24th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Sir John McLeay) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I address a question to the Minister for Territories. Is it true that more than 50 people have been injured in a revolt by 1,000 Buka Island natives against the Australian Administration in New Guinea? Is it correct that 400 armed police and other Administration officials are being flown to a scene of insurrection on the island in an attempt to quell it? What is the reason for this clash, if it has occurred, and what action is the Administration taking to eliminate the grievances? Will the Minister tell the House what information about the situation he has received from the Administration of the Territory?
– With all respect to the honorable member, I think his use of the words “ revolt “ and “ insurrection “ is illadvised and very far from the truth. The situation is one that has existed in one form or another for about eighteen months. It is a situation which has not been unknown on previous occasions in the Territory. About eighteen months ago a cult -holding some rather extreme views began to form itself under the name of the Hahalis Welfare Society in part of the island of Buka. The people who belong to this cult under a rather fanatical local leader number about 2,000 villagers, men, women and children. To illustrate the fanatical nature of the adherents of this cult I would point out that part of their tenets, which became manifest at an early stage, was that their function was to breed a master race and they selected ten persons of each sex in order promiscuously to produce this master race. I mention that in order to indicate to honorable members that this is not just a matter of people objecting to paying taxes. There is an extreme and what I would call an almost religious and fanatical element in the cult.
Towards the end of December - about Christmas time - the refusal of these people to co-operate either with the neighbouring native people or with the Administration came to a head in their refusal to pay the tax of £2 per head per year, which is devoted to local government purposes. The situation was brought to the attention of the Administration by the mission people and also by the native people who are working in native local government councils. In an attempt to resolve the situation the Administration took many steps. It distributed leaflets in the vernacular and made special broadcasts to these people. It sent two native members of the Legislative Council from that area to try to persuade these natives to negotiate with them. It sent experienced officers. The cult refused to take any notice of any of these persuasions, and eventually the open defiance of its members came to a point where, so that the defiance would not succeed, some attempt had to be made to bring to court, for settlement in court, this refusal to pay taxes. The reason why so many police have been assembled there is mainly to avoid unnecessary physical violence. The larger the number of people we can assemble in the face of those who are resisting, the less likely there is to be violence. There was one clash early this week, when 50 persons were injured - about equal numbers on both sides. Numbers of the Hahalis people are armed with axes and bows and arrows and our own police are armed only with batons. We have refrained from using any more extreme measure than that. At the present time the police are waiting for a favorable opportunity. Some of the most senior and most experienced officers have been sent there and it is still our hope - and I am sure that it will be the hope of every responsible member of this House - that this matter can be resolved with a minimum of violence and also that it will be resolved so that the work we are doing for the advancement of all the people of the island can go on.
– By way of preface to a question which I now direct to the PostmasterGeneral may I recall to him that there is an urgent and clamant need for telephones in my electorate and, I have no doubt, in many other electorates. In view of the Government’s policy of giving an immediate stimulus to employment and private expenditures, can the Minister say, with any precision, what plans he has formulated in terms of money, materials, manpower and works for extending the services of his department in the next few months?
– It is correct, Mr. Speaker, that as part of the Government’s plan for dealing with the present employment situation the Postmaster-General’s Department has been allocated extra funds to be expended in those areas where it is obvious that the greatest benefit can come from such expenditure. Two factors have been taken into account - the need for providing extra telecommunication services in the various areas and also the demands of the employment situation in those particular areas. My officers have been working on the whole plan for the last couple of weeks or so. I have had certain preliminary reports from them of the work that is already being undertaken. I expect to get full reports .within a few days and I shall be glad to communicate them- to the honorable member for Bradfield and also to the House.
– I ask the Minister for Repatriation: Has he considered the numerous requests that have been made to is department for a more generous interpretation of the controversial section 47 of the Repatriation Act, in accordance with the original interpretation? If the Minister has considered these requests what action does he propose to take to accede to them?
– This matter is one of policy which will be considered at the appropriate time.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Supply. As all members of the Parliament and of the Australian public were, I am sure, thrilled by the success of the United States space shot yesterday, can the Minister advise the House of the present position relative to recent suggestions for the foundation of a European space club?
– Towards the end of last year a number of European and Australian officials met in London under the chairmanship of the British Minister for Aviation, Mr. Thorneycroft, and set out to lay down the conditions under which there might be developed an organization whose prime function would be the development of space launchings. These launchings, of course, would be based on the use of facilities at Woomera and the range instrumentation which has been developed there. Later on there was a second meeting of a preparatory and technical group in Paris, again with Australian representation, and I think that matters are now to the point where, in the very near future, quite concrete proposals will be put before the Government. I should think that they will result in the formation of a European space club, though perhaps under some other name.
– Will the Prime Minister give an assurance that any loss or damage caused to land owners on the Tumut River through the discharge of excess water by the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority into the Tumut River will be justly compensated for, irrespective of how far the affected land may be situated below the site of the proposed Blowering dam?
– This question seems to raise problems of some difficulty. I will be very happy to discuss them with my colleague, the Minister for National Development, into whose department they fall. 1 will then advise the honorable member of the result of our discussion.
– Will the Minister for Primary Industry consider introducing into the Australian Agricultural Council discussion on the possibility of an orderly marketing scheme for bananas? The banana industry has been passing through the most difficult conditions in the last few years because of over production and glut prices. I put this request to the Minister as any orderly marketing scheme in one State for a commodity which is also produced in other States would be doomed to eventual failure.
– The banana industry is suffering from glut wholesale prices which unfortunately are not always of benefit to the consuming public, which of.-n has to pay relatively high retail prices. I know that the producers get virtually nothing for their product at certain times. There is need for some stability in the industry. I will consider the request that this matter be referred to the Australian Agricultural Council, particularly if the request is supported by industry representations. Since bananas are grown mainly in New South Wales and Queensland, it should be possible to arrange some scheme between the governments of those States.
– I ask the Treasurer whether it is a fact that, in August of last year, the Government budgeted for a deficit of £16,500,000 during this financial year. Also, is it a fact that all members of the Government parties, during the general election campaign, criticized as inflationary and impracticable the policy of the Australian Labour Party for the introduction of a supplementary budget allowing for a deficit of £100,000,000? Has the Government recently announced changes in economic policy which will result in a deficit this financial year of between £160,000,000 and £180,000,000? Can the Treasurer explain to the House how the Government justifies these inconsistencies, or has it given up all attempts at doing so?
– It is a fact that the Government, having analysed the economic proposals put forward by the Leader of the Opposition in the course of the last general election campaign, described those proposals as impracticable and inflationary. On the best estimate that I could make with some knowledge of these matters, the programme would have cost in the neighbourhood of £240,000,000 for a full year, even allowing for some imprecise items at which nothing more than a reasonable guess could be made. The honorable gentleman has asked whether we would still regard a deficit of £100,000,000 in the remainder of this financial year as having inflationary dangers. I understood him to say that our announced programme would involve a deficit of about £160,000,000 this financial year. As to the first part of the honorable gentleman’s question, I still believe that a deficit of the amount that he has mentioned would produce some strong inflationary pressure. However, the deficit expected as a result of the Government’s measures will fall very far short of the £100,000,000 to which the honorable gentleman referred.
– Can the Minister for Territories inform the House when the last meeting of the Legislative Council for the Northern Territory was held? Are the “ Hansard “ reports of the session available yet? If not, when will they be available? Will the Minister consider the advisability of having all “ Hansard “ reports of the proceedings of the Council issued as a matter of course to all members of this House so that we can watch the progress of the Northern Territory towards self-government?
– I do not carry these dates in my memory. I will make inquiries and let the honorable member have the information that he seeks.
– Can the AttorneyGeneral inform the House when the High Court of Australia is likely to deliver judgment in the case which the South Australian Government has brought against the Commonwealth Government regarding the agreement for the standardization of rail gauges? I understand that argument before the High Court was concluded last October or thereabouts.
– The honorable member is quite right in his statement about when judgment was reserved by the High Court of Australia; but I am sure the honorable member will recognize that I have no means of ascertaining when the High Court is likely to give its judgment. This is a matter entirely for the court. Naturally, I do not pry into its affairs.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Territories supplementary to the question that was asked by the honorable member for Hindmarsh. Is the Minister satisfied that the people of Buka
Island understand and want local government and that, therefore, they can intelligently consent to paying the £2 poll tax to finance local government, or is it something that has been advanced to them prematurely by the Administration?
– I assure the honorable member and the House that the big majority of the people of Buka Island have embraced native local government councils, that they have formed themselves into councils and that those councils are operating and have been operating for some time. Taxes have been levied by the councils, and paid. The group of people to whom the honorable member fo.- Hindmarsh referred is a collection of about 2,000 villagers in a population of some tens of thousands. So the answer to the honorable member’s question is that the majority of the people of Buka Island do understand the native local government system and are eager for it and, according to the reports of officers, their councils are operating quite efficiently.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Territories been directed to the fact that in supposedly civilized communities it is customary to use tear gas bombs in order to quell civil disturbances? Has consideration been given to the use of tear gas so as to avoid injury to the natives, the police and the Administration officers during disturbances such as those which have occurred at Buka Island?
– Following an incident in the vicinity of Rabaul known as the Navuneram incident, the Administrator of the Territory was asked to consider other possible means of quietening an unruly crowd. He did so, and the report he gave me was to the effect that in the circumstances existing in the Territory there would be very few situations to which the use of tear gas would be applicable. 1 think the honorable member will appreciate that with people moving and dispersing very quickly in a jungle area, the use of tear gas would not be practicable.
– I direct a question to the Prime Minister. In view of what appears to be the certainty of the United Kingdom entering the European Common Market, has any consideration been given to making a request for a conference of Commonwealth Prime Ministers, after our trade representations have been submitted and before the final step is taken by the United Kingdom Government to enter the European Common Market, a step which could not only be disastrous to Australia’s trade but could also be the beginning of the break-up of the Commonwealth of Nations?
– Some correspondence on this matter has been conducted between three, at any rate, of the Commonwealth Prime Ministers, but no finality has been reached. Nor can we at this stage anticipate the holding of a meeting of Prime Ministers.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation. Has the Minister any comment concerning a statement made by the Premier of Victoria, Mr. Bolte-
– Mr. Speaker-
– Order! I must warn the honorable member for Higinbotham that a Minister may be questioned only on matters for which he is responsible to the House. A question on any other matter would be out of order.
– I am asking the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation a question regarding a statement made by the Premier of Victoria, Mr. Bolte. Is a liquor licence to be issued to the Royal Victorian Aero Club for its premises at Moorabbin Airport, which is within my electorate, without any consultation with the Victorian Government?
– I have no information on this subject. 1 read in the press that the parties concerned were awaiting the return from overseas of the Victorian AttorneyGeneral, Mr. Rylah, and that on his return the position would be discussed. However, 1 will convey the honorable member’s question to my colleague in another place and see whether a reply can be furnished.
– I direct a question to the Prime Minister in his capacity as head of the Australian Government. It deals with the tragic problem of the unemployment of young people leaving school and the urgent need in Australia for technically trained workers. I ask the Prime Minister whether he will take immediate action to provide increased technical training opportunities and to enlarge the field of apprenticeship training. I particularly ask the right honorable gentleman whether he will use all Commonwealth agencies and departments for the employment of the maximum number of apprentices. Also, will he confer with the Minister for Labour and National Service and the Minister for’ Supply with the object of using to a fuller extent the splendid technical training facilities at the Commonwealth Small Arms Factory at Lithgow?
– This matter was raised in various quarters during the course of consultations that we recently conducted. It was the subject of particular reference by Mr. Souter of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, who had, I thought, some extremely interesting things to say about it. This and other similar matters are under consideration. I do not underestimate their importance, but I am not in a position to make any final statement about them.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Territories. By way of preface, I would like to point out that members of this House who have visited the Northern Territory have seen children of European and of native origin playing and working happily together in the primary and secondary schools. I ask the Minister whether it is a fact that there is no discrimination whatever, on any basis, between groups of children in the Northern Territory schools in spite of reports to the contrary.
– The education policy of the Northern Territory provides for the education of aboriginal children and other Australian children in the same schools. The sole exception is when aboriginal children are living a tribal life and do not have English as their native tongue. They are then taught in special schools, usually in places where there are no European children anyhow.
There was a recent incident at a small place called Elliott. This arose because the official policy of education without racial discrimination was applied. I think the circumstances have been exaggerated. There are six European and part-coloured children on what might be called the one side and, there are five aboriginal children on the other. The parents of three of the nonaboriginal children are quite willing for their children to attend the same classes and mix in the same school as the five aboriginal children; the parents of three children are not so willing. So I think the sort of phrase that has been used, that this is a Little Rock in Australia, is a gross exaggeration.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Air. The Governor-General, in his Speech delivered at the opening of the Parliament yesterday, referred to the Royal Australian Air Force and its equipment plans for 1962 and 1963, but no reference was made to our bomber force. Is it a fact that we have an outdated bomber force of Canberras? Is it a fact that, apart from being outdated, our bomber force comprises short-range aircraft though the most desirable type of equipment for Australia is long-range aircraft? What does the Government propose to do in regard to the re-equipment of the bomber force?
– For bombing purposes most of the air forces of the world, outside those of the United States of America and Soviet Russia, rely mainly on aircraft very similar to the Canberra. In fact, most air forces of the Western world, particularly in our part of it, rely on the Canberra. The Canberra is by no means an outmoded aircraft, particularly the later versions of it. As the honorable member will appreciate, developments in this field are rapid. There is a very considerable difference of opinion as to the type and range of new bombers needed not only for Australia but also for other countries.
Lest there be any misunderstanding on the point, let me say that, except for the really large air forces and considering only the air forces of the smaller and moderate-sized powers, the Australian bomber and fighter potential relatively rates very high. These matters, however, are always under consideration. The Air Force is constantly looking at developments in various paris of the world, bearing in mind not only what is desirable militarily but also the technical and economic situation in Australia. The honorable member may vest assured that as and when it is desirable to make a decision in this field, the Australian Government will make one.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral whether it is a fact that in circumstances such as those of the fire in Canberra and floods in certain parts of New South Wales, technicians of his department are brought from other areas in order to restore services in the affected localities. I am quite aware of the need for the restoration of services, but is there any possibility of the Postmaster-General’s Department recruiting additional staff for this work, as the removal of technicians is detrimental to the work in progress in the area from which they are taken? In my locality, for instance, work has been held up because technicians have been removed.
– It is correct, as the honorable member suggested at the beginning of his question, that in times of emergency like the occasion of the fire at the Canberra telephone exchange, and in times of flood and cyclone, technicians have to be taken away from some of the areas in which they are working and transferred to a place where an emergency has arisen, because in such instances the rapid restoration of communications is essential. It is well known that as a result of the transfer of a number of technicians and of portable technical equipment, a remarkable job was done in restoring essential communications in Canberra after the fire. In times of cyclone and particularly of flood, from time to time the Postmaster-General’s Department is required to transfer personnel to restore important and essential communications, and I am sure the honorable member for Lyne agrees that that action is very desirable. Because of the importance of these matters, they cannot wait while we try to get new personnel. We have to use the trained technicians who are immediately available, and therefore they have to be transferred. However, every possible effort is always made to restore these personnel to their particular areas, and, in some instances, the number of. technicians in those areas is increased to catch up with any lag which has occurred in the meantime.
I also advise the honorable member for Lyne that because of the circumstances which I mentioned in reply to the question asked by the honorable member for Bradfield - circumstances in which we are making a particular drive to provide additional services - we shall take every available opportunity to investigate ways in which we can deal with any of the areas referred to by the honorable member for Lyne which may have been adversely affected by previous transfers of staff.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Primary Industry. Will he give the House precise’ details of any plans he may have for rehabilitating the poultry industry, and particularly those small poultry farmers who find it almost impossible to continue production in this depressed industry?
– The honorable member will be aware that the New South Wales Egg Marketing Board, in effect, controls the marketing of all the eggs produced in his State. There is, also, an Australian Egg Board, with which the New South Wales board chooses not to co-operate in export marketing. However, in recent times a conference was held and the Council of Egg Marketing Authorities of Australia was formed by unanimous agreement of the industry in all States, all sections of which are represented on the council. I suggest that any representations be made through that organization in the first instance so that the industry may get uniformity in its approach to marketing problems. I think that if that were done the industry would be better served.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Primary Industry. I ask: Is it a fact that he has received a proposal that the Fisheries Development Trust Account be used to finance an aerial survey of the western coast for the development of sperm whaling? What consideration has been given to this subject, and how quickly can a decision be conveyed to the Western Australian Government?
– Any proposal for assistance through the Fisheries Development Trust Account is looked at in the first instance by an inter-departmental committee which makes a recommendation to me as the Minister concerned. The matter mentioned by the honorable member has been referred to the inter-deparlmental committee for consideration.
– I address my question to the Minister for Labour and National Service. In view of the fact that, at the recent election, his majority was reduced from 7,000 to 700, I ask the Minister whether he would agree with me that there is something wrong with his administration of the employment situation. In an effort to help him, and believing that his statistics are spurious, I ask whether he will table the formula upon which his department compiles the unemployment figures which it releases to the country. As those figures were challenged during the election campaign, 1 think the Minister owes it to the Parliament to give honorable members an opportunity to examine the way in which they are compiled. I also tell the Minister that a high ranking public servant, now retired-
– Order! The honorable member is not in order in making comment.
– I ask the Minister whether he will also answer at the same time the charge of a public servant that it is impossible to make an accurate estimate of unemployment having regard to the way in which the Minister fixes the formula to fix the figures.
– I think it should be made known that the formula for arriving at the numbers of unemployed persons was devised during the period of office of the Right Honorable E. J. Holloway when he was Minister for Labour and National Service in a Labour government. We have not changed either the method of collection or the method of presenting the figures since that time.
– Yes you have.
– The figures mean what they say. They state the facts relat ing to registrations for employment, numbers of job vacancies and the number of people who actually receive unemployment benefit.
– They are spurious.
– Will you table the formula?
– Order! The honorable member for Parkes will remain silent.
– The honorable member for Parkes is becoming extremely arrogant and, if 1 may say so, is speaking in an emotional way. I repeat that the unemployment figures represent a statement of the facts. They are collected from about 500 agencies and offices throughout Australia, collated in the regional offices, and forwarded to head office where they are added together and presented to the public and to this House. So they cannot be spurious. They represent a statement of the facts, and nothing more.
As to the honorable member’s request, I can give him no more information concerning the method of collection than I have already given him, but if he would like a monthly statement relating to the unemployment figures and copies of the department’s monthly reports, then I shall make certain they are delivered to him personally on the day on which they are released for publication.
– I address to the Minister for Primary Industry a question relating to the banana industry. It is supplementary to that asked earlier by the honorable member for Richmond. The Minister mentioned two eastern States as being bananagrowing States. Is he aware that Western Australia also has an expanding bananagrowing industry and that the bananas grown in Western Australia are of a particularly delectable variety?
– Order! The honorable member is giving information now. I ask him to state his question.
– I stand corrected, but it is evident that this House needs that very valuable information. I ask the Minister whether he will bear this fact in mind when considering the request made by tas honorable member for Richmond. I also ask whether, in any discussions that take place relating to the marketing of bananas, he will also include representation from Western Australia, which has a substantial and expanding banana-growing industry.
– I was not aware of the magnitude of the banana production of the State which the honorable member so ably represents in part, although I do know of the excellent qualities of the Western Australian bananas, as I have tasted them. I did not think that bananas were produced there in quantities in excess of the local demand, but I am always willing to learn. I thank the honorable member for the information he has given me.
As to representation of the Western Australian banana industry, 1 can only say that it is for the industry concerned to make such submissions as it wishes, and to state the type of marketing stability it desires to establish, lt is not for the Government to lay down a form of stabilization for the industry; that is a matter for the industry itself to put forward.
– I address my question to the Minister for Territories. The honorable gentleman will know that in Australia the police are not concerned with the collection of taxes except to serve summonses or to carry out court orders, and he will remember that police were used at Navuneram in New Guinea a couple of years ago to collect a judgment debt for poll taxes. Will the Minister state why police are now being used in the Buka tax riots? Are they being used to serve summonses or to carry out court orders? If they are not, will he state how police come to be involved in the collection of taxes in New Guinea on this occasion?
– I am sorry that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition did not listen carefully enough to my previous answer. He persists in saying that these are tax riots. I was trying to convey to the House that there are many more elements involved than a refusal to pay taxes. In this case an attempt was made by Native Affairs officers to collect taxes. The func tion of the police in the present situation is not to try to collect taxes; it is to meet and try to overcome this open defiance of authority. So far as they succeed in doing so, presumably the result eventually will be that some of those who have refused to pay taxes may be brought to court by the Native Affairs officers. The police are not there to collect taxes. The court will decide the tax issue.
– Has the Minister for Trade seen a statement by the president of the National Farmers Union of Australia to the effect that rural exporting industries must be deeply disturbed about the Government’s new policy of protection?
– I have seen the report of a statement attributed to Mr. Havard, president of the National Farmers Union, along the lines indicated by the honorable member. I can only imagine that Mr. Havard was referring to the announcement that the Government is prepared, in certain limited circumstances, to give protection to Australian industry by the use of quantitative restrictions.
I am surprised that the president of the National Farmers Union should protest against such a policy proposal because his organization represents all Australian primary industries, and some of the greatest of Australia’s primary industries are or may be dependent upon quantitative restrictions for protection. The most notable and obvious one is the great Australian sugar industry which I think Mr. Havard must be overlooking. I think that he must be out of touch with the circumstances of the Australian dairying industry which, of course, is vulnerable to the dumping of butter and cheese from overseas. I think Mr. Havard must be overlooking the vulnerability of the Australian fat lamb industry to the possible dumping of fat lambs produced overseas. I think he must be out of touch with the circumstances of the industries which recently have been protesting against the importation of canned chicken and canned ham. I think he must be out of touch with the Australian tobacco-growing industry and with a number of other Australian industries.
T know that Mr. Havard is familiar with the circumstances of the Australian wool industry but, important as the wool industry is and determined as this Government is to protect it, there cannot be a circumstance in which the entire Australian economy must be geared to the price of wool on a particular occasion. Wool is sold at auction and there is a long record of instances of its price taking a very high leap almost overnight.
The Government’s policy is to protect all Australian industries. We will do that by the most appropriate and most effective means.
– I preface my question to the Minister for Repatriation by pointing out that many ex-servicemen are obliged to provide additional bedroom accommodation for growing children, but because of the previous low maximum limit of war service homes loans no further assistance could be obtained from the War Service Homes Division. Now that the limit for advances has been raised, will the Minister make provision to assist exservicemen financially where it is necessary for them as a matter of urgency to make additions to existing war service homes?
– This matter is one that comes within the jurisdiction of my colleague in another place. 1 will refer the question to him for consideration and see that an answer is supplied to the honorable member.
Motion (by Mr. Harold Holt) agreed to-
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent Government Business being entered upon before the Address-in-Reply is adopted.
Motion (by Mr. Harold Holt) agreed to-
That the House do now resolve itself into a committee to consider the Ways and Means for raising the Supply granted to Her Majesty.
SALES TAX BILLS (Nos. 1 to 9) 1962.
– I move -
The purpose of this resolution, and of the nine rates bills which will follow, is to give effect to the reductions in the rates of sales tax on motor vehicles, and on motor vehicle parts and accessories, which were recently announced by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies). The proposal is that motor cars, station wagons and other passenger vehicles formerly taxed at 30 per cent, shall be subject to tax at the rate of 22 i per cent., and that those commercial motor vehicles, motor cycles and motor vehicle parts and accessories which have been subject to tax at 161 per cent, shall be taxed at the general rate of 121 per cent.
As honorable members know, these measures form part of the plans the Government has made, following upon the recent comprehensive review of the economy, for immediate action to reduce unemployment. The Government has had the advantage of close and frank discussions with representatives of the motor vehicle industry. That industry has passed through a period of reduced sales and a falling level of employment. This has had repercussions on manufacturers who supply component parts and accessories for motor vehicles.
In recent months, the demand for motor vehicles has become progressively stronger. The Government, however, wishes to accelerate this improvement because it recognizes the importance of this industry from an employment stand-point. It has, accordingly, proposed that the reductions should take effect on and from 7th February, 1962, the day following the date of the Prime Minister’s announcement.
It is understood that there has already been a substantial increase in inquiries in the trade and it is hoped that these rate reductions, in conjunction with other steps which are being taken, will increase sales and employment, not only in the motor vehicle industry itself, but also in the industries directly and indirectly associated with it. I have no doubt that the resolution will find favour with honorable members generally.
Motion (by Mr. Harold Holt) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to repeal the Fourth Schedule to the Sales Tax (Exemptions and Classifications) Act 1935-1961.
Bill presented, and read a first ime.
– by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill is consequential upon the resolution which has just been moved. One of the purposes of that resolution is to reduce the rate of tax on commercial motor vehicles, motor cycles and motor vehicle parts and accessories from 161 to 12i per cent. The goods affected are at present specified in the Fourth Schedule to the Sales Tax (Exemptions and Classifications) Act 1935-1961. The sole purpose of this bill is to repeal that schedule, with the result that the goods in question fall into the category of unspecified goods which are subject to the general rate of 1 2i per cent. As already indicated, it is proposed that the repeal shall be effective on and from 7th February, 1962.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Beazley) adjourned.
Message recommending appropriation reported.
In committee: (Consideration of GovernorGeneral’s message):
Motion (by Mr. Harold Holt) agreed to -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a bill for an act to increase the Capital of the Commonwealth Development Bank of Australia by the sum of Five million pounds.
Standing Orders suspended; resolution adopted.
That Mr. Harold Holt and Mr. Fairhall do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented by Mr. Harold Holt, and read a first time.
– 1 move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
In his recent statement on the national economy the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) announced that, as one of the series of longer term measures to be taken in the interest of promoting national growth, the Government had decided to provide a further £5,000,000 for the Commonwealth Development Bank of Australia. The bill now before the House provides for the necessary amendment to the Commonwealth Banks Act 1959-1961 to increase the capital of the Development Bank by this amount and appropriates the funds required for the purpose.
This contribution of a further £5,000,000 will bring to a total amount of £10,000,000 the additional capital provided for the Development Bank during this financial year. Honorable members will recall that one increase of £5,000,000 has already been provided for in the Commonwealth Banks Act 1961, which was enacted in October last. As a result of these two increases the capital of the bank will now be £25,857,000, in addition to which the bank has substantial reserves of its own and also employs considerable sums borrowed from the Commonwealth Savings Bank.
Under the Commonwealth’s 1959 banking legislation, which established the bank, the Development Bank has important functions for the assistance of primary production and industrial undertakings in a manner that supplements but does not compete with other sources of finance available for those purposes. A most important feature of the bank’s charter is that it is required to have regard primarily to an applicant’s prospects of success rather than to the amount of actual security that he can offer. In other words, the bank has the special function of assisting development where this might otherwise be prevented through a lack of more conventional forms of finance.
From the time the Development Bank was established the Government has been keeping a close watch on the resources of the bank in the light of its operating experience. The bank has now been operating for just over two years, and its record in its allotted field is already an impressive one. During those two years the Development Bank approved loans to primary and secondary industry amounting to over £22,000,000, and in recent months its rate of loan approvals has been in the vicinity of £14,000,000 per annum. Of the total amount provided by way of loans nearly £16,000,000 was for a wide variety of rural purposes, including pasture improvement, clearing; fencing, water conservation, the erection of farm buildings and the purchase of plant, equipment and live-stock. In the industrial sector the bank’s activities have extended to a large number of important industries, such as the chemical, engineering, transport, food processing, textile and mining industries.
The bank has also provided extensive assistance for. the purchase of equipment on hire-purchase terms by both primary producers and industrial undertakings. In addition, the bank has furnished much indirect aid through the supply of technical advice and the support of research efforts in the appropriate fields.
These facts are sufficient evidence of the significant contribution that the Development Bank has been making to Australia’s development and of the high level of demand there has been for its services. The Government considers that it is of great importance to the continued development of Australia’s resources for the Development Bank to maintain this valuable contribution. It follows that its financial resources should be adequate for the purpose and, after a full review of the bank’s operations, achievements and resources, the Government has decided that the capital of the bank should now be supplemented by the further £5,000,000 provided for in this bill. This measure therefore represents a further step for the promotion in a tangible way of the objectives of national growth and development to which the Government is firmly committed, and I have much pleasure in commending the bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Crean) adjourned.
Debateresumed from 20th February (vide page 41), on motion by Mr. Cockle-
That the following Address-in-Reply to the Speech of His Excellency the Governor-General be agreed to -
Mav It Please Your Excellency:
We, the House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Australia, in Parliament assembled, desire to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign, and to thank Your Excellency for the Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.
.- It is with great pleasure that I rise to support the motion for the Address-in-Reply because, by implication, the Address-in-Reply is not only a reply to the Governor-General’s Speech, which is an expression of the policy of the Government, but is also an expression of our loyalty to the Throne - and in the difficult times in which we find ourselves it is good, I think, that we should remind ourselves of our heritage and of our responsibility to that heritage.
I should also, Sir, like to congratulate you on your re-appointment as Speaker of this Parliament and to say that I have the utmost confidence in your continuing in your responsible position with the same dignity and forcefulness as you have evidenced in recent times during your previous occupancy of the position. I should like also to congratulate the proposer and the seconder of the motion, the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Cockle) and the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Nixon) respectively. It is always, I feel, an ordeal to enter this historic chamber and make a maiden speech when, literally, the eyes of every one in the chamber are upon you and every one is wondering what you are going to say and how you are going to fit into your new surroundings. I think that by their speeches last night the honorable members for Warringah and Gippsland showed that they will play an important part in the debates in this chamber.
I was interested to read the report of the speech made by His Excellency the Governor-General, Lord De L’Isle. As every one knows, the Governor-General’s Speech at the opening of a parliament consists basically of the policy proposals of the government of the day. I was interested to see outlined the steps that the Government has taken and is taking in regard to the Commonwealth’s present economic situation. I was agreeably surprised and gratified by the steps taken by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) to have discussions with various leaders and various organizations in the community in regard to certain economic factors, because on 24th August, 1960, in the debate on the Budget in this chamber,, I said, as reported at pages 350 and 351 of “ Hansard “ of that date -
Many people have criticized the Commonwealth Government and said that it has done nothing to halt the inflationary spiral. This is a matter that has an important bearing on costs of production. I point out that many things are beyond the control of this Government and beyond the scope of any action that it might take to combat inflation. Many of the factors associated with inflation come under the control of the States. The only criticism that I could make of this Government is that it has not endeavoured to call a conference of representatives of the States, industry and the unions for the purpose of making a concerted attack by all groups and sections of the community on the inflation which confronts us. I have said in this chamber before that big business, in many instances, has not played its part in trying to halt the inflationary spiral. Other sections of the community, also, have not played their part. Many of the unions have failed to contribute to the efforts to keep inflation in check. Some State governments have continued to spend money blithely and then have said, “Why docs not the Commonwealth Government give us more money?”.
It was gratifying to learn of the move to invite leaders of industry and representatives of banking interests to discuss various aspects of the economy with the Prime Minister and other members of Cabinet. But on 24th August, 1960, 1 suggested that this should be done, and I think it is a pity that such a length of time was allowed to elapse before the move was made. I recall that when I made the suggestion there was no enthusiasm for it. The newspapers which are to-day lauding the Government’s move said nothing about my proposal.
This national Parliament, in the affair/ of our nation, must give a lead, but I believe that there is too great a tendency to leave everything to the Parliament or to the Go vernment. People are not facing the reality that certain responsibilities repose in each and every citizen of the Commonwealth. That is why I made the suggestion to which I have referred. I think it is an excellent idea that the Australian Government should have discussions with leaders of the business community, trade unions, banking interests and the State Premiers, so that each section of the community may be aware of its share of responsibility for the affairs of this Commonwealth.
Although I fully appreciate that everything cannot be done at once, I am disappointed about two things One is that nothing has been done about pay-roll tax. The second is that sales tax has not been removed from certain foods. I think that action in each of these fields would help to contain inflation. The honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Cockle) in his speech last evening said that the danger of further inflation had to be watched. He said that some of the steps which have been taken to stabilize our economy could also lead to a further dangerous inflationary spiral. I believe that action in regard to pay-roll tax and the removal of sales tax on certain foods would be of value because these measures would put money back into people’s pockets and into industry without greatly increasing the circulation of money which would add to the inflationary spiral. Last year, an industry in my electorate suffered a loss. Yet it still had to pay pay-roll tax, just as if it had made a profit!
I believe that the Government is grappling with the economic problem in such a way that we will see positive effects within the next few weeks and, even more so, within the next few months. Industries have expressed the greatest confidence. There is now the feeling abroad that we are returning from the period of unstable conditions in our economy. I believe that the action which the Government took eighteen months ago halted inflation, but I also believe that, because of the activities of certain sections of the community, the Government’s measures had a more adverse effect on the economy than they need have had. I say frankly that certain business people did not play their part. They did not assist the Government in its ‘task of stabilizing the economy and halting inflation.
I have heard interjections from members of the Opposition about the unemployment situation. I shall have something to say on that subject in a moment, particularly with reference to the complete inefficiency of the New South Wales Government and the political pressure which has been exercised in certain directions.
I am very happy that the Commonwealth Government has taken steps to increase finance for the Development Bank. This bank can play an important part in the development and progress of Australia. I believe it will be one of the means whereby we will counter the drift of people from country areas into metropolitan areas. It is urgently necessary to counter this drift. I believe that even more money should be made available to the Development Bank so that it may tackle the job on the scale on which it should tackle it if the bank is to function successfully.
I mentioned the State Government in New South Wales. Two industries in my electorate were offered financial assistance by that Labour Government if they would shift from my electorate to the Cessnock area. We talk about decentralization! These two industries are providing employment and assisting in the development and progress of my electorate. It is necessary for them to remain there in order to sustain the economy of the area. Yet the State Labour Government offered financial assistance to these two industries if they would go into the Cessnock area! This shows that the State Labour Government has absolutely no interest in decentralization whatsoever, except insofar as it can assist that Government politically. There is no justification for shifting these two industries to another area. They have been told that they may get limited financial assistance if they remain where they are. But if they move they will get greater assistance.
This makes me doubt those members of the Opposition who suggest that they are great supporters of decentralization - that they believe in industry going into country areas. One of these industries has put its case to the Development Bank and I hope that the bank will be able to assist it. I believe that these illustrations show the importance of the Development Bank at this moment when we are faced with difficulty in the development of primary production. Our people in primary industry have done a fantastic job. I believe that Australia owes a tremendous debt to the man on the land who has increased his production and made possible increased sales overseas. He has done this by means of increased efficiency in his industry and by his own hard work. Despite the problems of inflation, increasing costs, and overseas markets, the man on the land has made a great contribution to the progress and development of Australia.
In this connexion, the Development Bank can help those who want to go on the land and own a property. That applies particularly to the younger people. I agree with a suggestion that has been advanced often by my colleagues of the Australian Country Party that careful consideration should be given to the provision of finance for those people and also to the repayment of loans. There should be no need to repay loans immediately. Those who borrow the money should have an opportunity to establish themselves without meeting interest bills at once.
I have referred to the speeches made by the new members of this House. My friend and colleague, the honorable member for Gippsland, spoke of some of the problems and the fears of the man on the land, and the failure of so many sections of the community, particularly in the metropolitan areas, to appreciate the contribution that the primary producers make to our economy. The people generally do not acknowledge the national dependence on primary producers for our economic stability. Under the leadership of the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) the Department of Trade has done a fantastic job in finding and establishing new markets for our products. We for our part must help to stabilize the domestic economy so that markets are not lost by our inability to compete on a prices basis.
That leads me to another criticism that I wish to make, and I refer to the appointment of the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) as Minister for External Affairs. I have no criticism of the Minister himself, but I do criticize the appointment of what we might term a part-time Minister for External Affairs. A previous Minister for External Affairs, now Lord Casey, made an outstanding contribution to Australia’s prestige and standing in international affairs. He made personal contact with many people in numerous countries. I say quite sincerely that at a time when so many vital international problems face Australia it is a tragedy that our Minister for External Affairs cannot devote himself entirely to that portfolio.
A major problem facing Australia is the sovereignty of Dutch New Guinea and our relations with Indonesia. In that connexion, this Government is doing perhaps the only thing possible, but I believe that any weaknesses in our policy stem from our failure to face the realities of this situation five years ago. Sometimes, I am rather amused - although perhaps that is not the correct word in this context - to hear some of the statements on this problem which come from members of the Australian Labour Party. Much of the trouble in our relations with Indonesia was initiated by the attitude of certain trade unions, particularly on the waterfront, when Mr. John Curtin was Prime Minister. They refused to load ships going to Indonesia and some of the problems we face to-day can be traced to that time when the Labour Party had the responsibility of government in this country. If they were not so unfortunate, one would say that some of the statements that emanate from the Labour Party to-day about Indonesia and Dutch New Guinea, were amusing. We failed to face up to the situation five, six or seven years ago, and in the present circumstances I believe that the Government is doing the only thing open to it.
This emphasizes the point I have made concerning our Minister for External Affairs. I say that we need a full-time Minister for External Affairs. He should not have the responsibility of any other portfolio. Otherwise, it appears that we attach no importance to international relations. That is the only inference to be drawn from the fact we have made this a part-time job. I repeat that I have no criticism to make of the Minister himself. 1 simply believe that the international problems confronting us require the exclusive attention of one Minister.
I think it would be a good idea also to appoint a Minister for Commonwealth Relations because while matters affecting the Commonwealth of Nations are associated with international affairs, they are also some- ^ thing quite apart. Trade is linked inex’tricably with international affairs and we ‘ cannot divorce one from the other. A magnificent job has been done by the Minister for Trade and the Department of Trade and we should give close attention similarly to international affairs.
All of us have a responsibility to face up to our tasks to ensure that Australia develops and progresses and to make it the nation we know it can be. We in this Commonwealth Parliament must give a lead to the people. If we do that, they will face up to their responsibilities as they have done in the past. I commend the GovernorGeneral’s Speech and congratulate the Government on the plans it has announced for furthering the development and progress of Australia. I ask the Government to consider seriously also the criticisms I have made in this speech.
.- In my opinion, the Governor-General’s Speech represents just another issue of words on behalf of the Government. The people of Australia have already had from this Government too many words and not enough action. We all remember the policy speech that was delivered by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) in opening the election campaign last year, lt was an amazing speech because it was so unlike other policy speeches made by the right honorable gentleman. His previous speeches contained many promises. This one was empty of promises. I suppose that the Prime Minister considered that he had already built up such a huge record of broken promises that he would avoid criticism by making a speech without a policy and without promises. This time he depended more on spoiling tactics and aggressive misrepresentation. He decried every part of the Australian Labour Party’s policy which was so ably placed before the people of Australia by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell).
The Prime Minister decried Labour’s policy from one end of Australia to the other. He denounced it in every degree. He said it was inflationary and financially impossible. What a reversal we see now After seeking advice fromrepresentatives whom he previously despised »r>d ignored, he now intends to implement much of
Labour’s policy. The great monster has become a mouse.
– Who was the monster?
– The Prime Minister. We all remember that the Menzies Government was elected to office in 1949 on strong promises to do many important things. Those promises are still unfulfilled. Honorable members will agree that what 1 have said is true if they study the Prime Minister’s policy speech in 1949. lt is not possible for me in the time at my disposal to deal with all the points of his speech because it covers 39 printed pages, but if I could read all of it, honorable members would find its contents were similar to the statements that are contained in the Governor-General’s Speech we are now debating.
Speaking of full employment, the Prime
Minister said -
The aspiration for full employment is no monopoly of the Socialists. We are all human beings. Yet it is clear that full employment is to be the Socialists’ election slogan. This is a false issue. We shall confidently devote ourselves to full employment and the avoidance of depression.
That was a most striking statement for the Prime Minister to make. He went on to say -
If full employment is to be the means of achieving a progressive but secure life for a man and wife and children in their home, it cannot be left to depend entirely upon public works. Its best foundation is in the prosperity of business undertakings in which the man works.
He went on to say, further -
A real full-employment policy is completely interlocked with policies for the stabilization and development of the primary industries, housing in the country as well as in the towns, improved transport, the securing of migrants experienced in farming . . .
In the long run . . . increased production will mean competition among sellers, and therefore lower prices. Greater turnover will mean reduced costs. A resolute reduction in the burdens of government and, with it, in the rates of tax, will mean reduced costs of production.
Then he said - and he frequently says it -
We will attack all these problems with vigour and imagination.
Well, imagination may have been used in the attack, but certainly nothing else was used.
In the passages I have read from the Prime Minister’s policy speech I have referred to his statements regarding full employment, the avoidance of depression, stabilization and development of primary industries, housing in the towns and in the country, improvement of farming methods, competition among sellers, and so on. All these promises have remained unfulfilled. At the present time we see trained men, who have enjoyed continuity of employment in the textile industry and other industries for up to 30 years, being retrenched - some of them permanently retrenched. The Prime Minister spoke about stabilization, but I think all that the Government has stabilized has been stagnation and chaos. The Government has had a history of big budgets, little budgets, horror budgets, supplementary budgets, restrictions on and restrictions off, credit squeezes on and off. Prices have gone up and up, until we find to-day that the £1, which was worth £1 in 1949, is now worth only about 4s. on a comparative basis. Is it any wonder that the Prime Minister is clamouring for advisers from every part of the continent? He does so because he is on the horns of a dilemma. The wrath of the electors, which was felt on 9th December last, has left the Government in a quandary. It does not know where to turn. It appears that the Government now intends to implement the Labour Party’s policy, which it so roundly condemned during the election campaign. I believe it should do the decent thing and move out, leaving this policy to be implemented by the architects of it.
The Labour Party believes that full employment should be given first priority. The official figure for the number of unemployed at present - which is admitted by the Government to be accurate - is 131,000. This is the greatest number of unemployed that we have seen at any time since the end of the war. The Governor-General’s remarks about full employment were not very reassuring. He had this to say in his Speech -
My advisers express full confidence that these varied but related measures, acting together with the great resilient strength of our economy, will lift industrial activity and employment again to an all round satisfactory level.
Well, what is a satisfactory level in the mind of this Government? We know that the Government wants to have a pool of unemployed people. Possibly the 131,000 unemployed represents the satisfactory level that has been mentioned. The Government is not declaring that it intends to provide full employment.
It is, in my opinion, the responsibility of any government to see that the national economy is in such a state that employment is readily available to all who seek and need it. In this country there are two great avenues of employment, private enterprise and public enterprise. This Government depends, I believe, too much on private enterprise to develop the country and to provide work opportunities. History shows that in this field private enterprise has repeatedly failed. The official Commonwealth “ Year Book “ shows that before the 1930 depression the average number of unemployed in Australia represented 10 per cent, of the work force. During the depression, in the darkest days of Australia’s industrial history, the proportion rose to 25 per cent, of the work force, and many workers were engaged in unproductive employment. The position did not greatly improve in the years up to 1939. The level of unemployment was still very high before the beginning of World War II. At that time there were 250,000 persons unemployed.
During the 1939-45 war no financial or other obstacles were allowed to hinder full production to the limit of our resources, so that full employment was available and a total war effort was made possible. This merely showed up the waste that had occurred because of unemployment in the pre-war years. It taught us - at least it taught the Australian Labour Party - a valuable lesson, which the Labour Party can and will apply to the problems of peacetime. Full employment must be achieved in ways acceptable to a free society. If this was possible between 1939 and 1949 when the Labour Government was in power, why has it not been possible during 1960, 1961 and 1962 under the Menzies-McEwen Government? This Government has failed because it has been too fully occupied in protecting monopolistic profiteers and combines, and because it is inefficient and, I believe, anti-Australian.
I am afraid, Mr. Speaker, that the postwar generation has not been as conversant with certain important aspects of our Australian history as it should have been. The young voters of to-day should ask themselves why it was possible for us to have full employment during the period from 1939 to 1949 under a Labour government, and why it is not possible for us to have it under a Liberal-Country Party government. When the Labour Government was in power, young people leaving school were immediately absorbed into professions, trades and apprenticeships, in commercial positions and in industrial positions. It is appalling to find at the present time young people leaving school and not being productively employed. All Australian people should appreciate how and why their present standards of living were achieved. They should understand how it has come about that they enjoy a 40-hour week, annual leave, sick leave and long-service leave, workers’ compensation and social service benefits, and improved amenities and better conditions on the job. Young people should learn that these advantages were first provided in this country by Labour governments, and that the Labour Party still pledges itself to maintain those conditions and to improve them from time to time.
I will deal for a few moments with the causes of the present situation and suggest some remedies. I believe the Menzies Government is the chief cause of the economic recession that is now affecting Australia. It is evident that financial practice can be and often is diametrically opposed to prosperity and progress in industry. The economic tinkering policy of this Government is not in the best interests of Australia’s development or of Australia’s security. I believe that one of the contributing factors to unemployment in Australia to-day is foreign investment. It is obvious to me, and I am sure it is obvious to many other Australians, that the most serious aggression confronting Australia is not armed aggression but the imminent threat of foreign control and ownership of our capital resources. That statement may sound a little aggressive, but I think most people will agree with me when I give my reasons for making it.
The Australian Labour Party is not unconditionally against foreign investment. I believe that the Australian people should have a greater say in its control and share in its profits. If Australia is worth investing in, it surely is worth living in. Australia cannot afford to lose the money that foreign investment is costing. Let me give some details of the way that foreign investment is depriving us of revenue. I am obliged to my friend, the honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters), for this information. He obtained the figures from the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) last year and made a very good speech on the subject during the Budget debate. He said -
Hie position in connexion with the inflow of capital into Australia in recent years has been this: In 1947, there was invested in Australia less than £200,000,000 of foreign capital. In 1959, foreign capital invested in Australia totalled £950,000,000.
The amount increased four and a half times in that period. The honorable member continued -
At the end of 1960, capital from overseas invested in Australia totalled £1,100,000,000. The investment of overseas capital in Australia to-day totals £1,400,000,000. The growth of investments from overseas in the past three financial years is shown in the following figures: -
That represents an increase in the inflow of foreign capital into Australia of more than 50 per cent, during the last three years.
He went on to say -
If foreign capital flows into Australia at the increased rate at which it has been coming in during the past three years, and if that rate is maintained for the next five years, the investment in Australia at the end of that period will be more than £5,000,000,000 of foreign capital. The dividends payable upon foreign capital invested in Australia at 30th June, 1960, totalled £114,000,000 per annum. That was on private and overseas foreign investments. Upon the total of £1,472,000,000 that is invested to-day the annual payment overseas in dividends would be £147,000,000.
In my opinion, Australia cannot afford to allow that amount of money to go out of the country, and we must not lose sight of the fact that these dividend payments are increasing. But there is another important aspect of this matter. Australia has reciprocal taxation agreements with the United States of America and the United Kingdom. For the purposes of this calculation, I shall take a rate of tax of 5s. in the £1. I think that is a conservative figure. I am not an investor, but I pay about 7s. in the £1 on my parliamentary salary. Taking the rate of 5s. in the £1, Australia would lose £37,000,000 a year in taxation on the £147,000,000 now paid in dividends on foreign investments. If these investments increase at the rate suggested by the honorable member for Scullin and reach £5,000,000,000 in the next five years, we will pay £500,000,000 in dividends and under the reciprocal taxation agreements we will lose taxation revenue of £125,000,000. Australia cannot afford to lose this revenue.
Let us consider the position in Canada. An article in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ of 22nd January last, under the heading “ Canada’s worry about decline in international standing”, pointed out that a quarter of Canada’s industry is controlled by the United States of America. This does not take into account the investments made by the United Kingdom in Canada. The result is that 8i per cent, of Canada’s work force is unemployed. Canada cannot afford to pay these vast sums to foreign investors. We must keep this in mind when we consider this aspect of our economy. The Australian Government must call a halt to foreign investment. It is, as I said, a serious loss to Australia’s national economy.
Government supporters will try to justify the amount of foreign investment by arguing that it provides employment in Australia. In my opinion, foreign money is not needed to such a large degree to develop our industry. The proper utilization of our national resources would result in our prosperity without the need for large foreign investments. Australian money will do as much and provide as much employment as will any foreign money. The natural resources of Australia in iron, aluminium, coal, uranium, chemicals and other minerals belong to the people of Australia and should not be exploited by foreign investors. The inflow of foreign capital has resulted in unemployment in Australia to-day and if it is allowed to increase, unemployment will correspondingly increase, just as it did in Canada and other places. The unemployment position in Canada has been worse. At one time 12 per cent, of the work force was unemployed. If we allow foreign investment in Australia to increase, we will be faced with the same kind of situation. We should develop our natural resources by Australians for the benefit of Australians.
– I would like to congratulate you,
-on your re.election as Speaker of this House. I do not think that reference has yet been made to the fact that this is not the first time you have been re-elected unopposed. I am sure the Opposition realizes that, with your past impartiality, it could not have found a better Speaker to manage the affairs of the House.
I would also like to congratulate the mover and seconder of the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply to the Governor-General’s Speech. I hope their stay as members of the House will be both long and happy and that the rewards they receive from membership of the House will be all they would wish them to be.
– Now say the same for the new members of the Opposition.
– I was about to welcome honorable members on the Opposition side of the House who have come here for the first time. 1 am sorry there are quite so many of them. I hope their stay here is pleasant, but 1 also hope that the stay of all of them is not quite as long as they might wish it to be.
Mr. Speaker, since Christmas, the Government has been particularly active in consulting various sections of the Australian community to get the considered views of all the leading people in this country. Representatives of commercial interests, manufacturing interests, the banks and the farmers’ organizations have met with leading Ministers to discuss the problems that face Australia. As a result of the initiative taken by the Government since Christmas, various measures have been introduced. Indeed, they result from a set of formidable decisions.
The States are to be given a non-repayable gift of ?10,000,000 and an additional ?7,500,000 is to be provided for housing. Semi-government and local government authorities are to be allowed to borrow another ?7,500,000 and smaller authorities with borrowing programmes of up to ?100,000 are to be permitted to increase their borrowings in the remainder of this financial year. Personal income tax is to be reduced by 5 per cent. over the full financial year. This proposal involves, of course, a rebate at three times that rate over the last four months of the financial year. Sales tax on motor cars and com mercial vehicles has been substantially reduced. The maximum advance on a war service home is to be considerably increased. Investment allowances are being made available to industry to encourage it to introduce the most modern and up-to-date equipment. This, I believe, will do much to help our industries to maintain their position and compete with the products of overseas countries, and will help to make up for the smaller size of the local market for Australian industry compared with the markets of industries in the United States of America and the United Kingdom. A further ?5,000,000 is to be made available to the Commonwealth Development Bank of Australia. This, it should be remembered, is in addition to the sum of ?5,000,000 which was provided for that bank at the time of the last Budget.
All these measures have been introduced, as I understand it, for one specific reason - to increase employment. The honorable member for Banks (Mr. Costa) was quite wrong when he said that the Government is not really concerned about employment and that it is not honouring, and does not at all times endeavour to honour, its pledge to maintain full employment in this country. No other government has the record that the present Government has in this regard. It is true that at times throughout the last twelve years the level of unemployment has been higher than any person on the Government side of the Parliament likes, but when this has happened, measures have been put in train to rectify the position, and those measures have won the Government continued support from the people of Australia. This, I believe, will continue to be the case in the future. The honorable member for Banks said that the Government had used too many words and not been active enough. The record of action since Christmas shows how false is the honorable member’s claim.
I would have thought that Opposition members would have spoken a little quietly on this matter of unemployment. At present, the level of unemployment in Australia stands at 131,000, or 3.1 per cent. of the work force. This is much too high, and various measures have been adopted in order to reduce the level. It is worth noting that the level of unemployment is higher in Queensland than in the other States. In Queensland, it is 5 per cent. However, in the opinion of the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen), Queensland has full employment, and, presumably, all the other States have over-full employment. The honorable member is on record in “ Hansard “ on this matter, as he well knows and as most other honorable members know, although some of the newer members of this House may not know it. On 15th May, 1945, the honorable member for Parkes spoke at the second-reading stage of the Re-establishment and Employment Bill 1945. I commend the whole speech to Opposition members. They should read it. I shall read only a small part of it, as follows: -
It is an empty gesture to tell men who have fought for us that we shall give them preference in employment unless we also say that we shall create, so far as possible, total employment. I realize that there cannot be total employment, but if we can get clown to s per cent, of unemployment, for all practical purposes that can be regarded as total employment.
For emphasis, I repeat the words “ 5 per cent, of unemployment “.
– There was a Labour government then.
– That was said by the honorable member for Parkes when there was a Labour government. That standard is one that no honorable member on this side of the House will accept and that no member on this side of the Parliament has ever accepted. This Government has never accepted it. The honorable member for Parkes should be ashamed of holding that view. I trust that not many of his colleagues hold it also. If they did hold it, this would certainly be a bad day for the workers of Australia.
The Government has also adopted other measures which are designed to operate over a slightly longer term and, in part at least, to prevent some of the dislocations that have occurred over the last eighteen months. Import licensing, as it was once known, will not be re-introduced, but the Tariff Board will be given power to recommend import restrictions if it believes that they would be more appropriate than a tariff would be to protect a certain industry. A special adviser has been appointed to advise the Government on temporary import restrictions for the protection of a particular industry. Certain aspects of this new venture in protection are not yet quite clear. We at present have machinery to provide temporary duties for the benefit of an industry which needs the protection of such duties, and the relationship and inter-action between temporary duties and temporary import restrictions will have to be worked out very carefully. The authority that recommends a temporary duty is different from that which recommends temporary import restrictions, and the liaison between the two and the circumstances in which an industry goes to one authority rather than to the other will have to be watched most carefully. I hope that import restrictions, as a means of protecting Australian industry, will be used with the utmost discrimination, especially since the imports of commodities that compete with many of the sensitive industries in Australia are at present running at very low levels indeed.
Another proposal recently announced by the Government relates to changes in the Financial Agreement so that over-payments made as a result of miscalculation of the population of States will not in future result in the reduction of grants made to the States concerned when the results of a census reveal such a miscalculation. Victoria, in particular, should be grateful for this proposal. I understand that, as a result of it, that State will receive an additional £1,000,000 that it would not otherwise have obtained.
These proposals that I have mentioned make an impressive list. I have said that they are designed principally, as I understand it, to return employment to a level which honorable members on this side of House believe to be appropriate to modern conditions, and not to maintain employment at the level which the honorable member for Parkes, as is indicated by his statements recorded in “ Hansard “, believes to be appropriate.
It has been suggested that the Opposition intends to propose a motion censuring the Government on aspects of its economic policy. 1 do not know whether that is correct. I certainly hope that if it. is correct, the Opposition will not propose such a motion until the various economic measures that have been initiated and announced are put into effect on the passing of the necessary legislation. If a member on the Government side fell ill and the Government were not able to muster the numbers, a censure motion might be agreed to. Such a defeat of the Government would result in another general election. If a motion having such consequences were to be carried before the legislation giving effect to the Government’s economic proposals became law, the people of Australia, and particularly those who are at present unemployed, wouldbe denied the benefits that will come and, 1 believe, even now are coming from the proposals announced by the Government. I cannot really believe that the Opposition would want this to happen, and I trust that it will watch its tactics and ensure that such a thing does not happen.
– The Opposition would want it to happen.
– That may be so.
Previous measures introduced by the Government had two main objectives - to promote stability in price levels, which is important and vital to the exporting industries, and to protect and improve the position of our overseas reserves. It is quite obvious that price stability is vital to the continuance of our exporting industries which, of course, are largely our primary industries.It is also vital having regard to trade developments overseas that may arise in connexion with the Common Market. lt is also of the utmost importance that our overseas reserves be maintained at higher levels than normally might be necessary in order to overcome any trade dislocations which might result if the United Kingdom docs join the Common Market. But despite the measures which were introduced to maintain price stability and to protect our reserves - measures which one might be pardoned for thinking would add to confidence inside the country - rightly or wrongly, there was quite a loss of confidence. I do not propose to canvass the reasons for that loss of confidence now, but I do think that there was quite plainly some misunderstanding of the Government’s economic measures of November, 1960.
In addition, the attitude taken by industry, together with the predictions made by the Opposition in regard to our economic future - predictions which have not yet been fulfilled - could well have done something to help people lose confidence.
This loss of confidence caused a change of heart on the part of many people. It led them to save, rather than to spend, as the banking statistics disclose. Fixed deposits with the trading banks increased by £162,000,000 from November, 1960, to December, 1961. Again, before November, 1960, deposits with the savings banks were running down. For instance, in October, 1960, they totalled £1,587,000,000, but fell to £1,554,000,000 by May, 1961. They have since risen to £1,657,000,000, which is a fairly considerable rise having regard to the short period between May of last year and now.
Partly as a result of these changes in the habits of the people which led to increased saving instead of spending, the liquid assets and government security ratio with the trading banks is much higher now than it was fourteen months ago when it was 17.6 per cent. The fact that it is now 26.7 per cent. indicates that the banks have enormous hidden lending power to meet the demands for advances by their credit worthy customers.
The increase in savings which has occurred at a period of rising unemployment demonstrates a paradox, a conflict between what, for want of a better term, I shall call public and private morality. During a time when unemployment could be increasing, it is obviously better for an individual to save in case there should be any danger to himself or his own employment. But this is merely looking at the problem from the position of the private individual. If every person in the country looks at the position from the same point of view, if every individual saves a little more each week instead of spending what he used to spend, there will be a decline in the demand for goods and services, stocks will pile up, factories will not. be able to dispose of their products and, because of fear, or a change in the habits of the people, factories will be unable to employ as many workers as they did previously. I do not say that this kind of phenomenon was the only cause of events of the last twelve months, but I do think there has been a considerable change in the spending habits of the people over the last fifteen or eighteen months. This fact demonstrates that although saving may be good for one in the personal sense, it is not necessarily good for all if every one saves because it could lead directly to unemployment through a decline in the demand for goods and services. It also demonstrates that the present situation cannot be corrected only by government action; government action requires also the support of individuals together with the active support of industry. Industry must have confidence and the ability to plan for the future. I believe that this confidence and the necessary planning for the future will be forthcoming.
I am confident that the measures of which I have spoken and those which have been announced over the last few days will solve the present problem of unemployment. But the long-term problem, the central dilemma confronting the Australian economy, remains. The Government’s measures of November, 1960, were introduced to achieve price stability and to strengthen our overseas reserves, but those measures, together with the other things that came in their wake, have produced a degree of unemployment which is not acceptable to honorable members on this side of the House, even though it is acceptable to the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen), who has just come into the chamber. Measures have since been introduced to improve the employment level to a degree that we can regard as satisfactory without at the same time giving a stimulus to inflation. Can the economy be balanced between these two extremes which we do not want to see? Quite frankly, it is my belief that a satisfactory level of employment in Australia does involve some degree of inflation, but the most important thing is to have a satisfactory level of employment. But these measures will cause the exporting industries - the primary industries - some grave concern. They will make those engaged in primary industries think about their own future and lead them to ask, “ Where are the primary industries going? “ Since pre-war days, the volume of primary production has increased by about 57 per cent., and, during the 1950’s, the number of tractors used on farms increased by 135 per cent. Again, the amount of superphosphate used has increased by 50 per cent. In the seven years ending 1959-60, the area of sown pastures increased from 20,000,000 to 33,000,000 acres. This expansion may not continue unless the profitability of primary industry improves. In the three years ended 1960-61, the prices received by farmers were, generally speaking, lower than they were during the preceding three-year period, and costs increased by 14 per cent., so that, quite clearly, farmers’ returns were considerably lower, and it is probable that their earnings will be down again this year.
To protect the farmers and our overseas reserves, the Government introduced its November, 1960, measures. We now believe that other measures are necessary to improve the employment position, and I am confident that the exporting section of the community - the primary producers - will agree that they are necessary notwithstanding that they could have the effect of making the position of the primary producers more difficult. If, however, these measures do lead to a recurrence of inflation, other steps may be necessary to assist the primary producers.
A continued increase in the volume of rural production cannot necessarily be taken as a guide to the profitability of rural industry. There is some evidence of a drop in investment in primary industries even now. For instance, last year 2,500 fewer tractors were bought than during the previous year. The response of primary industries to reduced prices has always been different from the response from manufacturers. For example, if the profitability of manufacturing industries becomes less, if the manufacturers cannot sell their goods, they dismiss employees and lower their output. On the other hand, when prices for primary products fall, the primary producer seeks to meet the position by sowing a few more acres to wheat, by endeavouring to carry a few more sheep, or by improving his efficiency so that he may produce more wool, more wheat, or more beef. The unfortunate part about that is that sometimes the increased volume of production which results from lower prices further depresses the prices obtained by the primary producer despite his improved efficiency.
There are certain measures that might help if this kind of situation does eventuate, and I shall mention them only briefly in passing. I think I can now speak without any suggestion of vested interest in connexion with one matter. I refer to probate. It is a fact that in recent years some soldier settlers in Victoria have been forced to sell their farms because of the high probate duties. Of what use is it putting a soldier settler on a farm in 1952 if, should he die in 1962, his wife would be forced to sell the farm? To me, this coes not seem to bc sensible.
Another avenue of assistance to primary producers is foreshadowed in the following passage from the Governor-General’s Speech -
My advisers will therefore direct prompt and particular study to such matters as the more effective extension to the man on the land of the results of the scientific research conducted by such bodies as the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. This, of course, requires co-operation with the States, which my advisers do not doubt will be willingly given. The overwhelmingly important fact is that the whole national and international balance of the Australian economy requires that primary production should continue to increase in quantity and, by the most scientific use of the soil and improved methods, hold down costs.
I believe that the benefits which can come to primary producers as a result of improved research and better extension services are not realized by the great majority of farmers, and I am very glad to see that at this stage the Government is moving in this direction.
The Government is to be commended for the action that it has taken since Christmas which will do much to overcome the urgent human problem of unemployment. But if these measures are to be completely successful, the co-operation of industry and of individuals is necessary. The evidence is that this co-operation will be forthcoming.
Mr. CREAN (Melbourne Ports [4.37].- I should like, first, to congratulate the two new members who acquitted themselves so well in the ordeal of making a maiden speech. I trust that it will not be regarded as discourteous to point out to those two honorable members that they are replacements in this House, not reinforcements. The reinforcements have come on this side of the chamber. Those reinforcements are indicative of the dissatisfaction that the majority of the Australian people felt with the Government’s record over the past few years. They were dissatisfied because, despite the Government’s grand claims that its objectives are national growth and development, the nation was neither growing nor developing. Rather it was stagnating.
Although one may agree that there may be room for flexibility or variance of opinion about what should be done in given circumstances, never” can a government be so flexible with its policies that what was claimed to be wrong in December can be regarded as right in February. But, politically, that is the present circumstance because what the Government is advancing now in February as measures designed to stimulate the economy were claimed to be wrong in December. In his Speech the GovernorGeneral said -
Nevertheless, my Government believes that recovery in business activity and employment has been too slow.
In other words, what is being done in February should have been done much earlier. lt is easy enough for the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Malcolm Fraser) to distort unemployment statistics. Surely, an employee is a person who is normally employed by some one else, not a person who is self-employed. Unemployment percentages therefore should be based on the total number of employees, but the Department of Labour and National Service, which has adopted a comparatively new method of recording unemployment, does not record unemployment in terms of employees only. It relates the unemployment figure to what it terms the total work-force. This inclusion of self-employed persons and rural and domestic employees adds something like 1,000,000 people to what should be the proper basis for measuring unemployment. There are 130,000 people now looking for jobs in Australia, and if that number were related to a figure of 3,000,000, rather than to a figure of 4,000,000, the proportion of unemployment would be nearer to 5 per cent, than 3 per cent.
I shall not quibble very much about the method of recording unemployment, but I want to point out the magnitude of the task which faces the Government in putting into productive employment all those who desire to work. As I have said, we have at present 1 30,000 people unemployed. Yet we have a Minister who is gratified because in one single month the number of persons employed increased by 6,000! He did not tell us that in the previous twelve months the number of persons employed had fallen. To regard 6,000 in terms of 130,000 shows, to begin with, a lack of perspective.
In addition, it is reckoned conservatively that if we are to have national growth and development we can have it only in terms of the population which is already here and which will come from our migration programme. Something like 100,000 new jobs must be found each year because that is the pumber of people not previously employed who join the labour force during each year. So, if we are to have full employment in the next twelve months - even the Government claims that it believes in full employment - we must find, not 130,000 jobs but nearer to 250,000 jobs. I have sought to place the positionin its true perspective.
Honorable gentlemen on the Government side of the chamber speak as though this problem can be solved by reducing income tax at the flat rate of 5 per cent. thus giving the family man, who is being exhorted to spend, an average increase in his wage of 3s. a week. He will receive 3s. because the reduction has been made on a four-month basis and not on a twelve-month basis. The average wage-earner is earning £21 a week. If he is a married man with a wife and two children, his taxable income is approximately £700. Look at the income tax schedule and you will see how much income tax he pays. He pays more than he should because the balance of taxation in Australia is so unjust. If the wage-earner’s tax of £52 a year is reduced by 5 per cent., he will receive a benefit amounting to £2 10s. a year or ls. a week. However, as I have said, until the end of the financial year he will receive a rebate of 3s. a week because the reduction has been calculated on the four-month basis and not on the twelve-month basis. What sort of stimulus is that to activate an economy which has to find a quarter of a million jobs in the next twelve months? To see the magnitude of this problem, we need to do more than just look at the situation as it is now. We need to trace how Australia has progressed over the last ten years. And what better period is there to take, as that is approximately the period of the life of this Government?
If honorable members will consult, as they pan, the Statistical Bulletin Economics Supplement, which is obtainable from the Reserve Bank of Australia, they will find set but at page 2 of that publication a history of employment in Australia over a ten-year period in the private sector and the govern ment sector, and the numbers engaged in the defence forces. In 1950-51 the private sector employed 1,956,000 people, and let us remember that the Government believes that private enterprise is the mainspring of the economy! In 1960-61, ten years later, the total number of persons in private employment was 2,274,000, a growth of 320,000. In ten years, private employment increased by 320,000! This year we have to find - not only in private employment but, fortunately, also in government employment - 250,000 new jobs. Those figures give some idea of the magnitude of the task which faces this community.
The figures I have quoted stop at June, 1961. If we go on to December, 1961, we find that the figure has not increased in that six months’ period, but that private employment has actually dropped from 2,274,000 in June, 1961, to 2,231,000 in December, 1961- a fall of 43,000 in six months.
Let us look now at the most significant field for the generation of employment in the Australian community. Manufacturing provides most of the employment in the private sector. Of the total of roughly 2,250,000 persons employed in the private sector, 1,195,000 were to be found in the manufacturing field in December, 1960. But at December, 1961, the total number in the manufacturing sector had dropped from 1,195,000 to 1,146,000. That is a drop of approximately 50,000 in manufacturing alone, which is responsible for more than one-third of the total employment opportunities in Australia. The figure dropped in the twelve months’ period by 50,000 and the task in the next twelve months is to find 250,000 more jobs. I trust that the Government sees the Australian economy in that perspective now when making its evaluation. The Government, through His Excellency the Governor-General, says that the base of the Australian economy has been significantly strengthened in at least four ways. I do not know what the other ways, not worthy of recording, are, but these are the ones that have been recorded. The Government says the trade balances have been greatly improved. If I had time I could examine in more detail how that has been done. This Government counts a trade balance as improved when at the end of a period there is more in the London funds than there was at the beginning of the period. The Government does not count the trade balance prudently, as it ought, according to the balance of the export and import trade. Australia’s funds have increased - if they have increased in recent years - because of the flow of capital into this country.
– Through loans and investments.
– Exactly. The honorable member can go into that aspect on behalf of this party later. All I am saying is that the Government makes a glib analysis when it merely looks at the trade balance and finds a great improvement. I would like to point out, for the benefit of some of the newer members of this House, some of the very valuable things that are available in a publication called “ The Treasury Information Bulletin “ which is published four times a year. In the issue of January, 1962 - the most recent one, there are given, on the first page, some details of Australia’s balance of payments.
– Read out the export figures compared with the figures for the same months last year.
– What I would like to read out for the benefit of the honorable member is the item described as “ Invisibles “,. which I suggest is the one with which the Government ought to be concerned. However, I will read the export figures to the honorable member if he would like me so to do. The export figure is £519,000,000 in the second half-year, as against £418,000,000 in the previous comparable half-year; but in respect of the item we cannot see, the “ Invisibles “, amounting to £249,000,000, which is half, in total, of what we sell, we have to pay for something which we do not get at all. That is the kind of problem this Government ought to be contemplating rather than just looking at the windfall that nature and politics have given it in international trade over the last twelve months. Nature may not be so kind in the next period. I hope, at least, that God is still on the side of Australia but He has had His work made difficult by this Government. As I said on a television interview, the Government seemed to blame God in Queensland for my friends coming here, and did not remember the credit squeeze which it had applied. I suggest that the Government should look at these “ Invisibles “ before it counts its “ Visibles “ too far in advance. The other factor which His Excellency cited as having strengthened the basis of Australia’s economy-
– I do not think theology is your strong point.
– No. I do not think either theology or kindness is the Minister’s strong point. His Excellency stated that the internal price level has been brought to a point of stability. How has it been brought to a point of stability, and to what point of stability has it been brought?
– Do you not want it brought to a point of stability?
– Not at the cost of having 130,000 people unemployed. If that is the choice of the honorable member, it is not my choice. I thought the view of honorable members on the other side of the. House was that they believed in full employment, but we do not have full employment and I suggest that price stability, like the Government’s terms of trade, is still rather tenuous. Counting it in the terms of the indices, I think it would have meant a reduction of approximately ls. in the basic wage. Whether that is regarded as stability again I leave to you gentlemen to ponder.
The third factor - I have not time to dwell on it at this stage, but there is plenty of time left in this Parliament for that - is connected with the following words in the Governor-General’s Speech: -
The loan market is more buoyant than was anticipated in the 1961-62 Budget.
Again, that is simply a question of the banks preferring to lend to the Government than to private investors at this stage. Whether that is a healthy thing so far as absorbing about 250,000 people into employment in the next twelve months is concerned I also leave to the consideration of honorable gentlemen. I also leave to their consideration the statement in the Governor-General’s Speech that the banks have a high degree of liquidity. Again, what does that sort of jargon mean? Does it mean that the banks are willing to lend but that nobody wants to borrow? Is that the situation? And again, if the banks are willing to lend and nobody is willing to borrow, what is going to be done to absorb into productive employment about 250,000 people in the next twelve months? Also, how do you measure national growth and development in that kind of perspective? f I suggest that these are the things that this House has to contemplate in the next few months. Look at the piffling sort of remedies that have been provided so far! lt is easy enough in such circumstances as the present to throw around, in debate and in ministerial statements, percentages of unemployment. It is easy enough also to throw hundreds of millions of pounds about. You can do that if you do not understand the perspective of things. In fact, the greatest demonstrator of that sort of sleight of hand is the Prime Minister himself. One day he can take credit for spending £100,000,000 one way and the next day he says that if anybody else wants to spend that amount in another way than the way he suggests, that is profligate and will lead to ruin. When Labour said a month or two ago that another £100,000,000 circulated in the Australian economy would be a good thing for the economy the Prime Minister suggested that that would lead us down the road of inflation. He ought to be a pretty good judge of that road, because in the last ten years of his Government we have had £2,600,000,000 worth of itif one can correctly apply the term “ worth “ in that context. Now, apparently, in February of 1962 the right honorable gentleman is quite prepared to spend sums that will aggregate more than £100,000,000, and apparently now that expenditure is not going to lead down the road of inflation. I would suggest that in an enlightened community, as I hope the Australian community is - indeed, as I believe it is, after the results of the recent general election - it ought to be impossible for a person of the eminence of the Australian Prime Minister to be able to attempt that sort of confidence trick at all.
Nobody argues, these days, that it is imprudent, nationally, to have a deficit in the public accounts. Everybody knows, too, that it is easy to camouflage the national accounts, and that unless one knows what has been included one year and excluded another year it is very hard to compute whether what the Treasurer saw as virtuous eighteen months ago - a surplus of £16,000,000 - was any different from the new virtue of the last Budget, which proposed a deficit of £16,000,000. Again, in the perspective of a gross national product of some £7,000,000,000 an amount of £100,000,000 is not a very great sum to use to put people into productive employment. I believe that is what we all want to do. Surely nobody would rise in this chamber and say that he does not believe in full employment. He might limit his belief in it to some extent. For instance, I have heard my friend from Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) talk about “ over-full employment “. I am not quite sure what that is, but at least nobody will rise here and say that he does not believe in full employment.
– You cannot accuse me of talking about over-full employment. That is one thing you cannot point out in the “ Hansard “ record of my speeches. I challenge you on that.
– Perhaps I did my friend a great injustice. If I did, I withdraw the statement. At least he pays proper deference to the principle of full employment. All I am suggesting, Mr. Deputy Speaker, is that we have not got full employment in Australia to-day. I have tried to point out that we have to consider not merely the 130,000 or so people who are now out of work. We have also to consider providing 100,000 new jobs for people who will enter the employment market in the next year. In effect, we have to consider providing employment for about a quarter of a million people. I have tried to point out that in the last ten years of this Government’s term total private employment increased by only 300,000 jobs. That gives some indication of the size of the task that perplexes the Australian people to-day. The problem will not be solved merely by cheery conferences and cocktail parties. It will be solved only if you have both the vision to see what is wrong and the will to grapple properly with the problem and overcome it.
Sitting suspended from 5.2 to 8 p.m.
.- Mr. Speaker, this Parliament meets in a very remarkable atmosphere in that the economy of Australia has never been so sound. There have never been such good indications of the soundness of the economy. Buoyant overseas balances and healthy deposits in the savings banks and trading banks show that the economy is solid. Also there has been a fall in hire-purchase figures which means that the people owe much less. At the same time, howeverwe have not been able to make a sufficient fast recovery in employment.
The Government has, quite correctly, made tremendous changes. In doing this, it has been confronted with a dilemma because the ship of state must be steered between a recession with a loss of employment, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, inflation. I am afraid that, in some instances, our private trading banks know only two words - recession and inflation. We must be careful, in dealing with the economy, that we do not returnto inflation and to the instability of risingprices. I am proud to say that there is very little unemployment in my electorate, but I and my constituents are very anxious to see that everybody is employed.
There is a recurring problem in December, January and February of each year when greater numbers come on to the labour market. The honorable member for EdenMonaro (Mr. Allan Fraser) will have experienced that. In these months a lot of young people are looking for jobs but, generally, a few months later, they are placed. In the present situation in which we have the money and we have a stable economy everything possible should be done to restore confidence and reduce fear. While we have this sound economy Australia must get going at full steam ahead.
– Yes! Sack the Government!
– I do not think that the Australian Labour Party has assisted much in this respect. The Labour Party is generally known as a calamity, depression party. When Opposition members deal with this sort of situation they have a very difficult road to follow. Whilst it is right for the Opposition to draw attention to unemployment figures, its members, in their quest for power, have to be careful not to let people think that they are gloating over unemployment. They have to be very careful, too, when they say that this is the worst unemployment situation since the depression. A number of them have said it. I have heard them saying it.
– So it is.
– Let us look at that statement. Some of the younger men on the Opposition side are laughing about this. That is a pity. They have forgotten how the Chifley Government handled the coal strike. They have forgotten that 500,000 men were out of work in June and July of 1949. The Labour Government had to handle a situation in which there were many more unemployed than there are now. Let us see how that Government handled it. The honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) is no doubt waiting for me to remind the House of his views on the subject of unemployment because this is an evergreen. The honorable member for Parkes has said that about 5 per cent. would be a fair level of unemployment. He does not deny that.
– That was twenty years ago.
– He said it when the Labour Government was in power. I want the younger men on the Opposition side to remember that the honorable member for Parkes said that 5 per cent. would be a fair level of unemployment. What would that mean? It would mean over 200.000 unemployed out of our present work force, although it would not have been so many at the time that the honorable member for Parkes made that statement because the work force thenwas smaller. But it is on record in “ Hansard “ that the honorable member for Parkes said that. It stands there for ever. To-day, Opposition members are making an election plank of the fact that under this Government there is between 2 per cent. and 3 per cent. unemployment, which is 3 per cent. or 2 per cent. more than the honorable member for Parkes said was reasonable.
– There is 5 per cent. unemployment in Tasmania and in Queensland at the present time, too.
– In other words, there are patches of unemployment. The honorable member for Parkes should not try to divert attention from the real issue. Let us examine the position in New South Wales, the big manufacturing and employing State from which the honorable member comes. The honorable member for Parkes said that 5 per cent. was a fair level of unemployment. He indicated that that would just about keep the economy going. It is no good Opposition members getting angry about it. This is a fact. The figure of 5 per cent. represents over 200,000 unemployed which the honorable member for Parkes says is a fair figure. For the sake of getting back on to the Treasury bench-
– You are a liar - a complete liar.
-Order! The honorable member for Parkes will withdraw that remark.
– I will just say that he is a bucolic prevaricator, Mr, Speaker.
– Order! The honorable member cannot qualify his remark. He will withdraw it.
– All right. I withdraw it.
– I am sorry that I did not hear what the honorable member for Parkes said, but I can understand how he feels about this. He must feel most unhappy about it. No doubt he is sorry that he said this but, in fact, he did say it when the Labour Government was in office.
– Members of the Labour Party did not object at the time.
– They accepted it as the normal thing. I did not have the honour to be a member of this House then but the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) was here. The Chifley Government accepted the statement of the honorable member for Parkes that 5 per cent. unemployment was reasonable. The party which I support does not agree with that. My party will do tremendous things and is doing tremendous things to try to avoid having that percentage of unemployed.
The honorable member for Port Adelaide (Mr. Thompson), who is interjecting, was a supporter of the Chifley Government under which 500,000 persons, or 10 per cent. of the work force was unemployed. Of course, that Government panicked. What did it do to meet the situation? The Labour Government took very different action from that which is being taken now. It put the miners’ leaders in gaol. You put George Grant in gaol and you put Parkinson in gaol. You voted for the Coal Industry Act and you supported the Coal Industry Tribunal which did these things.
-Order! Is the honorable member addressing the Chair? I did not vote for these things.
– Honorable members opposite laugh. I regret very much that this should become a matter for levity.
This is a very serious matter indeed. We are discussing the economic position of Australia. Members of the Opposition do not want me to continue, but it is fair to say that we are using sounder methods to deal with the situation than any that they used. Parkinson and George Grant went to gaol and the miners’ funds were frozen by the Labour Government of the day which represented the trade unions. The Labour government put troops on the coal-fields.
– Do you think it did wrong?
– I think that in a democratic community the way we are handling the situation is better than the way you handled it. I regret to say that when the Labour Government put troops on the coalfields and sent the miners’ leaders to gaol, the judge who put them there said to one man, “ I sentence you to six months’ gaol for embarrassing the Labour Governments - Federal and State”.
– Are you packing a gun?
– The member for Watson would like to divert this discussion.
– I rise to a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Do not the Standing Orders require that an honorable member referring to another member of this chamber must refer to him as “ the honorable member “?
– Order! The point of order is sound, and I hope that it will always be observed on both sides of the chamber.
– Honorable members on the Opposition side are perturbed and would like to divert the course of this discussion.
– You are not discussing your big defeat.
– I do not know about defeat.
– You arc here by the skin of your teeth.
– Order! I ask the honorable member for Port Adelaide not to interject. He will have his opportunity to speak.
– We have been looking at the honorable member for twelve or thirteen years. In a desperate attempt to try to win office, members of the Australian Labour Party said some very un-Australian things and helped to destroy confidence and spread fear in Australia. Everywhere in Australia, the Labour Party has spread fear and alarm. According to the column headed “ Labour Viewpoint “ in the Melbourne “ Age “, the suffering in Australia is the greatest since the depression. That was stated in a heading. Of course, the Labour Party did not mention that when it was last in office there were 500,000 Australians or 10 per cent. of the people unemployed. Supporters of the Australian Labour Party did not tell anybody of the savage things they did in trying to get the economy going again. They have not reminded the people about the black-outs that occurred when they tried to get coal production going.
– This Government was elected on the Communist vote.
– The honorable member talks about Communists. What about the Communist leadership of those trade unions which sought to wreck Australia? Of course you would like to forget that period when a- Labour government was in power.
– You said the Communist leaders were in gaol.
– And George Grant died when he came out of gaol! You and your party put him in gaol. He was the miners’ leader but I do not believe he was to blame or that he was dealt with as he should have been. This Government has never put the miners in gaol.
– And I never put the miners’ leaders in gaol.
– The honorable member for Eden-Monaro supported a government which put the miners’ leaders in gaol. Now he is trying to talk his way out of it. Of course, members of the Opposition are upset by this sort of attack on them. They have made a phoney appeal for support in the past few months in an attempt to take over the government. At the time, the economy was sound. First of all the Opposition criticized the condition of our overseas funds. When our overseas balance went up and up, the Opposition changed its tune and attacked the Government on unemployment. I am sorry to say that 1 believe the Labour Party has helped to create unemployment. It has spread fear and consternation throughout the land.It has made people afraid to spend their money and buy consumer goods to keep factories, retailers and transport going. Australians have acted in the fatalistic way that is part of their make-up. What did the swagman say?
– You will know soon.
– He jumped into the billabong and said, in effect, “ You will never catch me again “. When the Australian people heard the members of the Labour Party, they said, “We will not be caught again “. So, after 1960, when there was so much money flowing through the economy, this Government took direct measures. Wool prices were rising. Wages were up and margins were increased. The average wage in Australia was about £23 or £24 a week in 1960, and in many cases two or three people in each home were earning high wages. After a prolonged experience of this sort of thing, the people were inclined to believe that prosperity had arrived. Even those who were timid and reluctant to spend thought it was all right to enter into hire-purchase contracts. They did not hesitate to buy a new car or a washing machine or a new house and all those things that could only be paid for if that level of income could be maintained.
The fact was that it could not continue forever. By the end of 1960 the hirepurchase companies had raised all the money it was possible to get. There was no more money available. Honorable members from rural electorates, including the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti), know that garage proprietors in country towns could not support their floor purchase plan for motor cars. The money was not available because there was such a drain on finance. The hire-purchase companies and other financial institutions could not get enough money to supply all the needs of the people. So spending had to be stopped and if this Government had not acted as it did, there would have been a collapse. It might have been as great as, or even greater than, the collapse that honorable members experienced under the Chifley Government.
So, the Government took action. Whether it took all the correct action is a matter for history to decide. The Government itself decided that some of its actions were wrong and it corrected them; but it was a desperate period and the country came through it despite the calamity howling of the Labour Party. Now the economy is building up. The measures that the Government announced on 7th February are aimed at that objective. It is time that the Parliament and all good Australians - and I refer to honorable members on both sides of the House - did all they could to restore confidence. If, by some accident for which honorable members opposite are hoping, the Labour Party should occupy the treasury bench, who would be trying harder than the Labour Party to restore confidence? If honorable members opposite achieved office what would they be doing? You cannot get the people to buy goods just by making money available to them. They have to have the feeling that things are all right. Honorable members opposite would have to try to restore confidence.
Why do not honorable members opposite, therefore, change their tune? Why do they persist with headlines such as “ Suffering Greatest since the Depression “ ? That is untrue. Those statements are completely untrue. I have given chapter and verse to show that the position was worse in 1949 than it has been in the thirteen years since then.
We can, of course, rise above any difficulties that may now confront us. Honorable members on the other side have pleaded for money to be made available for local government authorities. Well, the Government has now decided to make money available to those authorities. I believe that in a situation in which there is a lag in the public sector of expenditure - I think those are the words used by the economists - we can catch up with that lag. The Government can supply the funds, and every member of this Parliament can go into his electorate and urge the various shires and municipalities to take on the jobs that should be done. The president of the Metropolitan Water, Sewerage and Drainage Board in Sydney announced a few days ago that he was putting on 2,000 extra men. ,
– A good Labour Government in New South Wales made that possible.
– -The Labour Government in New South Wales got the extra money from the Commonwealth. While we are on that subject, let me tell the story of what happened in Wollongong, and what made the Labour Government move in that district. We went to Wollongong and we1 showed that the Government of New South Wales had £15,000,000 extra to spend, and we said that it should not leave it until the last three months of the financial year to spend that money. We said that it should be spent immediately. I suggested that it should be made available for expenditure by the Water Board, by the New South Wales Government Railways, by the Department of Main Roads and by the Wollongong Council. Mr. Connor and Mr. Fowles were present, and after they attended a caucus meeting in Sydney an announcement was made that a crash programme of works was to start in Wollongong. I had pointed out that the Government should not leave it until the last three months of the financial year to spend the money, as had been done frequently in the past, and then get rid of it quickly before coming to the Australian Loan Council.
There are many ways in which the extra money that will be made available can be productively spent. I mention, first, the provision of water and sewerage facilities. Half the people of Sydney, and, no doubt, a like proportion of people in other cities, are without sewerage facilities. Drainage would provide a lot of manual work for men who may be at present unemployed. Then there is much to be done in the provision of kerbing and guttering and concrete footpaths. A good deal of work of this nature is required so that pedestrians will not have to walk on the road shoulders, which is a dangerous practice. The provision of adequate street lighting is another urgent need. Common standards of lighting should be provided at pedestrian crossings throughout the country, instead of having different kinds of lighting in different towns and cities. There is also much work to be done in road construction and reconstruction. Much road work needs to be done to supplement the work that is clone under the Commonwealth Aid Roads Scheme.
The Government has made the necessary moves. Let us cease talking about creeping paralysis in employment in country towns. 1 heard that phrase used yesterday.
– I will use it again later.
– The honorable member for Blaxland has used the phrase “ creeping paralysis “. He is smiling about it. He admits having used it, and he admits it with a certain amount of relish. 1 do not think that is worthy of the honorable member. He is a better man than that. He is an Australian. Why should he set out to damage country towns, as the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) did when he went to Ballarat a little while ago? He said that all the people of Ballarat were moving to Melbourne, and that Melbourne’s population was going up as a result, while poor Ballarat was suffering. I am glad to say that those calamity howlings fell on deaf ears in Ballarat, because the people of that city knew that the right thing was being done.
On this side of the House we are determined that our very sound economic policies will be translated into prosperity and buoyancy. This country has enormous resources, as all of us know who have moved about the continent. We have seen the 30 teams in the Northern. Territory studying the resources of minerals and precious stones that are available there. We know of the deposits of coal and iron ore that are available in Queensland.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate) has characteristically indulged in a display of mock heroics in an attempt to defend a lost cause. He has told us that the economy of the country is sound and progressive at the present time, but then he tells us that we need to speed up and go full steam ahead. He has by no means silenced the strong protest that was made against the Government by the electorate on 9th December last. The people showed quite clearly their condemnation of the actions of the Government. When a government has suffered an ignominious moral defeat, having its majority reduced from 34 to two, much more is needed to quell public disquiet than we have heard this evening from the honorable member for Macarthur.
The honorable member has offered very poor consolation to the 131,500 persons who at this moment constitute Australia’s great army of unemployed. No doubt those unfortunates expected to hear something in the Government’s policy, as outlined by the Governor-General yesterday, to give them some hope of employment in the future. Unfortunately, in the Governor-General’s Speech, which is to all intents and purposes a ministerial statement, there was no reference whatever to anything in the nature of national developmental works of a kind that might stimulate the economy and give our unemployed some prospect for the future. It is not as though Australia does not need developmental projects. A young, vigorous country like ours needs a much more active developmental programme than has been outlined by the Government. The only part of the Government’s policy that really deserves commendation is the small portion that was taken from the policy of the Labour Party with the idea of placating a certain section of the Australian people. Without that small policy item, the Government would not have a feather to fly with ministerially.
For these reasons I suggest that the members of the Government would do well to review their attitude towards our great national problems - that is, of course, if they survive, and I have a very strong feeling that they will not remain on the treasury bench much longer, particularly if the people get an opportunity to voice a further protest against the Government’s inaction even since the recent election took place. Although the Government has realized the urgency and seriousness of the unemployment situation, it has taken nearly three months to produce anything in the nature of a policy to try to relieve that situation.It has now acted in a piecemeal way. According to the press, the money that is now being made available will provide work immediately for only 35,000 of the 131,500 unemployed. I suppose the remainder must wait until the earnings of the 35,000 create further opportunities for employment. Last year we paid almost £8,200,000 in unemployment relief. This is disgraceful and proves how serious the situation is. No tangible assets will accrue to the country from the expenditure of this amount. 1 recognize the urgent need for the payment of relief, but if this and other sums had been used to create suitable and effective work for the unemployed, the country as a whole would have benefited. The Government has failed to meet its obligation to the country and to the unemployed. On the facts of the present situation, honorable gentlemen opposite have no reason to preen themselves.
The honorable member for Macarthur sought to excuse the Government by referring to a temporary situation that arose when Labour was in office. Let me point out to him that the circumstances which created the present unemployment are progressive and the number of unemployed is increasing month by month.It is quite evident that the Government has only belatedly become aware of the situation, although it has been living with it for some time. In a radio broadcast two nights before the election, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) said -
That there is in total terms, some small degree of current unemployment is true.
Can we honestly accept that there is only a small degree of current unemployment? I suggest that the number of unemployed is now so great that the Prime Minister and those who sit behind him will need a better explanation for the situation than they have yet been able to offer.
The Government does not hold office now because the majority of electors voted for it. The Australian Labour Party, which is now in opposition but which will soon be entrusted with the powers of government, received 2,534,680 votes; it received the substantial support of the electorate. The Liberal Party and the Australian Country Party combined received 2,217,476 and the Australian Democratic Labour Party received 456,962 voles. This Government would not be occupying the treasury bench to-night if it had not received the preference votes of Communists. Honorable members opposite have sought to upbraid Opposition members on the issue of communism, but they have been returned to office because they received the preference votes of Communists. This is particularly so with the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) and we must remember that his winning of the seat brought about the return of the Government. Honorable members opposite would do well to keep silent for all time on the subject of communism, for they will always be reminded of the support they received from Communists - circumstances that have now become history.
We are told that there are now 131,500 unemployed. But this is the number of persons who have registered and not the total number of unemployed. Many people do not register and the total number of unemployed to-day exceeds 160,000. I found a glaring example of the sad position that presents itself particularly to young people who are now leaving school and seeking to establish themselves in some form of employment. One of the principal electrical firms in Adelaide advertised for a youth to bc trained in salesmanship Of those who applied for the one position, more than 80 held the intermediate certificate. The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes) may smile at this situation, but we have yet to hear the Government give a satisfactory explanation for the present state of affairs. The only way the management of the firm I have mentioned could determine who would be the successful applicant was by drawing a lot from the hat. Although there are 10,000 people unemployed in South Australia, the evening newspaper had a banner headline saying that the assistance now being given by the Commonwealth Government would create employment for 500 persons immediately - 500 out of 10,000! The Government will have the utmost difficulty in justifying this situation.
The unemployment problem will become aggravated now because the immigration programme is to be stimulated. This will create further problems for the people who are already here. I do not oppose attempts to develop the country and add to its security by increasing our population, but the Government has no right to invite people to come here unless it can provide employ: ment and homes for them and for those who are already here.
Let me remind honorable gentlemen opposite of some aspects of the economy at present. Over the last decade, a period throughout which this Government has been in office, Australia has had an adverse balance of payments totalling £1,600,000,000. This has been bridged by a running down of the overseas reserves by £300,000,000, by the Government borrowing £200,000,000 overseas and by £1,100,000,000 of foreign investment. These are the means to which the Government has resorted to overcome the difficulties of a financial position in which, when all is counted up, we are ever increasing our obligations to the great financial magnates and the interests abroad that to-day are receiving from this Government concessions far greater than are justified, to the detriment of the rights and liberties of the Australian people.
I urge on those who are now in office the need to realize that, even in the brief period for which they will continue to govern this country, they have an obligation to show greater understanding and appreciation of the problems that beset so many people in Australia at the present time. This Government has an obligation to provide the people with the means of livelihood as laid down in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states -
Everyone has the right to work, to the free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.
That is something that this Government has utterly failed to recognize as an obligation of government.
If the members and supporters of this Administration want to know just how badly they have failed, they need only look at the north and the north-west of this country. They are making no effort to develop that most vulnerable part of our Commonwealth or to help solve the problems of the people who live in those distant parts. We must do much more to develop the north and the north-west if we are to justify our claim to hold and govern this great and expansive continent. We have glorious opportunities. This country offers to its people possibly the greatest riches that are offered to future generations in any country. We have a great heritage. Unfortunately, the circumstances of government at present ignore these things. When we look at the present Government’s mismanagement of the Australian economy, we realize how badly it has failed to observe the needs of the present and to provide better opportunities for our people by progressively developing this continent. We have a vigorous, young and vital people who desire a secure future. This Government is doing all too little to provide the means by which the Australian people may enjoy a full life and to ensure their well-being and the security of this land.
.- Mr. Speaker, first of all, 1 congratulate you on being again elected to your office. I should like to congratulate, also, the mover and the seconder of this motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply to the GovernorGeneral’s Speech on their excellent first addresses. I also wish the new members of this place a very pleasant sojourn here. So many of the new honorable members opposite come from my own State. Strange as it may seem, the new Opposition members, and particularly those from Queensland, have come here as a result of Labour policy which has proved disastrous in Queensland. In that State, we had socialist government for 40 years. That is a longer history of socialist government than any other State has. Queensland is undoubtedly the richest State in terms of natural resources. Yet, to-day, we have practically no industry in Queensland. Simply because of socialist policies, no industry has been attracted to that State. At present, we in Queensland depend on primary industry for our prosperity. As any one knows, primary industry is subject to fluctuations caused by seasons and by rises and falls in overseas prices.
Much has been made of the unemployment position in Queensland. While we have no secondary industry to provide employment to take up the slack as it is taken up in Victoria and South Australia and, to a degree, in New South Wales, we shall never have a stable economy in Queensland. On the other hand, I should like to point to the parallel of South Australia, the State with the longest history of free-enterprise government. What 1 have seen in that State leads me to believe that, in natural resources, it is probably one of the poorest, but successive governments in South Australia have set out to make the most of what they have had. And what a success they have made of it! I think that there is about 2 per cent, unemployment in that State. The last figures issued showed 2.1 per cent, for Victoria and 2.3 per cent, for New South Wales, a State which is slowly slipping back as a result of 21 years of socialist government. In New South Wales, there is a general recognition of the need for a change of government to bring new policies and encouragement and to realize the ambitions and expectations of the people of that State. One has only to go from Sydney to Melbourne to see the contrast, with a- tremendous burgeoning of expansion in Victoria, which is leaving New South Wales cold, as the- saying goes. This process will continue while the Labour Government prevails in New South Wales.
There is another very interesting factor. In our history of 61 years of federal government, Labour has been in office in the federal sphere for only fifteen years. That in itself indicates that the policies to which Labour subscribes will not serve to realize the expectations and ambitions of the people of Australia.
– Labour has been in office for a total of seventeen years.
– I made my calculation on figures taken from the Commonwealth “Year Book”. I suggest that the honorable member add the figures again. I have checked them anr! I do not agree with him. However, even if seventeen years were the correct period, it would still represent only a very small proportion of the total. What happens is that during long periods in which the non-Labour parties are in office, the people forget about the policies of the Australian Labour Party. But, Labour having taken office again, the people realize their mistake and Labour is turned out once more. I believe that the longest period of Labour government in the Commonwealth sphere was in the war and early post-war years - the days of the Chifley and Curtin Governments, which were led by two outstanding Labour leaders. That was the period of controls, when the people of Australia willingly accepted controls to further the war effort. But what happened? The Labour Government decided to retain those controls after the war had ended, and out of office it went. It has been out of office now for twelve years. When we have completed our present three-year term, this Government will have been in office continuously for a period equal to the total of the periods of office of the Labour Party since the beginning of federation.
I admired the efforts of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) to prove that for the whole. period for which this Government has been in office the country has been in a more or less stagnant condition. I have great respect for his ability and capacity, but I am afraid that his argument was not convincing. And no one can wonder at that, as I shall quickly demonstrate. I do not think the figures I am about to cite have been mentioned in this House before, but they are interesting. In the period during which this Government has been in office, the population of Australia has increased from 8,000,000 to 10,000,000, and we have attracted £1,000,000,000 in overseas investment, mainly to promote new industries.
– Pawnshop industries.
– The honorable member might call them pawnshop industries, but they employ thousands of Australians, and while they do that they will be welcomed in Australia. We did not hear allegations of this sort before the election. Indeed, if during the election campaign, the electors had heard some of the suggestions put forward now by members of the Labour Party, this Government would have been returned with a far bigger majority than it enjoys to-day.
The Labour Party has been keeping its true policy under wraps. It is a party whose sole concern is to gain office. It conjures up new arguments and new policies for each election. The people will never elect a Labour government because the Labour Party’s policies are not designed to promote the best interests of Australia. I am convinced that the people who elected this Government will take serious notice of some of the suggestions put forward by honorable members opposite. It has been said that we are in office on the Communist vote. I agree that we are, but I do not think that fact gives the Communists any great satisfaction because they are too stupid to know for whom they are voting. If we were elected on the Communist vote it was only because certain people marked their order of preference straight down the ballot-paper. I admit that we are here with a majority of only one, but, as the honorable member for Macarthur (Mr, Jeff Bate) has said, the main thing is that we are here. I think that every one will agree that winning the Melbourne Cup on a photo finish is just as good as winning it by ten lengths. I believe that, with our majority of one, we will overcome our present difficulties, difficulties which have been engendered by the strain that has been put on our economy by the tremendous expansion that has taken place in recent years. Under our administration, this nation of only 10,000,000 people has become one of the ten great trading nations of the world. At no previous stage in her history has Australia been noticed so much ( in the world as she is to-day both in the j field of commerce and the field of diplomacy. What was Australia’s position when Labour was last in office so many years ago? During that government’s term, Australia lagged far behind in the field of commerce. Such was our position then that the Chifley Government thought it desirable to nationalize banking and to continue all sorts of controls. We, on the other hand, have allowed free enterprise to flourish and Australia and its people to prosper. Again, during the Labour Government’s regime, our military situation could not have been worse. At that time, our greatest ally, the United States of America, would no longer share her military secrets with us because of Communist infiltration into some of our most vital departments!
– That is a lie.
– It is a fact. If the honorable member cares to read the evidence given before the Petrov royal commission he will see it all set out there. Honorable members opposite do not like my drawing attention to these facts. Even the Opposition has been carried away by the progress and advancement Australia has made. I would not join with my friend, the honorable member for Macarthur, who criticized the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) for saying that 5 per cent, unemployment was full employment, because the honorable member for Parkes has since changed his mind to conform to our idea of what constitutes full employment. We would not have 5 per cent, of our work force unemployed. We are out to correct the employment situation as soon as we can, but the Labour Party itself has done more than any other body to worsen that situation. The Labour Party is dragging its feet instead of getting behind us in our efforts to push Australia forward. Its members are fighting for political gain, and in doing so they are putting a sprag in the wheel of Australia’s progress.
– If you had not got a thrashing at the election you would not have done anything about it.
– We are still here, and we will stay here, do not worry about that. The Labour Party’s policies are not acceptable to the people of Australia.
It has been said that Queensland is the Cinderella State, that she has lost out in Commonwealth aid. Of course she has lost out in Commonwealth aid, and the reasons are plain to see. The former Labour Premier of Queensland, Mr. Gair, refused to join in the Commonwealth’s war service land settlement scheme because he wished to pursue a socialist policy. As a result of his refusal Queensland lost between £35,000,000 and £40,000,000. Mr. Gair was good enough for the Labour Party then, and he was a fairly good leader judged by that party’s standards.
As I have said the Labour Party keeps its true policy under wraps. It seeks to appeal to the primary producer, but the primary producer remembers - he has never forgotten it - that most of his troubles, and very serious troubles they are, stem from the 40-hour week and increased costs resulting from its introduction. What is the attitude of honorable members opposite to a 35-hour week? Undoubtedly, if the Labour Party had won the last election it would introduce a 35-hour week. I should like to hear from honorable members opposite just what is their attitude toward the 35-hour week because it would make very interesting hearing. AH T can say is that if we ever do get such a reduction of working hours it will be the end of the primary industries.
Finally, T should like to refer to the problem about which I. and I believe most honorable members on this side of the House, are greatly concerned. The Australian Country Party in particular is most concerned about the position of our primary industries. This Government has done a great deal towards reducing costs in the primary industries. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports waved the Treasury “ Information Bulletin “ before us and advised the new members of this House to read it. T also advise them to read it because the honorable member for Melbourne Ports did not read the whole of its contents, and it contains some excellent material which clearly indicates just what this Government has achieved. Tt shows that, in the last two quarters, and for the first time in history, the consumer price index in all States dropped by an average of 6 per cent. If that is not reducing costs, I do not know what is. That is the only thing which will save the primary producers, but we do not hear anything from the Opposition about it.
I know there is great concern about the provision of finance for development and to bring about greater efficiency. The demand for long-term 10,v-interest finance is a sign of a sick industry. I can recall, as no doubt many honorable members on this side of the House will recall, that in past years primary producers could afford to borrow money at 8 per cent, and even higher rates of interest and still make a go of it, but to-day, because of increased costs and smaller profit margins, it is impossible to repay such borrowings. There is a remedy for this and I hope that the Government will take steps to implement it. We need a more realistic approach to wage fixation. Honorable members opposite always advo cate higher wages. That is all right. I agree with higher wages if at the same time the primary producers similarly benefit and prosper, but whenever hours have been shortened and wages increased the position of the primary producers has become worse than it was. The measures which were introduced recently and which honorable members opposite have condemned have made people realize just how dependent we are on our primary industries.
It is necessary to keep costs down, not only in the interests of our primary industries but also so that we can build up healthy secondary industries because we shall not be able to absorb our increasing population, both natural and immigrant, in our primary industries. We must look to the secondary industries. All honorable members will agree that the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) has made wonderful endeavours to promote our secondary industries particularly by the trade missions which he has organized.
We have in Australia a high cost structure. We do not want to shorten hours or reduce wages so we must endeavour to maintain our present position despite the fact that cos’s in other parts of the world are rising. We must make our secondary industries more efficient. There is a great clamour for increases in our tariffs and even for quantitative restrictions, but these would be disastrous not only to our secondary industries but also to Australia generally because we on the land have had to fight and slave to find some new way by which we can increase our efficiency. In the sheep industry we have doubled the production of wool in the period that this Government has been in office, not through our own efforts but because the Government provided the incentive by granting primary producers depreciation allowances for taxation purposes. These allowances would never have come from a Labour government but they have been one of the most’ important factors in enabling the primary producers to stay on the land. The farmer has tried desperately to increase his efficiency and, to an extent, he has succeeded, but while he has been increasing his efficiency world prices have been falling and markets have been closed to him.
It has been suggested that this is a government without a policy. How ridiculous is that statement! This Government’s policy has been designed to develop Australia and expand its economy, and at no time in this country’s history have we developed and had such prosperity as we have enjoyed during this Government’s term of office. Terrific strains have been placed on the economy. Thank goodness the Government had the courage to tackle these problems! Now we have a stable economy equal to that of any country in the world. We are poised for further expansion and development. A parallel to Australia’s economic position may be found in army activities. If your army makes a great advance you must consolidate your gains before making the next push. That is what this Government is doing. What better policy could we have for our further development and expansion? We have a great achievement which unfortunately has been criticized in many quarters. I refer to the Snowy Mountains scheme which is the greatest engineering project ever undertaken in Australia.
– And the Government which you support opposed it.
– We are completing it. We obtained the money for it, and that is a very important factor. Our credit is good and we can borrow money. We have been asked what we will do when the Snowy Mountains scheme is completed. What better work could be undertaken than road development on the same scale as the Snowy Mountains scheme? Transport is the greatest problem confronting Australia. It is a problem which no other nation in the world has to the same degree. We have a great land mass with a fertile coastline having a reasonably reliable rainfall, but as we go towards the interior the rainfall becomes very uncertain. As things stand at present we have no hope of ever supporting a large population in the far inland areas. If we had large inland centres of population we could cheapen our transport costs by adopting efficient methods. We in Australia have a transport problem which is different from that in any other country in the world and, for that reason, we must face this problem on a national basis.
Mr. E. JAMES HARRISON (Blaxland) as outlined yesterday afternoon in the Speech of His Excellency the GovernorGeneral. To-night we have heard two speeches from honorable members on the Government side which underline, in the first place, the total incapacity of the Government forces to appreciate one thing that is necessary for the future development of Australia.
Let us consider the speech of the honorable member for Mcpherson (Mr. Barnes). He pointed to the new members who have come to this House from his State and said that they were here as a result of Labour policy. To start with, we are very proud of that. He then went on to say that he could not support his colleague, the honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate) who criticized the statement alleged to have been made in 1945 by the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) that 5 per cent, unemployment was a reasonable expectation. He said that the Government did not believe in having 5 per cent, unemployment. And strange as it may seem this is an honorable member who comes from Queensland where, for the last four and a half years, there has been a government of the same kidney, of the same type and make-up as this one. In the news release by the Department of Labour and National Service yesterday we find that the figure for unemployment in Queensland is recorded officially by the Government as 5 per cent., yet the honorable member cannot understand why Queensland made a change in its representation here. The honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate) twitted me on my remark last night about the creeping paralysis which has been overtaking job opportunities in almost every country town and centre of consequence as the result of this Government’s policy. I asked the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) a” question as follows: -
Has the Minister for Labour and National Service become aware of the creeping paralysis which has been overtaking job opportunities in almost every country town and centre of consequence?
I asked, further -
What is the position in relation to school leavers in the centres where there are already between 500 and 1,000 persons receiving unemployment benefit?
I was referring to the country towns where we read so often of late of people having to go into relief queues or dole queues immediately they leave school. I also asked the Minister -
What plans, if any, has the Government in mind to overcome this alarming situation in country towns as distinct from unemployment in our cities?
The Minister replied -
The honorable gentleman asked one question that I could understand and two, which, frankly, I could not understand.
The Minister and the Government do not understand1 that national development in Australia is not related only to the cities of Melbourne and Sydney. Unfortunately for himself, the honorable member for Macarthur mentioned Ballarat. If he is interested in the future of Australia’s development, is he proud of the fact that there are 544 people on food relief in Ballarat, according to this document, and that never since July of last year have there been fewer than 500 people drawing food relief each month in that city? When I talk about the country towns I do not refer merely to Ballarat. Is the honorable member for McPherson (Mr. Barnes) happy about the fact that in the small town of Warwick there are 148 families living on unemployment relief or what is commonly known to us as the dole? Is the honorable member happy about the fact that every town had an increase in the number of people on unemployment relief in the month of January?
– What about Mildura? You said “ every town “. I heard you.
– Let us see whether you are happy about it when the fruit-picking season ends.
– You said unemployment had increased in all these towns.
– Mildura is not quoted in the official records. I asked the Minister’s department why the figures for every town are not quoted, but the reason why that is not done is that if it were, members of this House would get to know it too much and even members of the Liberal Party of Australia would not be happy about the incapacity of this Government to face up to national development.
When the Minister tells me he does not understand questions which relate to job opportunities for school leavers in areas all over this country he stands branded for his inability to understand what is necessary for the future of Australia. 1 can tell the honorable member for McPherson why the new members for Queensland electorates are here% Let us look at Rockhampton, for example. Under the Labour Government in Queensland up until four years ago, before the machine age on the cane-fields and in the meat industry, conditions were healthy in Rockhampton. But things have changed under this Government. In the Melbourne “ Sun News-Pictorial “ of 19th February we read -
Mr. McMahon said that employment in the larger private factories surveyed by the department rose by 5,884 or 1.1 per cent, to January - the largest rise ever recorded for that month.
He looks at employment in Australia in the light of. the figures supplied to him on the basis of major percentages and not of the position of Rockhampton where, after four years of a government of the same kidney as this Government, there are 1,469 people living on food relief. We can trace the position all the way along the coast. At Townsville there are 1.249 people on relief. This Government took responsibility for employment and unemployment as the result of a referendum.
The Minister does not understand the requirement that he report to his Government on national development, but I think the new members from Queensland will demand from the Government that it meet its responsibilities or go out of office very soon. I know the new member for Capricornia (Mr. Gray) will soon be on his feet in this House demanding not only for the present unemployed in Rockhampton but also for the school leavers an opportunity for employment in their city, as well as homes for those who wish to marry and increase the population of those areas.
When I asked the Minister whether he had given any attention to the position in towns where there were from 500 to 1,000 people unemployed, I had in mind centres like Ballarat and Rockhampton, across the face of this continent, because the bulk of the unemployment is in those places. The Minister referred to 10,000 additional jobs, but they must bc divided among 130,000 people! I have not the figures and I do not think that the Minister has looked at them, but it is safe ;to say that of those 10,000 jobs 9,000 ; would be available in the capital cities.
I We cannot develop this country unless we have a change of policy in the national J Parliament. We have reached a stage in this country where no longer can we throw scraps to the State governments - as this Government is throwing them - and expect the States to be able to pick them up and plan on a national basis. The planning of the development of this country coupled, as it should be, with the question of employment and unemployment, is not a matter which can be divided into six pieces. If ever there was a call for real planning emanating from this chamber it is now, at the commencement of 1962. His Excellency said, in his Speech -
Turning now to economic matters, my Ministers have, after many consultations with industry, recently reviewed the state of the Australian economy in the light of measures taken during the last Parliament.
It is their view that the base of the Australian economy has been significantly strengthened in at least four ways.
What does that mean? Does anybody pause to realize that in cold hard terms it means that when the arbitration commission made its last decision it based its calculations on the purchasing power of the family unit as at June, 1960, and that the purchasing power of the family unit is to be pegged at that level until February, 1963? It is not of much use for this Government or any other government to think that it can find an answer to the nation’s present economic weaknesses without taking the purchasing power of the family unit into consideration. That is exactly what has not been done over the last eighteen months or two years. This Government has refused to take the opportunities it has had to increase child endowment progressively so as to maintain the purchasing power of the family unit.
The policy followed by the Government has been a policy of stabilizing the basic wage, as the Government terms it. I call it pegging the basic wage. This is what has been happening while the purchasing power of the family unit in Australia has been shrinking - and the bigger the family the greater the shrinkage. That is why we do not believe in the policy of the Government. We still believe that the Government is very wrong in its approach to the problem. We will be dealing with that matter in the debate on another bill which will come before us soon. In the meanwhile, there are three steps open to the Government if it really wants to solve the problem. The first is the step of increasing the purchasing power of the family unit. The honorable member for Mcpherson was talking about the need to keep wages stabilized and to do other things in order to prevent the placing of further imposts on the primary producers. Just keep in mind that the basic wage is pegged to its June, 1960, purchasing power. Because that is so there is absolutely no rhyme or reason in the statement that the Government has made in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech that there is a high liquidity in the banks. The Government speaks as though that money in the banks would be used for home-building for the average workers. Until such time as interest rates for home-building loans are reduced it is not possible, with the cost of living as it is in this country, for even a tradesman to start to purchase a home for himself during his working life.
We said on the hustings that one of the things we proposed to do was to reduce interest rates on home-building loans. We knew that if those interest rates were reduced by 2 per cent, or more we could give the average Australian worker an opportunity to have a stake in this country and a pride in his own home. In association with the increase of child endowment which we proposed this would have resulted in an increase of living standards. That is what is needed, and until such time as those steps are taken there is little real purpose in the Government’s short-term measures. What effect can the proposed 5 per cent, reduction of income tax have? Did anybody ever believe that he would see an Australian Government cut income tax by 5 per cent, in one year and re-imburse the old rate in the succeeding year? When the reduction of 5 per cent, was given on the previous occasion it meant only about ls. a week to the average wage-earner. Now we have the Government announcing that it will reduce taxes by 5 per cent, for this financial year and make the cut operative over the last few months of the year. When the end of June comes, the Government will increase taxation again. Is that the kind of confidence trick that will help the worker in this country?
I put it to the Government that at this time, when the Government admits there are 131,200 registered unemployed in this country, we have unemployment of a magnitude never before seen, despite what the honorable member for Mcpherson says about the commercial building that is going on in Sydney.
– There is unemployment in every city.
– I mention Sydney in particular because the honorable member for McPherson mentioned the difference between Sydney and Melbourne. The only time he goes to Melbourne is when the Melbourne Cup is being run, and he knows the grass at Flemington. I put it to the Government that if for some reason the present commercial building programme in Sydney came to an end there would be an avalanche of unemployed in that city that would stagger the nation. And it will come to an end, because the insurance companies are building offices not for their present requirements but on the basis of their requirements for the next 60, 70 or 100 years. If they show a loss in connexion with these buildings for the first twenty years of their use they will not be concerned, because they realize that in the long term the type of commercial construction they are undertaking will be an asset.
The Government has announced an increase in the maximum loan for war service homes. That is not going to help any man up to the status of tradesman unless the interest rate comes down, as we said on the hustings, to between 3 and 4 per cent. If I had my way the interest rate would go back to 3 per cent. In the United States of America, where the cost of living, as distinct from the standard of living, would be roughly twice as high as ours, the rate of interest on home-building loans, despite that high cost of living, is 21 per cent. Since the people concerned with high interest rates are the people who back this Government, the Government will fail the community, because until such time as cheap money is available for home-building our progress is hampered. But this Government will not undertake such a proposition.
We intended to do it as a first major step if we were returned to office, but the Government will not do it. This Government will give the Premier of Queensland £x, “ and because the Premier also follows Liberal policy he will not be concerned with the things that the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Gray), the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Harding) and other people are concerned about. The new members of this Parliament who come from those areas represent the people there, and they will get satisfaction from this Government, or within a very short space of time the people will throw the Government to the walls so that it will never come back to office. Unless the Government acts to help those areas it will lose still more seats in Queensland.
The Government needs to think in new terms. We did not have the members who lost their seats in Queensland at the last election talking about the need for the barrage scheme at Rockhampton and the development of the Fitzroy basin and other things of that nature, but, of course, they were following at the heels of a government not concerned with that type of progress.
The short-term policy of the Government is not the answer to the present situation. I repeat my statement of last night, despite the worry it caused the honorable member for Macarthur. The creeping paralysis stretching across the face of this country will not be cured by anything other than a bold programme of development looked at and organized on a national level with Federal and State co-operation. This year, those who left school in Ballarat had to face an employment situation in which between 500 and 600 people were already looking for work in their town. I have found unemployment in every State through which I have travelled. In Victoria, when the fruit picking is over, those who have been employed in that industry go on the dole.
– You are unhappy.
– Of course I am unhappy about that situation. If you are not, you do not deserve your place in this House. In six years’ time the young Australians who are now leaving school will be determining the future of this country by means of their votes. They are the ones who are feeling the present situation. We must be big enough to measure up to the responsibilities of national development. We must not be content with such short-term hand-outs as this Government has given. We must not be content with the type of legislation which the Government intends to introduce later on. The problem of finding employment for our school leavers is not being touched by this Government. The Government is not aware, because its Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) is not aware, of the great problem facing school leavers in important country towns. It has been suggested that these young people should stay &t school until they reach the leaving certificate stage but what would they do then?’ If they go to the city they cannot get a job and if they hang around milk bars they are called hoodlums.
The Government does not realize the extent of its responsibilities. The people of Australia have decided that employment and unemployment are a problem which rests squarely on the national Parliament. The Opposition is confident that the only answer to the problem is the policy that it has proposed. This policy embraces reduced interest rates for home-building, the stepping up of the purchasing power of the family and the levelling out of those things which are necessary for national development. National development is a question which the Government will not face. We condemn the Government for shortsightedness in the past and for its short-term policies now when long-range planning is desirable. We warn the Government that the unemployment of school leavers in 1962 will accentuate unemployment in 1963. The Minister for Labour and National Service cannot measure up to his responsibilities in 1962 and he will not do so in 1963.
.- In this debate, Mr. Deputy Speaker, we are considering matters raised in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech which provides a guide to the Government’s actions in the immediate future. As various honorable members make their contribution to the debate, each presents the picture as he sees it. The
Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) has not yet spoken in this debate but he has implied elsewhere that the GovernorGeneral’s Speech contained nothing new and that it was just a rehash of the policy speech of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies). In the same breath, he claimed that the Government had accepted the policy that the Australian Labour Party had put to the people before the general election. He cannot have it both ways, although that is what the Opposition has been trying to do on so many subjects for a long time. The Governor-General’s Speech was most interesting and it covered a very wide range of matters all of which affect the future development of Australia. [Quorum formed.]
I am very pleased that some stress has been laid in the Governor-General’s Speech on the firm intention of the Government to increase employment and to restore business confidence. The measures recently announced to provide a stimulus to the economy have been given great prominence. Last year the Government introduced certain economic measures which were designed to do four things and which did those four things. First, our trade balances have been very greatly improved. In this there is great cause for satisfaction. However, in that growth of our trade balances there is the possibility of a return to a degree of overseas trading which might not be desirable.
In spite of the assurances given to the Prime Minister by the Australian Council of Retailers that its members appreciate the importance of supporting Australian industry and that they would do everything in their power to encourage the purchase of Australian products, the absence of orders from those gentlemen in the order books of Australian manufacturers indicates that importers are again turning to supplies from overseas. After all, this is their business. Their objective is to make profit. They are not in business for sentiment. By infusing some magic property into the word “ imported “, imbuing it with some degree of exclusiveness, they are able to get a greater mark-up. Naturally, they will do so. The Government has no way of knowing what the increase in imports will be unless it is prepared to put some form of restraint on imports. In view of the failure of departmental officers correctly to judge the situation last year it is not likely that they will do any better this year.
The second improvement is that our internal price levels have been brought to the point of stability. One or two honorable members opposite have denied this, but their idea of stability does not coincide with ours. This week, we have seen figures indicating a fall in price levels. I refer particularly to the consumer price index. But a fall in consumer prices does not indicate a fall in cost levels for secondary industry or primary producers. I have investigated the position with regard to textiles and carpets. I have found that sales of these commodities are being maintained by selling at cost or less in order to keep machinery going and trained staff together.
The third improvement is that the loan market is more buoyant. Fourthly, allied to this, there is the increased liquidity of the banks. These are all good things which have come from the Government’s economic measures of last year. Against this, we all agree that certain developments were not so desirable. The initial slow-down of our over-optimistic expansion went a little too far. The re-deployment of labour was achieved, but the Commonwealth Employment Service needed to make a great effort in order to achieve as much as it did. Now, when we have a peak of registrations for employment, the Commonwealth Employment Service is finding new jobs for men and women at the rate of 10,000 a week. This is a very great achievement, but it is not quite enough and a little more stimulus to the economy is needed.
On 7th February, the Prime Minister in a public statement referred to two apparent weaknesses that had developed in the economy. The first was the existence of a level of unemployment which, he said, represented a serious problem to the thousands of persons concerned and was such an economic waste through the existence of unused resources of men, material and installed industrial capacity.
The right honorable gentleman also referred to a weakness of confidence and an uncertainty about the future which was limiting buying and production. He particularly referred to the importance of the manufacturing industries and announced the
Government’s intention to support them because of their profound effect on the rise and fall of employment and the success of our migration programme.
At that time, the Prime Minister also announced the various measures which the Government proposed in the interests of the nation. One was the very welcome grants to the States to provide work immediately for the unskilled labour which, as all honorable members know, makes up 95 per cent, of the present unemployment, lt is to be hoped that the State governments will channel this money to municipal councils. They have in hand the type of work which is waiting and available to take up unskilled labour, lt would be a great pity if the State governments were to earmark this money for additions to their existing works programmes.
The Prime Minister announced also a most welcome addition to housing finance amounting to £5,000,000, which was later increased to £7,500,000. The right honorable gentleman also announced the lifting of the ceiling on semi-government borrowing and an increase in the amount that could be borrowed by ex-servicemen under the War Service Homes Act.
To assist those who need help most by putting more money into circulation, as suggested by the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison), the Government decided to reduce income ta* by 5 per cent. This might not be a great deal on individual incomes at the lower levels, but it will increase demand because overall such a large amount of money will be put into circulation. Thus more employment will be created.
All these things are admirable. The Government has demonstrated its willingness to adjust its measures to the day-to-day fluctuations of ordinary business activity without introducing highly inflationary policies which could trigger off another boom. It has been decided that there will be a full investigation of the procedures and policy of tariff making to fit into the changed picture of Australia to-day as an industrialized nation. This is a new measure of vital importance. Too often in recent months the Tariff Board has made recommendations which were impossible of comprehension. After admitting the need for protection and granting the efficiency of the process and the quality of the product concerned, the board has fixed a niggardly percentage of protection - or even reduced existing rates - after making comparisons with overseas products which were not essentially competitive.
The Tariff Board seems to have taken to itself the role of price controller instead of acting in accordance with its true function of giving protection and encouragement to worth-while industries. I could cite many cases. Recent ones concerned guitars and safety pins. 1 could also point to the tragic treatment of the carpet industry and the unreasonable thinking that was demonstrated at the printed cottons inquiry. Here was a case of an industry which asked for protection at the rate of 7d. a yard to enable it to get into the medium-price field which would be 8s. lid. to 10s. Hd. a yard. The Tariff Board made a comparison with imported material which sold here at 2s. lid. to 3s. lid. a yard, and1 then stated that because the degree of protection needed was so high that it would have to grant 34d. instead of 7d. a yard, it would not grant anything.
Because of situations like this, I welcome the announcement of quantitative restrictions on particular commodities although I deplore the reference to these restrictions as a means of temporary protection. If Australia is to become the great industrial nation we hope she will become; if we ane to assist our great primary industries to provide a prosperous home market with a solid background; and if we are to carry out our migration programme successfully, we must have flourishing manufacturing industries. It is quite impossible for manufacturing industries to plan for the future unless they know that they will be cared for by the Government. Industry cannot live on a series of temporary measures.
We have some most desirable industries in Australia that have established factories which compare favorably with anything overseas. World renowned firms have opened branches or subsidiaries on the advice of the Government and as a result of inducements proffered by the Government. Great sums of money are involved in their capital investment. They are capable of supplying a major portion of the local market with goods of quality at acceptable prices. In many of these larger industries, it is vital that the processes shall be continuous, lt is essential to their survival that they secure the home market on a quantitative basis. Only by a complete new look at the method of providing the protection offered by this quantitative system, instead of a percentage ad valorem system, can this be done. The ad valorem system only adds to costs without actually providing the industries with the protection they need to give them security in this market. They can work on the lowest possible cost basis only if they can plan for the future. That is the only way to enable them to keep their machines going at full productive capacity and so enable them in turn to employ the greatest number of people.
The Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) has made heroic efforts to overcome the difficulties which have arisen through the lifting of import restrictions last year, and particularly to stimulate export trade as an answer to the flow of imports. But it is quite apparent that primary production, which already provides 80 per cent, of our exports, cannot offer any spectacular increase beyond the normal increases in production. Our hope of real expansion in the export field lies with secondary industry. [Quorum formed.]
I believe that the time has come when we must provide a full time ministry for manufacturing industry, on a similar basis to the Ministry for Primary Industry. As a smaller nation Australia got along with a Ministry for Trade and Commerce. The activities of that authority covered local and overseas trading, the production and marketing of Australian produce both at home and abroad. As we grew to become a greater trading nation it became necessary to establish a separate section for primary industry, to cover all the local matters and to co-operate, of course, wilh the Department of Trade in matters concerning trade in overseas markets. The Department of Primary Industry handles all the stabilization schemes peculiar to Australian industry and does it remarkably well. The Department of Trade handles our overseas trading most efficiently, lt is essentially concerned with negotiations with governments of other countries, with the maintenance of the Trade Commissioner Service and with the promotion of the sale of Australian products, both primary and secondary.
At home on the Australian scene, however, manufacturing industry needs a shoulder to cry on occasionally. As the greatest employer of labour and the greatest contributor to the national income, it must have someone particularly concerned with its health and prosperity. I am not decrying in any way at all the work done by the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen). He has done all that he possibly can in this direction, but he has too many other jobs. There are too many sides to his activities for him to be able to concentrate on this one vital aspect of the Australian economy.
I feel quite sure that the mistakes of the last eighteen months would not have been made had there been a Minister available to deal specifically with the great problems confronting such industries as those engaged in the manufacture of carpets, textiles, paper, knitwear, chemicals and many other products. Just as it became necessary to separate primary industry from trade, because of the necessity to do justice to primary industry, so it is necessary to put manufacturing industry on a separate basis, so that secondary industry can gain a feeling of confidence in the Government, and can appreciate the Government’s determination to care for secondary industry. This will infuse new life into many manufacturing concerns that are still unable to see where their future lies. Until they can gain this feeling of confidence they will not be able to go on with their planning and they will not be able to employ the people they should be employing at the present time. The conditions are right for them at the moment, and all they want is confidence, so that they will be able to go ahead with their development, knowing that it will not be stopped in, say, six months’ time, or within any short period.
To build up exports is not an easy task. It requires more and still more planning and effort. The incentives already offered go a little way in the desired direction, but I would like to give an example of something that should be done. I have not much more time at my disposal, but I remind honorable members that the pay-roll tax still bears heavily on the basic costs of many of the articles that we want to sell. It bears so heavily, in fact, that only the complete abolition of this tax will go to the root of the problem and provide the incentive needed.
At the beginning of my speech I said that every honorable member would be filling in the picture as he saw it. I have tried to do this in connexion with some aspects of the economy that have given me very grave concern during the last six or nine months. But overall, in the Speech of His Excellency I see the firm intention of the Government to tackle the problem of employment and of renewing confidence. The Government’s proposals show its lively interest in the welfare of Australia. The Government has faced the challenge in the circumstances that have confronted it, and it has laid the foundations for an even more secure development of our great wealth and resources. I know that it will continue to devise policies that will benefit the great majority of the Australian people.
– The honorable member for McMillan (Mr. Buchanan) has suggested, apparently, that the unemployment problem can be solved by the appointment of another Minister. I suppose the adoption of this kind of suggestion would help by absorbing at least some of the defeated Liberal Party candidates at the recent election as Ministerial private secretaries, thus taking them off the roll of unemployed. Throughout the honorable member’s speech there was evident a tendency to be critical of the Government. He admitted the Government had made mistakes. He thought that something ought to be done. In the end, however, he said that he saw in the document presented to us yesterday a solution of our problems, and that he believed the nation would surge forward in the way that we all hope it will. It is here, of course, that we see one of the Government’s greatest deficiencies. It can express hopes. It can convene committees. It can hold conferences. It can ask people for advice. It can send telegrams to editors of newspapers when dramatic advertisements are published. But when it comes to action we see very little of it.
We have arrived at a crisis in this country’s history. The last twelve years, the Government tells us, has been a period of boom, of development, of expansion and of dynamism. Yet at this very moment there are over 130,000 persons registered as unemployed-. The situation is tragic for every one of those persons, and it represents a serious waste for the community. Even the Prime Minister himself (Mr. Menzies) is at last prepared to acknowledge this waste.
But there are many other important questions that members of this Parliament must consider. This Government has no mandate to govern. It is not a government representing the majority of the people of Australia. On 9th December last 2,534,680 people voted for the Australian Labour Party, and only 2,217,476, or 40.91 per cent. of the electorate, voted for the Liberal and Country Parties. In this Parliament the Labour Party has 62 members, while the Government has also 62 members. It is only the continuation of the policy of depriving the members for the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory of voting rights that has allowed the Government to put up a front of being in a majority. As far as we are concerned, no matter what is said in the document that was presented to us yesterday, this Government has no mandate to go into the councils of the world and act as if it were speaking for the Australian people. It has no right to devise economic policies or to change in any fundamental way the system of government of this nation without further consulting the people of Australia, and without much closer consultation with the members of this Parliament.
One of the more significant features of the philosophy of this Government, and a clear indication of the way in which it looks at its responsibilities, is its failure to consult the Parliament itself. Immediately the election was over the Prime Minister called his party together and told its members, apparently, what he proposed to do. He then proceeded to consult various people. He had conferences with manufacturers. He had conferences with chambers of commerce. I have no doubt he had conferences with bankers and others. He may even have had conferences with Liberal Party managers. It was his bounden duty to consult the Parliament, to confer with the representatives of more than half of the people who voted at the last federal elections. His failure to consult this Parliament constituted an insult to the people on this side of the House, who represent some 300,000 more voters than do members of the Liberal and Country Parties who sit opposite.
The Government’s policies have been rejected by the people and nothing it can do can recover the lost ground. Nothing can make up for the great waste and the tragedy of the last fifteen months. 1 sat here during that time, and I listened at question time to the prophecies frequently voiced by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) and by the Prime Minister himself. The right honorable gentleman told us time and again that things were going to get better. It is no wonder that we have no faith in his Government. It is not likely to do anything constructive to resolve our difficulties. When action has been called for the Government has, as a general rule, taken only indirect action. It has passed the responsibility for action on to somebody else, the State governments, the local government authorities or the Chambers of Manufactures. But this is a time for action - dramatic and dynamic action - in the course of which the principles enunciated by the Australian Labour Party in its policy speech last November and also in this House from time to time should be adopted. Unfortunately, of course, we will see nothing of them.
The current tragedy and great waste is to be found in unemployment. The Government on 10th December, 1949, inherited an economy in which there were some 900 persons in receipt of unemployment benefit. I think the exact figure was 908. Now we have 50,000, 60,000 and 70,000 persons receiving unemployment benefits and 130,000 people registered for employment. How can we be confident that the Government appreciates what this means in terms of production lost to the nation and tragedy and hardship inflicted on those who are out of work? On 15th November, the Prime Minister said -
The employment position has for some months been steadily improving and should continue to do so.
At the same time he said -
We believe that the national economy is healthy
Referring to unemployment, he said that the Labour Party thinks of a number, doubles it and adds two noughts. On 22nd November, which was not very long ago, he said -
Unemployment is nominal in broad terms.
He is a classical man in his way. He has great attributes - he says so himself. In August last, a report contained the following statement -
The Prime Minister . . . said last night that he was more experienced at dealing with the economies of Australia than any theorist.
He has had a great deal of experience, but some people never seem to learn from experience. I remember that on one occasion I made the error of dealing twice with a person who was not to be trusted. A friend said to me, “ Don’t do that again. The first time a dog gets caught in a trap you let him out; the second time, you shoot him “. This Government has committed crimes against the nation more than once or twice. It has done so on three or four occasions in the twelve years it has been in office, and it Cannot be tolerated.
It cannot be made too clear to the people of Australia that this is a government without a mandate. It has not the support of the majority of the electors and it is without a majority of members in this House to support it. Here we have a government that has now chosen to adopt some aspects of Labour’s policy, of which it was so forthrightly critical only a few months ago. We all know how honorable members opposite conducted their campaigns in their electorates, and we all know what the Prime Minister said. He asked where the money would come from to meet the cost of our proposals. He said -
Labour’s programme will add hundreds of millions to the already steadily rising Commonwealth expenditure.
He said that as the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) had undertaken not to increase taxation, the money a Labour government would need would be new money created by the Reserve Bank, and this would lead to inflation. He said this at the same time as he said that unemployment was nominal.
In November, only three short months ago, when he went to the people of Australia he said that the policies we promulgated - the expansion of war service homes finance, increased social service benefits, the expansion of the public sector of the economy by the support of local government authorities, and so on - were irresponsible. The same right honorable gentleman only a fortnight before the Parliament met said that one problem confronting the Government was -
The existence of a level of unemployment which represents a serious human problem for thousands of people and a material economic waste through the existence of unused resources of men, materials and installed industrial capacity.
What kind of man is this who, within a few short weeks, can so change his whole attitude that he can now recognize problems that he formerly claimed did not exist? One might say that this is a man of great perception, of great political courage; he can recognize when he is wrong. But he does not say that. The errors of judgment were all made by some one else. These matters affect the whole nation. How can we say that a man who made these mistakes last year and the year before will not make them again in April or in November next, if the Government lasts as long as that? Surely there is a lesson here for all those who seek to learn it. Here is a government that does not learn from its own mistakes. Here is a government that takes no heed of the advice of the party that is supported by a majority of the electors who cast formal votes at the last election. This Government has no mandate to govern. It should proceed with great caution. Instead of laying down his policies, the Prime Minister should have been taking into consultation members of the Opposition as well as representatives of manufacturers and others.
This is a somersault in the grand manner. We will now have grants to the States. The Prime Minister met the Premiers here in Canberra and they solemnly decided that this would help to solve the unemployment problem. We will now have increased housing advances and we will have expanded credit for local and other semi-governmental authorities. We will now have increased unemployment benefits. But when the Opposition advocated increased unemployment benefits and other social service payments, it was told that such action would be irresponsible and would cause inflationary pressures. We were told that no responsible person would take this action. In addition to other measures, we will now have the sales tax on motor cars reduced and increased money made available for war service homes. Further, we will now have a reduction of income tax.
This is a second-hand policy, and like all second-hand policies it is not as good as the original one was. While some of our points have been accepted in principle, we find that a completely different attitude has been adopted in their application. Earlier this evening, when the honorable member for McMillan (Mr. Buchanan) was speaking, the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) asked by way of interjection why the Government reduced income tax on a flat rate. Let us examine this simple question of tax remissions. We see here clearly the distinction between the political and financial policies and philosophies of the Government and the Australian Labour Party. The tax remissions granted by the Government, particularly in income tax, will obviously give greatest benefit to those who have the largest incomes. The revised taxation schedules will give to those who have an income of £20,000 a year perhaps an extra £10 a week but will give only a few shillings a week to the man on the basic wage who has a wife and three or four children. So, to those who have it shall be given. This, of course, is a false philosophy. In this country there is a basic equality of attitude and the assets of the community cannot be readjusted by giving to the rich and taking from the poor
Much the same position will arise with the taxation remissions on manufacturing equipment. What will these remissions mean? To the firm that can afford to buy £1,000,000 worth of equipment, it will be a magnificent donation from the Government. To the firm that spends even £20,000 or £30,000 on new manufacturing equipment, this will be a magnificent donation from the Government. But this is not where the spending capacity of the community lies. The spending capacity of the community lies in the homes, and in the hands, of some 3,000,000 families, who are our greatest consumers of manufactured goods. This is the point at which policies of relief should be directed. The capacity of the ordinary family to consume must be increased.
This is a simple proposition. But this is where we find the classic defect of policies of a government such as this is. This is where the social service benefits advocated by the Australian Labour Party are important and this is where a policy of full employment is fundamental. But with 130,000 people unemployed we lose talent and ability and suffer a great waste of productive capacity. In addition, we have the personal tragedy and hardship that flows from unemployment. Then there is the great loss in the community’s consuming and spending power. I. was turning up to-day some of the records of the last few weeks, and 1 found a report in the .Sydney “ Daily Telegraph “ of 20th January which concerns one aspect of the situation. It is in these terms -
The “’ credit squeeze “ in eight months had cost Australia’ £180 million in lost productivity, Mr. r. W. Harvey said to-day.
This was enough to buy a brand-new television set for every house in New South Wales, he said.
This is a simple example of the tremendous waste that has occurred because of mistakes in policy - mistakes that are not recognized by the Prime Minister, although they are acknowledged at least by some Government supporters, if the words of the honorable member for McMillan are to be taken as evidence.
However, productivity is not all that we have lost. We have lost in collections of income lax and sales tax. We have lost much government revenue, quite apart from productive capacity. One finds it hard to believe just how much has been lost. It is difficult to compute the total loss to the country when 130,000 people are unemployed. That is probably more than the work force of, say, Newcastle, and I should think that it is probably much more than the total work force in Tasmania. If so many people were to be removed from the Australian scene by some great natural catastrophe, we would regard the event as a dreadful blow not only to them personally but also to the nation. Yet, as a result of this Government’s economic measures, carried through despite the advice of experts and despite protests from this side of the House, this treatment has been meted out to the nation.
– What would be said if 131,000 workers were on strike?
– As the honorable member says, what would be said if 131,000 people were on strike? That would be regarded as something calamitous that would destroy the national economy, and honorable members opposite would use all the resources of the law and all the power of the police and the like to force people back to work.
There is a fundamental difference between the way in which we look at these things and the way in which this Government approaches human needs which call for attention. The Government’s approach to these problems that it should tackle is the reason why the people rejected it at the poll in December. That approach makes the Government no longer fit to act as the government of this country. Despite what we read in the Speech delivered yesterday by the Governor-General, I believe that this Government will not take any really constructive measures to put Australia back on the road to progress. The Government will not take the necessary steps to protect Australian industry. Our industry needs protection. Compared with some of the nations with which we have to compete, this is a high-wage country, and the Australian Labour Party will fight against any attempt to prevent wages from becoming even better. The fact that Australia can be regarded as a high-wage country does not mean that there is anything like a proper standard of wages in industry generally. We on this side of the chamber would rather have high wages than the production of motor cars for export. There are some ways of adjusting this matter and ensuring that Australia does not suffer.
We must protect Australian industry. This is where import controls are important. If properly administered, they are probably a much more effective weapon than are tariff duties. I represent one of Australia’s great manufacturing areas. I have described in this House before what happened to the hosiery industry when import controls were removed. I think that something like fivesevenths of Australia’s output of hosiery comes from Brunswick and Coburg in my electorate. Immediately import controls were lifted, buyers of hosiery went overseas looking for stocks. They booked out all the available seats on the services of Qantas Empire Airways Limited, K.L.M. and PanAmerican Airways to West Germany, England and Hong Kong. In a very few weeks, ships were bringing into this country hosiery of quality no better than that of the Australian product. Some was slightly cheaper than Australian hosiery. In a few weeks after import controls were removed, this imported hosiery appeared on the shelves of the great stores of Australia. Within a few months, the spindles in the( hosiery establishments in Brunswick and Coburg were stopping.
The Minister for the Interior (Mr. Freeth), who is now at the table, may laugh if he wishes. I do not know what kind of an electorate he represents, and I gather that he himself does not know much about it. The manufacture of a pair of stockings takes ten minutes. So, for every pair imported, a spindle stops for ten minutes, for every six pairs it stops for one hour, and for every 50 pairs it stops for a day. For every 250 pairs of stockings imported, a hosiery operative is put out of work for a week. The matter is as simple as that. The removal of import controls has this kind of effect on manufacturing industries all over Australia which have the capacity to produce to the limit of the Australian people’s capacity to consume. It is idiocy in the extreme and a piece of financial fantasy to allow into this country one thing more than the country needs if we can produce here all that Australia needs. That is why there may well be something in the statement by the honorable member for McMillan that there is a case for the appointment of a minister to examine the particular claims of manufacturing industry in the way in which the needs of primary industry are examined partly under the care of a minister.
We on this side of the House believe that the Government will not tackle these matters properly. We think that it is unlikely to develop a dynamic overseas trading policy. That is indicated by the Government’s attitude to trade with China. The Government’s attitude is that such trade has to be undertaken through the back door. It will plead, it will establish commissions, it will send ships to the United States of America and other countries which do not want our goods, but it ignores the people of China. It offends the people of Indonesia. Tt will have nothing to do with the people of
India. The honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) will probably be on my side on this issue. We must find some method of sending to the people of Asia the products of Australia, both primary and secondary. Surely it is not beyond all the will and wit of man or beyond the limits of our knowhow in finance and other matters to solve the problem of devising a way in which this can be done. Hire purchase, bank advances, overdrafts and the like are inventions which from time to time have solved internal problems of selling and consumption, and we have to find their equivalent for overseas trade.
There are two aspects of this matter which represent strong arguments. Common humanity towards the people in need is called for, and common sense should be brought into play to enable us to sell those things which we can produce and other people can use. I do not believe that this Government has any hope of finding a solution to the problem. Its basic philosophy prevents it from dealing direct with governments. It will not get down to the job of dealing direct with its counterpart in another country. That would be the immediate solution to the problem. Governmenttogovernment trading will have to be more widely developed.
This Government will not attempt to do anything constructive about the problem of overseas investment. Such investment eventually will menace this country. We have seen recently what has happened in Canada. We have seen the drain imposed on the Australian community by overseas investment. The Government has failed to tackle the problem of this kind of investment, and dividends, profits and interest on overseas loans continue to flow from this country thereby keeping our overseas credit position in jeopardy. The Government will not do anything to protect the wool industry, Mr. Speaker. For some ideological reason, it allows some 300 or 400 wool-buyers to come to this country and control the sale of Australia’s wool clip. The Government will not do anything about interest rates. Exactly what high interest rates in every field are costing this country is difficult to compute. Interest rates on both government and local government loans are creeping up and in private industry rates have increased from3½ and 4 per cent. to6½ and 7 per cent. in the last few years. This imposes a tremendous strain on the community. It amounts to usury, fostered, developed and sponsored by this government. Nobody with any conscience can justify it. So that is another field in which this government has failed and in which I see no hope for the future.
The Government will not re-adjust taxation. Neither will it expand credit. We had the remarkable demonstration in the answer given by the Prime Minister to a question asked in this place yesterday. The honorable member for Gellibrand (Mr. McIvor) asked whether the right honorable gentleman would do something to ensure that the local government authorities in his district obtained all the funds that they required. The Prime Minister, who is the father and head of a government which is able to direct the banks to restrict credit and to raise interest rates, said that he has not the authority, power or moral right to demand that the banks expand credit or lower their interest rates.
For the reasons that I have given, Mr. Speaker, we on this side of the chamber believe that the Australian nation faces a perilous twelve months until we are able to remove this Government from the treasury bench. There is no hope that the policies that the Government has espoused will produce any results. The experience of the last twelve years offers us no hope that the present Ministry and its supporters will produce policies or undertake action that will solve any of the problems that this Government itself created.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Snedden) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Freeth) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- The matter that I wish to raise to-night is of great importance. Since the termination of World War II., approximately sixteen and one-half years ago, the world has witnessed many spectacular events. For example, we have seen the Korean war, the Suez crisis and many other conflicts; we have seen great advances in medicine and surgery; and we have witnessed great excursions into outer space with astronauts travelling- at the rate of 17,000 miles an hour. But perhaps the most spectacular event, the one that overshadows all these, was the return of this Government on the support and cooperation of the Communist Party.
We all recall that when the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) introduced the Communist Party Dissolution Bill about eleven years ago, he emphasized that the purpose of the bill was to outlaw the Communist Party. Later, he sought the people’s opinion on this matter by way of referendum. Now we find the Prime Minister of Australia occupying his post on Communist Party preferences!
The attention of Australia was focused on the Moreton electorate during the last election. The suspense was “ killen “ ! Let us analyse the figures for that electorate. It has been said that the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) received 93 of the Communist preference votes and that those votes were responsible for electing this Government. That- is only the half truth. Let me give the full facts.
When Mr. Julius, the Communist Party candidate who polled only 676 votes, was eliminated, 93 of his preferences went to Mr. Killen, the Liberal Party candidate, and 193 went to the Australian Democratic Labour Party candidate. When that candidate was eliminated, the third preferences were allocated and no fewer than 139 of those came back to the Liberal Party. So, in all, the Liberal Party candidate obtained 232, or 32 per cent, of the Communist preferences.
This is not an isolated case by any means. Let us now traverse the history of some of those who have been elected to this House and to another place. In 1954, the honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Dean) was elected on the Communist Party preferences, and in 1955, Senator McCallum was elected on Communist Party preferences, having received 82,000 out of 112,000 votes from the Government parties’ friend, the late Mr. Jim Healy. Again, in the recent Victorian elections, Mr. Breen was elected with the support of 73 per cent, of the- Communist preferences.
I am not one of those who subscribe to the view that these votes are leakages. 1 admit that the candidate whose name is at the top of the ballot-paper will receive leakages from what is called the donkey vote, the vote recorded by people who mark the ballot-paper from top to bottom, but the preferences given to a candidate other than a Labour candidate whose name is nOt at the top of the ballot-paper are given deliberately. They are not leakages. Those votes are deliberately recorded.
Let me illustrate my point, and I am sure honorable members will find my argument feasible. As the Communists advertise themselves as representatives of the working class, it is only natural that they will say, “ You must give your second preferences to the Labour Party”. But that is definitely only camouflage. The important point is that the members of the Communist Party and avowed Communist Party supporters never put Labour anywhere but last on their ballot-papers. We also know that when the Communist Party candidates appeared on television during the last election campaign they said, “ Give your preferences to the Labour Party “. Why did they say that? They said it because it was tantamount to the kiss of death. They do these things because they know they will cause us to lose votes. In my opinion, only a fool and knave would believe that the Communist Party wants to see the Labour Party returned to office, because the Communist Party thrives on poverty, unemployment and distress which it knows will obtain under this Government. That is why the Communists support the present Government.
Since being elected to this House in 1955, I and many of my colleagues have had to listen, during the adjournment debates, to calumnious statements by members of the Government parties accusing us of being fellow travellers and pro-Communist. The honorable member for Moreton and the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) have vilified us repeatedly. I should like to hear their explanation of the present situation where we find the Government elected on Communist Party preferences. We have had to take their accusations for years. As I said one night last year, some of the mud must stick to him who throws it. Neither the honorable member for Moreton nor the honorable member for Mackellar would dare to speak in such terms again. They should hang their heads in shame for the rest of their term in this Parliament.
– I listened to the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Cope) with great attention. He seems to be a little upset at the fact that in the Moreton electorate the Labour Party did not receive all the Communist preferences. As a matter of fact, the Labour Party received 413 and the Liberal Party 95 of the Communist preferences. But when we look at the ballot-paper we see that in the case of the so-called donkey vote, the vote in which the elector records his preference by voting “ 1 “, “ 2 “, “ 3 “ and “ 4 “ straight down the ballot-paper, the Communist preferences would naturally go to the Liberal Party candidate rather than to the Labour Party candidate in the Moreton electorate because the Communist candidate was Mr. Julius and the name of Mr. Killen, which starts with a “ K “, appeared directly underneath that of Mr. Julius.
What the honorable member for Watson has said is of some interest and importance, and I will make a proposal to him. I will listen to ascertain whether he or his party will accept the proposal. I believe, and I say and assert, that there is a deep connexion between the Communist Party and the Labour Party. I suggest that we appoint a select committee of this House to investigate the relationship of the Communist Party with other parties, and I think honorable members should support the suggestion. We have the numbers to set up a select committee. I believe a proposal of this character would reveal the truth about this matter to the Australian people. I would be quite willing to stand on the truth. I want neither more nor less than the truth in this matter. Instead of these wild assertions from honorable members that the Communist Party is not associated with the Labour Party, let us have a proper select committee of this House to look at the facts, publish them and expose them, whatever they are. I do not suggest that we look simply at the relationship of the Communist Party with the Labour Party. I suggest that we look at the relationship of the Communist Party with other political parties in this House, whatever they may be.
If the honorable member is genuine; if he believes in his case; if he has nothing to hide, then I suggest that he and his party support me in a vote. We then will set up this select committee and see what the position is.
.- During the debate to-day the honorable member for
Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate), I think the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Malcolm Fraser) and a senator in another place, made some reference to the percentage of unemployment and to a statement that I am alleged to have made. This appears in “ Hansard” as far back as March, 1944. It was used as a piece of miserable election propaganda by the Liberal Party and uttered by its leader because the Government is writhing and twisting on the unemployment question and cannot get out of its difficulties.
I do not want to explain the position again to honorable members opposite because I have done so time after time. I did say - I addressed my remarks particularly to the exservicemen on the Government side - that the matter to which I was referring was the rehabilitation of ex-servicemen, but, of course, their service to the ex-servicemen is mostly lip service. If they can trap another member on this side of the House into what they think is an error they are happy. But I do not ask them to take me as the oracle. I want them to listen to that Buddha-like figure, their own oracle, the present Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies). I shall read his remarks in relation to 5 per cent, unemployment in 1944 which appear a few pages further on from my statement. Before reading the extract, which will devastate honorable members opposite for all time, let me point out that these statements were made at a time when Liberal governments had been in office for many years during which the average of unemployment, on the Prime Minister’s own admission, had been 8 per cent. Let me read this extract because, more dramatically than anything I can say, it will condemn the Prime Minister for attributing that statement to me during his policy speech in 1958. Apparently he was trapped by some public relations officer who read only one-half of the “Hansard “ report - all of us like to read the “ Domesday Book” in case we are caught. The extract which I shall read is the complete and utter answer, so far as I and the Labour Party are concerned, to the libel and the canard about the 5 per cent, unemployment. When speaking on the Unemployment and Sickness Benefits Bill the then Leader of the Opposition - the present Prime Minister - said -
If honorable members will look at the Year. Book to see the recorded figures of unemployment, they will find that very seldom in the history of Australia,-
The Liberal Party history of Australia, of course - so far as it has been recorded on this matter, have we had less than 5 per cent, of recorded unemployment. I myself had a look at the figures for what I think might be a highly relevant period.
He then gave a long list of the horrible effects of Liberal administration from 1918 to 1928. He cited the following percentages of unemployment: - 5.8 per cent, in 1918; 6.6 per cent, in 1919; 11.2 per cent, in 1921; 8.9 per cent, in 1924; 7.1 per cent, in 1926 and 10.8 per cent, in 1928. On the day when this country was called to war the percentage of unemployment was 14 per cent. Honorable members opposite have done no good to either the problem of unemployment or to themselves by trying to libel a member of the Labour Party by quoting out of context something which the Prime Minister himself has proved to be the position. To drive the point further home, the then Leader of the Opposition said this, and his followers should read it -
So if one runs one’s eyes over that column of figures one sees that the average percentage in that highly relevant period is approximately 8 per cent. We all shall hope to do better than that in the future, but we do not know whether we shall succeed. We certainly shall not avoid all the economic shocks of the future by merely expressing pious sentiments about them. A great deal of really terrific work will have to be done in relation to the financial and economic structure of Australia if we arc to keep unemployment down to 5 per cent.
There is the complete answer to all that has been said. I know that the Government is using these tactics to get itself out of the difficult position in which it is placed. At present there is 5 per cent, unemployment in Queensland - 5 per cent, actual unemployment, not just something in “ Hansard “ or dreamed up but a grim and horrible reality. There is also 5 per cent, in Tasmania and 3 per cent, in New South Wales and Victoria. To-day the average is 5 per cent. Confronted with the reality of this terrible thing honorable members opposite have tried to revive a ghost from 1944. If. the Labour Government had had control of the Commonwealth Bank we would not have had unemployment during the depression period. After we won the elections in 1941 we gradually worked at the problem until, for the first time in this country, there was full employment. We were not responsible in 1939 for giving 20 per cent, of the young fellows who afterwards went to Bardia, the Western Desert and Syria, the first good suit that they had had in the whole of their adult lives. Until then many of them had not had a decent feed for two or three years and certainly few had had a decent suit until the Army gave them one. That is the story of the 5 per cent, unemployment.
The more you delve into the Delphic oratory of the Prime Minister and the more you go into the lame writings of public relations officers the more you will find that I am completely vindicated and that the Labour Party is triumphant. There never would have been full employment in this country under any Liberal government alliance or coalition. It rested with the great Dr. Evatt to take our ideal of full employment to the United Nations and to persuade the European and American countries to write it into the United Nations Charter. So when honorable members opposite talk about unemployment they are on the wrong leg.
What I have read to-night from “ Hansard “ is sufficient to silence for all time the lugubrious member for Macarthur who, unlike his illustrious namesake, will not return to this chamber, and the honorable member for Wannon whose length is in inverse ratio to his breadth of political thought. 1 am prepared to take on anybody on this question of unemployment because what I said at the time was fact. We had no White Paper to guide us. Our economic advisers, who to-day are the Government’s economic advisers, told us of the great problem which would arise with 1,000,000 men tumbling out of the services and the war industries giving us an unemployment potential. But to the eternal credit of the Labour Party it would not accept the prediction of 5 per cent, unemployment. With full financial and governmental control, plus new and modern thinking, Labour abolished unemployment for the first time in this country. We had full employment. But as soon as the Liberal Party took office the weary record began again. There is 5 per cent, unemployment at present, and there will be 10 per cent, next year. You know perfectly well what you are trying to achieve. The economists, the seven dwarfs as they are called, the little men of economics in this place, have told you that there is no such thing as full employment, so you are hurrying to adopt the stand-by-and-watch practice of America. There will be permanent unemployment following your ineptitude, lack of sympathy and lack of desire to do the right thing. There will be a flood of prosperity going in one direction but there will be 5 per cent., 10 per cent, or 20 per cent, of the people standing by and watching this prosperity pass without taking any part in it.
I have had enough of this nonsense about 5 per cent, unemployment. Any unemployment has always rested fairly and squarely on the thinking of the Liberal Government. It is not a dream any more; it is a ghost haunting the Prime Minister to-night and shivering the. timbers of the Leader of the Government in the Senate. They know full well that the number is up, and that number is the index of unemployment in this country. So it is cheeky for honorable members of the calibre of the honorable member for Macarthur and the gentleman from Wannon to quote statements that I am alleged to have made. They are being trapped by their own publicity officers. Let them read what the Prime Minister has said. I shall publish and circularize it to kill for all time this stupid nonsense that any Labour man condones unemployment.
I can say no more in my defence. That is the situation as we find it. In Government under Curtin and Chifley and subsequently in Opposition, the Labour Party killed as dead as a doornail the idea of Liberal governments that some men must of necessity be out of work. We achieved full employment, and we need only another vote or two to show that we can again produce full employment for the Australian people. We have had enough of this stupid nattering which shows - exactly where the Government stands. The Prime Minister was trapped into vociferating this thing in 1958. The Government is devoid of ideas. But it is a meagre diet now and, after having read what is in this “ Hansard “ I refer it to honorable members opposite to digest. If you want to be serious about unemployment and do something to save your own miserable necks as well as do something for the people of Australia you should be decent, dynamic and just about the unemployment problem and should not seek to get some shallow political victory out of it, because in this instance you did not win. You failed.
Mr. MALCOLM FRASER (Wannon) honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) out of context this afternoon I certainly want to apologize to him. I would not want to put on his words a meaning that he himself did not wish to put on them. If what he said just now implies that his views have changed I will readily accept that, but I did not understand him to say his views had changed.
– Economic thinking has changed.
– Yes, but have the views of the honorable member changed? That is what I think is pertinent at the present time and the honorable member for Parkes is still on the front bench of the Australian Labour Party, although one might wonder why, having regard to this kind of political statement which he has made. But even if the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) said at an earlier date what the honorable member for Parkes says he said-
– It is reported in the same volume of “ Hansard “.
– Even so, the Prime Minister quite clearly said or implied that the unemployment levels of those days were unsatisfactory and that the whole nation must rouse itself and work to see that it achieved a level of unemployment that could be regarded as satisfactory. The Prime Minister did not pick any one level of unemployment and say, “ If we have this level of employment that can be regarded as total or full employment “. He just said, “ We must work to do better “. I have not read what the Prime Minister said. I am only taking what the honorable member for Parkes quoted and I am sure he would have quoted the most unfavorable passages, if there were unfavorable passages in that particular speech. To put the matter back into context, I recommend the honorable member to read once more what he said and ask him whether he agrees with what he said at that time.
– If you read the whole speech, yes.
– There would not be time to read the whole speech. The honorable member for Parkes said -
It is an empty gesture to tell men who have fought for us that we shall give them preference in employment unless we also say that we shall create, so far as possible, total employment. 1 ask the honorable members to note the words “ total employment “. The honorable member continued -
I realise that there cannot bc total employment, but if we can get down to 5 per cent, of unemployment, for all practical purposes that can be regarded as total employment.
– At that stage, in 1944, quite right!
– Apparently 5 per cent, of unemployment was regarded as full employment or total employment. This was not a question of working to achieve something better, and 5 per cent, of unemployment was going to be regarded as full and total employment. I still say that is unacceptable to any person on this side of the House. If the honorable member for Parkes gets up and says his view’s have changed, I will accept that, but he has not said that his views have changed. One might well expect that over a period of about seventeen years since 1945, when this speech was made, the honorable member’s views would have changed on some matters in this regard. Social science has progressed a very long way since then, but the honorable member did not say his views had changed and apparently 5 per cent, of unemployment is still total employment in his view. That is not acceptable to honorable members on this side of the House. It never has been and never will be, and this side of the House will always work to achieve a more satisfactory state of affairs.
– I wish to return to the question of the native uprising at Buka against the attempt by the Administration to collect taxes by the use of force if necessary, and to arrest taxpayers refusing to pay the amount of tax prescribed. Under the ordinance every native in this area is obliged to pay £2 a year poll tax unless he falls within the special categories of people who may be exempt, and the Government has decided to send a patrol of police to the area to arrest persons who have refused to pay the tax and to use force if necessary. This is an official statement that was issued and it was published in the “Daily Telegraph” of 8th February. It has never been denied. The statement was repeated in the “Daily Telegraph “ on 13th February and again it was not denied. It was referred to later in the “ Herald “ and was still not denied. When we look at the ordinance we find that it says -
A person liable to pay personal tax shall not, without reasonable cause proof whereof lies upon him, refuse or fail to pay the tax at or within the prescribed lime. Penalty: Fifty pounds or imprisonment for six months.
So we find that under the ordinance failure to pay income tax is a criminal offence. I want to know why this Government has made failure to pay income tax by the people of New Guinea a criminal offence when it is not a criminal offence in Australia. Under the Australian income tax law, income tax creates a civil debt only, and civil remedies only are available for recovery. Failure to pay income tax is not punishable as a criminal offence.
The Government is seeking to give these people self-determination. The Government has the trusteeship of a territory at. a time when the whole Afro-Asian world is turning its eyes to colonies in various parts of the world and the whole of the world has its eyes on Australia to see whether we alone of all the colonial powers are capable of setting a better example than have other colonial powers before us. I say that the Government was not compelled to act under the section of the ordinance which made failure to pay income tax a criminal offence. Had it chosen to do so, it could have recovered the tax under section 17 of the ordinance, which states that personal tax due may be recovered by the Administration as an ordinary debt.
But no, the Government did not do that! It marched straight in, in the most provocative manner one could imagine, and sent police to arrest these people. In this country such action on the part of the police would not be permissible. What the Government should have done was to treat these people in the same way as people are treated in Australia.
If we want to get the goodwill of the native people of New Guinea and to prevent the whole of the Territory being overrun by the Indonesians when they get control over West New Guinea, as no doubt they will, we have to stamp out these provocative actions of the Government against the native people there. I say that the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) has not been at all frank in his reply to this House. I believe he is hiding something. I am wondering whether there is some murky move afoot that the Minister is trying to hide by simply saying that this is not the whole story.
What were these patrol officers doing there? What did they intend to do? Did they intend to take the people’s money by force or to take some of their property by force? Did they intend to take by force their knives or axes or other personal belongings? Nothing has been told us of that. Nobody knows. We have not been told the full story.
Now, Sir, I read in to-night’s newspaper that those natives have now paid the tax. They have left the whole of the amount due with a missionary on the island concerned, but the Government is still refusing to accept the money as formal payment of the tax, according to the report in the newspaper. What more provocative action than that could one think of? Had the Government not caused enough trouble there by sending police in to arrest people who had refused to pay taxes? These are not people who have been charged with fraud, or charged with deducting tax from somebody else’s earnings and keeping the money for themselves. They are people who have committed the offence of refusing to pay a tax, the only action in regard to which that is taken against a taxpayer in this country is a civil process, in accordance with the law for recovery of the sum as a debt. To-night’s “Herald”- I hope that this is not correct - goes on to say that the police patrol in the area is gathering its strength to make another move against the natives, who will be arrested with force, if necessary, to face charges arising from the violence they have displayed towards the patrol. In my opinion, the people who ought to be arrested are the nitwits who made the decision to proceed, on the basis of their being criminals, against people who had not paid income tax.
I should also like to take to task the great brain - the great Einstein - who worked out the amount of tax that was to be paid. Two pounds a year may not sound a large sum to those of us who are on big incomes, but let me remind the House that the wages which people in that part of the world receive as a consequence of our so-called benevolence amount to the princely sum of 9s. 9d. a week, plus keep -and the keep consists of sweet potato and a little other primitive food which is handed out to them at a very low cost indeed. It is fair to say - and the Minister will not con tradict this - that the total amount which these people, who are paid at the rate of 9s. 9d. a week plus rations, receive is nowhere near £150 a year. I will explain in a moment the significance of that figure of £150. They receive no keep for their wives and families. The keep means keep for themselves alone. Wives and families have to fend for themselves. These workers are taken away under the indenture system, or contract system as we please to call it, for periods of two years at a time, and are not allowed to return to their families during the whole two years.
Under the same law which compels those natives to pay £2 a year poll tax, the rate of tax for a white man receiving a taxable income of £150 - and in the case of a man with a wife and three or four children that is equivalent to a real income of £250 or £300 - is 14s. 6d. a year. If he did not pay that 14s. 6d., does anybody imagine that the Minister would allow administrative officers in New Guinea to send a policeman to arrest him for failing to pay his tax, in the way that policemen have been sent to the island of Buka to carry out action against the people there?
To me the whole thing demands a more lucid, frank and candid explanation to this Parliament than the Minister has so far given. When he gives his explanation - if he proposes to do so - let him tell the House why the people of New Guinea are to be treated as criminals for not paying income tax, while the people of Australia are not so treated. Let him try to justify the difference and discrimination between the people of New Guinea and the people of Australia. The discrimination between natives and Europeans in New Guinea is too great to be tolerated very much longer by a Parliament like this, which has some responsibility to the Australian people. We have a responsibility to the rest of Australia, ‘ We have a responsibility to maintain goodwill with the native people of New Guinea. ‘ We are not going to maintain goodwill with them if we allow the employers in New Guinea to treat the natives as little better than beasts’ of burden. In New Guinea it is possible for the dependants of a native killed during the course of his employment to be paid off with a miserable £100 of compensation.
– That is not true.
– It is true. By a very cunning device the Minister has fixed the amount of compensation on a percentage basis, and if the person concerned was earning little his dependants receive little. The amount of compensation is no longer a fixed sum with a maximum of £100, as used to be the order of the day, because that appeared to be too discriminatory.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I would not be so concerned about the statements made by the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) if I did not know that he had visited the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. My chief concern is that someone who has had the opportunity of visiting the Territory should reveal so poor an understanding of the nature of the task that is being attempted by Australia in that Territory. Very happily, quite a number of members of this House have visited the Territory, and quite a number of Australian families have relatives who are serving Australia in the Territory. I think that those honorable members who know something of the Territory and have profited from their visits there, and those Australians who are proud of their sons or kinsmen who are serving Australia in the Territory, will -be shocked and alarmed by the statements that have come from the honorable member for Hindmarsh, because he shows that he has no real understanding of the sort of situation with which we are dealing.
Every honorable member who has visited the Territory knows full well that Australia is facing a very difficult and, indeed, a dangerous job in that place. Every honorable member knows full well that in our attempt to bring advancement to primitive people - people who, until a matter of only four, five, six or ten years ago, were headhunters or cannibals, engaged in a perpetual state of belligerence - we must meet some very peculiar situations and some situations of unusual difficulty. It is such a situation which we are now facing on the island of Buka.
A primitive people whose ancient way of life has been disturbed by our efforts on their behalf - a people who are finding great difficulty in adjusting themselves to the new world that has been thrust upon them - have become confused. They have tried to work out things for themselves, and under the leadership of a man - one of their local people - of considerable personality - they have formed a cult of their own, a cult that is trying in various ways to resist the advancement which is taking place around them, and have tried to find refuge in some new way. That sort of situation has occurred again and again in countries of this kind. The whole of the anthropological writings about New Guinea and the whole of the history of New Guinea are full of incidents of this kind. lt is of great credit to Australia and to the young Australians who have done the job that we have managed to handle those situations with a minimum of bloodshed. We have managed to overcome them by the courage and the character of young Australians who go there - the young Australians whom this member called “ nitwits “. He vilifies those Australians, those young fellows who, with courage, patience and great determination, are working on behalf of the native people with honour and credit to themselves. He calls them “ nitwits “. He accuses them of provocative action.
I often wonder what are the motives of the honorable member for Hindmarsh. Whose side is he really on? Is he proud, as we are proud, of what Australians have done and are doing in New Guinea? Or does he merely want to discredit our nation in the eyes of the world? Does he want to destroy what we are attempting to do in this country? Does he want to impede the great work we are attempting on behalf of these people? I question the motives of the honorable member for Hindmarsh. On whose side is he? Is he on the side of Australia, or does he want to hold up Australia and Australians to contempt and infamy before the world?
He has tried to make this out to be a taxation issue. At question time to-day 1 tried with as much patience and lucidity as I could muster to inform the House that this is not merely a taxation issue. Let me traverse the history of it again. About eighteen months ago this cult began to manifest itself in a group of Hahalis villages on the island of Buka. It manifested itself in a variety’ of ways. Eventually it took the form of resistance both to the action taken by the surrounding native peoples and to any attempt by the Administration to advance them. One does not criticize the people themselves. They are in a difficult world - a world of transition. But for a period of eighteen months the Administration tried to deal with this situation very gently. It tried to resolve it as best it could.
The situation eventually came to a head when the other native people in that region, having formed a local government council and having, of their own will, imposed taxes on themselves to finance the operation of the local government council, complained frequently that their work was being impeded and that their chance of progress was being stopped because this Hahalis group would not join in with them but resisted them and would pay no taxes. What the Administration did in that situation is a matter for judgment. It did what the law permits it to do. It imposed a personal tax under the Personal Taxes Ordinance on the Hahalis people. The Personal Taxes Ordinance permits the imposition of a tax of up to £2 per head per year on native people who are in receipt of cash incomes. If they are already paying taxes to their own local government council, the amount of tax paid to the local government council is a rebate against the personal tax. It was a device frankly adopted to try to force these Hahalis people, under the sanction of the personal tax, to drop the opposition to the local government council, to join the council, and to pay taxes to it.
In due course, a small patrol of about 30 Native Affairs officers went out to try to collect this personal tax. They met with resistance. Having met with resistance and having had to retreat, the Administration then adopted a whole variety of measures to try to persuade these people. The Administration had thousands of special leaflets printed in their own language and distributed among them. We put in a small local broadcasting unit in order to make special broadcasts to these people in their own language to persuade them. We got two very prominent native members of the Legislative Council who represent that region to go among them to talk with them and to try to persuade them. We sent in experienced officers who are capable of handling these situations to try to persuade them. They still resisted Then they committed acts of open defiance.
I want the honorable member for Hindmarsh to understand that what might be called the police action which is now proceeding has nothing to do with the failure to pay taxes. It is an attempt to deal with this open defiance - what might be called the “ civil disobedience “ of these people. The reason that we are putting in so many police is to try to avoid bloodshed. If we put in tpo small a number and a large number of villagers - a thousand or so - saw only a small number coming against them, this would be an encouragement to violence. If we can, with patience and with great care, present to them the appearance of a superior force and if we can wait long enough so that their opposition will wilt away, we may be able to bring about a peaceful solution of this problem with a minimum of violence.
Up to date, our police have not used arms other than batons. They are faced, as I sometimes wish the honorable member for Hindmarsh could be faced, by a horde of angry people with axes, bows and arrows, clubs and stones. I wonder whether the honorable member would still describe these officers as nitwits if he himself had been in such a situation. With great patience, our officers are upholding the honour of Australia. I think it does no credit to this House or to the honorable member for Hindmarsh that, in that situation, he can only condemn their action, call them nitwits and charge them with being provocative.
– I wish to make a personal explanation. I have been misrepresented by the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck). The Minister said that 1 had described the patrol officers and others who participated in this expedition as nitwits. What I said was that the people who were responsible for the decision were nitwits and 1 repeat that. I have repeatedly said in this Parliament that my opinion of the patrol officers is the highest that it is possible to imagine.
– The honorable member will not be allowed to debate the matter.
– I am not debating it. I am pointing out that for the Minister to say that I have accused patrol officers of being nitwits not only is untrue but the Minister knows that it is untrue.
He fins used this statement as a device for escaping the question which he has not answered as to why the discrimination by means of the two tax laws.
.- T believe that the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Cope) is to be commended for bringing to the attention of this House the circumstances of the election of the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen). One thing we have missed in this Parliament to-night is the golden voice of the honorable member for Moreton telling of the evils of communism. Is it not significant that to-night his voice is sti 1, ? In debates’ on the adjournment he was usually joined by many of his colleagues. Naturally, some of them are missing since the chaos of 9th December, but others who have been most vociferous at this hour in telling of the affiliation of the Australian Labour Party with communism and the evils attaching thereto are now silent.
Circumstances have now changed because the honorable member for Moreton was elected on Communist Party preferences. We can imagine his anxiety as he wondered whether or not he would get Communist Party support. Cannot you picture, Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) pacing his study in Canberra wondering whether, above all else, the Communist Party would stick to Killen - whether his Government would be re-elected on the votes of these people whom he and his colleagues so despised or have said that they despised over the years? Can you not see, in that far-distant suburb of Brisbane, the honorable member for Moreton wondering whether these people whom he had condemned would realize that, to use an Australianism, he was not fair dinkum, that he did not really mean what he had said about them, that he really hoped they would forgive him and support him in his real crisis? That is what happened.
To-night, he is not criticizing them. He is now the darling of the Kremlin. He drinks vodka morning and night. He regularly studies “ Pravda “ and he is interested in Soviet space missiles and things of that nature because he has a new domain to exploit. Does not he, above all members in this Parliament, owe his election exclusively to members of the Communist Party? On the other side, looking to the far distant and more expansive field, this Government stands elected, governing by a majority of one, and it is answerable to the Communist Party for its administrations because the Communist Party enabled it to gain office.
Is it not wonderful, to-night, to look at these people sitting as quietly as rabbits suffering from myxomatosis? You must realize, Mr. Speaker, what they were like before the general election. They had a majority of 32. To-night, they are humble. They have no policy. They are like Alexander’s rag-time band. They are short of players and out of tune and they have a discredited conductor. They are dependent entirely, even in this tragic state of affairs, on Communist Party preferences. What a unity ticket! How ashamed they must be! What would the former honorable member for Phillip say if he were here to-night? Remember how he spoke on these things! Remember how the former member for Lilley made speeches on the adjournment on how necessary it was not to be associated with Communists in any way! Do we not remember how the honorable member for McMillan (Mr. Buchanan) put this argument forward in his feeble way? Then we have the honorable member for Ballaarat (Mr. Erwin) who is very silent to-night. He is on his honeymoon and no doubt he is suffering from the effects of that, but he is not sp;aking on communism.
How often did we hear the honorable member for Moreton say, “ Never would I rely on Communist support. Far better for me to resign than to take my place ire this Parliament dependent on Communist support.” Is he a man of principle? Will he stand by what he said? I do not think he will because he takes his place amongst us and, without shame of any kind, he is prepared to sit here and support this Ministry. The question now is: Is this man a man of principle? Will he stand up to what he said? I do not think he will. He takes his place amongst us without any shame. He is prepared to sit in this House, to support the Ministry and to be dependent upon Communist Party preferences and support. It is humiliating for him. He looks as though he is a decent, respectable man, and I think he is. I can appreciate the humiliation he feels at the present state of affairs and the position in which he is placed to-day. The silence of his comrades shows that whilst they accept him in their midst they, too, are ashamed. These are matters we should remember when we are criticizing.
I congratulate the honorable member for Watson upon bringing to the attention of this Parliament and the people of Australia the tragic way in which this Government has been re-elected and the fact that the honorable member for Moreton has been so humiliated. Mr. Speaker, will you ever forget the tribute paid by the Prime Minister to communism and to the honorable member for Moreton when in that clear, golden voice of his he said to the honorable member, who had saved the Government by winning 110 Communist Party preferences, “ Killen, you are magnificent “?
I must deal also with the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth). He, too, is somewhat silent. He has said in his own polite way what he thinks of communism; but he, also has made his contribution to the cause of communism. Some years ago the honorable member for Mackellar, the great opponent of communism who is now so silent, ran a newspaper called the “Illawarra Star” which was published on the south coast of New South Wales. South coast unionists, quite rightly, put a black ban on the newspaper, which was losing heavily at that time. The honorable member called on the Communist, Ted Roach, in regard to the lifting of the ban. In the course of the discussion which ensued the honorable member for Mackellar agreed to donate £10 10s. to the union strike fund and to donate a cup to be called the Illawarra Star Cup to the best union marching team on the south coast. The cup was won by the watersiders’ team. The honorable member for Mackellar presented the cup to the late Jim Healy. It is now in a place of honour at the Communist Party’s head-quarters as a tribute to the honorable member’s contribution to communism in this country. These facts have been repeated again and again in this Parliament but they have never been denied by the honorable member. They are recorded again as an indication that whilst supporters of this Government continually criticize the Communist Party and quite wrongly aline the Labour Party with the Communists, they themselves are the guilty persons.
That is all I wish to say, Mr. Speaker, on this important subject. I could not allow the silence of the Government to pass without comment. The chastened way in which honorable members opposite sit here to-night indicates that they are too frightened to move that the motion for the adjournment of the House be put. We know that in the past the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) has risen to speak and the responsible Minister at the table has risen and moved that the question be put. Democracy is almost restored. But for the action of the Communists we would have a real government in this country; we would have real democracy, and the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Stokes), who is taking such a keen interest just now, would be back in his estate agency. I again make the point that the honorable member for Watson is to be commended. The honorable member for East Sydney, others who know the record of the honorable member for Mackellar in assisting communism, and the people generally appreciate the fact that to-day they have a government which has been dependent entirely on the Communist Party for re-election, which has forfeited every right to the confidence of the people, which, above all else, has been proved to be incompetent, incapable and discredited and which ought to resign or be defeated in the Parliament.
– I wish to make a personal explanation. What the honorable member has said about me not only is fantasy but has been said before and has been denied before in this House.
– In the past we have listened to many amusing speeches from the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly). Unfortunately, quite a number of us listened to a speech or an apologia that he made not very many months ago in this House. If my memory serves me correctly, the honorable member, pursuant to an association with the Soviet Legation in Canberra, arranged to visit Soviet Russia. He wanted to go there to see what was going on. That was quite a natural thing to do. I suppose we all would like to do that. Because of his natural affability and his ability to explain himself he had things all fixed up in Australia to go to Soviet Russia after a meeting of, I think, the Inter-Parliamentary Union. 1 do not know what happened after he left Australia, but apparently his association with the Communist Party became suspect. By the time he went to get his Visé in London to go to Moscow apparently there had been a little difference of opinion between Soviet leaders in Moscow about whether the honorable member was, as we would say in Australia, fair dinkum. I understand, Mr. Speaker, that every body in this “country understands that term. In other words, the question was whether he could be trusted on either the Labour side or the Communist side.
You will remember, Mr. Speaker, that he told the House quite distinctly not so long ago that he was refused a vise to go to Communist Russia. How can we place any reliance upon any expression of thought in this House by such a man on the subject of communism? The honorable member tried to get to Russia, but obviously he did not get there. In Canberra he was encouraged to go, but when his bona fides were checked he was told that he could not be relied upon. The Soviet representatives in London said to him, “ Unfortunately we cannot guarantee that you will get there “. So the honorable member, who in any event would have been a doubtful representative of Australia in Moscow, was refused admission to Russia.
I turn now to the comments about the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen). A peculiar’ feature of the Australian political voting system is what is called the donkey vote. The surname of the honorable member for Moreton begins with a “K” and that of the Communist candidate in his electorate begins with a “ J “. Any one in Australia who is stupid enough to vote for the Communist Party is quite likely to mark the ballot-paper straight down with the figures 1, 2, 3 and 4.
– Now, now.
– Surely the intelligent member for Kingsford-Smith knows that that statement is accurate. That is true particularly of people who would give their first preference to a Communist candidate. My recollection of the situation in the electorate of Moreton was that the Australian Labour Party was very sore about the fact that it did not have the unity ticket tied up completely so that instead of losing 98 votes to the honorable member for Moreton it could have counted on getting all the Communist preferences. In other words, the Labour Party was sore about the fact that it did not get a 100 per cent, scoop. I admit that members of the Labour Party have a close association with these people who, they allege, elected the honorable member for Moreton. I conclude by saying that they do not know what they are talking about in the first place. Whatever stupidity was committed by these people in the process of voting, at least the Australian Parliament has benefited by the election to the Government benches of the honorable member for Moreton.
.- The honorable member for Watson (Mr. Cope) said that the Government is in office because of the Communist preferences that were received by the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen). The honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Mackinnon) said that it was not the Communist votes but the donkey votes that resulted in the Government being re-elected. I disagree with the honorable member for Corangamite. I do not think the Government is in office because of the donkey votes. Everybody knows that after the last general election the mighty Khrushchev himself sent a cablegram to the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) congratulating him upon becoming the Prime Minister of Australia once more.- In the history of this country has an Australian Labour Prime Minister ever been congratulated by cablegram by the head of a Communist state upon his election to that office? Certainly there has not been. That has never occurred. After all, the Communists have always supported the reactionary group in every country where they have not secured control. What happened in Germany? Did they support the Social Democrats or did they support Hitler? Of course they supported Hitler. What happened in Australia? Adie and McCrae stood for Parliament against Anstey and Blackburn, the leaders of Labour and by no means right wingers. They said: “ We stand in order to destroy these social fascists. We stand in order to destroy the party of reform and palliatives.” They said: “ We want in this country either control by communism or control by the most reactionary groups because then we would have the fight clear and distinct. Let the Labour Party secure power. Let these men like Blackburn and Anstey - the most advanced leaders and most sincere members of the Labour movement - secure power. Their improvements of the conditions of the working class will put off the period of revolution and the revolutionary situation.
That, of course, has been the philosophy of every Communist from Lenin onwards. After the revolution, whom did the Communists attack most bitterly in Russia? They attacked the Mensheviks orthe social democrats. They attacked those who would do something to improve the conditions of the vast masses of thepeople because . they regarded them as their greatest enemies. Their attitude was: “ We will get rid of them and then the political stage will be cleared for action. Thenwe, as the only representatives of the working classes of the community, can fight the reactionaries.”
So it is in accordance with the philosophy of communism that the intelligent members of the Communist Party cast their votes for the Killens. It is in accordance with the philosophy of communism that the head of the communist state - Khrushchev himself - sent the congratulatory message to the Prime Minister of this country upon gaining control of the destiny of Australia. After all, will the Prime Minister now raise his voice again and will he now allow his henchmen of the back benches and the hirelings to raise their voices and accuse the Labour Party of being supporters of communism? Will he do that again after being the recipient of that cablegram of congratulation?
Had the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) received a cablegram from Moscow or any approval from overseas on the great advance he made in bringing the Labour Party nearer to the government of Australia, what would have occurred in this Parliament? Every Killen, every Wentworth and every member like the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Mackinnon) would have risen in their places to say, “ This is what Khrushchev said to Calwell”. But when Khrushchev said it to the leader of the Liberal Party, they saw nothing wrong with it. Khrushchev can congratulate the members of the Liberal Party. He can pat the Prime Minister on the back and that is all right with them. There is nothing wrong with it. But what would members of the Australian Democratic Labour Party say of me if some insignificant member of the Communist Party had sent a cablegram to me? They would say, “ This is a terrible thing “. But in return for the cablegram that Khrushchev sent to Menzies, they gave their second preferences to the Liberal Party and the
Australian Country Party. Could there be any greater humbug or hypocrisy in the political life of any country?
Motion (by Mr. Chaney) put -
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Sir John McLeay.)
Majority . . . . 1
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at11.33 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 21 February 1962, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1962/19620221_reps_24_hor34/>.