24th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Sir John McLeay) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Debate resumed from 27th February (vide page 269), on motion by Mr. Cockle -
That the following Address-in-Reply to the Speech of His Excellency the Governor-General be agreed to-
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.
Upon which Mr. Calwell had moved by way of amendment -
That the following words be added to the Address: - “ but desire to advise Your Excellency that the Government no longer possesses the confidence of the Parliament and the Nation because its latest proposals -
neglect to restore continuous full employ ment and are totally inadequate to assure job opportunities for school leavers;
leave Australian manufacturing industry without adequate protection and the business world without a return of confidence;
adopt only short-term measures which can be readily reversed or abandoned in a further application of its ‘ stop-go ‘ policies;
provide no basis for long-term planning of investment, production, employment and balance of overseas payments;
overlook family social services which would have a continuing social and economic benefit;
reject the unanimous and urgent request of the Premiers for an inquiry into the needs of education;
fail to reverse its three increases in interest on housing loans;
ignore the need to protect wool producers from price manipulation;
give no assurance to the dairying, meat, wheat, sugar, fruit, and other primary industries in the event of the United Kingdom being admitted to the Euro pean Common Market;
fail to restore a fertilizer subsidy to strengthen primary industries;
defer the restoration of selective import licensing;
ignore the opportunities for developing Northern Australia;
employ the wrong methods in reducing taxation;
betray the hopes of migrants coming to Australia, and
postpone legislation to expose and curb monopolistic and restrictive practices”.
.- The amendmentmoved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) in this Chamber last night was one of the strangest proposals ever brought into this House. It is true that this is an age in which astronauts are orbiting the earth and in which we have autumn coming in February. But the most remarkable phenomenon of all is a motion of censure against the Government which covers fifteen points yet fails to mention the two vital aspects of our national welfare - defence and the rising wealth and strength of our economy. These are the two pillars on which the whole body of Australia stands. They are its legs. This 15-point motion reminds me of a monologue by Stanley Holloway which was popular a few years ago about Sam and his musket. It told how the bullets came out of the musket in a kind of spray peppering everything around. When Sam’s score was counted he had got eight bull’s-eyes, four magpies, two lambs and a shepherd. However, that was different from this case because the Leader of the Opposition did not make a score at all.
As I have said, the extraordinary fact about this censure motion is that it omits any mention of the two vital aspects of our economy of which we on this side of the House are so conscious and which concern the securityand strength of Australia. The Opposition has omitted those vital aspects of the administration of the nation for the simple reason that the Labour Party has concentrated its efforts entirely on gaining office. For years now, it has been making an appeal to the most base instincts of humanity. It has been attempting to excite the greed of Australians. The Labour Party’s policy is, in fact, a creed of greed.
Opposition members say that, by redistributing wealth, we will have a wonderful country. They say that by taking out of one pocket and putting into another we will have a marvellous, dynamic economy. That is so much rot. No amount of shuffling or juggling of the present wealth of the country will make any section of the community any better off than it is at the present time.
I refer the financial pundits and oracles of the Labour Party to the obiter dicta of that eminent economist, the late Lord Keynes, who remarked on the near constant relationship between the level of wages paid and the level of the national income.
I have a table listing increases in the wages paid in England in relation to the national income. Unfortunately, I have not the figures for Australia but the same relativity applies in Australia as in the United States of America and the United Kingdom. In 1870, wages in England represented about 38.6 per cent, of the national income. Today they represent 41 per cent. Throughout the intervening period of nearly 100 years, the proportion of wages to national income in England has been about 41 per cent. It has varied a little one way or another, but 41 per cent, is a sound figure. I remind honorable members that in 1870 there was no Labour Party and no income tax and that was the period before the two world wars. Yet the proportion of wages to national income was exactly the same as it is to-day. So much for the proposition of the Australian Labour Party that by redistributing wealth in the community, it will make somebody or everybody so much wealthier and happier. Of course, that is a lot of rot.
The Labour Party makes great play with its talk of full employment and increased consumer spending. According to members of the Opposition, those things are a panacea for all ills. Of course, in a stationary or stagnant economy - the kind that the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) was referring to a few years ago when he spoke of 5 per cent, -unemployed - you must have 5 per cent, unemployment to have stability; but in a rising, dynamic economy where wealth is expanding, you can afford to have full employment. In such conditions, you can afford to have the levels of employment we have had in the past ten years because the Whole economy is buoyant and going forward. That is how you get full employment.
Members of the Australian Labour Party have said, “ If we are allowed to achieve office, we will bring about full employment”. How they will do that is by reducing the standards of living of every man jack who lives in Australia. That is the other way of bringing about full employment and that is precisely what the Labour Party would do. It would set out on a course of deliberate inflation to rob every one in the country and to make sure that standards of living were reduced sufficiently to allow it to have its precious full employment. Inflation may come about through higher taxation or by printing more money, but whatever means the Labour Party adopted would be adopted as a deliberate act of policy as was the case in the Weimar Republic in Germany, in Italy, and, more recently, in France. It would have exactly the same result. It would produce a concentration of authority and power in the hands of a junta and destroy the confidence that exists between one man and another in the community. It would also destroy the savings of the people.
The use of inflation as a political instrument is highly dangerous and we can put two constructions on this proposal. We can say it is a deliberately calculated policy designed by the arch-socialists of the Labour Party in order to achieve a concentration of power in the hands of a junta at the top, or it is a cynical, ruthless bid for office at the expense of all that is good and decent in the community. Honorable members can have it whichever way they like, but the deliberate use of inflation as an instrument of policy would have the effect of destroying the Australia we know.
Some play has been made with criticism of this Government for adopting a stop-go financial policy. I would say that policies which have brought Australia to this pitch and which have allowed Australia to grow and expand’ and develop its resources as a nation are not too bad. If they are stop-go policies, the results have been pretty effective. It is rather interesting to find that Mr. Kennedy, the President of the United States of America, thinks so too. In the latest edition of the “ U.S. News and World Report “ there is a headline, “ Goal for U.S.: Planned Economy, Kennedy Style “. The accompanying article says that Mr. Kennedy proposes to ask Congress now for special power to fight recession. It says -
President Kennedy is asking Congress now for power to do the following things if recession threatens.
That is precisely the kind of thing we have been doing in Australia -
Again, of course, this is the sort of thing we have been doing in Australia -
The article goes on to say -
The new measures would give the President more power than ever before to counter swings in business activity.
I shall not read the rest of the article.I merely refer it to the attention of members of the Opposition, so that they may inform themselves of the position, and may then understand that these so-called stop-go policies are being adopted in America after having been put into force in Australia. Australia has been first in this matter, as it has been in so many other fields. In America these measures are referred to as flexible, adaptable policies of the kind necessary to meet the changes of circumstances that occur in any free economy from time to time, especially an economy that is subject to violent fluctuations with respect to overseas trade income.
We must continue with the kinds of policies that have brought us up. to this pinnacle in Australia. We must continue with policies that inspire confidence, and I am very pleased to see in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech a hint of the adoption of particular policies to encourage individual effort in Australia. I have decided views on this matter. I would like to put my views forward, to provide a contrast with the speeches of members of the Opposition, which were completely devoid of any ideas designed to increase the wealth and strength of Australia. My particular idea in this connexion - in fact it might be called my hobby horse - is this: I would like to see the wide introduction of some kind of incentive wage payment throughout Australia. I do not care whether it is an individual incentive or a group incentive, or whether it takes some other form, but I would like to see it introduced throughout Australia with as broad a coverage as possible. I want, in fact, a change in our wages system. I believe that our present wages system is developing, or could develop, a slave mentality amongst the people. When you receive a fixed income, whether you work or you do not, you tend to take little interest in the job you are doing. Payment on this basis destroys all personal feelings for the job you are doing. In order to restore the dignity of work, payment must be related to results.
I know all the evils that have been associated with payment by results in the past. Those evils have been brought about by the fact that all such schemes in the past have been designed by employers, and employers naturally have a particular interest in view when they are designing such schemes. Some of them have been calculated to cause resentment, for one reason or another. Others, although admittedly very few, have been introduced as a form of justice. But in whatever guise they appear, employer-designed incentive schemes are never perfect. The only perfect incentive schemewould be one devised by this Government to cover the whole field throughout the country.
I would also like to see all supplements to wages relieved of income tax, so that there would be a strong encouragement to introduce incentive schemes of different kinds wherever they might be usefully applied. I firmly believe that all bonus additions to wages above the award rates should be free from income tax. That would necessarily mean bringing into the fold all those salary-earners who now receive concessions above their wages, such as entertainment and car allowances. There would be other difficulties of administration. But the value of this course would be such that any difficulty, no matter how large it seemed, would be worth while overcoming. We want to get every one feeling that he has a personal stake in the wealth of Australia, and we can do this by awarding payment by results.
Opposition members are interjecting, but I realize that the way of the innovator is always hard. The Australian Labour Party has been resisting ideas since it adopted its socialization plank in 1921. This has been a dead weight around its neck and, although it has not sunk the party yet, we can see the depths to which it has been reduced because to-day Labour is making a bid for power at the lowest possible level. Its appeal is to human avarice and it is willing to make any promise that is likely to give it power. The- evil of this is not so much the excitement of greed in the community as the fact that Labour has been deliberately concealing from the public view the dangerous situation in which Australia lies to-day.
The Australian Labour Party has never told the people the veal truth of Australia’s situation, namely that we are a trading nation and we cannot exist by taking in each other’s washing. We cannot exist on the natural resources of Australia. We must import from the rest of the world and we must export to the rest of the world. We are in a very vulnerable position in the Asian area, right at the far end of the earth, away from the great concentrations of industry in Europe and North America. There is a trend now for these great industrial concentrations to merge and to freeze us out in the cold. We must fight back. The Labour Party does not tell any one of that situation, but that is the fact.
Australia must fight to survive. It must fight for markets and for recognition. It must fight for a place in the sun. The Labour Party would pretend to the people that we live in another planet, that Australia, is not in South-East Asia between the Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean. That is a wonderful idea, but it is hot true. Australia is subject to real pressure’s and is in real danger now from the surrounding thousands of millions of people who live in an under-privileged state and are undernourished. That is our situation.
What we need is a sense, of reality and a sense of honesty in public pronouncements. That is what the Government is doing. The Government is not ashamed to go before the people, to present the realities of the situation to them and ask for their support at election time on a truthful, frank platform. That is what happened last December. The Labour Party, on the other hand, is presenting a completely erroneous, misguided policy in an effort to conceal from the people the harshness of the world in which we live and the difficulties that surround us. . It is trying to pretend that by simply re-distributing wealth - by robbing Peter to pay Paul, taking from one pocket and putting in another - we will somehow” be able to ensure the security and strength of Australia. I reject the Australian Labour Party’s assessment of Australians and that party’s appeal to greed as a motive. I, on the other hand, appeal to the sense Of adventure of the people of Australia and to the Australian spirit which created this country and which has led Australia on to its present level of achievement and made us one of the leading- nations in the world.
.- Mr. Speaker, for eight years this Government has contemptuously ignored in this chamber motions of censure. Therefore, We might well wonder why the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) came into the House unannounced last evening, at the death knock of yesterday’s sitting, and informed honorable members that he intended to observe protocol in relation to the amendment, constituting a censure motion, which was moved last evening by my leader. The Prime Minister said that this motion of censure was very important. I: think we all know why the Prime Minister has suddenly become so solicitous of the protocol which he has ignored so contemptuously for eight years. The reason, I feel sure, is that general elections are pending in three States. Therefore, question time is now out while this motion of censure is being debated. Further than that, discussion during debate on the motion for the adjournment of the House at the end of each day’s sitting, which would enable us to attack some of these things that are involved in the forthcoming State general elections, also is out. So the decks are clear for a debate on these matters alone which are concerned with the Governor-General’s Speech, and all the other matters are conveniently excluded, from mention in this House during this debate. The Prime Minister has been very clever indeed. He has acted typically in trying to save his political skin at this moment of history.
One of the great joys that I had on attending in this place for the opening of the new Parliament was the sight of sixteen new faces on this side of the chamber, Mr. Speaker. I was friends with most of the men on the other side who were displaced. I do not believe in carrying my politics so far as to give rise to personal hatreds, or anything like that. I was greatly heartened to see the new Labour members installed on this side of the chamber and the members of the Australian Country Party moved about 30 degrees further round the cham-ber. We are very proud of the contingent of new members sent to this place by the electors of Queensland - that neglected State. We are very proud, too, of the new Labour members from New South Wales and Western Australia.
I should like to spend a little more time discussing the election results. Labour won fifteen seats - the largest number won at an election since 1942. The Government lost three Ministers and its Whip and Deputy Whip, and nearly lost two other Ministers in the closest election in the Commonwealth’s history. I want to analyse the results and show how close they really were. I say categorically that this Government is in office by a margin of only 60 votes. Had Labour received 60 more votes in the Moreton division, we would have won it. The Parliament would then have been deadlocked. There would have been another election by April, and we would have won it. The Government will never be allowed to forget the fact that the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) received about 30 per cent, of the Communist preferences and 86 per cent of the preferences of the Australian Democratic Labour Party’s candidate. The honorable member for Moreton apparently was getting on very well indeed with the Communists behind the scenes. The actual fact is that the Government is in office by 60 votes, and 60 votes only. The people’s will was frustrated, as it has been so often in the past, by the pernicious system of preferential voting which I heartily condemn - and here I speak for myself and not my party - and which I would replace with the first-past-the-post system. The first-past-the-post system operates in the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Canada and New Zealand, and also in Queensland. It is because of the preferential system of voting that this Government has been able to retain office at the last three elections, thanks to the Australian Democratic Labour Party - the undercover Liberal Party - and thanks to the Communists. Mr. Menzies received the greatest shock he has ever had in his political career at the last election. In the Melbourne “ Sun News-Pic torial “, of 7th December last, he is reported as having said -
I am unable to discern any overall swing against my Government.
The following statement by him, made at Waverley, in New South Wales, on 30th November last, is also interesting -
All round Australia I have never had a better reception. I have found people coming along in record numbers to listen to the story of Australian development in the last decade. Australia has had the advantage of having a stable government whose members are loyal to one another.
So it will be seen that he was certain that he would be coming back with a majority reduced by perhaps one or two and no more. The former Government Whip, the then honorable member for Capricornia, Mr. Pearce, said to me on the last day on which the last Parliament met: “ Speaking seriously, Gil, I think that we will come back with virtually the same majority. I think .we will take a couple of seats off you fellows, as a matter of fact.” That was his forecast of the outcome of the December election. After reading statements by the Prime Minister and after listening to remarks similar to those which I have just repeated, I was convinced that the Government was living in a completely isolated, insulated ivory tower right up to December, 1961. After the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) returned from Queensland, he said, “ We will not lose any seats in Queensland “.
In a summing up of election possibilities, in the Brisbane press on 8th December, we read this statement -
In Queensland, only one seat, Griffith, is expected by the majority of observers to change hands.
We won seven seats in Queensland! I mention that as an indication of how far astray were the predictions of political commentators, including commentators for the Australian Broadcasting Commission. Could they be in the pay of the Liberal Party? I listened to them, and every one of them had this Government victorious by eight or nine seats at 10.30 o’clock on the Saturday night. I thought it scandalous that these commentators should be purporting to give final results at that early hour on the day of the election. Of course, they could have been prejudiced.
The Australian Labour movement enjoyed a great moral victory on 9th December last. Labour’s progressive programme was definitely vindicated and the
Liberal Parry’s policy was rejected and condemned. What a change of outlook we see evinced by the Government now! Last year, the hallmark of this Government was colossal arrogance, blind over-confidence, deadly remoteness, nauseating high and mightiness, and disgusting contempt of the people, of this Parliament and of the Opposition. The Government was living in an ivory castle whose king was the Prime Minister himself. The Government disbelieved and ridiculed Labour’s detailed analysis of the conditions that were blighting our economy. The Government said that we exaggerated that we were panic merchants. The Prime Minister said that we were pessimists and that we deliberately misinformed the country about the state of the economy and about unemployment. He referred also to the timber industry, primary production, overseas investment in Australia, take-overs and inflation. Supporters of the Government also claimed during the campaign that we were prepared to do anything and to say anything to get into office, and honorable members opposite who have already participated in this debate have repeated that same stupid statement.
As proof of the amazing character of statements which have emanated even from the Prime Minister, let me read some for the benefit of honorable members. During the election campaign the Prime Minister when delivering his policy speech on 15th November said -
Our opponents magnify the employment problem for election purposes. It will be for you to decide whether you believe that business prosperity, employment opportunities, capital investment, national growth and international trade will be greater under a socialist administration . . . The truth is that our opponents are professional pessimists.
During a television programme on 28th November he stated -
Mr. Calwell’s policy is in reality a string of promises and handouts having for the most part little or nothing to do with the development of the nation’s resources.
How far removed from reality is this Prime Minister who spoke so glibly in 1961? It is almost fantastic that a man could be so far removed from the realities of the situation as to make the statements which the Prime Minister made in his policy speech and in the television programme to which 1 have referred. On another occasion he made this statement-
I deplore the extraordinary hysteria of the Labour Party over unemployment. The Labour Party thinks of a number, doubles it and adds two noughts.
I say deliberately that that is a completely untruthful lying statement. On another occasion he said -
That there is in total terms some small degree of current unemployment is true. The special financial provisions the Government has made for housing and State works are already producing a marked improvement.
What was the marked improvement? There was none! This was only another way in which the Prime Minister was fooling the people. The official figures relating to registered unemployed in Australia are these: In October there were 96,552 persons registered; in November 100,057 and in December 115,936. Was that the marked improvement which the Prime Minister’s policies were intended to effect? By January, 1962, the number of registered un- employed had jumped to 131,000. These figures indicate the type of argument that the Prime Minister was putting over the Australian people. His policy speech was designed deliberately to trick the people into putting him into office. He has used this device so often in the past. He is the best talker in this country or perhaps in the world, but when it comes to plain statements of fact on an important matter such as unemployment he tries to pull the wool over the people’s eyes. He now has found out that the people will not stand it any longer.
The Prime Minister also stated -
Labour’s programme will add hundreds of millions to the already steadily rising Commonwealth expenditure. What is Mr. Calwell going to. use for money unless he forces upon the Reserve Bank the creation of vast sums of new money, unmatched by new production.
If the Government’s programme is not inflationary, I do not know what is. And the Prime Minister condemned us for our attitude! I have mentioned some of the statements which the Prime Minister made during his policy speech. Now let me deal with the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt). Speaking in North Adelaide on 6th December he said -
If people are dissatisfied with a situation in which 97 to 98 in every 100 people who want a job have, employment, I remind them of the days when Labour was in power and -7.5 to 30 per cent, of the people who wanted jobs could. not get them.
What was he referring to then? He repeated the statement in the House last night in the worst speech that he has made for many years. What was he trying to tell us? What Labour Government did he mean? What Labour Government had 25 to 30 per cent. unemployment? Was he referring to the period of the two months’ coal strike in 1949 when just over 100,000 people were out of work? I remind him that unemployment of about 3 or 4 per cent. in JulyAugust had been reduced to 8 per cent. by the end of the year. Or was the Treasurer referring to the depression years? He did not tell us last night what he meant.
As an indication of this Government’s arrogance, and particularly the arrogance of the Prime Minister, let me read a statement which he made at Bega in New South Wales on23rd November,1961. He said -
Are you going to hear a Labour Prime Minister speaking for you in the councils of the world - a Labour Prime Minister struggling to get to know all the people in the United States and the other great countries with whom we are utterly familiar?
He is the only one who is utterly familiar with them. He is the only one who does the travelling and meets all the top men in the other countries. But he was contemptuous of a Labour Prime Minister having even the capacity to meet these big people overseas. That is an illustration of the arrogance that marked the Prime Minister and the Government in December last year. Labour’s detailed plans, worked out for eighteen months to correct the excesses, strains, confusions, injustices and stresses in the economy, were ridiculed by this Government as disastrous to the nation and were described as an extravaganza of impossibilities. But what happened? The people vindicated Labour’s analysis by an overwhelming vote. Our analysis was confirmed by the people’s decision at the poll. Now the Prime Minister is Prime Minister on sufferance. He is a Prime Minister on sufferance and by a freak of unthinking preferences. But immediately the cold winds of anger came from the Australian people he did a somersault that would earn him a place on the pay-roll of any circus in this country. The proposals which he said in December were impossible and extravagant suddenly, in January, became possible. This proves how dishonest the Government was with the people of Australia in December and how dishonest were its arguments.
If they were wrong in December, what suddenly made the proposals right in January? I will tell you. It was the fact that we nearly won the federal election.
Labour says this is still the same Government, a specialist in stop-and-go economic policy. Labour says that it will agree to the measures taken out of its policy and implemented by this Government. Of course we will agree to them. But Labour says, categorically, “ We intend to fight to remove this aged government from office as soon as possible so that the economy can have the blood transfusion that we promised it last December “.
Last night we had a masterly speech by the Leader of the Opposition, which received the headlines in all the press to-day - both anti-Labour and pro-Labour. The speech was well prepared. It was comprehensive. It was a condemnatory speech which gave this party every credit. In it he laid down fifteen condemnations of this Government, but I will mention only a few of them. The amendment moved was-
That the following words be added to the Address: -“but desire to advise Your Excellency that the Government no longer possesses the confidence of the Parliament and the nation because its latest proposals -
neglect to restore continuous full employment and are totally inadequate to assure job opportunities for school-leavers.
provide no basis for long-term planning of investment, production, employment and balance of overseas payments;
fail to reverse its three increases in interest on housing loans;
fail to restore a fertilizer subsidy to strengthen primary industries;
That is something which was promised in our election speech -
The Government has taken quite a bit out of our policy but has baulked at that important one. The timber industry to-day is languishing and, with thousands of men out of employment and hundreds of mills still closed down, is feeling the direct result of the import policy of this Government, in letting in unrestricted quantities of timber from Canada, Japan, Malaya and Borneo. This industry has been fiddled around by this Government for so long that it is absolutely disgusted with the Government and all its members. We had a good conference here in Canberra with all the timber interests in Australia to try to iron out this problem.
So far we have not heard one constructive proposal from the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen), who presided at that wellattended and very useful meeting. The industry has completely lost faith in this Government’s ever trying to restore it to its former status.
In relation to housing a scandalous thing has happened. This Government is. going to restrict housing. It has fixed a top. level beyond which the provision of housing. may not go. This .is something we have never had in this country before. The Government has put a brake on housing by fixing this target “beyond which the . building industry will not be permitted’ to. go in home building. In 1960 the number of houses and flats completed in Australia . was 108,931; in 1961 the number completed fell’ to 80,760 - a, considerable -drop of about 28,000. houses and flats in one year. . The value of all building work approved, in Australia dropped by almost £100,000,000 in one year - a 25 per cent, slump in .Australia’s greatest industry. Any government that deliberately plans to restrict home building is committing a criminal act and is not fit. to’ be entrusted with’ running the economy of this country. Not only is the building industry our greatest industry; but it has 21 ancillary industries dependent on it. The welfare of the “Australian family is bound up with the rate of home, building. Yet here we have a government which plans to restrict home building. In answer to ^ a question that I asked him last September the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) said, “We will restrict housing to about .80,000 nouses a year” - something never heard or before in the history of this country! So this Government stands condemned entirely out of its own mouth for tying down an industry which, as I said, is the greatest in the Commonwealth. The figures that I have given come from the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics.
Finally, I come to a. point about the control of the Liberal Party. This is politics. Recently, the- Liberal Party held- a convention, and for the first time in history it was suggested at that convention that the Liberal Party organization should have some control of the policy followed by the. Liberal Government in Canberra. The Prime-Minister (Mr. Menzies) has always twitted us on the ground that the Labour Party has outside bodies - the federal executive and the federal conference - which- help to decide Labour policy. That is quite right .too, because that is of the very nature, and is the very set-up, of. the Labour Party. But now Sir Philip McBride, the head of the Liberal Party, blew his top at that convention and condemned the Government for measures of which apparently, the Liberal .Party organization did not approve. The Liberal Party organization outside wants more control of this Government’s actions in policy-making . here in Canberra! So far the Prime Minister has had policy-making almost entirely in his own hands. It is interesting to see the wheels turning and to see that the Government’s condemnation of . us in regard to control from outside the Parliament is now coming right home to roost in the Government’s own quarters. I wonder how this will work out. I wonder whether the Prime Minister is prepared to eat humble pie and to be told what to do, or be guided, by the Liberal Party organization outside this Parliament.’ . We are awaiting developments with . great interest. If the Prime- Minister does not toe. the line, will the Liberal Party organization be strong enough to pull him. into line? I doubt it very much. .
We tin this side strongly support the motion of no confidence in the Government. The vote of the people at the general election held on 9th December was a vote of no confidence in the Government. The vote of this House, if it expresses no confidence in the Government, will be only a reflection .of .what the people decided on 9th December last. In effect, the ideas that the people expressed on 9th December are being dovetailed with, our ideas on this occasion. The Government may win. out by one vote or .by two votes, but its time is surely coming to an end. You gentlemen opposite cannot carry on with the tenseness, the strain and the tension, hoping, a! ways, to win by one vote, in the months’ ahead of us. We feel that by. the end of this year the opportunity will come for another general election, at which the Australian Labour Party will be returned as a government. All our efforts in this House are designed to that end..
.- I listened carefully to the speech of the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) and I felt that I detected in it a note of mournful petulance that the Labour Party had not won the general election. May I suggest to him that his spirit of disappointment and disillusionment should not be carried too far? We have noticed already that, in his official position of Opposition Whip, he is not as assiduous in his attendance at divisions as he might be. I do not want his disappointment to eat into his soul.
I should like to congratulate the mover and seconder of the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply. I think that the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Cockle), with his knowledge of waterfront problems, has a particular part to play in this chamber. I would very much like to congratulate the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Nixon). The Liberal Party has been wondering whether it is a prerequisite of selection for the Australian Country Party that candidates should be 7 feet tall. It is true that the honorable member for Gippsland is only 6 feet 1 inch tall, but he does not seem to lack any mental ability. I also congratulate the honorable member for Canning (Mr. McNeill). I met him in 1951 in Britain, to which country we both went as Nuffield scholars. 1 was aware then of his qualities and I am glad to see him in this House. His maiden speech last night was ample evidence of his ability. I would like to say, too, that many of the maiden speeches that I have heard from the opposite side of the chamber have given us considerable hope that those who delivered them will have quite a bit to offer to this House.
I shall deal with one particular question in my speech. I am not going to diffuse my fire as the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) did by presenting fifteen points. In November, 1960, the Government took action to curb inflation. I supported it then. Before that, in March, 1960, when the Government removed import licensing I said that I hoped that if ever our trade balances again came into jeopardy the Government would adopt the unpopular course of damping down demand rather than having recourse to the clumsy and inefficient method of import licensing. So I am certainly not going to castigate- the Government for the action that it took in November, I960. Although I admit that the deflation programme had unfortunate effects on employment, it certainly proved an effective weapon against inflation. We know that it has improved our trade balance by £300,000,000 compared with the corresponding first seven-month period of last year. But I think that the economic problem - not the party political problem - that faces Australia is whether we can have full employment without inflation. That is the subject that I have set myself to discuss this afternoon.
If this question is posed, most people in Australia will say, “ Let us have full employment at any cost and chance a bit of inflation “. They will say this for many reasons. The bitter experiences of the 1930’s are well remembered, as they should be. We must never go back to those conditions. The fear that this may happen again hangs like a pall over all our economic thinking. It is silly, in Australia, with so many developmental jobs to be done, that any one should not be able to get a job. It is economically wasteful to have a factory with unmanned machinery. There is a saying in the meat trade that nothing eats money faster than a meatworks that is not killing meat. So it is with factories. An equipped factory that is not fully working is economically wasteful.
Everybody knows that if there is full employment, prosperity spreads like ripples in a pool. So the man in the street says, “ Let us have full employment “. He looks back on the post-war period with its consistent inflationary spiral and says to himself, “Well, if that is inflation and if it is called unpalatable, all I can say is that it did not hurt me. We can do with some more of the same medicine.” The Government, with its slender majority, naturally listens carefully to the voice of the man in the street. After all, Parliament is a democratic institution and the man in the street is the man who elects us. So we should listen carefully to his voice and do what he wants to have done.
There is an almost overwhelming temptation to chance the inflation and go baldheaded for full employment at any price. It would not be hard to achieve, really. We could have import licensing again and hefty budget deficits. In short, we could repair the bubble that we burst in 1960 and blow it up again. This would make us popular again. If we had a snap election we might have a majority of 32 again. Why not? What is wrong with a bit of inflation, anyway? I will give three answers.
The first is the one that you are always hearing; It is hard, we are told, on the man on the fixed income. It is hard on the man who has put money in the bank instead of spending it all and so has contributed to the development capital that we need. Perhaps there are not many of these people. Perhaps there are not enough of them to be politically important, but they are the salt of the earth and their savings are really needed. Are we to say to these people, “ We are sorry about this inflation. We admit that your savings which you put together at our behest and at considerable sacrifice to yourself and which are of benefit to us, will not be worth much when you get them out of the bank. But you are expendable in this exercise. We must be politically popular. We meant well by you - really we did. But the winds of change are blowing now. If there were only more of you, things would be different. Sorry!”? What kind of government would we be if that were our attitude?
Secondly, though I will admit that inflation causes a great deal of activity, it is usually activity of the wrong kind. It was so in 1960, for instance. Before I came into Parliament and since, I have had many opportunities to look at our great continent, to see its potential, and to see the immense problems that could be tackled by a determined people. Were we tackling them in 1960? I think not. You do not develop Australia with vending machines or television, with real estate booms around the cities, or by playing the stock exchange. It is very easy to say that the promise of easy money in the cities should not be strong enough to lure the pioneer from his visions, but it helps. How are we to get men ot quality to develop the Northern Territory, for instance, if they can get more money and better conditions by making television sets in Melbourne? If we could get the men what about the money? What fool would put his money into a solid developmental project if he could get 12 per cent, in a hirepurchase company? If we could get the necessary men and money, could we also get the materials? In 1960 we could not get fencing wire. Why? Because we could not get enough men to man the steel mills. When the steel was made it was put into luxury flats in Sydney.
Inflation certainly leads to activity of a kind. It is the kind of activity that you see in an ant heap. Every one is rushing around, making money and spending it before it loses its value. The great developmental projects are put into the “ too hard “ basket. They are too hard for people who have a warped sense of values. One day we will wake up to find people of a different colour or of a different moral fibre developing our tropical north. We will explain to our children that we are sorry about this but that we could- not do it. We were too busy making money in an inflationary boom. All political parties - those on both sides of the chamber - pay lip service to the development of Australia. We should all remember that sound development will proceed only in a sound economic climate. But perhaps I am old fashioned and sentimental in my concern with these two problems of inflation - the man on the fixed income and national development.
Are there any other arguments that can be used against inflation? There is one and it is easily the most important. Inflation strikes hardest at those who cannot pass on the increased costs and they are those who produce for the export market. Other sections of the economy can pass costs back along the line until they come to the exporter who can pass them no further. So inflation bears most hardly on the exporter. “ Well “, says the man in the street, “ that is a pity. I am sorry for the poor old exporter; but why does he not stop exporting? What is he worrying about? If things get tough, let him join me at the factory bench making goods with a protected market. Why should I turn from inflation because of him?”
I am not going to argue the case from the exporter’s point of view. I am a farmer and most of the produce I grow is sold on the export market. I am aware that I have earned no special place in Heaven; but if I did what the man in the street does and joined him in producing television sets and stopped producing for export, the results for Australia would be disastrous. Why? Because Australia needs exports. We cannot do without them. We used to think that we could do without them and make all the things we wanted in Australia, but we know from bitter experience that that is not so.
About 70 per cent, of our imports are needed to service industry in some way. We import plant for factories, raw materials, fuel and so on. It is an awkward fact that there is only one way of paying for these imports and that is by exports. That is what we have always been taught at school and so far as we know no one, not even the honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters), who is the expert on trade matters for the Opposition, has ever been able to explain how it can be done in any other way. We all know that if we are to have a strengthened economy, we must have exports to pay for our imports. It has been said that we must increase our exports by £250,000,000 in the next five years to pay for the imports that a developing economy demands.
If I listen to the voice of the man in the street and stop expanding exports to join him at the factory bench, and if other exporters do the same, we will not get the exports we need. That is what inflation means to the Australian economy. We will not get the exports to pay for the imports we must have to keep our factories working. So we are faced with the threat of unemployment through the back door, as it were, because if the economy turns sour because of trade balance difficulties, you get unemployment just as certainly as you get i* by putting a sales tax on motor cars. “Well “, says the man in the street again, “ We have not done too badly since the war, and we have had an inflationary spiral all that time”. That is true, but we have been very lucky with the prices we have received for our exports in that period. The honeymoon is over now. The policies of those countries which used to buy our exports make it more difficult than it was. Even Great Britain is paying her farmers exorbitant subsidies to encourage them to grow what we could produce far more cheaply. Expenditure on subsidies in Great Britain has now reached £300,000,000.
To increase export production, particularly in the face of this narrow national isolationism, is not going te be easy. I know that on my farm I can get increased production only at the expense of a considerable expenditure of money for plant, fencing, seed and so on. There is little temptation to do this with the cost of these things increasing and the prices I receive tending to fall. So to me as an exporter, inflation does matter, and it matters even more to the man in the street who depends more than he knows on a sound economy.
I have spelt out the problems of inflation in more detail than the problems of unemployment, not because I think they are more important but because they are harder for the ordinary man to grasp. I put a challenge to the Opposition. It is, of course, politically attractive to talk about the problems of unemployment and ignore the problems of inflation. It was easy to do that when it did not seem probable that honorable members who sit on the Opposition side would govern in the foreseeable future. Now, however, I understand that the Opposition seriously sees itself as the alternative government. If this is really so, honorable members opposite should come clean about whether they think inflation is important or not. It was good enough perhaps last year to solve problems of unemployment airily by introducing a £100,000,000 deficit supplementary budget early this year; but with the Opposition’s newly-won responsibilities, surely there should come a recognition that you cannot do this sort of thing without paying a price in inflation. Or does the Opposition agree with the man in the street and think that it does not matter? The greatest Labour leader of our time did not think so. I quote from one of Mr. Chifley’s budget speeches -
I am deeply grateful for the support of my colleagues in my fight against the great danger of inflation. I know some of them have not readily seen the force of many of the economic theories on which I have had to act, and that they are apt to regard my ideas as fossilized, but they have stood by me.
I wonder whether the clear light that led Mr. Chifley to do unpleasant things to curb inflation still burns m the Labour camp to-day? I doubt it.
I began this speech by posing the question, “ Can we have full employment without inflation?” That is the problem that any government - Labour or Liberal - has to face. I have pointed out in some detail the problems of inflation. The problems of unemployment are so obvious that they do not need to be pointed out. I am certainly not equipped to answer this question, but I thought there might be some value in posing it. I suppose that there must be a way of solving the problem.
I have often asked the Government to appoint a committee of inquiry into our economy so that we could clearly see where we should be going. The need for this becomes greater every day, with the problems of the European Common Market looming on the horizon. But even without that added impetus, the need is still overwhelming. Perhaps we could solve our problem of unemployment or inflation by having an unpegged exchange rate. I know that this is old-fashioned, but it used to work. We were told that it left the wellbeing of the ordinary man too vulnerable to economic laws. That may be true, but it appears to me that we may have to choose between economic laws and political laws, and our recent political experience of the latter does not give us much ground for hope that we can persuade the ordinary voter that it is necessary sometimes to take unpleasant medicine.
There are many similar questions that one could pose to such a committee. One is whether we should have a uniform tariff. We should realize that our present tariff system sets out to give a low tariff for an industry that has natural advantages or is efficient, and a high tariff to one that has natural disadvantages or is comparatively inefficient, so they are all supposed to start off equal. Perhaps that is unwise. Perhaps we should deliberately encourage an efficient industry, or those with a particular natural advantage, by giving them a higher tariff so that they can help to shoulder the load of producing those exports that are so badly needed.
These are some of the problems I would pose to a high level inquiry into our economy. Is there some way of taking these decisions out of the political field or, if governments must do the job, what principles should guide them? The case for such an inquiry is immensely strengthened by Sir John Crawford’s advocacy of it. If a person of his eminence, with his brilliant record in the Department of Trade, feels the need for the guidance of such an inquiry, how much more do we politicians need it?
I want to make one further point. If it is the capacity of our export industries to produce exports which can be sold in the face of world competition that limits the supply of the imports demanded by a high standard of living, then it is clear that the expansion of our export industry is vital to the maintenance of our living standards. If our export industries are lusty enough to absorb continually creeping inflation, then we can look forward to sitting back in our easy chairs and watching television with our feet in buckets of champagne.
We are continually reminded that Australia is a continent of unlimited potential, and one would gather that it is only the ineptitude of governments that has prevented us from taking a big step forward into the rosy dawn of the future. This kind of eloquence is particularly forthcoming when we come to talk about the development of the Northern Territory. Unfortunately, these statements are far from the truth. The truth is, in fact, that land development in the future is going to be even harder than it has been in the past. The job that has been done in Australia in the past has been one of which we can well be proud, but it has not been easy, particularly when one considers the load of protection that we have been asked to carry. It will be even harder in the future. I suggest to those who clear land with eloquence and develop Australia with their tongues that they should take a Land Rover, or. a horse, or, better still, their swags and go and have a look at this country that is supposed to be so rich with promise. I suggest that at the very least they should fly over it, and inspect it carefully with a seeing eye. They will come back with an immense respect for the people who live in it, and an immense respect for the magnitude of the problems that confront them.
I do not say that the developmental task is impossible. I do say, however, that it will not be easy, and unless we can expand our export industries - and that is what the developmental programme must lead up to - we cannot hope for a rise in our standards of living. The truth is that at the present time we tend to live above our export income. In private life most of us have experienced the problems that prevent us from keeping up with the Joneses. Similarly, in the national scene there are economic problems which prevent us from living as we would like. We should recognize that our capacity to supply and sell enough exports is a definite limitation on the boundless expansion of our standards of living that some people have come to regard as their right. This limitation will, or should, prevent the introduction of a 35-hour week, the universal grant of three weeks annual leave, and many of the other goals that well intentioned idealists strive for. We just cannot afford thesethings, much as we would like to be able to.
Finally, Sir, internal politics in Australia mainly revolve around the size of the economic cake, and the size of the slice that the individual can cut from it. I suppose the ideal wouldbe to get a good big, fat, thick cake, for every one to have agood go at. Well, the supply of one of the ingredients is limited, and unless we can get more exports to throw in the cake will not rise as we would like it to do. . So it is important that those who hope to get bigger slices should not put. any obstacles, in the form of inflation or of unwise protection in the way of those sections of the community that produce these badly needed exports.
.- The honorable member for Wakefield(Mr. Kelly) cast a reflection on the integrity of the Opposition Whip (Mr. Duthie). The honorable member knows as well as I do that there is no more conscientious or willing worker in this House than the honorable member for Wilmot. The honorable member for Wakefield referred to an incident that occurred the other night, When a division was called in the House. Unfortunately, at that time the Whip was in conference with the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). The honorable member for Wakefield knows quite well that the warning bell in the office of the Leader of the Opposition was not working that evening. It has since been repaired. The Opposition Whip was not in any way to blame for missing the division.
This kind of charge, Mr. Deputy Speaker, is typical of the statements made by Government supporters. I have listened to many of them. They have been trying desperately to convince themembers of this House, and the people outside, particularly those in their individual electorates, that this Government is worthy of support. Their speeches, however, have been far from convincing.
I rise to support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition. I shall speak particularly of three matters that were referred to in the Speech delivered by the Governor-General on behalf of the Government. The first matter concerns the unemployment situation and the action taken by the Government to remedy if. The second has to do with the development of northern Australia, and the third concerns the welfare of our native population.
These three matters are of particular concern to me in my electorate, and also to the members of that electorate. The unemployment situation is something for which this Government, must accept, alarge measure of responsibility. Queensland has a high level of unemployment, and the Government must do something about it. The Prime Minister. (Mr. Menzies) has often said that he has no need to worry about Queensland, because Queensland always treats him well. The Queensland people, Mr. Deputy Speaker, are very loyal indeed. They are loyal until they are themselves let down. They have been let down by this Government, and they made’ a decisive protest last December. The Government will find it very difficult to win them back. They will not be deluded intovoting again for this Government by the methods that are being adopted at the present time. Let us consider some of these methods.
During the last sessional period of the previous Parliament, before the Government went to the people seeking re-election, we were told of the assistance promised by the Government in the building of the Townsville to Mount Isa railway. The Government did not show up very well at all in respect of that project, and so the Prime Minister, from the bag of tricks that he always carries, pulled out his £5,000,000 for beef roads, hoping that Queenslanders would say, “Well, £5,000,000 is alot of money”. However, they were by no means convinced of the purity of the Government’s motives, because theyknow perfectly well that £5,000,000 will not build even one highstandard all-weather beef road, let alone all the beef roads that will be required.
The unemployment question in Queensland is very serious, especially when one considers that the State is seriously underdeveloped. Honorable members on the
Government side who have toured Queensland during the past three years have all made statements to the press about the potential of Queensland. The Prime Minister himself said that Queensland was on the verge of a magnificent future. All 1 can say is that words are not worth the breath with which they are spoken unless some action is taken to support them. The State has great natural resources, but this Government, being a private enterprise government, is relying on private enterprise for the development of those natural resources. But private enterprise is not interested in development unless some profit can be obtained from it, and those profits must be obtained immediately, not in the years ahead. The development of the country must be a government job, particularly in areas that are isolated or are a long way from markets.
The Government must take an active interest in exploiting our natural resources, instead of exporting all our raw materials, as has been done through the years as far back as the 1880’s, when the Chinese took most of the gold from northern Queensland to China, sending back to Australia coolies to work in the cane-fields. Ever since that time our raw materials have been going out of this State. Coal, iron ore, tin, bauxite and every other kind of raw material has gone out of Queensland, with no effort having been made to develop secondary industries to .use those raw materials.
The Government has frequently told us that the extra money that is to be injected into the economy will relieve unemployment. It will not do so, of course, because this measure is not a cure for unemployment. It will provide only temporary relief as long as the money lasts. There is no plan to provide employment after the money has been used. The Queensland Government has been asked to help overcome unemployment and local government authorities have been given the right to borrow a further £100,000. The money given to Queensland will be used in such works as the building of hospitals and schools. I am not against this, but once the money has been used, no more will be available for further works. Local government authorities cannot possibly raise any more money. If they raise further loans, they will have no means of repaying them. The people are already overtaxed to pro vide such services as sewerage, roads and swimming pools, which are now demanded by the community. Local government authorities have no source of revenue other than rates, and the amount they can afford to borrow will not be sufficient to solve the whole of the unemployment problem.
One means of solving this problem, particularly in north Queensland, is to protect the industries already there and then seek to establish new industries to develop the natural resources of the area. Yesterday I asked the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) whether he would restrict the import of timber and plywood. He replied that the timber industry should put a case to the Tariff Board. But the industry has already put a case to the board. How many cases must be put to the board before this Government realizes what is happening? Surely, with serious unemployment in the timber industry, the Minister could have undertaken to look into the situation himself. He should not leave it to a number of timber mills to get together and put a case before the Tariff Board. The timber industry has already put cases before the Tariff Board, but nothing has been done to help it. The pests that are now being found in our timber could possibly have been brought into the country in imported timbers. We have quarantine regulations and so on, but pests are still entering Australia in imported timber. At the same time as we are engaging in the import of timber, our mills are reducing their output. They are not working even to half capacity. If some protection were given to them, they would be able to provide more employment and add to our economic stability.
The honorable member for Wakefield said that we cannot have full employment without inflation. If that is so, then let us have inflation because we must have full employment. Every man has a right to work. This is a young country that needs development, but the Government is doing nothing to develop it. Governments of the same political colour in the States are also neglecting development. They are ripping up railway lines and selling them for scrap. How could any government expect to induce people to live in country areas if no means of communication is provided? I will give an instance. The railway line from Mount Garnet to Lappa Junction will be ripped up. At present, a train- runs on the line three times a week. The authorities say the line is uneconomical: That may be so, but railway lines are not put down with the objective of making a profit initially; they are put down to develop outlying areas and it takes years before they give any substantial revenue. The telephone line ran along the route of the railway line I have just mentioned. I asked the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Davidson) to consider buying the posts which carried the telephone lines so that communications would be available to the people in the area. He refused to do so and said he was not interested. So, people in this area will lose the railway line and the telephone. No road is being put in to give them access.
What do we find? Members of the Australian Country Party get up in this House and talk about decentralization, but the Queensland Government is forcing people to come into the central areas which are already well populated. The Commonwealth Government adopts exactly the. same policy. It is not interested in the timber industry, although the small concerns in the north give employment, directly and indirectly, to thousands of people. The Government could give a boost to the industry by restricting the imports of plywood and timber. This would help to retain people in the outlying areas instead of compelling them to look for work in the larger centres. These people have established their homes and raised their children in the areas in which they now live. They want to stay there and help to develop the country as their fathers did before them. When the Government allows timber to be imported, the timber mills in the north cannot continue to provide employment. The man who has slaved to get his home together has to put it on the market with hundreds of others when values are at their lowest. I condemn the action of the Government in this regard.
If the Government intends to adopt measures that will provide employment, it should have a long-range plan or a sustained plan rather than this short-term plan. The action taken by the Government suggests that it expects an early .election. People have short memories. If every one were back at work to-morrow and an election were held, the Government might win back a few seats. But I do not think the people of Queensland could be fooled as easily as that. Something must be done to alleviate unemployment. The Government is merely throwing money down the drain in giving sustenance to the unemployed, no matter how much it is, because such money is nonproductive. It is far better to put the money into a scheme that will provide work, because these people want to work. It should be used to provide opportunities for people to work, even if government industry is created in doing so.
This is a private enterprise government, but it should consider what it is doing to the north. Or does it still believe in the Brisbane Line? If it does, it should let the people know that it does. Does the Government intend to bring all the people to the south and give the north of Australia to Asiatics or whoever may want it? The Government’s programme leads us to believe that that is its intention. I do not think that every honorable member opposite intends that this be done, because the north of Australia is very valuable. We should be setting an example to the rest of the world in the development of the tropics, and this leads me to my second point, which is the development of northern Australia. If the Government genuinely wants to develop the north, it should do something how. It should encourage people to go there. It should build roads and take away from the States the right to govern the natives. I will deal with the subject of native welfare later. The development of the north is vital to Australia and should be undertaken now, unless the Government has the Brisbane Line in mind. Queensland is the State nearest to the possible source of aggression. The Government surely does not believe that Tasmania would be called on to defend Australia. Aggression will come from the north.
– What do you suggest?
– I suggest that the Gov.vernment should undertake the development of the north and not leave the job to private enterprise. North Queensland has vast resources of raw materials. We must keep in mind that England intends to join the Common Market. The sugar industry is of vital concern to north Queensland and something should have been done to develop it many years ago. A man named Howe, who was the general manager of a sugar company in north Queensland, developed the production of power alcohol from sugar. It is used now only for medicinal and other minor purposes. Production has never been expanded to the point where it could be used for motor transport. We now have the technical knowledge to do so and we have scientists at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization and other experts who could be used to help with the production of power alcohol. The farmers who grow the cane should be using power alcohol in their equipment. I know oil has been found in Queensland, but it will be many years before it is developed to any extent. Even when oil is being produced in commercial quantities, power alcohol could be used as a supplement to it. Mr. Howe envisages producing power alcohol from raw sugar, but nothing has been done to foster the scheme. His report lies neglected. It should be examined and action should be taken.
Another industry that could be developed by this Government if private enterprise is not prepared to go ahead with it is the steel industry. Why have we_ not a steel industry in Queensland? We have the coal and the iron ore for it. At present, all Queensland’s output of iron ore is exported to Japan. Much of Queensland’s output of coal, also, is exported to that country. We are buying back steel made in Japan from those raw materials that we export. Is anything sillier? That is nothing but a condemnation of this Government for its refusal to foster secondary industry in Queensland, a State which is rich in raw materials. We in Australia can produce the best and cheapest steel in the world. So why can we not have a steel works in Queensland? It is of no use to sit back and say that private enterprise will do the job and that the Government is prepared to give a loan to some private individual if he will undertake to establish a steel industry in Queensland. It is of no use just to do that and then forget all about the matter. State governments, also, engage in much the same racket. They get hold of some private enterprise and put in £50,000. The private enterprise then goes broke and that is all that happens.
If this Government is not prepared to do the job of developing northern Australia, let it get out of office and allow the
Australian Labour Party- to try to do something. We must develop northern Australia if we are to hold it. It is too valuable to be given away. The raw-material resources of the north are too great for us to cast northern Australia aside and neglect it as this Government has done for years.
In the sphere of mining, I have already mentioned bauxite. Let us consider for a moment what is happening at Weipa on Cape York Peninsula with respect to the development of bauxite resources. I have been to Weipa several times on my way to Thursday Island. No real development has been undertaken there.
– That is not so.
– I can tell the honorable member what is happening. Harbour dredging is being undertaken, but constant dredging will be needed in order to keep the harbour free, as the honorable member would understand if he saw the rip that runs there. Nothing has been done in the field beyond the experimental stage. I know this of my own personal knowledge,, because I saw the area recently. The operating company intends to do nothing more than rake up the bauxite, load it in ships and sent it to Japan.
– That is not true.
– It is true. The honorable member should not contradict me. At present there is no move afoot to undertake practical development at Weipa. The present mission station is right in the heart of the bauxite field. It should have been moved two years ago, but nothing has been done. History will repeat itself in the exploitation of our bauxite resources. I have seen what is happening at Weipa. I know of my own personal knowledge that nothing is being done to move the mission station this year and that it may not be moved next year.
I turn now to the native question. I know something about this, because I was born in Cairns and have lived in northern Queensland all my life. Natives ought to be taken from the control of the State governments. In the term “ natives “, I include Torres Strait islanders. Let us not confuse these islanders with aborigines. They are quite different. The islanders are of very fine physique and mentally are equal to people such as the Maoris anywhere else in the Pacific. The Torres Strait islanders can be assimilated very quickly into our community/ They are intelligent and willing , to work. They like their environment in the Torres Strait islands and do not want to leave it. Nothing has been done to- assist them in any way. . They have .been exploited by private enterprise, which has used them, to market all the. pearl shell that pearling companies could get while markets were good. Synthetics are now used instead, of shell,, the bottom has fallen out of the market and the livelihood of the islanders’ has been taken from them. But nobody has bothered to assist, them. Governments did not worry about them while they were getting three feeds a day and were satisfied. In those days, nobody had ‘anything to say about these islanders or took any notice of them. Their exploitation Was allowed to continue. “ What is the situation to-day? The- Europeans who exploited the islanders in the pearling industry are no longer interested in them. Most of the pearlers are selling their boats arid getting out of the industry. The few who remain are still exporting the pearl shell produced at Thursday Island and in the surrounding area and the islanders themselves are neglected. They are a very placid people. Indeed, they’ are very good types. I have been among them many times and 1 know them well. I may say that it takes one a long time to gain the confidence of these people. Even three years is not really enough to gain their complete confidence. 1 have found- that they will not openly voice any criticism against a government or the native affairs administration to any person until they know that person well.
Some of the things that Torres Strait islanders have told me would amaze honorable members. One matter in particular that they raised I took up with the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer). This is a typical instance of the way iri which the islanders are neglected and of the way in which they suffer. These things should be known in the Parliament. Members of the Torres Strait Islands infantry brigade who served in the Australian Imperial Force in the Second World War were promised their freedom after the war. They did not get it until about twelve months ago. Nobody told them that they could be enrolled on the federal electoral roll. :’ Many of them are now enrolled, thanks to me.
– What . is the honorable member’s majority at Thursday Island?
– I shall not tell the honorable member.
While serving in the Army, Torres Strait islanders were paid 6s. a day although the average soldier beside, whom they served was paid 15s. a day. The islanders have told me that they did riot mind that, but they did mind the deduction of 2s. 6d. a day. The islanders were not told why this money was deducted from their pay or where it went. I wrote to the Minister for the Army about the matter, and he referred it to the Treasury. I made representations on behalf of six islanders who had served in the A.I.F. and who said that they had not received their gratuity and deferred pay. The Minister for the Army and the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) told me that the money had been paid. It was paid to the office of . the Native Affairs SubDepartment in Queensland on behalf -of the islanders, and that- office told me that the amount had been placed in credit in their accounts. However, the sub-department had not notified the islanders individually how much had been paid or. when it was paid into their accounts. That was all these islanders wanted to know - how much they had been paid and when the amount had been paid.
As I have said, the Torres Strait islanders are remarkable people. They are not fools. Let nobody think that they are. AH that these men wanted to know was how much deferred pay and gratuity they were to receive on account of their service in the Army, and when it had been paid into their accounts. I have not been able to find out for them how much has been paid into their accounts, but the Native Affairs SubDepartment has informed me that the money has been paid to the credit of the islanders, and I do not for a moment doubt the subdepartment. I only want it to satisfy the islanders that the money due to them has been paid into their accounts. These difficulties are only some of the things that the Torres Strait islanders have to contend with. They are not as dull as are some of our aborigines. ‘ That is not to say, of course, that all our aborigines are dull.
Having had considerable experience with local authorities, I can speak with some authority about the aborigines. It is time we did the right thing by them. That does not consist only in giving them the right to vote, although those who want to vote ought to be able to do so. The first thing that we have to do for the aborigines is to help them to live within the white or European community. In my opinion, this can be done only by establishing, not schools, but hostels or villages under an adult education scheme where aborigines can be taught hygiene and the reason for it.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, first, I should like to congratulate you on your appointment to the panel of Temporary Chairmen of Committees of this House, and on presiding in the chair for the first time. I am sure that, all honorable members on both sides- of the chamber will accord you the respect that the occupant of - the Chair deserves and ensure that your first period in that seat is not an embarrassment to you or to them.
I should like, also, although I may bc repeating sentiments expressed by other honorable members, sincerely to congratulate the Governor-General on the way in which he delivered his Speech to both Houses of the Parliament last week. It is evident that, he has exercised his energies and ingenuity in ascertaining those things which are special to Australia and that he wants to be a good Australian and to maintain the real and living link between Australia and the United Kingdom. I should like to congratulate, too, the mover of the motion ‘for the adoption of the AddressinReply, the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Cockle) and the seconder, the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Nixon). Both those new honorable members on this side of the Parliament have shown, as I am sure most honorable members will agree, that they will add lustre to the office they now hold, and their predecessors must feel that these their successors will add to the debating strength of the Parliament. Never let it be said that I would not like also :to congratulate the new members on the Labour side. Fifteen of them are representing seats formerly held by honorable members on this side, and the sixteenth is a replacement for Mr. George Lawson, the former Labour member for Brisbane. I congratulate- them upon having been elected to the high office of representatives of the people in this Parliament. I am sure that they realize that they have responsibilities not merely to Queensland, New South Wales, or the particular State from which they come, but to Australia as a whole. We have now heard three of them make their maiden, speeches and, having listened very intently to them,. I know that they will prove to be a force in the Opposition and possibly in this Parliament. The new honorable member for Canning (Mr. McNeill) also proved to us last night that he will worthily follow his predecessor, Mr. Len Hamilton.
Like the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly), I shall not endeavour to cover the ground that was covered last night by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) when he tried to present to the Parliament fifteen points of magnitude relating to the administration of this country. I propose to confine myself to two points only. The Opposition, of course, has its tail up, and rightly so, because, when fifteen new members of any political party are elected that party must feel the weight of that added strength; but, for the life of me, I cannot understand why honorable members opposite did not display their strength last week, the first week’ of sitting of this Twenty-fourth Parliament, instead of leaving it till this week to demonstrate to their new-found voters - their newfound friends - that when they voted for Labour on 9th December last they did not back a “ blower “. After having listened to the Leader of the Opposition last night, I felt that he had spoken for 35 minutes too long for the country’s good. Surely honorable members opposite must have proved last week that the Opposition had -a long way to go before it can be rightly accepted as the alternative government of this country. I feel sure that many changes will be made in the ranks of the Opposition before Labour is sent to occupy the treasury bench in this Parliament.
I have said that there are two points I should like to raise. The first weakness that I see in Australia’s economy developed during World War II., when men and women everywhere could find jobs within the limits of their knowledge and ability and were paid at award rates. Every honorable member knows that, during the war, award rates were paid for whatever job was carried out. During the post-war years, because of the lack of domestic appliances and consumer goods, which were not made during the war years, award payments were increased by successive arbitration judgments, and .the Australian business community learnt that it was possible to induce employees to the service of their companies by paying over-award rates, lt is my belief that the over-award payments now being made in Australia will strangle our economy for all time unless industry does something about them. We have seen the increasing clamour on all sides* over the years since the war for increases in wages and salaries, and for bonus payments yearly and half-yearly. In the short term, these assist the individual, but in the long haul they have serious effects upon the ability of the country to compete with overseas countries. For the whole time I have been a member of this Parliament, I have heard members of the Country Party complaining that costs are rising, that the volume of primary production has’ increased by 50 per cent, since the war, that the efficiency’ of primary producers has improved to such an extent that not one extra man has been needed in ‘ the labour force, yet they cannot compete in many ways with overseas countries with their exported primary products. This position has been caused by the ever-increasing clamour from the labour force for increased wages and the fact that secondary industries have reached the stage where they rarely employ a man or Woman without offering him or her over-award payments.
To me, it is axiomatic that our country is not so wealthy in natural resources that we can continue to pay these over-award rates and expect to be able to compete with overseas countries where wages, in terms of pounds, shillings and pence, or dollars, are not the be-all and end-all of family life. There are other matters of deep concern to those older people who cannot expect to receive over-award payments because they get an allowance which the Government gives them in the form of pensions. [Quorum formed.] These over-award pay ments have- cost Australian industry and Australia many millions of pounds a year for many years past. In industry generally it is a common practice to pay this extra money to workers. By and large, industry pays the worker at least 10 per cent, above the normal award rate. But for the life of me, I cannot see how an industry like the motor industry, in which we have seen a slump over the past twelve or eighteen months, or any other manufacturing industry, can still afford these over-award payments whilst we have unemployment and whilst we are endeavouring to obtain export markets, about which there has been much discussion in this Parliament in the past eighteen months.
Last year this Government brought down legislation under which the 2i per cent, payroll tax was either reduced or abolished if a manufacturer’s export business was increased in certain directions and in certain volume. Many of the leaders of industry were jubilant at having presented to them an opportunity to reduce their costs by 2 per cent. They were delighted with this gesture by the Government in bringing down legislation for their benefit. They were given an opportunity to obtain rebates of 2i per cent, of pay-roll tax under certain conditions, and they were content to go after this extra 2i per cent. Yet they continued to pay 10 per cent, and more above award rates to their workers. Having come from industry years ago, I feel it difficult to understand this attitude. If I were engaged in industry to-day, I would certainly seek to reduce my costs by the 10 per cent, represented by over-award payments, instead of merely seeking the 2i per cent, rebate of pay-roll tax. Of course, from one point of view it is an excellent thing to pay over-award wages because this helps to obtain the best labour and a strong labour force, but when it continues for five or more years men and women, being what they are, expect these payments as of right and not as an allowance for merit.
The manufacturing industries should establish a payment associated with the particular industry which is commensurate with the skill of the individual who works in it. That might mean paying all employees something over the award rates now established, but the manufacturing industries should finalize a figure for all time, set it up in the award and- not pay one penny more in the future. Unless some deter- mination of this kind is made we shall have industrialists continually paying over-award wages in an endeavour to attract employees from competitive industries.
The Governor-General’s address, to the Parliament makes, it. evident that the Government has its finger on the. pulse of . the nation and- will introduce legislation to assist in building up the confidence of the Australian people in their country, so that they may- help themselves to a better way of life. However, I am shocked to .find that we as a nation have travelled- so. far towards a welfare state. This trend over the past fifteen months indicates what the people are thinking. I say quite deliberately that the bricks which have been thrown at the Government during those months have come more directly- and more, devastating^ from manufacturing interests than from labour organizations.’ Admittedly, some of. the measures introduced by the Government over those months were provocative to management and tested its will and ability to maintain its ship on a straight course, but when regard is given to Australia’s overall condition it is clear that nothing but good can come from the measures.
In the view of the Government, and surely in the view of. the responsible free enterprise industry, the base of the Australian economy has been strengthened in many ways. .Our overseas trade balances have been improved greatly and the run-down of our. overseas reserves has been arrested. Manufacturing interests particularly must’ realize. the need to maintain high overseas trade balances because they use these balances to purchase equipment and special materials necessary for production. Some 80 per cent, of our imports are directed to manufacturing. This rate of imports will continue until we become more efficient in productive methods and stabilize wage costs in industry. In fact, the main reason for the large reduction in imports over the past six months has been the minor recession that manufacturers have felt. In other words, they have not imported during that period to an extent comparable with their imports prior to that time. -Manufacturing industry must realize that it cannot depend continually on primary industry to maintain 80 per cent, of our exports. The burden must be spread over both section’s of production.
Since the war primary industry has increased production by over 50 per cent, without using one additional man from the ° labour force: It is true also that since the war manufacturing and service industries have absorbed all the additional labour which has come from our schools and as a result of our great immigration programme. Manufacturing industry will have to take up the present slack otherwise our programmes will be stifled. From the practical point of view it is, true to say that manufacturers now can produce, the volume of goods that Australia can absorb. Therefore, their future depends entirely on the export markets which can be obtained in the years to come. I believe it was Sir John Crawford who mentioned that in five years we will heed to increase our exports by up to £300,000,006 if we are to maintain our present standard of living. The Bureau of Agricultural Economics has stated that whatever volume of increase is obtained in primary production Australia cannot add more than an additional £30,000,000 annually to its overseas trade balances through exports of primary products. To me that means that at least £250,000,000 worth of additional exports is required from manufacturing interests if- we are to maintain our present standard of living and an economic growth.
Never let it be said and believed that we cannot produce competitively. Illustrations are brought before us each week of Australian industry obtaining - large and special orders from overseas for highly technical equipment. Every trade mission sent abroad returns with reports of the spectacular results that can be achieved if Australia gets after the business that is offering. We have the cheapest steel in the world. I mentioned this fact during the debate on the Estimates, last year and I was contradicted; but we can produce steel in the simple form for £22 a ton, whereas the nearest competitive price that I have seen is £33 a ton. This surely gives us the edge on all overseas countries. We have mammoth reserves of iron ore, bauxite and coal. It is only a matter of marrying this wealth to productive efficiency to show the world the measure of our strength.
The honorable member for Leichhardt (Mr. Fulton) mentioned the problem of developing the north. I am sorry that he did not mention Mount Isa Mines Limited, which is a mammoth organization of world significance. To use a colloquialism, this company had one light kick in the pants last year, not because it could not produce competitively but because the employees asked for a lead bonus when they were producing copper. The Government has allocated £20,000,000 towards the cost of the railway line from Mount Isa to Collinsville, not only to help Queensland in the long term but also to ensure that the Mount Isa mine company fulfils the destiny which it set out to achieve.
However, the future of our export trade and the problem of industry maintaining a stable wage rate for its employees are matters for the Commonwealth Government, lt is time that we as a government established an export bank to finance and underwrite credits which industry cannot be expected to finance. Many companies in Australia to-day are about to limit their attention to exports because they have obtained orders worth up to £500,000. In terms- of most Australian companies, that is a good deal of money. At the same time we learn that the governments of Japan, America, the United Kingdom, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and many other countries are taking over the duty of maintaining credit when -they consider it desirable to do so. In Australia,, so far, industry has provided its own credits with the assistance of the trading banks. We must set up an export bank controlled by the Commonwealth Government with branches in those countries with which we now are doing business, and to which we have sent and will send trade missions. A few statistics indicating credits established by various governments will illustrate my point. From the United Kingdom there was a loan to India of £10,000,000 sterling for electrical equipment, with repayment over 25 years. To India, again, there was a loan of £30,000,000 sterling for the same purpose, with repayment over 25 years; and to Ceylon, a loan of 6,900,000 dollars - repayment terms not known. From the United States of America, of course, we would expect, and do get, higher credit facilities from the Government itself. Then there is a loan of 6,400,000 dollars from the United States of America to Pakistan - repayment terms not known; 16.500.000 dollars to Japan, repayment over seven years; 18,000,000 dollars to Spain, repayment over twelve years; 90,000,000 dollars to Mexico, with terms over twelve years; and 75,000,000 dollars to Venezuela, with terms over five years. There are many, many more instances that the Australian Industries Development Association has circularized to most honorable members and which prove that these countries and their governments are giving credit for their industries.
As most honorable members know, we are purchasing two warships from the United States of America on a very favorable long-term repayment basis. I believe we must adopt similar procedures to help increase our exports. We have seen a spectacular rise of £226,000,000 in our international reserves over the past twelve months and this can be continued each year if we can convince our industries that their goods are competitive overseas and can obtain the orders, and if the Government gives credit for the orders received.
International trade is now on a very competitive basis and we, in Australia, must be alert to the possibilities and meet the situation face to face. Some of this additional £226,000,000 should be set -aside; and I would establish a fund of £50,000,000 right now to initially establish an export credit trading bank overseas to assist industries in exporting to those countries selected by them and by the Government. I see no reason why £50,000.000 cannot be set aside to enable sales to be made at the same time as the £226,000,000 is now used by manufacturers to purchase equipment.
One of the factors in industry which has been overlooked in Australia for many years is merchandising. But to-day there is nothing more important than selling to your customer on competitive terms. Industry in Australia itself must do more also to build up confidence in the Australian people and to stifle those of its leaders who continually predict a gloomy and calamitous future for Australia as a whole. There are some of them who continually -do this “and I believe the manufacturing interests particularly should stifle those leaders for all time.
I believe, too, that some of them have forgotten the pioneering spirit of endeavour which has permeated the Australian character over the last 170 years. This spirit must be maintained if we are to retain the respect of those countries whose respect we now have. We have it in the sporting sphere, we had it during the two World Wars, and we can attain it in industry. At the same time I would like to congratulate the Melbourne “ Herald “ and the Melbourne “ Sun News-Pictorial “ on those full-page advertisements which they have published in an attempt to instil confidence into the people of Australia and to ensure that they use their money as they have used it in the past. But 1 would like to see those advertisements paid for by industry and not by these newspapers themselves.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I would like first to congratulate Mr. Speaker upon his re-election to that high office and, at the same time, upon his being knighted. He seems to have got the best of both worlds. He is still Mr. Speaker, but he is also a knight, although I must admit that most of us do not think of him as a knight because he looks less like a knight than probably anybody else in this Parliament. Nevertheless, he has earned the honour and I will not be niggardly in congratulating him on it.
I would like also to congratulate the three new Labour members ‘ who have delivered their maiden speeches. I refer to the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Gray), the honorable member for Petrie (Mr. O’Brien), and the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Collard). As the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Whittorn) has said, these are men who are undoubtedly destined to play a very important part in the deliberations of this Parliament. There is no doubt that, as maiden speakers, they have more than kept up the high standard of debate which we, on this side of the House, have come to look to Labour members to maintain.
I find myself in’ agreement with some of the things which the honorable member for Balaclava said and, if he will remain a little while longer in the chamber, I will tell him one of the things on which I disagree with him. I disagree with the honorable gentleman on the attack that he seemed to make on employers who pay over-award rates to their employees. What he seems to overlook is that under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, in making awards, fixes a minimum rate and not a maximum rate. It merely says that a certain figure shall be the minimum rate of pay which shall operate in the industry concerned. And an industry which is able to afford more than the minimum ought to pay more than the minimum and should not simply treat the minimum, as prescribed by the commission, as, in fact, the maximum.
However, I agree with the honorable gentleman’s statement that we in Australia can produce the cheapest steel in the world. It is because we can produce the cheapest steel in the world that the Labour Party believes that this Commonwealth Parliament should be doing something about establishing another steel industry in Australia so that we could use the export of this cheap steel as a means of bringing in earnings from overseas and thus boost our overseas credits. We have to do something to increase our overseas credits. We cannot go on relying entirely upon wool, wheat and a few other primary products to do so. Steel is the one product on which we can rely to build up our overseas credits in a competitive world, because there is nowhere else in the world where steel can be produced at the price at which we can produce it. I have not time to elaborate on that aspect at this stage.
I agree, too, with the honorable gentleman’s statement that we ought to establish an export bank in order to underwrite credits to buyers of our commodities, especially, I take it, in Asian countries which are not able to pay cash for the things they want from us and which we are quite willing to produce and capable of producing. But the honorable gentleman should have read the “ Hansard “ records on this point. Had he done so, he would have seen that the Labour Opposition in this Parliament moved an amendment to the measure which the Government brought down some years ago for the establishment of the Export Payments Insurance Corporation. Our amendment would have had exactly that effect. When a division was forced every member representing either the Liberal Party or the Country Party moved across the floor of the chamber and voted against the amendment. The Government has done nothing since then to meet this particular problem.
As a South Australian, I cannot help directing attention to the problems which at the moment beset my own State. There are four major problems in South Australia which a government, to be worthy of the name, will have to meet. The first is the need for a plentiful supply of fresh water for the metropolitan area of Adelaide. The second is the need to reduce rail haulage costs over the Mount Lofty Range. The third is the great and growing need for decentralization, because we now have the unhealthy position of 63 per cent, of the total population of South Australia living in the metropolitan area and the balance residing outside that area. A big proportion of the people, although outside the metropolitan area, are included in the area which we call Elizabeth and which, for the purpose of saying what is metropolitan and what is country, is deemed to be in the country. That is a situation which is not healthy in any country. Unemployment, which is largely the product of this Government’s mismanagement of the affairs of the nation, is the fourth problem with which we are faced in South Australia. I say, therefore, that a government which is willing to meet those problems and to take some positive steps to rectify them is a government that is assured of the support of the South Australian people in both Federal and State elections.
I am pleased to see that the leader of the Labour Party in South Australia, Mr. Frank Walsh, in the election campaign now being conducted in that State, has put forward a proposition that will solve Adelaide’s water problems and reduce the heavy cost of rail haulage over the Mount Lofty Range. It will also assist greatly with decentralization and go quite a long way towards solving the problems and reduce the heavy cost of rail the South Australian Labour Party has undertaken that if a Labour government is elected in South Australia it will take immediate steps to go into the practicability of constructing a 30-mile railway and water tunnel through the Mount Lofty Range, to connect Adelaide with the Murray River at a point on the Murray called Caloote, not very far from Murray Bridge. As I said at the beginning, water is one of the four great problems of South Australia. At the present time the Adelaide metropolitan area uses an average of 134,000,000 gallons of water a day, reaching on some days a figure as high as 170,000,000 gallons a day. The Mannum to Adelaide pipeline, which brings Murray River water to Adelaide, is 49 miles long and there are three pumping stations along the route which lift the water to a height of 1,500 feet above sea level and have a maximum capacity of 66,000,000 gallons a day. That is a little less than half the water requirements of the Adelaide area.
The trouble with South Australia is that it is a very dry State. We have already used to the maximum extent possible the whole of the watersheds that are available in the Mount Lofty Range - that, is, with the exception of a small reservoir which is about to be built at a place called Kangaroo Creek. Apart from that, there is no other place in the Mount Lofty Range that will lend itself to the construction of a reservoir. So it is obvious that in future Adelaide must look for water to the Murray River, and not to the natural catchment areas of the Mount Lofty Range to which it looked in the years gone by. It becomes an urgent necessity, therefore, that we evolve some means of getting water from the Murray River to Adelaide in larger quantities than those in which we are now able to get it and at a cheaper rate than that at which we are now able to get it. The distance from Mannum to Adelaide by the route now followed by the pipeline is 49 miles. A tunnel built through the Mount Lofty Range would reduce the distance to 39 miles. Also, instead of having to lift the water to 1,500 feet above sea level and then using almost as much power for the construction of surge tanks and the like to stop the water from flowing down the other side of the hills so fast as to blow the pipes to smithereens, we would be able to lift the water to a height of 145 feet and let it flow down the Mount Lofty Range by medium of the tunnel. We would thereby reduce pumping costs and the length of the pipeline, and in every way make water much cheaper. By constructing a tunnel through the Mount Lofty Range,
Which, as I say, would mean we would have to lift the water to a height of only 145 feet instead of 1,500 feet, we could supply the whole of the western suburbs and industrial suburbs of Adelaide with their water requirements from the Murray River, using the high altitude reservoirs to supply water to users in the Adelaide hills suburbs and in. the foothills..: l say that this is a practical proposition and is deserving of the fullest support of any person or any government interested in South Australia and, as I will show in a moment, interested in Australia as a whole. - I turn now to the question of railway haulage over the Mount Lofty Range, and 1 want to demonstrate the benefits which I believe a railway tunnel will provide. If we were to construct a twin electrified railway through such a tunnel we would reduce the present rail distance between Adelaide and Murray Bridge from 60 miles to about 39 miles. We would reduce the time taken for hauling, on the fastest time-table that now operates on the Adelaide to Mount Lofty Range . run, from two and a half hours to about 45 minutes. That is not just something that I am asserting. An engineer of great eminence has said that in other parts of the world where electrified . railways operate in this kind of contour the. speed of the trains is about 70 miles an hour and goes as high as 100 miles an hour.
There is another aspect that I want to emphasize. That is the’ amount that South Australia can save in coal and diesel fuel, When I tell the House that it would be possible to take twenty steam trains through the tunnel for the amount of coal required to take one train over the present route, and that seven and a half diesel-electric trains could be taken through the tunnel to Murray Bridge for the same amount of oil as is now required to take one train over the present route, honorable members will get some idea of the enormous savings which would be effected in oil and coal - where coal is still used-if this scheme were put into operation. Whereas the present maximum load is- 1,000 tons per train this scheme would permit the average load to be increased to 5,500 tons, as is the case with trains used on’ the line -from Leigh Creek to Port Augusta. In some other parts of the world this kind of railway system would be capable of hauling trains with loads of 7,000 tons to 8,000 tons. Honorable members will see the tremendous advantages and the tremendous possibilities that will be opened up by a scheme of this kind. The scheme would benefit not only South Australia but also Victoria. Anything that shortens the distance and the travelling time between one capital city and another, anything that’ reduces the cost of transport in Australia, is something the benefits of which cannot be confined only to the particular State in which it is located.
– Where do you propose that the line will leave the city?
– It is proposed that it will enter the Mount Lofty Range at a point just above where the Cross-roads crosses the present main line to Melbourne hear Mitcham, and it would come but at a point 30 miles away in a straight line near Caloote, on the River Murray, where there is a sharp bend with deep water which is considered most suitable for the pumping of fresh water to the city area. This is not a scheme that I have dreamed up. It was advanced by Mr. Geoff Gunner, chief water supply engineer for Adelaide many years- ago. It is a scheme which has the support of Mr. Signet, who took a geological survey of the Mount Lofty Range and found that this was a practical possibility.
I know that once this tunnel is constructed so that we can have a cheap, fast railway link between Murray Bridge and Port Adelaide, there will be no place in Australia which will have such a plentiful supply of cheap, fresh water in such close proximity to a deep sea port as Murray Bridge will have. There are certain industries which require enormous quantities of water to carry out their functions. At present it costs ls. 9d. per 1,000 gallons to- pump water over the Mount Lofty Range. One can imagine what chance ah industry using millions of gallons of water a day would have of establishing itself in Adelaide if it had to pay just the bare cost of ls. 9d. per 1,000 gallons for the pumping of the water it needed.
I say, therefore, on the score of decentralization, that the scheme that I am advancing opens up enormous possibilities and could make the Murray district or the town of Murray Bridge one of the biggest industrial centres in Australia. The cost of this scheme would be in the vicinity of £40,000,000. About £36,500,000 of that amount would be the cost of the tunnel itself. The cost of electric locomotives and the electrification of the railway line would be £3,500,000. If it is good enough for the Commonwealth Government to make £20,000,000 available to Mount Isa - I agree that it should do so and I believe that it should make a lot more money available to Queensland; if it is good enough for the Commonwealth to give £12,000,000 for the standardization of the Albury to Melbourne railway line; and if it is good enough for the taxpayers of all States to find £400,000,000 for the construction of the Snowy Mountains scheme in order that the people of Victoria and of New South Wales may get cheap electricity and a plentiful supply of water, it is good enough that, for once, the South Australian people should be given the assistance by this Government that 1 am suggesting. It is the responsibility of the Commonwealth Government.
The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), in a press statement which has just been released, has made it clear that the next Federal Labour Government will give early and favorable attention to any representations from the South Australian Government for the construction of a tunnel through the Mount Lofty ranges, now being urged by the Leader of the Opposition in South Australia, Mr. Walsh.
– There is an election in South Australia on Saturday, isn’t there?
– There is an election in South Australia on Saturday and I believe that the people of South Australia will vote for the Australian Labour Party because it is the only party that is putting up the kind of proposition that will deal with their problems. The Leader of the Opposition said-
Had the Labour Party won the last Federal elections and were now the Government it would be showing quite an active interest in the project. Just as special arrangements were made by the Chifley Labour Government to finance the Snowy Mountains Scheme, so special arrangements could be made for a scheme of a national character such as this one.
If Australia is to survive, all Australian citizens must learn to think nationally. This wide approach characterizes the Labour Party in the State and Federal spheres, and is a view held by members of the Party generally throughout Australia.
Australia is the driest of the earth’s continents and every drop of water that falls must be conserved and used beneficially. In order to prevent a further waste of the headwaters of the Snowy River, which had flowed uselessly to the sea for thousands of years, the Chifley Government planned and started the magnificent Snowy scheme, calculated originally to cost £200,000,000, but now likely to cost £400,000,000. But the scheme will not only generate electricity, it will provide irrigation water free in the Murray and Murrumbidgee valleys, and it wi!l pay for itself by the charges levied for the electricity it produces and sells.
The Leader of the Opposition then went on to talk about this particular project. He said -
The proposed 30 mile tunnel under the Mount Lofty ranges is not only a feasible engineering project, but in comparison with the Snowy Scheme, a relatively straightforward one. I understand the cost would be something in tha order of £40,000,000 and not £210,000,000 as claimed by Sir Thomas Playford. It would produce enormous benefits for all those people who live between the Murray and the St. Vincents’ Gulf. As the population of Adelaide grows and its industries expand, its present water consumption, now running up to 170,000,000 gallons a day, is outstripping the 66,000,000 a day which ara laboriously pumped from Mannum over the ranges at a cost of ls. 9d. per thousand gallons. The cost factor alone would justify favourable consideration of the scheme because the present lift of 1,500 feet would be reduced to 145 feet. Tha tunnel could be made large enough to take a twin electric rail track, a pipeline, telephone and telegraph lines. I understand that rail travelling time would be reduced from the present 2i hours to 45 minutes.
He concluded by saying -
In every respect it is a scheme worth ClOSe attention. But like all the great projects and. schemes in Australia, it requires the initiative and’ enterprise ‘that only Labour Governments can give.
In an effort to discredit Labour’s proposed tunnel scheme, the Premier of South Australia has had to recklessly exaggerate its cost. He has pretended that it would cost £2.10,000,000. The plain fact is that a 30-mile railway tunnel built according to the specifications for a twin electrified railway, as set out in the Clapp report, with additional provision for a pipeline, would cost £36,500,000. This estimate is based upon the very latest figures for tunnelling costs on the Snowy Mountains scheme. The cost of the pipeline could not, of course, be added to the scheme, because the Premier of South Australia has already announced that a new pipeline from the Murray will be needed whatever happens. He has said that he is prepared to give consideration to commencing a £20,000,000 scheme to go on pumping water over the range instead of underneath it. Indeed, the saving in pipe and pumping stations which the tunnel would effect should be deducted from the cost of the tunnel scheme, not added to it. If the savings in pumping costs and railway running costs were also deducted, the tunnel would eventually pay for itself.
I say that we have definite figures on the cost of this project. The cost of laying a 94-lb. twin railway line through the tunnel, together with electrification and electric locomotives, would be £3,500,000. This would be part of the cost of £40,000,000 to which the Leader of the Opposition referred. Other rolling-stock, of course, would come from the existing pool. This estimate of rail electrification cost is based on the report of the rail standardization committee presided over by the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) in 1958, adjusted to present-day costs.
I say that the Premier of South Australia recklessly overestimated the cost of the scheme in order to discredit it. He could not possibly have arrived at an estimate of the cost in the eight hours that elapsed between the announcement of the scheme by the Leader of the Opposition and the time at which he went to the press with his estimate of £210,000,000. Obviously, the Premier closed his eyes and thought of a number, which was 210. He multiplied it by a million and thought “ £210,000,000 is a nice round figure. That is what the scheme will cost.” I assert that the scheme will cost what the -Leader of the Opposition said it would cost - about £40,000,000. I challenge the Premier of South Australia to account for the other £170,000,000.
The absorptive capacity of private industry in Australia is not enough and will not be enough for years to come, unless something drastic occurs, to take up the whole of the unemployment with which we are now faced. The absorptive capacity of private industry alone could not cater for the influx of immigrants and for the number of school leavers who are looking for jobs each year. We need a government in Canberra which will recognize this fact, and which will give financial assistance to the various States to enable them to establish new industries which can absorb the unemployed.
I mentioned at the beginning of my remarks that a steel industry should be developed in Western Australia where there are enormous quantities of iron ore. We also need an aluminium industry in Queensland. No longer should Australia be compelled to let the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited determine how much longer we shall go on importing steel from overseas. No longer should Australia be compelled to wait upon the good graces of that company to decide when we shall become an exporter of steel. This Commonwealth Parliament should provide Western Australia with the finance that the Commonwealth is constitutionally able to provide to enable that State to establish an integrated steel industry, using the enormous coal supplies and iron ore deposits that it possesses.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- There is an old saying that wonders will never cease. We have just listened for 25 minutes to the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) and he has not once mentioned socialism. The number one socialist in the Labour executive who has regaled us in the past with his threats to nationalize banks, to nationalize the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, and to nationalize insurance companies - that is provided that he and his colleagues are nationalized in the sense of being elected to this national Parliament - spoke for three-quarters of an hour on a- censure motion this afternoon without once mentioning the motion. What has come over the Opposition? The honorable member did not support the motion. The Leader of the Opposition has proposed what he considers to be an important censure motion at a critical stage in the life of the Parliament when this Government has a very small majority. No doubt the Leader of the Opposition expected the motion to be supported by all his followers, but one of his own executive spoke for 25 minutes on a matter related to one State - South Australia.
– He was only joking
– He may have been. In the course of his speech, he said that this Parliament should look at everything nationally, yet the whole of his speech was devoted to one State. He is one of the executive who would be a member of the alternative government yet he would give a Labour government of South Australia the money to build a tunnel through the hills. He has not suggested that he would give South Australia the money for that purpose. I also noted that the honorable member credited the Labour Party in South Australia with having accepted employment as a State responsibility. It is strange that only a few weeks ago employment and unemployment were looked upon as the responsibility of the Commonwealth Government. Now Mr. Heffron, the Premier of New South Wales, tells us how he could relieve unemployment in that State. Another State has accepted employment as a responsibility, as it certainly is.
The point is that the Opposition has produced a censure motion and has stated that it is a serious, matter. The Government has also accepted this censure motion as a serious mattes; yet the speeches that have come from the Opposition so far have kept as far . from the censure motion as possible. This is a fraud. It is not a censure motion at all. It is a political device to try to frustrate the work of this Government in the Parliament. There was no occasion for it at all.
– Did you see the performance last night?
– I believe that possibly the Leader of the Opposition had the best of intentions in introducing this motion, but I think that he has been got at by some of his colleagues who persuaded him to alter the text of it. The Leader of the Opposition reminds me of a man standing up at a public function and wanting to give credit to the people responsible for it, yet falling into the trap of trying to name all of them. That is when a man gets into an awful mess and wonders whom he has left out.
Obviously, when the amendment was moved in this House covering fifteen particular sections, the Opposition was attempting to cover all manner of things that it might be able to pin on the Government. So desperate was the Opposition in its attempts to fill this motion to the brim with complaints that it included all sorts of things, ‘ some of them purely opinions which are not only open to debate but are also open to other opinions. Nevertheless, as the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) said last night, the Opposition has omitted from the amendment two vital matters - defence and the West New Guinea-Indonesian issue. The Opposition made those two important omissions which are most striking, and one can only conclude that those matters were not included in the amendment because the Opposition is perfectly satisfied with the way the Government has handled defence and the West New Guinea issue. The Opposition made no reference, either, to other problems involving South-East Asia, such as Laos, Cambodia, South Vietnam and other places where important events are happening. Again, the Opposition says, in effect, “ The Government is handling the situation quite well and we shall not deal with these matters in our censure motion “.
Apart from these striking omissions, there are some part omissions. For example, the Opposition, in its censure motion, gives very little consideration to the rural industries. Apparently, it is quite happy with the way the rural industries are being looked after by this Government, as we would expect them to be. The Opposition showed so little consideration for the rural industries that it put them in eighth place on its list of fifteen points. These are the great industries which are responsible for 80 per cent, of our exports. These are the industries upon which Australia depends for its very existence and for its favorable balance of payments.
We who have been in this House for some years know that the socialist Labour Party has no interest in the rural industries at all. When honorable members opposite pretend to support the rural industries, the man on the land and those who live in the outer parts of the Commonwealth, it is always a sham. When they talk about improving conditions in north Queensland or developing northern Australia, they never come to the point and say how they would develop those areas. Do they propose to develop northern Australia in a way that will allow the people there to live as ordinary men and women or under the conditions that many rural producers have to put up with, not through any fault of the Government but because of the difficulties of overseas markets and the problems of cost since they do not enjoy the wages that are paid to workers in other industries? They do not enjoy those wages, but they work. There is no such thing as unemployment in the rural industries. The country people are unemployed to the extent that they do not get much money for their Work, but there is no unemployment. Every man in the country works to full capacity.
I wish to direct attention to the first six or seven of the fifteen points of this censure motion. The amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition claimed that the nation has no confidence in the Government because - its latest proposals -
These proposals were announced only a week or two ago. How does the Opposition expect them to take effect in such a short time? How silly it is to say that these proposals have neglected to restore full employment in such a short time. The Opposition also claims that the proposals - are totally inadequate to assure job opportunities for school leavers.
These are nothing more or less than opinions. They are opinions not founded on any substance and certainly they have not sufficient substance to warrant inclusion in this amendment. The Opposition also stated that the Government’s latest proposals - leave Australian manufacturing industries without adequate protection . . .
Again we see crocodile tears for our manufacturing industries. They have been shed in this House time and time again by the honorable member for Hindmarsh. He would give the manufacturing industries protection! He would nationalize them. He would see that they were protected and there would be no unemployment then. The socialist has his methods of tackling that problem. The Opposition also claims that the Government’s proposals would leave - the business world without a return of confidence.
Is there anything that will destroy confidence more than the prattling from the Opposition benches? Is there anything that will be more likely to put anybody off the thought that this country is going ahead than the statements by so-called responsible people that we are going down-hill? Is there anything more likely to destroy confidence than that sort of thinking on the part of Her Majesty’s Opposition? The Opposition’s amendment also alleges that the Government’s latest proposals - adopt only short-term measures . . .
The Opposition knows perfectly well that long-term measures have been in operation for a long time. The Opposition knows that we have attempted to develop overseas trade and have provided many benefits for those who are thinking of engaging in such trade activities. The Opposition knows very well that we have laid the foundations for prosperity and that it is not dead. Prosperity may be temporarily halted, but it is not finished and it will go on. The Opposition knows that we have established a long-term basis for sound development of Australia.
I challenge honorable members opposite who are interjecting to name any country of comparable size and population that has made the progress Australia has made in the last decade. Name it! The Opposition cannot name any country that is in the position we are to-day. We are proud that our years of work have placed us in such a position.
The Opposition’s amendment then charges that the Government’s proposals provide no basis for long-term planning of investment, production, employment and balance of overseas payments, and that they overlook family social services which would have a continuing social and economic benefit, arid, further, that they reject the unanimous and urgent request of the Premiers for an inquiry into the needs of education. This is nothing but padding, and represents no more than individual opinions. There is no basis or1 substance in these charges at all. If there were any basis or substance in them, I would have expected honorable members opposite to rise in their places and say so. They have not done this. They have simply come here and pulled the old parish pump, talking about inconsequential matters in speeches on what was accepted by the Government as a genuine censure motion. They have made no attempt to substantiate their charges.
In the eighth point set out in the amendment, the Government is charged with ignoring the need to protect wool producers from price . manipulation. How silly “can you get? Honorable members opposite know that only four .days ago the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) said that he had’ received the report of the committee that inquired into wool marketing and that he was studying it. At that time he had- had it for only a day. Yet these loudmouthed gentlemen opposite complain that the Government’s.proposals ignore the need ^…protect wool producers from price manipulation. . They know perfectly well that the Government established this committee to. investigate the whole question of wool, selling in Australia. . they know that the members of the committee were, well chosen. They know. that the committee has prepared a report and has presented it tq the Government,, and that the Minister received it only, a few days ago. Yet they make this kind of baseless charge.
The amendment goes on to say that the Government’s -proposals- give no assurance to the dairying,, meat, wheat, sugar,, fruit and other- primary industries, in the event- of the United -Kingdom being admitted to the European Common Market. What a dragnet paragraph- this one is. It . covers practically every primary industry. Can one imagine anything as weak as this suggestion? Do the members ;Of the Opposition know the facts regarding the] proposal of the United Kingdom to. enter the European’ Common Market?.. .Do they know that one ,of the planks of our platform was that the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) would go overseas to keep closely in touch with ali developments in connexion, with .the European Common Market? Do they not realize that nothing could have given us greater pleasure than seeing the right honorable gentleman returned to this Parliament, as a member. of the . Government, so that he could take the part that he is so fully qualified to take, in a matter in which he is so well versed? We know,.. as every one else knows, that he has studied the subject so thoroughly that he is the. one person who could get the best possible deal for Australia in this most difficult and complicated matter.
The primary producers of Australia know all about the European Common Market and its effects on primary production .in this country. It is something that they have accepted. They have seen these developments coming for some time, and, helped by a Government that is well equipped to help them, they have set out to ‘develop market’s overseas. .
Let us consider the likely results of the entry, or, alternatively, the non-entry, of the United Kingdom into the European Common Market. .If the United Kingdom does enter, then over a period of years - and certainly not immediately, unless the circumstances of entry become radically different from what they are expected to be- there will be a blow to certain primary industries, particularly the wheat industry, which has enjoyed a preference in the United Kingdom market. But there is still a good deal of thinking to be done with regard to markets for certain of our primary products, particularly in the south-east Asian portion pf the globe, and the Government has set out to give every assistance in promoting sales in those markets.
We have sent trade missions overseas at frequent intervals. One of them is abroad at the present moment, doing a remarkably good job. The chairman of the Export Development Council, Sir John Allison, has recently issued a statement to the effect that the result of government action has ‘been very beneficial to Australia’s trade. During recent years’ we have’ doubled the number of our Trade Commissioner posts overseas. The officers carrying out these. duties are well equipped, and they have achieved some remarkably good results. The sale of wheat to China last, year was something right out of the blue. It saved this country from- a desperate situation in connexion with our wheat crops.
There are plenty of opportunities in south-east Asia for the development of new markets. For instance, there is ample opportunity to increase our sales of primary products to Indonesia. At the present time we are selling to Indonesia about £2,000,000 worth of wheat a year. My colleague, the honorable member for Indi (Mr. Holten) reminds me of the Japanese trade treaty, which the Opposition voted against and of which it would not have part or parcel, but which has produced the result that Japan is now the number one buyer of our wool.
This Government has been looking ahead.Fancy the Opposition coming here and suggesting that the Government’s proposals give no assurance to the dairying, meat, wheat, sugar, fruit, and other primary industries in the event of the United Kingdom being admitted to the European Common Market!
I do not want to deal further with that aspect of the matter. The country people know the position pretty well. They returned their Country Party candidates because they knew jolly well that we could be trusted to look after their interests. They knew that the Minister for Trade was an outstanding man in his field, and they wanted him to be associated with any negotiation concerning the entry of the United Kingdom into the European Common Market. But I am bound to say that the primary producers, and certainly the wheat-growers, do not trust the Labour. Party to look after them. Labour Party candidates said they would look after the primary producers very well if they were elected. They said, “We will give you a stabilization scheme “. But the primary producers said, in no uncertain terms, “We will not have part or parcel of you people. We cannot trust you to look after us, because our minds go back to 1930 and the promises that were made at that time.” There are many men in the country to-day who were making a start on the land in those years, and they remember how they were told, through the newspapers, by wireless announcements and every other means by which the Labour Party could disseminate propaganda, that they should grow more wheat. They were exhorted to put in every acre of wheat that they could possibly grow, and they were promised 4s. a bushel. They finished up selling their wheat for ls. 7d. a bushel. It is a sad story, but we have not forgotten it, and neither have the farmers.
The honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) is constantly trying to interject. No doubt he collected his ls. a bushel the other day as the latest payment for wheat.
I remind honorable members also of what happened during the war years, when the Labour Government was in office. It restricted the acreage on which farmers could grow wheat. I had a farm and would have been entitled to an acreage quota. When I enlisted I said to my share farmer, who was unable to enlist, “ You will be able, if you carry on as a share farmer, to get a quota for your share of the farm, and I will get a quota for mine”. But no, the
Government would allow one quota only. It ignored the interests of the ex-serviceman. This is what a Labour Government did; it allowed only one quota for that farm. That is the kind of thing that the primary producers have had to put up with under a Labour Government, and it is the kind of thing that they have not forgotten.
But the most shocking thing of all was the New Zealand affair, when an agreement was entered into by the Labour Government with its colleagues in our sister dominion of New Zealand. An agreement was made in 1947 under which New Zealand was to be supplied with wheat from the Australian Wheat Board’s pool at 6s. 9d. a bushel, when the prevailing price was 15s. a bushel. This was for bulk wheat.
– That statement is quite untrue.
– I am rather sorry to hear the honorable member for Lalor say that the statement is untrue, because if he looks at Volume 201 of “Hansard”, page 1602, he will find that on 16th March, 1949, in reply to a question on notice asked by the present Minister for Trade, he said that 2,500,000 bushels of wheat had been sold to New Zealand at the prevailing world price of 15s. a bushel bulk, and that under the 1947 agreement the price being paid by New Zealand was 6s. 9d. a bushel bulk. *He said also that the quantity still to be shipped on 19th February, 1949, under the 1947 agreement was 2,487,000 bushels. I quote the honorable member deliberately. He said -
Payments made to bring the return on wheat shipped under the agreement to the Australian Wheat Board’s price total £5,963,843 to the end of February, 1949.
I am quoting from the reply given by the honorable member for Lalor to the Minister for Trade who was at the time a private member. If the honorable member for Lalor will listen to me for a moment, I will refresh his memory. The wheat that was sold at 6s. 9d. a bushel when the world price was 15s. a bushel was sold by the direction of the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture at the time to the Australian Wheat Board, and as a result of the agreement that was reached later, the taxpayer, through the. Government, had to make it up to the farmer. The Labour Party says now that the farmer was paid.
Yes, he was paid by the Australian taxpayer as a result of this iniquitous deal. The Australian wheat farmer to-day remembers all that happened to him over the years under Labour governments and has no faith in Labour.
This censure motion will not be successful. As I said before, it is a fraud. It is a lastditch stand in the hope that, by some chance of fate, the Opposition will win the vote. But Labour does not intend to adopt any of the measures mentioned in the motion. Two very important points are omitted - defence and our overseas position. The matters that are mentioned in the motion are dealt with only sketchily. I was going to refer to statements made by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) about the West New Guinea issue, but my time has almost expired. I shall confine myself to this comment: He was belting the war drum pretty loudly on 10th February of this year when he said -
This is a moment in our history when bold and decisive, action is not only the proper course but the safe course. Indonesia will retreat quickly enough if we stand firm.
Only two days later he said he was not a war-monger and the Austraiian people did not want a war over West New Guinea. He said earlier that Australia was so hopelessly ili-prepared that it could make no effective answer to active Indonesian aggression. If that is not war-mongering, I have still to learn the meaning of the term. The Leader of the Opposition claimed that he was not a war-monger. The great problem of Indonesia and West New Guinea is not mentioned in the censure motion. In other words, he accepts the Government’s handling of the situation and is quite satisfied with it. There is no foundation for any of the claims made’ in this motion of censure. This was demonstrated by the honorable member for Hindmarsh, who spent the whole of his time talking about South Australia and the election results there.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I take this opportunity to join other honorable members in congratulating the new members on their election to the Parliament. I also congratulate those of them who have made their maiden speeches. I believe the standards they have set will be maintained and are standards that some of the older members of the House perhaps may have some difficulty in matching.
I congratulate you, Mr. Speaker, on your re-election as Speaker and on your knighthood. I trust you are not like some other people who receive knighthoods because of favours rendered. I know during the time you have been in the chair you have always exercised complete fairness, justice and impartiality. I trust you will maintain that fairness, justice and impartiality, despite the fact that your knighthood has been given to you by this Government.
The censure motion of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) is well merited. The Government only just survived the last election. It received far fewer primary votes than did the Australian Labour Party, but because of the votes it received from the splinter parties, particularly the Communist Party, it was able to obtain a majority in the House., It is interesting to note that not very many years ago the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) said that he would be ashamed to be in Parliament if he had to rely on Communist preferences. But when the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) was announced as the successful candidate in that electorate, the Prime Minister greeted . him with the words, “ Killen, you are magnificent “. This was said although the honorable member had been elected on Communist preferences.
The Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) and other Government supporters have taken to referring to their policies in the last three or four years in particular as being flexible policies. The Opposition rather likes to think of them as being elastic policies. They remind us of the little boy who gives the end of a length of elastic to his sister and asks her to stretch it away. Once she has stretched it away and he has gained her confidence, he lets his end go and the elastic crashes back to inflict a very distinct sting on his sister. The Government, in adopting the policies that it has called flexible, has acted like the little boy with the elastic. It has engendered some sort of confidence in the community and in industry and then, with a sadistic change of front, has allowed all confidence in the community to go crashing down.
There is no doubt that the Government is a one-man band. This is shown by the way the Prime Minister has acted towards the Treasurer. Since the Treasurer was appointed to his office, he has been treated more like, a faithful spaniel than a responsible member of the Cabinet. The restrictions that have been introduced by the Government have all been announced by the Treasurer. The lifting of restrictions or any popular decisions of the Government have all been announced by the Prime Minister. Yet continually the Treasurer comes into the House and looks, to his master for a smile of approval. Last night he spoke after the Leader of the Opposition had concluded his speech. Though he is supposed to be the Treasurer of the country and to have at his finger tips the facts and figures that ought to be produced to refute the arguments advanced by the Labour Party, he spent almost the whole of his time in a criticism of the Leader of the Opposition, getting down to a very personal basis. No doubt, when he left the House he went forth to his master to receive a pat on the head and a little piece of sugar.
The Treasurer is a man who gives every indication of having lost his confidence completely. He is a man who does not know where he is going or where he has been. In the last two or three years, he has adopted the practice of walking out of the Parliament and leaving the country on some pretext or other almost as soon as he has introduced the Budget. We did not consider that Sir Arthur Fadden, the previous Treasurer, was a man who could be congratulated in any way on his work as Treasurer, but, by comparison with the present Treasurer, he was almost a financial genius. One thing that we all must say for Sir Arthur Fadden is that he had sufficient moral fibre to stand up to the Prime Minister.
Likewise, the Prime Minister may be criticized for his treatment of the Minister for External Affairs and Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick), who was appointed to the External Affairs portfolio after the general election on 9th December. He was allowed to make one or two statements on external affairs and was then silenced by the Prime Minister. Since that was done, he has made no pronouncement whatsoever about external affairs. The External Affairs portfolio is his in name only. He has been silenced and returned to the back room. It is common knowledge, Mr. Speaker, that, the Minister for External Affairs and the Prime Minister are now at daggers drawn. It is common knowledge, also, that the Minister is endeavouring to whip up among other members of the Cabinet and among back-bench members some sort of opposition to the Prime Minister in an endeavour to depose the right honorable gentleman. But, up to this stage, the Minister has not had sufficient courage to make a definite move. This is mainly because those Government supporters whom he has approached, particularly those who sit on the back benches, are more interested in their own political self-preservation than in the national interest and the welfare of the community.
It is about time those honorable members opposite, who believe, or claim to believe, in the rights of the people, in private enterprise, in freedom and in democracy, decided to examine their own actions and at least stand up against the policies adopted by this Government in the last few years, which have caused widespread unemployment and the other economic ills which confront Australia. The amendment proposed by the Leader of the Opposition, which amounts to a censure motion, gives an opportunity to those Government supporters who have some little principle left and who still possess some moral fibre to find their manhood again and support the Opposition in its censure of the Government. Such Government supporters should be prepared at this stage to think of the welfare of the nation and the national interest rather than only of their own interests and the preservation of their seats in this House.
There is complete dissatisfaction with this Government throughout Australia. There is dissatisfaction in the Public Service - a body of men and women who, loyally and patriotically, endeavour to do a good job for the country. They are hamstrung, hindered and restricted in every way. Lack of confidence and dissatisfaction are evident in industry. There is lack of confidence generally in the community. Most of this has been brought about by the inefficiency and ineptitude of the Ministers who make up the Cabinet. Three Ministers were defeated at the last general election. They are Mr. Osborne, Mr. Hulme and Dr.
Cameron. As Minister for. Health, Dr. Cameron, only . a , few months before the Parliament was dissolved, took action against the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories which caused a world-renowned scientist, in. the person of; Dr. P. L. Bazeley, to leave Australia apparently for ever. Dr. Cameron’s maladministration of the national health scheme, particularly the pharmaceutical benefits scheme and the pensioner, medical scheme, and other health matters, together with the fact that the Australian Labour Party put up against him a candidate of exceptional ability, caused his downfall.
Mr. . Hulme, the previous. Minister for Supply, had been guilty of allowing, government orders for defence equipment and stores of all sorts to be placed overseas with suppliers in competition with our own industries. Until the last few months, Cabinet Ministers have shown, no inclination to restore industry’s, confidence, to help to develop manufacturing .industries, and generally to develop the Australian economy. Mr. Osborne, who was Minister, for Repatriation at the time of his defeat, had been moved from portfolio to portfolio by the Prime Minister. Trie right honorable gentleman could not find anywhere to put Mr. Osborne and the electors showed, on. 9th December, that they did not want him either.
It is quite obvious, Mr. Speaker, that this Government is afraid to face another election. It is afraid that the people of Australia support- the Leader of the- Opposition in his censure motion based on fifteen points. The indecent haste with which the Government has gone about the redistribution of electoral boundaries is an illustration of its lack of confidence and fear. It realizes that the Australian Labour Party has the support of the people, as the votes cast in’ the general election show. The Government realizes that industry, the Public Service and the community generally are completely dissatisfied with its attitude and policies. The honorable- member for Lawson (Mr. Failes) asked whether1 the Opposition could name any country which had made greater progress since the war than Australia has made.
– Any country comparable in population and other features.
– I noted the words of the honorable member for Lawson, . Mr. Speaker. He asked whether the Opposition could name any country which had made greater progress than Australia has made in the last twelve years.” I ask you, Sir, to consider whether he should rather have asked, “ What country has made less progress than Australia has made in the last twelve years? “ The United Kingdom, West Germany and practically all the European countries have made greater progress than Australia has made in the last twelve years. I ask- you, Sir, to remember that most of those countries were in a completely chaotic condition at the end df the war because of the ruin which it had wrought. The transport systems of most of them had been completely dislocated. Their factories, their industries and their public utilities had been almost destroyed by bombing. We in Australia had no such problems during and after the war. In the post-war years, we had . greater opportunities to prosper, develop and make progress than any other country had. Consequently, the question is not- “ Which nation has made more progress than Australia has made?” but “ Which nation with the same opportunities to’ prosper, develop and make progress has made less ‘ progress than Australia has made? “
In the last twelve years, the Australian economy has shown some improvement. But the improvement should have been far greater than it has been under this Government. I turn again to my previous analogy. The present Government has behaved like one of two children holding the ends, of a piece of elastic. Now and again, when therehas been an air of confidence abroad in the community, the Government has let go its end of the piece of elastic in order to hit back and wound the Australian nation.
The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) administers a department which has informed the people of Australia that more than 131,000 persons throughout Australia are unemployed. Throughout the time . in which unemployment has been rising, he has made repeated predictions and forecasts in this House, arid not once has he been correct. He has made more predictions and forecasts than any weather forecaster in Australia has made and not once has he been correct. It would be true to say, Mr. Speaker, that when the
Minister now makes any of his predictions, he speaks in gusts of 120 words a minute rising to gales of 180 words a minute, and never is he anywhere near the truth. The Minister, instead of sitting about the place as if no problems at all confronted the Department of Labour and National Service, should be endeavouring with his officers, by every means at their disposal, to provide more job opportunities throughout Australia.
This Government has not been able to make up its mind on any matters. The Prime Minister, in a speech made during or after the election campaign - I am not sure which - said that no long-hairs were required in his Government and that he himself had more experience than any theorist had. One has only to look at the number of committees appointed by this Government for the investigation of matters supposedly of national moment to see how the Government has neglected the needs of Australia. Any report presented by a committee has been pigeon-holed or implemented only in part. Some have not even been presented to the Parliament at all. Very few of the recommendations of the Boyer report on recruitment to the Public Service, for example, have been adopted. The Dairy Industry Committee of Inquiry presented its report more than twelve months ago, but nothing has been done about it. Nothing has been done about the report of the Decimal Currency Committee despite the fact that the committee recommended that decimal coinage be introduced by 1963. The Government certainly acted rather swiftly on two or three recommendations made by the Commonwealth Committee on Taxation, but they were in the interests of the Government because the implementation of them enabled it to obtain more revenue. Not one of the committee’s recommendations which in any way favoured taxpayers, and especially family men and workers generally, has been implemented.
I come now to what is perhaps the classic example of the Government’s refusal to act on the recommendations of a committee appointed by it. With a great fanfare of trumpets, this Government established the Constitutional Review Committee - a joint committee of this Parliament appointed to consider constitutional reform. That committee met on a great number of occasions over a long period. The report was tabled in this Parliament and, despite repeated demands not only by honorable members on this side but also by members of the Country Party that it be implemented, nothing has yet been done. No wonder the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) says he is not interested in having any long-haired theorists advising him. Me, and most honorable members on the Government side, believe that this Government is infallible. Even those supporters of the Government who have privately expressed views contrary to the policies followed by the Government have never been prepared to stand up in Australia’s interests and endeavour to have those policies corrected or altered by Cabinet.
During the election campaign, the Prime Minister said that the proposals enunciated by the Labour Party were impracticable and inflationary. He said he would take no notice of theorists. Now, within a couple of months of the election, he indicates that he is prepared to confer with any section of industry, commerce or manufacture that cares to come before him. He now wishes to have their advice. He received advice from them which supported the policy enunciated by the Labour Party. He took steps to implement four of the measures enunciated by the Labour Party and which the various people with whom he has consulted have suggested were the correct steps to take. Once again we find that the pressure applied by the Associated Chambers of Commerce is greater than that which can be applied by’ any other section of the community. Despite the fact that leaders, of the industrial movement, leaders of the manufacturers and various other people have advised the Government that selective import restrictions should be imposed, the Chambers of Commerce, the only organization opposed to it, won the day with the result that the Government is now introducing some sort of quantitative restrictions which will be administered by a special committee. Once . again there will be long delays and indecision. Some of the people who desire to put their case before the committee will find that they will have to wait for a long time and damage will have been done to their interests before their case is submitted. If the Chambers of Commerce and the Chamber of Manufactures of Australia cannot agree on those measures which are in the interests of Australia, it is high time that this Government made the decisions instead of submitting to the pressures applied by such people. It is time that the Government made its own decision with respect to this most important issue of selective import restrictions in particular. In this instance, I feel that the Chamber of Manufactures has the most right on its side. At least it is endeavouring to build up Australia by establishing manufacturing industries throughout the continent, but, time and time again, both the Chambers of Commerce and the Chamber of Manufactures have indicated that they are more interested in private profit than public good. It is therefore time that the Government decided to make its own decisions after listening to the voice of the Opposition and of the people outside. Instead of allowing itself to be pressurized into following the advice of a section, it should consider the interests of the community as a whole.
One most important point that I feel deserving of mention during this debate is that during the whole of the twelve years this Government has been in office it has failed to safeguard our natural resources. We have only to look at the history of the search for oil in Australia for evidence of that. There has been.no really concerted and enthusiastic attempt by this Government to find oil in Australia. And the importation of oil and various petroleum products into Australia is costing us in the vicinity of £160,000,000 a year! Despite the fact that it has paid out small subsidies to encourage the search for oil, this Government has failed to ensure that our interest in any oil found in Australia is safeguarded by retaining an interest in the oil companies that it subsidizes. There has been no attempt at all at imposing any such safeguard, unless some secret steps have been taken which have not been disclosed to this Parliament or the country. Some control should be exercised over the various oil companies which receive subsidies for expenditure incurred in the search for oil, because there are promising signs that oil will be found in Australia. Perhaps oil in commercial quantities has already been found in the Surat basin at Moonie in Queensland. It does look as though oil exists at Moonie in commercial quantities, but the company which found the oil there is controlled by two .American companies. It is controlled by the Union Oil Company and the Kern interests. Australian Oil and Gas Corporation Limited, an Australian company, has a 20 per cent, interest in the development of that field. Since the oil strike was announced at Moonie, the shares of Australian Oil and Gas Corporation Limited have been bought up by overseas investors at a very alarming rate, and it is possible that even at this stage, the company, which is supposed to be Australiancontrolled, is getting very close to the stage where it will be controlled by overseas interests. We must guard against this sort of thing.
There are other Australian natural resources which, are controlled by overseas companies and the time may well come when it will be imperative for an Australian government of one complexion or another to out-Nasser Nasser or out-Castro Castro in order to preserve those natural resources. We have only to look at Canada for an example of how overseas capital can take control of a country’s industries and natural resources and virtually destroy the whole economy of that country. This is our land. We should be proud to live in it, we should be proud to govern it and we should be determined to control everything in it. Above all, we should be prepared to protect every one of our natural resources and to ensure that they are developed in the interests, not of overseas investors, but of the Australian community as a whole.
The policy embarked upon by the Government over the past six years can be torn apart time and time again. It is with great enthusiasm that I support the censure motion which has been moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). Despite what honorable members on the Government side might say, this proposal has the support of the vast number of Australians in all walks of life who realize that the Australian Labour Party has the nation’s welfare at heart, that it is interested in preserving our natural resources, and that it is interested in restoring full employment throughout Australia and in making Australia a greater nation in which to live. I ask every honorable member in this Parliament, but especially those honorable members on the Government side who may have some semblance of principle and manhood, for once in their political careers to demonstrate their patriotism and vote for the motion proposed by the Leader of the Opposition. If they do so, they will have the support of the great majority of the Australian people.
.- At the outset, Mr. Speaker, may I, with the very greatest respect, congratulate you upon the honour that has been conferred upon you. Your title and your high office in this House, I believe, have been bestowed upon you with approbation on all sides, and you must feel gratified at the goodwill that flows to you from all quarters.
May I also congratulate the new members of this House, who, I have no doubt, recognize their responsibilities not only to their electorates, not only to their parties, not only to the States from which they come, but also to Australia. Indeed, it is one of the more hopeful signs of the times that the people of Australia regard the position of member of Parliament as one that involves an honoured place, a great responsibility and the opportunity for great public service.
I turn now to the matter in hand. In the first place, we have listened to an address from His Excellency the GovernorGeneral which deals with matters ranging from foreign affairs to a dam on the Murray River. Obviously, it is impossible for any honorable member to cover this field, so it is necessary to select certain items for discussion. In the second place, a censure motion has been proposed by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). This contains fifteen points. One may recall that President Wilson had fourteen points and that at that time Clemenceau remarked that the Lord himself had only ten. I do not propose to deal with those fifteen points. Instead, I propose to deal with matters of economic policy and with long-term rather than with short-term matters, not because short-term matters are unimportant but because, so far as I am concerned, they have been covered by the Government’s programme in a reasonably satisfactory way.
I am concerned with the long-term prospects of the Australian economy because I believe that business confidence is greatly concerned with the future in the long-term and not merely with recovery which may be brought about by emergency measures in the next few months. Australia faces a completely new epoch or era. The problems which confront us in the ‘sixties are different from those which we had to face in the ‘fifties. I am reminded of what was said by Lord Buckmaster in the House of Lords when the reform of that House was under consideration. He said that they should erect over the doorway of that chamber the bones - perhaps the skull and cross-bones - of an extinct monster, perhaps a brontosaurus, with the subscription, “ We perished because we could not change “. The great problem which confronts this Government, the Opposition*, the Parliament and the people of Australia is adaptation to the changed circumstances of the ‘sixties.
Let me say a few words about the characteristics of the ‘fifties, the period through which we have passed. This was a period of post-war reconstruction in Europe after the devastation of war and rehabilitation by means of Marshall aid. It was a period of shortages, naturally. It was a period, so far as Australia was concerned, when we had an expanding domestic market. Migrants were flowing in from war-torn Europe; capital, too, was coming in from overseas and, in all, it was a period of great and abounding prosperity. That period is over. Let us consider some of the characteristics which mark the epoch which lies ahead of us. In the first place, we have to face the impact of the European Economic Community. This has been brought about by the cold war. After 1,000 years, Western Europe has been unified by Mr. Khrushchev and his predecessors. From the economic point of view this unification has great consequences for us as indeed it has from the political point of view, but we are concerned now with matters of economics. lt may well be that we shall have restricted markets in Europe for our wheat, sugar, dried fruits, dairy produce and other commodities. It may well be that we shall have expanding markets for raw materials such as wool and perhaps for some minerals. It may well be that as a result of the abounding prosperity of Western Europe, the flow of migrants will be reduced or begin to dry up. For the last ten years this flow has been the dynamic of our advance because industrialists have been able to plan on the basis of growing domestic markets. The coming of the European Common Market, then, is something to which we must adjust.
Secondly, there is the emergence of the new nations in Asia and Africa. How are their requirements to be financed? They wish to develop quickly. What part can we play in that development? Will any world organization be established to enable them to receive the surplus products of countries such as our own? We do not know, but that is a problem confronting the new countries and it is something to which we must adjust by giving all the help that we can through a world organization or otherwise.
Thirdly, we have had a scientific revolution which began during the war, was stimulated by the war, and still continues. The products of industry, whether primary or secondary, have been poured out in great abundance. Perhaps- we should not regard this as a problem but rather as a great opportunity. Nevertheless, it is a new situation to which we must adjust ourselves. In the past we have been confronted with the problem of shortages; now we are confronted with the need to adjust ourselves to a state of abundance.
We have a great wave of school-leavers coming upon the labour market to be absorbed at a time when industry, both primary and secondary, can produce more with fewer people. Indeed, primary industry coes not appear to be able to provide very much additional employment. Any one who has given any study to this question will realize that primary industry is not a great source of employment for people coming to Australia as migrants or for children leaving school. Secondary industry has greater prospects of employing people, but it seems to be agreed that tertiary industries, that is, the service industries, will provide the greatest employment opportunities. These industries include transport, whether by road, rail or ocean, education, which must be adapted to our new needs, and various developmental projects. These may well be the greatest sources of employment in this coming decade.
We shall have to review the old techniques of economic control which have been used in the past. There has been criticism on all sides of the Government’s stop and go policy. In other words, we have had growth, then a boom, and then the necessity to put an end to that boom by monetary control, by a credit squeeze and by Budget policy including so-called horror budgets. This has happened two or three times since the war. It is rather like the progress of a rowing eight. When the oars are in the water the boat moves forward, but when the oars come out the boat is checked until the oars strike the water again to make the next stroke. It was, I believe, an uncle of the honorable member for Farrer (Mr. Fairbairn) who invented the Fairbairn style which was designed to prevent the movement of the boat from being checked at the end of each stroke. We need another Fairbairn plan in our economy to-day. We must adjust our techniques to a new situation. Complaints about the Government’s policies have been universal because they have resulted in dislocation of industry, loss of national growth, unemployment and all the things that we want to avoid. But it is not easy to achieve our objective.
There has been some stability in prices recently but at considerable cost in unemployment and in other ways. Over the last ten years, despite the methods we have used, such as monetary and fiscal policies, inflation has continued to creep on and the conclusion has been reached by most people who have thought about these things that merely to adjust the aggregate demand upwards or downwards does not prevent the creep of inflation. The cost push, as it is called, continued. There has been an upward movement in wages and prices despite, all that was done by orthodox measures to reduce the total supply of money in the community and the demand for goods and services. So the question is, what are we to do to be saved?
Sitting suspended from 5.55 to 8 p.m.
– Before the suspension of the sitting I had analysed some of the problems that face the Australian economy during the next decade. I had asked the interesting if not novel question, “ What shall we do to be saved? “ Of course, you can reject my analysis and say that we do not have to do anything different from what we have done in the past. Or you can accept my analysis, and say: “There is no need for panic. We shall meet circumstances as they arise “. Or, you can accept my analysis and say that we really need to do something different about the future now from what we have done in the past.
There has been a great deal of new thinking abroad. There has been a great deal of thinking about the French economic system of economic planning. In April there was a three-day conference held in London between British industrialists, officials, economists, and so forth, and the top planners from France. The British Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr. Selwyn Lloyd, introduced certain proposals based on the French system, but adapted to British conditions, in September of last year. This was followed in October by a visit to Paris by the group which I mentioned earlier to see the system working at close quarters. In October, also, the economic advisers to the President of the United States of America had a look at this system. Perhaps I should add that the Australian Institute of Political Science considered these matters at a symposium organized in January of this year at Canberra.
The point that I am trying to make is that a thing which has received such wide attention in countries not dissimilar to ours surely merits some consideration by our Government. This is not a fantastic suggestion. It is not for me, in the few minutes available to me, to give an account of what this system is or to show how our circumstances differ from those of the British or the French. There is plenty of literature upon this subject. I say, simply, that there are two organs of the French system which are important. One is the planning commission - Commissariat du Plan - consisting of experts, technocrats. On the basis of growth considered to be practical over a period of three, four or five years, they set tentative investment targets for government instrumentalities and for basic industries. Then begins a process of consultation with the agencies and industries concerned.
The second organ in this French system is the Conseil Supérieur, which is really an exercise in co-operation with the community, with industrialists, with the unions and with the people who are concerned in the co-operative effort carrying out an economic plan, broadly based. I believe there is great merit in this second part of the system, as well as in the first. After all, Australians in wartime showed that they preferred, in military operations, to know what was the overall plan and what was their part in it. They might have admired the courage but they would not have esteemed the intelligence of the Light Brigade.
There has been much comment on and much criticism of the British attempt to adapt the French system. It has run into some difficulties. But I am not concerned with details now. All I am saying is that here you have the nucleus of an idea that has been widely studied in countries not dissimilar to ours and surely it merits study in this country, having regard to our particular conditions.
For example, we have a Federal Constitution, where the British have a unitary one. We have our own peculiar method of fixing wages and so forth.
I could give many examples - I have not the time to do so now - of the kind of problems that we have to face and I believe that they may be susceptible of some solution through the type of planning system that I have adumbrated. Let us look at some of them. I have very little time, and I cannot give honorable members the recipe for salvation in twelve minutes.
First of all, take primary industry, lt may well be that there is a future for exports of wool, meat and some minerals. It may be that the future of the dairy industry is somewhat obscure, to say the least of it, and this applies also to dried fruits, to cotton and to other primary industries. Surely the time has come when the Government should set up some stop and go signs; some stops where there is not much future for a particular industry and some go signs where there is a future for it.
This means, of course, that the Government, through the various powers it possesses - through its taxation powers, the power to give or withhold subsidies and the innumerable other powers that it has - can give effect to the conclusion it has reached about whether an industry has or has not a future. In regard to some primary industries - dairying in particular - it may well be that there is a case for some kind of reconstruction. It might pay to bc generous to a number of dairy farmers, to pay them handsome compensation to leave the land - the more so if we could effect a customs union of some kind with New Zealand, and extend our market for. secondary products by some 2,000,000 people, while reducing the unit costs of production and at the same time give reciprocal advantages to New Zealand by way of entry for dairy products to our markets. This, you will say, is politically impracticable. Of course it is; so impracticable that the people of Europe, after 1,000 years of enmity, managed to combine into a common market. But I suppose it would be impossible for us to do anything about a customs ‘union with New Zealand in the southern Pacific. However, if we are unable to adapt ourselves to novel conditions we may not survive at all.
Let us now look at the secondary industries. I support what the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly) and many other honorable members have said, and what I believe all sensible people will say, that there should be an inquiry of the type outlined recently by Sir John Crawford into the principles upon which our tariff is based. We come to the question how our secondary industries should be developed, and we need to lay down some principles. Should there be indiscriminate protection of all industries, irrespective of whether they are viable or not? The honorable member for Wakefield, as honorable members will recall, pointed out last session that the manufacture of umbrellas, for instance, cost the Australian people £600 or £800 to keep each person in employment in that industry. That seems a little excessive to me.
Then there is the question how far import replacement is desirable and practicable and where and how it should take place. There is the question whether we should develop capital intensive industries or labour intensive industries, especially if we have to compete with manufacturers of goods in Asia. These are matters which need to be considered and principles need to be laid down by the type of inquiry that Sir John Crawford adumbrated. I have not time to deal with all these industries, and I would like now to say a word about wages and prices.
The Commonwealth Arbitration Commission is regarded by many people as a court. I am sure that the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison) would think of it in that way. I believe, however, that it is simply another instrument of government dealing with wages policy which affects the total economy. It must be so. All authorities are agreed that if you try to push up wages and other income to a level beyond the increase of productivity, the result is inflation. The second thing on which all authorities are agreed is that inflation stunts the rate of growth and creates this very stop-and-go cycle about which we hear so many complaints. Indeed, a government should have a wages and income policy. There is the question of controlling prices by legislation dealing with restrictive trade practices. It may be that child endowment has a place in all this. It may be that there should be some appropriate taxation policy to deal with profits derived from unjustifiable increases in prices.
I am merely trying to show that all these things - primary industry, secondary industry, wages policy and so on - present problems to be solved. I have not the time to mention many other things for which some economic planning is desirable, but I do have time to say that I believe that we should start by instituting in the Treasury a long-term planning section with highpowered people in it. I believe there may be some merit in the proposal made by the London “ Economist “ that there should be a Minister for the Economy and a Minister for the Budget. The function of the Minister for the Economy should be to preside over the function of long-term planning; and his immediate instrument would be this high-powered section in the Treasury. The Minister for the Budget - in our case it would be the Minister assisting the Treasurer (Mr. Bury), who is now at the table - would look after the details in the Budget by which the broad economic policy is carried into effect.
My time is almost expired. I should like to have dealt with many other matters, but I think that I have sufficiently explained my thesis that we must look to the long-term economic prospect. We have great problems to face, and here is a model that would repay study. Here is a means which, although it may not solve all these problems - because so long as human nature exists there is no way of solving all human problems - may help to relieve some of them.
.- It has been very interesting to listen to the honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner). Summing up my reaction to his speech I should say that if anything justifies the motion of censure moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) the honorable gentleman’s speech does so. For twelve years the present Government has been in office and has brought in all sorts of measures from time to time. The honorable member for Bradfield has for the last quarter of an hour been telling us what the Government should do. I do not think that he has paid any compliment to the Government when he tells us, after it has been twelve years in office, what it should have done and what it should do now. I was watching members of the Australian Country Party when the honorable member was talking about taking men off dairy farms. He suggested a stop-and-go policy with dairying. He said that that was the kind of industry where there had to be stop-and-go. I kept cows for years and I have dealt with dairymen for years, and I want to know how it is possible to say to an old cow: “ You are giving too much milk and butter this year. You have to stop for a while and we will tell you when to go again, because you are over-supplying the market.” I notice that Country Party members kept very quiet when the honorable member talked in that strain. I think that they felt, as I did, a little stunned to hear the supporter of a government which contends it is working in the interests of a country and wants to see further production in the country telling dairy farmers to cut down on the butter they are producing. His idea is that instead of using so much of our own butter we cut down our local production and buy more butter from New Zealand which will take manufactured goods from us in exchange. The general opinion throughout the world is that in this cou..;ry we are not producing as much as we should be from the land that we have.
My contention, which I have often stated in this Parliament, is that people who have big areas of good land which is being put to very little use should be compelled either to use the land properly or to let somebody else use it properly. I do not know whether other honorable members have driven from here to Goulburn and noticed the country that they pass through. If they have, they will have seen a fence dividing two properties, one of which is quite ‘obviously run by a good farmer who is trying to get the best from his land. It is top-dressed and put under pasture, and it looks a real picture. On the other .side of the fence there is scrubby land which would produce hardly anything. The man who has the uncared-for land should be compelled either to use his land properly or to let somebody else do so. You may ask, “Who is going to use it? “ Well, we all remember the promises made to the servicemen in regard to war service land settlement. Because of delays in getting farms some of those men who were promised them are too old to take up farming even if they were given a farm. They have waited many years to get a farm and have made themselves efficient and capable of going on the land, but nothing has come of it all. Why? Because of the kind of things that the honorable member for Bradfield suggests. He suggests producing less for ourselves and buying more of our primary needs from overseas, paying for our purchases with manufactured’ goods.
I cannot speak in detail on the fifteen points of this censure motion to-night. Like the honorable member for Bradfield, I have a lot to say that I will not be able to say, but I do want to speak a little about some of the things that the Leader of the Opposition has mentioned in his motion. The first I wish to mention is his contention that the Government, is leaving Australian manufacturing industry without adequate protection, and the business world without a return of confidence. There is the position. The Government has left the manufacturing industries with no certainty for the future. It has followed a stop-and-go policy. When we of the Labour Party were in office we tried to get industries established in this country, and we got them established. When Mr. Chifley was here, he said: “We are- not going to bring luxuries and things that we do not need into the country. What we will bring in as payment for what we export will be raw materials and capital goods like machinery which are needed for our factories. We are going to build our industries in this country.” And we built them. Yet, soon after the present Government came into office it dealt our industries the greatest knock that they have ever had. Honorable members opposite brag about the twelve years of prosperity during their term of office. A few months after the Government came into office it lifted import restrictions, and imports worth tens of millions of pounds flooded the country. It let people bring in what they liked. And what happened? In about eighteen months we saw the honorable member for Bradfield’s policy of go-and-stop. Eighteen months after the Government lifted import restrictions the present Prime Minister made a decision overnight to re-impose restrictions. He said, “ We are going to put on import restrictions far stricter than Labour had “. Sir Arthur Fadden was Treasurer in those days. The Government clapped on these restrictions suddently and in England we - the Australian people and this Government, not the Labour Party - were termed repudiators. This Government, which tries to take the credit for everything good that is done in Australia, has to take the discredit attaching to the fact that in England at that time Australians were called repudiators because wholesale importers of goods from England had to cancel orders that they had accepted during the period when the import restrictions were off. We know what a terrible knock that was to those big importers, but they continued to operate in the face of import restrictions.
This Government seems to have almost a golden ball dropped into its hands every now and again. With the increase in the price of wool, up went our overseas balances. What happened next? Members of the Government said, “We do not want import restrictions now. We have plenty of money overseas.” They lifted the import restrictions again and the flood of imports came back. Again, later, they found that our overseas balances were disappearing and that we might not be able to pay all that we owed overseas. So, again, under the “ stopandgo” policy, they brought in import restrictions which, perhaps, were a little less severe than previously. The country was prospering. But this Government was taking it out of the hides of the people.
Only two years ago this month the Government decided to lift import restrictions again. Once more, we began to get a flood of imports which affected our industries. Then the Government said, “That is not sufficient. We will introduce another way of stopping people from enjoying their own prosperity. We will put a limit on the amount that the banks can lend.” In this morning’s “ Sydney Morning Herald “ there is an article in which the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) tells about the wonderful results of the last Commonwealth loan which was over-subscribed by £35,000,000. He said -
Very substantial subscriptions were made by trading banks, and large subscriptions were received from life companies.
How do the banks and insurance companies come to have the money to put into this loan? They have it because of the restrictions imposed by the Government. The Government tied knots around these institutions to stop them from advancing money to people who needed it. This also had the effect of reducing imports. Government supporters have referred to the Government’s policy as one of correction. It is a policy of correction, but, at the same time, it is a policy of destruction for quite a lot of people. Honorable members on this side of the chamber support the Leader of the Opposition in saying that the Government has not the confidence of the people of Australia. While I am a member of the Opposition and while I have any voice or influence in the Opposition I will do all tha! I can at any time to have the Government tossed out of office. I make no bones about it. That is what we all will do. If we can manoeuvre in any way-
– Speak up!
– If I spoke twice as loudly I do not think what I am saying would penetrate the brains of some honorable members opposite. They have decided to stick by what the Government has done. This afternoon the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly) said that he stood behind what the Government did. He said that he agreed with the Government’s credit restrictions of November, 1960. He said that the Government had to have a corrective. I would like to take the honorable member to some homes that I know and then ask him again whether he agreed with the measures that put the occupants of those homes in their present plight. They were put in that plight by the policy which the Government now recognizes as wrong. The honorable member for Bradfield has said that we should set up this and that and the other thing. I agree with the Leader of the Opposition that, if the voting at the last general election had not represented such a kick in the pants to the Government and the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), honorable members opposite would not now be talking in the way that the honorable member foi Bradfield spoke. To-day, Government supporters acknowledge that they were wrong.
In a broadcast during the election campaign I said that the Prime Minister, the Government, honorable members on both sides of the House, and people throughout the world all agreed that the family man was the basis of the nation and that every one should stand for family welfare. When the honorable member for Sturt (Mr. Wilson) was speaking in this debate he criticized the Labour Party for not increasing pensions in 1949. He described the pension given by the Labour Government then as “ miserable “. That pension has now been more than doubled. But what about child endowment? Labour paid child endowment at the rate of 10s. a week for each child after the first. Was that a miserable amount? If the pension paid by the Labour Government was a miserable amount then the child endowment was a miserable amount. But what has the Government done about child endowment? Has it paid one penny more in child endowment in respect of children after the first? No. It pays 5s. in respect of the first child, but the 10s. which the Labour Government paid was worth more by a long chalk than the 5s. plus the 10s. which the Government is now paying. I ask the honorable member for Sturt to compare pension payments under Labour and under this Government as percentages of the basic wage. As the percentage is no greater now than it was under the Labour Government the present Government must be paying a miserable pension.
Government supporters are very proud of their immigration programme. They say that the Government will bring more immigrants to Australia. Every now and again when I pick up a newspaper I see a photograph of an immigrant family ‘with eight or ten children. They are being welcomed to Australia and some one is saying that it is a great thing to bring families such as this to our country. I have here a letter from the Catholic Prior of the Carmelite Fathers in my district concerning an immigrant family which needs a home. He states-
I consider that everything possible has been done on a State basis in trying to obtain a house . . .
The letter refers to an immigrant family which has lived in a hostel for over twelve months. The three oldest children, aged 21, 20 and 18 years were not able to continue living in the hostel and are now living elsewhere. They are working. But the family also includes four girls aged 14, 9, 7 and 6 years and four boys aged 12, 11, 10 and 3 years. This man and his wife have eleven children. This is the sort of family whose photo appears in the newspaper. The Prior, in writing to me, said -
I make an appeal to you to take up the matter direct in Canberra with the Minister of Immigration and whoever else might be able to do something for this family who are desperate for the want of accommodation, and who are talking of leaving Australia, which would certainly be a loss to and a bad advertisement for this country.
The Leader of the Opposition in South Australia took this matter up with the South Australian Housing Trust. He was informed that if the man could go to Elizabeth he might be able to get a house. But this man is a conductor on the buses which run between Adelaide and Port Adelaide. Bus conductors have a couple of hours on and a couple of hours off. Sometimes they work a full shift but at other times they work broken shifts. It is impossible for such a man to live at Elizabeth. The best that the Housing Trust can do is to offer him a house in four or five years time. I have already asked the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer) to grant me an interview on this matter.
I felt that I should make it- known in this Parliament that these people come to Australia hoping to do well and yet they cannot get a home. The mother of this family said that the three elder children have to live elsewhere. She wanted a house big enough to enable them to live together. A fortnight ago a man came to me to tell me about the problem he had in housing his eight children. That man wants to go back to England. He was in a hostel for twelve months and then he managed to get a house big enough for his family but at an exorbitant rent. He is prepared to borrow money so that he can take his family back to England because he is not getting the deal he thought he would get when he came to Australia.
The Government claims that it is doing the right thing by the immigrants. It is all very well for it to wipe its hands of the newcomers and say that the care of them is the responsibility of the States. The Commonwealth must help these people after bringing them here.
Another man came to me and told me that he had informed the authorities in London that he had read in the newspapers that the employment position in Australia was not good. He said that he did not want to leave England unless he was sure of getting a job. He was told that he would not be sent to Australia until the prospects of a job were good, but the authorities sent him here and he could not get work. Ultimately he obtained a job but he felt the position keenly and wanted to be sent back to England with his family. The Government talks about what it has done for Australia. I stand for the people at the bottom. I am not so concerned about the man who comes here and buys a house for his family. I am concerned about those who have come here and need, these things.
This Government claims to help companies and business people. I suppose all honorable members have received a letter to-day from the Commonwealth Automotive Review. It is interesting to read on the last page of this document what the Government has done about sales tax on motor cars. On 3rd May, 1940, the rate of sales tax on motor cars was 8i per cent. In November, 1940, the rate was increased to 10 per cent. In May, 1942, a few months after the Curtin Government assumed office, the rate of sales tax rose to 121 per cent, but in the following November it was reduced to 10 per cent. In September, 1949,. just before the Labour Government went put of office, the rate of tax was reduced to 8i per cent. In October, 1950, after this Government had been elected, the sales tax on motor cars and station wagons was increased to 1 0 per cent. It was increased to 20 per cent, in 1951 and reduced to 161 per cent, in September, 1953. In March, 1956, the Government increased the sales tax on motor vehicles to 30 per cent, and in November, 1960, to 40 per cent. The Government reduced the rate of tax to 30 per cent. In February, 1960, and it is now 22i per cent.
This is the record of the Government which said that industry needed- dampening down when the country was flourishing. It is not the time to put the boots in when the country is flourishing. If the Government is doing a good job, that is not the time to increase taxes. I have some big motor-building firms in my district. General Motors-Holden’s Proprietary Limited has its main factory at Woodville adjacent to my own home. Directly this Government increased the sales tax on motor vehicles to 40 per cent., the effect on employment was evident. When we were discussing this matter at the time, the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) said too many new motor cars were being made and he asked, “ Why can’t people use the old ones? “ That was the outlook of the Australian Country Party generally. Put the boots in and increase the taxes on these people who want to buy motor cars!
I say to the Government that we supporters of the Australian Labour Party believe we can do better than the Government has done. We are sure the people of Australia think we can do better. If they did not think so, they would not have given us such a huge vote in December. I received the best support I have ever had. In the last general election, I received 72 per cent, of the votes with Liberal, Australian Democratic Labour Party and Communist Party candidates against rae. That is what the people of my electorate think of me, and the feeling was the same in other electorates. Practicaly every Labour candidate increased his percentage of primary votes and we were swept back with greatly increased numbers. Why? It was not simply because we put forward a progressive policy but because the people were sick of the Government’s policy and its record. The people said, “ We want a change “. They very nearly got it, too.
I invite supporters of the Government to support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition and let us have another go in government. If this Government were re-elected at another election with a majority of two we would hav; to say, “ Go ahead “, but I do not think this Government will have another opportunity to govern if the people are allowed another vote, despite what the Government has done since the general election. I admit that in some small way things have improved, but the overall position is still unsatisfactory. We were told that the Government would finance the States to the extent of £70,000,000, but now the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) has said that he does not think the Government will have to give the States anything.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– At. least we can be indebted to the honorable member for Port Adelaide (Mr. Thompson) for reviving some interest in this debate and reminding the House what is at stake. This momentous amendmen. has been presented by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) as the basis upon which the Government should be ejected from office. The last honorable member on the front Opposition bench to whom I listened was the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron). He had so far lost interest in the amendment and all desire or hope of defeating the Government that he spent almost all the time allotted to him talking about drilling a large tunnel in the neighbourhood of Adelaide. He mentioned this matter, not with the idea of overcoming the Government, but for the benefit of the Adelaide newspapers in view of the poll in South Australia on Saturday.
The list of points in this amendment is extraordinary. One would think that since the Opposition wants to eject the Government, some major sin would be revealed in the censure motion; but when you read the fifteen points of the motion you wonder how the Opposition came by them. One can visualize the process. The proposed censure motion was discussed in caucus. Labour members did not know quite how to put real drive into it so each man in turn introduced his pet hobby horse, the list was totted up, and there you have fifteen points.
The most interesting feature of this list is not what is in it but what is not there. To begin in a low key, v/e find that since the censure motion’ deals largely with things economic, a strange omission is the question of constitutional changes. I invite honorable members to recall some of the speeches of the Leader of the Opposition and his deputy, the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Whitlam), last year. When everything seemed to be booming very nicely early in 1960, the Leader of the Opposition and his deputy objected to various things that were happening but said that nothing could be done because the Commonwealth Government lacked the constitutional power to act. They said that in order to enforce effective economic policy it would be necessary to bring about some radical changes in the Constitution. What has happened to make those changes unnecessary? Is it that they arc not in nice accord with the idea of some of the new-found friends of honorable members opposite? It will be interesting to hear from subsequent speakers where that great desire for constitutional change has gone to.
But let me now refer to what I now consider the most glaring omission from this amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition. After all, what the Opposition wants is to eject this Government from office. What does a government do, then, that is more important than the conduct of international affairs and the handling of issues of peace and war? The people of Australia have been somewhat amazed to read the statements made recently by the Leader of the Opposition on West New Guinea. He has made some very serious charges against the Government. He has used some very fiery words in speaking of people who are, and in the long run will remain, our friends, despite the fact that we may differ from them temporarily on particular issues. Reading announcements in the press, one would be pardoned for thinking that the Labour Party had resurrected the strange old character of Colonel Blimp, a character that we had hoped was gone and forgotten. What does the Opposition think about these important issues? At one time the Leader of the Opposition spoke of them in very forceful terms, practically breathing fire. Is it that one or two wiser persons have put their heads together and have then touched the Leader of the Opposition on the shoulder and whispered that he should breathe with a little less fire? Where is the dragon who issued so many press statements in so many different parts of the country? He now comes to this Parliament, where the nation’s business is conducted, and says not a word about the most important issues now confronting the country.
Let us take a closer look at this motion of censure, which was introduced for the purpose of attempting to remove the Government from office. It says not one word about the most fundamental and important issues. During the last few weeks, in the extravagant bulletins issued by the Leader of the Opposition that we have become accustomed to reading in the metropolitan newspapers, the honorable gentleman has made more than passing references to matters concerned with defence. In fact, he has said quite deliberately, on a number of occasions, that the Government has spent about £2,000,000,000 on defence during the last ten years and has nothing to show for it. The Leader of the Opposition, this potential Prime Minister, the man who could be placed at the head of Australian affairs if this amendment were carried, has repeatedly made these irresponsible statements about the condition of our armed forces. I shall have a few words to say about our Air Force. I shall deal with only one arm of our defence forces, but an equally satisfactory tale can be told about the others. Never in Australia’s peace-time history have our armed forces been in such a high state of readiness and efficiency as they are at the present time. The Air Force has, besides its bombing squadrons, which are admittedly not as up to date as those in some other countries-
– They are out of date.
– They are by no means out of date. Our bombing aircraft are similar to the aircraft used in the air forces of other countries, outside of Russia and the United States of America. Excluding the planes that are designed to deliver atom bombs, they are as good aircraft of their class as you may find in any other part of the world. Our Sabre fighters are as good fighters as may be found in any country outside the big powers, and they are about to be replaced by others that will compare with any in the world. We are equipping, and will shortly be fully equipped, with maritime reconnaissance aircraft that will be the equal of any aircraft of the kind in any other country. There is in fact, no better aircraft for maritime reconnaissance than the kind that we are using.
Above all, however, we have a force of about 16,000 of the most highly trained technical personnel. Many of them have been trained in the United States; in the most advanced air forces, and they have imparted their knowledge to others. But the most heartening fact is that there is a spirit of devotion and efficiency, and a continual striving for improvement, amongst those 16,000 men, which any sensible person would agree is one of the nation’s greatest assets.
These statements made so lightheartedly by the Leader of the Opposition are either irresponsible, in which case the man who uttered them is not fit to take over the reins of government, or they are wicked. In the course of endeavouring to sell this long-winded and diffuse motion the Leader of the Opposition hawked around a miscellany of figures which meant very little to him and even less to the House. Most honorable members, and certainly the Australian public, are not primarily interested in mushing over the to and fro of the last eighteen months or two years, but rather in finding an answer to the question, where do we go from here, what policies should be adopted and where will they lead. The Leader of the Opposition gave his opinion as to where the Government’s measures would lead, and I shall remind the House of what he said. He asked whether these measures in themselves would be sufficient to restore full employment in this country within twelve months. He then said that at the best there is room for grave doubt as to whether they will do this even in two or three ‘years. That is the prediction of the Leader of the Opposition. Let the House remember that he said there would not be full employment within two or three years, and that there was room for grave doubt whether it would be achieved even then.
When people make economic predictions it is interesting to look over earlier predictions that they made. They said certain things in the past; how accurate have their estimates been? The Leader of the Opposition, being a somewhat exuberant character, has left a trail of most fascinating statements which, when compared with subsequent events, make very strange reading. But let me not deal in generalities; let me be specific. On 15th November, 1960, and again on 9th March, 1961, the honorable gentleman .predicted that during 1960-61 Australia’s international reserves would fall by £200,000,000. Excluding the transactions with the International Monetary Fund, our overseas reserves, instead of falling by £200,000,000 in 1960-61, fell by £39,000,000. The Leader of the Opposition made an error of the order of 400 per cent, in his estimate, in respect of a key item in Australia’s economic planning.
– Are you talking about trade balances or international balances?
– I am talking about the overseas balances, our international reserves. This is a vital matter. The level of our international reserves affects almost every item of our economic policy under every government, whether Labour or Liberal. On 9th May, 1961, the Leader of the Opposition forecast that at the end of June our reserves would be down to £250,000,000 and that by the end of September last they would be down to £200,000,000. In his forecast he implied that in the last quarter of 1960-61 there would be a fall of £140,000,000. Instead, our reserves rose by £85,000,000 without taking into account the International Monetary Fund drawing. For the first quarter of 1961-62, he predicted a fall of £50,000,000. Instead, reserves rose by £100,000,000.
So much for this forecaster of economic events. This is only one field in which he has made forecasts; he has made many similar statements about other fields. He is a great planner. He is advocating economic planning on a wide scale and, as every one knows, the basis of planning is forecasting. What would have been the fate of this country if we had had economic planning based on the kind of forecasting perpetually made by the Leader of the Opposition? Much was made by the Leader of the Opposition of the alleged stop-and-go policy. First, we should note that throughout history there have been fluctuations in the economic sphere in every country. In fact, going faster., going slower and changing direction are normal facets of life.
– This is no laughing matter.
– Only you would find it so.
– Order! The honorable member for Grayndler is out of order.
– This has been a difficult era in which policy-makers have been trying to gauge within very narrow limits what measures will keep the economy fully employed without being over-fully employed and without producing inflation. After a policy has been implemented, it is only the critics who are omniscient. If we cared to study some of the forecasts made by many critics. of the Government over the last few years and compared the predictions upon which they based their criticisms with what actually occurred, we would learn how far out so many of them have been. However, it is extremely easy for those who have no responsibility for the affairs of government to be critical. Admittedly, there is room for improvement.
The honorable member for Port Adelaide criticized the very interesting speech of the honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner), who at least had the courage to state on the floor of the House what some of the issues are and the kind of thing that ought to be thought about. I regret to say that no member of the Opposition has done this. It would be interesting to hear, during the course of the debate on the censure motion, what it is that the Opposition would have done. Apparently, the worst things the Government has been doing have been almost forgotten. The Leader of the Opposition was very critical of the Government’s handling of the West New Guinea affair, but we have heard nothing about that. It would be interesting to hear precisely what Labour’s plans for the future are.
It would be quite a mistake in a censure motion of this kind to close the debate without bringing .out the fundamental differences in policy and aims between members on this side of the House and members of the Opposition. Ultimately, of course, it is the federal conference of the Australian Labour Party which is the supreme governing authority and policymaking body. Between meetings, the federal executive runs Labour’s affairs and is the chief administrative authority.
– It is the same set-up as the one you have.
– There are a few differences between us which I will deal with in a moment. The last policy-making decisions of the federal body were those taken in Brisbane from 3rd to 7th July, 1961. These decisions are, of course, binding upon the Leader of the Opposition and his federal parliamentary colleagues. I presume none would deny that that is so. The decisions that are to rule the Labour Party until the next conference are made public by the secretary of the conference, who is Mr. Chamberlain. It is interesting to read some of the comments made at the time of the Brisbane meeting. On 9th June, *’ Onlooker “ wrote in the “ Sun-Herald “ -
Never before has policy thus shaped been announced in terms best calculated to humiliate the parliamentary leader and reduce him to the status of a delegate for the Party bosses.
The “Sydney Morning Herald”, on 8th July, 1961, stated that there were four striking features in the economic programme enunciated by Mr. Chamberlain - increased income taxation,- restriction of overseas investment, restraint on hire purchase and the insistence that bank nationalization is the key to economic health. Again, in a television interview, on 2nd July, Mr. Chamberlain said that if the Australian Labour Party were returned to power in December, the first consideration of nationalization would be on banking. He added, “ I would favour nationalization of banking “.
Some one asked what this had to do with this debate. We must take this seriously, because honorable members opposite are the potential replacements of this Government. In view of Labour’s policy, it is worth noting what every Labour member pledges himself to do. I shall read from the pledge taken by members in New South Wales, and it is very similar in all other States. The pledge, amongst other things, is -
I also pledge myself, if returned to Parliament on all occasions to do my utmost to ensure the carrying out of the principles embodied in the Labour Platform.
– What is wrong with that?
– I know you believe in it. I am merely pointing out what you do believe in. The pledge goes on -
I also pledge myself to actively support and advocate at all times the party’s objective - Socialisation of Industry, Production, Distribution and Exchange.
In conclusion, Sir, I point out the interesting fact that these Labour policies are played down now. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) has said on several occasions that banking cannot be nationalized, because of the Australian Constitution. This is one of the major myths that has been spread around recently. In fact, all that the Privy Council decided when it pronounced on this matter was that section 46 of the Banking Act was contrary to section 92 of the Constitution. What it meant was that a bank, having been nationalized, could not thereafter continue to conduct banking business. In fact, it is important that the people of Australia should know that there is no bar to the formal nationalization of our banking system by any government which has control of both Houses of this Parliament. That is a point which should not be overlooked.
Every member of the Australian Labour Party is pledged to the policy which I have just described. The Leader of the Opposition, with the glittering prospect of office before him, tries to put this policy aside by saying that, for the next three years, if Labour gains office, none of this programme will be put into force. But let us be honest in our politics. Let us stand for what we believe in. Honorable members on this side of the House believe in free enterprise. We will not endeavour to sell out free enterprise in the hope of gaining three years of office.
.- Mr. Speaker, on 9th December, 1961, the people of Australia censured the Menzies McEwen Government. Now is the time for the Parliament to confirm the people’s censure. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), last evening, in an inspiring speech, tellingly expressed the sentiments of the Australian people and set out adequate reasons for the dismissal of this unwanted administration. The people by their vote, with a majority of more than 300,000, clearly indicated that they prefer the candidates of the Australian Labour Party to those of the Australian Country Party and the Liberal Party of Australia. It is not surprising, therefore, that the senior spokesmen of the Government last evening and to-day have tried skilfully to evade the charges made by the Leader of the Opposition and to introduce other matters which they believe may take the heat off the Government. It is astonishing that the word “ unemployment “ was not used by the Minister for Air (Mr. Bury). It is also noticeable that he did not mention the economic problems of business stagnation and bankruptcy facing this country and the Government’s failure to promote the development of this nation. These problems I believe to be fundamental to Australia’s future.
Undoubtedly, the Government’s failure to deal with the nation’s problems is the reason why the electors have sent such splendid representatives to this Parliament from Queensland, New South Wales and Western Australia to bring into this chamber the voice and the viewpoint of the people. I congratulate these new members who have already made their maiden speeches on the splendid addresses that they have delivered. The honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Gray) made a plea for the development pf northern Australia. He gave instances of what could be done. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Collard) told the House of the neglect of the north-west of Western Australia and the need to proceed with the development of that area.
It is understandable that these important matters, all of which are of tremendous concern to all Australians, have been passed by so lightly by senior spokesmen on the Government side of the House. The Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), who is now leaving the chamber, merely touched the fringe of the subject last evening and then engaged in a tirade against the Australian Labour Party. He did not give us any solution to the problems with which we are beset. He has a responsibility and must answer to this House.. His is the responsibility of the Treasurer of this country to justify and uphold the economic policies being pursued by this Government - policies which have proved so disastrous in the past. But, as the
Leader of the Opposition rightly said, the Treasurer is an unrepentant sinner. He has not mended his ways.
The proposals that the Government has put before the Parliament are not long-range ones designed to promote the tremendous development and expansion that Australia needs. They are merely temporary expedients produced in response to the expression of the will of the people on 9th December The people then expressed their will clearly and told this Government that it was unwanted and ought to make way for a government dedicated to the development of this country and to the maintenance of justice, fair play and decency in this land.
I listened very carefully to the Minister for Air. He asked why Opposition members did not mention the Constitutional Review Committee. Sir, we would require many volumes to list the sins of omission and commission of this Administration. Even the fifteen items listed in the amendment proposed last evening by the Leader of the Opposition touch only a few of the Government’s shortcomings. The amendment makes no reference to many other charges against the Government that would be substantiated to the hilt by all Australians. Yet the Minister for Air was content merely to ask why Opposition members said nothing about the Constitutional Review Committee. I am amazed at his mentioning the matter at all. This Government appointed the committee to inquire into important constitutional matters. Top Liberal and Country Party members were chosen to sit on the committee and investigate these important matters. Monopolies were only one of the vital considerations involved. The Australian Labour Party, likewise, picked its very best men to sit on the committee. In due course, it presented a report to this Parliament, but the Government has refused to act on it. Is that the sort of matter that one would expect the Minister for Air to raise? Surely the refusal to act on that committee’s report is a further indictment of this Government for its failure to accept its responsibilities and do something about constitutional reform in this country.
Then we come to further matters that were raised by the Minister for Air. All were designed to take the heat off the Government. This was quite skilful on the Minister’s part. But he certainly docs not- fool the members of this House and certainly will not fool the Australian people. The people want clear answers to the questions that they are asking about the many serious problems that at present beset every man, woman and child in this country, as well as business organizations and primary and secondary industries. One is astonished when one thinks of the confusion that exists on the Government side of the House in relation to all these matters. We heard the honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner) say that he was prepared to sell out the dairy industry. Yet members of the Australian Country Party remained mute and unmoved, although they were certainly unamused and were not stimulated by his remarks. Views such as those expressed by the honorable member indicate the kind of thinking that is prevalent on the Government side of the chamber.
We can understand, also, why the Minister for Air did not wish to talk of economic matters. He himself, in the last Parliament, was one of the greatest critics of the Government at the time when it embarked on its recent disastrous measures. He was regarded as one of the rebels in the Government’s ranks - one of the Government supporters with a different point of view. Quite obviously, it was good politics for him to look past economic matters and refuse to discuss them this evening. But these matters are of very great concern to the. people. The reasons why the Government should be censured have been very clearly stated by the Leader of the Opposition and by other speakers from this side of the. House who have supported him. The Government’s policy of stop and go is clearly emphasized in all government documents. In days gone by, one could expect a fiscal policy to be worked out and be presented to the Parliament with the Budget papers. But those days belong to the past; that is something that is to be forgotten. We can expect new programmes, and new policies, just as the spirit moves the Government, just as a new kind of economic thinking emerges on the Government side or because of a change in the political wind as is instanced by the new attitude being adopted by the Government to-day.
I have in my hand a sad and depressing document which was brought to this Parliament by the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) and which was supported by all honorable members who were then on the Government side. I exclude from responsibility for it those new honorable members who have entered this Parliament since the last election. The depressing document to which I refer was designed to cause business stagnation, to slow down the economy and to throw masses of the people out of work. First we had the Treasurer’s four point plan of February, 1960. Then we had the Budget of August, 1960. Then, on black Tuesday - 15th November, .1960 - this sad and depressing document to which I have referred was presented to the Parliament. In it, the Treasurer said -
Some industries are running along- quite normally or, if they have expanded, it has not been more than commensurate with the general rate of growth. The excess demand for resources is most evident, and over-expansion has been most pronounced in certain sectors.
That tone is reflected throughout the statement by the Treasurer. As you will recall, Mr. Speaker, the Treasurer set out at that time to clamp down on the motor industry, to hold up the building industry, to halt the building of homes in this” country and to cause unemployment. The views expressed in the statement have been confirmed from time to time by various members of the Government. When dealing with these matters, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) made clear just how he felt about unemployment. For instance, on page 505 of “Hansard” of 24th August, 1961, the Prime Minister in his speech on the Budget, is recorded as having said -
To-day, the number of registered unemployed are little more than twice what they were in the period of the boom. Do not let us forget that we have always had a number of people registered as unemployed, even in a boom when we have had full employment.
The Prime Minister made it clear that he believed that we had full employment in the time of the boom, yet he went on to say -
To-day, the numbers of registered unemployed are a little more than twice what they were in the period of the boom.
He therefore believed that with 40,000 unemployed, we had more than full employment in this country. It is not surprising, therefore, that the fact that we have 130,000 unemployed in Australia at the present time has not disturbed this Government unduly. If it were not for the fact that the people of Australia so clearly expressed themselves at the last general election, we would find an entirely different attitude being adopted by the Government now. The Prime Minister also said -
Our economic policy has remained constant from beginning to end.
The economic policy has remained constant! I leave to the good sense of the House and the electors the decision as to just how constant this stop-and-start policy of the Menzies-McEwen Administration has been. The only thing constant about it has been the Government’s disregard for the unemployed and its failure to face up to its responsibility to develop this land. This Commonwealth Government has wilfully, coldly and callously created the situation in which t. country is placed at the present time. With a full knowledge of what its November, 1960, proposals would do, this Government proceeded along its way. Then we had the extraordinary statement of the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) that all would be well in March, 1961, that jobs would be available for all, that there would be no problems. But we know only too well how -the position got out of hand through what one Minister in another place has referred to as a little error of judgment.
I ask those who are not concerned with the human problems involved to pause for a moment and examine the 33rd Annual Report of the Attorney-General under Section 17 (2.) of the Bankruptcy Act 1924- 1960. In it they will find listed the number of bankruptcies between 1928-29 and 1960-61. That list discloses that the number of bankruptcies last year exceeded those for the worst year of the great depression that overtook this country. In the worst year of the depression - 1930-31 - the number of bankruptcies was 1,846. In 1931-32, it was 1,204. Last year, as a result of the policies applied by this Government, there were no less than 2,004 bankruptcies!
I should like honorable members who appreciate this problem to think of the number of other people who have been driven to the wall. I refer to those who have lost their assets, who have lost their all, those whose motor cars have been repossessed, those who have had to walk out of their homes, those who have lost their furniture and those who have lost their farms. They are not included in the num ber of bankruptcies. When we take into consideration all those who have suffered in that way, surely we have the type of damning indictment that should cause this Government to sit up and take notice. The figures I have mentioned only confirm what the Opposition has said. We put forward a plea for the development and expansion of the country; for the building of firm foundations with a continuity of policy designed to instil in the minds of those starting out in life the confidence that would make them say: “ I have employment; I will be able to succeed in my occupation; I will be able to build my home and to build my future on a firm and sound foundation.” But what hope is there for anybody under this Government’s policy? The Government has not expressed any repentance. lt has not said for one moment that it is prepared now to mend its ways or that it will alter its standards. It is going on in precisely the same old fashion.
To my mind, one of the great tragedies of this country has been the neglect of its youth. To-day we have children leaving school to go on the dole! What a hopeless, helpless situation it is when in this day and age a child leaving school has no future other than to have his name recorded for payment of the unemployment benefit! Plea after plea has been made by honorable members on this side urging the Government to treat this as a humanitarian question, to treat it as of fundamental importance to the development of this country that a child should be able to start out in life in employment with hope, with assistance from technical colleges and with opportunities of advancement. Only quite recently I submitted representations to the Prime Minister with respect to this matter but, unfortunately, gained little satisfaction. The need for jobs for our youth has been stressed from time to time, and the carelessness with which honorable members on the Government side, and Cabinet Ministers in particular, treat this matter is one of the most unhappy circumstances of this House and one of the most disappointing features in the country to-day. On 8th December last year the Minister for Labour and National Service said that he was confident there would be jobs for our youth, but every honorable member in this place knows that school leavers lack the opportunity of getting work upon’ leaving school. I should like to make a plea to the House, to the conscience of the Parliament and to the conscience of the nation to give to these children a chance in life, to give them the chance of a better education, the chance to undertake a diploma course and to benefit from technical education, so that, in the great challenge of building this nation, they will have their opportunity to play their, part fully. We have witnessed a great growth of population in this country. Taking the fifteen-year-old school-leavers as an example, in 1960 there were 176,000, in 1961 there were 195,000, in 1962 there will be 202,000 and no doubt the number will continue to grow. Those figures do not. take into account our young migrants. All our young people ought to be given the chance to commence a useful career. I have addressed correspondence to the Prime Minister and to the Minister for Labour and National Service in which I have pleaded that these young people be given a chance. If we are to pay them a dole to remain in idleness at the beginning of their working lives, why not supplement the dole to a small extent, send them to a technical college and give them the opportunity to take a diploma course. Let them grow up and fill the jobs which are waiting for skilled tradesmen. We have read many reports about the need for skilled workers. The Sydney “Sun” of 14th February carried an article on this subject which was headed, “ Migrant Drive; Need for Tradesmen “. 1 have had close contact with this problem. I know of boys who have left their schools in the country districts of New South Wales and have gone in search of employment because the situation in their home towns is hopeless. Many of them do not even bother to enroll for unemployment benefit. Instead, they live with their parents in the hope that they will be able to find a job. The technical training of these young people would meet an urgent situation which exists and would obviate the need for boys to go back to school, as some have been obliged to do - this perhaps is a wise move - or to leave their homes in search of employment - thus exposing themselves to all the great dangers inherent in youth leaving the family fireside.
The Government should bestir itself and do something to help these young people. Only last week I received a reply from the Prime Minister to a letter which I had sent him in relation to this matter. His reply was courteous enough but it offered no hope for the young people. The Minister for Labour and National Service is reported in the press as having said that he had no knowledge of the problem, yet I have in my hand correspondence on this subject which I have had with him during the last couple of years. If we refuse to do anything for the young people leaving school; if we refuse to launch them on a career; if we refuse to provide them with the technical skill that we need for the development of Australia we may forfeit this country. If ever there was a reason for this Government to be censured, surely this is a particularly good one.
The first item in the amendment which was moved by the Leader of the Opposition charges the Government with neglecting to restore continuous full employment and failing to provide adequate job opportunities for school leavers. I am pleased that the Leader of the Australian Labour Party listed those as the first important reasons why this Government should be censured. The amendment refers next to the Government’s failure to develop Australia, and the Government certainly deserves censure for that. Other items refer to the Government’s failure to preserve employment in the motor industry, to ensure that the people are adequately housed and to see to it that interest rates are sufficiently reasonable to give the people a chance to obtain a home. For its failure in all these respects the Government deserves the censure of this Parliament. The Opposition also objects to the Government overlooking family social services which would have a continuing social and economic benefit. lt is a crime that child endowment has not been increased since this Government came to office. For this it deserves censure. The Government has failed also to protect the primary industries, and this is yet another valid reason why it should be censured.
I only hope that a member of the Country Party will rise to attempt to defend the Government’s failure to deal with monopolies and the operations of wool pies, and for its failure to implement the recommendations contained in the report of the dairy industry committee of inquiry. Has this Government refused to act because the honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner) and others within the Government parties have a different point of view? Surely it is time that there was clarity on all trading matters and on our attitude to the Common Market and its effects on Australia.
The Government’s proposals are but poor patches in the fabric of our economy. They are short-term proposals and they will not last very long. In fact, I am certain that the Government does not expect them to last very long. All it wants to do is to keep the ship of state afloat until the next general election. God help the people of Australia thereafter!
– May I commence my address by adding my congratulations to the mover and seconder of the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply for their excellent speeches. In addition, I want to congratulate the new members who have entered this Parliament. I hope that their sojourn will be pleasant although, in the case of Opposition members, short. To the new members who have_ participated in the debate so far, I also offer congratulations on the manner in which they delivered their maiden speech.
Like my colleague, the honorable member for Lawson (Mr. Failes), I have not heard any Opposition member deal with any of the fifteen items on the amendment which was proposed by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell).
– You have not been listening.
– I have been in the House most of the time that the debate has been in progress and not one honorable member opposite has really said anything about the items on the amendment. I shall deal with perhaps one or two of them later, but first of all let me say that the Leader of the Opposition stated in his policy speech that the Labour Party would put the socializa tion plank of its platform into cold storage for three years. In other words, he told the people, “We do not believe in it for three years but when that time expires we shall consider it again “.
– A stop and go policy!
– A real stop and go policy. In the meantime, of course, every honorable member on the opposite side of the House is a signatory to a pledge that he agrees with the nationalization and socialization of the means of production, distribution and exchange. Let me read to the House the terms of that pledge. It states -
I hereby pledge myself not to oppose the candidate selected by the recognized political Labour organization, and, if elected, to do my utmost to carry out the principles embodied in the Australian Labour Party’s platform.
What is the main plank of that platform? It is the nationalization and socialization of the means of production, distribution and exchange. The Leader of the Opposition tried to put one over the people when he said, “ We will put that into cold storage “. A stop and go policy if ever there was one! The Labour Party is quite used to that.
I was interested to read an article which sums up pretty well the philosophy of the socialist party. It is in these terms -
It lives in a bad dream and its promises sound like those of the seven-year-old schoolgirl who goes round telling herself of all the absurd things she would do if she had the wishing cap. Its thinking and planning is on about the same level as that of a seven-year-old: “ Something for everybody and if- you don’t let us give it to you (with money we will have to take from your pockets) the bottom will fall out of everything and you’ll be sorry “.
Australia has need of a good many things - more capital, more people, more intensive use of its resources, methods of getting costs down through mass production to meet overseas market levels and make consumer industries swell in this country. The things it-does not need are stinking fish, pessimism, pressure groups and leaders who take their methods and their views of western civilization from Moscow, or from the root sources from which Moscow takes its doctrines. Australia has the basic materials, the basic human elements needed for greatness.
What it needs most, and has, leaving out a miserable remnant of outmoded socialist politcians, is faith and the will to back and encourage its own system of private enterprise which, after all, whatever its faults during the period in which it was being fashioned by the age of power and mechanization, has produced modern civilization and the world’s present standards of living.
Tt is about time that a few of the selfish pressure groups that are trying to get more out of the community than they are prepared to earn were ridden off the scene on a rail by public indignation.
No truer words were ever expressed. It is well that the people should know what to expect if the Australian Socialist Labour Party gains the Treasury bench. It will do just that, and carry out its policy because it is pledged to do so. But we hear very little of this during an election, because it is put into cold storage. But let us see what would happen if members opposite got into office. The honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) is reported as saying in Ballarat in April, 1948 -
The Labour Party has a master plan for total socialization. We will go on and on, until eventually in Australia you will have a great cooperative Commonwealth. Its wealth will be owned by the people and will be operated in a socialistic manner for our people as a whole.
I could quote many more statements made by prominent members of the Labour Party, including the present Leader of the Opposition in Queensland, but I will leave it at that.
– It is not true, you know.
– Do you believe it? We have heard a lot about unemployment and it is true that nobody wants unemployment in this country. All this talk we hear about it being the deliberate and planned policy of the Government to try to create unemployment in Australia is untrue and mean, for the simple reason that members of both the Government parties believe that full employment is of the essence of business in this country. If people have not any money in their pockets they have not the means of purchasing the goods that our industries provide. The honorable member for Lalor talks about profits. In every debate I have heard on the AddressinReply members opposite get up and talk about the blood-sucking profiteers and the people who are manipulating the economy in their own interests, but there is not one word of that now. The honorable membefor Scullin (Mr. Peters) used to raise that question, but he utters not one word about it now. Honorable members opposite are weeping crocodile tears now. The philosophy of the Labour Party is socialization and nationalization. The philosophy of the Government parties is free enterprise. Why do not honorable members opposite say, “ If we get into power we will carry out our policy of socialization “? I wish now to say something about the cost structure of this country and what it means. [Quorum formed.]
Before I was rudely interrupted I was dealing with unemployment, and I turn now to the position in Queensland where, due to certain factors, there is the highest rate of unemployment in the Commonwealth. I will deal first with certain remarks by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam). On a number of occasions, when in Queensland, he said, in effect, “ If only we had some secondary industries here we would be able to cushion the effect of unemployment brought about by seasonal industries “. He was referring mainly to the meat and sugar industries.
Why have we not secondary industries in Queensland? South Australia once was considered to be one of the poorest States in the Commonwealth, but under a Liberal Premier secondary industries have been encouraged to establish themselves there. They have not been encouraged to go to Queensland. For 40 years Labour governments in Queensland tried to implement Labour’s plans for nationalization and socialization. I will not enumerate all the industries that the Labour governments of Queensland tried to ‘ nationalize and socialize, but they made an unholy mess of the process and cost the taxpayers of that State something in . the vicinity of £10,000,000. Yet the Deputy Leader of the Opposition says to the people of Queensland, “ We will establish socialized industries in Queensland “. It is the wrong place to go to talk about that sort of thing, because we have a vivid recollection of what happened there.
As a primary producer, I have a vivid recollection of socialized grain sorghum and pigs in Queensland; but the pigs refused to be socialized. We could not buy tractors or harvesting machinery - it was going to Peak Downs - although we were trying to produce the goods necessary to maintain the country’s exports. We, in Queensland, know more about socialization than anybody else does. Under Labour governments Queensland had the highest income tax and the highest company tax in Australia because Labour governments tried to carry out the party’s policy of nationalization and socialization. We had not the secondary industries which the Deputy Leader of the Opposition talked about and which would take up some of the slack of unemployment in seasonal industries. But the present Government, since it has been in office, has given every encouragement in that direction and over the last ten years many secondary industries have started up in Queensland.
– Service stations.
– If we examine the statistics with regard to petrol bowsers and the number of motor vehicles in the Commonwealth, we will find that there are fewer bowsers in relation to the number of cars to-day than there were twenty years ago, and these people are providing a service to the country. Since other members have talked about oil and petrol stations, I think I should mention something that is very interesting. According to to-night’s news, we have struck oil again in the Maranoa electorate. This is the third well that has been opened there. One produced 50 barrels a day, another produced 2,300 barrels a day and this third one, according to to-night’s news, is producing at the rate of 2,600 barrels a day. That is the good oil from the Maranoa electorate. I suggest that some honorable members opposite might now have a look at the map to find out just where the Maranoa electorate is - this great primary producing electorate.
One other matter that I should like to mention while I am on my feet is the cost structure. High costs are reacting unfavourably against primary producers - who, do not forget, produce the goods whose sale abroad gives us the credits which enable us to buy imports needed by secondary industries and to keep our people in employment and maintain our standard of living. The problem of costs has been tackled by the Government, which is getting results. As my colleagues have said, we have been able to stabilize costs in the last two or three quarters. That is to the benefit, not only of the primary producers, but of everybody in Australia. But the primary producers must have more credit to enable them to turn out the goods that we need to earn export income. I found very interesting a report of a statement made by
Professor J. N. Lewis, Professor of Agricultural Economics at the University of New England, which appeared in a newspaper recently. I think that honorable members should take his statement to heart. The Government, in particular, should do so when it is considering the problem of credit for primary producers. Professor Lewis’s statement is reported as follows: -
If rural credit facilities were not improved so as to supply the ever increasing capital required in modern farming a form of agriculture serfdom might arise.
This was stated by Professor J. N. Lewis, Professor of Agricultural Economics at the University of New England.
Professor Lewis was writing in the December issue of the Journal of the Australian Institute of Agricultural Science.
He said that in view of the need to apply capital at an increasing rate, Australian primary producers faced two main difficulties.
These were the reduced ability of farmers to finance development out of income and the withdrawal of the trading banks from the fields of long and medium term developmental finance.
Professor Lewis said that if the traditional family-farm organization was to be preserved, rural credit facilities would have to be improved.
Otherwise some other organization would tend to emerge in which the family farm was likely to have less independence and considerably less control of managerial decisions, Professor Lewis warned.
Commenting on Professor Lewis’ views an economist attached to one of the leading trading banks said that Lewis pointed to inadequacies in the credit supply as one of the causes of an alleged new trend away from family farming.
Generally, the position is not so severe as he states, but I want to give the House an example of what is happening in relation to credit for primary producers. I have a case not far away from my place of a man whose assets are worth £45,000 at a conservative estimate. He has no encumbrances. There are three boys in the family, two of whom want to get off the farm while the third wants to bide a bit. This man went to a bank and asked for a long-term loan of a few thousand pounds. He was told that in normal circumstances the bank could advance the loan, but that it could not do so then. The man with whom he was dealing said, “ But if you like to give us as collateral your interest in a manufacturing concern we will lend you the money “. Why is that happening? As the honorable member for McPherson (Mr. Barnes) said in his speech the other night, the banks used to lend to us when we were able comfortably to pay the interest and meet our indebtedness, but to-day we can? not do it. The point to-day - I should like some of my friends opposite, who talk a lot of nonsense about closer settlement, to listen to this - is that the returns of some small farmers are practically nil. Sane closer settlement, I may say, is one of the planks of the platform of the Australian Country Party. About twelve months ago a survey was made in Queensland by two responsible bodies, including the Department of Agriculture and Stock, which showed that a number of small farmers on the Darling Downs were getting a return of less than 2 per cent, on the capital they had invested. As the size of farms increased the return to the farmers was a little better. The return from a 1,000-acre farm, for instance, was about 5 per cent, on capital invested. It is easy to understand why the return on the capital invested in small farms is so small. One reason is that whether a man has a small farm or a 1,000-acre farm, he still has to buy mechanical equipment to run his farm, and it requires almost the same plant to run a small farm as it does to run a 1,000-acre farm. The result is that the capitalization involved in small farms is comparatively high. However, the small farmers cannot get along without mechanization. That is the position we are drifting into, and I ask the Government, therefore, to take heed of Professor Lewis’s statement, because it is true. Anybody with a practical background knowledge of these things knows exactly what is happening. I know that the Government has done a remarkable job. The Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) has managed to stabilize the position as of now, but we have to go on from there and try to improve things. I believe that we will do so.
One of the methods being used by the Government to increase our exports and earn more overseas has already produced results. The other day I read an article which explained how exporting industries received tax concessions after their exports had increased by a certain value. I believe that to date more than £300,000 in concessions has gone to exporters, who have earned the concession by increasing their export sales. - One thing that I should like to see is a breakdown of the figures for rural advances. Exactly where is the money going? I want to know whether it is going to the family farm units and- to individual farmers, or to the big companies who then invest it in their properties. We want to see it go to the small farmer, not to the big companies. I believe a breakdown of the distribution of these advances would be very illuminating. -
I leave it at that, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I support the economic measures taken by the Government. We know that nobody is infallible, and in this day and age one cannot always foresee the future. That is why we have a flexible policy. It is up to business, management, employees and everybody in this country to do their best to see that the country’s economic affairs continue on a satisfactory basis and to see that the development that has been going on under this Government is continued with success.
.- I rise to support the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), but first I should like to comment on some of the remarks just made by the honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Brimblecombe). He, with great frankness, a short time ago said that he and his party, which with the Liberal Party forms the coalition Government in this Parliament, stood for free enterprise. The Government, he said, was a free-enterprise Government. I commend the honorable member for Maranoa for being frank in his expressions because I believe that it was on the principle of free enterprise that this Government almost perished on 9th December, 1961. I pray to the Almighty that the Liberal Party and the Australian Country Party will, not take over the Government benches in the New South Wales Parliament on Saturday next, because if they do I have no doubt that they will follow the same principle as was enunciated by the honorable member for Maranoa to-night. They will dispose of the State dockyard in Newcastle which is working effectively and efficiently. The management of that dockyard has shown great human kindness in absorbing many unfortunate persons from the northern coal-fields who have been thrown out of work at the drop of a handkerchief through no fault of their own, after spending a lifetime in the coal industry. Further, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I have no doubt that if the Liberal Party and Country Party attain the New South Wales Treasury bench they will dispose of State-owned coalmines which have given their employees a 37i-hour week and the best mining conditions, not only in this country but in the whole world. Again, I say that I am grateful for the frankness of the honorable member for Maranoa. I believe him to be one of the few sincere, honest, straight-speaking persons on the Government benches.
– He is an old reactionary.
– You may know him better than I. I can only speak from my own knowledge. Perhaps, as I stay longer in this Parliament, I shall form the same opinion of him as you now hold.
– Speak softly. You are not directing traffic.
– I want to be heard because what I have to say is sincere. If the day comes when I cannot be sincere I hope that I shall be removed from this honorable place.
– You will.
– That may be, but it will not be with your assistance. You should come to the coal-fields. They eat Liberals there and they do not spit out the bones. 1 rise, to-night, in this debate to support wholeheartedly the motion of no confidence in this Government moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) last night. First, however, I would like to congratulate all the new members of this House because, at least, they have received a mandate from their electors in the democratic society which we of the Opposition will at all times strive to preserve. I should also like, through you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to congratulate the Speaker on his re-election to his high office and on the honour recently bestowed upon him. I believe that the Speaker is possessed of the sterling qualities necessary for his position. He hears courteously, answers wisely, and considers soberly. I believe that, to the best of his ability, he acts impartially. These attributes are very necessary in the make-up of a Speaker. I do not feel that he will hold his honorable position for much longer as the tide of public opinion is running against this Government, but I hope that when he is compelled to relinquish the Speakership he will be long spared to pursue those high ideals which I believe he holds.
I have never been more convinced than at this moment that the Government has lost the confidence of the Australian people. The general election of. 9th December, 1961, proved that fact to me conclusively. I am proud to say that over 53 per cent, of the Australian people supported the party to which I belong - the Australian Labour Party. The Australian people have indicated in no uncertain manner that they will not tolerate any government that deliberately creates an army of unemployed through the restriction of credit while’ it can find millions of pounds for war and preparation for war. That is a hurdle that any government has to get over. If a government pursues a policy of bombs before bread it is doomed to die. Why should it not die? In my opinion, those who oppose this viewpoint are virtually spineless, ignorant and traitorous to their own people, particularly in a country such as ours which is so hungry for self-development.
There is no reason why a single person who is fit, healthy and willing to work should not be employed - and I mean gainfully employed - in this great land of ours. I do not refer to spivs. I do not refer to persons who are pushing crook shares in companies or those who live on their investments and are not prepared to sweat and toil for the development, of their own land. I believe that every person who is fit, healthy and able to work should be doing something for the betterment, not only of the Australian people, but of mankind throughout the earth.
I have said in this House before and I repeat that I would like to see in my lifetime the vast defence expenditure of the nations of the world diverted to peaceful build government factories in country our housing shortage, to provide more hospital accommodation and education facilities, to provide the necessary food for the hungry people of the world, and to building government factories in country areas or in important cities such as Cessnock, Tamworth, and Grenfell. Important country towns should not be alowed to retrogress so that homes that have been built in them lose their value as is now occurring in many country towns, particularly on the northern coal-fields in my electorate.
– It is happening in New South Wales.
– It is happening throughout Australia. You are trying to blame the New South Wales Government. I believe that, as far as possible, the family unit should bc kept intact. Children should not be forced to go to vulturous cities where, as is well recognized, there are only two races, the fast and the dead, and where exorbitant rents are charged for rooms.
So long as we adhere to the principles of monopoly capitalism I am unable to see any prospect of the objectives which I have enunciated and which most Australians hold dear, being achieved. Government supporters know this well but they have not the courage to tell the people of Australia that the capitalist system is tottering under its own weight. It is capsizing and honorable members opposite must know it, but they regard it as politically unwise to disclose this in this House. Why have honorable members opposite not the courage to tell the Australian people what is happening to the world to-day?. What has happened in my electorate of Hunter? Mine after mine has closed down. Men who have spent a lifetime in the coal industry have retired on the miner’s pension at the age of 60 years - treated like dogs and fired from the industry. Why could not there have been some Government plan for these unfortunate people who are the salt of the earth? This Government did not believe in it. Rather, the Government believes in an army of unemployed. Why could not these men have been transferred peacefully to other industries when the closing down of the mines became necessary through overproduction? They were not transferred because of the failures of this Government. This is stated clearly in the censure motion proposed by the Leader of the Opposition which states that the Government no longer possesses the confidence of the nation because its proposals - provide no basis for long-term planning of investment, production, employment and balance of overseas payments;
That is the fourth point of the censure motion, and how true it is. Unemployment has been allowed to develop not only on the coal-fields but also on the waterfront. I saw the results of bulk loading in north Queensland particularly. The cane-cutting industry will suffer a shattering blow from the introduction of modern machines, two of which I have seen in operation in north Queensland. What is this Government doing about it? I say it is doing nothing with a capital N. Before the general election, supporters of the Government engaged in red baiting but now there is only one red baiter left. He is the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) who won his seat, fortunately for him, on Communist preferences.
I believe that God Almighty created machines for the benefit of man and not for his detriment but he is affected detrimentally to-day as various countries turn to mechanization and human beings are thrown on the scrap heap. This Government believes in an army of unemployed so that the employers - or some of them - can sweat their workers and obtain greater profits for their shareholders. This Government has been properly described by the Leader of the Opposition and his supporters as an on-again-off-again, stopandgo Government. It changes its policies as often as a wealthy woman changes her dresses or as the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) changes his suits, two or three times a week.
Why does the Government act as it does? Because it does not know where it is going. It is struggling like a drowning man in the sea grasping for a straw. It is like a rudderless ship floundering in a heavy sea. I ask the Government to resign and let the Labour Party take over. Let it get out.
The Government has talked about introducing a law to control monopolies. I hope that such a law will be as savage as the legislation it imposed on the unfortunate seamen, the wharf labourers and the workers in general through the introduction of the penal clauses and the reduction of seamen’s wages. It always seems to me that liberalism strikes its hardest and most savage blows at the under-dog. The hardest hit is always the unfortunate who has only his labour to sell.
Let us have a look at monopolies and their effect on Australia. I was very proud to hear the maiden speech of the honorable member for Petrie (Mr. O’Brien) last night. He spoke up for a government-owned steelworks to be built in Queensland where there ar« extensive coal resources. I must admit that an industry in Queensland would be much closer to the great iron ore deposits of Yampi Sound because I know that the ore ships travel around the north of Australia through Torres Strait to pick up a bellyful of iron ore from Yampi. I admire the impressive and sincere way in which the honorable member for Petrie delivered his maiden speech. Although I know that Queensland has almost unlimited coal resources, I am not positive that the coal that is found there is suitable for steel making because coking coal is essential for the production of steel and at present there are only limited supplies of coking coal proved in Australia. The honorable member for Petrie showed himself to be a true Labour man and I believe that he will be a member of this honorable chamber for many years in view of the ideals he is pursuing.”
This Government should realize that the people of Australia cannot be deceived for long. They are the jury. At the first opportunity they will deliver their verdict as they did on 9th December when they practically removed this Government from office, although the Labour Party thought it had an insurmountable task to win the treasury bench. It is true that the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited has a complete monopoly of steel production in Australia. That is why I welcome the move by the honorable member for Petrie for the establishment of a steel industry’ in Queensland owned and controlled by the Commonwealth Government. The Broken Hill Company has a monopoly also over other products. Time will not permit me to give a complete picture of the situation, but it is a known fact that monopoly does its best to hide its inner secrets from public scrutiny and it is aided by the powerful press monopoly. Nevertheless, the activities of the monopolies and monopoly groups are fairly well known.
The Broken Hill Company to which I have referred has complete control of the production of steel, steel tubing, wire, tinplate and other commodities. Australian Consolidated Industries monopolize the production of glass throughout Australia. I could tell a story on that subject that would last an hour, but time will not permit me. The Colonial Sugar Refining Company Limited controls sugar production.
Any small companies that might produce similar goods have to fall into line on prices proposed by the bigger companies or they are squeezed out. Has the Government ever thought of curbing these practices? Of course, it has not done so! Liberal election finances would be struck a most devastating blow if any attempt were made in that direction. That is the reason why the Liberal Party does not try to curb monopolies. That is why this Government is on its way out. It will not regain the confidence of the electorate from any attempt it makes to rectify the grievous wrongs it has inflicted on the Australian people. Any such move would be considered by hundreds of thousands of Australians to be a Tipperary lullaby - wish me luck as you wave me goodbye. This Government is doomed to die. Truth and justice must prevail as the Australian people have been deceived long enough.
In the early days of capitalism, before the concentration and centralization of capital had proceeded very far, there were many small enterprises of somewhat equal strength. It was difficult to muster them so that the market could be cornered or, in the Australian vernacular, bagged. In earlier years these small businesses could not be bagged, because there were too many of them. Now the process is much simpler, and the market can be cornered, and agreements can easily be made to increase prices. It is relatively simple, of course, for a few giants to do this.
We have also seen that when greater profits can be made simply by fixing prices instead of installing new plant, there is a tendency towards stagnation and decay, and there is no incentive to develop and apply new techniques.
I thought, Mr. Speaker, that I would have been able to say more in the time allotted to me. I find, however, that I have only a few minutes left, and I want to make a few remarks with regard to a matter in which the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer) is involved. The Minister has refused permission for three dignified Soviet women to stay in this country for more than fourteen days. Their visit here has been sponsored by what I believe is an honorable organization. One of these women is a Red Cross worker, and the Red Cross movement is international. I do not believe in the ideals of communism. I believe in the principles of the Australian Labour Party. If we want to achieve world peace, we should show respect to respectable and dignified citizens, irrespective of their class, colour or creed. We in this country should set an example. Russia may impose certain restrictions on visits of our people to that country, but there is no reason why we should impose similar restrictions on persons who come here from Soviet Russia.
What harm can these women do? Only a few weeks ago we read in the newspapers of the plight of one of our men engaged in research at a base in Antarctica, who became seriously ill. We read reports of his having been flown by a Russian aircraft from the Mirny base part of the way back to Australia so that he could receive urgently needed medical attention. We read also a report that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) had given permission for Australian cricketers to tour the Soviet Union in 1964. How can we possibly live in peace and friendship with a powerful country such as Soviet Russia, which has made great strides in its attempts to conquer outer space and has succeeded in sending a man seventeen times around the earth in a space capsule, if our Minister for Immigration is determined to refrain from extending common conrtesy to respectable citizens of that country? I ask members of the Government to use what influence they have with the Minister, in the interests of world peace, in the interests of mankind, and in the interests of their own children and themselves, and in the interests of my children - I have three little ones - in an endeavour to persuade the Minister to exercise human decency and extend ordinary courtesy to these Soviet women. Even if their political ideology is different from ours, there is no reason why they should not be extended the courtesy that is available to citizens of other countries who come here. It would be a different story if they were coming to Australia to buy wool from Goldsbrough Mort and Company Limited, or from Wilcox Mofflin Limited, or from Elder Smith and Company Limited, in which firm, I understand, the Minister for Immigration has large shareholdings. It is obvious that the Minister for Immigration, for one, does not want to see monopoly capitalism crumble.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– First, I wish to add my congratulations to those that have already been extended to you Mr. Speaker, on your re-election to your high office, and also on the honour that has been conferred upon you.
The Governor-General’s Speech summarizes the general points of Government policy, referring, first, to defence and international affairs, and, secondly, to domestic, social and economic matters. I wish to extend my congratulations also to the mover and seconder of the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply. They covered many important points of Government policy in a thoughtful and comprehensive way. I congratulate also the various honorable members who have made their maiden speeches during this debate.
The honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) referred, in the course of his tirade this evening, to a policy of bombs before butter. I am not quite sure to whom he was directing those remarks, but I suggest that he should speak to his leader in relation to this matter, because that honorable gentleman recently did a considerable amount of sabre rattling when making- statements in relation to a problem that has arisen in countries just north of Australia.
The honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) criticized the Government for the procedure that has been adopted with regard to the conduct of this debate. I think the honorable member was supported by the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) and the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns). Here we see further evidence of the divisions that still exist within the ranks of Opposition members. The arrangement arrived at with respect to this debate was agreed to by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) himself.
The honorable member for Wilmot also said that the Government had applied the brake to housing. Perhaps the honorable member has not studied the new measures that are being introduced at the present time, which involve an additional grant of £5,000,000 to the States under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement, and which will also have the effect of encouraging the Commonwealth Bank and other financial institutions to increase their lendings for home ownership purposes. I remind the honorable member also that the maximum loan available under the War Service Homes Act will be extended by £750. All these measures, of course, will provide a definite stimulus to housing in Australia.
The honorable member joined with his leader and with several other members on the Opposition side in expressing a desire to bring on an early election. Well, that is perhaps sound policy in the existing circumstances, but I do not believe that many of the new members on the Opposition side will want an early election.
It is a fact that the Government experienced its greatest setback in the recent election in the State of Queensland, where it lost eight seats. In the other States, apart from a minor swing in New South Wales, there was. very little change from the position that obtained three years ago. By far the most noticeable change occurred in Queensland. The severe setback experienced by the Government in Queensland was due to a variety of reasons, but let me tell the House that the Government is fully determined to re-establish itself in Queensland. Already quite a considerable number of people in that State have said that they voted against the Government simply because they wished to sound a warning and to show that they did not agree with some of the measures that the Government had introduced. Since the election those people have said that they have again changed their minds, and that if there were an election to-morrow they would once more vote for the Government. Therefore, I say to our new friends from Queensland, whom we welcome to the House, that they should hope that there will not be an election within any short period, because if an election is held some of them will not come back here. I suggest they try to last out the next three years in the happy circumstances in which the Parliament finds itself at the present time.
The honorable member for Leichhardt (Mr. Fulton), in his speech in this debate, expressed criticism of the loan that the Government has given to the Queensland Government for the construction of the Mount Isa to Queensland railway. The honorable member did not tell us that the interest rate on that loan is lower than the interest rate which would have been imposed by the International Bank, from which the Queensland Government had originally sought to obtain the loan. Neither did he tell us that the repayments will be on a most favorable basis. The fact is that this loan represents a gesture by the Commonwealth Government which is fully appreciated by the Queensland Government and is of tremendous importance and value to the development of northern Australia.
The honorable member also referred to the amount of £5,000,000 that the Government is providing for the construction of beef roads in north Queensland. The honorable member complained in this House some six months or so ago about the shortage of finance for roads in north Queensland. Now that the finance has been provided, he is still complaining. We do not know how to satisfy him.
He referred also to what had become known as the Brisbane Line. My only comment is that this originated in the days of a Labour government and any reference to the Brisbane Line should be referred to his own party. In the period the Opposition was in power in the immediate postwar years, it had no policy for the development of northern Australia and it is only since this Government came into office at the end of 1949 and commenced operations in 1950 that a Ministry of National Development was established. The results of this action can be seen in Queensland to-day. We have the great development taking place at Weipa; the further expansion of the mineral industry at Mount Isa; the development of Mary Kathleen; the great development now taking place in the coal-fields in .central Queensland; the oil development which we hope will be very successful in. the Maranoa electorate; the development of the cattle industry; the development of agricultural pursuits and the opening of new land for this purpose; additional port facilities which are being provided now with Commonwealth assistance; irrigation schemes that have developed in northern Queensland; and last, but not least, under the defence re-organization, more troops are now stationed in Army establishments in Queensland.
The honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti) said that the Government was not doing anything in relation to the dairy industry report. Perhaps this shows that he has not been reading his press very carefully lately and has not been listening to the statements made by the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) in the House. The Minister has said, quite clearly, that he brought this matter before the Australian Agricultural Council and the suggestion that a new stabilization plan for the next five years be adopted is being considered. The present plan, of course, ends this year.
I now wish to refer to the amendment to the Address-in-Reply moved by the Leader of the Opposition. He mentioned fifteen points on which he disagreed with the Government’s policy over recent years. In a broad sweep, he covered everything from employment to education and from the Common Market to fertilizers. In view of the wide range of his criticism, and in the light of recent press statements by the Leader of the Opposition, one would have thought that he would have touched, even lightly, on such important matters as defence and foreign policy. Following his recent public statements on the preparedness, strength and location of our armed services, the House might have expected that he would pursue this matter and at least say something about the expansion in recent years of our Navy, Army and Air Force. We might have expected that he would say something about our troops in Malaya, or about his unfortunate attitude to the Dutch and Indonesian problem.
But the Leader of the Opposition did not even mention these subjects. We on this side of the House have been left, therefore, with only three conclusions. First, the Opposition is not really interested in defence or foreign affairs; secondly, it has no policy on these important aspects of our existence; or thirdly, and perhaps the most logical thought, the Opposition agrees with the Government on these two subjects but is not willing to admit that it does.
At this stage I wish to remind the House of the three main principles of Australia’s international policy. They are these: The first is that we should be faithful and contributing members of the United Nations, upholding the principles of the charter. We will always support the peaceful settlement on a just basis of international disputes. The second is that we should cultivate and maintain friendly and helpful relations with our neighbours, seeking wherever we can to help in the peaceful removal of avoidable causes of difference and encouraging wherever possible the development of free institutions of government in those many nations which have recently achieved political independence. The third is, to guard against the resort to war by those who reject these principles, Australia should have powerful and friendly mutual associations with those nations which are best equipped to defend a free peace. Associated with, and of course giving a special character to these principles of policy, there is the basic principle of a steadfast membership of and support for the Commonwealth of Nations. That is our policy. It is a policy of realism in a difficult world. I challenge the Opposition to say where it stands on these vital matters.
I wish to refer briefly to the. fifteen points enumerated by the Leader of the Opposition, who claimed that the Government had adopted a stop-go attitude towards the national economy and had failed to provide a basis for long-term planning by industry. The facts are quite different. On 7th February, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) announced measures designed’ to improve Australia’s economic position in the immediate future and in the longer range.
– I rise to a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Is the Minister in order in reading his speech?
– Yes, quite in order.
– Order! The point of order is not upheld.
– The immediate measures included additional money to the States and local government bodies, including a substantial special grant for Queensland. Further measures were increased unemployment benefits and a reduction in personal taxation and in sales tax on motor cars and commercial vehicles. The maximum loan for war service homes was also raised, as I mentioned earlier, and steps were taken to increase loans for houses from the Commonwealth Savings Bank and other financial institutions. Included in the grant to the States was a grant of £5,000,000 to assist housing. Some of the intended benefits from these measures are already being felt in the community and in a short time the full impact of the increased spending power will become obvious and will be felt in the long term. Naturally, the short-term measures are designed to give an immediate impetus to the economy, after which the benefits of the long-term measures will become effective.
These longer term measures include a system of investment allowances for manufacturing activities and the provision of another £5,000,000 capital for the Commonwealth Development Bank. A special advisory authority will be set up. to advise the Government as to whether any temporary protection by way of duties or import restrictions should be given to a particular industry that might be endangered by imports. The tariff policy and the functions of the Tariff Board will be reviewed and already special attention is being given to the difficult problem of financing longterm loans for rural development and export sales.
These measures can hardly be classed as examples of a stop-go policy. Rather they are proof that this Government is aware of the economic position as it is to-day and is taking some positive steps to improve it, while at the same time making adequate plans to ensure that the future economy will be soundly based for expansion and development. Perhaps the Opposition would prefer us to return to the economic policy of the depression days of the thirties, when a financial policy was formulated and adhered to for the whole of the financial year irrespective of any change in the conditions of employment, industrial development, or overseas balances. If that is what Opposition members want us to do, let them say so in this House.
The policy which this Government has adopted, as I said earlier, is designed to overcome any short-term problems as quickly as possible and at the same time to encourage development in the various spheres of our economy. The advantage of the Government’s, policy is that it is flexible enough to do this, just as it was a few years ago when the United States, the United Kingdom and other countries suffered a severe recession while Australia escaped almost unscathed. It would be useless for me in this House to deny that Australia has not experienced some economic setbacks recently or that unemployment does not exist. Both are facts and that is why the Government has decided to introduce the measures that it has. As the Prime Minister said earlier this month, the signs of recovery which had already appeared in the latter part of last year must be promoted with greater speed.
It is the Government’s intention to build a great nation on the existing strong foundations of our economy, and that is indeed what we are doing, while at the same time safeguarding against another inflationary boom. We do not favour stagnation. We are determined on growth and we believe that this can be reconciled with a reasonable stability of cost and price structure and a strong external position. As I said earlier, the Australian economy began its recovery move in the latter part of last year. This trend has been maintained although it has at times been partially obscured by seasonal unemployment and the greatly increased number of young people entering the employment market for the first time. Towards the second part of 1961, the volume of retail sales began to rise and by December the recovery in that field had become most obvious. The number of new motor vehicles registered in December indicated too that that industry was improving. In January, the number of new registrations reached 19,535, and this is a record for any month of January. In almost every other field of industry and commerce, the signs of a real recovery are becoming clearer each day, and, with the Government’s new measures, this process will be speeded up considerably.
It may be asked whether these measures could prove inflationary. Indeed, some members on the Government side as well as on the Opposition side of the House have already referred to this problem during this debate. Perhaps we could say that there is always a danger of inflation in any strongly growing and expanding economy. There are in existence, however, a number of factors which the Government believes will help to avoid this in the immediate future. One of these factors is the remarkable degree of price stability that has been achieved. In 1960, the consumer price index rose by 4.5 per cent., but last year the increase was only 0.8 per cent. This trend gives promise that costs will remain reasonably stable in the immediate future. Another of the factors which militates against inflation is the fact that the Australian economy is operating at present below its full capacity. Therefore, any increase in the demand for consumer or capital goods can be met without the increases in prices or costs which result when too many people want too few goods.
The Government’s economic policies may not be spectacular enough for the Opposition, but it must be remembered that we are in a position in which we must accept responsibility for our policies. We are not as is the Opposition, which can make as many promises as it likes or propose as many policies as it wishes, knowing all the time that it will not be called upon to carry them out. The Government’s policies are geared to encourage the maximum rate of economic growth that is consistent with reasonable stability of costs and the price structure, and a sound external trade and payments position. At present, costs and prices have been stabilized and our balance of payments is in a more sound state. As the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) said last evening - I have not so far heard any one disagree - our overseas balances of approximately £600,000,000 are very healthy indeed. Naturally, Mr. Speaker, it is not possible to avoid all fluctuations in economic activity, and we must expect that Australia will experience more of these changes. This Government has not exhausted all its powers of action by the measures it has already taken, and will, if necessary, act to ensure that the Australian economy continues to improve and develop, and that the Australian standard of living continues to rise.
– Mr. Speaker, I suppose it is not astonishing that the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Swartz) still paints a picture of this as being the best of all possible worlds. It is for him, of course, because he has lately - and unexpectedly - attained a portfolio. His personal success has been established by the defeat of the Government which he supported. Nevertheless, I imagine that the Government itself will regret that it put him up to speak this evening, because he has given us what I suppose is the speech which he delivered throughout the great electorate of Darling Downs.
– What is the honorable member talking about?
– Does the honorable member think that it is not the same speech that the Minister delivered throughout his electorate?
– What are you talking about? Come back to the GovernorGeneral’s Speech and analyse it.
– Order! The honorable member for Swan will have an opportunity to speak later.
– The speech just made by the Minister for Repatriation either is or is not the one that he delivered throughout his electorate during the general election campaign. Either he is faithful to the policies that he enunciated then or he has deserted them. My view is that he is still faithful to them and that the speech that he has just made indicates that, like the Bourbons, he has neither learned nor forgotten anything. However, there is certainly one thing that he has forgotten or else must be forgiven for never having known. He told us that the decision to defend only that part of Australia lying south of the Brisbane Line was a decision of the Curtin Government. As you, Mr. Speaker, well know, that statement is not factual. The Brisbane Line decision was made by the first Menzies Government, which decided to abandon to the Japanese a very large portion of northern Australia and to concentrate Australia’s defence below the Brisbane Line.
– That is quite untrue.
– Mr. Speaker, may I take this point of order: That allegation was proved by a royal commission conducted under the auspices of the Government led by the late Mr. Chifley to be a wilful misstatement.
Mr. SPEAKER__ No point of order is involved.
– The Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) well knew, because of his long experience in the Parliament, that no point of order was involved. I can well understand his desperate endeavour to get away from the facts of this matter. However, since the Minister for Repatriation has raised the matter and declared the Brisbane Line decision to have been a decision of the Curtin Government, I am entitled to give the facts to the House.
– I did not say that the decision was made by the Curtin Government.
– What did the Minister say?
– I said that the Brisbane Line originated at the time of the Labour Go- vernment
– Well, that is the same thing. The Minister says that the decision was made at the time of the Curtin Government. I am just telling him the facts, which every honorable member here already knows perfectly well. Those facts were revealed after the Curtin Government took office. Until then, the people of Australia knew nothing about the Brisbane Line. They were horrified to learn that the Menzies Government had decided to abandon to the Japanese without any fight whatever all the people living in northern Australia and had drawn on the maps a line called the Brisbane Line, south of which the only defence would be conducted. That was a fatal and defeatist attitude which led to a public inquiry and which subsequently caused the people of Australia, for the duration of the war and for years afterwards, to reject completely members of the Liberal Party of Australia and the Australian Country Party as a prospective government.
– What has this to do with the Governor-General’s Speech?
– The answer is that the matter was raised and discussed by the Minister for Repatriation. 1 am simply exercising my right to correct the misstatement that he made.
– The honorable member has not corrected my statement.
– Have 1 not corrected the misstatement? I proceed now to what I thought was the complacent but horrifying statement by the Minister that this Government is already making adequate provision for the development of northern Australia.
– That is not so.
– Does the Minister now agree that the Government is not making adequate provision for the development of northern Australia?
– I did not say that.
– The Minister read a long list of the projects being undertaken by the Government for the development of Australia and claimed that they are adequate for the development of the north.
– Well, if they are not adequate for the purposE, it is about time the Government did something to promote the development of northern Australia. All I say is that the Government’s failure over the last twelve years to formulate plans for the development of northern Australia is nothing less than a national tragedy. The people of Queensland, by their votes at the last general election, administered such a sharp rebuke. to the Government that it should surely by now have learned its lesson in this respect. The Minister, who retained by only a handful of votes what is normally a very safe Liberal seat, should have been the first to learn the lesson.
– I had a majority of 4,000 votes.
– All right.
I proceed now to an even more extraordinary statement by the Minister which will be of intense interest to all those in this House who represent dairying areas. He declared that the report of the Dairy Industry Committee of Inquiry was at present before the Australian Agricultural Council. The fact is that that report was commissioned by the Menzies-McEwen Government more than two and one-half years ago. The recommendations of the committee have been in the Government’s hands for more than eighteen months. Despite repeated - indeed, almost continual - questioning of Ministers by Opposition members, no Minister has yet made any statement to the Australian public, or even to this Parliament, to indicate whether the Government has accepted or rejected the basic recommendations of the committee.
– I told you we rejected them long ago. Speak the truth!
– Does the Minister for Primary Industry say that he announced it to the House?
– I have answered questions to that effect.
– That the Government rejected the recommendations of the Dairy Industry Committee of Inquiry?
– The main recommendation on subsidy, yes.
– I declare that the Minister has never stated that to the House yet, and I challenge the Minister to produce any evidence whatever that he has informed the House that the Government has rejected the basic recommendations of that committee of inquiry.
– I said that we have not accepted the recommendation on subsidy.
– The Minister keeps altering his answer. I maintain my statement that neither he nor any other Minister has yet made any announcement to the House as to whether the Government has accepted or rejected the basic recommendations of that committee of inquiry. If the Minister can produce any evidence from “ Hansard “ that he has announced the rejection of the recommendations of that committee of inquiry, or of the main recommendations of that committee, I shall certainly apologise to him for the mistake that I have made to-night.
– What hurts you is that I stated we were going to honour the fiveyear agreement and not accept the recommendation of the committee of inquiry with respect to that subsidy.
– Order! I ask honorable members to comply with the Standing Orders. The honorable member for EdenMonaro has the floor.
– The Minister keeps amending his answer but I maintain the point I have made - that neither he nor any other Minister has ever, yet announced to the House the rejection of the main recommendations of that committee of inquiry.
– You had better read some of my speeches during the election campaign.
– I am not speaking about your speeches made to your electors during the campaign, away from this House; I am talking of what you told this House and of what your leader told this House, and nothing else. 1 say that no such announcement has ever been made to this Parliament. The fact remains that, so far as the dairying industry is concerned, the threat of forcing out of production every dairy farmer with a potential of less than 8,000 lb. of commercial butter a year, the threat of reduction of subsidy from £13,500,000 to £1,000,000 over the next ten years, still remains, and will remain until the Government makes some contrary announcement to this Parliament and to the nation. That has not yet been done.
– You will get the legislation in this session.
– Now we get a further answer that I am glad to hear. We will get the legislation in this session! We will be very glad to know what that legislation contains. But, up to the day the) election was held, no decision had been announced by the Government. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) was questioned on this subject when he went into the electorate of Eden-Monaro and spoke at Bega. He was asked particularly what was the decision of the Government in connexion with the recommendations of this committee of” inquiry, and he was unable to give any reply whatever. Nor has the present Minister ever been able to give any reply to this Parliament to the questions asked from the Opposition side. But if the election and the election results have finally forced the Government to the decision to repudiate and reject the recommendations of this committee of inquiry, then it will be a very welcome decision to the dairying industry.
– Read the statement I made at the time I laid it on the table of the House.
– 1 have read your statement. I have read every word you have said on this subject. I have been intensely interested in it from beginning to end. You have not been able to produce any statement of the kind to which I have referred.
– What were the voting results in the Bega subdivision?
– That is a very pertinent interjection by the honorable member. He asks, “ What were the voting results in the Bega subdivision? “ This is particularly pertinent to the matter of the report and recommendations of the Dairy Industry Committee of Inquiry.
– Yes, because it is all milk they sell and not butter. That is why this is hurting you.
– The Minister for Primary Industry in this country declares that the production of the Bega Valley is all milk and no butter! That will go down in political history as one of the most foolish statements ever made by any Minister. The Bega Valley is one of the greatest butter-producing areas in Australia. This shameful lack of knowledge by the Minister horrifies me.
– You twist everything 1 say.
– Did the Minister not say-
– I said they only sold milk there.
– Order! I must ask the honorable member to address the Chair.
- Mr. Speaker, you heard the interjection by the Minister.
– Order! The honorable member has a responsibility to address the Chair. He also has a responsibility to assist in upholding the Standing Orders.
– Indeed I will, Sir. I ask you did he not say-
– Order! That does not concern me. I have enough problems of my own.
- Mr. Speaker, I must speak to you. I ask: Did not the Minister interject that the dairy-farmers of the Bega valley did not produce butter; that they produced milk?
– He said nothing of the sort!
– I am asking. However, there is no more that needs to be said on that except to answer the very useful interjection by the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Cope). The fact is that the subdivision of Bega, in the electorate of Eden-Monaro, in the whole of federation, has always produced a substantial Liberal majority. During this election campaign, for the first time in the history of Australia, the Prime Minister of the country went to Bega and addressed a very large meeting of over 1,000 people. The farmers -came in from all the surrounding areas, and the Prime Minister’s speech was broadcast over all the radio stations in the district. As a result of that special visit by the Prime Minister to Bega for the first time in the history of federation, the subdivision of Bega produced a very substantial Labour majority. All I can say is that the Prime Minister is welcome in Eden-Monaro whenever he chooses to come. I might add for good measure that the Minister for External Affairs and Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) spent a week in that area and the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) also spent a considerable part of the campaign period in the area. I welcome them all to come again when I see the results of their efforts, as I saw them disclosed at the election when, for the first time in the history of federation, this very important subdivision produced a very substantial Labour majority after their visit.
But let me return to the Minister for Repatriation. He referred to the alleged fact that the improvement in Australia’s position began last year, and that the signs of continued improvement are becoming clearer every day. I do not think there is any doubt that the Minister said that. I can only say that, of course, he himself secs -considerable signs of improvement in the -position, but to at least 130,000 registered : unemployed and at least another 50,000 unemployed who are not registered, there is no sign of the improvement to which he referred. Indeed, week by week and month by month, as the total of unemployed in Australia increases - not decreases - the signs to them are that, instead of improving, the position is getting steadily worse.
– Do you not think these measures are having some effect?
– You were perfectly entitled to say what you did say. 1 am only commenting on what you said and expressing not only my profound disagreement but the profound disagreement of the army of adult unemployed totalling 180,000 at least in this country, as well as the profound disagreement of those who left school at the end of 1961 and who, in this country of great opportunity, have been unable to obtain any useful employment since they left school. They will not share the Minister’s view of an improvement in Australia’s position.
– You do not think these measures are having some effect?
– I say the position has not improved but has worsened. As to what the future holds, none of us can say for certain, but I will take sharp disagreement with the Minister’s statement that no further inflationary spiral is likely to occur as a result of the measures now announced by the Government. I believe that the Minister is very mistaken indeed in believing that the “ remarkable degree of price stability that has been achieved “, to use his own words, is an indication that prices will not rise again in the future. The fact is that the measures which have been announced by the Government since the election, and which were anathema to it during the campaign, have been borrowed largely from the Australian Labour Party, but the attitude of the Government and the the attitude of the Australian Labour Party to the economic crisis which confronts Australia are completely opposite. The Australian Labour Party went to the people with a policy of solid growth for this nation, based on measures designed to improve the position of the ordinary people and to set in motion processes which would lead to solid national development. It was a policy of economic integrity. Being forced reluctantly, by the election result to adopt measures in which it does not truly believe, the Government has adopted them in the way which accords with Che traditional roles and attitudes of anti-Labour governments.
Credit certainly will be easier as a result of the Government’s latest measures, but for what purpose will the credit be used? That is the essential and important point. In all the measures which have been announced by the Government there is nothing that indicates an improvement in the lot of the ordinary family or an increase in the purchasing power of the wages of the breadwinner. Nor is there anything which ensures that the increased credit will be used for valuable permanent national purposes. Instead, as a result of the measures now taken by the Government and the further, measures which it may take, we face the possibility of another Hotel Chevron, another Gold Coast and another spiral of inflation with the Government once again being compelled to institute another credit squeeze. That is the prospect which this country faces under the stop and go policies constantly followed by the Government.
I have heard members on the Government side justify stop and go as an economic policy, but from the point of view of the ordinary people such a policy is utterly unjustifiable. It is true that you cannot expect to have an absolutely straight economic road to travel. The road must have its ups and downs, but the policy of any wise government which truly had the welfare of the people at heart would be to apply the accelerator gently when necessary and to apply the brake steadily when necessary, to ensure the steady progress of the economy. Instead we have had this series of stops and starts which have subjected the people travelling in the vehicle to such distress and injury.
When the Prime Minister comes to this table and expresses some compunction for the policies he has followed in the past and states the intention to do better in the future, the people of Australia are entitled to say that, whatever his hopes and intentions for the future may be, he has shown himself to be an utterly incapable driver.
He is not capable of guiding the national vehicle in such” a way as to maintain a steady progress. The people are entitled to say that a man who, during twelve years as Prime Minister, has on at least four occasions implemented policies which suddenly have caused great injury to those travelling in the vehicle which he has been driving, is unfitted any longer to be in this natron’s driving seat. That is a view which the people did their utmost to express at the election on 9th December.
Of course, had it not been for the support of the splinter party - the Australian Democratic Labour Party - and the Communist Party the views of the people would have been expressed not only by the large majority of votes which they cast for the Labour Party, but also by the seating of the Labour Party on the treasury bench. Assuredly that will happen at the first opportunity the people have to express their judgment on the issues now confronting the nation. The most important thing is that the myth which this Government established of Prime Ministerial infallibility has been destroyed forever and the confidence of the people in this Government along with it. So long as they have been destroyed, no matter what measures this Government takes and puts to the people, it cannot again set this nation on the path of prosperity and progress. only-a Labour government can do that.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Snedden) adjourned.
Message received from the Senate intimating that the following senators had been appointed members of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works: - Senator Anderson, Senator DrakeBrockman and Senator Ormonde.
House adjourned at 10.56 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 28 February 1962, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1962/19620228_reps_24_hor34/>.