24th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Sir John McLeay) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I ask the Minister for Territories: Is if intended to proceed with the establishment of a parliament for the Territory of Papua and New Guinea? If so, is it the intention of the Government to leave to that parliament the decision on questions such as the framing of laws concerning liquor in the Territory? While authority is vested wholly in the Commonwealth does the Government regard itself as bound by the terms of the original mandate in connexion with arms, drugs and drink?
– In answer to the last of the three questions I would say that the spirit of what was contained in the terms of the first mandate issued after the 1914-18 war remains, but I do not think that there is a formal commitment on the part of the Government. The term “ parliament “ is, of course, a broad one. It certainly is the intention of the Government to proceed step by step with constitutional reform, as previously announced by it, so that eventually responsible government will be introduced, as parliamentary government, in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. For the time being we have there a Legislative Council which is partly elective, and any laws relating to drink and alcoholic liquors generally will be passed as ordinances of the Legislative Council. A committee of inquiry is at work in the Territory at the present time. It will make its recommendations to the Administrator, and if those recommendations, on adoption, require legislation, that legislation will be placed before the Legislative Council.
– Has the Minister for Labour and National Service heard of the decision of the Australian Capital Territory Trades and Labour Council to call a strike in the Territory next Wednesday in order to discuss the matter of three weeks’ annual leave? Is not this issue a matter for arbitration?
– I have heard that the Australian Capital Territory Trades and Labour Council intends to call a strike next Wednesday for the purpose mentioned by the honorable gentleman, and I consider, Sir, that this action is to be deplored. Some time ago, the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission decided that a decision on the question of three weeks’ annual leave should be held over pending a final decision as to Great Britain’s entry into the European Common Market. It did this on the basis that the uncertainties were so great that a decision should not be made at this time. The arbitration system is there, and once the arbitrator’s decision is given it should be accepted. Parties should not accept a decision when it is favorable to them and reject a decision that is unfavorable to them. As to the employers who are weakly capitulating to demands under threat of direct action I believe that their actions are just as irresponsible, and that they, too, should observe the decision of the commission.
– I ask the Minister for External Affairs: In view of the importance and the difficulties of relations between Australia and Indonesia that have resulted from the changes in West New Guinea, has the Minister given any consideraton to seeking a pact or agreement with Indonesia calculated to stabilize the position regarding territory and arms between the two countries?
– I do not think it right to say that difficulties have arisen between Indonesia and Australia at present. I said in answer to a question last week that no doubt there would need to be many arrangements made; and those matters would have attention. As to the specific question the honorable member has put to me about a treaty or arrangement, I certainly have taken no steps in that direction. I made a remark to a press conference that I had said to the Indonesian Foreign Minister that it might be appropriate at some suitable time to consider formalizing the assurances that had been given to me.
– I preface a question to the Prime Minister with a reference to the reported statement of the president of the Australian and New Zealand Association for the Advancement of Science in which he said that the time had arrived when a man or group of men should be appointed to examine Australia’s overall scientific policy. I ask the Prime Minister whether the Government, in the interests of Australia’s scientific development, has considered, or will consider, such an appointment.
– I have had before me over the last few months a variety of proposals on this very important problem of scientific skill and its effective use in Australia. It is a very important problem indeed. I have had, I think, three or four rather different proposals put forward by scientists of distinction on this matter. I have had at least two conferences with some of them, and I can assure the honorable member that I regard the matter as being so important that I propose to continue these talks in the hope of arriving at some satisfactory and useful result.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Labour and National Service. Is he aware that during the recent dispute between the Queerah meat workers and the company, the commissioner recommended that the president of the union be employed in the works, if not in his present capacity then in some other capacity? Is he also aware that the president received a letter from the company stating that if he resigned as president of the union, it would employ him? Will the Minister take action to see that the recommendations of the commissioner are carried out by the company, thus averting further industrial strife involving other unions?
– I do not want to be controversial about the Queerah meat dispute, but if the honorable gentleman would like to have copies of the order made by Commissioner Findlay I shall let him have them. However, I think he will know that it was stated in the second decision that this man had been a source of considerable industrial trouble, unnecessarily, over the course of many months. As to whether I should interfere with the workings of the arbitration system, I say quite positively that I will not do it. The Arbitration Court is an independent institution, and it is my responsibility as Minister to see that it remains independent. If the honorable gentleman feels that the president of the meat union in Queerah has been placed in any difficulty, then there are remedies available to him through the Arbitration Court.
– I address my question to the Treasurer. Having regard to the representations that have been made regarding the difficulty of borrowing money and the necessity for introducing long-term mortgage arrangements for those engaged in rural activities, can the right honorable gentleman inform the House of the progress made in arranging for a consortium of trading banks to provide such long-term mortgage finance, and whether special legislation will be needed to give effect to these arrangements? Can the Treasurer provide any information that may serve to allay the present fears of men on the land, particularly those who have been hit by drought in certain areas, while others have enjoyed good crops and favorable prices?
– The Government has consistently impressed upon the Governor of the Reserve Bank and upon the trading banks the importance of adequate funds being available to rural borrowers. The Governor from time to time consults with the trading banks and he has, to my knowledge, impressed on them the views of the Government in this matter. I have done so myself in my own consultations with them. As the honorable gentleman will be aware, a certain amount of financial assistance has been given by the Commonwealth Development Bank, the capital of which was increased by £10,000,000 in last year’s Budget. This, of course, relates to loans which normally could not be obtained inside the trading bank structure.
More recently, after discussions in which the Government actively participated, we constituted a term lending fund with total resources at the moment of £57,000,000.
This was partly to assist in the financing of long-term credits for exports, but it was also to assist in medium and long term financing of industrial development, including rural development. As far as I know, these arrangements have been proceeding quite satisfactorily and no special legislation is required. I shall see whether I can obtain details as to how far the fund has been used up to the present and to what extent rural borrowing has been a feature of lending to date.
– I wish to direct a question to the Minister for the Interior and Minister for Works. On 8th August, the honorable member for St. George asked the Minister whether 200 employees of the Department of Works in New South Wales were to be dismissed during September, when the House will be in recess. The Minister replied -
I am now able to say that the whole story is a complete fabrication.
I now ask the Minister: If what he said on 8th August is correct, why have eight painters and six carpenters employed by the Department of Works as maintenance tradesmen at Williamtown air base received three weeks’ notice to take effect on 6th September? Have these employees had service ranging from three to eleven years? Have they been dismissed because the jobs on which they have been engaged have now been completed or is there still available plenty of work similar to the work they have been doing for the past five or six years? Does the department intend to stand down other tradesmen and builders’ labourers? Will the Minister order the withdrawal of these dismissal notices? Is the laying-off of these men part of the Government’s policy of full employment?
– I think the honorable member will agree that there is a vast difference between the number he mentioned - 1 think it was fourteen - and 200. The position is this: There was at Williamtown a number of men who were considered redundant, in that there is not sufficient work in the programme for the full year to justify keeping the work force up to the full strength. A relatively few dismissal notices - as few as possible - have had to be given. Every effort has-been made to find other work for the men who have been given dismissal notices. Some men were engaged for specific jobs, and those jobs have cut out. In all, 130 men have been employed at Williamtown. With the funds available for the year’s works programme, there is not sufficient work to keep all these 130 men employed. As I say, every effort is being made to place in- other work the men whose services are not required at Williamtown, and the dismissals will be kept to a minimum.
– I desire to direct a question to the Postmaster-General. I refer to applications for television licences in the areas Upper Namoi, South-Western Slopes and Riverina, Grafton-Kempsey, Upper Murray, Wide Bay and Spencer Gulf North, which were dealt with by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board in May and June of this year. Can the PostmasterGeneral give any information regarding the date on which the names of successful tenderers will be announced? I might mention that only a limited number of applicants is involved.
– The question relates to investigations by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board of the first six applications in the fourth phase of television. The board has completed its investigations and has submitted to me a report, which I propose to submit to the Cabinet for its decision. The report will be discussed by the Cabinet as soon as possible, having regard to the pretty considerable volume of business that is awaiting attention by the Cabinet. It should not be very long before decisions are made. As to one of the applications, since the board made its inquiries the death has occurred of one of the sponsors, and a decision on that application may be held up for a little while. However, that unfortunate circumstance will not affect the other applications.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Repatriation. Why are repatriation benefits not extended to Australians who served as mercantile mariners during the 1914-18 war? Was there any specific reason why these benefits were not granted to such persons under the Seamen’s War Pensions and Allowances Act 1940-1961? Will the Minister have this matter investigated, with a view to introducing legislation as soon as possible to give repatriation benefits to First World War mercantile mariners?
– I appreciate the honorable member’s interest in this matter, and I will certainly investigate it. I advise the honorable member, however, that the matter is one that comes within the jurisdiction of my colleague, the Minister for Shipping and Transport. I will see that the matter is discussed with him, and I will let the honorable member have a reply.
– My question is also directed to the Minister for Repatriation. Have arrangements been completed for officers of the Repatriation Department to visit centres outside the capital cities in all States?
– I am pleased to be able to inform the honorable member that arrangements have now been completed for senior officers of the Repatriation Department’ regularly to visit provincial and country areas in all States, and also the Northern Territory and the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, to discuss repatriation matters. I personally have a firm belief in the principle that repatriation should be taken to the people. In the advancement of that policy, over recent months arrangements have been made to adopt this principle in all States, and I am pleased to say that from now on it will be adhered to. Either the Deputy Commissioner of Repatriation in each State, or some other senior officer, will visit the provincial and country areas regularly.
– My question is supplementary to the one just asked by the honorable member for Newcastle. I ask the Minister for the Interior: Will he, in view of his statement that fourteen tradesmen have recently been dismissed at Williamtown, state how many similar dismissal notices have been served on other tradesmen throughout Australia in the employ of the Department of the Interior? How many such dismissal notices does the department intend to issue in the near future?
– I think that the honorable member is singularly ill-informed about the matter to which his question relates. Those who received these dismissal notices happened to be day labourers employed by the Department of Works. I have not the precise figures, but throughout Australia there are approximately 1,900 men in the day-labour force employed by the department. In total, there are very few dismissal notices. The only difficulty at present is in the Williamtown area.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Social Services. I ask: Is it a fact that all matters concerning the administration of family allowances for people living in the northcentral region of Victoria will be dealt with in the future by the regional office of the Department of Social Services at Bendigo, Victoria? Is this in continuation of the department’s decentralization policy? Can the Minister give an indication of the area that will be covered from Bendigo?
– I am glad to be able to inform the honorable member for Mallee, and other honorable members, that the plan for the decentralization of the child endowment and family and maternity allowances section of the Department of Social Services in the capital cities of all the States between the regional offices within the States is proceeding at a satisfactory rate. Already, the Geelong office is functioning as a completely autonomous establishment. So, too, is the office at Bendigo, as has been mentioned by the honorable member for Mallee. My knowledge of the geography of internal Victoria is limited, but I believe that much of the federal electorate of Mallee is included in the region served by the Bendigo office of the department. This plan of decentralization will continue until the seventeen regional offices throughout the Commonwealth are completely autonomous. This will be of great advantage to the mothers and the children of the community as a whole.
– I address my question to the Minister for Trade. He was reported the other day as having said that we must be careful to avoid exaggerating the difficulties that might accrue to Australia as a result of the United Kingdom’s entry to the European Common Market. Who has been exaggerating these difficulties?
– I am quite sure that the words used by the honorable member were not used by me. I shall let him have the text of the speech that he has in mind if he wants it.
– My question, which is directed to the Treasurer, is supplementary to the one asked by the honorable member for New England. Is the Minister aware that the crying need in rural industries is for really long-term finance, of a term equivalent, for instance, to that of the usual housing loan? Is he aware, also, that this need is not met by the new arrangements for term loans of up to ten years that have been announced by the trading banks? Will the right honorable gentleman have further discussions with the banks to see whether it is possible for them to bridge this gap? Alternatively, will he consider widening the scope of the Commonwealth Development Bank of Australia so that it can make long-term loans for other than purely developmental purposes?
- Mr. Speaker, I did not seek to convey that the trading banks and the Development Bank together comprised all the available sources of funds for long-term rural borrowing. There are, of course, other institutions of which the honorable gentleman will be aware. Not only have we recognized the high priority that lending for this purpose should enjoy but, as the honorable gentleman will know, we have taken action to ensure that the rate of interest charged will also be on a preferred basis. I recognize the importance of this to the rural industries and, indeed, to ensure a continued expansion of the export income upon which so much of Australian prosperity and employment depends. The question the honorable member raises about some expansion of the activity and, therefore, presumably, the capital of the Development Bank is a matter of policy which is reviewed from time to time. I shall see that what he has said on this matter is not overlooked when we make our next review.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Social Services. Did the Minister receive, prior to the preparation of the Budget, a booklet entitled “ A Case for Graded Child Endowment and Increased Maternity Allowances “ which was prepared and distributed by the National Catholic Welfare Committee? If so, will he inform the House what consideration was given by himself and his departmental officers to the proposals outlined in the booklet? What reasons can he advance for the Government’s failure to include any increases in child endowment in any Budget since 1950?
- Mr. Speaker, in reply to the honorable member for Lang, may I be permitted to say that I receive a great many documents from day to day on every aspect of social services. All these documents are carefully read and considered by me and are passed on to the Department of Social Services for further study. The honorable member for Lang knows, as does every other honorable member, that all aspects of social services are carefully examined by the Government when the Budget is being prepared. As a matter of policy, it was decided on this occasion that there should be no changes in social service payments.
– My question also is addressed to the Minister for Social Services. Will the Minister advise the House of the significance of the reciprocal social services agreement signed last Thursday by the High Commissioner for the United Kingdom and by himself on behalf of the Commonwealth Government?
– It will be appreciated that when the Social Services Act was amended to reduce the residence qualification from twenty years to ten years the implication 1; n was that this could affect the reciprocal agreement entered into with the United Kingdom for the payment of social services in both countries. The matter was under consideration for some time. In the meantime, the status quo was maintained. I am happy to say that, with the concurrence of the Commonwealth Government and the
Government of the United Kingdom, a new agreement was entered into and signed by His Excellency the High Commissioner for the United Kingdom on behalf of the United Kingdom Government, and by myself on behalf of the Australian Government. The significance of the agreement is that the reciprocal arrangements, which have obtained for some years, will be continued without interruption and the United Kingdom Government will adjust itself to the new set of circumstances whereby the residential qualifications will be reduced from twenty years to ten years.
– Is the Attorney-General aware that tenders submitted to Municipal Councils for the supply of motor fuel and oil from oil companies exhibit a degree of uniformity which suggests that restrictive practices are being followed? Has the Minister recently received complaints from the Parramatta City Council, and does he propose to take any action with regard to them?
– It is true that I have received a letter from the Town Clerk of Parramatta directing my attention to the fact that his council had received a number of identical tenders. Whether those identical tenders indicate an agreement or not is quite a substantial question. It is not a question which I have any authority or power to investigate.
– I wish to ask the Minister for Labour and National Service a question, which is supplementary to a question asked by the honorable member for Leichhardt in regard to the industrial dispute at Queerah. Did the court recommend the re-employment of the union representative or did it ask the company to consider the reinstatement of this person when new labour was employed?
– I had hoped that I had heard the last about the Queerah meat works dispute. I can but repeat that the commissioner found that Mr. Houlihan was a most unsatisfactory employee whose performances were bad. But in what has been described to me as a somewhat Solomonlike judgment the commissioner recom. mended that when new labour was being employed by the company it should consider the employment of Mr. Houlihan although not as a key employee - not on whatever he was doing on the meat table. So I think the statement in the second part of the honorable gentleman’s question is correct. The commissioner recommended that the company should consider Mr. Houlihan’s re-employment, but not in the same classification.
– I ask the Minister for the Army what kind of mobility is now attributed to Centurion tanks, having regard to the recent experience of moving a number of these tanks by road and sea from Puckapunyal to Singleton. Is it true, as reported, that this exercise was considerably scaled down after the initial contingent had encountered great difficulty in traversing roads and bridges? Was this exercise preceded by a special reconnaissance designed to ensure that a minimum of difficulty would be experienced in the transportation of the tanks so that the Government would not be subjected to embarrassment? Is it a fact that some senior Army personnel are convinced that Centurion tanks are unsuited to Australian conditions?
– In answer to the last part of the question, I point out that Centurion tanks are the most modern of their type in the world, and are certainly not considered to be obsolete. As for the exercises, the full programme involving the taking of sixteen Centurion tanks to Singleton has been completed. Only four of the tanks were taken by road, because tanks are not racing cars and they do interfere with traffic, to some extent. The other twelve tanks were taken by sea, landed on the beach at Newcastle, and then taken by road to the ground at Singleton. It is very valuable for the training of the Armoured Corps that this should be done. It is not frequently done because it is difficult to do, and it is somewhat expensive. But it is worthwhile in a major exercise of this character in which at least 8,000 troops are employed.
– I wish to ask the Minister for Social Services a question which is supplementary to that asked by my colleague, the honorable member for Mallee. Will the Minister see that his department makes available to those interested particulars of the areas administered by the various regional officers of the Social Services Department, as many people are confused because they do not know to what centre they should apply?
– I will be happy to give consideration to what the honorable member for Wimmera had to say. If it is not generally known where the regional centres are situated to which the local communities might apply for information about social services - if for no other reason - then the department will see to it that the information is publicized in the several localities. When answering a question addressed to me by the honorable member for Mallee I intended to say that a completely autonomous regional office will also be in operation at Wangaratta at the end of this month; and the process of decentralization will continue, region by region, until it is completed.
– I address a question to the Minister for Immigration. Can he say whether he is going to meet Miss Tania Verstak on her return to Australia? If so, will he consider inviting some of the younger members of the Parliament to be present on the occasion?
– In view of Miss Verstak’s success on behalf of Australia I think all of us would be not only charmed but also honoured to meet such an attractive young lady on her return to this country. But unfortunately, judging from what has appeared in the newspapers, I think that Miss Verstak, in her anxiety to return quickly to Australia,, is to arrive in Sydney on a sitting day of this Parliament, and in view of the narrow balance between the parties in this House, perhaps such an enjoyable outing might be difficult to arrange.
– My question is addressed to the Attorney-General and is supplementary to that asked by the honorable member for Reid. In view of the complaint of the Parramatta City Council relating to the receipt of identical tenders from various oil companies, will he bring before the House during this session legislation to regulate restrictive practices, as he has promised to do for some years?
– The honorable member is quite incorrect in his statement. I have not promised to bring legislation before this House at any particular time. In his Speech, His Excellency the Governor-General indicated that the matter would be investigated and considered, and that is being done.
– I address a question to the Prime Minister. Did Sir Douglas Copland recently state that an additional 170,000 workers will have to be employed each year to wipe out unemployment by 1964? In view of the fact that the Budget provides for a pool of unemployed of at least 80,000, what plans has the Government to absorb this increase in the number of workers who will be needing employment?
– I must say that I feel under no obligation to comment on statements made by people outside the Parliament. We are now engaged in discussing the Budget, and the honorable member will have ample opportunity to say what he wants to say about these things and to have his arguments answered.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Trade. Are discussions proceeding on the renewal of the Japanese Trade Agreement? Will the renewal terms be debated in this House in the same way as was the original agreement? If so, does the Minister expect a continuance of the fierce opposition to trade with Japan which he encountered previously from the Labour Party?
– From time to time there have been discussions about the renewal of the trade agreement with Japan. The treaty will continue in operation unless either party initiates negotiations to alter specific terms. Discussions have been taking place, and I expect them to take a more definite form in the near future. I hope that they will result in bringing to the Parliament for ratification a treaty as beneficial to Australia as the current one has been. I should hope that those on the other side of the House who have spoken so vigorously of the need to diversify Australian trade and to build up export markets and opportunities will not repeat the performance of five years ago and oppose in both Houses this most valuable trade treaty.
– My question is addressed to the Attorney-General. Some twelve months ago, did the Sydney City Council furnish evidence to him of rigged tenders received by the council from concrete pipe manufacturers? Did the evidence show that on different occasions when tenders were invited one tenderer always submitted a price lower than the other tenderers, who submitted identical quotes? Did the evidence also reveal that the council had the same experience on every occasion in recent years when tenders for concrete pipes were invited, except that manufacturers took turns to submit the lowest tender? If such evidence was furnished to the AttorneyGeneral by the Sydney City Council, will he state what action, if any, has been taken or is proposed to be taken, and if so, when, to correct this practice to which the Sydney City Council has directed his attention?
– The honorable member’s questions all depend upon the first one. To the best of my knowledge, 1 received no such evidence.
– Is the Minister for Repatriation aware that many ex-servicemen in receipt of the 100 per cent, war pension have not been able to perform work of any kind for many years? Does the Minister know that many of these pensioners also receive invalid pensions? Therefore, in view of the fact that the accepted disablement of 100 per cent, leaves the ex-serviceman with little or no capacity to work, will the Minister explain to the House the logic by which the Repatriation Commission refuses to grant such ex-servicemen the pension payable to totally and permanently incapacitated exservicemen? Will the Minister examine the implications of this obvious anomaly to see whether justice can be weighed a little more evenly?
– I appreciate the interest that the honorable member takes in this matter. I receive from him regularly quite a number of representations on behalf of his constituents. I should point out to him that the 100 per cent, war pension is paid for war-caused disabilities and is never associated with a service or a social service pension. No means test is applied to it. So a person who receives the 100 per cent, war pension can receive at the same time a part social service benefit, whether it be an invalid or an age pension, or he can earn some other form of income. We have made a pretty careful assessment of the position in relation to people receiving the 100 per cent, war pension, and I think that about 60 per cent, of them receive some form of outside income apart from social service benefit. The basic principle is that the war pension is associated with war-caused disabilities and not with other disabilities.
In addition to the 100 per cent, pension a person can receive at the same time a service pension if he qualifies for it on the basis of being 60 years of age or on the basis of permanent unemployability. As well as the 100 per cent, pension, he can receive medical treatment, in repatriation hospitals or as an out-patient, for a wide range of disabilities not classified as warcaused.
– by leave - On 1 5th March I made a statement to the House reviewing comprehensively the developments which had taken place to that point of time in the dispute between the Netherlands and Indonesian Governments with respect to the territory of West New Guinea. I then emphasized the fundamental change in the situation which the Dutch initiative at the 16th Session of the
United Nations General Assembly had effected. The Netherlands then sought to transfer the administration of West New Guinea to the United Nations. This was the first public indication that the Netherlands had decided that it should terminate its own administration of the Territory and that it did not desire or, at any rate, did not feel itself able, in the face of the rising insistence of Indonesia, to maintain that administration until such time as the indigenous people were fully capable of choosing their own future. Along with Great Britain, the United States of America and 50 other powers we supported in the General Assembly a resolution incorporating the main features of the Dutch plan, but it failed because a sufficient number of members of the United Nations accepted Indonesia’s claim that West New Guinea, having formed part of the Dutch East Indies, to whose territories the Government of Indonesia was intended to succeed, ought in truth to be part of the Republic of Indonesia.
The purpose of my former statement was to explain the political facts of international life as they applied to this issue - the stands taken by the parties principal to the problem, the attitudes of our friends and allies, and the situation at the United Nations, all of which were key elements, none of which could be ignored, in the determination of what Australia itself could and should do or seek to do.
In my statement I described the situation at that time as most delicate and most complicated, and paradoxical also, in that while both parties professed willingness to negotiate and a desire not to become engaged in hostilities, they were continuing threats of force and apparent preparations for its use and for defence by the Netherlands against its use. This description remained valid for several succeeding months. Matters remained delicate and complicated, and while negotiations were begun, suspended and resumed, armed landings continued, if anything on an increasing scale, during the progress of the negotiations and up to the very moment of signature of the agreement.
The parties, with the assistance of the United Nations, acting through its Acting Secretary-General, U Thant, and his repre sentative, Mr. Ellsworth Bunker, a former United States diplomat, have now reached final agreements. They were signed on 15th August. With the concurrence of honorable members I shall incorporate their terms in “ Hansard “ as an annex to this statement. Briefly, they provide that the administration of the territory is to be transferred in the first instance to the United Nations, which is to be free to hand it to the Government of Indonesia at any time after 1st May, 1963. The initial transfer is expected to take place by 1st October, when the United Nations Administrator takes over. The Indonesian flag is to fly beside that of the United Nations from 1st January, 1963. Meantime, as from 18th August, there has been a cease-fire supervised by the United Nations.
The first steps towards this agreement were taken when secret exploratory discussions between representatives of the two governments began near Washington in March. They took place in the presence of Mr. Ellsworth Bunker, who had been designated by the Acting Secretary-General of the United Nations, U Thant, as his representative. There was an initial setback on 22nd March when these exploratory discussions were suspended, but early in April Mr. Bunker submitted to both parties the outline of a compromise plan for the settlement of the dispute. In essence, this outline plan - which became known as the “ Bunker proposals “ - provided for the transfer of administration from the Netherlands to a United Nations authority over a period of one year, and for subsequent transfer to Indonesia during a further year. Provision was made in the plan for the people of West New Guinea to have an opportunity, after a further period of years, to make a free choice as to their ultimate political status. Details on this and on other aspects of the plan were to be matters for negotiation between the parties.
In the event, what has now been agreed follows closely the plan outlined by Mr. Bunker. Some of the timing arrangements have been altered and some details not previously specified have now been added: but the overall framework is the same. Indeed, at a relatively early stage both governments indicated that they were prepared to accept the Bunker proposals as a basis for further negotiation; but this did not prevent further considerable delays and, as I have mentioned earlier, the continuation of some armed conflict and - perhaps what was more significant - continued increases of military capacity on both sides. It is very clear that mutual suspicions and distrust, built up over the long years for which the dispute has endured, and from the events which preceded and attended the transfer of all the other parts of the former Dutch East Indies, materially increased the difficulties of reaching a solution.
I do not think it necessary at this stage to give the House a detailed recital of the course of the military pressures exerted by the Indonesian Government, nor of the successive concessions and clarifications given or afforded by the Government of the Netherlands. Partisans for either side of (he dispute can find in these events much material to support their diverse views. Suffice it for me to say that incursions by Indonesia commenced with seaborne landings against islands off the west coast of the New Guinea mainland and were followed, from April onwards, by a series of paratroop landings involving some hundreds of men dropped over a widely dispersed area of West New Guinea. The Netherlands authorities took steps to resist such incursions and by reinforcement to increase their capacity so to do, while the Indonesian authorities, for their part, sought to maintain and strengthen the forces which they had introduced. These actions, although the forces directly engaged were small in number and capacity, created a highly explosive situation which not only involved the two parties principal but which also could well have escalated to the stage where outside powers would have been drawn in and large-scale and embittering warfare introduced into this area.
As I indicated in my former statement, the Government had long considered that Australia’s real and abiding interest lay in a peaceful resolution of the dispute. Australia had itself no rights or claims to the territory. But it has an interest, and the Government has always expressed that interest, in the ultimate ability of the indigenous people to choose their own future.
Accordingly, the Government has maintained constant and vigorous diplomatic encouragement to the parties to settle their differences peacefully, and in doing so to ensure that ability of the Papuan population to make that choice. There could have been no certainty that warfare would result in such a choice for the people of West New Guinea. Indeed, I think that warfare would have lessened the chance of them being afforded the opportunity.
It was against this background that whilst on my recent overseas tour, I decided to visit Indonesia. I will be tabling to-day a report to the House on my visit to countries other than Indonesia. I have now to report to the House on my Indonesian visit. My genera! purpose in undertaking this tour was to make personal contact with Asian leaders and to inform myself of the situation in the area. In visiting Djakarta, however, I had a very specific mission. That was to express at first hand the Australian point of view as to the continued use, or threat, of force, to exhort the Indonesian leaders to return to the conference table to settle the dispute peacefully, and in that settlement to recognize the right of the Papuan population to choose their future governments and international affiliations.
When passing through Djakarta on 28th May at the beginning of my tour, I had the opportunity of a short exploratory talk with the Indonesian Foreign Minister, Dr. Subandrio, in which I emphasized the Australian Government’s deep concern over the military actions which had just then taken place in West New Guinea and was given certain explanations of the course of conduct being pursued by Indonesia. I urged a resumption of the suspended discussions in Washington and the cessation of warlike activities. In the four weeks which passed between this brief transit visit on 28th May and my arrival back there again on 1st July, further infiltrations had occurred in West New Guinea and had culminated in the dropping of Indonesian paratroops near Merauke.
Honorable members will recall the seriousness with which this development was regarded by the Government. In a statement issued on 26th June, the Prime Minister pointed out that such warlike action was quite inconsistent with the statements publicly and repeatedly made to us that Indonesia would not pursue its territorial claim to West New Guinea by force of arms; that the negotiations recently begun in the presence of Mr. Bunker had yet to be resumed and that he found it impossible to understand why the process of peaceful negotiation should be interrupted and impaired by military aggression. The Prime Minister reiterated that Australia desired and would respect a peaceful settlement arising from such negotiation; that active hostilities could achieve nothing but unnecessary bitterness; and that peace in this part of the world was important, not only to the nations immediately concerned but to the whole future of South-East Asia and the South-West Pacific. It was also important for the future authority of the United Nations that international territorial differences should be settled without either the threat or the use of armed force.
In deciding to visit Djakarta on 1st July, I believed that at such a time of mounting tensions, when there was a serious danger of large-scale hostilities developing near Australia through miscalculation or misunderstanding, it was my clear duty to do what I could to bring the temperature down and to induce a return to peaceful negotiations. I was reinforced in this view by my belief that the difference between the Dutch and Indonesian positions on the Bunker proposals should not prove insurmountable - if only the parties would return quickly to the conference table. At the same time I was not unaware that there were other countries which were bent on frustrating any peaceful settlement and on provoking, for their own ends, a dangerous widening of the conflict.
I think I ought not to detain the House to report orally the course of my calls on the Indonesian leaders from 1st to 4th July. With the consent of the House I will incorporate my report in that respect in “ Hansard “ as a further annex to this statement.
In summary, I put Australia’s views frankly, directly and forcefully. I urged a resumption of negotiations, a discontinuance of the use or threat of force and, in the event of a transfer of administration to Indonesia, the grant to the Papuan people of an opportunity in due. time to choose their own future. These views were listened to attentively and, as I have said elsewhere, I thought receptively.
The period after my return from Djakarta saw intense diplomatic activity from a number of quarters aimed at the earliest possible resumption of negotiations between Indonesia and the Netherlands. On 13th July, four months after the initial talks had been suspended, further exploratory discussions were resumed near Washington, once more in the presence of Mr. Bunker. Indonesia was represented by Mr. Adam Malik, the Indonesian Ambassador at Moscow, while the principal Netherlands representative was Dr. Van Roijen, the Netherlands Ambassador to the United States. After several days the Indonesian Foreign Minister, Dr. Subandrio, came to Washington to participate in the discussions.
Even at this stage the course of the discussions was not smooth; indeed a point was reached when it appeared likely that the Indonesian representatives might return to Djakarta, causing a suspension of the negotiations, if not worse. I feel I am at liberty to disclose that on behalf of the Australian Government I conveyed to the Indonesian Government its deep concern over the threatened withdrawal of the Indonesian representatives. I pointed out that very substantial progress had been made since the talks resumed and that it was hard to believe that patient discussion would not enable the parties to bridge their remaining differences. I also pointed out - not by any means for the first time - that if military attacks were to follow the termination of negotiations, this would in our view have far-reaching consequences for the peace of the area, and for the relationships of our two peoples. At the same time I also sought from the Ambassador for the Netherlands a clarification of the position which his Government had adopted in the negotiations.
I ought at this point to make it quite clear that Australia has never had any military commitment to the Netherlands in respect of West New Guinea and that agreements between the two governments did not extend beyond defining jointly agreed principles which both governments were following in administering the respective territories for which they were responsible. The Australian Government has not at any time brought any pressure of any kind to bear upon the Netherlands to adopt any particular solution. It has both publicly and through diplomatic channels urged both governments to a peaceful solution which should afford the indigenous inhabitants a right of self-determination. We have constantly deplored the use or threat of force both as a pressure in negotiation and as a means of solution of the dispute. It is a matter of profound regret and concern that both the threat and the use of force did become a factor during the negotiations - and to this extent the representations made by Australia and by others were not fully successful.
It would have been much preferable - particularly for the reputation of the international community and its ability to restrain attempts to settle international disputes by means of force - if this dispute had been resolved without the forceful manifestations of which we have all been acutely aware. But I do believe that the efforts of the United States and others, including Australia, have prevented the outbreak of hostilities from which nobody in the area, including the Papuan inhabitants, could have profited. The presently important fact is that a solution has been found, under the auspices of the United Nations - a solution which accords with the desire of the Netherlands to relinquish the administration of the Territory, and with the desire of all concerned, including Australia, that the indigenous people should have their choice of their future.
Whilst the negotiation was primarily between the two parties to the dispute, honorable members will bear in mind that the third member present at the negotiations represented the Acting SecretaryGeneral of the United Nations. The technique of negotiation followed in this case seemed sound to the Australian Government; the Acting Secretary-General seemed best able to extend good offices - and moreover it was essential that he agree, in advance, to accept and perform the responsibilities falling to him under the agreement, the extent of which will appear in the terms of settlement which the House has been kind enough to allow me to incorporate in “ Hansard “. The solution which has been reached stems to a considerable degree from the initiatives of the Acting
Secretary-General and of his designated representative, Mr. Bunker, lt carries with it the authority of the Secretary-General’s office, it is obviously regarded by him as a practical and reasonable proposition, and it will have his support when the agreement comes before the United Nations for approval.
At various stages, suggestions have been made that the dispute over West New Guinea should have been referred outright to the United Nations - presumably to the Security Council, where any prospect of a reasonable solution would have been frustrated by the Soviet veto, and then perhaps to the General Assembly, a forum ill equipped to find a reasonable solution to a “ colonial “ problem already bedevilled by a long and emotional history. In any case, the experience of the sixteenth session indicates that no resolution looking to a settlement could command the necessary twothirds majority for passage in the Assembly unless assured of the agreement of Indonesia and her 40 supporters. The Australian Government, as I indicated in my former statement, kept the possibilities under constant review, but felt that the best prospect of a solution, as distinct from fruitless recrimination, lay in private and direct negotiation between the interested parties, with the active co-operation and assistance of the Acting Secretary-General of the United Nations. The result, although the path to it has not always been smooth, appears to bear out that assessment of the Government.
The agreement between the parties contemplates that there should be a resolution of the General Assembly sponsored jointly by the Netherlands and Indonesia by which the United Nations will take note of the agreement and authorize the SecretaryGeneral to carry out the tasks the agreement would require of him.
After the passing of this resolution, which is expected on or before 1st October next, the Netherlands Government will transfer administration of the territory to an agency of the United Nations to be called the United Nations Temporary Executive Authority. This will be headed by a United Nations Administrator, acceptable to the Netherlands and Indonesia, and appointed by the Secretary-General of the United Nations.
The Administrator, under the direction of the Secretary-General, will administer the territory until 1st May, 1963 - that is, for approximately seven months. In that period, he will replace a relatively small number of specified Dutch officials with non-Dutch, non-Indonesian officials; for the rest, he will employ Dutch officials who wish to serve on a temporary basis, Papuans wherever possible, and personnel provided by Indonesia. Netherlands armed forces will be repatriated as rapidly as possible, with law and order being maintained by existing Papuan police supplemented by a United Nations security force of about battalion size. The Papuan Volunteer Corps and Indonesian armed forces already in the territory will be under the authority of, and at the disposal of, the Secretary-General and the Administrator.
As from 1st May, 1963, the United Nations Administrator will have discretion to transfer all or part of the administration of the territory to Indonesia; the Administrator’s authority will cease when full administrative control has been transferred. United Nations security forces will then be replaced by Indonesian security forces, and Indonesian national laws and regulations will be applicable to the territory, consistent with the rights and freedoms guaranteed to the inhabitants under the terms of the agreement.
A number of United Nations experts are expected to stay on in the territory, and in due course to advise on and assist in preparations for self-determination by the people. The agreement provides that the act of self-determination will be completed before the end of 1969. A year prior to then the Secretary-General will appoint a representative who, with his staff, will advise, assist and participate in arrangements whereby the people of the territory will make a free choice as to their future political status.
During the period up to the time of the exercise of self-determination, full reports are to be made to the Secretary-General by the Administrator, and by the United Nations Representative. The SecretaryGeneral himself will report to the General Assembly.
The agreement also guarantees for the inhabitants of the territory rights, such as free speech, freedom of movement and assembly. Indonesia has undertaken to combat illiteracy, to advance social, cultural and economic development in the territory and to accelerate the participation of the people in local government. Provision has been made for the Netherlands and Indonesia to share the cost of the functions assumed by the United Nations in carrying out the transfer of administration.
Finally, as a related part of the agreement, the Governments of Indonesia and the Netherlands have already announced the resumption of diplomatic relations - a step which is warmly welcomed by Australia.
This is the agreement arrived at by negotiation between the parties with the close co-operation and assistance of the Acting Secretary-General and his representative. It contains provisions for the exercise of free choice by the inhabitants, with the continuing advice, assistance and participation of the United Nations in the arrangements preceding the act of selfdetermination and in the arrangements for the act itself. The agreement puts an end to a dispute which seemed otherwise bound to lead to large-scale war in West New Guinea, a war in which the inhabitants themselves would have borne the brunt of suffering and in which their hopes of eventual selfdetermination might well have been extinguished.
The result which the agreement produces is, or soon will be, a part of history with which Australia must live. In a real sense that result was beyond our control, though carrying significant consequences for Australia. It is well that I remind the House that Australia has never been a claimant for the territory of West New Guinea; we have never been a party to the dispute, have never been asked to serve as arbitrator, mediator or adviser; and thus Australia has not had any right or status to require either party to accept any such services or to follow any particular solution. And, if any should have contemplated a military adventure, it is worth remembering that none of the countries of the West, and particularly of those with whom Australia has the closest association, were at any relevant time willing to maintain a Netherlands administration by military means. 1 have indicated how we have used our diplomacy to counsel negotiations, to avoid war and the use or threat of force, and to emphasize the claims of the Papuan population to self-determination. I am confident that in the perspective of time the Government’s part in the solution of this problem will not only be seen as right and proper but also as most creditable and valuable to Australia and to Australia’s best interests.
As a result of the agreement of the parties, we are to have for the first time a common land frontier, that between East and West New Guinea, with a people of Asia. But, although many new arrangements may need to be made, it would be wrong, in my view, to begin this closer association with Indonesia in any sense of foreboding or recrimination. We have proclaimed our friendship for the peoples of neighbouring Asia, including specifically the peoples of Indonesia. We have proclaimed our will and capacity to live and to co-operate with them. We have so far demonstrated the sincerity and reality of these assertions. I am sure that we will continue to do so; and, in doing so, we will enrich our own and their economies and cultures and broaden and deepen the security and stability of the area in which we live. As with our other friends whether of the old world or the new, whether of European or Asian derivation, so with Indonesia, we will express and press our point of view on all matters of concern to us; we will vigorously - but peacefully - pursue our vital interests, and we will maintain to the full the integrity of our country and its territories, in which latter task we have pledged allies. This, I am sure, Indonesia realizes and respects, just as I am sure that it realizes that we are prepared to approach all problems affecting the area in a spirit of continuing co-operation and, as far as New Guinea is concerned, to do so both in the period of United Nations administration which lies ahead and also in the subsequent period of administration by Indonesia.
I should tell the House that in this spirit I sent, on 17th August, messages to the Governments of the Netherlands and of Indonesia. To the Netherlands foreign Minister, I said -
I should like to express to Your Excellency the satisfaction of the Australian Government that a peaceful settlement of the West New Guinea dispute has now been reached between the Netherlands and Indonesia, wilh the assistance of the United Nations.
I can appreciate that your government’s decision to accept this settlement was taken only after the most anxious and searching deliberation, and after weighing carefully all the factors involved.
The Australian- Government hopes that the faithful execution, of the Agreement of 15th August, 1962 by all those concerned will ensure peace and stability to the West New Guinea region and make adequate provision for the interests and future of the indigenous people, whose welfare you and your government had so much at heart.
My government welcomes with particular pleasure the decision of the Netherlands and Indonesian Governments, wilh both of whom Australia enjoys close and cordial relations, to resume the exchange of diplomatic missions.
To the Indonesian Foreign Minister I said -
I should like to express to Your Excellency the satisfaction of the Australian Government that a peaceful settlement of the West. New Guinea dispute has now been reached between Indonesia and the Netherlands, with the assistance of the United Nations.
My Government welcomes wilh particular pleasure the decision of the Indonesian and Netherlands governments, with both of whom Australia enjoys close and cordial relations, to resume the exchange of diplomatic missions.
The Australian Government accepts and will respect the agreement of 15th August, 1962. It hopes that the faithful execution of that agreement by all those concerned will ensure peace and stability to the West New Guinea region and make adequate provision for the interests and future of the indigenous people.
On that basis, Australia, in its administration of the neighbouring territory, will approach all mutual problems in a spirit of continuing cooperation.
May I conclude my statement by hoping that, with the resumption of diplomatic relations between the Governments of the Netherlands and of Indonesia and the removal of this cause of difference, a new era of co-operation and returning goodwill will open between those two countries, an era from which both will derive both profit and satisfaction.
ANNEX 1. AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE REPUBLIC OF INDONESIA AND THE KINGDOM OF THE NETHERLANDS CONCERNING WEST NEW GUINEA (WEST IRIAN)
The Republic of Indonesia and the Kingdom of the Netherlands,
Having in mind the interests and welfare of the peoples of the territory of West New Guinea (West Irian) hereinafter referred to as “ the territory,”
Desirous of settling their dispute regarding the territory,
Now, therefore, agree as follows:
Ratification of Agreement and Resolution of the General Assembly of the United Nations
After the present Agreement between Indonesia and the Netherlands has been signed and ratified by both Contracting Parties, Indonesia and the Netherlands will jointly sponsor a draft resolution in the United Nations under the terms of which the General Assembly of the United Nations takes note of the present Agreement, acknowledges the role conferred upon the Secretary-General of the United Nations therein, and authorizes him to carry out the tasks entrusted to him therein.
Transfer of Administration
After the adoption of the resolution referred to in Article I, the Netherlands will transfer administration of the territory to a United Nations Temporary Executive Authority (UNTEA) established by and under the jurisdiction of the SecretaryGeneral upon the arrival of the United Nations Administrator appointed in accordance with Article IV. The UNTEA will in turn transfer the administration to Indonesia in accordance with Article XII.
United Nations Administration
In order to facilitate the transfer of administration to the UNTEA after the adoption of the resolution by the General Assembly, the Netherlands will invite the Secretary-General to send a representative to consult briefly with the Netherlands Governor of the territory prior to the latter’s departure. The Netherlands Governor will depart prior to the arrival of the United Nations Administrator.
A United Nations Administrator, acceptable to Indonesia and the Netherlands, will be appointed by the Secretary-General.
The United Nations Administrator, as chief executive officer of the UNTEA, will have full authority under the direction of the SecretaryGeneral to administer the territory for the period of the UNTEA administration in accordance with the terms of the present Agreement.
The Secretary-General will provide the UNTEA with such security forces as the United Nations Administrator deems necessary; such forces will primarily supplement existing Papuan police in the task of maintaining law and order. The Papuan Volunteer Corps, which on the arrival of the
United Nations Administrator will cease being part of the Netherlands armed forces, and the Indonesian armed forces in the territory will be under the authority of, and at the disposal of, the SecretaryGeneral for the same purpose. The United Nations Administrator will, to the extent feasible, use the Papuan police as a United Nations security force to maintain law and order and, at his discretion, use Indonesian armed forces. The Netherlands armed forces will be repatriated as rapidly as possible and while still in territory will be under the authority of the UNTEA.
The United Nations Administrator will send periodic reports to the Secretary-General on the principal aspects of the implementation of the present Agreement. The Secretary-General will submit full reports to Indonesia and the Netherlands and may submit, at his discretion, reports to the General Assembly or to all United Nations Members.
First Phase of United Nations Administration
The United Nations Administrator will replace as rapidly as possible top Netherlands officials as defined in Annex A with non-Netherlands, nonIndonesian officials during the first phase of the UNTEA administration which will be completed on 1 May 1963. The United Nations Administrator will be authorized to employ on a temporary basis all Netherlands officials other than top Netherlands officials defined in Annex A, who wish to serve the UNTEA, in accordance with such terms and conditions as the SecretaryGeneral may specify. As many Papuans as possible will be brought into administrative and technical positions. To fill the remaining required posts, the UNTEA will have authority to employ personnel provided by Indonesia. Salary rates prevailing in the territory will be maintained.
Immediately after the transfer of administration to the UNTEA, the UNTEA will widely publicize and explain the terms of the present Agreement, and will inform the population concerning the transfer of Administration to Indonesia and the provisions for the act of self-determination as set out in the present Agreement.
To the extent that they are consistent with the letter and spirit of the present Agreement, existing laws and regulations will remain in effect. The UNTEA will have the power to promulgate new laws and regulations or amend them within the spirit and frame work of the present Agreement. The representative councils will be consulted prior to the issuance of new laws and regulations or the amendment of existing laws.
The United Nations Administrator will have discretion to transfer all or part of the administration to Indonesia at any time after the first phase of the UNTEA administration. The UNTEA’s authority will cease at the moment of transfer of full administrative control to Indonesia.
United Nations security forces will be replaced by Indonesian security forces after the first phase of the UNTEA administration. All United Nations security forces will be withdrawn upon the transfer of administration to Indonesia.
Indonesian Administration and Self-Determination
After the transfer of full administrative responsibility to Indonesia, Indonesian national laws and regulations will in principle be applicable in the territory, it being understood that they be consistent with the rights and freedoms guaranteed to the inhabitants under the terms of the present Agreement. New laws and regulations or amendments to the existing ones can be enacted within the spirit of the present Agreement. The representative councils will be consulted as appropriate.
After the transfer of full administrative responsibility to Indonesia, the primary task of Indonesia will be further intensification of the education of the people, of the combating of illiteracy, and of the advancement of their social, cultural and economic development. Efforts also will be made in accordance with present Indonesian practice to accelerate the participation of the people in local government through periodic elections. Any aspects relating to the act of free choice will be governed by the terms of this Agreement.
At the time of the transfer of full administrative responsibility to Indonesia a number of United Nations experts, as deemed adequate by the Secretary-General after consultation with Indonesia, will be designated to remain wherever their duties require their presence. Their duties will, prior to the arrival of the United Nations Representative, who will participate at the appropriate time in the arrangements for selfdetermination, be limited to advising on and assisting in preparations for carrying out the provisions for self-determination except in so far as Indonesia and the Secretary-General may agree upon their performing other expert functions. They will be responsible to the Secretary-General for the carrying out of their duties.
Indonesia will invite the Secretary-General to appoint a Representative who, together with a staff made up, inter alia, of experts referred to in Article XVI, will carry out the Secretary-General’s responsibilities to advise, assist and participate in arrangements which are the responsibility of Indonesia for the act of free choice. The Secretary-General will, at the proper time, appoint the United Nations Representative in order that he and his staff may assume their duties in the territory one year prior to the date of selfdetermination. Such additional staff as the United Nations Representative might feel necessary will be determined by the SecretaryGeneral after consultations with Indonesia. The United Nations Representative and his staff will have the same freedom of movement as provided for the personnel referred to in Article XVI.
Indonesia will make arrangements, with the assistance and participation of the United Nations Representative and his staff, to give the people of the territory the opportunity to exercise freedom of choice. Such arrangements will include:
The United Nations Representative will report to the Secretary-General on the arrangements arrived at for freedom of choice.
The act of self-determination will be completed before the end of 1969.
Rights of the Inhabitants
Vacancies in the representative councils caused by the departure of Netherlands nationals or for other reasons, will be filled as appropriate consistent with existing legislation by electors, or by appointment by the UNTEA. The representative councils will be consulted prior to the appointment of new representatives.
Previous Treaties and Agreement
The present Agreement will take precedence over any previous agreement on the territory. Previous treaties and agreements regarding the territory may therefore be terminated or adjusted as necessary to conform to the terms of the present Agreement.
Privileges and Immunities
For the purposes of the present Agreement, Indonesia and the Netherlands will apply to United Nations property, funds, assets and officials the provisions of the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations. In particular, the United Nations Administrator, appointed pursuant to Article XVII, will enjoy the privileges and immunities specified in Section 19 of the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations.
Entry into Force
The authentic text of the present Agreement is drawn up in the English language. Translations in the Indonesian and Netherlands languages will be exchanged between the Contracting Parties.
In witness whereof the undersigned plenipotentiaries, being duly authorized for that purpose by their respective Governments, have signed the present Agreement.
Done at the Headquarters of the United Nations, New York, on this fifteenth day of August, 1962, in three identical copies, of which one shall be deposited with the Secretary-General and one shall be furnished to the Government of each of the Contracting Parties.
Top Netherlands officials to be replaced as rapidly as possible with non-Netherlands, nonIndonesian officials.
ANNEX 2. - REPORT BY MINISTER FOR EXTERNAL AFFAIRS ON VISIT TO DJAKARTA.
I arrived in Djakarta on 1st July, and in the course of the next few days I was able to have discussions of substance with President Sukarno, his First Minister (Dr. Djuanda), the First Deputy First Minister (Dr. Leimena), the Minister for Defence (General Nasution), the Minister for Information (Professor Yamin), the Minister for Basic Industries and Mining (Chairul Saleh), the Minister for Communications (Lieutenant-General Djatikusumo), and the Vice-President of the Supreme Advisory Council to the President (Mr. Sartono). These discussions were additional to two long official interviews and many informal talks with the Indonesian Foreign Minister, Dr. Subandrio.
While much of these discussions, because of their nature, must remain confidential, honorable members will naturally expect some indication of the stand I took. Let me say first that the Australian Government’s viewpoint was to the best of my ability expressed in detail, with frankness and with vigour. In turn the Indonesian leaders appeared to treat the visit with what I thought was appropriate seriousness. I was given an attentive and courteous hearing and the Indonesian position on the West New Guinea dispute was put to me with some care.
In our discussions I pointed out that Australia was a growing, vigorous nation which wished to have close and cordial relations with its neighbours in South-East Asia. In the present dispute between Indonesia and the Netherlands over West New Guinea we were not a party principal but, in accordance with what we believe to be the principles of the United Nations Charter and our own responsibilities in the eastern part of New Guinea, we had a great interest in the welfare of the Papuan people now and in the future. As well as this, however, we had a deep and permanent interest in the maintenance of peace and security in this area. The continued use of force and threats of force, particularly after Indonesian assurances that force would not be used, had greatly stirred Australian public opinion and was causing grave concern to this Government.
I said that the respect of the Australian people was important to Indonesia and that the Aus tralian public would judge Indonesia and Indonesians by their acts more than by their protestations. I pointed out that a further deterioration would inevitably affect future relations between Indonesia and ourselves. I also suggested to the Indonesian leaders that military action in West New Guinea, even if it should be successful, would almost certainly bring far-reaching internal as well as external consequences. I emphasized the importance in our view of adequate provision for the eventual exercise of self-determination by the Papuan people. To give such people their opportunity to choose for themselves was not only right but it may well prove inescapable. Political consciousness was already stirring in West New Guinea, where the people had been given some taste of management of their local affairs, and to ignore this could only bring trouble. Australia for its part was firmly pledged to bring the inhabitants of East New Guinea to self-determination, and advances in the East must have some reaction in the West.
While I was still in Djakarta, the Indonesian Government announced that an emissary would be sent to the United States to seek clarification of the Dutch statement to the Acting Secretary-General of the United Nations that the Netherlands had accepted the Bunker proposals. This was a step in the right direction but it did not, in my view, go far enough. The next day I expressed disappointment that Indonesia had not gone all the way to a full-scale resumption pf negotiations. I was assured, however, that if the clarification which was being sought indicated that the Dutch were bona fide in entering’ the negotiation, Indonesia would negotiate and earnestly seek a peaceful solution.
I then drew together the lines of my discussions by putting certain fundamental questions concerning Indonesia’s objectives and intentions. Some of these related to the position of Indonesian forces already in West New Guinea and to the attitudes which Indonesia might adopt in the negotiations once they had been resumed. It is sufficient, I believe, to state here that the leaders of the Indonesian Government assured me that they sincerely desired a peaceful settlement by negotiation and not one achieved by military means.
There has already been some public comment on my discussion of Indonesia’s attitude to the eastern part of New Guinea. Dr. Subandrio twice volunteered the assurance that Indonesia had no territorial claims other than to West New Guinea; that the claim to West New Guinea was based on its inclusion in the former Dutch East Indies and upon the need to maintain the national unity of Indonesia, a unity that derived not from common ethnic origins or history but from the fact of the Dutch East Indies and the aggregation within it of various diverse territories. There was a categorical assurance that this applied in particular to the Australian territory of Papua New Guinea. Having received this assurance I put it to the Indonesian Foreign Minister that it might be desirable at some appropriate time to consider formalizing this assurance. Dr. Subandrio agreed that this would be a suitable course of action to pursue.
The Indonesian Foreign Minister himself later described my discussions with Indonesian leaders as having been “ straight from the shoulder “ and without acrimony. Certainly no effort was spared or opportunity missed to impress our views upon the Indonesian leaders. Over and beyond this, I think I may have done something to reduce areas of misunderstanding and to clarify points of difference.
I lay on the table the following paper: -
West New Guinea - Indonesian-Netherlands Agreement - Ministerial Statement, 21st August, 1962- and move -
That the paper be printed.
.- Mr. Speaker, the Government informs me that no opportunity will be given to have a full debate on this motion until after the conclusion of the debate on the Estimates and Budget Papers. That means that there will be no opportunity for honorable members in general to debate this matter until November. In those circumstances there are some things which must be said at this stage. The Minister’s document is seriously incomplete, both as to the past and to the future.
– We will reduce the time available for the general debate on the Budget, and allow some time for a discussion of this matter, if that is your wish.
– You did not make that offer when I mentioned this matter to you two hours ago.
– I was not invited to do so. I make it now.
– We want an opportunity to debate fully both the Estimates and Budget Papers and the motion that is now before us. You have determined that as between the two debates, that on the Estimates and Budget Papers will enjoy priority.
I said that there were serious gaps in this document, as to both the past and the future. I will refer to two principal ones as regards the past. The Minister said -
The Government had long considered that Australia’s real and abiding interest lay in a peaceful resolution of the dispute. Australia had itself no rights or claims to the territory. But it has an interest, and the Government has always expressed that interest, in the ultimate ability of the indigenous people to choose their own future.
At various times during the last twelve years the Government has set out its obligations and expressed its interest in this problem in more forthright terms. The first Minister for External Affairs under the
Menzies Government, now Judge Sir Percy Spender, said in this House on 8th June, 1950 -
Should discussions between the Netherlands and Indonesia lend towards any arrangement which would alter the status of western New Guinea, the matter is no longer one merely for those two parties themselves … It would, we think, be both unreal and unreasonable that any change of Status for the territory should occur which disregards the interests of the indigenous population and those of Australia.
Again, his successor, now Lord Casey, said in the first edition of his opus, “ Friends and Neighbours. Australia and the World “, published in 1954 -
We have, therefore, a right to a voice in any discussions which would change the present status of the territory.
Such was then the official attitude of the Government - not that we were not parties principal, as the Minister now disowns, but that we had a very real interest in the matter.
The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) said, when reporting in April last year on the visit of General Nasution, and the Minister also said in this House, when speaking in March this year on the outbreak of hostilities between The Netherlands and Indonesia, that Australia’s principal concern was in the matter of self-determination. The principle of self-determination was not mentioned back in 1954 in the first edition of Lord Casey’s book, to which I have referred. It is only mentioned in the second edition. Nor was it ever put in the forefront of the statements which, Australia’s representatives made on many occasions in the General Assembly and in the First Committee of the United Nations, from 1954 onwards. It was always placed in a very subsidiary spot, if it was given any place at all. The Government never really adhered to this principle, because it cut right across it when the Prime Minister, and later the present Minister for External Affairs (Sir Garfield Barwick), said that we would waive the principle of self-determination if, first, the two parties principal came to a peaceful agreement, or, secondly, the World Court gave judgment. That is, if the parties came to a peaceful agreement, or if the World Court gave a judgment, the principle of self-determination could be ignored.
– Read out your leader’s declaration of war
– I should have thought the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) had made a sufficient hash of his own portfolio, without coming into external affairs as well.
– You do not seem to be of a mind with your leader on this matter. What is your policy?
– The Labour Party’s policy on this was enunciated at its federal conference in Brisbane in 1957, and again at its federal conference in Canberra last year. On each occasion, the principles enunciated by the Labour Party were in accordance with international, morality and the interests of this country.
The next statement on this problem emerged from the communique which Mr. Casey, as he then was, and Dr. Subandrio issued after the latter’s visit in February, 1959. The principles enunciated, as understood by Australia, were -
There is no question that the agreement which has been reached between Indonesia and the Netherlands has been arrived at after armed infiltrations and after the threat, display and application of force, and that Australia is respecting the agreement which has been arrived at, despite the fact that it was not arrived at in the manner which Australia proclaimed in February, 1959. Within the last week, Dutch Ministers have themselves said, in effect, that there was duress upon them to enter into this agreement. Dr. de Quay, the Prime Minister of the Netherlands, said -
Holland could not count on the support of its allies and for that reason the government decided to accept the agreement.
Dr. Luns, the Netherlands Foreign Minister,said
Indonesian war threats had been a decisive factor and this is something for the world to think about.
Quite clearly, Sir, the statement of principle which the Minister for External
Affairs now proclaims is not a statement of principle which has been proclaimed in any of the preceding twelve years, during which Indonesia has been an independent country and this Government has been in office.
The next matter of history in the Minister’s statement to which I wish to direct the attention of the House concerns the role of the United Nations. The Minister has been at some pains to point out that a solution has been found under the auspices of the United Nations, that the third person present at the negotiations represented the Acting Secretary-General of that organization, and, above all, that the Australian Government felt that the best prospect of a solution lay in private and direct negotiation between the interested parties, with the active co-operation and assistance of the Acting Secretary-General of the United Nations. This is not the attitude that the Government took in 1954, 1956 and 1957. In 1954, the Political Committee of the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution expressing the hope that the governments of Indonesia and the Netherlands would pursue their endeavours to find a solution to the dispute. It requested the parties to report progress to the next session of the General Assembly. In 1956, the Political Committee again called for the appointment of a good offices commission to assist in the negotiations between Indonesia and the Netherlands and to report back to the next session of the General Assembly. In 1957, the General Assembly had before it a resolution which would have asked Indonesia and the Netherlands to pursue their endeavours to solve their dispute over the status of West New Guinea in accordance with the principles of the United Nations Charter.
I know that the Minister for External Affairs has finessed over these points in saying that this matter could not have been satisfactorily dealt with in the Security Council or in the General Assembly. He made the same point last March and he said that this was so because of the change in the complexion of the United Nations in the last few years. I was able to demonstrate that in the United Nations as it was constituted in 1954, 1956 and 1957, the attitude which Australia had put would not have achieved the necessary two-thirds majority. The Minister now supports the attitude that this dispute should have been dealt with by face-to-face negotiations between Indonesia and the Netherlands, usually with some third party exercising his good offices on behalf of the United Nations. This is just the proposition which was before the United Nations in 1954, 1956 and 1957 and which was opposed on each occasion by the Australian Government.
The Australian Labour Party, when it was in office in the 1940’s, took the initiative, in co-operation with the United States of America, in establishing a good offices committee to bring about peace between Indonesia and the Netherlands, and that good offices committee brought about peace between the two countries at that time. That was the attitude which we took successfully then. It is the attitude which should have been taken whenever this matter came up in the Political Committee and in the General Assembly in recent years. The Australian Government, far from exercising its good offices in the Political Committee and the Genera] Assembly and seeing that the United Nations in those earlier years did what the Minister now praises that organization for doing, did its very best, through its representatives, to see that these proposals did not come to fulfilment. On every occasion there was a majority of votes, in the General Assembly and in the Political Committee, in favour of the United Nations dealing with this matter, but the necessary two-thirds majority was not obtained in the General Assembly. The proposals failed of fulfilment largely because the Australian Government was foremost in seeing that the United Nations did not deal with the matter. The lesson to be learned is that, if the Australian Government had co-operated in 1954, 1956 or 1957 in the exercise by the United Nations of its good offices, the matter could without doubt have been settled with closer regard for the principle of self-determination, to which all members of the United Nations are bound, and without the deplorable resort to force and the breach of undertakings which have taken place in our neighbourhood in the last year.
In tfe light of subsequent history, the attitude which our representatives took on these occasions which I have mentioned is nothing less than pathetic. In September, 1954, Mr. Casey told the United Nations-
Tt has been said that Dutch sovereignty over Netherlands New Guinea will continue to be a latent threat to the peace and security of that part of the world. I submit with all respect that there is no substance in this contention.
In November, 1954, he told this House -
I expressed the hope publicly that both parties would let the question remain in cold storage. . . .
In September, 1955, Sir Percy Spender told the United Nations that discussions between the parties might give rise to misunderstanding, and embitter relations between them. He went on -
The General Assembly could examine that question only if the situation was likely to endanger the maintenance of international peace and security. That, however, did not seem to be the case.
Again, in November, 1956, in the United Nations, Mr. Casey, as he still was, said that the question of Netherlands New Guinea was not a threat to peace and asked, “ What is it, then, which by any stretch of the imagination could create a threat to the peace? “
– Did the honorable member get this from the Australian National University?
– No. Nor do I have to rely on public servants to give me material. I was able to get this material from the Parliamentary Library. I do not mind the Treasurer interpolating afterthoughts in his own speeches when he reads them in this House, but I do not want him to do that to my speeches.
So much for the foresight that preceding Ministers for External Affairs showed on our behalf. So much did they guard the interests of Australia and of the inhabitants of New Guinea, and the peace of the world. The present Minister is entitled, I suppose, to his degree of rationalization, but that rationalization leaves serious gaps in the history of this matter as it concerns the Government to which he belongs. This is a matter entirely for the present Government, because Indonesia became an independent country only a couple of weeks after this Government took office. More particularly, Sir, whatever the technicalities of these matters may be, this Government has, in fact, changed its attitude constantly, and never to the advantage of this country or of our neighbours, or of the peace of the world.
There are gaps as to the future in the Minister’s statement. The Minister made no reference to any of these gaps, and one can only hope that if the Government is to allow a continuation of this debate in November, by that time he will be able to give us some enlightenment on them.
First, there is the question of the administrative arrangements with the Netherlands, which were concluded in November, 1957, concerning the island of New Guinea. I shall state the matters which are still relevant without making any comment on them. I shall read them to show that there were matters which then seemed to motivate the Australian Government and which should still arouse its interest. First -
The territories of Netherlands New Guinea, the Australian Trust Territory of New Guinea, and Papua, are geographically and ethnologically related and future development of their respective populations must benefit from co-operation in policy and administration.
The Australian and Netherlands Governments are therefore pursuing, and will continue to pursue, policies directed towards the political, economic, social and educational advancement of the peoples in their territories in a manner which recognizes this ethnological and geographical affinity.
At the same time, the two Governments will continue, and strengthen, the co-operation at present existing between their respective administrations in the territories.
In so doing the two Governments are determined to promote an uninterrupted development of this process until such time as the inhabitants of the territories concerned will be in a position to determine their own future.
Are these matters still matters of principle? Are they still matters of relevance? What is going to be done about them?
Next there is the question of the South Pacific Commission. The Minister was asked a question on this subject by the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Sexton) last Thursday, and the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent
Hughes), by his gestures and his departure from the chamber at that stage, made it quite plain that he was shocked at the Minister’s ignorance or lack of concern. The honorable member for Adelaide asked -
With the acquisition of West New Guinea, will Indonesia take the place of the Netherlands as a member of the South Pacific Commission?
The Minister replied -
This is a question which will have to wait until the whole matter has been sorted out. If the Netherlands is a member of the South Pacific Commission in right of its possession of this territory, it may be that Indonesia, in due course, will be represented on the Commission.
At that stage the honorable member for Chisholm could stand it no longer and made his departure.
It is quite plain, if one looks at the terms of the charter of the South Pacific Commission, that the West New Guinea area comes within its purview. The agreement was drawn up in February, 1947, between representatives of the Governments of Australia, France, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America, and its object was - to encourage and strengthen international co-operation in promoting the economic and social welfare and advancement of the peoples of the non-self-governing territories of the South Pacific administered by them.
The area with which the commission was to concern itself was originally defined to include all those non-self-governing territories administered by the commission. [Extension of time granted.] I thank honorable members for their indulgence in extending my time.
The region covered from the equator southwards in the Pacific and from Netherlands New Guinea eastwards. Later the area was extended to cover the area administered by the United States north of the equator. Only Australia, France, Britain and America still administer territories in this region. Surely the Minister has directed attention to this matter. New Zealand is no longer governing Samoa. The Netherlands will not be concerned after this year. Is Indonesia now concerned? Is Samoa now concerned? When will the Minister get up to date on this matter and inform the House of the position?
Thirdly, Sir, there is the matter, which has been bruited abroad, of political asylum, which may be sought by some inhabitants of West New Guinea. I make no judgment on whether or not political asylum would be justified. It is, however, a subject which is, currently, engaging the attention of a great number of Australians and of the press. Yet the Minister has not even mentioned it!
The last matter is the Minister’s statement at his press conference on his return - he referred to it again at question time to-day - that he had received an assurance from the Indonesian Foreign Minister, in reply to the specific question whether Indonesia had any expansionist aims towards Australia or eastern New Guinea, that Indonesia had no such claims. The Minister then stated at his press conference -
I told Dr. Subandrio that I thought this assurance might need to bc formalized at some more appropriate time, and he agreed that it was a suitable course.
What is the prospect of a non-agression or non-expansion pact? The Minister raised the issue himself, but he did not refer to it in his statement to-day. That is the fourth obvious gap in our knowledge of the Government’s future intentions.
For the next few years our attention in the South Pacific will be engaged with the question of de-colonization, as the United Nations calls it. The question of nonselfgoverning territories is one which concerns the whole of the South Pacific. The United Nations will deal with the Pacific territories as soon as it has finished dealing with territories in Africa. France, Britain, Portugal, the United States and Australia are still involved. With three of these countries, we have close associations. The Government must quickly formulate a policy. Hitherto the cornerstone of the Government’s foreign policy has been reliance on the policy of the United States. Under President Eisenhower the American Government did in fact regularly support its North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies in respect of their colonial territories. It did so in Africa in respect of Portugal and France. But the United States, even under President Eisenhower, never supported the attitude of the Netherlands or Australia to West New Guinea. Through the Eisenhower regime, there were many votes on the subject in the United Nations but the United States abstained from voting, and the nations whom the United States influences, particularly in Latin America, were evenly divided in their votes. The United States maintained a genuine neutrality. The United States, before the end of last year, never voted with the Dutch or Australia on West New Guinea.
Therefore, Sir, we have to adopt some new attitude. All countries which ha%’e nonselfgoverning territories under their administration must resolve, without further delay, to give prompt and full co-operation to the United Nations and its agencies.
A couple of months ago I had the opportunity of having interviews with the political leaders, who make policies, and the administrative leaders, who carry them out, in France, Britain and America about the remaining dependent territories in the Pacific. It was quite plain from conversations with all of them that they thought that within five or, at the most, six years, none of them or us would have the political responsibility for governing the present nonselfgoverning territories in the Pacific.
As one foreign Minister expressed it to me, as soon as the United Nations, through the Trusteeship Council and the committee of seventeen, had eaten the problem of Africa they would be dealing with the problem of the Pacific.
There might have been special circumstances relating to the problem of West New Guinea. Indonesia regarded itself as the successor state to the Netherlands East Indies. It regarded West New Guinea as Indonesia irredenta. There may be special circumstances, therefore, concerning West New Guinea. But there are many islands in the Pacific which are administered by different countries. There are some islands which are the cause of dispute between different countries. It is quite obviously the duty of the Australian Government, without further delay, to see that orderly processes are evolved for following our international principles and for ensuring peace in this area. Up till now, on the question of West New Guinea, the Menzies Government has pursued a policy of improvization, procrastination and capitulation. We want to see that from now on there is a policy of principle and cooperation.
– At this stage it will be difficult to indicate. Reference could be made to West New Guinea, but we would not be able to revive the debate of this afternoon.
– Then, should we adjourn it?
– That is not for me to decide.
– I think it has been a general practice for a good deal of latitude to be allowed in committee during the Budget debate in discussing matters which have been listed on the notice-paper. I suggest that that practice might be followed on this occasion.
– I think the suggestion of the Treasurer is a sound one.
– I rise to order. Does this mean that the Treasurer wishes this debate to be transferred to the appropriate division of the Estimates?
– That is not a point of order.
– This is of vital importance to honorable members. Surely we are entitled to have a clarification of this issue.
– Reference to West New Guinea can be made. If there is to be an undue delay of this debate, whoever is in the chair will be able to permit a wider discussion of these matters on the Budget.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
Motion (by Mr. Harold Holt) - by leave - agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to approve the raising by way of loan of moneys in the currency of the United States of America to be lent to Qantas Empire Airways Limited, and for purposes connected therewith.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
– by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill seeks the approval of Parliament to the borrowing of 4,600,000 dollars, the equivalent of £2,100,000 by the Commonwealth on behalf of Qantas Empire Airways Limited. The bill provides for an appropriation of the Loan Fund to enable the proceeds of the borrowing to be advanced to Qantas. It also provides for an appropriation of Consolidated Revenue Fund to enable the Commonwealth to meet payments of principal and interest and of other charges associated with the loan.
The arrangements for the borrowing to which the bill seeks approval are similar to those approved by Parliament in 1960, when the Commonwealth borrowed 2,000,000 dollars on behalf of the Australian National Airlines Commission from the same lender, the Chase Manhattan Bank. The Commonwealth will make the entire proceeds of the borrowing available to Qantas on terms to be determined by the Treasurer. These terms will be the same as the conditions under which the Commonwealth itself has borrowed the money. As Qantas will be required to meet all charges as they become due under the loan agreement, the Commonwealth becomes, in effect, the guarantor of the loan, and there will be no net charge on the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
With the proceeds of the loan, Qantas proposes to purchase a Boeing 707-1 38B aircraft which is now on lease to the company and has for some time formed part of its existing operational fleet of eleven Boeings. Qantas is already utilizing this fleet at a high rate and plans to operate greater capacity by achieving a still higher rate of utilization. Boeings have replaced Electras on Qantas’s Far East route with useful results, and without the leased aircraft it would have been difficult, if not impossible, to do this. The result is that the leased aircraft has become an essential unit of the Qantas fleet, and that Qantas will have a continuing need for it. Qantas therefore wishes to avail itself of the provision in the leasing agreement which makes it financially advantageous to purchase rather than to continue leasing the aircraft.
Negotiations for the loan were completed in July, and the agreement was signed in New York on 6th August. Under the loan agreement, a copy of which is attached to the bill, the loan must be drawn before the end of September. As the proceeds of the loan cannot be made available to Qantas until the bill has been passed, and as delays would involve Qantas in additional costs, it is desirable that the bill should be passed during the present sittings.
Apart from the present loan, the Commonwealth has now borrowed 35,800,000 dollars in New York for aircraft purposes since 1956, of which 30,800,000 dollars has been for Qantas and 5,000,000 dollars for Trans-Australia Airlines. Of these loans, an amount of only 16,900,000 dollars, or less than half, still remains to be paid. In addition, a further 39,200,000 dollars has been borrowed for aircraft purposes from the International Bank and the ExportImport Bank, of which 36,700,000 dollars are still outstanding. These loans have contributed significantly to the fleet extension, modernizing and re-equipping which Qantas and Trans-Australia Airlines have undertaken in recent years.
Under the agreement, the principal amount of 4,600,000 dollars is repayable in eight semi-annual instalments between March, 1964, and September, 1967. Interest is payable at 5i per cent, per annum on the amount of the loan outstanding. Other provisions in the agreement are similar to those included in earlier agreements negotiated by the Commonwealth in the United States for borrowings for aircraft purposes.
The Australian Loan Council has approved the terms and conditions of the borrowing, which will be added to the Commonwealth’s programme of £45,900,000 for housing approved at the June, 1962, meeting of the Loan Council.
As with previous loans arranged on behalf of Qantas and Trans-Australia Airlines, the Commonwealth is acting only as an intermediary, and the borrowing will therefore involve no net call on the Commonwealth’s resources. By acting as the borrower the Commonwealth has, however, made use of its own high credit standing overseas to obtain terms more favorable than Qantas may have been able to secure had it arranged the borrowing directly. I commend the bill to honorable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Crean) adjourned.
In Committee of Supply: Consideration resumed from 16th August (vide page 494), on motion by Mr. Harold Holt -
That the first item in the Estimates, under Division No. 101 - Senate - namely, “Salaries and allowances £34,400 “, be agreed to.
Upon which Mr. Whitlam had moved by way of amendment -
That the first item be reduced by £1.
.- The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam), in making his Budget speech almost entirely ignored the interests of people living in the country districts of Australia.
– He ignored them completely.
– He did not completely ignore them; he made passing reference to beef roads in the north. That was the total contribution which that honorable member, who aspires to be Deputy Prime Minister, if not Prime Minister, made in respect of the interests of the great body of people who live in our country areas. He also made a promise - it was a threat to those who do not agree with it - of unification of concentration of the whole power of government in Canberra. Even now people in the country experience difficulty as a result of living some distances from the seat of government, and their position would be worsened if the power of the States was transferred to Canberra by a process of unification. The honorable member has made the same threat on several other occasions, and it is apparent that if the socialists who form the present Opposition came into power they would implement Labour’s doctrine of unification. I repeat that the honorable member’s speech was almost entirely devoid of reference to matters affecting country residents. Even when the honorable member spoke of a new deal for education he made no mention of country schools. Oh no! It was to be a new deal for universities and secondary schools in the capita] cities. As education at present falls within the province of the State governments, the amount of time which the Deputy Leader of the Opposition devoted to that subject was hardly justified. At present there is one way in which the Commonwealth can give assistance to education, and that is by means of the rebates and grants that it gives to State governments. It is the responsibility of the States to see that that money is wisely expended as between their different departments.
The honorable member referred to transport; and I remind honorable members that that matter also is a State responsibility. He said the cities were choked. He spoke of inter-city arterial highways and transport to and from work in the capitals and large cities, but he made no mention of country roads over which the produce of this grand land is carted to the railways, which take it to the terminals and ports. He referred to inter-city arterial highways and transport to and from work in the capitals and cities. What of the country towns and of some improvement of transport in country districts? What of the children who have to travel miles in buses to get even a primary education, let alone a secondary or higher education? They are completely forgotten by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition who aspires to be a Minister in the new government which he foresees, but which I am confident will not come to pass.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition referred to national health, another matter in which the State governments have received great assistance from the Commonwealth Government. His speech was almost entirely devoid of consideration for country people for whom I and my colleagues in the government parties speak. The fact that honorable members opposite are prepared to shelve their responsibility in this respect was indicated also by the honorable member for Cowper (Mr. McGuren), who spoke about a new deal for education. The honorable member for Cowper referred to flood mitigation, as though that was the responsibility of the Commonwealth. So, we see the doctrine of unification being advocated more openly by the Labour Party. Honorable members opposite entirely ignore the fact that whilst flood mitigation is an urgent need in New South Wales the Government of that State is building an opera house at an estimated cost of £4,000,000. I have no complaint about that, but if, as reported, the final cost of the opera house will be £14,000,000 or £16,000,000 I and many other people in country areas will have a lot of complaints to make.
By contrast it was heartening to hear the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) refer to the preservation of primary industry and say that strict attention must be given to the cost level of primary industry because it will have a direct bearing on the extension of our manufacturing industries. I again remind honorable members, as I do every year during the debate on the Budget, that we have a composite form of production in Australia. We have the country industries which produce wool, wheat and vine and dried fruits, to which the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) so often refers in this chamber. We have also butter from the North Coast and sugar from Queensland. We started with these primary industries, but gradually there have grown up manufacturing industries; and because the people engaged therein take so much of our primary products, we realize the necessity for a balanced development in this country. Our manufacturers realize that the purchase of some 80 per cent, of the raw material and plant which they require is dependent on the sale of our primary products overseas. That fact has been stated many times in this chamber; and we cannot stress here too often that it is essential not only that our primary industries be kept in their present condition but also that they be helped to improve their efficiency. They have taken advantage of every opportunity that has been given to them, and the productivity of our country industries to-day is on a very high level. Unfortunately the return from those industries is very low indeed.
I propose for a few minutes to direct the attention of honorable members to the White Paper on National Income and Expenditure, which is presented every year and contains very illuminating figures. If the Deputy Leader of the Opposition had glanced at that document he must surely have been struck by its contents which should have compelled him during his speech to pay tribute to our primary industries and offer them the assistance which they need so badly. Page 14 of this document contains detailed comparative tables of national income and expenditure from 1953-54 to 1961-62, which have been prepared by the Bureau of Census and Statistics. The tables list national receipts in the form of wages, company income, income of unincorporated businesses, such as farms, and professions, net rent, interest and so on. A study of the figures indicates that the national income of every group, with the exception of farms, increased between 1953-54 and 1961-62. 1 do not draw any particular inference from that.
Wages increased from £2,253,000,000 in 1953-54 to £3,646,000,000 in 1961-62, representing an increase of almost 50 per cent. Company income increased from £473,000,000 in 1953-54 to an estimated £705,000,000 in 1961-62. The income of unincorporated businesses increased from £435,000,000 in 1953-54 to an estimated £565,000,000 in 1961-62. Net rent and interest on dwellings increased from £101,000,000 in 1953-54 to £231,000,000 in 1961-62 and net rent and interest on other buildings increased from £82,000,000 to £196,000,000 in the same period. Farm income, however, decreased from £499,000,000 in 1953-54 to an estimated £472,000,000 in 1961-62. That cannot be allowed to continue. Although every other section of the community has shown an increase in national income, the earnings of this most valuable and important part of our economy - the farms and the farmers - have decreased. The man on the land, whether he be concerned with wheat, wool, dried fruits, butter or sugar must be kept on a sound and solid basis if the other sections of the community are to prosper.
The figures which I have cited indicate that, far from slipping back, Australia, in fact, is improving its position. Our total market supplies amounted to £5,380,000,000 in 1953-54, increased to £8,079,000,000 in 1959-60, increased further to £8,608,000,000 in 1960-61 and showed a very slight decrease to £8,478,000,000 in 1961-62. Over the last eight years, the value of our total market supplies has increased, in round figures, from £5,000,000,000 to £8,000,000,000. Yet farm incomes have decreased!
Let me turn now to page 17 of this White Paper on National Income and Expenditure which deals with personal income and outlay. A lot has been said in this chamber about the great slump which has occurred, about the way in which our economy has deteriorated during the last twelve months and about the alleged terrible condition of the economy. The figures in the table to which I shall refer indicate clearly the trend during the last twelve or eighteen months. Big companies and banks are earning record profits. That cannot be said to be a sign of a decadent economy.
– What about the unemployed?
– The honorable member mentions the working people. Wages and salaries increased from £2,141,000,000 in 1953-54, to £3,401,000,000 in 1960-61 and to £3,467,000,000 in 1961-62. That will give an idea of the increase in personal income by way of wages and salaries. Supplements to wages also increased from £54,000,000 in 1953-54 to £112,000,000 in 1961-62. This latter figure represents an increase of £5,000,000 over the preceding year 1960-61. Not only has the income of unincorporated businesses and professions shown an increase but personal income has increased as well. However, the income of farmers decreased from £526,000,000 in 1953-54 to an estimated £462,000,000 in 1961-62. I am not an advocate of low wages. I never have been.
– Not much!
– You should withdraw that remark, “ Not much “, because in this place I have stood always for fair wages which are the prerogative of any man who works reasonable hours. The figures which I have cited indicate clearly that during the last eight years wages have increased, in round figures, by about 50 per cent., whereas the income of that important section of the community - the rural producers - has decreased from £526,000,000 to an estimated £462,000,000. Why has there been this decrease in farm incomes? A comparison between national income and personal income will give some clue to it. To some extent the difference between the two represents costs.
I remind honorable members that whilst there has been a decrease in national income on farms of £27,000,000 over the eight years in question, the decrease in the personal income of farmers has been £64,000,000. In other words, although the decrease in national income has been comparatively slight, the decrease in personal income, after deduction of costs, has been almost twice as large. The Prime Minister knows the answer to this problem and I have been very glad to hear him mention it on many occasions lately. He has pointed out the great necessity to pay strict attention to the cost level because it has a direct bearing on other industries and also, I am sure he would agree, on the economy generally. We have a responsibility - when I say “ we “ I mean the whole Parliament - to the people in the country who produce our primary wealth. They are as important to the economy and to secondary industries as the secondary industries which we are trying to assist are important to the economy and to the primary industries. We have reciprocal responsibilities to these industries and to the people engaged in them.
It might be argued that the primary industries can look to a bright future because the price of wool is up; that everything will be all right and we need not worry so much about the cost structure because it will be more than offset by the improvement in wool prices. I should like to read to honorable members an extract from “ The Wool Situation” of July, 1962. This publication of the Bureau of Agricultural Economics has this to say -
The average price for greasy wool sold during the 1961-62 season in Australia was 54.13d. per lb. This was the third lowest average in the past ten years but 4 per cent, more than in 1960-61.
Many people might take great heart from reading that and would believe that prospects are very good, but let me read a little further -
The outlook at the beginning of the season is for supplies and demand to remain in much the Same relationship as during the past year or more. In these circumstances no major change from present price levels is to be expected.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition ignored the primary industries. He said, “You are all right because wool is up 4 per cent.” Surely he can read the facts of supply and demand, and knows that no major rise in the present price level of wool is to be expected. Surely he knows that some way must be devised of reducing the heavy costs that the rural industries have to put up with so as to improve the cost structure for the benefit of consumers. This is the honorable gentleman who came out in print some days ago to the effect that this Government was not looking after the primary industries properly and that if a Labour government were returned to office it would institute inquiries into the industries most likely to be affected by the Common Market. Does he think that the Minister for Trade, the Department of Trade and the Department of Primary Industry are not fully aware of the identities and the circumstances of the industries that are likely to be affected? While ignoring the farmer in his speech on the Budget he stands up here as the champion of the farmer.
The second point put by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition concerned assurances to vulnerable sections of the community that any burden suffered as a result of the Common Market will be shared by the whole community. We have unhappy recollections of the sale of wheat by a former Labour government to New Zealand at a price considerably under the world price. On that occasion the deficiency had to be made up by the Australian taxpayers. This is a classic example of how Labour looks after one section of the community by selling the country’s wheat to its friends at a disastrously low price and then making the deficiency a charge on the whole community. That may be the germ behind the idea in the honorable gentleman’s present proposition.
The third point put by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition concerned immediate plans for seeking international trade agreements for primary produce. My goodness! Did the honorable gentleman never hear of the Japanese Trade Agreement? That agreement was opposed in this House by the Labour Party, yet it has turned out to be one of the greatest benefits that this country has ever known.
– Yet they talk about expanding trade.
– Yes. That agreement has expanded our trade in wool with Japan to such a degree that Japan, which was formerly sixth or seventh among our overseas purchasers of wool, is right at the top of the list to-day. The agreement has also brought Japan, which was formerly a small wheat-consuming nation, into the position of one of the big consumers of our wheat. Japan, as a result of that agreement, is also taking our barley and other products which we have been jolly glad to sell to somebody. As the honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Brimblecombe) reminds me, sugar has also come into the picture as a result of the trade agreement with Japan. Yet the Deputy Leader of the Opposition says that we will have to have immediate plans for seeking international trade agreements covering primary produce? He completely ignores the trade agreements we have made with Japan, Ceylon and India as a result of the efforts of the Minister for Trade and the Department of Trade over the years, and which have kept us well in the market.
Then the honorable gentleman says Australia should support and initiate moves to raise the standard of living in areas around it. There are not many areas around Australia apart from New Zealand, the Pacific Islands, Papua-New Guinea - which is at present under the control of the Commonwealth - and Indonesia. Did the honorable gentleman never hear of the Colombo Plan, which was initiated by Sir Percy Spender, who was then a member of this House and of the Ministry, the main object of which was to raise the standards of living in areas in South-East Asia?
The honorable gentleman further proposes that Australia should expand its existing markets and diversify its trade. It is incomprehensible that a man in his position should be ignorant of the trade missions sent out over the years by this Government, especially in the last six or twelve months, which, in every case, have resulted in new trade relations with other countries. So it is so much eyewash for the Labour Party to talk about expanding our existing markets and diversifying our trade when we are already doing everything we can in that regard.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition put as his next point that Australia should participate in the handling of its own over seas trade. I do not know what that means. If it means the handling of our wool, for instance, in the way that the waterside workers in Sydney have been handling it recently - not loading bales of wool for the last two or three weeks - we do not want any part of that.
I have spoken at some length about our primary industries and their importance. This leads me to deal with a development which has occurred lately and which affects the people in the country areas. I refer to the proposed redistribution of electoral divisions. This is a matter of great importance too. The first point to which I wish to direct attention is that the electoral commissioners have proposed the division of electorates into two classes to be known as “ metropolitan “ and “ extrametropolitan “ electorates. I cannot see any justification for this distinction between the two. Newcastle, which is a large city, and will probably become the metropolis of a new State if such a new State is ever formed, would be affected by this distinction. The classification has no connexion at all with the number of electors or the types of occupations in which the electors are engaged. We find also that a quota of 48,363 is set with the maximum permissible number of electors in a division 58,036 and the minimum permissible number 38,690 in the case of New South Wales divisions. The act provides that a margin of 20 per cent, above or below the quota is permitted. The operation of that margin extends to the metropolitan divisions and the so-called “ extra-metropolitan “ divisions. My first complaint is against the mistake of dividing the State into metropolitan and extra-metropolitan divisions when it might have been more suitably divided into divisions according to density of population. For many years in Western Australia the principle has been adopted of dividing the State into areas which are termed metropolitan, agricultural, mining and pastoral, and in calculating the number of electors in a metropolitan division every two electors is reckoned as one elector. That seems to be an eminently suitable system. That provision has existed always in Western Australia. However, since 1921 the mining and pastoral areas, which are very sparsely populated, have had special provision for representation under which the number of electors is disregarded. I am not suggesting that we go to the extreme to which Western Australia has gone, but I do point out that in introducing the original Electoral Bill in 1922 Senator O’Connor, who was then VicePresident of the Executive Council, said, according to “ Hansard “, volume VII., at page 9530-
There is only one satisfactory way of delimiting the locality which is to return a member and that is to hand over the power to a Commission, which will be able to take into consideration all the various circumstances of locality, accessibility, community of interest and special conditions of any kind which will make it right to group together the quotas of electors in certain localities . . They have a right in making this division to allow a margin of 25 per cent.
It is now only 20 per cent: -
It is necessary to give them that margin in view of the geographical features of localities and other circumstances connected with the division and delimitation of the boundaries.
I do not disagree that in New South Wales the commissioners believed that they were acting in accordance with the commission given to them, but I point out that they have completely eliminated as a division one of the largest areas of New South Wales, and caused a chain reaction which has disrupted the boundaries of four or five other divisions in the western section of New South Wales. This has created anomalies in regard to distances of travel, which the electorate’s member would have to undertake. In one case the commission has placed a group of about 15,000 people in one end of an electorate and 14,000-odd other people 200 miles away at the other end of the electorate. In all, the commissioners have made an electorate where it is almost impossible for the people to get the attention their member of Parliament should give them. The commissioners should have taken into consideration the interpretation by Senator O’Connor, who said, in introducing the original legislation in 1902, that it was necessary to give the electorates the benefit of the margin of 20 per cent. -
If they had done that, we would not have been led into the chaotic state of the elec torates which has resulted from this particular redistribution. The people in the country areas are intensely hostile because they feel that their needs will be neglected by the Parliament. They will have one less member in this Parliament to speak for them. I am not referring to any particular party. The important point is that they will have one less representative in this Parliament. They are also intensely hostile over the fact that the areas have been split up so much; the status quo has not been preserved and the members representing the various electorates, to whom they have become accustomed, have been taken from them not through the ballot-box but by a commission which has virtually usurped the privileges of the electorate in deciding who the members of Parliament will be.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- First, I shall deal with one or two points from the speech of the honorable member for Lawson (Mr. Failes). His speech was mainly a collection of figures quoted from various publications and I shall confine my comment to the honorable member’s criticism of the speech made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam). The honorable member said that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition had completely ignored the interests of the country people in his speech on the Budget.
– I did not say he had completely ignored country interests; I said he had “ almost completely “ ignored them.
– I stand corrected on that point. However, I remind honorable members on the Government side that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition was not delivering a policy speech, but was criticizing the Budget that had been presented by the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt). If the Deputy Leader of the Opposition made no mention of the country areas, it was because there was nothing in the Budget in that connexion which merited his attention. Government supporters cannot twist the arguments of the Australian Labour Party against us on those grounds. There were no proposals by the Treasurer in the Budget for the development of any country areas in Australia, except in Queensland, in respect of which a grant was made of £1,750,000.
– What about Western Australia?
– What was given was not for rural development in Western Australia. The honorable member for Lawson also said that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition had not mentioned any proposals for schools in the country. I point out to members of the Australian Country Party in particular, and to all supporters of the Government, that we are members of a national Parliament. The A.L.P. is a national party; it is not a parochial party. I can understand that members of the Australian Country Party are elected by country people to represent rural interests, and I commend them for doing their best, poor as it may be, to represent the country people. But we members of the A.L.P. are not a sectional party. We have been elected by the people, and many of us represent country electorates, because country people realize that they cannot get anywhere with members of the Country Party while it is tied to the apron-strings of the Liberal Party.
The honorable member for Lawson referred to record profits that were being made in industry. .We have never denied that the big companies have been making, record profits. That fact is used by the supporters of the Government to indicate that the country is prosperous. The Opposition knows that many of these companies are making record profits and, indeed, we believe that their profits are exorbitant and far too high in many cases. They amount to exploitation of the people. If this Government had any concern for the people, it could well investigate the dividends that are declared by some of the big companies. There is no need for the honorable member for Lawson to tell us that the companies are making big profits, because we are aware of that fact. But are the workers who produce the goods and the wealth of the country sharing in this prosperity? To-day, at a conservative estimate, 90,000 persons are out of work and they are getting a mere pittance from this Government. The honorable member for Lawson is on dangerous ground when he talks about pro fits and dividends; and apparently he knows it because he is leaving the chamber. The honorable member said that wages and salaries had increased by 50 per cent, since 1953. Does he think the country can stand still? Does he think that we cannot expect to see the country’s wages bill increased in a period of nine years? If the wages bill did not increase, it would be a damning indictment of this Government. If we are going to move backwards, God help Australia. With those comments, I believe I have adequately answered the criticisms of the honorable member for Lawson.
The committee is discussing the 1962-63 Budget. When the Treasurer introduced the Budget, he said he believed it would bring stability to Australia. That opinion is not shared by the Opposition, and I heartily concur with the censure motion that has been moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. I do not think this Budget offers anything to the Australian economy. It can do nothing to alleviate the position that has been brought about by a succession of dismal budgets introduced by the Menzies Government. In introducing the Budget, the Treasurer said that the Government was determined - to follow through with its expansionary programme until the economy is operating at the highest level of activity we can hope to sustain.
Just what does the Treasurer mean by those words? What is the Government’s idea of the “ highest level of activity “?
– It is an admission of failure.
– I believe that is so. The Budget has not been well received generally in Australia or by any section of the community. The Government has done nothing to alleviate the economic position in which we find ourselves. It has admitted that it has abandoned hope of ever attaining its declared policy of full employment. Only once during his Budget speech did the Treasurer refer to full employment. There seems to be little prospect of the restoration of full employment while the Menzies Government retains office. The Treasurer also stated that if our economy is to expand and prosper, confidence in all sections of the community is necessary. It seems rather strange to hear the Treasurer speak of the need for confidence when the Government has done more to destroy confidence than has any other government in Australia’s history. The Government’s term of office has been studded with moments of indecision. Who can readily forget the horror budgets of 1952 and 1956, and the crowning horror of 1960? In 1960, the Government implemented its infamous credit squeeze which wreaked havoc in Australia’s economy, wrecked many of our industries and threw 130,000 good Australians out of work. It was as a result of these policies that the people cast a crushing vote of no confidence against the Government in December last. At that time, the Government came within an ace of being defeated.
During the debate I have heard Government supporters ascribe the lack of confidence in the community to the calamity howling of the Opposition.
– That has a lot to do with it.
– I should like to point out to honorable members who make such wild and irresponsible statements, including the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes), in a pathetic attempt to pass the blame for the Government’s misdeeds on to the Australian Labour Party, that they will fool no one, least of all the 90,000 unfortunates who are still unemployed because of the incompetence of the Government. The bleak and uncertain future that faces the people is very real and no amount of double talk by Government supporters will put bread and butter into the mouths of the unemployed. These people want action, not words. During the life of this Parliament, the leaders of the Government have made many statements as to the steps they are taking to restore the economy to a healthy state. Admittedly, some of the measures adopted have prevented any further slide in our economic position, but they have done little else. Obviously, the Government does not wish to plan the economy, or is totally incapable of doing so, and so provide for our future expansion and prosperity.
We of the Australian Labour Party are not alone in these thoughts. All sections of our people are more than ever convinced that there is no hope for Australia under the dead hand of the Menzies Government. The most significant point made by the Treasurer was that the Budget provided for a deficit of £118,000,000. As pointed out by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, the manner in which this is to be expended will do little to cure our economic ills. It will not restore full employment and it will not restore to their former positions those Australian industries that have been repeatedly hit by the policies of the Government.
It is very strange that the Treasurer has budgeted for this deficit. Government supporters heaped criticism on the Opposition when, in our policy speech at the 1962 election, we proposed budgeting for a deficit of £100,000,000. We were told then that to budget for such a deficit was impracticable, irresponsible and inflationary. This adds further to our claim that the policy of the Australian Labour Party is sound. If further proof of this is needed, one has only to look at the measures adopted by the Government in an attempt to bolster the economy. They are largely ideas put forward by the Australian Labour Party, but they have not been successful because of the usual haphazard and incompetent method of application of this haphazard and incompetent Government.
Since the Budget was introduced, I have had the opportunity to speak to many people in all walks of life. None of them has shared the confidence expressed by the Treasurer that the Budget will remove the impediments to expansion and add to the prosperity of the nation. On the contrary, their views have been similar to those held by the Australian Labour Party. It is a budget which lacks any provision aimed at correcting the position of many of our citizens, who have suffered as the result of the Government’s policies.
What hope is held out for the 90,000 unemployed? The Budget does not establish that the Government believes there is any permanent solution to this vital problem. Can the Government justify the Budget on this argument alone? This problem is like a running sore on the face of Australia. Able-bodied men and women, boys and girls, are ready, willing and able to work, but they are being deprived of the right to do so by the failure of the Menzies Government to make good its avowed policy of full employment.
On many occasions, Government supporters have intimated that we are not sincere in our desire to see full employment throughout the country. They have irresponsibly suggested that we thrived on unemployment and that, in our efforts to regain office, we use unemployment as a weapon against the Government. How irresponsible and politically dishonest can Government supporters get? The Australian Labour Party enjoys the support of a big majority of the people and they regard us as their voice in this Parliament. Surely, Government supporters must feel a deep sense of guilt at the injustices perpetrated on a large number of our citizens by the ineptitude of the Government. I remind honorable members opposite that it was the Chifley Government which gave the country full employment for the first time in its history. I also remind them that their own Government smashed the solid economic foundations built by the Chifley Government which made this condition of full employment possible.
Last Thursday evening, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) spoke in this debate. He followed the line usually adopted by honorable members opposite when dealing with the Opposition’s attack on the Government for its ineptitude and incompetence. He said -
I know that the professional task of honorable members opposite is … to cry stinking fish - to make everybody believe that the Australian people are in the depths of misery. The Opposition thinks that once it convinces the people that they are in the depths of misery, they will vote for Labour - you have to be pretty miserable to vote for the Labour Party.
– Who said that?
– The Prime Minister said that when he spoke last Thursday. He insulted more than half the population of Australia. They are his words and his attitude is typical of the attitude adopted by honorable members opposite. 1 am sure that the big majority of people who do vote for Labour, and indeed many people who do not, will regard the Prime Minister’s statement as a considered insult. But it is typical of his attitude to people politically opposed to him. This attitude is a smoke screen thrown up by the Government in a weak attempt to cover its own failings. This is a frightened government, which realizes that its number is up. Proof of this is given by the failure of the Government to nominate a candidate in the Batman by-election even though a Liberal candidate had already been endorsed to contest this seat. No doubt the decision not to nominate a candidate was influenced by the result of the Broadmeadows byelection, which showed a 10 per cent, swing in votes to the Australian Labour Party.
Government members are saying that members of the Australian Labour Party are crying stinking fish, to use the words of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies). More and more of the people of Australia to-day are supporting the policy of the Australian Labour Party. If honorable members opposite got around a bit more they would understand this attitude of the people. The fact that the Government has railed to enter the fight in the Batman by-election indicates to us, and, I think, to the people of Australia, that the Government has lost hope. This is also clearly shown by the barren Budget which has been presented to the Parliament b, the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt).
This so-called “ stimulus “ Budget has failed miserably to provide for full employment. No provision has been made for pension increases, of which the unfortunate recipients of pensions were so forlornly hopeful. I was hopeful that consideration would be given not only to age pensions, but also to widows’ pensions and invalid pensions. At this juncture I would like to make more particular reference to the matter of pensions. In the case of age pensions I shall refer particularly to a male pensioner who is many years older than his wife. In many cases a man who reaches the age of 65 or 66 years has a wife ten years his junior. In most cases they have no money. Being workers, they have had no chance to accumulate any money.
– Not under this Government!
– You are right there. In many cases a man is forced to retire at the age of 65 and finds it difficult, if not impossible, to secure other employment. If he is physically fit, the Government pays him a pension of £5 5s. a week to provide for himself and his wife. Surely the Government does not expect a woman of 50 to 55 years of age, who has probably reared a family and who has had no business or industrial training, to go out into the labour market and get a job, particularly under the conditions prevailing under the administration of this Government.
I maintain that this Government has f… . J to appreciate this problem. It is a real problem and one which I believe should be tackled immediately by this Government. I have many of these people come to me and ask me what I can do for them. In the present circumstances, the situation can be relieved only if the husband can be classified as physically incapable of looking after himself. I express to the Government a rather forlorn hope that it will do something about this problem.
Invalid pensioners also are very badly treated. I cannot understand why the permissible income of invalid pensioners should be less than that of age pensioners. An invalid pensioner may earn only £2 a week in addition to his pension, while an age pensioner may earn £3 a week. I believe he should be able to earn more. I cannot understand the reason for this discrimination against the invalid pensioner. This matter has been the subject of several questions addressed to the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton), and I have hoped, as I know many of the people concerned have hoped, that some provision would have been made in the Budget to remove this anomaly, but alas we have waited in vain.
– An unsympathetic Minister!
– That is right. Then we have the case of the widow pensioners. A widow who is in category A gets the magnificent sum of £5 10s. a week for herself and £1 15s. a week for a child under sixteen years of age, making a total of £7 5s. a week. I do not know how a woman in that category, with a child or children, can be expected to go out and augment her income by working. 1 believe that the Government must approach these problems realistically. The Government must appreciate (he position that these widows are placed in and do something towards alleviating their distress. In these cases, those who suffer not the least are the children. If the woman can find employment, the children will not enjoy the home life to which they are entitled. Members of the Australian Labour Party believe in the preservation of home life. We believe that the Government should consider making much better provision for widows in category A. We had hoped that in this Budget we would see general overall increases in pensions.
The Australian Labour Party feels that war pensioners in many cases are being inadequately provided for. In many cases the Government has made reasonable provision for ex-service pensioners, but many such pensioners, particularly totally and permanently incapacitated ex-servicemen, are not receiving sufficient to provide for their comfort. These are people who served their country. Surely they are entitled to reasonable compensation from the Government.
In my opinion, the most glaring omission from the Budget was the failure of the Government to make any provision for an increase in child endowment. It hau been confidently “expected that on this occasion the Government would make some provision for an increase in child endowment. There has been no increase since 1950. In answer to a question this morning, the Minister for Social Services stated that this matter had been gone into thoroughly. If this is so, it is a disgrace that Australian mothers, who have done excellent jobs for this nation by raising families, in many cases on inadequate wages, were not granted some increased payment in recognition of the good work they have done. It appears that the Government believes that the amount granted in 1950 is sufficient recognition to the mothers of Australia for the part they have played m 1’ . nation’s development. In 1950 the rates of child endowment payments were the same as they are to-day, but these payments now will not buy the same volume of goods as they were able to buy in 1950. The purchasing power of child endowment payments has been at least halved, and the Government refuses to do anything to increase it.
One would have thought that if the Government wished to do something to bolster the economy it would have given more taxation concessions to the family man. The amount that can be deducted from taxable income for a wife is £143. I do not know what the Treasurer’s .attitude is to this concession. I do not know whether he feels that he can maintain his wife on £143 a year. Something should be done about this in the future. Nothing can be done at the moment because the Budget has already been presented and, knowing this Government, I have no doubt that there will be no amendments to the Budget. I hope that in preparing future budgets, some consideration will be given to taxation concessions to the family unit. 1 know that we must have taxation, but I believe that if we want to put something back into the economy we should make more tax concessions for that section of the community which needs them most and which will spend the extra money. The family man will spend the money; he h:s to. In many cases he spends more than he earns. That is the only way he can possibly survive in the present economic situation.
These are matters which are vital to the people of Australia. They are vital to the ordinary, little people of Australia, the people who need assistance. We shall fight in this chamber at all times for the people of Australia who need assistance most.
In conclusion, Mr. Temporary Chairman, I say that I consider this Budget to be totally inadequate to meet the present needs of Australia. It will do nothing to restore economic stability or the balance of our economy. It will do nothing for Australia or for the people of Australia.
.- Mr. Temporary Chairman, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam), among other things, described this Budget as a curious amalgam of apology and bravado. That is a new expression, but the sentiment is not new, for I have yet to hear him praise a budget presented by this Government. I suppose that would be too much to expect from an Opposition, whatever its political persuasion. The honorable gentleman said that he wanted to direct attention to some of the more obvious inconsistencies in the Government’s analysis of the current economic situation. I propose to direct attention to some of the more obvious inconsistencies in the speech made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition last Tuesday evening.
The honorable gentleman referred to the Government in very many unkind terms. At one point, he said - “ Unprincipled “ is an adjective with many meanings; all apply to this Government.
I took the trouble to look up a few of the meanings of that word. The definition iven in “ Webster’s Third New International Dictionary “, I think, could be very aptly applied to the speech made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. That dictionary describes an unprincipled person as one who would indulge in calumny, which is defined as the act of uttering false charges or misrepresentations maliciously calculated to damage another’s reputation. I believe that this is a good description of the action of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition last Tuesday evening. All the expressions which he used can be very aptly applied to his own speech.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition used the phrase “ intellectual dishonesty “. As well as describing this Government as being unprincipled, he said that the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) had been guilty of disreputable double-talk. If there were a post available as arch-priest of double-talk the Deputy Leader of the Opposition would be well qualified to fill it. He quoted the Treasurer’s remarks about the amount which the Government was allocating this financial year for housing. The Treasurer had stated that the Government was providing £91,000,000 for housing this financial year. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition stated that, because of repayments which had been made to the Government, the actual figure represented less than half this amount. If anything is double-talk, that is. The fact is that the Government is providing £91,000,000 for new borrowers - people who have not previously been helped to obtain homes. To try to confuse the picture by reference to sums which have been repaid is just to exhibit so much stupidity. Does the Deputy Leader of the Opposition suggest that the money should not have been repaid? Perhaps I could draw an analogy and suggest that he could say that the votes cast for him in his electorate at the last general election were not worth anything to him because so many people voted against him. That would follow the same sort of principle, but I do not think he would be likely to say that to his constituents.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition attempted to make rubbish of the Treasurer’s figures on housing, but the fact remains that the number of houses commenced and the number completed last financial year were the third highest in history. Surely we are catching up on the demand for housing. The 1947 census showed that 59 per cent, of houses were owned or being bought by the occupiers. To-day, the proportion is 70 per cent. - a figure which I have obtained from an answer given to a question on notice by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. In 1947, there were 3.9 persons to every dwelling in Australia. To-day, there are only 3.5. So we are definitely catching up on the demand for housing. Under the war service homes scheme and the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement, including the allocations made in this year’s Budget, the Menzies Government has provided more than £800,000,000 for housing.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition mentioned a statement made by the Treasurer about the increase in car sales, and went to the trouble of quoting an article which appeared in the official journal of the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries of Australia for June, 1962, which stated -
The strong resurgence of the new vehicle market must, it is predicted, taper off very soon. This tapering off will be accelerated, no doubt, by the fact that there is a current glut in used car stocks and prices of these have been falling steadily.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition said that this showed clearly that another of the Government’s props under the economy would not bear very much weight. What the article claimed, to my way of thinking, is that there is a current flood of used cars on the market. Surely to goodness, the honorable member cannot blame the Government for that. This sort of situation must occur some time. It happens in all countries which manufacture cars for the home market, and it applies to a great many products apart from motor cars. This problem is one which a great many industries have to face. What does the motor industry expect to happen to the old vehicles if it continues to sell new cars? Either we shall have to scrap them or we shall have to find a market for them. Who will provide the money to pay for the old cars if we scrap them? The man who owns a second-hand car will certainly want his money back. I do not think that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition can blame the Government for this situation in the motor industry.
The honorable gentleman concluded his speech by saying that the Government is condemned by this, that and the other person - in fact, by everybody except itself and its supporters, and especially by the poorer members of the community. I presume that by that expression he means the pensioners. I do not believe that the pensioners are such poor judges as to believe that they will receive a better deal under Labour than they have received from this Government. History proves otherwise.
If this Government lacks anything, Mr. Temporary Chairman, it is the ability to get across to the voting public the great good that it does in very many ways. Consequently, it does not receive full recognition for its good works. Therefore, I propose, to the best of my ability, to correct that situation this afternoon. In particular, I want to discuss social services. Most Labour speakers in this debate have stated that pensions should have been increased. Some of these facts have been stated before, but they bear repetition. Honorable members opposite do not forget to try to get their story across to the people, but their story will not bear the light of day when the facts are stated. In 1949, Labour paid to age pensioners £2 2s. 6d. a week. This represented 32.9 per cent, of the basic wage, which was £6 9s. a week at the time. The Menzies Government pays £5 5s. a week, which represents 36.4 per cent, of the current basic wage. In addition, this Government pays a supplementary allowance of 10s. a week to pensioners who are living by themselves and who pay rent and are deemed to be entirely dependent on their pensions. It is interesting to note that of the basic amount of £5 5s. a week paid to age pensioners to-day, Liberal governments have provided £4 ls. 6d. and Labour governments only £1 3s. 6d. Labour says of the supplementary allowance, as it does of the benefits under the pensioner medical service, “ It is not enough “. Although Labour gave nothing in this respect, it now accuses this Government of not giving enough.
Let us consider pensions further. In 1949, the permissible income was 30s. a week for a single pensioner or £3 a week for a married couple. The Menzies Government permits a single pensioner to earn 70s. a week and a married couple to earn £7 a week. As a consequence, many pensioner married couples to-day receive a total income of £17 10s. a week - total pension of £10 10s. and the maximum permissible income of £7. All of this is free of income tax, by the way. Labour permitted a total income, not of £17 10s. a week, but only of £7 5s. a week.
– How many years ago was that?
– Nearly thirteen years ago. I do not want to be diverted by the honorable member, but I point out to him that I have related these amounts to the basic wage. Honorable members opposite interject because they do not like this. In 1949, Labour allowed a pensioner to have, in addition to his own home and personal possessions, £750 worth of property The Menzies Government introduced the merged means test, and to-day a pensioner with no income may have as much as £4,750 before he loses his pension entitlement altogether. A married couple in Labour’s day was entitled to have £1,500, after which they lost their pension entitlement. To-day, the figure is not £1,500 but £9,500. It was the Menzies Government that extended social services to aboriginal citizens. Labour was in office for eight years and did not do this. It was the Menzies Government that extended payment of age pensions to migrants after ten years’ residence. It was the Menzies Government that introduced the homes for the aged scheme under which £2 is provided by the Commonwealth for every £1 provided by churches and other charitable institutions. To date, the Government has provided more than £10,000,000 under this scheme, and so has facilitated the provision of homes for more than 10,000 aged persons to enable them to end their days in comfort.
The strange thing is that Labour claims credit both for what it introduced while it was in office and for what this Government has introduced. Labour supporters use such expressions as “ We extorted this from you “ and “ You acted under pressure from us “. I merely point out that although the Government may be described as being under pressure now because it has a majority in this House of only one, the current Budget provides no concessions, whereas when we had a healthy majority - particularly in the last Parliament when the majority was 32 - we introduced most of the concessions. How much pressure can a minority of 32 exercise on a government? How does Labour explain the fact that no concessions are provided when the Government is really under pressure? 1 come now to repatriation. The Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Swartz) said last week that after studying repatriation systems operating in 40 different countries he had found that Australian benefits and pensions were equal to any, and better than most. As a matter of fact, 1 think Australia is the only country in the world which automatically recognizes tuberculosis as a pensionable ailment whether or not it is war caused. It was the Menzies Government - I want ex-servicemen to pay attention to this - that introduced the scheme of gift cars for certain amputees and seriously paralysed persons. In addition to a free car, there is an allowance of £120 a year for maintenance, insurance, registration and so on. It was the Menzies Government that introduced free air travel for next-of-kin to enable them to visit exservicemen in hospitals.
In 1949, Labour paid to a war widow £3 7s. 6d.; the Menzies Government pays her £8 17s. 6d., an increase of 163 per cent. This Government also widened the provision under which war widows may apply for a pension. It was the Menzies Government that made war widows eligible for war service homes. It was the Menzies Government that made war widows eligible for a re-marriage gratuity, which is equal to one year’s pension. It was the Menzies Government that provided war widows with travelling expenses to and from hospitals. It was the Menzies Government that made war widows eligible for rehabilitation training to enable them to take a suitable place in the world. Labour paid a war widow with two children £4 17s. 6d. a week; the Menzies Government pays to that same war widow £12 4s.
– What about the cost structure?
– I shall deal with the cost structure later, and when I come to health the Opposition will be even less pleased.
I turn now to nurses of the First World War. Irrespective of whether they receive a pension, they are entitled to medical and hospital benefits. The Menzies Government introduced this legislation. It was the Menzies Government that removed the restrictions which prevented totally and permanently incapacitated pensioners from receiving social service payments in addition to repatriation benefits. In other words, it enables them to be dual pensioners, subject only to the means test. Labour paid a T.P.I, pensioner £5 6s.; the Menzies Government pays him £13 5s., and that T.P.I, pensioner may also receive a service pension and be in receipt of a salary of up to £17 10s. a week, plus his children’s allowances. It was the Menzies Government that introduced the clothing allowance for amputees and others whose disability causes excessive wear or tear on clothes. It was the Menzies Government that provided free medical, dental and hospital treatment for all service pensioners, whether or not the disabilities are warcaused. The Menzies Government increased the war service bornes loan to £3,500, and it is interesting to recall that of the total amount of £435,000,000 provided by all governments for war service homes, the Menzies Government has provided more than £382,000,000. To the end of 1949 - the second war had then been over for more than four years - 63,000 exservicemen of the two world wars had been helped to obtain a home; in the twelve and a half years that this Government has been in office it has helped an additional 175,031 people, which is nearly three times 63,000.
Labour members have criticized the unemployment benefit, and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) claimed that the Opposition had extorted certain increases from the Government last February. In 1949, Labour paid to a married man an unemployment benefit of £2 5s., or 35 per cent, of the then basic wage, which was £6 9s. The honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard) asked how far costs had risen. Here is the answer. This Government pays an unemployment benefit of £7 2s. 6d., which is equivalent to 48 per cent, of to-day’s basic wage. To a man with a wife and two children Labour paid £2 10s.; the Menzies Government pays £8 12s. 6d. To a married man with a wife and four children Labour paid £2 10s. a week; the Menzies Government pays £10 7s. 6d., an increase of more than 400 per cent., while the basic wage has increased by approximately 120 per cent.
Labour has criticized this Government and said it does not stand for full employment, yet one of their chief spokesmen is on record as saying - I do not hold this against him because at the time he spoke the picture was a realistic one - he believed 5 per cent, of unemployment was, in his view, full employment. In only seventeen of the 151 months that the Menzies Government has been in office, has unemployment exceeded 2 per cent.- not 5 per cent. The peak was 3.1 per cent, in January of this year.
I come then to health. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition said, “ Then look at our national health “, but after a few lines he dropped the subject. I can understand why he did not go on with it. In the last year that Labour was in office it spent £6,000,000 on health; this year the Government has budgeted for £92,800,000 - more than fifteen times the amount Labour was spending on health. Yet the Deputy Leader said this Government will be condemned by the poor health of the people in the community. No increase in the basic wage from £6 9s. to £14 18s., no change in money values, and no increased population can possibly reconcile these figures of £6,000,000 spent on health in 1949 and £92,800,000 provided for health in 1962.
I wonder how many people are aware of the fact tthat it was the Menzies Government that introduced the scheme of paying allowances to sufferers from tuberculosis; that it was the Menzies Government that introduced the scheme of providing free milk to school children; that it was the Menzies Government that provided a homenursing service for pensioners, and that it was the Menzies Government that introduced the Pensioner Medical Service, which to-day is providing more than 750,000 pensioners with general practitioners of their own choice. To-day there are nearly 6,000 doctors registered for this service. The pensioners can have that service either in their own homes or in the doctor’s surgery. Labour gave nothing, yet has attempted to criticize this Government for not giving enough. Labour talks about education. Education is directly a matter for the States, but for university education the amount provided by this Government is about fifteen times the amount which was provided by Labour in its last year in office. Lest anybody should think I am trying to pass the buck by saying education is a matter for the States, let me say that the States pay for their education from grants that they receive from the Commonwealth Government.
In 1949, the Labour Government’s grants to the States amounted to £78,754,000. This year, the Menzies Government is providing the States with over £442,000,000, an increase of over 550 per cent. Labour returned to the States for road construction 40 per cent, of the amount it collected from petrol tax. Over the past six years, the Menzies Government has returned to the States more than 70 per cent, of its collections. In 1949, the Labour Government gave to the States £9,000,000 for roads. This year, the Menzies Government is providing £54,000,000 for roads. During each of the past four quarters the consumer price index has fallen. Yet in each of these quarters both the minimum weekly wage and the average weekly earnings have increased. This is the other side of the picture, a side that Labour does not want the public to see.
Towards the end of his speech, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition referred to the mass of the people being relieved from fear of hardship. I took the trouble to refer to one of the White Papers, and found that in 1949 one person in every 12.2 owned a car. To-day, one person in every 5.5 owns a car. In 1949, one person in every ten had a telephone. To-day, one person in every 4.7 has a telephone. In 1949, one person in every 4.5 had a radio. To-day, one in every 2.6 has a radio, and people own television sets as well. Refrigerators and washing machines, which were regarded as luxuries in 1949, are now accepted as necessities. Do these figures indicate hardship? The statement of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition that Australian interest rates were the highest in the Western world was completely blown out by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) last Thursday night. Surely I have proved that the expressions that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition applied to this Government, such as “ intellectual dishonesty “, “ disreputable double talk “ and “ unprincipled “, are an apt description of his speech.
Having effectively disposed of him, I want, in the time remaining at my disposal, to praise the Government for the provision it has made in this Budget for the development of the north. During the recess, as a member of the Food and Agriculture Committee, I was privileged to visit a number of developmental projects in Western Australia.
– By aeroplane!
– Never mind about the aeroplane. We covered 10,000 miles in eight days in an aeroplane, and if we started at 6.30 a.m., that was a late start. I am sorry I cannot give Tasmania a mention. I was amazed at what the Western Australian Government is doing to develop the northwest. With members of the committee, I saw what was happening in regard to mineral and agricultural production. I was most impressed by the extent to which the Western Australian Government was contributing from its own meagre funds towards the cost of this development. The population of the north-west, in a total area of 530,000 square miles, is only 17,450 whites, which represents about one person to every 30 square miles. Yet, from its Consolidated Revenue Fund, the Western Australian Government has increased its expenditure on the north-west from 3.08 per cent, in 1957-58 to 4.05 per cent, in 1961-62. Of its loan funds, the Western Australian Government spent 4.67 per cent, on the north-west in 1958-59. That amount was spent on irrigation, water supply, hospitals, schools, native welfare and coastal shipping services, which are the lifeline of the north-west. Last year, the Western Australian Government spent 9.82 per cent, of its loan funds on such undertakings in the north-west. The Western Australian Government has increased its allocation of money for roads to be built in the north-west. In 1957-58, it spent only 12 per cent, of its road funds on the north-west, but last year it spent 27 per cent. As a Victorian, I am frequently twitted about the fact that the Western Australian Government has built a bridge across the Narrows with Victorian petrol tax money, but it has 530,000 square miles in which to build roads in the north, whereas Victoria has an area of only 88,000 square miles.
I believe in self help, and I believe that the Western Australian Government is deserving of support. That Government is not asking any one to do for it what it is not prepared to do for itself. It is doing a wonderful job to develop Western Australia. In relation to the Pilbara area, that Government recently signed an agreement with private enterprise which commits private enterprise, in return for certain mineral concessions, to spend millions of pounds of its own money on building a standard-gauge railway line, on developing two deep sea ports and on improving harbours in order to facilitate exports and so help boost Australia’s export income.
Members of the committee to which I have referred learned how rich is Western Australia in minerals. It has iron, asbestos, manganese, tin and gold. We saw the development of agricultural projects at Camballin, in the Fitzroy valley, and on the Ord River, at Kunnunurra. The Western Australian Department of Agriculture, in co-operation with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, has proved that rice, cotton, linseed and a number of other crops can be grown successfully and profitably. Only recently, it advertised for applications for the first six pilot farms of approximately 600 acres, which were offered at favorable terms to suitable applicants. The Western Australian Government proposes to spend £20,000,000 on the development of the Ord River project. I believe that we should help it. It has chosen a dynamic Minister to take charge of this project, and its officers are dedicated men. Not only are they capable, but they know where they are going. The Western Australians are helping themselves, and they deserve whatever help we can give them. Theirs is a national project, and it is in Australia’s interest that it should be successful.
Having spoken on Western Australia I hope that I shall not be considered parochial if I refer to a project in Victoria. It is very important, and 1 believe that it is in Australia’s best interests. It is the development of a jet port at Tullamarine. During the past ten years, aviation in Australia has made tremendous headway. Passenger miles have been doubled. Our fleet of aircraft has been almost doubled. The number of hours flown has increased by nearly 70 per cent. But even more marked has been the change in the pattern of our international traffic, which has almost completely changed in the past ten years. Whereas in 1950 two out of three overseas visitors came to Australia by sea, in 1960 more than half of them came by air. There are 3,000 international flights in and out of Australia each year, and over 100,000 passengers are carried each way. I am informed that the Department of Civil Aviation estimates that Melbourne generates approximately 40 per cent, of Australia’s international passenger traffic, but because of lack of proper landing facilities for jet craft at Essendon, Melbourne handles only about 13 per cent, of passenger traffic, and approximately 10 per cent, of the total cargo traffic handled by both Melbourne and Sydney. Yet, Melbourne handles nearly as much domestic passenger traffic as Sydney, and handles 50 per cent, more domestic freight traffic.
I am told that of approximately 150 jet ports in the world more than two-thirds are built in cities with populations no larger than that of Melbourne. In fact, Melbourne is the only mainland capital city in Australia without an airport capable of handling the large jet aircraft in use on overseas airlines. Our revenue from tourism is increasing annually, and I believe that more and more international visitors are interested in visiting us. If we do not do something to develop Tullamarine very rapidly our revenue from tourism could be adversely affected, and we shall lose revenue which we can ill afford to lose. Melbourne is already the largest air cargo centre in Australia. Nearly one-third of Australia’s manufactured output is produced in Victoria. Lack of proper jet port facilities in Melbourne could react to the detriment of our export income from manufactured goods. This is not just a parochial plea. Melbourne is Australia’s second largest city and its commercial centre, lt is deserving of the most modern facilities that we can offer to international air travellers. It would be in the interests, not only of Melbourne and Victoria, but of Australia as a whole, to develop this port. I hope that the Government will make every effort to begin, within the next few months, the development of Tullamarine.
Sitting suspended from 5.55 to 8 p.m.
.- Mr. Chairman, I support the motion of censure moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam). I wish first of all to clarify one or two things that have been said during the course of this debate by supporters of the Government in an attempt to take the eyes of the public off the real shortcomings of the Government. One matter that I would like to clear up in relation to a word that has been used frequently during this debate is whether the situation in Australia at present is one of stability, as the Government claims, or one of stagnation as honorable members on this side of the chamber claim. When the term “ stagnation “ is used by members on this side, supporters of the Government produce a great array of figures, going back to the beginning of the Government’s term of office and continuing up to the situation in 1962. I do not want to do that. I want to go back no further than to the Government’s measures of November, 1960, not quite two years ago. By the term “ stagnation “ we on this side of the chamber do not mean that the economy of Australia is dead. We mean that it is lying down and that it is time it was put on its feet. We do not mean - to use a boxing term - that it is out flat; what we do mean is that it is not flat out, in terms of the resources of industry and man-power in Australia.
Having said that, I ask: What is the stability which the Government claims exists in Australia at the moment? Again it seems that all that “ stability “ means is that after record levels of inflation in Australia during the history of this Government, now, for the first time, there has been no significant alteration in prices as reflected in the consumer price index, or whatever other index one chooses to take, during the past twelve months. If that is stability, one ought to ask at what price this stability has been purchased. I suggest that those are the circumstances which should be under examination by this chamber. I propose, first by illustration from documents published under the official aegis of this Government, to indicate that there is in our economy something like stagnation, as we, on this side of the chamber, define it, and that the economy of Australia is not running at the level at which it should; and equally that the Government is not paying attention to the signs of the times.
Before I do that, I would like to allude to the reference in only half a line in the Budget speech relating to the Common Market. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) went on record in the Melbourne “ Age “ of 1st August, 1961, as describing the negotiations in relation to the Common Market as “ the most important in time of peace in my lifetime”. On 17th August, 1961, the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) stated in this chamber -
So our fight is a fight for stakes which for us are very, very high.
So far as this Budget is concerned that momentous situation appears, in the eyes of the Treasurer at least, to be a cloud no bigger than a man’s hand. If, instead of this being 1962 and instead of looking forward to what might be the trade pattern in 1970 - instead of our being crystal gazers - this was 1952 and we were looking forward to 1960, about which we can now read the books - the figures are well stated in the publication of the Australian Industries Development Association, “ European Economic Community “ - no one would have predicted in 1952 what the Australian trade pattern would be in 1960. I suggest that it is equally hazardous to suggest in 1962 what the Australian trade pattern is going to be in 1970. All that we have is an additional amount of clouding of the crystal by the circumstances of the Common Market.
We suggest that the time has come in Australia when we should not be merely crystal-gazing as to the future but should be planning for the future in the light of the circumstances as we see them. What is this so-called era of prosperity that the Government endeavours to present? There are two documents from which I should like to quote, and honorable members may get them from the records room. The first is the White Paper on National Income for 1961-62 which gives the course of events in Australia in the period from July, 1961, to the end of June, 1962. The other document is published by the Department of Trade and is titled “ Survey of Manufacturing Industry in Australia “. The other evening the Prune Minister tried to imply that things were reasonably good in Australia, because he said that employment was picking up in manufactures. The point of view is not shared by the Victorian Chamber of Manufactures, a body to which I claim no allegiance, in its most recent issue of “Economic Service” dated 31st July, 1962, in which an article headed, “ Recovery in factory employment almost at a standstill “ states -
The number of factory employees on the payrolls of the companies concerned-
They are the ones analysed by the Chamber of Manufactures, and they are the most significant in Australia - as at 30th June, 1962, is still 6.9% below the number employed by the same companies as at 30th November, 1960.
At 30th June, 1962, almost 7 per cent, less people were employed than in November, 1960; and it is manufacturing industry that we look to to be the mainspring of taking up the slack in the Australian economy. The article continues -
Unless the rate experienced over these three months improves, it will be almost another 21 months before recovery is complete - even to the November, 1960, level - and it should be remembered that, since this survey was inaugurated, the work force in this State has been supplemented by the intake of two complements of school-leavers.
Only 10 of the 73 industries included in the survey have recovered to the point where the work force employed is greater than in November, 1960-19 months ago.
Many areas of industry, therefore, are working well below capacity and unless much, much more is done to bolster the economy, industry will be in no position to absorb its share of the growing work force.
The average of the money paid to the factory employees engaged by the various companies comprising the survey was ls. 4d. lower than for the period ended 30th November, 1960, and 3s. 2d. more than for the period ended 25th May, 1962.
Are they signs of stability or are they signs of stagnation? Perhaps the Government might be excused for not having read that article, but there is no excuse for not having read what is published under the authority of the Treasurer. When referring to the course of the Australian economy over the past twelve months the White Paper states -
The largest increase in 1961-62 was in public works expenditure, which increased by £69,000,000, or by 12 per cent.
The State authorities were responsible for most of that increase. The document continued -
Private expenditure on dwelling construction was 10 per cent, lower in 1961-62, after an increase of 7 per cent, in 1960-61. Public housing authority dwelling construction for rental purposes increased in value from £22,000,000 in 1960- 61 to £28,000,000 in 1961-62.
Each of those statements illustrates that in this so-called private enterprise economy the situation is saved from being worse than it is only by an increase in public activity.
Now let me read something which I suggest should be noted carefully when we hear these blessed words “ growth “ and “ development “. What is economic growth? What is economic development? The Government seeks praise for its statements, but if they mean anything they mean that in terms of population the total of goods and services circulating at the end of the year ought to be greater than it was at the beginning of the year. If there is to be competition between the way of life of the West and that of some other political systems, growth should mean a gradual rise in the per capita standards of the community. In a private enterprise system, or in a system which is mainly private enterprise, how can that rise come about except from what is called private investment? The history of private investment over the past twelve months, as reflected in this document, is catastrophic when one considers the future. Investment in capital equipment, as distinct from motor cars, refrigerators and the other things which go on the roads, or go into homes, is what makes the wheels of industry turn. The White Paper for 1961-62 States-
Investment in “ other capital equipment “ is estimated to have decreased by about 9 per cent, in 1961- 62, compared with an increase of 10 per cent, in 1960-61.
Let me refer again briefly to the Treasurer’s old testament - not the new testament, the Budget for 1962-63 but the Budget for 1961-62. He said, referring to expansion in the economy -
The main impetus to expansion must, of course, come from the buying public on the one hand and from business firms on the other.
As far as business firms are concerned the result, as pictured in the document, indicates a decline.
What about purchasing power, the other stimulus to the economy? Again the words are written clearly in the record - the White Paper - in this way -
Wages, salaries and supplements thereto increased by £73,000,000, or 2 per cent.-
That might sound impressive, but the passage continues - which was the smallest annual increase both absolutely and relatively since 1946-47, and followed rises of 7 per cent, in 1960-61 and 10 per cent, in 1959-60.
Yet last year the Treasurer said that that was one of the sources from which stimulus to the economy would be obtained. In the face of that, who can suggest that the trade unions are wrong when they claim that the time has come for an increase in wages, or that honorable members on this side of the House are wrong when they suggest an increase in the supplement to the social wage by means of family endowment? After both tests have been applied to last year’s Budget, the record of the twelve months which have intervened shows that the Government did not fulfil its promises.
What of the future? One would have thought perhaps that the period through which we have passed was something of a bad dream which now is behind us; that things are beginning to take up and that the future looks very rosy. Let me read again from the record as written in the Government’s own hand in the “ Survey of Manufacturing Industry in Australia “ for April-May, 1962, which is the most recent survey except for the last quarterly figures of national income to which I shall refer shortly. Under the heading “ Building and Construction Materials “ there appears a table which indicates that in March, 1960, the building industry was working at 84 per cent, of capacity, in March, 1961, at 76 per cent, of capacity and in March, 1962, at 74 per cent, of capacity. The document notes -
Considered as a whole, activity in the building and construction materials group of industries has been sluggish. However, expected increases in output by August, 1962, would restore the level prevailing in March, 1961.
Is that stability or is that stagnation? Under the heading “Basic Materials” - after all, basic materials are significantly relevant to the problem of growth and development - the publication states that the industries here surveyed may be regarded as representative of most of the main basic materials used by secondary industry, which is still the biggest single source of employment, other than the food processing industries. The article goes on -
They fall into three sub-groups - metals, textile yarns and what may be called, broadly speaking, the chemical sub-group, alkalis, fertilizers, plastic materials and paper.
What is the record in relation to them? The article continues -
Similarly, that part of the ferrous forgings industry which is dependent on the motor vehicle industry showed substantial gains in activity, though output for the industry as a whole was down, and only a very minor increase was expected by August.
In other words, it is only because the motor car industry is beginning to recover from the act of arson which was perpetrated on it by this Government in February, 1960, that ferrous forging is returning to its old level of production. I think that in August, 1962, the motor car industry in particular, and the public in general, might well ask at what level in 1962 will the Treasurer regard the motor car industry as having reached the stage it had reached in November, I960.
Honorable members are very keen to quote words that may. have dropped from the lips of individual members ten or fifteen years ago. I should like to quote some words uttered by the Treasurer as recently as 15th November, 1960. He said, speaking of the motor car industry -
But we have also to recognize that there are limits to the resources we can afford for the production of items such as motor cars as against other requirements of our growing economy.
And so he goes on to state that perhaps there has to be some limit on how far the motor car industry is allowed to go. One of the things that honorable members have brought out during the course of this debate is the fact that motor car sales are rising now to about the same level that was regarded as unduly high as recently as November, 1960. The survey of the manufacturing industry in Australia goes on to say -
Output and employment in ferrous foundries actually fell between March, 1961, and March, 1962, and a further slight decline in output was forecast up to August, 1962.
It also said -
Activity in the alkalis industry is important, as it reflects activity in a wide range of alkalis-using industries. Production of alkalis showed an almost insignificant rise above a year ago and this level was expected to be maintained virtually unchanged for the rest of 1962.
The paper-making industry is another whose products find outlets in a variety of industries. In the latter months of 1961, this industry began to recover and overall production by the first quarter of 1962 was higher than that in the March quarter of 1960. However, stocks were high, and the industry was not optimistic for the immediate future and forecast that production in August would be very little different from that in March, 1962.
The survey also states -
Only three of the 14 industries surveyed expected their capital expenditure in 1961/62 would be higher than in 1960/61. There was an expected increase of £10 million by firms making finished steel products. Other major investment plans proceeding or contemplated were in nonferrous metals, paper making, chemical fertilizers
. Deferments of capital expenditure occurred in both the wool yarns and paper-making industries.
. Employment in the group did not increase by as much as output did.
I suggest that this, too, is significant for those who contemplate a future of full employment in Australia. The full passage reads -
Employment in the group did not increase by as much as output did, as a number of industries, due to special conditions of the recession, made significant recoveries in production without the need for commensurate increases in employment . . The overall outlook for the group was for a 5 per cent, increase in output by August, 1962, compared with March, 1962 accompanied by a 1 per cent, increase in employment.
So one might go on with this catalogue of the immediate present almost, and again I ask: Are they signs of stability or are they signs of stagnation? Is it any wonder that there is lack of confidence in certain parts of the community? This is the reflection of that lack of confidence. According to honorable members who want to make political capital it is this side of the chamber that is engendering the lack of confidence in the Australian economy. Again I should like to quote the word’s as they appear here. The survey said -
Despite the over-all improvement and further gains forecast, manufacturers generally felt hesitant that conditions within the present recovery would be likely to sustain a continuance of rapid growth.
The other evening the Prime Minister gathered a little bit of hope from the document known as the “ Quarterly Estimates of National Income and Expenditure “. This document used to be published annually, but in the last twelve months or so the statistical services have so improved that we are able to have it quarterly. The Prime Minister adopted the unscrupulous device of comparing the June quarter of 1961 - at the depth of the slump which we have been describing - with what he called the “ more optimistic signs “ in the June quarter of 1962. It is easy in these perspectives to confuse people if you want to, because the majority of people are not used to thinking in terms of the expenditure of hundreds or thousands of millions of pounds, and when it suits the Government it makes an expenditure of £100,000,000 in one direction sound very virtuous, and the expenditure of 100,000,000 in another direction very vicious. Surely the aim at Budget time ought to be to put those things into perspective and I would suggest that if honorable members read the text that accompanies this quarterly survey of national income and expenditure they would find there repeated, so far as manufacturing industry is concerned, the same dire tale that can be read in the other documents. Manufacturing is not picking up in Australia at the present time, and we must rely on the manufacturing industries to provide most of the employment in the future. I suggest that the time has come for making a more fundamental examination of questions such as this.
It is a fact, in Australia as elsewhere, that a majority of the people have to work for wages. They have to be employed in activities of one kind or another. Another reality is that the education system of to-day ought to be geared to the needs of 1970, not to the needs of 1960. The Government is complacent and seeks refuge behind the fact that expenditure on education in Australia has been greater during its term of office than it was under any other government. Of course the expenditure on education in 1962 ought to be greater than in any previous year, for two reasons. One is that the value of money has halved over the last ten years, and the other more significant reason is that the number of people using the education system has increased. The tactic of comparing what was spent in 1946 with what is being spent in 1962 amounts to closing one’s eyes to the circumstances of 1962. People in other parts of the world, such as the United States of America and Canada, have realistically faced up to this problem, and we can contrast the attitude of the governments of those places wi..i . complacency of this Government regarding unemployment statistics. After a good deal of questioning from this side of the House we now have obtained details of employment statistics for people under the age of 21 and those over the age of 21, and for males and females. The latest figures, which were issued on 30th June, 1962, disclose that among the unemployed there were 1 - ,000 males and 13,700 females under the age of 21. How will those figures be regarded by children who are about to leave school in the next five or six months? The figures show that there were 49,000 male adults and nearly 19,000 female adults out of work.
What the statistics still do not show is how long people in Australia have been out of work, and how many of those recorded in the figures are people who were not born in this country but migrated hopefully to its shores believing employment could be obtained. It would be within the resources of the Department of Labour and National Service, I suggest, to turn out that information in a month or two if it wanted to do so. But, of course, the Government does not want that information released because it knows the information would record two facts. First, it would record the sticky situation of people over the age of 45 years who have been out of work for long periods. Secondly, it would probably show a disproportionate number of new Australians were out of work. I challenge the Government to produce that information. It could be produced and it should be produced if we are to find a satisfactory solution to these problems.
In the years to come, what supporters of the Government call “ economic growth “ can only come as man-power is replaced by machines and when we use horse-power instead of man-power. But there will still be the social problem of what is to be done with the people who are made redundant by those changes. That situation will hit Australia very quickly at some future time, and it is no use waiting, as was done in the case of the European Common Market, until it happens. Something must be done in advance by way of planning. The Government should stop crystal-gazing hopefully and look practically at these problems.
That is one of the problems. The other is the question of integrating education into the sort of society in which we live. I do not want to go into that question. It has been touched upon by experts on the Opposition side more competent than I am in that field; but at least we know that the financial and physical resources devoted to education in Australia in 1962 are inadequate by millions of pounds. Unfortunately, probably we could not spend many millions immediately because economically it is necessary to plan to do something. Basically, the problem of education is more buildings, more facilities and more teachers and they will not be trained overnight. They will not be trained at all if it is left to this Government to deal with the problem.
Another great social problem that is becoming more and more urgent for certain sections of the community is housing. Again, the Government points complacently to the fact that there is a certain level of housing construction in Australia and that it is a little better than a year ago or something of the sort. Again, that hides the realities of the situation. I would direct attention to this statement in the current issue of the “ Financial Review “ by Sir Douglas Copland dealing with homebuilding.
– He would be a good authority.
– If the honorable member does not think Sir Douglas Copland is a good authority, at least he might tell me where he thinks these facts are wrong. If the honorable member is indifferent to them, so much the worse for the people he represents. Sir Douglas Copland pointed out that in 1946, the average cost of a war service home with land was £1,261. In 1961, that figure had risen to £4,256, an increase of nearly three and a half times the previous amount. In 1946, the deposit that was required was £126 or 10 per cent, of the total. In 1961, the deposit required was £1,506 or 33.3 per cent, of the total. This is not the statement of Sir Douglas Copland himself; he was quoting the figures compiled by the Building Industry Committee which met recently in Canberra and stated -
The home buyer of 1961 is demonstratabty worse off than the home buyer of five years ago, and taking the post-war years as a whole, is in a greatly less favorable position than home buyers at any time since 1946.
I would suggest that that points the difference between the attitude of Labour governments and the attitude of indifference of this Government.
– The honorable member has said that we should not go to the past, but he has done just that.
– Perhaps, with your indulgence, Mr. Chairman, I might bring the picture a little more up to date and refer to mortgages sought in Victoria up to the end of 1961. In that year, 40,594 people sought to get mortgages. The average amount of each mortgage was £3,200, but of those 40,594 mortgages, 66 per cent, had to be sought at rates in excess of 6 per cent, and nearly half of them were sought at rates in excess of 7 per cent. The figures also indicated that more than half the finance was supplied by hire-purchase agencies and private lenders not subject to any sort of social control as to the rates at which they operated. To begin with, there is a division there between two sections of the community - those who can borrow at less than 6 per cent, and those who are constrained to borrow at rates in excess of 6 per cent.
– What is the honorable member citing?
– These figures can be obtained from the Registrar-General in Victoria. They disclose at least two groups, but there is another group in the community, and that is the group which is excluded because costs are too high. How can the average young married wage-earner on a wage of £22 to £24 a week - and more than half of them are in that situation - face the proposition of financing the purchase of a home at more than 7 per cent, interest. He is excluded from the home market, and unless something is done to bring about a reduction in the exorbitant rate of interest, the position of these people will become worse. This Government has merely let rates of interest rise higher and higher. It has allowed hire-purchase companies to batten on the community at large. It has raised the interest structure and so excluded those who wish to purchase homes.
Again, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition suggested that something should be done to bring down the bond rate. I think that ought to be done, but I think also that something should be done to see that these fringe institutions - whose alarming growth was part of the genesis of the programme initiated by this Government in 1960- do not again get back to the position of extortion that they occupied some two years ago. This is another social problem that is not being faced by this Government. By its record, this Government is a government of high interest rates. Any such government closes the doors of housing opportunity upon more than half the community. The thing that divides the Government side of the chamber from this side is the fact that we are concerned about those who have to go to the mortgage market. We are concerned also about those deserving people who are excluded from the market altogether. These are the besetting problems that face the community.
– You have an excess of goodwill.
– You have not. You Jo not even have enough common sense to read the diagnosis of your own department. You are one who, in the Treasury, is blamed for not being a Treasurer but for following what is called the Treasury line. I cannot speak for the Minister for Trade, but I suggest that you and he get together and make a close analysis of the manufacturing industry as your own department finds it. Look back to your speech - last year I called it the Old Testament - when you said a healthy community wanted increased purchasing power and wanted, above all, investment in basic industry. Look at the figures and you will find that last year expenditure in basic industries declined by £200,000,000 odd. How will you get the sort of growth that you want in the community unless you begin to stimulate the building industry and generate more confidence in the manufacturing sections of the community. That is not being done. It is easy for the Treasurer, for the Prime Minister and for the AttorneyGeneral (Sir Garfield Barwick) to speak of these matters.
The other evening, the Attorney-General said that refunds of £100,000,000 were being made to taxpayers and that this amount would go mainly to wage-earners. I suggest again that he look at the figures. If refunds of £100,000,000 are to be made, they can go only largely to payers of provisional tax whose income last year fell short of the anticipated figure. Have a look at the aggregate amount of tax paid by the wage-earning section of the community and relate it to the miserly reduction of 5 per cent. This will show which section is obtaining most of the £100,000,000. After all, the virtue the Treasurer saw in a reduction of 5 per cent, when he made it was that its impact would be immediate, because the amount of tax deducted from wages would be reduced immediately the new tax scale was introduced.
The Attorney-General, in a court, is supposed to pay some attention to facts and logic. He wandered a little off his course the other night and I suggest that he, too, take his speech to the Treasury officials and let them mark the points on which he slipped. He accused the Deputy Leader of the Opposition of making statements that could not be substantiated. I suggest he look at the facts as they are recorded.
These are the only Ministers, to my knowledge, who have spoken during this debate. The attempt here has not been to face up to the realities of the economic situation in 1962, but to try to hark back to the whole period that the Government has been in office. After all, the people did not think as much of this Government in December, 1961, as they thought of it three years previously. If the Government took the opportunity now to test Australian public opinion, it would find that the people do not have any confidence in it; they have confidence in us. That is why we have moved a motion of no confidence.
– Listening to the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean), I was reminded of the fact that my former leader, Sir Arthur Fadden, had a gift for remembering Australian poetry. Many a time he entertained us with quotations from *’ Around the Boree Log “, one line of which was, “ ‘ We’ll all be ruined ‘, said Hanrahan “. If ever I was entitled to be reminded of that line, it was while listening to the honorable member for Melbourne Ports. I have never heard a more sustained, dolorous and pessimistic story than the one he had to tell to-night. If, as industry and commerce have advised the Government, confidence is the main ingredient lacking in Australia’s recovery, then the honorable member for Melbourne Ports has struck a man-sized blow against the recovery of confidence.
The Government is disappointed. We expected to get a few jars from the Opposition, but we are disappointed that the economy rather than the Government has received the jars. If one studies the speeches that have come from Opposition members, right through from the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) to the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, one finds constant evidence of the incapacity of the Australian Labour Party to grasp the main features of the current problems of the Australian economy. All the evidence is that, whichever Opposition member is speaking, from the Deputy Leader of the Opposition down, the aim is to jump on whatever looks like a bandwagon, whether it is social services, interest rates on mortgages or anything else. The attitude of Opposition members is: “ Jump on the bandwagon. There is a receptive audience for this line and we will be discharging our responsibility to the Australian Labour Party if we follow it.”
We have a responsibility to the Australian people and to the future of the Australian nation. The Government has been pursuing what it conceives to be the proper policies to produce growth and stability in this young nation. It is nonsense to talk about growth over the long term except in a setting of stability; and the objective of the Budget that we are discussing now is to achieve growth and stability. This is a budget that envisages a deficit of £ 1 1 8,000,000- the biggest deficit ever produced to the Parliament in peace-time. The purpose of the Budget is clear. It is to provide a continuing stimulus to the Australian economy. It represents a continuance of the Government’s policy, which is the high objective of continued expansion and growth, catering for an increasing population and bringing higher standards of living all the time.
The Government’s policy is to aid and encourage enterprise to expand. Enterprise should comprehend that the Government has a constant policy objective in all that it is doing. We believe that enterprise will grow, thrive and have confidence if the Government is set upon achieving economic stability and is determined to have economic growth and to sustain the maximum opportunity for free enterprise to express itself. There is nothing so dynamic in producing economic growth as the opportunity for free men and combinations of free men to know that by harder work, ingenuity and application they can make profits. A country will not grow great and strong and feel free on a diet of controls, targets and objectives. This is what we get from the Australian Labour Pary all the time. No great and free country has been born and bred on that diet. Our diet is sustained economic stability and our objective is the objective of growth and freedom. The Budget is aimed at achieving this.
This is an expansionary Budget. It is designed to ensure that this great nation will continue to grow. It is designed to reduce the unemployment that exists. It is designed as a budget that will build up confidence. It is not designed to destroy confidence, as are the speeches of Opposition members. Through governmental expenditure alone, this Budget is adding to the economy £100,000,000 more than did the Budget introduced twelve months ago. Over two years £263,000,000 has been added to the funds in circulation.
The directions in which expenditures are pointed are very important, of course, and the directions of the expenditures set out in this Budget are the directions towards growth and expansion. Take the expenditure on housing, for instance. Why, the provision in this Budget for housing is very much greater than the amount covered by the entire federal Budget in the year that I came into this Parliament. We see a really gigantic expansion in that one direction alone.
The purpose of this expansionary Budget is to create more jobs. It is to provide encouragement and assistance for export activities. It is to put more money into the hands of the people. The Budget contains many telling examples of the way in which it has been framed for these purposes if one cares to study it in its details. One can see how many more millions of pounds are being provided for the works of the States and for the capital works of the Commonwealth itself. Large amounts of money are being granted to the States for the specific purpose of encouraging employmentproviding activities. More money than ever before is being provided for the undertakings that we are so proud of, such as the Snowy Mountains scheme and the building of ports and roads. Extra money is being allocated to assist in the search for oil. These are some of the things that any perceptive person must notice, even in just flicking through the Budget.
Surely all of these provisions represent steps forward in the growth of our country. Surely they are all calculated to inspire confidence in the country and its economy. Surely they show that the Government itself has supreme confidence in Australia. We have continued the same policy objectives that we have always pursued. True, our methods differ in detail from time to time. Labour spokesmen will, as the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has already done, try to make capital of these differences in detail, but I contend that the same purpose is before us, and that purpose is growth.
What a record of growth there has been! The Deputy Leader of the Opposition and the honorable member for Melbourne Ports have, of course, sneered at our remarks about growth and have used for purposes of comparison only the figures for last year. To listen to them, one would think that there had been no growth in this economy. Let us have a look at the record. This Government has been in office for twelve years, and in that time the gross national product has trebled. Name another country in which such growth has taken place in twelve years. The volume of rural production has increased by 40 per cent, in that twelve years. There are to-day in Australia nearly one and a half times as many factories as there were twelve years ago, nearly half as many factories again as were built in the preceding 150 years of our growth. The volume of production of steel is nearly two and a half times as great as it was twelve years ago, and further expansion in the steel industry, which is one of our basic industries, is well under way. Electricity production has almost trebled in twelve years. Horse-power per head in factories has almost doubled. Employment, excluding employment in rural industries, is up by 625,000. In the twelve-year period we have accepted 1,500,000 immigrants and in the same period nearly 1,000,000 homes have been built.
The volume of exports has increased by 75 per cent. In the Department of Trade, which I administer, the number of Trade Commissioners has trebled. Expenditure on the Trade Commissioner Service is five times as much as it was twelve years ago. Expenditure on other items of aid to export publicity amounted to £25,000 twelve years ago; in this Budget it is just on £1,000,000. Yet the honorable member has the temerity to question that there has been growth in our economy under this Government. Every indicator that can be turned to will show that there has been a dramatic record of continuous growth in this country.
It is true, of course, that so dramatic and so forceful has been the rate of growth under this Government, which has been determined to build up the industrial strength and the population of Australia as quickly as possible, that some pressure on our costs has been produced. Any economist, or any practical person with experience in public administration, knows that the kind of programme that the Government has been carrying out will raise from time to time, in certain given circumstances to which I will refer in detail later, not only cost pressures but the threat of actual inflation. That has been part of the price we have paid for the pace that we have cracked on in the growth of this country. Who in this Parliament, or outside it, would not be prepared to meet some of that price to step up the country’s rate of growth, to transform it in a few years from a nation of 7,000,000 people to one with a population approaching 11,000,000, in which rural industry, manufacturing industry and the mining and metal industries are all going ahead?
I have set out the results of our .programme. Part of the penalty has been pressure on costs. We have taken the proper steps from time to time - and successfully - to arrest the upward cost spiral and to restore the economy to equilibrium, so that we could start again an adventurous forward march. Yet these modifications of policy to meet circumstances have met with nothing but harping criticism from the Labour Party.
The Labour Party seems to ignore the fact that this country is not hermetically sealed off from the rest of the world. We are a great world trading power. With our 10,000,000-odd people we are among the twelve biggest trading nations of the world. We are selling our food, our fibres and our other raw materials to the various countries at prices that we cannot control. Prices of such bulk commodities notoriously fluctuate over the years. As a result, of course, there have been repercussions in the Australian economy. There would be a comfort, of course, in departing from our programme of growth and settling down to an easy life of stagnation. This country would need to get a different government from this one if it ever happened that we had a majority of people preferring comfortable stagnation to the development of a dynamic nation. We have no doubt that we are carrying out the will of the Australian people when we pursue our expansionary policies.
Is the Labour Party completely unaware that you cannot seal off the Australian community? The fact that 625,000 new jobs have been made available during the life of this Government has resulted, to a very large extent, from our ability to produce a great volume of overseas earnings and to use the funds thus made available to service our factories with their import requirements of raw materials and specialized equipment. Last year our exports earned £1,080,000,000, of which about £600,000,000 was commandeered immediately to buy in overseas countries the requirements of Australian manufacturing industries. Another £200,000,000 of it was used to purchase Australia’s requirements for transport and for developmental works. How can the Labour Party ignore these facts? The Deputy Leader of the Opposition spoke for an hour in this debate and made not one reference to either of the two cornerstones of the Australian economy, - the great primary industries that are our predominant earners of export income, and our balance of payments, which becomes a real problem in such an economy as ours.
The honorable member for Melbourne Ports spoke of a crystal ball. He may gaze into a crystal ball, but we have no use for such a thing. We know where we are going, and we know where we are taking the country. We have taken it to a stage at which 1 ,000,000 new homes have been provided in twelve years. You may write your plans for 1,000,000 homes, but you will never get them unless you have the kind of expanding economy that this Government has produced and will continue to maintain.
Against what great disabilities have we done this? I spoke a moment ago of the fluctuation in the values of our export products. In my layman’s language, the expression “ terms of trade “ represents what export earnings will buy in imported items. Australia’s terms of trade have deteriorated by 33 per cent, in the last nine years - a circumstance over which neither this Government nor the Australian Labour Party could have any control. I said that we earned £1,080,000,000 for our exports last financial year. If the terms of trade had remained constant, the volume of goods produced in the economic climate that this Government has established and sold at the prices of eight years go, would have returned, not £1,080,000,000, but £540,000,000 more than that. I do not think one could give a more dramatic example of the physical achievements of the Australian economy under the impetus of the policies of this Government than to say that if the world values of wool, meat, lead, wheat and other export commodities had remained constant, Australia would not have had a worry in the world about the balance of payments in the financial year just finished, for we would have received £540,000,000 more. One does not need any crystal ball to see this. One needs only to study the problems that produced this recession in the world values of these export commodities.
Have we ever heard the Labour Party, in the propounding of its plans - in its crystalball gazing - suggest in recent years that there were grounds, in the trend of world values of the bulk export commodities, for the convening of international conferences to see whether countries like Australia and the newly-emerging nations could be given greater economic security by an agreement among the older industrial countries to support plans designed to promote greater stability in the values of these world export commodities? No. There has been only silence on the Labour side on that matter. There has been no silence on this issue on this side of the chamber, however. We have been talking about this for years. It was the Australian voice that was first raised in world circles on this issue, at the Commonwealth Trade and Economic Conference at Montreal. In a few minutes, I shall tell the committee what progress has been made since we raised this issue.
Even under the great disability of the fall in the prices of these commodities, we have, as a result of our policies of expansion and the determination to provide a sound base for the economy, seen this amazing growth of population, of industrialization, of the migrant intake, of the number of homes and of the things that make Australians proud to be Australians. These are the things that have resulted from our policies. To sustain this programme, we stand behind adequate policies of protection for Australian manufacturing industries, for it is in and around manufacturing industries that the bulk of the work force earns its living and achieves its high standard of living. These are the policies that have enabled us to add 625,000 jobs in twelve years to the number available for our work force.
I am bound to remind the Australian Labour Party and the country again that Australia’s capacity to do these things pivots finally on our balance-of-payments situation. These plans would be impossible to achieve if our balance-of-payments situation were not satisfactory. We have a great dilemma, of course. As prices go down in those areas over which we have no control, the profitability of the industries that are our main exporters falls. In the last ten years, farm costs have increased by 54 per cent., and farm income has diminished by 12 per cent. This has put stress on the industries that produce our principal export earnings. But there has been in the minds of the farmers the knowledge that this Government was determined to sustain them. And, by the whole complex variety of policies that we have put into effect, this Government has sustained the primary industries. We have preserved for them the home market - the one market in which a price can be put by us on what is to be sold. This Government, in negotiation with industries and the State governments, has the best record - an outstanding record - in sustaining the position of our great export industries in respect of what they sell at home. We shall continue to pursue those policies.
While we do what is within our control at home, we shall be unceasing in the fight to get for our export industries access to markets overseas and the best prices that we can get. We shall negotiate treaties and other arrangements, sometimes arranging special transactions for the sale of a particular bulk commodity. In every direction, we shall help to increase productivity, as we have done by providing vast sums for expenditure on research. We shall give great aid to the State governments and directly to the primary industries by conveying direct to them through extension services the results of research.
We want increased profitability in the great primary industries to sustain the attractiveness of investment and expansion in these industries. I say that the welfare of the man on the land, the man in the mines and the man in the forests must be preserved, just as his voice must be preserved in this Parliament. Dr. C. S. Christian, a very eminent scientist of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, addressing the Australian Institute of Agricultural Science in March of this year as its president, said -
In spite of om dependence upon primary industry for about 80% of our overseas earnings, Australia is one of the most highly urbanised countries in the world, with only 20% of the population living in the rural areas and only about 11% of the workforce directly engaged in agricultural activities.
Only 1 1 per cent, of the work force is directly engaged in agricultural activity. As I have been illustrating, the whole programme for the growth of this country depends upon the export earnings of that 11 per cent, of the work force.
Some of my party colleagues have been expressing perturbation at the possibility that the proposed redistribution of electoral boundaries will further seriously reduce the capacity of this critically important sector of our economy to maintain an effective voice within the Parliament. I am no less perturbed than are my colleagues at this possibility. In a country situated as Australia is, and so dependent for its entire national programme on the earnings of the non-metropolitan industries, I regard it as nothing less than suicidal that we are prepared to go on reducing, time after time, the opportunity for this sector of the economy to carry its voice into this National Parliament and to state its needs and its proposals. The rural electors will choose between the parties the character of the political representation that they want. That representation has never been chosen from one party. It has always been distributed between all the parties. The danger that I am referring to is the danger that the opportunities of those engaged in the rural industries to send representatives to this Parliament, irrespective of the political party to which they belong, may be seriously diminished.
We are now confronted by the problem of the European Common Market. This is a very great problem. The six countries at present in the Common Market, with a combined population of 170,000,000, represent the biggest single international trading group in the world. The possibilities are that it will become an integrated group embracing, perhaps, 300,000,000 people. There is, of course, under the Treaty of Rome, a real threat that critically important primary industries will lose access to what has been their principal and traditional outlet. It is vitally important that we should have preserved, to the maximum possible extent, our access to this great area of purchasing power - which takes so much of our production of temperate foodstuffs and other exports.
I read that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) has a six-point plan. He says we should have an inquiry into which are the most vulnerable of these industries. What does he think the Government has been doing? What does he think the industries themselves have been doing? It is twelve months since we were told that Britain might go into the Common Market; It is eleven and a half months since we called the primary industries into consultation in Australia and carried their voices to the United Kingdom and elsewhere in Europe. The Prime Minister and I together with Dr. Westerman and the spokesmen for Australian primary industries were all in company in London and Brussels. I should like to tell the Deputy Leader of the Opposition that no inquiry is needed to determine which industries are vulnerable under the Treaty of Rome proposals. The spokesmen for these industries were with us, acting as advisers to this Government. We carried their voice to where the terms of Britain’s entry are being negotiated, just as we are carrying it into this Parliament.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition says that assurances should be given to industries that are vulnerable. The Prime Minister himself has already given such assurances and they are clear. What does the Deputy Leader of the Opposition want to do? Does he want to calculate how much he would pay to these industries if we lose in the negotiations? Does he want to decide at this moment how much dole he will pay to the dried fruits industry? Is he innocent enough to think that when he has announced publicly how much dole is to be paid to the dried fruits industry, the canned fruits industry or the dairying industries, we can go and negotiate and other people will relieve us of the payment? We have bought and paid for our right of access to the European market and we expect to have it preserved for us.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition says there should be negotiations for international commodity agreements. The Australian voice was the first in 1958 to propose this. The honorable gentleman wants us to raise the standard of living of the people of South-east Asia. How? By charity? Or by giving them a chance to sell goods and so pay their way? And when they do sell us some timber, some boots or some textiles where does the principal protest first come from? It comes from the other side of the chamber. When we sought by means of the great Japanese Trade Agreement to give Asiatics a chance to sell to us, in addition to encouragement to buy from us, where did the Labour Party stand? In both Houses of Parliament it was doing all it could to obstruct the treaty, yet ever since then it has been mouthing advice that we should do more trade, diversify our markets, and look to Asia for outlets. What nonsense!
Finally he says we should have an overseas shipping line. Why, it is not very long since I received a deputation from copper refining interests at Port Kembla - a district very close to, if not in, the electorate of th_ Deputy Leader of the Opposition himself - complaining that the reason they could not obtain copper concentrates was that the freight on our Australian shipping service from Port Augusta to Port Kembla was nearly two a half times the freight from Port Augusta to Japan. Would the honorable gentleman put the whole of our export industries at the mercy of a shipping service operating on that scale of costs? This man would destroy our industries; his party would destroy our industries if we let it do so. That would be the inevitable consequence of the policies that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition purports to espouse.
– Mr. Lucock, first of all I should like to join with other members of the committee in saying how sorry I am that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) is not with us. I join with them also in expressing my hope that it will not be long before the honorable gentleman will be back with us in order to prepare the way for the change-over of the Government parties from that side to this side of the chamber, and for the Labour Party to take its rightful place on the treasury bench.
The odd thing about this Budget debate is that this is the first time since Sir Arthur Fadden was Treasurer of the Commonwealth that the present Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) has ever seen fit to support the Government’s Budget proposals. From the time that Sir Arthur Fadden was eased out of the position of Treasurer of this Commonwealth until now the Minister for Trade has refused point-blank to come into any debate in this Parliament and support the economic policy of the Government. I do not blame him either, because he is too shrewd a politician to support such proposals as a savage increase in sales tax and the lifting of import controls. He knew very well that these proposals just would not be successful. Why did he know? He knew because the officers of the Department of Trade told him so. He knew he had suffered a rebuff in the Cabinet and that the forces that were ranged behind the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), that is, the Liberal section of the Cabinet, supported the Department of the Treasury rather than the Department of Trade. For three long days Cabinet warred over whether or not import controls should be retained until ultimately the Treasurer’s view prevailed, import controls were lifted, against the advice of the Minister for Trade, and the consequences of that are easy for us all to see. There is no doubt that we are looking to-day at a government that is torn from one end to the other, divided by hate, bitterness, intrigue, distrust and antipathy.
Let us look at the position of the two leading figures of the Government, the Minister for Trade, who is Leader of the Australian Country Party, and the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), who leads the Liberal Party. Jealous of the limelight that the Minister of Trade was receiving in his efforts overseas on the Common Market, the Prime Minister pushed him aside and went out of his way to obtain the limelight for himself. He was afraid of seeing some one else in other parts of the world and in Australia getting a better press and bigger headlines than he was getting. He made slighting references to the Leader of the Country Party about his efforts and lack of success, gloatingly telling his friends how unsuccessful the Leader of the Country Party had been overseas. He referred to him as the master of detail, and winked as he said the word “ detail “. The Minister for Trade, of course, was not very happy about this cavalier, slighting treatment from the Prime Minister; he knows that the Prime Minister would not hold office for another five minutes if it were not for the people of hillbilly corner who support the Liberals whenever the vital vote comes.
The Leader of the Country Party knows very well that the Prime Minister has to accept him and that he can beat the Prime Minister on the floor of the House the very first minute he wants to throw him overboard. The Country Party knows that the Liberals cannot govern without it. The Liberal Party knows this too and, ungraciously, accepts the situation. The strange thing about all this is that the Leader of the Country Party has refused point blank to support in this chamber the Government’s economic policies. He does not believe in them. He makes no bones about it and, among his party supporters and the farming community, he says bluntly that he is utterly opposed to high interest charges, that he is utterly opposed to the exorbitant freight charges that shipping combines impose upon Australian goods transported overseas, and that he is utterly opposed to the Government’s failure to do something about restrictive trade practices. But he says, “ What can you do with a no-hoper like that? He has been there so long you can do nothing about it. We just have to accept the position as it is.”
The Treasurer, of course, is very jealous of his rival, the Leader of the Country Party. The Treasurer knows that on sheer ability the Leader of the Country Party can buy and sell him any time. He knows that on sheer ability, if the contest were even, and if party considerations were not to come into it, the next leader of the Government would not be himself, as he would hope, but the Leader of the Country Party. The Leader of the Country Party is not so naive nor so amateurish in this game as not to know the forces being arranged against him inside the Cabinet. He knows very well that the whispering campaign against him throughout the length and breadth of the country among the people who normally support the Government is for the sole purpose of belittling him and writing him down so that he will not constitute a threat when the great white father walks out.
Let us look at the position of the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) and the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt). Do not let any one imagine that the conflict consists only of a match of bitterness between the Minister for Trade and the Treasurer. It does not. On the other side of the unhappy Treasurer we find that little but very brainy person the AttorneyGeneral, sitting, watching and waiting. We also know that Liberal Party members from New South Wales are bitterly disappointed by the Victorian Treasurer’s handling of the Treasury portfolio. They are going to do their very best - and so is the smiling member for Barker (Mr. Forbes) - to see that when they have to select a new leader the Treasurer will not get the position of Prime Minister, but that it will go to the Attorney-General from New South Wales.
Then we observe an even wider rift when we look at the gentleman sitting opposite me now - the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton), who is notorious for the fact that he has never been known to listen to anybody’s speech in this Parliament but his own. Now he has wakened up and, presumably, will listen to what I say. We all know certain things from press reports and whisperings in the corridors. No longer do Government supporters confine themselves to whispering to one another. They come and tell us of the Labour Party what no-hopers they believe one another to be. The Minister for Trade and the Minister for Social Services, representing the Country Party, are bitterly opposed to the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) and the honorable member for Barker and the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Bury) on the Common Market issue. Every one knows that the Minister for Trade was successful in forcing the resignation of the honorable member for Wentworth as Minister assisting the Treasurer some time ago; and we know that the Minister for Social Services also successfully threw his little spanner into the works. The Minister for Trade and the Minister for Social Services walked out of the House when the honorable member for Wentworth was speaking. They walked out in utter disgust when the honorable member for Barker, who represents a rural district, was saying what a marvellous thing it was to get into the Common Market even though it meant losing our British preferences in selling the kind of goods that the people who put him into Parliament produce. The honorable member for Mackellar who represents sharp dealers and spivs and so forth-
Order! The honorable member for Hindmarsh will withdraw those remarks.
– I withdraw them. The honorable member for Mackellar who represents only those who live in Manly and who do not know what it is to grow a bag of wheat also felt compelled to support the views of the honorable member for Wentworth, who was sacked on the directions of the Minister for Trade. The curious thing about this is that these three Liberal Party members who spoke in favour of the Common Market and against the Government’s policy did so quite openly, quite unabashed, and evidently without fear of any consequences. It is clear to me that they had all got the nod from the Prime Minister or the Treasurer to go their hardest and to give the Country Party point of view the works. Otherwise would they have dared to do what they did?
There is a general dispute between the Country Party and the Liberal Party on the subject of redistribution. To-night, the Minister for Trade made passing reference to the fact that the Country Party was more than concerned about the consequences that would follow from redistribution, particularly in New South Wales where a commission, handpicked by this Government, has decided to eliminate probably two or three Country Party seats. If the present redistribution proposals are given effect throughout the whole of Australia the Country Party will be lucky if it comes back from the next general election with twelve members. You will probably survive, Mr. Chairman, but a lot will not. If members of the Country Party decide to support the redistribution then, after the next general election, many of them will be no longer with us.
The Minister for Trade said that there had been great growth in Australia since the present Government came into office. Of course there has been growth in Australia. There has been growth in every country in the world. There has even been growth in Brazil, in Cuba and in the Soviet. Would you not expect growth after the Second World War? We are not saying that there has not been growth. We are saying that there has not been sufficient growth. There has not been sufficient growth, for example, to absorb the unemployed. We now have 130,000 people out of work, 90,000 of whom are registered unemployed. Can anybody sit back and smugly say that this represents sufficient growth? Can anybody be smug and contented when he knows that 90,000 people are registered as unemployed? We of the Labour Party are not satisfied that this represents sufficient economic growth. We will not be satisfied with the economic growth of this country until every man who is out of work has a job.
The Minister for Trade went on to say that his Government had arrested the spiral of costs. Let us look at that statement. The fact is that there has been a greater degree of inflation in Australia than in any other country of the world, practically, except some Latin American countries. The
Government has prevented the inflationary spiral from becoming worse than it now is only by freezing the wages of the workers. It has sat idly by doing absolutely nothing about excess profits. It has allowed profits to reach astronomical heights. Nothing has been done to control interest charges by hire-purchase companies. Perhaps we have no constitutional power to do this. But the Government will never discover whether it has constitutional power unless it attempts to use it. Why does not the Government introduce a bill to give us effective control over interest charged by hirepurchase companies? Let the hire-purchase companies take the matter to the High Court if they want to. If their case is upheld by the High Court let us take the matter up by referendum of the people in order to give this Parliament power over the interest charges made by hire-purchase companies. Until the Government does that it has no right to say that it represents the little people.
We have heard a lot of talk from the Attorney-General and other members of the Government about what they intend to do regarding restrictive trade practices. Year after year, election after election, we hear the Attorney-General talk about restrictive trade practices, but still no action has been taken. It is the same old story. Whenever they act, they act too slowly and with too little effect. The Minister for Trade said that we had established enormous reserves of overseas funds. The plain fact is that our overseas reserves are lower than they were when the Chifley Government went out of office nearly thirteen years ago. Far from establishing enormous reserves of overseas funds, this Government has done the very reverse. It has been able to bridge the gap between exports and imports only by an inflow of capital from overseas of £1,600,000,000. Eventually, we shall have to pay the price for that because these people have not invested in Australia for the good of their health. They have invested in Australia only because they see this country as a profitable place for their capital.
We will find that the time will come when a tremendous percentage of our export earnings will be dissipated in meeting dividends paid to the overseas investors who at this time have brought their capital into this country. That is the position which the Minister for Trade has repeatedly referred to, but to which the Liberal Party has closed its eyes. As the honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds) says, the bill to meet the cost of dividends being sent out of this country to pay for overseas investment is already rising rapidly, and it will continue to increase rapidly.
This Government, which had the cheek to talk in this chamber about how it has preserved its overseas funds, is the very Government which in one fell swoop, overnight, lifted completely the controls on imports so that one can go into shops anywhere to-day - I went into such shops recently in Adelaide - and buy roasted silk-worms, fried grasshoppers and poodles’ perfume, which the honorable member who is interjecting from the Government side would probably be interested in. One can now buy in the shops all sorts of useless things we do not need and could well do without, as well as all kinds of things which we need but which could be produced in Australia. They are now being brought into this country as the result of this Government’s mad and stupid decision to lift import controls on this kind of thing.
The Minister for Trade also said the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) did not even refer to the plight of the primary producers or to our overseas trade balance. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition spent as much time referring to the plight of the primary producers and to our overseas trade balance as did the Treasurer himself. Every one knows that in the time at his disposal it was not possible for the Deputy Leader of the Opposition to deal with every complaint we have against the Government. But he did adequately cover the very points that the Minister for Trade referred to when he spoke at Albury over the week-end. I will say something about that later. What the Deputy Leader of the Opposition did deal with and what the Minister for Trade, the Treasurer and other Ministers who have spoken during this debate have not yet even attempted to deal with, is the question of interest charges. Every one knows that the exorbitant rate of interest being charged to primary producers is one of the great stumbling blocks in our primary industries. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition very adequately covered that subject and, in doing so, dealt with one of the most pressing problems that confront those industries.
The Minister for Trade went on to deal with the thing which is troubling members of the Country Party more than anything else - their survival and whether they will be here after the next election. He said -
The voice of the man on the land must be preserved in this Parliament.
I agree with him. The trouble is that apart from a few members on this side of the chamber who do speak for the man on the land, the voice of the man on the land is not heard here at all. The honorable members for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Allan Fraser), the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson), Braddon (Mr. Davies), Wilmot (Mr. Duthie), Bendigo (Mr. Beaton), Wide Bay (Mr. Hansen) and Grey (Mr. Russell), together with other members on this side of the chamber, adequately and constantly press the viewpoint of the country people. They are the only ones who speak for the man on the land in this place. The group in the corner to which you belong, Mr. Chairman, does not represent the man on the land, because those honorable members are hog-tied to the vested financial interests which support the Liberal Party and the Liberal Party branch of the Government.
I am wondering whether, when the numbers go up after a vote is taken, we will accept the redistribution plans put forward by the commissioners from Western Australia, particularly, and New South Wales, members of the Country Party, in the event of the Labour Party opposing the redistribution, will be prepared for the first time in their lives to cross the floor and vote against their Liberal friends. The honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) is interjecting. Will he be prepared to vote against the commissioners’ proposals? If you were not in the chair, Mr. Lucock, I would probably ask you the same question.
– Order! I remind the honorable member that this is probably the first time he has addressed the Chair during the course of his speech.
– Then you will not mind, Sir, if I address you a little bit more. I do not believe that you will see members of the Country Party standing up to their obligations on the ques tion of redistribution. They will not be prepared, if they have the opportunity, to support the Labour Party in rejecting the commissioners’ proposals. The reference of the Minister for Trade to the Common Market is quite amusing. The Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton) is smiling - he is usually asleep - because he knows what is coming; but the Government is hopelessly divided on this question. There is no doubt at all that the Minister for Social Services is quite knowledgeable on this subject, or he would not have rushed to the press as he did. In the “Sydney Morning Herald”, of 28th July, appears this rather erudite comment by him about the former Minister for Air, the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Bury), who was sacked by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) at the behest of the Country Party. This is what the Minister for Social Services had to say about his ministerial colleague -
Mr. Bury is a most amiable man, Mr. “Roberton said. But to my certain knowledge he has never attempted to engage in any form of production, nor has he ever attempted to sell any form of production on the export market which is, of course, the very foundation of the entire economic structure of our country . . .
Mr. Bury has never had to stand at the gate of the markets of the world with a harvest to sell waiting for them to open.
That is true, and I think we can agree with the Minister. The honorable member for Wentworth would not know a bag of wheat from a bag of potatoes and, as the Minister for Social Services quite properly said, he has not had anything to do with growing these things. Of course, the Minister for Social Services is not such an Einstein himself when it comes to the problems of the primary producer. I know for a positive fact that quite recently the rice-growers came to him in a deputation and presented a carefully prepared plan. It took an hour to present, and the Minister sat back with his eyes closed for the whole of that time, presumably taking it all in or sleeping. We do not know which. After it was over he looked up to his rice-growing friends and, stroking his chin as he is doing now, smiled and said, “The Old Country, I think, will take care of it”. So he was not going to worry about it at all. Why get up and have trouble with your Liberal Party colleagues in the Government? Why not let things drift along? The Old Country will take care of it. We shall see whether it takes care of the rice-growers, the dairy-farmers, the wheat-farmers and all the other people whom the Country Party pretends to represent in this Parliament.
Of course the Minister for Trade was not to be left out of it. The junior Minister, having views of his own, made it absolutely necessary for the Minister for Trade, who is leader of the Country Party, to make his own little comment and according to the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ of 27th July, when speaking about the honorable member for Wentworth, he said -
All these industries will be dismayed that a Minister associated with the Treasurer should so lightly brush ofl the threat to Australian industry.
Did you, Mr. Chairman, perceive the subtle reference to the association with the Treasurer? Do you know what that meant? lt meant that the Minister for Trade was awake to the fact that the Treasurer had put up the Minister for Air, who was also, significantly enough, Minister assisting the Treasurer, to make the very speech for which he was ultimately thrown out of Cabinet. The Treasurer not only talked his unfortunate and inexperienced assistant Minister into making his silly statement on the Common Market but also, when the axe came out, did nothing to defend his assistant who had followed willy-nilly the line he had asked him to take. Of course, he did not. As the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) has just reminded me, he said, “ I had nothing to do with it “. The Minister denied all knowledge of it and said that the honorable member had made the statement off his own bat.
– He just went back to Bingil Bay.
– That is right. Every one knows that the Minister for Air would not have dared to make that statement unless he had been encouraged by the Treasurer and by Treasury officials to believe that his viewpoint would be supported. I can see the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Ian Allan) smiling knowingly. He knows that what I have said is true, and even though probably he will not be here after the next election due to the redistribution, nevertheless he will have unpleasant memories of the episodes which have occurred in this Parliament following what we call the Bury business.
– What about talking on the Budget?
– I have not yet finished dealing with your leader. I should like you to hear these remarks of the Minister for Trade when speaking about Mr. Bury -
Mr. Bury’s views will inevitably be quoted against us to weaken our negotiating position. There is no doubt that the Australian economy should derive a desirable uplift to-day if a greater measure of domestic confidence could be achieved.
– Who said that?
– The Minister for Trade said it. He went on -
However, business confidence was affected here before we ever heard of the United Kingdom joining the Common Market.
I am pleased that the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton) can remain awake and smile at what I am saying. He smiles because he loves to hear this repeated. He still believes it. The Minister continued -
It is quite wrong now to argue for restoration of confidence based only on grounds which run counter to the interests of Australia’s export industries and which put a powerful weapon into the hands of those with whom we have to negotiate in defence of our interests. To-day, and in recent years, the whole of the Australian capacity to grow has been too dependent on capital inflow.
Is not that what we of the Labour Party have said repeatedly? We agree with the Minister for Trade on that point. He then went on -
I want it to be capable of being based on our overseas earnings so that we can welcome capital inflow within limits, without becoming dependent upon it and being beholden to those who provide it.
By his refusal to support the Government’s economic policies and by attacking them recently the Minister for Trade has broken the letter, and most certainly the spirit, of Ministerial responsibilities. Yet he was prepared to force the resignation of a New South Wales Liberal Minister for exactly the same thing. Ministerial responsibility is a one-way business so far as the Minister for Trade is concerned. What better evidence is there of the Government’s disintegration than these examples of division and disagreement?
Now, having regard to what the Minister has said, I want to refer to the six points which were made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition when referring to the demands that we should be making on behalf of the primary industries. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition made these points -
First, we should have inquiries into the most vulnerable industries. We have held inquiries into many industries, but never into the very ones most threatened by Britain’s impending entry into the European Common Market. In many of these industries, particularly canned and dried fruits, the honour of Australian governments is involved because they have encouraged their growth through soldier settlement and irrigation schemes.
Secondly, therefore, vulnerable communities must be given assurances that the burden of any damage they sustain will be borne by the whole nation. They must be assured that their investments, their skills and their livelihood will not be lost, either to themselves, their families, or the nation.
Thirdly, we should without any further delay gel on with the job of making international agreements for primary products, particularly those affected by Britain’s entry. There is no country which stands to gain more from proper international arrangements for the marketing of such products.
Fourthly, Australia should support, and indeed initiate, moves to raise the standard of living in the continents around us.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- After having listened to many speeches in the chamber to-day and last week I should like to say something, in somewhat general terms, about the philosophy of budgetmaking. Before I do, however, let me comment on the speech which we have just heard from the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron). His speech was merely a recitation of abuse about all honorable members on this side of the chamber. Resort to abuse of myself and my colleagues indicates the poorest form of argument on the Budget. In fact, the honorable member said very little, if anything about it. Most of the honorable member’s speech was a fabrication of untruths. I have been assured by the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton) that remarks which the honorable member for Hindmarsh attributed to him about the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Bury) were never used. The honorable member for Hindmarsh used his imagination as the basis for his speech. Every time he rises in this place to participate in a debate his speech follows the same pattern - “ As long as you represent private enterprise you must be either spivs or rogues “. We are neither spivs nor rogues. He is a socialist and he does not believe in private enterprise. He believes in socializing the community in the quickest and most ruthless way possible, and this he would seek to do if he ever became a member of the Government.
It seems to me that at present, more than ever before, honorable members who come carping with this or that criticism of the Budget are suggesting that more should have been done for this or that section of the community. Budget time is seen as a time when the Government makes a handout after every one has stood in line with their hands out, and a time when the Government buys favours. To those who seek particular opportunity at this time for a heavy distribution from the welfare fund, let me remind them that we are not distributing the Government’s money; we are distributing the people’s money. The Government is only the trustee of this fund.
There is also the mentality of those who rate Budget day along with Father’s Day. They look for a new gimmick every year. Because this Government has never found it either necessary or wise to resort to gimmickry of any kind, some voices are raised to charge us with stay-put tactics and with a lack of imagination. Finally, contradicting all other critics are those who claim that the Government is inconsistent, that its policies are stop and go and that this Budget is yet another stop, or another go, I am not sure which. But above all this clamour of self-interest and selfjustification, I feel that I am entitled to state from this side of the chamber the positive attitudes that lie behind this Budget because obviously the honorable member for Hindmarsh avoided saying anything about the Budget.
First, let me say that we believe that the function of government is to create the best possible conditions for the continued development of freedom of the individual and freedom of enterprise. That is what we stand for. We believe that this should be done within a free society which will provide the maximum welfare. This is the right time for us to say very clearly that the Government has no intention of taking control of the individual or of enterprise. Therefore, I welcome the fact that while this Budget includes clear and important provisions to improve the climate of prosperity, there is no smothering of initiative or hampering of the individual. In fact, the Treasurer has made it perfectly clear that he regards the Budget as something of a contract to which there are many parties. We have the Government on the one hand and business, industry, labour and agriculture on the other hand. I do not need to remind honorable members that the Treasurer showed practical evidence of this recently when he called the leaders of industry together to explain to them the way that the economy is heading. There is ample scope in this Budget for private enterprise to make progress, not only in the interests of the individual, but also in the interests of the nation’s welfare. Private enterprise has its obligations in a free economy just as much as the Government has its obligations.
At the risk of being called trite I remind honorable members of President Kennedy’s inaugural address in which he urged the people of America to think not of what their country could do for them but rather of what they could do for their country. This is the same sentiment which dominates our thinking at this time.
Secondly, Sir, I should like to say that we on this side have had very clear national objectives since we were first entrusted with the business of Budget-making some twelve years ago. It will be recalled that we made our first budget on the cold ashes of socialist experimentation. That was a time when, if the socialists had remained in office, our lives would have been planned to a detail. I refer, for instance, to conscription of labour for the worker as outlined by Mr. J. B. Chifley and the set of planned controls for industry as outlined by one of his Ministers, Mr. Dedman. I remind the honorable member for Bowman (Mr. Comber), who said this afternoon that Labour was responsible for introducing the policy of full employment, that although the last Labour Government did introduce that policy it did so at a time when there was conscription of labour in this country. I am quite sure that had the socialists remained in office conscription of labour would have continued.
It has been our task, in successive budgets, including the present Budget, to turn this country from socialist control, political constraint and limiting outlooks towards a great goal - a high rate of general growth coupled with full employment. We differ from members on the opposite side of the chamber in that we insist that a high rate of general growth and full employment are really one matter - that national growth would be an illusion without full employment and that full employment in a static society, which is the true socialist aim, is not life but creeping death. No one can tell me anything about a socialist society, because 1 have seen this kind of society at first hand behind the iron curtain. I have lived among people living under this system and 1 know that it is creeping death based on conscription of labour.
We know perfectly well - and this Budget is the proof of it - that we must have growth. Our population is increasing at the rate of 200,000 a year and our work force at the rate of 100,000 a year. Last year our export income was higher than ever before and our mineral production higher than ever before and the production in our basic industries is now higher than ever before. These factors of national growth arise from the continuous efforts of this Government over a long period, and by means of its successive budgets, to create the climate of growth. Without this continued record of national expansion we would never be able to attract and hold migrants of the type and numbers that Australia needs so badly. We have heard the Treasurer stress the importance of our immigration programme, and I welcome his announcement that the target of 125,000 immigrants a year is to be retained. However, I deplore the attitude of some members of the Opposition who have tried to show that because we have large numbers of people going overseas each year our gain by immigration is reduced to that degree. That is not the case. Some honorable members opposite have tried maliciously to make the people and the Parliament believe that as a result of departures from our country we are not showing a gain by immigration.
We know better than do most socialists that full employment is not just a catchcry thrown out at a street corner meeting but is the very essence of the policy of this Government. Ever since this Government began making budgets the margin of employable resources has been very small, and without any doubt this is one of the reasons why boom situations have tended to develop so very quickly. This Government believes that the only area of control properly open to it, without dangerously interfering with industry, is in fiscal or monetary policy - the use of devices that are often slow to act or, once acting, difficult to taper off or to reverse when the need has passed.
As I see it, the only alternative to the use of fiscal policy that is open to the Government would be the application of much more direct statutory control in the direction of business, the direction of labour, the mobilization of resources, dictation to capital and all the familiar formulae of socialist planning that we were elected to get rid of. That is Labour’s way of doing things, not ours. I know that we will never adopt this kind of action.
Within the past three years Australia has faced fluctuations in business activity, in export income and in terms of trade. I would not try to minimize the real unhappiness that this fact has caused to many people. I know it only too well. All of us on this side of the chamber are conscious of the unhappiness that has been caused. But it can be fairly said that the Government has turned to deal with these changing circumstances from its one constant position - that Australia’s long run need is for a high rate of general growth coupled with full employment. So far from being inconstant in its purpose our Budget policy is constant. We heard the Treasurer trace the continuity of policy from the little budget in February to the Budget brought down a week ago. I submit that one is a complement of the other.
In a free society there is no such thing as a perfect equilibrium infinitely maintained. This is a key factor which Labour members, from the depths of their inexperience in the making of national policies, would not appreciate, because they do not believe in a free society. Socialism and a free society are quite incompatible.
The third positive aspect of this Government’s Budget policy is that we are determined - and we do not apologize for it - to maintain price and cost stability. It is no stricture to say to me that we, as a government, are pre-occupied with cost stability. I would agree with the statement. We are so occupied. We must be. I believe that the great attention we give to this matter is fully justified. It is also vital to every pensioner and fixed income earner in this country that we should be pre-occupied with cost stability.
It is our deliberate policy to encourage the highest possible level of economic activity that we can sustain. Three things are very plain. It is our practice to maintain employment at the highest practicable level. It is our plan to develop national resources ahead of national need so that we may survive as a Western democracy in an Asian sphere. Given all these things it is inevitable that demand should run high and resources remain scarce. As resources remain scarce the equilibrium of our price and cost structure remains in delicate balance. If we are to continue to grow as a nation, we must continue to sell more and more abroad, and that is what the Department of Trade is concentrating on to-day.
Market patterns overseas are changing, and in new markets we face hard and hardening competition. There never was in Australia’s history a time when it was more vital that we should be able to keep a stable price and cost structure. This, of course, is the underlying element in this Budget. A deficit of £118,000,000 has been planned to carry expansion to the limit of our resources but not beyond. The Opposition claims that this deficit is not enough. It suggested a deficit of £160,000,000, but last November, in the election campaign, the Opposition suggested that it would budget for a deficit at the rate of £100,000,000 for four months, which is at the rate of not less than £300,000,000 a year.
Where is all this recklessness getting us? Does the Opposition want to see the country a financial morass wide open to communism? That is certainly what the
Communists want. I believe that Australia’s progress is the sum of thousands of individual decisions by Australians to make progress. Australia’s prosperity is the determination of thousands of Australians to go ahead. This Budget, I believe, is framed to encourage individual decisions for progress and to make it possible for thousands to prosper. But having said that, I want to make this point with emphasis: It would be wrong and dangerous to imply that expansion plus inflation can succeed in these coming years. It would be certain to fail in spite of the fact that it was a successful formula during the 1950’s. It did not fail then because of a unique combination of circumstances. World commodity prices were far above the level of Australian costs. That is no longer the case. Terms of trade which have exerted such a decisive influence on the Australian economy throughout its history are back to the prewar position and there are no indications that in the years ahead they will favour us as greatly as they have done in the last decade. In the 1960’s, the formula must be expansion without inflation. Unless that is observed, there are few or no prospects of expansion.
Might I direct the attention of the committee to one of the most important lessons we have learnt from the experience of the 1950’s. We did not learn it until the closing years of that decade. That lesson was that Australia’s prosperity and growth depend above all else on the size of export incomes. This Government is to be commended for bringing this about. For years, we laboured under the delusion that the expansion taking place in the manufacturing industries would result in great economic self-sufficiency and reduce our dependence on imports. Honorable members may remember that the popular slogan was “ Import replacement “. The battle cry to-day has become “ Export or else “. That is the main reason why inflation can have no part in the economy in these coming years.
There are two particular matters within the Budget on which I should like to comment. The Budget Papers show that dividend withholding tax last year made a contribution to revenue of more than £8,000,000 and that in this current year, even with a lower level of distributions, collections are expected to amount to some £7,000,000. I am informed that the system still pertains that the overseas shareholder may elect to lodge an Australian return of income and, in some circumstances, to claim a rebate of dividend withholding tax. I am also informed that Australia is the only country in the world, or one of the very few, which make this concession.
I am aware that this point has been commented upon by others, but I now suggest to the Treasurer that the moment has arrived for Australia to abandon her distinctive generosity to the overseas residents. I am arrogant enough an Australian, Sir, to believe that this country will be an attractive investment even without this concession, and I see no reason why Commonwealth revenues should suffer in so one-sided a manner. Without having any detailed knowledge, I am sure that it can be safely said that the cost of administering the system of options to lodge returns must be very great to the Government.
My second comment, Sir, is on a wider matter. The Treasurer has noted in the Budget the payment of £54,000,000 in this financial year to the States under the Commonwealth Aid Roads Act. This is the 1959 legislation, designed to operate for five years, and the budgetary provision now made is that provided for in the act. It would bc generally agreed that since 1959 our perception of the need for a thriving export income has been sharpened. It would be generally agreed also that internal transport costs in a huge land mass like Australia could well be the key to competitive prices for our exports. The oftenquoted figure that transport costs constitute 30 per cent, of all production costs is, I believe, somewhat over-stated, but the fact remains that it is a big cost component.
The Government has recognized this general principle in as much as it has provided nearly £27,000,000 for special developmental projects largely concerned with transportation of exportable products. These special grants, however, are in special areas. My own State of Victoria also makes a very large contribution to the national export income, and the national interest would be well served by the provision of better road transport facilities there. The same is true in New South Wales with equal force, and any traffic engineer will tell you that you get the greatest return on your transportation pound by investing in the areas of greatest usage. 1 suggest, therefore, that this should be the last budgetary allocation under the 1959 act to the States for roads. I suggest that before next year’s Budget, a new longterm plan could well be prepared and incorporated in a new act. This I think would be a realistic move in the interests of the national economy.
Capital cities in the eastern States are choking themselves with traffic bottlenecks, and unless better planning is laid down, transport costs must seriously affect export income, lt is beyond doubt that Australia has passed the bullock-wagon phase in every respect. We are already one of the world’s top trading nations, but whereas we have in the past owed much of this to our position in the Commonwealth, we are now faced with the prospect that our cost factors will be much more critical in the future. Road transport is a prime cost factor in our national housekeeping, and we must accept the fact that sooner or later we will have to allocate a greater share of national expenditure to roads. I suggest that from now on the longer we leave it the more it will cost.
I see in this 1962 Budget the opportunity to build into the economy a solid foundation of progress and prosperity, much more stable than we experienced in the 1950’s. This foundation might well make Australia a trading nation of very great eminence. I support the Budget and 1 hope that it will have a speedy passage through the committee.
.- Unlike the honorable member for Isaacs (Mr. Haworth), 1 do not see in this Budget any prospect for progress or prosperity at all. Indeed, I see the present stagnant condition of our economy becoming more static, and I propose to develop that theme as I go along. But first let me advert to the speech of the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) on 7th August last when he presented this miserable Budget. It was perhaps the most disappointing document that the Australian people had seen for a long time. It was not a human document. It contained no warmth for the masses of the Australian people. Instead of being titivated and polished at Bingil Bay, as I understand it was, I would have thought that it had been composed in a lodge at Thredbo, it was so very cold. It is as cold as the bleak snows of our Alps. Perhaps I could compare it with a cup of cold tea; it neither stimulates nor does it revive the Australian economy. It is an economy which this Government will allow to continue on its faltering way, hoping that private enterprise, about which the honorable member for Isaacs in true conservative tradition said so much, will pull the Government out of the morass in which it finds itself at this time.
When the Treasurer presented the Budget on 7th August, he said -
Confidence is vital . . . and if apprehensions such as these exist-
He was referring to the apprehensions expressed by the various leaders of commerce, industry and primary production - it is for the Government to meet and allay them as far as it is able. This Budget, our chief instrument of policy, has been carefully shaped to do that.
The Treasurer went on to speak of a continuance of expansion. Perhaps it would be apposite to inquire as to what confidence the Government has engendered in the past. I think the people will agree that past performance is not a bad guide. The past performance of this Government has resulted in a current unemployment situation of 90,000. To the Government, that may be just a figure, but to us of the Australian Labour Party, it means 90,000 individuals deprived of the right to work - and that is one of the basic human rights. It means that the dignity of 90,000 Australians has been assailed - and perhaps the dignity that derives from work is the greatest dignity of all. The Government never seems to think in terms of human values, unless it is forced to do so. It has been forced to do so in the past by the opposition of the Federal Parliamentary Labour Party. I have no doubt that in the future - perhaps in a year’s time, with the situation changing somewhat - the Government will throw out a few sops to the Australian people, but it has never done so of its own accord. It has done so because of the strength of the Opposition.
In his speech in this debate last week, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), who performed at his forensic best, acted quite dishonestly when he spoke of the reduction of unemployment. I shall quote from page 474 of “ Hansard “ of 16th August. The Prime Minister is reported as having said -
It is true that in January of this year 131,000 people were registered for employment, but last month that figure was down to 90,000. That is a magnificent reduction in that period of time. That process of reduction will continue.
One can imagine the Prime Minister standing at the table expatiating at large, as only he can. But the truth of the matter is that, when the Australian people went to the polls on 9th December last, 96,000 people were unemployed. The current position is that 90,000 are unemployed. Therefore, in a period of nine months, there has been an overall reduction of 6,000. In the view of the Australian Labour Party and in the view of all sensible Australians, that is not good enough.
I should like to quote from the White Paper on the Australian economy entitled “The Australian Economy, 1962”, which was recently published. At page 18, the following passage appears: -
Full employment matches population growth in appeal to the mind and conscience of the community and there are also the soundest economic reasons for it. On our post-war record, it has in the main been successfully pursued.
Dealing with the twin questions of employment and population growth, the White Paper had this to say -
The thrust to expand ahead of current needs, which population growth requires, creates, directly and indirectly, a strong demand for labour; moreover, the knowledge that population will continue to grow encourages forward expansion on the part of business and that helps towards continuity of employment.
At page 19, the White Paper pertinently remarks -
On the other hand, without full employment, it becomes more difficult to attract and hold migrants in the numbers and of the types we want and so to maintain the desired rate of population growth.
We of the Australian Labour Party would not quibble with that, but when the blueprint put forward by the Government is judged by its performance, it just does not measure up at all. The Government, in my view and in the view of every Opposition member, merely pays lip service to the concept of full employment.
May I now take a cursory glance at what the Treasurer called the “continuance of expansion”. This is rather a euphemistic phrase. If we look at Table A, which is headed “ National Income and Expenditure “, in the document entitled “National Income and Expenditure 1961-62”, which is a document presented by the Treasurer in connexion with the Budget, we will see that the gross national product is estimated to have increased from £7,255,000,000 in 1960-61 to £7,327,000,000 in 1961-62. That is an increase of £72,000,000 all told. Put in another way, it is an increase of 1 per cent. That is a miserable increase. When we compare this increase with the rate of increase of the gross national product of other countries, this reference by the Treasurer to the “ continuance of expansion “ is shown to be so much idle talk. Indeed, I think it is dishonest and misleading.
I refer now to table B on page 4 of the same document. This shows “ Expenditure on Personal Consumption “ for 1961-62 and for the two previous years. Expenditure on food in 1961-62 was £1,175,000,000, while for the previous year expenditure on this item amounted to £1,145,000,000, giving an increase of £30,000,000. Expenditure on “ Clothing, footwear, drapery, &c”, amounted to £547,000,000 in 1961-62, and £545,000,000 in 1960-61. In the case of durable goods, expenditure in 1961-62 amounted to £387,000,000, while it was £392,000,000 for the previous year. Expenditure on other items is given in the table, but I shall confine myself for the moment to the three items I have mentioned.
Expenditure on food increased by about 3 per cent, between 1960-61 and 1961-62. This was considerably less than the increase of 7 per cent, from 1959-60 to 1960-61. Expenditure on clothing, footwear, drapery, &c, was almost the same last year as it was the year before. I point that out as an indication of the stagnant condition of the economy. In commenting on this item of expenditure the document contains the following remarks: -
Expenditure on clothing, footwear and drapery, &c. was almost the same in 1961-62 as in 1960-61, after an increase of 5 per cent, between 1959-60 and 1960-61.
Finally, to point up the stagnant condition of the economy brought about by this Government’s actions, I refer to the expenditure on durable goods. In this item there was a decrease of £5,000,000 in 1961-62 as compared with the previous year, expenditure falling from £392,000,000 to £387,000,000.
There is one further remark in this document that I think all honorable members should carefully consider -
Purchases of electrical goods, including television receivers, fell from £197,000,000 in 1959-60 to £188,000,000 in 1960-61 and to £186,000,000 in 1961-62. Expenditure on other durable goods (furniture, floor coverings, domestic hardware, &c.) increased from £200,000,000 in 1959-60 to £204,000,000 in 1960-61, but then fell to £201,000,000 in 1961-62.
To-night we have heard quite a lot from the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) and other Government supporters about the growth in the Australian Economy. The figures I have cited do not by any means indicate growth. On the contrary, they indicate a most unhappy state of affairs.
I would also like to refer to Table D, on page 5 of this document, which is entitled “ National Income and Expenditure, 1961-62”. The table is headed “ Gross Private Investment in Fixed Capital Equipment “, and, without giving all the figures, it shows that the amount for “Dwelling construction” fell in 1961-62 by £29,000,000 as compared with the previous year. The amount shown in the table for “ Other new building and construction “ showed a decrease of £9,000,000; for “Trucks, utilities, &c.” a decrease of £13,000,000; for “Station wagons” an increase of £1,000,000; for “ Motor cars and cycles “ a decrease of £17,000,000; and for “Other capital equipment” a decrease of £40,000,000. The document had this to say -
Private expenditure on dwelling construction was 10 per cent, lower in 1961-62, after an increase of 7 per cent, in 1960-61 . . . The total number of new dwellings commenced - private and government - decreased by about 7 per cent, in 1961-62, compared with a decrease of 3 per cent, in 1960-61. The total number of new dwellings completed fell by about 9 per cent, in 1961-62, after an increase of 5 per cent, in 1960-61.
Surely I have cited sufficiently significant figures to show what a terrible state the economy is in, thanks to the maladministration of this Government. This maladministration, I may tell honorable members, was described by the Treasurer in his Budget speech as a forward-looking and constructive approach. When the Australian Labour Party conducted its election campaign, in December last, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) announced that if Labour was returned to power he would introduce a supplementary budget to provide, if necessary, for a deficit of £100,000,000. We were derided for putting forward such a proposal. It is a measure of the morality of this Government that eight months later it produces what it has described as its chief instrument of policy to budget for a deficit of £118,300,000.
The ordinary people of Australia might have expected that some cognizance of their needs would have been taken, but this unhappy coalition Government has, in effect, thumbed its nose at the Australian people. The Australian family man has been sadly neglected. It would be difficult to conceive of more callous treatment than has- been meted out to him. I remember reading recently that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) referred to the Australian people as being British to the boot heels. Well, I ask, what about a little bit of British justice for the Australian people?
Let me say a few words about child endowment. In 1948, the Chifley Governmen increased the amount payable for each child other than the first to 10s. a week. Since that time, there has been no increase at all in the amount provided for children other than the first. It is true that, in 1950, this Government provided 5s. a week for the first child, but that paltry amount has not been increased. The honorable member for Isaacs to-night told us that the Government was a trustee for the Australian people. If it is, it has certainly been recreant to its trust in treating the Australian people as contumeliously as it has done.
I remind honorable members that when the present Treasurer introduced the legislation in 1941 to provide a payment of 5s. a week for the second and subsequent children, he said that the measure could be regarded as “ a foretaste and pledge of the full reconstruction that will be possible when we again turn our surplus productive forces to the purposes of peace “. In 1949, the Prime Minister, in his policy speech, spoke about putting value back into the £1. He insisted that “ the financial difficulties of family life must be eased “. Well, nothing has been done to ease them.
I could continue at length to describe the terrible treatment that has been meted out to the Australian family man, but to point these things out to the Government is simply to pour water on a duck’s back. It may well be that in twelve months’ time the Government will, if it survives that long, throw out a few crumbs to the Australian people.
I would also like to say a few words about the plight of age pensioners. How in the name of goodness people can subsist on £5 5s. a week I cannot understand. The electorate of Evans could be described, perhaps, as a middle-class electorate, and I can fell honorable members that it has within its borders many age pensioners who are struggling along as manfully as they can, but whose pride is suffering because they cannot make ends meet on the £5 5s. a week that the Government is giving them.
There is one other matter to which I particularly wish to refer, because it is a grave issue for all parties in this National Parliament. It is a matter to which in the nottoodistant future the federal Treasurer, whoever he may be, will have to give serious thought, and about which he will have to take action. In Australia to-day, 25 per cent, of our school children attend independent schools. In round figures, about 500,000 children are educated in schools other than those run by the State governments. This is a sizeable number. In the main, the parents of these children pay for their children’s education without receiving adequate recognition from the Government. I am mindful, of course, of the fact that here in Canberra the present Government has guaranteed the interest payments on loans raised to build schools. That is praiseworthy, but it is only sound sense. Every one knows that in the Australian Capital Territory the population is growing at the rate of 10 per cent, annually. But the rate of population increase in other parts of Australia, although generally not so spectacular as the rate in Canberra, is nevertheless formidable, thanks perhaps to our immigration policy - something that
Labour started to put into effect. I pay due tribute to the present Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer), who, I think, is doing a competent job.
Despite this increase in population and despite the need for a better-educated community, Mr. Chairman, governments will not grasp the education nettle. I consider that they will have to do so - here, I express a private view - and that this is a question that will have to be dealt with at the federal level in the not-too-far-distant future. In my own State of New South Wales in 1961, departmental expenditure on each school pupil was £104 10s. In the light of various representations made to me by parents and citizens’ associations and mothers’ clubs in my electorate, that is not enough. I passed these protestations on to the Prime Minister’s Department and, on 8th August, the secretary of that department replied to me in these terms -
The Prime Minister has stressed: That the Commonwealth has been giving directly and indirectly steadily increasing assistance for education, up to the limits of practicability; that direct aid to education below the university level could well threaten State administration of this field, a result sought by neither the Government nor State governments and that, apart from this last factor any further consideration of the principle of direct aid to sub-tertiary fields would be premature while the Commonwealth is still grappling with major problems in the tertiary field.
I know that the parents of children at departmental schools are experiencing hardship. Last Saturday afternoon, I attended a fete at the Drummoyne Public School in my electorate, at which about £500 was raised by the parents to supply textbooks for their children. The point that I wish to make is this: If parents who have their children at departmental schools find it necessary to conduct fetes to obtain funds, we can imagine the acute need of parents with children at independent schools for financial assistance.
At this stage, I should like to compliment the honorable member for New England (Mr. Drummond) - he is not in the chamber at the moment - on his forthright speech on this matter on 14th August last. This is a question which requires careful thought and attention in a very calm atmosphere. My own party has promised that it will establish a system of Secondary school scholarships on a qualification basis similar to that of Commonwealth university scholarships, payable to students, and tenable at any college, State or non-State. I think that you, Mr. Chairman, will agree that this is laudable. However, I have no doubt that even my own party has further steps to take along the education path.
When I made my maiden speech in this place, I mentioned that this Government did everything ad hoc and that there was no plan for the nation. The position certainly has not changed over the last six months. It has not changed as a result of this Budget, which contains only a few pious hopes that may or may not be realized. The Government hopes that it has provided, to quote the Treasurer, “ an environment favorable to private enterprise “. We heard so much about that earlier this evening from the honorable member for Isaacs. But private enterprise needs a better plan for the nation than that which this Government has presented in the Budget.
This is a tottering government. It contains many dissident members, among whom I could mention the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth), the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Bury), the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes) and the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes), not forgetting certain disaffected members on the Australian Country Party benches on my left who may be prepared to vote against the Government. This evening, we heard from the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade, who was just putting in a word for the Country Party when he said, in effect: “ Do not knock our electorates about too much. We do not like that. We want to have proper representation in this chamber.” So much for the disaffection which exists in the ranks of this tottering Government. The marriage between the Government parties is a marriage of convenience, Mr. Chairman. I have had my eyes opened since coming to Canberra. The Liberal Party of Australia and the Australian Country Party have very little in common. There is a chasm between them. Their marriage is a marriage of convenience undertaken just because the two parties want to retain power somehow or other. But it may not last.
I believe that next year the Treasurer may throw out a few crumbs in his next budget - that is, if this Government lasts so long. After the feelings of the people of Australia have been assuaged, or perhaps titillated, by the visit of Her Majesty the Queen and Prince Philip, the Government may think that the climate of public opinion is coming a little its way and may then throw out a few crumbs. But I warn it that the Australian people will remember the treatment that it has meted out to them. No matter what crumbs the Government may throw the people from its table, and despite any redistribution of electoral boundaries which may take place and which may benefit the Government parties, the electors will remember the treatment given to them by this Government and they will throw it out at the earliest possible opportunity.
The Government is afraid to face up to the situation in the by-election for the Batman seat in Victoria. It runs away from the judgment of the Australian people, which will be delivered in that by-election on 1st September next. Instead, some hero from Sydney is to enter the lists. I believe he comes from the Mackellar electorate, but I do not know whether the honorable member for Mackellar acknowledges him as a political brother. This Mr. Darby is a somewhat peculiar individual, and I have no doubt that the Victorian branch of the Liberal Party will disown him. Labour will record a resounding victory in the Batman by-election on 1st September. That will be a victory not only for the electors of Batman but also for the Australian people as a whole and for the Australian Labour Party - a resounding victory over this inept Government which at present sits on the treasury bench.
Motion (by Mr. Fairhall) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- Mr. Speaker,–
Motion (by Mr. Fairhall) put -
That the question be now put
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker- Hon. Sir John McLeay.)
Majority . . . . 1
Question so resolved in the negative.
– Order! I must ask the House to come to order.
– We can give the honorable member for East Sydney an extension of time now.
– You will stop at nothing. You take advantage of a few men being sick.
– You are cracking up a bit yourself. ,
– Order! I ask the honorable member for East Sydney to resume his seat. I remind the House that the honorable member for East Sydney has the call. I ask honorable members to obey the Standing Orders. The honorable member for East Sydney is entitled to be heard without interruption.
– This afternoon at questiontime the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) was questioned by a number of members of the Opposition about the undertaking he gave some time ago to introduce in this Parliament legislation to deal with restrictive trade practices and monopolies. When the Attorney-General was questioned this afternoon, I joined in the criticism of him and asked him whether the Sydney City Council had furnished him with information regarding the rigging of tenders which had been submitted to that council by concrete pipe manufacturers. The tenders were rigged because, according to the information furnished to the AttorneyGeneral by the Lord Mayor of Sydney, Alderman Jensen, these contractors took it in turn to quote the lowest figure and over a period of time they all got their turn. When tenders were called all tenderers, with the exception of the one who was selected to get the contract, would submit the same figure.
When I asked the Attorney-General about this matter, he did not bother to answer any of the questions. He said that he had not received any correspondence from the Sydney City Council on this matter and therefore there was no necessity to deal with the latter parts of my question. I am able to tell the House that the Attorney-General was lying; that he had received correspondence from the Sydney City Council; that he had received correspondence from Alderman Jensen, the Lord Mayor of Sydney. I have been in touch with Alderman Jensen and he tells me that not only did he furnish the information to the AttorneyGeneral but he also holds a written acknowledgment from the Attorney-General of the receipt of the information. We know how this pompous little cock-sparrow-
-Order! I must ask the honorable member to withdraw that remark.
– I do withdraw it, Mr. Speaker. I read in a newspaper recently that the only thing the Attorney-General brought to the Cabinet was his vanity. I think that is a pretty apt description of him. There is no doubt in the world that, whatever his eminence at the Bar may have been, he has been a complete failure as a parliamentarian and, what is worse in my opinion, he has been a dishonest parliamentarian because he will not answer frankly the questions that are submitted to him. Instead he stands up in his place and deliberately lies and says that he has not received-
– I ask for a withdrawal of that remark.
– Order! I must ask the honorable meber for East Sydney to withdraw that remark.
– I do withdraw it, Mr. Speaker, but I know it to be true-
– The Standing Orders will not allow me-
– Order! I must ask the honorable member to withdraw the remark without any qualification.
– I do withdraw it without any qualification; but I do not think you can say it is a qualification when I say, “ I do withdraw it, but I know it to be true”. That is not a qualification.
– Order! The honorable member must withdraw unreservedly.
– I do withdraw, Mr. Speaker; but I think you will agree with me. As a matter of fact, you were in the chair this afternoon when I asked the question. Honorable members know the reply that the Attorney-General gave to me on that occasion. He said he had not received any information from the Lord Mayor of Sydney or the Sydney City Council in respect of this matter when, as a matter of fact, he knew that he had received the information and had sent an acknowledging letter to the Lord Mayor of Sydney. There is only one way of describing that conduct. Unfortunately, the Standing Orders will not permit me to use that description.
It is rather noteworthy that this allegedly courageous Attorney-General has gone to his burrow. He was in the House when I rose and made reference to the matter, but he has now disappeared from the scene. Now that the Government has been defeated and we have charge of the House, there are a number of matters to which I want to refer.
I have, over a period, been endeavouring to get the Government to admit that it has allowed inflation to run riot, without check, in this country. When I have questioned various Ministers about the value of money to-day compared with what it was in 1949 they have given the most stupid answers. They have said that it is impossible to calculate the value of money to-day in comparison with what it was in 1949. It should not be a very difficult thing, in my opinion, to calculate to what extent the currency has depreciated as a result of the failure of this Government to do anything about correcting the economic situation as it undertook to do in 1949. In an attempt to prove to this House and the electorate generally that conditions are better now than they were in 1949 Ministers merely cite total expenditure on various social services and so forth, but the only way to determine whether the Australian people are better off under an anti-Labour government than they were under the Labour governmnt of which I was a member, is to consider the relative value of money. Unless social services expenditure to-day is related to the value of money in 1949 when the Labour government left office obviously it is not a fair comparison that the Government is making.
Members have noted over a long period of time that this Government has frequently availed itself of opportunities to smear members of the Opposition because of some alleged connexion with the Communist Party. However, when the wheatgrowers and the wool growers of this country found that there were no markets available in what has been termed here on many occasions the “ free world “, they were then quite happy about disposing of their products to the
Communist world. Let me show how the Australian wheat-grower has actually been saved. His industry has been saved from ruin and destruction by the fact that he has been able to sell his wheat to the People’s Republic of China. I asked a question on notice in this chamber the other day of the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) in regard to the quantity of Australian wheat that had been sold to the People’s Republic of China. I discovered that in 1960-61 we obtained £25,400,000 as a result of the sale of Australian wheat to that country, and that in the following year we received £48,800,000. The strange thing about this is that when one tries to obtain details of these sales, such as the price paid, whether the wheat is sold on credit, and how much is still owing on the wheat, they are not made available. I asked the Minister -
In answer to 2 and 3, the Minister said that the Australian Wheat Board–
– Order! The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
Motion (by Mr. Cope) put -
That the honorable member for East Sydney be granted an extension of time.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Sir John McLeay.)
Majority . . . . 1
Question so resolved in the negative.
Motion (by Mr. Fairhall) agreed to -
That the question be now put.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.3 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
asked the Minister for Air, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
n asked the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
Has the Legislative Council of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea yet passed the draft law to provide industrial safety, health and welfare measures for all workers which came before the Council in June of last year?
– The answer to the honorablemember’s question is: -
Yes. The Industrial Safety, Health and Welfare Ordinance 1961, was passed by the Legislative Council on 27th September, 1961, and received the assent of the Governor-General on 28th December, 1961. Section 18 (1) of the Ordinance, which relates to registration of factory premises, came into operation immediately. The Ordinance will be brought fully into operation when the regulations, at present being drafted, have been made. In the meantime, the Industrial Safety (Temporary Provisions) Ordinance 1957, is being fully implemented.
d asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
2 and 3. The Australian Wheat Board follows normal trade practice in not making public details of its transactions with individual purchasers.
asked the Minister for Trade, upon notice -
Is it necessary to act as a hire-purchase agent to the Communists by selling grain on credit to Peking so that Red China can continue to give financial aid such as 50,000,000 dollars to the National Liberation Front in Algeria in 1960?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
Sales of Australian wheat are conducted by the Australian Wheat Board on behalf of growers, and terms of sale are based on purely commercial considerations.
Rail Freight on Coal.
e asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
b asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
b asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
b asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
b asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following reply: -
b asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: - 1-3. Yes. This matter is important in relation to our overseas wheat trade and so I arranged for my department to have discussions with the A.C.T.U., the unions involved and representtaives of the Australian agents of the overseas shipowners. As was agreed at the time, certain proposals discussed at the conference have been referred by my department to the other Commonwealth authorities concerned for their views.
n asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows: - 1 to5. The following is a list of vessels under construction or on order through the Australian Shipbuilding Board in Australian yards for Australian owners.
In addition to the above there is a roll-on/ roll-off vessel, “King Islander”, of 162 tons deadweight under construction at the Phoenix Shipbuilding and Engineering Company Proprietary Limited, Devonport, Tasmania, for R. H. Houfe and Company Proprietary Limited, completion of which is scheduled for February, 1963, together with a number of tugs and smaller vessels under construction at various yards in Australia. As far as my department is aware there are no trading vessels on order overseas for Australian shipowners.
asked the Minister for Trade, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
– The Minister for National Development has supplied the following information: -
Government that it will grant approval for the export of 15,000,000 tons, at a maximum annual rate of 1,000,000 tons, from the Mount Goldsworthy iron ore deposits, located about 60 miles east of Port Hedland. A group of companies which has formed a consortium known as the Mount Goldsworthy Mining Associates is currently investigating these deposits with a view to the mining of the deposits.
d asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
– The Minister for National Development has supplied the following information: - 1 and 2. No application for export from these deposits has been received.
Rates on Commonwealth Properties.
d asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1, 2 and 3. Section 114 of the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution provides, inter alia, that a State shall not without the consent of the Parliament of the Commonwealth impose any tax on property of any kind belonging to the Commonwealth. It was held by the High Court that to levy a municipal rate upon Commonwealth property is to impose a tax within the meaning of section 114, Municipal Council of Sydney v. Commonwealth (1904) 1 C.L.R. 208, 10 A.L.R. (C.N.) 29. However, in certain circumstances the Commonwealth may agree to an ex gratia payment to a rating authority in lieu of rates. For example, in the case of a Commonwealth-owned dwelling where the occupant is paying an economic rental the ex gratia payment may be equivalent of the amount of rates payable if the dwelling were privately owned. The Commonwealth does not pay rates in respect of Commonwealthowned buildings used for office purposes.
a asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
– The Minister for National Development has supplied the following information: -
y asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
– The anwers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1 and 2. Following are the numbers of (a) males and (b) females registered for employment with the district office of the Commonwealth Employment Service at Newtown at the end of each of the twelve months up to and including
July, 1962, the latest month for which figures are available: -
These were persons who claimed when registering that they were not employed and who were recorded as unplaced at the reporting date. The figures include those who, since registering, may have obtained employment without notifying the Commonwealth Employment Service, and persons who had been referred to employers with a view to engagement but whose placement was not confirmed at the reporting date; they also include persons receiving unemployment benefit.
y asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
How many vacancies for employment were listed in Australia and how many persons were registered as unemployed in each of the years from 1950 to 1961 inclusive and for the period 1st January to 30th July, 1962?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
The numbers of persons registered for employment and of vacancies registered with the Commonwealth Employment Service in each of the years from 1950 to 1961 inclusive, at the end of June and of December, and at the end of each month from January, 1962, to July, 1962, were -
s asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows: - 1 and 2. The figures requested are given in the two tables below. In addition I mention that the total of staff referred to in table 1 was 3,479 in 1955 and 5,093 in 1960. The figures for 1961 have not been shown because the information now being prepared is not comparable with that for earlier years. As from 1961 revised returns have been used by the Commonwealth Statistician. These returns no longer show the actual numbers of part-time staff but, instead, provide the number of hours per annum worked by this staff.
d asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
Will he furnish a statement, using the latest figures available, showing the principal holders of Commonwealth Government securities (a) in Australia and (b) overseas?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
Details of principal holders of Commonwealth securities in Australia at 30th June, 1961, the latest date for which information is available, are as follows: -
No comparable information is available relating to holders of Commonwealth securities issued overseas.
asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
If it takes three months for the Australian Army to mobilize and despatch 30 experts in jungle training to South Viet Nam, how long would it take Australia to send one division, if we had one division fully operational, to East New Guinea, if it was required in that region?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
Thetiming of the despatch of the team of Australian instructors to South Viet Nam was determined in consultation with the Government of the Republic of Viet Nam. The honorable member will be aware that it is not the practice to disclose details of military capabilities or plans.
d asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is: -
An examination of the recommendations of the Commonwealth Committee on Taxation has revealed that many complex issues have been raised and that a task of some magnitude is involved. The recommendations will be kept under review but it is not practicable to indicate, at this stage, when any amending legislation may be introduced.
b asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1 and 3. So far as age qualifications are concerned, the income tax age allowance is in consonance with the requirements of the Commonwealth age pension. Any departure from this basis would involve a question of policy requiring consideration and determination by the Government when income tax concessions are next under review.
n asked the Minister for External
Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
d asked the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice -
– The Minister for Customs and Excise has furnished the following answer to the honorable member’s questions: -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 21 August 1962, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1962/19620821_reps_24_hor36/>.