23rd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. John McLeay) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– I direct my question to the Attorney-General. Some two or three months ago when I asked him when the uniform divorce bill would be brought into operation he stated that it would not come into operation in July, as stated, but he thought it would be about September or October. I ask him now whether that will be so, or whether his going abroad will have any effect on the implementation of that legislation.
– My going away will have no effect on bringing this act into operation. I ought to inform the honorable member and the House that the task of devising satisfactory rules of court to bring into effect a uniform system for the trial of matrimonial causes by the Supreme Courts of the several States is a task of great magnitude and complexity. It is made more difficult if one is careful to take the State judges and the State officers into one’s confidence, to ensure that the rules will be acceptable; each court system at the moment has its own set of rules and a uniform set of rules will involve procedure changes in every State. The final draft of the rules is now in the course of being printed. After that I hope to allow the State officers to see them once again before they are printed in final form. When they are finally printed it Will be necessary to allow the judges of the State Supreme Courts and the legal profession a period of about two months to familiarize themselves with the details before the act comes into operation. Having in mind these difficulties and the progress made I feel that I am now in a position to state with some degree of certainty a date upon which the act can be brought into operation. I regret to say that the earliest date I can choose is 16th January, which is approximately the beginning of the effective law year in 1961, and that date, I can tell the honorable gentleman, I hope to make with some certainty.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Health. Has he seen the new scale of fees approved for New South Wales hospitals and does he consider that there is a case for increased Commonwealth assistance? Will he consider the suggestion that hospital benefit funds should introduce new and higher tables?
– I have seen the new scale of hospital fees, but I would point out to the honorable gentleman that last year a new arrangement governing Commonwealth-State financial relationships was entered into between the Commonwealth and State governments which was quite acceptable to the States. Under that arrangement the States have very much more money for hospital and other purposes. It has always been the responsibility of State governments to manage the finances of State hospitals, and if it is to be said that in New South Wales there are insufficient funds for this purpose and that therefore the Commonwealth should make more money available, the position in New South Wales seems to be in marked contrast with that in Queensland, where no charge is made for public beds in hospitals. Not only is that so, but I believe that, in proportion to population, more beds are available in Queensland than in New South Wales. There does not appear to me to be any ground for the claim that the Commonwealth should step in to remedy a state of affairs in New South Wales which does not appear to exist in other States. The plain fact is that the Commonwealth makes a contribution, by way of hospital benefit to all the States, of 8s. a bed a day. It is claimed that this is a smaller proportion of the total hospital expenditure than it used to be, but I point out to the honorable gentleman that at no time did the Commonwealth accept responsibility for any definite proportion of State hospital expenses. The actual proportion existing from time to time is purely a matter of chance.
The honorable gentleman has also asked me whether there is a case for drawing up new tables under which increased payments would be made by hospital benefit societies. That, of course, is a matter for these organizations themselves to decide, but it is a fact that there are at present in existence tables which enable a contributor, for a payment of 2s. a week, to insure against the present, that is to say, the new hospital charges in New South Wales of 44s. a day. There are other tables already in existence which enable contributors to insure for 48s. a day. I think that the highest table applying in New South Wales enables a contributor to be insured for an amount within a few shillings of the highest hospital charge made for private wards in New South Wales. However, if the organizations consider that new tables are advisable that is a matter for them; but there is no case, Sir, for the Commonwealth Government to come more actively into the direct field of financing State hospitals.
– I ask the Minister for Trade whether it is a fact that the price of gold has been fixed at around £15 10s. an ounce for the last ten years. In view of the difficulties confronting most gold-mining companies, will he consult with the Government of the United States of America, which is the ultimate arbiter of the price of gold, with a view to having the price increased?
– I shall answer this question, Mr. Speaker, since I have had some association with this matter from time to time. I may tell the honorable member that we have taken all possible opportunities, in the course of economic or financial discussions overseas, to press for an increase in the price of gold. We believe that the case for it is tremendously powerful, the price having, as the honorable member knows, remained unchanged for many, many years. Unfortunately, although we have of course found ourselves in the same state as South Africa, a very great gold-producing country, we have had no success. We will continue our efforts, but so far they have not been as successful as our efforts usually arc.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister and refers to the Burke and Wills expedition.
– I remind the honorable member that the subject-matter of a ques tion must be within the control of the minister to whom it is directed.
– It will be, Mr. Speaker, if I may continue. I point out that the first stopping place of the expedition was at Moonee Ponds in my electorate, where an annual commemorative ceremony is held by the civic fathers. I ask the Prime Minister to consider the erection by this Government of a large up-raised relief map of Australia at Totnes in Devonshire, the birthplace of Wills, showing the route taken by the expedition. I feel that this would not only forge another link with the Motherland but would also be of great historical value.
– I cannot make any commitment on the matter, but I will be very happy to look into the proposal put by the honorable member.
– I ask the Prime Minister and Acting Treasurer a question concerning the sale of the Bell Bay aluminium plant. The right honorable gentlemen will recall that, when his Government last sold an industry which the Commonwealth pioneered - the whaling station in Western Australia - the proceeds were used to set up the Fisheries Development Trust Account. Will the proceeds of the sale of Bell Bay be put into a fund1 which can be used in co-operation with State governments to pioneer further industries which have not been established in Australia, or to set up in the north, west and inland, industries which private and foreign investors have so far confined to the southeastern coastal strip between Port Pirie and Newcastle?
– We have not yet discussed what ought to be done with the proceeds, apart from what normally does happen to receipts coming into the Treasury. When we do, all the various possibilities will be taken into account.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. In view of the fact that some four or five great British aircraft and ship building companies will, about the middle of next year, begin to place in production new forms of passenger and freight transportation based upon the principle of the famous hovercraft, will the Prime Minister consider offering these and other companies such facilities as would induce them to conduct experiments in Australia for the purpose of developing designs especially suited to our needs and distances? Further, will he consider appointing a joint parliamentary Committee to inquire into the development of these new forms of transport, with a view to making periodic reports to Parliament on their probable effect upon Australia’s economic, financial, industrial and transport structure?
– The honorable member’s interesting question opens up a wide field of inquiry, and I would wish to have an opportunity of looking into it.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether it is his intention to take over the portfolio of the Attorney-General when that Minister is overseas at the Assembly of the United Nations, in addition to his present duties as Prime Minister, Minister for External Affairs and Acting Treasurer, or will he, in view of the widespread criticism of his one-man band and the concern of the honorable member for Moreton for his health, consider passing the duties of Attorney-General on to the Minister for Immigration?
– I regard this as an admirable piece of South Australian patriotism. I do not propose to act as Attorney-General, nor did I ever contemplate doing so.
– My question, which is addressed to the Prime Minister, refers to the trust fund of £250,000 which was established several years ago to provide for relief to former prisoners-of-war in necessitous circumstances. What is the present condition of the fund? Is the right honorable gentleman satisfied that it has fulfilled its purpose to the maximum extent possible?
– I can assure the honorable member that at regular intervals - not frequent but regular intervals - I have had reports on the expenditure from this fund. I am glad to say that it is now very largely expended, and that it has been most usefully employed. The original amount of the fund was £250,000. Unexpended portions were invested, so that in total the amount available became nearer to £280.000. At present, £20,000 remains unexpended. This means that somewhere between £250,000 and £260,000 has already been laid out.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. In view of the fact that the freight charges for the carriage of produce from Australia by ship over the past five years have reached the astronomical total of approximately £600,000,000, does not the right honorable gentleman think it would be good economics for his Government to establish a Commonwealth shipping line of fast, modern cargo and passenger steamers? Does he realize that Australia, being an island continent, requires a maritime fleet to carry our produce to the other side of the world and thereby make us independent of the avaricious shipping combines? Does he realize, also, that another large industry could be created-
– Order! I think the honorable member is giving information now. An honorable member is entitled to frame a question with some facts and figures, but he should not persist in giving information and advice.
– I am trying to help the Prime Minister.
– I can assure the honorable member that that is unnecessary.
– Is it a fact that another large industry could be created, thus giving further security to our skilled artisans and opening up further opportunities for apprentices in the maritime industry?
– Going back to the basic question on which everything else depends, my answer is: Coastal - yes, we have one. International - no, we will not have one.
– I direct my question to the Prime Minister.I understand that Australian personnel serving in India as officials of the Colombo Plan or the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization are not accorded by the Government of India the same treatment as is accorded by that Government to the officers of the United States Technical Co-operation Mission, which is known commonly as U.S.T.C.M. Will the Prime Minister investigate this, and if there is any discrimination, will he make representations to the Government of India to ensure that Australian personnel receive treatment equivalent to that which is accorded to officials from the United States of America?
– I will be very glad to have this looked into promptly.
– I direct a question to the Postmaster-General. Recently, in reply to a question, the Minister stated that the picture on the screen of some television sets in Brisbane had been distorted when they were tuned to the national station, because the power of that station was much greater than that of the commercial stations. Will he inform me what will happen in the Newcastle district when a set that was installed to pick up fringe reception from Sydney is tuned to a local station? If any distortion of the picture in the way suggested occurs, can it be rectified without reducing the strength of the local station? If so, what will be the approximate cost? Finally, will a national station be established simultaneously with the establishment of a commercial station?
– As I understand it, the honorable member for Newcastle is seeking information as to the effect that new television stations in the Newcastle area will have on television receivers already installed in that area for the purpose of picking up Sydney telecasts. I can assure the honorable member that no great difficulty is likely to be experienced when these local stations come into operation. It may be necessary, and probably will be necessary in some cases, to make minor adjustments, particularly to aerials, but I believe that such adjustments will not involve any great cost. I would also point out that the aerials at present being used to receive programmes from Sydney stations are far more elaborate than those that will be required when the new stations come into operation, because the new stations will be of greater power and closer to the receivers. No excessive costs will be involved, therefore, in putting up aerials. Adequate services will be provided by these new stations, and the cost of aerials will be low.I think the honorable gentleman can be assured that the existence of relatively high-powered stations in the Newcastle area will not adversely affect those who have already purchased sets.
The honorable member has also asked whether a national station will be established at the same time as the new commercial stations. This is a matter that will be finally determined by the Cabinet when it discusses the report of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board concerning the third phase of television.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Primary Industry. Having regard to the numerous requests that the honorable member for Mallee has made for action by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization to deal with the problem of skeleton weed, which is fast penetrating the north-western part of Victoria, will the Minister for Primary Industry personally discuss with the Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization the possibility of the services of his departmental officers being used in an allout effort to find a way to eradicate this weed?
– The subject of skeleton weed and its effects upon primary industries, particularly the wheat industry, was discussed at the last meeting of the Australian Agricultural Council, on which are represented, of course, State Ministers, as well as myself. It was agreed that the matter was so important that in the first instance the technical officers of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, the Department of Primary Industry and the State departments of agriculture should have a conference to see where they are going and to decide what further action it is possible to take.
– Can the Minister for Primary Industry give us any information on the proposed federal honey marketing board? I ask, further, at the request of the Tasmanian Beekeepers Association, whether the Minister will consider exempting Tasmania from any honey marketing scheme.
– The proposal for an Australian honey orderly marketing scheme is under consideration. A conference was held of representatives of the industry and officers of the Department of Primary Industry, but the matter has been referred back to the industry in order that it may finalize its proposals. I understand that representatives of the honey industry are in the process of deciding just what they would like done. My officers have given them certain advice, and that is the stage that has been reached.
– In view of the question asked by the Victorian president of the pensioners’ association, which was whether the Treasurer could live on £5 a week, will the Minister for Social Services invite the president of the pensioners’ association to spend a week or two in one of the homes for the aged in Ballarat, so that he might see an example of what this Government is really doing for the aged throughout Australia?
– I regret that I have no authority to invite any one anywhere other than to my own home at Old Junee which, I am afraid, would be far too remote for the president of the pensioners’ association. However, in company with the honorable member for Ballaarat, I have visited the homes for the aged in that historic city. They can only be described as magnificent. Perhaps honorable members will be interested to know that applications for assistance under the Aged Persons Home? Act now exceed 497, and that these applications have attracted grants in excess of £7,500,000. The homes which have been constructed, and which are in the course of construction, are the kind of places that can only give pride and satisfaction to those who are invited to live in them.
– Is the Minister for the Interior aware that, with the consent of the contractor concerned, building workers arranged a dinner on the job for two overseas visiting building trade union delegates last Wednesday week? Is the Minister aware also that when the invited guests arrived local authorities intervened and refused to allow the function to proceed? Will the Minister ascertain the reason for this?
– 1 shall make inquiries into this matter and let the honorable member know the result.
– I address my question to the Postmaster-General. Is it a fact that a special stamp has been approved to commemorate this year’s Melbourne Cup and associated functions? If the Minister’s answer is in the affirmative, will he immediately reconsider his rejection of a request that a special stamp be issued to mark the 350th anniversary of the authorized version of the Bible in 1961 when a nation-wide programme will celebrate this undoubted gift to all mankind?
– As the honorable member knows, the answer to the first part of his question is, “ Yes “. The announcement has already been made in the press that it is intended to issue a special stamp to commemorate the centenary of the Melbourne Cup. The honorable member then asked me to reconsider a rejection of a proposal which he put forward to me some considerable time ago, concerning which we have had some discussion and correspondence, that a special stamp should be issued to commemorate the 350th anniversary of the authorized version of the Bible. With respect, it is not a proper statement of the position to classify my action, or the action of my department, in this matter as a rejection of the proposal.
The proposal for the issue of this commemorative stamp was considered by both the department and the Stamp Advisory Council to which we refer these matters, both as to the desirability of issuing a special stamp and, if a stamp is to be issued, its design. The council was influenced in its decision by the fact that for the last three years we have issued a Christmas stamp which has won universal approval and which, because of its nature, has a definite biblical significance. We propose to issue another Christmas stamp this year.
The council, realizing the significance of the anniversary of the authorized version of the Bible, felt that recognition of this occasion could well be combined with the Christmas stamp issue so that the department’s action in putting forward matters of biblical significance in its stamps would not be overdone. Therefore, the design which has been adopted depicts an open Bible with a biblical reference from St. Luke on it in these terms, “ Behold, I bring you tidings of great joy “. The design of the stamp has a definite biblical significance. When the stamp is issued it is intended that a special statement will be made connecting this Christmas stamp with the anniversary of the authorized version. In addition, it is intended next year to issue a similar stamp to mark the end of the period of the centenary. This stamp also will make reference to the Bible.
In these circumstances, I think that the action of my department on this occasion can be reasonably justified.
– Last week, I addressed a question to the Minister for Labour and National Service about the working periods of, and wages earned by, seamen under the new award, which is the subject of considerable disputation and protest by the union. I now ask the Minister whether, in the meantime, he has examined the details involved in my question. If he has, what has been the result of that examination?
– I did check the figures quoted by the honorable member, and I think I should say first of all that the example he gave, as he would know, is not entirely accurate, because seamen do not necessarily work shifts of eight hours. They do certain work in watches of four hours. But, accepting the first example he cited - that the seamen work seven days a week of eight hours each - the pay of a seaman as defined in the award would be £27 2s. 6d. a week, from which would be deducted his keep, amounting to £2 6s. a week. If he worked 71 hours in the week, his remuneration would be, not £28 as mentioned by the honorable member, but in the vicinity of £36 6s., from which would be deducted the value of keep amounting to £2 6s.
I point out also that if he worked on Saturday and Sunday his pay for those two days would be £9 12s. 6d. which would be included in the figures I have mentioned. I know the honorable member’s real interest in this problem, and, for his comfort, I point out that if he would care to have more complete information I shall be only too happy to supply him with a copy of Mr. Justice Foster’s award embodying many of the accounts submitted by the Steamship Owners Association, together with copies of the relevant statements given in support of those figures.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Primary Industry relating to weevil infestation of wheat.
-Order! I ask honorable members not to sit in the passageways. I also point out that I have had the opportunity of listening to a broadcast of the proceedings of the House, and I assure those honorable members whose voices are well known to me that the microphones are very sensitive.
– I ask the Minister for Primary Industry whether he knows of any action being taken or contemplated by the Australian Wheat Board to control weevil infestation in wheat stored in the various States of the Commonwealth. I understand that this is causing some concern in New South Wales where a large amount of wheat is being held over.
– The question of weevil infestation of wheat in New South Wales in particular, and in other places to a lesser degree, is causing some concern because there have been complaints that shipments sent overseas have shown evidence of weevil infestation. The Australian Wheat Board has agreed to guarantee that every consignment of wheat is free from weevil when it leaves Australia.
I discussed the matter with the chairman of the Australian Wheat Board only yesterday, and expressed concern at the board’s apparent lack of action although I am not suggesting that the board has not been concerned about it. The chairman replied to me to the effect that Mr. Anderson, the board’s expert in these matters, has long since been sent interstate to see that everything possible is being done. But the responsibility in this matter does not, in the first instance, reside with the Wheat Board. It resides with the State bulk handling authorities which, in the case of one particular State at least, are not measuring up to their responsibilities. I expressed my concern in that regard to the chairman of the Wheat Board yesterday.
– 1 ask the PostmasterGeneral when it is expected that the report of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board, which recently considered applications for television licences in certain country districts, will be released. Will the report be made available to honorable members in this House?
– I have already informed honorable members that this report has been in my hands for a wee!: or two and that 1 am considering it with the intention cf making recommendations to Cabinet for discussion as early as possible. The report will not be released before its consideration by Cabinet. How and when it will be released will be a matter for Cabinet decision, and I have no doubt that the decision will be made after the whole report has been considered.
– I wish to direct a question to the Minister for Territories. Is it assumed in the labour ordinances fixing wages for the natives of New Guinea and Papua, that a married man is the head of the family which must be maintained out of his wages, or is it assumed that the family back in the village will support themselves by native agriculture? If it is assumed that the man who works on the plantation is the breadwinner for a family, have any steps been taken to verify whether the wage levels that a”e fixed will main lain a breadwinner’s family in health in the same way as the labour ordinances ensure an adequate health standard for the man himself?
– I think that, in order that my answer may be properly understood, I should say that all labour questions in the Territory at the present time are in a transitional stage. At one time, the pattern of labour regulation in the Territory was quite clear because it was mainly based on plantation labour. Labour legislation was devised to suit the conditions of a young man - usually a single man - who, having been recruited in his own village, went away for a brief period to work on a plantation and then returned to his village. In the course of the years, that pattern has changed somewhat and all sorts of situations arise. In one situation, a married man with his family is engaged at a place near his own village. Tn another situation, people are not working under agreement but are working by free, engagement as casual wage earners. They are living in much the same way as any employee does - looking after themselves. Because of this transitional stage, the, answer to the honorable member’s question cannot be given in absolute terms. The problem is one to which we are giving very close attention. The intention behind our examination of the. problem is that the wage should be adequate for the circumstances of the married man if he is supporting his family.
– Why don’t you answer the question and sit down?
– Order! The honorable member for East Sydney is out of order.
– By and large, if a worker is based on a village and has the opportunity of building a house from material which is readily available to him, and if he and his family have access to a garden, the wage will represent even luxury to him. But if the same man does not have the backing of his own garden land or an opportunity of building his own house from material available to him, then the same wage will not be sufficient for the needs of himself and his family. And because more workers are now coming into that second class than was the case previously the problem which the honorable member for Fremantle indicated is becoming a dominant one in the Territory and is receiving our careful attention.
– I ask the Prime Minister in his capacity as Acting Treasurer: Is he aware that the operations of the Development Bank have given great satisfaction in South Australia, particularly to primary producers? There is some fear, however, that the available resources are in such demand and are being used at such a rate that there is a possibility they will soon be exhausted. In view of the fact that it has been clearly demonstrated that the Development Bank has met a definite gap in the credit structure for the rural industries, will the right honorable gentleman give the House an assurance that he will keep a close watch on the situation and ensure that the operations of the Development Bank are not restricted through lack of funds?
– I can assure the honorable member that I and my colleagues are interested in the work of the Development Bank and are constantly giving attention to the very aspects of it that he has referred to.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister, as Minister for External Affairs. Will he have investigations made into the origin of Communist propaganda material apparently sent from Soviet-controlled countries in Europe to former citizens of those countries now living in Canberra? Will the right honorable gentleman accept my assurance that most of the migrants receiving this material regularly through the mail do not want it and resent the fact that it is sent to them? Will he ascertain whether there is any truth in the suggestion that this propaganda has commenced or intensified since the reopening of the Russian Embassy in Canberra? In particular will he ascertain, if possible, how the senders of this material, which comes in envelopes bearing the postmarks of the countries of origin, are able to follow the changed addresses of migrants within the Australian Capital Territory?
– I will certainly do my best to find out as much information as possible about the points raised by the honorable member.
– As many wildly inaccurate statements on Commonwealth aid to roads are made by members of the Opposition, I ask the Minister for Shipping and Transport: Is it a fact that under the Commonwealth Aid Roads Act approximately £42,000,000 will be made available this financial year compared with £8,500,000 in the financial year 1949-50 and that Victoria this year will receive from this source more money than was made available to the whole of Australia in 1949-50?
– Order! An honorable member is entitled to include in a question limited information in order to clarify it, but he must not abuse that latitude.
– I do not think the honorable member completed his question.
– Order! I ask the honorable member to repeat the question.
– I ask for your ruling, Mr. Speaker. Is the question in order, in the light of the remarks you have just made?
– No; the question is out of order.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Labour and National Service. I refer to the recent setting-up of a number of productivity councils and to the very valuable studies done by the Ministry of Labour Advisory Council a couple of years ago on the subject of productivity. I ask-
– Speak up, old boy.
– Order! The honorable member for East Sydney will conduct himself in keeping with the dignity of the House. I warn him that if he persists in behaviour contrary to the Standing Orders, the Chair has only one course to follow.
– Mr. Speaker, I object to your rebuke because I consider it was completely unjustified.
– Order! I name the honorable member for East Sydney.
Motion (by Mr. Menzies) proposed -
That the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) be suspended from the service of the House.
– The question is: That the motion be agreed to. Those in favour say, “ Aye “; those against say, “ No “. The “ Ayes “ have it. The honorable member for East Sydney is suspended from the service of the House for 24 hours.
– The motion is not carried yet.
– Is a division required? Mr. Ward.- Yes.
– Ring the bells! The House will divide.
Question put -
That the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) be suspended from the service of the House.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. John McLeay.)
Majority . . . . 27
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– I move -
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1913-1960, it is expedient to carry out the following proposed work which was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works and on which the Committee has duly reported to this Mouse: - Construction of a new main hospital block at the Canberra Community Hospital, Australian Capital Territory.
The plans provide for the construction of a new main hospital block and supporting specialist departments to increase the present hospital to an ultimate capacity of approximately 600 beds, and to modernize the present hospital up to a comparative standard to the new. The new block will be an eight-story steel-framed building connected on the ground floor level to the existing hospital. The new block is planned to accommodate 368 new beds, and will be complete with all the specialist departments and facilities of a modern base hospital. The total bed strength will then amount to 618 beds. The estimated cost of the proposal is £2,854,500.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Calwell) adjourned.
In Committee of Supply: Consideration resumed from 31st August (vide page 646), on motion by Mr. Harold Holt -
That the first item in the Estimates under Division No. 101 - The Senate - namely, “Salaries and allowances £35,650 “, be agreed to.
Upon which Mr. Calwell had moved by way of amendment -
That the first item be reduced by £1.
– Speaking in support of the amendment, I think it necessary first to recall that this is the last day of the 1960 Budget debate.
– It is also the first day of spring.
– Maybe it is a good thing that it is the first day of spring, because we may have a change of heart on the part of the Government in regard to the provisions of the Budget. Nobody would think this was the first day of spring when we recall the kind of debate we have had. The debate has been studded with all kinds of arguments ranging from parish pump subjects of interest to individual members to bread-and-butter questions on the level of “What my electorate requires is . . . “. In the main, how ever, so far as the Government side is concerned, there has been a dodging of the real problem that has to be faced in a Budget debate. That problem is whether or not the policy being applied by the Government is in the best interests of this developing nation, and whether it has any effect in curbing the inflationary trend that has been in evidence since the Government came to office.
One of the things that have attracted my attention during the debate is the slur persistently cast on the trade union movement of this country because of the decision to invite representatives of the trade union movement from other parts of the world to see what we are doing here. Expressions of spite and hate have been directed against the trade union movement all through this debate, because of the decision of the A.C.T.U. to bring these trade union leaders here on a visit from what are termed iron curtain countries. There is perhaps a difference of opinion among the trade unions on whether or not it is wise to bring these people here; but let me say right here and now that there is not, nor will there be, any split in the trade union movement on this issue. The trade union movement, being called on to give effect to a decision of the A.C.T.U., is not likely to split when saner judgment prevails and the problem is viewed in correct perspective.
Statements emanating from the other side of the chamber are inspired by mere wishful thinking. Honorable members opposite hope that there will be a split in the trade union movement on this issue. As members on the Government side know - and the Government is particularly alert to this - the A.C.T.U. and the trade union movement of Australia are not likely to be split on what, after all, is an emotional matter. We, as members of the trade union movement, know that only the trade unions can stand against this Government’s policy of more riches for the rich and more meagre conditions for the poor, and that the trade union movement is the only bulwark against the smashing down of the conditions which make family life in Australia worth while at present. It will soon be found that whilst emotion - and we are all swayed to some extent by emotion - can for a little time tend to warp the recognition of principles - that situation will not endure. I repeat that there is not, nor will there be, any split in the trade union movement. Majority rule will be accepted; the A.C.T.U. policy will prevail.
Why is this sniping going on against the trade union movement? Does not every one of us abhor the very existence of an iron curtain? Is there any one of us who has not, in his heart if not by actual word, condemned in full the secrecy under which totalitarianism rules? Do we seriously suggest that if the Communists have nothing to hide they should, at every level, afford opportunities to examine their system, their way of life and their treatment of their people? If we do, then let us be honest with ourselves. We of the Australian trade union movement are proud of our democratic freedom, of our rights, of our hardwon privileges and of our strength.
There would be common agreement in this chamber upon the contention that the free trade union movement, covering workers of all political beliefs, is an important cog in the maintenance of democratic freedom here. That same democratic freedom, in varying forms, exists throughout the free Western world. Somewhere and at some time, the yoke of despotism now felt under communism or under any totalitarian control, will be broken by the urge for freedom that exists in the heart of the common man. The upsurge of nationalism throughout the world in the last two decades is borne of the same urge for freedom. We of the trade union movement in Australia, proud as we are of our freedom in a democracy, have decided through the parliament of the trade unions, the A.C.T.U., to play our part in the struggle against Communist domination by inviting leaders of the workers under communism to come here to see the great benefits that flow from freedom and the better way of life enjoyed by trade unionists in a democracy.
In this way, we strive to sow the seed that will implant the urge amongst the workers and their leaders throughout the Communist world - in China and elsewhere if necessary - to change their totalitarian way of life, and to overcome their hatred of us and our system, if in fact such hatred exists. We are trying to do on a workers’ level what Khrushchev and Eisenhower failed to do at the summit. If Khrushchev and Eisenhower have failed the people ot the world at their level, does any one in this Parliament or elsewhere suggest that a great free movement such as the trade union movement should not continue with the work that was said, even by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), to be so essential for the future peace of the world? It took a long time for the Prime Minister to come around to our way of thinking about Summit talks, but before this year is ended, we will find him equally sure, if he is honest, that the work of the trade union movement now is important. We are trying to show the workers of the Communistdominated countries that we in the free world have something to live for, something of which to be proud and that we would not swap our way of life for theirs. If we can sow that seed, we may succeed as trade unionists where Khrushchev and Eisenhower failed. I voted for this resolution on the A.C.T.U. meeting.
– Not Eisenhower.
– You can blame whom you like for the failure of the Summit talks, but the plain, stark fact is that they were a failure. If they failed, why should we stand aside if we believe in the freedom of the workers, and that we should play our part in striving for the peace of the world? That was why I voted for this resolution at the A.C.T.U. meeting. I believe in freedom and I believe that we have something to show workers from any other part of the world who may come to this country.
Let me move now to a consideration of the point at issue in the Budget. Has this Budget done anything to steady the inflationary trend? Does any one believe that the increase of 6d. in the £1 in company tax will have any effect upon inflation? Have we noticed the H. G. Palmer group, the L. J. Hooker group or similar big businesses reducing the 8 per cent. interest rate they offer for money invested with them? Have we noticed General MotorsHolden’s Limited curbing its spending to ease the pressure upon man-power and materials, as the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) so glibly tells us is necessary when we mention how credit restrictions affect home building? I do not profess to be a student of economics, other than the breadandbutter economics of the average worker, but my view - it is a humble one, I know - is that the increase of company tax is merely a designed revenue producer for the Government and it will have no impact on inflationary pressures.
Let me put that phase of the Budget aside and turn to the proposals to increase personal income tax. This, I suggest, may help. However, I will deal with that subject later, because I want first to deal with the decision of the Government to oppose the granting of an increase in the basic wage earlier this year. Let us keep in mind that the basic wage is the minimum wage assessed for Australian workers. On more than one occasion over the years, when there has been a trend towards inflation, the court hearing a matter has drawn attention to the need for child endowment so that the family will be protected if the basic wage is not increased. That was virtually the basis of the decision of this Government to introduce child endowment in 1941. It was the factor that influenced the Lang Labour Government in New South Wales to introduce child endowment for the first time in Australia. I do not want to read the whole of the speech of the Treasurer in 1941, when he introduced a bill providing for child endowment on an Australia-wide basis. He knows full well that the factors that applied then apply now. When the basic wage case was before the court this year, the Government was well aware that an increase of 6s. a week should be granted to meet the increased cost of living as shown by the C series index. Because the Government has made it necessary for a basic wage case to be heard each year, the A.C.T.U., when it filed its claim, provided for an increase of 6s. to bring the basic wage up to the amount that it would have been if quarterly adjustments had continued. On each occasion, the court has increased the basic wage to bring it to the amount that it would have been if quarterly adjustments had continued, but on this occasion, because of the influence of this Government, the court decided to peg the worker on a low wage at the lowest level of purchasing power that has ever been known since 1935.
– That is not true.
– I am glad that a member of the. Australian Country Party has interjected, because I want to remind him that he has a stake in this matter and he should be just as concerned about it as I am.
The action of the Government was most unwise. It meant a demand for a reduction of family spending, and this is the very effect that should be avoided. By that one action, the Government is branded as the betrayer of the family man and the destroyer of the recognized living standards of Australian families. If the Government believed that pegging of the basic wage as such was necessary, the next obligation on the Government was to protect the family man and to increase child endowment by the amount that it had refused to allow to be added- to the basic wage. This was needed in order to maintain the standards that had been maintained on the basis of the C series index which had been accepted since 1935. Living standards in a country are like everything else. Once you interfere with them, you cannot make them static. Once you reduce the purchasing power of the family man you reduce the standards of the community. That reduction of standards does not stop within the next twelve months. The process of deterioration continues. Only the other day, the new index which was produced showed clearly how this Government had failed when, earlier this year, it first of all opposed an increase in the basic wage. It has continued to fail the people of Australia by bringing down a Budget of this kind and refusing to promote family welfare by raising child endowment by the amount by which the basic wage should have been increased.
For the first time, a government in Australia has refused to accept the C series index as the basis on which to determine family income. Coupled with the nation’s capacity to pay, that index should be looked to as the relevant standard. Then, as I have said, to cap everything else, the Government has brought down this kind of a Budget, although it was fully aware of the principles applied in 1927 in New South Wales and of what the first Menzies Government had done in 1941. It has done nothing to restore the purchasing power of families by increasing child endowment. In order to maintain even the present limited standards of Australian families, child endowment should have been raised by not less than 10s. a week if in fact the basic wage was to be pegged as from February of this year. Nobody knows that better than does the Treasurer. He introduced in 1941 the measure which provided for child endowment. In 1927, it was common talk among trade unionists in New South Wales that the Labour Government of that State had deliberately introduced child endowment in order to prevent the consequences of a substantial increase in the basic wage. But this Government refuses to allow the basic wage to be increased and then it turns its back on the children of this country, who are the best migrants we could possibly have, and refuses to increase child endowment.
When the Government does that and refuses to do anything about profits, it stands branded for what it is- a government that has completely lost control of the economy of Australia so far as it affects family living standards. But this Government goes even further, as I propose to show now.
– That is obviously stupid.
– I am glad to hear the interjections from members of the Australian Country Party. Indeed, I think it is appropriate at this stage that you, Mr. Temporary Chairman, a member of that party, occupy the chair, and I know that you will be most interested in what I am about to say. Family spending in Australia must be maintained for a number of reasons. I think that members of the Australian Country Party will agree with me that, under this Government’s planning, rural production is the key-note of the Australian economy. If we do not maintain rural production and earn overseas credits, this Government’s plans will come tumbling about its ears. So let us see to what degree the wage-earner carries rural production in Australia.
Let me take butter as my first illustration. In 1947-48, the average Sydney wholesale price of butter, which was virtually the home-consumption price being paid to the dairy farmer, was1s. 8½d. per lb. The f.o.b. price for butter exported was 2s. 2d. per lb. That represents near enough to a balanced economic condition for the butter producers. But what was the position in 1959. We have not yet received the figures for 1960, but the home-consumption price will be more heavily loaded again. In 1959, the price of butter in Sydney was 4s. 2d. per lb. and the overseas price was 2s.11d. per lb. Butter is one of the items taken into account in the C series index, which is used to assess the cost of maintaining a family. Under the system that we have in Australia at present, the families which buy the butter are subsidizing by about onethird the exports made by the butter producers.
Let us now look at the position in relation to sugar. We know something about that commodity. We know how important it is to Queensland and to the many people who are associated with the industry. In 1951-52, the home-consumption price of sugar was £33 14s. a ton and the export price was £36 15s. a ton. What is the situation to-day? The Australian worker, who until now has always had his wages fixed in accordance with costs as indicated by the C series index, pays £54 15s. a ton for sugar, and the overseas price is only £41 9s. 6d. a ton. I say to the Australian Country Party that the time is fast approaching when its members will come into our camp and look at these things through our eyes if they wish to represent properly the people whom they are supposed to represent in this place.
Let us turn now to the next phase of the problem. Last year, we crossed the line with respect to the big commodity. In 1958-59, the home-consumption price of wheat was 14s. 8d. a bushel and the export price was 14s.1d. a bushel. So, in every phase of rural production except wool, producers are depending more and more for their survival on high home-consumption prices. If the Australian Country Party allows this Government to prevent due increases in the basic wage and at the same time refuse to increase family incomes by raising child endowment by equivalent amounts, family consumption in this country will be reduced and the capacity of rural producers to earn the overseas credits that are so essential will be undermined. The two things are tied in together. If the Country Party continues to support the policy of this Government and happily watches the continuing deterioration of the standards of Australian workers, it will eventually drag into the same gutter with the workers the people whom its members are supposed to be here to represent.
Let me be quite frank about this: There is no danger of the purchasing power for home essentials being the instrument of inflation. To suggest that there was such a danger would be to adopt an attitude too silly for words. Just look at the items included in the new consumer prices index. All the things that go to make up a proper family life are related to the standards of production, and any suggestion that they tend to cause inflation will not bear examination. In fact, the reverse is the case. The purchasing power of our families is the very essence of Australia’s future prosperity, because it so materially affects every phase of primary production, and therefore the whole framework of our future. Last evening the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Freeth) asked what we would do about these problems. Let me say quite frankly what I would do about them. I would increase taxation to the required extent on all incomes above £1,000 a year, on a graduated scale, and plough the extra tax moneys back into higher child endowment and increased social service benefits. There is no inflationary element in the standard of purchasing power needed by families and pensioners to maintain proper living standards by obtaining an adequate share in the fruits of the nation’s productive capacity. Our rural producers would be so much richer if we could buy 25 per cent, more of their products than we do at present.
This Government once talked of a tax on excess profits. Here was a golden opportunity for the Government to do something about such a tax. Nobody wants to hurt the little man. This Government says it does not want to hurt small companies. There would be no occasion to hurt them if the Government followed the principle that has always been advocated by the Labour Party, that taxation should be imposed upon those best able to bear it. The latest available statistics show that the average earnings of Australian workers are £1,000 a year. Let us see what the reimposition of the 5 per cent, of income tax remitted last year will mean to a man receiving £1,000 a year.
– What is the top level of incomes?
– I will tell you. Do not be impatient. The average income of a worker in Australia to-day is £1,000. The cancellation of the 5 per cent, reduction of income tax will mean that the man receiving an income of £1,000 a year will have to pay about ls. 6d. a week extra. If I know anything of the people receiving £1,000 a year, they would not object to paying an extra 4s. 6d. a week, much less ls. 6d. If the increase of income tax was trebled the only squeal would come from the high-income people, because a man receiving £10,000 a year, for example, would have to pay £678 extra, instead of the extra £226 that he is now required to contribute. We contend, of course, that the people receiving incomes of this magnitude are well able to stand such increases. After all, from the point of view of the primary producer, the man with an income of £10,000 probably buys less butter, sugar and bread than the average family unit whose income is £1,000. The Government contends that the re-imposition of the 5 per cent, tax remission will help to stem the inflationary trend. This is obviously an admission by the Government that the only tool it has at hand to fight the inflationary trend is tax increases.
My quarrel with the Government - and it is a very real quarrel - is that it is depressing Australian living standards. It did so, for instance, when it sent a representative to the Commonwealth Arbitration Commission during the hearing of an application for an increase in the basic wage. The Government’s attitude can be understood when we consider that its Minister for Labour and National Service is a single man, who has no family responsibilities and is not concerned with Australian family life. But honorable members of the Country Party must sit up and take notice, because they know that despite the huge increase in our population the consumption per capita of butter is falling, that when the impact of the recent increase in the price of sugar is felt the per capita consumption of that commodity also will fall, and that if the price of wheat is increased the per capita consumption of bread will fall too. They know, of course, what has happened to sales of meat. The Government is travelling a road that will finally lead the country to economic ruin and bring the workers to their knees. Rural industries as well as secondary industries will feel the effect of the Government’s policies, and it will be impossible to keep our overseas reserves at the level that the Government thinks is necessary.
Not one proposal in this Budget has been designed to deal with inflation. If the Government believes that the re-imposition of the 5 per cent. tax deduction will have some effect, let us treble the increase in income tax. This will not harm anybody to any material extent, because the average wageearner will have to pay only 4s. 6d. a week extra. The additional revenue could then be used to increase child endowment and give pensioners an extra £1 a week, and all this money would then be spent to buy bread, sugar and all the other commodities that we want to sell in Australia.
– Don’t forget butter!
– Yes, butter, the most important commodity. I find it outrageous, Mr. Temporary Chairman, that we have at this time a government which insists on pegging the basic wage at an inadequate level and yet does nothing about increasing child endowment. A Labour government in New South Wales set the child endowment pattern in 1927, yet in 1960 we have an anti-Labour government which, even after the lesson of 1941, refuses to accept the simple proposition that if it pegs the basic wage and so reduces family incomes, it must protect the children of those families. This is the first Government that has shown such a miserable lack of understanding in approaching this question. The Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton), although a member of the Country Party, evidently fails to realize that if the basic wage is pegged and no increase in child endowment is provided, the rural sector of the economy must suffer, because it must always be affected by changes in the living standards of the workers.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The economic theories of the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James
Harrison) are very interesting, but they do not correspond with the theories advanced by other Opposition spokesmen, nor do they correspond with reality. The farmer knows better than any one else that wealth is not created by printing pieces of paper. He also knows very well that capital investment is necessary in order that jobs may be provided, whether on the land or in secondary industry. A great deal of our money in Australia has been spent in providing jobs, and it will continue to be spent in that way rather than in raising standards of living, because we are determined to keep our economy expanding and growing stronger all the time, realizing that this is necessary for the future welfare of our young Australians.
The Budget that has been the subject of debate during the last couple of weeks comes from the same stable as the other Budgets that have been presented during the last eleven years, and it is consistent with those Budgets, the results of which are everywhere to be seen. The results of the Government’s economic policy are everywhere to be seen. We have full employment in Australia. In fact, we have a higher level of employment and a greater degree of job security than any other country. This is a magnificent achievement. We have also been able, because of the moderate, wise and stable economic policies of this Government, to absorb vast numbers of immigrants and to expand and diversify industry to a very great extent. We have opened up a wonderful new world of opportunity and have strengthened our country immensely. These are considerable achievements, and it is because of the Government’s splendid record in the economic field that the Opposition finds it difficult to criticize this Budget.
– The honorable member has not been listening to many speeches in this debate.
– I have listened to a great number of speeches, and the only consistency about the speeches of Opposition members lies, as it were, in their inconsistency. The Budget shows that the Government is obviously placing restraints on the rate of expansion of industry. In doing so, it is continuing a programme that was initiated earlier this year, which is typically sensible and moderate and has not in any way diminished the high degree of confidence that the business community has in the growth of Australia, and which is shared by every Australian. There is no reason to expect that the Budget will not be followed by further sensible and wise measures. In fact, it is highly likely that the Budget is only the forerunner of further measures designed to shape our economy towards a greater degree of wealth and security.
The Government is always conscious of the dangers that surround us. It has had a very difficult time in the last few years. Our friends of the Opposition are inclined to forget that a great deal of the cost of the war had to be met during the last ten years. In addition, soon after this Government came to office the terms of trade started to run heavily against us. Unfortunately, the commodities that we sell on the world markets either .are overproduced in the world or suffer from extreme competition. Prices of those commodities have been falling, and we have been waging a ceaseless battle to raise our levels of production to maintain our export income at a figure which is sufficient to enable us to carry on our great programme of expansion and development.
The Government is aware of the perils that confront us in this situation in which the terms of trade are running so strongly against us and in which we have, through our deliberate determination to maintain our rate of expansion and full employment, allowed inflation to continue to some degree. The Government is aware of the dangers that could eventuate if, on the one hand, we were unable to control inflation or, on the other hand, if we were unable to raise our levels of production of the goods that are saleable on world markets to the pitch that we must reach in our growing economy.
It has been estimated that our export income should rise by about 5 per cent, a year if we are to continue as we are going in raising our living standards and developing and expanding our economy. I believe that to be possible. It is a challenge. But we will achieve our objective only by the application of the moderate and sensible policies that we know, from experience, that we can confidently expect from this Government.
When we consider our need to build up our export income, the curious aspect of the matter is that this is a case, like so many others, of the longest way round being the shortest way home. In the last ten years we have given a number of concessions to our primary industries, which are the source of our export income. The principal concession, which is so familiar to the man on the land, is in the field of taxation. These concessions have been beneficial in raising our productivity by creating an atmosphere which is favorable to the development of properties. We are reaching the limit of that kind of direct concession, direct benefit and direct incentive. Certainly, there are additional measures that we could introduce if the primary industries asked for them, and no doubt we would consider them. I have in mind the floor price scheme which has been mooted for some time in the wool industry. But by and large, we have reached the end of the line in relation to direct cash concessions for our primary industries which now recognize that the time has arrived when we should pay attention to the efficiency of our secondary industries with the object of encouraging them to reduce the cost level in Australia. It is only by a reduction in the cost level that we can achieve any major breakthrough in the development of the primary industries side of our economy.
During a debate on tariffs a couple of weeks ago I directed the attention of the Government to the need to review our tariff machinery to gear it to aid those industries in which we have a particular cost advantage because we have large supplies of natural resources, because we have peculiar skills in Australia, or because the industries are highly productive. I now suggest to the Government that it should use the other main instrument at its disposal to further its objective of raising the total efficiency of secondary industries - our taxation system. There has been in operation in the United Kingdom since 1954 an investment allowance which has encouraged investment in particular industries. This concession permits industries to write off 120 per cent, of the value of plant that is covered by the allowance and to claim a tax deduction for it. More than the cost of the article is written off. We do not need to adopt in Australia the
United Kingdom scheme. In fact, we would be most unwise to apply it in toto here.
The United Kingdom royal commission which studied taxation a few years ago pointed out that even in that country the investment allowance could be improved by applying it to certain classes of assets rather than to certain categories of industry. That is the kind of modification which I believe would help us here. If we were to adopt the United Kingdom allowance as it now stands, it would cost Australia £30,000,000. But if were to apply it to particular kinds of plant and equipment - such as electronic machinery, labour-saving machinery and machinery which would help us in our task of raising productivity - the cost at the outset would not be anywhere near £30,00,000. It would be quite feasible for the Government to introduce this scheme.
The benefits which would flow from using our tariff and taxation machinery in a discriminatory fashion in the cost field would be immense. We would be able to sell secondary goods in an expanding market overseas, in a rich, unlimited market, a market which contrasts very sharply with the markets we have for our primary commodities, which are saturated. There is no end to the opportunities for the sale of manufactured goods in world markets, particularly in the newly emerging Asian markets. We must give our secondary industries a fillip, a definite inducement along the lines T have suggested. Once they have embarked upon this very lucrative export trade they will join with primary commodities as equal partners in earning Australia’s overseas income, they will be helping to stabilize the economy, their efficiency will continue to improve, and costs at home will be reduced. I urge the Government to give this proposal its closest consideration when it comes to working out its strategy for the coming months because I am convinced that secondary industry holds the key to Australia’s future wealth and security.
It is perhaps strange that one who is so interested in the welfare and prosperity of the primary industries upon which the development of Australia has depended in the past should now be paying heed to the welfare of our secondary industries, which have grown mainly during the last ten years or so, but that is the situation. The key to the cost problem in the countryside is to be found in the cities, and it is up to this Government to supply the initiative to attract capital and to encourage secondary industry towards higher productivity, lower costs and the playing of a full part in earning our overseas income.
.- The Budget with which we are dealing has been criticized variously as an unimaginative and stolid document. What it does is deal with the inevitable increases in inescapable expenditure associated with national development demanded by the timetable of world events, by the need for defence in an uncertain world, by the growth of social services in a welfare stateand by the constant demands of the States, reasonable and otherwise, under our system of uniform taxation.
There is not much room for imagination in a Budget of this kind because it can only attempt to balance the increase in expenditure by providing a little more revenue in a way calculated to be the least painful. When we examine the Budget and find that we are committed to an expenditure of £1,800,000,000 while the value of our national product is £5,500,000,000, when we remember that not so long ago the economists in Australia warned us that when the demand for revenue reached 25 per cent, of the national income it tended to destroy incentive, when we realize that the expenditure from Consolidated Revenue is £1,500,000,000 in round figures, we appreciate that it does not take a great deal of arithmetic to make abundantly clear our present danger and the need to put a good deal more into national income before we can get much more out of it.
In the meantime, of course, the broad stream of economic life in Australia flows on producing, on the one side, a tendency towards monopoly in business and the aggregation of buying power, bringing with it the possibilities of exploitation and too easy profits, which, of course, add something to the inflationary pressure. On the other side, there is the constant pressure for a shorter working week and increased wages, and this gives a further push to inflationary forces. All of this clearly leaves us with the task for the 1960’s of overcoming, preferably in the early 1960’s, inflation and its devastating, consequential effects.
Here I should like to refer to the attack made on the Government by the Opposition, mainly on the ground that it has failed to develop overseas trade and to control inflation. First I might turn to the statement by the honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson), which seems to put the matter in a fairly plain light. He made this charge -
The Government is ignoring the long-term spectacle of Australian industries being dominated by overseas interests. This will mean that Australians will be little more than mere pawns in the business of making money for people in other parts of the world. That is what the future holds for us unless overseas investment in Australia is halted.
No doubt we might find some ground for agreeing with the honorable member for Hughes on some of the comments he made, but I should like to put one or two propositions to the House. First I suggest that Australian business must expand. If it does, it will make great demands for new capital investment. It is open to Australians to provide that necessary capital investment. The records prove that we in Australia are not doing enough. For this state of affairs, I say the Opposition ought to examine its own conscience because, for years, every utterance we have heard from the opposite side of this House has been in condemnation of the capitalists who invest in industry, and decrying the taking of interest and profit from investment as something extorted from the worker, so that “ investment “, “ interest “, “ profit “ and “ capitalism “ have become dirty words, to use the Opposition’s jargon. It is not too much to say that Labour’s constant attack upon investors has discouraged Australians from investing in the economic development of their own country. Now, of course, we have the inevitable consequence that the Opposition is bemoaning the result of its own campaign.
The honorable member for Hughes went on to say that we must halt overseas investment in Australia. Surely the honorable member could not have stopped to think for a moment of the consequences of such action. The real solution of the problem is to encourage more Australians to invest more of their ample savings in the develop ment of Australian industry. I shall have more to say on that later.
The honorable member for Hughes then attacked the Government for what he called its failure to stimulate exports sufficiently to enable us to balance our current overseas trading accounts. 1 thought the Government was making a very valiant effort in the field of trade promotion, and my mind goes back to what perhaps were better days when we had a little more enterprise in private enterprise, when the producer in Australia spent a good deal more of his own time, money and ingenuity in fostering overseas trade for his own products.
The problem of balance of payments arising from Australia’s great appetite for imports has imposed on us a number of problems, and the Government finds itself obliged to take a hand in the promotion of this country’s trade overseas. There is an urgent need for much more imaginative effort on the part of entrepreneurs in Australia towards the development of overseas markets. Recently, I had the pleasure of discussing this problem with a marketing agent in Hong Kong. He pointed out that in that area there was quite a reasonable market for a fairly limited number of Australian products, but he went on to point out that the average Australian aiming to sell on the Eastern market is content merely to hand over the representation of his firm to one of the mercantile agencies in Hong Kong and leave it to that agency to develop the market. This agent to whom I was speaking then opened the Hong Kong telephone directory and showed me where some of these mercantile agencies who were well known throughout the world took up pages of the telephone directory listing the goods for which they were the Asian repre1sentatives. It is patently clear that in those circumstances these good people, reputable though they are, are mainly order takers.
What this country needs in its foreign markets is some aggressive selling, preferably done by the manufacturers. This sort of thing is only one example of the sort of slackness which is gnawing at the very substance of the Australian economy. In addition, rising’ costs of production have all but closed many world markets to the secondary products of this country and now threaten to do the same to our primary exporting industries. We live in a fiercely competitive world. The buyers of goods on world markets feel no responsibility for maintaining the precariously balanced industrial paradise which we in Australia are enjoying. They want quality goods at keen prices;. As to quality, Australia is not backward. We can, if we want to, keep up with most countries and out-pace some in the field of quality production. But the fact is that the national heart is not in the job.
On the second factor of price, the margin of our production costs over that of so many of our competitors for world markets rises almost daily. Not only does secondary industry make little contribution to our export income but, in fact, its cost structure threatens the security of our exporting primary industries, as I will show. I do not want it to be thought that I am unsympathetic with the problems of secondary industry. That would be short-sighted and extremely foolish. But I do say that the time has come to redress the balance between primary and secondary industry in this country.
Thirdly, the honorable member for Hughes highlighted a recent overseas bank survey, which, I believe, showed that the depreciation of the Australian currency has been faster than that of a considerable number of other representative countries. I do not deny that there has been a great drift. I deplore it. I state most emphatically that the finding of a solution for this problem at whatever sacrifices of self-interest, is the prime essential for Australia’s future.
On the question of inflation, I now turn to some selected readings from a volume which I think ought to be a best-seller. It is volume 68 of “ Commonwealth Arbitration Reports 1950 “. I am dealing only with the contribution which the wage structure in Australia makes to this great problem of inflation. I do not want to say that similar pressure does not arise from the management administrative side of the economy which the Government is popularly but erroneously alleged to represent in this House. The Opposition can be trusted to attack the contribution made to inflation by the administrative side of the economy. I admit that there is a problem in that field but I would be delighted to hear the Opposition admit that a great inflationary pressure :is arising, in turn, from the wage structure.
If I were to take a text for to-day it would be from the judgment of Mr. Justice Dunphy in the 1950 basic wage case, which added £1 to the basic wage, thus speeding up the one-way wage cost escalator which is carrying this country towards economic difficulties. Mr. Justice Dunphy said -
Once the high road to a high wage standard is embarked upon . . . the only means of keeping prices down to the wage level (without reintroduction of wage pegging and price control) is by means of increased output by the workers and honest price dealing by the manufacturers and the producer.
I reject out of hand, as I am sure that the people would reject, wage pegging and price control. We have had enough experience of black markets. The Opposition welcomed the £1 a week increase in the basic wage in 1950, as I recall it, with sharp cries of “ not enough “. However, if the Opposition endorsed the wisdom of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court which awarded the increase in 1950, it can hardly reject the stated convictions or disregard the warnings which characterized the judgment of the same learned gentlemen.
Since I am more anxious for the national welfare than for that of any particular group, let me say again that profit-making on a grand scale by that section of industry which is enjoying the domestic boom at great risk to the health of the economy is a potent force for inflation. I also want to remind the Opposition that by no means the whole of industry is flourishing. There is a great tendency to generalize on this subject of the success of. industry. But many small industries and an increasing cross-section of primary producers employing tens of thousands of Australians are in a deplorable state. According to company tax returns for 1958-59, 12,300 out of about 39,000 companies earned a profit of between £1 and £1,000 a year. The number that earned between £1,000 and £5,000 was 14,000. Of course, these figures would have to be related to capital employed but the devastating fact is that, in the income year 1958-59 there were 14,500 companies which either had no return, having done no business, or which had losses. Less than 14,500 companies in Australia lost, in the aggregate, £25,000,000. So do not Jet anybody say that the whole of industry in Australia is prosperous and seek to make sweeping generalizations on such an erroneous basis.
My remarks refer necessarily to the upwards pressure of costs which arose from the basic wage case. In delivering judgment on the 1950 basic wage case, Mr. Justice Foster, as reported at page 797 of the “ Commonwealth Arbitration Report 1950 “, said -
I shall be concerned with the fact that an increase in the basic wage will inevitably permeate the whole wage structure, will increase prices and so add its modicum of inflationary pressure but inflation and its control are matters for the Government.
If inflation is created by the addition of a wage increment which cannot thereafter be subtracted, but which, on the other hand, goes on aggravating the situation, it must be clear immediately that one great source of control of inflation has been denied to the Government. The Opposition complains about inflation, but I cannot bring myself to believe that anybody in the Opposition, nor any intelligent observer of industrial affairs in this country, is ignorant of the consequences to which Mr. Justice Foster drew attention. It is of great interest, in view of the Opposition’s attack on the Government, to read this further comment by Mr. Justice Dunphy -
Although the union advocates asked us to disregard the question of inflation I think such an attitude would be contrary to the workers’ own interests as they would be detrimentally involved in a serious inflation.
In other words, the court thought fit to use its wisdom to save the workers from the consequences of their own demands. So, the whole picture which emerges from the 1950 basic wage case is one of disregard for the consequences of a demand for a major wage increment at a time of full employment and shortages. The court - and doubtless the advocates - had a clear understanding that higher wages and shorter hours mean higher costs and inflation. Now we have both higher costs and inflation. We cry about it as though we were economic illiterates, stopping only long enough to complain that the Government approached the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission to show what further disastrous effects would arise from a wage increment which might possibly exceed in rate the growth of productivity in this country.
We ought to learn some lessons from the past. But now we have the national madness of a campaign for a 35-hour week about to burst on us. The success of such a demand under anything like present conditions would certainly close the doors of hundreds, if not thousands, of factories and throw into unemployment tens of thousands of good Australian workers. The one, basic lesson that we ought to learn is that when wages rise or the hours of work decrease at a rate greater than the growth of productivity, our standard of living will go down, irrespective of how many £1 notes we have in our pockets. Any increase in cash income will only be the measure of the deteriorating value of the currency. Mr. Justice Foster concluded his opinion -
I should only add that the Australian Council of Trade Unions made no case for the adjustment of the basic rates according to Australian productivity.
On the other hand, we in Australia are at the moment busy cashing in on our advantages and exploiting our opportunities in a personal way, when to my mind we ought to be devoting our industrial competence to strengthening the country industrially, economically, militarily and psychologically, because it may well be that a test in all these fields may lie ahead of Australia at no distant time.
I will now look at some of the effects of inflation, and I go back to the honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson), who complained about our inability to increase our export income. I recall vividly that when the 40-hour week case was before the Arbitration Court we were told that hours in excess of 40 decreased productive efficiency. In fact, it was claimed that as much could be done in 40 hours as was being done in the then existing 44-hour week. In the light of a more recent study by the Department of Labour and National Service, we find that the average working week, with overtime, has now risen considerably in excess of 40 hours, so that if we accept the argument put up in favour of the 40-hour week, this overtime gives less efficient production but it is paid for at timeandahalf penalty rates, so adding greatly to the cost of production. The fact of course is, as any industrialist in Australia can tell us to-day, that in industry there is a great and constant demand to be allowed to work overtime, because the workers need the extra funds to meet the extra cost of goods produced under the influence of less work and more pay.
With full employment everywhere, a shortage of skilled workers on the one hand and a shortage of apprentices on the other, it is already painfully obvious that a 35- hour week would not cut the hours of work but would merely add penalty rates to five hours of the existing working week and so again give a fillip to increase the pace of further inflation. In this country 38 per cent, of the recorded employees are engaged in manufacturing industries which between them account for only 15 per cent, of our export income; and therefore one would suppose there are vast possibilities of reaching a goodly part of the additional £250,000,000 worth of exports which we need to balance this country’s appetite for imports. But the fact is that, in a world which no longer tolerates isolationism of any kind, we in this country, have isolated ourselves from our world markets because of our cost structure. We are, in the vernacular, having ourselves on, if we think we can get another £250,000,000, or any substantial part of it, in additional export trade with our present cost structure.
In this picture one spares a thought for the primary industries, which are our real exporters. Eighty per cent, of our export income still comes from the primary industries, as it has as far back as one can recall, and in this field, of course, wool is the most important. To-day the problems of the wool-grower are becoming more pressing, as behind him there is the ever-mounting cost of production which is spurred on by industrial conditions tied to a booming domestic component of the economy; and ahead of him, and indeed ahead’ of the whole Australian economy, is the disinclination of the world market to meet these costs. The wool-grower and, through him, the Australian economy, is now emerging as the clear victim of inflation. It is merely adding insult to injury that a tightening of credit aimed at inflation should still further harass the wool-grower and1 the primary producer, who are the real producers of our export income. I delay my comments only long enough to express the hope that the application of the credit squeeze will be very selective indeed. So we have the anomalous position that secondary industry in its domestic market is generally prosperous. It adds little to our export income itself, but it generates pressures that bear with particular severity against the man on the land who, again I say, is the real producer of our export income. I am not unsympathetic to our secondary industries, but the time has long since come when we must redress the imbalance.
Since we are dealing with the wage structure and its effects on costs and inflation, I think another observation is pertinent. The 1950 increment in the basic wage which contributed so disastrously to inflation was influenced greatly by the growth of the wool income from £97,000,000 in 1946 to £157,000,000 in 1947, £202,000,000 in 1948, 308,000,000 in 1949 and £590,000,000 in 1950. But the unfortunate effect is that the tide of wool millions has receded, leaving in the wage structure and in the cost structure not only the £1 increase which was made in view of the prosperity at the time but also the long succession of upward wage and cost adjustments to which it gave birth. With a vastly lower wool income, the woolgrower is left to cope with these irreversible pressures on his cost of production. Nobody who looks at the figures can underestimate the dependence of the Australian economy on the wool industry. The modern tendency to depend1 upon the inflow of foreign investment to make up the leeway is just not good enough. For if the wool industry should go down for any reason at all, the tone of general prosperity which encourages foreign investment would also disappear and we would then find ourselves with a seriously depleted and rapidly disappearing overseas trade balance. In such a case the re-imposition of import restrictions or the de-valuation of the currency would begin to appear as last-ditch stands against a situation developed because we are all too busy plundering the national economy for personal gain.
In the light of the fact that the thinking and behaviour of both management and labour in Australia constantly increase inflationary pressure, and also the fact that the Government has only limited control over many of the factors concerned without, I repeat, imposing controls which would merely exchange one set of difficulties for another, it may well be that the attack upon inflation is becoming a moral question in Australia and that our national future will be conditioned by how we, as a people, face up to it. On the one hand there must be restraint on profit-taking and, on the other, I quote again from the judgment of Mr. Justice Dunphy, who in 1950, said words which have an even more vital significance to-day. He said1 -
If workers realize that the major benefit of wage increases is lost unless the expenditure of their labour results in an increase of total production, the main industrial parties might eventually look at questions of wages and prices from the national viewpoint.
– I listened with a great deal of interest to the remarks of the honorable member for Paterson (Mr. Fairhall) who has just resumed his seat. He spent a great deal of time discussing the recent decision of the Arbitration Court, and I want to point out to him that the basic wage has now been pegged for several years. Indeed, it was an accepted principle of Chifley Government that in a difficult period the basic wage should be pegged, provided there was a corresponding control over costs and prices. The honorable member referred to the need for some control over profits. I again remind him that his own leader, as far back as 1951, indicated in a series of broadcasts that he would be bringing down legislation to exercise some control over profits. But that legislation has never been introduced into this Parliament. The honorable member dealt with a subject that is exercising the minds of all Australians at this time - the question of inflation and the inactivity of the present Government in respect of that important subject. This is the second Budget that has been introduced by the present Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), and I submit that it is no improvement on the first one, nor does it reflect the prosperity so frequently referred to by Government members when they wish to impress the electors of this country. I share the view of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) that it is open to criticism because of its omissions and injustices, particularly in relation to the defenceless sections of the community.
The motion to reduce the first item by £1 is therefore, I believe, soundly based on the Opposition’s contention that the Government should be censured for bringing down a budget which is merely a negation of the proper responsibility which rests on the Government. That responsibility is to ensure that economic justice is dispensed to all sections of the Australian community. We censure the Government for its failure to take immediate steps to provide full employment in accordance with a clearly established principle; for its failure to amend the financial measures contained in this document in order to ensure the payment of just rates of pension to age, invalid and other classes of pensioners; and for its failure to restore living standards, particularly of wage and salary earners and people who are entirely dependent for their livelihood on fixed incomes. I believe that, in the sense that this Budget does not make provision for any of these things, the word “ censure “ is probably too mild a term.
In introducing the Budget the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) made what was, in the circumstances, an extraordinary claim. Referring to the financial year 1959-60, he said -
It was, in a word, a year of fine achievement, one in which all sections of the community strove hard and well and effectively.
I have no doubt that there is a great deal of truth in that statement, because I believe that all sections of the Australian community did give of their best in 1959; but I submit at once that it cannot be said that this Government gave of its best, because what clearly emerges from the financial documents is the fact that there has been a definite decline in living standards. This has been demonstrated by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), who made reference to these matters in his speech on the Budget, and also pointed out that unless some definite action is taken by the Government the economic difficulties to which honorable members on this side have pointed will continue. In that respect, the Leader of the Opposition has rendered this country a great service.
It should be remembered also, Sir, that the Government has now been in office since 1949 - a period of almost eleven years, during which it has had every opportunity to get the country’s affairs into order. Honorable members on the Government side have frequently, during this debate, referred to the great stability of the economy. 1 suggest that no honorable member can point to such stability when, in actual fact, what has really taken place is a definite fall in living standards, something which is undoubtedly the direct result of the Government’s policies, particularly its financial policy. To suggest that our economy has gained in either strength or stability is to give a completely erroneous interpretation to the facts. In support of that statement, Sir, one need only point to the position of our overseas reserves. When the Chifley Government left office in 1949, those reserves stood at the all-time record figure of £S50,000,000. They have since fallen to £400,000,000, and undoubtedly will decline further. In the same period our overseas indebtedness has substantially increased, but still the Government continues its frantic search for overseas loans that add further to our financial difficulties.
The Treasurer again emphasized that in future deficit budgeting could no longer be accepted. He has budgeted, therefore, for a surplus of £15,500,000. I believe that the surplus at the end of the financial year, as a consequence of increasing costs and prices, will undoubtedly exceed the Treasurer’s estimates. On other occasions when the Treasurer and his predecessor budgeted for a deficit the deficit was always smaller than that estimated.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– Prior to the suspension, I referred to the Government’s proposed Budget surplus of approximately £15,500,000. The Opposition has no quarrel with that proposal. However, we believe that the Government has a responsibility to ensure that economic justice is given to all sections of the community and that profiteering corporations should not be singled out for favoured treatment while injury is inflicted upon wage and salary earners, and especially upon the recipients of social service benefits. When the Treasurer was delivering his Budget speech, the Opposition was waiting to learn not whether some assistance would be given to age and other pensioners - who are undoubtedly going through an extremely difficult period as a consequence of recent price increases and inflation generally - but how much relief would be given to them. But their just claims have not been recognized.
The Budget provides for a surplus by restricting the purchasing power of practically all sections of the community, primarily through increased direct and indirect taxation. In that respect pensioners are affected almost as much as those whose salaries will enable them to meet the proposed increases. The Opposition and, I believe, the people generally have become accustomed to the Government adopting the attitude that, because this Budget is midway between elections, it does not really matter. But of all the defences that can be advanced, that is surely the worst. It merely upholds the Opposition’s contention that the present pension rate and the proposed increase are both inadequate. Wageearners have received increases, especially in margins for skill, and to postpone adequate pension increases for a further twelve months displays a heartless approach to the subject and will do nothing to restore the faith of pensioners in the Parliament. Pensioners have used whatever avenues are available to them to place before the Parliament requests for increases which may best be described as reasonable appeals for justice. Their claims have been accepted by the community generally, and it is appalling that, in these circumstances, they have not been recognized.
Last year, pensioners received an increase of 7s. 6d. a week. This year, all they will gain is an additional 5s. The Australian Pensioners League described this as a deplorable increase, and that statement will, I believe, be endorsed by most thinking people, but, of course, not by the Government or its supporters. Recently, at a meeting held in the Launceston railway workshops, the employees, who are a good cross-section of the community, protested against what they regarded as the Government’s callous treatment of this under-privileged section of the community, and they carried this motion -
That this meeting of Launceston Railway Workers calls upon the Federal Government to consider the plight of the social service pensioners. It demands that they be given a substantial increase in the pension rate under the 1960-61 Budget proposal in keeping with the increased cost of living and the record profits of industry in the Commonwealth.
I am sure that that motion will receive the support of a good many people.
Let me refer now, if only briefly, to the treatment that has been accorded to the totally and permanently incapacitated exservicemen. The Government’s approach is completely indefensible, because the increase granted to these pensioners does not match the recent increase granted to basic wage earners in Victoria. All these exservicemen suffer from disabilities which prevent them from earning any income. Most of them suffer from disabilities which prevent them from pursuing a normal life in the community. I know that the Government has said on other occasions that the special needs of the totally and permanently incapacitated ex-servicemen would not be overlooked, but it proposes now in this Budget to allow these exservicemen to exist on an income that is substantially less than the basic wage averaged over the six capital cities. I submit that this pension rate should not be less than the basic wage, and the Opposition will continue to express this point of view when the amending legislation is before the Parliament.
I come now to the proposals that will enable the Government to increase its revenue at the expense of various sections of the community. A review of the priorities established by this Government shows that its first aim is to keep itself in office at all costs. Whenever an increase in revenue is sought, the necessary legislation is always introduced in the year immediately following a general election or midway through the Government’s term of office. It is never introduced during an election year. Honorable members will recall the “ horror “ budget of the financial year 1951-52 and various other incidental or little budgets that have followed. These have never been referred to at any election. The Government, in seeking increased revenue, always strikes at those things which form part of the individual’s daily life and gives as the reason for increased charges that they are antiinflationary in character. Nobody accepts that reason, because customs duty, excise duty and sales tax imposed on manufactured goods are always passed on by the wholesaler, who adds his margin of profit to the increased charge. How can costs bc kept down by adding to them?
Sales tax this year will provide the colossal total of £180,379,000. Indirect taxation as a whole - that is, customs duty, excise duty and sales tax - will be increased by approximately £41,000,000 to a total of £541,979,000. This staggering figure shows the disproportionate burden that is imposed on our economy by these indirect taxes, which have always been reflected in the cost of living. The Opposition believes that the most just form of taxation is a progressive tax based on an individual’s ability to pay. The higher an individual’s income, the greater the proportion of that income that should be taken from him in taxes. The Treasurer now proposes to raise an additional £40,500,000 in a full year by increasing various items of sales tax, by increasing company taxation and by a 5 per cent, increase of personal income tax. When a 5 per cent, reduction was granted in the 1959-60 Budget, it was described as a rebate of ls. in the £1 against tax payable on 1959-60 incomes. lt was a concession then granted on the basis that taxation on the anticipated rise in incomes would more than compensate for the £20,000,000 loss of revenue because of the reduction. But the Government’s generosity has lasted only twelve months. The reduction given in the 1959-60 Budget to a man with an average income of, say, £20 a week amounted to approximately 2s. 6d. a week. It was no great reduction, but at least it was some concession to the family man, and therefore probably to the great majority of taxpayers.
This process of hitting the great bulk of the Australian taxpayers has been a predominant feature of Liberal Party and Australian Country Party administration during the past ten years. In 1950, the single man with an average income paid approximately ls. 9d. in the £1 in direct taxes. Despite the fact that there have been several reductions in the rates of direct tax levied, he now pays 2s. 4d. in the £1. The position of the man with family responsibilities is even worse. In 1950, a married man with two children on an average income paid direct tax at the rate of 7id. in the £1. In 1960-61, he will pay ls. 3d. in the £1. In every respect, direct taxes have been increased by this Government, and the process has been largely one of hitting the person on the smaller income.
Furthermore, the average man with family responsibilities no longer gets the advantage which he got in 1950 from child endowment, which, in that year, added 6i per cent, to his income. Inflation has now reduced this to little more than 3 per cent. Yet there is not one reference to child endowment in the Treasurer’s Budget speech. He and the. Government ignore the fact that, for the great majority of Australians, the value of child endowment has been whittled away by creeping inflation.
– The. Government is taking the milk from the babies.
– 1 think that sums up the attitude of this Government. In actual fact, Mr. Temporary Chairman, there has been no increase since 1948 in the. child endowment paid for second and subsequent children. The Government obviously intends to allow this benefit to be whittled away by this process of inflation.
I should think that if it had been seriously suggested in this Parliament eight years ago that the basic wage in one State alone would rise by as much as 18s. a week in one adjustment, that suggestion would not have been seriously considered. Yet that is exactly what has happened. But the Treasurer devoted no more than two lines of his Budget speech to the important question of costs and prices. He was content merely to point out that in his opinion the rate of increase is not slackening. In other words, to use the vernacular expression which we have been given by the Leader of the Opposition, the Government “ couldn’t care less “. It is certain, Sir, that this situation will not be improved by the proposed tax increases. No doubt the Treasurer would have us forget that he has budgeted for an additional £13,000,000 in customs duty during the current financial year, £11,000,000 more in excise duty and £16,000,000 more in sales tax. In every respect, taxation will be greater during this financial year than in 1959-60. All those citizens whose incomes depend on decisions of the arbitration tribunals, as well as those people who depend on fixed incomes, will pay more in taxes in this financial year. Certainly, the people on fixed incomes are among the most severely hit victims of inflation. Surely it will not be suggested that the very small expansion provided for in this Budget is likely to have much effect on the kind of spending that stimulates inflation.
I believe, Sir, that the fundamental difference between the Government and the Opposition on the whole question of budgets remains the same. Government supporters endorse and accept the principle of increasing taxes by indirect means. But every honorable member knows that indirect taxes are levied on the community, not on a graduated scale according to ability to pay, but on the basis of consumer requirements. I submit that no honorable member can justify this Government’s policy of constantly increasing indirect taxes or can truthfully deny that this policy is inflationary through its effect on our cost structure.
I turn now to one or two other matters about which the Government has done nothing in this Budget. I believe that most people regard the Budget as the annual stocktaking in which they are told what the Government proposes to do for them in the ensuing financial year. That would apply particularly to individuals who depend on the Government to provide those utilities and services which they as individuals are unable to provide for themselves. In many of these matters, the Treasurer has given no indication of what the Government proposes to do.
Housing is possibly an exception. The Treasurer did mention it, although he devoted only two lines of his speech to it. We were told that the housing situation is quite satisfactory because last financial year the building industry achieved records in the construction of both new houses and new flats. So far so good, Mr. Temporary Chairman. Last year was a decided improvement. More homes were built. But I believe that we have to look at the situation in the light of the target set by the Minister responsible for housing - the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner). In 1956, he estimated that we were 115,000 homes short of our requirements in this country. In my opinion, that was a most conservative estimate, because it did not take into consideration the sub-standard homes that may be found in every State - homes that should be demolished as soon as possible. The .Minister for National
Development based his estimate merely on the very great increase in the number of families that was to be expected during the next five years after 1956. He also failed to take into consideration the very great effect that our immigration programme must have had in aggravating an already existing shortage of homes.
– Has the honorable member obtained these figures from the State housing organizations?
– No. The figures that I am using were those given by the Minister for National Development in a statement issued by the Department of National Development in 1956. In that year, the Minister said that if we could build 77,000 new homes each year for the next five years we should overtake the lag. In 1956, we completed 73,277 homes - some 4,000 short of the Minister’s target. In 1957, we constructed 70,531 homes - about 6,500 short of the requirement estimated by the Minister. In 1958, more homes than the Minister set as his target were constructed. In 1959, the number constructed again exceeded the target. But even at that rate, on the Minister’s own figures, we have one year only in which to make up a black-lag of approximately 60,000 homes. The rate of building is just not good enough, and it is obvious that while the bank credit squeeze continues we shall not be able to make good the shortage. In the meantime, there are thousands of young Australians throughout the country who are looking for accommodation and who certainly have a great need for it. I do not believe that they are likely to appreciate the easy way in which the Treasurer disposed of the housing problem in his Budget speech.
I turn now to employment and unemployment, which were mentioned briefly in the Treasurer’s Budget speech. He passed over the problem of unemployment as being of no great consequence. I think that any one who studies the unemployment situation will see that employment has fallen below the high level that persisted during 1959. Employment has increased largely in the governmental field rather than in private enterprise. I should like to quote for the benefit of the committee the statistics on unemployment that are available for each year since 1948 - approximately one year before this
Government took office. In 1948 there were 13,746 persons registered for employment in the various offices of the Department of Labour and National Service.
– What about 1949?
– I will give the figures for that year too. In 1949 there were 63,000, but the honorable member knows that this included those involved in the coal strike in New South Wales. The correct picture, I think, is reflected by the figures showing the numbers of persons receiving unemployment benefit, of whom there were only 913 in 1949, as against 1,603 in the previous year. In 1953 the number of persons registered for employment had increased to 53,443. In 1957 the number was 52,225 and by July of this year it had decreased to 47,213, but there are still 16,310 persons receiving unemployment benefit. I ask honorable members to compare that number with the number of persons receiving benefit in 1948, 1,603.
It is true, and I acknowledge it at once, that there has been a decrease in the numbers of persons registered for employment during 1959, but the fact remains that there is a high level of unemployment in country centres. In New South Wales, for example, although more than half the population of the State is concentrated in Sydney, about 60 per cent. of those receiving the unemployment benefit reside in country areas. There has been a trend to more widespread unemployment in country districts. Although it may be said that the unemployment figures have stopped increasing and that employment levels are rising, the fact remains that there has been an increase in unemployment in some isolated areas, in which more people are receiving the unemployment benefit. There are still far too many persons registered for employment, with a consequent loss to the nation of productive capacity.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The 1960-61 Budget is, perhaps, a somewhat staid, but nevertheless, I think, a very sane Budget, aimed largely at maintaining the status quo. The Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) is relying mainly, I think, on the taxes to be obtained as a result of increased salaries and wages, following upon the margins decision of the Commonwealth Arbitration Commission, to meet increased costs and expenditure. Nevertheless, there are some, no doubt, who would suggest that more imagination should have been shown. There may be others like me who would like to have seen a general re-adjustment, so that we could have eliminated such items as the pay-roll tax, which I feel is inflationary.
I believe, however, that the Government is to be warmly congratulated. I include amongst those to whom congratulations should be extended the honorable members for Sturt (Mr. Wilson) and Swan (Mr. Cleaver), and all the members of the Government’s social services committee. I commend them on the excellent alterations that have been made in the means test provisions. These are an outstanding feature of the Budget, and all those who have been concerned in framing them deserve, I think, very hearty congratulations.
I was a little disappointed that not more was said in the Treasurer’s Budget speech about the knife-edge on which our present prosperity rather precariously rests. For this reason I have listened carefully to the various speeches made during the debate, and I was most interested to find that much constructive thinking has been done by many back-benchers, such as the honorable members for Isaacs (Mr. Haworth), Paterson (Mr. Fairhall), Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth), Wentworth (Mr. Bury), Bradfield (Mr. Turner) and others. Their speeches have indicated that they have given serious thought to the nation’s problems, and I strongly recommend that the Government should seriously consider their suggestions.
All in all, it appears that the Government feels that Australia has never had it so good, if I may use a well-worn phrase, and the Government’s endeavours are concentrated towards maintaining that situation. As far as internal prosperity is concerned, I think all of us will agree with the Government’s view. In fact, the Opposition becomes more and more desperate each year, as the old phrase rings truer and truer. Nevertheless, I think we should give heed to the warnings which have been sounded in speeches such as those of the honorable members I have mentioned. We should also remember that prosperity can be a very false friend. It leads us, whether as individuals or nations, into laziness and sometimes a lack of discipline, and certainly causes us to look to the future in myopic perspective.
But I would like to leave internal considerations for a moment and turn to the external picture. There, far from having never had it so good, we have never had it so bad or so dangerous at any time in our history, except perhaps during the month or two immediately prior to the Coral Sea battle, and then, of course, we were facing a very different kind of danger. I know that we have had many alarums and excursions, and we have had to learn to live with international tensions. It has been necessary for us to do so, but while we have learned to live with these tensions there has been a tendency for us to disregard them, which I feel is dangerous. In August last year the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), on returning from overseas, told this Parliament -
I came back to Australia better informed if not wiser. On the whole I have some real optimism about the future.
He was referring, of course, to the proposed Summit meetings. I did not win many friends at that time when I said that I felt we had to be realistic and not give way to too much optimism, and that I was afraid that after all the energy spent in climbing to the summit all we would find there would be an abominable no-man. I wish I had not been correct in my forecast.
Of course, we must remember that what happened with regard to the Summit meeting was that Mr. Khrushchev came somewhere near the summit, but sat on a crag at some distance from it, delivered icy blasts of propaganda and departed almost as rapidly as one of his sputniks. I wonder how much of the optimism displayed by the Prime Minister last year remains to-day.
When the Summit meeting was torpedoed, the Communists decided to step up the “ hate America “ campaign with all the virulence and violence that they could command. Peking and Moscow have carried on the campaign night and day ever since. The Peking propaganda machine has been going at full speed ahead. There have been mass demonstrations in every city throughout the north, south, east and west of China, with mechanized cheer-leaders chanting previously prepared slogans and carrying banners. In one demonstration 3,500,000 of the militarized masses remained from dawn to dusk in Tien-an square in Peking, crying abuse at the running dogs of American imperialism, in an endeavour to undermine the Japan-United States of America security treaty. Japan’s left-wing Sohyo trade union leaders were invited to China, where they were instructed, enthused over and given money to supplement that previously taken to Japan by cultural delegations and stage performers, and then were sent home to spread the doctrines propounded by their hosts.
Fifteen years after World War I., Hitler’s march on the Rhine was allowed to go unchallenged. It was accepted as one of the winds of change of the time. Fifteen years after World War II., Mao Tse-tung’s disciples went back across the China Sea, and although they failed in their objective of preventing the ratification of the JapanUnited States security treaty, they did succeed in preventing the visit of the President of the United States of America to Tokyo and in bringing about the fall of the Kishi Government. I said then and I say now that it was the blackest day for Australia since V.P. day. Why do I say that? I say it because although it might not have seemed very much to us, when those events are blown up to great heights by the Communist propaganda machine the effect on the untutored minds of the millions in Asia cannot be assessed. On that occasion the Leader of the Opposition said -
Any suggestion that the Japanese demonstrations provided a warning to Australia is nonsense.
Unfortunately, the Government did not reply to that statement and, weak and relatively unimportant as the Opposition is in the scheme of things in Australia, I feel that it is dangerous to allow such statements by the Leader of the Opposition to remain unanswered. Two months ago in Ballarat I forecast that this “ hate America “ campaign, and the heights to which it had risen, would result in renewed attacks on Laos through the Pathet Lao Party, and renewed activity by the Viet Cong guerrillas in South Vietnam. My forecast has proved to be correct. I do not ask any credit for that. You do not need a crystal ball to be able to see what will happen, provided you keep in touch with at least some of the daily events of the world scene. But you cannot keep in touch with them if you are too busy with other matters.
Events move so quickly in this day and age that I believe that the External Affairs portfolio should be a one-man job. I do not suggest that the Prime Minister should not have direct control over major points of policy, but this task of informing the people is a very important one in the cold war which is going on to-day.
Since the red successes in Tokyo there have been two by-elections in prefectures in Japan, both of which the Liberal Government won - by a 3 to 1 and a 2 to 1 majority. The elections were fought on the Japan-United States security treaty. A straw ballot was taken by one of the leading newspapers in Tokyo in which the Ikeda Government received 51 per cent, support, the greatest percentage support given to any government in Japan since the Yoshida Government received 58 per cent, support when the original Japan-United States treaty was signed. But nothing has been, or will be said, of this result by the red propaganda machine. In fact, little was said of it in our own newspapers. The red propaganda machine concentrates on its own successes and says very little about these pointers to public feeling, nor do our own newspapers. But if we are to understand what is going on, these pointers are important. The campaign of divide and conquer, which was the main theme of a disputed statement which I made in Tokyo in 1 955, has been stepped up to new heights. It can be ignored by the free world only at its peril and with the prospect of further subsequent rapid losses.
The average citizen of Australia has never failed to rise to any necessary heights when he has understood the position, but how can the average citizen understand the position unless our leaders in politics and in all walks of life - commerce, industry, labour, the churches and the newspapers - make greater efforts, not only to inform themselves but also to put the facts before the people so that the people will be able to distinguish between the cleansing winds of change and the cataclysmic cyclone of red thuggery and mob action. The ordinary citizen cannot be expected to understand the real danger of isolation in which Australia stands to-day, or in which it may find itself at only a few months notice, unless he is told the main outline of the strategy, tactics and movements in the cold war. Unless he is told that up to the present we have been losing rapidly in the psychological war and that we cannot afford to go on losing, he will not know what he is up against.
It is not easy to be a leader in the world to-day, particularly a prime minister. Therefore, any help which is given to us at any time is of importance. Our own fields are very pleasant, very green and very sunny but the international road is rough and rugged. We do not want to leave our fields and go marching down that road. We hear of accidents and disturbances up or down the road but, because we are so prosperous, we are inclined to sit back and hope that some police force other than our own will come along and deal with the situation. As a result, we allow ourselves to drift into a crisis and then attempt to deal with the situation piecemeal. More often than not, we adopt the wrong policy, as I believe we did in relation to a rather important matter in October, 1956, and in relation to a comparatively minor matter which is now before us. More than ever to-day we need some solid constructive thinking which will enable us to meet and defeat these Communist tactics in the cold war, and to gain and retain the initiative which has been lost.
Unfortunately, no help can be expected from the Labour Party, which is so lost in a jungle of unity tickets that it has neither lead nor direction. It does not know where it is going. I am really sorry about that because the task of convincing Australia of what is required of it to-day would be much easier if the Labour Party were not in that position. The reds’ victory on unity tickets at Yallourn is hardly over before there is a dislocation of industry by blackouts in Melbourne this week. Has the Australian Council of Trade Unions, which is affiliated with the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, yet is playing around with the World Federation of Trade Unions, not heard of the decision which was arrived at eighteen months or two years ago at a conference of the W.F.T.U., held in the capital of one of the satellite countries of Europe, to concentrate on heavy industries, power and transport and to disrupt and dislocate the economies of the free countries of the world, not by general strikes, which the conference said were out of date, but by the same kind of things as the blackouts which have occurred in Melbourne?
Unfortunately, the Australian Labour Party to-day is the reds’ best asset, internally and externally. It might be to our disadvantage as a party if it were not, but it is a very great disadvantage to Australia as a nation that it is. As a result, Labour cannot argue on these matters except to adopt a silly, petty, spiteful attitude such as the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) adopted last night. It cannot even criticize South Africa’s apartheid policy when its own unions will not admit a man who is naturally coloured but not as deeply coloured as some other members of the union who have a good sun-tan. I can give the Labour Party details of the case which I have in mind. Until it clears itself of this kind of attitude, we can expect no help from it - I repeat, unfortunately.
However, one good thing that has come out of the failure of the Summit Conference and the paranoic propaganda which was employed by Mr. Khrushchev, is that the Nato nations of Europe have drawn together more closely than they were. You may say that Australia’s part in the cold war could only be a very small one, but I ask the Government this question: Do we take it seriously even when we know that Radio Australia is being jammed by Peking, Phnom Penh and Haiphong, and when we take a year to investigate whether we can build a booster station in Darwin, and then say that it will take four years to construct? If we were engaged in a hot war we would do it in four months - and the cold war is just as dangerous as is a hot war.
Do our people know that the latest strategy of the cold war, especially since the failure of the Summit Conference, has been to rally support under Mr. Khrushchev’s banner of peaceful co-existence, under which the international front organizations have branched out in new directions by offering peaceful co-existence and co-operation to respectable non-Communist groups who need not necessarily be affiliated with them? The World Peace Council, proscribed by the British Labour Party as a Communist organization, is making strenuous efforts to draw into its orbit the various nuclear and disarmament movements. In this respect, it had very great successes recently at the Japanese conference, and it is endeavouring to act in the same way with European and American national committees for a sane nuclear policy. The World Peace Conference has even gone further recently in endeavouring to secure the co-operation of nonCommunist parliamentarians under a new label. With this end in view, there have been three conferences lately, one in Brussels and two in London.
When we look at the Tokyo conference on atom and H bombs and1 disarmament and find that one of our members from this Parliament is reported by the Communist news-sheet as having chaired the opening session of the conference, we realize that they are having success right here in our own home quarter. I understand that the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren) wrote to the newspapers and said that this conference had nothing to do with the Hate America or the Japanese-United States security campaign. I shall be interested to hear what he has to say, when he comes back, about the resolutions passed by that conference. In answering a question by the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) about this conference, the Prime Minister said that the conference pursued the policies of the wellknown World Peace Council, which included a number of people who had been taken in. That was all very true as far as it went, but there is a danger in these general statements, and I think that one concealed more than it revealed. I am well aware of the fact that the Melbourne Peace Conference and the conference in Tokyo did not cut much ice in Australia, but they did have a great influence on the minds of the Asian people when taken in hand by the Communist propaganda machine. We should not be blind to the fact that the holding of these conferences, the speeches made at them - particularly those by the Communist delegates - and the resolutions passed are all part and parcel of the propaganda machine. Those who believe in freedom are not reassured when they find that at the conference there were 119 foreign delegates, 63 of whom came from Communist countries, 44 from the
West and 12 from neutral nations. Almost half of the 44 from the West - namely 20 - were delegates from Australia. I do not say that they were all Communists - some of them were - but I presume that most of them will return, like the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) did from Peking, warm-hearted and woolly-minded. I hope they will not return like him proudly wearing the insignia of the first-class order of the Oriental sucker. Many of them no doubt will return not realizing the damage they have done to some of the very ideals for which they think they stand. But these things have happened and are happening, and I think it would1 have been much more convincing if the information which is in the Department of External Affairs had been made available to the Prime Minister for use by him in a general statement on the facts. If such a statement is supported by evidence, it is much more convincing.
First of all, the people most interested in atom and H bombs are no doubt the people of Hiroshima who, when holding their anniversary, refused to allow the conference to be held in Hiroshima because they said1 it was Communist-led and Communist dominated. They preferred to celebrate their own anniversary in their own way by asking the Crown Prince Akihito to lay a wreath for them.
Secondly, in 1959, the Japanese Government’s Public Security Investigation Agency disclosed that the Japanese Communist Party had received £200,000 from the Sino-Soviet bloc and had given £131,000 to the anti-bomb movement in Japan. Do honorable members want any more evidence that these are things that cannot be laughed off? Thirdly, the Japanese Communist paper, “ Akahata “, at the beginning of June, published the fact that it was going to take the socialist party to task for proposing a resolution criticizing both the U.S. and the U.S.S.R., and every one of the resolutions passed by that conference was anti-American. There was not a word about the U.S.S.R. In those circumstances, was it any wonder that the Premier of Red China, Chou En-lai, sent the following message to the conference: -
In Tokyo delegates to the conference have denounced the U.S. Imperialist policy of war and supported the Japanese people’s patriotic struggle against U.S. Imperialism.
Need I go any further than to say it is no wonder that the Australian Communist Party was very active in raising funds to send our delegates to that conference? Earlier in the debate, some honorable members opposite complained that we should not talk about external affairs during the Budget debate. 1 feel that the opportunities we have for discussing external affairs are too few, and I make no apologies for talking on them now as a Mao Tse-tung typhoon could damage our economy very considerably at very short notice. Do we remember that in 1958 the Chinese reds just turned off the tap and cancelled ail trade between Japan and China? 1 do not say we should not have any trade with the Communists, but now we have got ourselves into the position in which 12 per cent, of our wool is bought by Communist countries. If those countries want to do the same to us as they did to Japan in order to achieve a political objective, do not say it cannot happen here. Let us realize that it can happen here. Let us put some constructive thought into how we would react in order to prevent it dislocating our economy if such a thing should happen. All 1 ask is that we realize and face the facts, not just drift into a crisis and then do the wrong thing, lt is vitally necessary in the world of to-day to have a definite policy, not just to drift along, hoping for the best.
For some time now several of us have been urging that Australia should join with other south-east Asian countries in a defensive trade treaty, and I am sorry to see that we have seemed to take so little interest in ASAS, which consists of south-east Asian countries, and which was initiated at the beginning of 1959 by the Premier of Malaya in conjunction with the Philippines. At that time, it did not seem as though it would achieve much, but now it seems to have- more chance of success. It is interesting to note here that recently Malaya had to ban the importation of cheap Chinese textiles which were undermining her own industries and economy. I do feel that we made a mistake in 1955 in not insisting that we be present at the Bandung conference when we might have had considerable influence on what happened there.
Let us remind ourselves now that the four chief weapons of the cold war are propaganda, trade, aid, cultural delegations and personal contacts. Propaganda is perhaps one of the most important weapons in psychological warfare, and, up to date, we do not seem to have learnt how to use it. Why must we be always on the defensive when what is needed is a policy of action so that we can gain and retain the initiative? Let us attack the daily diet of lies that goes out from such sources as Radio Peking and broadcast the truth in all the lands of Asia in the same way as they are putting over untruths. In the case of financial aid, how many people realize that the confiscation of assets that is taking place in certain countries is part and parcel of Communist strategy? Perhaps we should be considering a plan similar to that recently suggested by Sir Douglas Copland based on the contribution of a percentage of our national income for the development of backward countries, the fund to be administered through the United Nations. Then, if any country practised confiscation, T suppose it would lose its membership of the United Nations. The confiscation that is going on now is aimed at stopping private capital from being invested in those countries which have so newly won their independence, and thus giving the Communists the opportunity to step into the vacuum which is left.
As far as cultural delegations and contacts are concerned we do not want to adopt Communist tactics in order to defeat communism. We value our academic freedom, our press freedom and our other freedoms. A lot of illustrated books on Russia have been distributed to our schools. There is no sign of where they come from except that they bear a Manuka postmark. We do not want to stop that sort of information being distributed. I think that the best way to tackle the problem is to let the Russian schools have similar illustrated books about life in Australia. Then we can see what happens and decide our strategy and tactics from then onwards. We should not be just leaving these things alone. We need counter strategy and counter tactics.
Australia may be a small nation but if, as the Prime Minister said during the Bendigo by-election campaign, “ Our voice is respected in the councils of the world “, we must rid ourselves of the creeping paralysis of political poliomyelitis and do some constructive thinking so that we can take the initiative in our own hands at least in our own region. Leadership is difficult and it involves risks, but it is more vitally necessary now than at any other time in our history. If we continue to concentrate on more shiny motor cars, more gadgets, and a higher standard of living at the expense of matters on which our national security depends, we will one day rue the fact that we failed to realize that service and sacrifice are as necessary to win World War III., the cold war, as they were to win World War I. and World War II., the hot wars.
.- We have been listening to one of the speeches which we have become accustomed to hear in this chamber from the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes). It seems that most Government supporters have decided that if they cannot defend the Budget they might as well divert attention from it by speaking on any other thing under the sun. When honorable members opposite hand out insulting remarks about the Australian Labour Party’s alleged association with Communism, to people on this side of the chamber who, like myself, and like many honorable members opposite, played their part in defending this country during the war, they can hardly hope that we will feel sympathetic to their point of view.
The Communists know that their only chance of expansion is at the expense of the Australian Labour Party, and the Australian Labour Party is well aware of it. Honorable members opposite should leave the Labour Party to its own business so far as Communism is concerned and endeavour to reconcile their own principles with the actions they take in dealing with Communism. Honorable members opposite are prepared to make airy-fairy speeches in an academic style, but if there is a quid to be gained they do not mind trading with Communists. They will take all that they can get.
The honorable member for Chisholm repeated what seems to have become a slogan, “ Australia has never had it so good “. All right! Probably, in certain respects we have never had it so good. But unfortunately there are a lot of aspects which are not so good, and the honorable member for Chisholm, who is a former Minister, hinted at them in the last couple of sentences of his speech. There are aspects of this country’s development which are becoming tragic. “ Australia has never had it so good “; yet prices and interest rates have never been so high! Competition has never been at such a low ebb. Many of our public services such as education and hospitalization have reached a crisis. We have never had it so good, yet many social services, superannuation and repatriation benefits have been whittled away by inflation! Farm incomes have staggered to a standstill and country centres have been left crying despairingly and in vain for industries to sustain them. Public and private indebtedness in this country has reached an all-time high. We have never had it so good, yet our defence services continue to be gripped in indecision after the expenditure of about £1,800,000,000. We have never had it so good, yet the flood of imports threatens to swamp our exports to the extent of least £100,000,000 a year, and that is a measuring of direct exports against imports, without taking invisibles into account. We have never had it so good, yet taxation and charges for public services such as those of the Post Office have easily surpassed all previous records. We have never had it so good, yet land speculation and takeover bids are ripping away such prosperity as has come the way of the ordinary man in the street. We have never had it so good, yet public loan raising has hit the lowest point since the depression. That is the other side of the picture.
No wonder the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) sat down before he had completed the half-hour available to him to speak on the Budget. In his supercilious style and arrogant manner, he said that there was no question to answer. He did not expect a divided Opposition to have any constructive criticism. He belittled the criticism that had appeared in the public press in the same manner as he wiped aside the petitions that have circulated throughout the length and breadth of the land asking the Commonwealth Government to act responsibly in regard to education. No wonder the Prime Minister said that there was nothing to answer. No wonder he wanted to sit down. The attitude of honorable members opposite will go on record when these matters come before this Parliament as we, the Opposition, guarantee that they will.
What has the Government, in this age of prosperity, taken from the public? Collections of customs duty rose by 17 per cent, last year and it is estimated that they will increase by £13,300,000 this year. Excise tax collections rose by 6 per cent, last year and are expected to increase by £11,500,000 this year. Sales tax is a tax which hits the pensioner who buys biscuits as much as it hits the wealthiest person in the community. It hits the ordinary family which regards a washing machine or a television set as a normal amenity of life, not a luxury. Rich or poor, it hits them all alike. Sales tax collections rose by 14 per cent, last year and are expected to produce £180,000,000 this year, an increase of £16,200,000. In 1952-53, sales tax represented 9.3 per cent, of total taxation revenue. It is now about 17 per cent., almost double the previous percentage. This indicates the kind of Government that we have in power.
The Labour Party makes no apology for being opposed to the regressive forms of taxation imposed by this Government. The Government is seeking to replace direct taxation which falls hardest upon those who are best able to bear it, by a form of taxation which hits the pensioner, the wealthy person and the wage-earner alike. Many commodities which are now regarded as commonplace are still regarded as luxuries by the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) and taxed accordingly.
Even last year, when a 5 per cent, rebate was allowed, income tax was 14 per cent, greater than in the previous year. This year, the estimated receipts are £510,000,000, an increase of £67,800,000 on the previous year. In other words, here is another 15 per cent, increase in individual income taxation. Imagine listening to members of the present Government if the Labour Party had been in power and had done this sort of thing? Remember what they said when Mr. Chifley, the scourge, the tightwad, the money-gatherer, as he was called in 1947, 1948 and 1949, accumulated reserves which stood this country in very good stead. What would members of the present Government be saying if we were in power and were doing this sort of thing? The Post Office is another example, with an increase this year of £14,000,000 in revenue and receipts and an increase in expenditure of only £2,000,000. The surplus from the Post Office this year is expected to be £23,000,000, again hitting everybody, whether they be rich or poor - everybody who posts a letter or uses the telephone. They are all being hit in the same way. This is the regressive form of tax gathering that this Government is using. Let members on the Government side defend this policy.
The surplus of business undertakings like the Post Office and the broadcasting and television authorities was up last year by 28 per cent, and will be up this year by another 23 per cent. We have all these extractions from the pockets of the ordinary rank and file of the community. Yet we are told that we have never had it so well, that we have never had it so good. The Consolidated Revenue Fund will be up this year by £126,000,000 on taxation and the surplus from business undertakings by a cool £126,000,000. I know that takes a bit of absorbing. Just think of all the things that could be bought with £126,000,000. This is not the total revenue, but the surplus which the Government is extracting from ordinary members of the community; and it is doing it in the way I have described, by hitting those who can ill-afford to be hit. Why does the Government soak the public in this way? Allegedly it is done to dampen demand and ease inflation and to compensate the Government for its failures on the loan market. We all know that public loans are just about forgotten altogether.
What a Budget! The Government comes before the people and says, “ There is no alternative. We cannot raise loans so we are going to rip taxes and postal charges out of you and we are going to charge for your medicine.” It is all so easy. Revenue derived in that way is a compulsory and permanent loan to the Government. But that this is not the only measure that the Government is using to remedy the present state of affairs - when the country has never had it so well and has never had it so good! During this period of great prosperity the Government had to go into the court to prevent wages and margins from being increased. It was the first time in our history that a Commonwealth Government did such a thing. Secondly, the Government restricted bank credit. Whom does that affect most? It affects most the ordinary people in the community who must rely upon credit for so many things. These are the methods the Government is using to dampen demand and so ease prices. All it does by its credit restriction .policy and by putting in cold storage millions of pounds that it does not need is to hit the ordinary people.
The Government estimates that this year it will have a surplus of £15,000,000. On its performance in past years it will more likely have a surplus of £60,000,000. And that money will be put in cold storage to dampen demand and ease inflation; and for the same purpose bank credit is to be restricted. On the other hand, the Government knows very well, because of its failure to face up to the constitutional problems involved, that hire purchase and other kinds of lending organizations will once more have a free go. Just when the hire-purchase organizations looked like having some competition and when their rates were starting to come down, the Government stops bank credit even to farmers who want to buy tractors and other equipment indispensable to production. And this is being done at a time when we want to increase farm income and farm production at a reasonable cost. And, at the same time, the Government talks about the Development Bank, and what it is going to do.
This credit squeeze can only help hirepurchase companies and back-yard financiers in the community. It can only force up the prices of necessaries and prevent the small man from starting in competition with existing business organizations which, with their status and profits, are able to obtain all the funds they require. Yet, the Government claims its policies will encourage competition. At the same time - and this is most extraordinary - as the Government is restricting bank credit and putting in cold storage millions of pounds of the public’s money, it is going all out overseas to borrow all it can and attract to this country all the foreign capital it possibly can. Does not that sound illogical to any reasonable member? While the Government is restricting credit in our own country and putting funds in cold storage it is chasing around the world to attract foreign capital here.
I would welcome all foreign capital that was likely to produce new techniques, but many people have directed the Government’s attention to the fact that much of the money now coming into Australia is not being used to establish new businesses or to increase production but in speculation thus forcing up the prices of commodities. In the “Financial Review” of 11th August a sub-editorial under the heading “ There’s a Nigger in the Capital Woodpile “ states -
When “ Lombard “, the commentator for the London “ Financial Times “ said last week that “ it is by no means clear as yet that intensive foreign investment has been of great net benefit “ to Australia, he was voicing doubts which we, in this country should consider much more seriously than we have been doing. He cites, in particular, the fact that the foreign exchange position has been saddled with heavy annual burdens of a continuing kind exceeding the original foreign investment - and correctly cites the case of General Motors as an example.
I shall not read all the article, because I want to deal with other matters, but it concludes -
The position is thus really more serious than “ Lombard “ suggested. The plain fact seems to be that private foreign capital is very expensive for Australia. Most particularly does this apply to American capital.
Another comment on this sort of thing was published in the “ Financial Review “, which no one will suggest is an Australian Labour Party publication. In its issue of 18th August, under the heading “Where Capital Isn’t Wanted “, that journal states -
The danger of inflation in Switzerland, caused by a recent huge inflow of foreign capital, may lead to an unusual form of government action - “ Sterilization “ of money.
The Swiss national bank (the central Bank) has called a meeting of all the principal banks and the hundreds of private banks to attempt to find a way to ward off the importation of foreign capital.
The article concludes, very significantly -
One report says that property prices in Switzerland have risen by five to twenty-five times over the past year. This had led the Government to study a plan to stop foreigners buying property in the country. However-
I read With due respect to estate agents who may be listening to me - it is understood Swiss estate agents have shown little inclination even to accept this plan in principle.
The Government’s financial measures, as I have said, do nothing but confirm the position of the big people who already have resources or can attract resources.
Let me now turn to the failure of the loan market. In 1958-59, £143,000,000 in new money was raised in the loan market. Last year, the total dropped to £120,000,000 of new money, and this year it is down to the all-time low since the depression years of £90,000,000 of new money. The Government shows no imagination about trying to stimulate public lending. This Budget does nothing about that, and none of the Government’s ancillary measures indicates the likelihood of any action. Of course, it is much easier to tax the people. Reef it off them, take it in permanent loans! Commonwealth taxation has not been used in an imaginative way. The Government could have considered increasing the tax rebates to people who invest in public loans. I can imagine that a public loan floated for the specific purpose of helping education would receive generous support from public-spirited citizens. 1 can imagine that a public loan floated specifically to build new hospitals would have a greater appeal for the public than the miscellaneous loan raisings we have had recently. The Government might even go so far as to provide for compulsory loans. After all, it is taking the money from the people in taxes now, but in the case of compulsory loans they would receive their money back some time.
What has the Government been doing with all the money it has been reefing off the people? I may have been harsh in regard to other things in the Budget, but I give credit to the Government for using some of its revenue to ease the means test. Tt is not doing so to the extent to which we would like it to, but at least it has done something. However, the easing of the means test will benefit people who have assets, but people who have only income are left where they were before. They are allowed to earn £3 10s. in addition to the pension. That figure has stood for years, although £3 10s. a week has not the value that it had some years ago. But the Government even includes war pension in the £3 10s. a week that an age or invalid pensioner may receive in addition to pension.
The £3 10s. that a pensioner is allowed to have in addition to his pension is a gross amount. A man who earns more than £3 10s. for casual work is not allowed to deduct fares and other costs incurred in earning that money.
The provision for service pensioners is also a long way from what we would like to see. But one of the things that have really got me about this Government is that in 1949 it wheedled the women in the community by promising to pay 5s. endowment for the first child. It has allowed that rate to stand ever since. The Government ought to hang out a slogan indicating its anti-feminist attitude. It apparently thought in 1949 that a woman was worth five bob. That was her total price. This government of woman-haters could well hang up the slogan, “ Liberals don’t love the ladies “. It is part of the pattern of the Government’s procedure of putting the ladies in their place to let them know that five bob is not just an instalment but is the sum-total. Endowment for the second child and each subsequent child has stood at 10s. a week since 1950. Child endowment increases arc over, so far as this Government is concerned. If the mothers of Australia want child endowment increased they will have to put a Labour government into office.
The Government’s policy in regard to child endowment ignores the fact that nowadays children stay at school longer. I suppose that about 25 per cent, of children to-day are still at school at the age of 16. It is at that age that child endowment cuts out. So, when children are most costly to their parents, the parents lose such assistance as child endowment provides.
Now I turn to the subject of civilian widows. Unfortunately, I have not time to read to honorable members the full story of the plight of widows which appeared in the Sydney “Sun” of 25th August. The article is headed, “ Poverty despite prosperity. Children go hungry! “
– Cheer up.
– The honorable member should talk to civilian widows. He will find how cheery they are about this. The article reads -
Social welfare workers are appalled by the poverty and destitution they have found among civilian widows and their children in Sydney . . .
The article then says that -
Pitiful distress, desperate need and terror of sickness in the homes of many hundreds - possibly thousands - of civilian widows, deserted wives and their children is confirmed by three of the most conservative social welfare organizations in New South Wales.
It goes on -
These are the St. Vincent de Paul Society, The Smith Family and the Family Welfare Bureau.
The article goes on to point out that a civilian widow with five children receives only the equivalent of the pension paid to an age pensioner couple. The position of these people is not affected by this Budget. Civilian widows, incidentally, do not put priority on an increase of pension; of course, they want an increase, but they put priority on being allowed to earn enough to rear their children properly without having their eligibility for full pension affected. A civilian widow is allowed 10s. for each child. This figure was ordained as long ago as 1956, at least, and has not been changed since. Another instalment of this anti-feminist movement by the Government!
The dependent wife of an invalid pensioner receives the marvellous sum of 35s. a week as an allowance. She and her husband receive £6 15s. a week between them, compared with the £10 which an age pensioner couple will receive. Yet the invalid pensioner’s wife has to look after her husband, who is not allowed to earn without affecting his eligibility for a pension. The allowance of 35s. a week paid to the wife has been static for years. Another part of the co-prosperity plan as practised by this Government at a time when we are told that the country has never had it so good!
A war pension is properly a compensation payment to a man who served his country, but the allowance for the dependent wife of a war pensioner has been static for nine years in these prosperous times of which the Government boasts. The wife of a totally and permanently incapacitated pensioner receives no free hospital treatment ana no medical benefits, not even under the pensioner medical service. The Returned Servicemen’s League pleaded with the Government to allow the wives of T.P.I, pensioners to be covered by the provisions for free hospital treatment and medical benefits, but the Government did nothing about it. It can put millions of pounds in cold storage, but it cannot provide a few thousand pounds to help unfortunate people like these.
Now I come to unemployment and sickness benefits. For goodness sake, can you deny sufficient help to people who, as a result of sickness, are unable to look after themselves temporarily? By very definition, their plight is temporary, because they are only temporarily away from their work through sickness. Husband and wife in such a case receive only £5 12s. 6d. a week on which to live, 10s. each for the first child, and nothing for other children. That is how it has stood for years under the co-prosperity scheme of the Menzies Government. The wife’s allowance is £2 7s. 6d. a week in this case.
The maternity allowance has also stood still. All the talk going on in the community to-day, and in the social columns of the newspapers, is not so much about inflation, and so on, as about whether it is right for a wife to go to work. Unfortunately, the wives have no choice in the matter. They have to go to work if they are to get anything like a decent living.
– Grow up!
– That is all right. During the Bendigo by-election I went around knocking at doors in the electorate, and I found that half the people were not home. The reason is pretty obvious.
– They knew who was coming.
– The position in regard to superannuation is a standing disgrace to the Government. This is a matter that affects the Government’s own employees who have given it loyal service. In this instance we are not asking the Government to give them anything. We ask the Government to give them something extra from what is in the superannuation fund. I know that the Government contributes to the fund, but so do the public servants. Speaking from recollection, I think that the fund now has a balance of £70,000,000, but only paltry superannuation pensions are given to these retired employees, who suffer the ravages of inflation. What kind of prosperity must they think we enjoy to-day? I would be interested to hear the explanation for the drop of £2,000,000 in expenditure on pharmaceutical benefits. I am wondering what is going on! 1 should like to have time to refer to other matters - matters that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) did not mention. 1 should like to have referred in some detail to various aspects of the public sector, to the crisis in education, to the insistent demand by various organizations for improvements in our education system and to the big congress on education that was held at the Leichhardt stadium in Sydney, in May, which was attended by 3,200 persons representing 30 organizations, including employees’ organizations, the Australian Council of Trade Unions, farmers’ organizations, parents’ and citizens’ organizations and teachers’ organizations. They unanimously appealed to the Government to give money to help overcome the crisis in education. If the Government really wanted to do something substantial for the sound development of the community - whether in primary producing areas, land grant colleges such as have been sponsored by the United States Government, in research organizations or technical schools - it could provide assistance in the education field.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired. [Quorum formed.]
.- The honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds) showed by his speech how successful this Budget is. He seemed unable to find1 any feature of the Budget at which he could direct a constructive attack. I gather that his chief attack was based on what he described as the inability of the Government to provide adequately for the pensioners. I think every one would agree that this Government has done more for pensioners than any previous government did. The honorable member referred also to the lack of provision for education. Coming, as the honorable member does, from New South Wales, I can understand why he feels as he does. Every one who knows the situation in New South Wales will agree that the condition of education there is brought about by the maladministration of the New South Wales Government.
In considering the Budget, we should be very concerned about one factor. The increase in costs and how this affects the primary producer have been mentioned, but I wonder whether there is a true realization of just what this means. To-day, we have two economies. We have the primary producing economy, which has gradually shrunk over the last ten years from about 24 per cent, of the national income to 8.1 per cent. This is the only section of the community to suffer such a recession. Then we have the tremendous prosperity in commerce and industry. But we must remember that the basis of this prosperity is the success of the efforts of our primary industries to earn overseas income. The figures have been given often enough. The primary industries earn 80 per cent, of our export income, and another 17 per cent, is earned by processed foodstuffs, which obviously come from the same source.
But most of us in country electorates have come up against one serious factor, and that is the gradual fall in incomes of farmers and the tremendous rise in the prosperity of commerce and secondary industries. Many primary producers, particularly those on small farms, are selling their properties, if they can do so, and are investing the proceeds on the stock exchange. In many instances, farmers are also obtaining other employment. The index for ordinary shares on the stock exchange is about 340 on a basis of 100 for the period 1936 to 1939. That is a tremendous capital gain on the average investments in commerce and secondary industries. I realize that this is very good for the community in general. The expansion of secondary industries has provided tens of thousands of jobs for our growing population and our many immigrants, and this process must continue. However, on the other hand, we must be sure that the imbalance between secondary industries and primary industries does not become too great. This is no easy matter. 1 do not think that any suggestions have been made for arriving at a better balance. But obviously, to a great extent, we must blame the Australian Labour Party for the imbalance, because it has encouraged action to obtain increases of salaries and wages. No one on this side of the chamber wants to see wages kept down. If the alternative to keeping down wages is the wrecking of our primary industries, we have no choice, and we must keep wages down. lt is my view that the basis of this pressure to increase our costs and ruin our economy is the insidious pressure of communism. We know very well that the Communists are using the Australian Labour Party. I know that the general run of Opposition members have no association with communism and give it no support, but by their adoption of Fabian socialism, which is evident in their present policies, they are making themselves the spearhead of Leninist socialism and furthering the interests of communism. Apart from attack from outside this country, the only way that communism can dominate us is by ruining our economy. If we. allow our primary industries to be ruined, the Communists will have succeeded, because the whole edifice of our economy will collapse.
– Would the honorable member stop the selling of wool to China?
– I shall come to that in a moment.
There is another factor - irresponsible strikes and industrial lawlessness. Fortunately, only a few unions indulge in these things. In Victoria, there are unions controlled by Communists who use those unions to obtain funds and to provide jobs for Communist agitators. The Communists obtain assistance from these unions in many ways. Two key unions to which the watersiders and the seamen belong are at present tying up our sea transport. Statistics indicate just how our shipping costs are rising. In 1939, the cost of sending one ton of freight from Sydney to Melbourne bv ship was £1 2s. To-day, the cost is £9 15s.
– Since 1939 21 years have elapsed.
– I ask the honorable member to hear this side of it. In 1938, the watersiders discharged from 50 to 60 tons of bagged sugar a day for each gang. In 1959, they discharged 19.3 tons a gang.
– And the number of men in the gangs had been increased.
– And, in addition, we have mechanical equipment now. These figures indicate how shipping costs are rising.
Now I return to the question asked by the honorable member for Barton about trade with Communist China. I take it that he is against trade with that country. The honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) has said that trading with Communist China is very dangerous. I am in favour of trade with the Chinese, but I hearken to the warning given by the honorable member for Chisholm, who said that if we become too deeply involved in this trade we shall be in very serious trouble. If we trade with Communist China and the Chinese try to wring concessions from us as they have done with other countries, we must be prepared to drop that trade immediately.
I believe that our most effective attack on communism can be made here in Australia. We cannot do very much in China or Russia, but we can do something in Australia. One criticism of the Government that I make is that it is not adopting sufficiently stern measures against irresponsible unionism and industrial lawlessness on the waterfront and on the sea. It will have to adopt sterner measures than it has taken in the past.
We have been told that primary industry is inefficient. I think that statements to that effect are utterly empty. Our primary industries have to compete in the world’s markets against products exported by backward countries which earn their only export income by exporting primary products which are produced by black or coloured labour very cheaply. For instance, the Queensland pineapple industry has practically lost its markets to competition from Malaya. South Africa is competing against us in our markets for canned fruits. Our wool competes in the markets of the world, in strong contrast to the products of our secondary industries, which have a well protected market in Australia. Our secondary industries now earn some export income. I think their share of our total export income is only 7 per cent. That is a very serious state of affairs, because export income is so vital to us. We learned from the recent National Export Convention that we must increase our exports by about £250,000,000 a year, and we shall have to try to make our secondary industries more efficient. We know that, in a sense, our primary industries are at present subsidizing our secondary industries, because our major exports which are able to meet competition in the world’s markets are primary products.
For most of the goods sold on our home market we pay special prices. 1 do not think any thinking primary producer would object to that, because our home market is obviously the best market for our primary products and we can expand our population only by developing our secondary industries. We have some very encouraging examples of efficient secondary industries in the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited and General Motors-Holden’s Limited, which our friends on the Opposition side of the chamber attack so much. Opposition members seem to regret the success of these companies, which is such a contrast with the results achieved by socialist-inspired enterprises. We in Queensland have seen much of socialist undertakings. We saw the British Food Corporation endeavouring to grow cheap food at Peak Downs - an enterprise that lost hundreds of thousands of pounds. At about the same time that this was happening, the socialist Government in the United Kingdom was engaged in a plan to grow groundnuts in East Africa, and that enterprise also lost hundreds of millions of pounds. 1 think it succeeded only in feeding a few fowls or something of the sort, and the enormous sums poured into it all went down the drain.
Opposition members seem to be very jealous of the success of Australian companies like the two that I have mentioned, and although they tell us that these companies earn profits of millions of pounds, they say nothing about the huge capital investment involved. They do not seem to realize that these profits are earned largely at very small percentages on large turn-overs, and that even if the products were sold at cost the difference in price would be very small. However, while we have successful companies such as these, we shall have employment for our workers. Furthermore, these companies pay high wages.
I turn now to another matter. Mr. Temporary Chairman. I am very glad to see that we appear at last to have sold the Commonwealth’s interest in the Australian Aluminium Production Commission’s undertaking at Bell Bay, in Tasmania. I think the sale of this undertaking to private enterprise is excellent and that it will enable us to develop a flourishing aluminium industry which can develop large export markets. In Queensland, we have one of the biggest bauxite deposits in the world, and most Queenslanders would like to see this material processed in their own State. I have no doubt that at least one stage of the processing will be carried out in Queensland, and I am sure that we will develop a fine Australian aluminium industry.
I have a few further comments to make regarding our efforts to increase our export earnings. In this connexion the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Murray) spoke of the possibilities of the beef industry, and I support his remarks. In the beef industry we have our greatest opportunity to earn export income. Beef is one of the few primary commodities produced in Australia with which the markets of the world are not over-supplied. It is a product that the European community will be able to accept, because beef is not produced in quantity in Europe. It is also a commodity which is consumed mostly by prosperous peoples, and, after all, Europe to-day is in a very prosperous state. But we cannot develop our beef industry unless we provide adequate roads and adequate transport in Queensland.
As most of us realize, Queensland, or at least those parts of it that are more than 100 miles from the coast, experiences erratic climatic conditions. Every few years, as the honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Brimblecombe) pointed out, we suffer droughts which result in the loss of hundreds of millions of pounds worth of stock. In the last drought in the Channel country we lost about 200,000 head of cattle, which, at about £30 a head, were worth £6,000,000. If we could provide suitable roads so that these cattle could be taken from areas affected by severe drought to districts in which they could be fattened, or at least kept alive, we would make possible the preservation of great numbers of our cattle, which are of great value to the Australian economy.
The Channel country is a vast natural irrigation area, which is flooded every few years, and in which we have some of the most fertile and nourishing fodder in Australia, on which cattle can be fattened very readily. But unfortunately there is no provision for adequate transport. Cattle have to be walked into that country, and, as we all know, a beast has to be about three years of age before it can undertake a long trip on the roads. If we had suitable motor transport and good roads we could take the cattle off the breeding pastures at a much younger age, probably at about the yearling stage. This would relieve the breeding properties in the north of the burden of carrying those beasts for an extra two years. We would have a greater outturn, the cattle would be fattened at a younger age and the beef would consequently be more readily marketed.
– Do;s the honorable member feel that we could investigate off-road transport propositions’?
– I feel sure that such schemes will also come into the picture. At present the Queensland Government is making an attempt to improve roads in the area, but its finances are so limited that a number of years will elapse before these roads are eventually completed. I have been informed by a member of the Queensland Government that the necessity to take the required road-making equipment into that country and bring it out again on several occasions, because of having to spread the expenditure over a number of years, will increase the cost by £400,000. In other words, if the Queensland Government could go ahead and complete the project without delay it would save £400,000. I see that in respect of the sale of the Bell Bay undertaking a down payment of £2,500,000 will be made. What a splendid investment this Government could make by putting that money into roads in the Channel country! It would receive a greater return from its investment than it would by using the money in any other way. After all, the Government says that we should build up our export industry. Here is a wonderful opportunity to make it possible for us to do so.
– What about the Kimberleys?
– The honorable member for Canning mentions the Kimberleys, and I feel sure that that district will also come into the development picture. But the important point is that we should make a start with these roads. Our wool market, unfortunately, is in a rather depressed condition and its future is uncertain, so why should we not make the most of our beef industry, which offers a much greater opportunity than any other industry to increase our export earnings? Our sugar industry has just about reached its peak so far as exports are concerned. We cannot expand our wool industry much more than we have already done. Goodness knows how much we may be able to expand our beef industry, but we need money to enable us to do so, and every £1 that is spent in the development of that industry will be returned to the Australian people four or fivefold.
There is just one further matter with which I should like to deal. We are all very pleased indeed that a first-rate step has been taken towards relieving the position of pensioners. We listened to a most interesting and informative speech yesterday by the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth), who stressed the importance to the community of savings. I thoroughly agree with him and I endorse the sentiments he expressed. There is one further suggestion I would make, the adoption of which would, I feel, enable the provision of funds for projects such as I have spoken of. I submit that the Government should consider exempting income from investments in Commonwealth loans from the provisions of the means test. I believe that this would encourage people to save, and particularly to invest their money in Commonwealth loans, which can do so much for the development of this country.
.- Shortly before the presentation of the Budget the nation was startled to hear that the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) had collapsed at a northern holiday resort. This followed, so we were told, the Treasurer’s hard work on the preparation and final reading of the Budget, which was presented to the Parliament a few nights ago. We were subsequently advised that by a superhuman effort, attributable to the splendid physique he had developed as a spearfisherman, the Treasurer recovered his equilibrium in time to present this momentous document to the Parliament. We were further advised that before entering the House he took some Relaxa-Tabs to soothe his nerves, and while his backroom boys, Sir Roland Wilson and Mr. Randall, listened to his Budget speech without any appearance of concern, the Treasurer later had to take sleeping tablets to ease the strain. After listening to, reading, studying and realizing the effects of this Budget, one can readily understand the Treasurer’s reaction. Its effect on the nation will be similar. It will sicken the people and the economy, but unfortunately the only remedy the people will have for the ailments caused by it will not be the sleeping drafts that were available to the Treasurer, but a general election and the defeat of this Government.
Before proceeding to deal with, the document that I have mentioned, let me reply very briefly to the honorable member for McPherson (Mr. Barnes), who said that age pensioners never had it so good as they have under this Government. It is readily understandable that the honorable member should make such a remark. He is a man of considerable wealth, without any great knowledge of the struggle being waged by countless thousands within his electorate and elsewhere, to live on £5 a week. I would suggest that the honorable member is not aware of the tremendous increases that have taken place in prices, of the decline in the purchasing power of money brought about by the failure of this Government to honour’ its pledge to put value back into the £1, and to restore the value of social service payments. The honorable member said, amongst other things, that pressure for wage increases was being exerted entirely by Communist-dominated unions. Nothing is further from the truth. I do not agree with the leadership of some unions just as other members of the Labour Party do not agree with it. The fact that the Seamen’s Union, the Waterside Workers Federation or any other union - irrespective of its leadership - puts forward a case at this time for a wage increase can never, by any stretch of the imagination, be said to be a Communist plot. Their action has been caused by the sheer injustice of this situation. On the one hand, they see judges and other people receiving wage increases of £18 and £20 a week and, on the other hand, they see the Govern ment intervening in an arbitration hearing in an effort to deny the workers, particularly those in the industries which I have mentioned, the increase that they need to help them meet our highly inflationary cost of living which has been brought about by this Liberal-Country Party Government.
The honorable member referred to strikes by waterside workers, seamen and others. I do not say that every strike is justified, but they are not all unjustified. The other day Chief Judge Spicer saw fit to cast grave aspersions on the Clyde Engineering Company Proprietary Limited for its attitude which led to its employees going on strike. The only way in which a worker in industry, who has only his labour to sell, can get justice when all other avenues have been explored and have proved fruitless, is to strike. We on this side of the chamber will never support the Country Party approach to long hours, low wages and the law of the jungle which applied in days gone by.
The honorable member for McPherson spoke of the alleged affiliation of the Labour Party with the Communist Party. It is interesting to know that some Government supporters were elected on Communist Party preferences. I have in mind for instance, the honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Dean). In 1954 he defeated the Labour candidate by 282 votes, after receiving some of the preferences of the Communist Party candidate. He is known in this Parliament to-day as the “ red dean “. Government supporters will accept Communist Party preferences; the Country Party will sell wool to Communist countries and take their gold, and then condemn Communists in iron curtain countries for the manner in which they treat their people. They may be completely right in their criticism, but when money is involved, the primary producers and the Government, on the instructions of the vested interests which support them, sell their wheat and their wool to Communist countries and accept in return this blood-stained gold. Yet the Government claims that the Labour Party is allied and affiliated with the Communist Party! That is sheer humbug and hypocrisy.
Questions which are directed from this side of the chamber relating to trade with Communist countries are designed to show that Australia should trade with all nations which will take our goods, provided they are not for the purpose of destroying our country. Members of the Country Party and others rundown therégimes in Communistcontrolled countries, but they are prepared to take an unlimited amount of money from those countries irrespective of how it has been obtained by the Communists. This is all humbug. The Communist tag is gradually wearing thin because to-day the people realize that the real responsibility for the existing state of affairs, and the injustices which are apparent in industry and in other spheres of activity, lies with the inflationary policies of this Government.
At the beginning of another decade in the history of this country I think it is appropriate to recall the promises which were made by the Liberal Party and its supporters during the election campaign in 1949, and to compare what was promised with what has been done. This Government was elected on many promises but has achieved very little. No matter how the Government may try to escape, the fact remains that it was elected on its pledge to put value back into the Australian £1. That pledge is indelibly recorded in every newspaper and public document in every town and city in the nation.
Let us look at a dodger which was distributed by the honorable member for Robertson. It carries the slogan, “ Your £1 could buy more “ and states -
The Liberal Party stands for individual freedom - free enterprise - full production - goods aplenty - lower prices.
Each of those items is then expanded in the document and ends with the phrase, “ and your £1 will buy more “. As I have said, this dodger was distributed by the honorable member who is referred to in this place as the “ red dean “. The pledge that he gave tothe electors was repudiated on the day that he entered this Parliament.
Let us look now at a dodger which was distributed by the honorable member for Ryan (Mr. Drury). He is a. rather strange man who seems to have adopted an almost new-Australian front. On the cover of his booklet is the phrase, “ There are not enough women! “ I do not want to be discourteous to him, but some people might say, after looking at him, that they do not wonder that there are not enough women. On the back of the booklet this appears -
The Liberals will reduce the cost of living and restore the purchasing power of the £1.
I do not know how short of women the honorable member was in his electorate in 1949, but when women remember the prices that they now have to pay for ordinary commodities, they will be shorter still on his side at the next election. The inside of the dodger is covered by statements indicating how the honorable member will reduce the cost of living, increase family allowances and control rising costs - all designed to put value back in the £1.
I come now to the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Opperman), who made a great success of bis association with Malvern Star bicycles. As a candidate for Corio he wrote a letter to his electors in which he pointed out that the cost of matches had risen from 6d. a dozen before the war to1s. 6d. a dozen in 1949. But now they are even dearer and each box contains only half as many matches as it did previously. The honorable member for Corio also stated in his letter -
Every time a man buys a packet of cigarettes or a glass of beer, more than two-thirds of his money goes to the Government . . . £4,000,000 “ have flown away with T.A.A.”
As all honorable members know, TransAustralia Airlines is now one of the major airlines in the world. The honorable member concluded his letter with the usual promise to put value back into the £1.
I have not the time to read all of these dodgers which were distributed during the election campaign, but they are very valuable documents because the people of this country should be told at every opportunity what this Government has failed to do. If members of the Government were to receive their just rewards, they would all be doing time for false pretences. Undoubtedly, that is the position. The Government pledged itself to put value back into the £1. It has not done so.
At present consideration is being given to changing our currency to a decimal basis. The Liberal Party has often changed its name, but now it is changing the currency of the nation maybe because it wants to destroy its slogan of putting value back into the £1. It hopes that by making the 10s. note and the £1 note disappear the people will forget the tragedy that is written in the documents to which I have referred, Mr. Speaker, and the fact that the Government has repudiated every pledge that it gave to them.
– I remind the honorable member that we are in committee.
– You look so dignified, Mr. Temporary Chairman, that out of respect for you I keep mentioning the Speaker instead of Mr. Chairman.
In 1949, this country enjoyed economic stability and full employment. Pensions and wages had real value. In addition, Australia’s reputation at home and abroad was high. Our social services were developing; planning for the future had taken place; the Snowy Mountains scheme had been undertaken and the basis had been laid for not only a nourishing and progressive economy but also a bountiful country in which people would live in social justice, economic justice, and enjoy the fruits of their labour. The Labour Government of the day laid this foundation for Australia’s future under the guidance of one of our greatest Prime Ministers and one of the greatest Australians, who was admired by friend and foe alike - the late Ben Chifley. What is the position now after ten years of this Government’s administration? We have inflation unlimited, land speculation, money lenders living on the fat of the land and social service benefits higher than ever but never worth less. The loss of purchasing power of wages is such that £1 to-day is worth only 5s. 6d. compared with the 15s. that it was worth in 1949. If honorable members do not believe me, they have only to ask the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Bury) who told us that costs have risen by 98 per cent.
Monopolies practically control the destiny of the country. It is estimated that ultimately not more than six organizations will control the complete wholesale and retail distribution of all goods in Australia. In addition, the big companies are making unlimited profits. However, on the other side of the card men and women work for low wages which are further reduced by the loss pf purchasing power. The Government may not agree with what I say, but the most conservative organizations and individuals in Australia see the threat of monopoly control. The Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) and the Government have said that some form of monopoly control will be introduced. I suggest that he would be a super-optimist who would hope that a Liberal government would introduce such control. I venture the opinion that it will be left to a Labour government to face the responsibility of curbing the growth of these monopolies, which are a threat to every citizen, to the primary producer, the pensioner and others because of the great power they will wield over this economy in the long run.
Even to-day, the hire-purchase companies have £416,000,000 owing to them, yet a private person cannot obtain £1,000 to buy a home. Just over the northern border of New South Wales, at Surfers Paradise, people are able to obtain unlimited finance with which to buy and set up estates that will not be occupied for the next twenty years, yet the person who wants to build or buy a home in Canberra, Sydney or Melbourne cannot get more than a few pounds from the banks because this Government refuses to allow them to lend it to the people. At a time when groups like Hooker are able to have £2,000,000 loans for land speculation over-subscribed, government loans are under-subscribed by £3,500,000. At a time when Hooker and others can obtain unlimited finance for land speculation, this Government cannot obtain the funds necessary for schools, hospitals and other essential needs in the community. People will not subscribe to government loans when such great profits can be made from land speculation.
Again, since 1949, this Government has not introduced one major developmental scheme. On the contrary, it has sold every worth-while undertaking that a Labour government established. It is finishing off now with the sale of the aluminium project at Bell Bay. The honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds) spoke of many of the Government’s shortcomings. Let me mention another. One would think that in this day and age there would be unlimited opportunities for obtaining telephones, but in my electorate, under this so-called progressive Government, it takes at least eighteen months to have a telephone shifted a mile and a half. In these circumstances, can we expect anything worth while from this Government?
This Budget proposes an expenditure of £1,796,000,000, and is aimed at achieving a surplus of £15,000,000 for the year. It provides for an increase of 6d. in the £1 in company taxation. That will certainly put a tremendous strain on the resources of General Motors-Holden’s Limited, who made a profit of only £15,000,000 this year! Why, this extra 6d. in the £1 will hardly put that company on the verge of bankruptcy! Again, the workers of the community are to have taken from them the 5 per cent, rebate in taxation that was granted to them last year. In addition, sales tax on electric shavers is to be increased from 12i per cent, to 25 per cent. The extra income expected from these sources totals £40,000,000. Certainly, the miserable amount of 5s. is being granted to the pensioners, but, all in all, the Budget gives nothing to the majority of Australian taxpayers. No wonder the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) got sick! As fit as I was the other night, I could hardly listen to the Treasurer’s speech without feeling a bit off colour. I have great sympathy with the Treasurer, for I am certain that any one who was less fit physically than he is would have been very sadly stricken at having presented a Budget such as this, especially if he genuinely wanted to see justice throughout the community.
Last year, the Treasurer granted the people a 5 per cent, rebate in taxation. He really let his head go for the workers! With great dignity and great glee, to the sound of clapping from those two or three members of the Country Party who happened to be in the chamber at the time, the Treasurer generously granted1 a rebate of 5 per cent, flat to the people. As a result of that generous gift, the single man in receipt of £800 a year - approximately the basic wage - enjoyed a reduction of ls. 4d. a week or 2d. a day if he had no dependants. Just when he is getting really excited about what he can do with the extra 2d. a day, the Government takes it from him. This Government works in a funny way. The more dependants a man has the less benefit he receives from the reduction in taxation.
The man with a dependent wife and earning £800 a year enjoyed a reduction of lid. a week in his tax. But he is as sad as can be now because the Government wants back this lid. a day. The man earning £800 a year, and who has a dependent wife and one child, received the princely sum of 8d. a week. Now the Government has taken it from him because it needs this meagre amount which it gave to the family man. I come now to the family man who is really in the Government’s luxury class. I refer to the man with a wife and two children. He was granted 6d. a week, but now the Treasurer says, “I am short of money, so I am taking it back, not only to balance the Budget, but to show a surplus of £15,000,000”. Why, the Government is virtually going to the poor-box to obtain money with which to run the country!
Ever since 1949, the Ministers have enjoyed many trips around the world. The money spent on those trips could well be used to give a substantial reduction in taxation to certain people. I do not object to Ministers going overseas occasionally, for it is good to have a broad-minded ministry, but despite the fact that we have the most travelled ministry in the world, we are saddled with the most incompetent ministry of our time.
I come now to companies. They are to be taxed an extra 6d. in the £1. The maximum rate of tax will be 8s. in the £1 for public companies and 7s. in the £1 for private companies. The tax on undistributed dividends will be 10s. in the £1. Last year, the Government derived £229,000,000 from company taxation. This year, it expects to receive £267,000,000. What is wrong with applying the ordinary principles of taxation to companies? Why should not those companies which make the greater profits pay the greater rate of tax? In this field the Government has an excellent opportunity for increasing its taxation revenue substantially without greatly affecting the organizations from which it is derived. Let us examine the profits made by some companies in the last year or so. Last year, that struggling organization - General Motors-Holden’s Limited - made a profit of £15,000,000, whilst the profit earned by Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited was £13,000,000.
I have a long list of the profits made by the various companies and, without any great confidence, I propose asking that it be incorporated in “ Hansard “. It discloses the exorbitant profits made by certain organizations. For instance, the profit of Bitumen and Oil Refineries (Australia) Limited increased by 76.5 per cent. to £730,740, while that of Consolidated Zinc Corporation Limited, a partner in the firm which purchased the Bell Bay aluminium project, went up by 154 per cent. Again, the profit of National Dairy Products (U.S.) - no doubt a company in which Country Party members are interested - increased to £22,000,000 Australian. The profit of Cambridge Credit Corporation increased by 156 per cent., while that of Concrete Industries rose by 78 per cent., or £350,000 to £800,000. The profit of other companies increased by as much as 68 per cent. That of Coles Limited increased to £2,095,000. Right through this list we see instances of unlimited profits, and I ask that this document, which is an authentic public document, be incorporated in “Hansard”.
– Is leave granted?
Honorable Members. - No.
– Honorable members on the Government side do not like to see their friends who paid their campaign expenses last year listed as people making exorbitant profits. I have not the time to mention them all, but I have shown that unlimited profits are being made by certain companies, and that this Government which sponsors them proposes to increase their taxation by a paltry 6d. in the £1. And that same Government, while increasing company taxation by this small sum, creeps into the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission to prevent the worker from getting an increase of a few shillings in his wages from the profits derived from his efforts in the very organizations I have listed.
I suggest that this Government should establish an organization similar to the Tariff Board to investigate and report upon companies that are established here just as the Tariff Board inquires into and reports upon our industries. I cannot see why we should not adopt asystem under which huge organizations like General Motors-Holden’s Limited, Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited and others would pay the maximum rate of tax while the struggling companies paid the minimum rate. To my mind, this is a simple approach to a great problem. I do not mind the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Fox) interjecting. He stands for the protection of private industry, but he will have to be a real high-flyer to beat Sir George Jones. The point that I make on the company tax is this: The profits are available for all to see. High dividends are being paid by monopolies that are crippling the economy. Under this Budget, companies are getting away with an additional sixpence in the £1 while the Government is taking pennies from the family man who is only getting £800 a year. I suggest that the Government should institute some method of taxing companies on a graduated scale in accordance with the profits that they make.
There are many other matters that I would like to mention but my time is extremely limited. This Budget is in line with all other Budgets that have been produced by this Government since it came to office. It contains nothing constructive. It gives to those who have, at the expense of those who have not. At the same time, it is crippling our economy. It takes money away from those people who want to build homes and gives money to those who are running hire-purchase companies. The Government is undoubtedly a big businessman’s government. It has increased taxation. It has borrowed overseas and put us into pawn. Monopolies and takeovers are the order of the day. Money lending and land speculation go on unabated. At the same time, it should never be forgotten that pensioners are getting less in actual purchasing power and people’s wages and savings have less purchasing power than at any previous time in the history of this country.
I believe that this Budget should have contained constructive proposals for the future. I do not believe that depressions are inevitable but they happen unless governments take action to prevent them. I visualize this country developing in such a way as to be the envy of the world. It is indeed a rare gem in the southern seas.
I want it to be a country wherein all are free; where there is freedom from fear and want; where social and economic justice prevail and where privilege and power and exploitation are unknown - in fact, a country worthy of its people. That is why 1 believe that Australia must have a Labour government with its great humanitarian objectives to guide the destinies of this nation. This is a dynamic, challenging age - the age of sputniks, atomic energy and nuclear power. It is an age in which science has achieved almost the impossible. Australia is a nation which is rocketing ahead at tremendous speed, piloted by a Liberal-Country Party Government, but the disturbing fact is that the prime ministerial pilot and his deputy are rarely in the cockpit. Clearly, it is an alarming prospect, akin to hurtling into space on a push-bike. In order to avoid a crash, this Government must be defeated andI hope that the censure motion will be carried.
.- The honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daiy) has often given us a comedy performance. To-day, his speech was shot through with figures and it is regrettable that we were unable to accept them because we did not know whether they were a part of his comedy act or not. The honorable member has never been the same since the comedy team of Delo and Daly arrived in this country with its American patois. He has been seeking to out-do the Daly of the Delo and Daly combination. Indeed, that entertainer is sometimes called “ Dilly Daly “ on television. But the theatrical performance of the Opposition is not restricted to the honorable member for Grayndler. It has two extremes. It has the comedy man from Grayndler and, from East Sydney it has Edwardian tragedy, comic in its pathos and ridiculous in its plot. The honorable member for Grayndler said this is a country of sputniks. The only thing that the Labour Party seemingly lacks is a beatnik.
– Come over!
– The only reason that I cannot go over and be the Opposition’s beatnik is that I cannot put on the vacant, cow-like expression which is so necessary if one is to be a beatnik, and qualify for the Opposition. 1 turn to a matter which has occupied the attention of the people of Australia generally and apparently has occupied the attention of members of the Opposition because they have questioned whether or not certain legislation will be introduced. I refer to restrictive trade practices. An informal group of honorable members and senators who support the Government have looked at this matter and attempted to make some sort of investigation of the incidence of restrictive trade practices and their effect. We were able to look at the experience and legislation of the United Kingdom and the legislation of the United States of America. We were also able to look at the report of the Western Australian royal commission on the retailing of motor spirit in 1956, and at the report of the Western Australian royal commission on restrictive trade practices published in 1958. In addition, we were able tofind some expert advice and assistance in Melbourne.
We followed up various allegations made in various places, both personally and in the newspapers by businessmen and others. We interviewed a number of association secretaries, mainly in Melbourne. We found that there was absolutely no concealment by trade associations. They were quite unperturbed by suggestions of federal legislation and they freely discussed and explained the way in which their associations carried on. As a result of these investigations, we were able to satisfy ourselves that there were about 33 trade associations practising, to some extent, restrictively. We believed that there were more. We estimated that there would be about 69 trade associations in Victoria which were, to some extent, practising restrictively.
I emphasize that our investigations were superficial and were not systematic by any means. But we were fortified in our conclusions by the fact that the Western Australian restrictive trade practices royal commission had been able to isolate 106 examples of restrictive practices. Of course. Western Australia is not highly industrialized although the State has highly developed commerce and the economy generally is expanding. But, as we ail know, the State is spread out and industry is spread also. So, on the basis of the findings in Western Australia, we estimated that there were probably between 100 and 150 instances of restrictive trade practices is each State.
The total for Australia may be between 500 and 600. Of course, the figure for the whole of Australia could be a little misleading because many of the associations or practices within each State would be merely parallel to other associations or practices in other Slates. The monopolies royal commission which was set up in the United Kingdom under a 1948 act had a full-time staff. It spent two years in investigations and it had the resources of the British Board of Trade at its call. It found that 180 associations carried On restrictive trade practices. Of course, the United Kingdom has to be regarded differently from Australia. It is highly industrialized and has a population of not less than 50,000,000 people.
In giving this outline, it is most necessary to make the point that it is not true to assume that all associations engage in restrictive trade practices. Any such assumption would be far from the truth. There are many motives that have led to the development of associations throughout Australia, and it is possible to excise that part of an. association’s activities which may be of a restrictive nature. If that part were excised, the association should be left to continue the major functions for which it was originally formed.
It is equally true to say that on many occasions an association is not aware that it is engaging in restrictive trade practices. That applies equally to the association as an entity and to the members of the association. I believe it is true to say that in 99 per cent, of the cases the members of the various associations believe they are acting honorably and are not aware of any harmful effects that may flow from restrictive trade practices.
Trade associations have had a long history, and that history has given them a proper air of respectability. Members of associations and associations as entities, generally speaking, accept the practice of restriction as being normal business behaviour. There is good reason for the development of that attitude, because both the United Kingdom and the Australian Governments have given a stimulus to the formation and development of trade associ ations. Indeed, they not only have given a stimulus to the formation and development of trade associations but have distinctly encouraged the commencement and development of a restrictive trade practice as a part of the associations’ activities. I refer specially to the depression years when, in Australia and the United Kingdom, there was a climate which favoured price fixing. This climate was created by the view that the solvency of firms ought to be protected in order to give protection to employment. So out of that climate came a substantial encouragement of restrictive trade practices.
The next real surge and stimulus to those activities were given during World War II. In that period, definite encouragement was given to associations to represent industry and sectors of industry, and by representing sectors of industry to help control industry in the interests of the war effort. Very frequently a restrictive trade practice was given a stimulus, because during the war price fixing was frequently given official approval. Associations were actually given approval to institute price fixing as part of the war effort and in order to remove some of the paraphernalia of administration from government offices. So in Australia there was a development of trade associations and of the off-shoots of restrictive practices as in the United Kingdom. When these companies, firms, or whatever they were, moved to Australia and established plants here, it was a natural corollary that there should be established associations with the history and understandings that those associations had built up in the United Kingdom.
A restrictive trade practice undoubtedly affects the public. But the public is not always aware that it is affected by a restrictive trade practice or that a restrictive trade practice is actually in operation. The group which made the inquiry to which I referred earlier saw the nature of the practices in Australia, and we knew from the United Kingdom report what was the nature of the practices there. We were able to discern from these things that the pattern of restrictive practices in Australia was almost identical with that in the United Kingdom prior to the legislation of 1956.
The main consideration in a restrictive trade practice - I emphasize that this is not the main consideration of trade associations; I am now putting the trade association aside and am thinking of the restrictive trade practice in isolation - is price fixation. By “ price fixation “ I mean the manufacturer’s price and the distributors’ margins. The purpose in attempting to achieve this is to avoid competition. The price fixed can be in the form of an agreement, which may be oral, written, or even understood. The second form is that of setting distributors’ price lists. The third form, which is the corollary to the second, is the enforcement of the retail price. The next purpose of a restrictive trade practice is the diversion of trade to specified persons and the exclusion of others from it. The sanctions employed to achieve price fixation and the element of exclusive dealing are of three kinds. First, there is the collective boycott; secondly, there are fines or expulsion from the association concerned; and thirdly, there is restriction of entry into the realm of the enjoyment of the exclusive dealing.
The effect of a restrictive trade practice on the public and on the economy generally is to increase prices. A restrictive trade practice, in addition, stultifies the quality and variety of goods and has the third result of depriving persons of an opportunity to compete in the market. But again I must emphasize, Mr. Temporary Chairman, that it is not correct to assume that every association practices restrictively. It is also not true to assume that every practice which appears to be restrictive is in fact harmful.
Many practices clearly are harmful. Perhaps the most outstanding example of this, and one which has been well publicized and very correctly documented1, is that in which the retail house of Mark Foy’s Limited, in Sydney, came into collision with an organization known as Retra - the Radio, Electrical and Television Retailers Association. This incident was a classic example of the collective boycott. As a result of it, the firm of Mark Foy’s was deprived of the opportunity to market television sets for a long period. The point from which the conflict emerged was the allegation by Retra that Mark Foy’s had breached1 a code of advertising ethics. The position is that the Attorneys-General or Chief Secretaries of the States have all agreed since that what Mark Foy’s were advertising should be embodied in hire- purchase legislation. I believe that the contretemps has now been settled and that the firm of Mark Foy’s is again retailing television sets. But it is true that by the use of a collective boycott that company was deprived of its right to market television sets for a considerable period of time.
Many such practices clearly are harmful, and some restrictive practices clearly are not harmful. In the case of some there is great difficulty in distinguishing whether they are harmful or not harmful. An example of this merging pattern where it is so difficult to decide whether a restrictive practice is harmful or not, was given by the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Jones) during this debate the other day. He referred to the marketing of motor car tyres and pointed out that in the past it has been possible to obtain a substantial discount on tyres, but that now those discounts were not available. The consequence of that has let the small garage operator into the tyre re-selling business. Whereas before he could not compete with an organization which was able, through the magnitude of its business, to give a substantial discount, now he can do so because no discounts are given at all and he can enter into this trade of tyre reselling.
The two things which flow from this, are, first, that the consumer suffers, in that he cannot get a discount for a motor car tyre, but on the other hand the small garage proprietor is now enabled to enter into the field of tyre re-selling and that is where the line becomes misty and it is a matter of investigation before a decision can be taken as to whether or not this practice is harmful. I am just putting this example, which the honorable member for Newcastle gave, as an illustration of where it is difficult to decide what is harmful and what is not, because on the one hand it achieves a benefit to one group and, on the other hand, it achieves a benefit to a different group.
Perhaps another example of the difficulty of deciding whether a practice is harmful can be found in a news item in the Melbourne “ Age “ of 30th August last. There, under the heading. “ Price Pact by Cable Makers “ we read -
The only two companies manufacturing electric power cable in Australia have been operating under an agreement to fix prices of the cable for the past 18 months.
Later the article says that Mr. Richmond, who represented one of the companies, said -
If the price fixing agreement were withdrawn, one or other of the companies would be forced out of business and a monopoly would remain. Whether that is true could only be determined by examination. Whether this agreement ought to be permitted to subsist would depend ultimately on whether it was harmful or not or whether, on balance, it was more harmful or less harmful.
In seeking legislation to cover a subject such as this we must set out our criteria and then be prepared to find our own solution to our own problem. I am reinforced in that view by a report presented to the International Bar Association at its 7th conference. The conference was held in Cologne and the report was published in July, 1958. The report, dealing with monopolies and restrictive trade practices, was presented by a most learned man, Mr. Wilberforce, a Queen’s Counsel, who, together with two others, was the author of the outstanding text book on the subject. In the course of presenting the report, he said -
If we may venture to draw a conclusion from these differentiations-
That is, the differentiations from country to country all over the world in their restrictive trade practices legislation - it is perhaps this, that any legislator who is thinking of drawing up a law to govern and control restrictive practices, for any country, oi group of countries, cannot simply select a model from among the various patterns he sees around him, as many countries have adopted the Code Napoleon, or a uniform law as to negotiable instruments. He must very carefully lay down for himself the economic and social aims which he hopes to achieve, and the economic and social context within which he hopes to make his system work. Only when he has done that can he look around to see if he can find something to help him in what others have done. The variety is now such that he may well find it. And further it is hopeless to expect countries of different size, different dependence on trade of different kinds, difFerent administrative traditions, to develop or work towards a uniform legal system in this field.
There are simple and obvious examples to which we, in Australia, can turn and two of them, of course, are the United Kingdom and the United States of America. In a contrast between the systems of those two countries it will become obvious that there is a three-dimensional difference between them. The first dimensional difference is the time of the legislation. The second is the form of the legislation, and by this 1 mean the difference between, on the one hand, the United Kingdom administrative process and, on the other hand, the United States of America criminal process. The third dimensional difference is the depth to which the legislation goes. Insofar as the time is concerned, the United States legislation commenced in 1890 with the Sherman Act which, in its original form, was thought to be merely declaratory of the common law of the time, but made a departure from that law a misdemeanour and thereby punishable. In 1914 the Clayton Act was passed and it enabled the United States Supreme Court to develop the doctrine which is called occupancy of the market, which is the one which so occupies industry in the United States of America to-day. Then in 1936 the Robinson-Patman Act was passed, making it. an offence to sell goods at an unreasonably low price merely in order to wipe out a competitor so that, after having wiped him out, that person could come back into the field and obtain a monopoly in those goods. In 1950 there was passed what is called the Cellar-Kefauver Act, which deals with mergers.
In the United Kingdom, on the other hand, there was no such legislation until 1948 when the Monopolies and Restrictive Trades Practices Inquiries Act was passed, as the result of which royal commissions lasting over three years were held; and in 1956 the Restrictive Trade Practices Act was passed. In the United Kingdom until 1950 all reliance was placed on the common law. Australia, in terms of time, is in the field of the United States of America, because it passed the Australian Industries Preservation Act in 1906, almost half a century before the United Kingdom first legislated in this field. I come now to the second difference, that of form. In the United Kingdom legislation has an administrative base and in the United States of America a criminal base. In the United Kingdom the law calls for the registration of all associations and agreements; and then there is an inquiry and if the inquiry reveals a restrictive practice there is an order issued by the commission to cease and desist the practice. This is directed to an association, whereas, in the United States of America, with its criminal base, the prosecution is launched against the individual. In Australia we have a constitutional problem of some great magnitude and one which occupied the attention of the Constitutional Review Commitee. The United States of America has a wider concept of the interstate power and also, because of the largeness of the population and the smallness of the states there is a far greater frequency of inter-state movement, and the United States therefore has a wider capacity to legislate. I think we in Australia quite definitely would not have the power that the United Kingdom has of making registration compulsory - which, incidentally, Western Australia has done in legislation. In Western Australia reliance has been placed solely on the publication which would follow registration.
The third difference between the legislation in the United States and that in the United Kingdom is the depth to which it goes. The United States, from the outset, has sought to prevent conglomeration into great industrial enterprises by the consolidation of new holdings. The United Kingdom, on the other hand, attacks the restrictive trade practice as such, and does not concern itself very greatly with mere aggregation. I think this is because of the United Kingdom’s belief that, by aggregation, efficiency is likely to be achieved; but if aggregation results in a restrictive practice, the legislation relating to restrictive practices can pick it up and prevent it from carrying on.
It is important, in considering this matter, to pay attention to the exculpation provisions available in the United Kingdom to render an agreement by an association free from the processes of the act. Roughly stated, they are as follows: One may say that a practice is not bad, first, because it prevents unemployment, or because it is conducive to employment; secondly, because it contributes to export earnings; thirdly, because it fights a monopolistic supplier; fourthly, because it gives protection to the consumer; fifthly, because there is a specific and substantial public advantage. I personally believe that to those exculpation clauses Australia needs to add two more. The first would be that a practice would be exempted if it promoted standardization of manufacture and that standardization were in the public interest. The second would be that a practice would be exempted if it developed the volume of production, and if the development of the volume of production were in the public interest. Perhaps such legislation as wc pass might specifically prohibit collusive tendering and collective boycott.
Two other questions immediately emerge from these considerations. The first relates to tied contracts. On this matter, perhaps, much deeper thought will be necessary, because tied contracts to a great extent contribute to volume of production. The other matter that must inevitably concern us is the question of the merger or takeover which is likely to create an aggregation of great interests. This is a problem which beset the United States and the United Kingdom, and each of these countries chose quite different - indeed, diametrically opposed - methods of dealing with it. The United States said that it could not happen, and it developed the occupancy of the market doctrine, by which it has the power to force a company to disgorge its holdings so as not to offend this doctrine. On the other hand, the United Kingdom has left that aspect virtually alone, believing that the restrictive trade practices legislation as such could take care of any harm that was likely to emerge from aggregation.
.- The Budget might best be described as being like the curate’s egg - good in parts. It contains some features which are even praiseworthy, such as, for example, the free medical treatment for service pensioners, including Boer War veterans, for disabilities that are not due to war service, and the new merged means test. The Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) estimated that free medical treatment for service pensioners, including Boer War veterans, will cost £2,374,000 in a full year. When that is considered against the background of a total expenditure of nearly £1,800,000,000, many will say that the service pensioners have received justice, but very tardy justice. They might well ask why this provision was not made at least several years earlier. I think that ex-servicemen of the 1914-18 war were in the main the victims previously of a rather paltry attitude, and I for one feel thankful that many of them will no longer face the frequently impossible task of proving that some illness they endure to-day is a result of their war service, in order that they may get the benefit of free medical treatment. For my part, and for our part, any soldier who served in France for one winter in the 1914-18 war could have, and would have, received this benefit at least several years ago.
I like the new merged means test by which the property restriction has been levelled off to square with the restriction on income. The property restriction was a most iniquitous thing, and it often imposed great hardship on many of our elderly citizens. Perhaps this was What the Government meant when it said, through the medium of the Governor-General’s Speech in February, that it would do something about restrictive practices. I expect that there will now be a marked decline in the number of elderly people taking overseas trips in order to spend their savings so that they may qualify for a full pension or a part pension. This will be to the great displeasure of overseas shipping companies. As a matter of fact, I have been advising my elderly constituents ever since last February not to spend any surplus money that they might have, because no government, however bad it might be, could much longer continue a property means test such as that from which we are to escape by early March next year. Pensioners with permissible money up to £2,020 might do well now to consider the best way to invest that money, because income from property will not be considered in determining pension entitlement, as is income, for example, from personal exertion or superannuation. It is interesting to reflect upon the speech of the honorable member for McPherson (Mr. Barnes), who suggested that pensioners should be invited to invest moneys in Commonwealth “loans and be free from any penalty.
The cost of this amelioration of the means -test, allied with that of the means test for widows, is estimated to be £4,200,000 in ;a full year. Again, we are impelled to ask, when we look at that sum against the background of the total expenditure of nearly £1,800,000,000, why it took so long to take -this action. I wonder how many elderly people are now left lamenting and regretting :the expenditures that they made in order to qualify for a full pension or a part pension.
Widows are to be treated in a somewhat similar manner to age and invalid pensioners in regard to property, but in regard to permissible income their needs have been entirely overlooked. I can find no excuse for the Government’s failure to permit them to earn more than £3 10s. a week without reduction of their pensions. This is a matter that has been raised over and over again, without success, in this chamber. The Government never supplies any reason for its refusal to budge. It simply behaves like a mule or a donkey which sits down between the shafts of a cart and refuses to be stung, cajoled or coerced into getting up and moving forward. If the perfectly fair and reasonable request of the widows for an easing of their position were to cost the country something, that might possibly be advanced as a reason for refusal. However, although it would cost the country nothing, the Government refuses to budge. It is beyond understanding. When the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton) is reminded of this iniquity to widows, he advances to the table, and avoids making any reply by giving a wearying and dreary recital of how the pension has been lifted from time to time, and over the last eleven years in particular. He scrupulously avoids any mention of the manner in which the value has been leaking out of the widow’s £1 for the last eleven years. In the light of that fact alone, it would be fair to suggest that widows ought to be allowed to earn £7 a week. But perhaps, since such a wonderful concession would cost nothing, the Government is saving it until next year - election year. In the meantime, the widows can continue the horribly unequal struggle for a place in the sun for themselves and their children.
I am pleased that, at long last, some crippled people will be permitted to purchase a car free of sales tax. I hope that there will be no haggling about whether a station wagon comes within the definition of a motor car. For many limbless people, a station wagon will be far more suitable than a motor car, and for some even a panel van will be best. This concession is estimated to cost the Treasury £265,000 in a full year. Again, one wonders why it took so long before some relief came to those who labour beneath the dreadful handicap of limblessness Time and again, honorable members sought this concession and, in view of the almost trifling cost to the Treasury, we are impelled to ask why it was not granted at least several years ago.
Having divested himself, in concessions to the aged, invalids, widows and service pensioners, of the enormous sum of £6,574,000, the Treasurer became alarmed at his own generosity and promptly increased the sales tax on electric shavers from 121 per cent, to 25 per cent. This was done, we are told, because of the disadvantages endured by the vendors of safety razors and safety razor blades. Purely incidentally, perhaps, the increase will yield £290,000 for the Treasury - an amount that exceeds the cost of the concession given to incapacitated people buying a motor car. I hope that I am not disturbing Professor Messel when I suggest that a tax on beards may have yielded better results.
However, whatever our feelings about the Treasurer’s attempt to make easy shaving difficult and more expensive, let us rejoice in the knowledge that the sales tax on silverplated dinner ware, cut glass and pewter is to be reduced in inverse ratio to the sales tax on electric shavers. I suppose this was done to encourage our pensioners to let their beards grow while they devoured their sumptuous meals off silver plate between draughts of champagne from silver-plated cups. Undoubtedly, this reduction will also apply to the silver-plated plaques that rest on the tiny concrete posts above their ashes in the garden of a crematorium. I wonder whether the price of these items will be reduced, or does this reduction merely mean more profit for some one?
The Treasurer reminds me of the old gentleman in the old and popular piece of elocution -
He arose one morning shouting “ Hurrah, to-morrow is the Budget day,
Ten million pounds I’ll give-away.
No, no, on second thoughts I think it best
To put it back in the old oak chest.”
On hearing this, some member of the audience, obviously no gentleman, arose in his seat and cast doubts and aspersions upon the legitimacy of the verminous and elderly gentleman - and I do not mean the Trea surer. The Treasurer went further than the character on the stage; he took it all back with interest. He re-imposed the 6d. in the £1 on company tax and the ls. in the £1 on personal income tax. Well, I suppose the Treasurer thought that was a wise thing to do. After all, the people cannot be trusted with their own money; they only spend it on the satisfaction of their own selfish desires, without the slightest regard for the Treasurer’s difficulties.
Last year, we were told that our economy needed a stimulating hypodermic financial injection. So the Treasurer reduced taxes and budgeted for a deficit. The people reacted in their usual thoughtless manner and caused another burst of inflation. This burst of inflation was caused not by the Treasurer but by the people. This year, the economy is to receive a sedative hypodermic injection to slow down the rate of expansion and inflation. Taxation is to be increased and bank lending is to be reduced, because the Treasurer is budgeting for a surplus. Next year - here is the nigger in the woodpile - is election year. The Treasurer will then decide that everything is under control and we will have another burst of lower taxes, freer lending, expansion and inflation. We have been witnessing the same old cynical cycle for so long that we may well wonder whether it will ever come to an end. Yet end it must, and sometimes an end comes with dramatic suddenness, when it is least expected. The Labour Party is prepared for the day when the end comes to this Government - which has tarried too long upon the political scene, in a Homburg hat.
During this debate, a good deal of emphasis has been placed on the progressive rise of interest rates during the past eleven years, and the finger has been pointed at the enormous growth of hire-purchase companies. So much has been said already about the manner in which hire-purchase companies accept investors’ money, promising to pay a dividend of 8 per cent, or 9 per cent., and re-lend it at 8 per cent, or 9 per cent, on a flat rate with monthly repayments, that it is almost farcical to mention it again. But one fact emerges with crystal clarity. Whether the private banks wanted to do so, in order to keep up with the Joneses, or the hire-purchase companies, they had to enter the same field. In my time, I have said some pretty hard things about private banks, but when we take a look at the new banking or lending force, the hire-purchase companies, the private bankers look like the angels of justice. Their directors are at least imbued with some sense of tradition and loyalty to their native land and, though profit is important to them, they do not make it their god. The hire-purchase companies, on the other hand, are totally unhampered by any scruples. Profit to them is god, and let nothing stand in their way.
Australia has only one material force left with which to control these companies, and that force is the Federal Government. The States are quite powerless and this Federal Government knows it. Of what use is it for the New South Wales Government to move against them when they have merely to transfer their registered offices to Victoria, which has a friendly Government, in order to take defensive action? Operating with the registered office in Victoria, a hirepurchase company can still do exactly as it pleases in New South Wales. Perhaps the Federal Government is hoping that competition between hire-purchase companies will force down the interest rates. This is a slender hope, because the wolves of finance hunt in well-organized packs to-day and they are unlikely to turn upon themselves and rend one another’s throats.
All this reminds me of an immigrant who came to see me recently about his brotherinlaw. His brother-in-law had been refused permission to come to Australia. The customary official phraseology was used: He was unable to comply with normal immigration requirements. Further inquiry revealed that the man had served a gaol sentence. His crime was that he had advanced a small sum of money on loan and had charged a rate of interest 2 per cent, in excess of that allowed by the laws of his country. What a pity that man committed the crime of usury before he could come to Australia! Had he waited until he came here he would have become a highly respectable financier in no time at all. He may even have been invited to join the Liberal Party. He would certainly have been invited to subscribe to the Liberal
Party’s funds and in due course he would have been rewarded with a knighthood and may even have ended his strangely eventful life with a peerage and a seat in the House of Lords. It is an unsatisfactory situation for the banks of this country to be the only institutions bound by law in respect of interest rates on loans. It is amusing to read how they have been told recently to restrict their lending further.
I want to say something now about payroll tax. Pay-roll tax is a burning question all over Australia. Certainly it has been eased to the extent that organizations or companies with an annual pay-roll of less than £10,000 are exempt from paying the tax. But that still leaves a large number of hospitals, friendly societies and other organizations that must pay the tax. One such organization that comes to mind is the New South Wales Railway, Tramway, Omnibus and Road Transport Employees’ Hospital and Convalescent Fund. In addition municipal and shire councils throughout the country are faced with the burden of pay-roll tax. A very strong case can be made, and has been made, for exemption being granted to those bodies. If exemption were granted it would certainly make a large dent in the Government’s revenues but when we consider the fine work that is done by some councils - work which goes a long way to relieve the Commonwealth of some of its social obligations - we can agree that exemption should be granted to them. In my electorate, which bears the mighty name of St. George - it incidentally has produced a world famous football team which wins competitions with almost monotonous regularity, not to mention the St. George baseball team, which is the premier team this season - two councils have established home nursing services. The Commonwealth certainly subsidizes those services to the extent of £400 per nurse employed per annum and the cars used by the service are purchased free of sales-tax. But that amount represents much less than half of the cost of maintaining this valuable humanitarian work on the part of the councils. The councils themselves, aided by private citizens and the Service clubs, must provide the rest of the finance needed. I often feel that the Government leans too heavily on the councils and the Service clubs, which, after all, usually consist of citizens and local businessmen who do not have much time to spare. 1 do not think that it would have hurt the Treasury if the grant per nurse had been increased. 1 believe that it should have been increased.
I want to deal briefly with ambulance services. Ambulance services should have been treated on the same basis as the home nursing service. Ambulances frequently transport elderly pensioners without making a charge. If the Federal Government does nothing else it should reimburse the ambulance services for the work that they do.
I return to councils and pay-roll tax. Let us look at the position of one council - the Rockdale Council. Let us look at some of the things the council has done, so that I may support an argument for the abolition of pay-roll tax. The council has not only established a home nursing service but also assisted in the establishment of four senior citizen centres and has gone a long way towards creating a youth community centre. The council carries the cost of baby health clinics and provides rest centres for women. The council conducts a vaccination campaign against poliomyelitis and relieves the Commonwealth of the need to make the ceremonial arrangements so necessary in naturalization ceremonies. The council subsidizes pre-school kindergartens. It has provided land for bowling clubs and has established a public golf course. It subsidizes its own opera company. It fosters ballet and has its own symphony orchestra. The council conducts an excellent library. It pays its share to the St. George County Council, which handles the distribution of electricity. It provides £9,800 a year for local fire brigades and pays £8,500 a year to the Cumberland County Council. Street lighting costs the council £28,000 a year and this year the council will spend £20,000 on parking facilities to assist local residents to do their shopping with greater facility.
Although the council was permitted to borrow £100,000 this year, that amount was reduced by the Australian Loan Council to £75,000, of which £30,000 is an unused carry-over from the previous year. Incidentally, but not less important, £30,000 of the loan of £75,000 this year must be applied to the widening of one street which will become an important highway for people leaving or entering Sydney.
Out of the local rate of 3d. in the £1 the Main Roads Board receives id. and all the achievements that 1 have mentioned are thus performed by the council on an actual rating of a little more than 3d. in the £1. That being so, it must be agreed that the financial genius of local government could do a much better job with this Budget.
Let us further reflect that Commonwealth properties, such as post offices, military establishments, banks and aerodromes, are not rateable. It is fair that I should mention that the 1 8th Light Anti-aircraft establishment and the Rockdale branch of the Commonwealth Bank do pay rates ex gratia. But the post offices and the Sydney (KingsfordSmith) Aerodrome do not pay . rates. However, if the aerodrome does not contribute towards the finances of the council it certainly contributes noise from lowflying conventional and jet aircraft in the most immoderate and excessive quantities. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has refused to provide the residents of the area with the relief that would come if the Government would extend the 16/34 runway, which would take planes out across Botany Bay instead of over the homes of my constituents. Loud as is the noise of a jet, unfortunately you cannot hear it 440 miles away in Kooyong. Therefore, we can expect no relief. I wager that if the airport were in Kooyong, something would be done about the noise problem very swiftly.
This year the Rockdale Council, from its own slender budget, will contribute approximately £8,000 to the Commonwealth in payroll tax. I have mentioned the Rockdale Council in particular, but there are many other councils - few, if any, as good - that would be in a similar plight. I submit with due respect that the £8,000 which the council will contribute in pay-roll tax could be more wisely and prudently spent by the council, applying its local judgment. A powerful case has been made out for the exemption of municipal councils from pay-roll tax.
I notice that the Defence estimate has increased by about £4,500,000. I have no’ quarrel with spending money on the defence of our native land, but something has been done of which I entirely and completely disapprove. In St. George we had a battalion with a name made famous through’ the sacrifices of the men of St. George, and’ their womenfolk, over several decades. T. think it was Australia’s best-known battalion - the famous fighting 45th. It was born of the 13th Battalion in 1916 and its soldiers had received their baptism of fire on Gallipoli. The newly born 45th was in the front line on the Western Front, at Fleurbaix, in France, four months after its birth. A little later, it was fighting on the heights of Pozieres, where it suffered 488 casualties in its first nine days in the line. On this unit’s colours are emblazoned the names “ Pozieres “, “ Bullecourt “, “ Messines “, “ Polygon Wood “, “ Passchendaele “, “ Ancre “, “ Amiens”, “ Albert “, “ Epéhy “ and “ Hindenburg Line “.
Between the two world wars, the 45th lived on, confirming the traditions it had built, until, in 1942, when Japan had entered the war, it was disbanded and most of its members went to the 113th Heavy Anti-aircraft Regiment, which later served in New Guinea. In 1948, the unit was reborn in the Citizen Military Forces as a machine-gun battalion, and in 1951 it reverted to type and became an infantry battalion again. It then began to take in national service trainees, every one of whom must have become a better man because he had served with the famous 45th. On a bleak winter afternoon in 1960, by direction of the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer), the battalion laid up its colours quietly and with dignity, in St. Paul’s Church of England on the Princes Highway, Kogarah. With a few strokes of the pen, the Minister succeeded where the Kaiser, Mussolini, Hitler and Tojo had failed. He obliterated, even if he has not destroyed, a name which is cherished and honoured in thousands of homes in St. George.
Mr. Temporary Chairman, in the few minutes that remain to me, I remind the committee that the average Australian family of husband, wife and two children paid £10 7s.10d. a week in taxes in 1959-60. I remind those taxpayers who may be listening that whenever they buy a gallon of petrol at 3s. 6½d., they pay 1s.1d. in tax. I remind those people who patronize hotels that whenever they buy a bottle of beer at 3s.1d., they pay1s. 7¾d. tax. I remind all those people who have bought television sets costing £234 that £39 was paid in tax. I remind all the people who have bought baby cars costing £925 that they have paid £175 in tax, and those who have bought larger cars costing £1,170, which is the price of the Holden, that they have paid in tax £223. I remind the people that industry pays large sums in company tax, pay-roll tax, customs and excise duties and the like. Mr. McKellar White, a taxation expert, reminds us that when the Prime Minister brought in the supplementary Budget of March, 1956, he described it as a temporary emergency measure to counter inflation. But the temporary tax increases of 2s. 8d. a gallon on beer, 3d. on a large packet of cigarettes, and 3d. a gallon on petrol, and the 30 per cent. increase of the sales tax on cars are still with us. Mr. McKellar White says that these figures are the result-
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Mr. Temporary Chairman, I propose to discuss the development of northern Australia. Several major questions must be answered when an under-developed country faces the problems involved in expanding its development and increasing its productivity: What can the country produce with the minimum effort? Is there a reasonable market which will justify the development of a particular industry? In other words, can we sell profitably a commodity which the country is able to produce? On this occasion, we are concerned with the development of our northern areas. Therefore, a third factor enters the appreciation, for the effect of development on our security becomes of great importance. Indeed, in the development of our northern frontier areas, this consideration may become of more importance than are the first two.
With respect to the economic factor, we have had unhappy experiences in the establishment of industries that have proved to be uneconomic. When this happens, another question is posed: Does the Government have to subsidize an industry in order to keep it going, and thereby drain the public purse and contribute to inflation, or do we eliminate the industry and break it up, with consequent losses and unemployment?
In relation to northern Australia, we are concerned with balancing the economic and the security aspects. In the foreseeable future, we may even find ourselves in a situation in which we would choose a field of development which might not appear as sound an economic prospect as are others, because such development might contribute more to a long-range plan to expand the population and promote security and defence. In northern Australia, we do not need the security aspect to spur us on, because the need to develop the beef cattle industry, which has been historically associated with northern Australia, logically and overwhelmingly directs us towards the development of the north. We have a wonderful opportunity to develop an industry which is basically sound economically and which offers magnificent prospects of earning great wealth for this nation and all its citizens. At the same time, the development of the industry will promote our security and defence in the northern areas.
The development of the beef cattle industry not only will fulfil the aims which I have just mentioned, but also will open up primitive country in a way that secondary industry can never open it up. The pioneers who took their foundation herds into the north made tracks and roads. Beside these roads were found metals which gave rise to the rich mines which, in their turn, helped to develop the primitive areas rapidly by bringing to them amenities such as modern transport and water and electricity supplies. A new factory merely adds to the congestion of a metropolitan area, but expansion of the beef cattle industry or the development of a new mine takes people to the outback, increases our production and raises our export income.
We should expand the beef cattle industry if we want to develop northern Australia, not only because this industry has been historically associated with the north but also because there is a sustained and immense demand for beef. The world’s population is increasing, as is that of Australia. Owing to mechanization, hard physical labour is being eased. As a result, fats and carbohydrates are no longer in demand for the human diet. But proteins are eagerly sought after, and meat provides protein in its most desirable form. In the world to-day, no new large range areas for the breeding of cattle are coming into use, although beef is in unprecedented demand. The demand for it within Australia is unprecedented, and at the rate at which the population is increasing, the demand will continue to grow steadily. Therefore, we face a great and lasting demand for beef. At the new high level of prices, the beef cattle industry is able to gear itself to meet increasing demand internally and to expand our lucrative and buoyant export trade in beef.
All of us know, Mr. Temporary Chairman, that the pioneers of this industry, particularly in the wide open spaces of the range country of northern Australia, have struggled for a century against the grim trials of the Australian outback. There is no need for me to tell the committee of these in detail. Long dry seasons, regular dry periods after the monsoons, long dry stretches of hundreds of miles with very little water in what is probably one of the least watered countries in the world, long droving trips to markets and inadequate transport have limited the returns to the producers and often they have not been able to afford even to muster all their cattle. Only the cattle that are easily accessible are mustered, so there must be hundreds of thousands of clean skins - cattle that have never been counted - in the huge areas of Australia. The low turn-off of cattle - it is sometimes as low as 7 per cent, of the known herds - coupled with the loss in number and of condition on the drive, has resulted in very low returns indeed to the cattle men. Often the cattle have brought less than £20 a head. In fact, we hear of prices much lower than that. But a change is taking place. The buoyant demand for beef in the world markets, including the boneless meat demand in the United States of America, has completely transformed the outlook of the Australian beef industry. More profitable returns are enabling the graziers to make many improvements which they could not make with their lower returns in the past. The home market, assisted by good export prices, has yielded a high return for 80 per cent, of the meat produced.
A year ago, America suddenly began to buy huge quantities of boneless meat at high prices. Fat cattle are not favoured by the hamburger beef market. The Argentine, which is historically the great meat producer of the world, because of foot and mouth disease has been denied the United States and West German markets and has been threatened with the loss of the United Kingdom market. The germ gets right inside the marrow of the bone and thus could spread throughout the country to which the meat is exported.
In the last financial year, Australia became one of the world’s premier meat exporters. Meat became Australia’s second-largest export income producer, yielding £110,000,000. If, as we are told, only 20 per cent, of Australia’s production of meat is exported, for which we receive £110,000,000 a year, the annual income value of the meat industry to Australia is £550,000,000. However, I believe that figure to be a very optimistic one, because Treasury returns show the value of pastoral production other than wool at less than £300,000,000. Every honorable member knows that meat sold on the home market is bringing a higher price than that exported. As I have said, if one-fifth of Australia’s annual production of meat has yielded £1 10,000,000, the total value of the meat industry is £550,000,000. Our income from wool last year was about £400,000,000. As from this year, the meat industry is Australia’s largest single industry. This is fortuitous because we are now considering the settlement of northern Australia.
When we look at Australia’s position as a premier world meat exporter, we see that from an estimated total of nearly 12,000,000 cattle. Australia exported £110,000,000 worth of meat, while the Argentine, with between 40,000,000 and 50,000,000 cattle, obtained £115,000,000 for ils export meat. It is obvious, therefore, that Australia is a very efficient meat producer. I do not say that we produce the best quality meat, but from a beef cattle population estimated at 12,000,000 we have gained export income of £110,000,000. T, personally, do not believe the beef cattle population of Australia is only 12,000,000. 1 believe we have at least double that number of cattle. From my experience of the industry, the cattle raisers do not muster all their cattle, and they are extremely conservative when preparing their statistical returns. I believe that Australia has a huge reservoir of cattle not yet mustered, which enables us to set a very high target indeed - one which would overcome the worry of our having to depend so much upon wool as our premier industry, particularly when the price of wool is easing a little. I should like to set a target to increase Australia’s export income from beef by 100 per cent, within five years. In order to meet the demand for meat in Australia, and to increase the value of our exports, the number of cattle would have to rise by 54 per cent, in ten years. The chairman of the Australian Meat Board, Mr. Shute, has said that that is impossible. He is a person of great authority and we listen to him. But these facts must be taken into consideration: The shrewd wool-grower is changing over to beef cattle; already this year the number of beef cattle is increasing by at least 2 per cent.; and a great number of cattle has not been mustered. All that is happening in phenomenally rich Queensland. Therefore, I say that, with continued good returns and a bit of luck with the weather, Australia could double its meat export income within five years.
Already a great deal has been done in the north. The Queensland Government has embarked upon a programme of strengthening the Mount Isa railway, which runs through the centre of that State. To assist in that project, the Commonwealth has granted Queensland a loan of £20,000,000. The completion of that work will greatly facilitate the movement of cattle. Already, the Commonwealth Government, over a period of ten years has spent £2,860,000 on roads in the Channel country. The Queensland Government is spending another £3,250,000 on feeder roads to the railway so that cattle can be brought to the meatworks on the Queensland seaboard.
The Northern Territory Administration has done a very sound and common-sense job. It has provided dipping and inoculating facilities at all the important points. Loading ramps and yards, as well as watering places, have been provided. On the north-south road there are operating road trains which can carry as many cattle as 85 Commonwealth rail wagons can transport. A road known as the beef road runs from Wyndham, through Fitzroy Crossing, to Derby and on to Broome, where scales are provided so that the graziers can sell their cattle by weight.
The Commonwealth and the South Australian Governments have developed a clean area, so that stores can be brought down into the south-east of South Australia and the west of Victoria, which now has the densest beef cattle population in Australia, comprising 1,650,000 cattle. Stores, after being bred on the ranges of the Northern Territory, are brought down into the fattening areas. The Western Australian Government has co-operated with the Commonwealth Government in the establishment of a new town on the Ord River. Houses have been built, and a pilot farm is being ploughed. The construction of the diversion dam on the Ord River is being proceeded with, and cash crops will be grown there so that the cattle can be topped off in dry periods when nutritious feed is in low supply.
Research has been carried out very thoroughly at the Kimberley Research Station, in the Northern Territory, and along the Queensland seaboard. The story of research in northern Australia is such that Australian veterinarians and agrostologists can now make a tremendous contribution to the welfare of the tropical areas of the world. The people who live in the tropics have never properly developed their areas, as can be seen in Java, Sumatra, India, South-East Asia and elsewhere. Work has been carried out at the Kimberley Research Station for eleven years. No area has ever been prospected, in an agricultural sense, to the extent that the Kimberley area has been experimented upon by the Kimberley Research Station.
Excellent work has also been done by the Northern Territory Administration, and also by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization in cooperation with the Department of Agriculture and Stock in Queensland. The famous centrosema, a Javanese legume, is bringing fertility to the wet tropics. Zebu cattle have been introduced. The honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Murray) has bred these cattle on his own property in the tropics. Extensive research programmes are being undertaken in the north of Queensland, preparing us for the vast expansion that I prophesy will soon occur.
Having dealt with what the Commonwealth and State Governments can do,
I turn now to the graziers themselves, the men who have battled through in these areas for years and years, and can now see their dreams coming true. These men have had to work in places where labour was scarce, and by humanitarian methods they have made good stockmen of aborigines. They have developed water supplies on their properties, and with the capital that they have now acquired because they have been able to get a decent return, they are undertaking programmes of improvement involving the laying of thousands of feet of pipes from new bores, putting up fences in areas that have never before been fenced, and providing bull paddocks so that the quality of their stock may be improved. They include men like the honorable member for Herbert, who introduced the zebu and the Brahmin, the heat-tolerant and tick-free strains, which will make such a difference to the quality of the beef produced in the northern areas.
The committee which I had the honour to lead in a visit to the northern areas in June last, and which was so well received there, saw Brahmin cattle 2i years old of 1,100 or 1,200 lb. live weight, alongside British strains weighing only 400 or 500 lb. We saw the almost incredible difference between the zebu and the bos indicus strains, on the one hand, and the British breeds, which are not tolerant to heat and are subject to the ravages of the tick, on the other.
We saw the work that is being done by the Clausen Shipping Company. The day before we arrived at Kurumba one of the company’s ships had travelled up the Norman River and loaded 300 head of cattle, which were to be fed and watered on their four-day trip to Cairns. We were told that the value of cattle had doubled because they could now be transported in this way and brought to market in a fat condition, while throughout the preceding century cattle had to be walked hundreds of miles to market, some of them dying on the stony ridges and the others arriving in very poor condition. Transport facilities, of course, make all the difference in the world. The Clausen Shipping Company can send its vessels up the rivers and load the cattle at the stations themselves. This company, which is working in co-operation with the Amagraze organization, is receiving sufficient support to enable it to obtain more vessels, and when these are in operation the situation in the north will be completely transformed.
– Who finances that company?
– As far as I know, the finance is provided by the company itself. Private enterprise is doing the job.
– The Commonwealth Bank is financing it.
– Well, if a bank is finding the money, the bank will get its money back. It is not a contribution by the taxpayer.
– It is a public company. Its shares are sold on the stock exchange.
– I thank the Minister for that information. Another transport facility that is making a big difference to the situation is the road train.
There is a wonderful opportunity for young men who care to accept the challenge and go into the wet tropics, between Cairns and Townsville, where there is some beautiful country with an extremely high rainfall. There is an area of 500,000 acres waiting to be developed. A living area comprises about 1,000 acres. It costs about £15 an acre to crash the scrub and sow the pastures, and it is then necessary to wait only a few months until the para grass, the guinea grass, the molasses grass, and the centrosema get going, and then one bullock for every two acres can be grazed for four months. Finally a fattening project can be undertaken, bringing a return of £15 a head. With a carrying capacity of one and a half head to the acre, this will give an income of between £10,000 and £20,000 for one man.
There is excitement in that area. The place is completely changing because of these possibilities. An area of 500,000 acres is available, which would give us 500 farms, producing an enormous number of fat cattle, keeping up supplies to the meatworks in north Queensland. Further south, in the spear grass country around Rockhampton, almost magical results have been obtained by the use of Townsville lucerne. This is a rather scrubby-looking legume, of not very attractive appearance. The Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) would know it, because it is grown at the Katherine Research Station. It has the wonderful property of being able to take nitrogen from the atmosphere, where it is wasted, and enrich the soil with it. The research conducted by the C.S.I.R.O. at Wide Bay has shown that with the use of this legume the carrying capacity of the spear grass country can be increased eight times. There are now 3,250,000 cattle in that kind of country, so this number can be increased to 26,000,000. One section of the Commonwealth alone, central and southern Queensland, will be able to produce as many cattle as are produced in the whole of Australia to-day.
The demand for meat will shore up all our industries. There is no cause for pessimism in considering the meat industry. The wool industry can always turn to fat lamb raising and beef cattle raising. In the dairying industry in the south young cattle can be mated with Black Poll, Hereford and other beef breeds in order to provide an additional source ‘of income. The demand for meat is assisting us in many ways. The ordinary working man living in or near a country town can fatten a vealer, or perhaps two vealers, or even up to ten of them, and thus provide a little additional income for himself.
Australia now stands ready to accept the challenge issued to it by the world demand for meat. The Argentine is out of the picture, perhaps because of bad luck or perhaps because of bad veterinary practice or the old philosophy of manana - leave it till to-morrow. The Argentine now cannot go into the Unit=; States market or the West German market, and it is threatened with the loss of the British market.
– Because the industry in the Argentine is afflicted by foot and mouth disease, which is most serious. We have been given an excellent opportunity to expand our meat industry. We have the assistance of our brilliant veterinarians and agrostologists, who have been doing research work and preparing us for the job that is ahead. We have many hardheaded graziers, who, contrary to the stories we have heard, have not slaughtered their breeders. They may have cleaned up a few culls and a few of the leaner cattle for the hamburger market, but they have held on to their breeders. One of the reasons why there is a slight temporary shortage at the moment is that graziers are hanging on to their breeders and building up their herds, which have already increased by 200,000 or 300,000 this year. This work will cost a great deal of money. Every honorable member knows that the financial relations between the Commonwealth and the States are bound into our financial structure. The States which do not have such great resources as others would find it difficult to finance propositions such as those that I have mentioned. But there is no need to go into the question of the financial relations between the Commonwealth and the States, because already the Commonwealth and the States have, as 1 have stated, strained themselves to do a tremendous amount. Certain financial institutions abroad supply funds for development such as this. There are the International Bank and other international financial corporations which assist private enterprise. Then there is the flow of money into this country from private investors.
May we remind ourselves that unfortunately in Queensland, because the land is owned by the Government, it is a little more difficult to attract private capital from overseas than it is in other States. In Queensland the Government owns 93 per cent, of the land. I hope that wise counsels will prevail in Queensland and that some State land will be made available to the outside investors who want to come in and assist to develop Australia. We know a man with millions of pounds who will come in and take up part of the land in the wet tropics and part of the breeding areas so that they can make their contribution to the development of the beef industry. Let us remember that Queensland has passed through 45 years of socialism, and it is pretty hard to change when the lotus has been tasted for so long.
The financing of this great job will, of course, be a matter for the Development Bank. This is a sound banking proposition because, as my friend the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Bandidt) said this morning, men who were making ten shillings a head out of their animals previously are to-day making £5 a head out of them. It is a sound proposition to lend money to those people because it will be repaid. This industry is buoyant.
It is a great honour for me to come to the Parliament and report this situation so that, in the best traditions of this institution, we can give the most powerful moral support to this movement which will not only bring wealth to Australia at a time when it is needed, but also develop our great northern area.
Sitting suspended from 5.58 to 8 p.m.
.- Mr. Temporary Chairman, as the new representative in this House of the Bendigo seat, I take this opportunity to pay a final tribute to my predecessor. The late P. J. Clarey gave service to friend and foe alike and in the Bendigo electorate, he commanded not only the love of his followers, but also the respect of his opponents. I feel that I can inform the people of Bendigo that similar circumstances applied in this House, and consequently, I follow in his footsteps with a deep sense of humility.
As I believe it, Sir, a budget brought down by a national government is essentially a review of the national economy, containing the Government’s measures to combat the shortcomings and ills apparent since the previous budget. It is, too, the Government’s shop window for plans for future development. It has become the custom over the years to brand a budget with a name descriptive of its contents. We have had a barren budget, a horror budget and a little horror budget - descriptive names indeed - but the 1960 edition has defied the scribes. May I suggest that they label it the hollow budget, for it is empty of any attraction to the ordinary Australian. It will be well known for its failure even to acknowledge the vital issues affecting millions of Australians and their families, the little people of the land, the wage-earners, the small farmers, the mothers, the pensioners and the people on fixed incomes and superannuation. We could well say that never have so many hoped for so much and received so little.
In addition to urgently needed increase? in social services the nation looked for a lead in promoting primary industry, ;.n rejuvenating our educational systems, in developing a national scheme of decentralization and in a real, and not halthearted, approach to the problem of rising costs. Recently the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) stated that if Australia is to maintain its present living standards an additional £250,000,000 annually in export earnings must be developed over the next five years. How can we obtain that figure? It is obvious that a drive for secondary export trade can provide only a fraction of the desired target. Then we fall back on primary industry, with the picture far from bright.
The Government’s failure to contain the inflationary spiral of rising costs has rocketed cost-of-production figures for all primary products to their highest level in history, while the weakening wool market -our main hope for export earnings - has dropped to the lowest level in twelve years. Clearly, positive and vigorous action is necessary to boost our primary industries and to lift our farmers back to a position where their incomes may be restored to a reasonable level. In the last four years, farm production has risen 1 1 per cent, while in the same period farm incomes have fallen by 1 1 per cent.
To me, Sir, a three-pronged approach to the problem is needed. There must be a further increase in production, an endeavour to advance wool prices from their present low level, and a determined bid to lower international freight rates. The Government’s bank credit squeeze must surely have an adverse effect on production. Overdrafts will tighten, with plant and operating expenses being cramped to less than in previous years. There will be no chance of further land development and increased production as is desired.
Despite continued suggestions for a changed wool-marketing system by members from this side of the chamber, the Government has displayed no interest in the proposals. But there has been evidence of an awakening by some Country Party members in recent weeks, no doubt because they have begun to realize that the people they are supposed to represent are experiencing vastly changed circumstances from the boom conditions of a few years ago. Increasing support for a reserve wool floorprice auctioning plan is evident from wool growers’ organizations throughout the land. I quote from the Melbourne “ Sun “ of last week in which Mr. A. C. Everett, an executive of the Wheat and Wool Growers’ Association, is reported to have said -
A reserve floor-price wool-auctioning plan could yield Australia another £150,000,000 a year for its clip within ten years.
The newspaper article continued -
He said that he felt that, if a referendum of wool-growers were held, growers would agree, by an overwhelming majority, to the plan. The present wool-auctioning system was “ as obsolete as the horse and buggy “.
Sir Herbert Hyland, the Country Party leader in the Victorian Legislative Assembly, has urged that the plan be favorably considered. It may well be that a plan of this nature could be the salvation of the wool industry, just as the wheat stabilization scheme and the dairy industry price guarantee system, introduced by Labour governments, proved the salvation of those two industries. Surely the Government sees the writing on the wall, or is it blind to facts it does not want to see, as in the case of the operation of wool pies - the combines of wool buyers that have been cheating the farmer of his rightful reward for his labours? Such a reserve plan as has been suggested would establish a floor price for wool; unhealthy speculation would cease and the operations of wool pies could be nullified.
In the matter of shipping freights, the Government should examine the possibility of throwing the national shipping line into competition with the overseas lines which have combined to hold Australian exporters to ransom. Energy and vigour are urgently needed to lift our export income, but if there is any energy or vigour in the Budget, it is concealed beyond the vision of the people and press of this nation.
A disturbing feature of Australia’s growth in the post-war years has been the abnormal concentration of development in the metropolitan areas. Industry and population have flocked to the cities, overwhelming the public utilities, outstripping transport facilities, roads, water supply, footpaths and sewerage, and leaving public authorities with a back-log of works which will take a decade to overtake. Land values in the cities of Sydney and Melbourne have rocketed to unbelievable proportions. More than 75 per cent, of the migrants have flocked to the cities while the youth of country districts is forced to follow the trend of movement to the city.
One might expect that a national government would be vitally interested in balanced growth, in the sharing of development by country communities, and in the cessation of continued overcrowding of the principal capital cities from both a defence and an economic stand-point. But this Government, when faced with situations requiring courage and foresight, is content to bury its head in the sand. Surely this land of ours is the only industrialized country in the world without a positive plan of national decentralized development. The Government apparently has never heard of decentralization. Perhaps that is why it shelved the Commonwealth-State agreement reached in the time of the great Chifley Labour Government. That government formulated a national policy for decentralization of secondary industry, the Commonwealth undertaking to collaborate, to advise, and to provide financial assistance to the States, if necessary, to achieve the objective.
The Chifley Labour Government had foreseen the problems to come and had planned to meet them. Indeed, not only did it plan, but it acted. I quote just one example. The only self-contained domestic electrical appliance factory in the southern hemisphere is that of Email Limited at Orange, New South Wales. In April, 1946, at the invitation of the Federal Labour Government, the company commenced operations, and the company and the Labour Party can be proud of one of the finest examples of modern, decentralized industry. There were countless other industries, Mr. Temporary Chairman, which blossomed forth under Labour’s benevolent eye, only to wither and die away in the last decade.
My electorate of Bendigo is desperately in need of industry. We look to the Government to assist in attracting industries to our country communities. We want a bold and imaginative programme of decentralization to assist in arresting the drift of our population - the young and the old - to the cities. I ask this Government to consider, as a practical gesture and as a lead to others, the allocation of a greater percentage of its defence orders to country ordnance factories. For instance, the trans fer of work to Bendigo from Maribyrnong might mean a reduction of staff in the Maribyrnong factory, bin employment for tradesmen is readily available in the immediate area, and it would mean no disruption of homes or family life. Employment prospects in Bendigo are non-existent and further retrenchments at the Bendigo factory will mean upsetting homes, the separation of families and the loss of good, solid citizens from our community by way of further drift to the cities. Despite election statements and reassurances that the Government will maintain the status quo of the Bendigo ordnance factory, the employees are apprehensive of their future. Why should that be? This factory contains machines and equipment second to none in this country, and its capabilities are enormous. In this Government’s so-called age of prosperity, why should it be idle?
In addition to the transfer of defence orders from the cities, I ask that a more vigorous approach be made to the securing of private work in order that the machines and the skilled workmen be maintained in employment. Country people view with alarm the drift to the cities, a drift which is gaining in momentum as this country’s development continues in a lop-sided fashion. Action to check this drift is vital to all country communities, yet the word “ decentralization “ fails to appear in the Budget of the National Government, nor has it appeared in the ten other Liberal Budgets.
I commend the Government for its interest in education at the university standard and the financial assistance provided in the Budget for higher educational institutions; but again the Government has touched only on the fringe of a problem which is threatening the very foundation of this country. Not only our children’s welfare, but the future of the nation depends upon our educational system. I believe, and Labour believes, that education is a matter of national concern, that the children of to-day are being cheated of their fundamental right to a full and proper education. Throughout the nation, chaos reigns in the various State educational systems. Classes are overcrowded, there is a critical shortage of equipment, and there is a desperate shortage of teachers. All this forms a pattern which deprives almost every Australian child of his true right.
A typical situation is to be found in the Bendigo electorate. At Castlemaine, one class of 37 primary school children is taught in a church hall, one class of 30 is taught in a staff room and the assembly hall accommodates a class of 28. Another class numbers 54 children and desks are so close that the teacher cannot move among the pupils. Some of the children cannot see the blackboard At the Castlemaine High School, the leaving certificate and matriculation classes are taught in the girls’ locker room while all other classes are crammed within 4 feet of the blackboard. At Heathcote, the century old primary school has been condemned by the health authorities, and there is no prospect of any replacement or improvement. At North Bendigo the school is shockingly overcrowded with classes being taught in draughty corridors. The Bendigo Technical School has classes of up to 56 in number, it is short of staff, and an estimated £20,000 is required to bring the equipment up to the desired standard. A teacher-student ratio of one to twenty is regarded as the ideal in secondary education, but at the Golden Square High School, one class numbers 63. These are but a few facts taken at random, but all reflect the general picture - a picture of national shame which this Government chooses to ignore.
These ills exist because of one underlying cause - lack of finance. Despite repeated requests from the Opposition, allied with urgent pleadings from teachers’ organizations and parents’ and citizens’ .organizations, the Commonwealth Government has consistently refused to recognize its responsibility. The education of our children is a matter of national concern. The Labour Party believes that, and so, too, must many honorable members on the Government benches. Indeed, if we look back a few years, we find that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) held the same view. To support that assertion, I refer to volume 184 of “ Hansard “ for the year 1945. At page 4612, the right honorable gentleman, then Leader of the Opposition, is reported as having submitted a motion relating to education, part of which reads -
How, then, can the Prime Minister justify his refusal of aid to the States, or even an inquiry into the needs of primary, secondary and technical education in this country when, because of greatly increased school age population and vastly increased costs, the need is greater than ever? Again the pleadings of the vitally interested parents’ and teachers’ organizations have fallen on deaf ears. In July of this year, the Prime Minister forwarded to the State Premiers a document containing a barren message and refusing even an inquiry. Amongst other things, the message stated -
Education is the constitutional responsibility of the States.
And this, despite the precedent already set in providing aid for university education, despite the Prime Minister’s recorded words of 1945, and despite the interest and activities shown by the Commonwealth Government in other avenues which are constitutionally State affairs! Clearly, as in other vital matters, the Government chooses to hide behind the Constitution rather than to recognize and to face up to a problem which, if unsolved, will, in this age of science and technology, leave us behind in the international sphere, and, despite herculean efforts by our teachers, bequeath a heritage of missed opportunity to our citizens of to-morrow.
A glance at the position in Canberra reveals that the children of this city are enjoying standards unequalled throughout the land. Superbly appointed buildings, adequate equipment and a low teacherstudent ratio are all signs of adequate finance. I have no quarrel with that, but I do say that all Australian children should be offered similar opportunities.
Even sections of the press favorably disposed to the Government recognized the urgent needs of the pensioners and the necessity for some taxation relief for the family man in the lower income brackets. Both were obvious to all but the Government. The Government talks glibly of what a pensioner may earn - £3 10s. a week in addition to the pension - glossing over the fact that the pensioners comprise the aged, the invalids, the infirm and the widows, many of whom have children. These people, who in the vast majority of cases cannot earn a penny to augment their miserable pension, are sentenced to a struggle for survival on the princely sum of £5 a week! I ask honorable members on the Government side: Could you live on £5 a week? Could you feed, clothe and house yourselves on £5 a week? For tens of thousands of pensioners it is not living but existing, and the miserable Ss. increase is a poor share of the prosperity which the Government claims we are enjoying.
The Government has budgeted for a surplus of £15,000,000, thus indicating that an additional 7s. 6d. a week could be given to pensioners without incurring a deficit. Indeed, if the pattern of other years continues, the surplus will be far greater. Does the Government imagine that an additional 7s. 6d. a week in the hands of the pensioners would add to inflationary pressures, that it would be spent on nonessentials, that it would be spent on luxury consumer goods? If food and clothing are luxuries, then the Government would be right, but it stands condemned as a government which has little regard for the fate of our under-privileged people.
Income tax and sales tax increases operate immediately, but we are told that the pension rises cannot be made retrospective to the dates at which the increases in these taxes begin to apply. The new, merged means test is a welcome departure from the old principle, but the recipients will have plenty of time - seven whole months - in which to calculate their new pensions. Surely, if taxes and public service salaries can be increased retrospectively, the sorely needed pension rise can be dealt with in the same manner.
Ensnared in the web of an inflationary spiral, wage and salary earners have borne the brunt of anti-inflationary measures down the years. Rapidly rising prices have rocketed away from pegged wage levels, and have placed a staggering burden on the family man. Strained to the limit, he could reasonably have expected some relief in the form of reduced taxation. Instead, there was a 5 per cent, increase. Already, this Government’s policy of loading the family man with hidden indirect taxation, in far greater proportions than did any previous government, has made the problem of balancing the family budget almost impossible. The cost of meat, butter, eggs, clothing, fares and every home need has rocketed to impossible levels, and now comes an added burden of additional taxation. Recently, our Prime Minister was feted in New York as being the only world leader who had achieved a reduction, in maximum taxation from 92 per cent, to 68 per cent, in the top income bracket. So the pattern is clear. There are to be heavier burdens for the low income groups, and lighter loads for the wealthy.
The word “ inflation “ has been bandied about for a decade or more. This Government has used two anti-inflationary measures unsuccessfully. They have been on-and-off bank credit restrictions, and wage pegging. The pegging of the federal basic wage in Victoria in 1953 was followed by similar State action in Victoria in 1956. To-day, the basic wage paid in Victoria is £13 15s. a week, against the actual cost of living figure of £15 2s., so that the workersof Victoria are £1 7s. a week behind the statistician’s basic wage. Under a Labour government in New South Wales, wages were not frozen, and we find that the basic wage being paid and the statistician’s figure are both £14 8s. a week, or 14s. below the cost of living figure in Victoria. That surely must prove that wages are not the principal cause of inflation. In short, in a State in which wages are pegged, the cost of living figures indicate an amount of £15 2s., while in a Labour State, with wages free to rise or fall, the figure is £14 8s. We must look elsewhere, then, for inflationary causes.
A look at the financial pages of any daily newspaper will tell the story of the tremendous earning power of Australian industry, and I quote the earning rates or dividends of companies in a greatly diversified field. We see that the earning rate of Quarry Industries Limited is 25. 6» per cent.; that of Clarke Brothers Holdings Limited, 28.3 per cent.; the Rothman cigarette manufacturing company, 55 per cent.; International Resistance Holdings Limited, 30.2 per cent.; Carpet Manufacturers Limited, 27.7 per cent. Every oneknows about the earning rate of General Motors-Holden’s Limited, of more than 800 per cent., but let us have a look at the
Holden distributors in several States. In Melbourne, Southern Motors Proprietary Limited has an earning rate of 59.7 per cent. In Sydney, W. T. Coggins Proprietary Limited has an earning rate of 49.1 per cent.; and in Adelaide, the Freeman company has an earning rate of 67.8 per cent. Those are but a few of many.
I acknowledge that for industry to function, shareholders must receive a fair return for their investment, but are these profit rates fair in the light of the pegging of the workers’ wages by the Commonwealth Arbitration Commission, at the request of the Government? All fair-minded Australians will say “ No “. But these sky-high profit margins have been accompanied by equally enormous capital gains, free of any taxation restraint arid clearly reflecting the Menzies Government’s laisser-faire attitude to one section of the people, while instituting rigid controls over the earning power of the little people of the land.
While the Government has subjected the nation’s banking system to yet another credit squeeze, and has applied a straitjacket of controlled interest rates, it has made no move to restrict the interest rates charged, or paid, by hire-purchase and other financial institutions. There was a time when this country’s banking system supplied more than 50 per cent, of the credit made available, but the present-day proportion is nearer 20 per cent. The remaining 80 per cent, is contributed by hire-purchase and finance companies at exorbitant interest rates and free of any government control. Consequently, the credit squeeze affects only one-fifth of the country’s credit, with farmers, home-builders and businessmen unable to obtain financial accommodation through the banking system and forced to turn to the get-rich-quick moneylenders. Such failure to control the principal source of credit for consumer use is indicative of half measures, of unwillingness to face up to the realities of the situation, and again, of unwillingness to offend a section of the community which can well look after itself. Any successful attack on inflation must include a curbing of hire-purchase interest rates, either by legislation or by means of lower interest competition from the people’s Commonwealth Bank.
The interests of Australian business and industry are best served by a spread of holdings over a big range of small stock holders, instead of the holdings being gathered in the hands of monopolistic control. I believe that this Government is aware of the dangers apparent in the modern tactic of takeovers in the business and industrial world. Despite this, the Menzies Government’s brand of private enterprise is. rapidly building a system of capitalistic monopoly, to the exclusion of the little man. It is the law of the deep, with the big fish swallowing the small. The nation is being held to ransom. Let me quote from the “ Country Party Voice “, a column in the Melbourne “ Herald “ of 29th June last, written by an Australian Country Party spokesman. The following statement appeared: -
If the easy-money rush is to be diverted before financial collapse leaves the cream in just a few clever hands and the remainder penniless, some other more stable-type speculation should be offered to the enterprising community.
So, the Country Party is aware of the dangers, although its members support a system which, in the words of the party spokesman, threatens financial collapse. All these ills of the financial and business world - the bloated profits, the enormous tax-free capital gains, the unchecked interest rates, and the rapid development of monopolistic control - add up to profit inflation.
In 1951, the Treasurer of the time spoke of instituting an excess profits tax, while in the same year, the Prime Minister spoke airily of a capital gains tax. But words were not deeds. The solution is readily at the hands of the Government but is ignored because it is a solution that will disprove its private enterprise policy, a policy which, ten years ago, was lauded as the great hope for putting value back into the £1. The failure of the Government in this respect is now apparent to all. The Government is proud of its record. It claims to be a business-like government, so perhaps we can apply a business term to it and label it a profit and loss government - a guardian of huge company profits and a dead loss to the rest of the community.
Our country is destined to become a great nation, but greatness is not determined only by wealth or power, or by the number of refrigerators, motor cars or washing machines owned by, or on hire to, our people. Real greatness is measured by the degree of freedom, security and general well-being enjoyed by the great mass of the people. There can be no greatness under a Liberal government, for security and well-being are denied to so many while, as budget follows budget, the fortunate few are benevolently given the green light to grasp greater fortunes.
.- The honorable gentleman from Bendigo (Mr. Beaton) has just delivered his maiden speech in this place and has covered a very wide range of subjects. Most of them, as honorable gentlemen know, will be covered in detail either during the course of the Estimates debate or in the debates that take place when particular bills, such as the social service bills, are brought before the Parliament for discussion. The honorable member used a great number of cliches relating to the Government. I do not intend to comment upon those cliches, as I think that on his maiden effort he should be left alone. There are one or two subjects which I think I ought to speak about. I think I should indicate that they have been thought of before and have received attention, not only by the Government, but, in particular, by the primary producer.
The honorable gentleman mentioned a floor-price scheme for wool. He should now be told that a few years ago the then Minister for Customs put before the Australian wool-growers a plan for a floor-price scheme. That plan was rejected by an overwhelming number of Australian woolgrowers. I happened to be the Minister for Primary Industry for three very hectic years and I think that I know a little about the prospects of success of a wool stabilization scheme. I am not against such a scheme if it could be devised and if it could be made efficient. What makes such a scheme well-nigh impracticable is that there are possibly 800 different types of wool, and the money simply is not in the wool industry to promote a scheme which would be effective. I have come to the conclusion that it would be difficult to get the wool-growers to agree to such a scheme.
The honorable member also mentioned education, on which subject I also hope to touch during my remarks. I am sorry that I cannot touch all the subjects the honorable gentleman has mentioned. We shall hear of them during the course of the debate on the Estimates. I am certain that he will not have very much of his argument left when the debate is concluded.
For my own part, I have listened with careful attention to very nearly every contribution that has been made by the Opposition. I think it should be stressed that there are three ways in which one can look at a budget. You can look at it as being related to the running of a great business. The Government undoubtedly includes commercial enterprises, such as the PostmasterGeneral’s Department. The present Budget provides for a surplus so that we shall be in a sound financial position which will give us a degree of flexibility to meet any financial change that might occur during the current year. Secondly, we can well look at a budget as an instrument of social change - as a means of transferring purchasing power, or income, from one section of the community to another. That is illustrated where taxation is imposed upon one section of the people in order to give benefits to another section. This Budget not only increases pensions, but it introduces the merged means test, which is a reform of great significance to the Australian people.
Thirdly, you can look at a budget as an instrument for economic control. My friend from Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) claims that this Budget does nothing as an instrument of economic control. I hope to prove, during the course of my remarks, that the major task that faced the Government, and the major responsibility that it accepted, was to use the Budget mechanism in order to control those forces that might interfere with our development in the future. So far from refusing to use it as a method of economic control, the primary objective of the Budget was to ensure that it did control the controllable influences of the economy in the interests of the future.
There is one other way in which the Budget can be looked at. Some honorable members have used this debate to express their personal views or to hare off on particular influences which might appeal to them. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) has used this opportunity to hare off in the direction of constitutional reform. He has not bothered very much about whether or not the proposals that we have put before the committee are for the benefit of the community.
Having said that, I want to repeat that you can look at the Budget in three or more ways, and that in this Budget each of the three ways has been kept in mind. We have dealt with our problems by a combination of the three methods, and I believe that we have introduced, technically speaking, a perfect Budget.
I have also listened with great interest to what members of the Opposition have said for another reason. I believe it is the responsibility of members of Parliament to reflect the opinions of their constituents. I listened with great care to what those who lead the Opposition said. Not one of them has mentioned the great social issues that were debated in this chamber when I first came here. Did you hear the Leader of the Opposition mention full employment? Did you hear him mention housing? Did you hear him mention the problem of pensions? Of course, you did not! He hared off in the direction of constitutional reform. If you believe, as I do, that members of the Opposition should have the confidence of their electors, what conclusion do you come to? That no one in their constituencies confides in them. I say that because they have not touched the great social issues. Instead, they have dealt with consitutional reform. I understand that, outside the chamber, they have suggested an increase of ls. 9d. in the £1 in company tax, but they have been cautious enough not to mention it here.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) has not denied that up to £104,000,000 of our national income should be provided for the development of underdeveloped countries.
Then the Opposition came to the problem of education, with which I hope to deal in more detail towards the latter end of my speech. So we do not hear Opposition members speaking on any of the great social issues of other years. We do not hear them speaking on things which might touch the needs and aspirations of the Australian people. Instead, each of them has spoken according to his own particular tune and made no contribution to the problems of the economic and financial development of the country.
I think it might be wise if I considered this Budget against the background of what has happened. I do not want to go too deeply into the relevant figures. I do feel that some figures should be impressed upon the minds of honorable members. When I have mentioned them, I think that some conclusions, of necessity, will have to be drawn.
Before I deal with those figures, I want to mention what has been said about the preceding Budget and this Budget by the Leader of the Opposition and by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean), who is one of the few people who knows what he is talking about when the Budget is under discussion. Last year, the Leader of the Opposition said that this was a prosperous country. The echo came - and so say all of us! This year, the honorable member for Melbourne Ports went a stage further, and denied what had previously been said by the Leader of the Opposition to the effect that a depression was just around the corner. He said that we do not deny that prosperity exists and that it extends over a wider area than ever before. In other words, as a logical, calm, sensible person he expressed his opinion of the performance of the Menzies Government. Again I think the response is, “ And so say all of us “. This Government has been successful, and it will remain so for many years to come.
I said I would not mention many figures. I shall mention some, because I think they show the extent of our development and what has been achieved. Last year, according to the White Paper that has been presented to the House by the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), our gross national product increased by 8 per cent. If that were to happen in Russia it would be hailed as a tremendous achievement; here it is let go without anyone becoming excited. Wages and salaries rose by 9 per cent., the amount of money spent on consumption rose by 9 per cent., the amount of money spent on education rose by 10 per cent., and the amount spent on public works programmes rose by 10 per cent. They aire performances of a kind of which I believe any country ought to be proud1. Certainly we on this side of the chamber are proud of them.
To complete the picture, I should add that, according to what is called the consumer prices index, the prices of a limited range of commodities rose by about 3.7 per cent. That increase was too big, but if you look at the other figures you come to these conclusions: First, that development was substantial; secondly, that the wage and salary earners more than held their own in terms of the percentage increase of production; and finally - I want to emphasize this point - that it is in the manifest interests of the wage or salary earner that he permanently keep the Menzies Government in office. That last point ought to be emphasized. On all the figures that are available to us there is good reason for the wage or salary earner whom I represent to keep the Menzies Government in office.
I do not want to create the impression that everything in the garden is rosy and that we have not problems in front of us. Of course we have problems. Perfection cannot be achieved, and we have never claimed that it can be. This year problems emerged which, if not controlled fairly quickly, could cause real difficulties in the future. Those problems arose in two ways. I am sure the committee will forgive me for dividing this part of my speech into two sections - one relating to the condition of the economy internally and the other relating to our international trade and1 our international financial relations. At home, whilst our production record was exceptionally good; we did suffer from what might be called’ exuberance. In every sector of industry and commerce we tried to do too much,, with the result that demand became greater than the available supply of goods and services, wages and salaries rose at a rate which was greater than that of national production, and costs rose. The problem of inflation emerged.
On the international front, as my colleague, the Treasurer, pointed out to honorable members yesterday, there was a substantial fall over a period of seven years of the prices that the primary producer received for what he produced and sold overseas. The figures show that since 1953 the returns for our primary commodities have’ fallen by approximately 30 per cent., but that the prices we in Australia have had to pay for the things we import have increased by approximately 10 per cent. We found, therefore, that’ besides this domestic problem of exuberance and of demand exceeding supply, with the consequent pushing up of wages, salaries and other costs, we were confronted with the problem, in relation to our international balance of payments, that we were not earning enough overseas. We were not paying our way. Consequently, the Government was compelled to take action to bring those forces that we could influence under control. Here to-night I admit that everything in the garden is not rosy. On the contrary, we know we have problems, and we have resolutely attempted to solve those problems, particularly by way of budgetary action.
Before I touch upon constitutional reform, education and one or two other matters, may I mention what I regard to be the two most important problems with which we are faced? May I try to put the problems of our balance of payments and of price rises into perspective? I think that ought to be done. We started from the healthy position that at the beginning of this year we had approximately £500,000,000 in our first line of reserves, and a sum of the order of £200,000,000 in our second line of reserves. That, I repeat, was a healthy state of affairs. No nation keeps £700,000,000 in reserve just for the sake of keeping it there, with no useful purpose to serve. A nation keeps money in reserve in case it is needed in times of temporary difficulty. In the conditions in which we find ourselves, the Government is prepared to let its London funds run down. It believes that the problem now before us could be temporary, and that it is in Australia’s best interests to allow our overseas reserves to run down rather than to take internal action which could severely affect production and employment.
Having said that, I next pose this question: What really is the nature of the problem? I think it can be summed up by saying that last year, on what is called our current account, we had a deficiency of about £243,000,000. That indicates the extent to which we have to increase exports, decrease imports, or keep international capital coming into Australia.
What have we done? We cannot influence overseas prices; they are beyond our control. But in two separate sets ot actions the Government has taken steps which I personally believe will help our balance of payments problem. I .am certain that by this time next year we will see a quite different picture from that which we saw emerging at the beginning of this year.
The committee knows the actions that were taken by the Government, but I shall briefly refer to them. First, there was the intervention in the basic wage case, primarily because wages and salaries rose last year by £165,000,000 and we thought it Was desirable that an opportunity should be given to the community to absorb those increases without causing undue inflation. Secondly, the Reserve Bank tightened up the supply of money. The provision was made in the Budget for the imposition of extra taxation on companies and on private incomes. I repeat, Mr. Temporary Chairman, that I believe those two sets of actions are sufficient at present to control those forces which affect imports, and that we can expect to see a more healthy state of affairs next year than we saw at the beginning of this year. Now, Sir, this is an interesting point. If the Opposition had been on the Government benches, what would it have done It would have done at least two things, and I think they ought to be mentioned. The other night, in a television interview in Sydney, in which I happened to be one of the participants, as did the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam), the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) stated that it was an article of faith with the Labour Party that international capital movements should not be permitted to Australia and that he thought it would be desirable to impose additional company taxation of ls. 9d. in the £1. These were just some of the statements that were made.
Let me look at them. If we imposed additional company taxation at the rate of ls. 9d. in the £1, we would undoubtedly drive up prices and costs here. If we did not permit international capital movements - and there has been none over the last ten years - we would have no money at all in reserves in London, and we would not be in the sound position we are to-day. I venture to say that without private capital movement and public capital movement we would have gone back to the hillbilly stage and that the development of this country would have been not so much retarded as stopped in its tracks. There we have the Opposition’s policy. I repeat this is an example of using the Budget as an economic means of controlling those forces that could cause us grave difficulties in the future.
The second point with which I wish to deal relates to the problem of inflation. I want to put the problem of inflation in perspective. I believe that the Labour Party has dramatized the problem to too great an extent, and that could give rise to additional problems and to a lack of confidence in the stability of our currency. First of all, let us look at the actual figures of inflation. According to the recent consumer index, there has been over the course of the last seven years an increase in consumer prices of the order of 21 per cent., or an average of 3 per cent, per annum. These consumer indexes always exaggerate the actual position, and 1 think it would not be unfair to say that if 1 per cent, is the figure, that could be regarded as realistic. That must make arrant nonsense of the argument of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition that since this Government has been in office there has been inflation of the order of 98 per cent. I think that this dramatization of the growth of inflation should be corrected immediately.
Then we have the question of international comparisons. The honorable gentleman said that while our prices have increased by something like 98 per cent., in a comparable period the increase in the United Kingdom had been 50 per cent., and in the United States of America of the order of 18 per cent. That, I say, is arrant nonsense. This is, without doubt, one of the cheapest countries in the world to live in. If any honorable member does not like it here - there are many members of the Opposition about whose loyalty I have doubts - let him go somewhere else and see whether he can live there satisfactorily. I recently had the good fortune to go to the United States. You need the most modern and up-to-date computing machines to cope with the changes there in prices and in the cost of the things you buy. The ordinary person has to shop about to find drug stores where he can buy his breakfast or dinner at a fair price. I mention that to put the matter in perspective. We thought that a rise of 3.7 per cent. last year was too great an increase in the inflationary pressure. We also think that the measures we have used will bring it under control. I give the House the assurance that we will find this time next year a radically different position from that which we find to-day.
Again I ask: What does the Opposition propose? How would it get over the problems? I have said that the Leader of the Opposition suggested that he would increase company taxation by1s. 9d. in the £1. He stated also that the Labour Party is against high or moderate interest rates and that it believes that the interest rate of 5 per cent. should be consistently reduced. If that were done very few people would want to save. The real inducement to save is what you get from your savings. If there were a consistent reduction of interest rates, I venture to suggest that we would not get the savings and we would not get the money we need to put into Commonwealth bonds for the financing of our public works. If there was an alternative to the Government’s policy, where would we find it? We would not find it in an increase by 1s. 9d. in the £1 of company tax. We would not find it in a reduction of interest rates, because that would lead inevitably to an increase in inflationary pressures and would take us back to where the Labour Party was in the 1930’s and to where Mr. Chifley was during 1949, when inflation was running at the rate of 9 per cent. per annum.
Before concluding, let me refer to education. I touch on education because the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has a thing about education. I mention these facts: First of all, education is a State responsibility, and secondly, this year the education vote of all the States increased by10 per cent., although our national product increased by only 8 per cent. In other words, education has taken a larger than proportionate increase of our national product. We believe in education. The Government has shown its goodwill and intentions by what it has done with regard to university education. So far as secondary and tertiary education are concerned, may I say this: The Public Service Board of New South Wales - the State to which the Deputy Leader of the Opposition allegedly belongs - has prepared a report on education, which is shortly to be published. The report states, firstly, that the wages and salaries of New South Wales teachers are better than those in any other part of the Commonwealth, and secondly, that the board thinks that the education system in that State is efficient and that the numbers of students attending classes are not, generally speaking, over-large. The board expresses its great pride in the education system of my own native State. In Victoria, the position is much the same, and Mr. Bolte claims that he has never refused any effective increase in the vote for education in that State. We find the Deputy Leader of the Opposition criticizing the Labour Government of his own State, trying to prove that it is an inefficient government and that it is not giving due weight to education. I have said that we believe in education. We have agreed to the States having an extra £40,000,000 this year. The country is over-fully employed at the present time, and it is doubtful whether a very substantial increase in funds could be effectively spent by the State Governments this financial year.
I sum up in this way: The whole of our Budget discussions was directed towards using the Budget as a method of controlling the economic climate, and we believe that we can keep that climate healthy. We know that we have problems, but we are confident that the honorable member for Melbourne Ports was right when he said that this is a prosperous country and its prosperity is more widely spread than it was before.
– Order! The Minister’s time has expired.
– Mr. Temporary Chairman, I wish to make a personal explanation.
– Do you claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. The Minister for Labour and National Service misrepresented me in various ways during his speech, but there is one specific point on which I feel I should at once correct him. He attributed to me an estimate of £104,000,000 as the amount which the Commonwealth Government ought to make available presently for foreign aid. The amount which I have suggested on several occasions, and the only amount I have suggested, is 1 per cent, of the national income.
– One to 2 per cent.
– I have never said 2 per cent. I have said 1 per cent. I do not resile from that, but the Minister misrepresented me by saying that I said 2 per cent, and by making a calculation based on that figure.
– I am sorry to have to inform the House that the Paramount Ruler of our sister Commonwealth country, Malaya, died this morning. The Yang di-Pertuan Agong, as he was described as Paramount Ruler of Malaya, was formerly Sultan of Selangor and Deputy Paramount Ruler. He was elected Paramount Ruler on 14th April of this year by the rulers of the Malay States, following the death, on 1st April of this year, of the former Paramount Ruler, to whom we made reference at that time in this House. The Paramount Ruler was 62 years of age. 1 refer to this, Sir, with the belief that the members of this Parliament, as the Parliament of another Commonwealth country, would wish me to convey to the Government of Malaya our very deep sympathy in the loss of a man whom I met only once myself but who was obviously a man of great eminence in his own country. He was very greatly respected. His death will be a great loss to his country, the progress of which under self-government we have all watched with great sympathy and admiration.
We were represented, Sir, at the ceremonies marking the establishment of the Malayan Federation by a former GovernorGeneral of Australia, Sir William McKell, who, of course, played a very active and prominent part in the drafting of the constitution of this new Commonwealth Federation. Malaya is a country which I admire and we all admire very much. It is a marvellous example of self-government after a period of preparation for selfgovernment. It handles its own affairs today with great skill and with great friendliness to those who were formerly the colonial power and to all the rest of us. I am sure, Sir, that it would have the common approval of the House if I were to communicate to our friend, Tunku Abdul Rahman, the Prime Minister of that country, our genuine feeling of sympathy with his own country in this very great loss.
– The Opposition desires to associate itself with the sentiments expressed by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) on the sad occasion of the death of the Paramount Ruler of Malaya, which follows so closely on the death of the first Paramount Ruler of our sister dominion. The Opposition would like the Prime Minister to associate the Opposition fully with any message he might send to the Prime Minister of Malaya, expressing the sentiment of goodwill towards the people of Malaya and the hope that from the life of this recently deceased ruler they may take some inspiration for the future.
I should like the Prime Minister to say, too, that we on the Opposition side watch with very great interest the endeavours of this very new nation to establish itself in the comity of nations and give an example to all the new nations in the manner in which it expresses itself in accordance with the democratic principles which it has so fully and so willingly espoused.
In Committee of Supply: Consideration resumed.
.- This evening the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Beaton) delivered his maiden speech here and I think that honorable members generally will agree that he is a worthy successor of the late Perce Clarey. We held his distinguished and illustrious predecessor in the highest esteem and with a great number of members of this chamber I am satisfied that the present member for Bendigo will not only fill that position with honour and distinction but will also in the course of the years make a mark in this National Parliament and acquit himself in such a manner that he will be returned time after time by the people of Bendigo. His speech, in content, was outstandingly good. His delivery could not be questioned. His dignity and the manner in which he expressed himself left nothing to be desired. His understanding of national problems, so revealing in one coming into this Parliament to deliver his maiden speech and, above all, his deep understanding, his feeling and his respect for humanity, especially for the people in Bendigo whom he represents, struck a responsive chord, I believe, in the heart of every member of the Opposition.
I was extremely disappointed, however, that the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon), who succeeded our new member in this debate, omitted, either by accident or by design, to offer congratulations to him. I thought that it was a churlish thing and one of those omissions that should not be repeated in the Parliament. At this stage, I should like to offer congratulations not only to the honorable member for Bendigo but also to the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) and the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Whittorn), who will follow me in this debate. I wish them all well in the Parliament. The institution of Parliament needs people who will strengthen it, who will rise above the small things and help to build up our institution in such a way that it will command the respect of the people.
The Minister for Labour and National Service, in a feeling of self-satisfaction, brushed aside all the major issues confronting this nation at the present time and proceeded to say that the Budget was completely a technical budget, that the forces of inflation were controlled and that he was satisfied that there could be no cause for real hardship. He mentioned a few other matters of very little concern but one matter of very great concern to which he referred was housing. He chided members of the Opposition because they had failed, he said, to mention that subject. I think that, in this debate, almost every topic has been touched upon by one speaker or another and perhaps the question of housing has not been dealt with in detail, but I am satisfied that it will be so dealt with in the consideration of the Estimates.
In any event, the Government has little of which to be proud in the matter of housing. Approximately 100,000 migrants reach this country each year, but the Government is unable to provide houses for our increasing population. The Government has insisted on providing the States with only the same amount of money in each of the last nine years, and deserves the censure of this Parliament. I am pleased to support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) in which he censures the Government and expresses our contempt for its attitude to matters affecting the economy of the nation.
The latest reports from the housing commissions in Victoria, New South Wales an4 South Australia reveal a most unhappy state of affairs. The report of the Victorian Housing Commission states -
At 30th June last the Commission held 15,531 applications for homes, compared with 13,349 a year earlier.
It goes on to say -
A total of 12,972 new applications were received, but 7,746 earlier applications lapsed for various reasons. . . .
It is obvious that on the Commission’s present building programme it is falling farther and farther behind the demand for houses - more than 2,000 worse off at June 30th than a year before. The reason is lack of loan funds with which to finance housing. The Commission could increase its output if it had the money.
That is the report from the non-Labour State of Victoria. The report from South Australia - another non-Labour State - says -
The total number of formal applications for housing accommodation received by the Trust during the year ended 30th June, 1959, was 10,134. During the previous financial year, 1957-1958, the total number of applications received was 9,516, and for 1956-1957 and 1955- 1956 the applications received numbered 9,684 and 11,751 respectively.
The report goes on - . . there was a general increase in the number of new applications during 1958-1959, the only decrease being in the number of applications received for emergency accommodation.
The report from New South Wales, the major State, only adds emphasis to what I have said. It states - the number of unsatisfied applications on hand increased from 21,174 to 25,413.
Apparently the Minister for Labour and National Service is happy, satisfied and contented with this type of record. When we turn to war service homes - a matter of honoring a promise to those who served the country in war and a matter for which this Government is directly responsible - we find the position is becoming progressively worse. A statement was made recently by Mr. G. M. C. Dempsey, the Deputy Director of War Service Homes in New South Wales, in which he said that £21,000,000 is required for housing now. How much longer must the exserviceman wait to receive a home? He was promised that a house would be made available immediately. The wait for a house is now some fifteen to eighteen months, and those who urgently need homes are obliged to approach hirepurchase financiers who lend out their hot money at high rates of interest and so impose great burdens on those who have to repay it. Only last week at a returned servicemen’s league conference in Sydney, Mr. Dempsey said that the War Service Homes Commission had 8,100 outstanding applications for home finance totalling £21,000,000.
That situation exists right throughout the Commonwealth. The provision of finance for homes is one of the most serious matters with which we must deal to-day. But the Minister for Labour and National Service is satisfied with the position! Well, I leave that to him; that record of maladministration belongs to him.
There is nothing in this Budget to cheer the Australian people. No measures are proposed to meet the problems of inflation. Not one effort is made to stimulate production, to encourage development or to protect producers. The Budget comes from a tired, complacent government which is selfsatisfied and self-centred. The aged and infirm are treated with scant respect while those who benefit from the welcome amelioration of the means test must wait until March next. Other matters of great concern are brushed aside. Nothing is done to deal with the problems of housing, health and community needs generally. The Minister is self-satisfied and complacent. But one point stands out clearly, and that is the division of opinion between the Liberal Party and the Australian Country Party on our economic condition. Member after member from the Liberal Party, with the rare exceptions of the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) and perhaps the honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner), exuded the confidence of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), and the Minister for Labour and National Service. They are content to believe that everything in the garden is lovely and that there are no economic problems. That attitude may be compared with the attitude of the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen), who has not spoken in this debate for very obvious reasons. He has referred very clearly to the many economic storms approaching the country. With this in mind, one can appreciate the cleavage in economic thinking between members of the Australian Country Party and the Liberal Party.
I shall refer to one or two authorities. It is significant that the- Minister for Labour and National Service had no authority except his own, and that is a very questionable authority in this Parliament. I have here a report of the annual meeting of Sherbourne Investments Limited, which was held at Capel Court. The chairman of directors, Mr. Staniforth Ricketson, said -
The long-awaited Budget speech delivered by the Commonwealth Treasurer, Mr. Harold Holt, on 16th August, did little more than touch the fringe of the economic problems confronting Australia. It was long in generalities but short in practical realism. Consequently, it has proved a profound disappointment to those who hoped for strong Government leadership and stern and effective measures to check the great speculative boom which has been in progress in Australia over the last few years.
It is important to have on record the view expressed by Mr. Ricketson. Honorable members on the other side of the chamber who believe that everything is well in this country should pay some attention to our international reserves. During the last twelve weeks our overseas balances fell by £61,300,000. If that does not promote in the Government some serious thought on our economic problems, I should like to know what will. In a statement yesterday the retiring president of the Sydney Chamber of Commerce, Mr. J. C. Harris, said that Australia soon would not be able to pay for the £1,000,000,000 worth of imports flowing into the country annually. The Labour Party has been saying that for a long time in this Parliament, but it has been saying it to a most unresponsive Government. The Government does not seem concerned at the flood of trashy and shoddy goods flowing into this country and using up our international reserves. Perhaps statements like those made by Mr. Harris and Mr. Staniforth Ricketson will help to stir some members of the Government parties.
According to a report in the “Sydney Morning Herald “, of 27th August last, the price of wool has fallen by 12 per cent. Wool is our greatest overseas earner but the Government apparently feels that no problem exists and that the situation is being covered by the Budget. At a Country Party conference the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) said that net farm income had fallen 11 per cent. in the last four years despite a rise of approximately 11 per cent. in rural production. That fact should bedisturbing to members of the Country Party. If it is not, there would seem to be little hope for the people whom they presume to represent. Mr. Chislett, a graziers’ representative, has suggested that a subsidy to maintain the wool industry is inevitable. If that were done, quite obviously the standard of living in Australia must fall. Recently the chairman of the New South Wales Country Party annual conference said that exports must rise by 50 per cent. in the next ten years.
In an article in the “Sydney Morning Herald”, on 12th July last, the financial editor predicted that wheat exports would soon be subsidized. We should compliment the financial editor of the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ for his penetrating study of financial matters. What will subsidized wheat exports mean for Australia in the future? I know that some of my colleagues believe that next year the MenziesMcEwen Government will follow the lead of the Menzies-Fadden Government and make substantial hand-outs in a politically dishonest way. But if the Government next year presents a budget like the one presented this year, it will be in no position to make hand-outs of any kind. The Government must face up to its responsibilities.
How does the Government propose to deal with the fall in rural income, the fall in the price of wool and the rising costs of production confronting our wheat-growers? The Government proposes to increase company tax by 6d. in the £1. It proposes to withdraw the 5 per cent. tax rebate which was granted to weary taxpayers twelve months ago. Sales tax on silver plate and cut glass will be reduced from 25 per cent. to 12½ per cent., meaning a loss of income to the Government of approximately £265,000. Sales tax on electric razors will be increased from 12½ per cent. to 25 per cent., providing an anticipated gain in revenue of £290,000. If that is all the Government can do to deal with Australia’s economic plight the outlook for this country is indeed dreary. Who will pay the increased company tax? Obviously, the increase will be passed on to consumers just as every other such increase has been passed on. Some companies will have difficulty in paying the increase, but most of them will simply pass on the extra tax to the consumer, thus feeding the inflation that this Government pretends to be fighting. If the withdrawal of the 5 per cent. income tax rebate is an attempt by the Government to halt the inflationary spiral it is a pretty dismal effort.
Expenditure on the Snowy Mountains scheme will fall from £28,250,000 last year to £18,500,000 this year. At a time when development in this country should be proceeding apace we have this example of a national undertaking having its funds cut by £9,750,000.
– That is because more was spent on the project last year than was estimated would be spent.
– That may be so, but surely our need to develop Australia is so compelling that we would welcome any opportunity to spend extra amounts on an undertaking such as the Snowy Mountains scheme. But that sort of thing is foreign to this Government.
Let me say something about New Guinea. There is great jubilation on the Government side over the new look in respect of New Guinea. The grant for expenditure in New Guinea this year has been increased by £1,692,000. When one takes into account the effect of inflation, that additional money will provide no more than the amount that was granted last year. Nothing more will be done this year than has been done in the past to hasten the day when the people of
New Guinea will be able to control their destiny. Education in the Territory will be neglected. Health needs will be overlooked and the broad problems of developing the Territory will be forgotten. I am concerned about this Government’s attitude towards New Guinea just as I am concerned about its attitude towards the anthropologist who wants to go there. This man was good enough to be brought to Australia, and I fail to see that he could do any harm if he were allowed to spend three weeks in New Guinea.
The greatest indictment of this Government in respect of New Guinea was its refusal of the generous offer made by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) and others on this side of the chamber to participate in an inquiry into administration there. We are prepared to assist the Government to administer that Territory, but the Government was not prepared to accept the assistance, advice and support which Labour could give it if a bi-partisan parliamentary committee on New Guinea were appointed. That rejection of our offer is typical of the Government’s attitude.
We all know the things to which the Government has given thought - the freezing of wages, the opening of the door to imports, an attempt to check bank liquidity and the like. These measures have proved ineffective. All I can say is that this country is faced with a sorry state of affairs when all that the Government can do is to present a Budget such as this to the Parliament and the nation as the cure-all for the economic problems with which we are faced at the present time. The Government deserves the censure of the Parliament for its neglect of the needs of the people in respect of social services, and for its failure to remove long-standing injustices in this field. The Government has neglected the aged, the infirm, the sick and the widows, and it has failed miserably to do anything for families. It has neglected the need to help children to get their Leaving Certificates, and it has ignored the question of dental care. All these matters are outstanding. The Government has neglected them and avoided doing anything about them. As I have said, its record in this sphere deserves the most severe condemnation.
I hold in my hand a publication in which are expressed the views of an eminent authority who advanced the thesis that prices control was a desirable means of dealing with inflation. We know that during World War II. the Commonwealth, with the support of the States, controlled prices. That control was a fairly effective remedy.
– What about the black market?
– The honorable member suggests that prices control caused black-marketing. It did more than that. This eminent authority whom I have mentioned, and whose views I intend to quote, revealed quite clearly that prices control was effective and remained effective. It had its imperfections, but in the main it was useful.
– Who is the eminent authority?
– He is described on the cover of this publication as “ The Right Honourable R. G. Menzies, K.C., LL.M., M.P.” The publication contains the text of a lecture delivered by the right honorable gentleman on 6th July, 1942. He dealt with prices control and said -
When one takes into account that the chief factors in the increases from 1939 to 1941 (a period when I had some personal opportunity of close acquaintance with them) were an increased cost of imported articles, increased prices of primary products, and increased wages, it will be seen that price control had substantially prevented an inflationary rise in the price level.
That view was supported by a considerable amount of other comment made at that time by the right honorable gentleman who is now the Prime Minister of Australia.
– Who was he? I did not hear his name.
– The view that I have just read was expressed by the present Prime Minister. At one time, the right honorable gentleman believed also in the taxing of excess profits. He considered that such a tax was needed to deal with the problems with which this country was confronted. But despite all the difficulties that face Australia at the present time, we now hear nothing about the advantages of prices control or about the effectiveness of an excess profits tax. The only suggestion that we hear to-day is that wages should be put in a strait-jacket, as it were, that profits and prices should remain uncurbed and that the get-rich-quick Wallingfords should be allowed to go on their way as speedily as they like.
In the half hour that one is permitted in the Budget debate, it is impossible to deal with all these matters, Mr. Temporary Chairman. I insist that the Government has a job to do, and I put it to the committee that just prices should be paid for our products, with particular reference to wool. This highlights the need to overcome the problem of buying pies which are operating at wool sales. I suggest, furthermore, that we ought to maintain Australian ownership of our industries. They should not be sold to overseas interests which come to Australia and try to take them over. We should place greater emphasis on the home market for our goods, and we should make drastic cuts in the invisible items in trade - freight, insurance and interest charges. All these matters can be dealt with if the Government is courageous and Australian in its outlook, and if it is prepared to stand up to its responsibilities on behalf of the people. But it appears that national development has been forgotten.
– Order! The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
.- Mr. Temporary Chairman, I should like, first, to pay tribute to my predecessor as member for Balaclava in this place - Mr. P. E. Joske, Q.C., who is now Mr. Justice Joske of the Commonwealth Industrial Court. He occupied for nine years the seat from which I am speaking this evening, and he was recognized on both sides of the chamber as a man of integrity with whom it was easy to co-operate, and as a thinker. I believe that the Parliament sustained a great loss when he left it to undertake other duties. He is loved for the work that he did not only in his electorate but also in the Parliament itself.
I should like to place on record, too, my appreciation of and thanks for the way in which honorable members on both sides have welcomed me to this Parliament. Not only my colleagues on this side of the chamber but also many Opposition members have seen fit to ensure that everything possible was done to enable me to become familiar with the procedure and the landmarks, as it were, of the Parliament.
I should also like briefly to congratulate the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Beaton) on winning the by-election for the Bendigo seat recently. Since that byelection was held on the same day as was that at which I was elected to the Parliament, obviously he and I will have quite a lot in common. However, our respective political philosophies are an exception to the things that we have in common. I congratulate the honorable member upon his maiden speech, which was made earlier this evening. No doubt he sweated it out as I have been doing over the last half-day.
I now turn to the Budget, Mr. Temporary Chairman. Over the past two weeks, many statements have been made about the Budget for 1960-61 not only in the Parliament but also by the Australian newspapers, which have thoughtfully considered the plans behind the Budget and the implications it has for the well-being of the country over the next twelve months. Never before in my memory has there been such unanimity of opinion or conjecture among thinking people about a Budget. However, such people consider that this is an ideal Budget which will surely have the intended effect of steadying the inflationary pressures which are evident in our economy.
Each of us surely concedes that over the past decade, and even prior to it, Australia has experienced the greatest commercial, economic and industrial expansion that it has ever known. To-day, we are among the first ten trading nations, and at the same time we are a great manufacturing country. It is my belief that not only the traders but also the workers have gained tremendous benefits from this expansion. Never let it be said that the workers have gained nothing from this expansion. Figures have been cited in this place which prove to me, though I am not an economist, that the workers have gained immeasurable advantages from the administration of this Liberal Party-Australian Country Party Government over the past decade. These benefits can continue provided the Government and the Parliament play their part and continue to guide the destiny of the nation as they have guided it over the past eleven years.
This Budget shows that the Government has planned its programme for the next twelve months in such a way as to ease inflationary pressures. However, these pressures have existed to some degree throughout the fifteen years since the end of World War II. They were probably brought about initially by shortages in the immediate post-war period and by the tremendous demand for our primary products not only iri Australia but also in other countries which recognize their own need for the goods that we can produce. In addition, the decision to encourage immigration to Australia gave the country a tremendous fillip. Our absorption of immigrants has been one of the highlights of the western world. It is my belief - perhaps it is an erroneous belief - that every time a migrant arrives in Melbourne, Sydney or Perth this country has to expend at least £5,000 of its wealth in order to get that migrant started within our community. That £5,000- if that is the correct figure - has to come from the people who are already here. However, the migrants have proved of tremendous advantage, not only to the wellbeing of Australia but also to our future prosperity.
The injection of these factors into our way of life produced the effect which has been seen over the years, but fortunately we still have time to steady the inflationary trends. I believe that the immigration programme particularly has had a major influence on our overall growth which, together with the additional needs brought about by a higher standard of living, has caused an unprecedented industrial and economic growth which is without parallel in the twentieth century.
During the last ten years we have seen highs and lows in our economy, but the pattern generally has been a steady rise in prosperity which has been shared by the workers to an ever-increasing extent. If Australia is to maintain, and increase, its present high level of prosperity, the greatest possible measure of co-operation must exist between governments, management and trade unions, which must be wholehearted, continuous and national. Never let it be said that the workers do not want to cooperate. As most honorable members know, I have worked in factories for many years. I have spoken to thousands of workers in those factories and they believe, as I do, that the more they put into the work they do in the factories the more benefits they will derive for themselves, their families, their children and the future of this country. Ninety-five per cent, of the workers in factories believe that, and they have no desire for extra pounds in their pay envelopes provided the standard of living they now enjoy continues for the next five, ten, fifteen, twenty or 50 years. It is only by such wholehearted co-operation that we can expect that highly remunerative and constant employment for the workers which will enable management to plan its development and budget for its own future.
The various and regular pressures for increases in wages, a reduction in working hours, longer holiday periods and additional superannuation - in fact, any pressure which causes increased costs, causes management to be timid in forecasting for the future. If this Parliament cannot forecast for the next twelve months, how can the managers of firms be expected to forecast for the future? In many cases it is impossible for management to budget for greater development within its own enterprise because of these pressures, such as the pressure for higher wages, which regularly come before the community. This timidity can apply to all sections of industry.
It is very significant that after the Treasurer’s Budget speech General MotorsHolden’s Limited stated that it is planning a tremendous expansion of production which will mean that more local work will be available for Australians. It means work not only in the factories the company proposes to build, and on the equipment that will be installed in those factories, but also in the factories in which that equipment is made. I believe that the employees of General Motors-Holden’s “ dips their lids “ to the management of that company for the proposed expenditure of £15,000,000 on expansion in the next three years.
As has been mentioned by members on both sides of the chamber, this is a technical age and we must behave as technical people. The far-reaching developments which are taking place in every department of the modern industrial world call for expert consideration by those in high places. To my mind, never was there a greater need for united, spirited and expert attention to bs given to each new development as it emerges. The changes are so far-reaching and frequent that this expert attention is a prerequisite to the solution of the problems they create. lt is fairly evident that the leaders of many of Australia’s great trade unions are becoming more aware of the possibilities of this new technological age. This also applies to the leaders of industry. I believe that in future the younger leaders of each group will co-operate to a much greater extent than hitherto, in order to ensure continuity in Australia’s progress. This need for co-operation in every sense becomes more significant when the leaders of industry and honorable members on. both sides of this chamber have shown that they realized the need for what has been termed an export explosion. Honorable members know that the inaugural meeting of the National Export Convention was held in Canberra during May of this year, and over the next few years it will be my personal purpose to stimulate a consciousness of the urgent necessity for a rapid expansion of exports. A careful study of the figures that have been mentioned in this chamber will surely cause far more sober thinking than hitherto. The leaders of industry and of the trade unions must agree that only their mutual co-operation will achieve the desired results. A much higher volume of exports not only will tend to increase efficiency in our productive enterprises, but also will ensure that our capital investment is used to better advantage, enable the Australian worker to have regular and more continuous employment, and also enable Australia to finance its additional import requirements.
A further factor is the growing industrial strength of the countries behind the iron curtain. We all know that they have grown industrially over the past ten to twenty years, and the time is ripe for them to export their products to all the underdeveloped countries. The signs that they will do that are surely evident. The strength of those countries, particularly in manufactured goods, is such that they are looking for foreign markets of high volume. At the same time, it is generally conceded that, behind the iron curtain, decisions will be made to obtain these markets at any cost. So the inference must be that their ventures will be political rather than economic. Therefore, the need for us to plan for and achieve this export drive, and to make the markets opened regular and continuous outlets for Australian goods, is so much the greater.
Much has been done in this respect and the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) is to be congratulated on his untiring efforts and the results achieved over the last twelve months - in fact, over the past five years - in increasing Australia’s exports. Much has been said about the Japanese Trade Agreement, but an impartial observer would surely give credit to the Minister for his skilful handling of this agreement and the attendant results. All honorable members know that secondary products are coming into Australia from Japan, and we have heard the clamour from various quarters for this flow of goods to be stopped. However, the results have shown that Japan now purchases 17 per cent, of our primary products, and is purchasing an everincreasing amount. It is paradoxically true that the more we widen the range of our manufactured products, and so theoretically narrow the scope for imports of finished goods, the greater becomes the need for imports. It is also true that Australia is a high cost country, and it is generally conceded that in respect of goods which have a high labour content, particularly manufactured goods, we cannot compete with some other countries. Other great manufacturing countries are facing similar problems, particularly the United States of America, where, I believe, inflationary trends are still evident. These trends overseas should provide an opportunity for Australia to increase its exports, provided stability is achieved in its own economy.
In the United States of America, under the Eisenhower regime, there has been a retardation of economic expansion. The presidential elections in that country later this year could have a real effect not only on Australia but also on all other countries. Whichever presidential candidate is successful, he will want to prove his worth over the next four years, and he will try to do so, not in Europe, but in the under-developed countries. Whichever candidate is elected will ease some of the internal economic restraint that has been imposed within the United States under President Eisenhower. Mr. Kennedy would do more in the way of lifting these economic restraints than Mr. Nixon would, but, whoever is elected, inflationary trends must still be at work which will considerably affect the Western world, providing Australia with an opportunity, if it can steady the inflationary trendshere, to increase its exports. It is very necessary, therefore, for Australia to resist cost pressures of all kinds. If it can do so, it will be able to export greater quantities of manufactured goods, and its primary products will find it easier to retain their markets overseas.
Wc must expect to pay for our imports, to an increasing extent, with the proceeds from our manufactured, goods, as the United States has had to do, rather than with additional proceeds that may be obtained from our more uncertain pastoral and farm products. I use the word “ uncertain “ in the literal sense, because it is widely realized that prices of pastoral products rise or fall according to the economic situation throughout the world.
I believe that we should have a good look at certain cost components, particularly in relation to secondary products specifically manufactured for export. Many speakers in this debate have discussed the pay-roll tax. I agree that this tax should continue to be imposed during the coming year, but in the case of secondary products manufactured for export I feel that we should consider reducing the rate of this tax or entirely exempting the industries concerned from its operation. This would not affect the 1960-61 Budget to any great extent. The importance of the pay-roll tax in future Budgets’ should not be overlooked. It could be a means of maintaining the incentive for manufacturers to try to reduce their costs.
Another important cost component is represented by power charges. This is particularly true in the case of secondary industries, in which power costs are steadily rising. In practically all secondary industries there is a constant demand for more and more power. Power supply authorities might be persuaded to reduce charges for power, in, the form of either electricity or gas, used specifically for the manufacture of exportable products.
Many other factors are involved in the question of reduction of costs, and the Minister for Trade has said that management was entitled to expect much more co-operation from governments in its efforts to reduce costs. It is my fervent hope that representatives of manufacturing interests and of the trade unions will spread the gospel of our urgent need to reduce costs, and1 will bring forward suggestions for ways in which to increase our exports of manufactured goods. There are three sections of the community closely connected with manufacturing industries. The first is the Government, the second is management and the third is the workers. I believe the Government is very receptive of suggestions by management, by trade unions or by individual workers, and that it will carefully consider any such suggestions designed to ensure continuity of our present rate of progress. The Minister for Trade is playing an important part by arranging overseas trade missions, but much more must be done during the next five years. The National Export Convention has stated that within that period we must increase the value of our exported goods by £250,000,000. Honorable members on both sides of the Parliament realize how difficult a task it will be.
I come now to refer to certain individual items in the’ Budget. Company tax has been increased by 6d. in the £1, and the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) has re-imposed the 5 per cent, remission of individual income tax which was allowed last year. Certain concessions have been provided with relation to pensions and other social services. The main objective, of course, is to produce a cash surplus of £15,000,000. In other word’s, the Budget represents a planned attempt to steady inflation. The Budget provisions do not represent really severe corrective measures, but they will have a steadying effect on the present inflationary trends.
To my mind, the most important measures that have been instituted to correct the situation are credit control and import control. These controls can be exercised by relatively simple processes, and their effect will be of a general character. In other word’s, the Budget provisions will not operate harshly on any section of the community, but the Government will have full charge of the situation by means of its control of credit and by means of the provision for the Tariff Board to impose- emergency tariffs if these are recommended by a deputy chairman of the board within 30 days of application for such tariffs. A manufacturer may feel reasonably secure in the knowledge that if his industry is exposed to unfair competition from imported good’s, he may apply for emergency tariffs, and a deputy chairman of the Tariff Board may recommend such tariffs within 30 days. This provision may also operate to prevent any tendency on the part of importers to order heavily certain products which might be considered likely to be subject to emergency tariffs.
Our future lies in our ability to reduce costs. This does not mean that the worker will have to work harder or that he will have to accept lower wages. It means that the Government, the leaders of industry, primary and secondary, the workers and the trade unions must find means of reducing costs of production on all sides. This is the only way in which we can ensure continued prosperity. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has been telling us this for some time.
It is also very necessary for us to export greater quantities of manufactured goods. I believe that in the next twelve months we will see these problems being tackled courageously. We have heard in this Parliament talk of calamity, but I see no signs of calamity in this country. Opposition members have spoken of gloom, but I can see very little signs of gloom in the country, either among the workers or among the leaders of industry. When I go to Melbourne I see large factories and other buildings being erected. When I go to Sydney I see the same sign of prosperity. In every city, capital or provincial, one sees expansion proceeding on all sides. I have only one comment to make concerning the speeches made in this debate by Opposition members. I refer them to the remarks recently made by the Premier of New South Wales, and reported in the newspapers this week. From these remarks it would appear that Mr. Heffron and the members of his government are living in a different country from the members on the Opposition side of this Parliament.
.- I congratulate the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Beaton) and the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Whittorn) on having survived the ordeal of making their maiden speeches. The only advantage that I had over those two honorable members when I made my maiden speech was that I spoke on 17th March.
The Budget debate allows us the opportunity to review the Government’s housekeeping and to see to what extent the Government has accepted its responsibility in shaping the economy of the nation. In supporting the amendment which has been moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) as a formal protest against the provisions of the Budget, I wish to direct attention to some of the Budget’s shortcomings. In his first Budget, the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) perpetuated the technique of his predecessor in under-estimating substantially the revenue which the Government expected to receive. In 1959 the Treasurer estimated that there would be a deficit of £61,000,000, but the deficit turned out to be only £29,000,000 - an error of £32,000,000. This pattern of grossly under-estimating revenue provides the Government with an excuse to refuse pressing demands for increased social services and finance for other urgent needs such as housing, education and hospitals which are necessary to cope with our rapidly expanding population.
The manner in which the Budget has been compiled has been criticized strongly by many authorities, lt is most difficult to obtain a clear financial picture from the mass of figures which the Budget contains. Orthodox accounting methods of compilation have been discarded, presumably to cover up some weakness, and a person who wishes to obtain a clear picture of the nation’s trading accounts, profit and loss account and balance sheet, usually finishes up with a headache instead of the picture which he set out to obtain.
Honorable members on this side of the chamber who have participated in the debate have closely analysed the figures in the Budget. As yet, we have had no satisfactory answer from the Government to the questions which have been raised by the honorable members for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean), Yarra (Mr. Cairns), Werriwa (Mr. Whitlam) and Fremantle (Mr. Beazley). Other Opposition members have stressed the humanities that are affected by shortcomings in the Budget, but again no legitimate reasons have been advanced by the Government for these sins of omission.
A review of the nation’s economy shows grave distortion, and the responsibility for this must rest on the Government’s shoulders. It is rather quaint to hear Government supporters repeatedly appealing to the Opposition for a cure for inflation, ls this to be taken as a tacit admission that the Government has no cure for inflation and our distorted economy? I believe that implied in the contribution of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) to this de’bate, there is an admission that the Government lias not the answer to the problem, and that is why there have been these consistent appeals to the Opposition for ideas. However, we are not expected to lay down an administrative blue print for the nation until we have the responsibility of government.
Labour has shown in the past that it can carry this responsibility with great benefit to the nation. Without wishing to labour the historical angle, 1 say that it is a great source of pride and satisfaction to us to remember that on the two occasions when this country was thrown into world wars, the nation turned to the Labour Party to protect it and to guide its destiny. Labour accomplished its task well. Its reign ended only when side issues and diversions intruded into public controversy. With publicity channels and mass communication mediums in the hands of Labour’s political opponents influencing the public mind, our party suffered electoral defeats.
Let me turn to some of the humanities which depend on the Budget for a fair deal. In general, a pensioner’s effective pension has deteriorated slowly due to inflated costs and prices. This fact calls for an overall increase in pensions if the Government is to protect the pensioner’s well-being. Plea after plea has been made by accredited organizations representing large numbers of pensioners. Members of this House have made individual pleas and have presented petitions to the Parliament praying that Government be moved to do justice to this section of the community.
Some pensions have been increased slightly, while others have been ignored.
The increases do not even match the increased cost of living, so the concessions can be regarded as no real increase. The increase has been only nominal while the purchasing power of money continues to deteriorate. To-day, pensioners with no means or income other than their pension are, in effect, the forgotten race. Perhaps the greatest injustices of the Budget can be pin-pointed to the Government’s failure to increase the allowance that is paid to the wife of an invalid pensioner and to the wife of an age pensioner who is not of pensionable age, and to do anything about child endowment. Child endowment has been ignored completely. The wife’s allowance has stood at 35s. a week for many years, despite the huge loss in the purchasing power of money. This means that married couples with ‘the husband only a pensioner must live on £6 15s. a week even if they are paying rent, which to-day makes an appreciable inroad into their pension income.
The Government appears to have written off child endowment as of no consequence. For nearly eleven years it has consistently refused to recognize child endowment as a means of consolidating the family unit. This grand social service could be a great influence in family security and well-being if it had retained its original value. Due to inflationary processes, the effectiveness of child endowment has been gradually reduced until to-day it is less than one-half its original value. For the past ten years the mothers of Australia have looked in vain to the Menzies Government to protect their interests in this respect.
By contrast with the neglect which the Government has displayed towards the mothers of Australia’s best immigrants, we note the Government’s concern and interest for sections in the commercial world. The maximum amount of life assurance payments which may be claimed as tax deductions has been increased many times in the past ten years. This assists only the wealthy sections of the community to any worthwhile degree. Likewise, commercial and industrial combines, cartels and monopolies have been left free to exploit the public at their own sweet will. For confirmation of this fact we need only read the financial pages of the daily press to see the Roman holiday that companies have enjoyed, and are enjoying, by the hands-off policy of this Government. Unheard-of profits, dividends and bonus shares are the order of the day, and records are being broken each successive year. No one begrudges companies and business concerns making a profit, but when these profits soar to dizzy heights approximating the hire-purchase usury, the Government should call a halt or, at least, step in and, in the public interest, regulate prices to such an extent that the business concerns still would earn fair profits. These high profits are reflected in our rising price structure. They debase our social service payments and hurt those people on fixed incomes who are trying to maintain their living standards.
Inflation continues on its merry way, making the rich richer and the poor poorer. A striking illustration of the accumulation of wealth may be seen in the financial position of companies. Their total income last year was £694,000,000. They paid £228,000,000 in income tax which left them £466,000,000. They paid £157,000,000 in dividends which left them £309,000,000 in undistributed profits. The companies retained a greater sum in undistributed profits than they paid in dividends. Added to this, they had nearly £470,000,000 in depreciation allowances. So we see that the companies of this country after making profits, paying taxes and dividends, had left for the expansion of the. businesses last year a total of £675,000,000. It was made up of undistributed profits and depreciation allowances reserved against profits.
What does this mean to the ordinary people? It means that people buying goods and services have paid enough to enable companies not only to pay what they consider fair dividends to their shareholders, but also to put away £675,000,000 more for their future expansion and development. They can produce this magnificent result while this Government and the Arbitration Commission say, in effect, “ No increase for the workers “. The workers are sacrificed on the altar of economic stability. What a travesty of social and economic justice is embraced in .this situation!
To illustrate the effect of the appreciation of capital which has resulted from this manipulation of company profits, and to show the class of people who have benefited, let me mention the names of the larger shareholders in some companies and show how each of them has benefited from capital gains on which they have not paid one single penny in tax. The figures I propose to cite cover the period from January, 1954, to February, 1960. First there is the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited in which the capital gains of the Baillieu family amounted to £735,000, of Howard-Smith Limited, £2,616,000, the Palfreyman family, £197,000 and the Fisher family, £196,000. In Associated Pulp and Paper Company Limited the Baillieu family gained £136,000, Thomas Owen and Company £591,000, Broken Hill South, £1,496,000, and North Broken Hill, £1,543,000. In the North Broken Hill Company the Baillieu family gained £84,500, Broken Hill South, £49,500, and the Knapman family, £67,500.
Honorable members will note that the Baillieu family made a total gain of £955,000 from its investments in these three companies alone. It has even greater holdings in the Consolidated Zinc Corporation and other companies not mentioned in this survey. Incidentally, only yesterday the Consolidated Zinc Corporation was given a two-thirds share in the Bell Bay aluminium works in Tasmania. The next company with which I wish to deal is Olympic Consolidated Industries. In that company the Beaurepaire family has made a capital gain of £978,000, the Gadsden family, £27,000, Gadsden and Gates, £31,000, the Handbury family, £33.000 and the Manifold family, £38,000.
– Have they paid any income tax on this at all?
– No tax has been paid on those capital gains. The Gullett family made a capital gain of £202,000 in Containers Limited, and in Henry Jones Cooperative Limited the Palfreyman family gained £140,000, and Peacock and Bradford, £146,000. In Humes Limited the Hume family gained £93,000 and Edward Dyason Limited, £31,000. Dunlop Rubber (United Kingdom) Limited gained £733,000 in Dunlop Rubber (Australia) Limited. In the Colonial Sugar Refining Company Limited the main shareholders are, Perpetual Trustees which gained £1,864,000, I. Bishop and Others, which gained £391,000, Knox and Perpetual Trustees which gained £391,000, and the Buckland family, which gained £179,000. The Sleigh family gained £2,626,000 in H. C. Sleigh Limited. The principal shareholders in Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited are Huddart Parker, which gained £303,000, Adelaide Steamship Company Limited, which gained £128,000 and the Australian Mutual Provident Society, which gained £83,000.
– Have these companies all got shares in A.W.A.?
– Yes, the shareholdings are all interlocked. 1 pass now to Adelaide Steamship Company Limited in which Huddart Parker gained £162,000, Hawker, Hawker & Tennant, £140,000, and the Barr-Smith family, £218,000. In Tooth & Co. the Resch family gained £1,061,000 and Perpetual Trustees gained £983,625. In David Jones Limited the Jones family itself gained £749,000 and the Edwards family £82,000. In G. J. Coles and Company Limited the Coles family gained £1,791,000 and the Roper family £303,000. The next company with which I wish to deal is the Myer Emporium Limited in which the Australian Mutual Provident Society gained £240,000, the Australian Metropolitan Life Society £62,000, and the Myer family £9,874,000.
These figures tell only part of the story. Many of the people whose names I have mentioned have large shareholdings in other companies as well and the capital appreciation in some of those companies has been even more spectacular. Just as a final illustration let us take the case of G. .1. Coles and Company Limited and its contemplated purchase of Matthews Thompson and Company Limited. If the offer by G. J. Coles and Company Limited for the purchase of Matthew Thompson and Company is accepted the immediate gain to the Matthews Thompson shareholders will be about £4,000,000 Next year when G. J. Coles and Company Limited makes its cash issue of three shares for ten it will produce a capital gain to the Coles shareholders of about £12,000,000.
– Are you saying that no income- tax is paid on this money?
– That is the position. These shareholders have paid no income tax at all on this money because they have acquired it through share manipulation, undistributed profits and depreciation allowances reserved against profits. It would seem that we live in a windfall state, and not in a welfare state.
These figures are eloquent testimony in support of the claim by Labour members that there is a need for a capital gains tax such as that promised by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) as far back as 1951.
Added to all this is the dangerous grip that financial obligarchies hold through restrictive trade practices. To-day the principle of free competition is just a hollow, meaningless aspiration, and the small businessman and competitor in our socalled free-enterprise system is forced to dance to the tune of the monopolist. As a matter of fact, the small independent man is disappearing at a rapid rate and present trends will, before long, leave the public with a choice of doing business with a few powerful chain groups with no price variation or real competition.
The intermittent promises made by the Prime Minister are quite worthless because they are never fulfilled. Even those made in the Governor-General’s Speech last February are being ignored. To-day no one raises an eyebrow when the Prime Minister makes another promise, however much the pronouncement is dramatized. The only important action of the Government was its move to influence the Arbitration Commission to reject the claim by the wage and salary earners to share in the abounding prosperity that is so glibly talked about for political purposes. In a similar fashion the Government intruded into the affairs of the second and third divisions of the Public Service, refusing them the full 28. per cent, margin although the claims of most workers in other categories had been, fully recognized.
This action by the Government was a discrimination against an important section of salaried workers who are performing a valuable and’ vital service to the community. Public servants will be severely handicapped if the Government persists in using its powerful influence when issues in industrial arbitration are being- determined. A partisan attitude by the Government against the legitimate claims of public servants must prejudice a uniform application of wage and salary adjustments for these people. Their entitlement should be determined by tribunals after exhaustive investigation of the merits of the case and of the ability of the economy to meet the claims that are made. Another justifiable criticism by the Opposition is that the Government has not taken action against the expanding secondary banking structure which is allowed to operate outside the scope and obligations of our orthodox banking system. The private banks, sensing the easy money through hire purchase, note issues and share manipulations, bought into these companies and to-day exercise a powerful influence in this uncontrolled financial structure. By these processes, the private banks are allowed to avoid many of their responsibilities to the nation. That is why it is extremely difficult to-day to obtain a bank overdraft at normal interest rates, yet, if one cares to approach the hirepurchase section of a bank one has a much greater chance of success.
I come now to the question of our eduational needs. Meeting this challenge is still a matter of great urgency. Over recent years, there has been a mounting pressure as a result of recognition of the inadequacy of education provisions in the various States. State governments have reached the stage of exhaustion in their efforts to finance greater development than is now under way, and there is an increasing urge from all educational organizations that the Commonwealth Government should make special allocation for the dual purpose of providing substantial relief essential to overcome the accumulated educational arrears and a great expansion of educational services which is so vital for Australian youth if they are to be fully equipped to meet the challenge of the atomic and automotive age. The present pattern appears to bc that the Government increases the grant each year, but this does not solve the problem; it meets only current needs of a rapidly expanding population. There is urgent need for an Australia-wide conference to evolve plans to meet the challenge. The Commonwealth Government should take the lead in such a move Instead, it seems to be anxious to wash its hands of the matter by simply increasing the annual grant and letting the States do the worrying. An Australia-wide petition is now being organized, and I sincerely hope that the Government will be moved to the point of agreeing to the overwhelming request of State educational authorities, supported by their State governments.
Let me refer briefly now to the means test provisions contained in the Budget. They will be welcomed by many people who are now excluded from pension rights. But the erroneous impression that I want to correct is that the formula decided upon is the exclusive product of Government members, of the honorable member for Sturt (Mr. Wilson) in particular. It is highly significant that the new formula for the means test now being introduced by the Government is almost identical with a proposal which the honorable member for Port Adelaide (Mr. Thompson) first submitted to this Parliament in 1948. The honorable member for Port Adelaide advocated this formula repeatedly in successive Budget discussions but received no Government support whatever and aroused very little Government interest in it. Now we have the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) introducing a formula based on that submitted by the honorable member for Port Adelaide as if it were a brand new idea. Some monthsago, the honorable member for Port Adelaide endeavoured to find out, on behalf of the Labour Party, what the easing of the means test would cost if it were done along the lines now proposed by the Government, and we believe that much credit for this new approach to the means test should go to the honorable member for Port Adelaide.
Serious questions which this Government must answer include those relating to a capital gains tax, capital issues control, the direction of our secondary banking structure in the interests of the people, a revision of the burdens of indirect taxation compared with those of direct taxation and, lastly, but still very important, control of prices to synchronize with control of wages and salaries. The honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner) was courageous enough during this debate to urge the Government to tackle prices before it made its next assault on wages and salaries before the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. To illustrate the confusion among Liberal and Country Party members, I need mention only the spectacle we have seen in the last two weeks when Ministers and most back-benchers opposite held up their hands in horror at the mention of control of prices while their renowned colleague in South Australia, Sir Thomas Playford, came out boldly in support of prices control. Only to-day we find an article in the press headed, “ Premier defends prices control “. In that article, Sir Thomas Playford is reported as having said -
I refute the suggestion that prices control in this State is in any way impeding business activities.
– Who said that?
– The Premier of South Australia, Sir Thomas Playford. He went on to say -
South Australia is bursting at the seams with activities coming here. Prices control in South Australia has been detrimental to no one.
In those circumstances, we are justified in asking where the Liberal Party stands on this issue.
The Budget debate is now about to close. The amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) has given honorable members an opportunity to deal with matters contained in the Budget and with matters not mentioned in it. In the welter of spoken words, honorable members have advanced many sound and logical suggestions which, if applied, would be of great benefit to our nation and its people. It is my earnest hope that the Government will cast aside party political prejudice and give serious consideration to the many submissions made so that from the combined wisdom of all sections there shall emerge a pattern of conduct that will strengthen our freedom-loving society and bring greater security to and advance the well-being of our people. [Quorum formed.]
.- I appreciate the thoughtfulness of the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) in bringing so many honorable members into the chamber to hear my speech, which will be the last to be delivered in thisdebate. First, I extend my congratulations to the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Whittorn) and the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Beaton) on their maiden speeches. I am sure they will make many very interesting contributions to debates in the Parliament in the future. During the last few months the Government has promised to attack inflation, but it has not promised to exercise powers that it does not possess. The honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Sexton), who has just spoken, gave the impression that the Government had power to control prices and hire purchase. Of course, we know that the Commonwealth Government has no such power. I think it is necessary to point out to the honorable member that in this country we have federation.
Under the Commonwealth Constitution, the Commonwealth has certain restricted powers, certain powers specifically given to it. Powers that are not specifically given to the Commonwealth are reserved to the States. The Commonwealth Parliament has no power whatever to legislate other than in relation to matters over which it has been given specific power by the Constitution. Although it was quite enjoyable to hear the honorable member read his speech, nevertheless he read a speech about something that does not relate to this debate.
– Do not start reading yours.
– I shall not need to read mine. This Government has restricted credit and it virtually has freed imports, but there is one thing it can never do, and that is to restrict the honorable member for Kingsford-Smith.
The Government intervened in the basic wage case, and now it intends to balance the 1960-61 Budget, to the great satisfaction, I say, of the majority of the people of Australia. I commend the Government on its courage in tackling inflation. Of course, it has taken some drastic steps, but the people have already shown that they appreciate the honesty and sincerity of this Government, which has a proud record and enjoys the confidence of the people. I understood an honorable member opposite to say earlier this evening that the Government had instituted rigid controls over the earning power of the little people. The little people of Australia constitute nine-tenths of the voters. Any one listening to the honorable member might have been led to think that the Australian Labour Party was the only champion of the little people, whereas the facts prove otherwise. At the last general election, the Menzies-McEwen Administration was given a very handsome majority indeed. As a result, it is obvious, perhaps even to the ons member of the Opposition who is looking at me at the moment, that a great number of wage-earners have the utmost confidence in this Government. They have shown their confidence over a long period of time and I am sure they will do so for a long time to come. To suggest that only one party in this Parliament has the interests of the little people at heart is sheer claptrap.
I believe that our greatest enemy, next to communism, is inflation. Over the years, inflation has eroded savings and affected seriously the position of people on fixed incomes. It certainly has had a very important effect on those people who are responsible for most of the income that we earn overseas - the primary producers. Indirectly, it affects very seriously the people who live in the country and who have dealings with the primary producers. If the primary producers are prosperous, most of the business people in the country towns also are prosperous. Let us therefore examine a few of the facts, instead of resorting to fanciful arguments such as those that have been used by some members of the Opposition. Let us look first at the C series index, taking 1927 as the base year, with an index figure of 1,000. In the June quarter of 1950, the index figure was 1,534. By 1960, it had risen to 2,838, or an increase of 85 per cent, in ten years.
Let me turn now to the average basic wage for the Commonwealth. On 30th June, 1950, the average basic wage was £6 15s. a week. By June, 1960, it had increased to £13 16s. a week - an increase of more than 100 per cent.
– What were the lawyers’ fees
– There are some people from whom a lawyer would not take a fee. He would not act for them at all. As I have said, the average basic wage for the Commonwealth increased by more than 100 per cent. But let us consider the trend of average weekly earnings throughout Australia during those ten years. In 1949-50, the average amount of weekly earnings per employed male was £9 13s. 2d., or about 50 per cent, higher than the average basic wage. By the June quarter of 1960, the average weekly earnings of employed males had risen to £22 12s. - an increase <of approximately 133$ per cent. So, although the C series :index figure rose by 85 per cent, in ten years, the actual wages received during that period rose by about 133$ per cent. I ask the honorable member opposite who said that a terrible government had intervened to stop the little people from getting a rise in their wages, how he accounts for the fact that the average wage actually received in Australia in June last was £22 12s. a week, or 133$ per cent, higher than it was ten years previously, whereas the average basic wage was £13 16s. a week.
I have cited official figures from documents published by the Commonwealth Statistician.
– That is a lot of rot!
– If the honorable member for Shortland wishes to argue with the Commonwealth Statistician, he may do so. I repeat that the Statistician has stated that average weekly earnings per employed male, at 30th June, 1960, had risen to £22 12s.
– Why talk only about employees? Why not include pensioners, and everybody else?
– I shall not be diverted, by fanciful interjections, from my argument which is based on facts. Let us consider total exports from Australia, beginning when conditions had settled down after the wool boom in 1952-53. The total value of exports in that year was £860,000,000 in round figures. By 1956-57, the value of our exports had increased to £982,000,000. Last year, their value was approximately £920,000,000 - less than our export income three years ago.
Turning to the figures in respect of goods of primary industry origin, we find that in 1952-53 the value of exports was £792,000,000. In the financial year 1956-57 the figure was £886,000,000 and in 1959-60 it had gone down to approximately £820,000,000. In 1959-60 our total exports of primary origin rose by £30,000,000, but in that year our export wool produced an extra £80,000,000.
So if you take into account the fact that there was a greater volume of wool sold overseas, and an increase of about 9d. per lb. on the previous year, involving an extra £80,000,000, and allow for the fact that we had a drop in export returns of £50,000,000 for other items of primary origin, you find that, purely because of the increase of £80,000,000 in the returns from wool, we had an increase of £30,000,000 in export earnings. Without wool, we would have had a drop, in primary exports of £50,000,000. No one can blame the Government for a drop in overseas prices. We know what is happening in relation to wool this year - but more of that later.
Let us consider the figures relating to civilian employees excluding wage-earners in rural industries and female private domestics. In June, 1950, there were about 2,500,000 of these people in Australia. By June, 1960, the figure had gone up to about 3,000,000, an increase of about 500,000 wage-earners. I mention these figures because I am going to show that in spite of this great increase there has not been a corresponding increase in our returns from primary production. According to the official figures, company income before tax or dividends were paid amounted in 1952-53 to £378,000,000, in 1956-57 to £590,000,000, and in 1959-60 to £670,000,000. Wages paid out in 1956-57 amounted to £2,800,000,000, and had gone up to £3,300,000,000 by 1959-60.
While wages have gone up to £3,300,000,000, while company profits have increased from £378,000,000 to £670,000,000 in seven years, what has occurred in some of our primary industries? Wool, which has represented over 40 per cent, of our overseas income over the years, in 1952-53 returned us, in overseas sales, apart from sheepskins, £403,000,000. By 1956-57 the return had risen to £484,000,000. It dropped back to £386,000,000 in 1959-60 at a time when company profits had gone up from £378,000,000 to £670,000,000 in seven years. There was a greater volume of production of wool, a smaller return, and higher costs of production. And this year the return may be lower
Let us consider butter. In 1952-53 the returns from butter sales overseas was £50,000,000. In 1956-57 there was a drop of £2,000,000 to £48,000,000, and in 1959- 60 overseas sales dropped another £3,000,000 to £45,000,000. In the Wide Bay division, one-third of the people who produced butter twenty years ago have gone out of butter production. In the same twenty years the quantity of butter produced in that area has fallen by a third. That is the position in just one area in Queensland. In 1952-53, and in 1953-54, the butter producer in that area received approximately 3s. lid. per lb. In 1959-60 he did not get the increase in income which nearly every one engaged in secondary industry received. He got Id. per lb. less for his butter than in 1953-54. It is estimated that, on final results for 1959-60, he will receive about 3s. lOd. per lb. Yet during that period his costs went up by over 30 per cent.
The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) has already mentioned the sugar industry in this debate. Although costs have gone up 20 per cent, in the last four years, due to greater efficiency and a reduction in loading costs the industry asked for only a 10 per cent, rise in selling price. After a rigid examination by government experts an increase of Id. per lb. in the price of sugar cane was granted. So the price of sugar has now gone up by 10 per cent.
Let us consider a smaller industry, but an important one to those people who are engaged in it and also to Australia, because it is one of the industries that have helped a lot of people to make a living in the past - the pineapple industry. In ten years, wages in the canneries which deal with about three-quarters of all pineapples grown have gone up by over 100 per cent, per person. The returns to the growers in those years have gone down by 33i per cent. Last year the tinplate used to make the cans to hold pineapples and other fruits cost £1,000,000. The total return to the growers for the fruit which was put into those cans was only £1,500,000. As a result, there has been widespread disaster in the pineapple industry and it is conservatively estimated that, because many people have left the industry and allowed their pineapples to go by the board - some have gone to work elsewhere during the week, wherever they could get a job, and go back on Sundays to cultivate their pineapples as well as they can - the production of pineapples will be 30 per cent, less than last year. I estimate that the reduction in the quantity of pineapples grown will be a fall of about £2,000,000 next year in our overseas returns. It is entirely beside the point to say that because so many people have been ruined or have left the pineapple industry those who have remained in it will get a good price again next year. I think that, as people, we must be concerned with the plight of other people. We must consider whether it is fair that they, after putting their savings into this little industry, should have to walk out as so many have done.
Yet we find that manufacturing industries in 1952-53, with all the investment in them, were able to send overseas only £67,000,000 worth of goods. In 1956-57 this figure increased to £96,000,000. In 1959-60 we got the glorious result of about £100,000,000 - £4,000,000 more than three years ago! In the meantime, the wages paid have gone up from £2,800,000,000 a year to £3,300,000,000, and company profits have also greatly increased. There is something wrong with our economy when, with all the money that has been invested in secondary industry, it was able to contribute to Australia’s overseas income only about £100,000,000 in 1959-60, whereas primary production contributed to the tune of £820,000,000. In other words, about 500,000 out of Australia’s population of 10,000,000 produce approximately fourfifths of our overseas income. Whatever the cause may be - and perhaps we can analyse it - in relation to our export earnings it can be said of Australia’s manufacturing industries that the mountain has laboured and has brought forth an industrial mouse.
I apologize to honorable members for having quoted so many figures. What conclusion may, we draw from them? The first conclusion we may draw is that since 1956-57 our manufacturing industries, in spite of an increase in the size of the work force and an increase in their profits, have not been able to increase the volume of their export earnings to an appreciable extent. That is quite clear from the figures. The second conclusion we may draw is that, as the return from the sale overseas of our manufactured products has risen by only about £4,000,000 in three years, our manufacturing industries have almost priced themselves out of the overseas markets. In spite of the tremendous efforts by the Department of Trade and the Ministor for Trade (Mr. McEwen), it is vcr difficult to increase the sales of our products overseas. No one can say that the department has not tried. The fact, purely and simply, is that in many directions we cannot compete. In fact, it is safe to say that most of our manufacturing industries have survived only because of the tariffs that have been granted to offset high costs. These tariffs are necessary, of course. No one wants to ruin our secondary industries, but we must remember that the existence of high tariffs means that our internal costs are increased, and so the spiral continues.
How can we compete with Japan in the sale of certain manufactured products when Japan pays her workmen on the average half-a-crown an hour and the average wage paid to Australian workmen - I do no say they do not deserve it - is more than eleven shillings an hour? I remind honorable members that Japanese workmen work longer hours, too. Let us see what happens in West Germany. I have before me an article that appeared in the “ Sunday Telegraph “ of 21st August, written by Sebastian Haffner of the “ London Observer “. It reads -
There is a degree of exuberant health which is almost a sickness . . .
The writer further says -
The rate of progress in German industrial production in the first quarter of I960, against 1959 (itself a boom year), was 14 per cent, more, incidentally, than the much-boasted 1 1 per cent, of Russia.
Further on, the following passage appears: - tol fact, prices have so far risen only fractionally, if at all, this year - the few more marked price rises which have occurred come invariably from the agricultural sector, which is highly protected and somehow kept apart from the general economy.
In their understanding of wage-price relations and their fear of spiralling inflation, the German trade unions are models of enlightenment and responsibility.
I wonder whether we can say the sam/e about Australian union executives. We might say that many union executives here are obsessed with the idea of getting more pay for the workers, as though more pay was of any value in itself. Nowadays the wage-earner gets about 225 pieces of paper in his pay packet instead of the 100 pieces he got ten years ago, but he can buy with his 225 pieces of paper only a little more than he could buy with 1 00 pieces of paper ten years ago. So this question arises: What is the use of continuing to try to get more paper for the worker? What is the use of putting more paper in his pay packet it he cannot buy any more goods with it?
A report released by the Department of Labour and National Service shows that in many instances a 40-hour week just does not exist. In a certain week, overtime was worked in 64.7 per cent. of the 2,350 factories that were covered by the survey referred to in the report, and 31 per cent. of the employees covered by the survey worked overtime. The average amount of overtime worked during the week - spread over all the employees covered by the survey, and not merely counting those who worked overtime - was 2.4 hours. Those employees who worked overtime worked an average of 7.5 hours overtime.
It is very clear that our economy is a two-level economy. The question is: How long should we ask one sector of the people to bear the heat and burden of the day? We depend upon the primary producer. If we lose his production, We lose our returns from overseas. It is vital that the primary producer, like the worker in the shop or the factory - indeed, like every other person who works - should receive a fair return for the work he does and the capital he invests. I suggest, Mr. Temporary Chairman, that it is time we realized that it does not pay to kill the goose that lays the golden egg.
Question put -
That the item proposed to be reduced (Mr. Calwell’s amendment) be so reduced.
The committee divided. (The Temporary Chairman - Mr. P . E. Lucock.)
Majority . . . . 26
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment negatived. (The general debate being concluded) -
First item agreed to.
Motion (by Mr. McMahon) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- Mr. Speaker, I am taking advantage of the opportunity provided by the motion for the adjournment of the House to make a personal explanation and some further comments relative to a debate that ensued last night concerning the case of Professor Gluckman. The Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck), in his reply to a statement of mine - I will quote both his statement and my own - created a situation which I must resolve, and I hope to do so to the satisfaction of both sides of the House, because it appears that what I have said may have jeopardized some academicians in their avocation. For that reason, I think I will pursue the matter from where we left off last night. The allegation I made - and I quote from “ Hansard “ - was this -
But besides the case of Professor Gluckman, there was the case of Marie Reay, some time ago. Fred Rose was also refused entry. At one time a girl called Norma MacArthur, a dietitian was refused entry. An anthropologist named Worsley, a pupil of Professor Gluckman, was also refused, as was a man called Epstein also an anthropologist.
Later the Minister, in replying, said that this was not so, and that my statements were completely unfair to several of those persons. He said -
Dr. Marie Reay has never been excluded from Papua and New Guinea, and we would welcome her presence there.
Continuing, the Minister mentioned another person, and said - /
We have never excluded any of these people.
Now, upon this point I attempt, on behalf of this side of the House, to make an explanation. I think the Minister will realize the fairness of this when I say that, in using the words “ we have never excluded any of these people “, he may have been particularizing in regard to the women concerned in the case, but it was certainly not so in respect of the two anthropologists whom he had definitely excluded from the Territory. We say, from the investigations we have conducted to-day, both by contact with the Canberra university and from other sources, that Mr. Worsley, a pupil of Professor Gluckman, was refused entry into the Territory, and that despite repeated efforts his applications were refused. He was a working anthropologist from England, and he finally worked out his training in Australia at Groote Island and returned to Leeds University, where he is now a reader or lecturer in anthropology. He was at all times refused entry into New Guinea.
The second one was Mr. Fred Rose, who was refused entry. He was a public servant. He had some association with the Petrov case. There is no record, of course, of why he was refused entry, being a public servant, but it is undisputed that he was not allowed to go to New Guinea. Those are the two cases that I point out to the Minister in saying that we were not attempting to mislead the House or to mislead him and that his statement that in no case had anybody been refused entry was unwarranted. My statement is made only to keep the record clear for those anthropologists who may desire now or later to enter the Territory. With regard to Dr. Marie Reay, it is alleged - I believe after reasonable investigation - that on one occasion her entry into New Guinea was delayed. The same thing applies to Dr. Norma MacArthur and to Dr. Epstein. Although these persons were eventually allowed into the Territory, while investigation was taking place some inordinate delay occurred; and we, as an Opposition, must take cognizance of it in making an allegation in a general build-up against the attitude to anthropologists created by the Administrator, the Minister, and Government policy in the Territory. We reiterate that Mr. Worsley, a pupil of Dr. Gluckman, was refused entry. We say that Fred Rose, an anthropologist and public servant, was refused entry. We aso reiterate that the entry of Dr. Marie Reay, Dr. Norma MacArthur and Dr. Epstein, who is now in the Territory, was delayed.
The Minister said, “ We have never excluded any of these people “. Reports in the press indicate that we have. It appeared that I, representing the Opposition on this occasion, had made a statement which was completely unfair and inaccurate. We have taken some pains to make sure, not for the sake of the Government, not even for the sake of the Opposition, but for the sake of those anthropologists who may be required in the course of time to work in the Territory, that we did not overstate or understate the case. I think the Minister will realize that.
– Of all the names you mentioned, Worsley is the only one who was refused a permit.
– Worsley and Rose. We assert you did not say that. You said, “ We have never excluded any of these people “. Those are the operative words that have been reported, giving a bias in your favour in the matter.
– I was intending to refer to the people I had previously mentioned.
– You agree that Mr. Rose was also included in this matter. Is it part of the general policy to have some queer hatred of the anthropologists? Is it the Administration? You, Mr. Minister, must answer this. You have been fair in other things, but you are not fair in this matter. Is it not true to say that there has been some sort of odd hatred of the anthropologist? Is the reason that he or she may go amongst the natives and find something which may be interpreted as being opposition to the policy of the Administration? Is it the Administrator himself? Is it you, Sir? Is there some queer hatred of the anthropologist?
In reply to the honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson), you said, Mr. Minister, that there had been twelve exclusions from New Guinea in a number of years. I say that that is a very good record. But most of those exclusions, apparently, have been of people who have not had the right of entry because of colour or some other reason, or because they have been anthropologists or missionaries, as you told me a moment ago, who for some reason have not measured up to requirements. Your statement last night was made in an attempt to do something with your own recalcitrant member, the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth). You savaged the Opposition most unfairly in relation to an asseveration we made. The asseveration is that there has been discrimination in the past against anthropologists and there is the enormous one, for which you still have to answer, in relation to Dr. Gluckman.
The Federal Council of University Staff Associations of Australia has written to you to-day, or telegraphed you on this matter in the following terms: -
That must recoil on you, Sir, as a civil libertarian. You have to answer to this House, not to your party. You might get away with it among the members of your party but you cannot get away with it with the Australian community. The council of staff associations continued -
That is the stand we take here. Because I asked for priority in this debate in order to make a personal explanation, I shall not delay the House. I conclude by reemphasizing the position, as we see it, to justify the allegations which we made last night, which were made in good faith and, which I believe, have been substantiated. The major situation remains that the Minister and the Government have excluded an anthropologist from New Guinea without telling us why, and that has been done in the past. The blot on the Administration of New Guinea has been this hatred of the anthropologist - this fear of his inquiry - and the only assumption that we can make is that he has a contact with the natives that you do not want him to have, and you are fearful of the disclosures that he would make.
We say that there has been no misrepresentation on our part. We leave it to the Minister to justify the action taken. The Gluckman case remains as it was - something that has been treated with a great deal of suspicion overseas. The authorities in England and other places where liberties still live have been shocked at the attitude that has been taken. We feel that there has been an unwarranted attack upon Dr. Gluckman and the asseverations that we made in stating the case last night were entirely justified.
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. John McLeay).Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I wish to refer to the proposal to restore the Sydney General Post Office clock. The first point that I want to make is that there is no other place where the clock tower can be erected satisfactorily. It is designed to go on the top of a building of the height of the General Post Office, and it is also designed in proportions that are related to the building on which it was originally erected. It is in the style of the building for which it was designed and it contains chimes that are familiar to Sydney people and are so loud that if the tower were erected in another place, for example on the ground, they would indeed be deafening. For all these reasons, 1 consider that if the tower is to be re-erected at all, it must be re-erected in its original location.
– You are a worthy successor of Billy Hughes.
– Yes, it is a very important matter. The historic building belongs to the Victorian era and there are very few good examples of Victorian architecture in Sydney or indeed, any other capital city. Whilst there are, in the vicinity of St. James, some historic buildings dating back to the early days of the settlement, this building represents, almost uniquely, the best in Victorian architecture. It is true that the Victorian style in general has not great merit, but this building is one of the best examples of that style, that is to say, it is not unduly ornamental. It is well that at a time when so many buildings are being torn down in Sydney, and indeed throughout Australia, we should pay some regard to the few historic buildings that still remain. One of the great glories of this clock is the chimes.
-Order! There is too much audible conversation. I find it difficult to the hear the honorable member.
– These are properly known as the Cambridge chimes and they repeat the tune that is played by the Church of St. Mary’s at Cambridge. They are regarded as a very good example of their particular style. It is well that they be preserved not only for themselves but also because they are familiar to the citizens of Sydney, who have a very real affection for them. The next point I want to make is that in this day and age, when private munificence is not as possible as it was in the past, because of the high rates of taxation that prevail to-day, the Government must take the place of private benefactors of an earlier age. Governments should not be entirely unconcerned with aesthetic matters. There is an obligation upon governments in the modern age to ensure that these matters are not entirely neglected; otherwise we shall find that the material surroundings of our civilization are of a very pedestrian order.
I come to the question of costs. This has been raised in the past, and the Post master-General (Mr. Davidson) has said that the restoration of the clock tower would cost about £200,000. That appears to me to be an over-liberal estimate. Two problems arise in estimating the cost. The first and most important is that this tower was erected directly over the old Tank Stream many years ago. It is not possible to know now whether the original foundations are still sound, because much water has flowed under the tower. This is an element which makes estimating the cost of reconstruction very difficult, lt means that an excavation will have to be made and perhaps some building done to ascertain whether the old foundations, after many years, are still sound. There is some reason to think they may not be, because there are some superficial cracks in the facade underneath the part where the tower was originally erected. These cracks may or may not be significant.
The second dubious element in estimating the cost arises from the fact that to-day very few builders and stone masons specialize in this kind of work. If we were considering the construction of a steel and concrete building, we could hope to get pretty accurate tendering, but nobody really knows what would be the cost of unique work of this kind. Therefore, the second imprecise element in the estimating arises from the possibility of having to guess without any degree of accuracy what the cost of this kind of work would be. However, the first step - the engineers of the Department of Public Works have mads this clear - is to sink quite a small inspection shaft at the base of the building where the tower would be re-erected, and to do some drilling to discover the situation of the foundations.
– Would the shaft have to go down very far?
– No. Following questions that were asked about the tower and as a result of the enterprise of the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth), a number of honorable members fi om both sides of the House had an opportunity to inspect the situation. It would seem that the cost of sinking the shaft and exploratory work would be very sm!all indeed and would not exceed a few thousand pounds.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Motion (by Mr. Whitlam) negatived -
That the honorable member for Bradfield be granted an extension of time.
– 1 would like to say a few words on the subject raised by the honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner). It is typical of the honorable member and of the Government that they should treat the reerection of this clock in the way they have treated other matters. I thank the honorable member for Bradfield for coming with us when we, had an inspection of the clock. However, he did not seem able to agree with the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth). They argued about which bell would be best and which clock would be best. We spent a day on the inspection and when we returned to the General Post Office we agreed that we should find out immediately whether the foundations were good. This would cost about £400 or £500. The honorable member has now spoken a lot of nonsense, about what should be done. I had a letter from another honorable member the other day saying that the Postmaster-General (Mr. Davidson) did not seem to think that we should spend the money at this time
– Tell us about the clock ever the convenience in Martin-place.
– The clock over the convenience, as I have mentioned here before, satisfies this Government; we would not expect a more appreciative attitude on the part of this Government in this matter, although Sydney is the greatest city in the British Commonwealth. The Government prefers to make party political capital out of the General Post Office clock; it has no intention of re-erecting it. The PostmasterGeneral has robbed the people of £20,000,- 000 over the last twelve months.
– Order! That expression is unparliamentary. I ask the honorable member to withdraw it.
– Well, he has taken that money from them.
– I ask the honorable member to withdraw the word “ robbed “.
– I withdraw it. Time and time again during the past nine years,
I have asked the Government to do something about the clock. If it were now sincere about re-erecting the clock, 1 would not have risen in my place to-night, know very well that those two gentlemen crossed Sydney Harbour for no other reason than to make capital out of this clock. In twelve months time the City Council and the Labour government that will be in power here will put the clock back, and once again it will show the correct time.
– A number of important developments have taken place during the day with regard to the Professor Gluckman case. Honorable members opposite are moaning and groaning as though the raising of this question were of no importance whatever. They are showing impatience over this matter of Professor Gluckman and with regard to civil liberties in general, which I think is typical-
– The honorable member has had ample opportunity to raise this matter.
– I am not complaining about the Minister for Labour and National Service, but about some of his colleagues who sit behind him. During the day certain developments have taken place which I am sure will not make the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck), who is quite unhappy on this question, any happier. Cable messages, I understand, have been received during the day from London. They include messages showing that inquiries at the Commonwealth Relations Office revealed that that office had passed no information whatever to Australia about Professor Gluckman and that it has no complaint whatever to make about any of his activities.
– Where did you get this information? Did it come from the Sydney “ Sun “?
– The cables have been received in Canberra during the day.
– Where did they come from?
– From the Commonwealth Relations Office and from the Colonial Office.
– To whom were the messages addressed?
– To the Melbourne “ Herald “.
– There is a report in the Melbourne “ Herald “ endorsing what the Colonial Office has said, and also, a spokesman in London of the South African Government - I specially draw attention to this - has stated that Professor Gluckman, although born in South Africa, has not been there for many years. The spokesman also said that the South African Government has nothing on record against Professor Gluckman. The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Manchester, Professor Manfield Cooper, states that he has known Professor Gluckman for many years. He states that he knows him intimately as a person of the highest probity and responsibility. He is satisfied that the ban on Professor Gluckman’s entry into New Guinea is quite unjustified. The Manchester “ Guardian “ has published an outspoken leading article attacking the Australian decision and saying that Australia appears to have fallen into the trap of hasty and unjustified judgment that marked the era of McCarthyism in the United States. It seems fairly clear if that is the case, and there is no evidence to the contrary - that there is no reason to doubt the sincerity of the reports from the Commonwealth Relations Office, the Colonial Office, the South African Government and the ViceChancellor of the University of Manchester. That being so, it seems extraordinary that the Australian security service can know anything unfavorable about Professor Gluckman, as he has only been in Australia for a few weeks. How does it come About that the security service know some.thing about him that is not known to those organizations that have had much longer contact with him? How can the information in this country’s possession be weighed in the balance against the evidence from those overseas bodies? Last night the Opposition did not submit that Professor Gluckman’s record should be broadcast all over Australia. But when he has been barred from going to New Guinea, the responsibility falls upon the Government to tell Professor Gluckman what it has against him.
In this respect, I want to bring to the attention of the Minister for Territories a statement that was made in England by the Campaign for the Limitation of Secret Police Powers. That was a committee consisting of a number of persons, including a Tory, the Honorable Anthony Asquith; a Liberal, the Right Honorable Clement Davies; a Liberal, Joseph Grimond. M.P.; a Tory, the Honorable David OrmsbyGore; Earl Russell, O.M.; the Reverend Donald Soper; and many others. In its report the committee stated -
Differing fundamentally as we do in politics and economics, we agree whole-heartedly on the importance of protecting the individual from secret denunciations and from penalties imposed without proper legal examination and safeguard.
The committee quotes Lord Attlee who, in 1948, stated -
Suppose there is a case in which there is room to suspect disloyalty, the first thing to be done is to see that the civil servant concerned is informed. He should not merely be informed that he is suspected, but should be given as far as possible chapter and verse, saying: “ You are a member of this organization, you did this or that, can you explain it? “
The Opposition’s attitude is based precisely on those grounds. What we on this side of the House are attacking and attempting to deal with is the method of improperly using security allegations against people, as they have been used in this case against Professor Gluckman, without notifying them of any of the circumstances, of any of the evidence, so that it is impossible for them to meet those allegations. Australia’s actions in this matter will become known throughout the world and Professor Gluckman’s reputation will be affected for many years to come. Yet he knows nothing of the reasons for the Government’s actions. On the other hand, we agree with Lord Attlee that if a person is suspected of disloyalty the first step should be to inform him. If a question of what he may be doing or trying to do comes into the issue, he should not be informed only of the general allegation that he is unfavorably known to security, which would seem to be the attitude of a good many members of this House, including perhaps Ministers; but he should be told specifically what he is suspected of doing and should be given an opportunity to reply.
I do not think that it would be of much use for the Minister or the Government to say that that would result in certain of the important information the security service needs to retain becoming public. Some risk of that must be taken otherwise the liberty of the subject will be seriously interfered with. We know, with regard to New Guinea, that not very many people have been concerned, but there is a clear indication in the present case that somebody has been concerned and, I suggest, improperly concerned. We know that in other fields the number of people who are adversely influenced by security reports is far greater. The Public Service and immigrants seeking naturalization are two sections of the community that come clearly to mind in this respect. I know of a good many people in those two fields who have been adversely affected.
It seems to me that if these matters were closely examined by the Ministers concerned they would find that many of the allegations upon which security reports are based are completely trivial and unimportant and are not the kind of things that should be regarded as constituting a security risk. I know that decisions have been made in respect of some things that are never any more than political or trade union activity of a radical or semi-radical nature. This kind of thing, I submit, does not constitute a substantial security risk. If the Government assumes that these things are substantial security risks -it is magnifying a problem which undoubtedly is contributing very much to the state of mind that the Minister for Territories confessed he was in last night - a state of uncertainty and doubt. It is quite incomprehensible to me that a responsible Minister in this country can readily admit to being ‘ in a state of uncertainty and doubt. I feel that the security and the solidness of the Australian community should give us confidence. It should not create in our minds uncertainty and doubt. I submit seriously that the Minister and others concerned in this matter should have second thoughts about it.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Mr. Speaker, I shall not take up the time of the House for very long. I wish to mention something that I did not like which was reported in the press about a week ago. I refer to a black ban on hotels in Broken Hill which was imposed by the Barrier Industrial Council in that city. All hotels in Broken Hill were placed out of bounds to unionists. Very little notice was taken of this report at the time. Indeed, I have not heard anybody comment on it. Apparently, the imposition of a black ban and the placing of hotels out of bounds to unionists was regarded as a normal trade union practice.
I am a great believer in trade unions. My impression is that they were formed, sustained and developed on rather high ideals. They are based on solidarity of the workers, the principle of mutual benefit, and on the brotherhood of man, but unionists are not altogether free men. In order for the unions to have force their members have to sacrifice some of their economic freedom. But although unionists sacrifice some of their economic freedom, they are supposed to preserve their civil “liberty and their political freedom. If a worker in Broken Hill does not wish to starve, but wants to earn a living and feed his family, he has to join a trade union. Not all workers wish to join a union, but all are forced to do so in Broken Hill. This means that some workers in Australia are not permitted to enjoy the right of free association, which Dr. Evatt, formerly Leader of the Opposition, had written into the United Nations Charter as one of its fundamental tenets. The workers in Broken Hill are compelled to join trade unions. Yet we in Australia boast of our freedoms.
People are .inclined to pass off this decision of the Barrier Industrial Council which I have mentioned as just a case of trade unionists not being allowed to drink in hotels. But I see much more than that in it. It denies to Australians the full enjoyment of their personal liberty and freedom. That is what is being denied, not just the right to a drink.. The Barrier Industrial Council thinks nothing of denying a man the full enjoyment of his personal freedom, and it says to him, “You shall not drink”. By what right or lawful authority is a free man told what he shall do in his own free time? After all, as I have said, we are a free people. Or are we?
Do you, Mr. Speaker, believe that one Australian soldier would have fought and died overseas to preserve a society in which free men may be directed by trade union officials in this way in their own private lives? Not one Australian soldier would have gone overseas to fight for the preservation of a society like that.
The black ban which I am discussing is not just an isolated incident. It is symptomatic of something much deeper. We have it on the excellent authority of the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) that in some trade unions there are czars who dominate and persecute trade unionists. Some union officials are very good, but there are others that are not so good, and we have it on the authority of the honorable member for Hindmarsh that some of them are czars.
As I have said, trade unionists are supposed to be free men with the right to full enjoyment of their personal liberties. What would happen to a trade unionist in Broken Hill if he had a drink at an hotel and thereby broke the black ban? Would he be paraded before the Barrier Industrial Council and told, “ You are stepping out of line. You must not do that? “ We know jolly well that that is not what would happen to him, and that he would be called a scab and a black-leg. Worse than that, he would be subjected to merciless persecution of the most brutal kind. Not only he but also his family - and especially his children - would be dogged and ostracized for life. The unionist would be regarded as a scab who had broken a union law - a direction by some trade union official. Any man who broke this black ban would never live it down. This sort of ban is a pitiless device which is designed to ensure unquestioning obedience to trade union officials.
This is a free country, and I raise this matter to-night as a result of a remark made last Thursday evening by the honorable member for Cunningham (Mr. Kearney) during the debate on the motion for the adjournment of the House. Three Government supporters - the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Wight), the honorable member for Phillip (Mr. Aston) and the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) - were attacked by the honorable member for Cunningham. Those three honorable members, whom I have the honour to call my friends, have all served their country overseas with distinction. The honorable member for Cunningham said -
None of these three honorable members has the status or justification, economically, socially or otherwise, to try to traduce the organized unions of Australia.
That was the accusation that the honorable member levelled at the three Government supporters whom I have named.
The point that I want to make is this: There are some very fine trade unions, but the officials of some of them take unto themselves absolute power, and we know that absolute power corrupts. There are some undesirable features of trade unions in Australia. I admire the honorable member for Cunningham for defending the trade unions in which he believes. However, in view of the matters I have mentioned and things that come to light from time to time, I cannot help wondering whether the little gods in the trade unions sometimes have feet of clay.
– Mr. Speaker-
Motion (by Mr. McMahon) agreed to -
That the question be now put.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.47 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
d asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has provided the following answers to the honorable member’s questions: -
d asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
Who is responsible for determining whether
y. - The Minister for Civil Aviation has provided the following answers to the honorable member’s questions: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
y. - The Minister for Civil Aviation has supplied the following answers to the honorable member’s questions: -
The following airports are equipped with DME/NDB (a total of 38):- Albany, Broken Hill, Broome, Bundaberg, Casino, Cunderdin, Cowra, Derby, Deniliquin, Dubbo, Devonport, Flinders Island, Geraldton, King Island,Mallacoota, Mildura, Mount Gambier, Meekatharra, Mount Isa, Noresman, Buka Passage, Momote, Kavieng, Rabaul, Honiara, Wagga, Oakley, Onslow, Port Hedland, Parkes, Whyalla, Wyndham, Wynyard, Cocos Island, Lae, Finschafen, Madang, Wewak.
The following airports are equipped with NDB (a total of 25): - Bendigo, Benalla, Bowen, Cooktown, Coolangatta, Camooweal, Coonamble, Corowa, Glenroy, Halls Creek, Inverell, Moorabbin, Maryborough, Marulan, Narrandera, Normanton, Narromine, Munda, Proserpine, Redland Bay, Wittenoom Gorge, Walgett, Wollongong, Lord Howe Island, Norfolk Island.
The following airports are equipped with ILS: - Adelaide, Avalon, Brisbane (localizer only), Canberra, Darwin, Hobart, Launceston, Melbourne, Port Moresby (localizer only), Sydney (two installations).
s asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
m asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
– The Minister for National Development has supplied the following answers to the honorable member’s questions: -
Banks - 268 cases.
Building societies and finance companies - 43 cases.
m asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
What payments were made to the National Debt Sinking Fund in 1959-60 in respect of liabilities discharged on war service homes before the end of the repayment period?
– The Minister for National Development has supplied the following answer to the honorable member’s question: -
The amount paid during1959-60 to the National Debt Sinking Fund in respect of liabilities discharged on war service homes before the end of the repayment period was £5,164,839.
d asked the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1, 2 and 3. No statistics are available.
The following educational facilities are available for the training of the indigenous inhabitants: -
s asked the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
What amount of child endowment is payable in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea to (a) European employees of the Administration, (b) native employees of the Administration, (c) other Europeans, and (d) other natives?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
Child endowment is not payable in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. The Public Service Regulations of the Territory of Papua and Kew Guinea provide for the payment of a child allowance which is in the nature of an endowment. The allowance is payable to officers of the Public Service, other than those who were born in the Territory, in respect of each wholly dependent child under the age of sixteen years. The allowance payable is £52 per annum for the first child and £65 per annum for the second and each subsequent child. Every officer in receipt of adult male rates of salary other than those who were born in the Territory, is required to contribute towards the cost of the allowance to the extent of £26 per annum.
m asked the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
Why have the Land (New Guinea) Regulations 1960, the Land (Papua) Regulations 1960 and the Native Emigration Restriction Regulations 1960 not yet been gazetted?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
There are at present no such Regulations as the Land (New Guinea) Regulations 1960 or the Land (Papua) Regulations 1960. Possibly, the honorable member’s question arises from the fact that Regulations by those titles appear in the “ Alphabetical List of Ordinances and Regulations and Rules, with References, 1945 to 1st July, 1960 “ which was issued recently by the Department of Law of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. This was a clerical error and the references in question should not have been included in that publication. Notification of the making of the Native Emigration Restriction Regulations 1960 was published in Papua and New Guinea Gazette No. 37 of 25th August, 1960. These Regulations, together with the Native Emigration Restriction Ordinance 1955-1958, will come into operation on 6th October, 1960.
son asked the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
k. - On 25th August, the honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson) asked the following question without notice: -
Has the attention of the Minister for Territories been directed to the fact that pamphlets opposing blood transfusions are being circulated among the indigenous people of Papua and New Guinea? Can he say whether any legislation is contemplated similarto the New South Wales blood transfusion legislation which provides, among other things, for compulsory blood transfusions for children in cases in which two doctors declare that such action is necessary to save life?
I now supply the following answer: -
I am informed by the Administrator that his investigations have disclosed that 34 pamphlets were distributed to Europeans but none to indigenous people although it appears that indigenous adherents of the sect have been told not to accept or give blood transfusions for themselves or their families. The Administrator proposes to introduce, at the next meeting of the Legislative Council, a bill for an ordinance to make somewhat similar provisions to those made in the New South Wales legislation referred to by the honorable member.
Australian Forces in Malaya.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
y. - The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Navy - Two destroyers or frigates (total complement approximately 500).
Army - One infantry battalion and supporting units (total strength 1,240).
Air Force - One light bomber squadron and two fighter squadrons with supporting elements (total strength 800).
The United Kingdom, Australian and New Zea land forces in the Strategic Reserve, by their presence in the area in a state of readiness, add strength and confidence to the countries of the region, and are available to meet the demands of an emergency. At the request of the Government of the Federation of Malaya, they assist that Government in the operations against the Communist terrorists.
d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
The Australian Parliament rejoined the union in 1956. The 1959-60 figure for the association includes the Commonwealth’s share of the cost of the conference held in Australia in 1959.
ns asked the Minister for Trade, upon notice -
What was the (a) total value of secondary production, and (b) value produced by (i) the largest producer, (ii) the two largest producers and (iii) the three largest producers of each of the following commodities in 1958-59: - Coke; Portland cement; other cement goods; bricks and tiles; glass; glass bottles; industrial and heavy chemicals; pharmaceutical and toilet preparations; explosives; white lead paints and varnishes; mineral oils; soap; chemical fertilizers; iron and steel; plant equipment and machinery; machinery tools; extracted and refined alloys; electrical machinery; motor vehicles; aircraft; agricultural machines and implements; rolled and extended non-ferrous metals; foundry-cast non-ferrous metals; iron and steel sheets; ferrous pipes, tubes and sheets; wire; wireless apparatus; cotton; wool; hosiery and other knitted goods; rayon, nylon and other synthetic fibres; rope and cordage?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Note. - These are preliminary figures only and are subject to revision. In the case of assembly of vehicles, machinery, &c, only the value added by assembly is included with value of output, and not the value of the goods assembled. Iron and steel sheets are included in smelting, converting, refining and rolling of iron and steel.
m asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows: -
The Australian Transport Advisory Council considers a number of matters which might involve Commonwealth or State legislation. The following are the principal matters considered by the Council during the last three years which concerned Commonwealth or State legislation and/or the regulations made thereunder:
Commonwealth Aid Roads. - The council considered and advised on Commonwealth Aid Roads policy prior to the passing of the Commonwealth Aid Roads Act 1959.
Railway Standardization. - Regular reports on railway standardization are made to the council which considered the Albury-Melbourne standardization proposal prior to the legislation ratifying the agreement between the Commonwealth and New South Wales and Victoria.
Interstate Road Transport - Road Maintenance. - Consideration has been given to a number of aspects of State legislation and its possible amendment to secure a reasonable contribution from interstate road operators for roads maintenance.
Commonwealth Civil Aviation (Carriers’ Liability) Act 1959. - This has involved the interstate adoption of the provisions of the relevant part of the Commonwealth Act by the introduction of uniform State legislation.
Australian Roads Traffic and Vehicle Standards. - Recommendations of Committees established by the council in these fields have been adopted for incorporation in State and Territory road traffic legislation.
Pollution of the Sea by Oil and the Safety of Life at Sea. - International conventions requiring the passing of Commonwealth and State legislation on a uniform basis.
Powers of Courts of Marine Inquiry. - Involves the passing of uniform legislation by the Commonwealth and States regarding the constitution of courts of marine inquiry, with particular reference to the appointment of Assessors to advise the Courts.
Passenger Traffic on the Australian Coast. - The relaxing of restrictions on the carriage of Interstate passengers on overseas ships has been considered. If adopted it will involve amendments to the Navigation Act.
t asked the Minister for Trade, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 1 September 1960, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1960/19600901_reps_23_hor28/>.