House of Representatives
10 September 1957

22nd Parliament · 2nd Session

Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. John McLeay) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.

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Mr. L. R. JOHNSON presented a petition from 2,070 citizens of Australia praying that immediate consideration be given to the matter of increasing the rates of age, invalid and widows’ pensions to at least 50 per cent. of the basic wage.

Mr. CLYDE CAMERON presented a petition from 2,987 citizens of Australia praying that pension rates be increased to 50 per cent. of the basic wage.

Petitions received and read.

Petitions praying that pension rates be increased to 50 per cent. of the basic wage were presented as follows: -

By Mr. CAIRNS from 3,772 citizens of Australia.

By Mr. O’CONNOR from 3,680 citizens of Australia.

By Mr. BARNARD from 2,990 citizens of Australia.

By Mr. J. R. FRASER from 3,120 citizens of Australia.

Petitions received.

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– I ask the Prime Minister whether the Government has entered into any commitment which would permit the explosion of hydrogen bombs on Australian territory.

Prime Minister · KOOYONG, VICTORIA · LP

– No, we have not.

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– I direct a question to the Minister for Health. In view of the reported deleterious effects of various new drugs on the Australian public, is the Minister satisfied that Australians are being sufficiently protected against such drugs? Has the honorable gentleman considered the advisability of establishing some mechanism for investigating and testing these new drugs? Is he aware of the intense rivalry between drug manufacturers - this probably applies particularly to the United

States of America - in seeking to develop new drugs and overcome trade competition? Does the Minister consider it advisable to adopt a system similar to that in France, where new drugs are thoroughly investigated by a competent authority, and may be sold to the public only under a licencegranted by the Government?


– Broadly speaking, there are two kinds of drugs - the ordinary therapeutic substances, and biological products. Ordinary therapeutic substances may not be sold to the public except in accordance with the laws of a State. In addition, the Commonwealth has established a mechanism for the testing of ordinary therapeutic substances on behalf of the Government, principally at the universities of Sydney and Melbourne. The Department of Health is at present engaged in establishing what I may describe as a standards laboratory, the function of which will be to test new biological products that are brought into the country, or are manufactured here, in order to ensure that they are of the requisite strength and potency, and are in fact made from the substances from which they are alleged to be made.


– Where is this laboratory being established?


– In Canberra. With respect to competition between manufacturers of drugs, it is true that a great many new drugs are being produced, but it should not be thought that they are being made available to the public immediately they are developed. Most of them are available only on doctors’ prescriptions, and the profession is generally well informed about their effects and uses before they come into general use.

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– I wish to address a question to the Prime Minister. Will the Government give early consideration to a suitable commemoration of the diamond jubilee of the inauguration of the Commonwealth of Australia by some event such as a world fair or a musical festival?


– The suggestion that has been made by the honorable member will be borne in mind.

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– Will the Minister for Labour and National Service inform the House whether it is true that the Government has requested the New South Wales police to carry out a thorough investigation into the causes of a fire which occurred last week in the home of the secretary of an anti-Communist trade union? If it is true, will the Minister give the House some details? If the report is not completely true, will the Minister inform the House if it is likely to become true?


– The report is not completely true but, as in so many reports, there is an element of truth in it. I understand that it is a fact that a fire occurred rather mysteriously in the garage of a secretary or an official of a trade union.

Mr Ward:

– Like the one that occurred in the offices of the security service a few years ago.


– 1 can understand the sensitiveness of the honorable member for East Sydney on this matter. The fire, as I have said, occurred in the garage of an official of a trade union who had been prominent in anti-Communist activities inside the union. Having learned that this event had occurred, I arranged for the senior representatives of the Department of Labour and National Service in New South Wales to get into touch with the New South Wales police, not necessarily for the purpose of asking the police to conduct inquiries, as I assumed naturally that inquiries would be conducted into an event of this sort, but to learn if there were any suspicious circumstances which gave rise to any need for appropriate Commonwealth action. I have not yet had a final report on the matter, but I shall be following it closely to ascertain whether there is any action in which we should interest ourselves further.

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– Will the Prime Minister inform the House whether it is a fact that when the Government decided to comply with the request of the Japanese Government to transfer convicted Japanese war criminals from Manus Island to the Sugamo prison in Japan, the Government was advised by Mr. W. Yeo, president of the

New South Wales State branch of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia that that organization would raise no objection to the proposal, provided an assurance was given by the Government that the imprisoned war criminals would serve their full gaol sentences? Is it a fact that the Government gave the assurance that was sought by the R.S.L.? If so, has the Prime Minister any explanation to offer for the Government’s action in breaking its pledged word to this ex-servicemen’s organization?


– I do not know anything about a letter from the New South Wales State president of the R.S.L. My own contacts with the league are invariably with the federal president.

Mr Haylen:

– That is obvious.


– It is a very suitable contact, unless some reflection is intended by the honorable member for Parkes on the federal president of the league. The Commonwealth Government usually deals with federal bodies. It may be that there is on the file some such letter as the honorable member for East Sydney has mentioned. I will look it up.

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– The Postmaster-General will, 1 am sure, recall my numerous representations regarding the provision of automatic telephone exchange facilities for Toowoomba, in Queensland. Will the Minister inform the House what stage has been reached wilh plans for the central and suburban automatic exchanges in that city?

Postmaster-General · DAWSON, QUEENSLAND · CP

– As the honorable member has stated, he has from time to time asked me for information regarding the development of new exchanges planned for Toowoomba. I am glad to be able to inform the honorable member that the forecasts that I have made to him from time to time regarding this development are now being borne out. The main work is the establishment of a central exchange and a long-line equipment building in Toowoomba. This is one of the new projects included in this year’s works programme, and it has been commenced. It involves an expenditure of some £80,000, and, therefore, it is not expected to be completed before about August of next year. There are two other centres in Toowoomba. One is at Middle Ridge. This building is practically completed and should be available for the installation of equipment within a week or two. The other one, at Newtown, will be commenced shortly. Tenders will be called for it, and when they have been considered the work of building will be commenced. I point out to the honorable member that some time will elapse after the completion of the buildings before the necessary equipment for these automatic exchanges will be completed, but the equipment will be installed as soon as possible.

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– I address a question to the Postmaster-General. I refer to the existing practice of printing sheets of postage stamps consisting of sixteen vertical rows, each containing ten stamps. In view of the fact that stamps arc often purchased in dozens, and having regard to the advantages to post office staffs of the easier calculations which would result from the printing of stamps in sheets containing twelve vertical rows instead of sixteen, and also to the advantage to members of the public in being able to purchase rows of stamps that could be used from left to right instead of from top to bottom, will the Postmaster-General consider the printing of stamps in rows of twelve, with the sheets arranged in such a way as to allow of the stamps being detached from left to right?


– I do not think the honorable member for Hindmarsh would expect me to be able to give him a final and definite answer on this matter immediately. He has made an interesting suggestion, which I shall be quite happy to refer to the department for comment. It occurs to me that there is probably some quite sound reason for the present system of printing in blocks of, I think, ten by eight, and therefore I cannot say whether the system he proposes would be more desirable than the present system. Nevertheless, I shall have the matter looked into and shall supply him with such information as I obtain from the department. This may be one of those proposals that it is not possible to implement, at present because of the need to alter machines, but it may be possible eventually to adopt his suggestion if it has prospects of improving the situation. I shall have all those matters inquired into and shall advise the honorable member.

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– I preface my question, which is addressed to the Minister for Primary Industry, by saying that the Minister is probably aware of the fact that under the previous State government’s administration in Queensland the war service land settlement scheme was abandoned. In view of the fact that there has been a welcome change of government in that Stale, can the Minister say whether negotiations have been commenced with a view to establishing a sensible war service land settlement scheme there?

Minister for Primary Industry · LOWE, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP

– The Premier of Queensland recently made representations to the Acting Prime Minister with a view to re-commencing the war service land settlement scheme in that State. I know that he is anxious to have the possibilities of re-commencing the scheme fully explored. I therefore made arrangements for officials of the Division of War Service Land Settlement to hold a conference with the officials of the relevant State departments in Queensland to see what could be done. The preliminary investigations have been carried out. It is a little early as yet to say just what action will be decided upon and taken. I am glad that the honorable member has shown such interest in that matter, and as soon as firm recommendations have been made and a decision arrived at I shall give him the information.

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– Will the Minister for Territories make a statement giving precise information as to the number of persons who have been granted agricultural, pastoral or other rural leases in the Northern Territory during the last three years? Will he tell us the number of lease-holders who are the occupiers of lease areas and the number of leases renewed within the last three years? Finally, will the Minister outline the land policy of the Government in relation to the Northern Territory?

Minister for Territories · CURTIN, WESTERN AUSTRALIA · LP

– I think I am debarred, under the Standing Orders, from answering the -last part of the question, but I shall have a great deal of pleasure in obtaining the information which the honorable member has requested and furnishing it to him.

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– I ask the PostmasterGeneral whether any work at all will take place this year in connexion with the new Australian Broadcasting Commission building in Perth. Will the building, when constructed, cater for the needs of Australian Broadcasting Commission television? If so, how can Western Australia have television in 1960, as outlined in the Minister’s recent statement, if work is not commenced on this project at an early date?


– 1 can remember the honorable member for Perth, some months ago, asking me to obtain information for him about the possibility of a start being made on the Australian Broadcasting Commission studio building in Perth. I think, from memory, I answered him that although the matter had been approved by the Public Works Committee, it would be at least twelve months before a start could be made. The present situation is that the proposed new building, which will involve an expenditure of a very considerable sum to complete, is not included in the new building works programme for this year. At present, it is at the design stage and I understand that the working drawings, which are necessary before tenders can be called, are now being prepared by the Department of Works. In view of the great amount of work involved, it is not expected that these drawings will be ready for the calling of tenders until about March or April of next year. At that time it will depend upon the availability of funds as to whether tenders can be called but as everything else will have been prepared, it is more probable that the construction of the building will be commenced at the beginning of the next financial year.

The honorable member has asked also about the provision of a studio for television in Perth. This new building will be designed largely to house the Australian Broadcasting Commission studios for sound broadcasting and also for the administrative work involved in both sound broadcasting and television. Consequently, this building which we are discussing will play some part in the development of television in Perth. The actual technical equipment required for television will have to be housed in a new building which it is planned to erect on the same block of land, adjacent to the building we have just been discussing. As a result of the Government’s decision which 1 announced last week, the preliminary planning for the television building is now being commenced and I can assure the honorable member that there will be no hold-up which would cause my forecast to appear to be incorrect.

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– I ask the Minister for Supply whether any proposals have been considered by the Government for experiments in Australia with guided atomic missiles, carrying explosive, fission or fusion material. If so, is it likely that agreement will be reached for the conduct of these tests in Australia?

Minister for Supply · PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP

– The answer to the honorable member’s question is “ No “.

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– Does the PostmasterGeneral recall having advised me, on 18th April this year, that the building work on the new Australian Broadcasting Commission studios in Canberra would be finished at the end of that month and that the two studios would be ready for service by the middle of June? Does the Minister know that, so far, only one of the two studios has been equipped and that the work of the two Canberra broadcasting stations is consequently considerably limited? Can the Minister say why his forecast was not fulfilled; and also, can he indicate when the equipment of the second studio will be completed?


– I do remember the information which I gave to the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory regarding the A.B.C. studios in Canberra. I also know that after that information was given there was some hold-up in the supply of some of the new equipment required. That, no doubt, has been responsible for the delay he has just mentioned. I am not in a position to tell him now when the second studio will be available, but I shall find out and let him know.

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– I address a question to the Minister for Health. Is it a fact that there is now on the Australian market a group of drugs known as a hormone salicylate combination which is beneficial to sufferers from arthritis and rheumatics? Is it also a fact that hundreds of pensioners are virtually crippled by those complaints, and, because of the high cost of the drugs referred to, are unable to obtain them? Will the Minister request the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee to consider recommending the admission of the salicylate combination to the list of lifesaving drugs? As an alternative, will the Minister examine the possibility of providing the drugs to pensioners free of charge?


– I do not know about the drugs to which the honorable gentleman refers, but the fact is that pensioners have available to them, without charge, all the drugs covered by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Act, all the drugs on the special pharmaceutical list for pensioners and every drug in the British Pharmacopoeia, which is a very wide range, indeed so wide that I cannot believe that pensioners are really disadvantaged by their inability to obtain any of the few drugs which are not on those lists.

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– When does the PostmasterGeneral expect to be in a position to make positive proposals for the introduction of television in South Australia?


– I remind the honorable member for Bonython that I made a statement last week which dealt with the extension of national television services to the four remaining State capital cities, and I also included the possibility of commercial services in those cities. I take it that the honorable member is inquiring about the commercial services.

Mr Makin:

– All services.


– I indicated that it is anticipated that the national service will be in operation during the financial year 1959-60. As to the commercial services, the Australian Broadcasting Control Board will be prepared to hear applications from commercial interests in those four remaining capital cities for the establishment of commercial services. It is intended that some time be allowed to those interests to prepare cases, and therefore I should not think that the board will be hearing applications before at least the end of this year. A complaint was made at the previous hearings by the board that some applicants had not had sufficient time to prepare proper cases. We want to avoid a recurrence of that. Immediately the board has heard those applications it will submit a report to me, which will go to Cabinet, and the question of whether further commercial licences will be granted will be determined by the Government.

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– I ask a question of the Prime Minister. Is it a fact that recently Iraq, supported by Pakistan, proposed the expulsion of Britain from the Baghdad Pact and that it was only the intervention of Turkey that saved Britain from expulsion? Is it also a fact that the move for expulsion was a result of Britain’s action over Suez? If these are facts can the Prime Minister say why the Australian Government was not informed of the action taken against Britain by other members of the British Commonwealth of Nations?


– I think the first thing I should do is find out whether the honorable member’s allegations are facts. They have a good deal of the charm of novelty to me; but I will find out.

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– I direct a question to the Minister for Air. Has the Royal Australian Air Force court of inquiry made a finding in the matter of the Dakota crash which occurred in Canberra some months ago? Is it the practice officially to convey such a court’s finding to the next of kin of crash victims? If it is the practice, is the Minister aware that the next of kin of those who were involved in this accident have not, as yet, been notified? If it is not the practice to convey such findings to the next of kin officially, will the Minister consider having the Royal Australian Air Force adopt this course?

Minister for Air · EVANS, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP

– So far as I am aware it is noi ihe practice of the Royal Australian Air Force to inform the next of kin of the result oi the service inquiry which follows a fatal accident. I think there is sound reason lor that practice. In peace-time fatal accidents to personnel of the R.A.A.F. are invariably followed by an inquiry by a coroner. The coroner determines whether death was accidental or otherwise. The service inquiry is a purely technical inquiry to determine from a technical service viewpoint the reason for the accident, particularly, of course, to ensure that all steps are taken to avoid such accidents in the future. I do not see any point in establishing a practice of informing next of kin the result of that inquiry.

The honorable member also asked whether the inquiry in this case had been completed. It has been completed. I am aware of the finding. I am also aware of the certain steps that have been taken, so far as it is possible in these matters, to see that an accident in precisely those circumstances shall not occur again.

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– I ask a question of the Prime Minister. Did the right honorable gentleman in April last, whilst visiting the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, say “ Australia is in New Guinea and Australia will remain there and we do not regard our presence as temporary “? If so, is it the intention of the Liberal party that at no stage of future development are the residents of Papua and New Guinea to be given the opportunity of peacefully showing through the ballot-box whether they desire the Territory to remain an Australian dependency, to continue in voluntary association as an equal partner of the British Commonwealth, or become a completely independent nation?


– I think that if there is an independence movement in Papua and New Guinea of the kind foreshadowed by the honorable member, one of my successors will have to deal with that on the merits when it arises.

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– I ask a question of the Minister for Primary Industry. Is it a fact that officers of the Division of Agricultural Economics are at present carrying out a survey of the wheat industry in the producing States? Will the report resulting from the survey be used as the basis for the cost of production figure for wheat under the proposed new wheat stabilization plan? What stage has been reached in the negotiations regarding the new stabilization plan?


– Under arrangements made in co-operation with the Australian Agricultural Council and the Australian Wheat Growers Federation, a review of the Australian wheat industry has been undertaken by the Division of Agricultural Economics, which will study all aspects of wheat-growing in this country. As to the second point raised by the honorable member, the informal ion obtained will be used as the basis for recommendations to the Government for a new stabilization scheme. I have had discussions with the Agricultural Council and with the Wheat Growers Federation, particularly for the purpose of getting the support of the Wheat Growers Federation to induce wheat-growers to give effective answers to the questions submitted to them by the Division of Agricultural Economics.

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– I should like to ask the Minister for Defence whether it is true that his recent mission to the United States of Ame;;_‘u for the purpose of securing Starfighters was a tremendous success. If so, when will the first batch of Starfighters be delivered?

Minister for Defence · WAKEFIELD, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · LP

– One of the purposes of my mission to the United States of America was to ascertain whether the FI 04 aircraft was a suitable fighter for incorporation in the Royal Australian Air Force. As a result of the investigations made, it was decided, as has already been announced, that we would not purchase the FI 04 for use in the Royal Australian Air Force.

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– In view of the very great interest among a section of the Austraiian public in the proposed change to frequency modulation broadcasting, will the Postmaster-General make a considered statement on this subject as a guide to the public and the trade?


– The possibility of introducing frequency modulation broadcasting in Australia is under preliminary investigation by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board, which has been entrusted with the task of holding a public inquiry. That inquiry is proceeding now, as the honorable member for Macquarie no doubt knows. After hearing evidence it will report to the Government, through me, whether it is desirable to proceed with frequency modulation or not. It is not possible to make any further announcement as to whether it is intended to introduce frequency modulation, because that inquiry has to be completed, a report has to be submitted, and then considered by the Government, which will decide whether some such action should be taken. I should say that it will be some months before that stage is reached. When the Government has considered the matter and determined its policy, an announcement will be made.

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– I desire to ask the Minister acting for the Minister for External Affairs whether Australia, through the Department of External Affairs, received an official invitation to be represented at the World Exhibition, scheduled to be held between 17th April and 19th October, 1958, in Belgium. Is it correct that Australia officially declined the invitation without giving any reasons? In view of the nature of this exhibition, and the fact that every important country will be represented, will the Prime Minister inform the House why Australia declined the invitation?


– This matter, I notice, has attracted some public attention. I think it would be better, therefore, if I arranged a full answer to be prepared, because it concerns more than one department. For that purpose, I shall treat the honorable member’s question as being on notice.

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– Is the Minister for the Interior satisfied with the design of the proposed government offices in Sydney? Have the services of competent architects been engaged for this purpose? Is the plan, as published, final? Will there be an opportunity to infuse more character and originality into what will obviously be a dominating structure in that great city?

Minister for the Interior · PATERSON, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP

– I am bound to tell the honorable member that I am completely satisfied with the design for the new Commonwealth offices in Sydney. They have been the subject of most careful consideration, over a long period, by the Department of Works, and were subjected to the most exhaustive analysis by the Public Works Committee also. Quite a number of people who are thoroughly competent to express an informed opinion have stated that it is a thoroughly workmanlike design, and will produce a most efficient building. The offices are, of course, in the modern idiom, but were designed to complement the recently completed Qantas building, which stands on the opposite corner. The work of producing the detailed drawings is now well advanced.

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– I address a question to the Minister for Defence. What were the results of his visit to the United States of America, other than his discovery that the Starfighter was not a suitable fighter aircraft for Australian conditions, and how will they affect the future defence of Australia?


– I understand that the Prime Minister intends to make a statement on the subject. The honorable member’s question will no doubt be very fully answered then.

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– Can the Minister for the Interior say what progress has been made towards the erection of a tea kiosk at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra?


– I know that, for the honorable member, this has been a burning question for a considerable time. The papers are on my desk at the moment, and I assure him that I am making all possible speed towards satisfying his wish that an adequate kiosk shall be erected to serve the increasing numbers of people who visit the Australian War Memorial annually.

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sfr. BRYANT. - I ask the Minister for Air: Has the Royal Australian Air Force ail craft suitable for the carriage of very important persons who visit this country? Might I recall that last year some Convair aircraft were purchased for air force use. Will the Minister say why a Super Constellation was chartered from Qantas for the purpose of transporting the President of South Viet Nam?


– The Royal Australian Air Force has Convair aircraft suitable for the carriage of very important visitors to this country. In fact, the President of South Viet Nam travelled throughout Australia in a Royal Australian Air Force aircraft of this type.

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– My question to the Prime Minister is supplementary to that asked earlier by the honorable member for Bonython. If some arrangements are to be made for celebration of the diamond jubilee of the Commonwealth, will he consider taking some action to hasten the decision for the erection of a new Parliament House in Canberra, and will he consider the advisability of holding a competition for its design, so that either the foundation stone could be laid, or portion of the building could be opened, by that time?


– I understood the question of the honorable member for Bonython to relate to the diamond jubilee of the Commonwealth, which, I imagine I am correct in assuming, would take place in 1961. Optimistic though I am under normal circumstances, I should hardly expect to see a new Parliament House erected then.

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– Before you call on further business, Mr. Speaker, may I say in reference to questions which fell from the honorable member for Yarra and the honorable member for Hindmarsh, that when I returned to Australia a few weeks ago I gave a general review of the defence mission to the United States of America and indicated that, after some discussion with my colleagues, I hoped to say something more on the topic. That has been widely, though inaccurately, construed as an indication that I would make a general statement on defence. I have given some thought to the matter, and in view of the discussions that we have had with the Minister for Defence in Great Britain, and the emergence of an independent Malaya, I think it would be-

Mr Whitlam:

– You knew that Malaya was going to emerge as an independent country when you made your last statement!


– If you do not want to hear me make a statement you may always stay away. We would not even miss you - however much we might like your looks. I thought that, taking these matters into account, it would be helpful if I made an overall statement containing whatever modifications, if any, might have to be made to the earlier statement, which, in the broad, still stands as a statement of our defence policy, but bringing into account the mission to the United States, its effect on the programme that I announced, and any other matters that should be made clear as a result of recent discussions and events. Therefore, I propose to do that. I have been working on the statement. It is extremely difficult to work out all its complexities. However, I would hope to be able to make the statement next week, the general idea being that if it is a comprehensive statement - that is why I propose to say something about it myself - it will be open for discussion as occasion arises.

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Report of Public Accounts Committee


– As chairman, I present the following report of the Public Accounts Committee: -

Thirty-second Report - Department of Health: Canberra Abattoir; together with Minutes of Evidence taken by the Committee i*. connexion with this report.

Honorable members will doubtless be struck by the fact that we began our inquiries into this matter right back in December, 1956. Owing to the exigencies of the work of the committee, and the nature of the parliamentary sittings this year, we have been unable until now to bring up the report. It is, I think, interesting in that it illustrates something of the difficulty associated with running a public undertaking within the administrative framework of an ordinary department. I think that honorable members will also be struck by the fact that the ordinance creating the Canberra abattoir does not provide that reports, balance-sheets or profit and loss accounts shall be presented to Parliament. That is the sort of thing that comes out most prominently in the report.

At the moment the committee is engaged in one of its regular enterprises - an investigation of the Supplementary Estimates. Honorable members who have read the committee’s thirty-first report, which was presented about the middle of this year, will recall that it disclosed that the procedure previously followed in the preparation and presentation of Supplementary Estimates was unnecessary, and legally ineffective. In consequence, the Treasury is adopting a new procedure for the presentation of the accounts that have been met from the Treasurer’s advance. That means that, if we are to keep faith with, and help, the Treasury, we must get our report through before the debate on the Estimates commences. The report is, therefore, being prepared under great stress.

Another matter that has been engaging our attention, and is reasonably close to completion, is the report on the Trust Funds. The committee has, from time to time, been engaged on the investigation of these funds over the last two or three years. Honorable members will have noticed from the budget papers that this year the operations on the Trust Funds are £900,000,000. We hope that, if printing difficulties can be overcome, the report will be ready by the end of October.

The last thing we are engaged on is the report on the Northern Territory. Because of representations made to us, we started that investigation at the beginning of the year. All the evidence, both oral and written, has been taken. We shall not have much time available to us after doing all these other things, but we hope that, in the interstices of time that remain, we will be able to present our report before the end of the year. The committee has so much to do that it will not be commencing any fresh investigation this year.

Ordered to be printed.

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– I wish to inform the House that the President of the Senate and I issued a joint invitation to the National Assembly of Viet Nam to send four members to visit our Parliament. I am pleased to announce that the invitation has been accepted, and that the delegation, led by Mr. Tran Van Lam, President of the Assembly, will arrive in Canberra next week. Arrangements have also been made for them to visit other parts of Australia.

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Debate resumed from 5th September (vide page 417), on motion by Mr. McEwen -

That the following paper be printed: -

Agreement on Commerce between the Commonwealth of Australia and Japan, signed on 6th July, 1957.

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

That the following words bc added to the motion: - “ and this House expresses its disapproval of the Agreement on Commerce between the Commonwealth of Australia and Japan “.

St. George

.- I desire to support the trade agreement between Australia and Japan. This debate is now in its concluding stages, but I feel that some aspects of the matter can be stressed again for the benefit of the public record and members of this House. I agree completely with the view that it is of profound significance to Australia’s future that Japan be encouraged to remain in the free democratic group and not be forced by economic necessity to adopt a proCommunist attitude which would ultimately cause it to follow the path so recently followed in the Middle East by Syria.

My honorable and gallant friends, the honorable members for Hume (Mr. Anderson) and Barker (Mr. Forbes), have dealt with this matter to my satisfaction and, I have no doubt, to the satisfaction of most honorable members of this Parliament. My honorable friend from Moreton (Mr. Kiilen) has dealt with the authority of the Government to make this trade agreement. He even quoted the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt) to support his argument as to the propriety of the Government’s action in concluding the agreement and then bringing it to this House for discussion and. it is to be hoped, approval by a majority oi’ honorable members. The honorable member for Moreton submitted a wise and conclusive case.

L turn now lo the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade because 1 hold the view that understanding of that agreement is fundamental to an appreciation of the significance of this treaty. Most people, of course, will appreciate that this agreement will be of great benefit to the primary industries of Australia. This was clearly expressed last week by the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. McMahon). My friend the Minister for Primary Industry said at that time that in my more benevolent moments I might be likely to describe the Ottawa Agreement of 1932, to use his own words, as “ Cro-Magnon “. I say that that is indeed the case, but in relation to this agreement, were I a primary producer, I should certainly look at it, wave it at the Minister, and say “ Et pro te, non cromagnon sed pro mac mah on “, with all due apologies to the ancient and venerable pontiff.

Japan’s aim must be to become a recognized and trusted party to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. Therefore, it is reasonable that this treaty should be a fore-runner to the achievement of that ambition. The fact is that when that agreement was before this Parliament, at a time when a Labour government was in office, some doubt was expressed as to Australia’s wisdom in joining Gatt. It will be of interest, I am sure, for honorable members to hear the views that were expressed by the government of the day through the then Minister for Post-war Reconstruction, bearing in mind that the present right honorable member for Barton, the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) and a number of other distinguished members of the Opposition were parties to those discussions and, without doubt, had a considerable say in the Government’s decision. I ask honorable members to bear this in mind, having regard to what was said earlier in this debate by my friends the honorable members for Hume and Barker. I quote from “ Hansard “. This is what Mr. Dedman said -

The only governments in the world today that are opposed to the Havana charter and to the Geneva Agreement on Tariffs and Trade are the governments of the Soviet Union, Poland and other Soviet satellites. In addition, the Com.munist party in Australia has expressed its

Of.position to both the Havana charter and the

Geneva Agreement. It is a curious combination. The honorable member for Reid, honorable members opposite, the Communist Party in Australia, the Soviet Government and the governments of Poland and other Russian satellites are all opposed to the Havana charter and to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. Those who are adopting that attitude have no interest in the reconstruction of the world. Russia desires that the economies of the European countries shall be thrown into such a Sca.e of chaos that the Communist doctrine will be easily inculcated into their peoples and nure areas of Europe will be brought within thi Soviet sphere of influence.

In 1957, with ten years more experience, 1 do not believe that any rational member of this Parliament would disagree with the good sense that the then Minister expressed in his speech. It should, therefore, follow that honorable members of this Parliament will understand that it is of the first order of importance that Japan be encouraged to become a friendly, prosperous and trusted member of Gatt.

Mr Edmonds:

– Did the honorable member say “ trusted “?


– I said “trusted”. I believe that it is reasonable for me to say that the Japanese themselves must feel that there is a degree of mistrust as far as they are concerned. Their job is to follow policies and procedures which will remove the cause for that mistrust. That big and, I might say, very important task is in front of them.

It is of importance to the manufacturing industries of Australia, which are at present giving a real indication of fear as to what will develop, to bear in mind that for the next three years the successful carrying out of this agreement will be vital to the Japanese if they are ultimately to achieve full membership of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. There, after all, is an added incentive which may be regarded by Australian manufacturing industries as a form of protection. The Minister himself said, in the course of his recent statement -

In addition, the treaty provides that the Australian Government will, before the end of the first three years” term, enter into discussions with the Japanese Government with a view to exploring the possibility and examining the basis of applying Gatt between the two countries. In short, the three-year period will serve as a basis for experience in our trading relations upon which we engage to have discussions with the

Japanese and, in good faith, to consider whether it is possible and practicable for us to admit Japan to Gait.

That being the case, it surely is obvious that Japan, in seeking to achieve full membership, will aim to prove during the three years of the agreement that it is entitled to be a trusted member of Gatt.

Mr Edmonds:

– What does the honorable member himself think at the moment?


– 1 should think that, at the end of the period, Australia will find itself in a position which it will be sharing with a large number of the members of Gatt who already have gone as far as Japan hopes that Australia will go in three years’ time. Japan was admitted to Gatt in 1953, but the Australian Government decided at that time that Australia would exercise its right under the agreement not to extend concessions to Japan. The admittance of Japan will, therefore, not increase local competitive pressures on Australian industry, nor will it affect our markets in the United Kingdom or any other country. it is interesting to consider the nature of informed comment at the relevant time in 1953. The director of the Institute of Public Affairs, Mr. C. D. Kemp, said -

Japan’s admittance to Gatt was probably inevitable. Japan must be able to sell to the rest of the world if she is to buy.

Surely there can be nothing more elementary than that statement for honorable members of this Parliament to grasp. Mr. N. Curphey, the secretary of the Victorian Chamber of Manufactures, said -

Secondary industries in Australia, because of the high cost factor, find it difficult enough to compete with overseas countries near our living standards - let alone Japan, which has a much lower living standard.

Bearing in mind that four years have elapsed, is it not reasonable to assume that nothing has occurred since then which has added to the grounds for the fear that the manufacturing organizations have shown? i appreciate, as do ali the members of this Parliament, that the manufacturing organizations of Australia will consider this matter with anxiety. In 1953, the president of the Melbourne Chamber of Commerce, Mr. W. J. Allison, now Sir John Allison, said -

I welcome any expansion of Gatt.

It is obvious that expansion of Gatt means that more nations will get together and outline a pattern of conduct, and that they will observe the pattern upon which they have decided as a group. There are advantages for all members of Gatt, and there are also responsibilities for all members. As Mr. Dedman, a former colleague of honorable members opposite, said so clearly, the Communist group in the world to-day is interested in achieving not coordination of trust, but mistrust and the collapse of the democratic economies. ! do not think it could reasonably be argued in any other way.

I wish now to refer to comment that has come from the Australian Association of British Manufacturers, an organization that is held in the highest possible repute in Australia and which has played a wonderful part in developing trade relations between Australia and the United Kingdom. We all understand, of course, that British preference will continue to be virtually unaffected. We understand, too, that the most-favoured-nation section will have the name of Japan added to it, so that Japan will be considered as the last of the countries to be moved from the category which allowed discrimination against them into the wrongly called “ mostfavourednation “ category. The Australian Association of British Manufacturers said -

If it is ratified the agreement will have to be given a fair trial. All that can be said is that the position should be watched with care and the Commonwealth Government should not hesitate to take whatever steps may prove necessary, if it becomes apparent that the Japanese Government’s promise of voluntary restraint is proving ineffective in practice. It may be that prompt consultation in such circumstances would result in the Japanese Government finding means whereby the powers it possesses could be exercised more effectively to the desired end. Failing that, distasteful though such action may be, Australia should not hesitate to take an immovable stand upon the third and even the fourth line of defence, if the need really arises.

I am confident that very few members of this Parliament, knowing the integrity and capacity of the Minister for Trade, would doubt that he would act with resolution and very good sense.

I now turn to another matter which I believe to be of great significance for the Government and of great potentiality for the future. T hold the view - and I believe that it is impossible for the opposite view to be accepted - that obligations entered into by the Commonwealth Government are continuing obligations. I believe that if it were to become commonly thought abroad that any Australian government would dishonour international obligations entered into by a previous government, that ultimately would be a very bad thing for Australia. 1 ask the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer), who is at present seated at the table, to invite the attention of the Minister for Trade to the comment that I am about to make. I hold the view that the Australian Government should analyse what was done between 1947 and 1949 and make itself familiar with the nature of the industries which the Commonwealth sought to induce to establish themselves in Australia because they were of defence or developmental significance. I put it that those industries might be considered to have, in some sense, a greater moral claim upon the Government for protection than have industries not within that category. The fact that the inducement was given by a previous government is, I believe, of no real importance. The significant matter is that the Commonwealth Government has some degree of obligation to them, and I think that this is a matter that ought to be brought to the attention of the Minister for Trade and other members of the Cabinet.

It is my custom, on occasion, to browse through the public evidence that is submitted to the Tariff Board. Because I do not want to mislead the House, I have selected for my purposes evidence concerning a number of industries. I suggest that it would be erroneous in every sense to imply that organisations such as Courtaulds (Australia) Ltd. and C.S.R. Chemicals Proprietary Limited are opposed in toto to the trade agreement with Japan, or to the concept of Australia coming to some rational form of agreement with Japan. That is not the case, and it cannot be the case with sensible commercial organizations in this community because they are, after all, conducted by sensible and educated men, to whom the facts of commercial life are abundantly clear.

I shall quote now an extract from the transcript of a tariff board inquiry regarding continuous filament acetate yarn. Mr. G. A. Edwards, general manager of Courtaulds (Australia) Limited, on 20th October, 1953, in the course of his evidence, said -

There is just one matter I would like to mention. You asked yesterday, Mr. Chairman, what had happened in connexion with the Prime Minister’s statement that tyre yarn was a defence requirement. I have filed at the factory a record of a conversation prepared by Colonel Davies, a director of Courtaulds, England, which he had with the Prime Minister in Canberra on the6th June, 1949. It reads: “ In a conference at Canberra with the Prime Minister on 6th June, 1949, at a meeting attended by Mr. Breen on behalf of the Government, and Colonel Davies, Mr. F. Williams and Mr. G. A. Edwards on behalf of Courtauls Limited, Colonel Davies stated that he understood the position to be as follows: -

Tyre yarn had become a defence item and the Prime Minister wished priority to be given to this project.’ “

The Prime Minister confirmed this statement!

Now, that being the case, I believe it is reasonable for me to suggest to the Government that, over and above the overall responsibility to Australian manufacturing concerns, there is this type of extra responsibility which is of great significance, and, that if we do not recognize that fact the time may come when we will want to get overseas capital and will find ourselves suffering from a lack of recognition.

Mr. Freeth

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


.- Since the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) delivered his speech in this House on the Japanese Trade Agreement there has been a great tendency on the part of members of the Government and their supporters to make excuses and apologies for the agreement. In fact, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) went so far as to give, in legal terms, the meaning of the word “ serious “. The honorable member for St. George (Mr. Graham), who has just concluded his speech, said that the agreement is vital to Japan. I wonder how many honorable members on the Government side consider how vital it is to Australia. I wonder whether the honorable member for St. George considers how vital the agreement is to the industries and workers of Australia. The honorable gentleman also referred to voluntary restraints. During my remarks I intend to make some reference to how the so-called voluntary restraint by Japanese exporters has affected another country which trades with Japan.

I want to say here and now that we of the Labour party consider this agreement to be one of the greatest threats that have arisen in the last 30 years to this country’s industries and its workers in general. I want to say further that, in spite of the pious platitudes uttered by honorable members who support the agreement, including the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Anderson) who is interjecting while I speak, and despite all the assurances that all will be well, grave anxiety exists in the minds of the workers and the industrialists alike whose welfare will be jeopardized by the agreement.

It is true that adverse results of this agreement are already making themselves manifest. Hundreds of people who were employed in the textile industry have been thrown out of work. This state of affairs is very easy to understand. News items to which I shall refer will confirm what I intend to say on this aspect. Unemployment in industry as a result of the agreement is easy to understand when big business sees, looming on the horizon, cheaper avenues of trade and the prospect of greater profit. It is common knowledge that shirts made in Japan are already being retailed in our cities at 13s. each. The same article manufactured in Australia would cost £2 2s. Is not that going to affect industry?

I am reliably informed by the manager of a large textile mill in my electorate that Japanese suiting cloth is being retailed in this country at 25s. a yard. I may say that this material is of excellent quality. The same material would cost 55s. a yard to produce in Australia. These are undeniable facts, and they are confirmed by an article which appeared in the Melbourne “ Sun “ on Thursday, 5th September, which reads -

The sale by a Melbourne retailer of nearly 400 Japanese lambswool twin sets at £5 Ss. each brought swift action by the Textile Workers Union yesterday.

The union complained that the sets were selling at much less than the wholesale price of similar garments made in Australian mills.

The general secretary of the union, Mr. A. Loft, claimed that Japanese goods were appearing in shops now - before the Japanese trade agreement had been ratified.

He said that the sale of Japanese goods at low prices would result in unemployment among Australian textile workers.

Let us go a bit further. Last night’s Melbourne “ Herald “ contained the following news item under a picture captioned “ Japanese Woollens Rushed “ -

The women rushed them. Within minutes all the favorite pastel colors had gone. In half an hour there were few £4 9s. lid. twinsets left.

The signs told the customers the twinsets were pure wool, tabs on the garments said they were moth-proof.

And a tiny square of silk under the trade tag told them the twinsets were made in Japan.

This morning crowds of women waited outside Foy and Gibson Stores in the city. Prahran and Collingwood.

They were there to see the “ Miracle Low Price “ imported twinsets advertised in Saturday’s Herald.

When the doors opened women rushed to the knitwear counters to grab a set, and look at it in leisure.

After a few minutes a few surprised shoppers started telling each other - “ They’re Japanese! “

Most customers bought the limit of two sets each.

The colours varied from soft pink and blue to bottle green and donkey brown.

They’re a fine, soft knit, and a good shape.

They’re comparable with an Australian-made £8 twinset and compare favorably with many imported ones.

Mfr. Opperman. - This is a good advertisement.


– It is a good advertisement of the nature of this Government, which is prepared to push this sort of trade.

Mr Opperman:

– You are pushing it now by reading the item.


– We hear claims from Government supporters that Australian industry will not suffer as a result of the agreement. In fact, the Leader of the Government in another place recently informed one and all -

It is the height of fantasy to suggest that a government with a splendid record such as ours for its interest in the fostering, developing and furthering of secondary industries in this country, would go out in cold blood and destroy the child which we nurtured so well and brought up so well.

How can one reconcile that statement and other statements made by responsible members of the Government with the articles I have just read? I most strongly suggest that the Japanese Trade Agreement will destroy in cold blood the textile industry, which owes its life not to this Government or any other Liberal government, but to the late James Scullin and his Labour government.

If one wants further evidence of the pattern of things to come in Australia, all he need do is look at some convincing facts about the damage done to Canadian industry since Canada signed a new trade pac: with Japan. A folder on Japanese competition with Canada, which refers to voluntary restraint and is well worth reading, states -

In the first nine months of 1954, 57,000 dollars worth of clothing made from woven fabrics entered Canada from Japan. In the first nine months of 1956, clothing imported from Japan was valued at 3,198,000 dollars - five times the rate of 1955 and 56 times the rate of 1954.

Inroads into the Canadian market by Japanese cotton-T-shirts have been rapid. In the first nine months of 1956, Japan exported 3,120,000 T-shirts, compared with 948,000 in the same period of 1955. Imports at this level represent about half the Canadian market for this type of garment.

What are the people doing who were making the other half? The article continues -

The Canadian knitted wool glove industry, which once employed 1,200, has been drastically reduced. Japanese knitted wool gloves first began to appear in quantity (post-war) in 1948 and by 1953 little remained of the Canadian industry.

How interesting that is, in view of the comments that have been made by supporters of the Government! The article further states -

Canadian manufacturers of gloves of rayon, nylon and cotton fabric were the next to suffer. In the period of 1952 to 1956 Japan increased exports to take more than half the market for rayon and nylon women’s and children’s gloves. Japanese textile gloves are entering Canada at the rate of 6,000,000 pairs a year.

On the next page of the folder the following statement appears: -

Building up is the onslaught on the men’s and boys’ cotton sports shirt field. At least 45% of the Canadian market has gone to Japanese imports, but the increase has been so rapid that full figures are not yet available.

Mr Buchanan:

– But our import licensing system will prevent that.


– That is what the Government is trying to tell us. I shall show the honorable gentleman from this article that import licensing did not prevent that situation in Canada.

Mr Buchanan:

– But we are talking about Australia.


– I repeat that import licensing did not prevent that situation in Canada. The article further states -

Main difficulty of Canadian producers is that they cannot compete with Japanese prices. Japanese goods are made by willing workers earning 15 cents an hour, one-seventh of Canadian wages, and it stands to reason that for every Japanese worker kept employed by Canadian purchases, a Canadian worker must remain unemployed.

Now let me quote from a Canadian press article which refers to a matter somewhat similar to that mentioned by the honorable member for McMillan (Mr. Buchanan) by way of interjection. It states -

The volume of Japanese exports to Canada is increasing at a rate which, within a year or two, should reach 100 million dollars annually or better, and is the inevitable result of having lowered Canadian tariffs against Japanese goods in 1954. Increased Japanese sales to Canada, which could lead to the sort of economic colonialism in which Japan once held China, is hastened by the acceptance of many wellmeaning Canadians of the absurd proposition of the economies of Japan and Canada are complementary and therefore trade between the two must be mutually beneficial.

Such a proposition of complementary economies is completely wrong in its premises. Japan is a highly developed manufacturing country, but so is Canada.

So, too, is Australia. The article continues -

There are now 20% more Canadians dependent for their livelihood on jobs in manufacturing than in farming, mining, lumbering and other extractive industries put together . . . How then can the Canadian industrial complex, the core of our prosperity-

That is, the Canadian prosperity - be regarded in some mysterious way as “ complementary “ to the Japanese industrial complex? The plain fact is that they are not.

They are not my words. They are the words of people who are suffering as a result of Japanese competition.

Mr Buchanan:

– The Australian industry must be better.


– That remains to be seen. I am one who believes that it is not. The article states further -

Yet this proposition of complementary economies has been seized by the Japanese because it recognizes no limits on the exchange of Canada’s raw materials for Japan’s manufactured goods, noi even those required in Canada’s own interests in maintaining manufacturing capacity.

Then the article deals with self-restraint, and states -

Using wheal as a lever- wheat is the commodity that this Government is using as an excuse for entering into this agreement with Japan - the Japanese have been able to place Canada in the position where manufacturing development again is being pawned to finance the sale of raw materials. As noted, this is the inevitable outcome of reducing protective tariffs against a highly industrialized, low-cost producer.

The article contains the further statement - /-vs late as December, 1955, Ambassador K.o!o Matsudaira was telling Canadians the Japanese “ seek elimination by self-restraint of any icem:, which are competitive and which might disturb the Canadian market “. Japanese manufacturers were apparently unaware of their ambassador’s commitments, or perhaps they didn’t regard them as important. Even while he was speaking, Japanese T-shirts were flooding the Canadian market and driving the Canadian producer virtually out of some parts of this business.

The article adds -

Tb:s is the sort of self-restraint which threatens every Canadian market- and which will threaten Australian markets, too - from cameras to chinaware, which the Japanese have entered. What they did to the American blouse industry and are now doing to the Canadian T-shirt industry they can repeat wherever it is profitable to do so. With their high productivity and low costs, the Japanese can enter at will any foreign market which is opened to them. Once on the market, the government-controlled trading apparatus directs volume and kind of trade to their best advantage.

Perhaps this is the most salient point of all -

In fairness to the Canadian negotiators of the Japanese-Canadian trade agreement in 1954, they did anticipate these tactics and provided for increases in the tariff against Japanese goods if offered “ in such increased quantities and under such conditions as to cause or threaten serious injury to the domestic producers”.

Do honorable members recall to what lengths the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) went to emphasize or explain the word “ serious “? The article continues -

Regrettably, they did not anticipate the speed with which the Japanese can flood a market before retreating to the prepared position of “ selfrestraint “. The damage is done before protection can be invoked.

In view of the interjections that have been made, I suppose the Minister and his supporters will hasten to inform me that all this cannot happen here. The fact is that it is already happening. Let me support my statement by quoting from a letter that I received from Mr. A. R. Loft, general secretary of the Australian Textile Workers Union. He said -

Among the light industries of Australia none is more susceptible to the impact of imports from overseas than the textile industry and no other light industry has expanded or developed to the advantage of the national economy to a greater extent in the postwar years than the Australian textile industry………..

Already the indirect adverse results of the Agreement are in evidence. Because of uncertainty of trading conditions in the immediate future firm orders have been cancelled, with the result thai some hundreds of our members have lost their employment. This has occurred particularly in Tasmania and New South Wales, but in du: course other States will certainly experience similar effects.

Since the announcement of the signing of the agreement, numerous statements have been issued from Canberra to the effect that the agreement contains safeguards against damage or injury to local industry, but with these so-called safeguards we are not at all impressed. We recall that in prewar years, and particularly in the late ‘twenties, the Australian textile industry was devastated by Japanese competition, and only the drastic tariff introduced by the Scullin Administration saved the industry from extinction. We have no reason to believe that the position will be any different to-day, once the agreement is firmly established.

With that view I agree. 1 want to register my protest, and the protests of many workers employed in the textile, toy and electrical trades in my electorate. I am of the opinion that the very fabric of our industrial code, our standard of living and the Australian way of life are threatened to the extreme by this agreement. The domestic market will be depressed, and this must cause general unemployment. The textile industry is fighting for its life. Mr. Loft went on to say -

The Australian textile industry is to-day one et our most important secondary industries. lt provides direct employment for many thousands of male and female operatives, and this means many thousands more are indirectly dependent upon it for their livelihood.

Mr. ACTING DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr. Falkinder). - Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.


.- The Opposition is registering its disapproval of this trade agreement with Japan. Opposition members are quite entitled to register their disapproval of anything that the Government does and, in doing so, to use extreme language, if they desire to do so, but one must bear in mind that they might well be expected to offer an alternative to fit the needs of a situation which has called for the making of such an agreement as the one before the House. One must measure their disapproval by the fact that, although they are entitled to criticize any governmental action, they do not necessarily accept the responsibility that any government of any political character has to bear and give cognizance to in the consideration and discharge of its administrative functions. The Opposition has not, to my knowledge, at any stage of this debate offered an alternative to this trade agreement with Japan.

What is the reason for the agreement? Naturally, at this stage of the debate, most of the things 1 shall say have been said many times before, but they are worthy of repetition. We should look at the background of the agreement. This background is both political and practical. It is accepted by the House that wc, as a partner in the Colombo plan, are aiming to improve the conditions of the people of South-East Asia, lt is recognized that we in the free world are aiming to help those nations which are on-side with us in our fight against communism, and I take it that no honorable member disputes that Japan is a nation deserving of all the assistance that we can give, if for no other reason than, from the political angle, she is in a strategic position in the Asian world and is a country which might be of great assistance to us and be greatly assisted by us should any Communist attack be made on this portion of the globe.

So there is a paramount political issue involved in any agreement that we may make with such a country as Japan. There is also a practical consideration, which cannot be entirely divorced from the political consideration. If Japan is to be a worthwhile friend of ours she must be able economically to play her part in any such friendship. Therefore, we must give great thought to the practical consideration. The Government has as its objective the expansion of our international trade. That should be the objective of any government. As a part of that expansion of international trade, we aim at a higher export income. We wish also to see a continuance of full employment. It must not be forgotten that those are not only aspirations, but responsibilities of the Government. We want to see an improvement in the material standards of living of the people of Australia, and we want to see the economic development which, has been so rapid in the last few years maintained and increased in the years to come. In the light of all these considerations, we have to bear in mind the industries which are capable of assisting us right now, not in twenty or 40 years’ time.

I am not speaking purely as a member of the Australian Country party when I stress the great significance that the rural industries have had in building up the Australian economy and that they have to-day. I think it was my friend and colleague, the honorable member for Fisher (Mr. Adermann), who said last week that the great depression of the 1930’s was brought about largely by the crack-up in our wool prices. If our wool prices deteriorate again, we must again go through a similar depression. Have Opposition members taken that into consideration when they talk about this agreement causing unemployment in Australia? Have they taken into consideration the alternative - that if the wool prices crack-up and our primary production suffers a set-back, employment will possibly be very much more adversely affected than can be realized at the present time?

We must also consider the position of the wheat industry. Wool and wheat are the two main industries that are keeping Australia solvent to-day. Coupled with them are the primary industries producing sugar, dried fruits, skim milk, butter, cheese and so on. The wool industry, our biggest industry, is supported to a very large extent by the buying of Japanese manufacturers of woollen goods. Japan is our second-largest customer for exports. She bought about 14 per cent, of our total exports in 1956-57. She was faced with the position of having an adverse trade balance with this country. She bought from us goods to the value of some £140,000,000, but exported to us only about £13,000,000 worth. Honorable members opposite continue to say, “ That has nothing to do with us. That is Japan’s problem “. But it is our problem too, because if that and other circumstances cause Japan to take some action to balance her trade with us, unemployment must result in this country.

Therefore, we have to consider unemployment as a consequence of what we might or might not do. We come to the next point for consideration. Until now there has been some limited licensing of imports from Japan. But Japan, faced with a very adverse trade balance with us, her goods exported to Australia carrying a higher rate of duty than that imposed on goods from other foreign countries, and having to straighten up her overall trade balances, might well have said, “ We shall place an import duty on Australian wool and pay a bounty on exports, particularly exports to Australia “. If such a state of affairs arose, Australian primary producers would be in a very sad plight. Not only would primary producers suffer, but indeed, if a depression occurred in ihe primary industries, every employee and employer throughout Australia would suffer. That is a basic fact of our economy, and the Opposition cannot refute it.

The Government decided, therefore, that something to the mutual advantage of Japan and Australia should be done. In any agreement that is proposed, the good points must be balanced against the bad points and consideration given to the advantages as well as to the disadvantages. The Government has done that. Before entering into this agreement, the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) gave full consideration to the advantages and the disadvantages. The gloomy forecasts about the results of this agreement, have, if anything, created the situation about which. Opposition members are complaining. I mention that because, if the complaint is made that a tremendous influx of goods will come from Japan, naturally the consumers will be somewhat restrained in their buying while they wait to see what will happen. But has that happened or will it happen? The textile manufacturers and those employed in textile industries have not a good word to say for the agreement. That is quite understandable. On the other hand, the primary producers favour the agreement because it is to their advantage, but they are not the only people who will receive advantages under the agreement. Those engaged in primary industries are not entirely employers; many persons are employed in primary industries and if those industries suffered a set-back they would lose their employment. Every man, woman and child in Australia would suffer if there was a set-back in the primary industries on which this country depends so much.

On the one hand, the textile workers anu manufacturers are complaining bitterly about this agreement. On the other hand, some well-informed people who can bc expected to have given it very sensible and reasoned consideration favour it. If honorable members read the report of the Bank of New South Wales, they will find a very definite summing-up of the position. The report states -

Fears of a drastic swamping of the Australian market are certainly exaggerated.

There is no equivocation in those words. I turn to others who may be considered to be authorities on this subject. I refer the House to “ Canberra Comments “ published on 15th August, which contains an article written by the president of the Associated Chambers of Commerce. I suggest that he would have considerable information and would speak with authority on a subject such as this. He said -

The picture is painted of an unchecked flood of inexpensive Japanese goods ruining Australian industries and creating unemployment. This is a distorted picture.

There is no equivocation in those words. Other people are also affected by this agreement. An Opposition member said that we have no consideration at all for British manufacturers. In a bulletin published on 19th August. 1957, the Austraiian Association of British Manufacturers gave considerable attention to this subject. After a very fair analysis of the whole position, the article originally summed up in these words -

The Agreement is an accomplished fact and it should be given a fair trial.

Who could wish for anything fairer than that? However, there appears to have been some doubt about whether it was an accomplished fact, because those few words have been amended to read -

If it is ratified the Agreement will have to be given a fair trial.

Of course, the agreement does not require ratification, so I read the original statement. Undoubtedly, the Government intends to give the agreement a fair trial. It seems to be one way out of the problem facing both Japan and Australia. The agreement does not favour Japan over other nonCommonwealth nations, be it understood, and is not something which is exclusive to Japan. All that is done is that certain barriers to trade with Japan are removed and Japan is put on the same basis as other non-Commonwealth countries.

Mr Curtin:

– Very nice!


– As the honorable member for Kingsford Smith, who is not sitting in his proper place, remarked, that is very nice, too. It is fair enough. Japan is not being given preference; the agreement simply levels out customs duties which previously applied to the detriment of Japanese trade with Australia.

What do we receive as a result of the agreement? The agreement provides that no import duty will be imposed on Australian wool entering Japan. I mentioned before that one of the problems that we have had to face is the possibility of a deterioration of the wool market. Over the last few weeks, when Japanese support has not been very strong, the market has not been very strong either. However, with the promise of Japanese buyers re-entering and continuing in the market, it is assured of the strength that we have enjoyed during the last few years. No import duty will be imposed on wool entering Japan and 90 per cent, of Japan’s allocation of foreign exchange for the purchase of wool will be available for the purchase of Australian wool. Australian wheat and barley will be allowed to enter Japan on a non-competitive basis. Australia will have equal access with other countries to 40 per cent, of Japan’s sugar imports. Tallow, hides, skim milk, dried fruits and other items will again start to flow into that country. That is the side of the agreement that favours us. On the other side, we agree to give to Japan the right to trade with Australia on the terms that apply to other nonCommonwealth countries.

The problem that we have had to consider is whether the advantages are worth the risks that are involved. The Minister for Trade and other Ministers, and Government supporters generally, have pointed out time and again in this debate that there are adequate safeguards, which will prevent any harm to Australian industries of the kind suggested by Opposition members. The agreement makes ample provision for the Government to take action if it thinks, at any time, that there is a chance that any Australian industry will suffer under this agreement. Opposition members have said that the Government would not want to act, because it would not want to be drastic, and that Japan will not give us much consideration, but will export to this country as much as it can, and will not worry about unemployment here. It is remarkable to think that Opposition members cannot give the matter enough thought to realize that, if Japan wants this trade agreement with Australia, it will not smash it, almost as soon as it is signed, by exporting to Australia such a large volume of goods as to destroy Australian industries. However, that is what the statements of Opposition members seem to suggest will happen. The plain fact of the matter is that the agreement has been entered into by both Australia and Japan as an agreement of mutual advantage, and that neither country will deliberately destroy something that both want.

I should like to mention briefly the authoritative statements of representatives of the Australian Association of British Manufacturers, the Associated Chambers of Commerce of Australia, and the Bank of New South Wales. Their view is that all the fears that have been expressed are grossly exaggerated, and that the agreement should be given a trial.


.- For the last fortnight, the House has been discussing the Japanese Trade Agreement. However, the Parliament plays no part in the ratification of this agreement, because it has already been ratified by the Government. We have been told that the agreement has been devised for the purpose of encouraging trade between Australia and Japan. The honorable member for Lawson (Mr. Failes) said that political considerations were behind it. On Thursday evening last, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) said that the agreement would have the effect of keeping Japan outside the sphere of influence of Soviet Russia. From the stand-point of political considerations, to use the phrase of the honorable member for Lawson, why is the agreement necessary? In view of the indications that we have been given that it constitutes a dire threat to Australian industries, why should we enter into an agreement, at grave risk to our manufacturing interests, for the purpose of keeping Japan outside the Russian sphere of influence? The suggestion is too silly for words, and Japan’s record in trade with other countries in the post-war period gives the answer to those who support that idea.

The honorable member for Lawson referred to the opinions of representatives of British manufacturers, and of others, who are alleged to have said that the fears expressed by Australian interests are grossly exaggerated. But we are not concerned about opinions. We are concerned about ihe facts of what has happened in the past, and what could happen in the future under the terms of this agreement. An examination of the agreement reveals that Japan is to be treated as a most favoured nation instead of on the general tariff basis, and that there will be no further discrimination against Japan in respect of the licensing of imports. Most-favoured-nation treatment will give Japan an advantage that it did not have previously, and will sweep away the safeguards that Australian industries have had, especially with respect to import licensing.

The honorable member for Lawson asked why the Australian Labour party does not advance some alternative proposal in this debate. The point is that the debate is somewhat restricted, because it arises out of a motion that the Japanese Trade Agreement be printed. The Opposition has done all that it can do in the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt), the terms of which express disapproval of the agreement. One reason why the Opposition disapproves of the agreement, Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker, is that the safeguards against the dumping of goods in Australia by other countries are to be swept away so far as they apply to imports from Japan. Is it any wonder then that workers and manufacturers in industries producing goods that will meet with competition from Japanese goods are concerned about the ffuture? This is not a matter merely of opinions. Those people, who are most directly concerned, realize the consequences that they will have to face under the terms of this agreement. It must be remembered that, since World War II., Japan has had the advantage of technical and financial assistance, and know-how, from the United States of America. Is it not likely that a great proportion of the goods imported into Australia from Japan under the terms of this agreement will be manufactured in industries financed by American investment in Japan? The most important question about this agreement that concerns Opposition members is one which arises directly from the provisions of the agreement: Will Australian manufac turers be able to sell their goods at prices competitive with the prices of imported Japanese goods?

A comparison of the cost structure in the two countries shows that Australian manufacturers will face a tremendous task in competing with Japanese goods under the terms of this agreement. As an illustration, 1 shall mention one industry that has already been discussed at some length in this debate. The textile industry, as the facts indicate - never mind about opinions - faces a dire threat. The average wage of adult male textile workers in Australia is 94d. an hour. The Japanese rate is 20.6d. an hour. The average adult female rate in Australia is 68.3d. an hour, and the Japanese rate is 11. 6d. an hour. In other words, there is a ratio of approximately 6 to 1 in favour of Japan. Yet ihe honorable member for Lawson talks about opinions! These are economic facts, and they are of great concern to Australian workers and manufacturers in the industries that are so seriously threatened.

In Japan, 20 per cent, of the employees in the textile industry are males; whereas in Australia, 47.5 per cent, are males. Furthermore, the living standards, working conditions, and housing of Australian workers are very much superior to those of workers in similar industries in Japan. The Japanese worker receives a very much smaller benefit from the expansion of industry than does the Australian worker. All these facts are related. Import licensing and other measures have been introduced to protect Australian workers and industries and Australian capital. They are to be swept aside, and it is not difficult to visualize what the effect of this agreement will be in that connexion.

There are 164 mills in Australia, employing 25,000 Australians and producing goods worth about £70,000,000 a year. Capital totalling millions of pounds has been invested in those mills. A comparison of wages and working conditions in Australia and Japan shows clearly that Japan has a marked advantage in wages and conditions when competing in the Australian market. She will also have ihe benefit of mostfavourednation treatment, and there will be no discrimination against Japanese goods in the issue of licences. Obviously, therefore, Japan will be in a very favorable position in Australian trade.

The textile industry will not be the only Australian industry that will be threatened by this agreement. Japanese manufacturers have been advertising throughout the world that they will send any goods that are required anywhere. The Japanese have concentrated on markets in the United States of America and Canada. The honorable member for Gellibrand (Mr. Mclvor) has already spoken of the effect of Japanese goods upon the clothing trade in Canada in the last financial year. The Japanese have also affected United Kingdom manufacturers seriously. That has been shown clearly by the statement that was quoted by the honorable member for Lawson (Mr. Failes). British manufacturers had the African market practically to themselves, but they were displaced by the Japanese in two years. Not only the textile industry is affected. The Japanese make electrical equipment, radio sets, ceramics, footwear, rubber goods and a host of other products. Honorable members on the Opposition side have been citing the textile industry only as a special example of an industry that will be adversely affected by this agreement.

Only last week, the Tariff Board referred to the agreement and expressed fears about repercussions that might arise from it. The board pointed out that it might be called upon to inquire into applications for protection by Australian industries under the terms of this agreement because the agreement provides that, if an industry has been adversely affected, it can apply for consideration. The Tariff Board is concerned because it will be the authority that will probably be called upon to reach a decision and report to the Government on such matters.

The board has stated that such hearings should not take place in the shadow of the fear that this Government will refuse to accept the board’s decisions. It believes that Australian manufacturers should be assured that the board’s decisions on such claims are likely to be accepted by the Government. Therefore, the board has suggested that Australian manufacturers should be able to expect confidently that decisions reached by the board and based on full and impartial inquiries will not be rejected on grounds outside the evidence placed before the board. As the Tariff Board has pointed out, it might have to consider imposing tariffs, as a result of this agreement, which would have repercussions on other nations.

Apparently, the minds of members of the Tariff Board have been agitated by the fact that 28 reports made by the board in the last financial year were rejected by the Government. Is it not possible that some reports made by the board upon applications by Australian manufacturers under this agreement will go the same way as did those 28 reports? The board has also suggested in its report that the Government should indicate early in the piece whether it will accept decisions made by the Tariff Board. Obviously, the Tariff Board, and the Australian manufacturers who apply to it for protection under the terms of this agreement, should be assured from the outset that if the board makes a decision favourable to the applicants, that decision will be accepted by the Government. Such decisions should not receive the treatment that was meted out by the Government to 28 reports submitted by the board last year.

The honorable member for Lawson said that things had gone haywire as the result of groundless fears. The honorable member should know that already hundreds of men have been dismissed by textile manufacturers alone and others are reducing production because of this agreement. The agreement provides that if an industry is being adversely affected by Japanese goods, voluntary application can be made to the Japanese. We know what would happen to such a request for voluntary restraint. It would be worthless. This agreement does not guarantee markets to Australian primary producers or any other Australian producers. Already the Japanese have begun to reduce their purchases of wool.

The Australian Labour party is alarmed by the probable adverse effect of the agreement upon Australian industries and the workers who are engaged in them. Earlier in this sessional period, the House debated the growth of unemployment in Australia. We do not want a repetition of the depression of 1929-32. Quite apart from a general recession, any act by the Government which could result in even a minor recession should be opposed by all honorable members. The unemployed textile workers are already hit by a depression. Where will they get another job? It is all very well for the Government to talk about assurances from Japan, voluntary restraints, the Tariff Board and cumbersome machinery. What the Australian worker wants is greater protection for his job.

Let me examine the effect of this agreement on our primary industries. Wool has always been sold on the open markets of the world. As the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) pointed out during this debate, the real reason for the Government’s acceptance of this agreement is that Japan will buy the soft Australian wheat. I point out, however, that the agreement contains no real assurance that Japan will buy this wheat. Certainly Japan has been buying some of it in order to supplement her rice diet. Japan has also been buying Queensland barley and Queensland sugar. She has bought them because she has had to buy them in order to feed her people. She has bought our wool and other raw materials in order to create employment in Japan and to manufacture goods which will be sent to Australia and have the effect of creating unemployment here. It is quite obvious that this agreement provides for a one-way traffic in favour of Japan. Is it any wonder that we on this side of the Parliament are loud in our protestations about the possible repercussions arising from the agreement? Why should Japan be given most-favoured-nation treatment?

Mr. ACTING DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr. Lawrence). - Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.


– I had no intention of joining in this debate but, since the Opposition and the Government apparently wish to prolong it a little longer, or at least until the suspension of the sitting, I am quite prepared to endeavour to add something fresh, though I doubt whether I will be any more successful than was the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan). The debate has been worn threadbare. Therefore, if I am found to be repeating what somebody else has said, it is due to circumstances, not to design.

Unfortunately, any question of trade seems to cause most violent differences of opinion as between various nations. It has been said in the past that many wars have been caused by disagreements arising from trade questions. I am not quite certain whether the honorable member for Kennedy wants Australia to be entirely self-sufficient. His speech appears to indicate that he wants other countries to buy Australia’s goods, without Australia being required to buy, in return, any of the goods produced by those countries. He said, in fact, that if the agreement was going to cause any dislocation of Australian industry, we should not accept it. We cannot expect other countries to buy our goods unless we buy something from them. I know, however, the difficulty that is exercising the mind of the honorable member, and I also am mindful of that difficulty. It is this: How can we establish trade in such a way that it will not be hurtful either to our own people or to the people of the country with which we are trading?

Countries like Japan and West Germanyhave been out of world markets, as a result of World War II., for a very long time. Both of those countries were previously highly industrialized. Both of them had a good deal of technical know-how even before the war, let alone since. Both of them had much of their machinery destroyed during the war and, therefore, they started off after the war with modern machinery. Even though they had only small quantities of machinery to begin with, they built up their resources very rapidly, and finally they have returned to world markets with an advantage over those nations that have been called the victors in World War II. These are facts which we must face up to. We cannot say to Japan or any other country in a similar position, “ We are not going to buy anything from you “. We have to follow, within reasonable limits, the principle laid down in the old adage, “ Live and let live “. As many other honorable members have said, if we say to Japan, “ The only people with whom you can trade are those in Communist countries “, we must not be surprised if Japan goes right inside the Communist orbit. If she does so, we will lose very much more than we would lose from a slight dislocation of industry.

Some honorable members - not usually those who were prisoners of war, who seem to have had humane ideas, not forced into them, but certainly taught them as a result of their experiences - are still advocating that we should not trade with Japan because of what happened during the war. Others are saying that the agreement is. going to cause dislocation. I remember the late Right Honorable J. B. Chifley saying something to this effect, “ You cannot expect to maintain full employment in a country if every person in it wants to see the face of his town hall clock every night “. I have used that remark on an election platform, and I have come to realize that the late Prime Minister was right. We cannot all go along in particular jobs all our lives and expect to maintain full employment. In other words, we must be a bit versatile. We must be able to switch from one job to another, although they need not necessarily be entirely dissimilar. Those of us who, at odd times might have called ourselves white collar workers, have sometimes had to take a job that has been more

I physically strenuous - and it has probably I done us a lot of good in reducing what is I known as “ typist’s tail “ or “ politician’s waistline “. Therefore, if the Government watches the position and uses the powers that repose in it, I do not fear that there will be any great dislocation as a result of the agreement.

I believe, also, that Japan herself has a very definite role to play if she wishes to maintain amicable trade relations with such countries as Australia, Canada and America. It amused me to find the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen), and I several other honorable members of the Opposition, advocating - although I cannot understand why they do so - that the Go- vernment should invite a trade delegation i from red China, and that we should open 1 the gates of trade to red China. They ought to know, as I think most honorable members know, that red China will undersell Japan in textiles any day of the week. She has even been under-selling, by dumping, textile factories in Hong Kong staffed almost entirely with Chinese. Therefore, if honorable members advocate this delightful practice of increasing our trade with red China, they cannot logically object to this trade treaty with Japan. I direct the attention of the House to an article that appeared in the Melbourne “ Sun “ on 1st June of this year, under big headlines, which are in, I think, at least 24-point type. The heading is -

Push Red China Trade to Nation, is the Plea.

And by whom is it made? -

A call for a vigorous Australian trade drive in red China was made yesterday by the federal director of the Associated Chambers of Manufactures, Mr. Latham With all

It goes on -

Last night he said that a trade campaign could result in Australia sending to red China goods worth up to £15,000,000 within the next two years.

The general suggestion is “ Let us sell goods to red China “. Possibly they look at trade questions through the same eyes as we do. They say, “ Well if we are going to buy goods from you, you have to buy goods from us. We are buying from China now, tung oil and ducks’ feathers and a few things that we need.” Therefore, if one turns to textiles, the very policy advocated by the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) will lead to a much bigger dislocation, and cause much greater complications than this trade agreement which, in itself, does not tie us down to anything at all, nor does it tie Japan. Actually, this trade agreement is merely a statement of the intentions of the two governments. They say, “ All right, if you do this, we will do that, but at the same time we have to protect ourselves against this “. The second party then says, “ We have to protect ourselves against that “. But when all is said and done, this treaty is merely a statement of the intentions of the two governments.

I have been at a very great loss to understand why honorable members, who advocate increased trade with red China, oppose a treaty of this nature. The Federal Chamber of Manufactures supports increased trade with red China, although there may have been some contrary views held by various State chambers of manufactures. But one of the bright and shining lights of the Labour party, the honorable member for Parkes, advocates the same thing and then turns round and says that this carefully guarded trade agreement with Japan will ruin this country’s economy. That is not a logical statement, and I do not believe it is true. I am perfectly certain that if a flood of Japanese imports comes into Australia, as some people fear, action will be taken very rapidly to stem it.

I cannot understand why there is any necessity for a trade agreement at all. Why do we have to put down on paper the intentions of the two governments? Although it contains safeguards, either side can break it and it seems to me that it would have been far better to have continued as we were going. By administrative action Japan could have been included in what is wrongly called the “ most-favoured-nation “ section of the tariff without any treaty at all. The Government had only to remove the disabilities and that could have been done without all this rigmarole, limelight and blare of publicity and the very bad propaganda that some sections of the trade have been publishing against themselves. They have said, “ Al! these cheap goods are coming in, don’t buy ours “. Again 1 say I do not know why an agreement has been necessary.

A feature I do not like is that the Department of Trade seems to hope that as a result of agreements of this nature import licensing will become a permanent institution, if import licensing is to be used to correct anomalies or ill effects in an agreement of this sort, it may be desirable, but I do not like it. The honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) and the honorable member for Lyne (Mr. Lucock) have suggested that the Constitution Review Committee should examine the constitutional right of the Executive to make a trade agreement which does not have to be ratified by Parliament. If the treaty-making powers are such that the agreement has not to be ratified by Parliament, why should the Government have brought this treaty before the House for approval? Although I cannot see any great difficulty arising out of this particular trade agreement, a general power exercised by any Minister for Trade, let alone any government, apparently enabling him or it to make a trade agreement for an unlimited number of years, which will be binning upon Australia without ratification by this Parliament, seems to me to be a negation of the sovereignty of Parliament. In those circumstances we could visualize a treaty being made which could not only seriously damage but also wreck the nation’s economy. If there were a change of government - irrespective of the political persuasion of the government that made the agreement - the new government would find itself in the position of being accused of acting in bad faith in the international family by breaking the treaty in order to save its own economy. Neither of those things is desirable. Therefore, I most strongly urge the Government to ask the Constitution Review Committee to have a look at this important point which has been raised by several honorable members.

One of the Melbourne newspapers the other day headed an article on this subject with the words “ Courtesy debate on Japanese trade “. In other words it was a suggestion that this agreement had been brought down and this debate had been initiated in Parliament just by courtesy of the Minister. The implication was that such action was not necessary. I thank the Minister for his courtesy and I thank the Government also, because I think it was wise in agreeing to this debate. But that does not alter the fact that the present Minister or any future Minister, or myself if I were a Minister, could ratify agreements of very great importance without having to bring them to Parliament for approval.

Honorable members opposite have referred to the unemployment caused in some textile mills within the last two months. If they look up the records they will find that last year and the year before, at the corresponding period, there was about the same degree of unemployment. That is an indication that this is a seasonal state of affairs. Finally, I wish to quote from the last annual report of the Tariff Board which has just been issued. That report states -

Although the trade agreement wilh Japan was signed after the close of the year under review, Ihe knowledge of its impending negotiation had already been the cause of much controversy among local industries likely to be affected by any provision affording Japanese goods the right of mostfavourednation tariff treatment on entry into Australia.

No honorable member opposite has yet explained why we should exercise discrimination in customs duties against Japan, and Japan alone, as compared with other countries.

Mr Timson:

– It is exercised against one other country, Bulgaria.


– That is so. It is difficult, however, to understand why we should discriminate. If we were to put ourselves in the place of Japan, how would we feel if we were discriminated against, thirteen years after the war? The disability had to go at some time and I do not see that any trade agreement was necessary. The Tariff Board report continues -

The Board is not in a position to make any assessment of the advantages and disadvantages of the new agreement; results rather than conjectures are essential to any proper appraisement. Experience only will provide data for the measurement of benefits gained by our export industries and of any disabilities suffered by local manufacturing industries.

With that, I agree, but time will, tell, and it depends upon the action taken by the Government. In view of all the pros and cons, mostly cons, and in view of all the difficulties that exist, I cannot understand why somebody - I do not know whether it is the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) or the Government, but I think the matter arose originally as a result of Government action, even though unintentionally - has invited a trade delegation from red China to visit Australia. I ask the members of the Evatt Labour party, what are they going to buy from red China? Are they going to look after the delegation when it comes, or is the Chamber of Manufactures to be embarrassed by being asked to look after it? Or is the Government going to look after it? Nobody seems to know what has given rise to this delegation’s visiting Australia. I suggest to the Government that a declaration of policy on this particular matter would be of great assistance to a large number of people, because at present the whole thing is nebulous. There are many fears, alarms and excursions, but at the same time there is no declared policy.

As for me, I feel very strongly on the point. I would maintain the China differential while we have an uneasy armistice in Korea until such time as red China shows she is willing to live and let live alongside other nations. Japan has done that. She has played the game since the war. As I have said before on other things concerning Japan, as long as she is playing the game, even though trust takes a long time even as between individuals, let alone between nations, to be established, we must also play the game by Japan.


.- All members of the Australian Labour party in this House are of the opinion that trade with Japan, and with other Asian nations, is essential if Australia is to play its part in maintaining world peace. We disagree, however, with the agreement that the House is at present discussing because of the failure of the Australian Government to have included in it substantial and watertight safeguards.

It is readily agreed that Article V. of the agreement has been inserted in an endeavour to protect Australian industry, but despite the assurances of the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) and other Cabinet Ministers as well as honorable members on the Government side, representatives of industry and members of the Australian Labour party cannot help but feel that these safeguards are not sufficient. The serious damage to Australian industry will have occurred before the safeguards in the agreement can be brought into operation, and some of our industries will be damaged beyond recovery before the Australian Government can act.

The Minister for Trade went to great lengths in his speech to assure the House that the safeguards are adequate, but paragraph 2 of Part C of the Agreed Minutes provides -

The Japanese Delegation pointed out in reply that under Japanese legislation export was free in principle and that the Japanese Government could take only limited measures to deal with these problems. However, the Japanese Delegation indicated that the Japanese Government would use its best endeavours within its constitutional authority to see that exports from Japan to Australia were conducted in such a way as to avoid or remedy the damage or prospect of damage to which the Australian Delegation had referred.

The key words there are, “ the Japanese Government would use its best endeavours within its constitutional authority “. I ask the House what chance any government has of controlling the activity of a country’s profit-making enterprises in the field of exports. In fact, most governments encourage industry to enter this field in order to maintain a reasonable balance of payments with other countries with which it is trading. Accordingly, the Japanese Government cannot expect to control its volume of exports to Australia, nor can the Australian Government expect to be able to control the entry into Australia of Japanese goods. The goods will have arrived and will be on sale in our retail stores before the Government is able to appreciate the position that has developed.

The Australian delegation was well aware of this eventuality, for paragraph 1 of Part C of the Agreed Minutes reads -

During the course of discussions in connexion with Article V., the Australian Delegation pointed out that the basis of Article V. was the mutual expectation that as a result of the agreement there would be increased opportunity for expansion of Japanese exports to Australia without serious damage to Australian industry or sudden and serious disruption of the pattern of Australia’s imports. This expectation was based on the premise that exports from Japan in particular lines, especially in the products of Australian industries historically or potentially particularly liable to disruption in the event of an undue increase in the volume of imports from Japan, would not be allowed to reach such volume, or to be shipped under such conditions as would cause or threaten serious damage of this kind. Since, in its view, the accord of mostfavourednation treatment to Japanese goods could result in such a situation, it would welcome the co-operation of the Japanese authorities in dealing with these situations and considered that early and effective arrangements, if undertaken in Japan, could make a substantial contribution to their solution.

The safeguards in the agreement, therefore, hinge upon the success of the Japanese Government in controlling its exporters. The Australian Government cannot expect to be able to anticipate the effect of largescale importations of particular items on our local industries until such time as those goods have been landed and are on sale in Australia.

The Minister for Trade has quoted figures to show that there is little likelihood of a flood of imports from Japan, because of the failure of Australian importers to buy Japanese goods to any great extent over the past five years. I am afraid he is acting upon a wrong premise. I feel that the reason why our retailers have not purchased Japanese goods in larger quantities up to the present is that Japan was our enemy in World War II. and no firm wanted to be the first to indulge in large-scale purchases of Japanese goods. There still remain in the minds of most Australians memories of the atrocities committed by Japanese soldiers against our young men, and for any firm to have begun selling a substantial quantity of Japanese goods would certainly have led to an upsurge of feeling against that firm. However, now that this agreement has been signed, the Australian Government has placed its imprimatur upon trade with Japan and, overnight, we have witnessed the exit of many buyers from many firms from these shores on hurried buying missions to Japan. In a very short time, we shall witness the results of those missions, and all kinds of cheap Japanese goods, from textiles to machinery, will appear on sale in our retail stores.

Over the past few days, I have been endeavouring to ascertain whether retailers are interested in purchasing Japanese goods. The most forthright information I can obtain is, “ We will not sell Japanese goods unless our competitors force us to do so “, but in most instances, buyers from the firms are already in Japan. I have also endeavoured to ascertain whether samples of Japanese goods are available in Australia, and I have endeavoured to obtain comparative prices between the local item and the Japanese product. In most instances, I have come up against a blank wall. Retailers and agents have undoubtedly decided upon a no-information policy until the agreement is ratified by this Parliament.

I was, however, successful in obtaining the comparative prices of certain articles. Some of them have been quoted already in this House, but I intend to quote them again. First, we have the instance of business shirts. These will be landed from Japan at a cost of 13s. 7d. The business shirt manufactured from the same material by Australian labour in Australian factories will cost 42s. Rayon patterns can be obtained from Japan and landed in Australia at from 12s. to 14s. a yard. No Australian industry can expect to compete with that price. The next item is swimsuits, and I emphasize that they have on them the figure of the Jantzen diving girl. They can be sold in Australia at 17s. 6d. each. Australian-manufactured swimsuits of similar quality would sell at 35s. to 49s. 6d. each. Woollen twin sets airfreighted from Japan can be sold in Australia at £5 whereas a similar Australian article would cost £7. Electric shavers will come to Australia from Japan and I have it from reliable authority that they will be sold at one-third the price of electric shavers manufactured in Australia. Japanese pottery has been sold at prices much below the Australianmanufactured article.

I have with me a journal called “ Oriental Trade “. It is a monthly trade journal of general merchandise and this number is for

March, 1957. One item is an advertisement for shoes and it shows the price. The advertisement reads -

Vinyl shoes and sandals are beautiful to look at, light in weight, very strong against water, and best of all they are unbelievably low prices. For example, a pair of men’s shoes that looks exactly like top grade leather shoes is sold for less than 2 dollars. Sandals of same make are sold for as low as 1 dollar or even less.

I have also a letter from the Betta Shoe Factory Proprietary Limited of Rockdale, Sydney. This letter, which is addressed to a customer, states -

After long discussion between Slazengers Ltd. and ourselves, we feel that due to the large amount of Japanese thong sandals which are now being imported into this country, the line we intended to produce would not be at a competitive price. We feel therefore that it would be to our mutual advantage not to go ahead with this line.

This Japanese trade journal gives some idea of the general merchandise which can be obtained. Up to the present time the industry which has been most vocal against this Japanese trade agreement is the textile industry, but a perusal of this trade journal will show that the Japanese authorities are willing to export to various countries such things as fountain pens and pencils, electric shavers, machinery of various types, electrical testing equipment, crystal elements and products, cutlery, watch bands, clocks, pencils, plastic paints, and other commodities, including cameras and even shoes. This is only one Japanese trade journal, and all these things can be obtained from Japan by inquiring from the persons mentioned in the journal.

Of course, I cannot help but mention the fact that toys of all types, as well as children’s bicycles and even adults’ bicycles, will be available from Japan and most of those goods will be much below the prices of equivalent articles made in Australia or imported from friendly nations and traditional suppliers. There is even one advertisement which claims that a certain drug is “ effective for cancer “. It can be obtained by inquiring from the firm mentioned in the advertisement.

I have instanced only some of the things we can expect to obtain from Japan. When the Japanese claim that any drug is effective against cancer it shows that even now they are not prepared to be completely honest in their advertising.

Since the war years many secondary industries have been commenced in Australia. Over the past few years these industries have spent a great deal of money in order to expand their premises and providing decent working conditions for their employees. Many industries in my own electorate in recent years have obtained modern machinery from overseas in order to reduce costs and increase production. Some of those industries at the present time are in very grave danger from this Japanese Trade Agreement. I mention in particular the shirt manufacturers and woollen manufacturers in my own area and elsewhere throughout Australia. But other industries will also be affected because, as I have shown by quoting from this Japanese trade journal, many goods can be obtained from Japan. Up to the present time they have not been obtained, but now that the imprimatur of this un-Australian Government has been placed upon the Japanese Trade Agreement the people of Australia can rest assured that those amongst us who have no consideration for humanity or for Australian living standards, but are interested only in making profits for themselves and their shareholders, will have every opportunity to purchase goods from Japan, ranging from textiles to machinery. They will not care one whit whether an Australian shirt factory, fireworks factory or pencil factory might have to cease production. They are interested only in maintaining the businesses that have developed over the years. Our industries cannot expect to compete with Japanese industries because of the factors that have been slated time and time again by speakers from this side of the House. By that I mean the wages paid to Australian workers, their hours of work, and the amenities they enjoy.

Only Australian primary industry will benefit from this agreement. In this Parliament there are representatives of the Australian Country party, and I ask them to listen earnestly to what I am now about to say. Australia has always relied upon its primary industries, but fewer and fewer people are being employed on the land each year. Holdings are growing larger. There are the unemployed immigrants in Australia, many of them in rural areas. Although Australian ex-servicemen and civilians desire blocks of land of their own in order to enter rural production, this Government has taken no steps at all to help them to go on to the land. Some efforts have been made through the war service land settlement scheme, but still many people who are seeking blocks of land of their own are unable to acquire them because of lack of capital and lack of suitable land. There is only one way that we can obtain benefits from this great south land of ours - by the production of more wool, wheat, beef and other primary products. To do this, we must make land at present tied up in large holdings in the hands of few owners available to the many people throughout Australia who desire to go on the land. I make an earnest appeal to this Government, now that it has entered into this agreement because it desires to protect our primary industry, to see that Australia’s land is developed and utilized to its fullest extent. The way to do that is by resuming the large holdings and those not producing to the full, and giving living areas to those people who desire to go on the land. In that way, our primary production will increase and many people throughout Australia - even some of those who will be thrown into unemployment because of this trade agreement - will be able to find employment on the land. I make an earnest appeal to the Government and suggest that now is the time to resume the large land holdings, to break them up into blocks which will give a good living to a man and his family, and in that way ensure the future prosperity of this country through its primary industries.

As it seems unlikely that this agreement will not be ratified, the Government must take every possible step to see that the least possible damage is done to our secondary industries. I suggest that foremost in the Government’s actions should be the setting up of industry panels to watch the effect of this agreement on each industry. The Government should also make compulsory the marking of all goods, showing the country of origin of the product and, in clothing and textile goods, the labelling of the garment to show the kind of materia! used. A quantity limit should be imposed to protect those industries most likely to be affected.

The Government, in perpetrating this agreement in so haphazard a manner, has demonstrated that it is an un-Australian government, more interested in the welfare of the Japanese than in the welfare of Australia. The next few months will tell the sorry story, and unless the Government, with the aid of industry, keeps a very watchful eye on the agreement, conditions in Australia that have been won by continued efforts throughout the years by the political and industrial Labour movement, will be greatly affected and unemployment, declining wages and conditions, increased working hours, and the complete collapse of some industries will be the order of the day.

Minister for Air · Evans · LP

– The House is normally accustomed to hear from the honorable member for Lang (Mr. Stewart) seriously considered speeches. On this occasion, I regret to say that he has delivered nothing less than a straight-out appeal to the fears of the Australian community. He has completely ignored the realities of this agreement and the safeguards that it contains. For my own part, I find such a demonstration from him extremely disappointing. The House has been debating this Japanese Trade Agreement for the last two weeks. In a long debate of this sort it is useful and advisable to restate the issues. It is hardly possible, in the limited time at my disposal, to go through the treaty in detail but I shall state those things which it does in the main. It provides that each of the contracting parties shall extend to the other mostfavourednation treatment. Mostfavourednation treatment, as has been explained earlier in the debate, means the ordinary tariff treatment. It is something less than British preferential treatment, and is extended to a very wide range of countries. In other words, we have agreed to treat Japan as one of our ordinary trading partners, as we treat some 30 other nations.

In Article II. of the agreement, each country undertakes not to apply any prohibitions or restrictions against the other unless such prohibition and restrictions are applied to all other countries. In all matters relating to the allocation of foreign exchange affecting transactions involving the importation and exportation of goods, each country undertakes to accord to the other country treatment no less favorable than it accords to any third country. There is an express saving of the right of either party to safeguard its foreign exchange provision, a right which all nations claim in these days. So, the terms of the agreement may, in effect, be abrogated on a particular occasion if either party’s balance of trade is such that emergency measures are required.

Article III. of the agreement provides that Slate trading enterprises shall observe the terms of the treaty, a provision which concerns Japan more than Australia. Article IV. provides that the treaty shall not be regarded as conferring any more favorable treatment on the trade of either country than the government of any other country is entitled to under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. Although Japan has not been extended the specific provisions of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, we undertake to base our commercial relations with Japan substantially on the treatment accorded to other countries under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.

Article V. contains a provision of very great importance, which reads as follows: -

If, nevertheless, as a result of unforeseen developments, the Government of either country finds that any product is being imported from the other country under such conditions as to cause or threaten serious injury to producers in the country of importation of like or directly competitive products, that Government may, in respect of such product, suspend obligations under this agreement to the extent and for such time as may be necessary to prevent or remedy such injury.

That proviso, from its very nature, will be to the advantage of Australia, and not Japan. That is the great safeguard which is contained in this agreement, and which the honorable member for Lang completely ignored. One member of the Opposition after another who has spoken in this debate has ignored it. There is another provision that, so far as is practicable, before the provision that I have just mentioned is invoked, any party shall give the other such notice of its intention to invoke the provision as may be possible in the circumstances. Consultation shall take place annually, and there are other machinery provisions of that sort. The agreement will remain in force for three years, and will continue thereafter, unless abbrogated on three months’ notice.

As is usual in these documents, the formal part of the agreement does not contain much that would indicate to the layman what it is about. Such information is to be found in the agreed minutes that are attached to the agreement. They contain important provisos in Australia’s favour. Australia is given by Japan the opportunity of competing in the global quota for wool for not less than 90 per cent, of the total foreign exchange allocation for wool in each year. In other words, if we can continue to sell our wool to Japan, the Japanese Government undertakes to allocate at least 90 per cent, of foreign exchange for the purchase of Australian wool. In other words, our market is protected, as far as foreign exchange goes, to the extent of 90 per cent, of the exchange made available by the Japanese Government for the purchase of foreign wool, as long as we can sell our wool to Japanese buyers. Japan undertakes to admit Australian wheat and barley on a competitive, non-discriminatory basis. It agrees to accord to Australian sugar the opportunity of competing in the dollar and pound sterling common quota or the pound sterling quota. It agrees to regard Australia as a permitted source of supply for beef, tallow and cattle hides.

Mr Daly:

– We have read all that.


– One would not think so to listen to what Opposition members have said. Japan agrees to admit Australian dried skim milk on a competitive and nondiscriminatory basis. It also agrees to make reasonable provision for the import of Australian dried vine fruits and barley.

Then the agreed minutes deal in greater detail with the safeguards against unfair competition with Australian manufacturers by Japanese imported goods. It is agreed that, although Japan will be given an increased opportunity for the expansion of Japanese imports in Australia, this is to be without serious damage to Australian industry, and without sudden and serious disruption of the pattern of Australian imports. The Japanese delegation undertook, on behalf of the Japanese Government, that the Government would use its best endeavours, within its constitutional authority, to see that exports from Japan to Australia were conducted in such a way as to avoid damage or the prospect of damage to Australian industry. That is the treaty that has been debated for the last fortnight in this House.

In a long debate of this sort, it is not often that anything important or novel is produced at the end of the debate. But I have intervened in this instance because I know that, under the influence of opinions such as have been expressed on the other side of the House, and even before they were expressed, some Australian manufacturers have entertained genuine fears about the effect of this treaty on their businesses. I believe those fears to be groundless. I believe that they are, at least, grossly exaggerated. A second reason why I have intervened in the debate is the suggestion made by the honorable member for Lang, who spoke immediately before me, that the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen), who negotiated this treaty, being a member of the Australian Country party, had made a one-sided agreement in favour of the primary producers. I believe that statement to be completely false. As a Liberal member of the Government representing a constituency in the heart of Sydney, which is the greatest industrial city in Australia, I want to say that that charge is completely false and unjust. Honorable members might reflect upon the fact that last year the very same Minister negotiated the United Kingdom-Australia Trade Agreement, which offers very substantial benefits to Australian manufacturers, including wider sources of raw materials, and their purchase on better terms. That was certainly not a one-sided treaty. No honorable member opposite said on that occasion that the Minister for Trade had acted in the interests of the primary producer only. I am glad of the opportunity to deny that completely false and base charge in relation to this agreement.

Australian commerce and trade have undergone many changes since federation, when we were a rural community and dependent, for our income, almost entirely upon sales of wool to the United Kingdom. Under the highly protective policy which has since been followed by both sides of politics Australia has become a substantially industrial country. Vast numbers of our population depend for their livelihood upon the successful operation of industrial enterprise. Australia’s bountiful prosperity, though dependent upon the success of secondary industry, is even more dependent upon a high income from the sale of our primary products overseas. That, I think, is the paradox of Australia’s situation. Most of us live on the results of secondary industry, but the prosperity of the whole nation depends upon the maintenance of a steady and successful export trade. It has frequntly been said that though Australia is a small nation of fewer than 10,000,000 people, she ranks eighth among the world’s great trading nations. Indeed, on a per capita basis, the Australian trades to an astonishing degree - and by “ trading “ I mean depending upon the export and import of goods.

Mr Turnbull:

– He depends mostly upon the export of primary products.


– Not at all. The old idea that Australia could not successfully engage in the export of secondary products has long been discredited. Last year our exports from this field were worth £6,000,000.


– Oh!


– The honorable member for Hindmarsh sneers at this important and growing factor in our trade. The fact that we have high standards of living, and high labour costs, does not mean that it is impossible for us to export successfully the produce of secondary industry.

Mr Curtin:

– Nonsense.


– Many an Australian manufacturer - and many an industrial worker - would refuse to join in the sneers of the honorable member. I propose to give one or two examples of countries with a high standard of living and high labour costs which, nevertheless, manage to export successfully. The United States of America is credited with having the highest standard of living in the world. Both that country, and Sweden - which has the second highest standard of living and equally high labour costs - conduct a flourishing export trade in the products of secondary industry. There is no reason why, in the course of time, we cannot establish a thriving and increasing export trade in manufactured goods - especially when one considers the markets open to us in SouthEast Asia, whose peoples enjoy rising standards of living and must sooner or later come to demand more and more of the manufactured goods of this world. The maintenance of our prosperity in the cities depends, of course, upon our continuing to sell our primary products successfully abroad.

The trade treaty affords us a substantial degree of security in our transactions with a country that is very nearly our second most important customer - a security that we have not previously enjoyed. To that extent, it must be of advantage, not only to the grower of wool and the reaper of wheat, but also to every man who depends for his own prosperity upon the maintenance of a successful measure of international trade.

I should have thought that these arguments were obvious enough. Certainly, I do not want to spend any further time in labouring them. The makers of pots and pans, T-shirts, gloves, or Holden motor cars depend equally upon a high degree of purchasing power, which, in turn, depends upon a high export income. All honorable members know what happens to general business prosperity when there is a slump in the sale of our primary products. To that extent, the security afforded by this agreement is of enormous advantage to us all.

Time will not permit my going through the whole field at issue, but I want to put this view to honorable members: Previous speakers on this side of the House, including the Minister for Trade and the Prime Minister himself, have referred in detail to the safeguards in this treaty against undue competition from imported Japanese goods. Honorable members opposite have expressed two general doubts. First, they say that the Japanese approach to the agreement is not sincere. I reject that contention. All my life I have been prepared to accept a man’s word until his conduct demonstrated that it was unwise to do so. I believe that the same attitude is permissible in international relations. We have every reason to believe that the Japanese have entered upon this treaty with sincerity, and will observe its terms. The second objection is that though the Japanese Government may have been sincere in making this treaty, it may not have power to restrain Japanese exporters. The Japanese Government’’; capacity to compel observance of the agreement is, of course, vital and inquiries seeking its confirmation have been made. I can assure honorable members that an export permit system, set up under the Japanese foreign exchange and foreign trade control law, is at present in existence. Certain listed products, which represent the bulk of Japan’s total exports to Australia, may not be exported to any destination except under an export permit. These products accounted for £15,000,000 of the £22,600,000 worth of Japanese goods which came to Australia in 1955-56. They include cotton and rayon piecegoods, crockery and earthenware, towels, shirts and blouses- concerning all of which a great deal has already been said during this debate.

Mr Clarey:

– Does the list include woollen goods?


– The case of the woollen manufacturers was disposed of completely by the Minister for Trade - as honorable members opposite will see if they care to read his speech. Members of manufacturers’ associations have conceded to me during the last week that their fears have been groundless. The Australian woollen manufacturers have no reason to fear the importation of Japanese woollen goods.

Mr Haylen:

– That is why they send deputations to us!


– I do not think that the honorable member will find them doing it much longer if they read the figures of imports of Japanese woollen goods to Australia before the agreement was entered into - conditions which have remained unchanged. The imports were almost nonexistent. The system of granting export permits enables the Japanese Government to gather advance statistical information on projected exports to Australia. Under the consultation procedure provided for in the agreement the statistics gathered by both sides will be interchangeable. There will be prior advice from each country. The point of all this is that machinery does exist enabling the Japanese Government to control the vast majority of its export trade to Australia. The suggestion that the great safeguard in the treaty might be inapplicable is quite untrue.

While on the question of woollen textiles, I might add that last year only 2 per cent., or £500 worth, of our woollen piecegoods - which include any cloth containing 2 per cent, or more of wool - came from Japan.


– Order! The Minister’s time has expired.

Question put -

That the words proposed to be added (Dr. Evatt’s amendment) be so added.

The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. John McLeay.)

AYES: 32

NOES: 58

Majority 26



Question so resolved in the negative.

Original question resolved in the affirmative.

Sitting suspended from 5.50 to 8 p.m.

page 459


Motion (by Mr. Harold Holt) - by leave - agreed to -

That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) from making his speech on the budget without limitation of time.

page 459


BUDGET 1957-58

In Committee of Supply: Consideration’ resumed from 3rd September (vide page 253), on motion by Sir Arthur Fadden -

That the first item in the Estimates under Division No. 1 - The Senate - namely, “ Salaries and allowances, £30,000”, be agreed to.

Leader of the Opposition · Barton

– The Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden), in introducing the budget, began his speech with a most extraordinary claim. I shall read it - it is only a sentence, although the thought is continued in many pages -

During the past year our economy has gained greatly in stability and strength.

Government Supporters. - Hear, hear!


– I am glad to see that the Treasurer would have others put it the same way. All I wish to demonstrate is that the statement is completely incorrect, and I shall indicate to what extent there is stability and in what direction, if any, there is strength. What in fact the right honorable gentleman conceives to be stability is really stagnation. What he conceives to be strength is the strength, so far as it really exists, of the big companies and monopolies of this country, particularly, too, those which carry on business here and are controlled from abroad.

What really emerges from the financial documents, as well as from the budget itself, is a fall - a definite fall - in Australian living, standards, and also a fall, and a further distortion, in our investment for the future. If that can be made out, it ends the claim that the economy has gained, or even maintained anything in the nature of stability or strength. And I say, Mr. Chairman, that the major fact revealed by the budget speech and the documents is the story of a running-down economy. I think stagnation is probably too kind a word for the deterioration in the living standards, which also carries along with it, in many cases, the destruction of hopes for the future. That has been the inevitable result of the

Government’s policies, particularly its financial policies, To claim that the economy has gained greatly in stability and strength is to give an untrue and completely deceptive picture.

I think there is little need for me to elaborate by telling honorable members the miserable story of the almost open abandonment of full employment in the so-called attempt to achieve stability. They themselves know this situation from men seeking work in their electorates. That applies not merely to the great cities - the capital cities - it also applies very materially in the country towns. I have noticed that in the last six or eight months there has been a great deterioration in the employment position in the country towns. The people in the country towns are most anxious about the drift of the young people from those towns to the cities. There is no opportunity at any rate of employment in those country towns generally. There are exceptions. The exceptions are those towns in which for the first time in Australia the Commonwealth financed or made facilities for the establishment of new textile factories in New South Wales and Victoria particularly, but also elsewhere. And now they have been given the profound shock and disappointment of the trade agreement with Japan, which must cause unemployment in that industry.

That is the employment position in the electorates. The number of men in employment now is lower than a year ago, but since then 60,000 Australians and new Australians - both men and women - have been added to those seeking work. Many have found it; but for every one who has found work another has been displaced. The Government may say that that statement is not mathematically demonstrated in the figures, but the fact is that at this moment I understand there are more than 52,000 people registered for employment - and thereby claiming to be unemployed - and only 20,000 of them are drawing the unemployment benefit. That would indicate fairly that well over 50,000 persons are unemployed. Many do not register for employment for various reasons - some because the family has other breadwinners and the means test would exclude them on one ground or the other. The Government professes through the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt) to dismiss the importance of that. It forgets that a means test is applied to applicants for the benefit. Understandably, that prevents many from applying for it. Statistics do not exaggerate; they conceal the true extent of the reduced opportunities of employment.

But what of those who have kept their jobs? I am not elaborating the question of the tragedy of unemployment in this country in which expansion is essential. We thought we had done with it. Full employment is supposed to be the policy of this Government. Full employment was introduced by the Labour Government under Mr. Curtin’s leadership, and was retained by Mr. Chifley when it was thought to be impossible. Internationally, we are bound, in terms of the Charter, to maintain full employment to the maximum extent. The Minister for Labour and National Service says that there is some slight improvement in the position, but the fact is that every man or woman anxious to obtain employment on reasonable terms and unable to get it in this community provides evidence of the abandonment to that extent of the policy of full employment. It is the duty of governments to assist in the matter. That is the first point I wish to emphasize. We no longer have full employment, and when the Government lets the position drift, as it has been allowed to drift, it is very difficult to make up the leeway. I now turn to those who are still in employment, and I refer again to the Treasurer’s boast of stability. What is the position for employees? The so-called stability has meant, not an increase, but a fall in real income. The average earnings of employees, according to the budget and the paper on national income, have risen 5± per cent., and prices have risen 6 per cent. So employees are worse off to that extent. They have lost so much a week as a result of the Government’s policies - not a large sum, you will say, but their standard has not been maintained. Small businessmen, I think from the figures, are rather worse off. Their income has gone up only 2i per cent., compared with the prices increase of 6 per cent., so they have lost about 9d. in every £1 of income they had the year before last.

Let us turn to another group in the community - the farmers - because at first glance they have done much better. Income from primary production has increased by approximately £60,000,000, but as the wool cheque alone has increased by nearly £150.000.000, it is clear very many primary producers are correspondingly worse off than they were. I think that that will be generally agreed by those who are more familiar with the position of the farmers. Worse hit are those whose income comes from small or middle sized businesses operating as companies. The income of all Australian owned companies, after tax has been paid, has fallen from £301,000,000 to £277,000,000; but those figures include the exceptional companies, that is, the Australian-owned giant companies which have been reporting such handsome increases of profits over recent months. The smaller concerns have suffered a heavy fall in income. This universal story of falling is called- “ stability “. Has any one engaged in productive activity gained?’ Yes, there is one group at least, a small but allpowerful group; the companies owned overseas. Their income is up 10 per cent. They may be able- to see- the “ strength “ of our economy. They have gained in the year, and they may be apt to see the whole situation in the light of their own experience. They,, and the Australian giant businesses, the combines of Australia, such as those concerned with amunitions, steel, paper, coal, shipping, sugar - the list is now very long im this country - certainly have had a good year. From their point of view the economy has gained. They are of the same character or class as the overseas companies I have mentioned, that is to say, they are monopolies and combines or, in some cases, such as the oil companies, they belong to international combines, usually called cartels. They have done very well. The “ big Five “ American companies, according to recent figures published in America, during the period of the Suez trouble when they were supposed to be having such a lean time, made profits of such record proportions that a committee of the United States Senate is investigating whether this combine is of such a character that it should be dealt with in the courts. 1 say that businesses of this kind, and similar Australian-owned big businesses, have done very well. So too have people whose income is from interest and rents, but who do not contribute, directly to the production of the community. Statistical figures show that their income is up by 10 per cent., too.

So, this is a picture of contrast between those who have done very well and the great majority who have done badly and who have not been able to maintain their standard- of living. I do not call that a situation of stability at all. I think it is a dangerous situation in a community that should be expanding. But the figures reveal it, and it is denied only by the speech of the Treasurer.

Now we can see what the Government means by stability in incomes. Income is down for everybody except the big corporations, the receivers of rent and interest, and the wool-growers who were saved by the increase of wool, prices. The general community is not included in the improvement. I do not wish to take honorable members through the details of the. Treasurer’s reference to stability. I submit that the documents, and the facts that he himself has disclosed, point to a decline in standards, of living, evidenced best of all by a- decline in consumption. There is no escaping the conclusion that, if it can be demonstrated that there has been a fall in the purchases of food and other necessary, items by the people of this country, there also has been’ a fall in what is equally important from the long-term point of view, the investment of the community. The White Paper on National Income, which is with the budget papers, tells the story clearly enough, lt shows that no more food was bought last year, although there were 200,000 more mouths to feed. Does this mean that there was an even reduction of food’ consumption and that everybody suffered’ some lack of nutriment? On the contrary, it means that there were gradations in the community. In effect, the people already on low standards had their standards further reduced. Also, less clothing was bought in that twelve months, although there were 200,000 more people in Australia to clothe. Less hardware, furniture and electrical goods were bought, despite the big sales of items such as television sets. Other purchases in retail stores showed a very small increase in terms of money, but probably were down in quantity, because of the rise in prices. According to the Treasurer, there has been economic stability and strength; but what has really happened? There has been a 2i per cent, fall in the general living standards of the Australian people, a most serious situation and one that has been caused by the policies - and, in some cases, the absence of policies - of the present Government.

Now I turn to investment expenditure. What did the people of Australia get? They got fewer new nouses, fewer motor cars and trucks, and less new plant and machinery for factories and farms. For a time, of course, we got more buildings such as the huge edifices erected in the cities by companies with tremendous reserves or profits.

Mr Whitlam:

– Which the Prime Minister opens.


– Yes, one of them, a huge building, was opened by the Prime Minister. The company that built it has provided, I suppose, much more accommodation than is needed for its own purposes. Building of that kind, of course, has been going on, but according to the Treasurer this form of building is now tapering off. The present forecast is that there will be no continuance of it. Meantime, the number of new homes has fallen, and the statements about homebuilding that were made by honorable members opposite during last year’s budget debate have not been borne out. There has been a decline in home-building.

The position is that our living standards have been cut, and so, too, has investment and the provision of new equipment. What is the reason for this? Where have the policies of the Government erred, and why are we in this serious state, which cannot be defended, and which requires bold and imaginative measures on the part of the Parliament and the Government? It has not been an accident. It is really a story of deliberate sapping of the basis of our prosperity by people who think that prosperity which is fairly distributed amongst the people - that is, distributed so that the wage-earners and the pensioners get their share of it - is too dangerous to be borne. Two years ago they began to be frightened of increases in demand and consumption. Eighteen months ago, in the little “ horror “ budget, as it was called, they forced a reduction of consumption which bore most heavily on the underprivileged. Well before that time, they had started to undermine our standards by cutting wages and conniving at increasing interest charges. Let us take, for instance, the question of wages and look back a few years to the action - or inaction - of the Government when it decided that there should be suspension of quarterly cost of living adjustments, which were the guarantee to workers in the federal jurisdiction that at three monthly intervals there would be an increase of the living wage, corresponding to the increase of the cost of living that had occurred during the previous three months. As costs were going up, it could have been said - and it would have been true - that the cost of living was always ahead of the wages received. But that was not good enough. The court intervened, and the quarterly adjustments were suspended. It took years for the position to be amended, and it has not been completely righted yet. Of course, the Government is not directly responsible, nor is the Parliament, for the standard of living under federal awards. It is a great misfortune that the Parliament is not directly responsible because, if it were, it would have a voice in such awards; but still, the Government had the power to intervene before the court and argue against so catastrophic a change. But it did not. I pointed out that their speeches in the House showed that they had wanted the court to do what it did. In fact, the present Treasurer congratulated the court on its action. It was one of the first steps to reduce the standard of living of the most vulnerable section of the community, those on wages and salaries.

Now I turn to interest rates. How calmly the Government looked on while interest rates went up; and it was announced that interest rates on future loans would have to be increased. We know what happened. In the days of the Labour government, even when the interest rate was down to 3£ per cent., the people could always exchange their security for cash if they were minded to pay a deposit on a home or a business. They were always able to get 100 per cent, of the value of their bond at practically any time over a period of years. I think that that position would have lasted had the Government indicated its intention to support the loan market. But the Government deliberately withdrew support from the market, and the Prime Minister gave particulars in this chamber of how that was to be done. The Commonwealth Bank management also indicated how it was to be done. The Government reduced the value of bonds already held by breaking faith with Australian investors. Of course, as the Government would not support the market, the prices of gilt-edged securities fell, with the result that the interest rate had to go up for both current and future issues. That is how interest rates went up, and the damage that has been done will not be easily repaired. People who wish to go into business, or borrow to build or purchase homes, are affected by the increase of the rate of interest. Perhaps one of the most disgraceful illustrations in this respect is in connexion with war service homes, about which honorable members have had case after case submitted to them where, in order to make up the necessary amount of deposit, ex-servicemen have to pay exorbitant rates of interest.

I say that the Government has blundered over these things, lt wanted to reduce the purchasing power of the worker, and members of the Government thought that increasing the interest rate would do so - or said they thought so. But things did not turn out that way, because living standards have gone down while inflation has been mounting. Inflation in this country is produced largely by the profitmaking activities of the big combines. My colleague, the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns), in a speech made here about two years or eighteen months ago, diagnosed inflation as largely “ profit inflation “. Events have proved that diagnosis to be correct. We still have inflation. The Government said, “ Increase the interest rate, make money harder to get, and within two years you will not have inflation.” That turned out to be completely wrong.

The same applied to wages. The court reduced wages, in effect, by abandoning the quarterly cost of living adjustments. What was the result? The result was a decrease in the purchasing power of the people, with a serious effect on business, especially small retail businesses which were directly affected by the shrinkage of purchasing power. On a small scale it was the economic depression all over again. One would have thought that the economic principles of J. M. Keynes, which were used in nearly every democracy in the world, would have warned the Government of the consequences of its economic policy. But once again, I say, it blundered. Inflation has not been stopped. Moreover, unless the bulk of the community - the wage-earners, the small businessmen and the farmers - have ade quate spending power, there is insufficient demand for the products of industry. That is what is happening in this country. A growing mass demand is the very foundation of a sound economy, and only if living standards and population are rising will we have work for all, new plant and equipment of the right character, rising incomes and, if I may add, most important of all, full employment - and by that I do not mean the condition in which we have what the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt) refers to as this “ tiny “ percentage of unemployed - 1 per cent, or 2 per cent. To the Labour party “ full employment “ means that every Australian anxious to obtain a job on reasonable terms should be able to get it, and that every new Australian introduced into this country should be in exactly the same position. Now, both Australians and new Australians are in a position which is enough to cause despair.

The Government, however, was obsessed with the subject of costs. It said, “ We must reduce costs “. What did it mean by costs? It meant, of course, wages and, in turn, that meant the incomes of all those who are or were employees, and the incomes of all those who provide the everyday needs of employees. The first step was the cut in the real basic wage resulting from the abolition of cost of living adjustments. Then what happened? Retail sales began to fall off, orders to factories fell and now we have unemployment which still further reduces demand. The figures I gave to the House regarding consumption illuminate the position clearly. They show that the same amount of food and clothing is being produced, but we now have an extra 200,000 people to satisfy. That means a distinct and sharp drop in the real standard of living of the community. Instead of having prosperity in this country, supported by the Government, at this time when we have everything in the country which could physically lead to prosperity, we have the very saddening fact that we have inflation and unemployment and high prices, all of which require urgent action. So, we have the sagging economy of the last eighteen months. This budget merely describes it. The budget speech does not describe it so much as the figures of national income and expenditure do.

But the attack on wages was not the only cause. Again I remind the Committee that interest rates have been raised to satisfy the false financial theories ofthe Govern- ment.Theysaid, “ You can check this boombymakingitcostlytoborrow “. They thought it terrible to have a boom in Australia. And they have made it so costly to borrow that it is now far : harder than before for a man to buildor purchase a home or a business. Housing construction has fallen off, but, for a while, other building Keptthe building trades employed. Now, according to the Treasurer in his speech, other building is falling off, too.

An even worse blow to the economy was the Government’s credit restriction policy, added to the other factors of whichI have spoken. Bank advances were directly restricted so that new work could not be undertaken, even when it was necessary ‘to the nation and although labour and materials were available.It is accepted by every economist that if you have the labour and material available the issue of credit to cover what has to be done has no inflationary effect. But the policy of the Government was carried so far that the demand for bank advances gradually fell off with other demands, and possible sources of expansion df employment and investment were choked.

While these deliberate policies of reduced real wages, higher taxes, higher interest and restricted bank advances were being pursued, the Government checked and rationed the public works expenditure of the States on electricity, roads, schools and hospitals, so that less and less employment and business activity arose from them and prices continued to rise. All this restraint only succeeded in cutting down activity, and not in cutting down price and cost rises. Despite the unemployment and falling real incomes oflast year, retail prices rose by 6 per cent., for the Menzies-Fadden inflation goes steadily on its ruinous road. Nothing can stop it. It commenced in 1949, and it has gone on in spite of all the Government’s measures. The Government has not rightly assessed the true causes of inflation. It has used all these devices but has failed to improveconditions.

Not only has the real volume of public works been cut, but the Government has also deliberately curbed social service pensions and benefits and war pensions so that their real value has been steadily eaten up and the poorest and most vulnerable sections of our community have been plunged further and further into poverty. That can be illustrated by reference to the child endowment, which is a benefit that affects an enormous number of mothers in the community. It was granted to enable them to provide protective foods and decent standards for the children. But the rate has not been altered since 1950. Its present real value to mothers has drastically declined owing to the inflation of prices, because the kind of food that it was intended toprovide is becoming especially expensive.

Now let us consider age and invalid pensions. There has been an enormous demand by the pensioners for a real increase. They have now gone through two winters without having received an increase. Those people, throughtheir representatives, have brought to the Parliament demands and Tequests for an increase, and have appealed for justice. But all they will receive will be an inadequate 7s. 6d. a week -a miserable allowance according to the president of the New South Wales branch of the returned soldiers’ league, and everybody in the country agrees with him.

What really is the answer? There can beno answer that justifies an increase of 7s. 6d. ; lt : is said, “ ‘Oh well, perhaps they will get something next year “. Of all the defences ‘that could be put forward that is theworst; it means that the people who make such statements know that the proposed increase is inadequate. They know that the pensioners have gone through two years with an inadequate standard of living and that they have not had the necessaries of life, because pensions are at a levelwhere every portion of the payment is essential to them.

To postpone the payment of an adequate increase for another twelve months is one of the worst things that could ever be thought : of . To do something here and now to increase pensions would re-establish the faith of the age and invalid pensioners in the Parliament. To put off the increases is simply to exacerbate their suffering till the heart becomes sick. Honorable members know the story. Many of them have told it in this chamber, and no doubt they will again, from their own knowledge, give an account of what is happening. The proposed increase of 7s. 6d. a week is little more than the price increase of last year, and on present trends the new benefit could easily be gone by next Christmas.

The same thing can be said about the unemployment benefit. A married man with children will now receive less than half the basic wage, despite an apparently generous increase in the rate. Much the same comment applies to war pensions. The general rate war pension and the war widow’s pension is to be increased by 7s. 6d. a week. The proposed increase, like that for the age pension, is bare .recognition of the fact that prices are rising, and, again, by the end of the year it might easily be absorbed, lt is quite inadequate, and was denounced by the New South Wales Branch of the returned soldiers’ league at the same time that it condemned the proposed age pension increase.

Let me mention especially, but shortly, the treatment that is being meted out by the Government to totally and permanently incapacitated ex-servicemen. That treatment really is indefensible, because these men, as a result of war injuries, are unable to earn any income at all. Many ‘of them suffer from disabilities which prevent them from taking part in the ordinary life of the Australian community. .It was said that these men would be the special responsibility of governments and of the Parliament after the war, that nothing would be too much for them, that they could never be forgotten. But it is now proposed that they should attempt to exist on approximately £3 a week less than the basic wage. I submit that that is a shockingly inadequate payment. The basic wage should be the absolute minimum for these gallant men.

I now come to the Government’s taxation proposals. I have dealt with the main features for the moment, but I should like to make the point that rising prices and rising incomes have been increasing the effective rate of income tax on individuals even though the nominal rates of tax have remained unaltered since 1954-55. I hope that honorable members will follow the figures I am about to cite. In 1954-55, a single man with the average earnings of an employee paid 9i per cent, of his wages in income tax; last year, he paid 10 1/4 per cent. In the current year, he will pay even more if prices continue to rise. In 1949-50, which was the last year that the Chifley Government was in office, he paid only li per cent. In 1949-50, the single basic wage earner paid 5 per cent, of his earnings in income tax, and in 1954-55 he paid 6J per cent. In the current year, he will pay Ti per cent, if there is no further increase in the basic wage. It will be noted that since 1954-55 the effective tax on the basic wage earner and the man with average earnings has risen by about 10 per cent.

What has happened to companies? The maximum rate was raised from 7s. to 8s. in the £1 in the “ little budget “ of last year, an increase of 14 per cent. Now the Government proposes to take off 6d. in the £1, Which means an increase since 1954-55 of only 7 per cent, as against the increase I stated earlier for basic wage earners. lt is suggested that a great concession has been given -to the family man, but let us look at the facts. At the height of the last war, a basic wage earner with two children >paid a little over 1 per cent, -of .his income in income tax; in 1949-50, he paid less than i per cent. By .1954-55, this Government had raised his tax to 2 per cent, of his income, or twice the war-time level. Because of rising prices, he now pays 2i per cent. What is now proposed for him? This miserable increase in the dependants’ allowances will bring his tax back only to 2 per .cent, of his income, which was .the 1954-55 level.

Let us consider also the position of a family man with average earnings. In 1949-50, he paid 2i per cent, of his income in income tax, and in 1954-55 this Government raised the figure to 4i per cent. Price increases have since raised his tax to 5£ per cent, of his income. All that the Government proposes to do now is to take the figure back to 5 per cent., which is still 10 per cent, above the 1954-55 level of 4£ per cent.

The figures have been carefully examined and analysed, and they show clearly that this so-called concession to the family man will bring him back to a situation in which he was placed formerly and where no one could say that he was being treated generously. All he is getting really is a slight recognition of his status; the actual sums involved are too minute to detail. So we see the Government’s tax policy in full flight hitting at the lower income group, particularly the family man, and pretending to give something back while allowing price rises to keep the effective rate of tax at or above the old level. May I repeat that? The Government is hitting the lower income group, particularly the family man, and is raying, “ We will give him something back “. But price rises continue, and the effective rate of tax is at or above the old level.

Then there is the sales tax, which is one of the taxes that operates at once and the effect of which is seen in prices. There is to be a cut in sales tax, and no doubt in the individual cases it will be welcome. But let us look at the proposed reduction in its correct perspective. It is really a miserable cut of only £3,000,000. Despite that cut, the Government expects to collect no less than nearly £130,000,000 in sales tax this financial year. That total will pass into the prices of commodities.

Customs and excise duties this year will amount to the colossal figure of £305,000,000, or £19,000,000 more than last year. These figures show the tremendous and disproportionate burden imposed by all these indirect taxes, which are reflected at once in the cost of living. So much for that side of the picture.

It is quite a different story for the big companies. They are to get a handy cut in income tax, which will have the effect of reducing actual revenue collections by £14,500,000, and a magnificent hand-out in depreciation allowances, which will be worth £14,000,000 to companies in a full year. The right honorable gentleman did not tell us how much is due to raising depreciation rates on the diminishing value method and how much to the hand-out on excess depreciation written back. He was equally uncandid in explaining the effect of the second proposal, the diminishing value method. He said that it will make no difference to the ultimate taxable income, but he did not tell us that the excess depreciation will never be written back and taxed so long as the company has any assets left on its books.

Mr Menzies:

– May I interrupt the right honorable gentleman? He was asking about the cost of the 50 per cent, increase. The main item will be £25,000,000 in a full year.


– I am obliged to the Prime Minister for that information, but I am now dealing with a different point. Through the depreciation allowance, under the new head to be introduced by legislation, the figure which is reserved will never be taxable at all, and the chief beneficiaries will be certain of the Government’s backers, particularly the shipping and airline companies, whose equipment is always kept on the books. There is always something in the fleets of the shipping companies, and under this system they can charge the figure against any other ships. In effect, it will be an enormous concession for these companies, which needs to be worked out in detail.

What is to be the position with regard to taxes? They are to have a harsher impact upon the poor and they will bear relatively easily on the rich. That is the story of this budget and of every budget that this Government has introduced. That is the story of why our economy has run down, and why we have passed through stability towards stagnation. Restrictive policies, both public and private, have destroyed our living standards, yet the demand provided by those living standards is the very mainspring of economic activity and progress.

The question is: Will the economy continue to run down in the coming year and will the budget do anything to help? The Treasurer does not seem to be optimistic. He offers little direct encouragement, though he appears to have hopes. He said that a fair number of additional workers will become available this year and that it is important that these additional workers shall be absorbed by industry. Of course it is important! He did not say that the “ fair number “ about which he spoke was 60,000 men and perhaps 20,000 women. He did not tell us that last year’s increase of the same size was not absorbed, nor why that was not important. He did not say how the increase this year is to be absorbed, knowing that last year’s increase was not absorbed. He said -

There is some unused capacity in factories and this extra capacity should also be brought into use.

He did not tell us anything about the Government’s plan for that. The Government really has no plan. It has no plan for full employment. It is simply going along. It sees that inflation has not disappeared, but it does not know what to do about it. The Government has tried increased interest rates. It has reduced the purchasing power of employees and has tried to keep pensions and allowances at the very minimum levels. The Government expects that, with reduced purchasing power, there will be an improvement, but it is impossible to see how that can be so. The Treasurer said -

Consumption expenditure appears to be rising at a fair rate.

In private investment he appeared to expect little change. With prices still rising by about 5 per cent, to 6 per cent, a year and the population increasing by 2i per cent, a year, we would need an increase in expenditure of about 8 per cent, to even maintain the economy at the present low level. But the programme approved by the Loan Council allows for an increase of only 4 per cent, in the public works programme, and I should be surprised if “ a fair rate “ of increase in consumption expenditure means 8 per cent. ft is clear that the Treasurer feels uneasy, because he made provision for an appreciable increase - £ 1 5,000,000 - in Commonwealth public works and £5,000,000 more will be applied to war service homes. According to the returned soldiers’ organizations, this is a completely unrealistic figure when the Treasurer intends to collect £80,000,000 more in taxes, even after allowing for the small reductions that he proposed in rates and exemptions.

The most disturbing feature of the situation is that this small increase in demand will by no means all be directed to absorbing additional workers who become available during the year and to bringing unused capacity into use. We were told -

Through the easing of import restrictions there will be some addition this year to imported supplies.

It may well be that all the additional demand will be spent on imports, so that at this time next year we shall still have “ stability “, with no increase in employment, and a further decline in the incomes of Australian employees, business men and farmers. The Treasurer concluded his survey by saying -

I hear it said that enterprise is hesitant about the future and needs a stimulus. This, frankly, is something I find it difficult to understand.

The survey that I have tried to give of the current economic situation and prospects is based entirely on the budget speech and the accompanying documents. I believe it to be fair and accurate. Yet the

Treasurer finds it difficult to understand why enterprise is hesitant. I hope that I have helped somewhat to explain that, to make clear the reasons for public uncertainty and to bring home to the Government the necessity for urgent action to work out a plan to restore prosperity, which it is the duty of all governments to assure and which is the constant aim of the party I lead. We had recently one illustration of further difficulties which will come from the Japanese trade agreement, which must injure the employment situation to a substantial degree. Both Australians and new Australians have reason to fear the policies of the Government, which has deserted the principle of full employment.

I want to refer now briefly, if I may, to one or two minor matters. I am sorry that I have had to take a considerable time. First, I want to refer to the problem of defence. This is tremendously important, but I shall not deal with it in any detail to-night. The budget brings up the question of defence, because once again we have a figure plucked out of the air - £190,000,000. That figure is put into the budget papers as the amount required to be voted by this Parliament. No policy on defence has been announced to us. Little scraps of statements have been made by Ministers when they have left this country or arrived back, on occasions when they have had to say something, but nothing significant has been said. What is the state of the Air Force? Perhaps the Minister for Air (Mr. Osborne) will be pleased to tell us. What is proposed to be done? How does the Government relate £190,000,000 to the needs of Australia and to the present international situation? The Government has been equally silent on the question of international affairs. That is not a direct budgetary matter, but it is related to the policy of the Government and intimately related to defence.

The Australian Government, should be far more eager and active before the United Nations in connexion with the problems relating to disarmament, because disarmament is what the people of the world are demanding. There are obstacles everywhere, but the idea that we can fold up and stop considering the matter for six months, and perhaps come back to it later, is reminiscent of the situation which existed before the League of Nations between

World War I. and World War If. Who =are the people who are against disarmament? 1 shall merely give the arguments. We know that the first group is Russia. I believed also that one of the biggest groups of people opposed to disarmament is the great munitions trusts. The profits made from modern weapons are colossal; they are far greater than those made during World War I”. or World War II. We want to know what the Government intends to do about disarmament. We want to know why £190,000,000 is voted for defence. I am glad that the Prime Minister indicated to-day that hydrogen bomb tests would not be held in this country. So far so good! But I have something to say about the administration of defence projects. Recently, we had a report from the AuditorGeneral which showed really scandalous mismanagement on the part of the defence departments. Yet all we had from the Government was a Minister rushing into the chamber and saying, in effect, that the Auditor-General was wrong. When the defence vote is being considered, we will be able to discuss it in detail.

  1. had hoped to speak about other matters. One is the combines, monopolies and trusts which have such an enormous influence on our economy. They are doing well and, as far as I can see, the Government is co-operating with them to the utmost. They fix the prices for the goods they handle. Price fixing by a government is not welcomed, but when private interests do it nothing is said.

Finally, I want to relate employment to immigration. Full employment in this country is impossible unless the number of immigrants is fixed according to the opportunities for employment. To say that we must receive a certain number of immigrants whatever happens is outrageous and is inimical and injurious to the welfare not only of Australians but also of immigrants. Whatever the motive, it is a suicidal policy. The federal conference of the Australian Labour party decided that the proper percentage of British to non-British migrants should be restored. That policy is a proper one and should be observed.

Mr Haylen:

– “ Bring out a Briton “ is not a bad idea!

Dr.- EVATT. - Yes. If they are brought out at the present rate, the proper percentage will not be reached. Statements on immigration have only to be analysed to see how deceptive they are.

I’ believe the Government to be deserving of censure. Therefore, as an instruction to the Government to take immediate steps to provide full employment for all in accordance with its bounden duty; to amend its financial measures to provide just and adequate age and invalid pensions; and to endeavour to restore the living standards of the Australian people, particularly wage and salary earners, pensioners and those dependent for their maintenance on small fixed incomes, I move -

That the first item be reduced by fi.

Minister for Immigration · Denison · LP

– After all that, the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) concludes by moving that the first item should be reduced by £1. Tn view of all he has said, he should have made it 30s. Indeed, he should have been unorthodox for once and said that, in view of the expenditure he has advocated, it should be increased by £1 or 30s. This last hour - it seems longer - has been quite dismal. The right honorable gentleman’s usual practice at budget time is to go wearily through the budget trying to find some valid point of criticism and, finding none, to present only a picture of gloom and misery. He has done that again to-night. Often I looked across to see whether he was talking about the right budget, and, oddly enough, he was. His gloom need not concern us unduly. 1 recall that, a few years ago, when we were discussing the budget for that year, the Leader of the Opposition made one of these gloomy prognostications. When he finished, he summed up his remarks in a rather brilliant sentence. He said, “ This is a blue-print for a depression “. But, that year was the most prosperous in our history! This year, he has coined another brilliant phrase. I wrote it down. His brilliant phrase for this year was, “ This running down of the economy “. Rather than being depressed by the right honorable gentleman’s remarks, we should be stimulated and, perhaps, encouraged. Quite frankly, I believe that this budget, showing the Government’s financial programme for this year, ensures that Australia will have a good year. It will be a year of progress, achievement, and prosperity.

If we wanted to criticize this budget, we could. Even members on this side of the House could say that it would be improved if we did this or that. It may be said, quite validly, that this is a cautious budget. It is a cautious budget, and for the best of reasons. It is a prudent budget, lt may even be called a conservative budget - and for the best of reasons. No responsible government, knowing what the wool content in our income is, could gamble with a budget at this stage. Last year, our wool cheque rose by 30 per cent. The clip was about 10 per cent, greater than the year before, and that was 11 per cent, greater than the previous year. This year, with so much of our economy dependent on wool, with the wool sales not yet held, and with a partially dry season, who at this stage can say what the increase will be, or, indeed, that there will be an increase? Only a week or two ago, I was speaking to a man who manages several sheep properties in New South Wales and Victoria. He said that, in his opinion, the wool clip would be down this year. He even said that, in his opinion, the decrease would be somewhere between 5 per cent, and 10 per cent. I mention that to illustrate why a responsible government must be prudent in a budget.

Another factor is wheat. Last year, we had quite a buoyant year, but we must remember that one reason for that buoyancy was the failure of crops in many overseas countries, notably Europe, and that this year, on the contrary, the crops in Europe are plenteous, and there may be a surplus of wheat. That leaves out of consideration altogether the surpluses of the United States of America. Another reason why we, as a responsible government, must be prudent in this budget is that, in the next year or two, enormous sums will have to be repaid to Australians who invested, for example, in war loans and in other more recent shortterm loans. War debts owing to the ordinary Australian people - to children who took out war savings certicates, and to other people who invested in war loans - to a total of no less than £102,000,000 will have to be repaid in the next few years. In the same period, the Government will have to repay a total of £613,000,000 on other maturing debts. It must be prepared to pay back to lenders on gilt-edged securities the staggering sum of £1,400,000,000 within the next few years. A responsible government must keep these and other matters in mind in its approach to a budget. Having said all these things, I admit that the budget is prudent and cautious. I believe that it should be so for the reasons that I have mentioned.

Before I pass on to the points that were made by the Leader of the Opposition, I should like to get some of the facts straight. The .right honorable gentleman, over a period of an hour, wandered about in a maze of figures, and it was not humanly possible to keep up with him all the time. However, I noticed a few inaccuracies, and I think that he would thank me for correcting them. The Leader of the Opposition said, for example, that living standards have been falling. The White Paper on national income and expenditure for 1956-57 indicates that personal consumption did not fall, but rose from £3,327,000,000 in 1955-56 to £3,529,000,000 in 1956-57- an increase of 6 per cent. It may be that the Leader of the Opposition was ‘referring to a rather academic document titled “ Report on Food Consumption “ that was prepared by the Commonwealth Statistician. The .document indicates that the Calorific content of the foods eaten has fallen. Statisticians are worthy and very necessary -people, but it has been said that they are people who draw a mathematically precise line from a doubtful assumption to a foregone conclusion. I think that this is one of the -instances in which the Statistician -has become a little too academic. Even on his analysis, the figures for the last two years are higher than the pre-war figures were, and much higher than the figures “for the years When Labour was in office. The pertinent fact, Mr. Chairman, is that food consumption is only one element of the consumption of the people. Total personal consumption, comprising the consumption of food and everything else, increased from £3,096,000,000 in 1954-55 to £3,529,000,000 last financial year. Between 1953-54 and 1956-57, total personal consumption increased by about 25 per cent., and expenditure on food increased by approximately 23 per cent. I cannot spend more time dealing with the correction of that inaccuracy.

The Leader of the Opposition said that total employment declined last financial year. That is incorrect. According to a

Treasury document, 7,000 more people were employed in 1956-57 than in 1955-56. The Leader of the Opposition said, also, that food consumption fell, but it did not. It increased from £883,000,000 in 1955-56 to £923,000,000 in 1956-57 - an increase of £40,000,000. These things should be pointed out. The right honorable gentleman said, also, that wages and salaries fell. In fact, they increased from £2,528,000,000 in 1955-56 to £2,668,000,000 in 1956-57 -an increase of £140,000,000. The right honorable gentleman said that homebuilding declined. lt did decline last financial year, mainly because commercial building increased enormously in New South Wales. It is not for the Commonwealth Government to tell the New South Wales Government what building programme it should adopt. It is interesting to note, in passing, that between 50,000 and 60,000 of the deficiency of approximately 100,000 homes in Australia are accounted for in New South Wales. If we compare expenditure on housing, for every head of the population in the various States, we see just how parlous a position exists in New South Wales. Last financial year, in Western Australia, £8.3 a head was spent on housing; in South Australia, £7.8; in Tasmania, £7.6; in Victoria, £4.2; in Queensland, £3.4; and in New South Wales - -the most populous State - only £3.2. I suggest that the Leader of the Opposition use whatever influence he may have with the New South Wales Government to get it to smarten itself up a little in the matter of building homes for the people.

The last correction that I want to make with respect to the right honorable gentleman’s remarks concerns his statement that prices have been increasing by 5 or 6 per cent, a year. That statement, also, is incorrect. The C series index of retail prices rose from 2,851 in June, 1956, to 2,901 in June, 1957 - an increase, not of 5 or 6 per cent., but of li per cent.

Having pointed out these inaccuracies Mr. Chairman, I shall pass on to some of the points that the Leader of the Opposition made, lt is very difficult, amid the maze of facts, figures, and various items, with which he dealt, to find anything on which to concentrate as a major point. However, I think that it would perhaps be fair to mention companies and company taxation, and to say that the right honorable gentle man suggested that companies had been favoured by the Government in this budget, and that, on the other hand, people dependent on social service benefits had been neglected. As with other matters, I think that we should get some of the facts straight with regard to companies. The Leader ot the Opposition has assumed that there is no relationship between company earnings and company profits, and things such as employment, wages, and salaries. A second thing that the right honorable gentleman seems to be completely unaware of is exactly what constitutes a company. From his remarks, one would infer that companies are composed of wealthy individuals who are out merely to exploit the rest of the community. It is very interesting indeed to examine the structure of some of Australia’s companies. I have taken out a list which is a representative cross-section of all kinds of Australian companies. Let us see how many people they employ, and how much those who invest in them make out of their investments. My proposition is that most Australian companies are not owned by a few wealthy people, but by people from all sections of the community - thrifty people of modest means who have put their savings together to form companies, which not only give them some degree of independence, but also provide employment and prosperity for the rest of the community.

The Leader of the Opposition himself referred to Australian Paper Manufacturers Limited. That company, far from being owned by a few wealthy people, has no fewer than 29,806 shareholders. It employ: 6,000 workers. Australian Consolidated Industries Limited, which is another big Australian company, has 13,473 shareholders, and employs 1 1 ,000 people. The Bank of New South Wales is owned by 19.017 shareholders and employs a staff of 9.150. The British Tobacco Company (Australia) Limited has 16,000 shareholders and 5,700 employees.

Let us consider the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, that great grasping octopus about which we hear so much. The people who do not say anything bad about B.H.P. are those who work for it. That company is one of the largest and best employers in Australia, as anybody who works for it will confirm. Its shares are held by 49.000 persons and the company employs no less than 33,000 good Australians. The shares in G. J. Coles and Company Limited are held by 18,895 shareholders, and the company employs 10,630 workers.

The same story applies to all these great companies. Dunlop Rubber Australia Limited has 16,270 shareholders and a staff of 8,275 persons. Felt and Textiles of Australia Limited has 11,000 shareholders and 5,300 employees. The newspaper company, the Herald and Weekly Times Limited, Melbourne, has 7,354 shareholders and employs a staff of 2,680 persons. Imperial Chemical Industries of Australia and New Zealand Limited has 8,670 shareholders and 6,500 employees.

Far from growing wealthy and waxing fat on their earnings, these companies give only a reasonable return for the money invested in them. The list of average dividends paid to shareholders shows that they return £48, £62, £82, £91, £60, £44 and £39 respectively. Surely those amounts are only a reasonable and sensible return for their capital.

Let us reconsider the facts regarding taxation. Last year, because of conditions existing at the time, the Government, in its wisdom or otherwise, did not hesitate to impose on companies an extra tax of one shilling in the £1. Believing that businesses need some degree of stimulus and in order to encourage expansion and create employment, the Government has given the companies a rebate of 50 per cent, of the extra tax that was imposed last year. This is not a hand-out to the companies, as the Leader of the Opposition has described it. It is a measure of alleviation to help the companies to meet existing conditions. Surely that is fair enough.

While touring round the country last week-end, I met four people who commended the Government on the reduction in the company tax. Who were these people? One was a nursing sister, another a health inspector, the third a retired public servant and the fourth an airline pilot. Surely they are average persons with modest incomes, yet the right honorable gentleman would have us believe that they are grasping, greedy persons who are out to exploit the Australian people. It is persons such as they who, according to the Leader of the Opposition, are receiving favoured treatment from the Government in this budget.

The right honorable gentleman also claimed that, while the Government has shown favoritism and given great benefits to the big companies, it has neglected social service payments. 1 should have thought that social services would have been the last thing to which the right honorable gentleman would have referred because social services represent one item in this budget which rebounds to the credit of the Liberal-Australian Country party Government in comparison with the record of the Labour government which preceded it. That is easily proved. Let us examine the National Welfare Fund and the various payments that are made from it. First, I shall take age and invalid pensions. In the last year that the Labour government was in office in 1949, the total paid in age and invalid pensions was £41,694,000. In this budget, the present Government will provide £121,800,000 for age and invalid pensions, or three times the amount that the Labour government paid. The Labour government gave £4,388,000 for widows’ pensions and this Government will provide £10,130,000 - an increase of 250 per cent. Payments for child endowment under the Labour government totalled £24,323,000, but the present Government has provided £59,600,000. The Labour government provided for unemployment and sickness benefits £1,070,000, but this Government has provided £4,700,000 for unemployment should it develop in Australia. Medical benefits were not provided by the Labour government, but in this budget the Government has allocated £6,526,000 for pharmaceutical benefits.

It is odd how Opposition members - supporters of the Australian Labour party - can always think up good ideas for pensions when they are in opposition. When they are in office as the government, they do not do anything for the pensioners. The provision for medical benefits for pensioners is an excellent example of their attitude. Did the Labour government ever do anything to supply medicines to pensioners? Of course it did not do so, but this Government has provided £3,105,000 for that purpose in this budget. Hospital benefits provide another interesting comparison. The provision by the Labour government in 1948-49 totalled £5,881,000, compared with £10,930,000 provided in this budget. The Labour government allotted a modest expenditure of £149,000 to life-saving drugs. So that everybody in the community can have access to these medicines, this Government has provided, for an expenditure of £10,590,000 in the current budget.

The end result is that the Labour government, in its last year of office, provided £80,777,000 for social services compared with a total of £243,572,000 in this budget for the same benefits. This Government is providing three times the total amount allotted by the Labour government to Australians who are in less fortunate circumstances, so the right honorable gentleman would have been well advised to have omitted social service payments from his speech.

There are some interesting points about the age and invalid pension rates in particular, and they are most important. In 1949, when this Government took over from the Labour government, the age pension was £2 2s. 6d. It has been raised in this budget to £4 7s. 6d. I am speaking now of the basic pension without taking into consideration free medical services, free medicines, homes for the aged and other provisions for pensioners. It is useful, to recall that in the last year that the Labour government was in office, it gave the pensioners nothing,, yet supporters, of the Australian Labour party in this chamber have criticized the increase of 7s. 6d a week that has been given by the Government in this budget. During his speech to-night, the Leader of the Opposition made frequent comparisons of percentages of the basic wage. I have not time to analyse them,, but I am amazed that the right honorable gentleman, a man with long legal experience, should have based his calculations on such a variable quantity as the basic wage.

Honorable members will’ recall how the basic wage developed. At one time, it was based on the needs of a man, his wife- and three children. Then the basis was the needs of a man with a wife and two children. Then nobody knew what was the real basis. In 1941, the government of the day recognized that the minimum living standard was applied to the needs of one man. Then another complexity came into the calculations. Somebody said, “I am a single- man and I am on the same basic wage as a married man with four or five children “. It wai quite apparent that it was- unfair to fix the basic wage on the needs of- a single man’, when the needs of a married man with many more responsibilities were: much greater. The pay-roll tax, of course;, was the outcome of that situation. Some one suggested that we should have two basic wages, one for a single man and one for a married man. It was obvious that if we adopted that system every married man in the country would have been sacked. A married man would not have got a job if a single man could have been employed at a lower wage. This rather cumbersome but quite valid pay-roll tax was designed to met the situation. It was a wage tax and it was levied on the employer..

Still on the subject of the basic wage variations, there came a time when £1 a week was added to the basic wage as a prosperity loading. In recent times another intangible factor has come into consideration in the form of the capacity of industry to pay. For the right honorable gentleman to take the basic wage as the basis for calculation and comparison is simply farcical. There has been, departmentally or governmentally, only one standard of comparison with reference to pension rates. That has been the C series index. Although it has not always been stated governmentally, it has always been at the back of our thinking that we should see how the pension rate shapes up when considered in relation to the C series index. If we take the pension of 42s. 6d. a week which the Labour government granted in its last year of office and apply to it every variation of the C series index since that time, we find that the pension to-day should be 76s. a week. But it is not 76s. a week. With a generosity that has not previously been exhibited by governments, we have increased the pension to 87s. 6d. a week. It has often been said that variations in the C series index should be automatically applied to pensions. I remind the House that that system was in operation at one time. During the war years the age pention was tied to the C series index. As the index moved, so the pension moved. Apart from the administrative difficulties, there is still a lot to be said for that scheme. However, the system was eventually changed so that the pension was no longer related to the C series index.

The Leader of the Opposition said that when the Australian Labour party was in power the government did not have to pay high interest rates. He said, “ We had to pay only 3i per cent, for money “. Of course that was the case at that time, because the right honorable gentleman’s party was governing during the- war years, when, quite apart from patriotic motives, an investor had. no option but to put his money into government bonds, which paid only 3£ per cent When the war finished and the economy was no longer rigidly controlled, wages had to be unpegged, as did rents and profits. The economy had to run free. When that happened, the Labour government of the day decided that the. pension should no longer be related to the C series index, and the gentleman who introduced legislation to implement that decision was none other than the present Leader of the Opposition.

The Leader of the Opposition brought up the matter of unemployment. I have pointed, out one inaccuracy on the part of the right honorable gentleman, and I intend to, put certain facts before the House in this connexion. As the Leader of the Opposition was speaking, I could not help remembering a time when the Australian Labour party stated a standard for unemployment. It said, “We will never get 100 per cent., employment, and we say that 5 per cent, of unemployment means full employment”.


– Order! The Minister’s time has expired.


– I think the whole Parliament has been bitterly disappointed to find a senior Minister, a member of the Cabinet, rising in defence of the Government’s budget and spending the whole of his time in clowning, in hurling personal abuse at the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt), in accusing the right honorable gentleman of quoting a mass of figures and then doing exactly the same kind of thing himself. This is a Minister, mind you, who is dealing with the budget papers and who is himself the Minister for Immigration, but who says not one single word about the subject of immigration. The reason why he was not game to mention immigration is that his policy will not bear analysis. He was not game to mention it because he knew he could not explain why the Government, having brought thousands of Hungarians to this country, is now allowing those immigrants to leave the camps and tramp the roads looking for work which they cannot find, and is refusing them social service benefits on the ground that they are not entitled to them because they have no fixed place of abode. The very immigrants who were brought out by this Government are. now asking to be repatriated to Hungary. If the Government thinks that this is a misstatement, the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) is prepared to give the Minister the names of the Hungarian immigrants who wish their names, identities and places of abode to be known to the Government so that they may be sent back to the country from which they came. So bad do they consider the country that they were brought to that they would far rather return to Hungary than remain here any longer. If the Government believes that this is not a. statement of fact, we are prepared to. give the names of the Hungarians concerned

Honorable members interjecting,


– Order! The committee must come to order on both sides of the chamber, because the honorable member must be heard.


– The Minister for Immigration (Mr. Townley), with a sheepish smile on his face, started off by asking why the Leader of the Opposi’tion did not move that the first item be reduced by 30s. instead of by £1. Does the Minister not know, after his many years in the Cabinet, that for centuries this has been the method of moving a motion of censure against the Government? Does the Minister not realize that the only way in which the Opposition can censure the Government is by following the orthodox method of moving that the first item in the budget be reduced by £1? It is no wonder that the Government is going to pieces, when the Minister, who ought to know, the procedures and forms of the House, innocently remarks that the Leader of the Opposition erred in following the procedures that have been followed for centuries.

Instead of defending the budget, the Minister devoted practically all of his tj-ne to a personal attack on the Leader of the Opposition. He accused him of bringing in a great mass of figures that no one understood, and then proceeded to do the same thing himself. He declared that the figures cited by the Leader of the Opposition were inaccurate, but he did not prove that statement. In order to try to make it appear that the figures given by the Leader of the Opposition were inaccurate, he started to quote figures showing the total amount of consumption throughout Australia for the last twelve months. He said that the total personal consumption expenditure rose by several hundreds of thousands of pounds during the past year. But people in Australia do not eat pound notes. What the Leader of the Opposition was trying to drum into the skulls of honorable members opposite was that people eat bread and butter and other foodstuffs, and that the amount of bread, butter, eggs, meat and other common forms of food consumed by the Australian people had been reduced considerably per head of population. That statement cannot be controverted.

The Minister went on to say that we need millions of pounds to pay back public loans during the next year or two when they fall due. Evidently the Government has now realized that no longer will the people convert Commonwealth loans when they fall due, as they were glad to do in the days of the Chifley and Curtin governments. The people now are asking to be paid in cash, because they know that if they leave their money with this Government any longer the value will dwindle until it will not be worth one-third of what it was formerly. This Minister, who has made such a hopeless attempt to defend the budget, said nothing at all about one of the most important economic problems of the day, that is, immigration, but spent the whole of his time in making a personal attack on the Leader of the Opposition. He said that the number in employment did not decrease during the last year but rose by 7,000. Suppose it did increase by 7,000; that would represent an infinitesimal percentage of the annual increase in the total work force. Every year, approximately 140,000 children leave school in Australia and it is estimated that in 1960, 200,000 children will leave school. Most of those will be looking for employment. On top of that number is the further 121,000 immigrants whom this Minister brought into the country last year, and about whom he said nothing whatever in his speech to-night. The stage has now been reached when even the immigrants who are here realize that the

Government’s immigration policy is as damaging to them as it is to the old Australians. The immigrants themselves have told me - not one, but hundreds - that the trouble with the country to-day is that there are too many new Australians coming here. They ask, moreover, why, before this Government brings more immigrants into this country, it does not find work for the immigrants already here. That is a perfectly legitimate question.

The Minister said that there has been no increase in the cost of living, as the Leader of the Opposition suggests. In order to justify that unfair and incorrect statement he quoted the C series index, as though, in any event that would be a fair and reasonable guide to the true increase in prices. He had to admit that even the C series index figures showed a substantial increase. He overlooked the fact - deliberately, 1 suggest - that the C series index is a measuring rod for only a percentage of the items that have to be purchased, because it is limited to the goods comprising the regimen used in making the C series calculation. The Minister at the table conveniently forgot all about that because he knew that if he were forced to admit it the weakness of his whole case would be exposed. He talked about the number of shareholders in Australian Consolidated Industries, and said there were 13,000 of them. Does not the Minister know enough about commerce to realize that only a mere handful of the 1 3,000 control A.C.I, and that the balance of them merely make up the number of the shareholders?

But I now turn to the budget, because enough time has been wasted in listening to the Minister’s personal abuse of the Leader of the Opposition, and his attempt to show that the figures that have been checked repeatedly by three of the most eminent economists in Australia and found to be entirely correct, are wrong. This budget shows that the Government’s intention is to continue for yet another year its past policy of taking from the poor and giving to the wealthy, of taking from the needy and giving to the greedy. It is a budget which ignores the just claims of the weak and panders to the privileged. It is a budget that will cause the poor to become poorer and the rich to become richer, lt is a budget that will cause the weak and the under-privileged sections of the community to become more so. It will enable the power of monopoly capitalism to grow even greater and the privileged wealthy to continue to treat with contempt the rights of the great mass of the Australian people.

This budget does nothing at all - absolutely nothing - to deal with the everincreasing problem of unemployment. Nor does it do anything to deal with the sorry plight of the age pensioners and others on fixed incomes. The homeless will still be homeless under the budget proposals. Nothing is proposed in the budget to alleviate the distress of the people who are without homes. No provision is made to give to the Government of New South Wales, which the Minister has criticized, the finance for which it has been crying out for years, to enable it to carry out its housing programme. Very little has been done in the budget to provide finance for the people who were promised all the good things in life when the war was over. I refer to the ex-servicemen. Not one word of protest has been voiced by ex-servicemen who are sitting on the benches behind the Government against the Government’s failure to honour its promises to the exservicemen to provide finance for war service homes. Many ex-servicemen who are without homes will still have to wait nearly fifteen months to get finance from the Government. They were hoping to see some extra provision for finance to enable them to obtain homes, but nothing has been done.

The small businessman and the farmer in need of finance will still try in vain to obtain bank loans for their programmes of expansion. The already exorbitant interest rates which were introduced as a result of this Government’s deliberate policy will remain as high as they are at present and will go even higher. The wage-earners basic wage will still be pegged and he will still be denied quarterly cost of living adjustment while the price of the necessaries of life continue to soar. All this is happening in spite of the Government’s promise to put value back into the £1.

The wealthy combines will not only continue to rake in their record profits of the last few years, but as a result of additional tax reductions proposed in the budget they will make even greater profits in the coming year. The farmers will still be forced to pay colossal freight charges to the greedyoverseas shipping combines. The immi grants who are already unemployed will have their plight worsened by the influx of a further 115,000 immigrants next year, because the Government cannot find work for the immigrants already here, lt is strange that the Minister for Immigration who is personally responsible for the Government’s immigration policy and from whom we should have received official information on the Government’s policy, said not a single word about that important problem in his contribution to the debate.

The buyers of furniture and household equipment - refrigerators, washing machines and the like - will still have to pay 8i per cent, sales tax on all that they purchase in that line. This is the provision made by a government that has been pledged to maintain the value of pensions and other social services, and which promised to put value back into the £1. This is the Government which was elected by the people at the last election in preference to the policy of the Australian Labour party, whose candidates were definite and clear in the promises they made. I shall mention some of them now and invite those people who voted for the Liberal party or disguised Liberal party candidates at the last general election and rejected Labour’s policy, to listen to what they would have received had they cast their vote in the favour of Labour party candidates.

During the last election campaign the Leader of the Opposition promised the pensioners an increase of 15s. immediately in their basic pension rate. He promised also that immediately upon election he would appoint a royal commission to ascertain the weekly amount that is necessary to maintain in ordinary human dignity old couples who, in the evening of their lives, should have proper means of sustenance. He promised further that as a result of that inquiry, the minimum amount that was found to be necessary would be paid to the pensioners immediately and that any amount in excess of that rate, which the economy could afford, would be paid and the rate would be automatically adjusted in accordance with fluctuations in the cost of living. The Brisbane conference of the Australian Labour party declared that an increase of no less than 15s. a week, as an immeditae objective, was necessary to meet the requirements of age pensioners. The Minister spoke about what the Chifley Government did in 1948. Let me remind the committee that when the Chifley Government fixed the pension rate at £2 2s. 6d. in 1948, that sum represented 37 per cent, of the then basic wage, which was unpegged. It is important to recognize that the basic wage was unpegged in Chifley’s day. A true comparison, therefore, would be .that 37 per cent, of the unpegged basic wage, which is £13 5s. for the six capital cities in Australia to-day, would yield a return of £4 18s. a week, which is 3s. higher than even we in Brisbane considered should be the base rate, having regard to the basic wage at that time. In other words, it is exactly what we said in Brisbane, at the beginning of the year, was the correct percentage that ought to be applied having regard to the purchasing power of the basic wage. 1 turn now to the unemployment benefit. In 1945, when the Chifley Government introduced the unemployment benefit, the base rate for a .family unit was 52 per cent, of the basic wage. If the family unit were to get the same percentage of the basic wage to-day as it got when the Chifley Government introduced the system twelve years ago, and if it were to be given merely the equivalent of what was thought to be the proper standard twelve years ago, disregarding altogether the increase in productivity that has occurred since then, it would be necessary to increase the rate to £6 17s., not the miserable £6 2s. 6d. that is proposed in the budget.

There are other anomalies in social services that have not been corrected by the Government. Let me mention one in particular. To-day I received a letter from a gentleman who is 65 years of age. He is married to a woman who is 37 years of age, and he has an eight-months-old baby to maintain. He has lost his job because he is too old to stand up to the strenuous efforts required of him in the position he held. Now, having lost his job, he is told that he is not eligible for the unemployment benefit because he is 65 years of age. He is told that he has to be satisfied with ihe old age pension. And this man, under the budget. is to get the miserable sum of G4 7s. 6d. a week by way of the age pension! His wife gets nothing whatever because he is not an invalid and is capable of working. All he is to get is £4 7s. 6d. a week plus child endowment of 5s. a week. If he were twelve months, or even six months younger than he is, he would be entitled to the unemployment benefit of £6 2s. 6d., plus 5s. endowment.

The Minister for Immigration, who concluded his speech a few moments ago, instead of going to sleep, or chewing his cud, or whatever he is doing, should listen to what I am saying. He should look at this problem to see whether this anomaly can be rectified. He should be seeing what he can do for the man who is in the circumstances I mentioned a moment ago, the man who is not able to get work and who has a young wife and child to maintain. He should see what he can do to get for this man the same unemployment benefit as is paid to others who have the same responsibilities. Nothing has been said by the Minister to .justify this Government’s decision to ratify the Japanese Trade Agreement, which will aggravate the unemployment situation.

Mr Fairhall:

– 1 have not spoken yet.


– I am referring to the Minister who has spoken. Let us hope the Minister for Works (Mr. Fairhall) will do a better job than his predecessor. That should be easy, because it would be almost impossible to do worse. At least the Minister for Works has an easy job in this respect. I rather envy him having to make a speech after such a miserable speech as the one just delivered.


– Order!


– The number of unemployed in Australia has now reached the staggering figure of 100,000 people. In that figure I do not include only those people who are on unemployed sustenance because that would not give the true picture. There are thousands upon thousands of unemployed men who are not receiving sustenance from the Government. They are not receiving it because they are still hoping that they will get a job. They are still hoping that in a little while, before their savings are exhausted, they will get a job. The figure I have mentioned does not take into account either the thousands of men who have reached 65 years of age and are in circumstances similar to those of the man T have just mentioned, men who have been sacked from their jobs because they are now regarded as being too old. Why, in the days of the Chifley Government, those men would have been able to work for another five or six years! Now they are forced to take the age pension instead of registering as unemployed. Once they are 65 years of age, they are not allowed to receive the unemployment benefit; they have to take the age pension. If the Minister will examine the figures he will find, even having regard to the number of pensioners who died of starvation, that the total number of pensioners to-day is considerably greater and that it is also growing at a greater percentage rate each year than ever before in the history of this country.

I come now to the matter of permissible income. Much has been said about the fact that it is proposed to increase the permissible income for unemployed people from fi to £2 a week. I .point out that the £1 a week allowed when the unemployment benefit scheme was first introduced represented 20.8 per cent, of the then basic wage. If we were to apply that 20.8 per cent, to the unpegged basic wage of to-day the permissible income should be increased not to £2 but to £2 15s. a week. The Government talks about hard figures, .but when it is faced with the correct figures it has to recognize them and in those circumstances we cannot wonder that honorable members on the Government side have dismal looks at the moment. And this is the situation which has been allowed to obtain in a country which has now decided to bring in another 1 15,000 immigrants, who will engage in a hopeless search for work, this year and, I have no doubt, in the year to follow.

We are told that the Government also proposes to increase the assistance given by the Commonwealth to hospital patients to meet their accounts for hospital treatment. At present the Commonwealth pays a general hospital benefit of 8s. a day and, where a patient is a member of a hospital insurance organization, an additional benefit of 4s. a day. Legislation is to be introduced providing for the payment of additional benefit of 12s. a day, in dieu of 4s. a day, where a hospital patient is entitled to receive hospital insurance benefit of 16s. a day or more. What about increasing the 8s. to 16s., so that people will be entitled to receive the 16s. regardless of whether they are in a medical benefits scheme? Why does not the Government do what Labour has consistently urged it to do? Why does it not give every Australian citizen the right to enjoy the full amount of the Commonwealth hospital contribution? Why does it not give them the total amount of £1 a day, irrespective of whether they are forced to join a mutual benefit association? They are entitled to that payment as a right. They are entitled to it as taxpayers and they ought not to be forced to pay extra taxation in the form of contributions to a mutual hospital .benefits fund. All these are matters that ought to be looked at by the Government.

One of the most amazing things about the economy of Australia to-day, which has been described to us as a stable economy, is that persons who want homes, including ex-servicemen who are waiting for finance from the War Service ‘Homes Division, are told by private banks, when they seek to borrow money from ‘them at 5i per cent, or 6 per cent, to buy their homes, “ We have not got the money to lend, but if you go around the corner to the hire-purchase company you can borrow as much as you like at 12 per cent, or 14 per cent, interest “. These hire-purchase companies are owned and controlled by the same banks. Again, if people want to buy an old car, they can get money from the same hire-.purchase companies at interest rates as high as 20 per cent. This is the kind of thing this Government allows to continue. I know of many ex-servicemen who have had to borrow money from hire-purchase companies at 12 per cent, for the period of fifteen months during which they have had to wait for the War Service Homes Division to deal with their applications.

I also know of farmers who, when they have wanted to borrow money to buy new implements, .have been told by banks, “ We cannot let you have the money “. Even though their collateral has been sufficient to cover ten times the amount required by way of overdraft, the banks have refused to accommodate them. They have told these farmers that if they go to the hirepurchase companies, they can get £1,000 to buy their new machinery - at interest rates of 12 per cent, to 16 per cent.

Small businessmen are being kept out by the monopolies. A close friend of mine who lives in my electorate and who has saved during the whole of his working life - a man who did without a motor car and without a home so that he could save his money in order to establish himself in business - finds every time he attempts to set up a business for himself that he is crowded out by the monopolies. When he wants to get supplies of the things he needs to set himself up in business, he finds that the trade is so completely tied up that it is utterly impossible for him to get into it in order to help provide the healthy competition about which this Government has so much to say.

We remember, too, that the Treasurer, on behalf of the Government, promised faithfully from the table of this House that an excess profits tax would be introduced. He said, “ By October of this year excess profits tax legislation will be introduced “. That was the year 1951, but nothing further has been heard of it in spite of the fact that since 1951 the profits earned by companies have been greater than ever before in the history of the Commonwealth. If it is right that the arbitration court should have power to control the price of the only thing the worker has to sell - his labour - it is equally right that Parliament should have the power to control the prices of the things the worker has to buy. That is the policy of the Australian Labour party.

When a Labour government is elected again, one of the first things it will do will be to give the people an opportunity, by way of referendum, to grant to this Parliament the same power to control the prices of the things the worker has to buy as the arbitration court now exercises over the price of the only thing the worker has to sell. It is of no use this Government going on as it is. It is of no use for anybody in the community to-day to blame the Labour party for the unemployment situation. They cannot blame the Labour party for the fact that there are more immigrants in Australia than are able to get work. They cannot blame the Labour party for the fact that pensioners are now living on lower standards than ever before. They cannot blame the Labour party for the fact that the War Service Homes Division is not able to supply the finance necessary to give ex-servicemen the rights to which they are entitled and which they were promised faithfully by this Government and the previous government.

The small businessmen and the farmers who find that they cannot get credit from the private banks, cannot blame the Labour party. They can blame only the Menzies Government. They cannot blame the Labour party for the high interest rates now being charged. The people of Australia who have entered into hire-purchase transactions cannot blame the Labour party for the fact that the hire-purchase companies are raking off enormous profits. They cannot blame the Labour party for the fact that prices are soaring. Workers in industry cannot blame the Labour party for their wages being pegged and cost of living adjustments being wiped out. Farmers cannot blame the Labour party because the shipping combines were permitted by this Government to rake off an enormous increase in overseas freight charges; so much so that last year the shipping companies received 7s. for every bushel of wheat they transported overseas, whereas the Australian Wheat Board received only 10s. a bushel net on behalf of the farmer who had produced the wheat and paid for the superphosphate, the bags and the labour. The people who voted against the Labour party at the last election cannot blame it for the increased postal charges and the doubling of broadcast listeners’ licence-fees. They cannot blame the Labour party for the Japanese Trade Agreement. The Labour party cannot be blamed for the tax on diesel fuel, or the tax on aviation kerosene, which must cause an increase in air fares as the result of higher operating costs for TransAustralia Airlines - one of the Government’s own instrumentalities.

The Democratic Labour party - or the disguised Liberal party, as it should be called - can no longer fool the people into giving their second preference votes to the Liberal party, whose policy they claim to oppose. The people who were silly enough to vote for this Government and for the Democratic Labour party at the last elections are now turning back to the Labour party. In the Wallaroo by-election the people, who fifteen months ago elected a Liberal candidate with a majority of 248 votes, in an electorate of less than 6,000 voters, returned a Labour candidate with a majority of more than 800 votes last Saturday. That is the complete answer. The “ News-Weekly “, official organ of the Santamaria party, admitted, in last week’s editorial, that this nonsense “ You can’t win with Evatt “ is so much eyewash, and that was proved by the Wallaroo byelection. The bad government that we are getting from the Liberal-Country party Government is swinging the people back so fast to the official Labour party that it is nonsense to say, “ Labour can’t win with Evatt “.

The present Government, unfortunately, is power-drunk; so utterly power-drunk that it is ignoring completely the rights of the ordinary people in the community, lt is doing that because it has mesmerized itself into believing this catch-cry of the Santamaria Democratic Labour party, “ Labour can’t win with Evatt “. This Government will find to its sorrow that if it carries on like this - unless it alters this budget this year it will be too late - the people of Australia will show in no uncertain way that Labour can win with Evatt; Labour will win with Evatt. Unless there is a return to the Australian Labour party, none of the evils 1 have mentioned can be rectified. The people will be further welched on, the poor will continue to get poorer, the rich will continue to get richer, and the old age pensioners will continue to try to eke out a miserable existence on a weekly allowance which is an everlasting disgrace to the dignity of the human race.


.- The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) concluded by saying that the Labour party could not be blamed for this and that, but many of the people about whom he was talking can thank their lucky stars that Labour is not in office, and they can thank this Government for a lot of things which have happened since the Labour party was kicked out. It would appear that the honorable member for Hindmarsh was most annoyed that the previous speaker, the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Townley), did not deal with immigration, and he therefore commenced his observations by levelling an outburst against the Minister. He became so rabblerousing that he committed quite a few indiscretions. He charged returned service- r-*n on the Government side with failing to do anything for ex-servicemen. I say to the honorable member for Hindmarsh and his colleagues that the ex-servicemen of this country will remember that every one of the long list of points put before the Labour party in 1949 - I think there were something like 36 - was rejected. It was left to the Liberal-Australian Country party Government to put those proposals into effect in its first year.

Mr Ward:

– No.


– The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) says, “ No “, but 1 say that the ex-servicemen will never forget it. 1 point out too that this Government built more war service homes in five years than were built in all previous years. 1. think the Labour party made available over a period of five years something like £31,000,000, compared with £137,000,000 provided by this Government so far. But those are merely figures. What the ex-servicemen will not forget - nor will their dependants and others associated with them - is that Labour supporters who are sitting in this chamber to-night were members of a government which refused to regard a war widow as a responsible risk with regard to her application for a war service home. War widows could not get a war service home under Labour. People will not forget those things easily.

The honorable member for Hindmarsh spoke of unemployment and sickness benefits. It is true that they were introduced by the Chifley Government, but in the same legislation, that Government also introduced a means test on war pensions. The then Acting Minister for Social Services in another place promised the ex-servicemen’s organizations that the means test would be removed. It was a mistake, he said, and a vicious anomaly. I well recall holding the House up until 2 o’clock in the morning, endeavouring to have that promise altered, but it was left to this LiberalAustralian Country party Government to remove the anomaly in its first year of office.

Opposition members talk about exservicemen on the Government benches not endeavouring to do anything for exservicemen outside. They talk of homes for the homeless. Let us see what some Labour governments have done about providing homes for the people. Every Labour government, including the State governments, has made a hopeless mess of housing. We had an experience only recently in Western Australia. A Labour member from Western Australia is to follow me in this debate, and I invite him to deal with this point: The State sawmills of Western Australia are a socialist enterprise, established by a Labour government with the idea of providing timber at a little above cost and preventing private enterprise from making excess profits. Recently there were signs of unemployment. The balance-sheet for 1955-56 of the State sawmills of Western Australia, controlled by a Labour government, showed a loss for that year. But it was admitted that had a quantity of timber held in stock been sold at cost, the mills would have finished up with a profit of £21,000. It was frankly conceded that the State enterprise belonged to the sawmillers association, although, because of some stir in the western State only recently, that membership has been withdrawn. In other words, the Labour party was allowing one of its socialistic ventures to belong to an organization of profit-seekers!

Members of the Labour party talk of man’s inhumanity to man, but they are the inhuman ones. That timber could have been sold and the State would not have lost one penny. It. would have meant that small contractors could have built more homes and more carpenters could have been kept in employment for longer periods, thus giving them greater purchasing power. Members of the Labour party rise in their places in this chamber and say what they would’ do if they had the opportunity. The people have learned their lesson concerning the Labour party. They heard all the airy-fairy promises which the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) made and what did they do? They told the Labour government to get out. They did not want to have anything to do with it.

One of the strangest parts of the speech of the honorable member for Hindmarsh was that in which he stated that there were 100,000 unemployed in this country. His leader previously had mentioned a figure of 50,000 and had said that the Government had only 20,000 on its list of people who were seeking jobs. He explained that some were probably prevented from registering as unemployed because of the means test. He did not say that a lot of people had got jobs without having their names removed from the list. Every honorable member who was in this House in 1952 will remember an episode similar to the one that happened here to-night. It is the object- of members- of the Labour party to create consternation in the minds of those who work for their living and in the minds of those who are engaged in manufacturing and commerce because members- of the Opposition realize that only in a state of chaos will they survive.

On the occasion to which ! have referred in 1952 the then honorable member for Watson, who is now the honorable member for Kingsford Smith (Mr. Curtin) claimed that there were 10,000 unemployed in Australia. Within a few minutes, another gentleman on his side of the House stated that there were 40,000 unemployed, and within half an hour the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) said, that there were 100,000 unemployed. The same thing happened to-night. I want to examine those figures for a few moments. If there were 100,000 unemployed in this country, that number in a work force of 4,000,000 would represent, about 2i per cent unemployment. What is the attitude of the Labour party to full employment? I invite the attention of honorable members to the fact that to-night the Leader of the Opposition dwelt at some length on the subject of unemployment. He charged the Government with abandoning a system of full employment. That charge has been made many times before. We have become accustomed to it. But nobody knows better than the Leader of the Opposition and those who sit behind him that the Government has endeavoured, throughout its long period of office since 1949, to maintain full employment, and it has done it right royally. To-day, the unemployed actually represent i per cent, of the total work force.

But let us consider the figure of 100,000 which would represent 2b per cent, unemployment. We all know the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen). He sits on the front bench on the Opposition side of the House. He is a highly respected’ member of the Labour party. I believe that he has the full confidence of the Leader of the Opposition. I am informed that he is the publicity officer of the Labour party. Therefore, he is a most prominent member of that organization, if it can he called an organization. Let us see what he has to say in respect of unemployment. Honorable members Will find his remarks recorded in volume 182’ of the Parliamentary Debates of 15rh May, 1945, at page 1697. He was speaking on the Re-establishment and Employment Bill. The Labour party has not denied or corrected the remarks that he made on that occasion so I take it that they still subscribe to them. This is what he said - i realize that there cannot be total employment, but if we can get down- to 5 per cent, of unemployment, for all practical purposes that can be regarded as total employment.

Many times I have heard honorable members who have criticized, the Government say that if the proportion of unemployed to employed people were reduced to the proportion that existed in the United States of America or the United Kingdom, the Government would be doing, a marvellous job. In the United States the. government considers it is doing a good job in relation to unemployment if it gets the figure down to between 5 per cent, and 8- per cent., and in the United Kingdom the government is doing a good job if it gets the figure down to between 3 per cent, and 4 per cent. So, even if we grant that the figures used by the honorable member for Hindmarsh in his extravagant speech were correct, they would still: give the lie direct to his own leader’s- statement that we have, abandoned full employment because they mean that we have only 2b per cent, unemployment. In fact, everybody knows that the figure is not as high as that.

The Leader of the Opposition said that there- had been a serious deterioration in the living standards of the people. I have never heard a statement of a similar nature come from a gentleman in a position such as that which the right honorable gentleman occupies. He knows that the people of this country now have more motor cars, more washing machines, more refrigerators, and more household labour-saving devices than they have ever had before. He is doing harm to his own people by. saying that their standards are deteriorating.

He then shed great crocodile tears because, so- he claimed, farm incomes had fallen while incomes of the great monopolies had soared. Each and every member of this Parliament, during the last fortnight, has been wearied almost to death by stories from the Opposition that the Japanese

Trade Agreement, into which this Government entered, indicated a pandering to the primary industries. What do Opposition members want? Do they want the farming community to have a sizeable income or not? If they do, then they must be a little more farsighted than they have been during the last fortnight in respect of any trade agreement into which the Government might enter. I advise members of the Opposition to pay full attention to the remarks that were made by the honorable member, for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) recently. It would pay Opposition members to study those remarks, in “ Hansard “, and to refer to them continually, because they represented the only sensible speech that was made on that subject by a member of the Opposition. But there was no criticism by the Opposition when the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt) made a very correct comment in this House- last week that we all benefited when the farmers earned a good overseas income. They applauded that statement. They are not quite certain which road to follow. Therefore they use the budget debate as an opportunity to indulge in these extravagant statements.

The Leader of the Opposition said, that the incidence of sales tax would fall upon small businessmen or upon businessmen in the category below the category of monopolists, whatever he might mean by that. In his- very next breath he referred to the income that the Government would receive from sales tax and he seemed to insinuate that the Government was endeavouring to pull the wool over the eyes of the ordinary men in the street by saying that it was going to reduce sales tax by £3,000,000 whilst it was aiming to collect an extra £4,000,000 in sales tax. What did he mean by that? If, as the right honorable gentleman said, the sales tax is to bring us in so much more this year how does he support his claim- that all classes of business, except that of the monopolist, are experiencing a decline in activity. Honorable members opposite have said very little that is worthwhile in opposition to this budget. Inevitably, they get back to pensions. The Leader of the Opposition and the honorable member for Hindmarsh spoke on that subject for a considerable period. As everybody knows, Labour has the worst pensions record of any government since federation. The Labour Government was the only government to reduce pensions.

Mr Calwell:

– That is not true.


– It refused to increase pension rates in 1949 during the so-called golden era, of which we heard so much. The Labour party not only threw aside the 36-point programme of the ex-servicemen, but meted out similar treatment to the pensioners. We all are well aware that during the last fortnight some honorable members opposite - and indeed some Government supporters - have had to refer to this subject because the Government has been petitioned to increase the pension to half the basic wage.

Mr Calwell:

– Hear, hear!


– You support that proposal?


– Order! The honorable member will address the Chair.


– I was wondering whether the honorable gentleman would answer “ Yes “ to my question.

Mr Calwell:

– I am too shrewd for that.




– When those petitions were being presented by Government supporters members of the Opposition said, “ Why don’t you move that that be done? If we so move, will you support us “?, and so on. They tried to convince the people that they believed in the soundness of the petitions. What clap-trap! It comes from the members of a party who believe in it no more than they believe in Father Christmas. They know full well that if the age pension were raised to half the basic wage we should be in no end of trouble. A married pensioner would then be receiving the basic wage. What of the Labour supporters who are already in receipt of the basic wage? Are the young married men who are endeavouring to educate families and purchase homes to receive only the same amount as the aged couple? This hypocricy on the part of Labour is one of the most dastardly exhibitions that I have ever witnessed in this Parliament. Honorable members opposite do not believe one word of what they are advocating. Their deputy leader, the honorable member for Melbourne, was strangely silent a moment ago when I asked him to say whether he believed in it or not.

The honorable member for Hindmarsh referred to the position of the Totally and Permanently Incapacitated Ex-servicemen who have, in fact, been generously treated in the budget. Thank goodness they had sufficient courage and respect for the Government to come along and thank the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Cooper) for the treatment they have received.

This Government initiated the homes for the aged scheme on a £1 for £1 basis and now proposes to contribute £2 for every £1 raised for this purpose. Have honorable members opposite any criticism of that? The States remember only too well that grants supplementary to those made under the tax reimbursement formula were always refused when Labour was in government.

Mr Calwell:

– That is not so.


– The answer was was always, “ No, no, no “. Have honorable members opposite - except, of course, the honorable member for Hindmarsh, who has made certain wild statements to-night - any criticism to offer of the additional £5,000,000 that the Government is setting aside for the building of war service homes? If, since the War Service Homes Division was established, any government has endeavoured to do a job for the ex-servicemen it has been the Government which the Right Honorable R. G. Menzies has led since 1 949. More war service homes have been built in the last five years than during all the years since inception of the scheme, which has become so popular that ex-servicemen prefer it to any other form of housing finance. In additional to the £30,000,000 that the Government has made available annually since 1949, this year it will contribute an additional £5,000,000 - something quite undreamt of when Labour was in government.

Mr Calwell:

– Why do ex-servicemen have to wait eighteen months for finance?


– First, because the scheme is so popular, and, secondly, because, as the honorable member knows, the resources and man-power available enable only a certain volume of building to be undertaken. We should soon be in trouble if we ran wild and made a loan -available immediately to every one who wanted it.

I compliment the Government upon the job that it is doing in bringing to reality a comprehensive water scheme for Western Australia. Upper limits of annual payments have been removed and the Government is now prepared to meet half the extra cost which, if my memory serves me correctly, will bring the total outlay to £5,000,000.

I wish now to refer to the proposed Australian Broadcasting Commission building in Perth. Most honorable members realize that works of this kind cannot be undertaken in five minutes. I was surprised to read in the “ West Australian “ the other day a comment by the State Premier to the effect that once again Western Australia was getting a raw deal - that it was a poor show. Any one who takes an interest in these matters will know that money to commence a project is not necessarily made available immediately the Public Works Committee examines it and submits a report upon it. The preparation of working drawings and kindred matters takes a good deal of time. I feel certain that if the Premier of Western Australia will be patient he will find that the Australian Broadcasting Commission building will be put up in good time. Western Australia is not doing as badly as some people would have us believe. 1 should also like to congratulate the Government upon its decision to provide an extra £1,000,000 for housing under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement. Most honorable members realize that, as the Premiers decide at the meetings of the Australian Loan Council how much money can be raised during the year, they have a big say in fixing the amount that will be made available for housing. The extra £1,000,000 together with the £5,000,000 to be set aside for war service homes, should give a great fillip to homebuilding throughout Australia.

I turn now to the Commonwealth Aid Roads Agreement. The Government is putting aside, from each gallon of petrol sold this year, something to be spent on roads. The tax is expected to yield £33.000,000. In addition, a special grant of £3,000,000 is to be made for the same purpose. Admittedly it will come from a tax on diesel oil, but it will add substantially to the funds available for road-building.

By and large, this is a good budget which cannot fail to have a stabilizing effect on our economy. Honorable members opposite tell us that the economy is going haywire. In view of the millions of pounds of overseas capital invested in Australia during the regime of this Government, that is a very strange suggestion indeed. The Opposition has criticized us trenchently when we have endeavoured to arrange something of that nature. Honorable members will recall that when we persuaded the Anglo-Iranian company to come here to build a £40,000,000 refinery - fortunately they chose a site in Western Australia - we were accused of selling the people’s assets. Then we encouraged the Chase Company to go into the Northern Territory at Humpty Doo, and it did so. It followed that up by taking over an area of 1,500,000 acres in Western Australia. In respect of that again, we were criticized by the Opposition.

If our economy is as bad as the Opposition would have people believe, if it is stagnating, as the Leader of the Opposition suggested to-night - in fact he went farther and said that it was going backwards - would these wise, hard-headed businessmen bring their money to this country? Of course they would not. They would be looking for other and safer avenues of investment. I know the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), who is interjecting, has always been against anybody coming to this country, except perhaps some of his special colleagues from one part of the world. He has never got down to admitting that frankly, however. I can remember that when the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) was Minister for Immigration, the honorable member for East Sydney attacked him in this Parliament and endeavoured to destroy his immigration policy, which, despite little upsets now and again. has proved through the years to have been very valuable to Australia. The Government is to be commended for having so managed the economy that we can continue to bring here each year a number of immigrants equal to 1 per cent, of our population. It has been admitted by members of the Labour party - they can go back on it if they like - that if we do not people this country, we shall perish.

Finally, I offer my congratulations to the Treasurer for bringing down his tenth budget. He, along with other members of the Ministry., has kept the economy on an even keel. We are progressing and this era will be recalled in years to come as one of the most prosperous eras that the Commonwealth of Australia has experienced.


.- I am pleased to have this opportunity to support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt). Before dealing with the budget, I should like to comment on some points made by the honorable member for Canning (Mr. Hamilton). First, I want to say something in reply to his criticism of the housing record of the Labour Government of Western Australia. Let me tell him, as he well knows, that the record of that Government in regard to housing is better than that of any other government in Australia. As a matter of fact, during the last budget debate the honorable member himself criticized the Minister for Housing in Western Australia for building too many houses. If he wishes to criticize any government for its building activities, let him criticize the Liberal Government of Victoria, which has a sorry record in that field. [ The honorable member for Canning questioned statements by the honorable I member for Hindmash (Mr. Clyde Cameron) and the Leader of the Opposition I in regard to the deterioration of living I standards in Australia. Living standards have never been lower than they are at the present time, nor has the purchasing power of a man working for his living ever been at such a low ebb. In order to obtain a decent living standard, not only has a man to work himself, but also his wife and other members of the family have to go out to work. That is the only way in which a family can obtain a decent standard of living at the present time. A family with only one bread-winner is in a very serious plight. As a matter of fact, this is the only time since the basic wage was introduced in Australia when there has not been a decent basic wage standard operating. Even during the war years, when wages were pegged, the basic wage was not pegged, as it has been under this Government. It is true that margins were pegged during the war, but the basic wage was not. I suggest that the honorable member for Canning pay attention to factswhen he talks on matters such as these, because it is obvious that he does not know very much about them.

I want now to come to the matter that is. before the committee, namely, the budget, lt has been suggested that it is a budget of bits and pieces - a bit here and a piece there, but not much of anything. There is a thin film of concessions spread over some of the electors. Examples of that have already been given. The company tax concessions have been mentioned and so havethe minor concessions in allowable deductions for income tax purposes. A wageearner with an income of £800, with a dependent wife and one child, gets the magnificent reduction of ls. 3d. a week in his income tax, whilst a man on £600- gets a reduction of lOd. a week - not even enough to buy a loaf of bread. That iswhat this Government calls doing something for the ordinary people.

Let me say something now about pensions. I notice that the honorable member for Canning cannot bear to remain in the chamber once he has delivered his diatribe; he is not prepared to listen to any replies that might be made. I see that he has come back into the chamber now, probably because he has been made to do so. He was critical of the Labour Government’s attitude to the pensioners. Let me say that the pensioners were never better off than they were in 1948, under a Labour government when pensions reached their peak. I am not saying that even then the standard was good enough for the pensioners. It definitely was not, but it was the highest standard that they had ever reached. If this Government wished to place the pensioners on the same standard and give them the same percentage of the basic wage as applied then, the pension rate to-day would have to be over £4 17s. a week. This Government has not given the pensioners a fair go since it has been in office. It has certainly increased pensions, but not nearly enough to meet the increased cost of living. Pensioners are having a particularly trying time due to everincreasing costs. It is true that there are more pensioners now than ever before, but that does not mean that we should treat them shabbily. Because we enjoy better health and medical standards have improved, with, the result that people are living longer than they were a few years ago, that does not mean that the pensioners should be treated shabbily. We should be concerned, not only with the fact that they are living longer, but with how they are living. If they are not enjoying decent standards, something is wrong with the Government that is in office. If they are suffering poverty and are in dire straits, something must be wrong with the Government in office which is not giving them a fair go. The way in which the pensioners are being treated by this Government is a reflection on our society. lt has been suggested that’ a country’s standard of civilization should be judged by the way in which it treats its old people. If that is the test, our standard of civilization has reached an all-time low. What the pensioner wants is a shrink-proof pension. He wants to know that his pension will always be of such a value as to give him a decent standard of living. The value of the pension has been shrinking ever since this Government came into office, and the 7s. 6d. increase that has been granted is not nearly enough. The pensioner has been short-changed throughout the whole of the life of the present Government.

Since this sessional period commenced, dozens of petitions have been presented on behalf of the pensioners by honorable members on both sides of the chamber. An indication of how the Government has ignored this section of the community is that those petitions were not even mentioned during the course of the Treasurer’s speech or by other Government members who have spoken. The petitions asked for a pension of 50 per cent, of the basic wage, as well as for other benefits.

In considering the standards that have been provided for pensioners by this Government, let us have a look at the funeral benefit. If ever a benefit has diminished in value almost to the point of disappearance, it is this one. When it was introduced, the payment was £10 and it is still £10. I was hopeful that in this budget something would be done to increase that benefit so that a pensioner could have at least a decent funeral when the time arrived for him to leave this earth. If the payment is to represent in value anything near the payment made when the funeral benefit was introduced, it should now be somewhere near £20. My remarks apply to social service benefits generally, and there is no need for me to go into the benefits in derail.

The honorable member for Hindmarsh has already mentioned that the value of the unemployment and sickness benefit has declined. For a man with a wife and one child, the amount of the benefit is £6 2s. 6d. a week, but if it were increased so as to be equal in value to the payment made in 1945 by the Chifley Labour Government, it would be £6 1 7s. On the same basis, the income that an unemployed person is permitted to earn, which has been increased now to £2 a week, should be £2 15s. a week. I am not suggesting that that is enough, but the total amount he could have, if that standard were restored, would be £9 12s. a week, compared with £8 2s. 6d. under the present proposal. I am emphasising this matter because there are so many persons unemployed at the present time and because honorable members on this side of thi* chamber believe that every consideration should, be given to their plight.

The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt) stated that the unemployment problem would be taken care of in this budget, but after the contents of the budget had been revealed to the people of Australia their hopes were dispelled, because many thousands of workers are doomed to remain unemployed. It was hoped that there would have been some relaxation of credit restrictions in order to revitalise industry. The Treasurer admitted that private enterprise was hesitant and needed a stimulant, but he brushed that off by saying that the outlook was very favourable to private enterprise. The facts are that the tight money policy of this Government has been responsible for slowing down the economy of Australia.

This policy has not operated successfully; it has not stopped inflation, and it has not curbed excesses associated with it. It has not got to the seat of the problem - the tremendous profits being made by business interests. The Leader of the Opposition gave some details in this regard. This I budget hits the home-builder, the wage earner, the pensioner, local governing , bodies and the State governments. This Government’s restrictive policy has reduced the demand in the community for consumer ^ goods, and consequently has slowed down industry generally in that regard. As our i leader has pointed out, less food is being consumed, and less clothing is being produced. He gave other illustrations to support our contention.

The Minister for Labour and National Service has admitted since the commencement of the present sessional period that more than 53,000 persons are registered for employment in Australia. There are actually many thousands more unemployed, because many do not register and many are casual workers. The Minister also admitted that, in addition to those registered for employment, there are 1,800 immigrants in migrant holding camps for whom employment must be found. They have not done a day’s work since they were brought to this country. The fact is that many people are unemployed because this Government has created unemployment. Although it was expected that the budget would do something for them, it is now seen that there is no hope in that direction. Actually, the number of persons suffering as a result of unemployment is far in excess of the number registered, when their dependants are taken into consideration; it would be nearer the 150,000 mark. Immigrants are still being brought into Australia, and they are swelling the growing army of unemployed persons. We were assured when the previous budget was brought down that the Government would keep to an intake target of 115,000 immigrants in 1956-57, but the Treasurer has admitted, in his current budget speech, that that number was exceeded by 6,000 immigrants, many of whom have not done a day’s work since they were brought here. The intake target for 1957-58 is again 115,000 immigrants. If the Government is determined to bring in that number of persons, it has a duty to give some buoyancy to the economy. It has a duty to see that employment is provided for them, lt is not of much use bringing people to this country merely to swell the ranks of the unemployed.

Immigration should be so regulated that it does not impose an undue strain on our economy. It. is not only the immigrants in holding camps that are unemployed; a big percentage of persons registered for employment are newcomers to this land. That fact must be taken into consideration. If the Government intends to continue bringing in so many immigrants from other lands, it should consider the desirability of attracting more skilled workers, lt admitted that the number of unskilled workers employed increases according tothe number of skilled workers in industry. This would help to solve the unemployment problem.

We do not want people who come toAustralia to be faced with the spectre of unemployment. That did not happen during Labour’s term of office. During that period, jobs were available for all immigrants who were brought to Australia. The Labour government’s policy in that regard; could not be questioned. I emphasize that the immigrants that are now being brought to this country are merely swelling the ranks of the employed. We want the people who are brought to Australia to be able to lead healthy and happy lives, free from the fear of unemployment. The Opposition charges this Government with having a callous disregard for the welfare of the people whom it is bringing to this land.

I want, now, to say something in regard to the position in Western Australia. This Government’s policy has imposed an almost impossible burden on that State. It is true that the budget provides for an increase of the total payments to the States, but not nearly enough money will be provided to enable the jobs that should be done to be undertaken. More money should be made available for the provision of hospitals, schools and houses. This would assist the States to stem the increasing volume of unemployment. This problem of unemployment has existed in Western Australia for over two years. It has now lifted its ugly head in other States, and, consequently, more attention is being paid to it. The people of Western Australia will not forget that no real attention was paid by the Government to the problem in that State until unemployment manifested itself in the eastern States. The Minister for Labour and National Service now admits that some action is necessary in order to meet the situation. According to the latest available figures, 2,727 persons are in receipt of the unemployment benefit in Western Australia, and more than 6,000 persons are registered for employment. However, it has been estimated that approximately 2± per cent, of the work force of the State is unemployed. If we took any notice of the honorable member for Canning, that does not matter very much. It is only a fleabite to him. But, if he were one of the unemployed persons in Western Australia, he would look at the matter differently. It is not of much use telling an unemployed man that there is only 2± per cent, of the Western Australian work force unemployed. He wants to know where he is to get a job and enjoy a reasonable standard of living. Actually, Western Australia is suffering more than are the other States, because a greater proportion of its population is unemployed than is the case with any other State. Western Australia is being left out on a limb in relation to assistance from the Commonwealth, although there is a moral obligation on the Commonwealth to see that the State receives special treatment. The credit restriction policy of this Government has hit Western Australia harder than any other State because it has not the heavy industries that the other States have. That is why we say that special financial assistance should be given, not only by way of public works, but also by way of direct grant.

The £750,000 building for the Australian Broadcasting Commission which was expected to be built this year and which, it was thought, would give a stimulus to the building trade, has been deferred until some future date, and we do not know whether it will in fact be built at all. lt is true that other public works are to be commenced, but they will not be of sufficient importance to assist the economy of the State materially. I suggest that defence contracts and other contracts could be let in Western Australia.

Mr Beale:

– So they are.


– Western Australia is not getting the proportion that it should.

Mr Beale:

– It is getting more.


– If that is so, well and good, but I doubt very much whether that is correct. If a naval base, which is vital for our defence, were established on the west coast of Australia it would do much to assist the economy of Western Australia. I was amazed to learn that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) had not discussed that matter with the United Kingdom Minister for Defence, Mr. Duncan Sandys, when he was out here recently. 1 contend that higher customs duties should be imposed on imported timber.

Until recently, Western Australia was selling a lot of timber to South Australia, but now much timber is being imported. If there were increased customs duties on timber coming into Australia, it would help to get the timber mills into production again and might result in many of the workers, who have been retrenched in the timber industry, being re-employed.

The gold subsidy, for which provision has been made in the budget, is not nearly sufficient. A request was made that the subsidy be increased from £2 to £4 10s. an ounce, but instead, it is to be increased to £2 15s. an ounce. The estimated annual cost of the increase to the Government will be £100,000 which, as a newspaper has pointed out, is less than .009 per cent, of the total estimated revenue of £1.347.410,000. Here again, the assistance is of a depressingly small nature and will not encourage the expansion of industry in Western Australia, or give the economy of the State a boost.

The attitude of this Government to the north-west of Western Australia is indicative of its general attitude to the west. At long last, after much trouble. I have managed to obtain from the Prime Minister a reply to a question I have had on the notice-paper since March last, and which has been asked repeatedly in this House. And what a reply it is! It dodges the issue entirely. More than two years ago, an allparty committee investigated the problems of the north-west of Western Australia and put forward a number of proposals in regard to the development of the area. The Prime Minister’s reply has not dealt with most of the points raised by that committee. Although the right honorable gentleman is not here at the moment, I suggest that urgent consideration should be given to the recommendations of the committee regarding taxation proposals, the construction of a dam across the Ord River, road development, extended port facilities, and a subsidy for ship construction. I hope that such consideration, which we have been awaiting for so long, will not be much further delayed.

Another matter in respect of which Western Australia has been overlooked concerns the decision of the Commonwealth to base the Commonwealth fishing investigation project on the South Australian side of the Great Australian Bight instead of at Albany, where good facilities exist for processing and packaging fish. Already the Western Australian Government has spent a lot of money in connexion with commercial trawling in the Great Australian Bight. Western Australia is doing much for itself in regard to fishing, .and it is up to the Commonwealth to give the State some financial assistance. It should not be forgotten, either, that all the money in the Commonwealth Fisheries Development Trust Fund was derived from sources in Western Australia. The fund was commenced with money that came from the sale of the assets of the Australian Whaling Commission at Carnarvon, at a “ giveaway “ price to private enterprise. When the Government of Western Australia made a bid to keep the industry going, in the interests of the people^ the necessary permission for it to >do so was refused. The Commonwealth Government, on that occasion, again leaned towards the more powerful influences in the eastern States.

The people of Western Australia feel that the Commonwealth is letting them down, and there is plenty of evidence to support such a feeling. I have already given honorable members several instances, and I propose to give one more. I refer to the refusal of the Commonwealth to grant a licence for the sale and export to Japan of L 000, 000 tons of iron ore over a period of two-and-a-half years, the proceeds of the transaction to be devoted to the establishment of a largescale charcoal industry in the south-west. I do not wish to go into more detail now, but the matter may be the subject of further discussion later.

The budget, however, is not completely dull for me, because it contains something in which I am particularly interested. I refer to the decision of the Government to do something about rail standardization, in respect of which it has said that it desires, in principle, to provide financial assistance for standardization of the gauges between Melbourne and Wodonga. That is one of the Jinks in respect of which two investigating committees, one from the Government side of the chamber and the other from this side, recommended standardization. I hope that there will be no difficulty regarding apportionment of the costs of that work, because both committees recommended that the Commonwealth should meet the cost of this great national project. I hope also that there will be no unnecessary delay in completing the work. Procrastination in the past has been responsible for delaying it and for increasing costs. The decision to standardize the gauges on that section of the line is good so far as it goes, but it does not go far enough. I suggest to the Government that immediate steps be taken to commence two other standardization projects which are equally important, if not more important. I refer to the section between Broken Hill and Port Pirie, and that between Kalgoorlie and Fremantle. Standardization of those sections would provide an unbroken gauge right across Australia, linking all the capital cities.

If the gauges on the Broken Hill-Port Pirie section had been standardized the Government would have been forced to standardize the Melbourne-Wodonga and the Port Pirie-Adelaide links because interstate traffic would have been by-passing Melbourne, and for that reason the Government would have been very keen to get on with the work. I think that there is danger of procrastination as a result of the decision to standardize first the MelbourneWodonga link. From the national aspect the two other links to which I have referred should have been done first. As honorable members know, the extension of the line from Marree is now being completed. Consequently, the skilled teams of construction workers, and valuable and efficient plant would be ready to be transferred to the Broken Hill-Port Pirie section. In my opinion, it would have been a simple matter to have gone ahead with that very important project. It is known, of course, that Sir Thomas Playford did not want the Broken Hill-Port Pirie section standardized, because traffic would have been diverted from Adelaide. However, it is a rail link that is vital to our economy and our defence and no one should be allowed to stand in the way of the standardization of gauges on it. In reply to the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Freeth) whom I heard say by interjection earlier that T should take the matter up with Mr. Hawke, the Premier of Western Australia. T want to say that Western Australia has been in communication with the Commonwealth Government regarding the standardization of that link. All the details in regard to it have been sent over here, and the Premier himself has asked that it be given a high priority; but this Government has not even had the decency to reply to him. That link is vital to the Western Australian economy. A through line linking Fremantle, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane would make the railways much more competitive with road transport and interstate sea transport. Freight trains would do the Perth-Sydney journey in no more than three days, and, in conjunction with the pick-a-back service would provide services which would lead to the integration of Western Australia’s economy with that of the eastern States and be of benefit to all. It would also enable the sea run from the United Kingdom and Europe to be reduced.

Mr Freeth:

Mr. Freeth interjecting,


– If the honorable member for

Forrest is not interested in Western Australia’s economy, I am. The sea run to Australia would be shortened because only certain liners would come to the eastern States. This is very important at a time when some shipping companies are thinking of going into the road transport business because of the costs of sea transport. As a result of the release of ships brought about by the shorter run, each vessel would be able to do six round trips between Europe and Australia every year instead of four as at present. That would be of tremendous advantage in time of war. It would have been of advantage when the Suez Canal was closed. Ships could load and unload all their cargo at Fremantle, including cargo to or from the eastern States, which could be moved by rail. Harbour facilities would be improved and one heavy cost that would be saved as a result of rail standardization would be the £75,000 a year which is paid for the transference of freight at Kalgoorlie from one gauge to another. The Government should give further consideration to getting on with these two links as quickly as possible, and simultaneously with the Melbourne-Wodonga link, so that these important projects, so vital to Australia’s economy and well-being can be completed.

Progress reported.

page 489


Motion (by Mr. Beale) proposed -

That the House do now adjourn.

East Sydney

.- Mr.


Motion (by Mr. Beale) put -

That the question be now put.

The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. John McLeay.)

AYES: 50

NOES: 28

Majority . . 22



Question so resolved in the affirmative.

Original question resolved in the affirmative.

House adjourned at 11 p.m.

page 490


The following answers to questions were circulated: -

Ministerial Allowances

Mr Ward:

d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -

  1. Is it a fact that every Minister receives an unlimited stamp allowance and is provided with a free telephone service in his home?
  2. If so, and if these facilities are deemed necessary for the proper conduct of official parliamentary business, why are they made available to Ministers only and not to all members of the Parliament?
Mr Menzies:

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -

  1. The Commonwealth meets the cost of a Minister’s home telephone service and provides stamps for official purposes.
  2. Stamp allowance and telephone facilities were considered by the independent committee of inquiry into the salaries and allowances of the members of the Parliament. That committee recommended the abolition of the stamp allowance and provided an appropriate amount for postage in the all-embracing electorate allowance. The committee also regarded a percentage of local telephone calls and some part of telephone rental as legitimate expenses on parliamentary and electorate business and allowed for this in its recommendations for the level of electorate allowance. Parliament adopted the report as from 1st July, 1956. Members also have free telephone facilities at Parliament House and at Commonwealth Parliament offices in the States. As well as this they have an authority card which allows them to make trunk calls outside office hours at Commonwealth expense.

Commonwealth Police Training Depot, Sydney

Mr Ward:

d asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice -

  1. Has the Government decided to establish a federal police training bureau in Sydney?
  2. Has property for this purpose already been acquired and considerable expense incurred?
  3. If so, under what parliamentary vote is this expenditure included, and is it proper that this proposal should be proceeded with without parliamentary approval?
Mr Menzies:

– The Attorney-General has furnished the following replies: -

  1. The Government has decided to establish a Commonwealth police training depot, primarily for the training of Commonwealth law enforcement officers. Courses of study will be conducted for recruits, investigators and non-commissioned officers. Following a resolution at the last annual conference of State, New Zealand and Commonwealth territorial police commissioners, the depot will also be used for twelve weeks in each year to provide an advanced course of study for commissioned police officers of the governments concerned. The cost of this advanced course will be shared between the participating governments.
  2. The training depot will be established in premises already owned by the Commonwealth at North Head, Sydney, which are now surplus to Army requirements, and which have been transferred to the Attorney-General’s Department. Although no expense has so far been incurred, it is estimated that an expenditure of £21,000 for alterations and repairs and furniture and equipment will be necessary to make the premises suitable for training purposes.
  3. The anticipated expenditure of £21,000 is included in the department’s capital works programme 1957-58 under Division 10 (Estimates Papers, page 239). A further amount of £8,300 has been provided under Division 219 to cover anticipated operational expenses in 1957-58. No expenditure on the depot will be incurred until the Estimates are passed by Parliament.

Commonwealth Boards and Committees

Mr Clark:

k asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -

  1. What is the number of existing boards and committees which have been established (a) under parliamentary authority and (b) by the Government?
  2. What are these various bodies and what are their functions?
Mr Menzies:

– The information sought by the honorable member involves a large number of inquiries and may take some time to collate. These inquiries are in hand and a detailed reply will be furnished as soon as possible.

Japanese Trade Agreement

Mr Ward:

d asked the Minister for Trade, upon notice -

  1. Has he stated that no worth-while Australian industry would be harmed as a result of the recent negotiated Japanese-Australian Trade Agreement?
  2. If so, will he define what he means by a worth-while industry, and is he able to state what Australian industries he includes in this category?
Mr McEwen:
Minister for Trade · MURRAY, VICTORIA · CP

– In answer to the honorable member’s question, I used the term “ worth-while Australian industry “ in referring to the effect on industry of the recently negotiated Australian-Japanese Trade Agreement. There was nothing sinister in my use of this term which is one which has been used by the Tariff Board in its reports. The following passage, which appeared in the Tariff Board’s report of 5th September, 1952, on aluminium foil and aluminium foil paper, is an example of the board’s use of the expression: -

For many years it has been the established policy of the Commonwealth Government to give to worth-while industries such Tariff protection as is determined to be reasonable after inquiry and report by the Tariff Board.

I used the term purely in a general sense as used by the Tariff Board.

Australian Citizenship Laws

Mr Cairns:

s asked the Minister for Immigration, upon notice -

  1. What are the ways in which (a) naturalized Australian citizens, and (b) British subjects not born in Australia are differently treated by the law whilst they remain in Australia?
  2. What are the circumstances under which persons in these classes may be subject to deportation or other penalty?
  3. Are persons who seek naturalization or admission to Australia notified of these ways and circumstances in which the law applies to them differently from persons born in Australia?
Mr Townley:

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -

  1. It is assumed that the question is intended to ascertain the difference in treatment of naturalized Australians and British-born migrants, on the one hand, and Australian-born people on the other. It would, of course, require a great deal of research to supply an answer covering all thelaws of the Commonwealth and States. The detailed answer below is confined to thelaws administerd by my department. In other spheres, it is generally the case that insofar as rights are accorded on the basis of nationality, the criterion is British nationality, however acquired (whether by birth here, or by naturalization, or by birth in another British Commonwealth country). Examples are voting and pension rights.

Passports Act. - Australian passports are as a rule issued only to Australian citizens. There is no distinction in this field between Australianborn and naturalized citizens. Citizens of other British Commonwealth countries are expected to secure passports from the representatives of those countries, but in an emergency and subject to the concurrence of those representatives they may be granted Australian passports of limited duration.

Immigration Act. - Australian citizens, whether naturalized or born here, cannot, while they remain members of the Australian community, be affected by any legislation under the “ immigration power “ in the Constitution. Other British subjects not born in Australia, who have not become members of the Australian community, and who may therefore be regarded as “ immigrants “, may be deported under provisions of the Immigration Act applicable to them; for example section 8a provides for the deportation of any person not born in Australia, whether British or alien, who is convicted within five years after arrival of a criminal offence punishable by imprisonment for one year or longer.

Nationality and Citizenship Act. - Australian citizenship is acquired automatically by persons born in Australia. The conditions under which Australian citizenship may be acquired by British migrants are rather similar to, but easier than, the conditions for naturalization. For example, the residence required of a British subject is one year, instead of five years as for aliens. British subjects are issued with “ Certificates of Registration “, while aliens are granted “ Certificates of Naturalization “. The means by which citizenship may be lost are as follows: -

  1. by acquiring the nationality or citizenship of another country, by a voluntary and formal act whilst outside Australia and New Guinea;
  2. by renouncing Australian citizenship if the person concerned acquired it through the naturalization of his parent, or, in the case of a woman, if her husband ceases to be an Australian citizen;
  3. by service in the armed forces of a country at war with Australia (if the person concerned is a citizen of another country besides Australia) ;
  4. in the case of a minor, through his responsible parent ceasing to be an Australian citizen;

Note. - All of the above provisions can affect citizens by birth as well as persons granted Certificates of naturalization or Registration. The following relate only to naturalized or registered persons: -

  1. by residence outside Australia and New Guinea (other than in the service of an Australian Government or firm or of an international organization of which Australia is a member) for over seven years without giving notice of intention to retain citizenship;
  2. by an order made by the Minister if the Minister is satisfied that the registered or naturalized person - (i) has shown himself by act or speech to be disloyal or disaffected towards Her Majesty; (ii) has during any war, in which Australia is or has been engaged, unlawfully traded or communicated with the enemy or been engaged on or associated with any business which wasto his knowledge carried on in such a manner as to assist an enemy in that war: (iii) was registered or naturalized by means of fraud, false representation or the concealment of some material circumstances; (iv) was not, at thedate on which he was registered or naturalized, of good character; or (v) has within five years after the date on which he was registered or naturalized been sentenced in any country to imprisonment for a term of twelve months or more.

Note. - Before making an order under headings (i) to (iv) inclusive, the Minister must give the person concerned the opportunity of a hearing by a special committee of inquiry appointed by the Governor-General, the chairman of which must be a person who is or has been a judge of a Federal or State court or a barrister or solicitor of not less than five years’ standing. It is further provided that no order shall be made under any of the headings (i) to (v) unless the Minister is satisfied that it is not conducive to the public good that the person concerned should continue to be an Australian citizen.

Emigration Act. Immigration (Guardianship of Children) Act. - No differentiation between naturalized Australian citizens, Australian-born citizens, and other British subjects.

Aliens Act. Aliens Deportation Act. - Relate only to aliens and so do not concern naturalized Australian citizens, Australian-born persons or other British subjects.

  1. See 1 above.
  2. Copies of the relevant acts can be obtained without difficulty so that any person can inform himself or herself of thelaw.


Mr Webb:

b asked the Minister for Immigration, upon notice -

  1. Can a naturalized new Australian have his Australian citizenship taken away from him?
  2. Before such a person can become a naturalized citizen, must he renounce all allegiance to the country from which he migrated?
  3. In these circumstances, what nationality would a migrant take?
  4. Is it considered that the existence of two classes of Australian citizens is just?
Mr Townley:

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -

  1. Yes. A naturalized citizen can lose his Australian citizenship in any one of the following ways: -

    1. by acquiring the nationality or citizenship of another country, by a voluntary and formal act whilst outside Australia and New Guinea;
    2. by renouncing Australian citizenship, if he acquired it through the naturalization of his parent, or, in the case of a woman, if her husband ceases to be an Austraiian citizen;
    3. by service in the armed forces of a country at war with Australia (if the person concerned is a citizen of another country besides Australia);
    4. in the case of a minor, through his responsible parent ceasing to be an Australian citizen;

Note. - All of the above provisions affect citizens by birth as well as persons granted Certificates of Naturalization or Registration. The following relate only to naturalized or registered persons: -

  1. by residence outside Australia and New Guinea (other than in the service of an Australian government or firm or of an international organization of which Australia is a member) for over seven years without giving notice of intention to retain citizenship;
  2. by an order made by the Minister if the Minister is satisfied that the registered or naturalized person - (i) has shown himself by act or speech to be disloyal or disaffected towards Her Majesty;

    1. has during any war, in which Australia is or has been engaged, unlawfully traded or communicated with the enemy or been engaged on or associated wilh any business which was to his knowledge carried on in such a manner as to assist an enemy in that war; (iii) was registered or naturalized by means of fraud, false representation or the concealment of some material circumstances; (iv) was not, at the date on which he was registered or naturalized, of good character; or (v) has within five years after the date on which he was registered or naturalized been sentenced in any country to imprisonment for a term of twelve months or more.

Note. - Before making an order under headings (i) to (iv) inclusive, the Minister must give the person concerned the opportunity of a hearing by a special committee of enquiry appointed by the Governor-General, the chairman of which must be a person who is or has been a judge of a Federal or State Court or a barrister or solicitor of notless than five years standing. It is further provided that no order shall be made under any of the headings (i) to (v) unless the Minister is satisfied that it is not conducive to the public good that the person concerned should continue to be an Australian citizen.

  1. Every candidate for naturalization, immediately prior to taking the oath of allegiance, is required to state - “ I…………….. renounce all allegiance to any sovereign or State of whom or of which I may be a subject or citizen “.
  2. Presumably this part of the question seeks to ascertain what will be the national status of a person who, having renounced his allegiance to his country of origin as in 2, becomes a naturalized Australian citizen, and subsequently is deprived ot Australian citizenship. It is not possible to state in general terms what every person’s nationality would be in such circumstances. It may be that the renunciation mentioned in 2 and the conferment of Australian, citizenship will have had no effect so far as the law of the country of origin is concerned; and in that case the person concerned will remain a national of that country both while he possesses Australian citizenship and after he is deprived of it. On the other hand, it will often be a result of his naturalization here that he will cease to be a citizen of his former country; and in this case, deprivation of Australian citizenship will result in the person concerned being stateless.
  3. It is not considered that the existence of special provisions for depriving naturalized persons of citizenship means that there are “ two classes of Australian citizens “. While a naturalized person remains a citizen he is entitled to the same rights under Australian law as a native-born citizen. If the question be taken as being whether such special provisions for deprivation are just, then the following points are regarded as justifying those provisions: -

    1. naturalization is and always has been regarded as a privilege; whereas birth in the country has always resulted in acquisition of citizenship as of right; so far as the question of principle is concerned, it is therefore understandable that the law has always provided means of taking away the privilege under special conditions, just as it provides special conditions for the grant of the privilege;
    2. such provisions appear in the laws of other British Commonwealth countries; and of other “ countries of immigration “;
    3. such countries, receiving large numbers of foreign-born migrants, are clearly in a special position, justifying greater caution in the conferment of citizenship than is necessary in the “ countries of emigration “ in Europe;
    4. the Australian nation is entitled to impose such conditions as it thinks fit in regard to the conferment and deprivation of its citizenship upon and from new settlers; in effect, the Commonwealth Parliament decided (in 1948) that it was still fitting, as before, that new settlers should not only have to spend a period of five years here before applying for naturalization, but should spend another five years here subsequently without committing serious crime, or else be liable to deprivation of citizenship; an alternative provision could have been that the new settlers should spend ten years here before being naturalized, and then be free of any possibility of deprivation on the grounds of subsequent crime; but this would of course have been harsh in relation to the great majority of new settlers who do not commit serious crime at any time and whose naturalization would have been delayed unnecessarily for five years longer than is required under the law as it stands.

Visitor’s Vises


son asked the Minister for Immigration, upon notice -

  1. Is it a fact that since the Government decided to restrict the issue of visitor’s vises to nationals and residents of countries under Communist governments, intending visitors are being advised to apply for migrant vises on the understanding that they may return at any time?
  2. Is the effect of this policy to preclude applications for migrant vises by intending visitors who are residents or nationals of iron curtain countries and who, as a result, might suffer temporary or permanentloss of pension or social services benefits paid by the countries concerned?
  3. Will consideration be given to applications for visitor’s vises submitted by pensioners who. are at present unable to avail themselves of the Government’s current policy without temporary or permanent loss of the pension or social service to which they are entitled?
Mr Townley:

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -

  1. Yes. The full reasons for this policy were stated in answer to a question by the honorable member on 10th April last.
  2. It has not previously come to my notice that this policy has a bearing on pension rights and social services benefits in the countries concerned.
  3. Full inquiry will be made into the situation described by the honorable member and the question of special consideration of such cases will then be carefully examined, in conjunction with the factors which gave rise to existing policy regarding visitorsfrom countries under Communist governments.

Mr. Vladimir Petrov

Mr Cope:

e asked the Minister for Immigration, upon notice -

  1. Is it a fact that a Mr. Vladimir Petrov was found parading without his trousers at a wellknown surfing resort in Queensland, and was arrested, charged, and convicted on a charge of drunkenness?
  2. Does this individual hold a certificate of naturalization?
  3. If so, is it considered that such a person is fit to retain his certificate?
Mr Townley:

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -

  1. A reply to a similar question was given by the Prime Minister on 9th April, 1957, in answer to the honorable member for East Sydney? 2 and 3. Vladimir Petrov, having complied with all the normal requirements, was granted a certificate of naturalization, and still holds it. Nothing has come to the notice of my department which would warrant or permit action to deprive Mr. Petrov of citizenship.

Friendly Societies and Pensioner Medical Services


son asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -

  1. Is it a fact that pensioners who are holders of an entitlement card for free hospitalization receive no benefit from friendly societies in connexion with hospitalization in public wards?
  2. If so, will he concede the need to require friendly societies to acquaint pensioner subscribers with this fact?

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -

  1. The question whether a pensioner who is .he holder of a pensioner medical service entitlement card receives a friendly society benefit in respect of hospitalization in a public ward depends upon the rules of the particular friendly society of which the pensioner is a member.
  2. No.

Influenza Virus Vaccine

Mr Cairns:

s asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -

  1. What was the basis of priorities for the allocation of “ Asian ‘flu “ vaccine?
  2. Why were the armed forces given high priority, while bronchitics with emphysema, the congestive cardiac failures and the bronchiectatics in the very old and very young age groups were given low priority?
  3. How many individual doses of vaccine were made available by the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories?
  4. What charges were made for the vaccine supplied?
  5. To whom was the vaccine supplied?
  6. How many doses of the vaccine were supplied to private medical practitioners?
  7. What charges were made for the vaccine by those to whom it was supplied by the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories?

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -

  1. The first organization in the world to produce influenza virus vaccine incorporating the Singapore strain was the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories. The production of the vaccine is an involved technical process and it was necessary to establish priorities for its issue to persons open to special risk before making supplies available to the public generally. The first groups vaccinated included immigration, customs and quarantine officials and overseas airline personnel. Then supplies were made available to protect the staff of hospitals, particularly infectious diseases hospitals, and other groups exposed to special risk.
  2. No priority was given to the armed forces. Where doctors made representations for patients suffering from respiratory complaints, special issues were made.
  3. To the end of August, 143,000 doses had been issued.
  4. Influenza virus vaccine incorporating the Singapore strain has been made available at the same price as the influenza virus vaccine produced previously. The wholesale price is 10s. 6d. per dose. 5 and 6. In addition to the priority groups vaccine has been made available to all persons who have placed Arm orders. It is not known how many doses were supplied to private medical practitioners as in addition to direct issues from the Commonwealth, issues were made by the State authorities and wholesale sources.
  5. It is not known what charges were made for the vaccine by those to whom it was sold by the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories. However it is known that the vaccine was supplied free to some of the priority groups.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 10 September 1957, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.