coal, that is now in short supply, has been seriously neglected. I understand that a colliery at Aberdare South was open in the 1920’s, and that, although it has been fully developed, no coal has been taken from it. What is the reason for that? The

Joint Coal Board was established for the purpose of bringing into production mines that will yield the class of coal that is so valuable to industry. This Government ha3 expended millions of pounds in the payment of subsidies on coal imported from India and South Africa, and is neglecting the development of our own coal resources.

This budget has been referred to ii!-: an “incentive” budget, but for the life of ,me I cannot see how it will stimulate production of any kind. Until taxation is reduced, production, particularly of a primary nature, will not be increased. The members of the Government contend that only an increase of primary production can overcome the instability of our national economy. The Australian Labour party has been blamed for that instability because secondary industries greatly expanded under a Labour government. Although such expansion of secondary industries added to the prosperity of the nation, honorable members opposite claim that the government of the day sacrificed primary production to secondary production. That is not true. The dairying industry, for instance, had been on its knees until a Labour government came to office.

It appears to me that the main interest of the present Government in the primary producers arises from . their ability to produce exportable goods. I contend that the Government is no more interested in the small farmer or business man than it is in pensioners or workers in industry. It pays only lip service to those sections of the community. Support for that contention is to be found in the decision of the Government to vacate the land tax field and thereby to give to the wealthy land-owners a present of £6,500,000. The Prime Minister has challenged the members of the Opposition to say where they stand in regard to federal land tax. I wish to make it clear that I should reimpose land tax in a better form by imposing a heavier tax on unimproved land, thereby paving the way for thousands of decent young Australians, who are clamouring for land, to be able to obtain it. At the present moment they cannot do so because land values are so high that they are beyond the reach of young people.

Much of our dairying land is not in full production, mainly because of high taxes. Areas of Crown land should be cut up and made available, at a nominal price, to those who require it. Many sons of farmers have been compelled to enter industries because their parents have been unable to keep them on the land. Tithe masonite industry alone, hundreds of such lads are now working because they have been unable to obtain sufficient finance for the purchase of land. J< money were available, they would be producing primary products. It is physically impossible for any young man to pay thiexorbitant prices which are now being asked for land. I have seen land sold al Williamtown for as much as £138 an acre, and at Lismore for £157 an acre. Until something is done to put more young people on the land, primary production will not increase.

The Government has estimated that itv total expenditure during the curren financial year will be £959,000,000, or approximately £43.000.000 less than the total expenditure last year. Honorable members will recall that when the Treasurer presented his budget last year he explained that he had put away in a safe place £114,500,000 so that he would bc able to arrest inflation. The budget thai is now before the Parliament reveals thai £98,500,000 of that sum has been placed in the National Debt Sinking Fund, whilst the remaining £16,000,000 has been used to balance the 1951-52 budget. 1 should like to know in what Commonwealth securities that £98,500,000 hasbeen invested and in what way the people will benefit from such investment. If inflation has been arrested, as many honorable members opposite would have us believe, why cannot that money be utilized to relieve the distress, poverty and hunger which so many pensioners suffer to-day. or for the relief of flood victims in places such as Maitland and Kempsey, or for urgently needed works, such as housing, power-plant construction, water conservation and so on?

The estimated expenditure for the year is shown in a budget statement under thirteen main heads. They include defence services £200,000,000, war and repatriation services £111.429,000, payments to National Welfare Fund £164,179,000, other statutory payments - whatever they may be - £8,323,000, departmental £48,449,000, bounties and subsidies £28,420,000 - which, incidentally, have been reduced by approximately £3,000,0000 - business undertakings of those kinds, including the Postal “Department, £74,030,000, payments to or for the States £177,839,000, and capital works and services £106,613,000. 1 believe that this method of setting out government expenditure is wrong. I agree with the honorable member for Moore (Mr. Leslie) that the Estimates should contain a statement setting out how each item in the departmental votes is to be expended. At the risk of incurring criticism, I point as an example to defence services on which £200,000,000 is to he expended in this financial year. It is reasonable for honorable members to wish to know how such a large sum is to be expended. I am inclined to believe that much of it will be wasted and that some of it will not be used for defence services at all but will be paid to immigrants at military establishments for doing work that is in no way reproductive. Recently, at the Royal Australian Air Force Station, at Williamtown, eighteen Australian workmen were retrenched because of lack of funds. Before those employees had left the station, 40 Italians arrived and began to pick up papers and to idle their time away. Needless to say, trouble arose. The honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Watkins) and I communicated with the Minister acting Minister for

Immigration. To his credit, the honorable gentleman had the Italians sent back to Greta. I should be interested to know how many.similar instances have occurred throughout the Commonwealth and why it is that persons who, only a few years ago, were our enemies are now allowed to wander about military establishments, free and unfettered. If that kind of thing is going on at the moment the Government should be severely censured.

With all the unemployment that exists in the States of the Commonwealth to-day, I am of the opinion that much of the money allocated for defence services should he used to strengthen our railway systems by standardizing the various gauges, and for the building of highways to carry our military equipment and traffic. This Governnent ignores the elementary feature of our defence, possibly because it is expedient for Ministers, including the Treasurer, to overlook the claims of certain State governments, mainly because they are Labour governments. Such an attitude weakens the defence of a country. Important works which should have a national priority have to be curtailed. By reducing the financial requirements of the States, the Government has committed a colossal blunder, particularly in view of the warning of the Prime Minister concerning the possibility of war hy 1953. I understand that that possibility is one of the main reasons for om- present high taxes.

Work in the port of Newcastle has almost stopped because of shortage of money. Newcastle is the most important of all the ports of Australia, because without steel and coal we could not survive. Unfortunately, the river upon which this famous city stands is subject to flooding, as are many other important rivers of Australia. Each time the river floods, great and irreparable damage is caused. As the floods recur, the position becomes more and more grim. Thousands of people are left homeless and penniless. Primary production suffers, stock and plant are lost and cannot be replaced, railways and roadways become untrafficable, and large areas of land are rendered useless. The State Government and the Australian Government provide relief which, although it helps in a minute way, does nothing permanently to solve the problem. Some farms in flooded areas will be out of production for many months. The export trade of the nation will thereby suffer. The railways are unable to haul coal for several weeks, and large sums are needed to repair the damage. Millions of tons of silt are deposited in the harbour, and its removal costs thousands of pounds.

Honorable members opposite should ask themselves what would have happened to the nation had the floods of 1949, 1950; 1951 and 1952 occurred at the time when the Japanese were moving towards the Coral Sea.. We were then transporting north, by rail and road, thousands of tons of military supplies. It is not difficult to imagine the plight of our servicemen had those supplies not reached them. The Labour government of the clay would never have lived down the opprobrium which would have fallen upon it. 1 sound a warning of the gravity of the position in the Hunter River area and remind the Government of what is likely to happen if, in this important rural and industrial area, the machinery with which to prevent recurring floods is not provided. 1 ask the Government to make moneys available from defence or other funds in order to dredge and deepen the Hunter and other rivers. Were the Government to free the Hunter from flooding, rural lands would produce in abundance, industry would gain because shipping would be able to enter and leave the port fully loaded, and the Government would save money because it. would not have to provide relief funds for the victims of floods. New land could be ‘put into production because the silt from the river could be used to build up land that is not now productive and employment could be found for those who are out of work. Would any honorable member say that such a project would not be in the national interest? I hope that the Government will consider this matter seriously and do something about it.

I should like everybody, who is interested in the subject of taxation, to work out from the taxation schedules whether they will pay less tax this year than they paid last year. A man on the basic wage with a wife and two children would have earned ?496 in the year just closed and would have paid ?9 4s. in tax after having been permitted a concessional allowance of ?234 in respect of his family. In the current year this man, still earning the basic wage, which will amount to ?611, will be required to pay ?19 18s. in tax after allowing for the removal of the special” levy of 10 per cent. that was imposed last year. Actually, he is likely to pay more tax than that because the basic wage is still rising and is likely to be much higher as the year draws to a close. The Treasurer told honorable members that he had reduced sales tax. Last year the base rate of sales tax was increased from 8^ ner cent, to 12-^ ner cent. The group of items affected by this rate contains most of the consumer goods that all families use. The Treasurer has been careful not to reduce this rate because most of the sales tax is collected under it. He has lifted the sales tax on ice blocks, which are eaten only by a few children. How generous the Treasurer was in removing that tax! But he has been careful to retain a 20 per cent, tax on ice cream, a commodity that is used by nearly every family. He knows that that tax will be a revenue-producer.

Why is the Treasurer such a hypocrite? Why does he pretend that he is helping the people? He knows very well that only a few children eat ice blocks, but that he will obtain thousands of pounds from tax on ice cream sales. He has proposed a reduction of sales tax on furs and fine jewellery, but has retained the high tax on cars and spare parts which people need every day. A very high rate of sales tax is still imposed on toilet requisites for women. Has the Government been generous in this regard ? Where is the incentive for people to respond to the Government’s appeals?


- (Mr. B,yan). Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.


.- In the last two years Australia has suffered from droughts, bush fires, floods, railway disasters and superfluous politicians. During the last two or three years the vast areas of Australia have been more devastated by floods, fires and droughts than ever before. We have had quite an epidemic of railway disasters. All honorable members will sympathize with the people who have lost so much through these devastating occurrences. When I mentioned superfluous politicians I was alluding to the increase of the number of members of this Parliament which occurred as a result of one of the Inst acts of the Chifley Government. The increase of the number of members of this House was absolutely unnecessary. In saying th P t. I do not wish to reflect on the ability and intelligence of new members. But those new members who have outstanding ability could, no doubt, successfully have contested seats against certain sitting members, and in that way increased the standard of intelligence of this Parliament. One argument that the Chifley Government used in support of its action was that an increase of the number of members would provide greater opportunities of bringing intelligent people into this chamber. That was a fallacy. A parliament or a committee of reasonable size can do much more work than one that is too big. This Parliament is now suffering from an inability to deal with its work expeditiously and the additional members are costing the taxpayers hundreds of thousands of pounds more every year. The action of the Chifley Government was a step in the wrong direction which was taken in an effort to save the seats of some Labour members who were in rather a shaky position. I opposed that measure at the time and it is obvious that the country has gained nothing from it.

The general trend of the argument of the Opposition appears to be that all the benefits of the budget should have been greater. Opposition members followed the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt), parrot fashion, in stating that the reduction of taxation should be much greater than is proposed. All have agreed that the gap between receipts and expenditure could have been bridged by the use of central bank credit. Every one in Australia knows that the Government is fighting inflation and is winning the fight. Irresponsible government ceased in December, 1949. A return to the socialist policy of using bank credit in order to boost prosperity would spell disaster to countless thousands and to thu economy of this Commonwealth. The Leader of the Opposition asked why money could be obtained in this way during the war but not’ during the peace. It is well known that inflation has always followed a war and that there has then been a depression. Every one knows that that sequence of events is due to the fact that the central bank credit used during the war has to be paid for afterwards. It is not possible to get anything for nothing. One honorable member opposite said that we should have an everincreasing standard of living. I have found in six and a half years of experience in this Parliament that Labour can only govern temporarily and appa rently successfully. Labour has’ never been in power in this House for a full term of three years except during the last war. On every previous occasion on which a Labour government had taken office it had been put out before its full term had expired because its policy brought disaster to the economy of this country. It was only because the war brought a crisis and because people were prepared to make sacrifices that Labour was able to stay in power a little longer during the last war. As soon as the war was over the rot set in and the Labour Government did not last very long. The Labour party went into Opposition, where it should stay.

Honorable members opposite are preaching depression. That is a devastating thing to do in a country such as ours which has never been more progressive nor more prosperous than it is at present. During a time of war, and immediately afterwards, there is a state of artificial prosperity. That has now passed ; the industrial honeymoon is over and we must now depend for our real prosperity on the work that we put into our industries. This country is as prosperous as it has been at any time in our history. I notice the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Fuller) standing at the door of the chamber. If the honorable member will enter the chamber h, will perhaps hear something to his advantage. Almost every time the honor”able member spoke in this chamber, before his defeat at the general election of 1949, he mentioned the savings of the people. He detailed how their savings had increased, and his most important argument was that while their savings were at such a high level there was a state of prosperity in the nation. When he spoke in this debate yesterday he did not mention the savings of the people, for the very simple reason that to-day their savings are greater than ever before in our history.

Honorable members interjecting.


– Order ! There arc too many interjections.


– I suggest that honorable members must stick to their guns because if they do not they will be shot with them.

Mr Fuller:

– The honorable member should keep mallee roots out of this debate.


– Anybody can be abusive. Abuse does not get you anywhere. I am giving you the facts and figures about this matter.


– Order ! The honorable member must address me.


– There is no one whom I should be more pleased to address than you, Mr. Temporary Chairman, because I know that you can understand what I am saying. Much has been mad.”by the Opposition about the so-called necessity for prices control. After the Chifley Government’s attempt to nationalize the banks was thwarted, first by a decision of the High Court of Australia, and then, notwithstanding the policy of the Labour party against appeals to the Privy Council, by that judicial body, a prominent member of the Labour party, Senator Armstrong, said, “If we cannot reach our objective in one way we shall reach it in another way “. The other way that he was advocating was no doubt a system of prices control. It is obvious that if the National Government controls all prices in the country it can control the whole country. Indeed, it can bankrupt any part of the country or make any part wealthy at the expense of any other part.

The Government parties, when inOpposition, agreed with the Labour Government that control of prices was necessary in the transition period from war to peace, but contended that such control should not be written permanently into the Constitution. That was because the then Opposition realized that if any government, especially a socialist government, held such a. constitutional power permanently it could do what it liked with the country - even ruin it. When the people refused to embody in the Constitution power to control prices, the Labour Prime Minister of the day threw the whole matter straight back to the States, although the States and the then Opposition agreed that federal prices control should continue on a temporary basis. Temporary prices control was of no use to the socialists, because they realized that if they tried to do what they wanted to do, that is socialize out production, distribution and exchange, the States and the then Opposition would object. If a prices control power had been a permanent feature of the Constitution, that power would have been used to socialize the whole of Australia. The Leader of the Opposition has said, “ Price3 control is an ingredient of the mixture “. I fully agree with him that it is an ingredient of the mixture - the socialist mixture. But I tell honorable members opposite that the people of Australia do not want to take that mixture.

The honorable member for Banks (Mr. Costa) said that the Labour party wanted to change the Constitution in order to give to the Australian Government power over hours of work and wages. He said that the Australian Parliament should he all powerful. It is perfectly obvious that if the National Parliament were all powerful and a Labour government were in office, the Labour executive rather than the Parliament would govern. The remarks of the honorable member for Banks sounded very strange in view of the remarks of the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey) about the necessity for conciliation and arbitration. If that is a sample of the unity of policy of the Labour party I do not know how honorable members opposite keep the peace in their party meetings. It is obvious that if the National Parliament is to be given full power over wages and hours there will be no further necessity for the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration. The honorable member for Banks was, indirectly, advocating the abolition of the court.

Honorable members opposite have stated, that the Government’s proposed reduction of income tax will not benefit the people. When the Government proposed the special levy of 10 per cent, last year, the Opposition said that the taxpayers on the lower ranges of incomes would bear the chief burden of the increased taxation. Now that it is proposed to abolish the special 10 per cent, levy the Opposition says that only the taxpayers in the high income groups will benefit from the abolition. That is a sample of how the Opposition wants to have it both ways all the time. Surely there is need for some logical thinking among honorable members opposite.

The honorable member for Lang (Mr. Mulcahy) said that the proposed expenditure of £200,000,000 on defence was too great. He also said that much money was being expended on our recruiting campaign, which was a failure. That should have gladdened the hearts of honorable members opposite because every one of them is against the recruiting campaign. The honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. Joshua) made a similar statement when he first entered the Parliament.

Mr Joshua:

– I helped the recruiting campaign again and. again.


– If the honorable member has helped since he has been a member of the Parliament he had better not let his party executive hear about it. Honorable members have not heard much about the United Nations from its great champion, the Leader of the Opposition. He has not said a word about the United Nations because at the present time it is backing up its ideals with force. Honorable members opposite support the United Nations only when it is engaged in nothing more than negotiations. They support this great organization, which may bring peace to the world, only in theory.

There seems to be a fearful belief among honorable members opposite that men will join our army, that men will enter the most honorable profession the world has ever known, that is the profession of protectors of our country and kinsfolk. Just because some employment officer suggested to some person that there might be a job for him in the Army - and it must be remembered that army pay is about twice as great as it was when Labour was in office - honorable members opposite consider it to be a frightful thing. Every young man should be proud to serve his country. It is wonderful to realize that the men of this country, even some old ones, are prepared to lay down their lives for the freedom and peace that we enjoy.

If an honorable member on the Government side speaks about the 40-hour week, honorable members opposite immediately ask, “Are you in favour of it? “.. because they believe that if an honorable member who represents an industrial constituency does not believe in the principle of the 40-hour week they can do him some harm in his electorate by spreading that news. They do not consider whether the 40-hour week is good or had for Australia, they consider the matter only from the standpoint of gaining some party political advantage. Most Australians are excellent workers, but they are not getting a fair deal from the agitators who are to be found both in this chamber and elsewhere. The Labour party at one time did a great deal of good for the worker, I believe. I refer to the wage-earner, of course. The primary producer is the real worker in Australia. The trouble with the Labour party was that it went too far to the left and found itself in difficulties. I remind honorable members opposite of the old saying that too far east is west. Railway workers in Western Australia have just ended a strike that lasted for many months. Now they propose to go back to arbitration. They have lost large sums in forfeited wages, but they are still just where they stood when the strike began. Honorable members opposite too often urge workers to go on strike. Instead, they should uphold the rule of law and stand by the arbitration court that this Parliament established and all the other institutions that are best and dearest to the hearts of Australians. It is just as much a crime to flout the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration as it is to break other laws of our society.

The honorable member for Port Adelaide (Mr. Thompson), for whom I have a very. high regard, must have been under a misapprehension when he made a false statement during his speech earlier to-day.

Mr Tom Burke:

– He made no false statement.


– The honorable member for Perth (Mr. Tom Burke) made the same, mis-statement in this chamber and the Leader of the Opposition did likewise when he broadcast from station 2HD, Newcastle, after Phil Furley’s old-time session not long ago. The honorable member for Port Adelaide said that the income tax averaging system applied to primary producers had been abolished. The honorable gentleman spoke as though he believed that statement to be accurate. He must have been misinformed because his honesty is beyond doubt. He is a friend of mine and I do not want to criticize him too severely. However, his statement could not have been further from the truth.

Mr Thompson:

– I said that the averaging system had been introduced twelve months too late.


– The honorable member said that it had been abolished. The Commissioner of Taxation has informed me that 87 per cent, of primary producers are still fully covered by the provisions of the averaging system, that 8 per cent, of them have a modified advantage from the system, and that only 5 per cent, have lost its advantages altogether. I believe that the advantage should be restored to those who have lost it. The honorable member’s statement was misleading to Australians who listened to the broadcast of his speech.

Mr Thompson:

– I did not say that the averaging system had been abolished.


– I am sure that the honorable member said that it had been abolished. I should be the first to defend him if I were not convinced of that.

I pay a tribute to the coal-miners for the high rate of coal production that they have maintained in recent months. They have been able to produce coal efficiently, because they have not been hampered by strikes and stoppages. This Government has been able to restore peace in industry. The honorable member for Macquarie said that satisfactory coal production could be achieved only if the industry was operating under a long-term plan, and he claimed credit for the Labour party on the ground that, when it was in power, it provided for the installation of modern machinery in the coal mines. The truth is that the most effective machinery in the world cannot produce coal when industrial unrest keeps the men out of the mines. Inflation occurs only as a result of economic mismanagement over a long period. Some people say inflation has been caused by this Government since 1949. The fact is that inflation was brewing for a long time prior to 1949. It was caused by the Labour Government’s neglect of the national economy immediately after World War II.

I refer honorable members opposite to a leading article that was published in a country newspaper on the 7th August last. They usually refer only to metropolitan newspapers. The journal to which I refer is printed at Mildura, in the heart of the area where about 70 per cent, of our dried fruits are grown, which abuts on a sheep and wheat-growing district. Under the heading, “ Satisfying Budget”, the Sunraysia Daily published the following comments on the day after the budget had been presented to this Parliament : -

There will be plenty of critics, each disappointed with his or her own share of benefit. But the provisions must be viewed from a national angle, keeping very much in mind the Government’s extensive and vital commitments.

The effect of the Budget will be determined, not by its provisions, but by the attitude of the people. If we accept the benefits as a sincere government attempt to help, then the new outlook which is so necessary can be born.

However, if we adopt a selfish attitude and grumble at our share of assistance, the future will become even darker. The Government has made its decisions. We must now make ours . . .

The Opposition takes a dark view of the future and tries to depress the people. I believe that it hopes that a depression will occur. Anybody who makes a prophecy, whether it be that a competitor will win a race at the Olympic Games, that a horse will win a race at Sydney or Melbourne next Saturday, or that it will rain to-morrow, likes his forecasts to be fulfilled. The Labour party, having told the people that there will be a depression, now hopes that its prophecy will come true and is working towards that end.

Much’ controversy has arisen over the declaration by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) that the Government will abandon the uniform tax system and return to the States the taxing rights that they formerly possessed. Under the uniform tax system, the Australian Government took full control of taxing rights during World War II. All State governments at the time believed that the sovereign taxing rights of the States would be returned to them immediately after the cessation of hostilities. However, that did not happen and, in the last speech that I made in this House, I found fault with the present Government on account of its’ failure to honour the promise that had been made to the States. I withdraw my complaint now because the Government has decided to honour the promise to the full. Sovereign taxing rights would never be returned to the States if the Labour party had its way, although every Australian knows that the uniform tax system was intended only to be a war-time expedient. My belief that the States should regain their former rights in full becomes more fervent every time I hear members of the Opposition speak in this chamber. I refer now to the subject of restoring value to the £1 and reducing taxation. Notwithstanding the assertions of the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Edmonds), the Government did not say that it would reduce taxation and put value back into the £1 immediately. After eight years of Labour socialist administration, this Government cannot be expected to work miracles overnight. When a football team is playing a match it is not expected to win in the first quarter. This Government is cleaning up the dead wood. It is already on the way to reducing taxation and signs indicate that inflation is receding. The next adjustment of the basic wage will not be nearly so high as have been recent variations. Every time there is an increase of the basic wage, the Opposition gives forth a howl. I am prepared to wager that if the basic wage begins to fall, the howls that honorable members hear now will be as nothing to the wails that we shall hear then.

According to the Kerang New Times, Professor Sir Douglas Copland has criticized the farmers. He stated that they would not increase production until prices were lower. The Kerang Shire Council, in a district that I represent, has protested against that statement. Councillor Mann stated -

T regard the statement as an insult to primary producers. As far as the- wheat men are concerned, they have never worked harder than they are doing to-day. Professor Copland is altogether on the wrong lines.

Councillor H. Lester Smith said at the same meeting - lt is a very damaging statement as far as farmers are concerned and is utterly untrue.

Councillor Mitchell.- Most men on the land are working overtime and are working very hard . . . Primary producers are carrying on with the job, not only for themselves but for the whole community. We should certainly protest.

I do so now on their behalf. The primary producers are, in truth, working for the whole community. The honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey) asked in the course of the debate who felt the brunt of an economic crisis. He was referring to the workers in the cities, but, in fact, primary producers are hit the hardest. When overseas prices fall and drought sears the earth, the workers in the cities are affected but by that time the economic storm has already devastated the country districts. The answer to Australia’s problems is to foster primary production and give more assistance to the farmers. That is the way to a sound economy.


– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.


.- Before dealing with the details of the budget, I shall refer again to a matter that I raised in this chamber recently in relation to the disclosure to the press of details contained in the budget-papers before they were submitted to the Parliament. When. I spoke on that matter, I asked the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) whether he accepted the proposition that details of the budget were to be treated as secret and confidential before they were brought before the Parliament, I asked whether the right honorable gentleman accepted the proposition that until the Treasurer gave the details of the budget proposals to the Parliament, they were not to be disclosed to anybody other than those officials who are entitled to receive them in the course, of their duties. The Treasurer accepted that proposition and said he agreed that the details should not be disclosed. But in view of what has happened apparently he does not accept suet a proposition now because no honorable member who read the newspapers on the day concerned and heard the discussion in this chamber last Wednesday could have any doubt that the newspaper representatives had prior access to the budget details.

Mr McEwen:

– They did not.


– The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. McEwen) has stated that the newspaper representatives did not have such access. Apparently he supports the argument advanced by the Treasurer that the details of the budget which appeared in some newspapers hours before they were submitted to the committee, were reached as the result of good guesswork. I ask the committee to consider some of the details that were published. The newspapers “ guessed “ that the maximum rate of sales tax would be reduced from 66§ per cent, to 50 per cent.; that the minimum rate of sales tax was to be 12J per cent. ; and that the total expenditure for which the budget provided was £959,000,000 - not £958,000,000 or £957,500,000 but £959,000,000, the exact amount. Does any honorable member believe the fantastic story that the newspaper representatives were such good guessers that they could guess the exact figure of the .Government’s estimated expenditure in 1952-53? Are we to believe also that they were able to guess that the exact amount of proposed defence expenditure was £200,000,000? Are honorable members to believe that the newspaper representatives were able to guess the amount that was to be expended on age and invalid pensions? Those details were given accurately by the press hours before the budget was presented to the committee. It is fantastic to expect honorable members to believe that those figures were the result of guesswork. If one figure had been forecast accurately, that would have been a remarkable coincidence, but when the press published whole sets of figures which could have been known only to those who had access to the budget details, obviously there was a leakage.

If the Treasurer is to discharge the responsibilities that rest upon him by virtue of his office, and if he is to. live up to the principle that he has espoused in this chamber that the budget details are secret and confidential until they are presented to the Parliament, he should set up immediately an impartial tribunal to. establish, by a complete and thorough investigation, where the leakage occurred and who was responsible for it. If the right honorable gentleman is not prepared to do that, he stands convicted in the eyes of all fair-minded persons as having been himself responsible for the leakage. If he wants to refute that charge, he should accept the challenge to appoint a committee to conduct an inquiry. Nobody who saw the articles that were published in the newspapers about details of the budget proposals could have any doubt that there was a leakage.

Mr Davidson:

– That depends on the nature of their minds.


– If the honorable member for Dawson (Mr. Davidson) had a mind like that .of the Minister for Supply (Mr. Beale) he would claim that the newspaper representatives reached the exact figure of budget expenditure by thinking of one number, taking away another and arriving at something between the two. By that method, according to the Minister, somebody shrewdly reached the exact total of £959,000,000. Apparently the honorable member foi Dawson was not in the chamber when the Minister tried to explain that that was how the press obtained the figures. If honorable members have minds of that type, they will accept that kind of explanation, but no argument on the part of honorable members on the Government side, no matter how lengthy, can explain the. leakage satisfactorily. Something in direct defiance of all precedent and every ethical standard that the Treasurer of the day is supposed to observe, occurred when the press was given access to the budget details. If the Treasurer is not prepared to accept the responsibility himself, he should be prepared to appoint an impartial committee to conduct an investigation. I read in the press to-day that legislation relating to official secrets is to be brought down by the Government. Does the Government, intend to ask honorable members to believe that details of the budget, major official secrets of the Government, were published prematurely and that it refused to do anything about the matter? The most alarming aspect of the matter was not the premature release of confidential information but the speculation that took place on the stock exchanges before the budget was presented to the Parliament. I cited figures from the financial columns of the Sydney Morning Herald and the Sydney Sun which showed that on the afternoon of the day on which the budget was introduced abnormal speculation took place on the stock exchanges in Sydney and Melbourne. That speculation could only have been based upon pre-knowledge of the budget proposals. I again invite the members of the Government, who, apparently, seem to be as little concerned about ethics as they are about unemployment, to reconsider the facts that I have mentioned. If they genuinely subscribe co the doctrine that the budget details are confidential and if they accept the view that was expressed by the House of Commons when Mr. Hugh Dalton resigned because of his lapse in prematurely disclosing details of the British budget, they will discharge their responsibility to trace the source of the leakage. The facts that I have given cannot be refuted. However,, if the Government is not prepared to accept its responsibility in this matter, all that the Opposition can do is to continue to point out to the Australian people that, apparently, the traditions of parliamentary democracy mean nothing, to this Government and that the Treasurer has so little regard for the duties: of his office that he is not prepared to answer the accusations that I have made on the facts that I have outlined.

I turn now to the budget itself. I regret that the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. McEwen) and the honorable member for Mallee (Mk. Turnbull) have left the chamber, because both of those honorable gentlemen had much to say about what I consider to be one of our basic problems. If there has been one pleasing feature of this, debate it has been the contributions that a number of honorable members have made with respect to the decline that has taken place in the production of basic wealth, upon which our standard of living ultimately depends. On many occasions, when members of the Australian Labour party have spoken about primary production, members of the Australian Country party have greeted their remarks with sneers. Apparently, it is all right for the stock and station agents and accountants, who represent the farmers in this Parliament under the title of the Australian Country party, to talk about the workers and production ; but when a member of the Australian Labour party refers to the problems of primary production his remarks are greeted with a howl of derision from those honorable members who sit directly on my left. For too long have we tolerated such attempts by these stock and station agents and accountants to maintain that they have a monopoly to represent farming interests. The contributions that members of the Opposition have made to this debate have shown conclusively that members of the Australian Labour party have far greater concern for the welfare of the rural community and a. greater knowledge of the problems of primary production than have those honorable members who claim to represent country interests. For instance, members of the Australian Country party have suggested . that, because I represent the electorate of Yarra, which is primarily an industrial area, I display infernal cheek when I talk about the problems of primary production. I remind them that among my constituents are many waterside workers who now fmd* themselves unable to obtain employment .because of the utter failure of this Government to encourage primary production. To-day, ships are sailing from Sydney, Melbourne and other ports only half loaded, because sufficient primary products are not coming forward for export, and consequently many waterside workers are now unemployed. Flour mills in my electorate, of which there is a number, are now working Only part time. They find that they cannot carry on at a profit unless they can keep their machinery going for at least 80 hours a week. They cannot make ends meet by working for only 40 hours a week as they are now obliged to do. .The owners and employees of those mills are concerned about the decline of primary production that has occurred under this Government. Situated in my electorate also is,, perhaps,, the .largest shirt factory in Australia1. Within a month, that factory will have run out of supplies of cotton. “ It will have to cease production because it cannot buy more cotton as it has exhausted its quota ; and the Government cannot increase its quota because sufficient primary products are not being exported to provide the wherewithal to import additional cotton. Large numbers of engineering establishments in my electorate are now short of steel and other materials as a result of the restrictions that the Government has imposed on imports.

That policy has been forced upon the Government very largely as a result of its complete failure to do anything to increase primary production. Of all the failures which can be laid at the door of this Government - heaven only knows they are numerous - its failure to increase primary production has had the worst consequences for the Australian people as a whole. The honorable member for Mallee quoted from the Sunraysia Daily. 1. propose to quote certain extracts from that newspaper. Honorable members will recall that not so long ago, when our overseas balances were found to have declined to ‘a remarkable degree, the Prime Minister, in his most mellow tones and with his best oratory, appealed to the wheat-growers to grow more wheat. Of course, that was all that he did about the matter. According to a report published in the Sunraysia Daily by the chairman of the Australian Wheat Board, Sir John Teasdale, wheat production has declined to such a degree that next year Australia will be unable to produce sufficient to enable flour-millers to operate on a profitable basis. Apparently, the Prime Minister’s appeal fell on deaf ears. The wheat-growers want more than sweet words as an incentive to increase production. Sir john Teasdale added -

Millers needed enough wheat to enable them to run their mills for 120 hours a week in order to make a reasonable profit.

Operating for 80 hours millers oan meet posts, but when there is only enough wheat for the mills to run 40 hours, the loss h;is to be made up by a rise in the price of flour.

I ask -members of the Australian Country party and other supporters of the Government, who are rural minded, “What is contained in this budget that will produce one additional grain of wheat?”.

I shall cite other statistics to show the degree to which the Government has failed to encourage primary production. This year, according to the latest statistics, 400,000 fewer acres have been sown to wheat than were sown last year. Perhaps, that is not a matter for wonderment when, as I said earlier, the Government has done nothing to increaseproduction except, through the Prime Minister merely, to appeal to wheatgrowers to grow more wheat. During the twelve months ended the 30th June last, dairying production, which is one of our major sources of exports, declined by 12 per cent. Butter production declined by 17.7 per cent. It is useless for Government supporters to explain that loss of production by talking about the occurrence of droughts in the Northern Territory, because droughts in that part of Australia can have no effect upon the dairying industry.

Mr Gullett:

– That is the only accurate remark that the honorable member has made.


– That interjection reflects an attitude that is typical of not only Government back-benchers, but also the Government itself, which prefers to base its policies on guesswork and to ignore official statistics. When honorable members cite official statistics the Government takes no notice of them. If the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) wants government by guesswork to continue, he will encourage members to refuse to take notice of the economic facts of this country.

I come now to the decline in the number of dairy cattle in Australia since the horror budget of 1951. Members of the Australian Country party are strangely silent whenever this subject is mentioned. The number of dairy cattle has fallen by 4.8 per cent, during the last twelve months to the lowest level since 1932. Beef and veal production has dropped from 652,000 tons to 585,000 tons. The production of mutton has been maintained at only approximately the same level, despite our increase of population. The production of pigmeats has declined from 85.000 tons to 82,000 tons. The total meat production has decreased from about 1,000,000 tons to 943,000 tons. In short, the number of dairy cattle is down by 4.8 per cent.; tha number of beef cattle is down by 1.6 per cent.; and the production of pigmeats has decreased by 9.S per cent., to the lowest level since 1927. This is a matter for concern to every serious-thinking Australian. If the drift is not corrected there will be unemployment, not as we have it to-day, but as we knew it during the worst of the depression year3, and we shall fail completely to meet our obligations to Great Britain and our allies overseas. It will become impossible for our industries to continue to operate, because of the shortage of raw materials. If Australia refuses to accept the responsibility that world events have placed upon it and fails to become one of the major foodproducing areas of the world, we shall be guilty of betraying our trust. This Government will be responsible for running up the white flag. There is an old Irish proverb which says -

If a man misses meals for one day, he will lie; if a man misses meals for two days, he will steal; and if a man misses meals for three days, he will kill.

I commend that proverb to members of the Government, I remind them of the low standard of living of the peoples who live in close proximity to the borders of this country. I am interested in this matter, not only from the point of view of the employment of the people in my electorate, but also because the peace of the world may depend on Australia’s recognition of its role as a food producer. If Australia is not willing to meet its appointment with destiny we shall have to accept responsibility for what takes place in the world in future years. It is of no use our talking about Communist aggression and Soviet imperialism if we are not prepared to accept our responsibility to produce food. On the official figures available since this Government took office, it is quite apparent that we are not meeting our obligations. I challenge the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey), who speaks so glibly about American production, to place figures relating to our primary production before his colleagues in the Cabinet.

There is a revolutionary idea afoot in Asia. The Asian peasants believed that they, too, have a right to eat and a right to social welfare. It is the duty of the food-producing countries of the world to alleviate the conditions of the Asian people. We are not doing our share. Progressively since this Government has been in office the decline of primary production has been catastrophic. The people of this country expected that the budget would correct that situation. It is not untrue to say that in the deliberations of the British Chiefs of .Staff, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the American Chiefs of Staff, and the ANZUS conference that the Minister for External Affairs attended recently, Australia’s complete failure to face up to its role of a food producer was one of the most important subjects considered. The Minister has not informed honorable members of the explanation that he gave to the representatives of the other countries at the ANZUS conference.

Mr Casey:

– I was prevented from doing so this morning.


– Perhaps the Minister will tell us when the adjournment motion is moved this evening. In view of the facts that I have mentioned, perhaps he will be able to make his explanation more compelling than it would otherwise have been.

I am in deadly earnest in this matter. The fact that Australia is one of the few countries of the world that are capable of food production is occupying the attention of the Governments of Great Britain and the United States of America, as well as their service chiefs of staff. They expect that food production in Australia will be increased, in the interests of the preservation of the free world. If the Minister would cease to talk so glibly about a free world, and the preservation of the western democracies, and get down to hard work to increase our basic wealth, we would make much more progress.

The budget contains one or two proposals designed to tickle the fancies of the primary producers, but I fail to see what it- will do to increase production. One proposal is that the primary producers shall get a certain taxation concession in relation to housing accommodation that they provide on their properties.

Mr Tom Burke:

– That was done last year.


-Yes, but the concession has been extended a little on this occasion. Thousands of immigrants, who are experienced in producing food, are idle in camps in this country because the Government cannot provide employment for them and the farmers do not want them. I cannot understand how the provision of houses on properties will increase primary production by one iota. Quite obviously those immigrants would be prepared to accept any accommodation that was offered to them. The immigrants who are quartered at Bonegilla are not complaining because they have not been provided with four-roomed cottages, complete with all modern conveniences.

Mr Casey:

– The honorable member would rather that that did not happen ?


– I am entirely in favour of it happening, but honorable members onthis side of the chamber have not been deceived into thinking that it is going to have any marked effect on primary production. The immigrants are break ing their necksto geton to farms, but this Government has neither the wit nor thewilltodoanythingforthem. I am entirely in favour of better conditions for workers in rural industries. The time when a man was paid 30s. a week to work on a farm, and given a blanket on which to sleep on the river bank, has gone. Such conditions should be banished forever. There is only one way that we can fulfil our role inworld affairs. The Minister for External Affairs owns a farming property in an area which enjoys a good rainfall.No doubt within 3 miles or. 4 miles ofhis holding, there are areas of land that are not being used to their full capacity. We cannot wait until the Snowy Mountains hydro-electric scheme has been completed,, or until the Eildon and other dams have been constructed. Increased primary production must be obtained at the first possible moment. The only way in whichto obtain it is to ensure that land in good rainfall areas that at present is notproducing at anything like its full capacity, shall do so.

There hasbeen talk of incentives. The price of butter has alreadybeen increased until it is beyond the capacity of the. ordinary householder to buy it. What effect has thathad on- the dairy-farmers? As the price of butter has gone up, so the production of butter has gone down. There is only one real incentive to produce. It is to give people the means to produce for themselves. But this budget will do nothing to achieve that. The Commonwealth, under the war service land settlement schemeor by grants made to the States, has ample power eitherto under take itself or to ensure that there will be undertaken large-scale land resumption projects, in order that people in this country, Australians and immigrants alike, who want land may obtain it and put it into production.

Mr Hamilton:

– In what States could the Commonwealth acquire land?


– TheCommonwealth, under the defence power andits powers in relation to repatriation, could acquire land in anystate if it wanted to doso. Speaking from my own knowledgeofthe Victorian Government and of someother governments I haveno doubt that if this Parliament were prepared to make avail able to them the money that they require to resume land and to settle people upon it, they would not hesitateto acceptthat money. At the moment, the States have neither the necessary money nor the necessary resources. But the Commonwealth hasboth. If one searchesthe budget from beginning to end, one willnot finda proposal to devote a penny pieceto what to my mind, and I am suretothe minds of all serious people, is one of the most urgent tasksthat confront? the nation.

For how long is the decline to continue? If it continues for much longer) the import restrictions that have already been imposed willbe mild comparedwith those that will have to be imposed in the future. We shall be bankrupt.Our credit overseas will vanish, because we shall not have the income thatourexports ofprimaryproductionearnforus.The MinisterforExternalAffairssometimes showsalittlemoresensethandosomeof hiscolleaguesinCabinet,and,because oftheresponsibilitiesofhisoffice,he knowstheproblemswithwhichAsiais facedandrealizesthatfoodproduction isofvitalimportance.Iappealtohim toseethattheAustralianCountryParty members and Ministerswho have battened and fastened upon primary producers shall no longer be in aposition todestroy our primary industries. I appeal to him to release the Stranglehold that they have upon the primary producers of this country, and to persuade the Government to abandonthe policies that they have compelled it to adopt. If theGovernment continuesto follow those policies, the decline that has occurred since it took office will continue, to ourultimate disaster. {: #subdebate-17-0-s16 .speaker-DQC} ##### Mr HUGHES:
Bradfleld . -I am endeavouring to collectmy somewhat chaotic thoughts and to direct them to a more profitable field than that which the honorable member for Yarra **(Mr. Keon)** has traversed. I listened with great attention tosome rather alarming statements in thischamber about what wemustexpect tooccur if immigrants come tothiscountry in any numbers. We were told that they wouldcause confusion and disequilibrium among the workers of Australia. I have been associatedwithtradeunionsformanyyears andIamnotunmindfulofthe factthatthefirstbusinessofatrade unionist,asofanyotherman,istolook afterhisowninterests.Itakenoexceptiontosafeguardsbeingprovidedto preventtheAustralianworkerfrombeing immersedinanalmostbottomlesssea. However,astimepresses,withgreat reluctanceIturnfromthatfascinating subjecttosayafewwordsaboutoil. Someyearsago, I said that this was an oilage, and that, in peace and in war, oil was vital to the existence and certainly to the well-being, of anynation. I had alwaysbeen in the habit of doing whatI thought was proper and right. The government which I had the honour to leadentered into an agreement with Great Britain to purchase a half interest inthe Anglo-Persian Oil Company by which we acquired a half of the output of the Iranian oilfields. The agreement was not received withopen arms by many people, but I think it was amply justified by thecircumstances. Later, because the diesel engine had not then appeared upon thescene, it became necessary to consider the refining of oil, and a government of whichIwas the leader erected the Common wealthoil refineries. I am greatly disturbed by the sugr gestion that Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited should be swept away. We have been told that great plans are in contemplation which will make the output of its refineries insignificant. It may be that we shall have to bid good-bye to Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited which will go where some of my other ventures have gone. The survival of the fittest is an inexorable law, not only of civilization but of nature generally. Only the fittest survive. We want oil,and we must have it. We cannot defend this countryorcarryon its work without it. As I havesaid,Iam greatly disturbed by the suggestion that we should getout of Common wealth Oil Refineries Limited andmake way for" better andbigger" institutions. We must have oil, and if we close downCommonwealth Oil Refineries Limited where shall we get oil? Yesterday I read inoneofour daily newspapers aparagraphheaded " US probe ofoil cartel" which setout the position very clearly. It stated that investigations had already disclosed that the entire oil business of the world-not merely of the United Statesof Americawas in the hands of seven companies and that the people of the United States of America are greatly concerned about thismatter because they are members of a great industrial nation. The honorable member for Yarra hasspoken of the need toincrease the production of raw materials and foodstuffs. I agree withhim. Population is, ofcourse, limited by food supply. Man wants many things, but he must have food, and the food supplies of modern society depend largelyuponoildrivenmachinery. Any one who wishes to buy oil to-day must buy it fromone of the member companies of theoil cartel, and the purchaser must pay the price that is asked by the cartel or gowithout oil. We are,of course, a verysmall communitycompared with the American nation,butoilisvitaltous. Where can we get it? Arewe to fall into the grip of this greatoctopus ? The cartel rules the oil world. What it saysgoes. So we know now justwhat is the " private enterprise " towhichwe are to sell Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited. The Australian nation owns Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited. Good or bad, it is ours. It is inadequate for our needs, but at least we have something. The choice that lies before us is whether we shall stand fast with what we have and hope for something better in the future, or throw ourselves on the mercy of this world wide monopoly that is now being investigated in the United States of America. I turn now to another problem, the significance of which can hardly be exaggerated. I do not know what honorable members generally think about the prospect that faces us, but it seriously alarms me. This country is faced with problems that may shake it to its foundations. The population of the world is increasing at the rate of 60,000 a day. The population of Australia is 2.6 persons to the square mile, whereas Japan has 376 to the square mile. Japan already has a surplus of 6,000,000 people for whom adequate food cannot be provided, and whose only escape from death by starvation lies in migration. Where can Japan's surplus millions go? Some honorable members have referred in this debate to our empty north. The Japanese would willingly populate not only our empty north, hut also our empty south. Since the Commonwealth Parliament was established, the population of the world has increased by 500,000,000. Soon it will be necessary to hang out the sign " Standing room only ". What shall we do to be saved ? lu 174 years of white settlement, our population has reached less than 9,000,000, or 2.6 persons to the square mile. We have great cities. The honorable member for Yarra and I represent two of the greatest; they are comparable with any in the world ; but wo do not want still greater proportions of our population to be concentrated in the cities. We must increase food production if we are to maintain our living standards and the priceless structure of democracy that we have erected in this country. Australia, is a wonderful country. **Mr. Justice** Davis, a former High Commissioner for Canada in this country, said, after travelling extensively in our back country - >T wish that all Australians could see what I have seen. I have returned with the firm belief that what I have seen is Australia's greatest asset. Canada's greatness and prosperity is based on the Canadian West. The opening of the American West made the U.S.A. There is no suggestion of an empty, waterless north in **Mr. Davis's** eulogy. This distinguished Canadian is able to take a completely detached view of our potentialities. He tells us that Australia is a wonderful country and wonders why we do not fill it. **Mr. Justice** Davis continued - 1 have seen a great undeveloped area, greater in size and in sheer possibilities than either the Canadian or the American West. I know of no place on this globe where there are greater chances of development. Australians are favoured in their possession of this great national asset, and it should be a challenge to the Australia of to-morrow to develop to the limit this great storehouse of wealth. I shall now quote the words of another gentleman whom I knew intimately. I refer to **Mr. Nelson** Johnson, who was for some years American Ambassador in Australia. After a visit to the Northern Territory he said that it could be built up into an empire, but this could be achieved only if the Government embarked on a definiteplan to open up the land to primary producers and gave Australian youth opportunities. He said that if he were young he would ask nothing better than to settle in Australia. The remarks of the honorable member / for arra bear directly on this. Those two gentlemen were speaking, not of the industries of the cities but of food production and the settlement of people on the land. They have told us that Australia is a wonderful country of almost unlimited potentialities. We have done something to exploit these and to keep this country for the white race. When our population was less than one half its present si;ie we launched our White Australia policy, but it would have been a mere " scrap of paper " had not Britain stood behind it. I am the only surviving member of the Parliament that adopted tha.t, policy. I believe in it. Australia is a white island in a yellow sea. I remind the committee that the densely peopled countries of the world, from which millions of people are seeking an outlet, are in the East and not very distant from Australia.. I could, if time permitted, amplify my remarks on this subject, but I must return to consider the future of Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited. I am hound to say that I do not understand why the Government should sell its interests in that company. We are told that great plans are in train, but it is impossible to live on plans. If wc want oil, it is of no use to say that grandiose plans are in process of gestation, and that in the fullness of time, when the process has been completed, we shall have something of which we can boast. I do not agree with any of that. Admittedly, Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited is a small unit, but it is ours. It doesn't belong to the giant cartel ! Of itself, it may not be much, but at any rate, it is something better than a grandiose plan. It is better than something that so far has neither shape nor substance. This nation has been developed by men of courage, with almost iron bodies and the hearts of lions. They saw what had to be done and straight away they set about doing it. I agree with the remarks of the Minister for External Affairs **(Mr. Casey)** last night. We can only be saved by work; efficient, unbroken work, and not by watching the clock going round. We have the 40-hour week, as well as a number of other things. The go-slow policy appeals to the workers. We have the "darg". When a man in Newcastle has done his " darg '', which he can do perhaps in an hour, or an hour and a half, less than the time fixed, he goes home. There is a brickworks near my home which makes only a certain number of bricks a day. It could make more bricks than it does. Why does it not do so? Because the price of bricks would come down if it did. There is an illusion in the minds of the workers that money is wealth. Money is not wealth. It is a medium of exchange, the means by which we can exchange what we produce for what we require of the products of others. The more we produce, the better off we shall be. This is a great country. We must prove by our deeds that 'we are worthy of our heritage and our liberties, by populating, developing, and preparing to defend it. As I have said, 60,000 new people come into existence in the world every day. When this Parliament was established the .population of Japan was 47,000,000. It is now 84,000,000. Japan has an excess of 6,000,000 people whom it cannot feed. Where are they to go? It is all right to say " Pill up our empty spaces in the north with them". We could fill up twenty norths with the excess people of the world who are looking for living space and an opportunity to make decent lives for themselves. If you say to me, " What shall we do to be saved ? " I shall say that, first of all, we must work and we must have complete confidence in ourselves and in the future of our country. Australia was developed by men who were willing to work hard and had confidence in themselves and their country. Character is the most precious asset of the nation. I do not believe that there are any better workers or fighters than there are in Australia. The Anzacs wrote the name of Australia in letters of fire across the sky. We are proud to call ourselves fellow citizens of the Anzacs. But while we must be prepared to defend Australia we are not looking forward to an endless vista of wars. We want peace, but we cannot have peace unless we are ready to defend ourselves against an aggressor. There is one nation in the world to-day that is ceaselessly active in stretching out its predatory hands. We want to live in peace with all the world; we threaten no-one, we assail no-one, but we must face up to the fact that Russia and communism - for communism is Russia, and Russia is communism - are our enemies whether we sit on .one side of this chamber or the other. We have to close our ranks to- meet this great danger. The worker of this country has come out of great tribulation. He was cast down, and now he has been lifted up. I remember him when he was cast down, and I remember the tyrannous treatment that was meted out to him by those who were then lifted up. In his turn the worker has on many occasions shown himself to bc as great a tyrant as those against whom he has been arrayed in times gone bv. If I were asked the question, " What shall we do to be saved ? ", I should reply that if we accept with all. our hearts and minds, the gospel of Christ, we shall be well on the way to a peaceful settlement of all our troubles. But in the world, to-day, we must protect ourselves. Consider the position in Indonesia. We must make it quite clear to the Indonesians r.hat we cannot sit passive if they attempt to occupy Dutch New Guinea. The Dutch have proved themselves our very good friends and allies and we hope they will stay in New Guinea,. But if they go, we must take their place. I do not know Whether honorable members know very much about the Indonesians. It is my privilege to know something of them. I. should be very sorry to see them in New Guinea. Those who hold New Guinea either hold Australia, or constitute a. deadly menace to Australia. The Leader of the Opposition **(Dr. Evatt)** has said that we might be able to purchase, or acquire by friendly negotiation, that part of New Guinea which is held by our friends, the Dutch. I point out to him that it is not merely a matter of acquiring, as it were, a legal right to Dutch New Guinea; we must also he prepared to bold it. We must be ready and willing not only to develop our country hut also co fight for it. With the world population increasing by 60,000 people a day, it will not be long before other nations begin co knock at our door and seek to enter this great sparsely settled land. What are we to say to the United Nations if and when they come ? What could the United Nations say ? Millions of homeless people are seeking a home, and here is a great country of 3,000,000 square miles with a population of only 2.6 persons to the square mile. If we want to hold Australia as a free democracy we must populate, develop, and prepare to defend it. The **DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr. Bowden).** - Order! The right honorable gentleman's time has expired. {: #subdebate-17-0-s17 .speaker-KZX} ##### Mr GEORGE LAWSON:
Brisbane -- Before I deal with the budget, E wish to make a few comments on the speech that has just been made by the right honorable member for Bradfield **(Mr. Hughes).** I agree with much of what the right honorable gentleman said, particularly with his views concerning the retention of the Commonwealth's interests in that valuable undertaking, Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited. I am sure that I voice the opinion of every honorable member on this side of the chamber when I say that I wholeheartedly support the views expressed by the right honorable member for Bradfield on. this matter and that I am grateful to him for having raised it in the chamber this afternoon. The right honorable gentleman speaks with knowledge of the undertaking, because, as he pointed out, he was Prime Minister of Australia when it was brought into existence. The company has rendered valuable service to Australia, particularly during the war period, and I sincerely trust that Government supporters will take notice of the remarks of their colleague, the right honorable member for Bradfield in regard to it. It has been rumoured in the press that it is the intention of the Government to dispose of the Commonwealth's shares in the company. Questions have been asked in this chamber almost every day in an attempt to obtain a statement of government policy on the matter. The Prime Minister has invariably replied that the policy of the Government has not yet been decided. I trust that the Government, in arriving at its decision, will be - guided by the advice of the right honorable member for Bradfield. I am confident that if the Government proposes to dispose of its share-holding in this great undertaking the right honorable gentleman will join forces with honorable members on this side of the chamber in voicing the strongest protest. Labour members will never forget the action of the Government in disposing of the shares held by the Commonwealth in that other great undertaking, Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited, or the fact that it would have disposed of' our national airline, Trans-Australia Airlines, but for the protests made by Opposition members and the people generally. I trust that supporters of the Government will remember those protests if the Government introduces legislation to dispose of its interests in Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited. I wholeheartedly support the amendment proposed by the Leader of the Opposition **(Dr. Evatt).** The budget is the most deceptive document that has ever been introduced in the Parliament. It was drafted in an attempt to deceive the electors into believing that its provisions will provide a cure for all the economic and financial ills that beset this country as the result of the bungling of the Government. The tory press in every State has boosted the budget as an incentive budget. During this debate Opposition members have proved that it is barren of incentives and that it does nothing to honour the promises made by the Government's spokesmen in 1949 and 1951. No fewer than five most important promises were then made by Government spokesmen, but not one of them has been honoured. Had they been honoured, Australia, financially and economically, would be much better off than it is to-day. The first promise made by the present Prime Minister **(Mr. Menzies)** with the support of the present Treasurer **(Sir Arthur Fadden)** as Leader of the Australian Country party, was that if they were returned to power they would put value back into the £1. I remember hearing the Prime Minister declare, from the platform of the Brisbane City Hall, that the £1 had become devalued because of the Labour Government's policy. It was worth, he said, only 12s. 6d. compared with the pre-war £1. "We sa.y that his statement was untrue, because at that time the £1 was worth a good deal more than 12s. 6d. Has the Government honoured its promise to restore value to the £1 ? It certainly has not, and this is a matter of the greatest importance to those on the basic wage, and particularly to housewives who have to do the shopping. The value of the £1 is lower now than it has ever been. Indeed, I believe that, far from being worth even 12s. 6d. as compared with the pre-war £1, it is now worth not more than 6s. No one is better aware of that than is the unfortunate housewife upon whom rests the responsibility of buying the necessaries of life. When she hands a £1 note over the counter now, she knows that she will receive in goods only as much as 6s. would have bought before the war. I have no doubt that many thousands of people voted for the present Government on the strength of its promise to restore value to the £1, a promise which it has failed to keep. The Government also promised to halt inflation, but we know that inflation is more acute now than it was two years ago, and. it is getting worse every day. There is no suggestion in the budget that any measures will be taken to halt the inflationary trend. The Government also promised to arrest the ever-increasing cost of living. Honorable members on this side of the chamber have produced figures which prove beyond all doubt that the cost of living has increased tremendously during the last two years. In fact, it has increased to such a degree that basic-wage earners are finding it almost impossible to make ends meet. Government supporters have suggested that the basic wage is too high. They have not said it straight out, but they have implied as much. The fact is that the basic wage never catches up with the cost of living; it always lags three months behind. There' is only one way in which the Government can arrest the rising cost of living, and that is to obtain from the people power to control costs and prices, as the Chifley Government sought to do. We know that, during the referendum campaign on that issue, supporters of the present Government advised the people to reject the Labour Government's proposals because, they said, the States could control prices more effectively than could the Commonwealth. Some of the State governments at the time expressed a contrary opinion, and events have proved that they were right. It is true that price fixing in Queensland has been more successful than elsewhere. Because it has been more rigidly administered, the cost of living is lower in Queensland than anywhere else in Australia. That was proved by the fact that the last basic wage increase was lower in Queensland than in any other State. The Government also promised that if it were returned by the people it would reduce taxes. I remember hearing the present Prime Minister and the present Treasurer criticizing the Labour Government's taxation policy. They claimed that taxes were so high that the people were robbed of the incentive to produce. If taxes were reduced, they said, even the basic-wage earner would be stimulated to put forth greater effort. However, the Menzies Government's first budget, that for 1950-51, did not reduce taxes, aud we all remember the Treasurer's "horror" budget of 1951-52 in which, far from reducing taxes as he had promised to do, lie imposed a 10 per cent, surtax on all incomes, and increased sales tax on certain items by as much as 100 per cent. He defended his taxation policy on the grounds that it was necessary in order to curb inflation, but it had the opposite (iff out. iiic; people rose in protest against the Government, and threatened that if taxes were not reduced they would have something to say on the subject later. That has been proved by the results of by-elections held in every State during the last two years. People are sick and tired of this Government, which has broken every one of its pre-election promises. The Government claims that the abolition of the special levy of 10 per cent, is ii reduction of income tax. I disagree with that contention. An examination of the budget tables reveals that, in spite of the abolition of the special levy, the workers will pay a greater amount of income tax in the current financial year nhan they paid in the last financial year, and even during the period of the war. A worker in receipt of an income of £400 in 1951-52 is now in receipt of income at the rate of £500 per annum as the result nf an increase of £100 in the basic wage. The following table shows that, even taking into consideration the abolition of the special levy, workers will pay a greater amount in income tax this year than they did last year - Those figures prove that the Government and its supporters, the tory press, are only attempting to deceive the people when they claim that income tax will be reduced this. year. I defy any Government supporter to refute the accuracy of those figures. {: .speaker-009MB} ##### Mr McEwen: -- "Would the position be improved if the Government did not abolish the special levy? {: .speaker-KZX} ##### Mr GEORGE LAWSON: -- That question was addressed to the Leader of the Opposition by the Prime Minister. I believe that taxes should be reduced. The Prime Minister, during the general election campaign in 1949, promised the people that, if he were returned to office, his government would reduce taxes. It has not done so. We are gratified with the decision of the Treasurer to abolish the special levy of 10 per cent., but the fact remains that a worker will be compelled to pay a greater amount of income tax this year than he paid last year. I now propose to discuss the preelection promise that was made by the present Prime Minister to that noble section of the community, the age pensioners, who were the pioneers of this country. The Prime Minister assured them that if he was returned to office, they would receive the sympathetic consideration to which they were entitled. At the time that promise was made, age and invalid pensioners, and, indeed, all recipients of social services were in a better position than they had been at any previous time in our history. The pension bore a closer relation to the basic wage in 1949 than it had at any earlier period, and the means test had been considerably relaxed by the Labour Government. Not content with that situation, the present Prime Minister informed the electors in 1949 that they could expect even more generous treatment from a Liberal government. The right honorable gentleman told them, in effect, " You have not been treated as fairly as you should have been ". {: .speaker-6V4} ##### Mr Daly: -- The Government pulled their legs. {: .speaker-KZX} ##### Mr GEORGE LAWSON: -- That is so. It is criminal for a political party to make specious promises to an unfortunate section of the community, such as age and invalid pensioners, in order to gain their votes. At the general election in 1949 thousands of pensioners transferred their support from the Labour party to the anti-Labour forces, because they believed the Prime Minister when he said that they would be given a better deal than they had been receiving from the Chifley Government. Now the pensioners find, to their grave concern, that they have never been so badly off as they are to-day. The relation of the pension to the basic wage is lower than it was when pensions were introduced by the late **Mr. Alfred** Deakin many years ago. I was amused last evening when the Minister for the Army **(Mr. Francis)** repeated the old catch-cry, " The Liberal party is the only party that has ever done anything for the pensioners ". The fallacy of that contention was exposed last year, when a number of Opposition members read extracts from *Hansard* to show how, and by whom, age and invalid pensions were introduced. The Minister said that **Mr. Deakin,** when he was Prime Minister, was responsible for the introduction of age and invalid pensions. It is true to say that the Deakin Government introduced the age pension, but the claim that it introduced the invalid pension is not correct. The Deakin Government was looking to the Labour party, led by the late **Mr. Andrew** Fisher, for support, just as the Liberal party looks to the Australian Country party for support to-day. The Australian Labour party has been responsible for all but two of the social service acts at present on the statute-book. Let us examine the promises made by the supporters of the Government to the age and invalid pensioners in 1949. They said, " We will see that your pensions are increased sufficiently for you to be able to maintain body and soul ". Instead of doing so, they have allowed the value of pensions in proportion to the basie wage, to decline by 10 per cent, or 11 per cent, during the time this Government has been in office. In July, 1945, when the basic wage was £4 183. a week, the age pension was £1 12s. 6d. a week, or 33.1 per cent, of the basic wage. In 1947 the pension was increased to £1 173. 6d. a week, or 34.1 per cent, of the basic wage, which was then £5 10s. a week. In October, 1948, the basic wage was £6 a. week, and the pension £2 2s. 6d. a week, or 35.4 per cent, of the basic wage. In October, 1951, the basic wage was £9 13s. a week. The pension, which had been increased to £3 a week, then represented 31.1 per cent. of the basic wage. In May of this year the basis wage increased to £11 3s. a week, but the pension remained at £3 a week, or only 26.9 per cent, of the basic wage. Although the budget now before the Parliament proposes an increase of 7s. 6d. a week in the pension, earlier this month the basic wage rose to £11 15s. a week, so that the pension of £3 7s. 6d. a week, when it commences to operate, will represent only 28.7 per cent, of the basic wage. Never in the history of the pension has the ratio between it and the basic wage been as low as it is at the present time. Pensioners, more than any other people, should be protected by the Government because they are not in a position to look after themselves. Particularly is this true of invalid pensioners. Age pensioners, under the act, are entitled to earn up to 30s. a week, or £3 in the case of a man and wife, in addition to the pension. Invalid pensioners, however, are not permitted to earn anything. The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- Order ! The honorable member's time has expired. *Sitting suspended from 5.5S to 8 p.m.* **Mr. ERIC** J. HARBISON (Wentworth) Vice-President of the Executive Council and Minister for Defence Production) 1 8.0]. - I have noticed during this debate that on every possible occasion honorable members of the Opposition, with a certain amount of nostalgia, have introduced the memory of their late lamented leader, the Right Honorable J. B. Chifley. I had a very great regard for **Mr. Chifley,** and I can understand the feelings of honorable members opposite when they regard those who have become their leaders since that gentleman passed away because he was the only thinker that the Labour movement has had for a decade. When he passed on the utmost confusion and chaos reigned in Labour's ranks. That fact has been evidenced during the period that this Government has occupied the treasury bench. The debate on the first budget of this Government was led on behalf of the Opposition by the Leader **(Dr. Evatt).** The shambles made of his argument by the Prime Minister **(Mr. Menzies)** is now history. The colleagues of the leader of the Opposition decided that he bad made such a completely false showing that when the next budget was presented they arranged for his deputy, the honorablemember for Melbourne (Mr.Calwell), to take his place. Thehonorable member for Melbourne made themost colossal blunders that have ever been made in this House and his party said, " Now what are we going to do ? " They sought the advice of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports **(Mr, Crean),** who has been tutoring their bright intellects in economics. They decided that they had better put their leader forward again. Consequently on this occasion, the Leader of the Opposition has again led the Opposition's attack on the budget.But he has required support. So the next aspirant to the treasurership, the honorable member for Eden-Monaro **(Mr. AllanFraser)** was produced. He came in to bat behind his leader. These changes are symptomatic of the confusion that exists in Labour's ranks. On this occasion the Leader of the Opposition, in a sort of frenzy of finance, suggested that the Government should inflate the country out of its inflationary position. Many matters have been discussed duringthis debate,but the Opposition has concentrated upon three that they considered to be of major importance. On the subject of taxation the Leader of the Opposition indulged in a very learned digression which provedconclusively that, as a financial expert, he is avery good lawyer. TheOpposition appear to have decided also thatunemployment is a weapon withwhich they can destroy the Government. Some fantastic figures werecited by the honorable member for East Sydney **(Mr. Ward)** who, using the technique of Goebbels, decided that ifa lie was worth telling it should be a big lie. Finding himself in theexaltedposition ofchallengerforthe treasurership againstthe honorable member for Melbourne, the honorable member for EdenMonaro also comported himself in a strange way. He spoke on thesubject of socialservices. If I have time I shall dealwiththecontradictions of the argumentadvancedon taxation by the LeaderoftheOpposition. At thisjuncture Ishallcontent myself bysaying,asthe Prime Minister has said,thatthisbudgetprovides for tax concessions which amount to approxi mately £50,000,000. If the Leader of the Opposition still contends that reduced rates of tax will result in heavier taxation, I ask him, as did the Prime Minister, whether he is prepared to advocate that the Government's proposal shall be withdrawn. The honorable member for EdenMonaro, with some effrontery, took the Government to task in regard to social services and, in particular, with regard to child endowment. In my opinion, he exhibited the grossest temerity that has ever been displayed by any honorable member opposite. What are the facts? Itwas a Liberal government that introduced child endowment in 1941. For eight years afterwards the Labour Government allowed the rate of child endowment payments to remain as they were. When the present Government parties announced that they intended to consider paying child endowment in respect of the first child in each family, the Labour party denounced the proposal as the greatest political fraud in history. The Opposition said thatwe could not do what we proposed to do, but we did it. Then, during the election campaign of 1951, the Labour party offered to increase the child endowment . payable in respect of the first child.Now Opposition members have had the temerity to suggest that the Government has not done what it should have done in regard to child endowment. The last budget introduced by the Labour Government was presented in this House in 1949 when the country was involved in an inflationary spiral. During the election campaign held in April, 1951, **Mr. Chifley,** speaking at Cairns,said that in order to end inflation it was necessary to do more than control prices. He Said that if Labour were returned to office it might have to do some unpopular things in order to arrest inflation. He was well aware of the inflationary trend. But when the Labour Government introduced its 1949 budget, knowing full well that inflation was rampant andthat the cost of living had risen by about 15 per cent. duringthe previous year, it made no provision for increases inpensions orsocial services.Yetthe Opposition has had thetemeritytocriticizetheincreasesin pensions, repatriation benefits and social services that have been made by this Government. Let us have no more of this silly talk from the Opposition on the subject of age and invalid pensions and social services. During this debate, in accordance with his technique of misrepresentation, the honorable member for East Sydney said that when the Menzies Government assumed office in December, 1949, Australia's overseas trade balance was £843,000.000. He was thereby inferring that the Chifley Government had left Australia's favorable overseas trade balance standing at the figure of £843,000,000. The honorable member must have been well aware that that statement was untrue, because when the Menzies Government assumed office in December, 1949, our London trade balance was £508,300,000. Since then it has been reduced to £362,000,000. The Menzies Government built up the favorable trade balance from £508,300,000 in December, 1949, to £843,000,000. From that peak the balance has declined to £362,000,000. {: .speaker-BV8} ##### Mr Calwell: -- The Government threw the money away. {: #subdebate-17-0-s18 .speaker-KNX} ##### Mr ERIC J HARRISON:
WENTWORTH, NEW SOUTH WALES · UAP; LP from 1944 -- I am glad that the honorable member for Melbourne **(Mr. Calwell)** interjected that remark, because **Mr. Chifley,** then Labour Prime Minister and Treasurer, said in his 1947-48 budget speech, as reported in *Hansard,* volume 193, at page 106-109 - >I myself talked the matter over in a general way with the Chancellor of the Exchequer when I was in London last year ... As a result of these discussions the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, **Mr. Attlee,** suggested to me that Australia could help them most in their present difficulties if we would take it as a broad objective to live for the time being within our external income and, if necessary, to restrict imports from all sources and so avoid the need to call upon our accumulated London funds. This . . . did not overlook the possibility that our export income might in adverse circumstances turn downwards . . . However, it should be made clear that if our export prospects deteriorate it may be necessary to impose over-all import cuts in order to carry out our undertaking to the United Kingdom. I again remind the Opposition that that is a statement by their own Labour Prime Minister in 1947. He foreshadowed that import cuts would have to be made, and that is the very thing that this Government was forced to do. Moreover, that is the very action that the Opposition has so strenuously objected to. I suggest that in view of **Mr. Chifley's** 1947 budget speech, the Opposition has opposed import restrictions because it has no sense of responsibility. The Labour party has lost the only leader that it has ever produced, and it is just ekeing out its policy on statements formerly made by him. I hope that the Opposition, honorable members generally and the country at large, will note carefully some observations that I shall now make. The nation's economy is not precariously unstable; in fact conditions are basically favorable for enterprise. In the first six months of this year the output of black coal was about 25 per cent, greater than in the same period of 1951. The output of basic steel products has increased substantially. Most of the basic industries have been seeking more labour and are obtaining it. {: .speaker-KEJ} ##### Mr Keon: -- What about primary production ? {: .speaker-KNX} ##### Mr ERIC J HARRISON:
WENTWORTH, NEW SOUTH WALES · UAP; LP from 1944 -- I ask honorable members opposite to take notice of what I have just said, because that statement is most important. Moreover, public confidence is not being undermined, nor is instability being brought about by frequent wage increases. In such industries as the heavy engineering, plant equipment and machinery, railway rollingstock, chemicals and fertilizers, building material, agricultural machinery and implements, ship building and repair, aircraft manufacture and repair, and munitions, there have been notable increases of employment. {: .speaker-KX7} ##### Mr Ward: -- Now tell the House about the 100,000 unemployed. *Honorable members interjecting,* The **DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr. Bowden).** - Order! Honorable members must maintain silence. There is altogether too much noise and levity. Such a disturbance is not consistent with the dignity of this chamber. {: .speaker-KNX} ##### Mr ERIC J HARRISON:
WENTWORTH, NEW SOUTH WALES · UAP; LP from 1944 -- NowI tell honorable members opposite, who have been so strenuously interjecting, that the statements that I have just made are not my words at all. Altogether they caused a lot of disturbance in the minds of honorable members opposite. They are the words of **Mr. Albert** E. Monk who is the president of the Australian Council of Trades Unions. Those words are contained in the affidavit that was sworn by **Mr. Monk** and filed in the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration in case No. 387 of 1952, which is commonly known as the metal trades award case. Now let me continue. **Mr. Monk** also stated in his affidavit - >I, Albert Ernest Monk, of Trades Hall, Melbourne, in the State of Victoria, make oath and say as follows: I am the President of the Australian Council of Trades Unions . The nation's economy is not precariously unstable- 1 remind honorable members that for the past fortnight the Opposition has been saying that our economy is precariously unstable. **Mr. Monk** continued - > >Conditions are basically favorable for enterprise. Of course they are. Then he cited the increases of coal production and in basic steel production, and stated - >Public confidence is not being undermined. Of course it is not, except insofar as the Labour Opposition seeks to undermine it by talking of depression and circulating fantastic stories of hundreds of thousands of unemployed workers. Then **Mr. Monk** stated that there have been notable increases of employment, and he cited an official statement issued by the Department of Labour and National Service dated the 12th August, 1952. This official statement, as detailed in his affidavit, shows that in primary production, mining and quarrying, manufacturing, building and construction, transportation operations, commerce, finance and communications, public administration, health and education, and other services there are vacancies for 31,753 employees. **Mr. Monk's** affidavit also contains the following statement: - >As regards the vacancies in New South Wales, most of the 10.762 vacancies registered for men at the end of July were in the Sydney and Newcastle areas, and were mainly in the metals and engineering industries (especially plant and machinery and ship building) and the railways vacancies for youths comprised 1.673 of the total; most of the remainder were for metal and electrical tradesmen. The 7,463 vacancies registered for men in Victoria, at 25th July were mainly in the metals and engineering 1 industries (especially plant and machinery firms), education, building and public administration. In the metals and engineering industries most of the vacancies are for metal tradesmen and in the building industry for plumbers and carpenters. In Queensland the 2,388 vacancies for men wenmainly in the metals, engineering, building and construction and sugar industries. In South Australia moat of the 1,893 vacancies were in the vehicle, ship-building and building industries. In Western Australia most of the 1,500 vacancies registered for men were in the vehicle, railways and building industries. > >Although there has been a readjustment of economic activity, which is still proceeding, the economy is fundamentally sound. What is this fiendishly cruel game that the Opposition is indulging in? Human lives and human values are at stake. The people of Australia can make their choice between the sworn declaration submitted by .the president of the Australian Council of Trades Unions to a court of law and the observations of self-seeking politicians who try to distort the facts. They are not likely to be misled by all this clap-trap that members of the Opposition mouth in .this chamber. **Mr. Monk** was game enough to swear to the facts; but honorable members opposite, hiding behind their parliamentary privilege, make all sorts of misstatements and wild accusations in the hope that the people will believe them. I say to them : " Cut out this cruel juggling with human lives and human values. Please remember that the people look to you for some leadership. Do not be craven. If industrial leaders are prepared to swear to the facts, why cannot you, the elected representatives of the people, at least try to tell the truth? " How can honorable members opposite have the temerity to talk of unemployment at this time? I well remember that, when **Mr. Scullin** was in power for about two years, Australia suffered the greatest depression in its history. I shall not say that he caused that depression, but, at any rate, he contributed considerably to it. The fact is that the Labour party was not capable of governing the country during that depression. The people had to put the Lyons Government in office in order to clean up the mess that had been made by Labour. The Labour party again gained power during World War II., when its leaders indulged their socialistic dreams of paradise. Controls were clamped on the nation, labour was regimented, and money was poured out hand over ,fist to start the flood of inflation. The present Leader of the Opposition cannot forget that he was able to use inflation in war-time, and he' seeks to continue to use it in the days of peace. After the cessation of hostilities, the Labour Government had four years of peace in which to gain control of the inflationary spiral that had been started during the war. **Mr. Chifley** made the position abundantly clear when he said, in a speech that he made at an election meeting at the Prahran town hall on the 16th April, 1.951- >The return of a. Labour government, however, would not cure the inflationary evils. It would need hard work, great political courage, and perhaps fairly drastic measures With the co-operation of the trade union movement to achieve that goal. We have the courage and we have worked hard, but honorable members opposite are doing everything within their power io prevent the trade unions from cooperating with us in the crisis that faces Australia at present. In another speech, which he made at the declaration of the poll at Bathurst on the 7th May, 1951, **Mr. Chifley** said - >There is not any one measure which can cure the present inflationary trend. It would require a number of measures, some drastic, and some also politically Unpopular. There spoke the thinker of the Labour party, the man who knew the truth ! Tie Labour party could not govern in a depression, and it could not govern in a period of inflation. This Government had to take over when inflation was rampant in the land. The former leader of the Labour party had forecast inflation and had warned his followers, but they are incapable of dealing with the situation and' the people elected us to clean up the mess. Honorable members opposite cannot govern. They are only destroyers. Why did **Mr. Monk** make on oath the statements that I have quoted, in which he revealed supreme confidence in the financial stability of Australia and, therefore, in the economic policy of this Government? Let us consider some of the facts. The official number of persons in receipt of unemployment benefits on the 2nd August, 1952, wa3 15,577. That total represents approximately one-third of 1 per cent, of the total strength of Australia's work force. The Prime Minister made the situation clear when he pointed out that the proportion of unemployment was 45 in every 10,000. Yet the honorable member for East Sydney talks of 100,000 unemployed ! The people will decide whether to accept the sworn' statement of the president of the Australian Council of Trades Unions or the irresponsible exaggerations of " the honorable member for misrepresentation ". 1 refer honorable members to the trade union figures, which are a reliable barometer of the employment situation. In 1947, during Labour's regime, 1.2 per cent, of trade union members were out of employment. In M.arch, 1952, th? figure was 1.1 per cent. Those are the official figures issued by the Acting Commonwealth Statistician. When honorable members opposite talk of 100,000 unemployed in the country they do so merely for the sake of political gain. The official statistics show that, over-all employment in Australia has increased since June, 1948, when the Chifley Government was in power, from 2,375,000 to 2,588,000. That is a marked improvement, and I notice that honorable members opposite are silent about it. The increase of employment has been particularly noteworthy in the important basic industries that **Mr. Monk** mentioned in bis affidavit, which were badly in need of labour. In the coal-mining industry, for instance, employment has increased over the period that I have mentioned from' 26,000 to 30,000. In the compete group of mining and quarrying Industrie's, the increase has been from 53.000 to 60.000. In building and construction, it has been from 88,000 to 104.000. In the complete group of building and construction trade*, it has been from 171.000 to 218.000. Tn the transport, and communications group, which was badly in need of labour, employment ha11 increased from 305,000 to 340,000. In the manufacturing industries, the increase has been from 894.000 to 928,000. No wonder the Prime Minister was able to state recently that, even in this transitional period, about 4,000 workers were being placed in new jobs each week! Throughout this debate, which has been in progress now for six days, I have listened to honorable members opposite make a series of accusations against the Government that are completely without foundation. They have striven to villify the Treasurer and the Government as a whole for having produced a budget that is designed to give an incentive to the people to engage in full production. Their criticism has been ill-informed. The Government in the first place stemmed the tide of inflation last year by producing a budget which pressed heavily upon the people, hut which has now been recognized by the people as a necessary corrective to the inflationary spiral. Now the Government has presented an incentive budget and has appealed to the people to disregard all the clap-trap that they hear on street corners, from soap boxes, from the Yarra bank platforms and from the Opposition benches in this chamber, and to set to work to produce the goods that the nation needs. Obviously the 40-hour week, with 30 hours of productive work, will not restore prosperity in Australia. The people are beginning to respond to the Government's measures and are working harder and increasing production. This budget has been designed to encourage them. "We have spread the unavoidable burden of costs as widely as possible throughout the community in order to give relief to those who need it most. The people are taking an interest in the nation's welfare once more. They will know how to choose between the sworn testimony of Albert Monk, the president of the Australian Council of Trades Unions, and the irresponsible propaganda of members of the Opposition who are taking advantage of their parliamentary privileges solely for their own. political aggrandizement. **Mr. CALWELL** (Melbourne) T8.301.- The Vice-President of the Executive Council **(Mr. Eric J. Harrison),** poor fellow, has done his best to defend his Government and its long succession of failures, but his best is not good enough to satisfy himself or his colleagues. Cer tainly he has not satisfied the countryThe most that can be said for the case that has been presented by Ministers and their supporters in this debate is that they have done the best they could do in an almost impossible position. They have tried to justify the unjustifiable, to defend the indefensible and to explain the inexplicable. In their inner beings, they know that the Government has no case. They know that before the bar of public opinion, they stand condemned, and that it is only a matter of time before the people of Australia, figuratively, will tear them limb from limb for the things that they have done against the best interests of the nation. Every government, irrespective of its political complexion, lias an obligation to do two things. First, it must stabilize the prices of goods and services, and when it has done that, it must maintain that stability. Secondly, it must increase productivity and continue to encourage the increase of productivity. If a budget fails to do those things, it is not a good budget. This budget will not do those things and therefore, like the other two budgets that have been introduced by this Government, it is a bad budget and one that will harm the nation. This budget has been worked out on the premise that Australia has entered a period of deflation with consequent unemployment. It has been worked out within' the framework of the proposals that the Government put before the Australian Loan Council in May and July of this year. At the first meeting, the States unanimously voted for a borrowing programme for the current year of £247,500,000. The Australian Government opposed that decision and offered to assist the States loans programme with a contribution of £125,000,000. When the Government raised its offer in July to- £135,000.000, the States repeated their view of two months earlier, that unless the Australian Government provided the difference between the amount that it had promised and the amount that the States had voted for, which was £112,000,000, State public works would have to be curtailed seriously and a large army of workers would have to be dismissed. The Australian Government accepted that situation and proceeded to frame its financial programme for this year with the full knowledge that its refusal to assist the States would throw tens of thousands of good, capable Australians out of work. The Government proposes now to double the amount to be paid in unemployment and sickness benefits. If it were not for the fact that the Government knows that there will be much unemployment, it would not provide for those payments to be doubled. It hopes that that provision will satisfy the growing army of unemployed persons. The best way to test whether this budget is an incentive budget, as is claimed, or whether it is another edition of the horror budget of 1951, as is suspected, is to examine the lists issued by the stock exchanges. Business was never so dull" and the turnover was never so small as it is today. One newspaper this morning published a headline, which reads, " Investments still Falling Steadily ". A comparison of leading industrial shares, as reported in the press of the 1st August five clays before the budget was introduced and ro-day, fifteen days after the budget was presented, shows that leading industrial shares such as Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited stood at 42s. 6d. three weeks ago, but now are quoted at 42s. Shares in Dunlop Rubber Australia Limited were 32s. 6d. three weeks ago. Sow they can be bought at 30s. It is obvious from those figures that this budget has not stirred any enthusiasm in the hearts of investors. It has given no " incentive to the investing public. "Shares will continue to be dull and they will not rise until the next election for the House of Representatives is about to take place. Then, and not until then, will confidence be restored to the business community. Businessmen are counting the days until the Evatt Labour Government occupies the treasury bench in this Parliament. The Prime Minister **(Mr. Menzies)** and the Treasurer **(Sir Arthur Fadden)** have avoided two questions almost as they would avoid the plague. They did not talk about their promise to restore value to the £1, and in the two and a half hours that they occupied "'Hh their speeches on the budget they did not mention communism once. Three years ago the Prime Minister was in the habit of depicting himself as an apocalyptic figure struggling with the demon of communism. I wonder why honorable members opposite never talk now about their promise to restore value to the £1. Perhaps they want us to forget that it was a promise. Perhaps they want us to remember it merely as a delightful dialectical legacy of 1949. But the people will not forget that with this Government, promises are made only by false pretences. In the mind of this Government, promises are made only to be broken. The tax concessions that have been announced in the budge - if they are really concessions - were forced from the Treasurer and his colleagues by the back-bench members on the Government side of the chamber. They saw the writing on the wall even if the Ministers did not. Byelections have been held in every State during the last twelve months. Electorate after electorate, Federal and State, has stacked up enormous pluralities in favour of the Labour party and its standard hearers. Because of those defeats for the Government parties, the structure of the budget was changed. It was not done because the fight against inflation had been won. If the Government parties had won a few by-elections this budget would have been a horror budget of the same type as that which was prepensed last year. Now, in the jargon of the economists, the Government tries to tell honorable members that conditions have changed. It should ask any housewife or businessman or any person in the community whether prices are not still rising and whether it is easier to live to-day than it was twelve months ago. The truth is that prices are continuing to rise and whether Ministers call it credit inflation, cost inflation or any other fancy name to cloud the issue, the people know that the fight against inflation has hot been won. Honorable members 01 the Government side talk about concessions in taxation, but the real comparison lies between a man on or about the basic wage in 1949-50 and the basic- >Wage earner or one near that amount today. In 194'9-50 a man with a wife and two children, receiving £450 a year, or £120 above the basic wage, paid £9 3s. in social services contribution and no income tax. In 1952-53, a man receiving £710 a year or £120 above the basic wage, will pay £32 13s., or £24 a year more under this tory Government than he would have paid under the last Labour Government. Yet this Government claims that it is making tax concessions to the workers. It is true that every worker on the basic wage and above it pays much more now than he did under the Chifley Government so that this Government's vaunted concessions amount to nothing. Then, there is the story of the land tax. The twenty-fourth report of the Commissioner of Taxation which was tabled in this chamber in 1944 set out that the amount of land tax collected in respect of city properties totalled £2,917,531, while the amount collected in respect of country properties was £S95,132. Yet, the Government fays that by abolishing land tax it is making concessions to country land-holders and is encouraging production ! In 1944, the amount of land tax paid in respect of city properties was three times greater than that paid in respect of country properties. The corresponding figures for Subsequent years have not yet been made available, but I understand that of the £6,000,000 of land tax that would be collected this financial year, if the tax remained in force, £4,770,000 would be paid in respect of city properties, whilst approximately only £1,230,000 would be paid in respect of country properties. Four times as much land tax would be collected in respect of city properties than would be paid in respect of country properties. I have worked out a few examples in order to indicate who will actually receive the benefit from the abolition of land- tax. David Jones Limited, of Sydney, the head of which is **Sir Charles** Lloyd Jones, will get a hand out of £38,475, Farmer and Company Limited, of Sydney, will benefit to an amount of £31,389, and thirteen Sydney offices and seven private banks will benefit to the amount of £25,000. {: #subdebate-17-0-s19 .speaker-KXZ} ##### Mr PETERS: -- Every year. {: #subdebate-17-0-s20 .speaker-BV8} ##### Mr CALWELL: -- Yes ; until Labour is returned to office. The Melbourne offices of two private banks will share a benefit of £10,300. This Government is giving these concessions in the hope that the Government parties will be able to collect contributions for their campaign funds for the next general election. If those parties receive from those interests on y 5 per cent, of the public money they are giving away under this budget, they still have £300,000 for their next campaign. As a result of the abolition of land tax, the *Sydney Morning Herald* would benefit to the amount of £6,404 and the Melbourne *Herald* to the tune of £2,108. Whilst this Government is now providing an additional £6,000,000 for hundreds of thousands of age and invalid pensioners, it is at the same time giving another £6,000,000 to a few wealthy, landowners. {: .speaker-KZW} ##### Mr Lawrence: -- That is infinitely more than the Labour Government ever gave to them. {: .speaker-BV8} ##### Mr CALWELL: -- The Labour party does not believe in remitting land tax to persons in receipt of big incomes at a time when a person must own land of an unimproved value of £8,750 before he becomes liable to pay a penny of land tax. Last year the Government condemned the use of treasury-bills, but it finished up .the year by using £45,000,000 of such money. This year, it proposes to expend at least £.125,000,000 by means of treasury-bills and, indeed, it is probable that it may expend £200,000,000 by that means before the year is out. Yet, Minister after Minister has chided the Opposition with advocating the use of unlimited credit. The Australian Labour party has never suggested that; and it does not do so now. We say that what is physically possible is fiancially possible. In other words, a developing country should never have one willing worker unable to obtain work. The Australian Labour party was the first to introduce full employment in this country and it is the only party that has ever practised that principle. When. **Mr. Dedman** was Minister for Post-war Reconstruction in the Labour Government and tabled in this chamber his famous white paper on full employment in 1946, speaker after speaker from the then Opposition boggled at the use of the term, "full employment ". They wanted to substitute for it " maximum employment " or " a high level of employment They did not want any government to try to run the economy on the basis of full employment. At no time in this country, while it has been under anti-Labour rule, has the capitalist system ever been able to function unless there existed a pool of unemployed. With respect to the taxation of private companies, the Treasurer was evasive and misleading. He dismissed that subject in a few sentences. He did not attempt to explain how much tax is to be remitted under the budget proposals to the few remaining wealthy private companies. Honorable members would still like to hear who is to benefit from this handout for which no justification at all exists. It will be given to people like the Fairfax family, who own the *Sydney Morning Herald.* This budget savours of reward for support of the Government. Some people would use even stronger terms to describe such a deal. The *Sydney Morning Herald* is now supporting the Government and has even gone so far as to say that there is something in the budget for everybody. There is nothing in it for the middle classes or those on small incomes. There is nothing in it for the mothers of Australia, because the Government does not propose to increase child endowment. The maintenance of children is a very costly item. Children are a national asset, but so far as this Government is concerned, they are a neglected asset. I propose now to say something about the Government's loan flotations. There is something radically wrong with a government to which the people will not lend their money. The Curtin and Chifley governments never had any difficulty in filling loans, and they floated victory loans, liberty loans and security loans at comparatively low interest rates. Every one of those loans was filled, and some of them were over-subscribed. The public memory is short, but in the dreadful war years and post-war years, **Mr. Chifley,** when he was Treasurer in the Curtin Government, and later, when he was Treasurer in his own Government, raised £1,500,000,000 in loans in this country. Neither of those governments ever pledged the credit of this nation outside Australia. They repatriated some of the loans as they fell due. But what is the sorry record of this Government? The people will not lend to it because they do not trust it. Yet the people have money. Savings bank deposits are at a record high level and amount to approximately £900,000,000. Every loan that this Government has floated could have been filled, but it could not even raise £125,000,000 last financial year. The thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth security loans were failures. The fourteenth loan was nominally a success because the Government held the whip over insurance companies ' and private financial institutions and forced them to pledge subscriptions in order to fill it. Some companies are only now paying off their final contributions to that loan. One must go back to the days of the ill-fated BrucePage Government of unhappy memory to find conditions similar to those that exist to-day. This Government has not filled its loans either in Australia or overseas. Last month, it converted in London a loan of nearly £12,000,000, due on the 5th September next. The interest rate in respect of the old loan was 3£ per cent. The Government offered 44 per cent, in respect of the new loan. The issue price was £98, payable in London, and the loan had a currency of eight to ten years, the underwriters being Nivison and Company. When that loan was closed it was 30 per cent, under-subscribed. I repeat that we have to go back to the days of the Bruce-Page Government to point to anything comparable with that experience. That Government in July, 1928, floated a £7,000,000 loan in London that was only 13 per cent, subscribed, or 87 per cent, under-subscribed, so low had our credit fallen in London. Six months later, in January, 1929, there was another £8,000,000 flotation in London, lt was a little better than the previous one. It was 16 per cent, subscribed, and only 84 per cent, under-subscribed. How could the present Government that equally mismanages the affairs of the nation be regarded other than as a tragedy? Honorable members opposite tell us that the alternative to such a government is a Labour socialist government. Let it be! Whether we are Labour socialists, or socialist labourites, the fact remains that the only governments that have done any good for this country have been Labour socialist governments. The greatest Prime Ministers that this country has known were all Labour socialists. I refer to Andrew Fisher, James Henry Scullin, John Curtin and Joseph Benedict Chifley. I am. not worried about the term socialist, and neither is the Prime Minister **(Mr. Menzies).** The right honorable gentleman made a speech in London early in 1 941, when, he was previously Prime Minister. He may be expelled from the Liberal party after I have read to the committee the report of the speech that appeared in the Melbourne *Age* of the 3rd March, 1941, which was as follows - >I always tell my Opposition friends that the only difference between us is that I am theoretically non-socialist, while an amazingly practical socialist, while they are theoretical socialists. People will take things from us they wouldn't take from the Labour party. . . It is a question of speed. You get two views, which, in theory, are violently opposed. In practice, the extreme course of to-day is a commonplace of to-morrow. No matter what honorable members opposite may say, the Prime Minister prophesied in 1941 that socialism would eventually come to pass in Australia. I emphasize the sentence "People will take things from us they wouldn't take from the Labour party". I suppose that is the justification for all the controls and restrictions that the right honorable gentleman is imposing at the present time. He thinks that he can push his friends around. He thinks that he can function on the advice that the Earl of Clarendon was supposed to have given Charles IL - >Do good to your enemies. Your friends won't harm you. The people who will destroy him when the opportunity comes will be his own friends that he has betrayed - those who consider that he has fooled them. In 1939 the right honorable member for Kooyong succeeded **Mr. J.** A. Lyons as Prime Minister. The Lyons Government was an awful government, too. It was a starvation government, which had ' an unemployment rate of 34 per cent, in June, 1932. That was a government that went to the people in 1934 and claimed that it had established a. wonderful record because it had reduced the army of unemployed by 9 per cent. Instead of having 34 per cent, of the people looking for work vainly in a land that boasted of its riches, there was only 25 per cent! of the workers unemployed ! As a matter of fact anti-Labour governments have never yet been able to function without an army of unemployed persons. . The number of unemployed in the three years immediately preceding the war was 9 per cent. Just before Labour took office in 1941. twelve months after the commencement of World War IL, the Prime Minister admitted that in 1940 there was an army of 100,000 unemployed people in this country. It is known that at the outbreak of war there were 250,000 people unemployed. In the whole period of the Curtin and Chifley governments there was no unemployment. We had what tha economists told .us was a period of overfull employment, and we hear echoes of that particular line of talk still. Honorable members opposite say that over-full employment is bad for the country. Nobody wants anything but. full employment, which means a man for every job. and a job for every man who wants one. If I had to choose between a certain amount of inflation with a buoyant market and full employment, and deflation and a depression with unemployment, I should select, of course, a certain measure of inflation. It is far better to have people working than to have them rotting in unemployment. In 1939, for reasons that are perfectly obvious, the present Prime Minister, when he succeeded **Mr. Lyons,** did not take any of the members of the Australian Country party into his team. They were very annoyed. From the cross-benches they attacked him bitterly. They were the subject of an attack on the 23rd May of that year by the present Treasurer **(Sir Arthur Fadden),** who was then the honorable member for Darling Downs. He was not then the Treasurer in a composite government, but was on the outside sniping. Referring to members of the then Menzies Government, five of whom are now his colleagues in the Cabinet, the right honorable gentleman was reported in *Hansard,* vol. 159, at page 632, to have stated - . . Some honorable members become so pro-English that they are now anti-Australian, although they do not recognize it. We must give serious consideration to our defence responsibilities, and do everything in our power to reduce expenditure on the defence programme, even though we may be told by out experts that it is essential. We are informed that we are in danger of war. That was nine months after Munich, two months after the complete occupation of Czechoslovakia by Hitler, and within tour months of the outbreak of "World War II. He continued - >War implies a breach of international relations, and therefore it appears to me that every logical system of defence should provide for the maintenance of international friendships, the smoothing out of difficulties with potential enemies, and the establishment nf intimacies with potential allies. . . [f a person were to make such a statement to-day he would be described as a Communist. He would come within the provisions of the sabotage bill that the Government proposes to introduce during this sessional period. Later in his speech the right honorable gentleman stated - > >Naval and military experts often seek to lake advantage of critical times in order to urge expenditure on projects calculated to advance the interests of the professional sailors and soldiers rather than those of the country. . . . Further on the right honorable gentleman referred to the members of his own Government in the following words, which show - particularly if we were about to enter another war- how unreliable and irresponsible they are in Opposition, and how incompetent they are in Government. He said - >There are honorable members of this House who would give the territory north of the Tweed to the- Japanese, or any other potential enemy, if it meant the well-being of the rest of Australia. It is perfect^ obvious from that remark that before there was a "Brisbane line" there was a " Tweed line ". He stated later - >I, in common with other honorable members from Oueensland an'l Queenslanders generally, Hew with alarm the scant consideration that has been given by way of defence expenditure to Queensland. I hope the people of Queensland who are listening to the broadcast of this debate will remember that remark. We have been told that the trade unions of this country are using the Menzies Government's legislation to remove Communists from trade union offices. That is not true. The trade unions are using the Chifley Government's legislation to get rid of the Communist control of their organizations. They very rarely use the Menzies Government's legislation for that purpose. Laurence Short, the secretary of the Federated Ironworkers Association, has won many "ballots. The only ballot that he has lost to a Communist was the one that was conducted under the Menzies Government's legislation. He has won all the rest. He holds his present post because of the victories he won under the Chifley Government's legislation. A lot of things are happening now., and a lot of things will happen in the immediate future. There is to be a Commonwealth economic conference. We want to know the subjects that will be discussed at that conference. *(Extension of time granted.']* The decisions that it makes will have an important bearing upon the position of this country, but the Treasurer, in his budget speech, has told us nothing about the conference and its possible vital influence upon our economy and our future. This Government hides as much as it can hide, and avoids as much as it can avoid. But there are some things that it cannot avoid. It cannot avoid the revelation made in this chamber recently that the press of Australia secured advance information about eight most important, items of the budget, and about a number of less important items. It secured that information by means unknown to honorable members. That disclosure of budget secrets to newspapers violated every principle of democratic constitutional government, and has some very sinister aspects that only a Committee of Privilege could discover. This afternoon, the right honorable member for Bradfield **(Mr. Hughes)** made a devastating speech as far as th« Government was concerned. In some respects, he was back where he was in 1910, in the great days of the Fisher Government, of which he was AttorneyGeneral. His defence of Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited was striking and it fully justifies the opposition of the Labour party to the contemplated sacrifice of this great public utility by the present Government to the vast financial octopus that dominates the oil resources of the world. Honorable gentlemen opposite, in their attempt to defend the miserable increase of age pensions by 7s. 6d. a week, told us that it was the Scullin Government which reduced the age pension in 1931, under the Premiers plan. That is historically true. There were a number of the Labour men who voted against the reduction, but every member of the antiLabour forces in the Parliament at that time, including the predecessor of the honorable member for Balaclava **(Mr. Joske).,** voted to reduce age and invalid pensions. In the next year, the blight of the Lyons Government descended upon Australia, and **Mr. Lyons** brought forth his first budget. I am indebted to a body styling itself the United Australia party federal organization for the facts of the Lyons Government budget of 1931-32. That body claimed that the anti-Labour parties made economies to the amount of £3,000,000 in that year. They made £625,000 at the expense of age and invalid pensioners. They reduced the age pension from 17s. 6d. to 15s. a week. But at that very time, they, like the Government of their own political kidney to-day, were eager to give money away to land-owners. At the very time that they saved £625,000 at the expense of the misery of age and invalid pensioners, they reduced the land tax of that day by one-third, and gave £600,000 in tax remissions to persons of the same type as those to whom this Government is giving land tax remissions in this budget. As if not to be outdone, in the next year they gave away another £400,000 to persons who paid land tax, by way of a reduction of 50 per cent, of the former rate instead of 3!U Der cent. So the Scriptures were fulfilled- >For lie that hath, to him shall he (riven; and h» that 11+ h n"t. from him shall be taken even that which he hath. {: .speaker-KFQ} ##### Mr Gullett: -- Does the honorable gentleman have to read that verse? He should know it by heart. {: .speaker-BV8} ##### Mr CALWELL: -- I say for the benefit of the uneducated and nominal Christian who has interjected that those words have been taken from the Gospel of St. Mark, chapter 4, verse 25. Any one who has listened to honorable members opposite striving to keep their courage up might think that there is nothing wrong with the state of Australia. On the 31st October of last year, the Vice-President of the Executive Council, in answer to the honorable member for Burke **(Mr. Peters),** said - >The people are much better off now than they have ever been before. On the 7th June of this year, the present wandering Minister for Immigration **(Mr. Holt)** was reported by the Melbourne *Herald* as having said - >The Australian economy is probably sounder to-day than at any period of history. The great majority of the Australian people do not believe that. Despite the scoffings of honorable members opposite, they believe what the Leader of the Opposition **(Dr. Evatt)** said, that is, that there is little or no income tax benefit in thi* budget for any one receiving less than £2,100 a year. They believe that in most cases the ever-increasing cost of living has detrimentally affected any one receiving less than that amount. Owing to the incidence of sales tax and income tax, even those receiving more than that amount are finding it extremely difficult to live according to the standards to which they have become accustomed. I do not want to say anything about the sales tax at this stage, because it will be dealt with exhaustively later. The parties that promised to reduce taxation have presented their third budget, which is still £300,000,000 more than the last Chifley budget. Despite the reduction of £50^000,000 or £60,000,000 which they have announced, £300,000,000 of additional taxes are still placed on the backs of the Australian people. The amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition is, in effect, a censure motion. It has the whole-hearted support of every rightthinking elector and of every member of the Opposition in this chamber. It is the precursor of the censure that will be passed upon the Government by the Australian democracy when the Senate election is held next year and when the general election for the House of Representatives is held some time later. Honorable gentlemen opposite are sending the poor old senators out to test the breeze. They want to see how the senators will fare, so that they may learn a. few lessons and make a few more concessions before they themselves have to face the wrath of the people. But the people have made up their minds definitely and finally. I do not think that what happens here between now and the time when the elections are held will affect a single voter. This Government is headed for destruction, and the people know it. In their clubs, on the football grounds, in the hotels, in the trams, at their work, and in the streets, they speak in plain, straight Australian. They express themselves tersely, tellingly and ominously. They say, " What a budget! What a Treasurer! What a *government* J " I believe they are right, and so does every member of the Opposition in this Twentieth Parliament of the Australian nation. {: #subdebate-17-0-s21 .speaker-KCQ} ##### Mr GRAHAM:
St. George .- I have the privilege this evening to follow the honorable member for Melbourne **(Mr. Calwell)** after he has made what may be considered to be his first treasury speech, because obviously he is intent upon convincing his colleagues that he is the person who should be the Treasurer if ever the Labour party sits on the treasury bench again. I want to refer to a number of points that the honorable gentleman hammered home with his customary vigour, and to the comments that he made about the Prime Minister **(Mr. Menzies),** who to-day stands high in the esteem of those who lead the great democratic countries of the world. He returned from overseas with Australia's reputation greatly enhanced, and at a level never before reached in our history. There was a period, not long before the Chifley Government relinquished office, when it was common talk that Australia was not receiving certain confidential information from Washington because there was an element of doubt about whether the Australian Department of External Affairs and the Australian Government could be trusted. Whether or not there was any truth in that statement, it was certainly reported in the press at the time, and it caused much adverse comment both inside and outside Australia. The remarks of the honorable member for Eden-Monaro **(Mr. Allan Eraser)** in this debate last week, and those of certain other honorable members opposite to-day, can be answered quite easily by saying that the present Prime Minister is the only man in the history of Australia whose political career has included a period of more than eight years as Leader of the Opposition, and, subsequently, a successful fight back to the treasury bench on two occasions. The right honorable gentleman revealed socialism and all that it stood for to the Australian people in its proper light. He was able to convince the electors that a planned economy was not in their best interests, and that the socialists should not be entrusted with supreme power. I do not think that any of the comments that have been made by honorable members opposite in this debate have challenged in any way the essential truth of those views. The Prime Minister himself said after the general election last year that certain things would have to be done that might make his Government unpopular. Surely it is reasonable to expect the Opposition, or at least its leading members, including the honorable member for Melbourne, to he gracious enough to admit that the Government has not varied that theme by seeking political popularity to the detriment of its plans to attack our economic problems. We have listened to the honorable member for Melbourne rambling back over the years, and telling us about things that ha opened when I was about eight years old. I can remember the talk in those days about Labour governments and United Australia party governments and I can recall some of the happenings that aroused so much anger and bitterness in the breasts of those who now sit on the Opposition benches. The honorable member for Melbourne made a number of statements about unemployment. He said that the right wing of politics, the. tory clement as he described it, had never been able to bring efficiency into the Australian economy without the aid of au army of unemployed. The truth is, of course, that, in 50 years of federation, the Australian people have entrusted the socialists with government in the Commonwealth sphere for only ten years. During the rest of the period, regardless of the state of the economy, the Australian people have entrusted the reins of office to those who now sit on the right-hand side of the Chair in this Parliament. I shall produce statistics prepared by an accepted authority, the late Professor Giblin, to show that some of the figures cited by the honorable member for Melbourne were exaggerated. He spoke, for instance, of 34 per cent, of unemployment during the depression. That figure has never been reached in our history. It may interest honorable members to know that from 1919 until about 1927 the unemployment figure in this country varied between 6 per cent, and 8 per cent. By 1928-29, that figure had risen to 10 per cent. In 1929-30, when the Labour government was returned to office under the leadership of **Mr. Scullin,** the figure was 15 per cent. In 1930-31, unemployment reached 24 per cent, and, in 1931-32, the depth of the depression, it was 29 per cent. In the following year it fell to *21* per cent., and then to 23 per cent, in 1933-34. In 1934-35 the figure was 19 per cent., and by 1938-39, unemployed persons in this country totalled 298,000 or 9.7 per cent. I do not quarrel with r,he general statement made by the honorable member for Melbourne. I merely direct attention to his tendency to exaggerate slightly. I ask him whether he, or any of his colleagues, would describe the financial year 1938-39 as a year of depression. If one sets out to analyse objectively the arguments advanced by the Opposition in the debate to-day, surely one must ultimately extract some degree of sense from the great mass of abracadabra that has been flying round in this chamber. Either the honorable member for Melbourne believes that 1938-39 was a year of depression or he does not. If he doe5 not believe that it was a year of depression, he should specify the date on which we emerged from the depression. Alternatively, he should say that, at the outbreak of war, we were still in the throes of a depression. I was under the impression that 1938-39 was not a year of depression. Labour came to office in 1941, under the leadership of **Mr. Curtin,** in circumstances I cannot begin to describe. If it be claimed that Labour came to office because it could offer the only alternative government, I do not mind accepting that statement as a fact; but if 1 am told that, at the outbreak of war in 1939, honorable members who now S1 on the Opposition benches made no statements that could be called treasonable, 1 must make an emphatic denial of thai assertion. Speech after speech was made by members of the Labour party in thi? chamber, urging the Australian people to keep out of the capitalistic war which, they claimed, could only end in the destruction of the common man. Members of the Communist party were peddling exactly the same views in Sydney and elsewhere, but their attitude suddenly changed when the German army invaded Soviet Russia. Overnight, the war became a war to save the downtrodden and the oppressed. There is no need, for me to go further into these matters. References to them by honorable member* opposite have been made solely with the idea of gaining political popularity from distorted arguments. I return to the remarks of the honorable member for Melbourne, particularly those relating to the present economic situation in this country. The Vice-President of the Executive Council **(Mr. Eric J. Harrison)** mentioned tonight a sworn affidavit by the president of the Australian Council of Trades Unions, **Mr. Monk.** That affidavit surely will not be discredited by members of the Labour party. In fact, the honorable member for Melbourne was clearly eager to avoid making any remark that might be regarded as discrediting **Mr. Monk.** We all know the honorable member for Melbourne rather well. We on this side of the chamber are very fond of him. We know that he would not be guilty of deliberately making a remark that might reflect upon the president of the Australian Council of Trades Unions. We are also aware that he might have singular difficulty in proving the statement of the president of the Australian Council of Trades Unions to be wrong. It would be useless for him to attempt to do that, because we have in this chamber a highly respected gentleman who has had more experience of trade union affairs than has had any other living Australian, with the possible exception of **Mr. Monk.** I refer to the honorable member for Bendigo **(Mr. Clarey),** who sits at the table now. Se is a well-respected member of the Labour party and is a very courteous person. This afternoon, while he was speaking about the case now before the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, he said that " at the first breath of an ill wind the panic-stricken employers leapt to life and rushed to the court ". Those were, roughly, his words. So there we have a definition of the position that exists to-day. The first breath ! That statement surely contains the implication that the employers should not have gone to the court, because the time was not ripe and there was no justification for them to go to it. That is the inference I draw from the honorable gentleman's statement ; a faint hint of a slackening of the boom period, and the employers, panic stricken, rushed to the court for a 10 per cent, increase of working hours and a 20 per cent, reduction of wages! There can be no denying that someone is right and someone is wrong. If **Mr. Monk,** the president of the Australian Council of Trades Unions, and the honorable member for Bendigo are right, then other members of the Labour party are wrong and are indulging in a lot of hocuspocus and nonsense. I do not make that accusation against all the members of the party. In fact, I have no doubt that the accusation is probably unjustified, on an individual level. But it would appear, nevertheless, that most members of the Labour party are anxious to make all possible political capital out of all this talk about unemployment. That is a scandalous thing to do, because they know full well that there are many people in this country who react to the slightest sensational view that is put before them. It is quite natural for a community to have to go through some transitional stage, to have to get over a period of over-eating, as people have to do at Christmas time. That is precisely what is happening in Australia now. The honorable member for Shortland **(Mr. Griffiths)** referred this afternoon to coal shortages and to many of the problems that confront the coal-mining industry. Whilst I am no expert in these matters, I should like to say that I am under the impression that the last Federal Labour Government considered it necessary to bring into being an organization, known as the Joint Coal Board, to operate in the best interests of the country and to overcome the problems that confronted the coal industry. This Government has followed the policy of allowing the Joint Coal Board to proceed with the job of stabilizing the coal industry and leading it along the path of progress. I believe that the efforts made by the Government in that direction are deserving of praise, because coal production has increased by so much that to-day we have almost overcome the enormous problem of getting coal at grass. But we are well aware that once you get coal at grass you have to move it to the point of use. We are dependent for that movement, unfortunately, on the socialist-controlled railways of New South Wales, and I have some reason to believe that at present a lot of people are having trouble with those railways. I believe that the Premier of New South Wales is worried about the fact that his transport services are costing the r.eople of New South Wales about £6.000.000 or £7,000,000 a year in operating deficits. This brings me to the point that was raised by the honorable member for Brisbane **(Mr. George Lawson),** who is an old and well-known member of this Parliament. He spoke about the incentive to industry provided by the Chifley Government, and compared it with what he described as the lack of incentive provided by this Government. **Mr.** Dedman, who was a member of the Chifley Labour Government, and has already been mentioned in this debate to-night, said, in a court in February, 1951, in reply to a justice, that socialization of the means of production, which is Labour's objective, meant the socialization of all land. I mention that also because I was interested in the statement of the honorable member for Blaxland **(Mr. E. James Harrison)** during this debate that there were no apologies for that policy. That is precisely what we want to hear from the Labour party. We want its members to say where they stand and precisely what they mean. It is rather disconcerting to notice that nobody opposite is denying that policy to-night. It would appear that full acceptance of the socialization pledge has at last been achieved in the Labour party. I say to every businessman in Australia that that is the answer clear and bold. The honorable member for Watson **(Mr. Curtin)** said only a few months ago that his party was pledged to " run Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited out of the air ". What the Labour party intends to do with that airline will be done with all sorts of organizations all over the country if it has its way. The honorable member for Yarra **(Mr. Keon),** who is also a parliamentarian of some experience, referred to Australia's appointment with destiny in relation to food production. He talked about the vital importance of primary industries, and said that the Government must take cognizance of this problem and must find some way of increasing primary production. I am prepared to agree with him completely. That his statement is true is undeniable. But if there has been one factor that has militated against an increase of primary production since the end of World War IL, it has been the Labour party's deliberate concentration upon the expansion of secondary industries. That policy was associated with all sorts of devices and little plans like altering the method of election to the Senate, rigging things so that the Labour party could not be beaten, keeping people in small group areas owned by State housing commissions, not allowing them under any circumstances to become "little capitalists" by owning their own homes, keeping secondary expansion going to ensure the return of Labour men for more and more seats. There can be no doubting that if the Labour Government had not done those things, but had concentrated in a reasonable and progressive way on the expansion of primary industries in 1946, we should be much further advanced with our primary development. The honorable member for Macarthur **(Mr. Jeff Bate)** has told us on many occasions that our rural population and our rural labour force are formed oi ageing people. This problem cannot be met unless we can put some balance of youth into the equation of food production in order to give to us some continuity of rural effort. I turn now to some of the issues in relation to the general structure of .the economy which form, to my mind, the wall upon which we hang the picture of this budget. In my view, too few people in this country understand the political set-up and how the system works. I believe that we must explain to people all over Australia how this country works, what are the forces that make decisions and take actions that affect the Australian economy, and whether or not there is such a thing as a single source of authority that can be blamed if the economy becomes unbalanced. It is a great tragedy that, with our highly complex economy growing more and more complex as each year goes by, the decisions by the disunited forces in the community have far greater effects than would otherwise be the case. The Commonwealth Parliament makes decisions within the limitations of its powers, which are clearly defined. The High Court pronounces judgment on the validity of legislation passed by the Commonwealth Parliament which is contested on the ground that it is *ultra vires* the Constitution. The six sovereign States each make decisions, none of which need be in consonance with Commonwealth policy. These disunited forces have a distorting effect on our economy. When the honorable member for Melbourne said that the total amount provided for in this budget exceeds by £300,000.000 the total of the last Chifley budget which was presented in 1948 he completely overlooked the fact that in that year the State Premiers made reasonable demands for their public works programmes and that the Australian Government increased taxation last year solely for the purpose of saving the States from what the State Premiers described as the threat of mass unemployment and insolvency. Next, we have the Common- wealth Arbitration Court. I shall not attempt to go through the whole gamut of the operations of that tribunal. "We all know that the claims now before the court may have a profound effect upon the Australian economy. Whether or not the Government introduces an incentive budget, nobody in Australia will make any extensive commitments until the costs involved in them are known. There can be no accurate assessment of costs until the hours and wages case has been disposed of. The distribution of our population is another factor that has an important bearing upon not only political decisions but also the whole structure of our economy. The honorable member for Riverina **(Mr. Roberton)** has told us that 580,000 persons are engaged in our primary labour force, 1,500,000 in our secondary industrial force, and 1,750,000 in tertiary industries. Thus, we have a grossly unbalanced economy. If Australia's future is threatened by economic distortion, it is more gravely threatened by that factor than by any other single factor. The speeches of Opposition members have been singularly lacking in constructive thought. In this place we are accustomed to wrangling, much of it dependent upon the state of the livers, the kidneys, or the general health of those honorable members who indulge in it. After listening to some after-dinner speeches in this chamber, I am inclined to think that the heat which marks their delivery has something to do with the meal of which the honorable members concerned have just partaken. After having listened to the speech of thu honorable member for Melbourne I sympathize with the members of the Labour party for the circumstance that, should there be a change of government, he will be the next Treasurer. If the honorable member implements the plans evolved by the Leader of the Opposition inflation will soar to such heights that our economy must eventually collapse far more suddenly than any of us can envisage. The Leader of the Opposition wants the rates of pensions of all descriptions to be increased, taxation to be reduced and bank credit to be issued in unlimited volume. It is apparent that if the right honorable gentleman's proposals are given effect bank credit to the amount of approximately £350,000,000 will have to be issued. The problem that confronts us to-night is whether or not the Australian people are to accept as true the contents of an affidavit sworn by the president of the Australian Council of Trades Unions, and supported by the honorable member for Bendigo, or whether they should heed the rantings of the honorable member for Melbourne. {: #subdebate-17-0-s22 .speaker-KDX} ##### Mr JOSHUA:
Ballarat .- The speech of the honorable member for St. George **(Mr. Graham)** was of such little consequence that it does not justify an extensive reply. The honorable member commenced his speech by making a loyal attempt to boost the Prime Minister **(Mr. Menzies).** Honorable members will recall that the Prime Minister has but recently returned from a tour of the United .States of America where he sought to obtain a substantial amount of hard currency and that the Americans, those wonderful people who are so greatly admired by the Minister for External Affairs **(Mr. Casey),** measured up the Prime Minister critically and gave to him only about one-tenth of the amount for which he asked. Their assessment of the right honorable gentleman's ability to administer the affairs of this country is shown by the results of his mission. The honorable member for St. George attempted to draw a comparison between the financial and economic depression of the 'thirties and the depression which the Government is bringing upon us as a result of its mismanagement of the nation's affairs. The honorable member seemed to have some difficulty in recalling exactly when the depression of the thirties commenced. He is not in the 3ame difficulty about the commencing date of the new depression. He well knows that it will commence to-night when the budget debate has been concluded and that it will be the most serious depression we shall encounter. The honorable member endeavoured, as have other Government supporters, to discredit the Labour governments that piloted this country successfuly through the war, organized the smooth transition from a war-time to a peace-time economy, and brought the greatest happiness to the people of Australia. The principal criticism that I have to offer of the economic controls instituted by the Government is that they are clumsy, cumbersome, and slow to show results. I contend not that the general control of investment is not a proper function of the Government but that it should be supplemented by direct controls which will, in the short run, make general controls give a quicker result and will prevent certain sections of the community from receiving benefits which should be conferred upon the general public. For example, in the last twelve months the Government has been trying to cure inflation by a vast scheme of deflation and reduction of investment. Its whole approach to the problem seems to be bound up with the thought of the costs involved. That is quite wrong. The real question to be answered is not how much money is to be spent but how much labour we have to employ. Upon the answer to that question depends the progress and security of Australia. The Government should consider these matters from the viewpoint of the size of the labour force, and the cloak of investment that the labour force must wear should be one that fits it. If the Government places the emphasis, as it should do, on a national income which would provide proper returns for the whole labour force, it would be tackling the job from a real angle. It should not try to make the labour force conform to an uncomfortable monetary situation. Such an approach would ensure that the thousands of immigrants who cannot be employed at the present time, and some of whom are proposing to return home, could be usefully employed. Such immigrants or Australians as are unsuitable, because they lack training, to do the work that is available could be trained, with the expenditure of some money and the use of some initiative, to work on such projects, whether government or private, where labour is needed. The Government deserves censure for failing to meet its responsibilities to the immigrants, a failure which has resulted, in a break- down of the immigration scheme. It. may be a simple matter to reduce the intake of immigrants at the present time, but we may have difficulty in attracting immigrants later, because this Government has broken faith with many thousands of immigrants now in the country. The Government's control over investment has now been in operation for twelve months, but large sections of industry have not been affected in the slightest degree. For example, the motor industry has been having a feast at the expense of the Australian people. It has been earning astronomical profits. General Motors-Holden's showed a profit of £3,250,000 on a capital of just over £2,250,000. Mortlock Brothers, in Western Australia, showed a profit of £120,000 on a capital of only £140,000. Standard Cars Limited has paid a dividend of 60 per cent., which involves the distribution of £720,000 on an ordinary capital" of £1,200,000. Here is a great section of business which is fleecing the public, and which has been quite untouched by the Government's deflationary policy. In order to take a broader view of the matter, let us note that company tax was estimated last year to yield £150,000,000. Actually, it yielded £167,000,000. It is evident that the Government is aware that its deflationary policy has had no effect on many companies, because the Treasurer **(Sir Arthur Fadden)** has estimated that company tax on last year's income will amount to £182,000,000 at the rates prevailing for that, year. The important point is that, although the Government's economic policy has been in operation for twelve months, it has had no effect whatever on some businesses, and that is the justification for **Mr. Monk's** criticism which was quoted to-night. On the other hand, certain industries, such as the building trade which has an important effect on a great number of allied industries, are showing signs of being in difficulty. Building is slowing down and men are being put off, timber mills are putting off their employees and closing down, brick and tile makers, as well as pipe manufacturers, have no orders on their books, and are throwing men out of employment, while all the time more houses are needed. The contrast between the condition of the motor industry and that of the building trade bears out my contention that the Government's policy of economic controls is being operated clumsily, and is slow in producing effects in some instances. It is fairly clear that the Prime Minister, an educated and brilliant opportunist, will make use of this recession in one section of industry to obtain from the Commonwealth Arbitration Court a reduction of wages in all sections of industry. He has caused the basic wage case to be hurried on so that the hearing will occur at a time when wages will be boosted again by the increase of the price of butter, sugar and other commodities. He has made no move to check the trend towards unemployment. Indeed, he is doing everything possible to increase unemployment. Every day I hear of some new action which the Government has taken to put men out of employment, and to keep them unemployed. "When we on this side of the chamber make statements of that kind the Prime Minister tells us that we are talking pernicious nonsense. In proof of what I am saying, however, I can cite the example of four poor old diggers who came to me several weeks ago. One of them fought in the two wars, and all of them are men in their fifties. They had been employed as members of the ground staff at the Royal Australian Air Force Station at Ballarat. They had been there for years, but recently they were dismissed. They went to the Commonwealth employment agency, but could not get employment, and they came to me with the request that they should get their old jobs back. I wrote to the Minister for Labour and National Service **(Mr. Holt),** and in reply received a letter which contained a lot of words, but no jobs were offered. I then wrote to the Minister for Air **(Mr. McMahon),** and asked that the men be re-employed. They had always done their work well, and it could not be claimed that their dismissal was due to inefficiency. I received no reply to my letter. A little later, one of the men came to me in a cheerful frame of mind, and said that he had heard over the radio the previous night that the Air Force was going to re-engage civilian personnel. It looked as if he and his companions would get their jobs back again, he said. There was still no reply from the Minister for Air, and when I returned to Canberra I interviewed him. Later, he wrote to me a letter which shows clearly that the Government is putting men out of work, and wishes to keep them out of work, while the basic wage case is before the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, The letter, which is dated the 18th August, contains the following paragraphs These men, in common with many others, were employed on a civilian basis against deficiencies in the strengths of Royal Australian Air Force personnel in certain musterings, and, as recruitment to these musterings is effected and the personnel concerned posted to the various units, «tc, it is necessary that the services of the civilian staffs be terminated. It is regretted that the termination of the services of the four civilian employees referred to in your letter became necessary, but this action was unavoidable owing to the posting in a service personnel. With reference to the announcement that civilian staffs are to be used more extensively on administrative duties throughout the Royal Australian Air Force, this matter is still in the early planning stages, and it is not yet possible to indicate the extent to which the. changes will be effected or the units at which additional civilians will be required. That letter supports the contention of the honorable member for East Sydney **(Mr. "Ward)** that the Government, in order to influence the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, is putting men out of employment. By these means, the Government hopes to reduce the basic wage and the workers' standard of living. And all the time, the Prime Minister affects an air of non-partisanship, of disinterestedness. He has set the stage, and feels reasonably certain that the di ama, which is now being played out in the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, will end to his- liking. It is interesting to contemplate the complex situation that may face Australian manufacturers if there should be a general reduction of wages. The Prime Minister has encouraged manufacturers to approach the court with the object of having wages reduced, but if that should happen they will have difficulty in selling their products because of tie reduced purchasing power of the people. Obviously, the manufacturers will not, in the long run, profit from a reduction of wages. One of the by-products of reduced living standards will be that the people will not be able to eat so much butter and other foods, so that less of those commodities will be consumed in Australia, leaving greater quantities for sale overseas. When our overesas balances have been increased, the importation of cheap goods from overseas countries - from Japan or from any other country - will be resumed. The Prime Minister assured us in March that as soon as we have built up sufficiently large overseas balances, import restrictions will be removed. The right honorable gentleman stated that, indeed, the Government is eager to remove those restrictions. Tho Australian manufacturers cannot possibly win, and they know that they cannot. I suggest that it would be wise for the members of the Government not to go near local manufacturers for a considerable time to come. The recent budget speech of the Treasurer contains some blatant untruths. For instance, at the commencement of his speech the right honorable gentleman, referring to conditions at this time last year, said - >The long-standing bottlenecks in coal, iron and steel, transport and power were becoming worse. Prodution was falling in vital industries, specially the rural industries. That statement is entirely untrue. The *Monthly Review of Business Statistics,* which is available for any one to peruse, reveals that coal production had increased at the time to which the right honorable gentleman referred. Indeed, coal production has increased steadily as a result of the establishment of the Joint Coal Board by a Labour government. At the time to which the Treasurer referred, the production of coal was 1,500,000 tons better than it had been at the same time during the previous year. The production of iron had increased by 250,000 ions, steel by 200.000 tons, and electricity by 996.000.000 kilowatt hours. In addition, road transport had improved Transport facilities had not fallen off. It is true that rural production is always subject to slight season''! fluctuations, but there was not a startling fluctuation at that time. There had been good seasons for wool and wheat. There had been considerably increased production of commodities such as sugar, beef and mutton. These figures, which may be examined by any one who wishes to do so, show that the Treasurer was building up a case from lies. {: .speaker-JWE} ##### Mr Casey: -- I rise to order. Do you consider the word "lies" to be parliamentary, **Mr. Temporary** Chairman? I do not wish to comment in detail on the remarks of the honorable member for Ballarat **(Mr. Joshua),** other than to say that there are gross exaggerations in his statements. In my opinion the word " lies " should not be used in these circumstances, even by a member of Her Majesty's Australian Opposition. T appeal to your judgment. {: .speaker-L0G} ##### The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Mr Ryan: -- Order! I rule that the word " lies " is unparliamentary, and I ask the honorable member to withdraw it. {: .speaker-KDX} ##### Mr JOSHUA: -- I withdraw the word and say, instead, that the Treasurer was building up a case out of untruths. {: .speaker-JWE} ##### Mr Casey: -- I again rise to order. I suggest, **Mr. Temporary Chairman,** that the substitution of the word " untruths " for the word " lies " is a gross reflection on your chairmanship. In common parlance the word "lies" and the word " untruths " are interchangeable. I suggest that the honorable gentleman has withdrawn in fact, but not in truth. I ask you, sir, to demand an effective withdrawal of something that is intended to be misleading to the Australian public. {: .speaker-JUP} ##### Mr CLAREY: -- Speaking to the point of order taken by the Minister for External Affairs **(Mr. Casey),** I submit that it is not unparliamentary for the word " untruth " to he used in place of the word " lies ", for the reason that the word " lies " usually implies a maliciously untruthful statement. On the other hand, the word " untruth " does not imply that the person who has made a statement in respect of which the term is used is, in fact, a liar. It merely implies that the statement is not a truthful one. The sneaker may not be aware that he has deviated from the strict path of truth. {: .speaker-JWE} ##### Mr Casey: -- We all are acquainted with the old question : How many angels can dance on the point of a needle? {: .speaker-JTF} ##### Mr Tom Burke: -- I rise to order. {: .speaker-10000} ##### The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN: -- Order ! There can be only one point of order at a time. {: .speaker-JWE} ##### Mr Casey: -- The plain fact is that in the minds of the listening public " lies " and " untruths " are interchangeable terms and were so meant by the honorable member for Ballarat, who has adopted a deliberately offensive attitude. I ask for your ruling, sir, whether " lies " and " untruths " are interchangeable terms and whether the formal and reluctant withdrawal of the word " lies " complies with parliamentary procedure if it is immediately supplanted by an equally offensive word. {: .speaker-10000} ##### The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN: -- Order ! The honorable member for Perth **(Mr. Tom Burke)** may now state his point of order. {: .speaker-JTF} ##### Mr Tom Burke: -- My point is that surely the Minister for External Affairs **(Mr. Casey)** cannot speak twice to the same point of order. Such a procedure seems to me to be completely irregular. The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order ! The question has arisen whether or not the word " untruth " is unparliamentary. Personally, I consider that the word " inaccuracy " would be far better. During the course of time the word "untruth " has been passed in this chamber as being parliamentary. I repeat that my own view is that the use of the word " inaccuracy " or " misapprehension " is preferable to the use of the word " untruth ", which is closely allied to the. word " lie ", although it has not quite the same meaning. {: .speaker-KDX} ##### Mr JOSHUA: -- It was not my intention to give offence to any on.e. I withdraw the word " lies " and can only say that the Treasurer was building up a case out of I do not know what. There was, in fact, no drift in production last year. The Treasurer endeavoured at the commencement of his speech to give the impression that circumstances had changed and that the Government had been forced to abandon some of its former thinking. The fact is that its former ideas had failed, and that the Treasurer was obliged to make an explanation. That attempt at barefaced deception will be seen through by the Australian people, who, no doubt, will not worry about it overmuch. However, the kind of barefaced deception that was attempted later in the right honorable gentleman's speech, under the heading " Interest Rates ", is most sinister and will not be dismissed lightly. There was no reason whatever for the Government to increase interest rates. The following statement of the Treasurer is completely without substance : - >The development of adverse conditions in the loan market, due principally to the inflationary forces operating in the economy, has made it impossible for governments to borrow- {: #subdebate-17-0-s23 .speaker-KF8} ##### Mr GRAYDEN:
SWAN, WESTERN AUSTRALIA -- I rise to a point of order, **Mr. Temporary Chairman.** I direct your attention to the fact that the honorable member is reading his speech. The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order! I am not aware that the honorable member is reading his speech. Itseems to me that he has very copious notes. {: .speaker-KDX} ##### Mr JOSHUA: -- I wish to quote accurately from the speech made by the Treasurer, and I am not able to remember its context. He said - >The development of adverse conditions in the loan market, due principally to inflationary forces operating in the economy, has made it impossible for governments to borrow at the comparatively low rates of interest which prevailed during the war and post-war years. There is no truth in that statement. Every investor, business man and bondholder knows that until the announcement by the Australian Loan Council that the interest rate would in future be 3) per cent., all Commonwealth loans had been substantially oversubscribed. Not until the increased rate was announced did the loan market collapse. The Australian Government cannot escape responsibility for the increased rate. It used its strength and influence to bring about that rate. An increased interest rate was a part of its policy. The rot in the bond market started with the failure of the Government to buy back bonds, so that people who made losses were obliged to make unforeseen sales. The announcement of the higher interest rate Completely settled the loan market. The refusal of the Government to define its attitude with regard to future interest rates will continue to keep people away from the loan market until we find a government that will take the people into its confidence on these important matters. The Treasurer also said, during the course of his budget speech - >All governments, whether Commonwealth or State, are naturally reluctant to pay increased rates of interest, but the trend towards higher rates is world wide, and in their borrowing operations governments must recognize the realities of the market situation. Never has a Treasurer before stated such utter nonsense. The level of interest rates outside Australia need never worry Australians. The 1945 banking legislation of the Labour Government gave to the Government the power to control all purchases and sales of foreign currency. With effective control of all foreign exchange, both sterling and dollar, the Government can prevent the actions of other countries from affecting the economy of Australia. It is not possible for speculators to transfer large amounts of foreign currency, known as " hot money into and out of Australia in huge currency deals which might be possible if interest rates varied in other countries whilst our currency was uncontrolled. The interest rates in other countries need not be a reality to the Australian loan market unless the Government wishes to make them one. The indications are that the Government would sell its birthright and every Australian's birthright for a mess of potage al any time. The raising of interest rates forms a part of the Government's plan to keep its bargain with the six great trading banks which put it into office. {: .speaker-JWE} ##### Mr Casey: -- I rise to order. It is traditional in this chamber to give a certain degree of latitude to honorable members in the use of notes when making their speeches, but I suggest that the honorable member for Ballarat **(Mr. Joshua)** is reading his speech, word for word. {: .speaker-KDX} ##### Mr Joshua: -- That is a lie. {: .speaker-L0G} ##### The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Mr Ryan: -- The honorable member for Ballarat will withdraw that remark and apologize. - {: .speaker-KDX} ##### Mr Joshua: -- I withdraw and apologize. {: .speaker-JWE} ##### Mr Casey: -- I suggest that the honorable member for Ballarat is reading his speech, word for word. {: .speaker-KDX} ##### Mr Joshua: -- I was reading the Treasurer's statement. {: .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr Pollard: **Mr. Pollard** *interjecting,* {: .speaker-10000} ##### The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN: -- Order ! The honorable member for Lalor will keep quiet. {: .speaker-KWP} ##### Mr Turnbull: -- I have noticed that many honorable members refer to copious notes in this chamber, **Mr. Temporary Chairman.** In view of this fact, I do not consider that you should make an example of the honorable member for Ballarat. The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.I have already given my ruling on this point. I am not able to say that the honorable member for Ballarat is reading his speech. As I said before, he has very copious notes and I do not know that their use is contrary to Standing Orders. {: .speaker-KDX} ##### Mr JOSHUA: -- The real reason for the rise of interest rates is that the Government is keeping its bargain with the trading banks which put it into office. This is part of an unscrupulous business deal of which I have spoken before. 1 have some figures to illustrate the extent to which the trading banks will benefit from the Government's decision to raise the interest rate by £ per cent. According to the *Financial Review* of the 7th August the interest bearing advances of the trading banks during June amounted to £691,242,000. A rise of *i* per cent, in the interest rate on this amount would bring the trading banks £3,456,210. From that amount must be deducted a small amount in respect of interest on deposits which amounted to £198,343,000 in June. A *i* per cent, of this amount is £495,852. It will be seen that the amount gained by the banks from the *i* per cent, rise in interest rates, on the basis of these figures, would be £2,960,358 a year. The *i* per cent. rise in the rate payable on special deposits must also be taken into consideration. The TEMPORARYCHAIRMAN. - Order! The honorable member's time has expired. Motion (by **Mr. Clarey)** put - >That the honorable member for Ballarat **(Mr. Joshua)** be granted an extension of time. The committee divided. (The Temporary Chairman-Mr. R. S. Ryan.) AYES: 43 NOES: 46 Majority 3 AYES NOES Question so resolved in the negative. {: #subdebate-17-0-s24 .speaker-DB6} ##### Mr WENTWORTH:
Mackellar .- There is - {: .speaker-KCM} ##### Mr Drakeford: -- **Mr. Deputy Chairman,** before the honorable member for Mackellar speaks - The **DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr. Bowden).** - Order! I called the honorable member for Mackellar. {: .speaker-KCM} ##### Mr Drakeford: -- I rise to a point of order. It is too bad that the time of the previous speaker was reduced- The DE PUTY CHAIRMAN. - I have already given the call to the honorable member for Mackellar. I ask the honorable member for Maribyrnong **(Mr. Drakeford)** to resume his seat. Mr.Drakeford. - Very well, **Mr. Deputy Chairman,** I shall resume my seat, but I shall immediately rise again. The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN. - Order ! I have given the call to the honorable member for Mackellar. {: .speaker-KCM} ##### Mr Drakeford: -- I rise to a point of order. I desire to ask you, **Mr. Deputy Chairman,** whether it would be in order for me to move to the effect that in view of the honorable member for Ballarat **(Mr. Joshua)** having been deliberately interrupted by the Minister for External Affairs **(Mr. Casey),** he should be given an extension of time for as long as the time of which he was robbed by the action of the Minister. The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.-Order ! The honorable member for Maribyrnong will not be in order in speaking until the honorable member for Mackellar has spoken. I again give the call to the honorable member for Mackellar. {: .speaker-DB6} ##### Mr WENTWORTH: -- There is little that is memorable about the speech of the honorable member for Ballarat **(Mr. Joshua). His** ranting, and in some respects untruthful speech - {: .speaker-KX7} ##### Mr Ward: -- I rise to a point of order. Isuggest that the term " untruthful " is unparliamentary. The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- It has been ruled in your favour that the term "untruthful" is not unparliamentary. {: .speaker-KX7} ##### Mr Ward: -- Not in my favour! {: .speaker-KVT} ##### Mr Thompson: -- I rise to order, **Mr. Deputy Chairman.** During your temporary absence from the chair the Minister for External Affairs **(Mr. Casey)** made, not a brief request for a ruling, but a long rambling statement, which almost amounted to a speech and which appeared to honorable members to be deliberately obstructive of the honorable member for Ballarat **(Mr. Joshua).** The Minister took a great deal of time and deprived the honorable member for Ballarat of many minutes of his speaking time. This delay occurred when the honorable mem ber for Ballarat said that a statement was untrue. Is it in order for an honorable member on the Government side of the chamber now to make a similar statement about untruthfulness without being stopped by the Chair as the honorable, member for Ballarat was stopped ? The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- What happened in the committee when I was not in the chair is not my concern. Furthermore, the committee determined the issue that the honorable member has raised in his point of order. {: .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr Pollard: -- I rise to order. In view of the fact that you were not in the chair, **Mr. Deputy Chairman,** when a previous ruling was given, would I be in order in asking you to rule now whether the honorable member for Mackellar **(Mr. Wentworth)** is in order in referring to remarks that the honorable member for Ballarat made during your temporary absence from the chair as being untruthful? The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- If I was not present when certain remarks were made by the honorable member for Ballarat, I am not in a position to determine whether or not they were in order. The expression that the honorable member for Mackellar has used is not unparliamentary. {: .speaker-KDB} ##### Mr EDMONDS:
HERBERT, QUEENSLAND · ALP -- I rise to a point of order. You have ruled, **Mr. Deputy Chairman,** that a decision was given in favour of the Opposition in connexion with the use of the word "untruthful". Tn view of your latest ruling, which you have given in reply to the honorable member for Lalor **(Mr. Pollard),** I ask, if you were not here and if the previous incident was not your concern, how you know that that ruling was given in favour of the Opposition? The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN. - The answer is perfectly simple. T heard the ruling. {: .speaker-DB6} ##### Mr WENTWORTH: -- There is little memorable about the rambling and untruthful speech of the honorable member for Ballarat except the tone of gloating satisfaction that he was unable to remove from his voice- {: .speaker-2V4} ##### Mr CLYDE CAMERON:
HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP -- I rise to order. I refer you, **Mr. Deputy Chairman,** to Standing Orders 78 and 79, which ar, as follows: - {: type="1" start="78"} 0. All imputations of improper motives and all personal reflections on Members shall be considered highly disorderly. 1. When any offensive or disorderly words are used, whether by a Member who is addressing the Chair or by a Member who is present, the Speaker shall intervene. In view of those provisions, is it in order for an honorable member to impute untruthfulness to any other honorable member ? The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- The answer to the honorable member is contained in Standing Order 79, which he has quoted. That standing order provides that when any offensive or disorderly words are used by a member, the Speaker, or in this instance the Deputy Chairman of Committees, shall intervene. When I think that honorable members overstep the rules of this committee or violate the Standing Orders, I shall intervene. I do not want to hear too much of this organized obstruction. {: .speaker-DB6} ##### Mr WENTWORTH: -- I repeat that there was nothing memorable in the speech of the honorable member for Ballarat except the tone of gloating satisfaction that he was unable to remove from his voice when he was referring to the sufferings that he hoped would fall on people whom he hoped would be unemployed. It is nauseating- {: .speaker-KDX} ##### Mr Joshua: -- I rise to order. The expression " gloating satisfaction " is offensive to me and I ask that it h» withdrawn. The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN".- Order ! The expression is offensive to the honorable member for Ballarat and therefore the honorable member for Mackellar will withdraw it. Mi. WENTWORTH.- I am sorry, sir, if I mistook his tone for gloating satisfaction. The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- Order ! {: .speaker-DB6} ##### Mr WENTWORTH: -- If the honorable member succeeded in concealing his real feelings, I must withdraw. {: .speaker-BV8} ##### Mr Calwell: -- I rise to order. The honorable member for Mackellar is deliberately disobeying your instruction, **Mr. Deputy Chairman.** He was told to withdraw the remark that he had made without qualification, but the manner in which he has made his withdrawal is even more offensive than his original remark. The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- Order ! I direct the honorable member for Mackellar to withdraw the statement without qualification and to proceed with his budget speech. {: .speaker-DB6} ##### Mr WENTWORTH: -- If you, sir. now instruct me- Opposition Members. - Withdraw ! {: .speaker-BV8} ##### Mr Calwell: -- He has not withdrawn, **Mr. Deputy Chairman.** {: #subdebate-17-0-s25 .speaker-DB6} ##### Mr WENTWORTH: -- It is a little nauseating - The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- Order ! {: .speaker-DB6} ##### Mr WENTWORTH: -- Certainly I withdraw the remark. To me it sounded nauseating and I am sorry that 1 have- The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- Order ! {: .speaker-DB6} ##### Mr WENTWORTH: -- I withdraw any imputation. Members of the Opposition have ridden into this Parliament on the back of the trade union movement and they are inclined, therefore, to regard men who formerly were their fellow workers a3 an inferior kind of cattle whose sufferings are fully justified if they will help the personal glorification of the members of the Opposition. Thar, also is the habitual attitude of the trade union secretaries, who very often regard the members of their unions merely as cattle whose sufferings do not matter provided that the personal careers of trade union secretaries are advanced. It is, perhaps, some hangover from that attitude that colours the thoughts and the speeches of members of the Opposition in this chamber. The Government is to be congratulated on the budget. It is to be congratulated also on having presented the budget to the Parliament at an early date and on having decided to limit the time allocated to the general debate in order that additional time shall be available for consideration of the individual items of the Estimates. We want to get down to the details instead of spending time on thu airy generalities of the initial debate. However, in winding up the general debate, I wish to deal with broad matters of financial policy. Before I do that. I hope I may be forgiven for referring to certain remarks that were made last night by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie **(Mr. Johnson),** who referred to me when he replied to statements that had been made by the honorable member for Farrer **(Mr. Fairbairn).** The honorable member for Farrer had remarked that the policy of closer settlement in the Northern Territory might well be impeded by the actions of the former Labour Government, which, he said, had sent a letter to the lessees of the Bovril Estates at Victoria Downs agreeing to extend their lease on certain terms and subject to the withdrawal of a certain area of the territory that had been included in the lease until that time. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie began his speech by hotly denying that- statement and said, .if I remember his words correctly - >The only lease given to the large companies! by the Labour Government, of which I was subsequently a member, was issued six weeks prior to my appointment as Minister for the Interior. That was a perfectly clear statement. Then, in some way that I do not under- ' stand, the honorable member for Kalgoorlie broke down in the latter part of his speech and confessed that the first part of the speech had been a constructive falsehood. He said then that, whereas he might not have signed the lease, he had been instrumental in starting negotiations with the lessees of the Bovril Estates and,- *m* fact, had arrived at aft agreement for the lease which was a binding agreement and which set. but - {: .speaker-JTF} ##### Mr Tom Burke: -- I rise to order, **Mr.** *Deputy* **Chairman".** The honorable member for Mackellar **(Mr.- Wentworth)** said that the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Ifr. Johnson) had uttered a constructive falsehood. That is not only entirely incorrect, but it is objectionable, and I ask that it be withdrawn. {: .speaker-KMD} ##### Mr Osborne: -- I rise to order. Why cannot the honorable member for Kalgoorlie say that the statement is objectionable if it is so ? {: .speaker-JTF} ##### Mr Tom BURKE: -- There is only one chairman' here. The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN". - Order ! I shall deal with one point of order at a time {: .speaker-JTF} ##### Mr Tom Burke: -- The honorable member for Mackellar said that the honorable member for Kalgoorlie had voiced n falsehood. That is incorrect and completely offensive, and 1 ask that it be withdrawn. The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- Order ! The honorable member for Evans **(Mr. Osborne)** has risen to a point of order. {: .speaker-KMD} ##### Mr Osborne: -- The only substance that can lie in a point of order is that a state1ment is personally offensive to an honor4 able member. In this instance, the statement cannot be personally offensive to the honorable member for Perth **(Mr. Tom Burke)** because it deals entirely with a statement that was made about another honorable member. If the statement by the honorable member for Mackellar is offensive to. the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, let him rise and say so. {: .speaker-DB6} ##### Mr Wentworth: -- All I did was to point out that the honorable member for Kalgoorlie made a statement iri the earlier part of his speech, and that he made another statement that was quite Contradictory in the latter part of his speech. {: .speaker-K9G} ##### Mr Johnson: -- **Mr. Deputy** Chairman^ I am not very seriously affected by what the honorable member for Mackellar has said. {: .speaker-KMD} ##### Mr OSBORNE:
EVANS, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP -. - -Then the statement cannot be offensive. {: .speaker-K9G} ##### Mr Johnson: -- The honorable member for Mackellar is deliberately attempting to misrepresent me. That is nothing new for him, and the remarks that I have made in this chamber confirm that what I did was in the interests of the Northern Territory. He has deliberately misconstrued them. The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- Order I The points of order are not upheld because the honorable member for Kalgoorlie has said that the statements are not offensive to him. {: #subdebate-17-0-s26 .speaker-K9G} ##### Mr J JOHNSON:
KALGOORLIE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA -- I did not say that the statements were not offensive to me> I said that my statements had been miscontrued {: .speaker-DB6} ##### Mr WENTWORTH: -- The honorable member foi" Kalgoorlie made a remark in the early part of his speech and I quoted it. In the latter part of his speech, he claimed to have entered into negotiations and to have negotiated an agreement with the lessees of the Bovril Estates. I think that the history of the abortive ordinances rather supports the second statement and not the first statement of the honorable member. But to clear the matter up, I telephoned to-day to **Mr. McKechnie,** the manager of Bovril Estates. He told me that the conversations were not initiated by the Government at all, but by the company some time before the directors came to Australia. Secondly-, he said that the negotiations were ratified by a telegram signed by the Minister or at any rate signed in the Minister's name. The agreement had been reached, I ' believe, by a Cabinet sub-committee. **Mr.** McKechnie said that in that agreement, the company had been given certain rights and that it intended to claim *them* on the strength of the telegram which the Minister had signed, **Mr. McKechnie** said that he would not release the text of that telegram .at present and I leave the inference to be drawn from that statement. Unless **Mr, McKechnie** is untruthful then the memory of the former Minister for the Interior - the honorable member for Kalgoorlie- is at fault, because **Mr-. McKechnie** said that it was the company and not the Minister that had initiated the negotiations. Both the Minister and the former Minister, as well as **Mr. McKechnie,** are in agree* ment that an arrangement had been reached between the Labour Government and the lessees of the .Bovril Estates in respect of Victoria River Downs, but I understand that there is some doubt whether the statement made by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie that this agreement contained detailed provisions is correct; It is quite clear that the remarks of the honorable member f6r Farrer **(Mr. Fairbairn)** Were substantially justified. I Was present at the conversations that he had with the Administrator, *M.v.* Wise, and although my memory is not clear about the term of the new lease, I am quite clear iti my Blind regarding the substance of the Administrator's statement that there was a Communication to the company agreeing to give *a* lease, and that the honorable member for Kalgoorlie was alleged to have signed it. The only way to settle this matter finally is to have the file produced. I understand that it is not customary for a government to produce in this chamber the files of the previous Administration, unless it ls requested by a Minister who was a member of that Administration. Therefore, I ask the honorable member for Kalgoorlie to request the Minister to produce the files. Then the matter can be cleared up once and for all. T have simply related the facts as I know them, and I do not think that they can be proved without the files-. It is quite clear that the former Minister was on shaky ground when he said that the former government had control of the territory for only two years when it was not under defence administration. Who left -it under defence administration for two .years after the war? His own Government did so, and the way in which they liquidated the territory in those years was shameful. At the end of that time) there were large installations in the territory which had been built up during the war. The country could have been developed with them, but they were not allowed to remain there. They were carefully liquidated and many people got a good rake-off from them. The liquidation of the territory in those two years and -in the two years following makes a shameful chapter in the history of the Labour Government. I shall refer now to the budget situation. When this Government came to office there was a period of suppressed inflation. That was a legacy from the Labour Government. This Government had to clear up the mess. Nobody contends that it was not necessary to act. It is true that the process was delayed for a year or two because of the substantial rise in the price of wool and the investment of overseas capital. But apart from these temporary factors, the country was in a position where it Was outrunning its income. Only disaster lay ahead if nothing was done to slow the process down. The outward and visible sign of that process was the rise in the price level. Remedial action is neither easy nor pleasant, particularly as it must involve some re-deployment of our resources, and in such a process' physical lags arise of which cognizance must be taken. The real difficulties that have arisen are being faced in this budget which sets out a clear and constructive programme. But in the carrying out of that programme the Government is faced with a number of other difficulties. The first of them is the existence of a large number of persons in the Public Service who were carefully placed there by the preceding Administration and who are not entirely loyal to the present Government. One cannot fail to note the way in which .members of the Opposition rush to the rescue of their henchmen whom they placed in the Public Service before they were ejected from office. The honorable member for East Sydney **(Mr. Ward),** in the course of this debate said that the decline in our overseas trade balance was due to the policy of the Government in encouraging imports, and that the Government refused to accept the advice of **Dr. Coombs** who consistently pointed out the dangers inherent . in a policy of excessive imports. {: #subdebate-17-0-s27 .speaker-KX7} ##### Mr WARD: -- Is that not correct ? {: .speaker-DB6} ##### Mr WENTWORTH: -No, because **Dr. Coombs** advised the Government that there were no dangers. Thus, the statement of the honorable member for East Sydney was diametrically opposed to the facts. The administration of such matters is not always easy, and mistakes may be made by the Government's advisers who were put in their present positions by the previous Labour Government. There are other difficulties, including communism to which I shall not refer further. There is the grave difficulty that the Government in implementing its financial measures i3 impeded by lack of co-operation on the part of State governments that are controlled by the Australian Labour party. That difficulty has arisen, particularly with respect to decisions of the Australian Loan Council. I do not regard with equanimity recent decisions of that body. We must recognize that so long as Labour State governments are out to make the most of these present difficulties and members of those governments seek to snatch party political profit, not caring what else they do, the regulation of the financia.1 system is by no means easy. Next, honorable members opposite, through the Australian Labour party's considerable ramifications in the trade union movement, are out to wreck this Government even if such action means wrecking Australia. Members of the Opposition are quite unscrupulous. All they think about is their own personal profit. If they can profit by causing a disaster, or a depression, they will do so. They have been trying to do that in this debate. The Vice-President of the Executive Coucil **(Mr. Eric J. Harrison)** dealt with the Opposition too lightly when he referred to the discrepancies between statements made by honorable members opposite and statements made by **Mr. Monk.** The real difference between those statements is that **Mr. Monk** made his statements on oath and, therefore, said what he believed to be the truth. There are grave dangers inherent in the present situation. We must pull together and try to avert those dangers which have arisen not as a result of any action that the Government has taken. We shall not avert them unless Australians as a whole pull together. Honorable members opposite do not believe many of the statements that they have made in this debate. The real beliefs of the Opposition are set out in the sworn affidavit to which I have referred. Unless honorable members opposite change their tune they will make the Government's course, and Australia's course, more difficult. But. that will please them. Even in 1940, and 1941, many of these very same people endeavoured to impede the .war effort. A.t least one person, who was a Minister in the Labour Government at that time, co-operated with the Communists in that direction. He, and others like him, believed that that was their road to power. They were prepared to imperil Australia's safety with the object of gaining such power and, to-day, the same people would again imperil the safety of this country if they were given the opportunity to do so. The Leader of the Opposition **(Dr. Evatt)** did not contribute anything constructive to this debate. He said that the Government is shifting its policy. In that respect he reminds me of a back seat driver who says, " Now you are turning to the left; a moment ago you were turning to the right". The fact is that it is proper for us to adjust our course to circumstances as they arise. He advocated the use of unlimited, credit, but his deputy confined his advocacy to the use of just a little credit. I agree that additional credit is not necessarily inflationary any more than dried sticks make a bush fire. But the use of extra credit constitutes an inflationary hazard. The Opposition counsels not only a policy of unlimited credit, but also a policy of conflagration. Time will not permit me to deal with the subject of interest rates. I turn now to prices- control which the socialists believe to be a good thing. Controls of that bind, in some instances, operate satisfactorily at the start, but, invariably, they finally cause disaster. For instance, we now see how the police interest in socialization has ruined the New .South Wales police force, although that result took many years to accomplish. The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- Order ! The honorable member's time has expired. {: #subdebate-17-0-s28 .speaker-KZ9} ##### Mr RIORDAN:
Kennedy **.- Mr. Chairman-** Motion (by **Mr. Eric** j. Harrison) put - >That the question be now put. The committee divided. (The Deputy Chairman - Mr. G.J. Bowden.) AYES: 50 NOES: 46 Majority . . 4 *In division:* AYES NOES The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- Order ! I ask the honorable member to resume his seat while a division is in progress. The ACTING CHAIRMAN.- That is not so. The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- I ask the honorable member to resume his seat. Question so resolved in the affirmative. The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN. - By whom? The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN. - The honorable member for Kalgoorlie **(Mr. Johnson)** took no exception to any statement by the honorable member for Mackellar at the time. The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN. - The honorable member for Mackellar will resume his seat. He will be afforded an opportunity to state his point of order after the question has been resolved. Question put - >That the item proposed to be reduced **(Dr. Evatt's amendment)** be so reduced. The committee divided. (The Deputy Chairman - G. J. Bowden.) AYES: 46 NOES: 50 Majority . . . . 4 AYES NOES Question so resolved in the negative. I shall not repeat now what the honorable member for Farrer said to me last night in a private conversation outside this chamber, because I hope that he will be big enough to rise, in his place and do so. I shall leave the matter there. I should welcome the production of the file, because I know in my own heart that it would be to the advantage of myself and of the Government of which I was a member. The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN -Order ! *The general debate being concluded,* First item agreed to. Progress reported. {: .page-start } page 597 {:#debate-18} ### ADJOURNMENT {:#subdebate-18-0} #### Capital Issues - Employment - Immigration - Health and Medical Services Motion (by **Mr. Eric** J. Harrison) proposed - >That the House do now adjourn. {: #subdebate-18-0-s0 .speaker-KGP} ##### Mr HAWORTH:
Isaacs .- At question time to-day, I asked the Prime Minister **(Mr Menzies)** whether the Government contemplated introducing a bill to control the trading of financial corporations formed within the limits of the Commonwealth I did so because under existing State and Commonwealth laws, there is nothing to stop a promoter from raising large capital funds for projects that are not controlled by the Capital Issues Board, and at the same time failing to provide proper safeguards for the public. Last Sunday evening, and again on Monday morning, the Australian Broadcasting Commission included the following item in its news broadcast : - >More than £50,000 have been spent so far in Australia's biggest olive-growing project near Bordertown, in the south-east of South Australia. > >Project started by Australian Primary Oils Proprietary. Limited covers more than 5,000 acres. Four hundred acres of this have already been planted with olives while another 300 acres will be planted this year. If that report be authentic, and I have no reason to believe that it is not, this company has already raised £50,000 since 1949. Those funds have been collected probably from about 500 subscribers, although the project has not had the approval of the Capital Issues Board. A little arithmetic indicates that the company proposes to spend not less than £500,000 without the approval of the board. The company, which is a proprietary company registered in Victoria, has no shareholders in the ordinary sense. Instead, it has a trustee who represents many unit holders. The organization was formed for the purpose of growing olives, the production of which may not reasonably be expected for nine years. The undertaking may ultimately be a great success.I do not know anything about growing olives. The point that I wish to make is that the news services of the national broadcasting stations should not be used to advertise commercially a company that is selling units to the Australian public. Secondly, the company is apparently outside the authority of the Capital Issues Board. It is dealing in large sums of money in respect of which, under proprietary law, it is not required to give any protection to its subscribers. Subscribers will have no idea of the ruling values of the shares or units. There will be no trading in the units on the open market, and they will not be listed at any stock exchange. Consequently, unit holders who wish to dispose of their holdings during the long period that must elapse before production commences, will have no means of so doing. The company will not be compelled to comply with the general practice of public companies of submitting an audited balance-sheet yearly. Consequently, unit holders will have no knowledge of what is being done with money which may eventually amount to £500,000. I believe that the Australian Broadcasting Commission should have made more careful inquiries into this project before taking the extremely irregular action of making what may be regarded as a commercial broadcast about it. I believe, too, that the Government should consider strengthening the company laws of the Commonwealth by introducing its own legislation to control trading by financial corporations in order to ensure that the public shall be fully protected from proprietary companies which are now outside the scope of the Capital Issues Board. It is difficult enough for companies that have legitimate grounds for approaching the Capital Issues Board to obtain consent for money raisings. Here we find a company, which is able to escape the authority of the Capital Issues Board, engaged in raising capital that may eventually amount to £500,000. An examination of the terms of contract in the prospectus of the company shows how slender are the chances that unit holders will be able to sell their shares. It is obvious that unit holders have no rights whatsoever under the prospectus. The action of the Australian Broadcasting Commission in making the news broadcast to which I have referred is highly questionable and one which I believe the Government should investigate. I also urge the Government to tighten up the laws relating to proprietary companies which at present do not come within the purview of the Capital Issues Board. {: #subdebate-18-0-s1 .speaker-KX7} ##### Mr WARD:
East Sydney .- [ wish to draw attention to a scandalous and shocking state of affairs for which the Commonwealth is entirely responsible, f refer to the position of many thousands of unemployed immigrants who have been induced to come to this country by misrepresentation. Most people in Australia to-day realize that a depression is already here, and that it is growing in intensity daily. That fact cannot be disguised by speeches in this Parliament. Throughout the Commonwealth to-day 100,000 people are out of work, yet the Government continues in its endeavour to foster the belief that employment is still available. Recently at the Bonegilla immigrant camp, armed forces, including armoured units and tanks, were ordered to stand by because the authorities feared that the unfortunate immigrants, driven to desperation because they wanted work and food, might take drastic steps to meet their needs. Let us examine the position. I have before me a journal called the *New Citizen.* Probably most honorable members receive and read it. In the issue of the 15th August, in an editorial headed " Fair go " the newspaper states - >The ghost of economic depression stalks again through Australia. This journal does not seem to be under any misapprehension about the position. The editorial continues - >Its nightmares are visiting on us pictures grim and lurid. The article also states - >Unemployment is one of the intangible factors our official immigration policy did not include in its planning for a mass intake of migrants, when the scheme was started a few years ago. > >Since then various factors have combined to bring about what is officially described as a ' tightening of the labour situation " or a "contraction of work opportunities". Rather than juggle with words, we think we should call a spade a spade, and admit that there is daily growing unemployment in certain categories of the work force. Those are the people who are actually looking for work and who ought to know what the situation is, and whether the Government is filling 4.000 employment vacancies a week, as it claims to be doing, although while it makes that claim it refuses to allow the officers of the Commonwealth Employment Service to make any release of official figures regarding employment. . The article continues - {: type="i" start="1"} 0. . viewed in its practical consequences it is opening up distressing potentialities of social and industrial unrest. Migrants have, been brought out hero under the impression that Australia is a land of plenty, and that jobs are available for the asking. Our official policy has clone everything to encourage that view. From time to time during the last few years, complaints have been raised regarding the housing position in Australia. Migrants stated that they were misinformed in Great Britain and in Europe as to the acute housing shortage. So evidently there were ether forms of misrepresentation as well as the statement that there was ample work, because immigrants say that they were not advised of the acute housing situation in Australia. The article continues - >Since then things have gone from bad to worse. There is now neither employment nor accommodation in many cases. > >Nobody seems prepared to accept the responsibility for what the disillusioned migrant calls "the deliberate deception and misrepresentation " of existing Austra'ian conditions. Those are not the statements of members of the Opposition whom the Government, charges with trying to mislead people by saying there is an economic depression in the country. They are the statements of unfortunate immigrants who have been misled bv the Government's propaganda. The article then goes on to state - >It is all very well to tell the migrant that our economic recession is only temporary, and that things are sure to improve soon. It is easy to exhort the migrant to exercise a " reasonable amount " of patience. Such arguments have no temptation to a man who has to keep a family, or who has defendants left in Europe waiting for him to remit sustenance. The article continues - >Tt is a poor reflection upon conditions prevailing if migrants have to resort to the desperate step of revolting to secure the elementary right to food and shelter. It then states - {: type="i" start="1"} 0. . migrants in camps must be given -an opportunity of staying in the camps and hostels until such time as they have found suitable employment. Later the article states - >In the first quarter of this year, 35,000 migrants have been admitted, the second quarter figures have not been released yet, but it can be assumed that another 30,000 have reached these shores. It continues - >Within the past two weeks another 2,000 migrants have arrived in this country, full of apprehension. They were shocked when told on arrival by fellow counlrymen that there was no work for them. > >At the same time Australia should immediately cease the misleading migration pub- licity still being carried on, particularly in Great Britain. As late as the 20th May, 1952, advertisements appeared in .English papers announcing that there were 120,000 vacant jobs in Australia. Such nonsense ought to be immediately stopped. As it is, Australia has enough trouble on hand to provide employment for the migrants already in the country. While this desperate situation exists in Australia, the Minister for Immigration **(Mr. Holt),** who ought to he here dealing with this immediate problem, is basking in the sunshine on the isle of Capri with ex-King Farouk of Egypt. I should like to know the purpose of the Minister's visit overseas. I have asked questions in the House regarding agreements that exist and commitments that have been entered into by this Government on behalf of Australia. While those unfortunate immigrants are in this desperate position the Government, in order to try to cover up its failure to deal effectively with the problem, has placed a few of them on the work of chipping weeds, and shifting a few tents around army camps. The Albury *Border Morning Mail,* which I understand is a journal that usually supports the Government, states in its issue of Thursday, the 14th August last - >While hundreds of Italian migrants wander aimlessly about Bonegilla camp on a dole of 5s. a week, many of their compatriots are getting the basic wage . . . > >Foa Basking nr the Sun'. > >Refused permission to penetrate the rusty barbed-wire " curtain " at Bandiana yesterday, a " Mail " reporter toured the outside area.' > >What he saw would make even the seasoned malingerer blush! This is his story . . . > >All the migrants have to do is climb into a bus, travel four miles and then sit down. Then they're eligible for the extra £11 a week. The immigrants cannot be blamed for that situation. They have been demanding work, and whilst a number of them have been removed from Bonegilla camp, other poor unfortunates are allowed to remain in the camp walking around for which they receive a paltry few shillings from the Government. The position will be even worse, because, according to figures that were supplied to me a result of an inquiry that I made of the Minister, more than 22,000 additional immigrants will arrive in Australia by the end of this year. Why, some of the poor devils now in camps, who are out? of work and so cannot pay for their board, are being summonsed. The Government will try to protect itself by saying that it i3 not the Government which is summonsing them, but Commonwealth Hostels Limited, the organization that was established by the Government, for the very purpose of protecting it from criticism by the public for exactly what is now happening. Why should these poor unfortunate devils be summonsed ? {: #subdebate-18-0-s2 .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- Order ! The honorable gentleman's time has expired. {: #subdebate-18-0-s3 .speaker-K8B} ##### Mr CURTIN:
Watson .- I listened to the remarkable statements made by the Postmaster-General **(Mr. Anthony)** last night about the virtues of a hospital benefits bill which will soon come before us. Intrigued by his remarks I made an analysis of the proposals and its likely impact on social services benefits. I have come to a few conclusions which I should like to put before the Minister for Supply **(Mr. Beale),** who is at the table, so that he can place them before the Minister for Social Services **(Mr. Townley),** or the Minister for Health **(Sir Earle Page),** with a view to amendments being made in the draft of the bill before it is introduced. Most people, after they have heard the pious platitudes of the Minister for Health in which he tells the people that it is good policy for them to insure themselves against sickness, are not aware that there are pitfalls in the scheme. The right honable gentleman states that a payment of ls. a week will ensure that a patient will receive ?4 4s. a week subsidy from the Government, which will hi turn ensure him proper treatment, and a bed, in any approved hospital. Such is not the case. It is just another of those inaccurate statements for which the Minister for Health is notorious. I see in the proposed scheme a means of relieving the taxpayer of more money under fake pretences. In the first place, payments received, for instance from the Hospitals Contribution Fund of New South Wales or Other similar approved funds, are counted as income in relation to the >ayment of sickness benefit, but if the fund is an approved fund, the first ?1 is disregarded. A person may also belong to a friendly society, as most people have done for a number of years. The ?1 ls. that is paid by the friendly society is disregarded. The second ?1 is offset by the allowable income of ?1 a week. Therefore, under the scheme a married person with one child who insured with a fund at a rate of ls. a week and who received ?4 4s. a week from that fund on discharge from hospital, would receive only partial sickness benefit, because the first ?1 is disregarded, the second ?1 is allowable income, leaving an excess income of ?2 4s. a week which is directly deducted from the sickness benefit, at present scales leaving only 6s. a week sickness benefit for a married man with a wife and one child and only ls. a week benefit for a married man with no children while a single man is debarred altogether from receiving sickness benefit. The patient has to pav his hospital fees and does not .receive any payment of insurance benefit until he has been discharged from hospital. Under the proposed increased scales of sickness benefit, a contributor who receives ?4 4s. a week from a hospital fund will have an excess income of ?2 4s. a week. A married contributor with a wife and one child will receive ?2 Ils. a week in sickness benefit instead of the maximum amount of ?4 15s.; a married contributor with a wife only will receive a lesser amount ; and a single person will be ineligible for the benefit. In this wonderful scheme the Minister for Health has set out to rob the people- {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- (Hon. Archie Cameron). Order! I have given the honorable member a good deal of latitude. A few moments ago he described the scheme as a means of relieving the taxpayer of money under false pretences; now he is accusing the Minister for Health of robbing the people. The honorable member is distinctly out of order in referring in that manner to & Minister of the Crown and to a Commonwealth statute. {: .speaker-K8B} ##### Mr CURTIN: -- Perhaps I should be in order, **Mr. Speaker,** if I said that the Minister for Health is relieving the people of some of their hard-earned savings. If a person contributes 2s. a week to a hospital fund in order to secure the higher scale of benefits, and receives ?8 8s. a week from the fund, .irrespective of whether he is a married man, with or without children, or a single man, he will receive no benefit whatever because his income is in excess of the maximum permissible income for the purpose of the sickness benefit. Hospital bills must be met by patients before they leave the hospital, and doctors are also usually awaiting their share. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- Order ! I observe that a person seated in the public gallery is reading. Reading in the galleries is not permitted. {: .speaker-K8B} ##### Mr CURTIN: -- An insured person who attends the offices of the Hospitals Fund for payment must prove that he has paid his hospital bill. In contrast, let ns consider the treatment that is meted out to destitute persons. Those who cannot afford to pay for treatment are given all necessary hospital treatment and care and may collect the whole amount of the sickness benefit of ?4 4s. a week. I trust that the Minister for Supply, who is in charge of the House, will bring these matters before the Government. {: .speaker-JOI} ##### Mr Beale: -- I cannot understand the purport of the honorable member's remarks. {: .speaker-K8B} ##### Mr CURTIN: -- You cannot understand anything. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- Order ! The honorable member must address the Chair and not the Minister in charge of the House. {: .speaker-K8B} ##### Mr CURTIN: -- The Minister is notorious for his lack of understanding of everything that affects the people. Having regard to the promises made to the people by the Minister for Health, and by others of his ilk, it is regrettable to learn that the people are to be relieved of some of their hard-earned money by :the provisions of the legislation to which I have referred. {: #subdebate-18-0-s4 .speaker-JOI} ##### Mr BEALE:
Minister for Supply · Parramatta · LP .- I shall bring the matter mentioned by the honorable member for Isaacs **(Mr. Haworth)** to the notice of the Postmaster-General **(Mr. Anthony)** and ask that it be given immediate attention. The honorable member for Watson **(Mr. Curtin)** indulged in arithmetical gyrations which, perhaps to my shame, I confess I could not understand. I shall refer his remarks to the appropriate Minister. {: .speaker-K8B} ##### Mr Curtin: -- I shall give the Minister a typewritten copy of my remarks. {: .speaker-JOI} ##### Mr BEALE: -- It will have to be couched in English which I can understand. I assure the honorable member for East Sydney **(Mr. Ward)** that the Minister for Immigration **(Mr. Holt)** is not with ex-King Farouk, and that he is not at Capri. He may have visited Capri for a morning's trip on a launch. The honorable member for East Sydney, on one of his lightning trips to Europe, probably popped into the Folies Bergere for an evening's entertainment while he was in Paris. If he did so, he should not object if the Minister for Immigration emulates his example. {: .speaker-KX7} ##### Mr Ward: -- I did not attend a performance of the Folies Bergere {: .speaker-JOI} ##### Mr BEALE: -- The honorable member was foolish if he did not do so when be had the opportunity. I cannot imagine that he did not want to do so. It is true that, owing to the tightening of the employment situation in Australia, it has not been possible for the Government to place all immigrants in employment immediately after their arrival in this country. No honorable member on either side of the House wants new Australians to be unemployed. The Government is doing its utmost to place them in employment as soon as possible after their arrival. It will continue to do so. Both the Labour Government and the present Government sponsored a large-scale immigration policy. The Government has recently announced a cut in the quota for next year by more than 50 per cent. That decision was not denounced by the Opposition. Indeed, the Leader of the Opposition **(Dr. Evatt)** indicated that he and the members of his party still favoured immigration, though on a reduced scale. He laid emphasis, as we do, upon the need to secure skilled immigrants and those suitable for rural employment. That is the policy to which the Government is giving effect. The Leader of the Opposition, the honorable member for Melbourne **(Mr. Calwell)** and other well-informed members of the Opposition realize that we cannot immediately reduce the number of arrivals. Time irequired to taper off the programme. No one but the honorable member for Eas1 Sydney and one or two other misguided Opposition members take the view that the Government is not doing its best in this matter. We have been told that immigrants have been misled by statements made by immigration officials abroad. I am sure that misleading statements were also made during the regime of the previous Government. Indeed, when we were in Opposition, we directed attention to instance? in which grossly misleading statement? had been made to prospective immigrants. In the way of human nature I suppose misleading statements are still being made by certain officials. If so, we shall see that the matter is rectified. Whilst I am on the subject of misleading statements, may I remind the honorable member for East Sydney that he would render better service to his country if he ceased to make misleading, panicky -and scare statements about the likelihood of a depression. Such statements can only do this country very great harm. The quickest way to bring about a depression is to develop a depression psychology among the people. Such a psychology is being deliberately developed by some Opposition members. Question resolved in the affirmative. {: .page-start } page 602 {:#debate-19} ### PAPERS The following papers were presented : - >Public Service Act - Appointments - Department - Repatriation - J. H. P. Abbott, H. L. Carruthers, T. P. Dearlove, P. S. Eyles, T. H, O'Donnell, J. P. Swain. House adjourned at 11.40 p.m. {: .page-start } page 602 {:#debate-20} ### ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS *The following answers to questions were circulated: -* {:#subdebate-20-0} #### Taxation {: #subdebate-20-0-s0 .speaker-2V4} ##### Mr CLYDE CAMERON:
HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP n asked the Treasurer, *upon notice -* {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Is it a fact that polio victims who are in receipt of polio risk insurance payments are obliged to pay Commonwealth tax on such income? 1. If so, will he state whether any tax relief will be given to persons unfortunate enough to be so affected? {: #subdebate-20-0-s1 .speaker-F4T} ##### Sir Arthur Fadden:
Treasurer · MCPHERSON, QUEENSLAND · CP -- The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows : - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Payments of an income nature as distinct from capital received under policies of insurance against the risk of sickness or accident are taxable. 1. It would be extremely difficult to provide for an exemption of tax in respect of these payments depending on the degree or nature of the invalidity of the recipient. If such a principle were accepted, there would be a wide field of exemption if anomalies and inconsistencies are to be avoided. The income tax law, however, provides for relief being granted in cases where payment of the tax would involve serious hardship. {:#subdebate-20-1} #### Currency {: #subdebate-20-1-s0 .speaker-2V4} ##### Mr CLYDE CAMERON:
HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP n asked the Treasurer, *upon notice -* >Can Australia alter its present exchange rate of £A.125 to £100 sterling without permission of the International Monetary Fund; if so, to what extent? {: #subdebate-20-1-s1 .speaker-F4T} ##### Sir Arthur Fadden:
CP -- The answer to the honorable member's question is as follows : - >Under the articles of agreement of the International Monetary Fund it is provided that a member may not alter its exchange rate by more than 10 per cent, of the initial par value of its currency without the permission of the fund. Australia altered its rate of exchange by 30 per cent, of the initial par value of the Australian £1 in September, 1949r and would therefore have to seek the permission of the fund for any further change. {:#subdebate-20-2} #### International Trade {: #subdebate-20-2-s0 .speaker-2V4} ##### Mr CLYDE CAMERON:
HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP n asked the Treasurer, *upon notice -* {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Has Australia's volume of internationaltrade increased since the ratification of the International Monetary Agreement in 1947; if so, by how much? 1. Has Australia's quota of share capital to the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development been altered since 1947; if so, to what extent? {: #subdebate-20-2-s1 .speaker-F4T} ##### Sir Arthur Fadden:
CP -- The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows : - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. The f.o.b. value of total Australian import* increased from £209,000,000 in 1946-47 to £1,053,000;000 in 1951-52. The f.o.b. value of total exports increased over the same period from £309.000,000 to £675,000,000. 1. No. {:#subdebate-20-3} #### International Monetary Fund {: #subdebate-20-3-s0 .speaker-2V4} ##### Mr CLYDE CAMERON:
HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP n asked the Treasurer, *upon notice -* {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Have any changes been made to the articles of the International Monetary Fund since January, 1950? 1. If so, what was the nature of such changes and what was Australia's attitude toward those changes? {: #subdebate-20-3-s1 .speaker-F4T} ##### Sir Arthur Fadden:
CP -- The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows : - 1 and 2. No. There has been a change in the rate of charges on drawings from the fund prescribed in Article V., section 8 (c) and {: type="a" start="d"} 0. of the articles of agreement. Revision, however, is provided for in Article V., section 8 (e), and there has been no formal or legal alteration in the Fund Articles. {:#subdebate-20-4} #### Banking {: #subdebate-20-4-s0 .speaker-JZB} ##### Mr Fitzgerald: d asked the Treasurer. *upon notice -* {: type="1" start="1"} 0. How many (a) branches and (6) agencies has each of the private trading banks in Australia? 1. How many (a) branches and (6) agencies has the Commonwealth Bank in Australia? {: #subdebate-20-4-s1 .speaker-F4T} ##### Sir Arthur Fadden:
CP -- The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows : - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. According to available information, the private trading banks have the following number of branches and agencies in Australia : - {: type="1" start="2"} 0. Atthe present time there are in Australia 433 branches of theCommonwealth Bank of Australia and Commonwealth Savings Bank of Australia (including three branches conducting savings bank business only). With regard to agencies there are six Commonwealth Bank agencies and 4,320 savings bank agencies. {: #subdebate-20-4-s2 .speaker-KDT} ##### Mr Fairbairn: n asked the Treasurer, *upon notice -* {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Has he arranged, in conjunction with the Treasurer of New South Wales, to make more money available to shire councils for the purchase of fire-fighting equipment for the coming summer? 1. Is money spent on the purchase of such equipment by primary producers a complete deduction from taxation for the year of purchase or does it come under the 20 per cent. allowance for each of five years? 3.If the latter, and in view of the extensive damage done by bush fires in New South Wales last year, will he consider the advisability of making these purchases a complete deduction for the year of purchase? SirArthurFadden. - The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows : - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. No. The provision of funds to local government authorities in New South Wales. or in any other State, for the purchase of fire-fighting equipment would be a matter for consideration by the State government concerned. 1. The cost of fire-fighting equipment purchased by primary producers and used for the first time, or first installed ready foruse, after 30th June, 1951, and before 1st July, 1955, is subject to annual depreciation at the rate of 20 per cent. of the cost of the equipment. 2. The cost of fire-fighting equipment is expenditure of a capital nature and to provide for a deduction of the whole of the cost in the year of purchase would involve an amendment of the income tax law and, furthermore, would lend to requests from other sections of industry for a similar concession in regard to capital expenditure of a more or less comparable nature. The allowance of a deduction each year of 20 per cent. of the cost of equipment over five years, as explained in the preceding paragraph, is considered tobe reasonable. {:#subdebate-20-5} #### Wages and Salaries {: #subdebate-20-5-s0 .speaker-JAG} ##### Mr CREAN:
MELBOURNE PORTS, VICTORIA · ALP n asked the Treasurer, upon *notice -* {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Will he supply adequate details asto how the sum of £1,472,000,000 shown in the parliamentary paper on national income and expenditure 1951-52 as being the amount of wages and salaries paid to employees of trading enterprises, has been determined? 1. Will he state separately the amount regarded as wages as distinct from salaries? {: #subdebate-20-5-s1 .speaker-F4T} ##### Sir Arthur Fadden:
CP -- The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows : - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. The estimate of £1,870,000,000 for wages, salaries,&c., shown in Table1 of the appendix to the parliamentary paper on national income and expenditure1951-52 was derived principally from pay-roll tax returns - which eovei approximately 80 per cent, of employment and pay-rolls. Separate estimates were made of expenditure on wages and salaries in those sectors of the economy covered in Tables IIb., III., and IV., namely, financial enterprises, public authorities and persons. These estimates were subtracted from the estimate of total wages and salaries thus giving a figure of £1,472,000,000 for wages and salaries paid by trading enterprises. 1. The Statistician does not attempt to define or measure " wages " and " salaries "as separate items. Shipping. M r. Edmonds asked the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport, *upon notice -* >In view of the high cost of fertilizers and their influence on primary production, will he have inquiries made into the effect which high shipping charges have on such cost? > >What is the freight on pyrites from (a) Rockhampton, wharf "to Newcastle and (ft) Gladstone to Newcastle? > >What are the loading rates per hour into ships at (») Rockhampton and (6) Gladstone? > >What is the distance in sea miles («) between Rockhampton and Newcastle and (6) between Gladstone and Newcastle! > >What is the maximum quantity of pyrites that could be loaded at *(a)* Rockhampton and (ft) Gladstone? > >Gs What is the freight charge on coal from Gladstone to Melbourne? > >What are the respective distances from gladstone, to Newcastle and Gladstone to Melbourne {: #subdebate-20-5-s2 .speaker-JLZ} ##### Mr Anthony:
Postmaster-General · RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP y. - The Minister for Shipping and Transport has supplied the following information : - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. The freight component of the sulphur equivalent of 1 ton of superphosphate made from pyrites shipped *ex* Gladstone to a New South Wales port is 5s. a ton grater than the freight component of superphosphate made from brimstone. It follows, therefore, that variations in sea freights will normally bc reflected in the cost of superphosphate. 2. *(a)* Rockhampton to Newcastle, 90s. 6d. a ton; (ft) Gladstone to Newcastle, 8Sa. Hd. a ton. S. (a) Forty to 60 tons per net gang Hour1; (ft) fin tons with ships gear, 107 tons with wharf crane per net gang hour. 4. *(a)* Rockhampton to Newcastle, 722 miles; (ft) Gladstone to Newcastle, 662 miles. 5. (a) Rockhampton, up to 1,700 tons, dependent on the draft of the vessel; (ft) no limit. ft. 71s. 6<i. a ton. {: type="1" start="7"} 0. Gladstone to Newcastle, 662 miles; Gladstone to Melbourne, 1,284 miles. Royal Australian Ais FORCE {: #subdebate-20-5-s3 .speaker-KX7} ##### Mr Ward: asked the Minister for Air, *upon notice -* {: type="1" start="1"} 0. As a. result of experience, Joes he consider the Lapstone Hotel as the most suitable location for the Eastern Head-quarters of the Royal Australian Air Force? 1. What area is covered bv the Eastern Command and is the- Lapstone. Hotel centrally situated, having regard to personnel under its control? if. What motor transport fs attached to these head-quarters and what is the approximate total annual mileage run by these vehicles? {: #subdebate-20-5-s4 .speaker-009MA} ##### Mr MCMAHON:
Minister for Air · LOWE, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP N - The answers- to the honorable members questions are as follows ; - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Tes. The present location of Headquarters Eastern Area, has been proven bv experience to meet the operational, telecommunication and administrative requirement* of the head-quartern. There is sufficient room for expansion of the head-quarters. Provision can bo made for adequate protection of the Operations Room and' communication, facilities against bomb damage. 1. The area, *at* responsibility of Eastern Area includes the whole of New South Wales and -Southern Queensland and the areas to seaward . extending from the land boundaries. The existing location of Head-quarters Eastern Area is therefore centrally situated in relation to the units under the command of the Air Officer Commanding, and is close to the Naval Head-quarters, with which it will be required to co-operate in war. - 2. Twenty-two vehicles of all types (including four staff ears, three utilities, four jeepsand miscellaneous tenders). The total mileage covered by the 22 vehicles from duly, 1951. to June, I0S2, was 167,000 miles.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 21 August 1952, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.