24th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Sir John McLeay) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– My question is addressed to the Treasurer. Has any consideration been given to raising the minimum income of £104 which may be earned before income tax is imposed? As the minimum income has remained at this figure for many years, and as many people who formerly earned only £104 are now earning a little more, will consideration be given to raising the minimum income?
– I have no doubt that in the consideration that will be given by Cabinet to the various recommendations of the committee of inquiry which was set up to examine taxation matters, the item mentioned by the honorable gentleman will receive attention. I will have in mind when we consider this matter that the honorable member is directing attention to the desirability of some upward review.
– Is the Treasurer aware that aerial superphosphate broadcasting and crop-dusting operators pay p’etrol tax for fuel used in aeroplanes, although they do not use public roads in this work? In view of these facts, and as an inducement to producers in difficult areas to use these services for increasing production, will the Treasurer give sympathetic consideration in the forthcoming Budget deliberations to the lifting of petrol tax paid by these operators, thus placing them in the same position as their New Zealand counterparts are in?
– Honorable members will be aware, of course, that the purpose of the petrol tax is not merely to obtain revenue for the provision of roads throughout the Commonwealth, although substantial funds are provided out of the general revenues of the Commonwealth for road-making purposes. The revenue from the petrol tax is for the general purpose of the Commonwealth Budget. The point raised that in New Zealand petrol used in this form of activity does not carry taxation is one of interest to me. I shall examine the matter before we come to the next Budget and see whether the suggestion that the honorable member has in mind will commend itself to the Commonwealth Government.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Labour and National Service. Will the Minister investigate charges and complaints made in the Casino and other districts that officers of his department, acting under ministerial direction, have removed from the register the names of unemployed persons receiving the unemployment benefit? Is he aware that amongst those whose names have been removed are some aboriginal people whose wives and families have suffered hardship as the result of this action.
– Speaking to the facts of this problem, I say that the question must be wrong for these reasons: First, I have issued no instructions relating to the removal of names from the register of those who are in receipt of the unemployment benefit. Secondly, it is not within the jurisdiction of my department or of myself to do so. This comes within the jurisdiction of one of my colleagues. Nonetheless, as this does raise a personal and social problem, I shall cause inquiries to be made by my department and the Department of Social Services. If I find that there is anything that I or my colleague - I am sure I can speak for him also - can do to correct any difficulty that may require correcting, the requisite action will certainly be taken.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Primary Industry. Is the Minister aware that Mr. Vines, managing director of the International Wool Secretariat, has urged wool-growers to grow more wool as quickly as they can? Will the Minister say whether he agrees with this optimistic advice?
- Mr. Vines, as managing director of the International Wool Secretariat, has recently conducted a survey of the existing and potential markets of the world. He is of the opinion that, with an expanding and efficient promotion campaign, there will be a greater demand for wool. Accordingly, he advocates greater production of wool. I think that with the increase in the world population and the higher standards of living that are evident in some countries there could well be a greater demand for wool.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for National Development. Will the Minister inform me of the present schedule for the flooding of Jindabyne and the occupation of the new town? Generally, will he set out the latest information on this project so that the residents concerned may be informed about their future?
– I will convey this question to my colleague in another place and see that the honorable member has an answer as soon as possible.
– I address a question to the Minister for Air concerning the participation of troops in Anzac Day parades. I understand that the Defence Committee ruled in 1946 or 1947 that contingents from the Navy, the Army and the Royal Australian Air Force should not take part in Anzac Day parades in capital cities. Since the R.A.A.F. always provides a contingent of from 100 to 200 men in Perth for the Coral Sea celebrations, could this decision of the committee be reviewed and efforts made to have R.A.A.F. personnel participate in Anzac Day parades, as well as the Navy and the Army, which now provide uniformed contingents of serving personnel?
– I think that in 1946 the Defence Committee of the day did give instructions that participation by serving members of the armed forces in Anzac Day celebrations should be on a voluntary basis. Anzac Day is a public holiday for the services as it is for the public, and many members of the Royal Australian Air Force do participate on a voluntary basis in marches, as well as providing speakers and bands and fulfilling other requests. How- ever, I shall have the position reviewed, since the honorable member has said that the Navy and Army provide contingents to march. As to participation in the Coral Sea celebrations, I point out that this occasion is not a public holiday and participation in the celebrations would be in the form of a service parade. This year’s visitor for the Coral Sea celebrations is a very distinguished American Air Force general who commands the U.S. Air Force in the Pacific, and I am sure the R.A.A.F. in Perth as elsewhere was anxious to do its best. However, I will have inquiries made to see whether the previous decision may be revoked in some degree.
– Is the Treasurer aware that the recent “Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works cash and conversion loan carrying interest at 5i per cent, was only 43 per cent, subscribed? Will the Treasurer inform the House of the reasons for the poor support accorded this loan? Does he consider that the failure of this loan is an indication that financial confidence and stability are still absent to a very large degree in the community? Can the Treasurer suggest any action that can be taken to assist semi-government institutions and local government authorities in their endeavours to obtain funds to carry out essential works and relieve unemployment in this country?
– The honorable member has given some information about a particular loan and has proceeded to draw from that detail a general conclusion which certainly is not justified on the facts of our loan-raising experience this financial year. I shall make some inquiry about the circumstances of this loan, so far as I can ascertain them.
Various factors influence any particular loan at a given time. One would have to know just how strong had been the claims on the market at the time leading up to a loan, and what may have been offering elsewhere. For example, if a government loan happened to coincide with a loan operation by a well-established industrial firm offering a somewhat higher rate of interest, that could affect the result of the government loan.
Speaking generally, we have had in the Commonwealth field in the course of this financial year record loan raisings and loans have been obtained at a reduced rate of interest. The difference between the Commonwealth rate and the semi-government rate has been preserved. Borrowings by the larger semi-government authorities have far exceeded in volume the amount raised in the corresponding period of last financial year. Loan raisings by the smaller authorities, also, in 1961-62, appear likely substantially to exceed the borrowings of those authorities in the preceding twelve months. So I do not think that the honorable gentleman can draw from the facts any conclusion that there is lack of confidence among the Australian public in the value of these kinds of investment. We have had a most encouraging response, and all the evidence points to its continuing.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Repatriation. I ask: Has there been any falling off over the last year in applications for repatriation benefits? In view of the time which has elapsed since World War II., will the repatriation requirements of the Australian community begin to decline steadily in the near future?
– I am glad that the honorable member has raised this matter and given me an opportunity to clear up a misconception which, I am sure, is popularly held in many quarters in Australia. It is a fact that repatriation services, far from declining, are increasing. In fact, over the last twelve months, owing to a number of circumstances, one of which was the extension to service pensioners of the right to medical treatment, there has been a very substantial increase in the number of applications for medical treatment as distinct from other repatriation benefits. It is expected that these applications will steadily increase rather than decline for quite a number of years yet. As far as we can assess the situation at the moment, the peak will occur about 1975. Until then, there is expected to be a steady increase each year in the demand for repatriation services. This is due to a number of reasons, one, in particular, being the fact that people who served in the Second World War are now entering a certain age group. At present, our repatriation facilities, especially hospitals, are being used practically to the maximum degree all the time.
– I wish to ask the Minister for Social Services a question relating to the recent liberalization of the residential qualifications covering eligibility for pensions. Can the Minister say whether residence in a country with which we have reciprocal arrangements, during the ten-year qualifying period, will count in determining eligibility for a pension? For instance, if a person resided in Australia for nine years and in New Zealand for four years, would he be eligible?
– Answering the question off the cuff, I would give an affirmative reply subject to the other conditions set out in the agreement. Under the reciprocal agreement between Australia and New Zealand residence in one country is accepted by the other in determining eligibility.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation. Can the Minister explain why the fares for air travel between Australia and New Zealand are some two-thirds greater than fares for journeys between Adelaide and Perth, although the distances are approximately the same? For example, the distance from Adelaide to Perth is 78 miles greater than the distance from Australia to New Zealand, yet the economy class return air fares are £46 3s. and £74 2s. respectively. In view of this discrepancy, will the Minister take advantage of the presence in Australia at the present time of the Prime Minister of New Zealand to discuss the matter with him with a view to arranging some reduction in fares for air travel between Australia and New Zealand, since it is obviously desirable that contact between the peoples of the two countries should be increased?
– I will convey the question to the Minister for Civil Aviation, who is in another place, and obtain an answer for the honorable member.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation. Will Trans-Australia Airlines be permitted to purchase Caravelle aircraft for its hew fleet? Can the Minister say whether the Caravelle emits more or less noise than the Boeing jet aircraft and whether it requires shorter runways for take-offs and landings than are required by Comets and Boeings?
– As I said in reply to the previous question, I will convey the question to the Minister, who is in another place, and get a reply for the honorable member.
– Is the Minister for Immigration aware that considerable interest has been shown in the possibility of migration to Australia of French people in Algeria who are anxious to leave Algeria but who do not wish to go to metropolitan France? Are officers of the Department of Immigration stationed in either Algiers or Oran to give necessary information to intending migrants? What assisted passage schemes are available in this area, particularly for skilled or semi-skilled tradesmen?
– The Department of Immigration and I have been aware for some time of the possibilities of attracting to Australia European French people in North Africa. Arrangements were made a few months ago for officers stationed in Paris to visit Algiers to inquire into the possibilities referred to by my honorable friend. It is too early yet to say what the fruits of this inquiry will be, but I am hopeful that, in view of the unrest in Algeria and the exodus of people from North Africa to metropolitan France, Australia may benefit, as the honorable member suggests it could, by the acquisition of men with considerable skill, who could make valuable citizens of Australia in the future. The honorable member also asked what assisted passage arrangements would be available. For the best part of the last three years a general assisted passage scheme has been in operation covering French citizens under which approved Frenchmen coming here can obtain assisted passage benefits to the extent of £71 8s. 6d., with pro rata rates for children. This general assisted passage scheme will apply, of course, to the people mentioned by my honorable friend.
– Will the Minister for the Interior use his good offices with the appropriate authorities to see whether South Australian marble and granite can be used in the construction of the new Reserve Bank building which is to be commenced shortly in Adelaide?
– I shall discuss this matter with the architect for the Reserve Bank and see whether anything can be done along the lines requested by the honorable member.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Health. Is any information available regarding the Virus known as fibroma, which is used on rabbit farms in the United States of America to inoculate rabbits against the effects of myxomatosis? Can this virus be carried by insects from inoculated animals to others? As the virus constitutes a potential danger to Australia’s pastoral industries, will the Minister consider banning its importation?
– It is a fact that the virus fibroma is used in Australia to inoculate rabbits against the effects of myxomatosis. Its use is strictly controlled, and at present permits are issued only to rabbit farmers or to laboratories in New South Wales where experiments with rabbits are carried out. The permits are issued by the New South Wales Minister for Agriculture. It is firmly believed that the virus will not affect the Australian wild rabbit, which is of the European variety. The virus is really a disease of cotton-tail rabbits, which are common in the United States. The disease can be carried from one cotton-tail rabbit to another by biting insects, but it is believed that it cannot be carried from one Australian wild rabbit to another. A well-known virologist in Australia has clearly stated his opinion that the virus will not affect the Australian wild rabbit or the Australian commercial rabbit, so there will be no effects on our pastoral industries in those areas where myxomatosis has been used. His opinion is based on experiments in the United States, certain very extensive experiments in France a few years ago and his own experiments in Australia.
We have the virus in Australia already. Its sale and distribution cannot be controlled by the Commonwealth through its quarantine powers, but if the occasion arose in the future control could be exercised by the State veterinary medicines boards.
– I preface my question to the Minister for Trade by stating that the Tasmanian timber industry is continuing to deteriorate, with the possibility of more mills closing down and a consequent increase in unemployment. When will a decision be made in relation to the case submitted by the timber association on 16th March last for emergency protection? The Minister will recall that during earlier discussions he indicated to the timber association that, on an Australia-wide basis, some protection would probably have to be given to the timber industry. After those discussions, representatives of the timber association met officers of the Department of Trade, but they have not yet received any reply to their representations.
– - The honorable member who, with other honorable members, has interested himself constantly in this matter, has referred to an application made on 16th March. I was not present at that time, and therefore I must admit that I am not familiar with the current position. I shall take steps immediately to inquire what is the present position, and shall then advise the honorable member and those interested.
– I address a question to the Minister for Supply. Has his attention been directed to the fact that the Government of the United States of America contemplates establishing a space port at Woomera second in importance only to that which it is intended to establish at Cape Canaveral? Can he say whether there have been any approaches along those lines from the United States Government?
– Such space facilities as exist in Australia - with the exception of
Muchea - are purely tracking stations. I am not aware of any application to improve those facilities. I cannot imagine any set of circumstances in the foreseeable future in which the tracking facilities in Australia would need to duplicate those at Cape Canaveral. But, as members are aware, these tracking stations are of tremendous benefit to the American space programme. There is no application for any extension of them that I know of.
– My question is addressed to the Prime Minister. Since the “ Wanganella “, the sole remaining passenger ship on the Australia-New Zealand run, has been sold, will he take advantage of the visit of the New Zealand Prime Minister to revive the Tariff Board’s suggestion of three years ago that Australian shipyards should receive orders to construct ships for the New Zealand trade, and the New Zealand Government’s suggestion of two years ago that the two governments establish a joint transTasman shipping service?
– The matter, as the honorable member knows, is a fairly complicated one, but if there is opportunity, while the Prime Minister of New Zealand is here, for me to open up the general question with him, I will be very glad to do so.
– I direct a question to the Treasurer. Is he aware that a Minister of the Government of Victoria recently suggested that petrol tax be increased for the specific purpose of road building? If the Treasurer is asked to give consideration to this suggestion will he keep in mind that the Australian motoring community is one of the highest taxed sections?
– I can assure the honorable gentleman that I do not need much prompting to keep me mindful of the fact that the motoring industry is very highly taxed. There are some very articulate representatives of that industry who take advantage of such opportunities as arise in the year to make that abundantly clear to me. But I think all honorable members are aware that the provision which is being made from the revenues of the Commonwealth for road-making purposes has been greatly increased. Drawing on my recollection, I think the present plan provides for an increase of £100,000,000, to a total of £250,000,000, over the corresponding provision in the previous five-year period. So it will be seen that while all is not being done that some would wish to be done, a great deal more is being done than was formerly done in this direction, and we can see around us evidence of the improvements which are being effected. However, I shall not overlook the substance of the honorable member’s question.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Social Services. How many recipients of the unemployment benefit were directed to undergo a rehabilitation course during the last financial year? How many of those who underwent the course were successful in obtaining permanent employment as a result of the training received during this course?
– I cannot recall any person in receipt of the unemployment benefit being directed to undergo rehabilitation. Rehabilitation is available to those who are qualified to receive an invalid pension, or to boys and girls who are likely to qualify to receive an invalid pension. Their reception as rehabilitees, as the term goes, is on a medical assessment. If there are any people in receipt of the unemployment benefit receiving a rehabilitation course I shall make the necessary inquiries and shall inform the honorable member for Bowman accordingly.
– I ask the Minister for the Army whether in some units of the Citizen Military Forces the turn-over in other ranks is almost as high as 200 per cent, per year. What is the average length of service of other ranks in the Citizen Military Forces? What is the estimated length of continuous- service which would be required to fit members of the C.M.F. for front-line operational duty in the case of an international emergency?
– I am not in a position to state the percentage of turn-over in other ranks in the Citizen Military Forces. The honorable member for Chisholm might be interested to know that the target of 30,000 volunteers for the Citizen Military Forces has been achieved. In the process of achieving that figure, of course, there has b.een a considerable turn-over. During the last year or so we have had a campaign to make sure that members of the C.M.F. are effectively carrying out their training. With regard to the other matters raised by the honorable member, Mr. Speaker, I shall have investigations’ made and provide him with an adequate answer.
– I ask the Minister for Shipping and Transport what steps he has taken, following discussions which he had last August with a large representative deputation, to prevent the extinction of Australian passenger shipping services. Has the Government any plans, now that the last Australian passenger ship in service, “Wanganella”, has been sold to eastern interests, to replace or re-establish an Australian passenger shipping service?
– The Prime Minister has just replied to a question relating to this matter which was asked by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. The Australian National Line is still in service, and overseas ships still provide passenger services between Australian and New Zealand ports.
– I ask the Treasurer whether it is a fact that the branch of the Royal Mint in Perth represents a complex arrangement from the aspect of governmental responsibility. When the new National Mint commences operations in Canberra will this terminate the longstanding link with the Royal Mint in London?
– It is true that the Perth Mint is a branch of the Royal Mint, but the equipment and buildings are owned by the Western Australian Government, and it will be necessary for us to conduct some discussions with that government as to the future operations of the mint. I know that the honorable gentleman has been concerned about the future of persons employed in the mint. In such discussions as may take place between this Government and the Western Australian Government I shall have in mind what he has put to me previously on this matter.
– I address a question to the Minister for Shipping and Transport. In view of the further increase in shipping freights, which has placed a heavy burden of costs upon primary producers, manufacturers and the economy in general, and in view of the further dismissals of skilled artisans from the various shipyards around Australia, I ask the Minister whether he will take the really statesmanlike action of making an immediate start on the construction of ships for a Commonwealth shipping line?
– I think the honorable member is confusing the issue somewhat, because my portfolio is concerned only with coastal shipping. It has nothing to do with overseas shipping lines.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether it is a fact, as reported in the press, that the Australian Commonwealth has committed itself to the purchase of two atomic-powered warships, to be delivered in one or two years’ time, at a cost of £40,000,000. Having regard to reported statements that the United States of America is now abandoning the construction of surface warships and is concentrating on the building of nuclearpowered submarines, and in view of the fact that the Coral Sea battle was won by land-based planes assisting the naval forces, I ask the Prime Minister whether the Government will give further consideration to the proposal to buy these warships, and at the same time endeavour to make available at least £2,000,000 for original research, at our research establishment at Woomera, into the use of atomic and nuclear weapons.
– This particular naval provision was not decided upon hastily. It had a great deal of technical and skilled consideration. I do not carry all the circumstances in my mind, but I will be very happy to ask my colleague, the Minister for the Navy, to make the relevant material available to the honorable member.
– I address a question to the Minister for Immigration supplementary to that asked by the honorable member for Farrer. If North African French are included in our assisted migrants scheme, does the Government intend to screen the proposed migrants for Secret Army Organization and anti-Moslem activities?
– Whatever French settlers we get from metropolitan France, Algeria, or any other French territory, will enter Australia subject to the usual screening and immigration requirements which are applied to all intending settlers here. There will be no relaxation of our customary standards.
– I preface a question addressed to the Minister for Social Services by directing attention to the fact that amongst the many applications for accommodation in aged persons homes there are deserving cases who are either invalid pensioners or service pensioners, in which categories premature old age often occurs. I ask the Minister whether he has given consideration to amending the Aged Persons Homes Act to permit cases of this kind, where premature old age is recognizable, to be granted admission.
– I remind the honorable member for Swan that the original purpose of the Aged Persons Homes Act was to assist in providing accommodation for people of pensionable age. Since the demand for assistance to achieve that very laudable end is greater to-day than it was when the act was passed by this Parliament,, no opportunity has arisen for extending the provisions to include people other than those of pensionable age. The Government has considered an extension of the provisions of the act, and I have no doubt will consider it again, but in the meantime the number of applications for grants under the Aged Persons Homes Act is as high as, if not higher than, it has ever been in the last few years, and I am happy to say that the total expenditure in this direction to date exceeds £12,700,000.
– I ask the Prime Minister a question. Has the Government been made aware of the decision of the
Indonesian Government to send a ministerial mission to Moscow to expedite the delivery of further supplies of arms to Indonesia? If so, does the Government propose to emphasise to Indonesia that such action can only increase the tension between the Netherlands and Indonesia, since it was taken immediately after the offer of the Dutch to stabilize the military situation in New Guinea under United Nations supervision? Finally, does not this latest development in the Netherlands-Indonesian dispute indicate the very close links that exist between Indonesia and the Communist bloc and thus make nonsense of what he and the Minister for External Affairs both said in a recent debate in this House?
– In the absence of the Minister for External Affairs at the Anzus meeting, all I can say is that there are fresh reports that Dr. Subandrio, the Indonesian Foreign Minister, had stated, and stated in Moscow, that he had reached an agreement with the Soviet Union in relation to further arms. We do not know anything directly about this, but we at present have no reason to believe that it is untrue. We deplore this because, as we have said repeatedly and in all relevant quarters, we think that resort to arms when there is still a prospect of negotiation about this problem is unpardonable, and that the whole influence of the world ought to be exercised in the direction of getting rid of this use of arms while the parties are - they have been and they very well may be again - in consultation with each other.
– I desire to ask the Treasurer a question. Is it normal practice for the Taxation Branch, where a taxpayer has been found to have substantially understated his income, to afford the person concerned an opportunity to submit an amended return? If not, will the Treasurer ascertain whether there are any instances involving large sums of money where this has happened? Will the Treasurer also ascertain from the Commissioner of Taxation whether there have ever been any cases where a departmental assessor has discovered that a taxpayer has failed to reveal his full income and where the name of the taxpayer concerned has not been shown in the annual report of the Commissioner of Taxation as having offended? If such cases exist, will he secure and furnish details and the reason for the omission of the name from the annual report of the Commissioner of Taxation?
– I shall give some study to the text of the question put by the honorable gentleman. The extent to which I am invited to embark on a fishing excursion with the Commissioner of Taxation is not immediately clear to me. The Commissioner of Taxation is, as I have pointed out on other occasions in this place, of independent status and all sections of the Parliament in the past have been zealous to safeguard his status. Quite obviously, he will determine how far it would be appropriate for him to go in supplying the information sought by the honorable gentleman.
– Does that stop you asking him a question?
– I am answering the question in my own fashion. Apparently, the honorable member for East Sydney has no particular instance which he desires to bring to my notice for examination. There are, of course, very sound reasons of practice and principle why the Commissioner of Taxation should not in some general query be asked to go over the whole field of those who make up the body of taxpayers to give the kind of answer that the honorable gentleman may be wanting. *-To the extent that it is proper to deal with the question in the terms that the honorable member has asked it, I will see that it is answered.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Labour and National Service, or the appropriate Minister, whoever that may be. As there is a national call for increased production, I ask: Is the Minister aware that in a broadcast over national stations yesterday, Mr. Walter Scott, chairman of the Productivity Council of New South Wales, said that primary industry had been more successful in increasing production that had secondary or tertiary industries? Will the Minister bring this statement to the notice of the leaders of secondary industry and ask that an effort be made to keep pace with primary production?
– I have heard reports that the primary industries have had spectacular successes in improving their productivity. I think that is one of the reasons why they have been able to keep up in international competition with not a great deal of recourse to non-commercial trading practices. I should also say to the honorable gentleman that manufacturing industry has been increasing its production at the rate of about 4 per cent, per annum. Where we in this country are falling behind is not so much in primary and manufacturing industries as in commercial and tertiary industries. Most of the experts who comment on these matters say that if there are two areas in which productivity can improve, it is in the commercial and the tertiary industries.
Motion (by Mr. McEwen) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to approve the signature and acceptance by Australia of the International Wheat Aggreement, 1962, and for other purposes.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
– by leave- I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of the bill is to seek the approval oi Parliament to the signature and acceptance by Australia of the International Wheat Agreement of 1962. The first post-war International Wheat Agreement came into force in 1949 and was renewed, with certain modifications, by the agreements of 1953, 1956 and 1959. The 1962 agreement, with which this bill is concerned, provides for a further three-year extension, with some variations, of these earlier agreements. Copies of the new agreement have been distributed to honorable members.
The new agreement was negotiated at a conference convened by the United Nations, at which 48 countries participated, including, for the first time in recent years, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. If all these participating countries sign the agree* ment, about 95 per cent, of the world’s trade in wheat will be covered by its terms. Trade in flour is also covered by the terms of the agreement. In the difficult and complicated task of negotiating this agreement, the Government sought and obtained the closest co-operation of the Australian wheat industry. Representatives of the Australian Wheat Board and the Australian Wheat Growers Federation were members of the Australian team at the negotiating conference, and made valuable contributions to the work of the delegation.
The basic objective of this agreement is to provide an element of stability in the world wheat market. It seeks to do this by providing that wheat traded commercially between member countries on international markets will be bought and sold at prices within a prescribed range. There is an important exception to this which I shall mention later.
What are the main rights and obligations of importing and exporting countries under the agreement? Each importing country undertakes to buy from member exporting countries a stated minimum percentage of its total commercial imports. These percentages vary from country to country and range from 30 per cent, to 100 per cent. These purchases, and indeed all transactions between members of the agreement, must be at prices within the agreed price range.
One aspect of the new agreement is that there have been significant increases in the minimum percentage commitments to which the major importers have been willing to subscribe. For example, the United King’ dom proposes to increase her purchase commitment from members from 80 per cent, to 90 per cent., Japan, from 50 per cent, to 85 per cent, and Germany from 70 per cent, to 87i per cent, as compared with the previous agreement.
The agreement gives importers the right, when wheat prices reach the maximum, to purchase a quantity of wheat from member exporters at prices not higher than the maximum. This quantity is equal to the country’s average commercial imports from member exporters over a previous four-year period. The agreement carries a corresponding obligation for exporting countries like Australia that, if prices rise to the maximum, these quantities will be supplied to member importing countries at the maximum price. There is, however, a provision under which we could be relieved of our obligations in the event of a short crop.
Exporters are assured under the agreement of markets equal to the total of importers’ purchase commitments. Moreover, the new agreement gives some protection against low-priced sales through the provision that all transactions between members must be within the price range.
Both maximum and minimum prices under the new agreement have been increased by 121 cents - about 14d. Australian - per bushel. The prices specified in the agreement are expressed in terms of the parity for the Canadian dollar as at 1st March, 1949. As the Canadian dollar was on a par with the United States dollar at that time the prices are the same as if expressed in to-day’s United States currency. The new maximum price is 2.021 dollars per bushel for No. 1 Manitoba Northern wheat in bulk in store Fort William-Port Arthur, the main shipping points for Canadian wheat. The new minimum price for such wheat is 1.624- dollars per bushel.
In the negotiations for the 1959 agreement, the maximum price was reduced by 10 cents to 1.90 dollars per bushel. At that time we had to put up a struggle to avoid a corresponding reduction in the minimum price. In the 1962 agreement, however, the minimum price has been increased as well as the maximum. This clearly represents a real advance for exporting countries. The higher minimum price reflects to some extent a recognition of production cost increases over recent years; it also reflects, as does the increase in the maximum, a somewhat greater buoyancy in the current state of the wheat market.
Since the basic price refers to Canadian wheat, the agreement sets out how the equivalent maximum and minimum prices for wheat shipped from other exporting countries will be calculated. The f.o.b. equivalent of the maximum price for the basic wheat in Australia would be approximately 18s. 4d. per bushel. As regards the minimum price, however, some of the items entering into the calculation are subject to change and the equivalent minimum for Australian wheat can vary from day to day. On the basis of recent freight rates, the basic minimum price of 1.621 dollars per’ bushel would give an Australian f.o.b. equivalent of about 14s. 6d. per bushel. This, basic price, however, when applied to Australian f.a.q. wheat, would be subject to a quality discount which varies from time to time according to the market.
The increase in the agreement price range will not result in an automatic increase in the selling price of Australian wheat when the new agreement comes into operation. What the agreement does with regard to price is to set a range. Within this range prices are determined by the market. The present selling price of Australian f.a.q. wheat to the United Kingdom is 14s. 9d. per bushel f.o.b., which is already within the price range of the new agreement. However, in the course of the three years to 1965 covered by the agreement the higher maximum and minimum price could well produce direct benefits to Australian wheat-growers.
Under the present agreement members of the European Economic Community can make sales t-o each other at prices above the present maximum of 1.90 dollars per bushel, provided that both the buying and the selling countries agree.
Under the new agreement countries outside the European Economic Community are not precluded from selling to countries within it at prices above the maximum, provided both parties agree. The significance of this for Australia is that we would not be prevented by the International Wheat Agreement from attempting to negotiate a higher price for the wheat we may sell to present or future members of the European Economic Community. There is, therefore, nothing in this agreement which would be inconsistent with the kind of broader solution to the world wheat problem which we have been advocating and on which I shall have something to say presently.
The new agreement is, in many respects, an improvement on the current one, particularly in the provision for a higher price range. It represents a tremendous advance on a situation without an agreement - a situation where there would be no stabilizing influences whatsoever and where, in years of big crops and with vast surplus stocks, the price consequences for commercial exporters could be disastrous. However, as we see it, a trading arrangement like the International Wheat Agreement, which does not comprehend such fundamental factors as agricultural production policies and the problem of surpluses, falls far short of our needs and aspirations as a primary producing country. It offers nothing like a complete solution of the world wheat problem. An agreement which stipulates a minimum price and which does not cover the cost of 85 per cent, of the wheat produced in the world cannot by any stretch of imigination be described as a satisfactory solution of the world wheat problem.
The crux of this problem is that countries like Australia exporting to the United Kingdom, the biggest single import market for wheat, have had to sell there under conditions of cut-throat competition at so-called world prices far below the price received by the vast majority of the world’s wheat producers. As I have frequently pointed out, Mr. Speaker, about 15 per cent, of the world’s production of wheat is traded internationally at prices which are not more than one-half to three-quarters of the prices which the producers of the other 85 per cent, receive. Although Australia is a lowcost wheat producer, even we sometimes have to sell our wheat abroad for less than the price which our growers receive on the home market. We do this only by necessity, following the market down, as we must if we are to achieve sales and maintain our established outlets. We do not encroach on other countries’ shares of the market through dumping tactics. In a world where practically every country has a home price for wheat, it would be quite wrong to classify us as dumpers if we are forced by cut-throat competition to sell to our traditional customers at less than our home price.
This situation in which the export prices to our producers are determined by the mechanism of so-called world prices needs to be altered radically. I have become increasingly convinced in recent years that this problem can be solved only if we get some overall world-wide commodity arrangements. This is the view which the Australian Government pressed at the Com monwealth Trade and Economic Conference at Montreal in 1958. At that meeting the United Kingdom, along with all other Commonwealth countries, was persuaded to support our view that there is need for international action- to obtain more satisfactory conditions for primary commodities in the world’s markets.
Since the Montreal conference, our Government has more than once reiterated the pressing need for such arrangements. The French Government, in the course of the last year or so, has given the lead internationally in putting forward solutions along lines which I myself have long proposed and advocated. The occasion when the French came forward was the first on which a leading industrial country had given the lead in sponsoring world-wide solutions of commodity problems. The basic idea of the French initiative is that ways can be found to take account simultaneously of the need for fairer and more equitable prices and also of the difficulties raised by the Common Market, as well as the problem of surpluses and the scope for helping hungry people in the under-developed countries. The main lines of the French proposals are: In the first instance the prices paid by industrial countries for their imports of primary products should be fair and adequate. In the second instance the vast potential for food production of the Western countries should be employed constructively to help the hungry millions in the less-developed countries.
It is clear that problems would flow from the fact that the prices which would be needed for European producers could not fail to be highly profitable to farmers in some exporting countries such as Australia. Such prices would be very likely to give an incentive to increases in production in such countries where the cost of producing wheat is low compared with the major importing or producing countries in Europe. It is clear that in such a price situation an overall world arrangement could break down through sheer excessive production unless the plan were really thought through.
However, it is clear that in the foreseeable future surpluses of basic foodstuffs such as wheat would be commercial surpluses, and not surplus to human needs. Further, wheat is a crop in which seasonal factors result in a -tremendous variation in the volume produced from year to year. It is clear to me that a satisfactory world arrangement should, for commercial, and, I believe, also for humanitarian and the broadest political reasons, embrace the concept of making surpluses available to those who are without the means to pay for their essential food needs. This, I have always believed, could make an enormous contribution to the esteem in which the Western world is held in the vast regions of Asia, Africa and South America. Clearly the financial aspects of this would be for all the wealthier countries to assume - not merely the wheat producers. The French, in their proposal, had all this in mind. While the United States cannot be said to sponsor the French proposal as such, the Kennedy Administration clearly is actively interested in this general concept.
As a result of the French initiative at the ministerial meetings of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, a Cereals Group was set up. This is the first of a proposed series of such groups whose job it will be to develop world-wide solutions for the problems of the major commodities. The Cereals Group, consisting of the major wheat-exporting countries, including Australia, the United Kingdom, and the countries of the European Economic Community, held its first meeting in February of this year. The meeting clarifies major issues and the attitudes to those issues of the various countries represented.
The balance-of-payments problems of Britain and other importers are intensified if the prices of their imports rise. On the other hand, no important trading country has suffered more than Australia has suffered over the last decade through falls in the prices of her commodity exports. We simply cannot accept the suggestion that, because more realistic prices for our food and raw materials may add to the balanceofpayments problems of the wealthy and industrialized countries, we should not fight for a more realistic price for our bulk exports.
The Cereals Group established by Gatt should re-convene later this year, when the progress of the talks in Brussels should enable the United Kingdom to. approach the proceedings in a constructive spirit. Our Government will make sure that Australia’s interests are forcefully represented. We will continue to press for world-wide solutions to this tremendously important and complex problem. But, meanwhile, we cannot accept the mere possibility that such solutions may eventually be agreed on as a substitute for firm arrangements to protect our interests which are affected by the United Kingdom’s possible association with the European Common Market. While we are hopeful that a world-wide scheme will be adopted to deal with the world’s wheat problem, we must have proper safeguards for our important wheat trade with the United Kingdom incorporated in any arrangement for Britain’s association with the Common Market. British and Australian officials are currently working in London in close consultation for the purpose of arriving at adequate and equitable arrangements. In the meantime, we must throw our support behind arrangements like the- International Wheat Agreement from which something can be gained here and now.
The Government recommends the acceptance of the International Wheat Agreement as a very real improvement compared with unrestrained cut-throat competition where prices may be determined by the seller backed by the wealthiest Government, or even by a seller who sells in the course of going bankrupt. The agreement will provide a valuable stabilizing influence in the world’s wheat market.
I commend the bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Pollard) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 3rd May (vide page 1992), on motion by Mr. Harold Holt-
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- Mr. Speaker, the Appropriation Bill (No. 2) 1961-62 is aimed at remedying any errors in the forecast made at the time of the Budget. Naturally, when budget forecasts are made prior to the presentation of the Budget in August, one cannot foresee accurately the economic situation throughout the financial year. So it is the custom in British and Australian parliaments to bring down a second Appropriation Bill to increase the amounts provided for some purposes, most of these increases being offset by savings effected in other respects. That is well known to the Parliament and there is no need to labour it.
The honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) asked a couple of questions which require to be answered. With great humility I shall try to give him those answers. He wanted to know something about the bush fire relief grant. I happen to be a member of a committee in my State which administers bush fire relief. The usual practice is for the Commonwealth Government to make a grant to a State to match the amount allotted by that State for bush fire relief. In this case the Government of Victoria agreed to find £50,000, and the Commonwealth Government agreed to match this amount by way of a grant towards the cost of providing relief for persons in distressed and necessitous circumstances as a result of bush fires. The people who receive this relief are not necessarily wealthy people; they are people who cannot arrange, from their own resources, sufficient finance to enable them to continue their activities. This relief is of tremendous help to them, of course, whether it is provided free gratis or whether it is by way of a small loan at a low rate of) interest, because it enables them to get going again.
– What is he talking about?
– You tell me!
– The honorable member for Melbourne Ports then referred to Division No. 141, sub-division 4, item 10. If the honorable member for Shortland (Mr. Griffiths) was not here when the honorable member for Melbourne Ports spoke it would be quite easy for him to get a copy of “ Hansard “ in order to find out what it is that I am trying to answer. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports very wisely asked some questions. The interjections that are now being made are not quite so wise. It is typical of some honorable members on the other side to ask stupid questions or throw in stupid interjections when somebody is endeavouring, after undertaking some research, to answer an intelligent member of the Labour Party, such as the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, who obtained his degree of Master of Commerce at Mel bourne University. I hope that his colleagues opposite will not hold that fact against him. We know that he is one honorable member who is prepared to do his homework and to have a careful look at any figures that are placed before him.
I sympathize with the honorable member for Shortland because he, in common with the majority of members of the community, finds figures difficult to understand. I think we all do. Having that in mind, I can realize why the honorable member asked what I was talking about. I can tell him that I was talking about a simple amount of £50,000. In this place it seems rather a small amount, because here we are accustomed to talking in millions. However, the amount of £50,000 was allocated by the Commonwealth Government for the relief of distressed persons in the hush fire-stricken areas of Victoria, the Government of Victoria having allocated £50,000 from its own funds. This kind of thing happens also in the State in which the honorable member for Shortland lives, and sometimes very large amounts of money are involved when the bush fires have been particularly extensive.
For the benefit of the honorable member for Shortland I shall try to make my explanations as simple as possible, although it will be quite difficult, I suppose, to make them simple enough. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports referred to a contribution of £586,019 by the Commonwealth Government towards the cost of the United Nations force in the Congo. When the 1960-61 Estimates were being prepared provision was made for payment of Australia’s contribution to the cost of the United Nations Force in the Congo to 31st October, 1961. It was not then known what decision regarding the force would be made at the sixteenth session of the United Nations General Assembly. On 20th December, 1961, the General Assembly appropriated an amount of 80,000,000 United States dollars to cover the cost of the force in the Congo for the period from 1st “November, 1961, to 30th June, 1962. The additional Estimates provide for the balance of Australia’s contribution under the United Nations resolution.
The third matter raised by the honorable member for Melbourne Torts concerned an amount of £45,000 for legal expenses. I am informed that this amount is for the payment of legal expenses incurred in - what do you think - prosecuting taxpayers for the non-lodgment of returns, non-payment of tax and other breaches of the taxation laws, and for payment of costs incurred in defending assessments before the courts and boards of review. The additional amount of £45,000 being sought arises from heavy legal expenses. The lawyers have to be paid as well as everybody else.
– They get theirs first.
– That is right. As I said, the additional amount arises from heavy legal expenses which had been incurred by the Taxation Branch in connexion with important and involved income tax cases relating to large companies, heard and listed for hearing, before a taxation board of review in Melbourne. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports will probably be more acquainted with those matters than I am. However, that is the answer to the question how the £45,000 additional expenditure has been incurred. Apparently it has not been incurred in anything resulting from leaving men’s names off lists. There has been no cost incurred in that way, so far as we know.
The next matter related to item 05 under Division No. 191, sub-division 2, for loan management expenses. This item covers the cost of conducting inscribed stock registries in Australia and London and expenses arising out of the management of Common.wealt debt in the United States of America and other overseas countries. No provision was made in the 1961-62 Estimates for the management costs arising out of the issue of seasonal securities, as it was not then known whether these securities would be offered again this financial year. The estimated cost of the issue and management of seasonal securities is £30,000. The balance of £15,000 of the amount now sought is to meet revised estimates of the cost to the Commonwealth of the operation of the registries.
In the additional estimates for the Department of Trade there was an item relating to a subsidy of £33,000 for the South American shipping service. This provision is for a subsidy towards the establishment of a regular shipping service to South America. The basis of the subsidy is £16,500 per trip, which is subject to the production of voyage accounts. The amount required is based on an estimate of two trips before 30th June by the Swedish Orient Line, which will provide a service between Australia and the ports of the west and north coasts of South America, from Peru through the Caribbean. The ships, which are equipped with refrigeration space, will sail every two months, calling at all ports in the western and northern parts of the continent for which cargo is offering. We trust that this shipping service will be the first of many that will develop after the return of the great trade delegation headed by Mr. Donald Mackinnon, the distinguished brother of the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Mackinnon). An Australian company, William Heale Proprietary Limited, is providing another service between Australia and ports in countries on the east of South America, including Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil, with ships sailing from Australia every three months. However, although a subsidy arrangement applies also to this service it is expected that no payment will fall due in 1961-62.
The next matter concerns the Department of Primary Industry. It relates to £175,000 for relief of distressed tobacco-growers. The decision to make this money available was taken in the light of the unique circumstances which operated in the tobacco industry last year, and followed an extensive examination by the investigation committee of the Australian Tobacco Growers Council of the extent of distress in the industry. Of the total amount of £175,000 New South Wales will get £25,000, Victoria £70,000, Queensland £55,000, and Western Australia £25,000.
The next question relates to the building of homes for the aged and providing assistance for approved organizations. The amount is £1,500,000. This expenditure is designed to encourage and assist the provision of suitable homes so that as far as possible aged persons may live ordinary domestic lives. During 1961-62 there have been unprecedented increases in new approvals and expenditure on aged persons” homes projects. I think that matter was mentioned earlier to-day during the debate. The revised estimate of £3,577,000 is almost double the original estimate of £1,858,000 to cover new grants and to meet increases in grants in 1961-62.
Then the £240,000 subsidy for the construction of merchant shipping was mentioned. Merchant vessels constructed in Australian shipyards of over 500 tons dead weight can be subsidized up to one-third of the construction cost to equate costs with those applicable in overseas shipyards. After the 1961-62 Estimates had been prepared the Australian Shipbuilding Board received additional orders for new tonnage, which has meant a re-arrangement of building programmes in shipyards. Progress on vessels already under construction also has been greater than was originally envisaged. As a result, gross expenditure on ship construction will be increased and, in consequence, the subsidy required will be higher than was expected.
The next question raised related to the amount of £267,000 provided for contribution to the maintenance of migrant families. This item refers to hostels which are operated throughout Australia by Commonwealth Hostels Limited for the accommodation of migrant workers and their families until they are able to obtain private accommodation. The amount provided in the Estimates is to cover the cost of concessional tariffs for dependants against whom full adult rates cannot be charged. Due to a reduction in the migrant intake in the current financial year hostel occupancy has been lower than was expected when the Estimates were prepared. This factor, combined with a reduction in cash receipts due to some migrants being unemployed, has resulted in the expected revenue of Commonwealth Hostels Limited being £532,000 less than the amount of £3,327,000 taken into account when computing the original estimates.
There have been some inescapable cost increases, namely, in wages due to the federal basic wage increase in July, 1961, higher food prices and higher rates for water and sanitation. Other costs, such as repairs and maintenance, equipment replacement and administration, have remained fairly constant. However, allowing for the reduced occupancy, it is expected that it will be possible to effect a reduction of £265,000 in the total operating cost.
The additional £267,000 required is arrived at in this way: There will be an estimated reduction of revenue of £532,000, from which is deducted an estimated reduction in costs of £265,000, so the estimated additional requirement is £267,000.
The final item related to the Department of Supply, munitions factories trust accounts. It is necessary to obtain parliamentary approval to transfer the working capital of existing munitions factory trust accounts to new trust accounts, which are being opened in accordance with the recommendations of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts contained in its 34th report on the Trust Fund. Recommendations 68 and 69 in that report read as follows: -
The standard purposes of the new factory trust accounts are for payment for goods and services and of salaries, wages and all other expenses incurred in connexion with the operations of the factories for the production of war material and other production approved by the Minister. No additional funds are being appropriated for the factories. The appropriations only effect an accounting transfer of existing factory assets to accord with the requirements of section 62a of the Audit Act.
I apologize for having gone into so much detail, but I believed it was necessary to deal as quickly as possible with the matters raised by a senior member of the Opposition. I hope the honorable member for Melbourne Ports will accept my attempt to answer the questions, because I have used information obtained from an authoritative source.
I listened to contributions by honorable members opposite, particularly on Thursday night last, with some anxiety. I have studied their speeches - there were quite a number of them - and one matter which gives rise to anxiety is the statement of one honorable member opposite who, in expressing what I believe to be the view of a considerable number of his colleagues, said that the defence vote of approximately £200,000,000 should be halved and the funds used for other purposes.
– Who said that?
– On the occasion to which I refer it was the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Don Cameron). We often hear from members of the Labour Party that we should cut down our expenditure on defence.
– AH we say is that the money should be spent wisely.
– I am very grateful to the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Fuller) for his interjection. He represents a rural electorate which contains many people who are interested in Australia’s security, and I expected better from him. He rather waters down the suggestion that we should reduce our expenditure on defence by saying, “ Spend the money wisely “. What did he mean by that? Did he mean that we should not spend the money on defence? I do not think he did. I do not think he agrees entirely with the honorable member who said that we should cut our defence expenditure by one-half.
– We have no complaint about the £200,000,000 at all. We merely ask the Government to spend the money wisely.
– That is exactly what I wanted the honorable member to say. He said, “ We have no complaint about the expenditure of £200,000,000 on defence”; the honorable member for Lilley said, “ Cut the expenditure by one-half “. I thank the honorable member for Hume for his interjection. I agree with him, but I think it is disastrous for any member of this Parliament at this time - I would think it was reprehensible at any time - when we know what is happening in this very building, to say that we should cut our defence expenditure by one-half. The Prime Minister of New Zealand, the United States Secretary of State and others associated with the Anzus pact are in Australia. Why are they here? They are here to try to help save the skins of the people of Australia! This is an important moment. We have members of the Anzus pact meeting in this very building. I believe that some of them have been here since yesterday. Our allies are spending enormous percentages of their revenues upon defence. Part of this expenditure is of great comfort to us. Let me remind honorable members opposite that it was a Labour Prime Minister who said-
– He won the war.
– Thank you very much. It was a Labour Prime Minister who said that notwithstanding our traditional kinship with Great Britain we looked to America for help. America’s representatives are here now. One of the reasons why we are feeling somewhat secure and smug is because of the enormous sacrifices made by American taxpayers to provide the war materials which we hope to use if we are attacked. People not very far from our shores are making mischief. I think the Labour Party has had some discussion about that. Some of the very top members of the Australian Labour Party have said, implied or suggested what they would do about the situation in West New Guinea. Of course £200,000,000 is the very minimum amount that we could spend on our defence forces at a time like this.
– Do you agree that much of the expenditure has been wasted?
– Military procedure often means that although the tactics are changing some of the weapons to which you have been accustomed are kept in use. We are used to them. Many of us in the armed services previously made all sorts of radical suggestions about what should be done, but, thank goodness, only some of those suggestions were accepted. It is not so easy. You can make a plan based on new weapons and new equipment and later, when you get them you find them obsolete. It is very easy to find fault with our expenditure on defence, but certain things are basic in all defence equipment and we have to keep them. We have to take the criticism of those people who think they know more than the experts about the question.
Honorable members opposite said, among other things, that there should be an Australian shipping line and that such a service would reduce freights. All right! Those ships would be manned by Australian seamen, I take it. Australian seamen are members of a Communist-led trade union. Is that right? The Australian seamen are members of a Communist-led trade union
– That does not mean that members of the union are Communists.
– That does not matter. It means that at any given moment, if Australia was in trouble, the ships of an Australian shipping line manned by Australian seamen led by a Communist could be tied up.
– That is a reflection on your fellow citizens.
– It is a reflection on the Communist leaders of the seamen’s union.
– What happened during World War 11.7
– What happened during the war when the authorities tried to make shipments to the Dutch in Indonesia? Those ships were tied up by Communist leaders on the waterfront. Nobody knows it better than does the honorable member for Kingsford-Smith (Mr. Curtin). Part of the reason why the Dutch had to get out of Indonesia before the Indonesians were ready was the influence of Communists on the Australian waterfront. Now the chickens are coming home to roost, and they are red chickens!
This country, led and administered by this Government, is now secure and successfully conducted. Of course, the people of Australia reacted when there was a difficult economic situation. The Labour Party thought the people were voting for its candidates. We had all this ballyhoo and song and dance a few months ago about how the Labour Party would take over the government and what it would do. But the people of Australia did not want a Labour government. At the last election they were reacting against serious economic difficulties and they drew a breath of relief when the Menzies Government was returned.
We heard an honorable member from Queensland, on Thursday night, say that this Government had neglected that State. Never before have so many things been done for Queensland as have been done by the Menzies Government. Do members of the Opposition think there were not State governments in Queensland? Do they think that Labour governments, which followed socialist policies for 40 years in Queensland have not wrecked that State? Do members opposite want the facts? What about the State fish shops, State butcher shops and State coal mines in Queensland? Nobody with money to invest would risk it in Queensland! Nobody but the Labour Party brought Queensland to the condition that it was in! But Queensland has had a tremendous amount of help from the Menzies Government. In the case of the Mount Isa railway the company concerned pulled out of the agreement with the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. That is well known. The Commonwealth Government then made the money available on cheaper terms than were offered by the International Bank. But the Labour Party blamed the Commonwealth Government, which was going out of its way to help build the Mount Isa railway for what happened. One honorable member opposite said that the Commonwealth had provided £5,000,000 for beef roads in Queensland. That is not right. That money is being provided for beef roads throughout the north of Australia.
What has this Government done for Queensland? There is the research into the beef industry and research into the dairy industry. The list of ways in which assistance has been given to the States is an amazing one. There are the grants to universities, and all the new aerodromes, post offices and other Commonwealth buildings. The Commonwealth has spent millions of pounds on tuberculosis hospitals in the States, including Queensland. Some honorable members opposite have changed their tunes. Nine, ten or eleven years ago when the subject of beef roads was brought up in this House some members opposite jeered at the beef barons. Although they now see all that the Commonwealth has done they still do not know the amount involved, because one honorable member opposite said that the Commonwealth provided £5,000,000 for beef roads in Queensland! What about all the work done on tropical pastures? The former member for Herbert, Mr. Murray, has done distinguished work on tropical pastures on a place called the “ Orient “, on the river where he lives.
The important thing is that this Government has been in office for twelve years and during that time Australia has become the most desirable place in the world in which to live. Migrants and capital have been flowing into Australia. I will finish on this note: The more American capital comes into this country the safer honorable members and their constituents will be because American investment in Australia is one of the reasons why this country will be protected by the people who are participating in the Anzus meeting in Canberra at this moment.
– The honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate) has just been talking about what this Government has been doing. I would like to take up a controversial subject to show the Parliament what this Government is not doing on the home front. I refer to trade apprenticeships.
One of the most serious problems facing Australia to-day is the number of young men who cannot find employment of any kind. It has been reported that there are 8,000 young men who have recently left school and who are finding it impossible to obtain positions. This prompts me to ask the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) what the Government is doing about this matter. Wordy appeals by the Minister, appealing to so-and-so and so-and-so on this question fall on deaf ears, of course.
For the last two years the trade unions have been warning the Minister for Labour and National Service against the very thing that is now happening. They have warned the Minister that this situation is becoming a grave emergency. He has been warned that the employers have not been taking their full quota of apprentices. That is a very serious matter, but the Minister has done nothing about it. Talk and still more talk seem to be the policy in this Government. But action is needed so that these youngsters will be given their chance in life. I am pleased that the Minister came into the House in time to hear that statement.
The trade union movement, jealously guarding the rights of these lads, is justifiably suspicious not only of the actions of the Minister but also of the Metal Trades Employers Association. Practical experience warns the unions that neither the Minister nor the Metal Trades Employers Association is playing the game on apprenticeship.
Some years ago, a Commonwealth-State apprenticeship inquiry was set up by the present Government after much pressure had been brought to bear from this side of the House. After a protracted inquiry a good report was furnished, as befitted such a representative body. The report contained many recommendations, la defining their aims the members of the inquiry said -
The practical aim of trade apprenticeship is the development of manipulative skill. By the acquisition of wide experience of the material processes and products, mature judgment and production is achieved. To this end the workshop training must be supplemented by appropriate classroom instruction. The apprentice must be given some practical acquaintance with other trades closely allied with his own, and reasonable attention should be given to his cultural development and recreative pursuits. The need for instruction to accompany practical training arises again from the evolutionary changes that have taken place in engineering. The introduction of complicated tools and of technical processes and of the very wide range of engineering materials all unknown to a previous generation of craftsmen imposes the need for definite instruction which will enable the apprentice to acquire quickly the supplementary knowledge which would otherwise take a lifetime to acquire.
I suggest that the Minister give deep consideration to that definition. In all, 90 recommendations were contained in this report, one of which was that apprenticeship should be completed at about the age of 21 years, with a provision for continuance to the age of 24. Another recommendation was that apprenticeship authorities should be authorized to grant exemption from entrance rules for particular trades at times when they were abnormally short of apprentices or tradesmen.
This is a point on which the Minister should do quite a lot of thinking so as to show the people of Australia, especially the fathers and mothers of the thousands of unemployed school leavers whose numbers are growing year by year, that he is sincere. That is all we want - a little sincerity in these statements which the Minister makes from day to day.
An interesting suggestion which may help the Minister to make up his mind has come from the engineering unions. It is that a system of subsidies on tax rebates could make it worth while for employers to take a full quota of apprentices. Another suggestion is that the Government should encourage children to take technical courses in secondary schools which would be the basis, not only for entrance to a skilled trade, but for future industrial administration. I recommend that suggestion strongly. There are examples of how the organized trade unions are trying to help in this problem. 1 noticed, also, a remark by an employers’ representative that employers would like to help and that they realized the need for employing more apprentices. This spokesman for the employers said that everything pointed to a great shortage of skilled labour in five years unless industries were able to take on a greater number of apprentices. But, as subsequent events have taken shape, it seems that this spokesman was talking with his tongue in his cheek. There are strong rumours that the very employers whom he represented are about to put forward a scheme to the appropriate authority. This scheme has the full support of the Department of Labour and National Service. The scheme has been well thought out. Its launching has been well timed. It now only awaits the O K. Then the Minister for Labour and National Service, who has been making such earnest appeals to all and sundry, will be all set for an all-out attack on the trade union movement and on apprenticeships generally. This scheme is called “ training for skilled occupations “. For audacity, it would be hard to beat. One of its clauses provides for the employment of any unapprenticed male of nineteen years or over for the purpose of giving him practical training in any of the trades covered by the relevant log at rates of pay from time to time prescribed by part (1) of the metal trades award of 1952 as varied for male juniors or for tradesmen’s assistants as described by classification 290 in the said award, as the case may be until, in the opinion of the employer, he has attained proficiency as a tradesman. Mr. Speaker, did you ever hear of anything like that in all your life?
– What are the rates of pay going to be?
– I shall come to that in a minute. The trades to be covered are the trades within the industries and callings of the engineering, metal working and fabricating industries in all their branches and of industries allied thereto. An application to the appropriate authority will be made in two parts. The first will cover the matter to which I have just referred. The other will cover an application to vary the metal trades award to delete paragraph (1) sub-clause (f) of clause (7), which concerns apprenticeship, and insert in lieu thereof the following subclause: -
An employer shall not employ apprentices in excess of the proportion hereinafter prescribed. Subject to this sub-clause the proportion of apprentices who may be taken by an employer shall not exceed one apprentice to every one tradesman in the trades concerned. For the purpose of ascertaining the number of apprentices the number of tradesmen shall be deemed to be the average number working during the immediately preceding six months and in ascertaining such proportion an employer actually working in any workshop shall be deemed to be a tradesman.
It need not be an employer; a clerk in the office could be deemed a tradesman for these purposes. The proposed sub-clause continues -
Any person who is for a term not exceeding two years taking practical training in a workshop in continuance of a course of training for professional work shall not be taken into account in calculating the proportion of apprentices to journeymen.
Honorable members will be able to see how the employers are organizing their forces to take every advantage possible of the serious situation which has been deliberately brought about by this Government.
At the moment, all metal trades awards provide for a ratio of one apprentice to each three tradesmen or part thereof. But statistics show that 51 per cent, of employers are not taking the proportions of apprentices permitted them by the existing award. This being so, it is very difficult to imagine how an increase of the proportion of one apprentice to one tradesman could induce employers to take more apprentices than they are taking at present. About 25 per cent, of employers are not taking any apprentices at all. This prompts the question as to what effect an alteration of proportions would have on the employer who is not taking any apprentices. The cure for this trouble appears to lie in the employer organizations seeing that their members absorb their full quota of apprentices rather than attempting to gain some cheap publicity for themselves by increasing award provisions when such provisions could have no effect whatsoever.
This is just another cheap trick. The metal trades unions feel that that part of the log which deals with adult training is most dangerous, and shows the average employer up for what he is. The real effect of that part of the claim would be to reduce the existing tradesmen’s margin, to destroy the present apprenticeship system and to transport into the award the provisions of the Tradesmen’s Rights Regulation Act. If the application is granted, it will result in the utilization of unskilled adults - and in some cases unskilled junior labour - on some functions normally carried out by skilled tradesmen; and these functions of a tradesman would be paid for at whatever rate the employee was receiving at the time he was chosen to undergo this period of so-called trade training. For example, a junior process worker of nineteen years of age receiving an award margin of £11 7s. a week could be employed on some aspect of trade work normally performed by a tradesman in receipt of the award rate of £19 19s., and this junior worker could be required to continue at the rate of £1 1 7s. a week for whatever period the employer might require. This could be done under that part of the claim which seeks to establish the principle that the period of training shall be terminated when, in the opinion of the employer, the employee is competent to perform tradesmen’s work. The important point is that an apprentice of about nineteen years of age could reasonably be expected, in the normal course, to have commenced his fourth year of apprenticeship, and his rate during that year would be £13 10s. a week, as against £1 1 7s. for a junior process worker. Honorable members can see just how this cunning scheme is expected to work. It is designed to destroy the apprenticeship system and so lead to more profit for the master.
– Cheap labour methods!
– I repeat that this cunning scheme is designed to destroy the apprenticeship system and so lead to more profit for the master. Shadows of automation’! Any one can see that, having regard to wages alone, the unions are certain to, resist the application. And they have good reason to do so when we remember that they estimate that such a scheme must mean a reduction of 66s. 6d. a week in the minimum margin paid to tradesmen.
Further, it would tend to depress or reduce margins generally. The unions most certainly would also strongly resist this proposed attack on the apprenticeship system, a system which ensures that lads who become apprentices are adequately trained in all functions of trade work and that, on completion of their term of apprenticeship, they are fitted to take their place in any section of industry and to undertake any type of work which may be required of them. There is no provision by the employer in this scheme - and this is the meat in the application - for any technical training whatever. This, of course, constitutes a dangerous threat to at least one State’s system of daylight training. If it were accepted, it would mean that the employer would be exempt from complying with the provisions of the New South Wales apprenticeship authority.
The proposed scheme cuts across all the principles of the apprenticeship system. The proposal embodied in this application is that there shall be no extensive training, no attempt to ensure that the person or persons selected by the employer to undergo training would be equipped, at the conclusion of the training, to perform any type of work other than the one function in which he or they had been employed, because the employer would consider that his purpose had been served once the particular function had been performed for him. In other words, the employer would be obtaining his production cheaply, using this- period of socalled training as an excuse for avoiding the cost of employing tradesmen. The proposal is a direct attack, without any frills, on all tradesmen, and will not be taken lying down. I feel that I must warn the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) that tradesmen generally are very much concerned at the action of the employers, in co-operation with his department, in connexion with this adult training scheme.
– It has nothing to do with the department.
– May I suggest to the Minister that he use his influence to have this dangerous application withdrawn before it is too late.
– We are not parties to the dispute.
– You are sponsoring this adult training scheme. Is the Minister aware that the Australian Council of Trade Unions has already called a meeting of those unions which have members employed in the metal industry, and that that meeting strongly expressed its opposition to the log submitted by the metal trades employers asking for an adult training scheme, a scheme which is prompted by profit motives? Is he aware that this meeting also expressed the view that the obvious intention of the applicant employers is to create a false impression of skilled labour shortage in a period of chronic unemployment? One has only to read the article relating to British organizations which appeared in this morning’s “ Sydney Morning Herald “ to find evidence of that. I repeat that the applicant employers, in conjunction with the employers, are seeking to create the false impression that there is a shortage of skilled labour; and this, during a period of chronic unemployment, at a time when there are 100,000 people, including many artisans, unemployed in Australia. Why, I know hundreds of tradesmen who are out of work. This studied policy is aided and abetted by the Minister and his Government. This blatant refusal to utilize the services of the thousands of school-leavers available for constructive appreticeship is to be deplored.
The metal trades unions, in conjunction with the Australian Council of Trade Unions, have resolved that the aims of the applicant employers are -
During the Second World War, the various craftsmen’s organizations accepted the then government’s proposals for a dilution of their particular crafts in the interests of national security. This was done because the unions were prompted by the highest patriotic motives. My own organization, the boilermakers’ union, accepted the proposal at that time. Now, with this proposal for an adult training scheme we see an attempt to destroy the apprenticeship system. The avaricious employer is now using an emergency, which has been artificially created by this Government - a Government whose policy has led to widespread unemployment - in an attempt to make greater profits. In effect, the employers are proposing a system which will further dilute the dilutees and destroy the apprenticeship system.
.- This debate provides the last opportunity, before discussing the Budget, for private members to bring to the notice of the Government those matters which they would like to see given attention in the Budget session. First, I should like to deal with the question of sales tax exemptions for public benevolent institutions, and thelike, and to direct attention to the fact that friendly societies do not qualify for this benefit. Let me emphasize that friendly societies have been providing benefits for many years. Indeed, they provided them even before governments of any political persuasion, either State or Federal, adopted any social service benefit scheme. They are non-profit organizations providing a great variety of benefits. I have a leaflet here from one organization which is typical of many friendly societies. Among the benefits this society provides for its members are medical and pharmaceutical benefits, hospital benefits, sickness and funeral benefits, dental benefits and even home finance. The society at present has more than £1,000,000 invested in homes at a reasonable rate of interest. It is now in the process of providing a home for aged persons.
I would have thought that friendly societies would have been among the first organizations to qualify for sales tax exemptions, particularly for equipment that is being provided for homes for the aged. Item 81/1 of section XI. of the Sales Tax (Exemptions and Classifications) Act does not classify friendly societies as public benevolent institutions and, therefore, these institutions must pay sales tax. It is my opinion that the definition should be broadened to include such organizations as friendly societies which are exclusively nonprofit organizations and have always worked on the basis of self-help in order to assist the less fortunate members of our society. Over the period of their existence they must have saved governments many millions of pounds. I express the hope that the Government will have a look at what I consider to be an anomaly in the act.
The second matter to which I wish to direct attention concerns mentally retarded persons. In the very early school years of children, the Education Department of Victoria pays particular attention to backward children. It sends a psychologist to the schools to conduct tests to determine the intelligence quotient of backward children. As a result of these tests, some children are sent to special schools. Their intelligence quotient is too high to permit them to be sent to a centre for mentally retarded children but is not high enough to allow them to remain in an ordinary State school. I believe that in Victoria there are about eight of these special schools, four in the metropolitan area and four in the country. One of them is situated within the electorate of Henty. This school, which is at Ormond, has 104 pupils whose ages range from six years to sixteen years.
Because these schools come under the jurisdiction of the State Education Department, the pupils are compelled to leave school at the age of sixteen years and seek employment. But because they are retarded, this period of training is insufficient to enable them to hold the positions which have been found for them by the Commonwealth Employment Office. As a matter of fact, only about 3 per cent, of them can hold their jobs. The school at Ormond has not been established for very long, but in the past three years 26 children have left it. Ten of them have been offered positions, nine were accepted and only one kept the job for more than three months. These were all senior pupils who, in addition to their normal training, had received specialized training. The girls were trained in cooking and sewing, and the boys in woodwork and metalwork. People who are connected with these special schools believe there is a need for further training after the pupils leave school. At Ormond, the Parents and Citizens Association is endeavouring to set up a sheltered workshop. The association believes that these children can fulfil a useful position in society; but without this further training they become a charge on both the State and the Commonwealth Governments.
The Commonwealth Government must permit them to register for employment and must pay them the unemployment benefit until such time as they are found employment, or it must pay them the invalid pension. The people at Ormond are trying to raise £15,000 to set up a sheltered workshop. Unfortunately, they can receive no help from the Education Department, because the department’s responsibility ceases when the children turn sixteen. They can receive no help from the Mental Hygiene Authority of Victoria, because its responsibility covers sheltered workshops and day centres from which the children are excluded because their intelligence quotient is a little higher than that of normally retarded persons. Unless these people receive help, the children, both as children and in later years as adults, will continue to cost the Commonwealth Government many thousands of pounds and over a period of years, millions of pounds. I would like to suggest that the Commonwealth Government provide a grant on a similar basis to that provided under the Aged Persons Homes Act, to assist these children to take their places in society and to help themselves. I believe in the long run it would be to the Commonwealth’s financial advantage to do this.
Thirdly, I should like to direct the attention of the Government to another aspect of mental hygiene. Within the City of Oakleigh, which is within the electorate of Henty, there is a centre for retarded children.
– Hear, hear!
– I am glad that I have. the approval of the honorable member for Corangamite. The centre at Oakleigh is, I believe, superior to anything of a similar nature in the Commonwealth and ranks as one of the leading centres of its kind in the world. Twelve months ago, the centre, with the help of Rotary and other organizations, established a sheltered workshop. This workshop comes within the activities of the Victorian Mental Hygiene Authority and to that extent it receives financial assistance. But the members of the Parents and Citizens Association have done a magnificent job over the years. They have given unstintingly of both their time and money ever since the centre was established.
The centre teaches more than 150 children and trains in its sheltered workshop 38 people whose ages range from seventeen to 25 years. Most of them are in the eithteen to twenty age group.
These people are usefully employed instead of sitting idly at home. They do a variety of jobs for industry on a piecework basis. They receive normal industrial rates, but because they are retarded their output naturally is much lower than it otherwise would be and their earnings are not great. The quality of the work they do is equal to the best and is better than most of that done by private contractors. These people take particular care with the work they do. I have watched them at work and I can testify to the pride they take in their work and the care they take with it. As a matter of fact, the stencil work on the hub caps of Volkswagen motor vehicles is done by the workers of the Oakleigh sheltered workshop. The system of doing this work was evolved at Oakleigh and has since been passed on to industry because it has been found to be an advance on anything of a similar nature done in industry.
Prior to the establishment of the workshop at Oakleigh, the workers there received the invalid pension and the supplementary allowance of 10s. a week that is paid to those persons who pay rent or board and who have no income. Now that they go to work - I am sure all honorable members would agree that it is better for them to be performing useful work than to be staying at home brooding - they pay on the average 12s. 6d. a week in fares. Their earnings, which again I emphasize are at normal industrial rates, average only 17s. 6d. a week. They are quite happy to receive this, and here I would like to point out to honorable members that they do not work a 40-hour week or anything like it. They are happy to receive the money they earn and they take a pride in their work. They are extremely proud of themselves and they are proud of the fact that they are doing something useful for industry and earning money. However, because they are earning money they have lost the supplementary allowance of 10s. a week. The net financial result of their performing a useful task instead of staying at home is that they are 5s. a week worse off than they would have been had they done nothing. The officers of the Victorian Mental Hygiene Authority and all persons connected with the Oakleigh centre believe it is in the interests of these people that they should be usefully employed. I believe that they deserve special consideration and I suggest that the Government should pay the supplementary pension to both physically handicapped and mentally handicapped persons whose earnings do not exceed £3 10s. a week, which is the maximum permissible income for all other types of pensioners.
Finally, I suggest that for the purposes of hospitalization in Repatriation General Hospitals and for medical benefits the definition of a widowed mother contained in the Repatriation Act should be liberalized.
I know of the case of a lady approaching 80 years of age who has no assets and whose only income is a pension provided by the Repatriation Department. She lost her only two sons as a result of war service. One was a member of an air crew and was shot down over Germany. The other; who was a member of the A.I.F., was taken prisoner in Singapore and died in a prison camp in Borneo. Both boys were unmarried and supported their mother, who was a deserted wife as long ago as 1936. When the Second World War broke out she was technically a widow and was wholly maintained by her two sons. Now they are dead. She receives the maximum rate of repatriation benefits and does not quarrel with the amount of pension she receives, but for the purposes of medical and hospital treatment, which have been expensive, naturally, for a person aged between 70 and 80 years, she does not come within the definition of a widowed mother. I hope the Government will consider making this definition more liberal so that persons whose circumstances are similar to those of this lady may benefit.
.- I am happy to have an opportunity to contribute to this debate because there are certain matters to which 1 wish to direct the attention of the House and the people of Australia. Before doing so, I wish to refer to the remarks of the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Fox) who has just concluded his speech. The honorable member referred to the supplementary allowances and allowances to widowed mothers who are receiving repatriation pensions. The suggestions made by the honorable member were very good, but I feel that they will not fall on fertile ground when he appeals to the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton).
– My representations have frequently fallen on fertile ground before.
– The fact is that the Australian Labour Party has frequently suggested such reforms, particularly in respect of supplementary allowances. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) promised in the policy speech of the Labour Party during the last general election that he would extend the supplementary allowances. However, I wish to direct the attention of the House to certain matters that have arisen in the five months since the last election. This sessional period of the Parliament is nearing an end and we will soon return to our electorates. We will be asked by the people in those electorates just what has happened and what progress has been made by the Government towards alleviating the adverse economic conditions from which Australia has suffered, particularly over the past two years. I am afraid that I shall be obliged to tell my electors that very little has been done in that direction by this Government. The Government has done little to correct the difficulties that have arisen through its own mismanagement and as a result of the policies it has adopted over the twelve years it has been in office. I shall have to report that the Government is still showing the apathy that was apparent before the last general elections when the people recorded such a resounding vote of no-confidence in the Government.
– You are only a oncer.
– I may be, but if I do not return here I will not be alone in that respect. Some of the supporters of the Government are hanging on by the skin of their teeth now. Another general election, whether it is early or late, will see the end politically of many honorable members on the Government side who just scraped in at the last election.
On hearing some of the pious statements that have been made by the leaders of this Government I had some gleam of hope that the Government had learned a lesson from the severe reverse it suffered last December; but apparently it has not yet learned its lesson. At the beginning of this sessional period, the Government announced measures it proposed to adopt to correct what it described as the slight economic setback Australia was suffering. Alas, my hopes and those of many poor unfortunates were not realized. Those unfortunates include people throughout Australia who were thrown out of work or whose industries were hit - small businessmen who were crippled as a result of the policies of this Government. The fact is that in the five months since the people voted in no uncertain manner against the Menzies Government little or nothing has been done to restore the economy to a healthy state.
I admit that there has been some slight improvement over the past couple of months. That is evident in the unemployment figures. Nevertheless, in Australia, which has been described by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) as “ Australia Unlimited “, we still have the Menzies unemployment pool of more than 100,000 persons. Yet the Government does not seem to be unduly perturbed at the bleak future that faces so many of our citizens. I can speak for many of them in the electorate of Bowman. People come to me or write to me every day to tell me of their problems. They include men with families who are out of work and who have seen no improvement in their economic position since last December when the elections were held.
The Australian Labour Party treats each person as an individual and a human being. We do not assess the people of Australia as mere statistics. The fact is that we have 100,000 unemployed and if there were 50,000 it would still be too many for the A.L.P. Unemployed persons in my electorate plead with me to find them work and I must say regretfully that I have been unsuccessful in the great majority of cases, because there is no employment for them. We find children of fifteen or sixteen years of age still walking the streets looking for jobs but unable to find positions even of a menial nature, although the Government has claimed that it has been doing everything in its power to improve the position.
One lass came to me asking for assistance in getting employment. She passed the senior public examination with seven A’s but is still looking for suitable employment. This is happening in Australia which, according to the Government, is in a reasonably prosperous state. These conditions must have disastrous effects, particularly on young people in the community, for they must seriously affect their future careers. If this girl cannot obtain employment what hope has a less talented youngster? If the confidence of children leaving school with high educational qualifications is destroyed the effect on their future could be disastrous. It is to the everlasting disgrace of this Government that these conditions are allowed to exist.
I have heard honorable members on the Government side refer to our “ precious full employment” policy. That is not surprising, because it is well known that the policies of the anti-Labour governments have never been in favour of full employment. They say, “ We believe in a flexible economy “. That, of course, is just another way of admitting that they are incapable of providing a planned economy which would help to develop Australia, make it progress and prosper and give the Australian people a high standard of living and assure them of a decent measure of security. I appeal to Government supporters to force their leaders to adopt a more humane attitude to the problems which confront many of our people to-day.
I personally would not mind if the Government stole the Australian Labour Party’s policy, because, by doing that, the Government would ensure the future of our country. I admit that this Administration has to a very small extent adopted part of Labour’s policy with the idea of making its alley good with the Australian people. But what has the Government done to correct the present position? It has npt done nearly enough, Mr. Speaker.
Some of the features of the Australian Labour Party’s policy which the Government has adopted in part were described by the Government and its supporters as crazy and irresponsible when these proposals were made by Labour. These features of Labour’s policy have been adopted by the Government only in a weak attempt to raise its prestige. However, the Government’s prestige in the eyes of the people has fallen even lower than it was on 9th December last, and I do not think that the Government can take any real comfort from that. If the Government is really looking for an effective cure for the country’s economic ills, it need only look at the policy of the Australian Labour Party. The Government may adopt that policy by all means if it wishes to do some good for the people of Australia. Such a policy would do some good for them. However, I shall not criticize the Government further on that score.
The present session has been marked by the number of bills introduced by the Government which have been supported by the Australian Labour Party. Very few of the measures adopted by the Government in this session have been opposed by the Labour Party. This is because we on this side of the House believe that even though the Government’s measures are not nearlywide enough in scope to effect a lasting and substantial improvement in the economy and to have a beneficial impact on the lives of our people, half a loaf is better than none. We pointed out, during the debates on those bills, that the measures were belated and that they had been advocated previously by Labour. We supported the Government’s measures although, as was forcibly pointed out by speakers on this side of the .chamber, the Government’s tardiness in adopting those measures has resulted in a failure to bring about any improvement in the country’s economy.
I ask Government supporters seriously: Are they satisfied with the handling of the nation’s affairs by their leaders? What positive steps have been taken to ensure social justice for the people of Australia? By what yardstick does the Government measure our prosperity - by the living conditions of all our people or by the dividends earned by the big monopolies and financial institutions? During the Twenty-third Parliament, much time was taken up with attacks by Government supporters on the Australian Labour Party. That time could have been better spent on making constructive suggestions and taking effective measures to right Australia’s economic ills. Many of the destructive critics of the Labour Party in that Parliament are no longer with us, and it is most noticeable that those who remain are strangely silent.
One would naturally expect that this Government, which has been so soundly rebuked by the Australian people, would heed the warning given to it. But no! It continues along its merry way of indecision and, indeed, contemptuous disregard of the opinions expressed on this side of the House - opinions which have been endorsed by a majority of more than 320,000 of the electors of Australia, Mr. Speaker. So I say to Government supporters: In the name of humanity, you must achieve a more realistic appreciation of the needs of our country if it is to progress and prosper and if our people are to enjoy the decent Standard of living which is their birthright.
As a representative from Queensland, which is a vast State with unlimited potential, and which so far is greatly underdeveloped, naturally, I am particularly interested to ensure that that State’s great potential is exploited to the fullest possible extent. Obviously, the present Government, in its apathy, has shown little interest in that State. Proof of this is to be found in the manner in which the Queensland people voted in record numbers at the last federal general election for the policy of the Australian Labour Party. They did so because they realized how this Government was neglecting Queensland. This northern State of Australia must be developed in order to release the untapped wealth which not only would ensure the future prosperity of Queensland but also would have a lasting effect on the economy of Australia as a whole.
The security of our nation depends on the development and populating of our wideopen north. The Australian Labour Party, with its great foresight, realized the need for the development of Queensland and of the whole of northern Australia. The Labour Party developed the projects at Rum Jungle and Mount Isa and also took steps to develop the north-west of Australia by making grants for the purpose. We believe that this development must and will come. We believe that we must provide roads, railways, airports and seaports if we are to develop our trade with other countries. These facilities would promote development of the north and that development must be undertaken without delay.
What is regarded as northern Australia embraces 40 per cent, of the continent and is peopled by only 4 per cent, of the population. I refer to the north-west of Western Australia, the Northern Territory and northern Queensland. AH this area urgently needs development, not only from the economic standpoint but also from the defence standpoint. We have heard members of the Government talk so often of the defence of Australia and berate the Australian Labour Party on the ground that it is uninterested in the defence of this country. Nobody takes the Government seriously in that, of course, not even its supporters. We say that the Government, if it is really interested in defending this country, should take a real interest in developing northern Australia. That part of the continent must be developed if we are to hold it.
The Government has made certain gestures, particularly immediately before the elections, when it made grants of a few pounds for the development of roads for the transport of beef cattle in northern Queensland and for the development of a port for the export of coal. But these mere gestures are not the solution to the urgent problems presented by tasks that are waiting to be done. The measures taken by the Government during its twelve years in office have been totally inadequate and make it very apparent that we cannot expect any positive plan for the development of our northern outposts while this Government holds the reins of office.
Now, Mr. Speaker, I wish to mention a problem which has been causing great concern to the Australian Labour Party. I refer to the consequences of Britain’s entry into the European Economic Community. Only last week, we heard a report on this matter by the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen), who recently returned from overseas after having talks on this subject. His report gave little hope for a solution to the problems which will confront this country. We still face the fact that Australia stands to lose a large part of its trade if Britain joins the European Common Market. We say again, as we have been telling the Government over the last five years, that this situation should have been faced long ago.
The predominantly primary-producing States of Queensland and Western Australia have much to lose. If we are to safeguard our primary industries, we must be on the lookout for new markets. It is of no use for the Government to admit that a serious situation exists if it is not prepared to act, and to act quickly. The Federal Government must provide the finance necessary for schemes to promote the production of goods such as sugar, wheat and beef on a more economic basis. Huge markets for beef exist in countries which at present cannot afford to buy our beef.
In every year, for the past ten years or so, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization has produced reports recommending the development of our under-developed States. One recommendation was for the over-sowing of arid country in the north-west of Queensland. It was recommended that this country should be over-sowed with lucerne to provide pastures to make beef production more economical. Yet nothing has been done in this direction by the Australian Government. An amount of £5,000,000 has been granted for the provision of roads, but what is the use of providing roads if the country remains arid and unproductive? If a disproportionate number of acres of country is required to rear each head of cattle, it is of no use to provide roads. We must make possible the production of beef at lower cost, so that it can sell in new markets, markets which are not available to us to-day because they are in countries that cannot afford to pay the present high prices of beef. If the Government were really interested in doing something to counteract the effects that will certainly accompany any decision of the United Kingdom to enter the Common Market it could do something right now by adopting the recommendations made from time to time by this government instrumentality.
The Australian Labour Party has always advocated the development of our wide open spaces. It believes that this development must be carried out right now if we are to prosper and to meet the threat, of which I think every honorable member is aware, of losing our markets overseas. The Australian Labour Party will aways regard development as one of the most important requirements of Australia - development not of the cities, which are over-developed right now, but development of our wide open spaces, in which the potential wealth of Australia lies. I appeal to the Government to bring down, at the beginning of the next sessional period, a Budget which will . assist in the more rapid development of Australia, because such development is urgently required by this nation of ours.
.- We have just listened to the honorable member for Bowman (Mr. Comber). [Quorum formed.]
It is customary, of course, for the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) to direct attention to the state of the House when honorable members opposite are hearing something, or have been hearing something, about which they are not very happy. It is interesting to note that there were so few members in the chamber when an Opposition member was speaking.
I was about to commence by answering some of the statements of the honorable member for Bowman, but I do not intend to waste too much of my time doing so. This debate on the Appropriation Bill gives honorable members a chance to put suggestions to the Government, and there are a few matters that I would like to mention briefly. However, I shall reply to one or two of the comments made by the honorable member for Bowman. In the early part of his speech he referred to unemployment. This subject appears to me to be a dead horse. There has been a definite decline in unemployment figures, but while Opposition members continue to claim that unemployment has been brought about by government policy people will lose confidence. I have said before, and I repeat, the loss of confidence on the part of members of the public has resulted from remarks made by Opposition members in this chamber.
Let me also direct the attention of the honorable member for Bowman to a statement made some years ago by the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen), when a Labour government was in office. The honorable member then said that an unemployment level of 5 per cent, of the work force could be considered reasonable. The honorable member for Bowman, of course, made what I would suggest was simply a political speech and, as I said before, I shall not waste my time in replying to all that he had to say. I want to get on to some other matters, and the debate on the Appropriation Bill gives us an opportunity to direct the Government’s attention to certain problems facing various sections of the community.
I commence by reminding the House that the whole future of Australia lies in our ability to produce a sufficient quantity of goods for export, as well as for local consumption, at costs that will allow us to compete in world markets. This is a point that is frequently overlooked by members of the Opposition. Our principal exports to-day are primary commodities, including food and minerals. Secondary products represent only a minor proportion of total exports. It has been stated from time to time by various authorities, even as recently as last Sunday, that the world’s population will double in the next 35 years. If this forecast is accurate food production must also double. Australia is one of the few free countries with room for large-scale development for food production, and it is the only country, in my opinion, in which we can increase “the numbers of white people to any great extent. We must ask ourselves how we can best achieve our object of producing more.
The Opposition has been critical of some of the actions of the Government from time to time, but I believe the Government’s actions have been quite sound. Last weekend we saw the opening of a new section of the Snowy Mountains scheme, as a result of which millions of gallons of water that previously flowed to waste will now be put to productive use in the generation of power and the production of food. While one may say that a good deal of money is spent on schemes of this kind it is obvious that they will be of great benefit in the long run.
The development of northern Australia is ever in the mind of the Government. Naturally, this development is not being carried out as rapidly as we would consider desirable, but there are limitations on what it is possible to do in a given time. The establishment of a water resources council is a very sound move in ensuring the best use of Australia’s very limited water supplies.
Although Victoria is only a very small part of Australia, it has the highest population per square mile. But this does not mean that Victoria is completely developed. It is far from being completely developed, and it is not producing as much as we would like it to produce. However, I believe that in the not-too-distant future Victoria will increase its production. The Victorian Soldier Settlement Commission, which has been very active, has proved beyond all doubt that a lot of country which previously was looked upon as waste land can be brought into production. I appeal to Ministers to keep some of these points in mind.
We must remember that the huge population which is gradually drifting into our capital cities will not increase our primary production, although it will increase our secondary production. We all know how important that is, but we must remember that our primary industries are the biggest source of our national income. Our main exports are wheat, wool and butter, not man-made machinery and other secondary products. It is obvious where the greater proportion of our income originates. We must ask ourselves whether we should encourage people to go into the metropolitan areas or into the rural districts.
I am not trying to drive a wedge between metropolitan and country interests, but we must look at this matter from a practical point of view. I am confident that many honorable members on this side of the chamber who agree with me do not represent rural electorates. I think it was the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) who said at one time that the first essential to decentralization is the decentralization of political representation. The second essential, naturally, is to encourage as many people as possible to go to the country. The old principle of one vote one value may be all right, but I believe that principle to be unsound when the development of our outback is the consideration. I shall not continue with that line of argument because it may be said that I am interested in the redistribution of electorates which is about to take place.
I should like to refer now to the PostmasterGeneral’s Department. Let me say at the outset that I have great admiration for all the people employed by the Post Office, ranging from the Postmaster-General (Mr. Davidson) himself through the various sections down to the telegram boy. There is great room for improvement, but improvement must await the provision of adequate funds. Reference to page 12, table 2, of the “ Financial and Statistical Bulletin “ for the year ended 30th June, 1961, indicates that to all intents and purposes the Postmaster-General’s Department showed a profit of £2,763,000. However, reference to table 13, on page 23 of the bulletin, throws a different light on the position. It indicates, on the one hand, a profit of £2,000,000 and, on the other hand, capital expenditure of over £42,000,000. One does not need to be very bright to see that the overall operations of the Post Office showed a loss of about £40,000,000.
I agree that since this Government came to office in 1949 the expenditure on capital works has increased annually, with few exceptions, until the expenditure amounted to £42,000,000 in 1961. But my big concern is the provision of rural telephone exchanges. There have been many changes in this regard over the years. The idea of establishing rural automatic exchanges to bring telephone facilities to rural areas is a worthy one, but unfortunately the exchanges are not being installed as rapidly as we would like them to be installed. In 1957-58, the department installed 145 rural automatic exchanges. In 1958-59, 123 were installed; in 1959-60, the number was 93, and in 1960-61 it was 79. Information from the department indicates that in 1961-62, it is expected that 60 exchanges will be installed. The future does not seem to be too bright. It may be said that the rural automatic exchanges which are being installed to-day are of a larger capacity than was the case previously, but when one looks at the number of exchange lines one finds that that number is decreasing also. In 1957-58, there were 12,000 lines. In 1958-59, the number dropped to 10,000; in 1959-60, the number remained at 10,000, but in 1960-61 it bad dropped to 8,000. It is expected that in the current year the number will be in the vicinity- of 5,500. The number of standard automatic exchanges - the kind found in country towns - has remained fairly constant. However, not enough exchanges are being installed. I urge the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) to consider carefully the question of increasing the allocation for this purpose. 1 could spend a good deal of time on this subject because, during the last three or four years, many people have approached me with problems associated with obtaining a telephone service. Although there may be a waiting list in the metropolitan areas due to the shortage of man-power and other reasons, there are certain country areas in which it is almost impossible to obtain a telephone service, no matter how long a potential subscriber may wait. I know of one exchange which covers only fourteen subscribers. The person who controlled the exchange was elderly, so he resigned because he felt he could not continue to do the work any longer. Not one of the fourteen subscribers was prepared to accept the worry and responsibility of manning that exchange, and it was not until it was closed and the telephone services were non-existent that one person agreed to operate the exchange. Now it will operate on a very reduced hourly basis. I know of another area in which a subscriber went to the trouble of purchasing a neighbouring property so that he could employ another man who, with his wife, could take his turn operating the exchange. I am sure that other honorable members know of some automatic exchanges which have reached capacity, and of people who are waiting for connexion to the service.
I know a man who has waited eight or ten years for a telephone service, and who has been told to expect a further considerable period to elapse before he receives one. All in all, the position of the rural people is not a rosy one. I forecast that if something is not done with an all-out effort to improve these facilities in the not far distant future, there will be many thousands of potential subscribers and others without telephones. It is all very well to say that the coaxial cable between Melbourne and Sydney will improve the situation, or that the trunk lines between various towns have been improved. That gives very little satisfaction to the person who has not a telephone installed.
In recent months we have heard quite a lot about a superphosphate subsidy. My colleague, the honorable member for Indi (Mr. Holten) has brought this matter before the House and the party on numerous occasions and I would like to endorse some of his remarks. I believe one should liken the granting of a subsidy to the action of the Tariff Board. The real purpose of the Tariff Board is to protect secondary industry against unhealthy competition from overseas goods. The principle behind its operations is that the
Tariff Board can protect secondary industries if they are producing mainly for local consumption. Our primary industries produce chiefly for. export and naturally we cannot use the Tariff Board to protect them. The only way in which we can assist our primary industries is by means of subsidies. I do not suggest that we should assist all primary industries unnecessarily, but there are times when we should assist them.
A subsidy on superphosphate is a straightforward matter. The quantity of superphosphate used in Australia in 1957-58 was 2,024,000 tons. In 1959-60 the figure was 2,098,000 tons. I find that 19 per cent, of it was used for wheat production, 18 per cent, for other crops, and 63 per cent, for pastures. Victoria is the biggest consumer of superphosphate, accounting for 32 per cent, of the total, while Western Australia used 27 per cent., South Australia 18 per cent., New South Wales 17 per cent., Tasmania 5 per cent, and Queensland 1 per cent. I direct the attention of the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) to the fact that if we were to have a subsidy of £3 a ton on approximately 2,000,000 tons of superphosphate, that would not necessarily mean that we would be £6,000,000 ou: of pocket. There is a price formula based on the cost of production of wheat, giving a guaranteed price for 100,000,000 bushels of wheat for export and all the wheat used in Australia, namely, 60,000,000 or 70,000,000 bushels. If the cost of superphosphate were reduced by a subsidy, that in turn would bring down the actual cost of production per bushel of wheat and consequently both the home consumption price and the guaranteed export price per bushel would be lower. This would mean, in turn, that the Commonwealth would not have to pay so much into the Wheat Industry Stabilization Fund.
I am glad that the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) has come into the House. I saw, recently, that he had a question on the notice-paper of this House and in it he implied that the wheat-growers were being subsidized by the taxpayers of Australia. That is far from the case, as you know, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The wheat industry stabilization plan and the wheat-growers have held the fund together for a good many years. These are points which I would like the Treasurer to keep in mind when preparing his Budget. I am sure he has had numerous requests for consideration to be given to the payment of a superphosphate subsidy.
I wish now to discuss the question of primary producers’ taxation. I refer to the averaging system, and remind the House that that system was commenced in Australia on 1st July, 1921, when all taxation was subject to the averaging system. In 1937 the averaging system was withdrawn from all except the primary producers. They were the only ones permitted to use that system. As a result of a committee of inquiry set up in 1951 the primary producers were given the option of retaining the averaging system or going on to the annual system. Naturally, if they decided to change, it had to be made on a permanent basis. They could not change over to the annual system one year and back to the averaging system the next. This worked reasonably satisfactorily in some instances, but since then I have found that with the reduced price for some primary produce many primary producers are now sorry that they changed from the averaging system. I suggest to the Treasurer that he consider allowing primary producers to go back to the averaging system. I do not suggest that they be given permission to say, “ I will make the change this year “. It should be done over a longer period. I believe that over the years primary producers will appreciate the difference.
Most honorable members realize that the averaging system applies only to an income up to £4,000 per annum and that once an income is over that figure the taxpayer is automatically on the annual system. I think this is one of the reasons, why many of the primary producers changed from one system to the other.
I want the Ministers concerned to keep these various matters in mind when considering the next Budget. It is no good waiting until the Budget is brought down before we make these recommendations. Once the Budget is introduced into Parliament there is very little chance of having it altered, and that is how it should be.
I want, finally, to mention the matter of finance for rural holdings, as it is a very important question. I appreciate the extra sum that has been granted to the Commonwealth Development Bank, and there are only two aspects of this subject to which I want to refer. As the honorable member for Lawson (Mr. Failes) has said, the extra sum granted to the Development Bank is not enough. I suggest, firstly, that the bank should be given a virtually unlimited amount on which to draw and, secondly, that the terms and conditions of its operations should be widened. It is all very well to say that this bank is handy for the man who wishes to go out and develop new land. But there are thousands of primary producers who want to purchase property and who have virtually no backing. They need to be able to get in and make the initial purchase and then quietly develop their land as time goes by. In my opinion, the actual scope of the bank is just not quite wide enough.
, who has just spoken, stated that it was the intention of the Government to subsidize the production of superphosphate by £2 a ton. The Australian Labour Party, in conformity with its promise made to the primary producers at the last federal election, believes that the subsidy should be £3 a ton. One cannot expect such a generous outlook from either the Australian Country Party or the Government towards primary producers. I should like to take this opportunity of sincerely congratulating the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Don Cameron) on the very splendid manner in which he delivered his maiden speech in the House last Thursday. His speech was in keeping with the general high standard set by other members on this side of the House during this session.
I will confine my opening remarks to an urgent matter of great importance - the very acute shortage of tradesmen and apprentices in Australia. This problem - I use the word “ problem “ deliberately - has engaged the attention of the leaders of secondary industries in Australia to such an extent that they have constantly issued warnings to the public and the Government that the very serious position existing must be remedied as soon as possible. I submit that very little can be achieved by issuing warnings or making speeches about this matter. 1 believe that it is our duty to ascertain the reason for the shortage of tradesmen and apprentices in Australia. It is my contention that the shortage is a direct result of the low margins for skill being paid to tradesmen. Let us examine the position.
For the purposes of illustration I shall examine the extent to which the margin for skill of the fitter and turner has deteriorated over the last fifteen years. I remind honorable members that the margin for the fitt and turner is accepted as the yardstick foi all margins for skill. In 1947 the average basic wage stood at £5 9s. per week and the margin of the fitter and turner was £2 12s. a week, which was the equivalent of 48 per cent, of the basic wage. At the present time the average basic wage is £14 16s. a week. The fitter’s margin is £4 16s. a week, which is the equivalent of 32.4 per cent, of the basic wage. In other words, over the last fifteen years the margin for skill has deteriorated by no less than 15.6 per cent. If a margin of 48 per cent, obtained to-day as in 1947, the margin would be £7 2s. a week or £2 6s. in excess of the present margin of £4 16s.
I shall compare the award wage of £19 12s. received by the fitter and turner with the wages received by some unskilled workers. I emphasize that I do not believe that the unskilled workers are being overpaid, but that the skilled workers are being underpaid. I should like, first, to mention some employees of the Sydney City Council. Admittedly I have picked a good organization for my illustration, because the Sydney City Council pays its employees the highest possible wages and it gets good service for that pay. A convenience attendant who works for the Sydney City Council gets £18 8s. 6d. a week, or £1 3s. 6d. a week less than the fitter and turner. The man who cleans the conveniences gets £18 13s. 6d., or 18s. 6d. less than the fitter and turner. The convenience attendant at the Sydney Town Hall gets £18 17s. 6d. a week, or 14s. 6d. less than the fitter and turner. A first grade labourer employed by the Sydney City Council gets £18 8s. 6d., which is £1 3s. 6d. less than the fitter and turner receives. An incinerator hand who burns rubbish at the tip gets £19 0s. 6d. a week, or lis. 6d. less than the fitter and turner. The tip man in charge of the tip gets £19 lis. a week, or Is. less than the fitter and turner. A weigh-bridge public attendant gets £19 19s. a week,. or 7s. more than the fitter and turner receives.
The fitter and turner is governed by federal metal trades awards. As a result, he is entitled to only three months’ long service leave after twenty years’ service, two weeks’ annual leave, and five days’ sick leave a year which accumulates only for two years. If he does not take the sick leave he loses it after two years. An employee of the Sydney City Council gets three months’ long service leave after ten years’ service and six and a half weeks for each subsequent five years’ service. He gets four weeks’ holiday a year and a fortnight’s sick leave a year, which accumulates until he retires from the council’s employment. These conditions apply in many other councils and even in the Sydney County Council.
Under these conditions the unskilled worker is far better off than the skilled tradesman. Is it any wonder, with the deterioration of margins over the last fifteen years, that it is difficult to find tradesmen even by searching for them overseas? Is it any wonder that parents will not allow their sons to be trained as apprentices? As apprentices, they must take smaller wages than boys who are drawing wages for unskilled work. Yet when the apprentice turns 21 and comes out of his time he finds that he is getting only a few shillings a week more than the boy next door who has been receiving higher wages while the apprentice has been studying. Also, during that time the young unskilled chap has been able to go out and enjoy himself.
Another point which must be taken into consideration is that the fitter and turner must be equipped with at least £150 worth of tools before he can start his trade. It also costs him at least £15 or £20 a year to replace those tools as they wear out or are broken. None of these conditions has to be faced by the unskilled worker. Is it any wonder that it is difficult to find people who will have their sons apprenticed in secondary industry?
A relative of mine served his time as a fitter and turner. After he turned 21 he received more money for driving a lorry than he would have received by following his trade. How can we expect people to take up trades while these conditions exist? I do not say that the lorry driver is not getting the wages he deserves; but, as I have pointed out, I think with some force, the deterioration of the margin over the last fifteen years from 48 per cent, to 32.4 per cent, of the average basic wage is the reason why we cannot find tradesmen today. It is not much good making appeals for apprentices or putting on shows for apprenticeship week unless tradesmen are paid the money that they should be getting to-day in return for their skill.
I should like to turn to another matter which comes within the scope of the Department of Civil Aviation. I find that, over the last thirteen years, a total of £169,300,000, not including more than £10,000,000 which was subscribed by the Government as capital to Qantas Empire Airways Limited and Trans-Australia Airlines, has been spent by the Department of Civil Aviation. The net return from all income, including profits from Qantas and Trans-Australia Airlines has been a little over £17,000,000. This means that over the last thirteen years alone the Australian taxpayer has subsidized air travellers in Australia to the extent of £152,000,000, which represents an average of about £12,000,000 a year.
During debates in this House we have often heard it said, particularly by Country Party members, that our railway systems will never pay because they are inefficient. That is not the truth. The true position is that their income has always exceeded their expenditure, particularly in New South Wales, by several million pounds a year, but the killer in New South Wales, as in other States, has been that the Government has had to pay £12,000,000 per annum interest. On the other hand, the Commonwealth Government has subsidized air travellers in Australia.
I digress here to point out that although many taxpayers never travel in aeroplanes, and others may use air services only once or twice in their lives, these people are paying taxes to subsidize air travel. Almost every one uses the railways for some purpose, whether it be for the transportation of goods or to travel; yet the State railway departments have had to borrow every penny they needed to lay railway tracks, to supply rolling-stock, to build workshops. railway stations and so on, so that they could go into operation. On the other hand, this Government provides aerodromes, navigational services and other facilities and says to the airline companies, “There you are boys, go in and make your profits “. That is the difference between the conditions under which railway systems operate and those under which the airline companies operate. These facts cannot be denied.
It has been argued that our airport facilities would be a great benefit in case of emergency. That cannot be denied. But it cannot be said that they are more important than our railways. During World War II., the railways proved much more beneficial to us than any other transport system in Australia. Without the railways Australia would have been unable to conduct a successful war effort. I submit that we should raise more money from the air traveller than we are raising at present, but this money should not be used to swell the profits of airline companies. I have been reliably informed that many countries overseas now charge air travellers embarkation fees, and that these fees are not paid to companies but are used for the maintenance of aerodromes. In other words, that money actually goes to the Government. That is what should be done in Australia. I am sure that everybody will agree that at the present time our airline services are being subsidized for the benefit of businessmen. Every day one may see leaving Essendon or Mascot planes on which about 60 per cent, of the passengers are persons who are going from Sydney to Melbourne or Melbourne to Adelaide and so on, on business, and returning the next day. I repeat, this is subsidized travel for business people. I believe that the time has come when the taxpayers should be relieved of portion of the annual burden they bear. This year, Australia is subsidizing air services to the extent of nearly £15,000,000 through the taxpayer’s pocket. That amount would pay interest on the debts of all the State railway systems in Australia for one year. And this Government is doing the same thing every year.
Time and time again, Government supporters have mentioned the wonderful profits airline companies are making out of their businesses. If these companies had to provide their own facilities - their own airstrips, their own navigational services and so on - they would not be making any profits. That is why members of the Country Party are completely one-sided and inconsistent when they say that the high freight rates charged by the New South Wales railways are due to the department’s inefficiency. I do not know what the primary producers of Australia would do without our socialized railways, especially during times of drought when they transport starving stock and fodder at concession rates.
– So they should.
– Would private enterprise provide that service? Would it reduce its charges? Of course not! People who live in country areas are absolutely dependent upon Australia’s socialized railways. Year after year, the railways are criticized for being inefficient. Nothing is further from the truth. As I have already stated, it is the interest burden they have to bear that is the killer.
I ask for leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Sitting suspended from 5.46 to 8 p.m.
Debate resumed from 3rd May (vide page 1976), on the following paper tabled by Mr. McEwen -
Australia and the European Common Market - Ministerial Statement, 3rd May, 1962.
And on the motion by Mr. Townley -
That the paper be printed.
Motion (by Mr. Hasluck) - by leave - agreed to -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) speaking for a period not exceeding 30 minutes.
.- This debate arises from a speech delivered here last Thursday evening by the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen). The speech was in the nature of a report on his overseas visit to negotiate as far as possible, and to the extent considered practicable, better terms for Australia when Great Britain commences negotiations to ascertain whether it can join the European Common Market. As we know, the Common Market consists of six European States - West Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Italy and France. The last named is one of the most important, if not the most important, of the nations.
Following a treaty enacted in Rome in 1957, the six nations agreed to sweep away, over a period of years, all previously existing customs barriers that affected trade between the countries. It is quite true that under the provisions of the treaty, customs barriers between Germany and France on the one hand and Holland and Belgium on the other were not necessarily swept away overnight. The treaty provides for a transitional period, which is essential to enable trade to find its balance.
Soon after the Treaty of Rome was enacted, the United Kingdom, with which we are directly concerned in vast trade relations, very seriously considered making application to join The Six and become one of the new Seven. However, after much investigation by the United Kingdom Government, it was found that at that time it was not feasible or practicable for her to join The Six. Consequently, the United Kingdom sought other alliances and a federation of free trade areas was formed. This federation included Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland and other European countries. They were known as The Seven. It appears that that organization was not very effective. However, it became obvious fairly soon that the European Economic Community, to give its correct title, was functioning, notwithstanding the operation of its traditional machinery, in an exceedingly effective manner and that trade and production within the area as a whole were in a fairly prosperous condition. This apparently caused the United Kingdom Government to have second thoughts. In July of last year, the United Kingdom Government made application to the European Common Market authorities for permission to join The Six and make a Seven.
It appears that, as far as the Australian Government is concerned, there has been some negligence. Some people thought it was unlikely that Great Britain would actually make application to join the Six.
Until Great Britain had actually made an application and the Minister most directly concerned, Mr. Sandys, had visited this country, it did not appear that the Australian Government was really perturbed. Yet, far earlier it was apparent that the United Kingdom was fairly strongly in favour of joining the Common Market, if she could do so on favorable terms. I have here a report of a speech delivered by Mr. Macmillan to the Western European Union in London on 29th May, 1961. Referring to European organizations, he said -
We have the economic groupings of the Six and the Seven - now with Finland the Eight. Then there are various original groupings and pacts between particular groups of countries and finally our own political Seven.
That was before Finland joined and made it Eight. Then, later in the report, this statement appears -
Since last August-
He was referring to August, 1960 - we have worked hard in what we deemed to be a favourable climate to put an end to the division between the Six and the Seven - or rather the Eight. The initiative of Chancellor Adenauer in proposing that I should visit him in Bonn has led to a whole series of exploratory talks and we now have a much better idea of the way in which fruitful developments can take place.
He went on to say -
The Western European Union is the only organization where we and the members of the Six meet as full members all with equal rights. We firmly believe-
That is, the United Kingdom - that Europe should be united - and we hope that some day - by peaceful evolution - this will mean not only half Europe but all Europe. For we must never forget the cruel divisions which separate the Eastern and Western countries of Europe.
He then made this significant statement-
Meanwhile we are determined to press forward with the consolidation of Western Europe.
What was happening was then pretty obvious. But the Australian Government apparently was either not fully informed - I cannot believe that that was so - or it was negligent in not preparing a more effective economy in Australia to meet the position that will undoubtedly confront us within a reasonably short period of time.
It is quite true that Mr. Sandys came to this country last July and was here during part of August. He met members of the Government, talked with them and went on his way. There appears to be no doubt that during the progress of the talks an assurance was given to the Australian Government that the United Kingdom would not enter the European Common Market without satisfactory assurances that the trading position, the rights and the welfare of the people of the rest of the Commonwealth, including Australia, would be amply protected. But, of course, the strength of this always depends on the meaning of “ amply protected “. It is quite likely, and it is frequently argued, that if the United Kingdom joins the European Common Market the end results will be a stronger economic entity, more prosperous and more productive, and thereby a more likely importer of goods from other parts of the world and a greater exporter of goods to other parts of the world.
Having in mind all the articles of the Treaty of Rome, we must seek some means of meeting the problem that this situation poses. We export, on an average, £164,000,000 worth of goods to the United Kingdom each year and we have the privilege of a completely free entry to that market. Under the terms of the Treaty of Rome, the moment a country becomes a participating member, that country’s external trade barriers must not be different from those of other members of the organization. That would undoubtedly inflict on Australian exports a serious disadvantage in comparison with the advantages enjoyed by the countries already within the European Economic Community. On the other hand, the declarations of the United Kingdom that it would endeavour to protect Commonwealth interests have continued almost without abatement. I think the latest declaration was a communique issued by Mr. Macmillan and the Prime Minister of Canada, Mr. Diefenbaker, when Mr. Macmillan visited Canada. Again it was repeated that in effect the interests of the Commonwealth members would not be thrown to the wolves. The great question mark against the declaration of the United Kingdom Government’s economic outlook undoubtedly is involved in the fact that that government has the responsibility of looking after the welfare of 50,000,000 people to say nothing of their defence. The attitude is that, although they may be sorry for us in Australia, we had better do the best we can if the United Kingdom joins the European Economic Community.
Almost immediately, when the Government started to awaken to the position, the Opposition, which had been probing this matter for some time both outside and in the Parliament, indicated very clearly that it was prepared to do what it could to protect the trade of Australia. That is our attitude now. It is quite true that we might differ on the methods that should be adopted, but it is also true that in our opinion the Government has not been very active in this matter. Certainly the general election intervened and we went to the country; but immediately the Parliament assembled after the general election the matter was raised again. The Australian Labour Party, which is only one short of a majority in this House, undertook as a mark of good faith to provide a pair for the Minister for Trade so that he could go abroad and do his best in the difficult position that confronted us. Last week the Minister returned to Australia after what was necessarily an extended journey. In an hour-long speech to the House he reported on the results of his travels and his reactions to the various conferences and interviews that he had while overseas.
The Minister told us that he had visited Washington and conferred with President Kennedy and his ministers. Naturally, they received him most amicably. But when the vital question of the attitude of the United States of America to the abolition of Commonwealth preferences was raised the representatives of the United States of America intimated that they were opposed to preferential tariffs. The Minister pressed them for some assurances that they would not put their noses into this matter while negotiations were proceeding between the United Kingdom and The Six. I believe that he was given some tentative assurances that they would not do so; but traditionally, the United States of America has always been opposed to preferential systems and when further pressed by the Minister, its representatives indicated clearly that if asked - by whom I do not know - they would express in unmistakable terms their opposition to the continuance of preferential tariff duties.
The Minister proceeded to Canada and had a conference with Mr. Diefenbaker. No doubt it was a fruitful conference, because I am quite sure that Canada finds itself in a difficult situation not dissimilar from that of Australia. The Minister subsequently also interviewed General de Gaulle and several of his ministers. They were very nice about their friendship towards Australia, of course, but they quite plainly intimated that they would not stand for the entry of any nation into the European Common Market under a system which allowed the goods of that nation to flow into the United Kingdom under a preferential tariff system. They said that that, in effect, would give those goods preference over the products - and particularly the agricultural products - of Europe and of France itself.
Reporting on his meetings in France the Minister for Trade said that here for the first time he had realized the affection - I do not know that he actually used that word - and the strong support of the members of The Six, for the Treaty of Rome. In the Minister’s opinion, they indicated that they were looking forward to the entry of a substantial quantity of their agricultural products into the United Kingdom - a market that Australia has been supplying. The Minister then visited Bonn in West Germany, Belgium and Holland, and everywhere he was met with the same response. There was a united front against any concessions being granted in relation to Australian goods or the retention of our preferential position in the United Kingdom market.
In the meantime, the European Common Market authorities had agreed that Dr. Westerman, as an official representing the Commonwealth Government, should have access to and conference rights with officials of the European Economic Community, and a solution was sought subsequently at Brussels, through Dr. Westerman, following the Minister’s negotiations. However, no right has been granted, nor will it be granted, for representation on a ministerial level in conferences with The Six.
The solution that has been put forward and which is regarded by the Minister as a practical solution, is one that might be described as the only hope. The proposal is that Great Britain should seek from the
European Common Market authorities an agreement that after Great Britain’s entry into the European Economic Community, there will be permitted the admission to the Common Market countries of a volume of goods equivalent to that which has been entering Great Britain in recent years on a preferential basis. In other words, the suggestion is that the enlarged area of the European Economic Community should be substituted for the more confined area of Britain, and that the same quantity of goods should enter on the same preferential basis.
It is said that such a proposition does not constitute a new preference arrangement and that it will not conflict with the provisions of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. The Minister tells us that such a proposal is in conformity with Article 234 of the Rome Treaty. In any case, the Minister puts it forward as practically the only hope that we have. He intimated that some of our goods were entering the United Kingdom in increasing quantity. One example of this was orchard fruits, for more fruit trees were being planted when the Rome Treaty was signed. It is not unrealistic to suggest that we ought to be allowed for the products of our developing mines a quota which will provide for our increasing output of those products.
My time is running out, but I should like to say that the Minister took a long time to give us a report of his meanderings through Europe and to the United Kingdom. Let me say, also - this will not please members of the Australian Country Party - that 1 do not believe that the Minister for Trade enjoys a very good reputation overseas, and especially in Europe. He has had a magnificent press in Australia. His pressrelations officers are probably the best in the world. But, as he says himself, he received hardly a line in the press of Europe, the United Kingdom and the United States of America, where there is some knowledge of him as a negotiator as a result of his activities in the past. He has passed some rather slighting references about the people with whom we have traded in the past. I have not said that I have not done similar things, either. However, the fact is that the Minister is looked on as a tough negotiator, just as other people in this Parliament are looked on as tough negotiators. 1 have had some experience of. these things, and I can tell the House that the representatives of the United Kingdom, too, are tough negotiators. Neither side pulls any punches.
I am still hopeful that the United Kingdom will stand to its pledge that it will not join the European Common Market unless the interests of other countries of the Commonwealth of Nations are amply protected. I trust that the proposition that the Minister put on behalf of the Australian people for the entry to the Common Market countries overall of a volume of goods similar to that which we now send to the restricted area will succeed. I do not think that it has much hope of success, but we hope that it will succeed.
The Opposition is particularly concerned because it does not think that the Government has been doing enough over the last couple of years to prepare Australia for what could be a very serious economic disaster for certain primary-producing industries. The Common Market proposals were announced much earlier, and the most elementary feature of the development of alternative markets was the need to put forth a much greater effort. The Government has made some effort to enable our goods to enter new markets in new countries.
But, above all things, there is a great need, which is now more urgent than ever - it has been urgent for some time - for a complete overhaul of Australia’s statutory organizations for the marketing of primary products. Some of the present marketing organizations have very wide powers, to wit, the Australian Wheat Board, which has magnificently conducted its business. From the day that it came into existence it has been an enormous success. But we have other statutory marketing boards that are not, in the light of recent developments, equipped with sufficient powers. The Opposition believes that, above all, there is need for an overall organization, which might be described as a council of statutory marketing boards, to co-ordinate and make uniform the activities of all these boards and authorities. We believe that the people who are now, in effect, attempting to cut the painter and set us adrift are charging excessive freights on overseas shipping lines. We ought to meet that situation by establishing a great Australian overseas shipping line.
We know that marine insurance, in the main, is going to Lloyds of London. That is a big factor in our adverse trade balance. To-day 1 read in a report by the Australian Dairy Produce Board that, through Lloyds of London, the” board had negotiated insurance cover for butter exported from Australia to the United Kingdom for three years. The payment for that, of course, is made to overseas sources. Why is not the insurance cover for the products handled by all the statutory marketing authorities not co-ordinated? The Commonwealth Government carries its own insurance on all its vast range of properties throughout Australia. In the circumstances with which we are threatened, how long are we to fail to co-ordinate fire and other insurance on our exports?
How long are we to sit dumb and see the great power over finance vested in the Commonwealth Government lying unused while we neglect to establish a Commonwealth banking or other instrumentality to function as a great export credit corporation? Recently, the power of the banks in this country has been extended. They have been given so much latitude that one critic was reported in the, columns of a Melbourne financial journal as having said: “ It is hats in the air for the banks. Out of the new liberalization of banking by this Government, they will get another £3,000,000 annually in net profits “. Why are we not developing our own banking instrumentality to discharge these functions that I have mentioned? It could transact the business and the nation would carry the loss, if any. All these activities for all the great export commodities could be co-ordinated.
The wool industry is our greatest export industry. After we have been presented with reams of reports and after we have had all sorts of investigations of that industry, it is still the victim of a small ring of buyers who represent the buying nations of the world. Why is not an authority dealing with wool vested with authority similar to that of the Australian Wheat Board with respect to wheat? Why is there not an authority, such as the Australian Wheat Board, marketing our wool against the organized buyers of the world who want every bale and every pound of it at their own price? The sooner we get to work and review these matters the better.
An effective job cannot be done, Mr. Speaker, until such time as this Government awakens to the fact that, nearly three years ago, an all-party Constitutional Review Committee pointed out that marketing within a State and interstate is ineffective unless the Commonwealth Constitution is altered to enable an effective organized marketing system to operate in this country. Anybody who thinks that we can fight the organized might of Europe - not in the physical sense, but in the marketing and trade sense - with a disorderly, badlyorganized commercial system like our system of export marketing is living in dreamland.
Action is needed urgently. Honorable members on this side of the House, realizing the dangers in the present situation, will give the Government their utmost cooperation in any effective means that the Government seeks to adopt and in any legislation presented to the Parliament which is designed to tie up the loose ends and co-ordinate our export activities. There never was a greater need than now. The hour is struck. Why fiddle about arguing about an amendment of the Constitution being difficult for the Government to obtain? It ought to get on with the job. The farmers of Australia will support it. Our great dairy industry is in fear and trembling worrying about the time when, because of lack of constitutional powers, the organization governing the industry, which is a very effective body, could collapse.
Let us get on with the job of organizing our marketing arrangements. Let us use the great organizations that we have in this country. Let the Government get the best men and knit them into effective teams on these marketing boards. Let it get a great co-ordinator and pay him plenty for the job. There are plenty of good brains in this country. One has only to see the team of men that the Minister for Trade took abroad with him to know that. Those are first-class men. There is a job waiting to be done by men of that calibre. We of the Australian Labour Party, for our part, will see to it, so far as we can, that any industries - for example, the dried fruits and canned fruits industries - that may be hard hit in the initial period of this experiment by The Six and the United Kingdom, if it joins the European Common Market, do not suffer. We shall do our utmost to see that the people in those industries are not brought below recent living standards. Our policy is that they be recompensed by way of subsidy.
Let me say, finally: The Government ought to realize that the economy of this country is in a rotten state. We have had a lot of trouble, and the lack of constitutional powers only weakens us in the battles we have both at home and abroad. The game is on again, as we can see. 1 have here advertisements by various firms which are asking the public for funds. Eric Anderson (Consolidated) Limited - it has nothing to do with the Eric who used to be a member of this place - is offering interest at 9 per cent, for money for five and ten years. Cumberland Credit Corporation Limited is offering interest at the rate of 10 per cent, per annum for money on terms of five and ten years. Cox Brothers is offering 8 per cent. Custom Credit Corporation Limited is offering 7 per cent, for four years and over, and Ansett Transport Industries Limited is offering 9 per cent. This Government is scratching to get money at 5$ per cent, while these big fringe institutions, none of them producing any real wealth, but merely speculating on the security of the people and the country, are pushing up prices and costs of living and, in the final result, the cost of producing export commodities in respect of which we may be in trouble in the near future.
I utter these few remarks in kindly criticism. We know the difficulties confronting the Minister. He has probably done his best, but his best has not been good enough to deal with the great problem that the people of this country are facing.
– Mr. Speaker, perhaps we can overlook these somewhat wide socialistic excursions on which the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) embarked when he ran out of material on the subject under discussion.
– I have plenty of material. Don’t worry about that!
– Well, I am not to know that. AH members of this House must indeed welcome the statement by the honorable member for Lalor that the Opposition will give whatever assistance is necessary to carry through successful negotiations and bring these very difficult matters to the best possible conclusion from the viewpoint of Australia.
It is very trite, indeed, to say that the possibility of the United Kingdom’s entering the European Economic Community raises for Australia probably the most complex series of political questions that we have ever faced in time of peace. On a broad plane, British membership of the European Economic Community would in course of time almost certainly transform, for better or for worse, the political complexion of the Western world. In more immediate material matters it would threaten a number of Australian rural industries which were largely brought into being to supply the British market, and which depend to a very considerable degree for their existence upon the continuation of British preferential arrangements. We have had in the past assurances from the United Kingdom that it would not enter the European Economic Community unless these interests of ours could be properly safeguarded.
In the post-war years momentum has been gathering for a new concert of Western Europe, the pace being forced by heavy and sustained Russian pressure. Increasing numbers of Europeans, in Britain as well as Europe, have become convinced that separate national states have but a limited prospect of controlling their own national futures, hemmed in between two pancontinental colossi, whereas in the aggregate such a cluster of states possesses potential human and material resources which, more closely integrated, could offer each a far more promising future. More immediately, many feel that only by knitting their affairs more closely together and acting jointly will the nations of Western Europe avoid division and defeat by Russian communism.
Large sectors of British opinion - and do not let us overlook this - feel it imperative for their future strength and security to help and to underpin the movement towards greater unity. Whatever our natural reluctance to see the slow submergence of British national identity it is difficult to judge harshly those who live on the frontiers and seek to cement the ramparts of western civilization against the barbarian thrust from the east.
The movement for political integration is already well under way. It is an established fact of life. Quite naturally, it has taken in large part an economic shape, because economic factors are the main basis of political power. The British reaction has developed slowly. At a time just after the war, when Britain could have been the pacemaker, dominant opinion was reluctant to merge.
– Which war?
– Only a half-wit would put such a question. For some generations Britain has felt torn in two directions. A natural predilection for trade, empire and the sea has been repeatedly overborne by the need to stave off mortal threats from the continent of Europe. British thoughts, moreover, are not directed solely to Russia, but are also focused on a resurgent and mighty Germany in which democratic government has had time to sprout only shallow roots, and which was so recently in the grip of a strident, brutal and aggressive nationalism. A powerful, integrated Europe, now led by France, but to-morrow, perhaps, dominated by a Germany anxious to retrieve its territory and its people who are now under the Russian heel, is not a prospect which British opinion can view with equanimity. Only by becoming part of the new order do many Britons think they will be. able to influence it.
The political considerations of Britain are reinforced in many minds by the considerations of economics. It is felt quite widely in Britain, as I discovered last year, that that nation has flagged of late in economic matters, compared with the countries of the Continent. Certainly the upsurge of France, Germany and Italy has been remarkable. This probably has had little to do with the Treaty of Rome, and perhaps is even less attributable to many of the other reasons commonly advanced, but many feel, rightly or wrongly, that somehow Britain has been missing out. Indeed, for many years the combination of high tariff and quota protection for British industry, huge agricultural subsidies and intermittent soft money policies, appear to some people to have dulled the competitive edge of the world’s former greatest trading nation.
The cumulative effect of major industries flinching from the lash of foreign competition and seeking refuge in government protection has brought its reaction in the thoughts of those who feel that increased competition is necessary to induce greater vigour in both the ranks of capital and labour, and that the way to accomplish this is for Britain to join the Common Market. On the other hand, many British industries relish the prospect of a large market in Europe and view sterner competition with confidence. Some weak firms will go to the wall, but there would be bigger markets, greater competition and a more efficient division of labour, which would ultimately raise the standard of living all round. Indeed, if one could postulate political stability and harmony on the Continent greater than recent history has so far recorded such a prospect would appear reasonable. But this is indeed a very risky assumption on which to plan one’s future and to plan that of the British Commonwealth.
The dark side of the picture is the prospect that a great world power, the champion of liberty and moderation, and the centre of the Commonwealth of Nations, should now have to consider moving into a restricted circle, with barriers in favour of old enemies and against old friends. Britain once played a proud part in freeing world trade and commerce from restrictive fetters. If, indeed, hers could be a liberalizing influence which progressively lowered the barriers set up by Western Europe against the rest of the world the restrictive effects of her entry into the European Economic Community could be mitigated, but such an outlook seems remote, especially for the products which Australia, Canada and New Zealand have to sell. Most of the economic gains which Britain hopes for by membership of the Economic Community would be much greater if they were part of a world movement on a world scale instead of being confined to Europe. By becoming enmeshed in European restrictions she will inflict dear food upon her people instead of the cheap food on which so many past British successes were based. It is difficult to believe that subjecting the great British market to the dictates of trade rules imposed by continental opinion is not, both from the world and Commonwealth viewpoints, a retrogression.
The countries of Western Europe could well draw valuable lessons from the experience of the British Commonwealth in establishing preferential mutual trading rights restricted to membership of an exclusive group of nations. The Ottawa Agreement, which so greatly expanded and extended the British preferential system, has been hated in every other trading country since it was first drawn up. lt has soured many people. Let us have no illusions on this point. For a number of years I worked with the diplomatic, commercial and financial representatives of many other countries, including those from the United States and Common Market countries. They resent British preference, and will show it no mercy in any international negotiations in which they have a powerful say. In the United States particularly, every penny of British preference bears the imprint of George HI., the wicked British tyrant from whose shackles they once fought free.
In the trading rules which followed the war, and which are embodied in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, we agreed henceforth not to increase, but only to scale down, margins of preference. It had to be conceded, however, as the Minister for Trade is struggling so hard now to have conceded by the European Economic Community, that industries which owed their existence and livelihood to preference had a right to continued existence. The mutual favours and preference which common market countries extend to each other, but not to others, will become in due course just as odious in the eyes of the rest of the world as British preference has been and, to a large extent, is now, so long as these countries retain their separate national identities. If they prove to be unreasonable about our legitimate interests and those of others, they will engender in the rest of the world a measure of ill will, which eventually will rebound against them.
We cannot claim, of course, that the disappearance of British preference will not have very considerable compensating advantages for Australia. At Ottawa we created in each other’s territories soft markets shielded in large part from competition. Over the intervening period British industry has enjoyed very wide margins of preference in the Australian market. Undoubtedly this has had some effect in weakening the competitive capacity of British industry vis-a-vis the world, and for us it has meant paying higher prices for our imports. For many years, this has been a heavy incubus on the Australian economy. On a lesser plane it also has complicated the development of some of our trading relationships with other countries. If it is now to disappear there will be more effective competition in the quality and price of goods which Australia needs to purchase for the Australian market, and it will tend to improve our terms of trade, which have worsened so much in the last ten years.
One worrying feature of the current negotiations is that, as the apparent compulsions behind Britain’s application to join the European Economic Community have been increasing, so has the price increased which she is likely to be called upon to pay. As I noted just now, fifteen years ago Britain could have made the pace in this movement; ten years ago she would have exercised a crucial influence; five years ago she would have had a large say in the Common Market pattern; to-day she has to enter very largely on terms fixed by others. Meanwhile she is not growing relatively in power and influence. The Commonwealth to which she still sends three times the volume of exports that she sends to the Treaty of Rome countries is, in trade and political matters, developing its individual relationships more with countries outside the Commonwealth than with Britain. If there is any further delay, as no doubt there may be, Britain may well wonder to what heights the entry fee eventually will rise. Western Europe appears to many Englishmen as the only club which in the long run promises participation in world power and influence. This is the fundamental position with which we have to deal. As the price to Britain rises, so the price to be paid by Australia will scarcely lessen if Britain does eventually decide to join the Economic Community.
However, if the favorable proposals put to the European Economic Community by the Minister for Trade prove in large degree to be acceptable, so that we too would be able to expand mutually profitable relationships with the Community, Britain’s entry could have some incidental political advantages for us. The next generation in Australia will contain many fine people whose origins are in continental Europe rather than in Britain. Their influence will be felt increasingly. The widening of our intimate association with Britain to include the nations of the European Economic Community will appear to them to be a wise, congenial and natural move. We cannot people Australia from Britain alone; as we have found out. If Britain’s entry can be made in terms reasonable to Canada, Australia and New Zealand, the European Economic Community will gain strongly. We in Australia offer a fertile field for its people, investment and enterprise. Our task is to make those countries realize this and treat our interests with respect. Australia is very heavily indebted to the Minister for Trade for his skilful and strenuous efforts to accomplish this.
The issues we face are complex and difficult and the landmarks uncertain, but our case is in good hands. Of one thing we can be certain - whichever way things go, more than ever Australia has to stand on its own feet. We have to pick out our own way in the world. Whether or not Britain joins the European Economic Community, from now on it is a case of coats off and competition. This will impose on all of us the discipline which alone comes from strenuous competition. We must arrange our affairs so that we produce what the world1 wants to buy, not necessarily what we want to sell. We have many enterprising industrialists and businessmen, a labour force which, when it is well led, is one of the world’s best, skilled primary producers, first-class scientists and great natural resources. If we use our brains and exploit our efforts with vigour, there lies before us a great and expanding national future.
.- In his statement last Thursday night the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) made the point that politics do not enter this question. Page 145 of the “Hansard” report of 16th
August last year indicates that we of the Opposition made that same point, so the Minister’s remark is not original. But it does not preclude us from raising valid criticism of the policies being followed by the Government and of its lack of policy. I refer to such shortcomings as the Government’s tardiness in facing up to this problem, and the fact that it is still not offering any new ideas to overcome the basic problems of enlarging our existing trade and promoting and pioneering new avenues of trade. I feel that one valid reason for criticism of the Government is its tardiness in looking at this problem.
In answer to a question last week the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) said that the first that the Government knew of this matter was when Mr. Sandys came to this country last year. Yet this is a matter which has been bandied around, particularly in economic circles, for many years. As long ago as 1957 Senator Hendrickson asked a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Trade in another place and at that time he was told in a very matteroffact manner that it was not a vitally important question.
– To whom was that question addressed?
– It was addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade in another place, in 1957. Another matter on which I disagree with the Minister for Trade is the meat industry. I have had to look very closely at this industry as it is an important activity of my electorate. The Minister for Trade said that the longterm meat agreement which expires in 1967 covers the position of the industry up until that time. I am afraid that I cannot agree with him.
– I have to inform the House that the Right Honorable K. J. Holyoake, M.P., Prime Minister and Minister for External Affairs in the Government of New Zealand, is within the precincts. With the concurrence of honorable members, I propose to provide him with a seat on the floor of the House.
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear! (Mr. Holyoake thereupon entered the chamber, and was seated accordingly.)
Debate resumed. V
– I was saying, Mr. Speaker, that I disagree with what the Minister said last Thursday night regarding the meat industry. This is an industry which has a very considerable effect in my electorate. The town of Riverstone is almost entirely dependent upon it and there are many employees of the meat works in Riverstone living in bordering towns such as Windsor and Richmond. The Minister said last Thursday night that the long-term meat agreement which expires in 1967 covers the position of the meat industry until that time, but I feel that his statement is basically incorrect. He seems to have overlooked the fact that Australia sells surplus mutton and beef outside the terms of the agreement to the United States of America, to the United Kingdom and to other countries, including those of Europe. In particular, we have built up a very good export trade in hamburger meat with the United States. The United Kingdom and other Common Market countries could set up a tariff barrier against meat production outside the agreement which is to terminate in 1967, and” we would then have to develop our trade with the United States in order to compensate for this situation. We could then be faced with a position in which the United States could set up a tariff barrier against Australian meat to protect its own industry.
Furthermore, a position could arise where European countries, including the United Kingdom, could set up tariff barriers against meat products which are imported from Australia outside the terms of the agreement and force us to sell at cheaper prices. They could then use the proceeds of that tariff to subsidize exports to countries where we are competing against them for markets for our exports. For example, I refer to countries such as India, or Singapore, where we might be endeavouring to capture an export field for machinery. It is only logical, if those other countries wanted also to capture that field, that they would introduce export subsidies by means of money obtained from the tariffs applied to our meat and we would, in effect, be helping to cut our own throats. This is one sphere in which I think the Government should not in any circumstances be allowed to adopt a cursory approach and say that the position is covered until 1967, when the meat agreement expires. To the contrary, the position is not covered until that time and we could find that our meat exports, which are outside the terms of the meat agreement, could be seriously affected by the entry of the United Kingdom into the Common Market.
I turn now to that part of the Minister’s statement, where he said, in effect, that he felt that the answer to this problem was a quantitative quota, under which we would be able to export to Europe or the United Kingdom, a quantity of goods based upon some particular year. I presume that he referred, for example, to the year 1961. He made the point that this should also include some arrangement whereby we would have fair provision for growth in the quota. It is only logical that this will not be of any effect whatever. A quantitative quota will not be effective unless there is an adequate safeguard for the growth of our exports. The aspect which I criticize there is the difficulty of defining the necessary extent of this growth. Full allowance must be made for economic growth and the extension of trade and it is difficult to estimate those factors in the terms of the future. If the provision is not adequate, essentially the Minister’s statement on this question falls into the category simply of a transitional arrangement. This is so because steadily, over the years, our trade must extend in terms of quantity and accordingly the benefit of the arrangement will decrease by comparison.
Basically there is still need for governmental action to promote trade. I feel that this is the main criticism to be levelled at the Government. I feel that we must look at that problem more keenly and with a far greater degree of consternation than we are looking at it to-day. The fact is that we must build existing markets and promote new markets, and 1 will deal with suggestions in that regard later. 1 agree with the Minister that the attitude of the United States produces a danger to
Australian trade. Not only is there its traditional opposition to Commonwealth preferences, but the United States has also been a traditional advocate of free trade in respect of any country and every country except itself. History shows that America does not hesitate to apply tariffs if one of her own industries is threatened in any way. This could still occur and a situation such as that could arise. If America wanted to put Australia or the United Kingdom into the position of having to relinquish Commonwealth preferences we could still be placed in a situation where, for example, tariffs would be applied by the United States of America in respect of meat. I therefore agree with the Minister that the place to raise this question of Commonwealth tariffs is in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and not in Common Market discussions. I hope that the Government supporter who is interjecting does so.
I think we should now look at the various effects of the proposed entry of the United Kingdom into the Common Market. We know what some of the effects will be. For example, there is the effect it will have on the earning capacity of primary and secondary industry in Australia and the consequent reduction of standards of living in this country. We know that it will affect them and, if the worst comes to the worst, it will have a very serious effect on standards of living in this country.
As was mentioned earlier, it could also have a serious effect on the balance of payments. It certainly will cause a deterioration over a long period unless we can get adequate safeguard’s, and it will confirm the chronic shortage of overseas funds from which this country suffers. 1 refer also to the foolhardiness of the refusal to implement quantitative restrictions to protect our overseas reserves. This country has traditionally suffered a shortage in this regard, as any developing country will. Accordingly, it is common sense to do everything that we can to conserve reserves. If we do not receive sufficient safeguards, the entry of the United Kingdom to the Common Market will place this country in a still more serious position in that regard.
Another aspect of the matter to which I feel sufficient emphasis has not been given is the effect on capital inflow. One aspect of the Common Market agreement is the free movement of capital between the member countries. Already we have seen a movement of capital between the various European countries concerned as well as between the United Kingdom and Europe. As this is promoted so there will tend to be a reduction of capital inflow into Australia. Once again, we see the lack of wisdom in the policies of this Government, which depends on capital inflow to maintain the balance-of-payments position.
In June, 1961, Australia had a trading deficit on current account of £369,000,000. This was translated to a surplus of £39,000,000 as a result of a capital inflow of £408,000,000 from official and private sources. Surely this shows, once again, that not only are there political implications in this matter, but it will also involve balance-of-payments problems resulting from the increased invisibles, in the way of dividends paid overseas, which this country will have to meet in another ten or fifteen years if this trend continues. Furthermore, we can almost certainly look forward to a reduction, over the next six to ten years, of the amount of capital coming into this country. Consequently, our balanceofpayments position will deteriorate. This is an important fact. The Government must face up to the whole balance-of-payments situation, and I should like to make some suggestions in regard to that.
It was mentioned earlier that arrangements should be made for long-term credits to promote and pioneer new export industries. This has been talked about for many years, but so far nothing concrete has been initiated by the Government. It is only common sense that we cannot expect an exporter to take long-term risks in establishing a new export. We cannot expect the exporter to carry the long-term risk which may be necessary to pioneer such a new export. We must also look to longterm exchange protection on the same basis. We cannot expect the exporter selling to private industry abroad to take the risk that the exchange rate may alter, with the result that he may suffer a considerable loss. The resources of the central bank should be used to give him some form of long-term exchange protection. It is not enough to give this protection on an administrative basis only. It has to be publicized, because unless we publicize it exporters will not be aware that it exists. These facilities must be publicized fully if we are to have a drive to extend Australian trade.
The Export Payments Insurance Corporation provides short-term and mediumterm relief, but that is not sufficient. It provides that relief mainly to assist in regard to shortages of exchange in a country to which Australian goods are exported, or to insure the exporter against default by a purchaser.
The honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) mentioned that it was essential that attention should be given to the establishment of a national overseas shipping line. This would reduce our invisibles in freights and would also mean that Australia would no longer be the only major trading country in the world that has not its own shipping fleet. The Government must look carefully at this matter. Only by such means can we promote Australian trade and also reduce the great amount we spend on freights. If we adopt this means we shall no longer have to depend on overseas corporations for the transport of our goods abroad, and no longer have to pay their extortionate charges.
Another aspect of this matter concerns subsidies. Subsidies are an issue of basic importance. I should think that the Australian Country Party would support export subsidies. If its members want to assist the dairy industry, the poultry industry, the dried fruits industry and other primary industries, surely they must examine the question of export subsidies. This is a problem which must be faced by the Government. The Government must move away from its dogmatic approach, and from its traditional opposition to export subsidies, and realize that something must be done for our primary and secondary industries.
The statement by the Minister for Trade was an interesting travelogue. He gave a very interesting description of discussions which he held. I feel that, even if rather tardily, at last the seriousness of this situation has sunk in to the Government. One could almost say that there is, to a certain extent, pessimism concerning the situation on its part. But the Minister still has not faced up to the basic problem of initiating new, bold, imaginative steps to boost Australia’s trade and to win new markets and new trade. Until this Government faces up to that basic question it will not have faced up to the basic question of the Common Market.
.- I think that the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) commenced his speech by making, in a sense, a charge of negligence against the Government. The honorable member is not an unreasonable man, and I put it to him, as a reasonable man, that one is at perfect liberty to take a person’s words to indicate what he means. The truth of the matter is that until June or July of last year not one British Minister had even vaguely indicated publicly that the United Kingdom was in favour of entering the European Economic Community. I put it to the honorable gentleman that one could find a veritable catalogue of the most categorical statements to the contrary, made by not only the ordinary rank and file Ministers of the Government party in the United Kingdom, but also by the present British Prime Minister himself. In a sense, one could almost say that on this great issue the British Government seems to have found a new set of principles in the mail that arrived some time in June of last year. Here is a sample of the statements that were made. Mr. Macmillan, speaking in the House of Commons on 26th November, 1956, and referring to the Common Market, said amongst other things -
Judged by the most limited United Kingdom interest such an arrangement would be wholly disadvantageous.
Surely no one will quarrel with that language. Then you can go to Mr. Maudling, one-time President of the Board of Trade who, right from the beginning of 1960, said, if not explicitly then certainly by implication, that the United Kingdom would not have a bar of the European Common Market. So there is the answer to my honorable friend. It is not a fair crack of the whip, to use language that the honorable member will understand, to accuse the Government of any form of negligence in this matter. For my part, I have been completely opposed to the proposal that the United Kingdom should enter the European Economic Community. My views on the issue, I would hope, have been made clear, and I welcome this opportunity to expand upon them.
I confess that I still feel stunned with disbelief that a British Prime Minister and government would seek to commit the United Kingdom to an arrangement whereby the ancient and proud sovereignty of the British people would be destroyed. I say with both respect and force that I regard this exercise in politics as the most calamitous for the British people since that which was influenced by the wretched and supine authority of George III. Whatever may be one’s feelings with regard to the fate of the United Kingdom in this great issue, there are other considerations of tremendous importance. I regret that I do not share the optimism of some of my colleagues, who feel that the Commonwealth of Nations will be strengthened if the United Kingdom should enter the Common Market. On the contrary, I am convinced that the Commonwealth of Nations will be ripped to bits. My friend and colleague, the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) has stated with tremendous vigour, and with great candour, the probable economic effects on this country, and on the Commonwealth of Nations, if the United Kingdom should join The Six. With great respect, I regard his analysis as completely accurate, and his argument as completely unassailable.
My objections to the United Kingdom entering the Common Market are strong enough on economic grounds, but they are secondary to my objections on institutional and political grounds. The main aim of the community is political integration. That is made plain by the treaty itself and, unless we are no longer disposed to give language its plain and ordinary meaning, the political ends of the Community will not be doubted. Speaking in the House of Commons on 12th February, 1959, the then President of the Board of Trade referred to this aspect. He said -
We can see that in Article 138 of the Treaty, which looks towards a common assembly directly elected. The whole idea of the Six, the coal and steel community and Euratom is a movement towards political integration. That is a fine inspiration, but we must recognize that for us to sign the Treaty of Rome would be to accept as the ultimate goal political federation in Europe, including ourselves.
A host of matters would be affected by the United Kingdom being included in a form of political integration. I am not impressed by the argument that runs to the effect that the United Kingdom entering the Community will mean that the treaty might undergo violent change. I put it to the House that we must heed the discipline that we are to take the treaty as it now stands. There is so much at stake in this vital issue that we must concern ourselves with the known, not with the unknown and with probabilities.
I wish to refer to two of the great political issues, and two of the institutional issues which I see involved in this matter. On 1 1th July last year, in a letter to the London “ Times “ I asked, “ What is to become of the monarchial institution within the framework of the European unity? “ No British Minister has made the slightest attempt to answer this question. The letter continued -
How, one may ask, can allegiance be given to a European Parliament and to the Monarchy? What if circumstances promoted a conflict between the allegiances? Which allegiance would have priority?
I ask those questions again. The Monarchy has, in relation to the British Constitution, a central place. The Monarchy has more than symbolic authority. It has a juristic significance. Within the framework of a European unity, that significance would disappear. I submit that the proposition may be readily tested. The Monarch gives assent to the acts of parliament. Mr. Macmillan is Her Majesty’s Prime Minister. Mr. Gaitskell is the Leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition. The courts are the Queen’s courts, and it is the Queen’s writ which issues from the courts. The character of the Rome Treaty is such that not only in its ultimate sense, but in transition, it would require the surrender of sovereignty which would greatly affect the British Parliament, its powers and the rights and duties of its servants. It would seem to me to be at least rash for any person to attempt to simplify the whole chain of profound constitutional changes which would be inevitable with British entry into the Community.
I invite the House to consider for a moment the position of the Monarchy with respect to Article 7 of the treaty. This article lays it down that discrimination on the grounds of nationality shall be prohibited. In short, there is to be a common nationality. At the present time, the people of the United Kingdom are Her Majesty’s subjects. She is their sovereign. But what would her position be if the common nationality should come into force? She would no longer be Queen of the British people, because those people would have surrendered their nationality. They would be members of a European community. The Queen would be a queen without a people. So far as this country is concerned, she would remain Queen of Australia. So far as the Commonwealth of Nations is concerned, she would remain head of the Commonwealth of Nations, but in the land of her birth the Queen would not be Queen of her own people. The treaty aims at abolishing separate nationalities, and at having one nationality. But what disturbs me, indeed bewilders me, is that not one British Minister has sought to explain to the British public and to the whole of the British Commonwealth how British nationality can be destroyed or what the relationship will be between the Monarchy of this destroyed nationality and the European Economic Community.
I turn now to the second institution that would be tremendously affected by the United Kingdom entering the European Community - that of the Parliament itself. In article 3, the treaty calls for the establishment of a common customs tariff and a common commercial policy, a common agricultural policy, a common transport policy, and the approximation of municipal law. In article 6, it calls for co-ordination of economic policies. In article 48, it calls for common employment conditions. In article 57, it calls for common professional and technical qualifications. In article 99 it calls for the harmonizing of taxation. In article 117, it calls for the equalization of social conditions. These are but a few of the requirements of membership. In fact, the control of the whole social and economic life of the people, their fiscal policies and their financial systems passes from Parliament. As the treaty now stands, British membership would involve the abdication of every worth-while power that the House of Commons has. That is a matter not to be lightly brushed aside. But the system of government postulated by the
Treaty of Rome would, I have thought, make those reared in the traditions of British parliamentary democracy raise their hands in horror.
Articles 137 to 163 deal with three institutions of the Community - the Assembly, the Council and the Commission. The Assembly, by force of a convention signed at the same time as the Rome Treaty, is common to the three communities. But it is not a parliamentary assembly as we know it. It has no legislative authority whatsoever. It has sanctioning power, but that power seems to me to be most restricted.
The legislative authority of the community rests primarily with a commission of nine people. They have powers strikingly akin to those held by members of the Soviet Presidium. The commission in a technical sense is subject to the authority of the council; but if the articles of the treaty are read closely, it will be seen that the Council’s control of the commission is limited by the fact that depending on what issue is involved will depend on what sort of vote is required of the council. The commission is a recommending body, a planning body, but its powers are so proscribed that it is in essence a legislative body.
Our people have travelled a long way since the first moot. We have taken a decent pride in the fact that everywhere in the world where you see parliamentary democracy you see something of the British genius; that everywhere in the world where free men and women go to a free parliament and speak in a free way, there is something of the British intellect; and everywhere in the world where the ideals of liberty and justice are upheld and the inviolability of the individual is respected, you see something of British patience, ingenuity and, yes, sacrifice. I defy, I challenge, I dare any one to deny that the articles of the Treaty of Rome as they are presently written mean but the end of parliamentary government. I feel overwhelmed with a sense of utter shame that any Britisher with a thousand years of splendid history behind him would for one moment contemplate support for such an obnoxious proposal.
I have torn at my mind and, I believe, at my heart, for a solution to the manifest problems that press so urgently and desperately upon a very anxious humanity. I have found no solution to the problems other than that men of good will should show good will, should seek to encourage its growth and to spread its harvest. But I look to the Treaty of Rome as it is presently written in vain to find anything that meets the requirements of what I believe is to be found in parliamentary government. What I invite the House and, I would hope, the country - every one who believes that there is something intrinsically good in the British parliamentary system of government - to do is to consider what would be the effect on the Commonwealth of Nations of a British parliament reduced in status to that of a mere local government, its sovereignty plundered and its monarchy presiding over a political vacuum. These questions in sombre isolation apart from other considerations are surely sufficient torment. The Commonwealth is entering a twilight zone of crisis.
This House has always had a disposition - I pray it always will have this disposition - to be tolerant of what may appear to be strange notions. Can I impose upon that tolerance to say that I see through the mists of the past - mists that have been kind to the failures of our people and yet generous to their triumphs - a firm figure of a man. I see him at Stratford-on-Avon, and he is saying of his native land, of the heart of the British world -
This England never did, nor never shall, Lie at the proud foot of a conqueror, But when it first did help to wound itself. lt is yet my hope that others will see him and will listen to him.
.- The only point on which I would disagree with the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) is the one with which he began - that is to say, it is really the British Government that is to blame for keeping secret any ideas it may have had that it might eventually have to join the European Common Market. Ever since 1956, increasingly, there have been statements by British Ministers considering the desirability and the probability of the United Kingdom joining the Common Market. This has been spoken of throughout northwestern Europe and every publication that has come from this source has contained statements about it. The Government was aware of this, I am sure, and so was the Opposition. Every one who was able to read anything from these sources was aware of the position.
The main points made by the honorable member for Moreton are substantially true. If Great Britain enters the Common Market, it means a very considerable blow at parliamentary democracy. It means that Great Britain will be sacrificing many of its fundamental powers of government to unrepresentative organizations in Europe. A close examination of the Treaty of Rome will show that to be true, and at this stage I ask whether any Government supporter can contradict this in any way.
What is the European Common Market? It is an economic and social organization of Europe with common internal laws and common practices in all fields, built up within a very high protective tariff wall, which will contain also all the external restrictions on trade and travel. It is intended to produce an economic basis for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Its main purpose is to develop an economic region which will provide a more effective economic basis for the military organization of Nato. Its purpose is to increase the economic strength of this area. It will have in it the kind of politics and the kind of attitudes that will come from an organization of that sort, one essentially centrally managed, militarily influenced and possessing all the overtones of this; one that has come about because of American pressure and American design so that Europe will be able to carry a greater share of the cost, a good deal of which has fallen on the United States of America, in organizing this kind of economic and military organization directed against communism in other parts of the world.
Its internal unity - its economic, political and social integration - is of no more than equal importance to the protective barriers that are raised around it. This is not a great contribution to the liberal and free trade development of the world. This is just as much a protective and a restrictive organization as the United States is, in effect. The United States - this great advocate of free trade, of breaking down preferences - is perhaps the most protective capitalist country in the world. The economic and social circumstances of the Common
Market contain clearly in the Treaty of Rome a common agricultural policy; a common transport policy; free movement of workers from place to place and from country to country; a common banking policy - and it will be a retrogressive banking policy - a common tax or fiscal policy; a common commercial policy; social services based on one particular principle; and no aids given by the State to interfere with competition. There is to be competition everywhere except where provided by Article 85, which says that there may be agreements between enterprises and concerted practices which contribute to the improvement of production or distribution. Restrictive practices are included - they are possible under the Treaty of Rome - but other people have to be subject to competition. There must be competition amongst workers, but the large monopolies of Europe will be able to go ahead with their concerted practices and with their agreements.
These internal conditions, which will be uniform over the whole area of the Common Market, will create conditions of free trade inside the area, but the important point is that around the boundaries of the area is a high protective tariff. This movement is basically a reactionary and an illiberal movement. I think the honorable member for Moreton is right when he says, and as I think also the Minister for Air (Mr. Bury) has foreseen, that there would not be any British liberal influence entering into this, but on the contrary it would be the power of the European corporations that stand behind the Governments of Germany and France. But common economic and social policies that the European Economic Community will impose will be policies against which the people speaking through British and Australian democracy have resisted over the past half-century.
This is shown in a great many things. In social services, the pattern that will be laid down in the European Economic Community will be the pattern under which social services are paid for, not from progressive taxation but out of more or less flat rate contributions. The banking policy will be the kind of reactionary banking policy that was imposed on this country last year by the International Monetary.
Fund. Much of the law-making machinery will not be in the hands of those Parliaments to which the honorable member for Moreton paid attention a few minutes ago; they will be in the hands of the Assembly, the Council and particularly the Commission of the European Common Market. Those bodies are not elected by the people and they have fundamental, social and economic powers which will be exercised in this area.
The economic conditions will be laid down by those bodies of the European Economic Community as a federation in which the federal government will not be elected by the people at all. That is the constitutional significance of this development. These bodies will have the power in Europe. The people will have little or no say in what they do, and they will have no say directly. These are the circumstances of the European Common Market.
Now it is by no means inevitable that Great Britain will enter the European Common Market. I think this is pretty clear because of the resistance of the British Commonwealth countries that has emerged in recent times. They cannot be ignored because a large volume of British exports in fact go to Commonwealth countries. Great Britain cannot expect to have the trade of those Commonwealth countries with her cut off considerably and still be able to trade as extensively with the Commonwealth countries. The time might have to come - and it might not be long away - when Australia will have to say, “You cannot export to Australia if you are going to cut into our trade with Great Britain “.
The second reason why it is not inevitable that Great Britain will enter the Common Market lies in the reactionary nature of the European Common Market. This cannot be ignored by the British people who have fought for centuries to establish these advances which they now have achieved and which would be endangered by entering into this organization in Europe dominated by the industrial and financial monopolies and by men like Adenauer and de Gaulle.
So it is by no means inevitable that Britain will enter the Common Market. If Great Britain does go into the European Common Market, there will be very little left of the Commonwealth preference system. What the Minister for Trade had to say in this connexion last week has no substance in it. I want to show the House three main reasons for this. First, the section of the treaty quoted by the Minister was Article 234. It was on this article that he believes negotiation might take place; but in his speech, he quoted only the first half of the article. Article 234 states -
The rights and obligations resulting from conventions concluded prior to the entry into force of this Treaty between one or more Member States, on the one hand, and one or more third countries, on the other hand, shall not be affected by the provisions of this Treaty.
This led the Minister for Trade to believe that he could claim some protection for Commonwealth preferences under this article but the article is not designed for that purpose at all and the second paragraph makes it clear. It states -
In so far as such conventions are not compatible with this Treaty-
And who is going to suggest that Commonwealth preferences are for one moment compatible with the Treaty of Rome? - the Member State or States concerned shall take all appropriate steps to eliminate any incompatibility found to exist.
What is stated by Article 234, in effect, is this: If you have these conventions, you must get rid of them before you come into the Common Market. That is the significance of Article 234. Supposing the Commonwealth nations negotiate for some retention of these preferences. I think this could not possibly work in practice for simple reasons. If Australia was able to retain in the new European Common Market area a market for a similar quantity of her produce that she now exports to Great Britain, would not South Africa want to do the same thing? Would not New Zealand and Canada want to make similar arrangements? How could there be a Common Market if all the Commonwealth countries retained preferences in that area similar to those they retained in the United Kingdom? The thing has only to be stated to be found to be ridiculous. It is not possible to achieve this.
Surely this problem has already arisen. Belgium, France, Italy and the Netherlands have relations with countries and territories similar to the relations that Great Britain has with Commonwealth countries. Will those countries be permitted to export their produce into the new Common Market area on the same conditions as before? Of course they will not. They would be governed by Articles 131-133 of the Treaty which requires that they come in but drastically reduce their customs duties under the provisions of Articles 12, 13, 14 and 15. The fourteen or fifteen countries which are already associate members because of their previous links with France, Belgium, Holland and the rest of them have come into the Common Market with their produce only because they have undertaken to eliminate their customs tariffs over a period of twelve years. Would not Australia be required to do the same thing? I challenge the Minister to give us an answer to that question.
The point I want to deal with briefly - and that is all one can do in a debate of this kind - is to challenge the concept that if Great Britain goes into the Common Market the result will be catastrophic for Australia. We are not on the edge of a precipice. We are on a fairly long and gradual decline. Why exaggerate the position? What is likely to happen if Great Britain goes into the European Common Market with an absence of the preferences to Australia is a continuation of what has been happening for the past 35 or 40 years and particularly since 1950. I quote the percentage of Australia’s total exports that have gone to the United Kingdom in recent years as
That decline of nearly 10 per cent, in ten years is a pattern of the change in our relation with Great Britain that has been going on since the Second World War, and that decline is likely to continue. It is not a catastrophic situation. It will be, at its worst, some accentuation of that decline. This decline will go on irrespective of whether Great Britain enters the Common Market or not. Britain’s entry into the Common Market will not seriously aggravate the situation.
The second reason why the consequences will not be catastrophic is that we have already experienced in a number of years a very serious decline in our exports to the United Kingdom. I direct the attention of the House to a few simple figures. In 1951- 52 our exports to the United Kingdom fell by £113,000,000 on the year before. In 1953-54 they fell again by £58,000,000 and in 1957-58 by £55,000,000 on the previous year. Were these catastrophies? Of course, the fall that might come in the first two or three years of Britain’s entry into the European Common Market might not exceed these figures. It might amount to £40,000,000 or £50,000,000 in one or two years. There is not likely to be a catastrophic situation. To exaggerate it is only to create the atmosphere mentioned by the Minister for Air (Mr. Bury). This is an atmosphere in which he wants to give every one the impression that they must take their coats off and work hard. He wants competition for the workers. The Minister for Trade himself was talking about us being on the razor’s edge just before the credit squeeze last year to justify a policy which suits big business interests but does not suit the rest of the Australian community. I think that the Government is up to that again in this business of exaggerating the effects of the European Common Market.
If Britain does enter the Common Market, what should we do? Here again, I can say only a little. The first thing for us to do is to determine that we shall maintain full employment and economic growth in Australia. We have overcome the effects of a decline in our exports to Britain of £100,000,000, £40,000,000 or £50,000,000 a year in the past without a serious decline from full employment. We must do it again if a decline in our exports occurs. We have the alternative - the classical freeenterprise, reactionary, out-dated policy imposed upon us partly by the International Monetary Fund last year. That alternative which is adopted when exports fall is to cut down activity in Australia. That means cutting down employment and income in every direction. So as to cut down our imports, we spend less on everything. We spend less on housing and on education so that we can spend less on imports. This reactionary doctrine which prevailed in the 1930’s must not be permitted to prevail in the future.
Imports were brought down to the lower level of exports by cutting down on everything spent in this country. This must not happen again. We must determine to control our imports by selective import controls. We must not control them in the other way. We must determine to have selective, active and positive import replacement. We must at the same time increase expenditure on basic priorities for development, such as education, health services, transport and housing, in which, incidentally, there is a very small import component. We must also have a policy for the replacement of external services like shipping and insurance, which require external currency, by similar services that require only Australian currency, even if at higher cost. We must have public enterprise in the future in this field.
Lastly, and perhaps as important, we must find new markets. Those markets will not be in Europe, because, for almost 50 years, our markets there have been declining. The Minister’s speech was confined to the problem of trying to get back into the European market. There is very little to be achieved by that. I wish the Minister well in achieving what he can, but I believe that the hope is false and vain. We have to look to the markets where our trade is increasing. Our trade with Asia has been increasing. In 1950-51, exports to Asia represented 12.73 per cent, of our total exports. The proportion rose to 16.15 per cent, in 1951-52 and the trend increased until, in 1960-61, it was 29.92 per cent. That is the direction in which we have to go. In this field, more than in any other, we shall need new institutions, new public enterprises, the new Commonwealth insurance corporation and the new national shipping line. If we are to trade in Asian markets, we shall need all these things, because we have not any tradtional links with those markets. The traditional links are with north-western Europe, where our trade has been declining. We need to trade in a new part of the world, and we need a new idea. We have to find our markets in the area of Asia of which we are geographically and fundamentally a part.
I think that the main criticism that one can make of the speech by the Minister for
Trade, which was a report only on this trip overseas, is that he ignored all those other things.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, I am very happy to be able to speak to the motion before the House for the printing of the ministerial statement made by the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen). First, I would like to add my congratulations to the many that have been tendered already to the Minister for the magnificent job that he has done for Australia in his discussions concerning the European Common Market. When one reads the Minister’s report on his visit to the various countries to which he travelled, and on the interviews and talks that he had with many leaders of our Western world, one can only marvel at the enormity of the task that confronted him and acclaim the able and diligent manner in which he fulfilled the very many responsibilities which fell on his shoulders.
If 1 may say so, Sir, one of the things that I took very great pride in stating during the general election campaign last year was that when this Government was returned to office the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and the Minister for Trade would be two of the major personalities concerned in the negotiations over the European Common Market. I think that the Minister for Trade, during his recent trip abroad, has shown the truth of those words and shown how extremely fortunate Australia is to have a man of his capabilities and officers of the high ability of those of the Department of Trade to assist Australia in trade matters at this time in its history. Naturally, I am personally proud of the fact that the Minister is the leader of the Australian Country Party, to which I belong. I am proud, also, of the reputation that he has made for Australia.
I should like to follow up by commenting on the criticism by Opposition members, who stated that the Government lacked understanding and appreciation generally of the impact of the Common Market proposals prior to the last twelve months.
– Hear, hear!
– I note the honorable member’s interjection. During the debate this evening, I have heard honorable members opposite say that the Government should have gone out to get new markets. I remind them that, on one occasion when the Minister for Trade and the department, as a result of magnificent work, submitted to this House a new trade agreement, which opened up a whole new field of trade with Japan, Opposition members stated publicly on the floor of this House that they opposed the agreement and would rescind it if they obtained office. In the light of that, we find it rather peculiar that Opposition members now say that the Government should have gone out and obtained new markets.
We of the Australian Country Party know just what the Japanese Trade Agreement has meant to the primary producers and also to secondary industry in this country. The statements made about that agreement by Opposition members, when contrasted with the statements that they make now, show the confusion of thinking that they exhibit, not only in this debate, but also in debates on other matters. Let us look a little more closely at their arguments. They say that we have to find new markets, although they opposed the Japanese Trade Agreement. Likewise, in debates on the testing of nuclear weapons, at a time when we are in danger and when all the free world faces danger, Opposition members exhibit confusion of mind, as they do on almost every issue that comes before this Parliament. As 1 have said, Sir, we see further evidence again this evening of their confusion of mind.
The honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) said that this Government had adopted a negative approach to the problem of the European Common Market. I can remember asking a question of the Minister for Trade about this matter two years ago. Indeed, I was not the only one on this side of the House who asked questions on the matter. On the occasion to which I refer, the Minister’s reply was that the situation was being closely watched and that representatives of the Australian Government were in Europe and the United Kingdom discussing the matter with authorities there. The honorable member for Wills (Mr.
Bryant) has just shown by his hollow laughter - the hollowness, no doubt, was the effect of what is between his ears - the paucity of his thinking on these matters.
May I just say this: What person in Australia would suggest that this Government, at a stage when negotiations on Britain’s proposed entry to the Common Market had not even been opened, should make public statements about its attitude on the issue? If one has any appreciation at all, one realizes that a government cannot make public statements in criticism of other governments until there is at least something factual on which, if I may use the expression, one can hang one’s hat. Does anybody think that with persons of the experience of the Prime Minister, the Minister for Trade and others dealing with these matters, the issues were not being discussed in relation to Australia’s situation? I am sure that when a public Australian statement became necessary none could have been of greater firmness and determination than were the statements that were made by the Minister for Trade.
One of the criticisms that the Opposition continually levels at us is that we have not found new markets. I have made one comment in relation to that allegation. I now make a further one. I suggest that all the trade missions that have been sent to many different countries, the assistance that has been given to private businesses, the sending of Government representatives to other countries and the reports that have been made on their visits, and discussions in this House by the Minister for Primary Industry and the Minister for Trade, almost week by week have been convincing evidence of the fact that the necessity to promote new markets has been uppermost in the minds of the Ministers in charge of these two vital departments. They have realized this necessity, not only because of the possible effects of the entry of the United Kingdom into the European Common Market but also because of the situation of Australia as a major trading nation and because of the need for us to budd up our exports.
I would like to acknowledge publicly the service that has been rendered to Australia by the officers of the Department of Trade in the excellent work they have done in assisting private enterprise and helping trade missions, and in assisting in many ways to establish new markets overseas.
One of the problems that have confronted the Department of Trade and the Minister has been the constant increase of costs within Australia, which has made it increasingly difficult to compete in overseas markets. I think the Department of Trade has done a magnificent job, and we in Australia are extremely fortunate in having the services of the efficient officers of that department.
I think that I have disposed of any criticism that the Opposition has levelled at the Government in connexion with alleged tardiness in acting with relation to the entry of the United Kingdom into the European Common Market. The complexity of the situation has been demonstrated in the speeches of members of the Opposition this evening. It is extremely difficult to be dogmatic with regard to this matter, and this is something that we all should realize. This move of the United Kingdom in regard to the Common Market is a facet of history, and in this connexion I would like to read to the House the words of the Right Hon. Edward Heath, Lord Privy Seal, when he spoke, in October, 1961, at a meeting of ministers of member States of the European Economic Community. He said -
T am deeply conscious of the importance of this occasion and of the work <bn which we are embarking together. There can be no doubt that the success or failure of these discussions will determine the future shape of Europe. They will affect profoundly the way of life, the political thought and even the character of each one of our peoples. Her Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom have asked me to set before you to-day in clear and comprehensive terms the view they take of this enterprise and to emphasize the importance which they attach to its success.
The British Government and the British people have been through a searching debate during the last few years on the subject of their relations with Europe.
Later in his speech Mr Heath said -
In particular, we had to think very deeply about the effect on the Commonwealth of so important a development in United Kingdom policy. I hope you will agree with me that the Commonwealth makes an essential contribution to the strength and stability of the world, and that sound economic foundations and prospects of development go hand in hand with this. We believe that it is in the interests of all of us round this table that nothing should be done which would be likely to damage the essential interests of its Member Countries. Some people in the
United Kingdom have been inclined to wonder whether membership of the Community could iri fact be reconciled with membership of the Commonwealth. The task of reconciliation is complex, but we are confident that solutions can be found to Commonwealth problems fully compatible with the substance and the spirit of the Treaty of Rome.
You will find in those remarks the kind of theme that the Minister for Trade emphasized in his negotiations. Australia does not come before the European Economic Community, or before the United Kingdom or the United States of America, cap in hand. She comes before them as a proud nation, proud of the contribution that she has made to world affairs, and proud of the contribution that she will continue to make. She says to these great nations that in the situation in which we find ourselves internationally to-day, with the continuing struggle of the west against communism, the one fact that the great nations must realize is that the economy of the West is one and indivisible. No less important than the military sphere in this connexion is the economic sphere.
Any action of one of the major countries in Europe or of the United Kingdom or the United States of America which is detrimental to countries like Australia, New Zealand and Canada, or any of the other developing countries, is also deterimental to the safety and security of the West as a whole. That is all we have been saying. We do not want any special benefits bestowed upon us. We want the right to live in security, with a solid and sound economic foundation, in the Western World. We have been prepared to make sacrifices in times past. This country is part of the Commonwealth of Nations and, realizing the value and the strength of the Commonwealth to the Western World, we believe that nothing should be done to the detriment of the Commonwealth and the contribution that it can make to the welfare of the Western World.
Having this in mind, we do not need to go before these nations with any apologies. We can go before them confident of our strength. Let me repeat the remarks made by the Minister for Trade in the speech that he delivered in this House on 3rd May. He said, referring to Great Britain -
If that point should be reached, she will, as Mr. Macmillan has already pointed out, have a heavy responsibility. But, as Mr. Macmillan has also recently pointed out, an equally heavy responsibility would be borne by the European countries who in that contingency had refused measures of protection to our trade. Further, I am not overlooking the massive influence of the United States in this whole matter. She, although not a principal, has a great influence and if less than justice is obtainable for our circumstances, a share of the responsibility may, particularly if it extended to an issue of preferences, rest upon the United States.
That, as I say, has been the theme that we and other countries of the Commonwealth have been expounding. I think the major industrial nations must realize that the major primary producing nations have to be given their place in the sun. There has been a great deal of talk about the need to give economic aid to backward and newly developed countries. This is important, but, as I have said before in this House, if this economic aid results in a drop in the production of the particular nation providing it, then that economic aid has been wasted. This is a point that the Minister for Trade has been making at meetings of the organization of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, at the Montreal conference and at other conferences, and I think it is a point that we are justified in making - namely, that the primary producing countries must be given their place in the sun in this Western World.
As I have said, we cannot at this stage be dogmatic in our statements, because negotiations and discussions are still proceeding. We are still putting forward our case. The Government has made preparations in case certain things happen, but we cannot be dogmatic, because it will only be as negotiations proceed that we will be able to perceive the reality of the situation. However, the necessity for safeguards must always be kept before the minds of the countries concerned. The economic stability of countries like Australia must never be forgotten, and if we are to play our part, and if the European countries are to play their part, in securing the economic future of the Western countries we must be united in our endeavours to sustain a stable economy for all the countries involved. If the European economy were to be strengthened at the expense of countries like Australia, New Zealand, India, Pakistan and Canada, that would not assist the welfare of he Western World. . It would be to the detriment not only of our own country but also of the Western World in toto.
We are going through an important period in world history. I believe we should have a more united Europe in this twentieth century than there was in the past. That unity should be solidified because of the threat from Communist Russia and its satellite countries. But, basically, this unity must not be achieved at the expense of other countries that have also contributed nobly to the maintenance of our Western way of life. This has been put forward by the Minister for Trade and by the Government. It will continue to be put forward with all the strength and vigour of which we know the Minister is capable I believe that leaders in Europe, in the United Kingdom and in the United States of America will realize the value of this and, if I may use the phrase again, that the economy of the West is one and indivisible. I believe that they will work so that the economy of our countries will be sustained and so that our stability will continue.
.- The Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) has just returned from a trip around the world during which he endeavoured to secure the good offices of, first, America, then Great Britain and then France and Germany to ensure the retention of preferential tariffs upon our agricultural products exported to Great Britain. He admits that he has failed. He said -
I was told that, if questioned, the United States Government would certainly have to make clear its well-known objection to the system.
As America’s objection is well known, and as < our Minister is making it better known, there is little reason for any one to ask questions to learn that country’s attitude. The Minister stated -
The view is also most strongly held by The Six that if Britain joined she could not have special dispensations which would in fact establish her as a separate trading area within the overall Common Market bloc.
He continued -
I was left in no doubt that members of The Six would expect to obtain a greater share of the British market for agricultural commodities if Britain joined.
What exactly are these preferences? Are they a means whereby the British Government gives to the people and the industrialists of Australia some great consideration so that we can develop our primary industries? Are they a kind of Colombo
Plan by which, at the expense of the interests of its own people, the British Government helps to build up conditions within this country? This Government has boasted that our standard of living is higher than that of any other country in the world, and that our industries are more prosperous under its administration than they ever have been. In that case, should we rely upon a hand-out from the British Government to support our standard of living, which is so much higher than the standard of living in Great Britain? Should we say to Great Britain, “ Give us a preference in the introduction of our goods into your markets which will increase the cost of living of the people of Great Britain? “ Of course we should not! Let us examine the result of these preferences. They are not gifts and they are not handouts; they are mutual arrangements by which, in return for lower duties than the rest of the world has to pay upon its primary products, we give to Great Britain the benefit of lower duties upon the manufactured goods which she sends to Australia. What are the irrefutable figures which are taken from the official documents of this country? These are the figures relating to our trade with the rest of the world: In the thirteen years commencing in 1948-49 and ending in 1959-60, the period in which this Government has been in office, we imported from overseas £9,939,000,000 worth of goods and merchandise and exported to the rest of the world goods and merchandise worth £10,614,000,000. In other words, we exported £675,000,000 worth of goods more than we imported. Not bad, some honorable members may say. But because we have to pay freight, insurance, interest on loans and dividends on capital invested in Australia, our trade balance was £1.669,000,000 in debit, that is, during those thirteen years our indebtedness to the whole of the world increased by £1,669,000,000 - not a bad amount, a nice round sum! What was the position in relation to the trade with die United Kingdom? Our imports from the United Kingdom amounted to £4,206,000,000 and our exports to £3,356,000,000. In other words, we imported from the United Kingdom £850,000,000 worth of goods more than the United Kingdom received from us in the form of primary products. The result was that our indebtedness to Great Britain increased by £1,732,000,000- a greater amount than our indebtedness to the whole of the rest of the world.
What are the figures so far as the United States and Canada are concerned? Our imports from those countries amounted to £1,631,000,000 and our exports to £1,010,000,000. In other words, we exported to the United States and Canada £621,000,000 worth of goods less than chey exported to us. Our trade balance with those two countries was down £1,360,000,000. Over the thirteen years our indebtedness to the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada as a result of our trade with those countries increased by £3,092,000,000. That is an immense sum, and the position is an indictment of this nation’s trading capacity.
– What about our trade with Japan.
– I shall deal with Japan in a few minutes. It must now be clear that our favorable balance of payments with the world exclusive of the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Canada, during the thirteen years which I have mentioned amounted to £2,423,000,000. In other words, we made a profit in our trading operations with every nation of the world outside the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada of £2,423,000,000. With those three nations we incurred a loss of £3,092,000,000.
– Do you favour the Japanese Trade Agreement?
– My friend has mentioned the Japanese Trade Agreement. I shall deal with that briefly. The position was this: Japan was buying from us about £70,000,000 worth of goods more than we were buying from Japan so she said to this Government, “You must buy from us and you must pledge yourself by treaty to allow our goods into your country at a cheaper tariff rate so that we may equalize our trade and remedy our unfavourable trade trade balance with Australia.” And the Minister hearkened to Japan and agreed to do so. But his first duty was to remedy the unfavorable trade balances with the United1 States, Canada and the United Kingdom, if he was to serve the best interests of this nation. That was his duty, if he was to do those things that any intelligent trading nation would do and if he was to apply not socialistic or Communist principles, but the basic principles of good business in this country’s trading with other countries of the world.
There sat within this chamber not long ago a most distinguished statesman of the British Commonwealth of Nations, the Prime Minister of New Zealand. As recently as yesterday he said that New Zealand would increase its trade with Australia, but he added, and these were his words - “ That trade must be a balanced trade “. We of the Labour Party have been saying down the years that this country’s trading should have been well balanced. If the trading of this country were well balanced, the problems associated with Britain’s entry into the Common Market would not be fraught with the dangers and difficulties that they are fraught with to-day.
– Do you favour the Japanese Trade Agreement?
– Members on the Government side of the House wish to put me off, because this is an unanswerable indictment. I am not making this indictment; it is contained in the figures that exist within the official documents of this nation issued by the departments under the control of members on the treasury bench. How must Australia’s debts be paid? How have we met the position caused by huge deficits in our overseas balances? There were only two ways in which we could do this. They were to increase our borrowings from other nations of the world and to allow the introduction into this country of overseas capital, which means the selling of this country bit by bit.
The Labour Party says that if there are to come to this country loans and capital from other nations of the world, that capital should come in such a form as to promote the welfare of our people and the development of our nation. It should not come here in the form of money and investments used for the exploitation of the people of Australia. I tell the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull), who interjected a few minutes ago, that it should not come into this country in the form of canned chicken from Chicago, canned peaches from California, fruit juices, or thousands and thousands of tons of packaged peas from Holland. It should not come into Australia in the form of luxuries to dissipate the wealth of this country - textiles and other commodities which destroy the industries of this nation and put its people out of employment. That is the problem which confronts this Government more than the question of the Common Market.
Let me now supply some figures in connexion with the Common Market. Since The Six have combined in Europe we have exported to them f 1,086,000,000 worth of commodities. We have imported from The Six, which are a vast menace, £567,000,000 worth of commodities. In our trading with those nations we have made £418,000,000 since they combined to form the basis of the European Common Market. Therefore, I say to the gentlemen who sit on the treasury bench that the difficulties of this country are not difficulties which have been created by Britain’s proposed entry to the Common Market. Irrespective of whether Britain is associated with the Common Market all the present difficulties of this nation would have confronted us and would have had to be met in the future.
In reality Australia, operating under the present Government, is like a drug addict. The position of a drug addict, of course, is that he must have more and more infusions of the drug and greater and greater infusions of it. And so Australia first in 1948 had small infusions of foreign capital in order, allegedly, to help our economy. Year after year these infusions by means of loans and the investment of foreign capital in this country have continually increased. To-day Australia is in the position of a drug addict whose health, if the quantity of the drug is reduced, is endangered. If the drug was cut off altogether the position of the addict would be very grave. So this nation, if the infusions of foreign capital are reduced, is in danger. If the infusions of foreign capital were suddenly cut off altogether the position of this country would become calamitous.
My time is becoming brief, Sir, but let me tell you that our £3,000,000,000 of increased indebtedness - that is what a deficit means - to the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Canada, means that annually the people of Australia have to pay out something like £250,000,000 and receive nothing in return. That £250,000,000 goes out, not as Australian bank notes, but in goods and merchandise. That £250,000,000 annually goes in the form of the primary products of this community to those overseas to whom we owe debts. That amount of primary products is a greater quantity than we have been selling annually to Britain from 1948-49 to 1960-61. That is the position and, as the years go by, under the policy and under the administration of this Government that amount will increase. We, the people of Australia, will have an intolerable millstone of debt around our necks, and intolerable obligations which will result in the destruction of the economy of this nation and of the standards of living of our people.
– The honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters) gave an excellent unbalanced treatise on the balance of payments. He started off by talking about trade with Japan and said that the Government, or the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen), having listened to the Japanese, was forced to agree that we should give more of our trade to the Japanese because they used, yearly, £70,000,000 worth of our goods. Any one who believes that any nation can continue to buy from us at that rate without itself selling to us lacks the most elementary knowledge of the world trade situation. The honorable member’s speech centred upon future difficulties’ that this nation might face if the United Kingdom entered the Common Market.
During the course of this debate I have been thinking that there is a tendency in Australia to criticize the United Kingdom even for entertaining the idea of joining the Common Market. I say that no Australian has the right to offer that criticism if the entry of the United Kingdom into the Common Market will make the British economy sound and if failure to enter it would bring about economic ruin for Britain. Listening to some people, I had the feeling that they were prepared to stand on this island that will never lie at the proud foot of a conqueror and wave the Union Jack while the island sank beneath them. This is a stupid attitude.
It is well to remember to-day - the eighth of May, the anniversary of peace in Europe - the price that Britain has paid as reflected in the situation that she is in at the present moment. Honorable members on both sides of the House know that in two world wars the United Kingdom was bled almost white in her protection of the Western world, including America and Australia. In both these wars most of her merchant fleet was destroyed. From being one of the strongest financial nations in the world she began to sink. As a result of the sacrifices that she had made she could no longer be the leading power in the world. For 174 years Australia has had the United Kingdom to carry her along and spoonfeed her. It was British investment, in the first place, that started the development of Australia. It was British immigration that gave us our population. It was the sale in the United Kingdom of Australian goods, which had been produced by British investment, and the subsequent reinvestment of British profits derived therefrom, that further developed Australia.
If honorable members study the history of the United Kingdom over the last few years they will find that she reached a stage at which she had to turn towards this European Common Market if she was to survive in Europe and in the world. I think it is quite wrong for members on either side of the House to criticize United Kingdom Ministers for some of their actions, which surely were designed to protect the people of the United Kingdom. The first responsibility of the United Kingdom Government is to the people of the United Kingdom. It certainly is not to the people of Australia, however much we may like to think it is. The Minister for Air (Mr. Bury) said to-night that Australia must now stand on its own feet. If it cannot stand on its own feet after 174 years of business life and community life it does not deserve to stand.
I think that the Government cannot be criticized for its efforts to find markets in other parts of the world. If honorable members study the trend of trade between Australia and the United Kingdom, they will see that there has been a slow decline over the last ten years. It has been said that the United Kingdom had made no move to join the Common Market and that nothing was said about its joining it until recently. In 1957-58 Britain openly opposed entry to the market. She hoped that by her association with the free trade area, or The Seven, as it was called, she would be able to compete with the European Common Market countries - The Six - and would find herself in the position she wanted to occupy. As everybody knows, she failed dismally. She had to look towards this new European community of interests in order to have any hope of maintaining her place among the nations of the world. Now she has been criticized strongly because, it has been said, she is prepared to let the Commonwealth go in the greater interest of selfpreservation.
In October, 1961, at the Conservative Party conference at Brighton, Mr. Duncan Sandys, who, as honorable members know, visited Australia, made a statement which has been reported as follows: -
Mr. Sandys stated Britain had no intention of moving from her declared position that if she could not secure special arrangements to protect vital Commonwealth interests she would not join the Common Market. He declared: “What is bad for them is usually bad for us; and what is good for us is usually good for them. If entering into the Common Market involved the destruction of our Commonwealth trade we would have more to lose than to gain . . . We have made it clear that if we had to choose between the Commonwealth and the Common Market we would naturally choose the Commonwealth. That is our declared position and we have no intention of shifting from it.”
I think it is fairly obvious that unless you can see that your actions will make you economically sound for the future your actions are not justified.
– How do we do that?
– This is not a decision for us to make. It lies purely with the United Kingdom, and she has guaranteed to give us certain safeguards. I think honorable members will see that if the United Kingdom faced economic ruin she would not be able to help Australia or any other country. Between 1950 and 1960, as honorable members know, development in Europe went ahead. The economies of countries that had been defeated in war suddenly boomed. The situation in those countries was in marked contrast to the situation in the United Kingdom. Between 1950 and 1960 the national income of the United Kingdom rose from £14,000,000,000 to £17,000,000,000. In the Common Market countries it rose from £29,500,000,000 to £47,000,000,000. This comparison proved to the people of the United Kingdom that something drastic had to be done.
From a base figure of 100, production in the United Kingdom rose to 130 between 1950 and 1960. In the United States it rose to 140. The figure for all of Europe rose to 175. In the countries of the Common Market it went up to 220. In other words, production rose in Common Market countries by about four times as much as it rose in Great Britain. At the same time the output per worker rose from a base of 50 in the United Kingdom to about 110; in the United States it rose to 130; in all of Europe it rose to about 140; and in the Common Market countries it rose to 170.
During this period, as I said earlier, the trend in United Kingdom exports changed. In 1952 the United Kingdom was sending only 25 per cent, of her products, to western Europe. In another eight years the figure rose to 30 per cent. In 1952, 50 per cent, of her exports were being sent to the Commonwealth, but eight years later the proportion had dropped to 44 per cent. Britain could see what was happening in Commonwealth trade. In Australia during that period we were searching for markets overseas and endeavouring to solve our balance of payments problem by selling more, to countries such as Japan. I hate to think what would have happened if we had not concluded a trade treaty with Japan and had not been able to sell our wool to that country. Any difficulties that might be envisaged in maintaining our standard of living now would have been many times greater if our main exportable product had not had a ready market.
It has been said that the move to have a free trade area in Europe has some political background. The countries of the Common Market have set themselves the gigantic task of uniting their economies and wiping out their trade barriers. But there must be political implications in future. When the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) spoke on this matter during the closing stages of the last Parliament I think he said that there could not be complete internal control without the countries involved moving into some sort of external control. To-day there are two major powers in the world - the United States of America and Russia. America, with its population of 177,000,000, has a national income of £173,000,000,000. Russia, with a population of 212,000,000, has a national income of £80,000,000,000. The Common Market countries have an aggregate population of 167,000,000 and a national income of £58,000,000,000. It has been suggested that if the United Kingdom enters the Common Market two members of The Seven - Denmark and Norway - will follow her. This would result in a total Common Market population of 227,000,000, which is greater than the population of America or Russia. The Common Market countries would then have a national income of £84,000,000,000, which is greater than the national income of Russia. If honorable members would like to hear some of the opinions that have been expressed in connexion with this matter in the past, I refer them to a statement made by Sir Winston Churchill in 1946 at, I think, Zurich, when he said - 1 am now going to say something that will astonish you. The first step in the recreation of the European family must be a partnership between France and Germany.
In this way only can France recover the moral leadership of Europe. There can be no revival of Europe without a spiritually great France and a spiritually great Germany.
At the beginning of his statement he said -
We must turn our eyes away from the horrors of the past towards the future. If Europe is to be saved from infinite misery, and indeed from final doom, there must be an act of faith in the European family and an act of oblivion against all the follies and crimes of the past.
When a country has suffered two world wars in such a short time, when it has almost carried the world, including Australia, on its shoulders, we can hardly blame it for turning towards some sort of alliance which will make it economically stable, perhaps politically powerful, and strong in every way.
In conclusion, I wish to refer to only one other matter. It has been said in this place that a certain person could take credit for first raising this matter. If we care to go further into “ Hansard “ than perhaps the honorable member for Mitchell (Mr. Armitage) did, we shall find that my friend, the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Howson), is recorded at page 896 of “ Hansard “ of 30th April, 1957, as having stated that Australia should interest herself in this question of the European Common Market because of its possible repercussions on our overseas trade. About that time, the present Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) made a somewhat similar statement about it. It is interesting to note, too, that a few weeks later the present Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) referred to the European Common Market. At page 945 of “ Hansard “ of 1st May, 1957, he is reported as having said -
The United Kingdom win ultimately be obliged to join the European economic union, and that will be greatly to its advantage. It would be very foolish if it did not do so. It would be missing a market that is now denied to it because of the operation of high tariffs.
I think most honorable members will agree with that.
– Who said that?
– The present Leader of the Opposition. But the thing to bear in mind is that to-day we are discussing the efforts of the Minister for Trade to ensure that Australia’s trade is safeguarded, and 1 do not think we are in any position to criticize Great Britain for her actions, which are taken in the best interests of her own people. After all, we, as members of this Parliament, expect our Government to act in the same way.
.- A great deal of time during this debate has been taken up by some honorable members defending the attitude of Great Britain, and by others criticizing it. As the time for the debate is limited, I propose to devote my remarks to examining just how Great Britain’s entry into the European Common Market will affect our own people and our own industries. I propose to attempt to destroy the myth which has been created that the Commonwealth Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) is not only putting up a great fight for Australia, but is succeeding in his efforts to defend Australian industries. The Minister for Trade makes it quite obvious that his mission overseas has failed because, at the conclusion of his statement, he said -
If ever there was an issue which should produce an Australian bipartisan policy, this it it.
That was the first occasion on which the Minister for Trade had made such a statement. And why does he make it? He makes it because he recognizes that his mission overseas has been a complete and absolute failure, that the Government has made a mess of the handling of this situation, as it has done in connexion with many others that have preceded it. Now, in order to avoid paying the political penalty for its bungling, the Government wants to attach the Labour Opposition to the policy which it is now pursuing. The Minister for Trade is very pessimistic about the result of his mission overseas. After all, what is all this ballyhoo about the huge success of his mission? Let us examine his own statements. For instance, he said -
My mission was to explain.
He then went on to say -
These explanations did arouse a new consciousness in the minds of the European governmental leaders that problems were raised for Australia beyond what they had previously comprehended.
But that does not give us any solution of our difficulties. I agree with the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Chaney) that the decision as to whether Great Britain enters the European Economic Community, or whether she stays out, is one for the British Government to make, but we want to know what has been achieved by the visit of our own Minister overseas. It has been said on previous occasions that what Australia was requesting was ministerial representation at conferences when matters affecting Australia’s welfare were being determined. Did the Minister for Trade obtain admission to any conferences at a ministerial level? He did not. Instead, Dr. Westerman, secretary of the Department of Trade, was allowed to make a statement, not to the negotiating ministers, but to a meeting of top officials of the European Economic Community. Following that, the Minister said -
Our prospects are improved.
On what does he base the statement that Australia’s prospects are improving? When can we expect a reply to the submissions made by Dr. Westerman? Is any reply to bc given by the European Economic Community? The Minister admits that he received very little notice when he was overseas. To quote his own words, he said -
I did not receive as much space in British newspapers as one good horse race.
So we can see that his mission evidently was not as successful as some Government supporters would have us believe it was. The Minister also said -
On some important items of Australian trade, the British policy was not clear.
Was it not his task to’ explain our attitude to the British authorities, and to discover their attitude to the problems that were confronting this country? Undoubtedly the Government has been dilatory and lax. If it had been alert, if it had been watching Australia’s interests, it must have known much earlier that our industries and the export markets for our products were likely to be adversely affected by developments overseas.
It is perfectly true that the Treaty of Rome was not signed until 25th March, 1957, and that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) made his first statement in this Parliament on 16th August, 1961, despite the fact that, as is well known, the talks preceding the signing of the treaty had extended over a period of approximately five years and this Government should have been aware of what was happening. Never at any time prior to 16th August, 1961, was any ministerial statement made in this Parliament in connexion with this particular treaty or how it was likely to affect Australia. At a later date, the Prime Minister said -
I myself had some general talk about this- - Referring to the treaty - with both Chancellor Adenauer and President de Gaulle in 1959.
But no statement was made in the Commonwealth Parliament until August, 1961. The Minister for Trade stated -
The Government had no knowledge prior to July last that Britain intended to open negotiations for membership of the European Economic Community.
He also said that there had been no discussions until Mr. Duncan Sandys visited Australia in August of that same year. What about all this talk of Commonwealth cooperation? Time and time again I have heard the Prime Minister declare in this Parliament that there were full and frank discussions, that there was complete cooperation between the various members of the Commonwealth of Nations, and that the Australian Government was kept fully informed of all happenings overseas that were likely to affect our welfare. Evidently this is one occasion on which it was not informed. Let us have a look at the motives behind the move to establish the European Economic Community. I believe that not enough attention has been given to the political aspects of the move.
It is rather interesting to note that President Kennedy, in his message to Congress on 30th January, 1962, said -
The unify of N.A.T.O. has been weakened by economic rivalry.
There is no doubt in the world that one of the things that has been concerning the President of the United States of America, which has been applying pressure to secure Great Britain’s admission to the Common Market, and its principal purpose was the strengthening of Nato. It is rather significant that up to date the only nations that have become members of the European Economic Community are members of Nato. We can readily recognize that if there is division on the economic field, that must weaken the political structure.
I agree with the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns). 1 believe that one of the reasons for the pressure exerted by the United States of America for the entry of Great Britain into the community is that the United States wants to build up a strong force in Europe to relieve it of a great deal of its responsibility in respect of the defence of that area, so that it will be able to use its resources in other parts of the world where it is anxious to use them. However, there is no doubt in the world that the entry of Great Britain into the Common Market will be a very serious matter for Australia. There is no need for me to repeat the figures that have been given. Many important Australian industries are faced actually with extinction unless we are able to find alternative markets. The canned and dried-fruits industries, the dairy industry, the wheat-growing industry and the fruit-growing industry will all be in a desperate plight if Great Britain enters the community. The Government is clinging desperately to the assurances that have been given to it overseas that Great Britain will not enter the Common Market unless the interests of Australia and the other member countries of the Commonwealth of Nations are adequately protected. But who determines whether those interests are adequately protected? Not this Parliament and not the Australian representatives. That question will be determined among the negotiating powers - The Six who now comprise the Common Market and Britain, if she enters it.
The Minister for Trade said -
We were assured by Mr. Sandys … the British Prime Minister and other Ministers that entry by Britain into the Common Market would be conditional upon her securing special arrangements to protect the important trading interests of Australia and other Commonwealth countries.
He went on to say that Great Britain would not join on terms that would seriously harm her Commonwealth trading partners. Evidently, Great Britain does contemplate joining the Common Market even if her entry injures Australian industries, but as long as, in her opinion, it does not do serious harm to them. I would like the Government to explain, if it can, what is meant by the phrase, “seriously harming Australian industries “.
A common agricultural policy has already been determined by the Common Market countries. There is no doubt in the world that the British preference system, which is so important to many Australian primary industries to-day, is to end. The Minister for Trade said -
There would be no hope of securing approval of the Common Market countries for the perpetuation of the preferences for our products in Britain against theirs.
That must be evident to any thinking member of this Parliament. The United States of America has declared that the British preference system is wrong in principle. The Minister referred to “ the massive influence of the United States”. There can be no doubt in the world that the massive influence of the United States, to which the Minister referred, is forcing the hand of Great Britain in regard to its application for entry to the European Economic Community. Of course, the view of the six nations that already comprise the community is that the continuance of the British preference system is incompatible with the principles of the customs union and common externa] tariff that Britain has already said she accepts.
What are the Government’s proposals to get us out of our trouble? It has now put forward a proposal in which it is asking for preference quotas for entry not to Great Britain but to the Common Market area generally. The Government proposes to ask that the quota be determined on the figure of our existing imports into Great Britain plus an annual extension to allow for expansion of industry and development in this country. After reading the terms of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, I am not sure that that proposal is not in conflict with the agreement that we entered into in 1947. That agreement specifically declared that, whilst recognizing British preferences existing at that time, no new preferences were to be adopted. Therefore, in order to make it appear to the Australian primary producers and the Australian community that it is doing something to protect their interests, the Government has put forward what I regard as a most impracticable proposal, hoping against hope that it will be able to secure some trading concession.
How are the Common Market countries to share the advantage of these preference quotas for which we are asking? We have to assume that if the Common Market countries agree to the Australian Government’s proposal it will mean that a quantity of cheaper food will go into that area. The industries of any country that can take advantage of that cheaper food must have a competitive advantage over the other members of the Common Market. Therefore, they will be faced with the problem of how the advantage of the cheaper imports from the Commonwealth countries is to be shared equally among the seven sovereign countries that will then form the European Economic Community. I say that it is an impracticable proposition.
I believe that Great Britain eventually will join the Common Market under any conditions because of the pressure from the United States of America. In case any one is in doubt about the United States exercising pressure, let me give one illustration in support of that statement. On 4th August, 1961, the International Monetary Fund, which is dominated by the United States, made available to Great Britain credits amounting to £714,000,000. On 9th
August, 1961, five days later, the financial editor of the “ Guardian “ newspaper said -
It is not the first time we have solemnly renounced our freedom of movement in economic policy for the sake of last-minute credit.
Britain to-day has become so dependent on the United States of America, economically and in many other respects, that if that country wants the Common Market and wants Britain to become a member of it, it seems to me that the decision has already been determined. The Minister for Trade, in grasping at this straw and hoping that he will be able to retrieve something of the preference for Australian commodities on the British market and in the Common Market countries generally, quotes article 234 of the Treaty of Rome which recognizes that obligations of third countries arising from prior conventions shall not be affected by the treaty insofar as the conventions are not incompatible with the treaty. Who determines whether they are incompatible with the treaty? Not the Australian Government representatives, and not even the representatives of Great Britain; but the council that is appointed to administer the European Economic Community.
I am not arguing for one moment that Australia’s trade with that part of the world will cease automatically the moment Britain enters the Common Market; but her entry will mean that from that time onwards Australia’s difficulties will begin to increase. Whilst our primary industries will receive the advantages that they obtained under the Ottawa Agreement of 1932, the 1957 United Kingdom-Australia Trade Agreement, the sugar agreement and the wheat agreement - because those agreements will run for the remainder of their terms - it must be recognized that all that Australia can hope to secure is some breathing space, or some transitional period in which we can try to adjust our situation to meet the changed circumstances.
The agricultural agreement, which has now been accepted by the Common Market countries, is not to become fully operative until the expiration of a period of about seven years. Great Britain, it is said, wants it extended to twelve years. But it is quite clear that any special arrangements that will be agreed to in respect of Great Britain must be consistent with the principles of the
Treaty of Rome. There would be the strongest resistance, so the Minister said, to securing long-term special arrangements for Australian items. So we will not get the acceptance, even according to the Minister himself, of the Government’s proposal for the introduction of preference quotas for Australian goods into the Common Market countries.
Reference was made to the Japanese Trade Agreement and to Labour’s attitude towards it. My time has almost expired, but let me tell honorable members opposite that the Japanese Trade Agreement was designed solely to secure another market for Australian wool. Wool is a commodity that can be sold anywhere in the world and is purchased by Japan because it needs wool to keep its industries operating. Japan reexports products made from Australian wool. When Japanese goods came into Australia in increased quantities as a result of the trade treaty with Japan they pushed British goods principally, and also Australian goods, off the local market. As the Commonwealth demand for British goods began to contract and become more restrictive, it created increased difficulties for Great Britain. It had to look for other markets.
The Australian Government has proved dilatory in its search for new outlets for the products of Australian industries. For years in this Parliament we have asked not for trade to be determined on the basis of the political colour of a government, but for markets to be sought wherever they are offering. There are 700,000,000 Chinese to the north of Australia. When we asked the Government to give recognition to China and to seek trade in that quarter, we were declared to be Communist sympathizers and fellow travellers. To-day, the Government is sending representatives into this area seeking markets for our wool and for our wheat. If wheat had not been sold to red Chinalast year, the wheatgrowing industry would have been in a parlous condition.
It can be seen that this Government has failed. It has neglected its opportunities, and there is only one way to deal with the situation. 1 hope that ho member of the Australian Labour Party will be foolish enough to heed the plea of the Minister for Trade to approach this matter on a bipartisan basis. Labour, by that means, would be signing its own death warrant, because in this country-
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Howson) adjourned.
The following bills were returned from the Senate: -
Without amendment -
Wool Tax Assessment Bill 1962.
Australian Universities Commission Bill 1962.
Without requests -
Wool Tax Bill (No. 1) 1962.
Wool Tax Bill (No. 2) 1962.
House adjourned at 10.54 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
d asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Coast, Mexico, Norway, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Rumania, Syria, Ukraine, United Arab Republic, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and Yugoslavia.
s asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Penalty: Fifty pounds. (2.) Any newspaper editor or proprietor who permits, in any newspaper which he edits or owns, the publication of any unsigned article, report, letter, or other matter commenting upon any candidate, or political party, or the issues being submitted to the electors after the issue and before the return of any writ for the election of a member of the Senate, or of the House of Representatives, or for the taking of a referendum vote, shall be deemed guilty of an offence against this Act.
Penalty: Fifty pounds. (3.) This section shall not apply to the publication in a newspaper of -
an article in a newspaper which con sists solely of a report of a meeting and does not contain any comment (other than comment made by a speaker at the meeting) upon any candidate, or political party, or the issues being submitted to the electors.
s asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows: -
Recently the United Australia Movement, which is a private body, informed me in general terms of its views. I understand that the organization has made public statements about its aims and activities.
b asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1, 2 and 3. In general, members of Parliament no longer receive stamp allowances, but a provision for postage expenses of members is made in members’ electorate allowances. Apart from Ministers, including the Prime Minister, the President and the Speaker and the Leader of the Opposition, who receive stamps for official purposes as required, some special stamp allowances are payable annually to cover the additional postage obligations of certain parliamentary office-bearers. Hie details of these allowances are set out in the 1959 Report of the Committee of Inquiry into the Salaries and Allowances of Members of the Commonwealth Parliament. Telephone facilities for members are also detailed in the report of the committee of inquiry. Members’ electorate allowances take into account that members will have telephone expenses attributable to parliamentary and electorate business. Official telephones are provided for Ministers, including the Prime Minister, the President and the Speaker, the Leader and Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives and the Leader and Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate.
m asked the Minister for Immigration, upon notice -
Why does his department’s “Quarterly Statistical Bulletin “ incorporate the Statistician’s figures for long-term and permanent arrivals but not his figures for long-term and permanent departures?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
The purpose of the “Australian Immigration Quarterly Statistical Bulletin “ is to provide detailed information directly related to the immigration programme, particularly statistics on the programme of assisted migration. On 1st May the Commonwealth Statistician published new statistics which for the first time enabled the number of former settlers to be identified against permanent departures. In view of this development, it is the intention of my department to publish such information in future issues of the “ Statistical Bulletin “.
New Guinea Resources Prospecting Company.
Mr. Ward ask the Minister for Territories, upon notice! -
k. - The replies to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
d asked the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
– The replies to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice -
– In answer to the honorable member’s questions I have to advise that court hearings against the operators of three boats, not two as mentioned by the honorable member, are set down for 15th May, 1962, at Geraldton and in the circumstances it would not be proper for me to answer the questions at this stage.
Book on Australian Defence.
d asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
When is it expected that Sir Frederick Sneddens book on Australian defence, which he was commissioned by the Government to write in 1957, will be completed and ready for publication?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
It is not possible to indicate a firm date of completion. The writer has been devoting his full time to this task since his retirement in 1958 without remuneration. As previously stated, the time being taken corresponds to that of other local and overseas writers of similar types of histories.
d asked the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice -
What percentage of the retail price of beer and spirits in the Sydney metropolitan area is paid to the Commonwealth in the form of excise and customs duties?
– The Minister has now furnished the following answer to the honorable member’s question: -
Excise on a bottle of beer in the Sydney metropolitan area represents approximately 53 per cent, of the retail price. Excise on a 10-oz. glass of beer, sold in the public bar, represents approximately 51 per cent, of the retail price.
Excise duty represents approximately 38 per cent., 29 per cent., 42 per cent, and 44 per cent, respectively of the average retail price per standard 26-oz. bottle of Australian whisky, brandy, gin and rum. Comparable figures for 1-oz. nips sold over the bar are approximately 29 per cent., 20 per cent., 31 per cent, and 33 per cent, respectively for each type of spirit. For imported whisky customs duty represents approximately 33 per cent, and 24 per cent, respectively of the retail prices of a 26-oz. bottle and of a 1-oz. nip sold in the bar. There are practically no imports of beer and imports of spirits other than whisky are relatively small
asked the Minister for Supply, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1 and 2. The Vietnamese Ambassador has inquired whether Australia could make available 303 rifles and facilities for the production of ammunition for civilians in village defence units. This request is being considered in conjunction with other possible forms of aid to Viet Nam. As has already been stated, the Australian Government is making available supplies of barbed wire and telecommunications equipment to the Government of Viet Nam to assist in village defence.
d asked the Attorney-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Attorney-General, upon notice -
What protection (a) is afforded company shareholders by the general law and (b) would be afforded shareholders by the provisions of the proposed uniform companies act negotiated between the State Governments and the Commonwealth against irregularities in the management and control of the company, including elections of officers?
– It would take a substantial treatise to supply the information that the honorable member’s question seeks. For example, in a recognized text-book on company law, “ Gower Modern Company Law”, chapters 13 to 15 and 20 to 27, comprising some 250 pages, are substantially devoted to relevant matters and, in addition, many other relevant matters are dealt with in other places in that work. In the model companies legislation to which the honorable member refers, upwards of one hundred sections fairly answer the description in the honorable member’s question, particularly the sections in Parts V. and VI.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 8 May 1962, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1962/19620508_reps_24_hor35/>.