24th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Sir John McLeay) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– I direct a question to the Prime Minister. Will he arrange for the statement issued by the Anzus Council Ministers yesterday to be tabled in this House so that it can be made a parliamentary document, and will he move that it be printed, so that if at some time during the current year members of the Opposition or Government supporters wish to discuss the contents of the document they may do so more readil, than by raising individual items contained in the statement.
– I think it is quite proper that the statement should be tabled and made available in that fashion.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether it is possible to have copies of the magnificent address given by the Secretary of State of the United States of America last night made available to honorable members on both sides of the House so that it can be used throughout this country, to what I believe would be very great advantage to ourselves and our allies, through the effect on public opinion here.
– I have already taken steps to see that the speech is printed and circulated.
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister a question which is supplementary to the question asked by the honorable member for Perth. In view of the importance of Mr. Dean Rusk’s speech would it be possible for that statement to be debated during the debate, asked for by the Leader of the Opposition, on the Anzus Council report?
– I have no doubt that if, at some time in the future, there is a debate on the Anzus communique, the ground covered would lend itself to any reference that honorable members might want to make to the -speech delivered last night. The sooner copies of the speech can be put into the hands of honorable members, the better pleased I will be.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Trade. What steps has his department taken to secure the market for 400,000 cases of apples, which is available each year in Indonesia? What steps has it taken to secure for the Australian dairy industry a greater share than the 20 per cent, of Indonesia’s imports of cheese and 30 per cent, of its imports of butter which Australia has at present? Has his department asked the Australian National Line to provide refrigerated ships between Australia and this natural market for our fruit and dairy products, or has it at least offered to subsidize private lines as it has done with the new shipping services to South America?
– The initiative in the search for markets for apples and pears and dairy produce lies with the relevant statutory marketing boards and with private merchants. The role of the Government is to try to set the stage and to give every aid to the statutory marketing boards or to governments. I can assure the honorable member that the Government and the Department of Trade have worked continuously, over a long period of years, directly and through the trade commissioner established in Indonesia, to set the stage for the importation of Australian products. One of the great problems in Indonesia, as in many other countries, is the lack of overseas exchange.
– We have an unfavorable trade balance with them.
– We have, in respect of purchases of oil. I do not want to go into a discussion on that. I understand that imports of oil are somewhat set aside in the calculation of trade balances. The availability of exchange is not determined by the bi-lateral trade between any two countries but, as in the case of Australia, by the general trading position between a country and all its trading partners, and by the overall capacity to find exchange to pay for imports from anywhere. This is a problem with which we are constantly concerning ourselves in respect of Indonesia.
If the honorable member for Newcastle has any particular proposals to advance I will be glad to convey them to the proper quarters. The Australian Apple and Pear Board has been quite active in searching out opportunities in every market or potential . market, as has the Australian Dairy Produce Board. Coming to the last point raised by the honorable member, the Department of Trade has constantly sought to encourage the establishment of new shipping services. As a result of direct negotiations which contributed to the establishment of new shipping services during this year, it has” established by negotiation new services to many trading areas including the Persian Gulf, the east coast of Africa and the west coast of Africa. Finally, as the honorable member will know, it has arranged to subsidize shipping lines to South America. The Department of Trade and the Government are very active in relation to all those matters which are implicit in the honorable member’s question.
– My question to the Minister for Trade is supplementary, in a way, to the question asked by the honorable member for Newcastle. Since Malaya at present imports at least £600,000 worth of potatoes a year, mostly from Holland, and only about 1 per cent, of this quantity comes from Australia, will the Department of Trade make every possible attempt to secure a greater share of this market for thc Australian potato industry, in an attempt to stabilize this industry, which is of great importance to my State as well as to other parts of Australia? The fortunes of this industry have notoriously fluctuated over the last few years.
– I should be glad to conduct inquiries along the lines suggested by . the honorable member. I know that Western Australia, as the State most adjacent to Malaya and Singapore, has for a very long time conducted a constant, substantial and vigorous trade in fruit and vegetables with that area. Western Australia, from time to time, is a potato exporting State. I do not carry in my mind whether Western Australia exports potatoes to Malaya, but I would be very surprised if an attempt has not been made to do so. That statement does not subtract from my undertaking to look into the matter raised by the honorable member.
– I ask the Minister for Social Services whether he has made any arrangements, or issued instructions to the appropriate officers of his department to inform ex-members of the forces of the additional medical benefits and so on which are available to them as service pensioners when they apply for the ordinary age pension.
– The honorable member for Moore, who has an intimate knowledge of the repatriation benefits available to those who qualify for them, will know that there was a time when the service pension was broadly equivalent to the age or invalid pension, except that the qualifying age was 60 years for men and 55 years for women. Since then, the Government has seen fit to extend the repatriation benefits of the service pension to include pharmaceutical, hospital and medical services. At that point, the Department of Social Services, as a matter of policy, gave instructions to the examining officers that in every case where an applicant for an age pension was likely to qualify for a service pension the applicant should be informed of his entitlement under the Repatriation Act.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister in charge of the War Service Homes Division whether a man who is purchasing a war service home under the old conditions relating to maximum permissible loan is entitled to borrow a further sum of £750 to make additions to his home to accommodate increases in his family. If he is so entitled, to whom does he apply?
– I shall be glad to refer the honorable member’s question to the Minister in charge of the War Service Homes Division in another place and, in the fullness of time, the honorable member will get an adequate reply.
– In addressing a question to the Minister for Primary Industry, 1 should like to refer with some appreciation to his recent statements relevant to tuna fishing. Dealing particularly with the provision of a light aircraft to spot tuna for the current survey off the Western Australian coast, I ask the Minister whether this is the first time such an aerial sweep for tuna has been made in that particular area. Will that aircraft be available for the full period of the year-long survey which has been approved?
– It is me first occasion on which aircraft have been used specifically for spotting tuna off the coast of Western Australia, and I am informed that spotting in this way is an efficient method of locating surface fish. So far as I understand, the aircraft will be available throughout the remainder of the survey. We hope that it will be of some assistance not only in discovering exactly where the fish are to be found, but also in giving some guide as to what can be done in future seasons.
– I ask the Minister for the Interior: Will he ascertain what stage has been reached in planning for the replacement of the present railway level crossing at Letchworth with an overhead road bridge. As this crossing is on the boundary between the Australian Capital Territory and the State of New South Wales, and as the New South Wales departments of Railways and Main Roads, as well as the local council and the Australian Capital Territory administration, are all concerned, will the Minister endeavour to persuade the National Capital Development Commission to take the initiative in finalizing this matter and reaching an arrangement so that this danger spot on what is becoming a busy road will be removed?
– I understand that the National. Capital Development Commission studied this problem fairly recently. I am not quite sure what its conclusions were, but I will ascertain the details and let the honorable member have them.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Immigration. Yesterday, the Minister answered a question relating to a report of an alleged statement made in a New South Wales court concerning a number of Italians who had come to Australia from New Caledonia. The report classed them as the lowest type of European and credited many of them with crimes of an extremely serious nature. In the interests of the Australian-Italian community, which prides itself as being amongst the most hard working and law-abiding sections of the Australian community, and for the information of those Australians who believe that the criticism levelled at these Italians applies generally to many southern European migrants, can the Minister give the House any information on the incidence of crime amongst European migrants in general, and in particular amongst those migrants who have come here from Italy and other southern European countries?
– Yesterday at question time I gave what I hoped was a factual and comprehensive reply to the charges that had been made. However, the honorable gentleman has raised a point which is, I think, of some importance, and it is the subject of discussion and debate in the community from time to time. So many people have a tendency to point the finger of accusation at southern Europeans, particularly Italians, and to imagine that merely because somebody with a foreign name from time to time appears in a criminal court, there is a great predisposition towards crime amongst our migrants generally, and particularly amongst those who have come from Mediterranean countries.
The honorable member may be interested to know that between 1952 and 1957 the Commonwealth Immigration Advisory Council conducted three investigations into the rate of crime amongst migrants. The committee was headed by Mr. Justice Dovey. A fourth committee of inquiry under the aegis of the Commonwealth Immigration Advisory Council is now conducting yet a further inquiry into this subject. So far, the researches Show - this, I think, is a point worth emphasizing - that the crime rate amongst Italians particularly is considerably lower than that amongst us native-born Australians. Indeed, the crime rate amongst southern Europeans, the inquiries reveal, is lower than that of all other migrants who have come to Australia. For myself, and speaking as one who for many ye’ars has had a long personal knowledge of Italy and, I would hope, some understanding of Italians, I can only say that they have shown themselves in Australia to be valuable settlers, family-loving people and on the whole most industrious and lawabiding citizens.
– I address my question to the Minister for Supply. Has the Minister’s attention been directed to a statement made on Tuesday in another place by the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs that he understood the South Viet’ Nam Government had found that the purchase of .303 rifles from Australia was not necessary? In view of the Minister’s statement, also on Tuesday, that a request from South Viet Nam for .303 rifles was being considered, will the Minister advise the House what the position actually is?
– I can only tell the honorable member that this matter lies generally in the field of defence and external affairs. From the information available to me, I can say that there was a verbal approach by the Vietnamese who asked whether the rifles might be available. It was not .followed by any written request and, therefore, nobody stands in a position to refuse the supply. The matter has not been taken any further, as far as I know. Whether the Vietnamese authorities are still interested in securing .303 rifles is a matter that is outside my knowledge.
– Has the attention of the Prime Minister been directed to a suggestion by an honorable member of this House that New Zealand might put back the1 clock to pre-federation days and become a State of the Commonwealth of Australia? If the right honorable gentleman has seen thi? suggestion, and in the highly improbable event of its being adopted by a people who are justifiably proud of their achievements, would he warn the Prime Minister of New Zealand, while he is in Australia, that the probable result under the existing form of development in Australia would be that the greater part of the population of
New Zealand would soon be situated around Sydney, Melbourne or one of the other capital cities?
– lam aware of this suggestion. I had a little light-hearted conversation with the Prime Minister of New Zealand about it, and I must say that in the most sporting fashion he said that if take-overs were the order of the day he would like to be at the taking-over end.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Health. Is the Minister aware that many persons who should be using spectacles are not doing so because they are unable to meet the cost? Is it a fact that under the existing provisions of the National Health Act no provision is made for the payment of a benefit for optical services? If so, will the Minister state whether the Government favours amending the legislation to provide such a benefit? If so, when is the amendment likely to be introduced?
– This matter has been raised from time to time in the past. Obviously it concerns directly my colleague in another place. I will see that the question is referred to him and a suitable answer prepared.
– I direct a question to the Minister for the Interior. As the Minister will be aware, certain drill halls no longer required for military training have been transferred from the Department of the Army to the Department of the Interior for disposal. In the sale of these drill halls, will special terms and preference of purchase be given to boy scout groups, youth clubs and other similar desirable non-profit organizations?
– When property of this nature is made available for disposal the first moves are to ascertain whether the State governments have any need of them. Then the local authorities are consulted and finally, if they are not interested, the buildings are offered at valuation to organizations of the sort mentioned by the honorable member. We have no real authority to give away the property of the Commonwealth to these organizations. There is a good deal of competition among these organizations and it would be invidious for us to single out any one group for preferential treatment. Therefore, the buildings are offered at valuation if only one body is interested, but if more than one body is interested the buildings are offered at auction in the usual way.
– I direct a question to the Treasurer. In view of the great inconvenience to tourists and travellers caused formerly by the need to obtain tax clearances when leaving Australia, will the Treasurer take steps to have the amending legislation recently passed by this House promulgated at the earliest possible moment?
– I shall be glad to see what can be done, as quickly as possible, to give to those concerned the benefit of this relief from the earlier requirements.
– I wish to ask the Treasurer a question. Was the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works loan that closed on 2nd April of this year undersubscribed by 57 per cent.? Was a State Electricity Commission of Victoria loan that closed on 28th April of this year undersubscribed by 38 per cent.? Was another loan for semi-governmental purposes in Victoria that closed recently undersubscribed by 3 1 per cent.? Does this mean that the functions of these organizations will be circumscribed and that the expansion and maintenance of Victoria’s electrical services and the provision of water supplies will be restricted?
– As I pointed out in answering a somewhat similar question earlier this week, the fact that a particular loan is under-subscribed does not necessarily indicate the state of the market generally at the time, or the standing of the particular enterprise concerned. There is a highly-competitive situation in the money market at all times. To understand fully what has occurred concerning a particular loan, one would need to have some understanding of what had occurred in the share market just prior to the offering of the loan, and some knowledge of pending issues. For example, the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited recently sought £14,000,000 from the market and was offered £21,000,000. The Commonwealth Government this financial year has had record peace-time loan raisings. Semigovernmental authorities generally this financial year have raised a total far in excess of their borrowings last financial year.
The honorable gentleman has asked whether the under-subscription in the” instances mentioned means some curtailment of the activities of the bodies concerned. My understanding is that in all those instances the loans had previously been underwritten, and therefore the organizations concerned would get the full amount sought. None of the State Premiers has suggested to me that any great State enterprise such as those mentioned is likely to be embarrassed because of inadequate funds.
-Iwishto ask the Minister for Trade a question without notice. I would like him to tellme whether he agrees with the statement by Mr. C. P. Puzey, director of the Australian! Industries Development Association, that the United States of America has been try ing for years to break up the trade ofthe Commonwealth of Nations, but that this the first time that the United States has come into the open on the issue.
– I do not feelobliged to comment on the statement by the gentleman mentioned. However, it is a wellknown fact that successive administrations in the United States of America have voiced their opposition to the system of preferences in the Commonwealth of Nations. It is equally a fact, even if it is not as well known, that the enclosure of the United States with a very high tariff wall, known as the Hawley-Smoot tariff, in the late 1920’s largely provoked the establishment of the system of Commonwealth preferences.
– I wish to ‘ask the Minister for Immigration a question. Very complicated problems have arisen with respect to Chinese who have arrived in this country illegally, and the Minister has brought sympathy and understanding to bear on those problems in efforts which, so far, have not met with the success for which we hoped. In view of the fact that these refugees represent only a few drops in the bucket compared to the flood of refugees now endeavouring to escape from the regions of red China where the people are starving, can the Minister discuss with his fellow members of the Cabinet the possibility of Australia taking the lead in the United Nations in moving for the establishment of an international relief organization for Asia similar to that established for Europe after the Second World War as there has not been any such organization for Asia up to the present time?
– The honorable gentlemap has raised an important matter which, I think, really involves a question of policy. The implications in the honorable member’s question appear to show that the matter extends beyond the ambit of responsibility of my department and myself. However, what he has said is indeed interesting, and I shall certainly discuss his suggestion with my colleague, the Minister for External Affairs.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister a question. Did the right honorable gentleman, in the speech which he made recently at the official opening of a section of the Snowy Mountains hydroelectric project, make any reference to the fact that he and the great majority of Liberal and Country Party members of the Parliament had boycotted the functions associated with the inauguration of this great scheme some years ago, as an indication of their disapproval of this great national developmental work planned and commenced by a Labour Government? If not, will he say whether this omission on his part was deliberate or simply the result of an oversight?
- Mr. Speaker, in the first place there was no boycott.
– Ha, ha!
– Well, you can say “ Ha, ha “ as long as you like. 1 repeat that there was no boycott. In the second place, when I opened this power station I made a particular point as, indeed, I did when I opened another power station on an earlier occasion, of acknowledging the fact that this scheme was devised by my predecessors in government, and I paid a tribute to the imagination which had brought the scheme into existence. Any members of the Opposition who attended the function know that I said this when I opened the Guthega power station and that I also said it when I opened this new power station. But perhaps members of the Opposition boycotted the functions because I was going to speak. There is no argument about this matter. This is a very great scheme. I have always given credit, quite properly I think, to honorable members opposite who were members of the government that brought the scheme into being and put the initial legislation through the Parliament. I also think that we on this side of the House are entitled to credit for having devoted a great deal of time and energy to bringing the scheme to the point that has now been reached.
– Is the Minister for Labour and National Service in a position to make a statement to the House about anomalies in the legislation covering long service leave for waterside workers, which he promised to look at recently?
– At the present time discussions are taking place between officials of my department and representatives of the Australian Council of Trade Unions and the Waterside Workers’ Federation about what the members of these organizations claim are anomalies in the long service leave legislation which was recently passed. As the discussions are still taking place I feel that it would be unwise to discuss the matter in detail at this time. I have told the federation that I have some sympathy with certain views expressed and proposals made, and as soon as the details relating to these proposals are worked out I will take the matter to the Cabinet, and I hope to be able, shortly after that, to inform the House what has been decided.
– I direct a question to the Treasurer. As the money recently made available by the Government for the relief of unemployment will have been spent by the end of June, does the Government intend to continue to provide funds for State governments and local authorities, with a view to ensuring that the persons who are now working on schemes undertaken with the aid of the grants and loans recently made by the Government will not again be thrown out of employment?
– It is the practice to hold a meeting of the Australian Loan Council towards the end of June each year. At those meetings the overall economic situation in Australia and, of course, in particular States, is thoroughly reviewed by representatives of the Commonwealth and State Governments. When we meet again this year we shall be making the same kind of survey and, included in our review, will be the need to sustain employment.
– My question to the
Minister for Primary Industry relates to the £13,500,000 subsidy which the Government has announced will continue to be paid to the dairy industry in each of the next five years. Has this subsidy reduced to a large extent the price paid by Australians for dairy products? To this extent, can the subsidy be regarded as a consumer subsidy?
– I think it must be admitted on all sides that the subsidy being paid to the dairy industry is, in the main, a consumer subsidy in that the arrangement of price means that consumers can buy butter considerably cheaper than would be the case if the price were related more closely to cost movements in the industry. At the same time, we must be fair about this. The subsidy creates an additional domestic market for the industry.
– I address my question to the Minister for Territories. What is the approximate value of exports from the Territory of Papua and New Guinea to the United Kingdom and to Common Market countries? What steps has the Minister taken to have the Territory’s exports to Great Britain safeguarded in case that country joins the Common Market, just as exports from associated French territories have been safeguarded in the Common Market arrangements?
– In case I make an error I shall not put an exact figure on the value of exports in the direction of the United Kingdom and continental Europe, but it is considerable, and the exports include copra, cocoa, some coffee and a few miscellaneous products. Of course, we realized very early that these tropical products from our Territory would be gravely affected, in the same way as Australian products would be gravely affected, by any change following the entry of the United Kingdom into the European Common Market. From the commencement, my department, the Department of Trade and other departments have been in close consultation, and. in discussions abroad my colleague, the Minister for Trade, and officers of his department have been briefed fully about the products of Papua and New Guinea and constantly have put forward a case for those products in the same way as they have put forward a case for Australian products. The honorable gentleman will recall that the Minister for Trade made particular reference to this point in a paragraph of his speech to the House last Thursday night.
– My question is also addressed to the Minister for Territories. Is any action being taken to remove from the laws of Papua and New Guinea any provisions which discriminate between races?
– I can assure the honorable member that action is being taken in this matter. In case there is any misunderstanding, perhaps I should explain that official policy is that there should be equality before the law, and equal access to the remedies of the law regardless of race. That is the principle which we try to apply when drafting legislation. As the result of action taken in earlier years there are some provisions in the laws of the
Territory which apply either only to Europeans or only to the indigenous people. Realizing that this might be a cause of offence and even of inequality, three or four years ago 1 initiated a study of the whole body of laws of the Territory. A committee was set up in my own department and it scanned the whole of the laws of the Territory and indicated every piece of legislation in which some discrimination might appear to exist. Month by month since then these acts have been brought to the notice of the Administrator. The instruction to the Administrator is that unless he can show good cause why some special provision is necessary in the interests of the indigenous people themselves, any special reference to the indigenous people is to be removed. At each session of the Legislative Council for about two years past there have been introduced amending bills repealing discriminatory provisions in the Territory legislation. There is still a good deal of work of the same kind to be completed.
– I direct a question to the Prime Minister. I refer to the proposal that the Commonwealth should convene a conference of Federal, State and local government representatives to formulate new financial arrangements for local government authorities. Is it known that in New South Wales this proposition is officially supported by the Labour Party, the Liberal Party and the Country Party, and that a similar position prevails in other States? Is it the technique of the Liberal and Country Parties to support this proposition at the State level, where nothing can be done to implement it, and to oppose it in this Parliament where an effective decision can be made? Could the Prime Minister be more conciliatory about this matter, particularly in view of the rapidly developing financial crisis in local government and because the proposal for such a conference is supported by the State Liberal and Country Parties, the Australian Council of Local Government Associations and the Opposition in the Parliament?
– I am not familiar with the views of these State bodies to which the honorable member has referred. My time is pretty well taken up in dealing with federal matters and with federal bodies.
– Do you not read the “ Sydney Morning Herald “?
– No, of course not. I am careful to preserve a good steady bloodpressure, and so I do not read it. Speaking for myself, I will be very glad to have a look into the problem which the honorable member has raised, so far as it is related to Commonwealth responsibilities.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Primary Industry. Would it be true to say that the subsidy in respect of butter, from which consumers are said to benefit, is provided almost wholly by themselves, as taxpayers? If the subsidy were withdrawn and the price of butter were raised, would he consider that the consumption of butter would decline and that this would be a very good thing for the health of the community?
– I do not think the honorable member is right in his contention that the subsidy is provided by the consumers themselves. It is provided under legislation which has been passed by this Parliament. Similar legislation will be passed again to-day by Parliament, and the subsidy will be payable for the next five years.
From time to time it is contended that the price of butter should be lower. I remind all sections of this House that the price of butter is taken into consideration in the computation of the consumer price index, so there should be no complaint by wage-earners - those that are in employment - about paying the price. This factor is taken into calculations in determining their wages. It is only fair that the producers should get their compensating price accordingly.
– by leave - I present the following paper: -
Inter-Parliamentary Union - 50lh Conference held at Brussels, September, 1961- Report 0f the Australian Delegation.
Copies will be distributed to all honorable members.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
Motion (by Mr. Calwell) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to remove the disabilities imposed on the member of the House of Representatives representing the Australian Capital Territory.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
– by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second lime.
Mr. Speaker, the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory is not a full member of this Parliament. He has very limited rights and is in exactly the same position as the honorable member for the Northern Territory. The honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory is a member of this Parliament by virtue of an act of the Parliament, the Australian Capital Territory Representation Act 1948- 1959. The honorable member for the Northern Territory is a member of this Parliament by virtue of the Northern Territory Representation Act 1922-1925.
Originally the honorable member for the Northern Territory had the right to be a member of the Parliament but no right to vote on any matter. In 1925 the then member for the Northern Territory was given the right to vote on a motion for the disallowance of an ordinance made affecting the Northern Territory. The act which established the right of the Australian Capital Territory to be represented in this Parliament conferred the same right on the member for the Australian Capital Territory.
In 1959 there were two amending bills, which conferred on each of those honorable members the right to vote for the disallowance of regulations made under ordinances passed affecting his respective Territory. That is all that has happened, in the first case over a period of 40 years, and in the second case over a period of thirteen years in respect of those two members of this Parliament.
Last evening we entertained the distinguished Secretary of State of the United States of America. American affairs were discussed briefly enough. But we all learned something about the American way of life and how affairs are managed in America. The American Secretary of State said that there is a similarity between America and Australia in that America has a capital district, the District of Columbia, as we in Australia have the Australian Capital Territory. But there is a difference between the way in which the citizens of tb>* District of Columbia are treated and thi ‘ way in which the citizens of the Australian Capital Territory are treated. Under tha 23rd amendment of the American Constitution, which was made a few years ago, the citizens of the District of Columbia can now vote for the election of the President of the United States of America. Neither the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory nor the honorable member for the Northern Territory can vote in this Parliament as to who shall be the Prime Minister of Australia. They have no right in the determination of who shall lead the Government of Australia. Yet, the citizens of the national capital of the United States of America can say who shall be the governmental head of the most powerful nation on earth, lt is true that the citizens of the District of Columbia have no separate representation in Congress. But, for all practical purposes, the people of Canberra might just as well have no representation in this Parliament while the limitations attaching to the position of member for the Australian Capital Territory remain. The same is true of the people of the Northern Territory.
Let me show some of the other disabilities attaching to my two colleagues who happen to be members of the Australian Labour Party. The honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory, like the honorable member for the Northern Territory, cannot vote in divisions except on rare occasions. That means that both gentlemen may get a vote only once every five or six years, lt is only when the opportunity arises for the disallowance of an ordinance, or of a regulation made under an ordinance, that they can vote. Neither can vote for the election of any officer of the Parliament. They cannot vote for the election of the Speaker or the Chairman of Committees, although each must submit to the rulings of the occupants of those positions. Neither can vote on any amendment proposed to the Standing Orders, although each must obey the provisions of the Standing Orders. Not only are both honorable gentlemen refused the same voting rights as all other members, but each is refused the right to act as a teller in a division. That is, he is refused the right to count the votes of those who are entitled to vote. We think that that situation ought to end. The Minister for the Interior (Mr. Freeth) during the course of the debate on the 1959 amending legislation as it affected the Australian Capital Territory admitted not only that there was substance in the case put forward by the Labour Party on that occasion for a vote for the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory but also that it was only a matter of time before the honorable gentleman should have his voting rights conceded to him. We think that the time has arrived now.
– It might come when there is a different member.
– I doubt if you could get a better member, although I would concede that there could be a different member. However, I have faith in the democracy of the Australian Capital Territory. That its intelligence is increasing, election by election, is demonstrated by the fact that the honorable gentleman’s majority is increasing election by election. The Minister said, during the debate in 1959 -
But by and large, the simple reason for limiting the voting rights of the member for the Australian Capital Territory at the present time is the question of numbers. The Constitution takes detailed and careful steps to ensure an equality of voting power within fairly narrow margins. At this time no strong case exists for departure from the spirit of the Constitution.
The position to-day is much different to that which existed in 1959, and it will be much more different three years from now. The Minister also said -
When the population increases substantially-
I ask honorable gentlemen to note the word “ substantially “- as it inevitably will increase-
I ask them to note that statement, too - the voting rights of the member for the Australian Capita] Territory may well come up for consideration by a future government.
Why wait for a future government? Why should not this Government do its duty? Of course, this Government has lasted longer than we thought it would last. It still lags superfluous; but it is not too late for it to do the just thing in respect of the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory.
– The population of the Australian Capital Territory has increased.
– Exactly. When the Minister spoke in 1959 the population of the Australian Capital Territory was 43,000. By the census of 1961 the population of the Australian Capital Territory had grown to 58,828. That is a very considerable increase. I think that the population of Canberra is growing by about 4,500 or more yearly. The number of people on the roll in 1959, when this subject was last before the House, was 21,288. The number of electors on the roll in February of this year was 29,466. lt is estimated that the population of Canberra by 1970 will be 80,000, and it will not be very long from now - perhaps twenty years or so - that the population of Canberra will be so great that, on the basis of representation in other electorates, it would be entitled not only to one member but to two members. Each of the electorates of those members would be equal in size to any electorate on the mainland of Australia.
– It has been estimated that the population of Canberra will be 100,000 by 1970.
– It could exceed 100,000. Perhaps I am a little conservative in putting the figure at only 80,000. Let me give the House some comparative figures.
The honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory, with practically no voting rights at all, represents in this Parliament 29,466 electors. The honorable member for Perth (Mr. Chaney), with full voting rights, represents only 32,681 electors.
– That position is being attended to. The Perth electorate is below quota.
– Exactly. But it will not be long before the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory will be above quota. I do not mind citing other figures to prove my case. I shall take my own position as the member for Melbourne. I have only 34,845 people on the roll in my electorate, but I know that the electors of Melbourne would hate their representative to be treated in the same way as the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory is being treated. The honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters) represents 34,809 electors. The honorable member for Braddon (Mr. Davies) represents 37,673 electors, and he is obviously a very good member, because his vote has increased, too. The honorable member for Braddon, like the other four members from Tasmania, is in a special situation because, under the Constitution, Tasmania will never have fewer than five members. The electorate of Perth has only 58,506 people living in it according to the last census, but the number of people living in Canberra to-day is 58,828. So, by every criterion, the case for a vote for the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory is beyond question, and the arguments advanced by the Minister in 1959 are being presented to him now to be discounted, if he can discount them, or to be honored, if he will honor them. And we think they should be honored. There are other significant figures concerning Canberra which ought to go on record because the question might be asked: Why did not the Labour Government, in 1948, or around that time, give the first member for the Australian Capital Territory the full voting rights being asked for now? In 1949, when the late Dr. Nott became the first member for the Australian Capital Territory, the number of electors was only 11,841. At the 1951 elections, the electors numbered 12,744. In 1954, that number had’ grown to 14,920. By 1955, it had increased to 16,181. In 1958, it was 20,563, and by 1961 it was 29,463. The progression in the first few years was almost arithmetical. The progression now has become almost geometrical. So again the case for granting a vote to the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory is, in my view, established. But 1 want to say that, whereas the difference in numbers on the roll between the Australian Capital Territory and a large num- ber of full-voting electorates is very small, the difference between the full-voting electorates themselves is enormous. The Minister said by way of interjection earlier that that matter was being attended to. It needs to be attended to. As I have said also, there are 32,681 electors on the roll in the Perth electorate as compared with 89,368 in the electorate of the honorable member for Bruce. For myself, I have 34,845 electors in the electorate of Melbourne and my colleague, the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) has 88,683 electors.
If I might digress, I do not think we can wait for a redistribution every ten years the way the population of Australia is increasing because these electorates are getting out of proportion almost as soon as each redistribution is completed but, be that as it may, the disproportion to-day is very great. Canbera is growing more rapidly than almost any other electorate in Australia, and we ought to make provision for Canberra now. We ought to be preparing now for the day when Canberra will be having two members, not one.
I do not wish to take up too much of the time of the House, but I do remind the Minister that in 1959 he also said -
This Government is not actuated by party politics or personalities in its present views.
I give him credit for that. I do not dispute that that may be his point of view, but if what he said then was true, I ask him how, in the light of the present enrolment figures for the Australian Capital Territory, he can reconcile that view with the Government’s continued refusal to grant the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory full voting rights in the present situation because the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory is entitled to a vote at the present time, when the Parliament is almost evenly divided. No section of the Australian people should be disfranchised by a government which has an effective majority of only one. Every section of the Parliament is entitled to have its voice heard, but the voice of the people in the Australian Capital Territory cannot be heard while their representative continues to be disfranchised in this House. Nor should the representative of the people in the Northern Territory continue to be disfranchised in this House. If the Government was not actuated by party politics or personalities in its views in 1959, and if it claims that it was not so actuated in 1961, let the issue be decided on the question whether government should rest on the consent of the governed for the principle that all those who are governed shall be represented in this Parliament by a spokesman is in line with Jeffersonian democracy. On that note, I finish, commending this bill to the Parliament.
– The proposition which has been advanced by the Opposition, and the bill which is now before the House, are not new. These questions have been before the Parliament on many occasions. As my colleague, the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) reminded the House, when a similar bill in connexion with the Northern Territory was before the House, this matter was discussed as recently as 1959. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) quoted several remarks that I then made about the representation of the Australian Capital Territory in this Parliament. He tried to infer from what I said that I had more or less promised that when the numbers approached the normal quota for an Australian electorate the member for the Australian Capital Territory would be given a full vote. I would like him to study once again exactly what I did say, because, even if he did take my remarks so literally as to carry that implication, my remarks were in no way related to the figures which he has quoted to-day. The greatest undertaking I did give, if I gave any, was that when the numbers increased quite considerably and quite substantially to the proportion of a normal electorate, some future government might consider the proposition, and one would imagine that the Opposition would be patient enough to wait until the enrolment of voters in the Australian Capital Territory approached the quota for a normal Australian electorate. The number then enrolled was, as quoted by the Leader of the Opposition, something just over 21,000. The electors now number something just over 29,400, and that number is still well below the normal quota for an Australian electorate. In order to bolster up his case, the honorable gentleman proceeded to quote the numbers in many electorates in Australia. For instance, he argued that because the number in the electorate of Perth is far below a quota then the electorate of the Australian Capital Territory should be entitled to representation in this House. He completely ignored the fact that the Constitution itself, and the Electoral Act itself, provide machinery whereby, when an electorate becomes out of balance, that balance can be adjusted. One would have thought that, if the honorable gentleman wished to hold me firmly to what I said previously, he would have at least waited until the numbers in the Australian Capital Territory approached the normal quota for an Australian electorate. At that time, I said that this was a matter for consideration for future government, because, quite frankly, there are many other problems than can arise in connexion with the granting of full voting rights to the member for the Australian Capital Territory in this House.
That brings me to one other point. I ask: Why do honorable members opposite raise this question at this time? Remembering that this matter was discussed in 1959, when there were fewer than 22,000 on the roll - and there are still only 29,000 on the roll - and if honorable members opposite wish to hold us to some implied promise which they thought they had that this matter would be considered when the voting population was substantially increased, why do they raise the matter at this time? Why do they not wait until they have what they believe to be a castiron case, if they wish to be tied to this tyranny of numbers to which they are so wedded? Well, there is a very simple answer to this, and the House knows it. Honorable members opposite are not interested in the Australian Capital Territory as such; they are interested in obtaining political office.
– Ha, ha!
– The Leader of the Opposition laughs. I was in Perth not very long ago, and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam), in the exhilaration of Labour’s near electoral success, was broadcasting that Labour would force an election when it wanted to do so and the means it would use would be to bring before the House a subject-matter on which the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr. J. R, Fraser) and the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson) could vote. I do not know whether he made a mistake and had not realized in his exuberance that both members could not vote together or whether this was propaganda to try to induce the people of Western Australia to believe that the Australian Labour Party had control of the situation. Perhaps he was mistaken; perhaps he was clutching at a straw or reaching for a star. I do not know. However, that was the interesting situation and it completely exposes the motives of the Opposition in bringing forward this bill at this point of time.
– If the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory had a vote, you would not be in office.
– I ask the honorable member who made that interjection to face the realities of life. Does he really invite the Government at this point of time to commit suicide? That is extremely interesting. Here is a government elected under certain conditions by the people of Australia, and he is inviting us at this point of time to change these conditions and cut our own throats.
I do not doubt that honorable members opposite did hope that they would force an election on this matter. But I very much doubt whether at this moment they would be happy about having an election, when one considers the divisions within their own ranks on a number of issues. Their timing has probably gone astray a little. But they were committed to this course by their Deputy Leader, who went around the country saying that Labour had control of the situation and would force an election when it wanted to do so, and that this was the means Labour would use to achieve its purpose. Now the Government is invited to join the Opposition and enable it to obtain control of the situation. Really, could anything be more absurd? I have given the motive for this move; it is the only explanation for bringing this matter forward when the Australian Capital Territory is some thousands of electors short of the normal quota for an electorate.
I raise this question of numbers in a rather different light because I think it is worthy of consideration in this House. The States joined in a federation under certain conditions. The conditions are laid down in the Constitution. It was necessary for that bargain of federation to prescribe conditions which would equate the representations from the States in this House by certain means - the method of evolving a quota and so on. But no mention of any numbers in relation to an electorate is made in Section 124 of the Constitution which permits the Parliament to allow representation of a territory on such terms and conditions as it may lay down. All the figures quoted by the Leader of the Opposition are purely on the assumption that representation of any territory of the Commonwealth must be on the same or similar terms to representation of any portion of a State. The Constitution draws a very clear distinction between the two kinds of representation. Therefore, we cannot assume that, just because the numbers in the Australian Capital Territory happen to be approaching the numbers in a normal electorate in a State, this automatically entitles the Territory to representation in the Federal Parliament. Indeed, as far as the Australian Capital Territory goes, there is possibly some very good reason why this should not be so.
I was interested to hear the Leader of the Opposition draw a comparison between the Australian Capital Territory and the District of Columbia and the national capital of the United States of America, Washington. He took it as some great concession to the democratic rights of the American people that they now, by the 23rd amendment, had a vote for the President of the United States. I want to remind the House that these people do not yet have any representation or vote for an election to the legislative body in the American Constitution that is equivalent to this House of Parliament. They do not elect any one to Congress with a vote in Congress - either to the House of Representatives or to the Senate. There is obviously great confusion in the mind of the Leader of the Opposition between the administration and the legislature. We have here a national capital; the United States has a national capital. It is the seat of government and it is the centre of administration. There, the administration is elected separately from the legislature; here, members of the administration are drawn from elected members of the Parliament. But no provision was made in the United States Constitution in the beginning for the representation of the seat of government in Congress. Therefore, people resident in the national capital of the United States had no representation. J have forgotten the precise date when the 23rd amendment was passed, but it was within the last few years.
– In March of last year.
– It provided them with a vote for the President but did not give them a vote in the Houses of Parliament of the United States. One can only conclude that there must have been some reason for drawing a distinction.
I think there is a very good reason for drawing a distinction in our national capital, where 33 per cent, of the work force of the Australian Capital Territory - I imagine that would approximate 33 per cent, of the adult population - comprises white-collar workers or public servants in the accepted sense of the word. Many other people are employed in other fields by the Government and are quasi public servants. This is the administration. Parliament is supposed to protect the people against a tyrannical administration, but we are asked at this time to give control of Parliament to a member who is directly controlled in his election by the public servants themselves. Is that a reasonable and valid proposition to put to the rest of the electors?
– They must be interested in this.
– Indeed they are. I would not deny public servants a vote. Where they are scattered amongst other electors, they cannot control the Parliament, which in essence is set up to prevent a tyrannical administration from disregarding the wishes of the people. Yet, as I say, we are being asked at this point of time to give a full vote to a member whose existence in this House depends by and large on the vote of the people who are themselves responsible for advising the government of the day. This is an interesting proposition. I do not think honorable members opposite can really expect the Government to fall for that one.
Exactly how urgent is the need for a vote for the member for the Australian Capital Territory in this House when, in point of fact, he has a voice in this House? One would have thought that in debates on all the urgent matters of national importance we are supposed to deliberate upon in this House we would have heard the voice of the elected member for the Australian Capital Territory. I have searched fairly carefully and have found that only on rare occasions has the honorable member spoken on any matter of general Australia-wide interest. Certainly he has not done so within the past twelve months. The honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory has asked no question and made no speech in this House on any matter other than one that concerns Canberra alone.
The honorable member might say in reply to that statement that he conceives it is his duty only to speak on matters on which he would have an effective vote. I would suggest that if the people of the Australian Capital Territory are really anxious to be heard in this place on matters of national importance, they would tend to elect somebody who could be an effective voice in this House.
The Leader of the Opposition paid a tribute to the ability and intelligence of the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory and the intelligence of the electorate which has sent him back here election after election with an increased majority. Very well! Let me join in that tribute and use it as an argument to defeat the Leader of the Opposition’s plea for a full vote on national matters for the member representing the Australian Capital Territory; because, if the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory interprets aright the wishes of the electors in this Territory, they are not really interested in matters of national importance. I repeat: That is, if the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory interprets correctly the wishes of his own constituents.
The honorable member has asked numerous questions, but 1 doubt whether they would really impress people as a display of statesmanship. I do not wan’ to disparage the honorable member. He is probably interpreting the wishes of his own constituents; but he is well known for that Australian habit of having two bob each way. Maybe that is not a correct term, because one cannot really back a horse both to win and lose if one is betting on races. But the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory can do something similar. Recently he had two questions on the notice-paper which were magnificent examples of his careful desire not to offend any one. This was magnificent politics, and very astute, but the honorable member hardly displayed national leadership thereby.
Let us look at the two questions. The honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory came out firmly, and roaring like a lion, asking whether the Government was going to control television aerials in the Australian Capital Territory. He wanted to know whether we would prevent these aerials from disfiguring the skyline. One would have thought that thi.was a good lead for the honorable member to give on a matter of local importance; but, in case he offended anybody, th2 honorable member tempered this outburst by defending strongly - by implication- - the right of the people to have television reception from any of the more distant stations and their right to erect aerials to get that reception. So there you have it! He had a little bet each way to make sure he did not offend anybody.
On the same day the honorable member submitted a momentous question about fireworks in the Australian Capital Territory. He had heard that some people were disturbed about children letting off crackers. He asked a question - again with assurance and firmness - and wanted to know whether I would do anything to control the indiscriminate letting off of fireworks in the Territory. But, in case the honorable member offended any of his constituents, he asked whether I would be sure not 10 interfere with the enjoyment of children who let off hungers, crackers and rockets. What magnificent statesmanship! Does this indicate the kind of vote we are expected to give the honorable member in this House?
If we look at the subject-matters that the honorable member has dealt with recently; we find that he has asked questions on a misleading street sign in Constitutionavenue, Canberra, tow-truck services, Canberra building regulations, swimming pools in Canberra, street lighting in Canberra, the Canberra police force, fireworks in the Australian Capital Territory, building section 51, the Lend-Lease Corporation and rent increases in the Australian Capital Territory.
– A very enterprising member.
– I am not disparaging the honorable member at all.
– Of course you are.
– You are quite wrong. He fought an election fairly and squarely on these issues. He was challenged during the last election campaign, and said he was proud of the fact that he had so much time to devote to the interests of the people in this electorate that he did not speak on many occasions on national issues in this House. He cannot deny that. That is his conception-
– You have misinterpreted what 1 said.
– I am sorry if I have done so. The honorable member’s statement was reported in the Canberra daily newspaper and I got my impressions from that. This matter was raised by the honorable member’s political opponent in the last election as an issue, and the honorable member was returned with an increased majority. One can only conclude from that result that the people of the Australian Capital Territory are more interested in their representative having an effective voice on matters of local interest only and not on matters of national importance.
That leads me to the next point. How best can the member for the Australian Capita] Territory have a voice on matters of local importance? I raise this as a serious constitutional problem. This Parliament governs the Australian Capital Territory only indirectly by ordinance. The honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory has the full right to move for and vote on the disallowance of any such ordinance just as has any other member of this Parliament. He has complete and full’ rights in that respect.
– Do not the people in the Australian Capital Territory pay taxes?
– Yes, but that is a different matter. No doubt the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory will raise that aspect. He has gone into all sorts of refinements on the payment of taxes, and it should be interesting to hear him speak on that matter in this debate. But if we are interested - as the people of the Australian Capital Territory are primarily - in the government of the Australian Capital Territory, this House is not the place to approach the question of legislative reform for the Australian Capital Territory. The approach should be through some form of local government; some form of municipal authority, if you like, or some form of government between a state legislature and a municipal authority. But when this is proposed many citizens of the Australian Capital Territory shy like a startled horse, because that raises the implication - and I am glad the honorable member for Phillip (Mr. Einfeld) raised the question of taxation - of where the funds for this local legislature or local authority are to come from. Are they to be a contribution by the taxpayers, including the taxpayers of the Australian Capital Territory, from all over Australia, or are they to be a contribution by the citizens of the Australian Capital Territory for their own local purposes? That is a very interesting point. I think that the people of the Australian Capital Territory have very different views from people in the rest of Australian on this matter.
As I have said, they tend to shy like startled horses when this form of responsible government is suggested to them. It is a problem. They live here under conditions, at times, of certain difficulties, and those difficulties have been recognized by the government of the day. We have here no. tax which corresponds to State probate duty. That makes the Australian Capital Territory a place which is sought after by companies and individuals. We have here no tax which corresponds to stamp duty in the States. That makes everyday business transactions quite a favorable proposition here by comparison with the States. I have heard tell that in the days when haircuts were available for the magnificent price of 2s. a man in Canberra used to pay for his haircut by cheque, because that was a simple way of keeping a record of his petty cash and there was no stamp duty on the cheque, whereas in every State there is a duty of 2d. or 3d. There is no stamp duty on receipts in the Australian Capital Territory, and that is a tax which is a constant source of irritation in the States.
These are conditions which residents of the Australian Capital Territory enjoy. They are conditions that might well have to be looked at seriously were there any form of local legislature responsible for raising funds. I note that the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory has in the past been very fond of quoting the old slogan, “ No taxation without representation “.
– I have never once quoted it.
– I am sorry. If the honorable member wants to make an issue of it, I shall not press the point. He has, at any rate, stressed the principle that the people of the Territory, because they pay taxes, should be represented by a member who has full voting rights in this House. If he were to argue that the people of the Territory should have some form of local legislature responsible to them, such a proposition would be far more valid.
However, Sir, I think I have said enough to indicate that this proposition is raised now, not in the interests of the people of the Australian Capital Territory, but in order that the Opposition may have an opportunity to gain office in this Parliament. That is the only reason for this bill. The Government cannot accept the measure.
, - Mr. Deputy Speaker, I am sorry indeed that the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Freeth) imported a personal element into his remarks on this bill. It is evident that either the Minister himself or some one on his staff has found time to study the records of “ Hansard “ and to get the details of questions that I have asked. This is not to give me a vote in this House. This is a bill to give a vote to the member for the Australian Capital Territory, whoever he may be.
I shall take a few minutes to deal with the Minister’s remarks, because, over the years, this Government has rejected every proposal that the people of the Territory be given some form of local self-government - that they be given rights similar to those enjoyed by every citizen of this Commonwealth and have the right to govern themselves in their day-by-day affairs.
Because the Government has refused to grant any form of self-government here, the member for the Australian Capital Territory, whoever he may be, must concern himself with matters which would normally be dealt with by a State government, a local council, a county council or some similar body. The citizens of this Territory have only one fully paid representative of any kind, and he sits in this Parliament. He must be prepared to deal with all the matters that are brought to him at the several levels which I have mentioned. I deeply regret that the volume of work which I am required to do - and which I willingly undertake - is such as to make it impossible for me, in the circumstances, to be able to master any kind of legislation which comes before the House, other than measures relating to the Australian Capital Territory. There just is not enongh time, and the Minister knows that full well.
– What about the travelling that some other honorable members have to do?
– I am not greatly concerned about that. I say only that the need to attend in my own office every week day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and to work at week-ends makes it impossible for me to become familiar with much legislation that comes before the House, other than measures which affect this Territory. I am constantly dealing with local matters which normally would be referred to State governments or local councils.
The Minister for the Interior has suggested that the Opposition has brought in this bill at this time only because we wish to obtain office. I think that those are the terms which the Minister used. He may believe that, and we on this side of the House are fully entitled to believe that the Government’s object in refusing to accept the measure is to retain office. I suppose that that is a very natural thing. But the
Minister should recall that this matter has been raised year by year - certainly since I was first elected to this Parliament. There is a long history of questions asked on this matter and of motions proposed in the Parliament for the purpose of obtaining full voting rights for the member for the Australian Capital Territory.
– Why did not the Chifley Government grant full voting rights?
– The Chifley Government did not do so because, in 1948, when the original Australian Capita] Territory Representation Act was passed, only about 10,000 voters were enrolled in tha Territory. It was held then that the Government of that day could not properly give to the representative of some 10,000 electors rights equivalent to those enjoyed by the representatives of electorates then averaging about 50,000 voters. The change in enrolment in the Territory compared with other electorates since those days has been very considerable, and I shall discuss that more fully in a few minutes.
I do not doubt that I would be classed as optimistic if I thought that a government which refused to grant full voting rights to the member for the Australian Capital Territory when it had a voting majority of 32 in this House would grant such rights now when it has a voting majority of only one. I would be a super-optimist, I believe, if I hoped or expected that any honorable member on the Government side of the House would cross the floor and vote with the Opposition in support of this measure, although many honorable members who are still sitting on the Government side in this chamber have privately stated their view that the member for the Australian Capital Territory should have full voting rights. I would be a dewyeyed visionary if I believed that the Government would deal with this question on its merits and without any thought of what political advantage might rest in it.
It is worth recalling that, in the debate in 1948 when the Chifley Government introduced the bill which became the Australian Capital Territory Representation Act, the proposal to limit the voting rights of the member for the Australian Capital Territory was vigorously opposed by some members who were later leading members of this Government.
Mr. J. R. FRASER__ Sir Eric Harrison, the previous member for Wentworth, who is now the Australian High Commissioner in London, said that when the parties which were then in opposition formed a government they might find it necessary to amend the relevant section of the measure so as to give full voting rights to the member for the Territory. Mr. Joe Gullett, the previous member for Henty, who is now a resident of a farming area here and a distinguished citizen of the Australian Capital Territory, as reported at page 2901 of “Hansard” of 11th November, 1948, said -
This Government, of course, has since introduced legislation to alter the limitations to which Mr. Gullett referred. We now propose to give voting rights to the aborigines. So, if Mr. Gullett were speaking to-day, he would say that the people of this Territory are to be classed by this Government with lunatics, criminals, children and aliens.
– To which party did he belong?
– He was a member of one of the parties which were in opposition at the time of the Chifley Government.
– What did the Chifley Government do?
– It stuck to its bill, of course, Just as this Government has stuck to its bills. But times change and the need for the amendment of legislation can become more pressing.
Although the Government, in rejecting all proposals for the granting of full voting rights to the member for the Australian Capital Territory, has based its main argument on the number of voters enrolled in the Territory compared with the numbers enrolled elsewhere, other arguments have been introduced. In February, 1959, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), replying to a question that I had addressed to him on this subject, as reported at page 17 of “Hansard “ of 17th February, 1959, said-
I do not know whether the honorable member really wants to have a full vote for the Australian Capita] Territory. It seems it may expose his holding of the seat to some danger; but that is for him to determine.
I appreciate the solicitude of the Prime Minister, but the risk is one which I am prepared to take if this Government is prepared to accept this measure, which is designed to grant full voting rights to the member for the Australian Capital Territory.
On other occasions, and particularly in 1954, the Prime Minister said that this was a matter of policy. Later, he said that it was a matter that would be determined by the Government in due course. In the debate in 1959 to which the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) and the Minister for the Interior have referred, the Minister spoke in great detail of his views about the Public Service. His remarks are recorded at pages 1402, 1403 and 1404 of “Hansard” of 21st April, 1959. Referring to remarks that 1 had made, the Minister said - the honorable gentleman was quite correct when he said that the Government based its main argument on the question of numbers.
Later in the same speech, the Minister stated -
To my mind it is entirely reasonable that we should look to an approximate equality in the numerical size of electorates.
If the Minister proposes to look to an approximate equality in the numerical size of electorates, the figures which were cited by the Leader of the Opposition become very apposite indeed. In 1948, when this act first became law, there was an enrolment in the Territory of about 10,000. At the election in 1961 the enrolment was 28,698, and that represented an increase of more than 8,300 in a period of only three years. The latest figures available show that the enrolment at 27th April, 1962, was 29,941. Having in mind the rate of progress of the Australian Capital Territory, and the Minister’s own forecasts of population increase here, it is reasonable to assume that within the next three years the enrolment will increase by at least another 8,000, and it will then be approaching 39,000.
Reference has been made to the size of Tasmanian electorates. The latest figures available are again those for 27th April, 1962, and they show that the enrolment in the electorate of Denison was 36,800, in Franklin 39,859, Bass 37,554, Wilmot 35,566 and Braddon 37,026. The average enrolment in Tasmanian electorates was 37,361 at that date. At the same date the enrolment in the electorate of Perth was 32,921, in Kalgoorlie 34,346, in Scullin 33,774, Melbourne 33,638 and Melbourne Ports 36,255.
– But they are going to be enlarged.
– I know that there is to be a redistribution which will result in a change of these figures, but my point is that the Minister and the Government insist on approximate numerical equality in electorates, and while I, representing just on 30,000 electors, have no vote at all in this Parliament, except on legislation relating to a very limited range of subjects, the honorable members for the Tasmanian electorates and the other electorates I have mentioned, as well as the representatives of West Sydney, with an enrolment of 35,930, and East Sydney, with an enrolment of 37,300, have full voting rights.
– But those figures will be changed with the redistribution.
– We all know that.
– Your argument will then be without foundation.
– If the Government Whip wishes to interject, he should do so from his own seat.
Mr. Chaney. - There is nothing to prevent me from interjecting from any seat in the House. There is nothing in the Standing Orders about it. But if you would prefer me to take my own seat, I will do so. I still say that I am in order.
– Let me return to this point about numerical equality in electorates. If the Government contends that it is not right to give full voting powers to a member representing nearly 30,000 electors, let me point out that members representing between 32,000 and 36,000 electors have the same voting rights as those representing the electorates of Bruce, with an enrolment of 87,848, Lalor with 88,571, and Mitchell with 78,461. The average enrolment in Commonwealth electorates is 46,625. The average in New South Wales electorates is 47,311. So if the Minister and the Government contend that there should be approximate equality then I say that there is gross inequality at the present time of enrolment in electorates the representatives of which all have full voting rights. If the representative of an electorate of 32,000 has a full vote then, on the Minister’s argument, the honorable member for Bruce, representing 87,000-odd, should have two and a half votes.
– But that is all being taken care of, as you well know.
– I know that it is to be taken care of, but I am talking about the present situation and the situation that has existed over a period up to ten years. If the honorable member looks at the Electoral Act he will see laid down the extent to which the enrolment in an electorate should be allowed either to fall short of the quota or rise above it.
In the debate in 1959 the Minister referred to the vote of public servants. Again this morning he developed the same theme. In moving the second reading of a bill to amend the legislation governing the parliamentary representation of electors in the Australian Capital Territory, the Minister for the Interior said, on 9th April, 1959- ^
As a centre of administration it- the Australian Capital Territory- is largely financed by the contributions of taxpayers all over Australia. Whether it is justifiable to have the fate of a government responsible for the national policy possibly at the mercy of a representative largely elected by the civil servants at the heart of the administrative machine is at least open to argument.
The Minister said at a later stage in his speech -
It has been represented to me quite strongly that while the member for the Australian Capital Territory has no vote in the House and therefore does not directly influence the fate of a government, residents in the Australian Capital Territory make the best of both worlds by electing a representative of the opposite political persuasion to that of the government in office. I concede that, at times, that kind of view demands some pretty accurate political forecasting.
The Minister can, of course, put that proposition to the test by giving full voting rights to the member for the Australian Capital Territory before the next election. We will then be able to see whether his argument has any foundation. The Minister proceeded later in the debate to develop that theme about the rights of public servants to exercise their vote. Let us not forget that the law of the Commonwealth compels the public servant to vote. He is subject to the same electoral law as all other residents of the Commonwealth. On 21st April, 1959, developing the theory about the vote of public servants, the Minister said -
I believe that it is quite an important point. It was quite rightly said that it was undesirable to deprive a civil servant living in Melbourne, Perth or Sydney, of a vote. Where civil servants are spread as a sort of leaven amongst all the other electorates, there can never be said to be a true civil service vote as such, because it is not readily identifiable.
He went on later to say -
It becomes rather interesting to find the civil service charged with the duty of being nonpartisan in the advice it gives to governments, charged with being impartial in its approach to political problems, and yet having, possibly, a decided leaning towards one political party or another, where that civil service vote is identifiable. That is the only distinction in principle between the civil servant in Melbourne, Sydney or somewhere else in Australia and the conglomeration of civil servants in Canberra. Is it desirable that the civil service vote, as such, should be identified with a particular political party when, in point of fact, the duty of the civil service is to give impartial advice to the government of the day?
These are the remarks of the Minister foi the Interior. He went on to say -
It is quite true that there is a distinction which can be drawn. A civil servant may hold definite political views and yet, in the line of duty, still give impartial advice to those carrying out the government. I believe many do, but in the public mind I think confusion would be created and the doubt would be there. I do not use this as the main argument against a full representation of the Australian Capital Territory but I think that honorable members will concede that it is at least an argument that carries some force.
I do not doubt that the public servants of Canberra will be interested to hear that recountal of the views expressed by the Minister in 1959.
If the Minister is concerned that the Civil Service vote should not have undue weight in elections in the Australian Capital Territory it is well to remind him that while the present enrolment in the Territory is 29,941 the total number of employees in the Public Service in the Territory, permanent and temporary, is 7,340, while exempt staff number 3,002. This gives a total of 10,342. Among the exempt staff, of course, are many persons employed in certain industrial undertakings and various outside occupations. Also included in the total are many whose age is below that at which citizens are required to enroll and vote. So that of a total of 29,941 electors in the Territory the greatest possible voting strength of public servants, I would suggest, would be about 8,000.
– What about their wives?
– I do not know how the Minister’s wife would vote. I do not inquire how my wife votes, and I do not suggest that members of the Public Service would necessarily demand that their wives vote in a particular way. However, 1 have given the Minister’s argument, and I suggest that I have given also a complete answer to it.
There are various other anomalies. The member for the Australian Capital Territory, as the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) has said, has a right to vote on a motion for the disallowance of an ordinance or a regulation made under that ordinance, or for the disallowance of part of a regulation or part of an ordinance. He may vote on any proposed law that is deemed to be a proposed law solely affecting the Australian Capital Territory. He may vote on any motion for the disallowance of a proposed variation of the Canberra City plan. He may not be counted in a quorum and he may not be elected to the office of Speaker, Deputy Speaker, Chairman of Committees or his deputy, and he may not vote in those elections. But there is nothing to prevent the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory being elected to committees of this Parliament and I, as the present member, have served on a number of them. I have served on the Joint House Committee; I have served on the Joint Committee for the Australian Capital Territory and I served on the select committee which dealt with the production of “ Hansard “. On each of those committees the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory may exercise his voting rights. It could well be that his vote would be the deciding vote on any decision taken by those committees on a proposal to be put before the Parliament, yet when the proposal comes before the Parliament he may not vote on it. Surely that is another anomaly. I suggest that the Government should accept this measure.
At the election in December, 1961, the people elected even numbers on both sides of the House, 62 on the Government side and 62 on the Opposition side. Because of the representation acts relating to the two Territories, one of which was introduced by a Nationalist government, as it was then called, in 1922, and the other by a Labour government, the two members for the Territories do not have a vote even though the will of the people returned them at the election.
The Government should consider this matter on its merits and not only in the light of the present situation. The Government should ensure that the people of the Australian Capital Territory no longer are denied the right to be represented in this Parliament by a member with full voting rights. This is not a matter for me, but I suggest that the failure to give full voting rights to the member for the Australian Capital Territory is a slight on the people of the Territory. In point of fact I do vote. I can shout “ Aye “ or “ No “ as loudly as does any other honorable member. If we are voting in the affirmative I may cross the floor, but my name is not marked on the division list. The people in the Territory are slighted by being denied representation by a member who has full voting rights. I hope that if the change is made they will continue to elect their present member, but that is a matter for the people. They should have the right of representation in this Parliament by a member with full voting rights. The Government refuses to give the people of this Territory a right enjoyed by the people of Mogg’s Swamp, Kookabookra or anywhere else in the Commonwealth - the right to govern themselves in their day-to-day affairs. The people who the Minister has stated advise the Government and frame government policy are not given this right. The House should, correct this position, and should carry this measure. I do not doubt that other honorable members wish to participate in this debate so I shall leave it there.
– For two reasons I am extremely sorry that this subject has been brought before the House. The first reason is that, in view of what may flow from the Common Market proposals, the House should be considering the recommendations of the Constitutional Review Committee of which I was a member. The second reason why I am sorry is because I do not think the matter is being debated with a full appreciation of what is involved in it. It is true that the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Freeth) has dealt with certain of the constitutional and administrative implications of what happens within this Australian Capital Territory, but what has not been made clear at any stage in the debate is why this Territory should be treated differently from any other Territory or State of the Commonwealth.
In the limited time at my disposal I propose to point out that there are at least four different categories of Territories under the control of the Parliament. I wish to deal with this aspect briefly because I think it is fundamental to what has to be said. The first group of Territories includes Nauru, Norfolk Island, Cocos (Keeling) Island, Christmas Island and Antarctica. With perhaps the single exception of Antarctica, one cannot foresee any possibility that they ever will become self-governing. They are under a special form of government. The second category includes Papua and New Guinea, which again is entirely different from any of the other Territories in that it is a Trust Territory, administered with the sole objective eventually of being granted the right to decide whether it shall become part of this Commonwealth, an independent nation under whatever form of government that appeals to it. So again, Papua and New Guinea are entirely different from the Australian Capital Territory. It is expanding in population and in the capacity to support itself.
Now let me turn to the third category, which is the Northern Territory. This again is something entirely different from the Australian Capital Territory. The Northern Territory has all the capacity necessary to expand into a State of the Commonwealth, either as it now stands or, as was suggested years ago by a Labour statesman, by including the top of Western Australia and Queensland and. for the present at least, combining them into another State of Australia - the Northern Territory. That Territory has every capacity to develop as a self-governing State of the Commonwealth.
Now we come to the Australian Capital Territory. This Territory is unique by reason of the’ very act of its creation. It is not a Territory which, in the ordinary sense of the term, is supposed to be selfsupporting. It is a legal entity which was called into existence for the specific purpose of being the location of the National Capital of Australia. It is not a State, and it has not the attributes of a State. Each State of the Commonwealth has at least three, and sometimes four, tiers of government. But let us take the simple form. The Stales have municipal government, which deals with practically all of the matters to which the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr. J. R. Fraser) has referred. In addition, they have a State government which deals with intermediate matters between municipal and Commonwealth affairs. That is really a form of local selfgovernment. Local government is purely municipal government. Local selfgovernhas a different meaning. It is a State government exercising the powers of States such as ours, or such as the provinces of Canada. And then, of course, it has its federal share of responsibility.
– Order! As it is now two hours after the time fixed for the meeting of the House, the debate on the motion is interrupted.
Motion (by Mr. Hasluck) agreed to -
That the time for the dicussion of motions be extended until 12.45 p.m.
– Let us now consider the Australian Capital Territory. In the first place it is entirely different from the States as it has no true organs of municipal government. I feel - without prejudice to anything further that I may say - that there is a strong case for excluding certain areas from municipal government, as a special responsibility of this Parliament, and of setting up a modified form of municipal government to deal with matters such as libraries. It seemed to me extra ordinary, in the library investigation which I carried out, that even children’s libraries were being administered by the National Library or - as it was at that time - the Parliamentary Library. So in my opinion there is a case for giving to the residents of the Australian Capital Territory some real powers of local government in regard to these minor matters. Beyond that, the idea of giving this Territory the same powers as you would give, say, to the State of New South Wales, in respect of its rights of representation in this House, conflicts entirely with federal principle in Australia.
The federal principle in Australia is that this Commonwealth consists of States. Through an agreement and a contract entered into, they form the Commonwealth of Australia. The people of those States have to pay municipal rates or taxes to finance their municipal bodies. As the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Freeth) has indicated, in the Australian Capital Territory there is no stamp duty on cheques and no stamp duty on receipts. Yet in New South Wales stamp duty on cheques has been increased by 50 per cent., from 2d. to 3d., and double that amount again by the refusal to permit a crossed cheque to be used as a receipt, as was the case in days gone by. So on practically every cheque you write in New South Wales you pay 6d., instead of the original 2d. That cost is borne by the people of the State.
The States are divided into electorates and the people within those electorates are taxed to help pay for what is done in the Australian Capital Territory. They are ratepayers, State taxpayers and Federal taxpayers. These groups or local entities of New South Wales, Western Australia, Tasmania or the other States, have many responsibilities.
It seems to me to be futile and beside the point for somebody to say, in this House, that because there are 29,000 electors in this Territory, they should have the same right to full representation in this House as the 40,000-odd electors in the electorate of New England, which is part of New South Wales. It seems a curious thing for members of the Opposition, who have consistently railed against the difference in the size of and in the numbers of electors in electorates, to point out that they have a little over 30,000 electors in many constituencies in Sydney and Melbourne, and to contend that because the voting population of the Australian Capital Territory approximates that figure residents of this Territory should also have the right to full representation here. I think it is high time that it was recognized that electorates in the big cities should have greater numbers of electors than an electorate such as Maranoa, which is two and a half times the size of Victoria. I do not want to follow that argument any further than necessary. But I want to emphasize that as long as Australia is a federation of States there will be no case for giving a member representing Commonwealth territory full voting rights in this Parliament.’ It would be inconsistent with the whole theory of federal constitutional government.
If honorable members want a novel suggestion in this regard, let them turn to Quick and Garran’s “ Annotated Constitution of the Commonwealth “ at page 974 -
Section 29 provides that a division shall not be formed out of parts of different States.
There is no direct prohibition against including an area of Federal Territory in an adjoining electoral subdivision.
On the whole it would seem that residents of a Federal Territory which is too small to be allowed a member of its own may not necessarily be disfranchised.
Apparently the authors referred not to full voting rights, but to a territory which could not produce the full quota of electors. The very unpleasant suggestion has been made here that the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr. J. R. Fraser) is wholly preoccupied with the constitutional good of his constituents and is not necessarily concerned with seeing his colleagues transfer from the Opposition to this side of the House. Perhaps it would be an excellent thing to divide the Australian Capital Territory into two parts and to add the northern part to the electorate of Werriwa and the southern part to the electorate of Eden-Monaro. That would be possible if Quick and Garran’s suggestion could be adopted, though I gravely doubt whether it could at this point of time. I venture to predict that if the change were made my distinguished friend, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam), would have an increased majority and the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Allan Fraser) would disappear, no doubt greatly regretted by his friends, and be replaced by somebody who would support the present Government.
I do not think Quick and Garran’s suggestion, however feasible it might have been at that time, would be capable of implementation to-day. I believe that it might be considered desirable some day to create every capital city in Australia, with the immediately surrounding territory - a very small territory - a separate State. If that were done we might possibly work out a formula to make provision for the Australian Capita] Territory. But while Australia is a federation I do not believe in the special circumstances applying, that we can logically give a full vote to any member for the Australian Capital Territory.
.- I thank the honorable member for New England (Mr. Drummond) for his suggestion that I should help in representing the Australian Capital Territory. As circumstances are, under the statute, but not under the Constitution, we all have to share in that task. It is a matter of particular interest to me, because I have spent many years as a resident of this Territory. My whole secondary education took place in this Territory when the honorable member for New England was the Minister for Education in New South Wales and was in charge of education in this Territory. My parents, living in the Territory, did not have a vote but I did when I became a resident of New South Wales.
I would agree with the honorable member for New England that there are other subjects which might have more national importance than this. He cited the modernization of the Australian Constitution in line with the constitutions governing every other national parliament in the world. On this side of the House we did bring up this subject four weeks ago, as we had done one year before that. I regret that my honorable friend was prevented from speaking on either of those occasions.
The Minister for the Interior (Mr. Freeth) has opposed the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr.
The Minister’s next objection was that citizens of this Territory should not be given an effective vote because Parliament was meant to protect the public from tyrannical administration. I am astonished at the Minister’s hardihood. The adults in this Territory have shown very clearly that if their wishes prevailed there would be an end to tyrannical administration in the whole continent. They are not the tyrants. Their present political masters are the tyrants.
The Minister is not given to aptness in the use of words, but only to proliferation. To use a word which, I think, would summarize his third objection to our proposal, he objects to the parochialism of the present honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory. Having examined the indexes to volumes of “ Hansard “ when the Minister was a private member my memory is now reinforced concerning his own record, and 1 realize by how much the contributions of the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory exceed in variety and profundity the contributions of the Minister when he was on the back benches. Of course, the Minister is now on the front bench. It is well known that he got there, not on how he stood in the Parliament, but on how he crawled outside it.
The Minister’s fourth objection concerns the financial dependence of the Territory. All the States themselves are financially dependent on the Commonwealth. Every State except Western Australia depends for 55 per cent, of its income and for the whole of its public works expenditure on the Commonwealth. Western Australia depends for 67 per cent, of its income and the whole of its public works expenditure on the Commonwealth.
Sir, after another half minute has elapsed the Government will stall on this measure. The net result of the Government’s opposition to it will be that the Government’s principal advisers will continue to be denied full representation in this Parliament in addition to lacking representation in any local government or provincial or State government. The Government is dependent, in its administration of Australia, on the advice of the adults in this Territory whose representative in this Parliament is confined to voting on matters that relate solely to the Territory.
– Order! The extended time allotted for the precedence of general business has expired. The honorable member for Werriwa will have leave to continue his speech when the debate is resumed. The resumption of the debate will be made an order of the day under “ General Business “ for the next sitting.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.1 S p.m.
Motion (by Mr. Freeth) proposed -
That a Joint Committee be appointed to -
examine and report on all proposals for modifications or variations of the plan of lay-out of the City of Canberra and its environs published in the Commonwealth of Australia Gazette on the nineteenth day of November, I92S, as previously modified or varied, which are referred to the Committee by the Minister for the Interior; and
examine and report on such other matters relating to the Australian Capital Territory as may be referred to the Committee by the Minister for the Interior.
That the Committee consist of two Members of the House of Representatives appointed by the Prime Minister, two members of the House of Representatives appointed by the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives, three Senators appointed by the Leader of the Government in the Senate and two Senators appointed by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate.
That every appointment of a member of the Committee be forthwith notified in writing to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
That the members of the Committee shall hold office as a Joint Committee until the House of Representatives expires by dissolution or effluxion of time.
That the Committee elect as Chairman of the Committee one of the members appointed by the Leader of the Government in the Senate.
That the Chairman of the Committee may, from time to time, appoint another member of the Committee to be the Deputy Chairman of the Committee, and that the member so appointed act as Chairman of the Committee at any time when the Chairman is not present at a meeting of the Committee.
That the Committee have power to appoint sub-committees consisting of three or more of its members and to refer to such a subcommittee any matter which the committee is empowered to examine.
That the Committee have power to send for persons, papers and records and to sit during any recess or adjournment of the Parliament and during the sittings of either House of the Parliament.
That the Committee have leave to report from time to time and that any member of the Committee have power to add a protest or dissent to any report.
That five members of the Committee, including the Chairman or Deputy Chairman, constitute a quorum of the Committee, and two members of a sub-committee constitute a quorum of the sub-committee.
That in matters of procedure the Chairman or Deputy Chairman presiding at the meeting have a deliberative vote and, in the event of an equality of voting, have a casting vote, and that, in other matters, the Chairman or Deputy Chairman have a deliberative vote only.
That the foregoing provisions of this resolution, so far as they are inconsistent with the Standing Orders, have effect notwithstanding anything contained in the Standing Orders.
That a Message be sent to the Senate acquainting it of this resolution and requesting that it concur and take action accordingly.
– The motion which the Minister has placed before the House seeks to re-establish the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory in almost the precise form in which it previously existed, and with no increase in its powers at all. Those who in this House and in another place had long advocated the establishment of a Parliamentary committee to overlook the development of the national capital had hoped’ that when that committee was appointed it would be one that would really act as watchdog for the people of Australia over what was being done in the development of the national capital. Unfortunately, as it was constituted, and as it is proposed to be constituted, it has no powers of initiation whatsoever; it can only inquire into those matters that are referred to it by the Minister. The view has been expressed by the committee on many occasions that it should have the power of initiation. I think that representations were made to the Minister along those lines. The committee has had among its members men of enthusiasm and vision from both sides of the House and from both chambers but, as it was previously constituted, the committee had no opportunity to fill the role of watchdog over the development of the National Capital.
Time and time again, when the committee has been required to report on proposed developments in the city, it has been confronted with plans already prepared, or already made, and the members of the committee, after devoting considerable thought to these matters, have made to the officers of the National Capital Development Commission suggestions which I would say have been largely ignored. I do not know of one occasion on which a recommendation or suggestion from this committee to the National Capital Development Commission has been acted upon and, as 1 say, members from both parties and both Houses have acted on that committee. Many of them have made suggestions as :o the width of streets, the siting of shops, the proximity of schools to shopping centres, the provision of adequate playing areas, green spaces in new surburban developments and so on. In all these things, no account seems to have been taken of any view put forward by the committee as a whole or by individual members of that committee, some of them men of very considerable experience in the fields of town planning and local affairs.
Having expressed my regret that the committee has not been given power to initiate inquiries on its own accord, I take this opportunity to refer to the splendid work given to the committee by its past chairman, Senator McCallum, who has, I think, only three more sitting days in this Parliament before he enters on his retirement from the service of the Senate. Senator McCallum has been chairman of the committee since its establishment. Although I may not always have agreed with his views on all subjects, he has devoted a great deal of time and energy to the work of the committee, and he has been zealous to see that the committee functioned, not as something mechanical, but as a body that ensured that the National Capital would be something that the people could be proud of. I think that appreciation of Senator McCallum’s services should be put on record, and I am happy to be the means of putting it there.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 9th May (vide page 2128), on motion by Mr. Adermann -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- No one can have listened to this debate without experiencing a feeling of frustration, because everybody has been most eloquent about doing something which most of us, I believe, realize is fundamentally wrong. Most honorable members who have spoken have been critical of the report of the Dairy Industry Committee of Enquiry, yet we all know that the committee’s assessment of the state of the industry was dead right. Although we do not necessarily agree with all the solutions offered by the committee, 1 think its assessment of the industry was right on the mark. I am sorry that it has fallen to mc again to be critical and querulous. This is happening all too frequently, I admit. Perhaps I have been in this place for too long. My three and a half years in the Parliament seem to have soured my usual sunny nature.
What does this legislation do? First, it continues the equalization scheme that enables a high price to be charged for butter and cheese sold in Australia to offset the low price overseas. This, of course, is justified on many grounds - social justice, cost of production, and so on. I shall not go over them all for they have been amply covered already. But one thing in particular should be mentioned, and I will agree with the general support that has been given to the industry in this connexion. It is not fair to say that local prices are very much above world prices. Overseas prices for butter are subsidized in most countries, and they are the prices with which we have to compete. The price per cwt. in Australian currency at which butter is sold in the United Kingdom is 356s., in Denmark it is 492s., and it! France it is 736s. In the United States oi America, it is 608s., and in Belgium it is 741s. It is interesting to note that in Switzerland, which is generally recognized as a great dairying country, the price is three times as high as the United Kingdom price, In the light of these figures, it must be admitted that it is not fair to say that when selling butter at 5s. per lb. in Australia we are charging twice as much as the world price. It is about twice as high as the London price, certainly, but there is - and that is the only considerable market for butter - no such thing as a world price for butter.
Having said that, let me come back to what one can say about the legislation. We should agree, first, that we do pay a considerable price for equalization in the high price we pay for butter in Australia, because the high price of butter is built into our cost structure. It leads to increases in wages and increases in costs to our exporting industries, thus making their competitive position more difficult. It acts in exactly the same way as does the tariff in increasing costs.
Secondly, the high price of milk products in Australia, whether it be the high equalization price for butter or cheese, or the high city milk price, limits the demand for these products. I flatly disagree with the Minister’s statement that this is not so. In New Zealand butter sells at about 2s. per lb. sterling, and the consumption of butter per capita there is 43.3 lb. compared with a consumption of 25.1 lb. per head in Australia, where the price is 5s. per lb. It is most interesting to realize that our present consumption of butter is lower than the average consumption during the period of rationing.
– It is 2 lb. more.
– The present figure as given to me by the department to-day is 25.1 lb. The lowest figure during the rationing period was 24.3 lb. and the highest 27.5 lb. The awful truth is that if we consumed per head as much in the way of milk products as they do in New Zealand, where the price is kept low, we would have to import milk products. If we consumed milk products at the rate which they do in New Zealand, we would use 1,530,000,000 gallons of milk a year, and we now produce only 1,340,000,000 gallons. Our present policy of keeping butter prices at a high level means that less butter is used at home and more is left to be exported to a market where it is obviously not wanted.
That is enough about equalization for the moment. What about the subsidy? I suppose as a primary producer I ought to be delighted to learn that another primary industry is receiving such generous treatment, but it is hard to be really enthusiastic. There are three dangers in the subsidy. The first is that £13,500,000 is, after all, a considerable sum of money to be found by the taxpayers. Secondly, most of the subsidy goes to the man who needs it least and the marginal producer who needs it most gets a less generous hand-out.
– He gets the same as the others do.
– He does not get the same total amount. Last year, I was staying with a big farmer in Great Britain. He had 2,000 acres. He showed me his books and we went through them. He was making a very handsome profit, but in one column he had his subsidy component of £9,000. I said to him: “ You cannot justify this kind of treatment. People will find out that you do not deserve a subsidy of £9,000.” He said, “ I know I do not deserve it, but as long as there are enough poor, struggling farmers with 50 acres around me, I will get my subsidy”. This applies to the dairy industry in Australia just as much as it applies to Great Britain.
The third danger in the subsidy is that the longer it is paid, the more difficult it will be to take it off. We have now had the subsidy for twenty years, and this legislation will keep it there for another five years. By 1967, the industry will have come to regard the subsidy as its right, and in any event it will have adjusted itself around the subsidy and the subsidy will be needed more then than it is now.
When we couple equalization to subsidy, as we do now, this is the result: Butter production becomes more profitable, so more people come into the industry, so more butter is produced, so more is available for export. Because Australian prices are kept so high, there is even more butter available tor export. The trouble is that no one wants to buy it overseas, except at ruinously low prices. The reason for this is quite plain. Margarine puts a very effective ceiling on the butter price overseas. About 50 lb. of butter fat can be produced from an acre of land, compared with about 150 lb. of vegetable fat from an acre of vegetable oil plants. Margarine is also easier to transport when it is produced. So margarine is cheaper than butter and is likely to get cheaper as technology improves. We may be able to force our people to eat butter, but unfortunately it is difficult to force others overseas to do so. The truth, as far as we can see - I know this will not be welcomed - is that it is unlikely that there will ever be a payable market for export butter in the long term.
A lot of our troubles in this industry have arisen because of the belief of the dairy farmers that they are entitled to the cost of production. It is easy to understand why this should be so. We see secondary industry coming to the Tariff Board and saying that they have a right to a tariff. The wageearner has the right to the basic wage. Everybody has the right to a decent standard of living. Why not the dairy farmer? Is he not as deserving and as hard-working as any other section of the community? Surely, he has the right to the cost of production. That is the argument.
Probably he has the right to the cost of production, but it is no good to him for two reasons. The first is that there is no such animal, really. I would have considerable difficulty in assessing the cost of production of wheat on my farm. When I had done so, the only point I would be quite certain about would be that my figure would be quite different from the figure for the man next door, that it would be quite different from the figure for the man in the next district, and even more different from the figure for the man in the next State. There is no such thing as the cost of production for an article that is produced across Australia. As primary producers, we know this, although we still worship this golden calf as vociferously as we can, with tongue in cheek.
I thought the Dairy Industry Committee of Enquiry blew this cost of production argument sky-high. It showed that the average returns to the industry were consistently under the estimated cost of production; so every one obviously should be ruined. However, in spite of this, more people are coming into the industry, land values are increasing and the industry is doing very well, just at the time when, according to the cost of production theory, all dairy farmers should be ruined. But the second and more serious aspect of the cost of production is this: When prices are higher than the cost of production, it is obviously of no use to the producer because he is getting more than that anyway. When prices fall below the cost of production, it starts to do some good to the individual farmer. As soon as this happens, it starts to do harm. Prices fall in the first instance because the supply exceeds the demand, but the cost-of-production formula keeps the price to the producer up, so he keeps the supply up and this tends to depress the real price.
The truth is that once an industry is given the right to the cost of production, and the Government has the responsibility of keeping the price up to that level, the Government should, at the same time, be given the right to limit production. This is not welcomed by the industry or by the Government for many obvious reasons. A costofproduction exercise can perhaps be justified in an industry that is producing only for the home market. But when it is used for export, it is hopeless. That is sad but true, and 1 get no pleasure out of it. It is quite true to say that secondary industry seems to think that it has this right, and wage-earners also think on the same lines. It is also true to say that we have just as much right as they have. However, the trouble is that the cost-of-production formula is no good to us when we have it, even if we can decide what it is - and we cannot do this. The insistence of the primary industry group on this right always reminds me of the cartoon in “ Punch “. An ambulance is dashing to the hospital after an accident and the patient weakly says to the attendant, “Well, I was in the right, anyway!”
When we join these three factors together - the right of the dairymen to the cost of production, the high home price for milk products and the subsidy - we find that we are deliberately encouraging the production of increasing quantities of milk products which we are having increasing difficulty in selling. It seems silly when we say it like that, but they are the facts, and what is more, we all know that this is so, although it is not thought expedient to say so. What can we do about it? I think we have three choices. First, we can do as we are doing now and re-enact this legislation. This, we all know in our hearts, is wrong. But we are political animals and the political facts of life are that, if we did not do so, we would lose office, the Opposition would take over and would do exactly as we are doing. I suppose this is a good argument. It is, at least, an argument that we can all understand. We can comfort ourselves by saying that in five years’ time we will take our courage in our hands and tackle the problem of reconstruction.
The trouble is that in five years’ time the problem will certainly be worse than it is now. Land values will have risen because of the favorable conditions for the industry. More small farms will have been set up for the same reason. More marginal producers will have been attracted into the industry. In short, the problem will be bigger because the surplus production of butter will be bigger. There will also be more people in the industry with bigger political influence. The problem of re-adjustment will be greater the longer we leave it and we all know this.
We have no hope that the problem will be solved by Great Britain joining the European Common Market. The problem of a lack of demand for butter can only be made worse by this happening. All we can hope for is that it will be only a little worse. We certainly cannot expect any country - Great Britain or the United States of America or any other - to try to save our dairy industry. It is our job to carry our own baby. We conceived it, after all. Whether we did so in desperation or hope or courage or just through plain political ineptitude is beside the point. It is our baby, and just because it is getting heavy and is beginning to be a burden, we cannot expect to be able to drop it in some other country’s lap.
If the problem is to be tackled the first thing that should be said is that it must be done with a great deal of understanding. We must not forget that people and ot just an industry are involved. To lo the job of reconstruction well will tax mr resources in money and administrative ability Let us look at the problem in that ight. There are two main avenues of attack on the problem, and both involve Reconstruction of the industry, largely with Government money. The first of these, put forward by the committee of inquiry, advocated reconstruction of the industry so that production could be cheaper and, if necesary, increased. The second, advanced by Drane and Edwards, advocates reconstru:ion also, but mainly so that production can se decreased. They advocate a two-price scheme with any increased production paid For at the low, export price. This would automatically decrease production.
I must admit that my judgment leads me to favour the latter solution, although I am well aware of the problems of administering a two-price scheme. I can sympathize with the plea of the committee of inquiry for no decrease in production with so many hungry Asians wanting food; but the plain fact remains that if we are hoping to play our part in helping to feed these people it would be a much more efficient use of resources to feed them vegetable fats rather than animal fats. It is important that they get what they want as cheaply as possible. So I come down definitely on the side of Drane and Edwards in this business.
I get no pleasure out of saying this, but in my opinion there is no real hope for an increasing demand overseas for butter. We may be able to afford the luxury of eating it ourselves in Australia, and we may also be able to persuade wealthy western nations to do likewise, but we cannot hope to persuade poor countries to do so. Nor, indeed, should we try. These people want bread first, and once they get that they will want the cheapest possible fat to put on it. This, unfortunately, is not butter.
I do not think it is much use going into the details of the various schemes of reconstruction. It is clear that they are not going to be put into effect at this stage, and the position might well have altered by the time the problem is tackled. But tackle the problem we must, one day, and my chief concern is that the longer we leave it the harder it will become. I repeat that when we do tackle it we will need to use a great deal of public money, a great deal of under- standing and a great deal of firmness. It will not be easy, but it is possible, and both sides of politics will need to show more wisdom and courage than we are showing to-day.
.- I was pleased to hear a voice raised from the Government benches expressing concern regarding this legislation. Like the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly) who has just concluded his speech, the Opposition is not satisfied with the legislation, but we are in the position that we cannot help but agree to it. I am pleased also that the honorable member for Wakefield has some concern for the people in the industry and particularly the small farmers, lt is gratifying also to know that he is concerned about the reconstruction of the industry. That is absolutely essential, of course. Obviously, like the Opposition, the honorable member feels that this legislation does not go far enough towards the reconstruction of the industry and the provision of assistance for it.
I do not want to speak at any great length on this matter or to be accused of repetition. However, there are some aspects of it that should be emphasized. I agree that this is a vital and important industry. A great many people work very hard in the dairying industry to make a living. It is an industry of vital importance to Australia, not only because it supplies the domestic market and gives employment but also because of its contribution to Australia’s export trade.
I have been rather shocked that more voices have not been raised in the ranks of the Australian Country Party in support of the industry and advocating reform and reconstruction. On the contrary, it was left to the honorable member for Wakefield - a member of the Liberal Party - to raise some of these issues, and his is the only voice from the Government side that we have heard on them. We agree with him that living conditions in the industry are hard. We agree that men in the industry have to work hard and that accordingly something must be done to assist them. Under this legislation the Government proposes to continue the payment of £13,500,000 a year by way of bounty. The same amount was paid out in the previous year. The Government proposes to continue this payment for five years, although the Dairy Industry Committee of Enquiry recommended a steady reduction of the bounty year by year.
– Are you in favour of it?
– I shall come to that in a minute. I make this submission: The continuance of this bounty at a static figure is in itself a back-door method of implementing the relevant part of the report, for the very simple reason that, if the Government is going to tie the figure down to £13,500,000 for another five years while costs are increasing year by year, as time goes on the value of the subsidy of £13,500,000 to the dairymen will become progressively less. That is common sense. Possibly the Government’s idea is to implement the terms of the report in this way without the dairy farmers realizing fully just what is being done. It is a back-door method of achieving this end and I am shocked that the Australian Country Party has not raised any objection.
I think we will find that by the adoption of this approach the industry will be forced to increase prices. The increased prices will come automatically and will be damaging not only to the farmers but also to the consumers. Higher prices will be damaging also to our export trade at a time when we are faced with the possible entry of the United Kingdom into the European Common Market.
Surely this is a time when we should not be rigid in these matters, when we should not tie ourselves down by providing only a specified amount to assist the industry. This is a time when we should be rigid to the least possible degree, because the dairy industry is one of Australia’s vital industries which will be greatly affected in the event of the United Kingdom entering the Common Market. Common sense ought to make us see this. It is only common sense, likewise, that we should avoid the rigidity which is evident in the legislation that we are now considering. At this stage of the Common Market negotiations, I think we in this House must agree generally that the Common Market proposals could very seriously affect the dairy industry. The question clearly is wide open and events could have serious consequences for us.
I do not think that the Government, in considering this legislation, has given propel attention to the prospects of the immediate future. This is typical of its attitude towards the very important question of developments in the European Common Market. The Government adopts a stopgap approach and plans only from day to day. It does not look ahead to the important effects that the Common Market proposals may have on many vital Australian industries.
A very important aspect of the report of the Dairy Industry Committee of Enquiry is that the committee has recommended abandonment of the principle of a guaranteed price for producers. According to the report, the cost of production of butter is 54.19d. per lb. The guaranteed return to producers is not less than 40d. per lb., including bounty. This cannot in any way measure up to the cost of production. I believe that over a considerable period the Government undoubtedly has adopted a policy of progressively moving away from the principle of guaranteeing a return at least equivalent to the cost of production.
I believe, also, that the Government has undoubtedly moved away from its responsibility for price-fixing in the industry. It has placed the responsibility on the industry. The Government has neglected to use its authority and has abandoned its responsibilities. It seems only to want to get out from under and leave everything to the industry. Its attitude is: Let us hope that they will find their own way out. Let us adopt the laisser-faire approach to these problems.
The Government, apparently, believes that, in this way, it can deny its responsibility for any difficulties that may occur in the future. This is the attitude adopted by the present Government at a time when, as I said earlier, this Parliament should be accepting all the responsibilities that it can possibly undertake on behalf of the dairy industry, particularly with the prospect of certain developments in the European Common Market. The Government ought to take the cost of production into account and examine the problem of prices, but it prefers to stand aloof from these questions, as it has always done in the past. As a result, we have this cycle of fluctuations upwards and downwards in the dairy industry as well as in other industries.
One aspect of the report of the committee of inquiry, which has not been mentioned up to date, is of vital importance. I refer to recommendation 4 at page 115, concerning assistance to the industry to enable farmers to improve their methods of production. That recommendation proposes several forms of assistance, the second of which stated in these terms -
Recommendations 10 and 11 are -
That financial assistance in recommendation 6 be made available for such purposes as -
That financial assistance in recommendation 7 be made available for purposes of -
And so on. Recommendation 12 states the terms on which financial assistance is envisaged. It is as follows: -
That financial assistance referred to in recommendations 10 and 11 be made available on a long-term basis, not to be interest bearing until such time as the approving authority considers the loan moneys should be productive; repayments to commence on completion of the assistance programme of each individual farmer; interest rate to be 3j per cent, per annum or finer; and to embrace recognition of the fact that the cost of certain developmental work might need to be partially written off if the farmer is to be left with an equity in his property.
This is a feature of the report which, obviously, as is stated in very lucid terms, recognizes the need for assistance to the industry.
The Government has completely ignored this part of the report, much less accepted it in any respect. On the contrary, the Government, far from assisting the industry, is simply tying it down to a specified level of bounty rigidly fixed for the next five years. The Government allows for no fluctuation in the bounty. In particular, the Government does not provide for the kind of financial assistance for the improvement of properties recommended in this report. Such assistance should have been provided for. If the Government had adopted this kind of assistance, it could have argued validly that it was looking ahead and was not rigid in its approach to the problems of the industry, particularly in view of the possible effects on this industry if the United Kingdom enters the European Common Market. I sincerely suggest that this aspect of the report that I have mentioned is one which we would have expected members of the Australian Country Party to raise within the party and in this Parliament.
– How does the honorable member know that it has not been raised within the party?
– We would be very interested to know whether members of the Country Party have argued it out and whether they are interested in it. We have heard that members of that party have some pretty good fights, and we should like to know whether they have fought out this matter and what their views on it are. I would have expected members of the Australian Country Party to bring this matter before the House, because it is of vital importance.
The kind of assistance recommended in the report would have helped in the reconstruction of the dairy industry. Indeed, such assistance surely is essential if the industry is to be reconstructed. Surely the dairy farmers ought to have a source of capital with which to undertake pasture improvement and improve the productivity of their farms by mechanization and other means. As the honorable member for Wakefield has said, the Government is not facing up to this basic question of reconstruction of the industry. Surely the Government should have examined this question. Members of the Australian Country Party, in particular, should have considered it very carefully.
A Government supporter asked earlier whether we would support these measures. Of course we support them. I believe that we on this side of the House have no alternative to supporting this legislation,
Mr. Speaker, because it does give the industry some relief. However, we make the point that these proposals are not farseeing enough. The Government has not looked sufficiently to the future of the industry and, accordingly, a great deal of trouble for the industry will occur in the years to come. This will affect both the home market and our export trade, and especially the employment of people engaged in the dairy industry. I believe that the Government will eventually be forced to face up to these problems. Unless it does so promptly, it will be forced, in the very near future, to bring into this House further legislation designed to rehabilitate the industry and to enable it to overcome the very serious problems that will be faced in the event of certain developments in the European Common Market. Such measures will have to be taken in order to ensure export markets and reasonable prices for Australian consumers of dairy products.
.- I do not intend to speak at great length on this bill, because in speaking recently on the motion for the printing of the statement of the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) on the prospective entry of the United Kingdom into the European Common Market I covered many matters that are related to the legislation now before us. I would like to make a comment about the remarks of the honorable member for Mitchell (Mr. Armitage), who accused the Australian Country Party of not presenting a forceful enough case for assistance to the industry either to the Minister or to the House. I point out that my friend and colleague, the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Nixon), mentioned this matter in his speech last evening. Perhaps we can excuse the honorable member for Mitchell, who is a new member and may not be able to understand fully some of the points that are made in the House. The remarks made by various members of the Opposition concerning the alleged failure of the Country Party to put a forceful case for primary producers are merely a vindication of my statement the other evening about the complete confusion of members of the Opposition and their inability to appreciate arguments that are put forward in this House by honorable members on the Government benches. Obviously the Australian people do not share the confusion of honorable members opposite. They can appreciate the real position, and so they have consistently refused to allow the Labour Party to form a government.
I would like to congratulate the Government and the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) on the successful conclusion of negotiations between the Minister and representatives of the industry. The Minister has accepted many of the industry’s recommendations, and we know that the Minister’s efforts on their behalf are fully appreciated by those engaged in the industry. The dairy industry faces many difficulties, but the Government has never closed its eyes to those difficulties. We believe, however, that they will be ironed out with the continued co-operation of the Government and the industry itself. The problems will not be solved overnight, however, and this legislation will give the industry a degree of stability because it will provide a definite amount of assistance over a given period.
I was very happy to see what I believe to be an innovation in the form of assistance being given to the section of the industry dealing with processed milk. This provision will help us to improve our trading position, because we will be able to find further markets for export products and compete in those markets with other exporting countries.
Let me now turn to the subject of production. I have said on many occasions that the primary industries provide the basis for Australia’s economic stability. There is a growing appreciation of this fact. I would like to see an even fuller appreciation of it in certain sections of the community in the metropolitan areas. I would like to think that those engaged in secondary industries were fully aware of the value of primary industries in the development and progress of our nation. The position with regard to production is a complex one. The farmer is now able, by the use of improved fertilizers and modern methods, to increase his production, but when he does so he is faced with the difficulty of selling an increased quantity of his products. He must, therefore, continually strive to lower his cost of production so that it will be easier for him to sell his produce. The farmers in my electorate have recently suffered from the ravages of floods. These are disasters over which the man on the land has no control. The work that he does in improving the value of his property and increasing his production can be washed away overnight through a flood. At the other extreme he can be grievously affected by drought. When one talks of the cost of production one should remember that these disasters may befall a primary producer at any time. I am happy to see that the Government has made a firm commitment for a period of five years. At least there will be stability and confidence in the industry for that length of time.
We frequently hear criticism of subsidies provided for the benefit of the man on the land. I would remind those who voice such criticism that secondary industries are also subsidized by being granted tariff protection. Any person who is critical of the granting of subsidies to primary producers should also criticize tariff protection for secondary industries. Many sections of the community in metropolitan areas, including, in many cases, newspaper interests, criticize the provision of subsidies for primary producers while, at the same time, supporting tariff protection for secondary industries. I am not opposed to tariff protection. I believe that in certain circumstances secondary industries should be given tariff protection, not for the purpose of subsidizing inefficiency but to enable those industries to compete on the open market. At the same time, I believe we should keep in mind the extent to which secondary industries are assisted by tariff protection when we are talking about subsidies provided for primary producers.
There is only one other matter that I wish to raise. It concerns the Development Bank. This bank provides a valuable means for helping the primary producer, and I think it should be easier for the man on the land to borrow from the Development Bank, so that he may be able to get the necessary capital to improve his property and increase his production without being burdened with an unduly heavy load of interest payments and principal repayments.
I again congratulate the Minister on the work that he has done, not only in relation to this legislation but also in connexion with many other matters dealing with our primary industries. I have very much pleasure in supporting the legislation.
.- I want to make a few brief remarks about one or two aspects of the dairy industry and to say, with honorable members on this side of the Parliament, that while we do not oppose this measure we think it deserves the criticism that was levelled at it by the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard). As the honorable member said, this was the Cinderella of the Australian primary industries until a Labour government made some realistic attempts to assist it. Before that time it had been sadly neglected. The honorable member for Lalor and the Labour Government of which he was a member deserve great credit for what they did to assist this Cinderella industry.
The Dairying Industry Bill, with which we are now dealing, arose partly from the report of the committee of inquiry into the dairy industry, and it appears that the committee’s report was available a long time before it was presented to this Parliament. It has been suggested that the Government withheld the report because an election was pending and it feared that the report would damage it politically because of the views expressed in the report and the forthright way in which they were expressed. Even at this stage it has run away from certain of the recommendations, and in some instances has reversed them completely.
I speak on this measure not for the purpose of knocking the industry in any way, but to put forward what I believe to be some constructive reasons why the demand for butter and the position of the industry generally are deteriorating, and I shall mention some steps which I think could well be taken to increase the consumption of butter. I heard a very mean argument advanced last night by the honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate), who said that Labour retarded the dairy industry in Australia by imposing butter rationing. There has rarely been a more contemptible statement made in this Parliament in my time. As the honorable member well knows, rationing was imposed to assist the United Kingdom at a time of great financial crisis and, after the war had ended, to maintain its financial resources. Although Labour’s rationing proposals were very unpopular in Australia, we considered that they were vital in the interests of the United Kingdom, which had suffered so much in the last great conflict. The honorable member was very mean to say what he did, because Australia was making a vital contribution to the Mother Country.
I note in the report which has been presented that the current stabilization scheme, which is the third five-year plan in succession, is due to terminate on 30th June next, and that it is the Government’s intention that a new arrangement of similar duration should operate from 1st July. This bill provides for a bounty of £13,500,000 for each year of the proposed five-year plan. This is a change from the Government’s previous policy of reviewing the bounty periodically. The new arrangement, so we are told, is designed so that the Government may build up and stabilize the industry, increase consumption of butter and generally ensure a fair return to those engaged in the industry, and make this great commodity available at a price which people can afford to pay.
What is the position to-day in Australia? Because of the Government’s economic policies, butter is being priced from the table of the average Australian consumer. Every Australian realizes what a great commodity butter is. If it were available at a price which the average man could afford to pay, and which would give a fair return to the producer, there is no doubt that butter would be chosen by the vast majority of people in this and other countries apart, of course, from those who for health reasons require another commodity.
What has been the result of the Government’s policy? The price of butter has increased substantially. On 12th April, the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) replied to a question which I had placed on the notice-paper relating to the price of butter. The question and answer appear at page 1730 of “ Hansard “. According to the Minister, in 1949, when the Chifley Government was in office, butter was 2s. 2d. per lb. At that time, the industry was receiving reasonable benefits under the then Government’s scheme. The price of butter has increased substantially, until it has reached an average of 4s. lOd, per lb. In other words, the price has increased by more than 100 per cent, between 1949 and 1961. In 1949-50, consumption of butter was 25.3 lb. per head of population. Since 1953-54, consumption has declined continually and in 1960-61, according to the Minister’s figures, it was 25.1 lb. per head. It is apparent that the consumption of butter is falling. In 1949-50, the bounty was £8,000,000. Under the Government’s present proposal it will be £13,500,000 but, as the honorable member for Oxley (Mr. Hayden) mentioned yesterday, this increased amount does not represent in real value as much as did £8,000,000 in 1949. The fall in the consumption of butter in Australia indicates that something is radically wrong with the Government’s policy.
The competition which butter has to face from margarine has been mentioned. In 1949, when the price of butter was 2s. 2d. per lb., margarine cost ls. 9£d. per lb. In 1961, when butter cost 4s. lOd. per lb. table margarine sold for 3s. 3d. per lb. In other words, margarine is a cheaper commodity than butter and, because the Government will not subsidize the butter consumers sufficiently, many people are compelled by sheer economic circumstances to use the lower-priced product which, as the dairy industry report indicates, is very nutritious and in many ways almost as good as butter. It is idle to say that people buy margarine simply because they like it. They buy margarine because the price of butter is beyond their means. The district which I represent contains many thousands of people who receive age and invalid pensions and other social service benefits. My electorate contains many thousands of people in the lower-income group who have large families. These people are trying to exist on the basic wage, or a little in excess of the basic wage. They cannot afford to buy the quantity of butter that they require so they are compelled to purchase the lower-priced commodity as a substitute.
Paragraph 1 042, at page 99 of the Report of the Dairy Industry Committee of Enquiry, which deals with margarine, states -
Unlike most other Australian industries its output is not limited by demand but by laws, enacted by State Governments, which limit the production of table margarine to certain specified quantities.
That statement indicates that this Government, which is supposed to be a free enterprise government, is not prepared to allow open competition in this sphere, but is prepared to restrict the production of margarine bylaw. I do not claim that the dairy industry is not entitled to a fair return, but it is hardly fair for the Government to say to the consumer, “ You cannot afford butter, and you may not have margarine. We shall restrict its production so that you will have no butter and no margarine. You must go without because we are not prepared to make a more appropriate approach to this matter”. Table margarine is an extremely nutritious product. Paragraph 1044 of the report, which appears at page 99, has this to say about it -
Table margarine as at present manufactured and presented for sale, is a wholesome nutritious food closely resembling butler in appearance and pack and is obtainable at about two-thirds of the price of butter.
What is the answer to the question? The Government claims that the production of margarine should be restricted by law. So it restricts production and accordingly prevents some poor person in the community from having either butter or margarine. In paragraph 1044 the report goes on to say, referring to margarine -
Tt is favoured by new Australians who have been accustomed to it as a normal article of diet, and by pensioners and low-income people who cannot afford butter.
What is the Government’s policy? Does the Government believe that it is preferable to give the people in the dairy industry full protection than to give to pensioners and other people on low incomes one of these vital commodities, either butter or margarine? That is one of the problems which must be solved.
When I was in the Lismore district on one occasion during a famous election campaign, which no doubt the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) well remembers, a number of dairy-farmers in the district complained that many people in that area were buying margarine in preference to butter because of the price factor. That gives an indication of the position which has been forced on the dairy-farmers and, at the same time, the position in which people in the suburbs of Sydney have been placed. Paragraph 1044 of the report continues in this way -
The argument of the dairy organizations that a good all-Australian product like butter should not be subject to the competition of a cheaplabour imported product like margarine has little substance. If it were valid, wool would be worn universally instead of cotton and man-made fibres and coal would be used instead of oil to power many industrial plants.
The Minister for Primary Industry, who is al the table, knows that some of the peanut oil from his own district is used in the manufacture of margarine, and that margarine is not produced under cheap labour conditions. That brings me to the point which I desire to make. Although I am not an opponent of the dairy industry I believe that we can be too critical of the manufacture of margarine, which is also a vital commodity.
I have given some study to the figures relating to the manufacture and consumption of margarine which have been supplied to me by the Minister for Primary Industry in reply to a question on the notice-paper. The information appears at page 1731 of “Hansard” of 12th April. In New South Wales, the quota imposed on the production of margarine in 1949 was 1,248 tons. In 1962, the quota is 9,000 tons. The total quota for all States in 1949 was 3,973 tons, but it is now 16,000 tons. So irrespective of how much of this commodity people want, production is restricted to 16,000 tons by law in order not to conflict with the interests of the dairy industry. I suppose it is only a question of principle and may not worry Country Party members who are in the House at the present time. But how does the Country Party, boasting of free enterprise and the need for competition to bring prices down, come to sponsor a policy whereby the production of margarine is restricted deliberately in order to give the dairy industry an unfair advantage in this sphere.
– The honorable member for Cowper is looking hard at you.
– These are problems which must be answered. I am not critical of the dairy industry. Labour’s policy has always been to give the producer a fair return and to give the consumer a fair price, while making available either of these commodities to the people who want them and particularly those people who cannot afford the higher-priced article. The Minister for Primary Industry is one of those members who like drought relief for six months and flood relief for the next six months, and then he says he does not believe in socialism. The Minister is a free enterprise Country Party man. But when he cannot explain why restrictions are imposed, by law, on the production of margarine, in the face of the free enterprise policy, he snarls out something about the member for Cowper (Mr. McGuren). I have quoted the Minister’s own figures. I do not like to see the principles of the party that believes in free enterprise so infringed by this false approach. The report of the Dairy Industry Committee of Enquiry, which the Minister probably studied, was fairly critical of the attitude of the Government on these matters. I therefore think it is important to keep that fact in mind when this question is under discussion.
There is another factor in respect of margarine which must be borne in mind. I am informed that there is a special kind of margarine manufactured for heart cases, and it is used exclusively for that purpose, but its manufacture is also restricted. This means that there may be people in the community to-day suffering from bad hearts, and who cannot get margarine of the quality they need because the quota for that type cannot be increased and there is not sufficient of it to go round. There may be members of the community to-day suffering grievously because of the restrictive policy which is denying to sick people the margarine they require. I mention these matters because I think the Government, while realizing the need to bolster the dairy industry, should not overlook them.
What is the Government doing about the falling consumption of butter on the Australian market? What will the Government do to see that it is available to people in my constituency who I know want butter above all other commodities which they use? These people simply cannot afford the quantity of butter they want, as is proved by the figures I have quoted. The Government’s problem is to assist the persons in the dairy industry who are entitled to assistance and to give families throughout this great continent this basic commodity which at present is priced out of the reach of families by the failure of the Government to control profits and prices as it should. What is the Government doing about the position of the dairy industry?
I notice, in the report of the Dairy Industry Committee of Enquiry, that Japan may want more butter from us and that China may want our butter. There must be a huge untapped field in Asia and other places for this basic commodity. I should like to know what the Government is doing to give this industry a real stimulus by securing markets for its products in places where butter at this stage may not be popular, but where it would be readily acceptable if it were available. The report on the dairying industry mentions the huge sum of money that is being spent on promotion. The Minister referred to that aspect in his second-reading speech, and I will not reiterate what he said. He gave certain figures relating to the position overseas in the matter of the promo’.ion of butter sales. But a lot is still to be done in securing markets that are available elsewhere. I do not wish to speak at great length on this subject. I rose only to give the views of those who consume margarine and also of those who like butter.
It is obvious that there is no question of what the choice of the people would be as between margarine and butter. But the fact remains that the production of margarine is restricted, because it competes with butter, and the production of butter is almost unfettered. The Government’s problem is to make butter available more cheaply to persons in the lower income group. I think the subsidy on butter should be passed on to the consumer as well as the producer in order that people may be able to use butter.
Butter is a common commodity in this country, but in some countries it is practically unknown, possibly because of promotional difficulties and the fact that the people in those places are used to cheaper foods. At the same time I think there is a general realization that those who can afford butter will take it, but many cannot afford it at the present price. If I may offer one criticism of the Government’s policy regarding the bounties or subsidies on butter and some other commodities, it is that the bounties have not been increased sufficiently to take up the slack in purchasing power caused by the economic policy of the Government. The fact that the butter subsidy has remained practically unchanged for years shows that the Government has given scant consideration to the vital problem of placing butter on the tables of the people in the lower income groups - pensioners and others - who cannot afford the present high price.
The Government should see that the subsidy is maintained at a reasonable rate not only for the benefit of the producers but also of the countless thousands who would consume this commodity but cannot afford it to-day because of the price structure set up by this Government. I do not think members of the Country Party should criticize margarine as a competitor of the dairy industry by running it down all the time. There should be a realization on their part - as exemplified in the report of the Dairy Industry Committee of Enquiry - that margarine has high nutritional qualities. It is essential to a lot of people and it is accepted by countless thousands of new Australians. Decrying its quality is no answer to the criticism that people buy margarine to-day. I think the major reason why they buy it is that they cannot afford butter because this food, owing to the Government’s economic policy, is outside the scope of the average family budget. These are things which must be faced up to.
I do not want the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) to get up and say I have been running down the dairy industry, or anything of that kind. Long before he thought of getting into this Parliament, I, together with the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) and others, voted for stabilization schemes for the dairy industry and for other primary industries - schemes that were never thought of by honorable members on the other side of the House during their many years in office. The dairy farmers now realize how good our efforts were compared with those of the present Government. If any proof of that is needed it is to be found in the figures I quoted earlier, which show that the consumption of butter has gone down since this Government has been in office. Ever since 1951-52 the prosperity of the dairy industry has gone back under the policy followed by this Government. Let it not be said by honorable members opposite that we are knocking the dairy industry. Rather am I offering constructive ideas on why the consumption of margarine has increased. We believe that the Government’s policy should be to make butter available to those who want it, but also to give fairness and justice to margarine producers, which is accepted by a great many people because, as the report of the Dairy Industry Committee of Enquiry said, it has nutritional qualities and is acceptable to a great number of people.
.- After the speech of the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) I feel a little bit sorry, Sir, for those members of the Opposition who represent dairying electorates. He strongly defended the production of margarine in this country and the penalty it imposes on the people in one of Australia’s biggest industries who are having difficulty in making a reasonable living to-day. The honorable member put a strong case supporting the contention that there should be no restriction on the production of margarine. He supported the case put forward by the margarine manufacturing companies all over the world that, nutritionally, margarine is superior to butter. I think that any dairymen who were listening to this debate would have received an exact interpretation of the attitude of a large section of the Australian Labour Party to margarine.
Many statements have been made by members of the Opposition during this debate about the way in which they would help the dairy industry and how they helped it in the past. The true attitude of the Opposition was expressed by the honorable member for Grayndler when he spoke about the cost of butter. He asked why, if the price of butter was too high for the Australian people, they should not be allowed to buy a cheaper product such as margarine. What is the main ingredient of the cost structure in this country? Wages and hours of work! Nothing has pushed up costs in this country so much as the action of the Labour movement in obtaining a 40-hour week. Now that members of the Labour movement are pressing for a 35-hour week I do not know where the dairy industry will finish up. To-day the dairy industry is caught in a cleft stick. It can no longer push up the price to the consumer because, if it does, consumption will radically drop; yet how else is the industry to get better returns if costs continue to rise?
This debate concerns four bills which are before the House. As one who is interested in the dairy industry I say that it is a pity that our time is limited to 30 minutes to debate three of these bills which are of great interest to the Australian dairy industry. I said “ three “ because the fourth bill is purely a machinery measure. To-day the dairy industry is in a difficult position. I have heard it said in the corridors and the by-ways of this building, by members from both sides, that the dairy industry is getting more than a fair deal. They have said that it is getting too much protection, by way of subsidies and so on. I want to make it perfectly clear to every honorable member that the dairy industry is getting nothing more than it is entitled to. The industry is suffering in many parts of Australia. People in the industry have to work extraordinarily long hours, and they work very much harder than most other sections of the Australian community do. So nobody should think that they are getting too much. In many parts of Australia, including my area and, I think, in Victoria, many farmers have a sub-standard of living.
– That is because your Government has been in office for ten years.
– This sub-standard of living has existed for many years and it certainly existed when Labour was in office. If Labour members want to interject during my speech I shall annihilate them by relating what Labour did in its day.
However, I want to speak to the bills because there are many important features of the dairy industry to be discussed. The most important of these bills is the Dairying Industry Bill. This ensures that we will have equalization of prices. It will ensure price fixing and a bounty for the next five years. It is vital that we should give this assurance to the dairy industry that we will support it and give it a subsidy of £13,500,000 a year for the next five years. It is vital that we should guarantee a price of at least 40d. a lb. It is vital, too, for the industry to know that it can fix its own price and that there will be, more or less, price control of butter. Why is this vital? Because world prices for dairy products have slumped.
The world price for dairy produce is completely artificial. Only 15 per cent, of the butter in the world is traded. Of that quantity, 80 per cent, is traded on one market - the London market, which is a dumping ground for butter. In order to ascertain what the real world price of butter should be you have only to look at the wholesale price in various countries. The wholesale price of butter in the United States of America is 610s. per cwt.; in France it is 640s. per cwt. The average domestic price of butter in all the Western countries is 590s. per cwt. Yet to-day the London price for butter is 284s. per cwt. For a considerable time it was 247s.
Some honorable members have asked why the dairy industry should have complete protection from competition from a country such as New Zealand, which can sell butter much more cheaply than Australian butter. The only reason why New Zealand can export its butter to this country to sell below local prices is that the only other market that New Zealand has is the depressed London market. I do not think that there is much difference between the efficiency of the dairy industries in Australia and in New Zealand. The guaranteed price for butter in New Zealand is 32d. New Zealand per lb. which is the equivalent of 40d. Australian. Yet the cost structure of New Zealand is considerably lower than that of Australia.
The Dairy Produce Export Charge Bill provides for an increase in the levy on butter from one-eighth pence per lb. to one-half pence, and for an increase in the levy on cheese from one-sixteenth pence to one farthing. It does not necessarily follow that the levies will be increased to that extent, but the industry will be able to put those levies on exported butter in order to carry out certain promotional work overseas. With the possible consequences of the European Economic Community it is fairly vital that the dairy industry should push ahead and try to expand markets in other parts of the world, particularly in south-east Asia and Japan. But the industry cannot send delegations overseas to look for new markets unless it has the finance to do so. When the export levy was originally introduced in 1924 the charge was onequarter pence and one-sixteenth pence on butter and cheese respectively. The charge has not been increased since then. It is high time that the industry had an increase to enable it to carry out this work.
I should hate to hear anybody say that the industry is not progressing and is not looking forward to the development of new markets, because it has sent delegations overseas. At this moment, the president of the Australian Dairy Industry Council, Mr. Roberts, is in Malaya trying to negotiate for the establishment of reconstitution plants in various places so that dried milk products and butter oil can be exported to Malaya and reconstituted into milk for sale to the Asian people. The market for butter in those areas is limited because the people there are traditionally not accustomed to eating butter; but they are used to drinking milk, at least at some stage of their lives, and I think there is a much bigger market for this sort of product.
One of the vital points discussed during the debate has been the report of the Dairy Industry Committee of Enquiry. Certain members of the Opposition have stated that the Government has cast this report aside and that it does not intend to implement it. Does the Opposition wish us to implement it? The idea of appointing the committee was that it should prepare a report for the industry and the Government to consider and obtain any new suggestions which would be beneficial to the industry. Since this report was issued there has been a number of changes which have affected the dairy industry. The London price for butter has been very low, and we have the problems connected wilh the European Common Market. We also have the problems associated with a surplus of dairy products in this country because of a quota system that has been introduced on the London market with a view to boosting the price of butter on that market. I am glad to be able to say that this quota system has boosted the price of butter on the London market by 40s. per cwt. But I cannot accept the recommendations contained in this report, because I believe many of them are based on a completely unrealistic approach to the problems of the dairy industry. If the problems of this industry are to be looked at from a wholly economic point of view, there may be some justification for the recommendations, but I emphasize that there is a tremendous social problem, a socio-economic problem, if you like to put it that way, connected with the industry. People are involved, and to suggest that these people should not be kept going in the industry by the payment of a subsidy is absolutely absurd. Why, if the subsidy were abolished to-morrow, these people would remain in the industry, and all that the abolition of the subsidy would mean would be the imposition of greater hardship upon them. To suggest that the whole industry can be rehabilitated in ten years, and to base the suggestion on a theory which may not be put into effect at all, is absolutely silly.
I come now to the points relating to the rehabilitation of the industry which I feel the committee did not cover sufficiently. The first relates to land tenure and the size of farms. What can this Government do about that? Land tenure is a matter for the State governments. The committee talks about the reduction of subsidies, when it should know only too well that many of the problems confronting the industry are inter-related with State economic problems. I refer in particular to such matters as land tenure and the size of holdings.
The committee criticized the milk zones. How can we solve that problem? That is a matter entirely for the States. I think it is a terrible thing that there should be a system of milk zones under which those people who are producing dairying products within the zone enjoy a more favorable price than the people who are producing similar products outside the zone. There may be some justification for a slightly higher price for those milk products produced in areas where milk must be supplied twice a day, or where higher standards of hygiene must be observed, but it is disgraceful that there should be an arbitrary line beyond which certain producers must not go.
– That shows you do not know anything about it.
– I know all about milk zoning. Apparently the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) is himself producing within a milk zone and deriving benefit thereby. Let me point out what is happening in New South Wales. In that State, they have a system of quotas for the production of milk, and the quota to which a farmer is entitled is based on his production for six weeks during the winter months. This means that the producers have to force-feed their cows, and the cost of producing the milk during that period does not matter one lota. It does not make one scintilla of difference because, during that period, the farmer must produce as much as he can to ensure that his quota in the summer months is high. This results in surplus production. Further, the milk that is not consumed is converted to butter or dried milk products, and the butter so produced further accentuates the problem for the regular butter producer. In addition, these people who are enjoying the very glamorous prices paid to city producers also enjoy the benefit of the bounty. It is appalling that this situation should exist when we have looming ahead of us such tremendous problems as the possible effects of the European Common Market. I do not say that the price in the city area should be reduced, but I do believe that those who are producing outside the arbitrarily set milk zone are entitled to sell some of their milk within the zone. They should be allowed some share of the benefit to be derived from the scheme for the equalization of the price of butter. In some countries, there is equalization of the prices of all dairy products. After all, these products all come from the same source; they all come from the cow. Therefore, it is only fair that all should have equal benefit.
In its report, the committee suggested reorganization of the industry, and one of the things on which it pinned a great deal of faith was research. It suggested spending a great deal of money on research into all sorts of things. In effect, the committee said, “ We will cure all the problems in the difficult areas in a short time “. I have never seen any research programme run to the point at which positive results are obtained over a period. Research might uncover the potential, but it is a long time before the potential becomes reality.
My electorate is often referred to as one of the difficult farming areas, but do not let anybody say to me that the farmers there have not tried to improve their position. They have. They have been investing money in a research organization there for fifteen years, and some of their research work has resulted in our gaining remarkable basic knowledge. That is the area in which the machine for sod-sowing was invented. When attending a farmers’ field day at Nebraska in the United States of America in 1954, I saw a demonstration of a sodsower, and I was proud to be able to say that that machine had been invented in my electorate two years previously by research workers from the University of Sydney.
– The University of Sydney is not in your electorate.
– The University of Sydney is working in conjunction with the Richmond River Research Council, and that was the first organization to carry out research into problems relating to the erosion of red soil.
– I know a bit about that.
– I was hoping you would know a little bit about it, because this organization covers a great deal of your electorate. The organization up there has also conducted research into legumes. The problem was not merely one of discovering what sort of legume to grow in the area. The first task was to discover a rhizodium bacteria that would develop on the roots so that the legume would grow satisfactorily. After much work by Vincents, one of the leading bacteriologists of the world, a suitable bacteria was discovered. Then the research workers discovered that some of the bacteria required certain trace elements, and that the problem of acidity resulting from the use of fertilizers had to be overcome. Then they set out to find a legume that would grow during the summer months. Glycini Javania looked like offering some prospect of success. Seed was imported from South Africa, only to be destroyed under the quarantine regulations. Now, the scientific workers are faced with the problem of trying to produce the seed in Australia so that they may carry out further tests. But whenever they wish to develop some new idea, they have no trouble in obtaining the support of the farmers.
They have only to flick their fingers and probably 100 farmers will invite them to put down plots on their holdings. To take from them the dairy-farmers’ subsidy would only be to decrease their income at a time when they cannot afford any decrease.
Evidence was given before the Dairy Industry Committee of Enquiry by Professor Downing and Professor Karmel of the Melbourne and Adelaide universities. I can agree with but little of their evidence, but I do feel that perhaps they have been over-criticized. I feel that their purpose in giving evidence was merely to provoke interest, to encourage more people to give evidence before the committee. What I do object to is the great amount of space devoted to their evidence in the report. After all, when those two men gave evidence, they qualified it by saying -
We have confined these comments largely to the problem of the level of protection being given the industry through the subsidy and home price scheme. We have examined the question from a purely economic point of view, with no attention being given to the social, political and cultural aspects.
As I mentioned before, those aspects do constitute a grave problem for the dairying industry. The main one is the social problem. For the most part, the dairy-farmers do not know any other occupation. How can we possibly take a man off a small holding if he does not know any other work?
– How can you?
– That is the problem. How do you? Do you reduce the subsidy, which means a lower standard of living for that man? You cannot. I would hate to see the subsidy reduced until some scheme is established to help these people. Some people say that the local price of butter is too high. But they should keep in mind that the price depends on Australian costs. Clothing pushes up local costs more than does our wage system. Workers approach the industrial tribunals and are given protection against labour in other countries.
– Do you want lower wages in Australia?
– 1 do not, but I want to get a proper price for butter, and you know that. I am not accusing the honorable member of seeking a lower price for butter, but there are some people who say that the price of butter is too high. The price is determined on the basis of dairymen working seven days a week. If anything, the price is too low. The cost of production of butter is 56d. per lb., but the selling price of butter is lower than that. The return to the farmer is lOd. per lb. less than the cost of production. Let us look at the position of a fitter and turner. Is he not given protection in Australia? If you compare the wage of a fitter and turner in Australia with the wage of a fitter and turner in England, you will find that the Australian is given 97 per cent, protection.
Let me point out to Messrs. Downing and Karmel - I do not say this viciously - that a university professor in Japan receives a salary of £22 10s. a month. They should compare this with the salary of a university professor in Australia. Let us compare the cost of transistor radios in Australia with the cost in Japan. It costs £42 10s. for an eight-transistor radio in Australia, but in Japan it costs £9 10s. for a ten-transistor radio. Of course there must be protection for the Australian dairy industry! It is disgraceful for people to say that the dairy industry has too much protection.
Let us compare the price of butter with the nominal weekly wage. In 1927, the nominal weekly wage would buy 50 lb. of butter. In 1953, it would buy 60 lb. of butter. To-day, it will buy 74 lb. of butter. It should not be said that the price of butter is too high. Let us now consider how many minutes it would take to earn a pound of butter. On the present nominal wage, it would take 35 minutes to earn a pound of butter. In 1939, it took 39 minutes to earn a pound of butter on a 44-hour week.
I said I would refer to what the Australian Labour Party had done for the dairy industry. I do not want to be too vicious about this, but I think most dairyfarmers will remember what Labour did. The honorable member for Lalor, who led for the Opposition in this debate, spoke about the price structure and said that we were not sticking to it. Let us look at how Labour calculated the price structure in 1947. It allowed interest on capital of 31 per cent, and, if the person concerned was an owner-operator, he was allowed a salary of 25s. above the basic wage. This was calculated on a 56-hour week at a time when other people were granted a 40-hour week. On a 56-hour week, the dairyman was receiving 2s. 7d. an hour, with no allowance for overtime. At the same time, the wharf labourer in Sydney was working a 40-hour week and receiving 5s. 2d. an hour. If he worked on Saturday, he received 10s. an hour and for Sunday work he received 12s. 6d. an hour. Despite this, Labour would give only 2s. 7d. an hour to people in the dairy industry who were working a 56-hour week.
The honorable member for Lalor says that we are not paying the cost of production. He knows why the cost of production cannot be paid. It cannot be paid because of the artificial low price on the London market. Any government that attempted to pay the cost of production would never know where it would finish. This Government can take great credit for the fact that, through the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann), it brought down a guarantee for overall production, and there is not another primary industry in Australia that is given a guarantee for every pound of its product that is produced.
In 1947, the Joint Dairying Industry Advisory Committee recommended that the price of butter be 2s. Hd. That was a majority recommendation. The minority recommendation was 2s. The Government accepted the minority recommendation, but the people who made the minority recommendation were all Government appointees. There was one Government appointee who did not join in the minority recommendation. He saw that the evidence strongly supported the dairymen and he voted with the dairy representatives. That was the late Sir Christopher Sheehy. In 1949, when the Joint Dairying Industry Advisory Committee found that the price of butter should be increased by 3d., the government of the day refused to do so for a period of four months and then only after continued attacks from the Australian Country Party did the Labour Government decide to give an increase of 2id. But the guarantee of an increase was given only until the 1949 election. Labour completely eliminated the guarantee for five years, although the guarantee was intended to remain until 1952.
These are some of the things that the Australian Labour Party has done. The honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) to-day defended the margarine industry, but it is interesting to look at the record of the Labour Party in respect of margarine. The only two States - New South Wales and Queensland - that have increased the quota for the production of margarine since 1941 are States with Labour governments. Why did they increase the quota? In 1952, when we tried to have the local price of butter increased to a reasonable figure, our requests were refused. After a good deal of pressure, what did Labour do? It rubbed salt into the wounds of the dairy industry by increasing the quota for the production of margarine. The quota was doubled in the two States I have mentioned.
The Australian Country Party does not advocate the complete abolition of the production of margarine. A very small quota should be produced to meet the needs of some religious factions that do not believe in eating butter, and some members of the community may for health reasons have to eat margarine. But the argument that butter is harmful to health and induces coronary occlusions should not be advanced as a reason for increasing the production of margarine. Margarine has a basis of coconut oil and coconut oil is the one vegetable oil that contains more unsaturated hydro-carbons than have any other products. The unsaturated hydrocarbons lead to a build-up of cholesterol in the system. This causes hardening of the arteries and other similar complaints. The argument that margarine does not produce these harmful results is rubbish. On the point of health, it is interesting to read a medical journal for August of last year.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Debate (on motion by Mr. McGuren) adjourned.
.- I move - [Customs Tariff Amendment (No. 23).]
The Tariff Proposals which I have just tabled relate to proposed amendments to the Customs Tariff 1933-1962, and give effect to the Government’s decisions following receipt of Tariff Board reports on -
Sodium silicates; Time switches; and Gramophone parts.
Protective duties are proposed on sodium metasilicates which are locally produced in three forms and are used principally in detergent and laundry preparations. Evidence submitted to the Tariff Board indicates that tariff protection is no longer required on sodium silicates other than metasilicates. and the existing protective duties are removed.
The Government has also accepted the Tariff Board’s recommendations on time switches. Protective duties are proposed on time of day synchronous motor time switches, whether or not incorporating reserve spring mechanisms. Other types of electric time switches remain at nonprotective levels.
In its inquiry into certain gramophone parts the Tariff Board assessed for the first time the protective needs of the Australian industry. The rates recommended and proposed represent an increase over the by-law rates which applied until September, 1960, but are lower in some cases than those which have applied since the by-law concession was withdrawn.
The other change is essentially of an administrative nature. It is proposed to amend the tariff item relating to passengers’ effects to make the provision relating to passengers’ furniture and household goods subject to prescription under departmental by-laws.
It is proposed that the new by-law shall provide for the value of passengers’ used household furniture to be increased from £400 to £1,000. I commend the proposals to honorable members.
Reports on Items.
– I lay on the table of the House reports by the Tariff Board on the following subjects: -
Gramophone parts. Sodium silicates. Time switches.
Ordered to be printed.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
Debate resumed (vide page 2188).
.- I join with the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) in supporting this bill for 1 believe, as he does, that the dairy industry should receive assistance in the form of a subsidy of £13,500,000 a year. In saying that, I am merely supporting the policy and the legislation that was enacted by the Australian Labour Party some years ago through the Chifley Government.
It seems rather extraordinary that the honorable member for Richmond should have introduced into this debate the question of wages and costs. The honorable member said it was possible to produce butter more cheaply in New Zealand and that Australian butter is dearer because of the 40-hour week. That is irrelevant, not only to the bill, but to the facts. To begin with, a 40-hour week is worked in New
Zealand also. Production basically is a question of the native soil on which the cattle graze, and the fact is that in Australia we have natural factors which mitigate against our obtaining in some areas the high production that is obtained in New Zealand and possibly in the southern parts of Australia.
I wish to direct attention, not to the subsidy of £13,500,000, but to the opening words of the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) in introducing the bill. He said -
Since the Menzies Government came into office over twelve years ago, the Australian dairying industry has experienced a considerable degree of security and prosperity which can be attributed in no small measure to the successful stabilization plans administered by the Government.
I took the liberty of reading that statement over to a butter factory manager. He asked me whether the Minister was a country man and what he did. I said I understood that the Minister grew peanuts. He said, “ No wonder he is supporting the margarine industry “. This factory manager gave me some figures relating to this one small butter factory in my electorate. The factory made a survey among 150 of its suppliers and found that 17.3 per cent, of them earn wages considerably below the basic wage. Their earnings range from £300 to £700 per annum. Of the others, 41 per cent, earn under £1,000 and one or two earn more than that. If it were not for having other interests such as farming pigs and poultry they would not be able to remain on their farms.
The bill itself is concerned only with milk products and butter. Great emphasis has been placed on butter in this debate to-day, but the important thing about the dairy industry is that it supplies other milk products which in my opinion are more important than butter from an export point of view. I refer to condensery products.
The butter factory to which I have referred had 737 suppliers in 1929-30 but the number had been reduced to 300 by 1961-62. So something has happened. It is quite obvious that people formerly in the industry have gone into other industries or have turned their properties over to other purposes. It is interesting to note that in 1892 when the factory was established it produced 97 tons of butter. From 1901 to 1910 the average production was 435.1 tons. This was raised to an average of 1,266 tons between 1921 and 1930. I shall return to that figure. From 1951 to 1960 the average annual output was 750.7 tons. During the depression there was a tremendous increase in butter production. This was possibly due to the fact that a farm was the only place where the average person could keep his family and they would get something to eat. But times have changed. It is obvious from the number of producers in the Clarence River district in my electorate that production has gone back to what it was in the period 1910 to 1920. Indeed, this industry has gone backwards. The same trend is apparent along the whole river. Only twelve or eighteen months ago poplars were planted on some of the best dairy land for the match factory at Grafton to be used for skillets. To-day poplars are pointing upwards over rich dairying country like the microphones in this chamber because the people on that land have not been able to earn a living. Something is wrong.
I know that the committee of inquiry has suggested that over a period of ten years those who are not producing a certain quantity of butter fat - I think it is 8,000 lb. a year - should be gradually eliminated. They will then be cut out of the subsidy and will go out of the industry. I do not think that is right. I do not think that the committee fairly analysed the situation. In any event, from what I have read, it appears that there was no need for the Government deliberately to end the bounty. It was already being cut out simply because the industry was under-privileged and those engaged in it were changing to other pursuits. I know that a tremendous number of dairy farms are now used by graziers for the fattening of cattle which have been reared elsewhere.
Although I support these bills, I believe that the Government’s proposals are hardly enough to enable the farmers, who have battled on and tried to keep things going, to remain in the dairying industry. I say that in all seriousness. The farmers are entitled to the highest possible prices for their products. I believe, as does the honorable member for Richmond, that every man is worthy of his hire. The dairy-farmer certainly deserves good prices for his products.
– He earns every penny that he makes.
– He earns every penny that he makes. We all know that the dairy farm is usually a family concern. The farmer, his wife and children work on their property seven days a week in order to earn the miserable level of income that I mentioned earlier. Can honorable members imagine any one in Australia to-day being satisfied with an income of between £300 and £700 a year? That, of course, refers only to the income from the production of butter fat.
The report of the Dairy Industry Committee of Enquiry contains certain recommendations. I have been waiting anxiously for the Government to tell the Parliament what it thinks of this report. I am sure that had the Government been returned at the general election still with a voting majority of 32, the farmers whom I mentioned a little while ago would not still be receiving bounty.
– I firmly believe that. The introduction of a bounty was left to a Labour government. So why would this Government continue to pay bounty, except for political expediency?
– The Government intimated last year that it would reduce the bounty.
– As my friend has said, it intimated last year that it would reduce, and eventually end, the bounty.
The fact is that we are apt to confuse butter fat with other farm products. The Government has failed to comment on the report of the committee of inquiry over a period of eighteen months or more. The honorable member for Richmond said that the report was a ridiculous one which had been prepared by people who did not know anything about the industry. It is interesting to read some of the observations contained in this report, although I believe, along with the honorable member, that a report by economists sometimes is misleading. When it comes to figures, an economist or an accountant is a body without a soul. I believe that there is no room for humanity in an economist or an accountant when he deals with figures. His job deals with figures very largely, and I suppose that he does it to the best of his ability.
The report of the committee of inquiry should enable the Government to give the Parliament some guidance in these matters and to help the people in the dairying industry, who, at present, are just pining away I and disappearing from the industry. I asked people engaged in the industry whether they were satisfied with the proposed bounty of £13,500,000 a year. They told me that they were pleased with it because they had been afraid that they would lose the bounty. I said, “ Do you think it is enough? “. They said, “ No “. They told me that production costs generally, and especially the cost of equipment and everything else needed on the farms, had increased out of all proportion to the real value of money. They pointed out that in the mid-1940’s tractors, for example, could be bought for £200 or £300, but they now cost about £1,100 or £1,200. The farmers are faced with the heavy cost of replacing machinery and buying parts and equipment of all kinds at these high prices, and are merely making do with the basic items of equipment because they were really frightened about what the Government intended to do. And I do not blame them. They were afraid that the bounty would be ended, and I think that the result of the general election may have been due partly to the feelings of the farmers.
In the report of the Dairy Industry Committee of Enquiry, which the Government has chosen to do nothing about, and about which it has said nothing to the Parliament, certain recommendations have been made purely on the basis of figures obtained. I have already given the House my opinion about economists and accountants. Nevertheless, I admit that some excellent suggestions are made in this report. We have been talking about butter and the use of butter. Let me read paragraph 647 at page 64 of the report, which is as follows: -
One witness stated that a given quantity of butterfat will yield a much greater return in foreign exchange when manufactured into processed milk products than when made into butter; this in turn meant that in preparing the product for export much more was spent in Australia on wages and raw materials and he instanced the processors’ requirements of tinplate, sugar, boxes, cartons, etc. He therefore claimed that the overall economy benefited more from exporting a certain quantity of butterfat as a processed product than as butter . . .
The paragraph goes on to outline some figures given by that witness to show how the return from butterfat exported as processed products exceeded that of butter. If the Government, which called for this report and which has had it for so long, had taken the trouble to present to the Parliament proposals related to these factors associated with the economics of the dairying industry, we may have had an opportunity to do something of the kind envisaged in paragraph 647 of the report.
The industry is now faced, of course, with difficulties caused by the situation concerning the European Common Market. Only recently, I asked in this House whether the Government could restore to the farmers another thing they had been given by the Labour Government - a subsidy on fertilizers. I was told that this was a matter of policy and that the Government would examine the subject when it saw fit to do so. The whole point is that the question of the export of processed milk products could well be examined in the light of the evidence given to the committee of inquiry as stated in paragraph 647 of its report. Increased exports of processed milk products would be of greater value not only to the dairy farmers but also to the country as a whole. We have some 75 factories throughout Australia producing dried milk and other milk products. We should examine the recommendations of the Dairy Industry Committee of Enquiry in order to see whether we can turn more to processed milk products instead of butterfat in order to increase the incomes of the farmers. The emphasis on the production of butterfat should be less strong than it is to-day. The production of butterfat is not the be-all and end-all of the industry.
I think that we shall be concerned about lower prices which will probably occur in the future, because our markets are more likely to be found in the East, where the bowl-of-rice kind of economy will make it more difficult for us as a trading nation to maintain the prices received for our exports. We have to look at the situation from a practical stand-point. We have to see whether we can produce more in the areas where the productivity of the land appears to be declining. I gave the House some figures earlier. I believe that greater emphasis on the production of dried milk would be worth while.
The whole coastal area of the electorate that I represent has certain peculiarities which are not found in dairying areas in other parts of Australia, because it is subject continually to floods. It has been ascertained that in about one year in every four all the crops are lost because of flooding. The report of the committee of inquiry itself suggests that this is one of the great problems in the area stretching from the Richmond, Clarence and Macleay south to the Hunter River, and also, to a lesser degree, along the south coast of New South Wales and in Victoria. In all those regions where farming and grazing are conducted on alluvial ris’er flats, flooding is a serious problem which greatly adds to the difficulties of the farmers. I have not nearly enough time to deal with this matter adequately, but I suggest that much should be done to assist the farmers by means of flood mitigation schemes, which I have mentioned before in this House. They are necessary if the dairying industry is to prosper in the region extending from the Mary River in Queensland to the Hunter River and Newcastle districts and into Victoria.
There are 75 factories now producing dried milk, and they will receive the benefit of a subsidy, which is not an innovation in the industry. I believe that the Government will be doing something of benefit for the country if it enables these factories to get their milk from fully productive land in the various river valleys. There is no doubt that the land is quite capable of producing the necessary commodities, but the producers are constantly plagued with floods. As a consequence, we frequently hear of people leaving the industry because of the very small incomes that they have been able to earn over a period of years.
In conclusion, I say that I support the bill, but I do so with a feeling that it has not gone far enough. I believe the subsidy should have been sufficient to enable the farmers to carry on with a feeling of security during the transition period of four or five years which we will have to go through before Australia’s economy becomes stabilized after feeling the impact of the entry of the United Kingdom into the Common Market. I believe the Government should have considered advancing money to the dairy-farmers to enable them to buy additional fertilizers and to purchase the equipment they need to farm their land efficiently. I believe that if the Government does something along those lines it will go a long way towards putting this Cinderella industry on its feet. I believe, too, that if this is done the whole economy of the country will be stabilized. After all, the good health of the community depends on this industry. I think it was the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) who said that every one has had milk. That is quite true, but my point is that people should have the benefits of milk and milk products not only for a certain period but throughout their entire lives.
I believe that the desired results can be achieved by a proper approach. The report of the committee of inquiry should be looked at. As well as some rather harsh comments by the economists and other experts who were members of the committee the report contained many suggestions which could be worthy of adoption. I look forward to the time when this Government will bring forward something of a tangible nature to help the industry. After all, the people engaged in it are the backbone of the primary-producing section of the community. They do their work unhonoured and unsung, but they are nevertheless of great importance to the nation. If we simply toss them aside and tell them to get other jobs, then we will show ourselves in a very poor light. I appeal to the Government not only to continue the subsidy of £13,500,000 but also to grant other concessions to those in the industry, such as the provision of cheap money for the improvement of properties and the provision of funds for flood mitigation. If the Government does these things I think the industry can be firmly placed on the road to recovery.
– I think I am the last member due to speak on these bills, and I speak as one who has no link with the dairy industry at all. We have before us, as well as the bills themselves, an explanatory statement. The statement sets forth a policy which is not to be found in the bills themselves. The bills are flexible in this regard, and could be in line with other policies than the one set out in the statement. I believe that the policy to be found in this statement is rather too negative and does not give a proper lead to the industry and the country as a whole. I feel that it is not quite fair to the farmer and I say this, as I have mentioned, as a. person who has no link with the industry at all but who believes that the farmer is entitled to a fair go.
I am not sure - and here I share the doubts of my friend, the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly) - that the statement before us is fully in the interests of the national economy. It starts off by saying that we have to cope with circumstances that will follow the entry of the United Kingdom into the European Common Market. One of those circumstances will be a surplus in this country of unsaleable butter. I agree that we have to protect any section of our community which is placed at a disadvantage because of a change in the pattern of overseas trading and by the entry of the United Kingdom into the Common Market. I do not for one moment begrudge the amount of £13,500,000 a year - even for five years - that will be allocated for assistance to the industry by way of subsidy. Let it not be thought that I am suggesting that this money should not be spent. I am merely saying that I think it might be spent in a different way from that set out in the statement.
If it be true that circumstances have changed because of Great Britain’s impending entry into the Common Market, then the policy set out in the statement is diametrically opposed to the needs of the economy when it feels the effects of such entry into the Common Market.
I do not think that the policy outlined will really help the farmer. We should not try to keep him in what I shall describe as marginal misery. We should be more positive in our approach. We must help the farmer who is being placed at a disadvantage through circumstances quite beyond his control to a more prosperous life. We should not kid them along, saying, “ It will bc all right. We will pay you a little bit to keep you in your marginal misery.” Instead, we should be implementing a positive policy to make the farmer richer and the country more prosperous, and it can be done.
Reference has been made to the report of the Dairy Industry Committee of Enquiry. A perusal of that report makes it quite obvious that the industry is very uneven. This is due partly to the difference in sizes of holdings, partly to the wide range of climatic conditions, partly to differences of pastures, partly to variations in skills of farmers, partly to differences in herds of cattle. But while some farmers, particularly in Victoria, are really doing well, and more than well, with the prevailing prices, and do not need the subsidy, other farmers on the north coast of New South Wales and in Queensland are not doing well at all, and they need something more than the subsidy. They are the ones who are living in this marginal misery.
We have been told that in recent times 1,500 dairy-farmers have gone out of the industry in Queensland. I wish I could believe that all of them have left the industry because they were offered something more attractive, but what I do believe is that many of them have been forced out of the industry by dire necessity, after struggling to the bitter end. It is true that we will need greater milk production as our population increases, but when one considers that the production per cow is two and a half or three times as great in some areas as in others it is pretty obvious that there is plenty of room for improvement in the organization of the industry. Therefore, I say that although at the present moment there is nothing to be said against the provision of the subsidy, particularly in view of the impending entry of the United Kingdom into the Common Market, when one takes a long-term view one must realize that we should be thinking not so much in terms of a subsidy which, as I have said, is not needed by the rich farmers while it keeps the others in marginal misery, and more in terms of directing the expenditure of the money so that it will help to change or rehabilitate the industry in areas where it is less efficient than it is in others. I say “ change or rehabilitate “ because I certainly am not competent to say what is the correct thing to do. I know something has to be done because the figures point that way, but what should be done is a matter which lies outside my technical competence. Obviously, one thinks of market promotion. Honorable members have referred to the possibility of selling butter in the East. This may be possible. Because of certain religious sanctions and some kind of religious meaning of butter, there may well be a market in India. I remember discussing this matter in the House twelve years ago, and saying that I thought the Indian market was worth exploring. I still believe that to be true, and I am glad that my friend, the honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate), is coming around to that point of view.
I should like to see more money spent in that direction. If necessary, at the outset, let us spend a little more than £13,500,000. Some could be spent on publicity abroad to improve our markets for butter, and particularly for milk proteins, in relation to which the future may be brighter than is the future for butter fats. Some could be spent on increasing dairy efficiency. Here again, people like my friend, the honorable member for Macarthur, know about these things. I certainly do not, but I do know from what I have been told by practical farmers - by himself among others - that the potential exists for a great improvement in dairy efficiency. If the funds were available large sections of the dairy industry could rehabilitate themselves and lower their costs considerably. But if Great Britain enters the Common Market, and if quantitative limitations are imposed on what we can sell abroad, it is no good simply reducing our costs. It may well be that in certain sections we shall have to develop new forms of production. Do not let us be discouraged about this. The north coast of New South Wales and the south coast of Queensland, which I suppose would be regarded by the dairy industry as the problem areas, are among the richest districts in Australia. There is no reason why farmers in those areas should be poor farmers. But the individual farmer can do very little. He has been caught in a situation in which the apparatus is available for dealing with dairy products, but in which there is no apparatus available for dealing with other forms of production, particularly meat production, on an adequate scale. Surely we could apply some of the funds covered by this bill, not merely to keep the farmers in marginal misery, but also to raise their incomes in a positive way by getting them into different forms of production.
Although there is nothing in the bill which binds policy for the future there is something in the statement which accompanies the bill. I would have preferred that statement to be a little more generous to the farmer in the initial stages of the subsidy, because these are the days of difficulty. At the same time, I would have preferred the statement to have envisaged the use of this money by allocating always an increasing proportion of it to encouraging new markets abroad, to increasing the efficiency of the dairy producers and to helping some, not all, dairy producers to move into other forms of production which would give them a higher real income. Instead, the subsidy will be tapered off in the way suggested in the committee’s report. I would look to the subsidy not entirely - perhaps not even mainly - to do the things which I have suggested it could do. For example, we could look to the banking system to help in some plan - I speak now as a New South Welshman - to place our north coast on a more payable basis.
As I have said, our north coast is a rich area. There is no need to be disheartened or dispirited about this. The north coast should turn away from producing butter, for which there is no longer the same kind of international market as there was when the scheme of production for the north coast was laid down. To effect these changes large amounts of real capital may be necessary. The individual farmer cannot supply it, but the co-operative movement is well established on the north coast and perhaps that movement, in conjunction with the Government, could devise some means of placing the area on a more payable basis. After that, it might be possible for the Government, whether by subsidy or otherwise, to provide the funds which can be provided justly because we cannot expect one section of the economy to bear the whole impact of international adjustments. The funds can be provided economically because they will add to the real resources and richness of the Commonwealth.
– in reply - In endeavouring to answer points which have been raised by honorable members on both sides of the House I shall not enter into any argument. I want to make only a
I few comments. I appreciate that the Labour Party has decided to support this bill. However, although it may be unonimous when the vote is taken, it will not be unanimous in intention. This is obvious, because the honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Coutts), for one, used the words, “ I believe that the findings of the committee should have been implemented “. The honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly), of course, was an out-and-out advocate of the free distribution of margarine.
The honorable member for Cowper (Mr. McGuren) suggested that because I was interested in peanuts my interest extended to margarine. Perhaps I ought to declare that I am interested in this bill as a dairyman because my property, which obviously I have not the time to work, is a mixed farm on which milk is produced, peanuts are grown and maize produced more extensively than either. To that extent it is a mixed farm. In indicating why the Government has not accepted the committee’s report, let me refer to paragraph 972 of the report. Before I proceed to that, however, I want to clear up a misapprehension under which the honorable member for Cowper appears to be suffering. He believes that the report has not been tabled. As other honorable members know, the report was tabled before the present honorable member for Cowper came into this House. Paragraph 972 of the committee’s report states -
Summing up, the Committee agrees with the Downing-Karmel recommendation that the domestic price should be linked with export parity; the main difference is in the length of the link. The economists consider that the natural protection of freight and charges will be sufficient to protect the worth-while elements in the industry, but the Committee considers that the existing Tariff protection should also be maintained. The Committee acknowledges the variability of export prices and the fact that they are in no way related to actual, let alone estimated, costs of production, lt believes, however, that there is no other way of controlling the overall cost of the industry which must in the long run be measured by the cost at which Australia could otherwise obtain its requirements of butter.
Who is interested in the economy of other countries as a basis for determining that which is purely an Australian economy? I am glad that the Opposition agrees with that viewpoint, because we cannot let the economies of lower cost countries determine our basis of living. We could not possibly accept the report for that vital reason alone.
The matter of reconstruction, which has been raised during the debate, has not been shelved. But if the policy of reducing the subsidy was applied, the industry would immediately lose to the extent that the subsidy was tapered off. There is no immediate return from any money invested in reconstruction. The responsibility for action there does not lie with the Commonwealth alone. It must also lie with the States as partners, too, because land settlement and primary production are obviously under the jurisdiction of the States, and they must participate in any arrangement which is made for the reconstruction of the farms that it is necessary to help. That matter has been taken up with the Australian Agricultural Council, and the States naturally are looking at it. Of course, that could not be an immediate policy, nor is there any suggestion that those dairy-farmers who are in need of assistance should be deprived of it because we are helping one section of the industry alone. It is neither right nor fair by any stretch of the imagination for honorable members opposite to say that the election determined this question.
When the report of the Dairy Industry Committee of Enquiry was presented I made a statement in which I said that the Government was determined to protect the welfare of this industry. I said we recognized that we had a contract with the industry to finish the five-year scheme. We honoured that contract and continued the £13,500,000 subsidy for the balance of that period.
I also promised, in that statement, that we would give the industry another five-year stabilization scheme at the conclusion of that one, the details to be determined after negotiation with the industry’s leaders. I have had many discussions with them. I want the House to note that the Government has met the industry’s requests. We have acceded to every one of them with one exception - the amount they suggested for assistance to the processors of milk, because we had to determine the basis of payment there. The industry representatives submitted no definite basis for that assistance and it is only fair that those who have to purchase whole milk in competition with those who buy it for butter fat and get a subsidy thereon, should not be at any disadvantage. So we have met the industry’s requests there. The butter and cheese section of the industry now has an assurance beyond the twelve months’ security which it has had through all the years under the previous government and this one - the year-by-year determination of what assistance would be given. The industry now has five years’ assurance or security in respect of the bounty payments.
The honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) said that we ought to be doing something to meet the European Common Market position.
– So did I.
– That is so. What is the Common Market position to be? Any government that is honest - we claim to be honest - will meet that position if it arises to the detriment of Australia. I point out to the honorable member for Mackellar that, without the Common Market affecting the issue, we now have a surplus of butter for export because of lack of markets for our butter. All the countries trading with the United Kingdom want to sell butter there, so much so that the United Kingdom has had to determine a quota basis for the import of butter. That was done about nine months ago in the first instance and since then a second decision in that regard has been made. I think the dairy industry is better off in a financial sense if we sell only the quota at the increased price than if the whole lot had gone at the price which was then being paid, namely, 247s. per cwt. We still have the remaining butter to sell elsewhere.
We have been exploring world markets. Japan is buying Australian cheese and is advertising the product as such. I think the last purchase by the Japanese was 1 ,500 tons of our cheddar cheese. We made our first sale of butter the other day to Rhodesia, and another to Peru. There are promising prospects of increased sales of dairy products through the operations of the Australian Dairy Produce Board in South-East Asia. Our sales promotion men are really on the job and I commend them for the way they are attacking the situation. No one can afford to sleep on the job, and the position is being met.
It has been said that the Government is moving away from the industry, but that is not so. The position previously was that the findings of the Dairy Industry Investigation Committee were in the main based on the figures of the Bureau of Agricultural Economics. The members of the committee had to make their recommendation to the Minister and could not work on it in advance because they did not know whether the recommendation would be accepted. Now they know that, when they have made a determination, they are free to act on it. They have been quite responsible in all the recommendations they have made from time to time and I feel they will be equally responsible in the future. They can now go ahead assessing the possibility of finding new outlets in Australia and planning sales promotion
– It will not be the costofproduction figures that they will recommend. That is the whole point.
– They are on an infinitely different basis. While the honorable member for Lalor was speaking I interjected and said that our formula was much more liberal than that which applied under his government.
– But you did not accept the recommendations of the Dairy Industry Investigation Committee as the figure to be applied.
– I discussed fully with the industry the question of whether the Minister or the industry would accept that responsibility. The industry accepted it and the representatives said they desired that they should declare the price. However, the Minister of the day will determine from year to year the manufacturing allowance, to keep it on a balanced basis for all factories. There is security as far as price fixing is concerned. The honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) and I exchanged some cross remarks across the table. Let me say that in price fixing the dairy industry has much more effective control through the equalization committee under which it operates - with all its anomalies - than with any statutory price controller. That is so because the equalization committee fixes the price, and no factory will sell butter or cheese below that price. Through the years they have had to abide by that price in order to get the benefit of the bounty. That brings in a form of stability.
I have always favoured stabilization. I think the honorable member suggested wrongly that when he was a Minister I opposed one of his stabilization proposals. If he looks up “ Hansard “ he will find that my attitude to stabilization has been consistent through the years, even when he was a Minister. We might differ in detail, but that has been my approach to primary industry. We cannot regulate seasons, unfortunately. That brings uncertainty into primary industry. That is why governments have to give a measure of assistance, probably to a greater degree than would otherwise be necessary to cater for seasonal circumstances.
– Have you seen Mr. Bolte’s recent criticism of an increase in the price of butter?
– No, but I have heard of it.
– How do you reconcile your attitude with that of the Victorian Government?
– There are no State price-fixing authorities now.
– They have price-fixing powers.
– They have, but will not necessarily use those powers. But it becomes a different matter if they do. If necessary, further action will have to be taken to protect the industry.
– Mr. Bolte, the Liberal Premier of Victoria, has taken great exception to an increased price for butter.
– Order! The Minister for Primary Industry has the call.
– Price controllers determine only maximum prices and factories, if they wanted to, could force prices down. Under this system of stabilization, which embraces the equalization committee, that factor does not apply. There is stability of prices. With the industry determining the prices from time to time endoftheyear uncertainty does not operate. A couple of years ago when it was thought there would be a price increase, heavy buying in June increased sales in that year, but in the next year sales suffered correspondingly. However, the industry can now take its own course. With the security of prices provided by the equalization committee the industry must benefit. The industry is helping itself through promotional and research levies. The amount collected in levies for research purposes is subsidized on a £l-for-£l basis by the Commonwealth. Last year the amount collected was £117,000, with a total expenditure on research of £194,000. In addition, £233,000 was collected for the purposes of promotion.
As honorable members know, one of the bills before the House seeks to increase the levies for administrative purposes. I think that the industry has been quite responsible in its actions, and in all its discussions with me it has shown itself to be pleased that the Government has been so liberal in its support. I have not sought, in my secondreading speech, to go back into history. As far as I am concerned, sufficient unto the day is the good thereof - not the evil thereof. I refer to the good that we can bring to the industry. I hope that it will go on to better times.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
.- As the bill is to be taken as a whole I presume that I will be allowed some liberality in my few remarks, which will be very brief. As the Parliament has agreed to take the four bills as one and considerable debating time will be saved by that action, I think that I should be allowed to make a few remarks which may transgress the Standing Orders a little. First, I want to correct a wrong impression which I may have created when speaking to the motion for the second reading of the first bill, when I said that the bill provided for an. interim payment in the nature of an underwriting. There is no such provision in the bill. The interim payments provided for are interim bounty payments.
Secondly, during the second-reading debate I did not have an opportunity to say anything about some of the matters which effect efficiency in the dairy industry. There is one matter to which I think I should direct the attention of the committee. In 1948 the government of the day decided to provide £250,000 for a period of five years to assist the promotion of efficiency in the Australian dairy industry.
– Are you referring to the extension fund?
– Yes. This sum was apportioned annually among State departments of agriculture in the main. The present Government has continued to provide that sum of money for the promotion of efficiency in the industry, lt has been pointed out in this Parliament that, probably, the efficiency of the industry in Victoria is greater than in any other part of Australia. Victoria receives its proportion of this efficiency grant annually on a basis fixed by the authorities. Perhaps there should be some more generous apportionment of these funds annually to the departments in New South Wales and Queensland, in view of the much more difficult problems in those two States. That is one suggestion.
Here is another suggestion: Whilst we are providing extension funds and efficiency promotion funds, ever since this Government came to office there has been a gradually increasing export of some of Australia’s finest sires of dairy stock. The dairy industry, perhaps more than any other industry, is dependent on the productive capacity of its cows and the capacity of the sires to produce high butter fat and milk yielding stock. If, on the one hand, we spend money to increase the industry’s efficiency and on the other hand we allow this stock to escape from the country, it is a pretty serious state of affairs.
A newspaper reported the other day that within the last two or three weeks 58 Border Leicester cross-bred ewes and 400 dairy cattle had been transported to Cuba. The Cubans do no want dairy cattle to eat. They want the best dairy cattle to increase the efficiency of their dairy herds. There was never a greater need to ensure that the very best producing animals were kept in this country. I do not want to be nationalistic in my outlook; I want to see these people helped in their drive to improve the production of their dairy herds, whether it be in China, Cuba, Germany or Japan, but I do think that, until such time as our dairy herds have a higher productive capacity this practice is extremely detrimental to the Australian dairy industry. I do not think it has been kept in hand as it should have been, and I direct the Minister’s attention to it. These people who have been coming from Japan and Cuba and, I suppose, from China, do not buy scrubbers; they do not buy the progeny of cattle from farms that have bad producing records; they buy the very best, and they pay for it. I suggest that the Minister make a very close examination of the position. Naturally those people who are breeding good stock here do not say much about their sales to overseas buyers because the business is exceedingly remunerative, but it should be looked into.
I now wish to take the opportunity to deal with the proposed bounty for processed milk products, and I think my remarks will be relevant to this bill. The producers of processed milk products may be divided into two groups. First, we have that great international combine of Nestles and, secondly, we have the corporations and a few private factories. When butter prices were booming overseas, these people contributed absolutely nothing to our stabilization funds. They reaped full benefit from the buoyant prices ruling overseas during the post-war period. During my time as Minister, efforts were made to induce them to come into our stabilization scheme and into our equalization scheme, but they refused. They were waxing rich and fat, and they did not want to join in with us. Now, when the position is not so good and there is not so much profit in exporting, they come to the Government and, using the producers’ trials and tribulations as their argument, they request, and put their hand out for, a subsidy, which has been granted. It amounts to £350,000 for this year. I do not think that the Government had any alternative but to yield to the request because, if it refused, there was grave danger that these processing firms, which allege that they had been exporting at a loss, as the dairy industry has been doing, will close their doors and the milk that they discontinue taking will flow into the butter and cheese factories to swell the quantity of butter and cheese being exported at very low prices. Because of this danger, the Government has agreed to pay these people £350,000 for this year.
I suggest to the Minister - and these remarks apply to the Nestles organization in particular - that he should see to it that his departmental officers are given access to the books of this great international combine which has its head-quarters in, I think, London. 1 make that suggestion because it is possible for a company like that to deliberately show a loss on its operations in Australia by selling at a low price to one of its subsidiaries. This subsidiary could be at Singapore, Holland, or even in Asia, and by selling at low prices it could dodge the relatively high taxation levied in Australia. Because it had been able to buy at low prices from Australia, it could show much higher profits overseas, where the rate of taxation is lower than that levied in Australia. That sort of juggling should be checked thoroughly. After all, these huge concerns have shown no mercy to the Australian producers. For instance, there was a time when the producers at Warrnambool, in Victoria, asked for a higher price from the Nestle Company (Australia) Limited. They even went on strike and refused to supply milk, but a few of their number scabbed. Some of those who objected to this retaliated by dumping in the paddocks of those who continued to supply Nestles at the cheaper price onions for the cows to eat before the milk was produced, so that those who sold milk at a very cheap price delivered very bad milk to Nestles factory.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– Although there is some very rich dairying country along the Murray Valley in my electorate, I did not enter into this debate earlier because some of my colleagues have more extensive dairying areas in their electorates. But 1 do wish to reply to some of the remarks made by the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard). He referred to the export of dairy cattle, lt must be remembered that we have continually imported dairy cattle, beef cattle and horses to improve our stock.
– From countries which already have a very high standard of dairy stock.
– We imported them from overseas to improve our stock in this country. The surprising thing to me is that the man who is leading the debate for the Labour Party on this occasion should object to certain cattle being sent overseas, not for slaughter, as he admits, but to improve the production of milk in those countries where the people are undernourished and underfed. Time after time in this House we hear members of the Labour Party expressing great sympathy with the people who are ill-fed and illnourished. Now we find the honorable member for Lalor objecting to those countries buying from Australia a few of our dairy cattle in an effort to increase the milk supply which is perhaps necessary to the very existence of their starving children and ill-fed people. Let me conclude with one sentence. I believe that every country has far more to gain from the success of every other country than any one country can gain from any other country’s downfall.
.- What the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) entirely overlooks is that by keeping in this country, which is eminently suited to dairying, our best producing stock, and building up our herds, we are able to produce a greater quantity to export to the starving people to whom he refers. As to the importation of stock from other countries, we have imported cattle from Great Britain, Scotland, perhaps Holland, and America, but they are all countries that have already reached a much higher standard of efficiency than Australia. I would be the last to deprive anybody of assistance in developing their industries, but I point out that if we keep here those things necessary to make our producing industry highly efficient, we shall be able to produce greater and greater surpluses to export to the starving people overseas. So I throw the honorable member’s remarks back in his teeth.
.- I know that honorable members are anxious to dispose of these bills. I am in complete agreement with their purposes, but I rise in committee merely to set the record straight so far as I am concerned. I disagree entirely with the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly). I do not think that he understands the position. I think he has got his facts mixed up. After he has been here for a while, I think he will understand the complicated position in the industry. It is true that the industry is lifting its efficiency, but it is not true to say, as I understood him to say, that when the world price falls below the cost-of-production price the producers will be affected. In fact, he contradicted that by saying that there is no such thing as a world price. I wish to place it on record that the honorable member for Wakefield, who delivered a very intelligent and well-thought-out speech, knows nothing whatever about the industry. It is possible to have brilliant theorists, and we have them in this place. The facts are that the industry is well led by dedicated men of great experience. They have agreed entirely with what the Government has done. In fact, the four bills are the consequence of exactly what the industry leaders have asked. Everything they have asked for has been given. The movements that have been mentioned are slow, hard and painful, and the industry is engaged in the long haul to reach the position we would like it to be in.
.- I rise in this debate to deal with a few of the matters mentioned by the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann). 1 notice that the remarks he directed to the Opposition plainly apply to the Government’s ranks. The honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate) does not accept the policy enunciated by the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly) on the dairy industry. There must be a big internal conflict between the Australian Country Party and the Liberal Party about whether enough is being done for the dairy industry. The honorable member for Wakefield evidently studied the subject, but the honorable member for Macarthur said that the honorable member for Wakefield knows nothing about this industry.
Whose submissions are we to accept? Should we accept the submissions of the honorable member for Macarthur, who in this Parliament criticized the rationing proposals of the Labour Government which gave to the people 3 lb. of butter more than they are consuming under the free enterprise policy of the Government? The honorable member for Wakefield made a constructive and well-considered speech on this matter, and every one will agree that he gives a considerable amount of thought to the subjects with which he deals. However, the honorable member for Macarthur rose in his place and, although the Minister for Primary Industry was sitting at the table, . said that the honorable member for Wakefield did not know what he was talking about. The Minister said that there was a difference of opinion between members on this side of the House.
– Order! I remind the honorable member for Grayndler that in the committee stage he cannot canvass the second-reading debate.
– I just want to say this: In the course of my remarks on the measure earlier, I made certain comments about the production of margarine. I did not speak against the dairy industry, as has been suggested by the Minister and some honorable members opposite. I said that people throughout the nation want butter, but butter is being priced off the tables of pensioners and those in the low income group. If the Government does not introduce a policy which will make this basic commodity, butter, available to people in all income groups, it should be fair and should not unduly restrict the production of a lower priced commodity that has many of the nutritional qualities of butter. The Government cannot have it both ways. If a man cannot afford to buy butter because of the economic policy of the Government, on what just ground can he be denied the right to buy a quantity of margarine?
Far from advocating the destruction of the dairy industry by the production of margarine, I make the constructive suggestion that the Government should make this basic commodity available at a fair price to every wage-earner, every pensioner and every citizen who wants it, and also give a fair return to the primary producers. If it will not do this, it should make available the lower-priced article so that these people will have some commodity with nutritional qualities. That is the observation I make. Any criticism of the Australian Labour Party for what it has done-
– Order! The honorable member for Grayndler has had sufficient experience in this Parliament to know that that should be the only observation he should make on that matter.
– I just wished to mention that matter and to make that observation. My primary purpose in rising was to point out the great disparity in the views of Government supporters on this important industry, lt is worth noting that a difference does exist. I would like to hear the Minister give his views on the dissension in his own ranks instead of criticizing the constructive views put by honorable members on this side of the chamber. I do not know why the honorable member for Wakefield does not defend himself. It is hardly complimentary for an honorable member to be told that he knows nothing about a subject on which he has made a speech, particularly when the comment comes from the honorable member for Macarthur, who is supposed to have a knowledge of everything but knows little about anything. I think the honorable member for Wakefield should answer the criticism.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
– For the information of honorable members, I lay on the table of the House the following paper: -
Anzus Council - Canberra Meeting - Communique issued on 9th May, 1962.
Copies of the communique will bc made available to all honorable members.
Motion (by Mr. Roberton) proposed -
That the paper be printed.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Pollard) adjourned.
Message recommending appropriation reported.
In committee: (Consideration of GovernorGeneral’s message):
Motion (by Mr. Adermann) agreed to -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a bill for an act to amend section twenty-one of the Dairy Produce Export Control Act 1924-1958.
Resolution reported and adopted. ;i
Motion (by Mr. Adermann) - by leave - agreed to -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent Orders of the Day Nos. 3, 4 and S for the resumption of the debate on the second reading of bills relating to the Dairying Industry being read together and a motion being moved that the bills be now passed.
Consideration resumed from 1st May (vide page 1760), on motion by Mr. Adermann -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Consideration resumed from 1st May (vide page 1763), on motion by Mr. Adermann -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Consideration resumed from 1st May (vide page 1763), on motion by Mr. Adermann -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Bills (on motion by Mr. Adermann) passed.
APPROPRIATION BILL (No. 2) 1961-62. Second Reading.
Debate resumed from 8th May (vide page 2035), on motion by Mr. Harold Holt-
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- Before seeking leave to continue my remarks last Tuesday, I had referred to the acute shortage of tradesmen and apprentices in Australia and the huge amounts of money being paid by the taxpayers for the operation of civil aviation. At the commencement of my speech, I commented on the speech of the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. King), who preceded me in the debate. He referred to the subsidy on superphosphate. It is quite true that I did misrepresent the honorable member by inadvertence and I apologize for doing so. However, I also erred when I said the Government intended to introduce legislation for the payment of a bounty of £2 a ton on superphosphate for the benefit of primary producers. The facts are that the Labour Government did pay a bounty on superphosphate but the LiberalCountry Party Government abolished this bounty much to the detriment of the primary producers of Australia. The Leader of the Australian Labour Party promised in the party’s last policy speech that if we were returned as a government a bounty of £3 a ton would be paid on superphosphate. The Labour Party is the only party that really has the interests of the primary producers at heart.
I wish to refer now to a section of the National Health Act which covers pharmaceutical and medical benefits as they apply to age, invalid and widowed pensioners. In October, 1955, the Minister for Health of that day, Sir Earle Page, in introducing the National Health Bill, restored the means test on pensioners in relation to pharmaceutical and medical benefits. The effect of the means test is this: If a single age, invalid or widow pensioner has income of £2 a week or more exclusive of the pension he or she is debarred from receiving pharmaceutical and medical benefits. In the case of a married couple the amount of permissible income is £4 a week. In previous Parliaments honorable members on both sides of the House have constantly supported the abolition of the means test on all pensions. If such a step were taken it would cost a huge amount of money. However, the abolition of the means test in relation to pharmaceutical and medical benefits as applied to pensioners would cost only £1,400,000. I received that information in reply to a question I put on the notice-paper last year.
I think that every honorable member will agree that £1,400,000 is not a huge amount of money to put to this humane purpose and to enable these pensioners to receive pharmaceutical and medical benefits absolutely free. There are many thousands of age and invalid pensioners in my electorate. They come to me week after week protesting against this iniquitous, unjust means test which applies to these benefits. A single pensioner receiving £5 5s. a week with other income of £2 a week, making a total of £7 5s., living alone and paying for room, board or lodging, clothing and other necessaries, does not have much left over to pay for doctors and medicines if he is in bad health. I believe that this unjust and iniquitous means test should be abolished.
Let us look at the position of two men who used to work together, for example, in the railway workshops. Both of them receive the same amount of superannuation but one went on the pension before 1st November, 1955, and his mate received it a few weeks or months later. The second man is not entitled to pharmaceutical and medical benefits. I suppose every honorable member has been subjected to protests about the application of the means test to some pensioners and not to others. Yet the cost of abolishing the means test in relation to these benefits would be only £1,400,000 a year.
I conclude by referring to one of the Sydney metropolitan daily newspapers, the “ Daily Telegraph “. The Labour Opposition believes fervently in the right of any newspaper organization or individual to criticize any government or opposition as they see fit; but I believe it is the right of any government or opposition party to expect a fair go from the newspapers. Let me illustrate. A few weeks ago in this House the Opposition initiated a debate on oil, as a matter of urgency. The honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Allan Fraser) opened the debate for the Opposition. Only one small paragraph was devoted to his speech in the “ Daily Telegraph “ next day. The case was answered by the Minister for Air (Mr. Bury) and he was given almost a verbatim report of his speech in the same newspaper.
Last Thursday night the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) made a statement on the possible entry of the United Kingdom into the European Common Market. He was given big headlines in the “ Daily Telegraph “ next day and generally was accorded wide publicity. Last Tuesday night the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) spoke very fluently and lucidly in putting the views for the Labour Opposition on that matter, yet not one word of his speech was published in the “Daily Telegraph “ next day. The speech of the Minister for Air, who followed the honorable member for Lalor, was given almost a verbatim report. Yet this newspaper is supposed to represent the views of most of the people of Australia.
In July, 1960, there was a by-election for the seat of Balaclava. In 1958 at the general election the honorable member for Balaclava, Mr. Joske, received 60.6 per cent, of the votes. When Mr. Whittorn was elected in Mr. Joske’s place he received 54.2 per cent, of the votes. Yet the “ Daily Telegraph “ had the temerity to publish this statement on 17th July, 1960 -
The Liberal candidate (Mr. Whittorn) will win easily.
His majority will be higher than that of Mr. Joske when he held the seat for the Government at the 1958 election.
That statement was contained in an article tinder the name of Alan Reid, a gentleman we all trust. Subsequently I made a speech in this House on the motion for the adjournment and under the report of that speech in the “Daily Telegraph” the next day was a footnote stating that Mr. Reid had not written the report which appeared under his name. The newspaper stated that its staff had not sub-edited the report properly. However, the newspaper did not actually explain anything about my speech in which I had said the report was a deliberate lie. If Mr. Reid did not write the article the writer of it was an unmitigated liar, or he was drunk or incompetent. These are the lengths to which this newspaper will go to preserve the prestige of the Liberal-Country Party Government.
Let me give another illustration. When the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) was elected at a by-election for the Parramatta seat there was a huge swing to the Labour Party. Yet in the “Sunday Telegraph “ the following day it was stated that the swing was due to electoral boundary changes. It was nothing of the sort. The same boundaries applied when Sir Howard Beale, then Mr. Beale, was elected at the previous election.
So I point out that this newspaper cannot be trusted. It tells deliberate lies to protect the party it represents. I believe that this newspaper is a disgrace to Australian journalism. It is not worth patronising. This is the sort of journal that is responsible for the introduction of communism into countries because it will not give a decent report to both political sides. We do not ask for any favours. We just ask to have our attitude presented to the people occasionally, but this newspaper never once presents it to the people. I have already illustrated this fact by reference to the Opposition’s proposal of the subject of the control of oil-search operations in Australia for discussion as a matter of urgency, and to the speech made by the honorable member for Lalor in the debate on the European Common Market proposals. In both instances, not one word of the remarks made on this side of the House was printed. I know that many members of the Government parties in this Parliament have said that they are treated similarly by the “ Sydney Morning Herald “. If that is so, let them tell us about it here.
I point out that the criticism by this newspaper was directed at the Government’s failures over the last twelve years. This is not a journal which supports Labour. That is evidenced by the fact that it directed vitriolic criticism at the Labour Government in New South Wales and gave the New South Wales branch of the Liberal Party of Australia 100 per cent, support in the recent State general election campaign. So no one can properly accuse the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ of being pro-Labour. I regard the Sydney “ Daily Telegraph “, on the other hand, as being a biased supporter of this Government. We are all aware of the shameful fact that the proprietor of that newspaper sold himself to this Government for a knighthood.
.- Mr. Speaker, I can understand the disappointment of the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Cope) at the attitude of the Sydney “Daily Telegraph”. I, also, read the article by Mr. Alan Reid to which he referred, and I thought it was rather good.
That, of course, is all a matter of one’s point of view. The “ Sydney Morning Herald “, on the other hand, has devoted a fair amount of space to the speeches made by the great leader of the Australian Labour Party. These things even up in the end.
However, Sir, I did not rise to speak about those matters. I am given to understand by the Whips that, if every speaker takes his full time in this debate, we shall finish at a very late hour indeed, but that, if we confine ourselves to, say, a quarter of an hour instead of half an hour, we can finish very early by about 2 o’clock to-morrow morning. In these circumstances, in kindness to my friends on both sides of the House, I shall confine myself to one small matter instead of dealing with the greater matters which I had originally intended to discuss.
– The honorable member will earn my gratitude if he does.
– That may be so.
The matter that I propose to discuss is not, of course, entirely a small one. I think, in any event, that it is of interest to all honorable members personally and to the institution of Parliament. A site has been selected for a new Parliament House. We may be inclined to think that the construction of such a building is a far-off event. However, the building industry may require to be bolstered sooner than we think. In any event, the planning and building of a new Parliament House will take a long time and I do not think that my raising of the matter now is entirely premature. These matters ought to be considered early rather than late. They ought to be considered before planning begins rather than when ideas have been fixed and arrangements have been settled. So I propose to express a few thoughts on the planning of a new Parliament House at this stage. Such a project could be undertaken in perhaps ten years’ lime, and some preliminary thoughts, if expressed now, may not be too late to be heeded.
I want to direct attention to two or three issues that will have to be decided. I suggest that in this matter the situation of the Parliament is very similar to that of a married couple about to build a suburban house. They engage an architect for the purpose and give him some idea of the kind of thing that they want. The architect then has the task of translating their ideas into a house that is architecturally attractive. In this matter of a building, members of a legislature, like a married couple, have to consider the kind of things that will be convenient in the sort of place in which they have to live.
What are the issues involved, Sir? First of all, we need to have a clear idea about the kind of chamber that we want. The chamber in which we are now happens to be based on the United States model and not on the model of the House of Commons at Westminster. I myself have had some experience of a chamber of the House of Commons type, because the chamber of the Legislative Assembly in New South Wales, where I served for a number of years, is based on the Westminster model. Therefore, I can compare the merits of the two kinds of chamber.
The distinguishing feature of the Westminster pattern is that such a chamber will not accommodate at once all the members whom it serves. It is, deliberately, relatively small. This feature, however, is not the one that I am concerned with now. I am concerned, rather, with the fact that such a chamber, in which there are no desks and no particular seats for members, is so designed as to allow members to move to any place they choose, although, of course, only a very rash back-bencher would sit on a front bench. But, apart from little matters of that kind, members may sit where they please. Unhappily, it has been our experience here, as at Westminster and, I think, in all parliaments, that in most debates very few of the members who are entitled to be present, and who perhaps should attend, are present. In the kind of chamber that we have here, in which each member has his own seat, members who are present are scattered about very widely. I am sorry to quote Latin, but one may very well apply to this situation the Latin phrase -
Rari nantes in gurgite vasto
In such a chamber, members are like drowning sailors spread at wide intervals in a whirlpool. This does not conduce to the familiarity of debate that is, I think, so desirable. The atmosphere produced by such a situation is not suited to debate. A certain coldness results when one addresses a House in which the listeners are scattered about at wide intervals. I think that this does not conduce to the kind of atmosphere that is desirable in debates in a place such as this.
– Is the honorable member always present?
– The honorable member ought to realize that I am being serious.
Having had experience of a chamber patterned on that at Westminster, I believe that such a chamber provides a better atmosphere. The Westminster pattern is the more desirable one. However, I fear that because most honorable members are familiar only with the kind of chamber that we have here, it will be perpetuated. Nevertheless, this is an issue that has to be decided, and I think that careful thought ought to be given to it.
Arising out of this issue, we have the question of what we are to do about divisions. In this place, we have a very antiquated method of taking divisions. The new Parliament House may stand for half a century. I know that the practice to-day is to bulldoze anything that has stood for ten years and to replace it with something else. However, assuming that the new building may last for as much as half a century, we have to consider the possibility that the population of this country will more than double during its life, since, in the last 30 years, our population has grown from something like 5,000,000 to 10,000,000 people. If the population increases to 20,000,000 during the life of the new Parliament House, we may have to accommodate in it double the present number of members. I believe that our present method of taking divisions would be too antiquated and that we shall have to think of anothe method. A chamber of the House of Commons type would probably involve the provision of lobbies. If we stick to a chamber on the pattern of our present one, we may do well to adopt the method that, I understand, has been adopted in the Indian Parliament, where an electronic system of recording divisions is used. Clearly, this is another matter that requires consideration in conjunction with the first issue that I mentioned.
There will be many other matters of detail that honorable members can think about. I come now to the third and perhaps the most important issue - the relative positions of the Executive and the legislature. In recent years, the trend has been for the Executive to intrude more and more into Parliament House. The Executive has tended increasingly to carry out its administrative tasks in Parliament House with larger and larger staffs. In contemplating a new Parliament House, the Executive may say, “ Here is the opportunity to have in the building even larger staffs than we have now “. I am exaggerating here, of course, but I do so only because I am trying to emphasize the point. We could find that a new Parliament House had become principally a building for the Executive and that the legislature itself was in effect relegated to quarters equivalent to the laundry and other offices in a dwelling. This new Parliament House would, therefore, become a monument to the increasing importance of i the Executive and the declining importance of the Parliament. I would not like this new building to be erected in Canberra to be a monument to that kind of trend, and so I emphasize that a Parliament House is a house for the legislature and not a house for the Executive.
Of course, as I think all honorable members know, it is the practice in the British Parliament for Ministers to carry out their executive duties in their departments in Whitehall and not to have officers of the executive in the Houses of Parliament at Westminster. It may be that our Parliament is too small, or that we are not sufficiently civilized, to be able to follow that practice. It does involve, of course, a completely different system of putting questions to Ministers and having them answered. I do not know what the future may bring. It may be that in a Parliament with increased membership Ministers will not always bc required to be always on the premises to take part in every division. Whether it will be possible for Ministers to carry out their administrative duties in some other place than Parliament House I do not know. But certainly thought has to be given to the situation of the legislature and the Executive in any new Parliament House.
These are just some of the obvious issues that occur to me, and I have no doubt there are many others. This is ‘ the time when we must start thinking about these matters. It may take three or four years to plan , the building, and it may take another four or five years to erect it. It is time, therefore, to start thinking about it. We have certain committees of members of the Parliament in existence. We have, for instance, a Joint House Committee, which attends to such things as refreshment room arrangements and the provision of a new roof, but I would hardly think that it was elected to go into such a matter as the provision of a new Parliament House. Certainly I, for one, never elected members to the committee with such a consideration in mind. I thought rather of people who were well-known gourmets, or who had other such qualifications, and I may say that 1 was sometimes a little disappointed that they did not come up to my limited hopes. But the Joint House Committee is not the kind of committee that should be called upon to perform the function of making recommendations in regard to a new Parliament House.
I think that only to-day, or perhaps yesterday, we elected members to the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory, which is concerned with planning in the Territory, and not particularly with Parliament House. I do suggest - and I put this quite seriously to the Government and to the Opposition, to Ministers and to honorable members on the front bench opposite, and also to private members, because this is a matter that concerns all of us and the institution itself - that a step should be taken to appoint a committee of members to give thought to such matters as 1 have mentioned. The committee should be given this specific task. It should, perhaps, be representative of front bench and back benches on both sides of the House and of both Houses. The committee should be appointed to give some preliminary thought to arrangements within a new Parliament House. I would hope, of course, that it would not seek to meddle with the architecture of the new building. That is a matter about which the members of the committee would not be likely to be the best judges. However, they should certainly give some thought to the internal arrangements, about which we all know a good deal.
– Perhaps a trip could be arranged to look at other parliament houses.
– I do not know whether the Minister is being serious or not, but I shall take him up on his remark. He says that perhaps there- should be a trip to look at other parliament houses. Either he is being quite serious or he is suggesting to me that this is a trivial matter and is merely an excuse for another trip. I do not know exactly what his attitude is. I am not thinking about trips. The thought did not occur to my innocent mind. But if it should be considered necessary to have a knowledge of arrangements in other parliament houses - and I do not think it is - then in selecting members for such a committee one might take into account the the fact that most honorable members, but not I, have had a trip abroad at public expense and have seen the arrangements in other parliament houses. Those members are naturally the people who should be selected as members of the committee, because no further expense would be necessary in sending them to see what they have already seen. I show my own bona fides right now by excluding myself from consideration for such a committee. I may be allowed to say, however, that I have seen Westminster, having made the trip at my own expense, and perhaps that is what has brought this matter to my mind.
I promised to be brief, and so I shall conclude. If other honorable members follow my example and also speak briefly we may be able to adjourn quite early, perhaps at about 2 a.m. to-morrow. I do hope that the Government and the Parliament will give serious consideration to the thoughts that I have put before them and that the seed will grow.
.- This is an appropriate time to take stock of Australia’s economic position and prospects. During the last year the nation has undergone its third recession in ten years, and its severest for more than twenty years. Over the last decade our overseas markets have steadily declined and within the next year our oldest and best customer will be largely lost to us. The people are clearly dissatisfied. Last December a great majority of them voted against the Government that has produced the present internal position and has allowed the present external position to develop. A considerable majority endorsed the analysis of the situation made by the Australian Labour Party and the solution suggested by it. I feel, therefore, that I should set out the immediate problems and their cure, as we see them.
The Government’s economic troubles stem from its sudden decision of February, 1960, to abandon import licensing. Never was a more suicidal act committed by any government. As a result of this decision imports flowed into Australia at an everincreasing rate during 1960. To stop the resulting loss of foreign reserves the Government adopted its third credit squeeze policy. It decided to cut imports, not by re-introducing the licensing system but by reducing employment opportunities and production. The result of this policy was the same in kind, and result, as the policies adopted in 1951 and 1956, but it was greater in degree. There was record unemployment, a record loss of production and a protracted loss of confidence. The Government knew and intended that men and machines would become idle, but it had not thought that so many of them would be idle.
As the best solution to our predicament, the Labour Party proposes that budgetary action, through deficit spending, should be taken to revive spending in the community. This action would lead to the reemployment of idle labour and machinery. There is a great scope for increased production in Australia, merely by re-employing the men and machines that are at present idle. A return to full employment and full production could, or would, result in an excessive demand for imports. In the present situation import licensing is the most effective and the fairest method of controlling imports.
The present unfortunate situation arose largely from the Government’s failure to plan and to look ahead. While I propose to discuss more fully the long-term economic problems with which we are faced, I believe that we should also look briefly at the difficulties that we have experienced in the last decade and the results of our economic policies. The difficulties have been threefold - continuing inflation, balanceofpayments crises and slow economic growth. Inflation has been much worse in Australia than it has been in most other comparable countries. Over the last ten years, prices have practically doubled. Leaving aside the rather exceptional years of the early ‘fifties, between 1953 and 1960 prices in Australia rose by 20 per cent, whereas in Canada, the United States of America and Germany the cost of living increased by only about 10 per cent., and in Italy and Japan by only about 15 per cent. Increased prices in Australia were not due to excessive wage increases. Although the cost of living rose substantially, between 1953 and 1960 the increase in wages in Australia was considerably less than it was in Canada, the United Kingdom, United States of America, France, Germany, Italy and Japan. It is unfair that the wage-earner, who has no alternative but to press for increased wages when prices rise, should be singled out as the cause of inflation.
Another outstanding problem of the last decade has arisen in the field of international trade. In the last ten years, we paid out £1,600,000,000 more than we earned. This deficit has been covered only by intensive private and government borrowing overseas and by running-down our international reserves. Since 1953, the price per unit of our exports has fallen by 30 per cent. In comparable countries, such as New Zealand and South Africa, the price fell by only 1 per cent, and 12 per cent, respectively. As a result of the fall in the price of our primary products, we have to export 50 per cent, more now than we did in 1953 to obtain the same amount of imports. The key commodities on which we depend for our exports bring artificially low prices in world markets.
Since the movement towards selfsufficiency in agriculture in Western Europe and North America, world trade in wheat, dairy products and similar agricultural products has declined. For instance, in 1959-60, the world price for wheat was only £29 per metric ton, whereas the corresponding price paid to farmers in Germany was £45, in Belgium £42 and in Italy £47. Our farmers have had to accept a price substantially below that received by the great majority of wheat producers in the world. There is no disputing the seriousness of the difficulties facing our export trade. Farm incomes continue to fall. We have been frozen out of markets in Europe, and’ now that Great Britain is almost certain to join the European Economic Community we are likely to be frozen out altogether. - 1
Another notable feature of the last ten years has been the stop-and-go nature of our development. The present economic setback, although certainly much severer than others have been, is the third such setback which Australia has suffered in the last ten years. The stop-and-go policy has demoralized business, has caused heavy losses of production and waste of capacity in the prolonged stop periods, and has caused the progress of our national economy to be considerably slower than it would have been if steady progress had been maintained.
Nowhere has the loss and damage from this stop-and-go policy been more apparent than in the key motor vehicle and building industries. In August, 1951, the month of the first horror budget, 21,878 motor vehicles were registered. By August, 1952, the number had fallen to 10,331. In March, 1956, the month of the supplementary budget - the second horror budget - registrations were 20,164. By the following January they had falen to 14,785. In November, 1960, the month of the third horror budget, 31,891 vehicles were registered. In July, 1961, the number had fallen to 17,371. At one stage last year the motor industry was producing at one-half of its capacity. It is only in the last couple of months that it has begun to come out of the recession.
The Australian Labour Party believes that the Commonwealth Government must show initiative and must accept a much greater responsibility than it has in the past for the nation’s economic future. Unless it does, the economy will continue to drift. The initiative must be taken by the Government at the outset to lead and to guide our economic development. It is only the most doctrinaire and unpatriotic who conceive that government should only be a negative and passive instrument in our economy. Internally, by means of long-term planning, our economic expansion must be stepped up considerably. The expansion must be geared towards exports, and we must reduce our dependence on foreign countries. Externally, Australia’s overseas trading interests must be looked after to an increasing degree by the Australian Government and to a decreasing degree by foreign shippers, middlemen and merchants. A completely new approach is needed. The time has come when the Australian Government must intervene actively in our trading problems. The Government must play a great constructive role. No longer can it afford to be merely an onlooker. It must be an active participant in our economic affairs if we are to safeguard our economic future.
Next to unemployment, the greatest social problem in Australia is housing. The construction of new houses has been cut drastically by the credit squeeze. The number is still falling. To-day, it costs more than three times as much to build a house as it did sixteen years ago. Probably between 80,000 and 100,000 new houses a year are needed to provide for newlymarried couples, migrants and slum clearance. But the problem of slum clearance has been scratched only on the surface. The target figure for the next five years could well be much higher than it is. After that five-year period, irrespective of shortterm economic circumstances and whether those circumstances be connected with our balance of payments or internal booms or depressions, between 80,000 and 100,000 houses should be built annually. Housing activity has little direct effect on the balance of payments and it is most desirable that stability should be preserved in this industry, which cannot readily be turned on or off. Neither the skilled tradesmen nor the materials can easily be adapted to other industries. The total amount of finance to be provided for housing is the amount necessary to ensure that the industry is maintained at a reasonable level of activity. There is no inflationary implication in increasing housing finance, if the increase is merely designed to keep the industry at a stable level of activity. There is also little purpose in increasing the funds available for housing if the rate of interest is so high that there is no demand for finance. In fact, the great bulk of housing finance is made available at what may be called concessional rates, that is, at rates which are lower than the home-builder would be required to pay if he stood on his own credit legs.
At the present time hire-purchase companies guaranteed by trading banks are borrowing on first mortgage at 8 per cent., while great industrial concerns are borrowing at 8 per cent, and 8-) per cent. What hope has the ordinary home-builder of borrowing at lower rates than these? In fact, war service homes money is lent at 41 per cent., housing authorities finance the purchase of existing homes at rates as low as 4i per cent., and the maximum rate on money provided through governmental sources to co-operative societies is 5i per cent.
These concessional rates are operating when the Commonwealth is paying 51 per cent., plus a substantial tax concession, and the great semi-governmental authorities arc paying 51 per cent, and the smaller ones 5t per cent. Much of the funds they obtain comes from sources which are restrained from lending in other directions - sources such as trustees restricted to trustee securities. It has been recognized for decades that ordinary money-lending rates, whether of banks or insurance companies, are too high for home-builders to be able to afford, and some form of subsidy, be it overt or covert, has operated.
Once the principle has been recognized that housing should not bear the full impact of every-day fluctuations in interest rates, it then becomes necessary to fix interest rates at the level appropriate to the longterm growth of the economy. In the view of the Australian Labour Party, this is 3i per cent, to 3i per cent., the rate of interest on which the war was financed and on which the pre-war debt was re-financed in the post-war period. This was also the rate in the United Kingdom through her great period of development, the nineteenth century, when 3 per cent. Consols stood very close to par. This was the rate considered appropriate in the long term in Australia, before the bond market was destroyed by persistent inflation.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
– Mr. Deputy Speaker, before the suspension of the sitting I was discussing the rate of interest for housing finance and the views of the Australian Labour Party. Without a return to reasonable interest rates inflation will continue because if people can get 8 per cent, with perfect safety just for lending money, profits and prices must go even higher if business activity is to continue. There is no fear of an excessive demand for housing because an economic rent, with interest at 3-4 per cent., is nearly £6 a week on a £4,000 house. The bulk of the Australian people can hardly make excess housing demands when they have to pay such a price. There will be no artificial interest rate bar to a proper level of housing standards under a Labour government.
A federal Labour government would, first, make larger housing grants to the States to ensure the availability of houses for rental by people with the greatest family and financial needs; home purchase by people whose family and financial needs must entitle them to reduced deposits; and the replacement of sub-standard houses to resuscitate the inner areas of State capitals. Secondly, a Labour government would ensure a steady flow of funds for housing at reduced or even preferential interest rates. Thirdly, it would require the savings banks to invest a certain proportion of their deposits in housing loans to individuals and building societies. Fourthly, it would ensure, by agreement or through legislation, that life assurance companies invest both in Commonwealth bonds and building societies on their former scale.
A Labour government would reverse the high interest rate policy followed by the Menzies-McEwen Government. In consultation with the Reserve Bank it would initiate moves to secure a reduction of interest rates, including those on overdrafts. I believe that it should be a fundamental purpose of every government, irrespective of its political colour, to shape its housing policy on the basis of home ownership and that the number of homes built for rental should be the lowest possible number compatible with housing only those for whom ownership is obviously impossible.
The Labour Party’s policy to provide cheap finance for homes should have wide appeal to every citizen and particularly to the younger generation. What chance have young married couples, or young people contemplating marriage, even though earning up to £25 a week, to get a home together or own a home? Every one knows that, with inflated costs, it is nigh impossible. Home life is the core of any nation, and every assistance should be given to young people to set up a home and to have children and clothe and feed them decently. A contented and happy younger generation is the greatest safeguard against communism or isms of any kind which have no chance of survival where prosperity reigns.
There will not be any danger in allowing people to pay 5 per cent, deposit on a home whether built by government authorities or building societies. It would be a tremendous stimulus to the building trade. I believe, as I have already said, that there are at least 100,000 families needing homes in Australia to-day. That, to my mind, is a tragic state of affairs. I believe that the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement should be amended to require a deposit of only 5 per cent, with repayments over up to 45 years at 3i per cent, interest computed on monthly balances.
I believe further that an arrangement should be made for co-operative housing societies to get special advances from the Commonwealth Bank. The Commonwealth Bank should find the necessary money to build homes for the people. It should use credit resources to provide adequate supplies of cheap money for industry. The policy of the Menzies-McEwen Government in relation to housing has always been destructive. Credit restrictions introduced by the Menzies-McEwen Government have made it virtually impossible for the average man to build a home. Sufficient finance simply has not been made available to the various States. A lady came to my home only a few weeks ago with £500 as a deposit on a home. She had been unable to get financial accommodation from a bank. This is a tragic state of affairs.
One of the most tragic aspects of the economic disruption caused by the MenziesMcEwen Government’s credit squeeze is the lack of employment opportunities for young people who have just left school. Three months after the beginning of the new school year thousands of young teen-agers are still searching unsuccessfully for work. Thousands more have gone back to school to continue their education because they have been unable to find a place in industry.
Mr. Deputy Speaker, can you imagine the demoralizing and frustrating experience of being unwanted - of being unable to find a job while eager to be part of the working community of the State? Thousands of teen-agers all over the Commonwealth are trapped in the unemployment dilemma of the States. This, Mr. Deputy Speaker, is a most damning indictment of the MenziesMcEwen Government, and on that alone it stands condemned.
Sir WILFRID KENT HUGHES (Chisholm) [8.9J. - Mr. Deputy Speaker, I am delighted to find that the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Fuller) has advanced a long way since 1949 when the Honorable J. Dedman said that we do not want a nation of home owners and little capitalists. Like other honorable members I am interested in economic security, but I am still wondering, perhaps unnecessarily though I do not think so, about national security.
– Here we go!
– Yes. This is the old tale, all pat. Perhaps constant dripping will wear away even the hard stone of the Opposition. You all seem very agitated. I hope you are as agitated about our security as some of you seem to be about what I might say.
I want first to refer to the answers which I received to two questions this week. The first answer was to a question that had been on the notice-paper about the sale of defence equipment. The question was -
Did any South-East Asian countries request the Government to send any .303 rifles and small arms ammunition for use by the civil guards?
The reply to that is published in “ Hansard “. It reads -
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.
What interested me was that at question time in another place the Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton) was asked a question along the same lines as my question, and the answer given was diametrically opposite to the one I received from the Minister for Supply (Mr. Fairhall). The answer given by the Minister for the Navy was that no South-East Asian nations had made any request for our surplus .303 rifles. When I was in Viet Nam myself not so long ago, I was informed that they did require them. Whether they require them now for their civil guards since extra equipment has been supplied by the United States of America, I do not know, but I would still like to know whether the answer given by the Minister for the Navy or that given by the Minister for Supply is the correct one.
The next question I asked was -
To what countries are we selling FN rifles and is the ammunition interchangeable with the American .30 rifle?
The answer was -
The Australian-produced 7.62 mm. ammunition is designed to be interchangeable with the American rifle.
I did not ask whether it was designed to be interchangeable. What I wanted to know was whether it actually is interchangeable because, again when I was overseas recently for a very short period, I was informed by one person who should have known - he was serving in the field at the time - that it was not interchangeable as it often caused the rifle to jam. Whether that is true or not seems to me to be of very great importance, so 1 made further inquiries and I understand that so far, although we have had the FN rifle for a very long time, no actual firing tests have been made to ascertain whether the ammunition of the FN rifle is interchangeable with that of the similar, but not the same, rifle used by United States forces. I always understood that the reason why we decided to equip our Army with the FN rifle was that it was slightly better than the American rifle, although I believe it will not fire the grenades that the American rifle will. But I did understand that it was a slightly better rifle and that in any case it did not make very much difference because the ammunition was interchangeable. 1 ask the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Opperman), who is sitting at the table, whether he will find out what firing tests if any have been made, and whether the information which I received from somebody serving in the field is correct or whether the ammunition is actually interchangeable. I ask that because we did decide some time ago to equip our services with arms, equipment, and communications systems which would be standardized as far as possible with those of the United States forces, so that if we had to fight with them in an emergency at any time we would not have the delay and confusion caused by two logistic lines of supply, lt would be serious if the ammunition were not interchangeable because we have the Belgian rifle. Furthermore, we have a Czechoslovakian or Italian 105 field piece, and we either have now or will have very shortly the French Mirage fighter. I understand that we are making about 90 per cent, of that fighter in Australia, but it docs not seem to me to be of much use making 90 per cent, if we have not got the extra 10 per cent., and that 10 per cent, happens to be an important part of the fighter. If an emergency occurred, we would not be able to get either replacements or spare parts.
The second matter which I wish to take up is the answer that I received to-day from the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer) with regard to placing before the United Nations Organization the question whether that organization was prepared to set up an international relief organization for those who are fleeing from China to-day in the same way as it set up an international relief organization in Europe in past years. I am well aware of the difficulty that if Australia takes the lead in requesting the United Nations to do that the United Nations will probably ask, “How many of the refugees are you prepared to take? “ I think that perhaps we might take a small number of them without any disability so far as Australia is concerned, but most of them would be very difficult from the point of view of assimilation. On the other hand, I strongly suspect that there is not one Asian nation which would accept the thousands of refugees from red China who are trying to pour into Hong Kong to-day. Hong Kong itself is saturated. It has probably 2,000,000 refugees from red China now in a population of 3,000,000.
– According to the official figures, there were only 1,000,000 in twelve years - 90,000 a year.
– There were over 2,000,000 in Hong Kong when I was there, though I did not count them with the abacus, which you probably could not use. In any case, the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren) came back from Peking proudly wearing, as I have said before, the order of the first-class oriental sucker, and it is becoming a bit tarnished. We know that nearly 1,000 refugees a day are endeavouring to get across the border into Hong Kong. When the honorable member for Reid was there they probably numbered about 100 a day. Now, with the starvation that exists in red China, the number has reached 1,000 and more a day, and the flood is so strong that Hong Kong, in spite of all she has done in the past, and in spite of her desire to maintain this outpost as a standard of British freedom, just cannot cope with it. Because she cannot cope with the flood which is now washing along her shores, she has had to set up a barrier 14 miles long and 1 mile deep in order to stop any more refugees from coming over. Hong Kong docs not want to stop them, but she literally cannot handle them. Nor can Taiwan. The other Asian nations are taking no notice of the flood of refugees from red China. Nationalist China has drawn the attention of the United Nations Organization to this problem on four occasions now, and most of the Afro-Asian group did not pay any attention to it. If they do not pay any attention to it now, and apply different principles from those which applied to Europe, then at least it will be brought to the notice of the world that the United Nations Organization does not act on a standard set of principles.
But the problem is even more complicated because, as I have said, I doubt whether there is any other nation in Asia which would wish to take a large number of refugees from red China, and that should stifle the criticism that we have heard from certain people about Australia’s immigration policy, which is based on the problem of assimilation and not of colour. I refer to this matter of Chinese refugees because it is a problem which the United Nations Organization should not side-step if it is a United Nations Organization. It is a problem which has grown worse in the last two or three weeks since I drew attention to it. It has had the searchlight turned on to it, as it were, by the case of Willie Wong, but we have only a few people here to deal with. As I said, 1 sympathize with and understand the difficulties of the Minister for Immigration in the face of this problem which, small as it is for Australia, is looming larger and larger on the western Pacific coasts and should be attended to by the world organization. The last thing I wish to touch on, Mr. Deputy Speaker–
– Hear, hear!
– I know you do not like it. You like the sound of your own voice better than the sound of mine, and perhaps you are right.
– Nothing could be worse than yours.
– As far as the Labour Party is concerned, that is the best compliment I have had for some time. Mr. Deputy Speaker, may I, in concluding, refer to the European Common Market? Although you happen to be in the chair, Sir, I would like to pay a very high compliment to you and the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Chaney) in particular and one or two others for the attitude that you and they took the other night during the debate on the Common Market. If Australia would take as much interest in the security of herself and SouthEast Asian nations as she takes in the Common Market, I would not have as much anxiety as I have with regard to our future security and prosperity. Unfortunately, the reverse is nearer the truth. Everybody knows that the fate of our export markets is of vital importance to all of us and to our standard of living. I hope that those who very often cannot see beyond the boundaries of secondary industries will not expect the primary industries to carry the whole weight of the burden of reconstruction that will have to take place if the Common Market continues to succeed as it has in the early stages. As I said before, vital to our economic security as our export markets are, they are only of temporary value if our national security is endangered as the result of events in South-East Asia.
I am delighted to know that the Minister for External Affairs (Sir Garfield Barwick) will spend three weeks of the coming recess regaining contacts in South-East Asia. A Minister for External Affairs has not been in Kuala Lumpur since October, 1958, in Bangkok since March, 1961, or in Saigon or Vientiane, which is the capital of Laos, since October, 1957. I am sure that the Minister will be very welcome and will regain many of the contacts made by Lord Casey when he held the portfolio. I trust I am not asking too much when I suggest that the Minister for External Affairs go just one stage further and have a first to his credit, that is, the first visit of a Minister for External Affairs to
Nationalist China in Taiwan. After all, 650,000 Chinese have been providing a large part of our defence for a very long time.
– He is going there, is he not?
– As 1 say, I hope he will go that extra distance. At the moment, he has not announced that he will do so.
All of us would congratulate the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) on the magnificent job that he did in putting Australia’s case on the Common Market in overseas countries. He did not leave any one, I think, in doubt about the effects that would be felt in Australia of Great Britain’s joining the Common Market. He pointed out that many of our country centres, particularly such places as Shepparton, have been built up on the past and present pattern of our trade and would be very badly hit unless these nations take into consideration our difficulties as well as their own. I do not think that we could have had a better advocate. I do not think our case could have been presented better, and I hope that it will receive serious consideration from the other nations. On the other hand, as pointed out by the honorable members for Lyne (Mr. Lucock) and Perth, Australians on their part must also be prepared to undertake considerable major re-adjustment as a result of what may be called a change of winds as well as the winds of change that will arise from the success of the Common Market.
When I was overseas last year in Bonn, East and West Berlin, Paris and The Hague, the one point that was impressed on me by almost every Minister to whom I spoke was this: “Please tell your people in Australia that the Common Market is not just a question of economics. The success of the Common Market is a matter of survival for Western Europe “. Here, as has been said by others, is probably one of the greatest historic movements of our time. Dear old Western Europe, which has torn itself to pieces with internal wars and strife for centuries past, is now getting together and co-operating in building a better world, while much of the rest of the world seems to be falling to pieces. After all, when we consider the history of nations, what is the
British race? It was the first United States of Europe. America was the second. Canada and Australia were the third and fourth. But should we complain if the home countries from which those who founded our race came, should now found an embryonic United States of Europe in Europe itself?
Unfortunately, the British position is difficult for Great Britain and difficult for us; but let us face squarely the consequences of Great Britain’s not joining the Common Market. If she does not do so, she will not have a voice in Europe. She will drop back to being a seventh- or eighth-rate nation. I firmly believe that she is acting in our best interests - not in the short run but in the long run - by becoming a member of the Common Market, by strengthening it, by building it up from 250,000,000 to 300,000,000 people who can then stand up to any trade weapon in the cold war, and the Communists are using the trade weapon to an increasing extent.
– Could I ask my honorable friend whether he approves of the system of government of the Common Market?
– I do not know what that system of government will be.
– Another split!
– You have such a large split on the ban-the-bomb issue that I would keep quiet about splits of any kind, if I were you.
Undoubtedly there will be some surrender of national power to supra-national power. But if that cannot take place amongst the nations of Western Europe, what hope is there of it taking place with any success in the United Nations, which is a much larger organization? It may be the pattern, and personally I think it has to be tried. I would rather see Great Britain within a successful Common Market than out of it as an island kingdom on the fringe. She will suffer very severely if she is not a part of Europe, as she always has been.
All the countries concerned have to make major adjustments. I said to a member of the German Parliament before the last election in Germany, “ How will you get on for agricultural prices; you get much higher prices than the people in France do “. He looked at me with a slow smile and said, “ You know, we have an election in two months’ time. Will you ask me that question when the election is over? “ He thereby implied that he knew very well that there must be major reconstructions if the Common Market policy is to succeed. Likewise, we will have to face up to the fact that we will have to make internal adjustments. I hope that they will be wisely spread over the whole of the community and will not simply be thrown onto the backs of the primary producers concerned.
In conclusion, I remind honorable members that Australia with the highest average standard of living of any country, cannot afford to go on in this day and age expecting other people to provide us, first, with sheltered markets and, secondly, with defence on the cheap. We have to face these problems fully. The Royal Navy provided us with practically all our defence as we grew up as a young nation, and even before we were a nation, federation or a Commonwealth. We were fortunate to have the British Navy protecting us at the time; but now we have grown out of our teen-age years and we will not be forgiven for our teen-age foibles and follies. We have grown to the full stature of nationhood and must take on our shoulders our fair share of responsibilities some of which have been borne by Great Britain in the past in this region. We must also take our share of responsibilities with other nations in order to maintain their freedom, because freedom is indivisible. We must also accept our responsibilities for home defence.
At the same time, we are lucky to have had sheltered markets for so long. So far as my investigations have gone - and I was overseas nine months before the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) - I hope and understand that we will be given a breathing space of at least three, and probably five years - I would like it to be seven years - to help us over the period of readjustment. But please do not let Australia look at this problem from a one-eyed point of view. Let us not act like a lap-dog barking at a mastiff. If we do, and if we are not sympathetic to the difficulties of these other nations and what they are trying to achieve I do not think we will be putting our case forward in the best way, nor will we achieve what I think we can get - major concessions.
.- I listened with great interest to the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) and was particularly interested in his remarks on the international refugee organization, because I had the privilege only recently of being in Hong Kong for a few days when the Willie Wong case broke. On the night when he was handed over to the continental Chinese authorities six other Chinese who had crossed the border to stay with an uncle of theirs were picked up by the Hong Kong police and, without any question of a review of their case or any appeal, they were taken back over the border. This particular case and the Willie Wong affair aroused tremendous feeling in Hong Kong. Naturally, as an Australian I was besieged by reporters for comments. However, I explained that I was a visitor and that it was purely a domestic matter, and I refrained from making any comment.
Nevertheless, I was keenly interested in the problem of these refugees and made every effort to hear the point of view of the refugees and of the administration. T agree with the honorable member for Chisholm that the authorities in Hong Kong have done a marvellous job in providing accommodation for these people, but the island colony is at bursting point and cannot take any more refugees. These people have a very sad and sorry story to tell. I will never forget being taken one evening to meet some of them who had just arrived. Through an interpreter I found that their basic grain ration, because of the drought conditions in China, was half a pound of rice a day for each worker. This was supplemented by some sweet potatoes, which they assured me were grown on very small patches not more than 5 square yards in area. The people with whom I spoke came from a fishing village, and because of the dangerous mobility of their boats, they were given some additional rations amounting to about li lb. of rice and li lb. of fish with more if they exceeded the norm in their catch. The refugee position is a problem, and I agree with the honorable member for Chisholm that it is something to which we in Australia must eventually turn our attention. The honorable member’s suggestion that on the the grounds of common humanity there should be an international refugee organization must eventually he fulfilled.
The House is now considering the Supply Bills and two appropriation measures covering the Additional Estimates of Expenditure for the year ending 30th June, 1962. The Supply Bills are to grant funds to enable the Government to carry on from 1st July, to 30th November. The Additional Estimates are really a preliminary to the next Budget, and in discussing them we are permitted a fairly wide range of debate. I wish to direct my remarks to the serious position in the building industry, especially in view of the fact that next week the Commonwealth and State Housing Ministers are to meet in Brisbane. All those who have an intimate knowledge of the timber and building industries hope that this conference will get down to work and will evolve a national plan of housing to bring stability to this important section of our national economy.
The timber industry was seriously affected by the lifting of import restrictions by this Government in November, 1960, and by the Government’s subsequent economic policy. In Tasmania, where my electorate is, some 4,000 men were employed in the industry, but last year 2,000 of them were thrown out of work. Many timber mills were closed down. Some of these mills have picked up, but the industry is still in a state of acute depression. I propose to read from a communication that I have received from the Tasmanian Timber Association which states -
Wc arc still carrying approximately 30,000,000 super, feet of surplus stocks but, due to the highly specialised demand over, the last twelve months, this stock is dangerously unbalanced and includes a far higher proportion of shorter lengths and lower grades than is healthy.
It appears that, duc to our present (and third post-war) experience of a recession and the general degree of instability of the industry created by these ups and downs, we will have permanently lost 500 to 600 skilled employees from the industry. This means we will again have to train many new operators or offer very big inducements to encourage skilled timber workers, now in other jobs, to return to this industry - cither way a burden on our costs.
There is no evidence as yet of any increased demand - in fact, as stated earlier, it has deteriorated in 1962.
Under this Liberal Government, the timber industry has been hit three times in ten years. This official document is supported by the facts. Only on Monday, before I came to Canberra, I visited three mills and had the unpleasant experience of seeing six men dismissed at one place, five in another and four in another. To-night I received word from the Tasmanian Timber Association that another big mill is to close and that 30 men are likely to be dismissed. These are hard facts, and those of us who associate with the people and know them personally find this grievous news. 1 suppose that the Tasmanian timber industry is the most decentralized industry in Australia. Its workers go out to isolated areas in the bush where the logs are. Once a mill closes, there are very few other opportunities of employment available to these men. The honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard), by means of a question which he directed to the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) on Tuesday, highlighted the fact that unemployment in this industry was increasing. As I have said, this is a matter of great concern to us in Tasmania. The timber industry in that State looks to the home-building industry in Victoria which is its traditional market for timber. Homebuilding in Victoria serves as a barometer for the timber industry in Tasmania. If home-building in Victoria is at a healthy level, the Tasmanian timber industry picks up and Tasmania derives great economic benefit. If, on the other hand, homebuilding in Victoria is in the doldrums and depressed, as it is to-day, and as I shall emphasize more fully later, the Tasmanian timber industry, likewise, becomes depressed. One of the reasons for this is that Tasmania supplies about 65 per cent, of the flooring timbers used in Victoria, quite apart from other timbers that are used in the construction of homes.
This Government recently took certain measures in an endeavour to stimulate the economy in the housing field. As a result, something like £1,800,000, I think, was made available for housing in Victoria. Co-operative building societies received about £200,000 of this, and the Housing Commission of Victoria about £1,600,000. On very good authority, I understand that most of this money has gone into the construction of flats that had been planned or even begun before the federal grants were made. These flats are constructed of concrete and steel and very little timber is used. Consequently, this construction has been of no benefit to us in Tasmania.
I believe that the construction of big blocks of flats may be all right in Hong Kong for the housing of refugees, which I mentioned earlier. Big blocks of flats may be all right in cities like Tel Aviv, which are bursting with people, and in large cities such as Berlin and Rome. But I believe that large blocks of flats are completely un-Australian. Australians like to own their own homes and look after them carefuly. Large blocks of flats are completely foreign to the whole concept of our way of life. However, even if the grants which I have mentioned had been entirely spent on the construction of ordinary homes, they would have represented but a drop in the ocean compared with what is needed.
Let us look at the latest available figures contained in a publication entitled “ Victorian Building Statistics “, which is compiled by the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics. At page 5, statistics for the number of new houses, flats and shops with dwellings commenced are given. The total was 28,321 in 1960. In 1961, it fell to 19,701 - the lowest level on record since 1955. At page 10, this publication details the number of dwellings commenced in various suburbs and centres in and around Melbourne. I shall pick out only a few examples to show the great decrease that has occurred in home construction. In the suburb of Broadmeadows, 1,653 dwellings were commenced in 1960, and only 839 last year. In Dandenong, the number commenced was 581 in 1960, and only 247 last year. In Keilor, 882 were begun in I960, and the number fell to 478 in 1961. In Nunawading, commencements were 1,512 in i960 and only 861 last year. The corresponding figures for the suburb of Springvale were 726 and 374. The picture painted throughout this statistical document for every suburb in Melbourne is similar.
At page 12, the publication states that the number of new houses commenced in Victoria totalled 22,655 in 1960, falling to 16.846 in 1961 - a reduction of some 27$ per cent, in twelve months.
– How many were vacant? The schedule shows the number.
– In a special review in 1956, Sir Douglas Copland declared that Victoria needed to build between 26,000 and 28,000 homes a year over the next eight or ten years. In October, 1960, Mr. Petty, who was at that time Minister for Housing in the Victorian Government, estimated that there was a shortage of some 35,000 homes in Victoria. Reliable opinion in that State places the current shortage at about 50,000 homes. Yet the number of houses completed dropped from 24,456 in 1960, despite what the honorable member for La Trobe (Mr. Jess) says, to 18,709 in 1961- a fall of 5,747.
As I have said, this situation very deeply concerns the Tasmanian timber industry, which depends on Victoria for a market for its timber. Looking at the picture on a national basis, Mr. Speaker, we find that the value of new houses and flats constructed, dropped from £343,300,000 in 1960 to ‘£264,700,000 last year- a fall of £78,600,000, or 23 per cent. I hate citing all these figures, but I must do so for the sake of the record. Only recently, we repaid £78,000,000 to the International Monetary Fund. We could have lent that money at 2 per cent, interest to stimulate the building industry and associated industries.
Let us consider for a moment the tremendous impact that a buoyant building industry has on the whole economy. The effect goes right back to the loggers and fallen in the bush, whom I have already mentioned. Every one benefits, including hauliers, those engaged in timber mills, carpenters, bricklayers, plumbers, painters, tilers, builders, cabinet makers, joiners, electricians and home furnishers. We would not have the position that exists to-day if we could inject more money into the community home home-building. Only last week-end a painter who employs two or three painters saw me at my home. He told me that he was the twenty-fifth Tasmanian to go bankrupt this year. He instanced builders, plumbers and others who had been associated with the timber and building industries and who, owing to the depressed state of those industries, had gone bankrupt. That is a very unfortunate state of affairs.
I appeal to this Government to take measures immediately to enable the building industry to get back on its feet. The first step should be to enable finance to flow back to the channels in which it proved most effective prior to the credit squeeze in the field of long-term home finance. This Government, by its illchosen credit restrictions, by its pressure on life assurance offices and by its stringent control of finance in the banking field, has dissuaded many banks from directing to home finance anything like the amounts previously provided by them for that purpose. Furthermore, the private banks have developed fringe banking organizations by means of the subsidiaries which they have established to conduct hire-purchase operations. They have also developed a system of short-term financial accommodation on overdraft at rates of interest much higher than normal overdraft rates. As a consequence, the provision of home finance over long terms at low interest rates no longer appeals to the banking institutions, which normally used to provide such finance. 1 refer the House now to an excellent report on housing finance in Victoria in the period from 1946 to 1961, which was prepared by the Builders and Allied Trades Association and published in the issue of that organization’s journal for March of this year. I commend this report to all honorable members. Only recently, it was issued as a separate publication. It is worthy of the attention of all of us in this chamber who are interested in the urgent problem of housing. It shows how the position of the home-buyer has worsened since 1952. It shows how the average deposit, which was generally accepted in 1952 as being 10 to 15 per cent. of the total cost, has increased year by year until now the deposit required on an average home is anything from 24 to 45 per cent. of the total cost.
The State authorities that are active in the building industry are unanimous in their statements that their hands are tied because of the small amounts of money made available by the Commonwealth Government. As I said earlier, the simple solution to the whole problem is the release of adequate funds through the banking institutions to enable the housing lag to be overtaken in the shortest possible time.
I would like to commend to honorable members an excellent report on the Australian timber industry produced by the Economics and Statistical Department of the Australian and New Zealand Bank Limited in Melbourne and released last year. If honorable members wish to get a fairly reliable estimate of the number of homes that will be required in the future I suggest that they turn to page 14 of this publication, where they will find the following information: -
From 1960-61 to 1961-62 family formation requirements together with the needs of the existing housing backlog should sustain dwelling completions at the rate of 90,000 per annum.
Those are the numbers that will be required, but of course we are not getting nearly as many as that. In the year ended 31st December, 1960, the number of houses completed in Australia was 83,504, while in the year ended 31st December, 1961, the number declined to 74,958. This represented a decline of more than 8,500 from 1960 to 1961 in the number of houses completed for our fast-growing population.
Commonwealth and State Housing Ministers will have a further opportunity to review this urgent national problem next week when they meet in Brisbane. Those of us who are intimately associated with the timber industry and the building industry in the various States sincerely hope that the conference will produce a plan on a national basis, so that we can do away with the stop-go policies that have been adopted in the past. A target of 80,000 homes a year has been set without due regard to the numbers of people in the various age groups who are getting married and needing homes, and without due regard to immigration intake or to the large amounts of capital invested in the timber industry and by the builders themselves. I sincerely hope that the conference next week will get on with the job. 1 would like to read to the House portion of a letter that appeared yesterday in the “ Advocate “, which is the only daily newspaper in my electorate. The letter was signed “ Housewife’s Opinion “. Those who accuse us on this side of the House of being calamity howlers and of always high-lighting unemployment to an unnecesary extent should speak to people such as those who are the subject of this letter. They will then find that what we say is true. To-night I make a plea to the Government to do something about the plight of these people. This letter is headed “ Sawmills “ and it reads, in part -
Is the timber industry going to get into difficulties again? It is reported that certain Circular Head sawmills are putting off men. Is it realised that single men cannot live on nothing?
That is my point, that these men cannot live on nothing. The mills are in remote areas. The timber industry is a decentralized industry, and in the places where the mills are established there is little opportunity for men to obtain other kinds of employment. Therefore, I sincerely hope that the conference that is to be held next week will produce some tangible plan for assisting the timber industry. This is the third time in ten years that the industry has been hard hit, and we can only hope that it can get out of this third depression before it is plunged into a fourth.
I commend to the Ministers who will attend the conference next week, and to their advisers, certain proposals put forward by the committee in Victoria known as the Building Industry Committee for Long-term Low-deposit Housing Finance. These proposals are contained in an article headed, “ A Letter to Mr. Menzies “ which appears in a pamphlet entitled, “ An Analysis of Housing Finance in Victoria 1946-1961 “, to. which I have already referred. The committee recommends that the Government set up a national housing banking corporation, which would have the following functions: -
Government on the raising of funds, in Australia and if necessary overseas, for housing.
Government, banking and the following sections of industry:
I have spoken for longer, perhaps, than I should have done on this problem, but it is one which affects not only Tasmania, where we look upon Victoria as the market for our timber, but is really of nation-wide significance, and is worthy of a good deal of serious thought and much more attention than has been given to it by the Government up to the present time.
In the few minutes left at my disposal I wish to refer briefly to the disappointment that I share with the honorable member for Phillip (Mr. Einfeld) that the recent trade mission to the Middle East failed to visit Israel. I had the great privilege of being a guest in that country recently, and I know that many people in Israel have also felt keen disappointment that their country has been by-passed. The Zim Shipping Service is shortly to start a direct service from Eilat to Fremantle, Melbourne and Sydney, and this will be of great assistance in developing trade between the two countries. I was reliably informed in Israel that that country can supply us with phosphates, potash, citrus fruits when they are out of season in Australia, and bromine, and that Israel would require from us wool, minerals in the raw material condition, skins and hides and, when refrigerated ships are available, carcasses of beef. I visited a halfcompleted factory in Israel which, when completed, will be able to use £1,000,000 worth of Australian wool each year, lt is obvious, therefore, that it is becoming important to develop trade with that country. I sincerely hope that the views expressed on several occasions by the honorable member for Phillip will be given due consideration by the Government.
In conclusion I would like to say that I was disappointed to learn that Australia had no display at the Ideal Homes Exhibition being held in London at the present time. This exhibition attracts thousands of visitors. New Zealand is represented by an effective display of dairy produce. Canada is well represented, as are all the countries in the European Common Market. The exhibition is of some importance. It is always looked upon as an opportunity to promote sales of a country’s export products. As honorable members have almost unanimously agreed, in the debate on the entry of the United Kingdom into the Common Market, this is a crucial time for our exports, and every available opportunity should be taken by the Department of Trade and others to show the world what Australia can produce, so that we may obtain fresh markets to take the place of those we are likely to lose when the United Kingdom enters the Common Market.
.- In this debate I shall refer to only one subject, namely, the additional estimate of expenditure by the Postmaster-General’s Department of £2,704,000. 1 contend that that sum is not sufficient. In fact, I contend that the total amount allotted to the PostmasterGeneral’s Department in the Budget is not sufficient. I speak with a knowledge of only one electorate, but from what I have heard from my colleagues and from what I have learned from previous speeches, particularly those of the honorable member for Lawson (Mr. Failes) and the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. King), I suppose that all electorates are in the same boat.
In considering matters of this nature it is only fair and correct that we should look at both sides. In this case I shall consider first the credit side and then the debit side. I shall refer to the past eleven years because the figures which I have to hand cover that period. In those years the number of subscribers’ lines in the Calare electorate has increased from 6,558 to over 13,000. In other words, the number has almost doubled in eleven years. The number of public telephones has increased from 113 to 151. Although we believe that a sufficient number of rural automatic exchanges has not been provided, in fact 25 have been installed. It is as well to remember that the cost of these exchanges varied from £20,000 to £50,000. One standard automatic telephone exchange of 1 ,200 lines and one of 500 lines have been installed.
Proceeding further down the credit side we see that an additional 240 trunk lines have been provided in the electorate, and exchange capacities have increased by from 60 per cent, to 80 per cent, in the five major towns. The amount spent on major buildings associated with the telephone service alone is £238,000, which is a considerable sum. In addition, carrier-wave equipment has provided another 29 trunk channels out of the electorate. At the present time, the big job is the provision of a wide band radio system which will provide for 600 telephone and telecommunications channels from Orange to Sydney. We members of Parliament appreciate the fact that we may sit in our offices in Canberra and dial direct to Sydney. That is a terrific achievement for which the department should be commended. It is a sign of progress, and many hundreds of thousands of subscribers will benefit. But these signs of progress are of little benefit to some of the people in the outlying areas, particularly in case of emergency. A good deal of money has been spent on the Postmaster-General’s Department in recent years, and the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Davidson) and the officers of his department are to be commended for providing such an excellent service with the funds which have been made available.
Turning now to the debit side, and considering what might be called the midwestern areas of New South Wales, we see the closing of manual telephone offices for various reasons, some of which have been mentioned here previously, so I shall not go into detail. The department’s immediate reaction is to buck in and try to alleviate the problems that crop up, but the usual method of doing this is to connect subscribers from the smaller exchange on a party line to a main exchange farther away. I believe that this is a retrograde step, but we appreciate that it is only a temporary one. If more money were available the department could do the job the short way by installing rural automatic exchanges. As a member of this House I enjoy, or rather put up with, a party line, much to the disgust of many people who need to contact me on private matters. Within five miles of my home is a party line carrying fourteen subscribers. That certainly is not a fair go.
On the debit side we see the deterioration of thousands of miles of privately constructed lines. Naturally, as soon as they are erected they begin to deteriorate. With the great strides forward which are being taken by the Postmaster-General’s Department we soon shall be able to sit in our homes and dial automatically any telephone number in Australia. In the carrying out of the department’s plans certain exchanges will change. In the country, a large number of rural automatic exchanges are being installed, so subscribers will have to balance the cost factor against the time factor. The cost factor involved in re-erecting these new lines is a considerable item. We in this Country Party corner of the chamber are chided because we always look at the cost, particularly when dealing with people in the country.
We see deterioration in departmental equipment, particularly in those exchanges which are due to be changed. I can mention several places in my electorate in which money has been available to build large, new exchanges to take new equipment, but sufficient money has not been available to buy and install the equipment, with the result that the material already on hand is deteriorating and service is falling off.
Following on that we have shortages of telephone staff, and shortages make for inefficiency. At this point let me give high praise to the telephone girls, and to the telephone boys who work at night. I know that the boys particularly become very tired at night, but generally speaking the telephonists, monitors, overseers and supervisors are doing a grand job under unsatisfactory conditions. Girls are not being attracted to this work because conditions are poor in the places which are about to be changed. In addition, the girls available are looking for security. If they know that within a short time manual exchanges will be replaced by automatic exchanges they hesitate to accept employment.
I have done some research in my electorate, and should like to mention some relevant figures. In the electorate are 97 exchanges serving 13,015 subscribers. Honorable members will appreciate that the number of subscribers varies from day to day. Of those 97 exchanges, 68 are manually operated, 28 are automatic and one is a combination of both. Of the 97 exchanges, 46 operate for restricted hours and 51 operate continuously. The net result is that 10.5 per cent, of the subscribers in that electorate cannot enjoy the benefit of privacy but are connected with party lines. Then 7.95 per cent, of the subscribers have a service restricted to certain hours.
I wish now to comment about mail facilities. Even in areas such as mine we still have that horrible anachronistic relic of the past, a bi-weekly mail service. Whichever way you look at it, with a biweekly mail service you sometimes go for four days without any inward or outward mails. In this regard I am speaking, not of the far outback or places on the Birdsville track, but of closely settled areas. On this account the need of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department for more money is acute.
I like the answers 1 get sometimes when I write to the department about these things. Officers of the department have worked the answer out on a cost basis. How fortunate we are to have a department which is so conscious of the cost factor that it can tell you that it costs 8d. per unit of mail from point A to point B, or ls. 4d., or whatever it might be! I feel we are fortunate in that regard, but I believe that people in the sparsely populated areas deserve to have the cost overlooked in their case and that some of the slack should be taken up elsewhere. I feel that bi-weekly mail services should be out, and out quickly.
We private members ask, write and interview and we realize how lucky we are that we have in the Postmaster-General (Mr. Davidson) a man whom we can interview. He is interested in the development of the whole of the telephone and telegraph services. He is- deserving of a lot of backing and the provision of more money with which to do some of the things that he plans to do and wants to do. I wish to pay a compliment to the officers of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department right along the line through the various phases of “the organization, down to the linemen and postmen. I feel that the department is building for the future and it is building well.
Before I came into this House I noticed that whatever this department does it builds for the future and builds well. If it has to put in a ten-pair cable, the department generally looks ahead, and, for the sake of future costs, puts in a 20 or 30 pair line. We understand that new cross-bar equipment is coming in and will greatly help us with the rural automatic exchanges. T do not know the technical side of it, but 1 am told that for reasons of tolerance and so on this equipment will be able to be mass-produced at lower cost. I understand also that it means more efficient operation than the equipment we have had up to date. But it is not here yet and one of the reasons for that is lack of finance. We receive many letters from the Postmaster-General’s Department in answer to queries and 1 have with me one which I will quote. At Wyangala dam, where additions to the wall are being built at an expenditure of £14,000,000, there is a big crowd of workmen and their families. A simple request has been received for a public telephone box, and the department’s reply is -
Owing to the department’s difficulty in securing the essential equipment for such services, the way is not clear to furnish an approximate date when it will be possible to proceed. Every effort is being made to secure supplies and overtake arrears. 1 know the man who signed that letter and 1 think it hurts such an officer to have to sign letters of that kind. Here is a request for a telephone box - a simple box with a bit of glass in it and a telephone inside. Such structures should be mass-produced to overcome this back-lag. Finally, is there enough forward movement? There is movement. We have great progress in all the phases of the department’s work - television, coaxial cables, the wide-band radio system, the introduction of Elsa - the extended local service areas - and the installation of a number of automatic exchanges, to say nothing of improvements in mail and telegraph services which are going on all the time, all over the country. This progress must go on in the country as well as in the more closely settled areas. The slow progress in some respects is caused by lack of money. If people in the country - farmers, orchardists, poultry men, graziers and others - elect to keep their families in the rural areas working for a return, on the average, of 2i to 3i per cent, on their capital investment, in order to produce four-fifths of the country’s income, I think we should place the Postmaster-General in a position where he can say to them: “ This country can afford to give and will give you what you require. It is only fair to outlay sufficient funds to provide adequate telephone and mail services for you.”
I think this Parliament should vote more money to the Postmaster-General’s Department in order that country subscribers may quickly be given the same exclusive telephone service and the privacy as subscribers in more closely settled areas, with telephone services for 24 hours a day and seven days a week.
.- Mr. Speaker, I listened with a great deal of interest and some sympathy to the honorable member for Calare (Mr. England) when he spoke of the shortage of equipment within the Postmaster-General’s Department. I listened with special sympathy because I realize that there is a shortage of telephone equipment in country areas. But I would like the honorable member to know that there is not an honorable member in this House who is not inundated with requests from constituents who want telephones but cannot get them. There is not one of us who does not receive a great number of letters from the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Davidson) or from his department, saying “ We have not enough equipment “, “ We have not the requisite supplies of cable”, to put in what ought to be an essential - a telephone in every home. That is why 1 sympathize with the honorable member for Calare. There are many of us who have in our electorates sick people or old people who for special reasons want telephones but, owing to shortage of equipment, cannot get them from the PostmasterGeneral’s Department. So I do not feel nearly as kindly as does the honorable member for Calare about the performance of his colleague and mine, the Postmaster-General.
I think it is high time that the Parliament looked at the record of the PostmasterGeneral, speeded up the work of his department and arranged for telephone equipment to be provided so that telephones could be put into many more homes throughout the continent of Australia. It seems to me that when we are discussing appropriation and supply matters this is the proper time to examine the Government’s policy and its record of achievement since the last election. When we are discussing the money that should be provided for the Government to administer its departments we ought to examine what it is doing and what it has done with the money that has been provided for it here previously. On 9th December, 1961, when this Government was re-elected to office, the number of unemployed was about 100,000. Thereafter the figure reached higher and higher peaks. Why? When it was announced that, by a hair’s breadth, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) had been returned to office, the people became more panicky than ever. The number of unemployed increased to a peak of more than 130,000.
Recently, in this House, the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) said that he hoped that the figures to be announced in a few days would show a further reduction in unemployment. But the last published figures showed that there were 112,000 registered unemployed last month. If the optimistic prophecies of the Minister are borne out we can say that the number of unemployed to-day is not less than it was five months ago. In saying that, I am being charitable. In view of this fact should we not examine the record of the Government? Should we not see what the Government has achieved in five months? What they have achieved, even if all their prophecies are true, is that the same number of unemployed exists to-day, five months after the Government’s re-election to office, as existed on the day on which it was re-elected. This is despite the desperate efforts of the Government in these few months. The unemployment figure is no less than, and is probably greater than, it was on 9th December, 1961.
The citizens of this country want to know whether Government supporters are satisfied with the situation. Are they happy? Do they believe that they are giving allegiance to the right leaders? Do they believe that the men who are administering the nation and to whom they are supposed to give blind, unswerving loyalty are doing what is proper to bring about a state of comfort and reasonable prosperity for the citizens of Australia? I find some of the men who to-day control the Government benches very respectable and eminent gentlemen.
– Are they not all?
– I think they are. They are men of great reputation. I have received nothing from them but the greatest courtesy. But are we satisfied to allow the affairs of the nation to be administered by these men? Let us hear what they have said. The Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), speaking to the Melbourne Chamber of Commerce in June, 1961, said -
I assure you we do not panic easily. We know something of the bucking bronco of this economy of ours.
Now, Sir, having listened to the statements made by the Treasurer, do any of us think that he really knows anything about the economy? Is it not a fact that records speak for themselves? Is it not proper to say that his knowledge of the economy of Australia has resulted in the registration of 130,000 unemployed? In November, 1960, at the time of the institution of the credit squeeze, the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) said in this House -
There is no reason in the world why any one should be hurt as a result of these measures. If people are wise they can avoid suffering hurt from them.
These are the men who are entrusted to-day with the administration of this nation. No wonder people are disturbed! No wonder that members of the Opposition, day by day, are pleading with the Government to take a real view of the stagnation which the Government has forced upon the country. Why does not the Government look at the causes of the stagnation? Why does it not treat the sick state of the nation - the disease of the nation which it has caused? Why does it not look at the reasons for the disease, as any doctor does if you visit him when you are ill? He wants to know why you are ill. What caused your illness?
If the Government wants to know the cause, it is obviously evident. The cause is the complete lack of any long-term consistent economic plan. Has not the Government failed to formulate such a plan since it came back to office? Is not every injection of finance into the economy by the Government the result of only a short-term plan? Does anybody, including the members of the Government, know what is happening to this country? Do they know what will happen to it in July or August or September or November? Are not the businessmen and the working people entitled” to know the Government’s plans for the future? Should they not be able to sit down and plan their private affairs and business affairs knowing what plans the Government has?
Would it not be proper for the Government to embark upon a far-reaching economic policy in order to bring about some stability? Can you blame business houses for not wanting to commit themselves, too far in the future when they do not know how stable the economy will be? We know that the credit squeeze of 1960 was primarily responsible for the present recession. Make no mistake! The recession is still upon us with 100,000 unemployed. ls it not true that the credit squeeze was primarily responsible for the present position with its mass unemployment, with its economic disease and loss of confidence in the whole community?
The factors upon which the Government justified its credit squeeze were the balanceofpayments problem and the speculative boom of the 1960’s. These were themselves the direct results of the policies of the Government. The Government has been in office for more than ten years, lt has legislated for more than ten years. As a result of its legislation it has brought about a situation which members of the Government themselves have said they will have to try to solve. Every one of us knows that when the Government decided to do away with import restrictions the overseas balances deficit rose very greatly. In order to restore the overseas balances a little the Government used other restrictions, lt restricted the earning power of the people. When the people could not buy goods because they did not have enough money, and” because they were unemployed, importers did not import nearly so many goods. We could take that to its logical conclusion. If everybody were out of work, there would be no importations at all. During all that period internal inflation was running at a greater level than it was six or seven years prior to the last federal election.
Let us see what has happened to the value of money in Australia during the term of office of this Government. I have a table showing how the value of money has deteriorated in 25 countries from 1949 to 1959. The table is contained’ in the report of the First National City Bank, New York, and is dated July, 1960. During the period mentioned, Australian money deteriorated to a greater extent in value than the money of any of the other 24 countries. Some of the countries listed, with the index figure for the value of their money in 1949 and 1959, are as follows: -
In Australia, where the index figure was 100 in 1949, it was 52 in 1959. Is it not shameful that under this Government’s control the value of the Australian £1 has deteriorated nearly 50 per cent.? During that time prices increased by 101 per cent, and, because of that, this Government stands indicted as a government which has had no regard for the real value of the economy.
– Would you like to go back to Portugal, which is one of the countries you mentioned?
– I want to stay in Australia, but I do not like this Government. As a free, democratic citizen of this country, I, with the majority of the 40,000 and more in my electorate, indeed, with the majority of the people of this country, say: “ This is our country. We love it, but we ought to choose a better government.” That is my complaint. I love Australia. I get starry-eyed when I think of Australia. It has a great and fabulous future. It will be a magnificent country some day; but as long as this Government is in office it will, by its policies, prevent Australia from progressing. The Government will do that in the future just as it has done in the last twelve years or more. I have been to very many countries of the world, probably more times than the honorable member has. I have been fortunate in that respect. And 1 have never returned to Australia without being grateful that this is my native country, that I live in Australia, that I live in the best country in the world. But I cannot say that we have the best government in the world. We have probably got one of the worst.
There are a few matters of special interest to the ordinary man and woman in the street that I think ought to be brought up in the House at this time. Let us look first at child endowment, which has not been changed since 15th March, 1950. It is interesting to note that in the 1949 policy speech of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) in which he said, “ I promise to put value back in the pound “ - I know that sounds laughable now - he went on to say -
I believe that the financial difficulties of family life must be eased.
Then he introduced a plan to grant 5s. a week endowment for the first child, and when the then Minister for Social Services (Senator Spooner) presented the bill to this Parliament in 1950, he said -
This is one plain, simple illustration that this Government will in a practical way implement its policy and provide ways and means under which parents of families of young, stalwart Australians will be assisted to cope with the increases which have occurred in the cost of living during recent years;
He also described it as -
A forerunner of further practical proposals designed to the same end.
– Who said that?
– This Government’s Minister for Social Services. He said that in March, 1950. He also said -
The Government believes that the most effective way to bridge the gap between the economic needs of the family and the income of the family is the payment of some form of allowance which will increase with the size of the family and decrease as the children become more or less self-supporting.
Since 1950, the rate of endowment for the first child has remained unchanged, and there has been no increase in the rate for second and subsequent children since 1948. In November, 1948, the basic wage was £5 19s. a week, and the child endowment being paid in that year represented 8.4 per cent, of that rate. To-day, the average basic wage in the six capital cities is £14 8s. and the 10s. payment for children other than the first represents 4.3 per cent, of the basic wage. In fact, the real value of child endowment has never been less than it is to-day.
– Go back to December, 1949.
– I have not got the figures. When child endowment was first introduced by a Labour government in 1941, the 5s. then paid represented 5.8 per cent, of the then basic wage of £4 6s. Since the last adjustment was made to child endowment for second and subsequent children in families, living costs have more than doubled, the consumer index figure having risen during the intervening period by more than 100 per cent. The 10s. paid in endowment in 1948 had more than twice the purchasing value of the 10s. note of 1962. As inflation over the past fourteen years has more than halved the real value of endowment for second and subsequent children in families, the 1948 rate represents hardship in 1962, and failure by the Government to acknowledge the debt which is owed in social justice to the family man.
Now let me deal with the maternity allowance. The present allowance is £15 for a mother where there are no other children under sixteen years. It is £16 where the mother has one or two other children under sixteen years; it is £17 10s. where the mother has three or more such children and, since 1944, an extra £5 has been paid for each additional child in multiple births. Have labour pains become any less since 1943? Is it easier for women to have babies now? Does not a woman have to care for her child in the same way now as she did in 1943? Why is it that the value of the maternity allowance has been allowed to deteriorate to the stage where it is less than 50 per cent, of what it was in 1943? This is all part of the Government’s complete disregard of the needs of the ordinary man and woman. It is part of this Government’s policy to disregard the general mass of the people. When we look at the whole range of social service benefits, we find in this Government a lack of understanding of the needs and requirements of the people.
– You are the only one who knows about them.
– I am very flattered by the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull). There are other honorable members on this side of the House who also understand the needs of the people, but the honorable member and his colleagues do not understand anything about them. That is all the more reason why they ought to listen and obtain information that will bring some humane feeling into their hearts when they are considering social service provisions.
I come now to the age pension, the widow’s pension, and the invalid pension. The age pension to-day is £5 5s. a week, ls there one honorable member who has not at some time been visited by, or who has not visited, a widow, or an old man or an old lady who is in receipt of a pension, and who has no other means of support? I do not believe there is one. I do not believe that any honorable member, honest and decent as they all are, could have failed to be moved by the plight of those men and women who have reached retiring age, who are in receipt of a pension and who cannot really exist on the money they receive by way of pension. I readily acknowledge that pensioners are allowed to earn up to £3 10s. a week without any deduction from their pension. But what about the thousands of pensioners who are not physically able to earn £3 10s. a week, even if jobs were available for them? What does the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton) expect? He is a fine citizen. He is a good man, and I like him, but he completely misunderstands, and has no appreciation of, the plight of the old people, the sick people and the widows who are trying to survive on £5 5s. a week. When I look at the Minister for Social Services and see how deeply concerned and interested he is in the things I am saying, I am encouraged, because I believe that when he does wake up he will do something about this very urgent problem.
That brings me to the serious situation with relation to education in Australia. Education is a very important problem. I believe it is a national problem. I recognize, as I think most honorable members do, that the State authorities are doing magnificent work in the field of education, but they are limited by the amount of money made available to them by this Government. I repeat that within the confines of this Government’s grants, those State authorities are doing magnificent work. Nevertheless, every honorable member knows full well that in every State many children are being taught in temporary buildings and in decrepit buildings. We all know that many buildings are overcrowded, that many classrooms are not big enough for the children, that facilities for teachertraining are inadequate and that proper scholarships are not made available by the Commonwealth.
Every one who is interested in education knows that the Prime Minister has repeatedly refused to set up the important committee to investigate the needs of primary, secondary and tertiary education, although almost every education authority in Australia has asked for such a committee to be set up. The Premiers, at the last Premiers’ Conference, asked the Prime Minister to set up a committee to undertake such an inquiry. Every teachers’ federation throughout the country has made such a request to the Prime Minister. Every parents and citizens association - I remind the House that such associations are completely non-political - is anxious that the Government should commence such an inquiry. I asked the Prime Minister the other day whether he would relent, reconsider his decision, and set up this worth-while committee.
– Would such an inquiry cover independent schools?
– It would cover all schools. When I asked my question, the Prime Minister, in his august majesty, stood up and deigned to answer me. He said that he had nothing to add to what he had already said on this very important subject. Is it not shameful that the first citizen of the country, the head of the whole nation, should say that he had nothing to add on this subject? I did not appeal for my own sake. My two children are grown up, thank goodness. I appealed for all the children of Australia, for the next generation of this great country. I appealed because of the pleas that have been made by the teachers and because every Minister for Education in the States has asked for it. I was disdainfully told that the Prime Minister had nothing further to add. I think it shameful that the Government should continue to ignore the situation in the field of education. Only a few weeks ago a very great professor whose name eludes me for the moment, returned to Canada after a survey of Australia. He said that Australian education had reached a dramatic crisis and would soon explode. It is shameful.
These are examples of the laisser-faire attitude of the Government. These are examples of the Government’s don’t-care attitude when dealing with the interests of the people. I listened with great interest to the report given to the Parliament by the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) on the European Common Market. With many other honorable members, I admired the fact that, like an Australian, he had been out fighting. I accepted his word that the first time the Government knew that Great Britain would enter the Common Market was when Mr. Sandys came to Australia last year. But I have in my files dozens of newspaper cuttings of two, three and four years ago. They refer to discussions and suggestions that Great Britain would enter the Common Market. The Government should then have taken some real action. It is true the Minister for Trade went round the world. We heard from Mr. Dean Rusk that the United States has no intention of altering its policy.
What has the Government done? It has sent a trade mission to one or two places. But has it properly considered the importance of building a Commonwealth shipping line? I do not say that every article that leaves Australia should go in an Australian ship, but I do say that if we had a shipping line we would be in a better position to bargain with overseas shipping lines that fix freight rates to suit themselves.
– That is silly.
– The honorable member does not know. I will have a green cart call for him soon, because he is getting sillier as time goes on.
If we want to negotiate, we must have some strength, and to have strength we must have some power behind us. The way to negotiate with overseas shipping lines is to have a Commonwealth shipping line, so that we will be in a position to ship goods overseas at reasonable freight prices instead of having to meet the demands of the shipping cartels which use monopolistic devices to put a stranglehold on the carriage of Australian exports.
On all these matters, the Government should be jolted out of its don’t-care attitude. It should not be narrow. It should realize that it has made many blunders. It would not be the first government to make blunders. Having realized that it has made blunders, it should set about firmly building this house of Australia. We all hope that Australia will be a great continent and that all Australians will hold their heads high and be proud of their country.
.- Let me assure the honorable member for Phillip (Mr. Einfeld) that it is not by design that I follow him in the debate on this occasion; it is by an accident of circumstances. Let mc also assure the honorable member that instead of referring to unemployment, the activities of the Government and so on, he could have saved a lot of time by merely seeking permission to have the previous speech he made reprinted in “ Hansard “ on this occasion. He need only look at the replies I gave to him on the last occasion he spoke to find the answers to his assertions on this occasion. Indeed, he could well have asked for those replies of mine to be reprinted in “ Hansard “ also. This again would have saved time.
The honorable member struck one note that I think is new. He said that the country will never go ahead under this Government, that it is stagnating. I suggest that the honorable member look at conditions as they were when this Government came into office in 1949. At that time, there was no freedom in this country and we had no goods. People could get what they needed only by buying goods on the black market at exorbitant prices.
– That was just after a war.
– I remind the honorable member that within twelve months of this Government’s taking office, freedom was restored to the people and ample goods were available for them to buy. The people also had more money to spend because they did not have to pay black-market prices for the goods they needed. I could go through a whole list of conditions as they were then. 1 invite the honorable member for Phillip to look at the progress that has been made since this Government took office in 1949 and compare it with the progress made during any other period in Australian history. He will find that the period for which this Government has been in office stands out like the Star of Jerusalem as a period of achievement.
I want to mention several matters, but before 1 do so I want to put the honorable member for Phillip on the right track. He made a plea for increased social service benefits. Of course, it is easy to be irresponsible in Opposition. I know that in his heart the honorable member realizes that the Government and honorable members on this side of the House have a human sympathy for people who are suffering, just as Opposition members have sympathy for them. But we must live within our means. I want to bring the honorable member down to earth a little. He referred to the maternity allowance and said that it had been unaltered for a long period, ls the honorable member aware that the maternity allowance was first granted when there was no such thing as a hospital or medical benefits scheme? These schemes help to meet the costs that are incurred while the mother is in hospital. These benefits have been added to the maternity allowances.
– I said that the maternity allowance has not been increased for many years, lt should be increased.
– My wife bore me six children and 1 would sooner have children to-day with the present maternity allowance plus hospital benefits and medical benefits than in the days when we received only the maternity allowance. The people are much better off. The honorable member loses sight of the fact that it was a LiberalCountry Party Government which introduced child endowment and increased and extended it. We heard not a word of blessing for that from the Australian Labour Party. 1 assure the honorable member that the record of this Government is unexcelled - and unexcellable,
However, I want to remind the House of the four measures that we are discussing. Two of those bills are related to the Additional Estimates of Expenditure for the current year; two of them are to provide supply to enable the Government to carry on after the end of the financial year, until November. In the meantime, the Government will introduce its Budget and the House will vote the funds the Government requires for the new financial year. Whilst I know that circumstances make it necessary that we should take all these bills together, there are factors associated with the measures that make me regret that we are obliged to take them en bloc. In the discussion on the supply bills honorable members are given an opportunity to discuss matters of policy and those affecting their own electorates just as they do during the Budget debate. Therefore, this is an appropriate time to discuss matters affecting our electorates and I cannot chide honorable members, as 1 would be inclined to do otherwise, for not dealing with the financial aspects of the measures before us.
The Government seeks approval for the expenditure of additional sums of money above those approved last year, and it has supplied honorable members with details of the Additional Estimates of Expenditure showing where the additional money will be spent. This is tremendously important. The British parliamentary system as we know it was founded initially for one purpose only - to maintain control of the public purse. This was the fundamental purpose of Parliament, and it should continue to be the primary purpose of honorable members whether they are sitting on the Government side or the Opposition side. They should keep a watchful eye on the way the Government raises and spends money. Every honorable member should be critical of that aspect of the nation’s finances. It is a matter of regret to me that so many honorable members fail to realize this most important part of their responsibilities. One of the reasons why I am regretful that the four bills are taken together is that I feel that the new members - and there are many of them - could become confused as to their rightful purpose in this place. As a result they could adopt practices which are not desirable for a member of Parliament. Finance is allimportant, and I mean not only the raising and spending of money but also governmental activity in the field of finance because that controls the economy of the country. This is an essential responsibility of members of Parliament. We can tax the people heavily or lightly; we can spend heavily or lightly. These are matters which we must examine carefully because- the Parliament was brought into existence originally for no other purpose. All the other trimmings of Parliament - including policy matters - have merely impinged on this fundamental purpose.
I propose to examine some of the figures that have been submitted in the Additional Estimates of Expenditure for our approval. The total amount of the Additional Estimates is £15,825,000, leaving out the loan estimates for new expenditure and capital works. This figure is about equal to the amount of additional expenditure that has been sought over the past few years. In 1961 the amount of additional expenditure requested by the Government was £57,143,000 - a substantially larger amount than is sought now. It included £40,000,000 to be paid into the Loan Consolidation and Investment Reserve leaving a balance of £17,000,000 which was the amount of expenditure actually required. In 1960 Parliament was asked to vote a comparatively tremendous sum of £60,000,000 as additional expenditure. Again, this amount included an extraordinary item of £47,000,000. Of that amount, £37,000,000 was for defence and £10,000,000 for the Loan Consolidation and Investment Reserve. In 1959 the Government asked for £57,000,000. Of that amount £40,000,000 was required for special purposes, leaving a balance of £17,000,000. The Government sought £11,206,000 in 1958 and £15,305,000 in 1957. The amount sought in 1956 was £21,003,000 of which £11,889,000 was for defence. So the story went on throughout the 1950’s.
– Would the honorable member mind reading those figures again?
– The honorable member for Watson is a member of the Public Accounts Committee, and I would not expect him to ask me to read those figures twice.
If we examine the Additional Estimates, we find that they total £15,825,000. That sum, compared with a Budget for this financial year which totalled more than £1,600,000,000, is small. However, though the total is relatively small, these Additional Estimates involve a matter of principle relating to correct estimating. They can show a pattern, and therefore it is the responsibility of the Parliament to examine these figures in order to see what they indicate.
I come back again to the question of the Government’s control of the economy. Let the people bear this in mind: A government can make a very good fellow of itself by providing at the beginning of the financial year for low expenditure and light taxes. Then when it finds towards the end of the financial year that it cannot discharge the responsibilities of office with the funds for which it had asked the Parliament at the time when the Budget was approved, a big vote for Additional Estimates can be sought. In this way, the government of the day - and, for that matter, the Parliament itself - can make a very fine fellow of itself. On the other hand, the reverse situation could arise. A government can ask for a very large amount in its Budget, and when, later in the financial year, it finds that all the money appropriated cannot be spent on the purposes for which the appropriation was approved by the Parliament, ways and means of spending the surplus money can be found. Let us be quite clear about this: There will be no carry-over. If such a situation arises, the money very often is devoted to purposes of which the Parliament has not approved. Let us not forget that, under our Constitution, the Parliament must approve not only the appropriation but also the purposes for which the money is to be used.
Let us now consider in more detail some of the amounts provided in these Additional Estimates. I have examined the Additional Estimates over the past ten years, and I find that there is increasingly in evidence a pattern of items which appeared very infrequently in earlier years. Those are the items which appear under the heading “ Salaries and Payments in the nature of Salary “. I refer particularly to the amounts provided for additional staff under that heading. We have always been asked for additional amounts for salaries, usually for the purposes of reclassifications, allowances for higher duties, temporary and casual employees, extra-duty pay, salary increases, district allowances and that sort of thing.
In the Additional Estimates which we are now considering, about 29 departments and branches of departments have asked for additional funds to provide for additional staff. About 1954, no mention was made of requirements for additional staff. About 1956, these requirements appeared in respect of a few departments. Progressively, the prevalence of this item has increased until, as I have said, on this occasion, 29 departments and branches of departments have, asked for additional funds for this pupose. In this, I do not include the business undertakings. I refer only to the normal administrative departments. A total of £620,347 is sought for this purpose. This includes five items under the Department of External Affairs, which I have grouped under one heading.
This pattern makes me wonder what is going on, Sir. Is this sort of thing merely the result of bad assessment by departmental officers of the requirements of their departments, or does it result from something that the Government has done during the financial year? It could be the result of some provision for the relief of unemployment; I do not know. However, I suggest that the Parliament ought to be given an explanation of the reason for this pattern that now appears in the Additional Estimates - a pattern different from any that appeared in earlier years. Members of the Parliament should concern themselves with this matter.
In the Additional Estimates for the business undertakings - the Post Office, the Commonwealth Railways and so on - I find that ten branches of departments are asking for a total of £1,647,000 for additional staff. One branch is asking for £547,000. I do not begrudge these branches the funds for which they have asked. The money may be required for good reasons. But the Parliament should be told why this additional provision is sought. I have not taken into account, in assessing these figures, provision sought for unexpected expenditure for the purpose of reclassifications and various allowances. I have taken into account only provision sought for additional staff. The reasons for the additional appropriation should be given to the Parliament.
– There was a bit of unemployment about, you know.
– I appreciate that. The Minister has been good enough to give me a reply.
– Accept it.
– I shall not. The honorable member for Perth need not think that be can quieten me as he tried to do once before to-day.
The Parliament is entitled to know the reasons why these additional amounts are sought. I ask the Minister for ‘the Interior (Mr. Freeth) to note these things. If the explanations that I seek were presented to the Parliament along with the Additional Estimates, much time could be saved in these discussions. The Minister has mentioned unemployment, and I agree that some of these additional amounts may be accounted for by measures taken for the relief of unemployment.
From my knowledge of the officers of the various departments and branches of departments who are responsible for the preparation of estimates, I find it impossible to understand how their assessments can be so extremely inaccurate on this occasion by comparison with their accuracy in previous years. The likely explanation is that something unusual and unexpected has occurred. If these additional funds are being sought for the purpose of improving the economic situation, I am not unhappy about that. But I am unhappy when the reasons for seeking these additional amounts are not explained to us.
I hope that we shall hear from the Public Accounts Committee something about these requirements for additional staff after the committee has examined these Additional Estimates, as it will do. Unfortunately; the committee is in a position similar to that of the person who bolts the stable door after the horse has gone. The Additional Estimates should be examined by the committee before they are presented to the Parliament for approval. If that were done, we would be able to have a report explaining in advance the reasons for the additional appropriations proposed.
While the Minister for the Interior is at the table, I shall take the opportunity to mention item 01, “Commonwealth offices and other buildings - Acquisition of sites and buildings, £550,100”, in Division No. 856 under the Department of the Interior in the Additional Estimates for Capital Works and Services. Was not that requirement anticipated? I could understand a request for an additional £10,000 or £20,000, but not for a substantial sum such as I have mentioned; it is a little too much. I know that things happen unexpectedly in every financial year and that decisions have to be made and action taken in some way to give effect to them. But surely the need for large sums like this can be anticipated.
In Division No. 860, we find the item, “ 01. Commonwealth offices and other buildings outside the Australian Capital Territory - Buildings, works, fittings and furniture, £280,000”. I would expect the need for an amount of that magnitude to be anticipated unless some most unusual unforeseen circumstance arose during the financial year. If such circumstances did arise, I am not unhappy about this proposed” appropriation. But the reason for it should be explained to the Parliament. We must satisfy ourselves that a department has not literally exceeded its duty by incurring expenditure additional to the amount appropriated by the Parliament in the Budget in the first place. We must realize that this is tremendously important, and I hope the Minister will be good enough to let me know later something about at least one of these items, which comes within the jurisdiction of bis department.
Now, like other members, I wish to make a couple of requests. First, I hope that in the forthcoming Budget the Government will make provision for the first moiety of a grant from the Commonwealth Government to the Western Australian Government towards the cost of the extension of the Comprehensive Water Scheme. The Minister at the table is a good Western Australian, and I feel sure that he will take my request to the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt). This scheme is vital to Western Australia, which at the moment is facing a not very secure future. We have had long periods of unseasonal weather and rather dry conditions. If these conditions continue for another week or two we will see how necessary is it, not only for Western Australia itself but also for the economy of the Commonwealth as a whole, to have the Comprehensive Water Scheme extended. We cannot afford to take risks with our water supplies when we are always likely to be in trouble with prolonged droughts.
– You have not got that on your own!
– I appreciate that I may not have it on my own, but the honorable member for Mallee can push his own barrow. This scheme is vitally necessary to Western Australia, and I hope that the Government will take notice of what I say. I will continue to plead this cause, because the extension of the scheme is one of the most necessary works in Western Australia at the present time.
Before I conclude I would like to say something about the remarks of honorable members concerning the PostmasterGeneral’s Department and its inability to meet the demand for the services that it provides. I do not condemn the Post Office for any shortcomings in this regard. An unfortunate set of circumstances has been responsible. Let me say that the postal service is magnificent, and the operations of the Post Office have been limited only by financial considerations. During my previous term in this Parliament I suggested that if the Post Office were t« fulfil its obligations as a business concern it should be allowed to run as a. business concern. Some considerable alterations were made to the methods of bookkeeping in the Post Office as a result of recommendations of the Public Accounts Committee, but that committee did not make the suggestion that I am now repeating; I made it on my own initiative. The Post Office should be a statutory corporation with power to borrow money for itself. It should not be dependent on the overall loan programme of the Commonwealth.
If money is tight or the demand for government funds is so heavy that there is not enough to go round, the Post Office has to take a small share of what is available. In my opinion it should be run on a business basis, with the PostmasterGeneral and his high officials acting as a board of directors and deciding what work should be done during the year. Then the department should ask the people to lend it the money that is required. The people would be happy to do so, and in this way we would overcome one of the major problems that the Post Office faces in obtaining money for capital works, which are mainly what the Post Office requires money for, and which are necessary if we are to have adequate postal and communications services in the areas which need them most. The first people who should be considered in the provision of postal facilities are the men, women and children in centres remote from the hospitals and doctors available in the metropolitan areas. Their needs are greatest, and the costs of providing postal services for them are high. The answer to the problem is to be found in a separate body corporate with power to borrow money in its own right, as is the case with instrumentalities like water boards in the various cities.
I support the bill, and I hope the Government will take some notice of my suggestions.
– There are two matters that I particularly wish to raise. Before doing so I shall make a preliminary remark or two about social service matters. On 11th April, 1962, the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton), in reply to a question on notice, said there were approximately 14,758 dependent wives of invalid pensioners in Australia. In other words, there are nearly 15,000 people who are being asked to live on an allowance of £2 7s. 6d. a week. The invalid husband gets £5 5s. a week, but the dependent wife gets only £2 7s. 6d. Most of us here have expressed our views that an age pensioner couple receiving £5 5s. each a week can live only in the most frugal manner. Yet we invite two adult people, who possibly have to pay rent, or who, if they own their home, have to pay local authority rates and water rates as well as maintaining their home, to live on £7 12s. 6d. a week, which is about half the basic wage - and do not forget that at least one of those people is in such a state of ill health that he is classified as at least 85 per cent, unfit for work. I ask the Minister for Social Services, the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) and the Government to consider sympathetically my request for an increase in the allowance to these wives of invalid pensioners.
I do not intend to cover all aspects of social services or to refer to all the deficiencies of this Government’s legislation, but there is one other matter that I feel I should mention. Last night I referred to the plight of civilian widows, and I hope the Minister responsible received the message. To-night I want to mention the pensioner medical service.
The honorable member for Moore (Mr. Leslie) told us about the beneficial social service legislation that this Government has introduced. In a period of twelve years, of course, any government must introduce a certain amount of beneficial social service legislation. But the honorable member did not, and obviously would not, mention the fact that this Government introduced a means test that hitherto did not exist.
It is fairly well known that until 1955 all pensioners, whether they received a full pension or only 5s. a week because of the means test, were entitled to participate in the pensioner medical service, which guaranteed them free public ward hospitalization and the services of a doctor at home or in the doctor’s surgery whenever required. It also guaranteed free provision of most of their pharmaceutical requirements. This was a most important benefit. In 1955 the Government brought down legislation that is now depriving more than 91,000 age, invalid and service pensioners of entitlement to this benefit. The Government did this by prescribing that if a pensioner received £2 a week or more in income in addition to his pension he would be automatically debarred from participation in the pensioner medical service. This service is tremendously important to such people. It not only eases their financial burden; it also relieves them of the anxiety and worry that they would otherwise experience if they happened to be sick for a long time.
In 1955, when the legislation was introduced, about 19,000 of these age, invalid and service pensioners were debarred from the pensioner medical service. The Minister did say that there were some pensioners eligible who, for reasons best known to themselves, had not applied for the benefit, but their numbers were insignificant. The 19,000-odd who were not getting the benefit in 1955 represented 3.4 per cent, of the total number of pensioners, which at that time was 571,984. But this situation, bad as it was, has deteriorated more than fourfold. I do not want to go through all the figures, but I should like to point out that up to 5 per cent, were debarred in 1956, and 7.4 per cent, were debarred in 1957. The percentage increased to 9.2 per cent, in 1958, and then dropped to 9 per cent. in 1959, but in 1960 it rose again to 11.6 per cent, and in 1961 to 13.1 per cent. In other words, one in approximately seven of these unfortunate people was debarred.
I think I can anticipate what the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Fox) is trying to say by interjection, namely, that the means test has been eased somewhat. I grant that, but if you take an objective view about this you will realize that a substantial part of the increased number of people are not receiving the pensioner medical service to-day simply because the £2 debarment imposed in 1955 is still being applied. The £2 debarment excludes a greater number to-day, because of the depreciation in the value of money, than it did in 1955. I think the honorable member for Henty and his colleagues will recognize the justice of my plea. Previously I have not found him hard to convince with a humanitarian appeal such as this, and I am sure that he will join with his colleagues on the Government side and do something about this measure before the Budget is presented in August.
I said that I did not want to dwell to-night on the Government’s responsibilities in the field of social services. I want to refer to what I regard as two very important matters. I regard them as fundamental. One of the good things about the last election is that it brought about some change of heart and of attitude, in the Government, and a change of tactics too, all of which was beneficial to the nation. For the first time in a lengthy period the Government was prepared to consult with various organizations representing bankers, industry both primary and secondary, and employers and employees. It was prepared to recognize that these sectors of the community had something to contribute in the way of suggestions for guiding the national economy. Those of us - the vast bulk of us - who have been affected by the switches and stops and goes of Government policy took it as a happy augury that the Government, as a penitential, was prepared to consult with these people and to receive their views on how the economy should be run. After all, they represent about 80 per cent, of the active force in the nation’s economy. With great gusto, and with a lot of publicity, the Government set out to save face by asking these people for their opinions, not that they had not been willing and active before the election in trying to put their views to the Government, but at that time the Government was not interested. The Labour Party took notice and benefited almost too much, because the Government was lucky to save its hide. So the Government took these people into consultation. So far so good.
What I am complaining about, and what I am sure will be the complaint of many other citizens and organizations in the community before very long, is that this is not a continuing process. It was just a postelection shock-inspired action by the Government. No continuing consultative committee has been set up to express the views, attitudes, and decisions, and to stress the problems, of industry as a guide to the Government. Back in 1945 the present Treasurer spoke about what he thought constituted the ideal Treasurer. He still must be holding on to those views. Accidentally last night, as I was looking through the “ Hansard “ report of that year for another matter, I came across a statement by the present Treasurer when speaking on the Commonwealth Bank Bill. He is reported in volume 182, of the “ Hansard “ report of 6th June, 1945, at pages 2600 and 2601 in this way -
A Treasurer is cither a very strong-minded gentleman, who is really responsible to no one but himself - 1 have always heard it urged that a good Treasurer will not let any one but himself know what is happening with the country’s finances - or else he is a gentleman who is directly responsive to the influences that the caucus can impose upon him. Whether he is strong enough to ignore caucus or is sensitively responsive to its pressure, influences will be operating on Treasury policy which will not make for economic stability in this country.
In other words, the present Treasurer was outlining to the nation on that occasion some of the alternatives. His predisposition seemed to be towards the strongminded Treasurer who took no one into consultation, but thought that decisions were best made when made by himself alone. I should hate to think that that was in fact the Treasurer’s view. I should like to think that the Government’s gesture in FebruaryMarch of this year, when it went into consultation with industry, was an indication that it was getting around to what other advanced democratic countries in the world are doing, namely, planning on a national basis. The words “ national planning “ which were regarded as dirty words a few years ago have now become acceptable. One finds references to them in all kinds of publications these days.
I noticed in the April, 1962, quarterly survey of the Australia and New Zealand Bank an advocacy of the need for joint planning between government :nd industry, not for just a few months or even for a year during the currency of one Budget, but for a period of years. I have noticed references to joint planning in the current issue of “ Impetus “. I should like to read certain extracts from the January-March issue of “ Review “, the bulletin of the Institute of Public Affairs. The extracts which I shall read are in volume 16, No. 1. Under the heading, “ National Economic Planning”, it states -
Several things have contributed to this reawakening of interest in national economic planning. Perhaps the most important is the spectacular progress achieved in recent years by the French economy in which planning is a prominent feature.
The article then goes on in this way -
Just recently, the British Government seems to have taken a leaf out of France’s book by establishing a National Economic Development Council comprising leading industrialists and trade unionists and government representatives, supported by a full-time staff of economic and statistical experts.
What a revolution it would be if the Government were to come forward and establish something of the kind in Australia instead of following its present fits-and-starts policy; this so-called adjusting policy which the Government has been following in recent years; this policy which makes it impossible for industry to know with any certainty what its position will be for anything more than a few months in advance. Would it not be grand if some such organization as has been established in the United Kingdom were established in Australia? The article continues -
It has been argued, mainly from French experience, that the advantage of setting four-year national targets of growth for the economy as a whole, and of output for the main industries (based upon carefully worked-out projections of demand) is that the very process of establishing targets goes a long way to ensuring that the targets will, in fact, be attained.
In other words, the actual establishment and co-ordination of goals is in itself a motivating force and an impetus within the economy. What a difference it would be if industry, commerce, the trade union movement, employers’ organizations and the Government got together to establish a fouryear national development plan for Australia. What a sign of efficiency it would be! On a recent visit to the Snowy Mountains project I ascertained that for a time in the early stages there was considerable waste of money and man-power simply because men finished jobs ahead of time and proper provision had not been made for their re-allocation to other jobs. I do not want to dwell at length on the matter of planning, but this is not the first time that I and other members have raised this matter in this Parliament. In fact, it was one of the first matters I raised on coming to the Parliament. I postulated then and still postulate what a grand thing it would be if the Government got around, within its own realm, to co-ordinating its migration programme with its programmes for housing, hospitals, education, the provision of water supplies, road-building, the decentralization of industry and so on. Can the Government sincerely and honestly say that it has an organization which gives continuous, special and professional attention to this job of co-ordinating public endeavour let alone co-ordinating it with private enterprise?
I want also to-night to speak about another matter which I have mentioned in this place a good many times. I refer to the Commonwealth Government’s responsibility for education. I feel no obligation to go through all the statistical details that have been established by the most authoritative sources in the land. Our most eminent educationists and many responsible citizens in the community have referred to the critical situation in Australian education. Despite what the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) says, it cannot be denied that education on all levels in Australia - even university education, on which we have prided ourselves for our liberality - is in a critical condition.
The Leichhardt stadium conference in I960 was attended by 3,000 representatives of all political parties, all kinds of employer and employee organizations, local government, the pastoral industry and just about every industrial and professional organization in Australia. All of them unanimously pleaded with the Government urgently to answer the call for special federal assistance to primary, secondary and technical education. That plea was followed by petitions to this Parliament, and they were not signed by an insignificant number of people. The first was signed by over 130,000 people. The second petition, which was presented last year, was signed by over 250,000 citizens. Many more signatures could have been obtained. That was the expression of the mass demand or, if you like, the strong request of the people that this Parliament should recognize its obligations in the matter. It has been said in this House that the State authorities have done a good job in education. They have, and it is hard to expect that they will be able to do more. New South Wales alone is expending this year £70,000,000 of its Budget on education. No matter what is desired or how urgent the position is, New South Wales could not be expected to spend more.
I referred in this House the other night to a meeting at Randwick, in Sydney, on 25th November last, of educationists. Indeed, it was one of the most representative gatherings of eminent educationists that have been held. That gathering directed attention not only to the general needs of primary and secondary education but also to the special plight of science in our secondary and tertiary educational institutions. I will refer further to that later. If it had not been for the economic depression that we have just gone through there would have been an additional 70,000 boys - not boys and girls - coming onto the labour market this year than was actually the case. I have evidence of that in the high schools in my own electorate, which expected to have two fourth-year classes this year but actually have four, because a great many pupils have not been able to obtain positions on leaving school and the youngsters have had to continue their studies. Once again we have an instance of the shifting back onto the States of what would have been the responsibility of the Commonwealth Government, namely, to provide employment for these young people or alternatively pay them the unemployment benefit. The States have now been requested to provide the extra educational facilities to accommodate these young people.
Dr. A. R. Hall, of the Australian National University, has directed attention to this trend for youngsters to stay on longer at school. He has ascertained that whereas in 1954 only 21 per cent, of the sixteenyearolds stayed on at school, the figure has now climbed to 32.1 per cent. In 1954, only 10 per cent, of the seventeen-year-old youths were still at school and to-day the figure is 20 per cent., having doubled in that short time. Is it any wonder that the educational institutions of our States are in the position that they are in to-day? Surely it is not necessary for me to keep on getting up in this Parliament to try to convince the Government that this is a desperate position for parents and constitutes a great danger to this country! We have relatively few people in this vast continent, and if we are not prepared to train our citizens not only is our future comfort in jeopardy but also our very freedom and survival are at stake. Yet the Prime Minister waves the issue aside. He says the States are doing a good job in the education field and he does not think it is necessary to react to the present position as a crisis or as deserving special Commonwealth consideration.
If the Prime Minister is not convinced, no matter how eminent the authorities who put the statistics to him, and if he wants to be convinced, why does he not order an inquiry to be held into primary, secondary and technical education in the Commonwealth of Australia? One of the things which are aggravating the burden on the States is that the universities are not able to cope with the situation. I think every university in Australia to-day has been obliged to impose quotas in practically every faculty. What is the result? Many youngsters who get the leaving certificate or matriculate - very able youngsters - have not been able to go to a university. There are not enough scholarships to aid those who want to go to a university and many parents have not the resources to send them there. The number of Commonwealth scholarships tenable at universities runs into about 4,000 this year, but there are three or four times as many students seeking the scholarships. As the result of this, students are forced now to seek admission to teachers’ colleges or technical colleges run by the States.
I hope that the present inquiry which is being conducted into tertiary education will closely examine this aspect. At present there is legislation before the House to assist the teaching of young doctors in our hospitals - an extension of the province of the universities - and I hope that similar legislation will be introduced to assist the training of teachers and the higher echelon of technical education and that all of this will come under the wing of the Commonwealth. I do not think there will be any constitutional problem in that respect. I hope, too, that something will be done to remove the frustration of would-be university students who cannot now gain entrance to these already overburdened institutions. At present parents are not receiving the consideration they should be getting from the Government. Most parents to-day aspire for their children to continue their education to sixteen or seventeen years of age. But there is no provision for the extension of child endowment, small as it is, to children beyond the age of sixteen years.
There is no provision to give taxation rebates to students doing part-time education. I have in mind technical college students particularly. The expense they undertake, or that is carried on their behalf by their parents, is not allowable as a tax reduction. We have been a bit generous recently to primary producers and secondary industry by way of taxation concessions. What about consideration for these youngsters who are equipping themselves to be of value to the country by gaining skills? Again, the expenses of full-time students beyond the age of 21 years cannot bc claimed as deductions for income tax purposes. These are matters in which the Commonwealth has an undisputed right. I ask the Government to do something about them.
The plight of technical education is well outlined in a book that has been circulated by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) entitled “Training for Skilled Occupations”. Possibly the position as far as apprenticeships are concerned is worse than the position at the levels of education that I have mentioned. The intake of apprentices in 1960 was hardly greater than in 1956 despite the fact that in the meantime the work population of Australia - those receiving wages and salaries - had increased by over 250.000. The proportion of fifteen-year-old males who were apprenticed in 1956 was 30.1 per cent.; but by 1960 it had declined steeply to 23.4 per cent. The building industry is one of the industries that have been hardest hit, and employers are not taking on their quota of apprentices. Of course, the economic position has a lot to do with that.
I suggested, in asking a question this morning, that the Government should give encouragement to responsible employers to take on their appropriate quota of apprentices by allowing the employers to offset the cost of training apprentices against their pay-roll tax liability. That principle has been applied to the export trade. This country is suffering from a dearth of trained tradesmen. It is seeking them desperately overseas and irritating the United Kingdom by pinching trained people from that country. Why do we not give more incentive to our own employers to train apprentices? It is impossible for the States to do more than they are doing under the present financial relationship between them and the Commonwealth.
In answer to a question recently the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) indicated that whereas in 1949-50 the Commonwealth Government was paying £57,400,000 in interest on its loans, by 1960-61 that sum had declined to £51,000,000. In other words, there had been a reduction in the interest burden of 10.5 per cent. But what was the position of the State Governments? In 1949-50 they were paying £30,400,000 in interest; but by 1960-61 their interest burden had multiplied by almost four and was £115,400,000. So it is not possible for us to expect that the States will be able to handle the education problem on their own.
In conclusion, I want to say that the Government must recognize, first, that there is a very definite crisis in Austraiian education, and that this appears at all levels of the educational structure. Secondly, this fact not only is known to, and given authoritative expression by, eminent educationists and community leaders, but is also within the painful awareness of the mass of our citizens, many of whom realize quite clearly what lost educational opportunities mean to their own children and, more importantly, to our nation as a whole. Thirdly, whilst this mass of citizens are responsible -
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– Mr. Deputy Speaker, the planning and development of the building of the National Capital has been entrusted to the National Capital Development Commission which was set up several years ago. Unfortunately, in giving this task to the National Capital Development Commission the Government has failed to provide adequate finance for the amount of work that has to be undertaken. Canberra, at the moment, is in a stage of vary rapid development with the transfer to it of government departments, with its population increasing by over 5,000 a year, and with the commission faced with the task of providing not only homes and schools but also other public facilities which will be necessary for the increasing population. The commission also has to attend to the physical development of roads, bridges and services of all kinds.
Although a vote has been provided for the National Capital Development Commission which, compared with expenditure in previous years, is a staggering sum, it is proving inadequate for the task that the commission has been given. The Government has declined to give the commission an opportunity to budget for five years ahead. It is still limited to annual budgeting. It has no guarantee that the money provided this year will be equalled when the next Budget is introduced. I have always argued that the commission should be placed in a position similar to that of the Snowy Mountains Authority, which is able to plan its overhead expenditure over a period of years ahead. The result of the Government’s failure to provide adequately for the National Capital Development Commission has been to force the commission to reduce its housing programme.
The commission is faced with the task of providing housing for personnel of departments which are being transferred to Canberra, and for their families. The commission has also to provide, in a measure, for the needs of people who must come here to do the physical work of building the National Capital and of providing goods and services for the community. Faced with that task and with the knowledge that the funds provided are inadequate to do the job properly, the commission is reducing housing expenditure. It is endeavouring, with the funds available, to build as many houses - or as many dwellings - as possible. The emphasis now is on flats. The result is that the dwellings being constructed are becoming smaller and more inadequate to the needs of families. Recent housing development has included the construction of threebedroom houses of 8i squares which, as any honorable member will know, is an area completely inadequate to the needs of a family.
The types of construction are poor. It has been said quite accurately that housing in Canberra to-day is inferior in design, of inferior material and of inferior workmanship. That is no reflection on the workmen who are engaged on the task of housing construction. It is a reflection on the system of cut-throat tendering that has been encouraged, under which contractors must slum the job in order to fulfil the terms of their contracts.
We have had all sorts of housing development in recent years. We have had the one on Northbourne-avenue, which is the main avenue leading out of the city towards Sydney. There the commission tried an experiment. lt called in a consulting architect and said, “ Here is an area of land. We want you to design dwellings to house so many thousand people in this area.” As a result, we have what are described officially as “ vertical apartments “, but are described colloquially as “ three-storeyed mud huts “. They arc a shocking disgrace to the National Capital. They are a type of accommodation in which families should not be required to live, but people are forced into them because they can no longer undertake the interminable wait for a separate cottage which, as the honorable member for Braddon (Mr. Davies) rightly said, it is the aim of every family in this country to occupy. The housing development in Northbourneavenue is a copy of much of the development that has taken place in the new town of Stevenage, in the United Kingdom. Stevenage, I am informed, is itself a copy of a Russian housing development. Small wonder the people of Canberra have now appended to that type of development the title “Kremlin Court”. Incidentally, it is opposite “ Casbah “ on Northbourneavenue.
– They are the best treated people in Australia.
– The honorable member is rather wide of the mark if he thinks they are the best treated people in Australia. The honorable member should go and see how many of the houses in this city are of the demountable type, of the type situated at Narrabundah, and how many are of the monocrete type which has proved completely unsatisfactory for this climate. The Government built 960 monocrete houses, and two years ago the Minister admitted that 342 of them were damp. And they are still damp. Again, let him have a look at how many of them are the Riley-Newsum type imported from overseas. Let him have a look at how many are of the vertical type of apartment which is completely unsatisfactory for housing families, which provides inadequately for the growth in families, and which contributes to one greatly increasing problem in this community - that of juvenile delinquency - because this type of housing provides no place where children can be entertained, it offers no opportunity for proper family living, and the children have nowhere else to go but on the streets.
– Let the honorable member have a talk with the people responsible for welfare in this community. He will find that juvenile delinquency is a great and growing problem in this city. Canberra has the greatest percentage of juvenile delinquency of any city in the Commonwealth. In saying that, I am repeating what has been said officially in this city.
– What you are saying is that all the juvenile delinquents come from sub-standard homes.
– I am saying that a good standard of housing is one of the greatest counters to the development of juvenile delinquency. I say that if you give families an opportunity to live in decent surroundings there will be less likelihood of the development of anti-social activity, or of the problem that is now given the name “juvenile delinquency”.
– Some of the best citizens of this country have come from the lower standard homes, and you know it.
– I do not doubt that for a moment. I know that that is perfectly true; but I am talking about mass housing of the type now being provided in the National Capital. The honorable member for Braddon (Mr. Davies) spoke of it as un-Australian when referring to development elsewhere. Here in the National Capital we are building what is in many respects the most un-Australian town or city in the Commonwealth. I say that the present type of construction is bad in the degree that I have already referred to. It will confront governments and the authorities in this place with a tremendous problem in connexion with maintenance alone in the future. The housing being provided will become progressively more inadequate for the needs of the growing family. The honorable member for Perth (Mr. Chaney), or any other honorable member who is interested, can visualize for himself how impossible it is to provide for the needs of a growing family in the type of bousing that is being erected - 81 squares for a three-bedroom house! What living space is there in such a place? They are just boxes. There is no living space in them. How many families are accommodated in twobedroom flats?
– Do you say that will lead to juvenile delinquency?
– If the honorable member doubts it, I refer him to the social workers of the Department of the Interior and the magistrates of the Court of Petty Sessions. One of the magistrates is on record as having said that this city has the highest percentage of juvenile delinquency of any city in Australia.
The present population of this city is 60,000. It is the definite forecast of official sources that by 1970 the population will be 102,000- a projected increase of 42,000 in something like eight and a half years. Recently it was announced that development in the Woden district, out beyond
Yarralumla, envisages a population of 60,000, probably in the next fifteen years. That, of course, will include and overlap the 42,000 that I have already mentioned as being the increase projected between now and 1970. Tenders have been called for the first engineering works in the Woden development. These works will include - I am referring now to the official announcement by the National Capital Development Commission - the construction of access roads, water and sewerage mains and street and utility services for residential, shopping, school, church and park sites. The first houses in the new area should be completed and occupied in 1963, and the first public building - a primary school - will be built soon after the houses.
Ultimately, the 60,000 people will live in eleven suburbs, each of approximately 5,000 to 6,000 people. There will be main shopping centres, suburban shopping centres, churches, schools, clubs and some government offices. In addition, sites will be released for commercial and industrial development by private enterprise. That all sounds as though everything in the garden city will be lovely, with forward planning, forward thinking, and a real pressing on with the development of Canberra towards its final stature as the National Capital. I have heard it described as wonderful, as inspiring, as marvellous. But how is it to be achieved? I suggest that not sufficient thought has been given to that question. Will the Government provide adequate finance on a long-term basis for the National Capital Development Commission to put this dream into effect? Where will the huge work force come from? Where will they be housed? Does the development programme envisage that adequate and satisfactory housing will be provided for all those who will come here to build Canberra as well as for those who come to work in government departments, or toprovide goods and services in the growing ‘city? Or will many thousands of families have to content themselves with makeshift, crowded, sub-standard accommodation for years while they wait their turn to be allotted a pre-fab, a flat, a vertical apartment or a jerry-built house?
Latest statistics show that the average number of persons per occupied dwelling, including houses, flats and shared accommodation, is 3.82. The average number of persons per house is 4.08 while the average number per flat is 2.25, and the average in shared accommodation is 3.17. To house the 42,000 additional residents expected by 1970 will require at least 11,000 housing units. Even if we assume that 4,000 will live in hostels, we still will need 10,000 houses and flats. That is the requirement merely to house those who are yet to come. Add to that the needs of 3,700-odd applicants already on the waiting list for houses in Canberra, and the 1,400 already on the list for bachelor flats. At a conservative estimate, 3,000 units will be required to meet their immediate needs. That is to say, if the Government were to provide to-morrow sufficient housing for those who are actually on the waiting list and prepared to live in the housing offered, something like 3,000 units would be needed to house them.
Thus, before 1970, if every one is to be housed, we will need at least 13,000 housing units, plus hostel accommodation for about 4,000. This means that in the next eight and a half years we must build at the rate of over 1,500 units a year, between Government and private enterprise. The pattern of recent years has been a falling off in construction by the Government and an increase - although not of a parallel figure - in private home construction. The latest figures available from the Commonwealth Statistician show that in the financial year 1957- 58 the Government built 1,330 houses and flats in Canberra. They also disclose that for the year 1959-60, the Government built 1,176 houses and flats and that in 1960-61 it built only 868 houses and flats in Canberra. In the same three years, private construction rose from 273 in 1958- 59 to 443 in 1959-60 and to 579 in 1960-61. At the close of the last financial year, the Government had under construction 740 units and private enterprise had 602. But that is merely to provide for the housing needs of those who are here and those who are to come. We must also add the housing needs of families that must be moved from the prefabricated houses, flats and other temporary dwellings.
If we are to build all the houses and flats, the hostels, shops, offices, churches, schools, halls, theatres and everything else that goes to make up a developing community, and provide roads, light, power, water sewerage, telephones and so on, we will need a vast work force. We will need a much greater work force than we have in Canberra at present. Then comes the problem of housing these people. It is quite certain that the skilled tradesman to-day will not be content with the type of hostel accommodation that has been provided in the past. No longer will men be satisfied to come to this place and leave their families elsewhere. They will have to be provided with family accommodation, and this is another problem facing the Government.
I suggest that there is a tremendous task ahead of the Government, through the National Capital Development Commission. A great deal of planning and a great deal of thought are needed. I would hope that there would be a change in the present policy and the present forms of construction, for one thing. What I have said here to-night as to the type of materials used, the design and methods of construction of houses is not just my view. I have given the views of people concerned in the industry and of workmen engaged in the projects. They know the standard of work in what they are building to-day is poor and they know the maintenance on these places will be excessive.
Recently, in the suburbs of Downer and Dickson, the commission in building houses has tried a method that was tried years ago in England and discarded. In these brick veneer houses, the internal walls have no studs. They are made of two sections of hardboard with what is called egg-crate material . between. These sections are pinned to a 2 by 1 board in the ceiling and the wall is suspended from the ceiling structure. Because there are no studs in the wall, there is nothing on which to swing a door except the corner. These houses have 8-feet ceilings and the door is 8-feet high, from the floor right up to the ceiling. Imagine that in this climate! Even if the room is made reasonably warm, once the door is opened all the warm air goes out. But other problems arise in this construction. A building foreman of my acquaintance, a Scotsman, who is an experienced man and a realist, said, “ I wonder what would happen if I slammed the door “. He slammed the door and the wall split from top to bottom. That is the type of housing that is being built to-day. While it can be made to look reasonably attractive now, the maintenance on these units will be colossal, and those who are engaged in the industry know it. They have tried to put their views before the Government, but the Government, the commission and the authorities will not listen to them.
I would suggest to the Government that the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Freeth), who is also the Minister for Works, might profitably call a conference of all the people concerned with the building industry in Canberra - not merely a conference of architects and planners, but let us have around the conference table some of the building contractors. Let us have some of the carpenters, the brick-layers, the ceiling fixers and the plasterers around the conference table. Let us call into conference also the men on the maintenance staff of the Department of Works. Let us have a full and frank discussion about the type of building at present being constructed in Canberra. I will guarantee that the results of such a conference would shock the Minister and the Parliament. What is being built to-day will be a disgrace to the city in the future and a reproach to the Government responsible for it.
Housing is inadequate and construction is faulty. The design of buildings is not suited to Australian conditions. Indeed, we have seen these faults repeated over and over again, not only in the field of housing but also in the field of office construction. Recently, new offices have been built in several sections of the city. For instance, the Civic offices have been built. Some people find some beauty in them. They have a courtyard with a fountain between them. But ask the people who work in these offices what they are like. Offices of this design may be all right in the English climate where the sun is welcome, but in this climate it is almost impossible to work in these buildings in the summer months. I am told by senior officers of the Department of the Interior, who are working there, that it is almost impossible, because of the heat of the great masses of glass in the walls of the building, to work in any degree of comfort. One of them said to me, “ If you open the window to let a little air in, the noise of the Venetian blinds nearly drives you mad.”
Talk to some of the senior Navy, Army or Air Force officers in the defence blocks at Russell Hill and they will give you the same story. They say that these places are shocking, that the working conditions in them are bad. They are bad because of the design, because of the poor construction and because of the failure to provide adequately for the circulation of air for cooling and to enable people to work in reasonable comfort. Even the Administrative Building suffers because of its design. There is a good deal to be said for the calling of the type of conference I have suggested.
In debates in this House on previous occasions I have mentioned the condition in which many hundreds of families are living. I am speaking now of people who are living and working here and who are waiting for houses. The waiting time today for a modest three-bedroom brick veneer cottage is more than 38 months. The people being allotted houses now are those who registered in February, 1959. People are living in any sort of makeshift accommodation they can get, or they are living in shared accommodation and may be paying fantastically high amounts for the use of one room in which the whole family must live.
Honorable members on the Government side have doubted my statements. On one occasion I was challenged to show some of these places to honorable members opposite, and I would be happy to do so. However, to save them making the journey around the city, they need only look at the report of the recent census. In Table 12, which deals with occupied dwellings in the Australian Capital Territory according to class - that is class of construction and not class of people; fortunately that concept has gone from Canberra - listed under “ Private dwellings “ are tents, sheds, huts, &c. At 30th June, 1961, in the metropolitan urban area of Canberra, 127 families were living in tents, sheds or huts. At the time of the previous census in 1954, 80 families were living under these conditions. I come then to the section dealing with the sharing of private houses. This information was obtained only where a separate householder’s schedule was issued to the family sharing some one else’s house. In 1954, 303 families were living in shared accommodation. At 30th June, 1961, 400 families were living under these conditions. These figures apply to the metropolitan urban area of Canberra.
If the Government wants to count its achievements, it can count two major achievements in Canberra. It has increased the waiting time for housing and it has increased the number of families living in tents, sheds, huts and shared accommodation. The Government has the answer to this problem in its own hands, because it knows with absolute certainty what the population of Canbera will be a year ahead, five years ahead or ten years ahead.
The whole growth of this place depends on government activity and the transfer of departments to Canberra. It was said in Canberra recently that this city was no longer a government town; that it was rapidly becoming a regional city in its own right. That sounds marvellous, but it is completely untrue. If we took government out of this place it would fall to pieces like a pack of cards. It is only government activity that keeps it alive. We can talk about the transfer of companies and of business enterprises being established here. They are being established because Canberra already exists and has a future plan ahead of it, but take government out of this community and what would be left? It would be flatter than Captain’s Flat.
The Government has control of the transfer of departments. It knows exactly what its commitments will be and has in its hands the means to put proper planning into effect, to provide adequately for the needs of the people who are here and the needs of the people who are yet to come. We have heard a great deal to-day in another debate of the people of Canberra, but the people who are being transferred here now are being brought from their established homes in Melbourne, Sydney and other places in the course of their employment. Because of that transfer, they lose the right they had and cherished - or perhaps took for granted - to vote and elect a member of Parliament with full voting rights. When they are transferred here, they lose that right and other amenities and facilities that were available to them in the cities from which they came. I hope that the planning of this city will be forward planning and that it will follow consultation and discussion on the urgent need to consider the housing problem in Canberra.
.- The honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr. J, R. Fraser) made a remark - admittedly in passing - that if we build sub-standard homes, the natural result is delinquency. I interjected at the time and 1 rise to oppose his statement. If the honorable member’s statement were true, the great majority of members on both sides of the House would have been delinquents. There are many people to-day talking about juvenile delinquency but they never admit that the fundamental reason for juvenile delinquency is simply lack of parental control. If one studies delinquency all over Australia it will be found that delinquents come from the best of homes, just as they come from the worst of homes. It depends entirely on parental control. To say that delinquency automatically follows from sub-standard dwellings or poor areas is an insult to some very fine parents - the type of parents who brought up people like the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) and, indeed, many members of this Parliament.
– I did not say poor homes; I said mass home construction.
– That is all right. We had a debate this morning on full voting rights for the member for the Australian Capital Territory. My electorate was mentioned because I represent some 32,000 people, but in Perth there are some 300,000 people in the electorates of Stirling, Swan, Curtin and Fremantle and my own. Those people in Perth generally have very little idea of what goes on in Canberra, but in general they are jealous of what the Canberra people get. I know that in Perth we pay fairly high municipal rates which, are not paid in Canberra. We pay fairly high water rates.
– Rates are paid in Canberra.
– I said that we pay fairly high rates. I can remember years ago when the people of Canberra had their nature strips made by the Department of the Interior and had their hedges cut. All these things were stopped because Canberra was starting to become a city. One of the first things to do in Canberra is to get some sort of municipal control of the place. The people of Canberra have to realize, as they do in every other city, that there are many things you have to pay for yourself if you want to have them. Personally, I think the only mistake made with Canberra was in putting it here in the first place; but now that it is here, I am all in favour of Canberra being developed as a National Capital of which everybody in Australia can be proud. Therefore, I have no complaint about the lakes scheme or the construction of something that will be looked upon in a hundred years’ time as the work of somebody with a little bit of vision.
I think it was the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) who once criticized the administration of Canberra. He said there was nothing in Canberra to compare with the Capitol in Washington or buildings in other national capitals which were built to stand the ravages of time, and set standards of style as a monument to the thinking of somebody in the community. We are slaves to the press here, and are frightened to do something in case there will be criticism. We forget that we are a national Parliament and should be interested in the development of a nation - not of an electorate, a State of part of a State.
Everywhere we hear talk about the dangers to democracy. The greatest danger to democracy in Australia is in this House of Parliament. To-day, this Parliament took eight hours to pass a piece of legislation with which no one disagreed in principle. I refer to the Dairying Industry Bill. I know there are three or four members leaving the chamber now, and these are the people who perhaps in ten or fifteen years time - if they are still alive - will wonder what has happened to the country when the rights and freedoms they believe in and could fight for suddenly disappear. We ourselves will be destroyers of these freedoms.
We took eight hours to pass a measure with which no one disagreed. Eight hours of the National Parliament’s time was taken up by honorable members speaking for 30 minutes each, purely with an eye to the electorates they represented. Until we get to the stage when members can stand up and speak on matters of great national importance, and how they believe those matters should be decided, we are not fit to call ourselves an Australian Parliament. This destruction of democracy by talking in this fashion is the first step towards dictatorship in Australia. In adjournment debates, we hear honorable members expressing opinions about dangerous trends in this country, when members of Parliament are the worst offenders.
If any dairy farmer in Australia who studies the report of the debate on the dairying industry in this Parliament over the past few days can find one statement in the report that will make him a better or richer dairy farmer, I will be extremely surprised and will be prepared to give a garden party for every honorable member who took part in the debate. This is what I believe we should do: We should devote the time of the Parliament to those questions that will build a better nation for ourselves and those who come after us. Unless we do this, we shall play right into the hands of the forces which everybody says are pitted against us.
The main difference, and the fundamental difference, between the forces which are opposed to Western civilization and ourselves and are out to destroy us is that those who are opposed to us know where they want to go. They know which path they will follow, but we are not quite clear in our own minds which path we want to take. We are too much tied up with considerations relating to our electors. Our actions are governed, not by what we believe, but by what we think will influence the votes cast in the ballot-box.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, if my remarks this evening have any merit, it will probably be because they will be brief. I would like to put the point of view that we have arrived at a time when we need a national stocktaking. This is a time when we should reassess the relationship between needs and resources. If Great Britain is to go into the European Common Market, we are now on the threshold of a new era in this country. This will not be the first new era which we have entered. We can perhaps take the period from federation to the First World War as one era, the period after that war to the great depression as another, and the period from the beginning of the Second World War until to-day as yet another. There are reports that Japan is interested in forming an Asian common market. I suggest that it is time the Government set about a national stocktaking, and most of my remarks this evening will be directed, in one way or another, to this thought.
First of all, I would say that there is still a great lack of confidence in business and a great deal of uncertainty about the future. I believe that this is due not only to the after-effects of the Government’s economic measures but also to the uncertainty caused by Great Britain’s proposal to join the Common Market. When the Government determines the exact effects of Great Britain’s entry into that organization, it should present to the Parliament and the people of Australia a studied analysis of the effects of that development on each individual industry. I believe that unless this is done, and until it is done, business activities in this country will continue to suffer from a great lack of confidence.
It is true that the unemployment position has improved somewhat. We give credit to the Government for the measures which have brought about this improvement. All honorable members on both sides of the House will, I am sure, be delighted at the small improvement that has been effected. But I am very much afraid that, although we shall continue to effect some improvement in the position in succeeding months, unemployment will abide with us for much longer than many honorable members on the Government side of the House realize.
I believe that Queensland has special needs in relation to the problem of unemployment. I do not believe that all the unemployment in Queensland has been brought about by the credit squeeze and by the Government’s economic policies generally. Many sections of the community in Queensland are suffering greatly from unemployment to-day. Mr. Deputy Speaker, I would direct your attention and the attention of the House in the first place to the position of young people, and especially those who are leaving school. In the Brisbane metropolitan area, just under 1,000 boys and a similar number of girls have not be.en placed in employment after passing at the end of last year the Junior examination, which is the equivalent of the
Intermediate examination in other States. Many of these young people, on the recommendation of the State Government and the Department of Education, have returned to school and are now in their subsenior year. I support and echo the remarks of the honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds), who said that keeping these young people at school transfers to the States some of the responsibilities and obligations of the Federal Government. Many parents, having accepted in good faith the advice by State Government officials to send their children back to school, do not realize that they are not solving but are merely postponing the solution of the problem.
Many young people who have told me that they wish to be apprenticed are now in the sub-Senior year at secondary schools in Queensland. At the age at which they will complete the sub-Senior year, or the Senior year, should they go on, they will be too old to be apprenticed. I support the view that any education is rewarding if it makes for a full and better life and for a better understanding of the world around us. But I also believe that the Senior examination is of no particular advantage to young people unless they wish to matriculate and undertake a university course or unless they wish to enter the Third Division of the Commonwealth Public Service or take employment with certain of the banks or a select group of other employers in various fields. Therefore, I believe that keeping at school these young people who want jobs or who wish to be apprenticed merely postpones the solution of the problem of unemployment and places an additional burden on the States. 1 hope that the Commonwealth Government, when it prepares its Budget later in the year, will give some attention to this matter.
I was pleased to see the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) table a report on training for skilled occupations. Throughout Australia to-day, the question of apprenticeship is exercising the minds of all people who are concerned with juvenile employment. We find that in Brisbane a great number of young people who wish to be apprenticed and who would normally take up apprenticeships have been unable to do so because of the effects of the credit squeeze. In the final analysis, this means that they have missed the boat. When the young people who passed the Junior examination last year, and returned to school this year because they could not find jobs, finally leave school, they will not be considered for apprenticeship, because plenty of others who pass the Junior examination at the end of this year will then be available to take up all the apprenticeships offering. This means that many young people will end. up in dead-end jobs, many being labouring jobs, at some time in the future.
I would like the Department of Labour and National Service not merely to compile statistics and leave it to the Treasury to solve our economic problems, but also to take up the idea of perhaps preparing a White Paper on the restoration of full employment in the light of present economic circumstances, Great Britain’s possible entry into the European Common Market and associated economic factors.
I would like to mention especially, Mr. Deputy Speaker, the position of the older men in our community. This is a matter which I raised in my maiden speech. Many men who lost their employment during the credit squeeze have become unemployed at the worst possible time in their lives. Many of the older ones among them have teenage children. People who lost their jobs in some industries have been unable to find other work in the same industries. Many of our industries have been affected more or less permanently by the credit squeeze and great numbers of employees in those industries have been thrown on the labour market in middle age. They are having great difficulty in obtaining rewarding employment and, indeed, any employment at all. I ask the Minister, as I asked him on a previous occasion, to consider conducting a propaganda campaign to convince employers of the value of the middle-aged man to industry. This should be done in order to restore these people to employment. As I have said, many of them have teenage families, and they are still able to play an rewarding part in the life of this country if they are given an opportunity.
The problems of automation and mechanization are coming upon us at an ever-increasing pace. We in Queensland have seen some of the effects of these new developments in the sugar industry and in other industries where bulk handling has been introduced. We know that automation and mechanization are a sign of the times and that we shall have more of them in the future. I think that all honorable members on both sides of the House realize that in many ways automation is a good thing. Unfortunately, it results in many soul-destroying jobs.
A few years ago, I visited a glass works in Brisbane where beer bottles came off an endless belt. A man was operating a machine which made bottle tops. All he was required to do was to see that the machine continued to turn them out, and to shift the boxes occasionally when they were full. I asked him, “ How do you like the job? “. He replied that it was the best job he had ever had. 1 am very much afraid that this consequence of automation will become increasingly common. The operative in the glass works may have felt happy, but the great majority of Australians, and certainly members of this House, would not like to be employed in monotonous and soul-destroying jobs, if I may so describe them. I think that the results of a study of this sort of thing ought to be incorporated in any future report by the Department of Labour and National Service on employment in this country.
Sitting suspended from 11.30 p.m. to 12 midnight.
Friday, 11 May 1962
– I feel that the Commonwealth Government should accept some responsibility for primary and secondary education in addition to the responsibility it has accepted for tertiary education. I give credit to the Government for having done a great deal of good work with regard to universities. I believe that this is one phase of its activities that will be remembered to the credit of this Government in the future. But I point out that in the long-term the success of this work in tertiary education depends on the foundation being laid in the fields of primary and secondary education. I believe that an investigation along the lines suggested by the honorable member for Barton would show that while our policy may be very effective at the university level it is a short term policy when one considers the complete educational picture.
Let me give the House some figures with regard to the proportion of national income spent on education in various countries. I shall give the figures for only half a dozen countries. They are as follows: -
There are about 20 countries that spend a greater proportion of their national income on education than Australia docs. I think it is only fair that some Commonwealth assistance should be given to the States for the extra burdens they have to carry in providing education services.
There are a couple of matters of general interest that 1 would like to speak about. One concerns the Postmaster-General’s Department. I refer to the £10 fee for the installation of a telephone. I know of several cases in which age pensioners have suffered great hardship because they have been forced to change their place of residence and to pay an extra fee for the installation of a telephone. I can cite one case in particular, in which an age pensioner had to move because the house in which she had lived for many years was sold. She had to go to another suburb in Brisbane and was forced to pay £10 to have a telephone installed in her new place of residence. Five weeks later, in circumstances completely beyond her control, her new place of residence was also sold, and once again she had to move, ft was quite a hardship for that pensioner to find £20 within a very few weeks to have her telephone transferred from place to place. 1 have received splendid co-operation from officers of the Postmaster-General’s Department in other matters, but of course, they can do only what they are allowed to do under the law. When the Government is preparing its Budget I suggest that it should consider allowing pensioners to have telephones transferred, and perhaps installed, without having to pay the £10 fee.
There is one other anomaly to which I would like to direct attention, and in this case it concerns social service benefits I refer to the plight of an age pensioner who has a wife very much younger than he. Most honorable members will agree that great hardship can be suffered by a man who retires and who has a wife perhaps ten years younger than he is. The couple then have to live on a single pension for five years. This is not a theoretical proposition. I think we all know of cases in which people suffer hardship because of these circumstances, and I ask the Government to give some attention to this matter when it prepares its Budget.
There are two other matters, which are perhaps of local interest, that I would like to mention. One concerns the Commonwealth’s building programme in Brisbane. lt is true that there is a certain amount of Commonwealth building being undertaken in the metropolitan area of Brisbane. A Taxation Branch building was completed recently and it is a great asset to the city. The Postmaster-General’s Department is building a new mail exchange in Romastreet, and I am happy to say it has completed a new post office building at North Brisbane. These buildings will also be assets to the city. But I would like to suggest that the Government could continue to provide employment for people in the building industry by looking further into the possibilities of extending its building programme in Brisbane. It might consider completing the Commonwealth offices adjacent to Anzac Square to provide accommodation for many Commonwealth departments which are at present occupying rented premises.
I would like to bring to the notice of the Minister for Supply the position of drivers and motor mechanics in his department. I asked a question in the House some time ago on this matter. It is not generally realized that a great number of motor mechanics and drivers are temporary employees, having been employed under the provisions of the Supply and Development Act, which was originally passed in 1939 and was amended, I think, in 1958. If drivers are employed in, say, the Postmaster-General’s Department, they serve a probationary period of six months and are then appointed to the permanent staff. In the Department of Supply there are many men who have rendered excellent service to honorable members on both sides of the House and certainly to Ministers, but because they were appointed under the Supply and Development Act they are not eligible for permanent employment.
I suggest that the Government should give some attention to the position of these drivers and also of motor mechanics. I realise full well that there are many people employed in the Department of Supply, working in munitions plants and like establishments, whom it might not be desired to appoint permanently. But I feel that many of these other temporary public servants might well be appointed permanently, and I suggest that if it did appoint them the Government would not only be helping the men by giving them security, but also would be helping itself. There are some people who take the view that temporary employment makes for better staff discipline. I do not subscribe to that view. I believe that a permanent public servant, or a permanent employee in any position, has more to lose than a temporary employee, and so will give better service.
Finally I wish to refer to the statement made by the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer) about the Italian community. I would like to associate myself with his comments. While it is true that from any nation in the world we will get, from time to time, immigrants who are undesirable, no matter how efficient our investigation procedures may be, it is also true that the Italian community, almost in its entirety, consists of law-abiding people who are good citizens of this country. Many of them are in Brisbane, both in the electorate that I have the honour to represent and in the electorate of my friend, the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Don Cameron). Having visited many of them in their homes, I can fully subscribe to the view expressed by the Minis, ter, and I congratulate him on the statement that he made.
– Permit me to pay tribute to the pungent analysis made by the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. Cross) and the critical and effective manner in which he has presented his case on the legislation that is before the House. The honorable member is a typical member of the group of excellent new members who have come to this Parliament from Queensland. There is no question of the calibre of these new members. There is no questions about the fact that they won their seats because of their sheer merit and the merit of Labour Party policy. There is little doubt that their numbers will be augmented at the next election, when we see the happy day when the Government will have made its final appearance before the people as a government.
First, I wish to deal with education. I agree with the views expressed that this Government should assist with additional grants to the States for the financing of their work in primary, secondary and technical education. This matter is of paramount importance to Australia. We are lagging behind the nations of the world in the sphere of technical education and in our ability to provide our youth with the scientific training which is most essential for the future industrial well-being of this nation. We have reached the stage to-day at which children cannot be absorbed in the existing schools. In New South Wales the State Labour Government is spending something like £76,000,000 on education and still we have the spectacle of the New South Wales Premier pleading, on his own behalf and on behalf of the other Premiers, for financial assistance. As recently as 16th February last, they directed the Prime Minister’s attention to his failure to live up to an earlier undertaking that he would cause Cabinet to analyse and consider propositions advanced by the Premiers in relation to the establishment of a committee to investigate primary, secondary and technical education in Australia. Mr. Heffron and the other Premiers felt that such a step was necessary because of the gradual retrogression which is occurring in the various States due to their inability, simply through the lack of funds, to cope with the demand for education. Although the New South Wales Labour Government has built over 1,000 class-rooms a year for the past ten years, many children still are being taught in an ineffective way in overcrowded prehistoric buildings which are not blessed with the .necessary equipment or adequate teachers and which give the children no reasonable chance to absorb the education which to-day is so essential.
This world has turned over several times since I was a boy. In those days you could get away with an elementary education, but to-day you cannot do so. It is not possible to-day for a young boy to obtain work in the heavy industries at Port Kembla unless he has at least the Intermediate Certificate. He will not be employed even to sweep the floor of the mess-room or to do any other menial job unless he has such a certificate. Because of the impoverishment of the States due to the Government’s failure to take positive action on the plea made by the Premiers, the labour market is being flooded with boys and girls who have not reached the Intermediate Certificate standard. Sometimes economic pressures on the family or the children’s own lack of desire to proceed to a formal academic examination is behind this position. Many of those boys would do well if they were diverted to technical colleges, but they are being denied that opportunity.
Associated with that position is the devastating psychological effect upon them as individuals and the breeding of a type of young people which is not good for the nation of to-day and will not be good for the nation of to-morrow. These boys will become the adults of to-morrow who must accept their share of responsibility but because they have a chip on their shoulder due to their failure when they left school to find a place in the economic sun, so to speak, they are not likely to be assets to this nation. We cannot afford to permit such conditions to continue. We are losing great service, talent and brain-power. Unless the abilities which are inherent in every human being are developed, the boys concerned will fall by the wayside along the road of life. Through the grace of God, many men in high places in this country to-day succeeded in obtaining an academic education which saved them from doing a much more menial task. We must have firmly in our minds the fact that no child in Australia should be denied the opportunity to have an effective and complete education. The responsibility for that rests fairly and squarely on the Government which, since 1949, has controlled the purse-strings of the nation. Since then we have seen the virtual collapse of education in various spheres in a manner which is bewildering and alien to the concepts of the average Australian.
The mighty United States of America, Western Europe, the United Kingdom and the Soviet are organizing their youth in an intensive way and are placing great emphasis on the need for trained minds. We however are wasting our material because of the lack of funds. This Government controls the purse-strings and the people demand that it rise to the occasion and provide the additional funds to the States so that we may have an adequate education system. The Prime Minister has failed in this regard. As I have said, as recently as February last, the Premier of New South Wales, speaking for the other Premiers, applied additional pressure on the Government for funds. So far the Cabinet has remained unresponsive.
From a discussion of education I pass automatically to the cancer which is eating this nation - unemployment. There is every indication that the existing unemployment will continue and will increase. I refer particularly to the intrusion of automative and mechanical devices into various spheres of our productive effort. We are entering a period of extreme mechanization. The figures in relation to unemployment have become firm. Although there was a drop of some 19,000 last month in the number of registered unemployed, the position is still disastrous. Here is a brief analysis: Two years ago we had 54,000 registered unemployed. In March, 1962, the number had risen to 101,000. That is a stupendous increase. Taking those figures as the hard core of the unemployment position - I do not accept them as reflecting accurately the lack of purchasing power in the community because of unemployment - they indicate that we have over 100,000 people out of work. But that is an artificial figure.
Several honorable members have complained recently about the deliberate whittling down of unemployment registrations in the industrial areas. No doubt the officers of the Commonwealth Employment Service have done this by direction so that wherever possible the number of registered unemployed will be reduced. In any case, in two years there has been an increase of 46,000 in the number of registered unemployed, with a consequent increase in the number of people dependent upon unemployment benefits which is nothing more or less than a fanciful term for the dole. During the great depression of the ‘thirties it was the dole. There was no quibble about the word then. This Government condemned 18,000 people to the dole in 1960, and by March, 1962, the number had increased to 45,870. The Government cannot walk away from that one. We do not know how many other persons are dependent upon the 45,870 breadwinners who have to subsist on the meagre allowance known as the unemployment benefit. That figure is not disclosed in the analysis issued by the Department of Labour and National Service although it should be. The increase in the number of registered unemployed is a serious matter.
In relation to unfilled vacancies registered with the department, although 33,000 vacancies were registered in March, 1960, the number fell to 19,700 by March, 1962. There is a reduction in job opportunities; there is a vast increase in the number of unemployed. The existing state of affairs means only that we have a hardening of circumstances in relation to unemployment. Because of other pressures, as I shall show shortly, we have every reason to believe that the slight improvements in the economy which may follow the infusion of additional credit and increased government expenditure mean nothing do not provide a solution. We have a Frankenstein monster arising within Australian industry, and probably a large number of people who at present have jobs will soon find themselves unemployed.
– What about the Army?
– To be accepted by the Army even to-day one has to pass a pretty strict examination, physical and otherwise. The Army is highly selective.
Let us consider the position that exists in the Greater Wollongong area, where we have the core of Australian industrial expansion. Millions of pounds per annum are being spent on the expansion of the great steel industry and allied industries at Port Kembla. The most modern plant and equipment have been erected in that centre. You would presume and would be expected to presume that this area had entered the golden era. You would presume and would be expected to presume that there are no unemployed in the place, i But that is not so. In March, I960, 1,173 persons were registered at the Wollongong office whereas in March, 1962, two years later and after this Government said it bad taken deliberate, considered and allegedly adequate steps eliminate this economic and social cancer in our midst, those figures had jumped to 1,793. The number of recipients of the dole in the Greater Wollongong area has jumped from 497 in March, 1960 to 1,073 two years later. That belittles and belies the glib assurances made in this House day by day by the responsible Minister, the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon). Only 24 hours ago I asked him, in effect, whether the unemployment position was hardening and he said the Government believed and had reason to believe that prosperity was around the corner. It is definitely not around the corner!
We are coming into an era in which conditions will be harder than they are to-day. In saying so I am not taking into account the effect of the European Common Market, which may create economic and employment difficulties for Australia, because of decisions taken by other nations - decisions entirely outside the control of this country. We have in respect of automation the development of this new idea, new practice and new method - a link with mechanization and any other technological processes which you care to name. People have drawn their own lines of demarcation to distinguish one from the other, but the et. ect of the three sections is much the same.
Aristotle is credited with having made the pronouncement that when looms weave by themselves man’s slavery will end. But Aristotle did not take into account the fact that there would be in the good year 1962 such a thing as the Menzies Government, a Liberal-Country Party Government in Australia. The looms of industry are now working by themselves, but man’s slavery is more complete to-day than ever before. Industry has adopted the most up-to-date techniques that have been developed in the United States of America, and the industrialized centres of Western Europe and the United Kingdom.
New processes have been introduced in the steel mills in my district in the last five years. Nothing but the latest devices and the best engineering brains have been employed in this development. While production has soared, the number of people re quired to produce has declined. Production per man is higher in the steel industry, the smelting industry, the copper fabrication industry, the fertilizers industry and any other form of industry you select for examination, owing to new techniques and skills. Automation is the control of machines by machines and it is creeping into all these industries. It is more advanced in certain sections than in others. We have yet to feel its full impact in this country. At present we are only on the fringe of automation, but we have a high degree of technical advancement, mechanization and technology applied in industry and,, construction work in Australia to-day, particularly in New South Wales. This is markedly so within the confines of my electorate, which is the hub of the steel industry and the South Coast coal industry, and has a big waterfront industry. The most recent advance in the steel industry is the development of a new strip mill for tinning purposes, lt will provide Australia’s requirements and a surplus for export, and will employ less labour than the older form of activity which the steel industry has been using for the production of tin strip.
While the size of some industries is impressive, the number of persons employed in them is small. The Australian fertilizers industry provides an excellent example. The old plant is on one side of the street and the new plant is on the other. A team of men worked in shifts to handle the old plant but only half a dozen men are required to operate the new plant. Push button devices on an instrument panel control every movement of the machines involved in the production of sulphuric acid and the superphosphate required for our primary industry. This is a real threat and because of it people are being excluded from industry. Sackings have not been the order of the day, but the wastage of man-power goes on.
While there has been an intake of labour into the steel industry, that intake has been severely restricted by these new automated devices and technical processes. We thought there would be a brief period of development, but as these devices are more widely adopted and industry is geared to absorb this new plant, the demand for labour will further decrease and the young people who leave school will be denied employment. Work will not be readily available. This is a problem which the government of the day and the government of tomorrow, whether it is this Government or a Labour government, will have to grapple With. It is the nettle in the industrial field of Australia which must be grasped, otherwise our hopes, ambitions and desires for industrial development will not be realized.
We find on the trade side of our affairs a great urge for expansion to meet competition from overseas. The only way to do that will be for industry to adopt the most highly technical and mechanized devices. What is the situation in the coal industry to-day? The price of coal is giving the coal companies - on their own statement - only a few pence, by way of profits.
In order to assist the industry to sell coal to Japan the Government is using the taxpayer’s money to provide coal-loading equipment at Port Kembla, Newcastle, Balmain and Gladstone. It is necessary to incur this expenditure, but we are ‘working on a shoestring. These contracts are what you call chancey contracts. The day the Japanese can purchase their coal from another nation for slightly less than our price we will lose these contracts. The hard-headed tycoons of Japanese heavy industry are not concerned about the development of this country other than to do what others have done before, that is, turn us into hewers of wood and drawers of water, or, as the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) put it the other night, to turn Australia into a quarry. He said he would not stand for that, but he is five years late in waking up to the demands of other nations on this country.
Let me return to the subject of automation. Automation has made great progress in the automobile industry, the steel industry, the communications industry, the oil industry, the chemicals industry, the radio and television manufacturing industry, the canning and bottling industry and the cigarette industry. It has also made great progress in the foundries, in office clerical recording and computation and in many other industries. Automation in offices is extending faster and further than automation in factories. We have seen the effect of automation in the building industry. Technical advances and the use of heavy machines have revolutionized road and dam contruction Most honorable members have seen the machines that are being used on the Snowy Moutains scheme. They have seen the ground torn asunder and roads built almost before their very eyes. A similar process is taking place here in Canberra with the construction of the new Commonwealth-avenue bridge. Roads are being built in Australia in a matter of weeks. All of those things are good provided that everybody wanting a job is maintained in work. That is the crucial point.
This Government has demonstrated by its policies and by its inhuman approach to this matter that it does not care one fig for the man who is forced out of employment. That contention is borne out by the Government’s lack of any plan in relation to the New South Wales coal industry. The coal-mining industry on the northern fields has virtually collapsed. Hundreds of miners have lost their employment overnight. Coal-miners are normally equipped to do coal-mining work only. Their homes have been built around the pit heads. The same thing has happened to a degree on the south coast coal-fields. The closure of the mines has been brought about by the greed of the owners for more profits. The introduction of machines into the mines has resulted in increased production and loss of employment for a big section of people wholly dependent on the industry. As rationalization of the industry extends in the next five years there will be a further reduction of the number of coal mines operating, resulting in reduced employment opportunities.
The coal-miner is a specialist. The Government stood by while his avenues of employment were destroyed and did not see fit to introduce a rehabilitation scheme for him. The Government did nothing for the coal-miners except invite them to become participants in the Commonwealth unemployment benefits scheme. No credit accrues to the Government for releasing £10,000,000 to the State to institute works programmes to absorb the unemployed when we realize that the men on the northern coal-fields are being engaged purely on road-construction work. Their jobs are of a temporary nature. There is no substance in them. The men have no security of employment. They have nothing to look forward to other than work of this character, which basically is not much more than dole work. In the 1930’s it was known as relief work. These men are now earning less than they earned as miners. Their living conditions have been depressed. Men from the northern coalfields have come to me seeking accommodation in my area. They secure employment on the southern coalfields but they cannot find accommodation for their families. Positions on the south coast have been filled to overflowing. We have had our troubles in the mines on the south coast. Contraction has taken place there as well as on the northern coalfields, but to a lesser extent. Men from the northern coalfields have secured work in the southern coalfields, but they have not been able to bring their families to the Wollongong and Port Kembla districts, adjacent to the mines, because of the inability to obtain homes. This Government has made no effort to rehabilitate these men and their families by saying that it will bear the cost of finding accommodation for them near Scarborough or some other coal head on the south coast, thus enabling the family unit to remain intact. The Government has left these men to find their own economic equilibrium under the most adverse circumstances. Miners working on the south coast are able to return to their homes on the northern fields only about once a month. They cannot afford to pay the necessary fares between Wollongong and Cessnock, Kurri Kurri or Weston more often than that in order to see their families. Those men are sending to their wives £12 or £13 a week out of a wage of about £19 10s. They are paying £5 or £6 a week for a room in my district. Tobacco, meals and fares eat up the remainder of the £19 or £20 average wage that most of those men are receiving.
The day has long since passed when any government can stand by and see hundreds of men in any industry suffer loss of employment through any change of circumstances whatever without shouldering the burden of responsibility to provide those men with a course of rehabilitation training in another industry. The Government should pay those men top wages while they are being trained. If it is necessary for men to travel 100 or 200 miles to their centre of training they should not be called upon to bear travelling expenses for the:r wives and children from one point to another populated point. It is impossible to purchase a home on the south coast to-day for less than £5,000 or £7,000. A purchaser would need a deposit of between £1,000 and £2,000. Building societies on the south coast are in the doldrums because of shortage of money, not a shortage of approved applicants. The activities of the New South Wales Housing Commission are restricted because of the paucity of finance advanced by this Government. In Wollongong the waiting list for a housing Commission home is between 27 and 30 months. In my district there are sixteen or seventeen caravan parks filled with tents and caravans, 90 per cent, of which are occupied by people who have permanent jobs in the steel and allied industries in the district. Those men are receiving good wages but they cannot purchase homes because of the high prices asked. They cannot obtain a Housing Commission home because of the long waiting list.
The Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer) is vitally concerned in this matter. I am suspicious of the image of sincerity that has been created around the administration of his portfolio. For years I have been inviting him to come into my electorate. There are some very big hostels in my area, housing up to 4,000 migrants. Many of those people have been living for years in hostels with their families. Their living conditions are unreal. The only reason why they are living in those hostels is because they cannot economically obtain homes. Statistics show that quite a number of migrants have bought homes, but I know the conditions under which many of those people live. They live in sheds. They share crowded accommodation. In some instances they live like rabbits in a burrow. There is a good deal of unhappiness amongst migrants on the south coast. The observations that apply to the south coast would apply elsewhere.
. I rise at this late stage of the debate, in the early hours of the morning, <to bring to the attention of honorable members a very serious situation which is developing in north
Queensland - the neglected north. I see some smiles on the faces of honorable members from electorates in the south. The Queensland Government and the Federal Government, by their actions, are doing a disservice to something that honorable members opposite have been talking about for some time - decentralization and development. I recall that members of the Australian Country Party supported one of their previous leaders when he spoke on decentralization and on the development of the outlying places in Australia. Ministers and members of the Government parties have visited Queensland and afterwards have stated in the press that the potential for development in north Queensland is tremendous. Even the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has said that.
Let us look at what is happening. I do not want to be misunderstood in what I am about to say. Townsville is quite all right. I know that honorable members opposite will ask me, “ What about Townsville? “ They have had a crack at me on that subject before. Townsville is the only town in north Queensland that has not suffered as a result of what the State Government and the Federal Government have been doing. It has not suffered because of the existence of the Mr lsa mines. However, we saw what happened to Townsville during the few months in which that mine was closed recently. Mining, as honorable members know as well as I do, is a gamble at any time. The people who own the mines at Mr lsa have mining Interests in other parts of the world. They could play one off against the other if they wished to do so. However, 1 do not want to dwell on that subject.
I want to give my reasons for saying that the State Government and the Federal Government are doing a disservice to decentralization and to the development of north Queensland. At Weipa the biggest bauxite deposits in the world have been located. I have said before, and I say it again now, that I do not think we shall ever see the deposits there developed to the full. There is a surplus of aluminium on world markets to-day. Where would the aluminium manufactured from the Weipa bauxite be sold if the deposits were fully developed? The people who own the Weipa deposits have interests in bauxite deposits in other parts of the world.
Let us examine some of the actions taken by the Liberal-Country Party Government in Queensland. It closed down the mine at Mount Mulligan. Not satisfied with closing the mine down, it ripped up the railway line. The Queensland Government made a great gesture to the men who had been working at Mount Mulligan and shifted them to Collinsville. However, the men had been there for only a fortnight when the mine there was closed. Honorable members will see that actions of this kind do nothing to help the development of the outlying places. The coal from Mount Mulligan might not be good steam coal but it could be used for other purposes. The raw material is there. I say that the railway line should never have been ripped up. It should have been left there to assist the development of the area in the future. If the members of the Liberal Party and (he Country Party in Queensland were fair dinkum in their statements that they wanted to develop the north, why did they allow their Government to rip up that railway line?
Another line that was ripped up was the line from Cooktown to Laura. That line was ripped up even before a road had been built to take the traffic that used to go by rail. The ripping up of the railway line has created a very serious situation for the people in the area, who rely on their supplies coming from Laura - particularly the cattle men and the graziers. Supplies used to come in to Laura, even in the worst weather that north Queensland experiences, at least once a week by rail. In future they will not be able to come in on some occasions for three or four months at a time. The seriousness of the situation was explained in “ Muster “ and other papers. As I have said, actions of this kind are doing a great disservice to decentralization - and development.
These things are being done by members of the parties to which honorable members opposite belong. Therefore, if they really believed in decentralization they should use their influence to try to prevent these things from being done. The honorable member for New England (Mr. Drummond), whom I respect very much, was one of those who supported a previous leader of the Country Party when he spoke of decentralization and the development of outlying places. If actions of this kind continue, the result will be just what the members of the Country Party have said they want to avoid. People will be driven from the country areas into the cities.
Another railway line in north Queensland that was ripped up - the lines are sold for scrap - was that from Lappa junction to Mount Garnett. Just before the line was ripped up three trains a week were running over it. Surely the service could have been reduced to one train a week and the line left intact. If the Government did not want to run even one train a week, it could still have left the line intact so that it would be available for future development. A telephone line ran along the route followed by this railway line. The people of the area approached the Postmaster-General’s Department on that matter. They knew that the railway line was to be dismantled and they wanted to know the cost of maintaining the telephone service, which had a switch at Lappa junction. However, the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Davidson) was not interested at all.
The people up there got together. They could have bought the telephone line for £150, I think, but they wanted to know whether the Postmaster-General’s Department would undertake the necessary repairs and maintenance work. The department was not interested in the proposition at all. Whether it would have been economically sound is not the question. If members of the Government parties are fair dinkum when they say that they want decentralization to occur and the outlaying areas to be developed, they should at least try to maintain the present populations of areas such as this. If the people there cannot be assisted, they will leave, and nobody will go there again. This sort of thing has been going on for the last five years, although we have been talking about decentralization and development during the whole of that time.
Now let me refer to the treatment of road hauliers by the Queensland Government. Hauliers who carried fruit and vegetables by road have been convicted and fined because they have not used the railways, although, if they had used the railways, they would not have got their products to the markets in a marketable condition. Honorable members may have read of the
Johnson case, which was widely recorded in the Queensland press and probably reported in the southern newspapers also. I attended a meeting of road hauliers that was called to discuss the case. What happened to that man was a shame. He had struggled for a long time to develop a farming area up there, growing citrus fruits and vegetables which he carted to Townsville. Under the transport legislation he was convicted and fined for doing that and ultimately was sent to Bogga-road gaol.
Now let me refer to something which is the responsibility of the Federal Government. I have taken this matter up with the Postmaster-General, so far without much success. Since the war, the people in the Cape York Peninsula area have been getting their mail by air. At first, Mitchell Airways, a small, company, provided the service, but unfortunately it went broke. Another company, Bush Pilots, bought Mitchell Airways out and took over the contract. The contract is due to be renewed in June and the company has asked for a higher fee because it is losing money on the service. The Postmaster-General has said that it would not be economic to pay higher fees. Of course it would not be economical! The service never has been. But do not forget that the PostmasterGeneral’s Department increased its charges in order to cover its increased running COStS. In the same way, this air company needs extra money in order to keep going. I tried to persuade the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) to agree to’ a subsidy being paid so that this urgently needed mail service could be kept going, but I was informed that because it was not a passenger carrying service it did not come within the scope of the department’s subsidy arrangements.
Let me illustrate the effect that that has. The Postmaster-General’s Department has called tenders for the carriage of mail by truck or pack-horse. There are not many trucks in that area. Trucks cannot get through in the wet weather, so we would have to go back to the old days of packhorses carrying the mail. Let us look at what is happening. Since World War II. the graziers and cattlemen in the north have been able to educate their children through the correspondence school. If we go back to the pack-horse days, the children will get a long way behind in their lessons from the correspondence school if they have to wait up to three or four months for them. I am not joking. It is true that sometimes three or four months pass before the mailman can get through on his pack-horse.
Do you not think, Mr. Speaker, that it is a retrograde step to go from the airline service back to the pack-horse days? If the airline service costs more the rest of Australia could subsidize it in order to keep the people in that area happy and give them a chance to educate their children as they have been educating them over the past ten or fifteen years. If we intend to throw them back on to the old pack-horse service and neglect their children and their studies how can we expect people to go into the outback and stay there? I suggest that people will not go there and stay there. Somebody will have to take some action to see that this matter is straightened out and that the people in this area receive their mail by means similar to those by which everybody else in Australia receives mail. Such a service is available through the company I have mentioned, which is a private company operating throughout north Queensland.
I wish to refer to another matter. I do not suppose that the Federal Government can do much about it, but I believe that somebody ought to be able to talk sense into the airlines. If we are fair dinkum in trying to get people to stay in this area we should do something about this matter. AnsettA.N.A. provides airlines services to Normanton and Thursday Island. It has the whole of that area to itself. Recently, it altered its services. It did not alter them to help the. people in the area. It re-routed its services for its own purposes, no doubt in order to save money. I do not blame a company for doing that. However, it did not take into consideration the people who are living in the area and the people who use those services.
I have received protests from the Normanton Shire Council and people in the area around Georgetown about the service that the area is receiving from Ansett-A.N.A. I have had a go at Ansett-A.N.A. to try to ensure that it will revert to the services it provided before it introduced these new services. The new services mean, in effect, that the people at Georgetown and Normanton have to keep perishable goods from Wednesday of one week until Tuesday of the following week. It is not very easy to do that in a very hot climate such as the people in that area have to put up with. If AnsettA.N.A. is not prepared to revert to its previous services I believe that we should try to encourage Trans-Australia Airlines to provide services to this area. We should see whether that airline is prepared to do that, so that the people in the area may receive the service to which they are entitled.
This Government was responsible for the ill-treatment of the timber industry in north Queensland. That industry used to absorb many of the seasonal workers from the cane paddocks. I have asked the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) and the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) to have a further look at the situation in this industry, because ten or twelve timber mills and ply mills in my electorate are not working at anywhere near half-capacity. If restrictions were imposed on the importation of the types of timber treated by the mills in the Leichhardt electorate people would not move from that area to the bigger cities and increase traffic and housing problems in those cities. New clothes have to be bought for the children if they have to go to a colder climate. Sometimes people have to go as far as Melbourne if they cannot get continuous work in north Queensland. That represents a very big hardship to a family man who has to reclothe his children because the light clothing that they wear in the north is not suitable in the southern climate.
If those mills were given a chance by restriction of the importation of timber they could employ up to 1,000 more men than they are employing. Do you not think Mr. Speaker, that it is worthwhile to keep 1,000 people in the north rather than throw them into the cities which are already overcrowded? I appeal to honorable members, particularly those members of the Australian Country Party who speak so earnestly about decentralization and development and do very little about it.
I have mentioned a few matters. Here is another one. While honorable members stand up in this place and argue the point about television Channel 0 and all the other services that are provided for their friends in the more thickly populated areas of Australia, the people in north Queensland cannot even get an alternative national broadcasting programme. They cannot hear even the broadcast of proceedings in this Parliament. Sometimes I think that they are lucky. The poor fellow who likes sport can listen to broadcasts of football, cricket, tennis or horse-racing on Saturday afternoons, but at 5 o’clock that programme is shut off and on comes the kiddies’ session. He has to wait until the 7 o’clock news is broadcast to find out who won the football match, the tennis match or the horse-races.
That is what is happening; yet I have not been able to get any one to move in this matter. I have asked questions about it in this House, one as recently as last week. Why cannot the people of north Queensland have an alternative national broadcasting programme? That is all that they are asking for. It will be a long time before they get television in that area, if they ever do. Thursday Island has the worst radio service of all. If any one living there is charged a radio licence fee I consider that it is an imposition. He cannot hear even a good broadcast of the news, let alone anything else.
I appeal to honorable members to consider seriously the matters I have raised. Do not think about whether they are economically sound or unsound. Have a look at them from another angle. If we are to keep people in this area and try to encourage other people to go there they must be subsidized by the people living in our nation under better conditions.
.The subjects discussed in this debate, Mr. Speaker, have been many and varied. They have covered many places not only in this country but also overseas. I intend to take the liberty of firing a few shots, too. In the first place, I support the remarks that the honorable member for Braddon (Mr. Davies) made about the housing industry and the timber industry. I repeat that the building” industry is the hub about which the economy of this country revolves. In fact, the Government found that out to its cost when it introduced the credit squeeze. The building industry and the timber industry are the front-line industries of development in Australia. They contribute greatly not only to the welfare of the people but also to Australia’s economic expansion. If we make an examination of the housing industry and the demand that it makes on furniture factories, furnishings, drapings, transport, power and fuel, we see that the industry is the lifeline of approximately 80 other industries in this country.
When we consider the multiplier effect that the building industry has on those other industries we gain some realization of the great contribution that it makes to the level of economic activity and to all the other industries with which it comes in contact. It is interesting to note, Mr. Speaker, from an investment point of view, that from 1953-54 to 1959-60 building investment increased by 80 per cent. - from £256,000,000 to £460,000,000. In the same period the gross national product increased by 50 per cent. - from £4,561,000,000 to £6,778,000,000. It will be seen, therefore, that in that period the increase in investment in the building industry exceeded the increase in the gross national product. But in 1953-54, the figure dropped to 2.5 per cent., and by 1959-60 investment in that industry had fallen to only 2.2 per cent. In the critical six years between 1954 and 1960 when there was a desperate need for housing there was a decided fall in the number of homes erected.
As I remarked earlier, honorable members have taken us to many places during this debate. It can be said with truth that great changes are taking place throughout the world to-day, structurally, economically and socially, lt is also true that due to improved health standards the population of the world is increasing rapidly. Indeed, it is estimated that by the end of the century - perhaps sooner - there will be 6,500,000,000 people inhabiting this planet. Undoubtedly this will be due to the advances in medical science, improved health standards and so on. The population of Australia is expected to increase by 25 per cent, in the current decade and to be doubled in the next 30 years. It is interesting to note that the 15 to 19 years age group will increase by 55 per cent, and the 20 to 24 years age group by over 60 per cent, in the current decade. I am sure honorable members will appreciate the demand all these young people will make for housing, schools, universities and so on. The position is made all the more desperate by the lag in the provision of these amenities which has resulted from this Government’s credit squeeze.
I ask honorable members to think of the challenge this lag presents to our living standards. If present conditions continue, there can be nothing but unhappiness and misery for these young people who will want to marry and rear families but because of the bad planning of this Government will be handicaped in doing so. I read with interest that the chairman of the Australian Mutual Provident Society said to-day that the Government would be wise in future if it took into its confidence people who have some knowledge of what is going on in the community before bringing in any new measures. It cannot be denied that good planning can bring joy and gladness. A positive programme of housing, building and planned development can bring happiness to all. But, because of this Government’s credit squeeze and the consequent recession, which has shattered the industry upon which the Government should have been depending to keep the economy of the country on an even keel, lack of confidence has been created throughout Australia.
The increase in population to which I have referred will increase our work force from 4,000,000 to 5,300,000, an increase of approximately 33-J per cent. Already to-night mention has been made of the thousands of children who are leaving school with no prospects of employment. The honorable member for Cunningham (Mr. Kearney) told us of the number of boys in his electorate who arc unable to obtain apprenticeships. He spoke of automation. Strangely enough, in the face of all these problems, speakers on the Government side say, “The rate of expansion has become rather too fast and we have to ease it a little.” So far as the building industry is concerned, the position is the reverse. That industry needs revitalising; it needs speeding-up. People need homes, and if they can be confident that they will not be the next on the list at the employment offices, they will buy homes. -
Australia’s investment in the gross national product is considered to be one of the highest. I understand it represents about 27.5 per cent, and that one-third of this amount is invested in public loans. The records disclose that in the six years from 1954 to I960, expenditure on public works totalled £3,322,000,000 whilst in the same period expenditure by public authorities was only £596,000,000. In other words, our public works were financed mainly from either taxation or current income. When one remembers that our public works cover the provision of health facilities, water and sewerage, irrigation, power, fuel for industry, colleges, schools and so on, one finds it difficult to understand why local authorities and other semi-government institutions should experience any difficulty in obtaining money to carry out essential works. When one considers this aspect, one wonders what the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) means when he says that councils and semi-government authorities are getting enough money to carry out the works that they are expected to do. This fact emphasises quite clearly the need for stepping up our efforts in connexion with public works and works of a national character. The building industry in par* ticular should be given some stimulus. Honorable members on the Government side have spoken in glowing terms of what they chose (o call the amazing progress being made by this country. If we are to progress we must have more national development. Certainly it is essential that the building industry be given a (.ecided boost, lt must be given some assurance of security in the future, lt must be freed from any fear of credit squeezes, recessions and all those things which deter it from expanding.
Only to-day 1 had a discussion with an officer with the Commonwealth Development Bank. I was endeavouring to obtain a loan of £70,000 for a certain organization which proposed to expand its factory to cope with export orders already in hand. I am sorry to say that the money will not be forthcoming from this source. The bank said to this organization, “ We feel that you can get the money elsewhere.” Certainly the money can be obtained elsewhere, but only at an interest rate of from 8 per cent, to 10 per cent. That is the sort of encouragement that this Government i» giving to industry, yet we hear that the economy of the country is expanding rapidly. We are told that all the woes and troubles that we experience as a result of the credit squeeze have been overcome, yet a textile industry, which has gone into the highways and byways of the world to sell its Australian products in those countries against stiff competition and develop an export trade, cannot get money from a bank. Did you ever hear anything so ridiculous?
Lack of funds is causing councils and semi-governmental institutions to live from hand to mouth. They are not able to plan or budget. They cannot go ahead with courage or in reasonable security to do the works that they want to do. They are nibbling at a little something here and there, and in the final analysis urgent and necessary works are left undone. The volume of construction needed in this country is increasing day by day and the need to provide the wherewithal is becoming every day more urgent.
Immigration and the natural increase in population are making this decade one of the most expensive in our history. On the admission of the Minister for Labour and National Service and on the figures issued by this Government, we have 100,000 persons unemployed. In Melbourne alone, in spite of the number of persons unemployed, there is a need for clearance of 1,000 acres of slums, estimated to cost about £10,000,000 a year for the next ten years. Yet the Treasurer tells the world at large that his Government has made available to Victoria £1,500,000 for housing and claims that this covers the need! It has not made a ripple on the surface.
I ask whether the Government is going to realize the need to provide homes for the people. I have heard Government supporters ask what would happen if we overtook the lag. The figures that I have given to-night reveal that we shall never overcome the housing shortage. There will always be a need for homes for the people. A national housing corporation is a must. I have said this before in this House. Legislation is necessary to provide homes for persons in the lower income group. Those homes should be provided at interest rates which their pay envelopes can afford, and at low deposits. I was informed yesterday that in New Zealand there is an organization called the State Advances Corporation, which functions for this purpose and makes homes available to the lower income group without deposit. What can be done there can be done here. All that it needs is some courage and imagination and a desire to keep this country what it is, that is, the best in the world.
I say, in conclusion, that we have the men, the materials and the knowledge. The only commodity lacking is something that this Government controls, that is, finance. The responsibility lies fairly and squarely on the shoulders of the Government. Up to date, with policies of credit squeeze, recession and unemployment, it has failed miserably.
– Although it is very early in the morning, it is still interesting to observe the incredible enthusiasm of the Opposition and to note that at this hour, 1.15 a.m., there is a great list of speakers who are eager to take this Government to task for its failure in so many respects. The shortcomings and deficiencies of this Government are such that every member sitting on this side of the House could speak almost endlessly-
– And pointlessly.
– Every member of the Opposition could speak almost endlessly in an endeavour to direct the notice of the Australian community to things which desperately need attention.
– You can get medicine for that sort of thing.
– We are happy to deal with any of the interjections from honorable members opposite. It is good to see Government supporters awake, because there has not been much evidence of their wakefulness for some time this evening. A large number of Opposition speakers have raised some fascinating topics. What a great thing it is, for example, for the people of Queensland to hear the enthusiastic voices of Labour speakers who are contending that it is high time that Queensland realized its great and inevitable destiny. For so long in this place we heard from the Queenslanders who preceded those who are now here only destructive attacks upon trade unions and references to communism, but nothing which would be of real benefit to the people of Queensland. To-night we have heard speakers from Queensland wax eloquent on the need for national development and for the Australian people to have some say in the development of the unlimited assets that characterize that part of Australia.
We on this side of the House have the idea that it is high time this Government pursued a policy other than maintenance of the status quo. It is something like the old willow tree, bending to the strongest breeze. The Government never sets out with some pre-conceived plan as to where Australian development should take place. We should like the Government to show some inspiration about the need to regulate and deploy Australia’s manpower and economic resources in such a way as to bring the greatest possible benefit to this country and to the people who reside here. But such has not been the case, In fact, it is apparent that the Government, even at this stage, after the shock it received on the occasion of the last election, is still void of any idea or any plan. I suppose one could nominate any topic at all and ask any Government supporter what would happen in regard to it in 1970, 1975, or 1980, and he would not be able to supply the answer. One might ask, for example, to what extent we would want to stimulate the motor car industry in 1962 or 1963, how many houses we would need in 1965, and what kind of policy the Government would lay down to bring about the required results. One might ask how many university graduates the Government wanted from any of the faculties - law, arts, or the sciences - or how many apprentices were required. Has the Government any aspirations or any declared intention in relation to any facet at all of Australian life? To what extent do we want to transfer part of the Australian economy from the private sector to the public sector so that schools and education may be encouraged and public health receive the attention that it so desperately requires? Can any Government supporter indicate the Government’s plan in relation to any of these matters?
I was interested to hear the honorable member for Gellibrand (Mr. Mclvor) talk about housing. What a terrible indictment it is of this Government that so many years after it regained the treasury bench, having been elected on a firm promise to provide houses for the Australian people, the housing shortage to-day is as bad as it has ever been. Thousands of migrants are living in disgusting migrant camps, with an average stay of fourteen months, but the Government has no plan to solve the problem. Ex-servicemen, seventeen years after the war, are still waiting fifteen months for a war service home. The housing commissions in the States also have a problem. There are no fewer than 35,000 outstanding applications in New South Wales and some 100,000 outstanding applications throughout the whole of Austrafia. But many people do not even bother to apply for a housing commission home, because they know the position is hopeless.
– Could you recite poetry to pass the time?
– Of course, this ls disturbing the honorable member. I venture to say that he has no warm-hearted feeling for the 100,000 people who need homes. In Victoria, the State from which the honorable member hails, there is a tremendous need for slum clearance, for example. This is shown in the report of the Victorian Housing Commission. Instead of criticizing a Labour member who shows some concern for the people who are subjected to these disgraceful conditions through the inadequacy of the Government, the honorable member should be on his feet at every opportunity speaking out about these needs. I think the honorable member may now consider that his interjection was unwarranted.
A substantial number of young people live in my electorate, but no funds are available for the second-hand houses they want to buy. Therefore, they live in shacks, shanties and garages. Honorable members opposite have heard all this said before and they ask why it should be said again at twenty minutes past 1 o’clock. But the fact is that the Government fails to be impressed and does not do anything to solve the problem.
– Nothing will be done while this Government is in office.
– That is true. 1 listened to-night to my colleague, the honorable member for Cunningham (Mr. Kearney). He shares part of the mining area in the south coast of New South Wales with me. The uncertainty that prevails in this industry is another matter for justifiable concern, and we would like the Government to show an interest in it. It was not long ago that I had occasion to stand here with my colleagues of the Labour Party’s mining committee and complain about the wholesale retrenchments in the mining industry. In my electorate, the Excelsior mine was closed overnight. Of course, something could be done about these matters. In other parts of the world where there is an indigenous coal industry, governments take adequate steps to protect the industry. They place an embargo on the importation of competitive fuels, which are effectively discouraged. But here, the Government allows competitive fuels to pour into the country in an unending stream. In fact, the monopolies are prepared to sell fuel oil below cost in order to capture the fuel market. This octopus-like monopoly has effectively entwined its tentacles around the market and we are at its mercy. The monopoly can set any price it likes for its product. This Government, which has been at the mercy of monopolies since it came to office, does not care about these matters.
I have heard my colleague, the honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds) speak about education. This is another vital issue and a greater share of the public purse should be given to it.
– Can you make a speech of your own?
– Yes, and that is what I am pointing out. Although Opposition members can make a speech off the cuff on any of these topics, Government members apparently have no ideas about any of them.
The honorable member for KingsfordSmith (Mr. Curtin) raised the matter of apprenticeship training. Wherever you look among Opposition members, you can see a burning enthusiasm for a topic. The honorable member then referred to the need to train carpenters and engineers. In other parts of the world, the training of apprentices is not left to big businesses alone. They are not interested in providing for the nation but in providing for the business itself.
All sorts of inspired schemes for appenticeship training operate around the world. It may be of interest to Government supporters to know - if anything is of interest to them at this hour - that in some parts of the world a government instrumentality engages apprentices. In other words, a responsible authority decides how many boilermaker apprentices, how many carpentry apprentices and how many other apprentices will be trained. This important decision is not left to the whims of some monopolistic business. The government authority decides what the country needs at any given time. The authority engages the apprentices and undertakes their training. Practical experience is then given to supplement the basic technical training. This concept was advocated by even the Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party in New South Wales; but no enthusiasm for such schemes can be found here.
I have many matters to talk about, but I recognize that many of my colleagues also wish to speak in this debate. I want to spend a few minutes on a subject that is causing concern. The honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) suggests that I take my time. No one can say that I am unco-operative, so I shall deal with this topic in a more leisurely way than I had intended. The matter I want to speak about relates to the employment of physically handicapped persons. I want to refer to the fact that the Commonwealth Public Service Board has not been as co-operative as I believe it should have been and indeed as the Boyer committee believes it should have been.
In times of unemployment, it is always very difficult for physically handicapped persons to find a job. We know of the experiences of many people in these times when 132,000 workers have been unemployed. Those who are too old at 40, the unskilled people and the handicapped people have gone by the board. There is an unjustifiable prejudice among employers generally towards the physically handicapped. It is difficult to understand why this should be.
Last week was the Sheltered Workshops Week in New South Wales. The week was set aside to attract Government and public attention to the problem of employing handicapped persons. The organizer was reported in the press as being very disappointed with the result. But the greatest prejudice against physically handicapped persons is held by the Public Service Board on behalf of the Commonwealth Government.
On 7th March last - that is eight weeks ago - I placed a simple question on the notice-paper. It is in the following terms: -
No answer has been given to that question. I remind the Government that the Boyer committee was set up in September, 1957. lt was a committee appointed, under the chairmanship of the chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, Mr. R. J. Boyer, four years and eight months ago. The committee submitted its report three and a half years ago on 29th November, 1958. For three and a half years this committee’s report, which is concerned with the recruitment of public servants and with a number of very important and delicate aspects of that problem, has been languishing in some remote pigeonhole in the Prime Minister’s office, despite persistent questioning by members of the Parliament. Some of the subjects of the report might continue to languish in the Prime Minister’s office, probably without causing a great deal of concern, but that part of it which relates to physicaly handicapped people needs urgent attention.
I wish to make some reference to the recommendations of the Boyer committee. The committee received advice from many experts. It was told, and it declared in its report, that no opportunity should be lost in making use of the services of handicapped men and women in selected jobs. The committee was reminded that such people could be a great asset to the country. On the other hand, if their services were not utilized, they could be a great liability. These people prefer to work, and in many cases they are capable of working. In fact, the committee was informed by experts that such people are just as effective in some kinds of occupations as are able-bodied persons, and in certain instances they are more effective. The committee was also told, and it declared in its report as a result of the expert advice it received, that there is no evidence that handicapped people are prone to absenteeism, and that so far as accidents and labour turnover are concerned, the record of handicapped people is as good as that of workers generally.
It is very difficult to understand why employers in Australia are prejudiced against physically handicapped people. The report states -
The task of placing these persons with private employers and State public services would be facilitated if the Commonwealth itself, as an employer, were clearly doing all that was possible in this direction.
I wish to let the House know of a particular case that came to my notice only last week and about which I made a submission to the Minister, lt concerned a young man who was very anxious to obtain employment in the Commonwealth Public Service. In fact, he had obtained such employment and had been working for five weeks. This young man always had in his mind the idea of becoming a meteorologist. For that reason, over a period of two years he engaged in very extensive study and availed himself of all the reference books that he could find on the subject. He ever undertook a year’s employment with Qantas Empire Airways Limited.
Not everybody wants to become a meteorologist, Mr. Speaker, but this lad did. He took a university course and worked very hard. He has been a keen sportsman all his life. He is a lad who can be described as being physically fit and presentable in every way. He prides himself on his fitness. After he had been employed in the Public Service for five weeks, he suddenly received, out of the blue, a brief letter from the Public Service Inspector, which stated -
I regret to advise that, owing to the nature of a recent medical report, the Public Service Board has withdrawn its offer of appointment as Cadet Meteorologist, Department of the Interior.
As a consequence of this it has been necessary to remove your name from the register of qualified applicants.
What a shock to a young man of eighteen years of age or thereabouts, who is in fact employed by a Commonwealth department and who is studying and working very hard indeed, suddenly to receive such a curt letter from the Public Service Inspector!
It should be remembered that the Government, through the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) and the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton), has been calling on private industry to employ physically handicapped people, lt was ascertained that the young man to whom I have referred’, who was going to do something in the nature of office work, had developed a very slight heart murmur. His parents took him to a doctor who said, “ This is of infinitesimal consequence. It does not matter. He has a strong and energetic heart “. He reminded them that John Landy, the athlete, has such a heart murmur, and he pointed out that the young man could be an athlete for many years to come. As we know, Major Stayton, the American astronaut, has a heart condition of much the same kind; nevertheless, he probably will make a flight into space in the near future. But this fit, enthusiastic lad, with a good educational background, is not merely rejected by the Public Service but is thrown out after he has actually been in employment for a considerable period. This is the action of a Commonwealth government which is supposed to be concerned about providing opportunities for handicapped people.
What a disgraceful state of affairs it is that the Prime Minister, who is responsible for legislation affecting the Public Service when it is introduced in this place, has failed to take the advice and counsel of the Boyer committee, which was appointed 41 years ago and which made very clearcut and specific recommendations about this kind of thing. We know now that unless a person who applies for employment with the Commonwealth Public Service is Al, he is just not in the hunt. Here we have an outlook something like that of the Nazis. It is rather akin to the concept of the perfect race, which involved the consequent idea that those who were not perfect should be thrown in the incinerator. It does not matter whether a person is physically Al or b1; he still has to live, to obtain food and clothing, and to sustain himself and his family. The Commonwealth Public Service, which should be providing an example, and the Prime Minister, who is responsible for the Public Service, have failed in a very important respect by not giving effect to the recommendations of the Boyer committee in that regard.
I have had brought to my notice the case of a young man who wanted a junior labourer’s job in the Postmaster-General’s Department. He was subjected to the same Public Service regulations as those I have mentioned previously. He was a strong, robust lad, and the complaint against him was that he was overweight. He joined a health study group and lost a stone and a half in weight. He went on a rigid diet, but he was still too heavy to become a junior labourer in the Postmaster-General’s Department. This matter might not be of such serious concern if it were not for several factors, one being that it is such a long time since the Boyer committee made its recommendations that action should be taken as soon as possible to amend the Public Service Act with a view to providing a fair deal for handicapped people. In this respect, I am referring to physically handicapped people, not to people who are suffering merely from some kind of sickness.
I was told in the Library to-day that a young lady with some sinus trouble could well be in difficulty with her employment because she is unable to pass the medical examination. A person does not have to be physically Al, or superbly fit, to be able to do a job in the Public Service of this country. He does not have to be any more healthy than he would have to be in order to take employment with David Jones Limited, or to work in a coal mine in my electorate. It is time that we woke up and that this Government assumed its fair share of responsibility so far as the employment of sick and physically handicapped people is concerned. As it is, those people are obliged to depend on charitable organizations such as the sheltered workshops in Sydney and other places. The maimed and limbless organizations are obliged to shake collection boxes under people’s noses in an endeavour to obtain the funds that are necessary to give physically handicapped people a chance in life by obtaining a job and being able to manifest and fulfill their personality. I put this matter forward as one of the many vital and pressing matters which concern the Government. I hope that it will wake up and do something in the interests of these unfortunate Australians.
.- I rise to make my contribution to the supply debate. First, I wish to thank the honorable member for Cunningham (Mr. Kearney) for the sympathy that he showed for the mine-workers in my district who have suffered hardship because of the sudden closure of mines in recent years. I do not propose to deal at any length with matters pertaining to my electorate, because I feel that there was some worth in the statement made earlier to-night by the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Chaney) to the effect that the time of the House was being wasted by honorable members who referred to matters relating to their electorates instead of dealing with subjects concerned with the betterment of the lives of ourselves and our children. I am of the opinion that I can make a contribution to-night to the betterment of the life of the Australian people, and a much better contribution than that which the honorable member for Perth could make.
At the outset, I wish to complete the submissions that I made to the House last night, when I spoke of a matter which I consider to be of public importance, particularly in the city of Canberra. I refer to the amalgamation of the Australian Capital Territory Police Force and the Commonwealth Police Force. The alinement of a small detachment such as the Australian Capital Territory Police Force with the Commonwealth Police Force in Canberra seems to be a step in the right direction to lift the status of this small body of men. The same thought applies to the training of the A.C.T. police officers. Whereas the Commonwealth Police Force officers have the benefit of the Australian Police College at Manly, the A.C.T. police are sent spasmodically to Melbourne, when this can be arranged. The common-sense thing to do is to amalgamate these two forces and give the A.C.T. police also the benefits of participation in training at the Australian Police College.
It seems to me also that the A.C.T. police members would benefit by absorption in the national force with connexions and facilities such as I have outlined. They would be more adequately represented at, for example, the conferences of commissioners and on other similar occasions. It could hardly be maintained that a commissioner with 95 men, such as we have in the A.C.T., could exercise much influence in conferences with State commissioners or with overseas police representatives.
In the New South Wales Police Force, in which 1 served for 25 years, a detachment of 95 officers would merit an inspector 2nd class or, at the most, an inspector 1st class. By merging this small Australian Capital Territory contingent with the Commonwealth Police Force and allowing these 95 men to feel the dignity and self-respect of belonging to a national police force with a real voice in police matters arising in the Commonwealth and overseas the prestige of these 95 officers would be enhanced and their morale would be given a fillip. A local isolated force, on the other hand, tends to lose touch with the development in modern criminal techniques in much the same way as the unduly long residence of a particular gentleman on the other side of the House has caused him to lose touch with modern economic thought.
The avenue which would be provided, by amalgamation, for members of the A.C.T. police force to transfer interstate and so broaden their views and develop their personalities would be for the common good. I know of this at first hand from my experience in performing interchange duties in the various State capitals. So long as the rights of members of the A.C.T. police are protected I would urge the Government to effect this amalgamation with all speed, and can only wonder at the delay since the passing of the Commonwealth Police Act in 1947.
I do not intend to enter into the question of the personal qualifications of the heads of the police forces concerned, but as a former practical police officer who believes in the principle that practical men should have charge of these forces I am comforted in the knowledge that the Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner of the Commonwealth police are former State police officers with long police experience behind them. Therefore, the climate for an amalgamation is made particularly favourable.
One other observation I would like to make in connexion with the matter is this: The trend overseas in the United Kingdom and in the United States of America where small police forces abound, is for these small forces to be compulsorily amalgamated. Borough police forces and county forces in the United Kingdom are being compulsorily transformed into what is known as the Combined Police Force, and in the United States of America the logical trend that has been taking place ever since the creation of the Federal Bureau of Investigation is for small municipal and county forces to be merged into the State forces.
That is the trend overseas, and I am appalled at the fact that this Government is so far behind modern overseas thinking in this field. But this, of course, is typical of this Government in all its activities. This will continue because everything the Opposition puts forward is ignored by the Government. When we go to the people again, they will show their resentment of the Government’s attitude towards the Opposition’s submissions. I conclude on this matter by saying that I hope the authorities will take steps towards this amalgamation as soon as possible.
I listened last night to the impressive eloquence of a world figure - the Secretary of State of the United States of America. After listening to his address, and thinking it over carefully since, I can say quite definitely that his speech did not indicate a future peaceful world. He spoke of his nation’s desire to send military aid to Viet Nam and to see that the Berlin situation was settled, by force of arms if necessary. I thought that the Secretary of State could well have made reference to the butchery that is going on in Angola by the Fascist forces of Salazar. I thought also that he would have been fair and impartial had he also referred to the slaughter going on in Algeria.
I do not propose to say who is right over the Berlin situation, but from the reading I have done I am well aware that towards the end of the war the Soviet forces captured Berlin when the Allied forces were held up some considerable distance outside the city. There are many balanced and impartial people in the world to-day who think that Soviet Russia, or the East
German Government, should have full and complete control of Berlin.
I want to make reference now to a speech that was made by Mr. Franklin D. Roosevelt at Washington, D.C., on 6th January 1942. In an impassioned speech -
– You are being used.
– I am not being used. In an impassioned speech Mr. Roosevelt said -
All in our nation have been cheered by Mr. Churchill’s visit. We have been deeply stirred by his great message to us. He is welcome in our midst now and in days to come and we unite in wishing him a safe return to his home. We are fighting on the same side with the British people who fought alone the long terrible months and withstood the enemy with fortitude, tenacity and skill.
We are fighting on the same side with the gallant Russian people who have seen the Nazi hordes swarm up to the very gates of Moscow and who, with almost super-human will and courage, have forced the invaders back into retreat. We are fighting on the same side as the brave people of China - those millions who for four and a half long years have withstood bombs and starvation and have whipped the invaders time and again in spite of the superior Japanese equipment and arms.
We are fighting on the same side with the indomitable Dutch, yet I read recently that America is supplying Indonesia with arms. Mr. Roosevelt continued -
We are fighting on the same side as all the other Governments in exile whom Hitler and all his armies, and all his Gestapo, have not been able to conquer.
In fairness, being mindful of what the honorable member for Perth said here this evening, and being conscious of the fact that the Parliament will soon go into recess, I ask: What is the difference between the attitude of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics then and its attitude to-day? I have never heard one member in this House say what the difference is. I believe that, in fairness, we should remember that the Soviet Union lost 7,000,000 soldiers and 22,000,000 of its population in the Second World War, fighting as our ally. I believe in democracy. While I remain in public life, and after I go out of it, I will do whatever is in my power to preserve democracy in this country. Where are we going, Mr. Deputy Speaker? Having been trained for many years in the administration of justice, I was taught to come down on the side of fairness and justice. But I feel that we of the West are not being strictly impartial when, in the situation of the world to-day, we come down on what we regard as the side of justice. I say that sincerely.
We learn that West Germany has spent more on arms since the end of World War II. than the Hitler regime spent on the whole of its war effort in that war. Every honorable member read about the facts in the Parliamentary Library, but not a man in this chamber has the moral fortitude, or, if I may use the term, the guts, to disclose these things. I want to contribute to the breaking down of hatred against any people, because hate is a bad adviser and its brother is fear. 1 will continue to propound the truth so long as there is breath in my body and so long as my voice will ring out. I am losing faith in human nature. Like many people in this world, I am beginning to have more faith in a dog than in human nature. A faithful dog is one absolutely unselfish friend that man can find in this selfish world. The one that never deserts him, the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous, is his dog. A man’s dog stands by him in prosperity and in poverty, in health and in sickness. It will sleep on the cold ground when the wintry winds blow and the snow drives fiercely if it may be near its master’s side. The dog will kiss the hand that has no food to offer. It will lick the wounds and sores that come in encounters with the roughness of this world. The dog guards the sleep of its pauper master as if he were a prince. When all other friends desert, the dog remains. When riches take wings and reputation falls to pieces, the dog is as constant in its love as is the sun in its journey through the heavens.
If fortune drives the master forth an outcast of the world, friendless and homeless, the faithful dog asks no higher privilege than that of accompanying him to guard him against danger and to fight against his enemies. And when the last scene of all comes, when death takes the master in its embrace and the master’s body is laid away in the cold ground, no matter if all other friends stay away; there by the graveside will be the noble dog, its head between its paws, its eyes sad but open in alert watchfulness, faithful and true even in death. Many human beings would not be so loyal. Indeed, they do not know how to be so loyal. If it were otherwise, the world would not be in the mess that it is in to-day. Mr. Deputy Speaker, I could compare many honorable members on the Government benches with a mongrel dog in some ways.
The honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson) mentioned the shocking housing shortage.
– What about a dog kennel?
– I shall get one for the honorable member in a minute, but I would not feed him or register him. That would cost too much, although the registration fee is only 2s. 6d. I want to raise again the matter of the disused Rathmines air base with all its unoccupied houses. I have appealed to this Government time and time again to make the unoccupied houses at Rathmines available to people who are without accommodation in the present dire shortage of homes. But the Government still does nothing, despite the fact that the houses at Rathmines have now been lying idle for well over twelve months. There will shortly be a public meeting on this matter at Toronto, and I am sure that the honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Dean) will attend to address the meeting and fight for the release of these homes for the people who need accommodation. The Commonwealth owns dwellings at Cessnock and at Kurri Kurri in my electorate, and there is no reason why it should not make the houses at the disused Rathmines air base available to people who are in dire need of housing. In conclusion, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I express the hope that the submissions that I have made to the Government will be heeded before the Parliament resumes after the winter recess.
Motion (by Mr. Daly) put - That the debate be now adjourned.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Sir John McLeay.)
Majority . . . . 3
Question so resolved in the negative.
.- Mr. Speaker, I regret that at this late hour I have to bring forward matters of tremendous importance to the electors. I thought that the Government would give me the opportunity to speak on those matters at a reasonable time. The fact that I have to raise them at this hour is to be regretted, but I have no alternative. On five or six successive occasions on the motion for the adjournment of the House I have been denied the right to speak on them because the Government has gagged the debate.
I suppose, Mr. Speaker, that we have not witnessed in this Parliament a more unfor tunate sight than we have witnessed tonight. Government supporters have sat idly by and have not been prepared to debate the points under discussion, and to defend the policy of the Government they support. Either they have no knowledge of what is being discussed in this Parliament or they are not interested in it. They are prepared to sit idly by and support expenditure which is completely unjustified in some cases.
The first matter I wish to raise affects the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth). The Leader of the Australian Labour Party, the Honorable A. A. Calwell, has given me a letter he has received from Mr. Percy J. Drain, of 24 Alexander-parade, Roseville. Mr. Drain states that the honorable member for Mackellar has stolen his thunder in connexion with the standardization of railway gauges. He states that the plans that were submitted and given effect to ultimately, far from being the responsibility and the brainchild of the honorable member, were submitted by Mr. Percy James Drain himself. He has given us a statutory declaration to that effect and has asked also that a petition be presented to the Parliament.
– So what?
– The petition is not in conformity with the rules of the House, but for the sake of the honorable member who shows, by his interjection, that he does wake up once in a while, I will read it all to him. This petition is dated 14th April, 1962, and states -
Drains’ Generic Specification is -
. “ Leave the present Railway doing the local service.
” But for Interstate service the attached diagram shows the basic idea scheme build a faster railway line parallel to the existing railway.
Build in sections at different periods of time.
Governor-General Slim knew this. Prime Minister Menzies knew this.
Minister for Transport George McLeay knew this.
Then Wentworth put in Drains’ Scheme as his Wentworths own recorded in Hansard 11th November, 1953 thus: -
Leave the present railway doing the local service.
But for the Interstate service build a faster railway line parallel to the existing railway.
Implement on a small scale upon which standardisation can grow economically. AND there is no difference and, Governor-General Slim knew this. The Prime Minister Menzies knew this. And Wentworths statements are in Hansard 11th November 1953, thus-
Page 82 Column a. lines 1 to 4 7 to 13 17 to 21.
Page 82 Column 1. lines 3 and 4.
Page 81 Column 2. lines 50 51 52 53. and elsewhere. Wentworth’s statement for himself page 82 Column 2 line 25 “ My proposal “. Lines 48 & 49 “My plan”.
Drain’s Specification is a generic specification and in addition Drain embedded in his specification (50) keyed words and phrases and Mr. W. C. Wentworth later used the whole of those self same words and phrases.
It is signed, Mr. Speaker, “ Percy J. Drain “ and then the following appears: -
Dated, 14th April, 1962.
AND I will for ever pray, etc.
That was sent to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), who was good enough to reply on 18th April to Mr. Drain, stating that he would honour the obligation entered into with Mr. Drain to show the House that the scheme put forward by Mr. Wentworth as his own was a scheme of none other than Percy J. Drain. It is a rather serious charge to make against the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth), especially in view of the publicity he has received. I have before me a newspaper clipping which contains a photo, of a very distinguished member of the honorable member’s family, carrying a placard which says, “ Where is Wentworth? “ An allegation that the honorable member adopted as his own a scheme that was really that of Percy J. Drain is something that should be brought to the attention of the Parliament.
I have been concerned also about certain printed matter that has come to me through the post. I have before me a pamphlet that I received from an organization in America. It was sent to me and to a number of other honorable members, and it has already been mentioned in another place. The letter-press in this pamphlet is headed, “A new Quarterly on the Joy of Love- EROS”. It emanated from 110 West 40th-street, New York 1 8, New York. A card enclosed with the pamphlet said -
Enclose please find $- for- Charter
Subscriptions to EROS Quarterly at $15 per yeal. I understand that as a Charter Subscriber I am entitled to begin my subscription with Volume 1, No. 1 and that I may review my subscription indefinitely and purchase gift subscriptions at the same special price of only $15 per year.
The pamphlet has a photograph of a figure of Eve on the front cover. This is definitely pornographic literature. It urges people to purchase this publication and to send money abroad. Certain extracts from the first page of the pamphlet are worth reading to the House and to the people of Australia, because they show the kind of pornographic material that is coming through the post. The Department of Customs and Excise, as well as the Postmaster-General’s Department, should take an interest in this matter. I will read a few extracts from the letterpress on the first page of this document -
Like Eve on the cover of this folder, we come to you with an offering. We trust that accepting it will not lead you to your downfall. Our offering is a new magazine devoted to love in its infinite variety. Its name is EROS.
EROS will be a sophisticated quarterly foi intelligent and educated readers. It will be an elegant magazine bound in book form (like American Heritage) intended to be kept as a thing of beauty and a joy forever. It will carry no advertising.
EROS will take full advantage of this new freedom of expression. It will be the magazine of sexual candor.
Planned for publication in its first few issues are such features as the following:
MANHOOD RESTORATIVES- a collection of advertisements from late 19th Century American periodicals which describe the symptoms of sexual excess and which will either leave you rollicking or panicking
THE FIGHTING MEN’S LADIES- A nostalgic look back, in full colour, at pictures of women which adorned World War II. planes, tanks and trucks.
As you may have gleaned, EROS will be a lavish editorial package. That is, it will be rich in colour reproduction, surpriseful in typographical ingenuity and exceptional in its graphic art. Ti will be printed by letter-press and offset lithography both here and abroad on the finest coated and antique papers obtainable. As we have said, it will be case-bound in hard covers. We intend EROS to be the world’s most beautiful magazine.
The pamphlet goes on to say that the subscription is 15 dollars, and that the subscriptions should be sent to the address I have already mentioned. I have given you, Mr. Speaker, only a few of the less informative details. I do not think the Standing Orders would allow me to go through the whole range of matters covered in this pornographic document which has been circulated to honorable members and, no doubt, to the general public. If the contents of this document were incorporated in “ Hansard “, they would make it the best-read publication in the universe.
I mention these matters because I want to ask the Postmaster-General to investigate the sending of these documents through the post. I also ask the Minister for Customs and Excise to take action to prevent such matter being distributed and circulated, not only in the Parliament but also throughout the country.
– If the Minister wishes to study the document he has my permission to take it.
There are some other matters that I think should be discussed to-night, and I intend to deal with one or two of them. I want to refer first, to shipping freights and the shipping combine that is operating to this country. I have on more than one occasion raised in this Parliament the subject of the activities of the conference lines in fixing shipping freight charges. These activities are an outstanding example of restrictive trade practices. The AttorneyGeneral (Sir Garfield Barwick) has been preparing legislation on this subject for a long time and shortly he will, I hope, put before this Parliament some practical measure to curb these restrictive practices, not only in the shipping industry but also in other spheres of economic activity. I have before me a circular headed’, “ Australian Passenger Agency Committee “, which says -
Some time ago a group of Shipping Companies in Sydney decided to form a Committee with as wide a representation as possible, with the principal aims of uniformity in dealing with travel agents, both individually and through the Australian Federation of Travel Agents and securing protection for carriers in the event of an Agent’s financial failure. A system of bonding was proposed to achieve this.
The Australian Passenger Agency Committee was thus formed with the following agreed aims: -
To compile and maintain a comprehensive list of Agents recognized by Member Lines.
To consider by common agreement the rationalisation of Agents in areas where the numbers may be considered greater than is necessary adequately to serve the needs of all Members or of any one individual Member.
Several more aims are listed, but I particularly refer to numbers 6 and 7. Number 6 is in the following terms: -
To endeavour to prevent further incursion by outside carriers into established trades by: -
agreeing not to recommend any new ap plicants for appointment unless such applicants are prepared to limit their representation to Members of the A.P.A.C., or
by agreeing that Travel Agents should be required to give notification before accepting an agency from a Company not a member of the A.P.A.C.
Aim No. 7 is in these terms -
To evolve a plan to give members protection in the event of default by an agent.
Then it goes on to say that the committee now includes certain lines as members. There is quite a number of them. To save the time of the House, and so that honorable members may get home early, I shall incorporate this list in “ Hansard “ with the concurrence of honorable members.
– Order! The honorable member for Grayndler asks for leave to have a list incorporated in “ Hansard “. Is leave granted?
– Leave is not granted.
– In that case I shall inform the minds of the honorable members opposite and read the portion of the document which is in these terms -
The Committee now includes the following lines as members: -
Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation
Company, Orient Steam Navigation Co. Ltd., British India Steam Navigation Co. Ltd..
Eastern and Australian Steam Ship Co. Ltd., The New Zealand Shipping Co. Ltd., Shaw Savill & Albion Co. Ltd. Royal Interocean Lines, The Oceanic Steamship Co.-Matson Lines, Compagnie des Messageries Maritimes, °’“» T ine
Lloyd Triestino. (
Port Line Ltd.,
Cunard Steam Ship Company,
Canadian Pacific Steamships Ltd.,
Nederland Line Royal Dutch Mail,
Royal Rotterdam Lloyd,
Holland Australia Line,
Indo-China Steam Navigation Co. Ltd.,
Union Steam Ship Co. of New Zealand Ltd.,
Ellerman & Bucknall (Aust.) Pty. Ltd.,
Trans-Ocean Steamship Company,
Pacific Shipowners Ltd.,
The Transatlantic S.S. Co. Ltd.,
The Clan Line Steamers Ltd.,
The Scottish Shire Line Ltd.,
Blue Star Line (Aust.) Pty. Ltd.,
Norddeutscher Lloyd, and invitations have been extended to the undermentioned, who it is hoped, will agree to join:
Australia-West Pacific Line,
The East Asiatic Co. Ltd.,
Norse Oriental Line,
American Pioneer Line.
If honorable members opposite are not quite clear on the lines, I am prepared to read them again. The document goes on to give further details, with which I will not trouble the House at this stage as they are not important to my argument. In due course the document will be submitted in detail to the Attorney-General. I make this point: Section 6 of the committee’s suggestions is identical with article 13 of the travel agents’ agreement which goes to all travel agents accepting contracts with shipping companies in relation to passengers.
It is significant that these organizations only comparatively recently have discriminated against the Greek-Australia Line and the Europe-Australia Line. It is significant also that invitations have not been issued to the Greek-Australia Line and the EuropeAustralia Line to joint this new set-up, particularly in view of the fact that those companies are now trading between these nations. This indicates an endeavour to stifle trade, to restrict entrance of companies to this organization and in some way to build up a combine. I shall read clause 13 of the agency arrangements with shipping companies, which is identical in principle with what I read a few minutes ago. It is as follows: -
The acceptance of the appointment is conditional upon the Agent undertaking to concentratehis efforts to the utmost extent in securing passengers for the Lines, Members of the Australian & New Zealand Passenger Conference, viz. P. & O., Orient, Shaw Savill & Albion, Blue Funnel and the New Zealand Shipping Co. Ltd. If the Agent shall desire to accept appointment as Agent, Sub-Agent or representative for or in respect of any other passenger carrying vessel calling at Australia and/ or New Zealand, the Agent shall not accept any such appointment without having first given notice in writing to the Orient Line of his desire or intention so to do, thus allowing the Line the opportunity of reviewing the main appointment should this be necessary. Should a case arise in which a passenger carrying vessel which formerly did not call at Australian and/or New Zealand ports and for or in respect of which the Agent has been appointed Agent, Sub-Agent or representative, oommence to call at Australian and/or New Zealand ports, the Agent shall forthwith upon such commencement, notify the Line in writing of such agency, sub-agency or representation.
Honorable members will notice how very strict that clause is.
I have here a letter which was written to one of these travel agents by the Australian and New Zealand Passenger Conference. It reads -
We acknowledge receipt of your letter of 22nd December, reference AT/jk, relating to bookings in the National Greek/ Australian Line vessel s.s. “ Patris “.
We are grateful for the assurance contained in your letter and we welcome this opportunity of expressing the attitude of Members of this Conference to this problem.
It is unnecessary to say that the Conference Lines greatly value the good relations they enjoy with your organization wherever they operate. They readily appreciate your desire to provide for the public as comprehensive a travel service as possible. At the same time they do seek your unfettered support for the service which the established Lines have built up over a great number of years. It is for that reason that Clause 13 was included in the Lines’ Agency Agreements.
With these factors in mind, Members wish to say that they agree that your Office should give information on the operations of the Greek Line, if sought by your Clients, and they concede that the acceptance of commission for bookings made will not be held as contravening Clause 13, on the understanding that you refrain from advertising the Greek Line’s sailings, and that you satisfy inquiries received. It is also the hone of Members that, in your reply to the Greek Line’s offer, you will find it unnecessary to go further than to state your willingness to act as booking agents. Should you be requested to enter into a formal agency agreement, Members would be very grateful if you would consult them again before doing so.
With our thanks for your continued co-operation.
The point I make is that the agents cannot advertise these other lines; they are put on the back shelf, as it were. In order to maintain passenger traffic within a small group of companies which control the huge shipping combines through the conference lines, both in relation to freight and passengers, it will be seen that these other lines are being squeezed out by the most restrictive practices of all - by refusing to allow the agents to handle their affairs and to publicize them to the public. I lodge my protest about these matters, which have been raised before in this place by myself and other honorable members. The Attorney-General might study these documents, which I shall send him, because they have an important bearing upon a matter in which we are interested, namely, stopping the growth of monopolies and combines in this country. This growth is exemplified by the treatment being given to these companies, and no doubt to others whose names have not come to hand, in relation to freights and cargoes. This is an important matter because it affects the freedom of trade of which the shipping companies in the combines speak so much.
There are many other matters which 1 feel I should discuss and, although I am not hopeful that they will impress honorable members on the Government side, I shall mention one or two of them. One relates to the Citizenship Convention which is held in January each year. I hope that at the next convention there will be complete, open and free discussion of all aspects of the migration programme. I do not make any specific criticism, but I think such a convention should be more or less an open forum, giving .freedom of expression. I think we all could add something of importance to the immigration scheme.
I have already expressed the view at one of these conventions that naturalization ceremonies should be improved. There are ways and means of making them less mournful, and more in keeping with what should be a grand occasion for the people ^concerned. I hope that something will be done to pep them up. At the recent Citizenship Convention it was mentioned that up to 14 or 20 speeches could be made if all concerned exercised their right to speak. Things like that should be eliminated. The ceremony should not be conducted along mournful lines, as it is at present. A bit of colour and enthusiasm would be much better for the persons who are being naturalized and for others who attend for a variety of reasons. As I have said, 1 sincerely trust that thought will be given to allowing frank and open discussion at these conventions so that we may be able to place before the Government and the Department of Immigration views which will be regarded not as petulant or political but as constructive.
I know that honorable members will be happy to hear that I do not intend to prolong my speech. The time allotted to me has almost expired. I welcome the opportunity that ‘I have had to express my views. I repeat my hope that the Government will take note of the pornographic literature to which I have referred and ensure that it is prevented from entering the country. I hope also that the Government will give due consideration to preventing the growth of monopolies and restrictive trade practices by shipping combines and conference lines. I sincerely trust that when we are discussing supply bills later in the year we will not be confronted by a lot of silent dummies opposite. I hope that we shall have some intelligent contributions from honorable members on the Government side on measures for which they are responsible providing for the expenditure of countless thousands of pounds. I suppose it is a long time since we have witnessed such silence from the Government. It is a striking confirmation of its inability to defend its own policies. What was said to-night by the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James), the honorable member for Cunningham (Mr. Kearney) and others in this Parliament in respect of unemployment will have to be faced. It is a sorry commentary on the Government, which is supposed to be responsible for giving full employment to the people of this country, increasing housing and providing employment for children leaving school, that its members and supporters listened silently to-night to the attack by members of the Opposition without seeking to defend themselves. I do not think there is one constructive idea among the members of the Government parties. But of course, that is exemplified by the state of the economy to-day.
Having said so much at this very late hour I conclude my address by hoping the
Government will take note of sensible suggestions made by members of the Opposition to-night in order that it may have some little hope of improving the economy and placing this country back on the road to stability again.
– It is with some surprise that I find myself taking part in this debate to-night, and I will not delay the House long. The honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) read out some material prepared by Mr. P. J. Drain and I wish to put the record straight. So far as I am aware I have not heard of Mr. P. J. Drain before, but in view of what has been said I shall place something of the chronology of rail standardization on record. The scheme for standardization in general was in my mind in the late 1930’s or early 1940’s. I do not think it was published in detail until 1949, when it appeared in a pamphlet, the matter of which was subsequently used and incorporated in the report which was tabled in this House and subsequently printed. So far asI am concerned that fixes the date as 1949. I have never previously heard of Mr. P. J. Drain, so far as I am aware. It may well be that the scheme adopted was a logical and proper scheme about which somebody else has said something in the past, unknown to me. I do not know. I just place on record these facts about the chronology of rail standardization, and I point out that the map of the scheme which was included in the report was actually printed in 1949 under my name.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Motion (by Mr. McMahon) - by leave - agreed to -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent Orders of the Day Nos. 7, 8 and 9 for the resumption of the debate on the second reading of the Appropriation (Works and Services) Bill and the Supply Bills being called on and being read together and a motion being moved that the bills be now passed.
Consideration resumed from 3rd April (vide page 1223), on motion by Mr. Harold Holt-
That the bill be now read a second time.
Consideration resumed from 3rd April (vide page 1224), on motion by Mr. Harold Holt-
That the bill be now read a second time.
Consideration resumed from 3rd April (vide page 1224), on motion by Mr. Harold Holt-
That the bill be now read a second time.
Bills (on motion by Mr. McMahon) passed.
Bill received from the Senate, and. (on motion by Mr. McMahon) read a first time.
The following bills were returned from the Senate: -
Without amendment -
Commonwealth Electoral Bill 1962.
Without requests -
Customs Tariff Bill (No. 2) 1962.
Customs Tariff Bill (No. 3) 1962.
Customs Tariff (Canada Preference) Bill 1962.
Customs Tariff (New Zealand Preference) Bill’ (No. 2) 1962.
Customs Tariff (Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland Preference) Bill 1962.
Message received from the Senate intimating that it concurred in the resolution transmitted to it by the House of Representatives, in the following terms: -
That the Senate concurs in the Resolution transmitted to the Senate by Message No. 41’ of the House of Representatives with reference to the appointment of a Joint Committee to examine and report on certain matters relating to the Australian Capital Territory.
That the provisions of that Resolution, so far as they are inconsistent with the Standing Orders, have effect notwithstanding anything contained in the Standing Orders.
House adjourned at 2.38 a.m. (Friday).
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
son asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
What amount of pay-roll tax has been paid by local government authorities on wages and salaries during each of the last five years?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
Statistics compiled from pay-roll tax returns do not indicate precisely the amounts of pay-roll tax paid by local government authorities on wages and salaries paid. However, on the basis of such statistics as are available it is estimated that the amounts of pay-roll tax paid by local government authorities during each of the financial years 1956-57 to 1960-61 inclusive were approximately as follows: -
b asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
y asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows: -
The Commissioner of Taxation has advised me that he and his officers are precluded by the secrecy provisions of the relevant taxation legislation from disclosing any information concerning the affairs of any person. Accordingly, I am unable to furnish the information sought by the honorable member.
Internationa] Monetary Fund.
t.- On Wednesday, 28th March, the honorable members for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) and Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) asked me the following questions: -
The answers to these questions are as follows: -
To facilitate the expansion and balanced growth of international trade, and to contribute thereby to the promotion and maintenance of high levels of employment and real income and to the development of the productive resources of all members as primary objectives of economic policy.
To promote exchange stability, to maintain orderly exchange arrangements among members, and to avoid competitive exchange depreciation.
To assist in the establishment of a multilateral system of payments in respect of current transactions between members and in the elimination of foreign exchange restrictions which hamper the growth of world trade.
To give confidence to members by making the fund’s resources available to them under adequate safeguards, thus providing them with opportunity to correct maladjustments in their balance of payments without resorting to measures destructive of national or international prosperity.
In accordance with the above, to shorten the duration and lessen the degree of disequilibrium in the international balances of payments of members.”
The above purposes were explained to the House in 1947 by the then Prime Minister and Treasurer, the Right Honorable J. B. Chifley, in his second-reading speech on the bill providing for Australian membership of the fund.
n asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
b asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
m asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
n asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Generally speaking, prices have been lower this season than last. 5, The higher exports have been caused by higher production in Australia, while the lower prices were the result of excessive supplies of eggs on our main export market - the United Kingdom.
t.- On 11th April, the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Fox) asked me in a question without notice whether there is any provision in the Bills of Exchange Act which would prevent Victorian banks from working a five-day week and remaining closed on Saturdays. I indicated in reply that I would need to refer to the legislation before furnishing an answer. The position is that the Bills of Exchange Act 1909-1958 assumes that banks will be open on “ business days “ and defines what are “ non-business days “. Non-business days for the purposes of the act are Good Friday, Christmas day, Sunday and bank holidays. The question whether banks should remain open on Saturdays in a particular State, therefore, really depends on the question as to whether Saturdays are bank holidays in that State. The Commonwealth Government regards this as a matter for determination by the particular State concerned.
d asked the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
Christmas Island upon them satisfying certain conditions?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– I refer the honorable member to the answers which I gave to previous questions asked by him in relation to Mr. Clive De G. Young (“Hansard” (H. of R.) of 10th October, 1961, at page 1883). As I then said, Mr. Young took it upon himself to resign from the Australian Security Intelligence Organization. No pressure whatsoever was put upon him to do so, nor was it intended that he should be dismissed from the organization.
son asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
e asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
t asked the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
Will he consider providing financial assistance for the purchase of oxygen by pension recipients where it is shown that oxygen supplies are necessary for their health?
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following reply: -
The only manner in which the Minister could assist in providing financial assistance in the purchase of oxygen is under the pharmaceutical benefits provisions of the National Health Act. However, oxygen cannot be made available as a pharmaceutical benefit. Under the provisions of the National Health Act, an expert committee, known as the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee, has been set up to advise the Minister regarding the listing of drugs and medicinal preparations as benefits. No drug or medicinal preparation may be made available as a benefit without a recommendation to that effect by this committee. The question of including oxygen as a benefit has been given considerable attention by the committee, but because of practical difficulties involved in arranging distribution under the pharmaceutical benefits scheme, it has not been found possible for oxygen to be made a pharmaceutical benefit.
d asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Source - Commonwealth Statistician.
Source: Department of Primary Industry.
d asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Capital inflow into Australia can be denned in a number of ways. In the table it has been interpreted to include -
n asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
s asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1 and 2. The Commonwealth provides assistance by way of subsidy (or bounty) to a number of Australian primary or secondary industries. The following sets out the subsidies provided and the estimated 1961-62 payments, together with the date of commencement of each subsidy: -
In addition, legislation recently introduced into Parliament provides for the payment of bounties on the export of certain processed milk products and on the production of ammonium sulphate fertilizer.
d asked the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
New Guinea the following ordinances were amended to remove or amend provisions containing racial discrimination: -
Minimum Age (Sea) Ordinance,
Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Ordinance,
Printers and Newspapers Ordinance,
Stock Brands Ordinance.
The following ordinances were repealed: -
Native Employment Board Ordinance,
Gold Buyers Ordinance (Papua),
Gold Buyers Ordinance (New Guinea),
Past Marriages Ordinance (Papua),
Private Tramways Ordinance,
Re-organization of Native Affairs Department Ordinance,
Rubber Growers Assistance Ordinance (Papua).
m asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -
What reduction takes place in the allowances, endowment and permissible income of a class A widow pensioner as each of her dependent children reaches sixteen years of age?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
When a child of a class A widow reaches sixteen years, and there is one child or more than one child still in her custody, the additional pension is reduced by £39 per annum and child endowment and the allowable deduction from income are each reduced by £26 per annum.
When the youngest or only child of a class A widow reaches sixteen years of age the pension ceases unless the child is continuing at school or unless the widow is qualified for a class B widow’s pension. In the first instance there is no alteration to the pension or income deduction; in the second case no question of additional pension is involved but the allowable income deduction of £26 per annum no longer applies. Child endowment, at £13 per annum, ceases when the youngest or only child reaches sixteen years of age.
n asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows: -
The practice followed by successive governments in the past has been to pay increases in pensions on the earliest pension pay-day after the enabling legislation has received the Royal Assent.
d asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
I to 4. Information which would enable answers to be given is not available.
The payment of rent is a basic qualification for the grant of supplementary assistance.
son asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 10 May 1962, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1962/19620510_reps_24_hor35/>.