24th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Sir John McLeay) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Mr. REYNOLDS presented a petition from certain electors in the State of New South Wales praying that the House will -
– I preface my question, which is addressed to the Treasurer, by saying that the South Australian Trades Union Hire Purchase Co-operative Society Limited last year made quite a substantial profit on the capital that it employs in its business, but it is being hampered by a shortage of capital. In view of the Government’s lack of constitutional power to control hire-purchase charges, will the Treasurer favorably consider using his good offices with the Commonwealth Trading Bank to make money available to this co-operative and to other co-operative hirepurchase companies which are lending money at reduced rates of interest? May I finally ask the Treasurer whether he is aware that last year the South Australian Trades Union Hire Purchase Co-operative Society Limited charged only 3 per cent, interest on loans to people-
– Order! I think the honorable member is going a little too far.
– I have almost finished, Mr. Speaker. On some loans - that is, loans on certain electrical equipment repaid within twelve months - no interest whatever was charged.
– I am glad to learn that this co-operative hire-purchase organization is continuing to trade profitably. The honorable gentleman may recall that on an earlier occasion when I recommended that the trade unions examine the possibilities of taking this action, I was told by a spokesman for the Australian Labour Party not to be silly, because this was quite unrealistic. However, we have in South Australia a good example of what can be done. The honorable member’s suggestion that I should intervene with the Commonwealth Trading Bank to induce it to supply additional finance will, I think, be shown on examination not to be a desirable course. It would be quite irregular for the Treasurer to seek to bring his personal influence to bear upon such a body for the purpose of securing a loan for a particular organization. However, I am quite certain that the Commonwealth Trading Bank would be willing to examine carefully and with every consideration an approach from such a body. The approach would have to rest on its merits, of course, but at present the banking system is in a reasonably liquid state and I suggest that the organization pursue that course.
– I direct the attention of the Minister for Works to criticism which is being voiced by the Premier and others in Victoria to the effect that that State is being by-passed in the programme of Commonwealth developmental projects. Will the Minister give sympathetic consideration to speeding up Commonwealth public works in Victoria?
– Of course, the Commonwealth Government is not able to undertake developmental work in a State such as Victoria which is relatively more developed than many other States. But I was rather surprised at the statement by the Victorian Premier, because of six major Commonwealth works - works to cost £500,000 or more - which are listed for the current financial year no fewer than three are listed for the State of Victoria. These are the new customs house which will cost, I think, £1,800,000; stage two of the Commonwealth offices in Melbourne which will cost £2,200,000; and a new building for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization which will cost approximately £500,000. So of a total new works programme of £11,000,000 over £4,500,000 will be spent in Victoria. I hardly think that that State could get fairer treatment from the Commonwealth.
– Last May, the Minister for Labour and National Service answered a question in which I sought to ascertain the total number of waterside workers on compensation in capital ports. The Minister’s reply indicated that the daily average for Brisbane was 7.2, for Sydney 3.2 and for Melbourne 3.3. I now ask him whether he can explain to the House why the accident rate on the Brisbane waterfront is more than double that in Sydney or Melbourne.
– I am sorry that I cannot tell the honorable gentleman why the accident rate is higher in the port of Brisbane. As he is supposed to be a technical expert on stevedoring matters in Queensland I think he could probably help me in finding a solution to this problem. If he would like to have some discussions with me and the officials of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority I would be only too happy to arrange them.
– Did the Minister for Repatriation recently make an announcement relating to additional benefits available for service pensioners over 70 years of age? Will he please outline to the House the nature of these additional benefits and the changes to which he referred?
– In answer to a question in the House last week, I said that certain changes were being made in the repatriation system relating to certain classes of service pensioners. As the honorable member knows, ex-servicemen can receive a service pension, subject to the means test, on reaching the age of 60 years. They can receive it at any age if they are classified as being permanently unemployable, which is the medical classification equivalent to that of the invalid pensioner classification under the social services scheme. That applies throughout the rest of a pensioner’s life. A change has now been made which will mean that, instead of having to apply to be classified as permanently unemployable and to qualify medically for that classification on reaching the age of 70 years, an ex-serviceman can now automatically be so classified if he is not in employment. The benefits to be gained from that will be that if his wife and children are eligible, they will be able to receive pensions in their own right. As I said last week, the necessary instruction has been sent to all States. The scheme was implemented as from last week.
– My question is addressed to the Prime Minister. Has his attention been directed to a recent statement by the eminent scientist, Professor B. J. Bok, the Director of the Mount Stromlo Observatory, that scientific planning in Australia is haphazard and that the Commonwealth Government has a certain responsibility to provide for future scientific development? Although the Prime Minister may claim that this is a matter of policy and should not be raised by way of a question in this House, will he give the House and the nation an immediate reassurance concerning this disquieting statement by such an outstanding scientist as Professor Bok?
– A question on this matter was addressed to me yesterday or the day before. I can only repeat that nobody recognizes more clearly than I do the immense importance of extending our resources of scientific skill and of making the best possible use of them. But how you are to do that - by what co-ordinated mechanism you are to do it - is not a very simple question to answer. I recognize, of course, the eminence of Professor Bok, but there are other eminent scientists here.” I have already had consultations on this topic with three of our leading scientists, and so far I have received three rather different sets of ideas from them. However, I am continuing the discussions because I recognize the existence of this very real problem.
– I wish to direct a question to you, Mr. Speaker, as the guardian of the privileges and standards of this House. Would it be practicable for you to call the party leaders together with a view to ensuring that in demonstrable cases of infection, sickness or facial injury honorable members concerned shall not be compelled to come into the chamber to record their vote at a time when it is clear that the only way in which the Government could be defeated would be by an adverse by-election result or the deliberate defection of one of its members? I ask you, Sir, whether the disgraceful practice which has been affecting this House recently could by reasonable means be removed for all time from our proceedings?
-I will give consideration to this question, but I would be very timid about trying to direct the Leader of the House, the Prime Minister or any other member, what he should do. I think this is a matter for the judgment of honorable members. It does not come within the responsibility of the Speaker.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Trade. I preface the question by referring to a statement made by Sir John Crawford at a symposium held as a part of the Twelfth World Poultry Congress in Sydney. Sir John said that the Australian poultry industry could very soon face the problem of big imports of poultry from low-cost and high-production countries, where production is in the hands of a few huge organizations. In view of the critical situation - in fact, the recession - which exists in the poultry industry, will the Minister take steps to ensure that such large imports of poultry are prevented from causing further damage to the Australian industry? Will he ensure that action is taken before such imports of poultry commence and not, in effect, shut the gate after the horse has bolted?
– I have read the report of Sir John Crawford’s remarks to which the honorable member has referred. I am sure that Sir John was comparing production costs and prevailing domestic prices ‘ i North America and Europe with the production costs and prevailing prices in Australia, and indicating that there appeared to be an opportunity to export to Australia. I think that such an opportunity exists, but this Government’s policy is to protect Australian industry. No other government has ever done as much as this Government has done to establish adequate mechanisms for the protection of Australian industry, and certainly no other government has ever established such a basis of consultation with industry as exists now.
If those engaged in the poultry industry believe that it is under threat or is being harmed, I assure them and the honorable member that there are adequate means of consultation and adequate arrangements for reference to the Tariff Board, as well as the possibility of a quick decision. All of these avenues are open to the poultry industry.
– Is the PostmasterGeneral aware of complaints that mail to Australian troops in Thailand is delayed for a considerable period, and that some confusion exists as to air mail and surface mail rates? Can the Postmaster-General clarify the position?
– It came to my attention yesterday - in fact the honorable member himself mentioned it to me - that apparently some little confusion exists since the extension to Australian servicemen now serving in Thailand and South Viet Nam of the concessional rates which have applied to Australian servicemen serving in the Commonwealth Strategic Reserve in Malaya and Singapore. This extension was promulgated on 20th of this month - three days ago - and I understand that within the last day or two the application of the previous rates to letters posted prior to this new concession coming into effect has caused some confusion.
Prior to 20th of this month letters sent to Thailand required ls. 6d. postage for air mail and 6d. postage for surface mail. The new rates are 6d. per half ounce for air mail and 3d. per half ounce for surface mail. I think that before the new rates became operative some people sent letters by airmail to servicemen in Thailand on the assumption that the concessional rates which applied to mail sent to other servicemen overseas would apply; but that was not the case. As a result, the normal Post Office procedure was followed. If an air mail letter carried only 6d. postage the sender would have been contacted by the Post Office, if his name and address were shown on the envelope, and advised of the need for a further ls. postage. He would have been given six days in which to pay the additional amount to avoid a heavy surcharge at the point of delivery. If the additional postage was not forthcoming at the end of a week the letter would have been sent by surface mail.
There are three airmail services a week to Thailand and only one shipping service. In these circumstances I think the honorable member will realize how the confusion has arisen, but it will last now for only a day or two because all officers have been advised of the new rates.
– I want to address a question to the Postmaster-General. Has his attention been directed to a report that a youth at Bendigo died as a result of accident because the person who went to telephone for assistance could not find the emergency numbers and did not realize that such calls were free of charge? The pages had been torn out of the book. In these circumstances could not the emergency numbers be displayed in public telephone booths together with the information that no charge is made for the calls?
– This is a matter to which the department has applied itself on a number of occasions to try to ensure that people using public telephones in an emergency and in other cases have ready access to the numbers they require. As the honorable member knows, the numbers of the various emergency services are prominently displayed in the front of the directory. I think, too, though I am not sure, that information is given also to the effect that these calls may be made without charge. It is difficult to ensure that these emergency numbers are always available. The honor able member will realize that public telephones are subjected to a considerable amount of vandalism, as a result of which any notices appearing in the directories are frequently torn out. Also, notices placed on the walls of public telephone booths are defaced. It is a difficult problem that we try to overcome, and it gives rise to regrettable incidents of the kind referred to by the honorable member for Darebin.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Air, representing the Minister for National Development. I refer to statements by a spokesman for Australian companies interested in oil search to the effect that although the total Budget allocation for oil-drilling subsidies had been increased, the reduction of the subsidy from 50 per cent, to 30 per cent, in respect of each project would detrimentally affect Australia’s enterprises vis-a-vis overseas organizations and would impose hardships on Australian investors. Would the honorable gentlemen obtain from the Minister a full statement on this matter, and if it should appear that Australian companies and their shareholders are adversely affected will he ascertain whether and in what ways the Minister is prepared to consider a modification of his proposals?
– As the honorable member realizes, the Minister for National Development is in another place. I will bring the question to the notice of the Minister and see that the honorable member gets a reply on this important subject at the earliest possible moment.
– Has the Minister for Territories been advised that a petition of remonstrance, setting out grievances and demanding political reforms, is to be conveyed and presented to this Parliament from the Legislative Council of the Northern Territory? The petition setting out the grievances consists of nine pages and about 4,000 words. Will the Minister at this stage state whether the Government has any plans for political reforms in that part of Australia?
– As I understand the position from newspaper reports, this document has been presented to the Legislative Council but has not yet been dealt with by it. I think that out of respect for the Legislative Council we should watt for its discussion of the petition before we attempt any discussion of it here.
– Has the Minister for Shipping and Transport heard of the suggestion that a certain amount of the payment to the States under the Commonwealth Aid Roads Act be reserved specifically for city and suburban road-making? Does he know that the suggestion has been made that for this purpose 10 per cent, of the total allocation be made now, and the amount be progressively increased until it reaches 40 per cent, per annum, the percentage now available for rural roads? As good rural roads are a major factor in decentralization, will the Minister do all in his power to have the allocation for rural roads increased, rather than make a specific and increasing allocation for centralized areas?
– Earlier this year, the Lord Mayor of Melbourne made an approach to the Government for an allocation of funds for metropolitan roads. This was done on behalf of the civic authorities in other capital cities as well as Melbourne. 1 want to emphasize that, because Victorians have an objective outlook. The Lord Mayor made these representation on the basis that he did not want to disturb the present allocation of 40 per cent, of road funds to rural roads. The Commonwealth Aid Roads Act will be in operation until 1964, and I assure the honorable member that consideration will be given to all aspects of this matter that are brought to our attention before the new legislation to succeed the present act is brought into operation. I do not recollect the suggestion that 10 per cent, of the funds should be allocated now to metropolitan roads. 1 assure the honorable gentleman that full attention will be given to the needs of rural roads, as well as to any other representations that are made on behalf of other interests.
– Will the Minister for Territories inform the House of the progress that has been made with the programme to control and eradicate cattle tick in Papua and New Guinea? Does he expect that the programme will have to be radically changed in view of the altered position in West New Guinea?
– About ten years ago, we began a campaign for the eradication of cattle tick in Papua and New Guinea? This year we asked an Australian expert, Dr. Legge, to make a survey of the progress that has been made. Dr. Legge gave us an extremely favorable report, both on the efficiency of those engaged in the work and the correctness of the methods they have followed. Both from our own knowledge and from his report, we have considerable confidence that we can achieve complete eradication and not merely control of cattle tick. As I understand the position, cattle tick can move from place to place only on an animal host. There is a complete prohibition on the importation of cattle from any quarters except Australia and New Zealand, and any cattle imported from those two countries are subject to examination and treatment for parasites before being allowed into the Territory. From my knowledge, which may not be complete, I think that the only risk from West New Guinea would be constituted by wild deer in the Merauke area, which may be infested by tick and may cross the border. That is a risk of which we are well aware, but I do not think the risk will be altered in any way by a change of administration in that area.
– I ask the Minister for the Interior: Did he recently announce his approval of increased rates of premium for third-party insurance in the Australian Capital Territory? Is the new premium rate for a private car to rise from £11 10s. to £14 7s.? Will this be the highest rate of premium in Australia, and will it be more than £5 above the premium required in the town of Queanbeyan, just across the border in New South Wales? Recognizing that insurance companies cannot continue to carry losses on this kind of insurance, will the Minister obtain, and have published, figures showing the total of the premiums paid in respect of Australian Capital Territory policies and the total of the claims paid against those policies over the past two financial years? Will the Minister consider recommending to the Government that it take the initiative in calling a convention of State representatives to discuss the whole problem of third-party insurance?
– The recently announced increases in third-party insurance rates are along the lines of the figures given by the honorable member. Periodic reviews - I think they are annual - of third-party insurance rates have been undertaken in the Australian Capital Territory, but I should tell the honorable member that this is not the only consideration given by the Government to this problem. This is a very serious problem, to which the Government has been giving a great deal of thought for some time. I am not in a position at this moment to tell the honorable member what stage our consideration has reached, but I hope that we shall have something more encouraging to put forward than the present tendency to have an annual increase of the rates.
– I direct a question to the Attorney-General. The honorable gentleman may remember that I asked him a question on 14th August about the Communist school of subversion at Minto in New South Wales. He stated in reply that he had some information on this matter and that, if the question were placed on the notice-paper, such information would be given. Can the Minister advise me when this information will be forthcoming?
– The honorable member is quite correct; I said that when I had information available it would be given to him. That is in the course of preparation and, when it is ready, I will make it available to him.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Labour and National Service. In view of the number of unemployed persons in the country, and in the interests of decentralization, will the Minister consider with other Ministers (a) air freight reductions for the country, and (b) a uniform petrol price for country people?
– I am afraid the substance of the honorable gentleman’s question is well outside my bailiwick. None the less I will have a look with the Prime Minister at the matters raised by the honorable gentleman and if I can answer his questions I will do so.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Primary Industry. In view of the encouraging report in a recent Bureau of Agricultural Economics survey about the future trend of wool prices, can he explain why wool prices have fallen by an amount ranging from 2i per cent, to 7 per cent, in the opening sales of the season? Does he think prices will improve later in the season?
- Mr. Speaker, if the honorable member suggests that I should make a forecast of what prices will be later in the season, I want to disillusion him and assure him that I have no intention of doing so. The prices received at the initial sales this season were on a level with the average of last year’s sales, although not as good as prices at the concluding sales. The information I have is that at the initial Melbourne sales consignments included some burry wool from the Riverina. Generally speaking, I think, we have been disappointed that the price levels have not been consistent with those ruling at the concluding sales of last year. I must say that wool production estimates by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics and its general forecast of prices have been very good over the last two or three years. I just hope that its forecast about the prices overall this season will really materialize.
– I direct a question to the Postmaster-General. Is he aware that the Australian Broadcasting Commission has unfortunately followed the lead of commercial television stations by occasionally re-showing half-hour films, some of which are not of a very high standard? As the Commission’s programmes have established a very high standard - they are considered by many to be superior to those of the commercial stations - will the PostmasterGeneral ensure that that high standard is maintained and, if new films are not available, arrange for live programmes to be presented by Australian artists?
– Mr. Speaker, I am glad to hear the favourable comments of the honorable member for Kingston on the high standard of programmes provided by the Australian Broadcasting Commission. I can assure him that the A.B.C., which of course has its own authority in determining programmes, is imbued with a desire to preserve that high standard and also to develop the use of Australian talent. I shall bring the honorable member’s comments to the notice of the chairman of the commission and I am sure the commission will be glad to receive them.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Labour and National Service been directed to a report published by the Australian Metal Industries Association, in which a complaint is made that employers in the metal industries throughout Australia are now experiencing great difficulty in finding skilled, semi-skilled and even unskilled labour? Does the departmental information available to the Minister confirm or refute the statement made by the association?
– I have not seen the statement published by the Australian Metal Industries Association in terms such as those referred to by the honorable member, but I can say that I have had discussions with representatives of the metal trades industries, and that they have told me that it is now difficult to obtain skilled workers in a very wide variety of trades in their industry.
– They have not told you the truth.
– Well, you get some concrete information and bring it to me. Just give me the name of one person about whom you have made representations and who can support your statement. That will be the test of who knows how to tell the truth. As to semi-skilled and unskilled workers, Mr. Speaker, the metal trades people are finding it difficult to recruit employees, particularly for shift work. The honorable member who asked the question will recall that recently we included in our monthly statement of employment a breakup by occupations of people registered for employment and of vacancies. If those figures are carefully considered by honorable members, particularly the one who interrupted, it will be found that the number of job vacancies in the metal trades and electrical industries is now higher than the number of people registered for employment. What the facts indicate is that in the metal trades and electrical industries there is a shortage of labour, particularly in some skilled trades. I think this also highlights the fact that one of our difficulties to-day is that of the number of school-leavers registered for employment, well over 60 per cent, of the total are in country areas, and that many of those - again well over 60 per cent. - are females.
– I preface my question to the Minister for Supply by stating that, with the closing of the aircraft division of Chrysler Australia Limited, South Australia is threatened with the loss, early in 1963, of an important defence industry, namely, the manufacture of parts for Jindivik and Canberra aircraft. As the loss of this industry would mean the discarding of highlyskilled tradesmen in Adelaide and the training of new operatives in Victoria, will the Minister further consider the retention of this industry in South Australia? Will he fully consider, also, the need to decentralize defence production instead of allowing important decisions such as this to be influenced by economic considerations?
– The matter of employment on the Canberra and Jindivik aircraft programmes in South Australia has been looked at quite frequently over the last two or three years. The closing of the aircraft annex at the works of Chrysler Australia Limited in South Australia was made necessary by the small-scale production of the new Mirage aircraft and the reduction of the output of Jindivik aircraft. The honorable gentleman will be pleased to know that I was assured, in personal conversations with the operators of the annex in South Australia some time ago, that when the premises were vacated by those at present working there, more people would be employed in the same buildings in the automotive industry than are at present employed in the manufacture of aircraft parts.
– I ask the Treasurer: Is he aware of a statement that the Government’s very wrong and harmful economic measures were designed by the Secretary to the Treasury? If this is so, will the right honorable gentleman have discussions with the Minister for External Affairs to see whether an appropriate remedy can be found? If it is not so, will the right honorable gentleman have a discussion with the Minister for External Affairs to see whether an appropriate posting can be obtained for the Treasurer himself?
– The honorable gentleman has asked his question in a rather mysterious and abstruse form. He opened by talking about wrong and harmful effects on the economy. I am ready to concede that I take a view of the economy different from that taken by him and others who sit alongside him, and I am prepared to leave the verdict about which of us has the more realistic view of the Australia of to-day to the judgment of those who can assess these matters objectively. I can only assume that the honorable member’s reference to comment about the Secretary to the Treasury relates to observations made by a senator in his maiden speech in another place. The senator mentioned the time that he and I had been at school together. Perhaps I may be permitted to say that he has apparently forgotten two of the precepts which were brought to our attention then - first, that one does not hit a man who cannot hit back, and, secondly, that one plays the ball rather than the man if one is to make any headway in affairs as a responsible person. We in this country are fortunate to have in the Secretary to the Treasury one of the outstanding men in the field of government finance. He is so recognized internationally, and, with his sound advice, this Commonwealth has established one of the strongest economies to be found anywhere to-day.
– My question, which is addressed to the Treasurer, is perhaps partly supplementary to the answer which he has just given and in which he stated that one should attempt to play the ball and not the man. I understand that the right honorable gentleman administers the Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act. If there is not already in that act a provision that affords protection to backbenchers who are clobbered by Ministers, will he have such a provision inserted?
– I find myself very receptive to the suggestion of the honorable gentleman; but he, being a fairminded representative of the people, will, I think, agree that this should not be merely one-way traffic. In my experience, it is usually the Minister who is being clobbered by backbenchers.
– I claim to have been misrepresented and wish to make an explanation.
– Does the honorable member claim to have been misrepresented in the press?
– Yes, Sir. Last Friday morning’s edition of the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ carried a story of the speech that I had made on Thursday in this House. I must say that, in general terms, it was a very good representation of what I had said. However, the report used the following words -
The limiting of absolute freedom is wholly inconsistent with Liberal principles.
In point of fact, the report in the proof issue of “ Hansard “ also rendered what I said in that form. By adding the prefix “ in “ to make the word “ consistent “ which I had used read as “ inconsistent “ the entire sense was changed. The word used was “consistent”. The newspaper could not have helped reporting the speech in that way, because it was reported in “ Hansard “ in that way. I did not pick up the error in reading the proofs, because at that stage I was in a state of extremis with this wound. I want to direct the attention of the House to the fact that words I used on that occasion were words I then believed and still believe to be true. They are -
The limiting of absolute freedom is wholly consistent with Liberal principles.
Motion (by Mr. Freeth) agreed to-
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act relating to the Australian War Memorial.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
– by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The Australian War Memorial began in a small way as the Australian War Museum, set up after the First World War. Since then, it has grown and developed in scope and dignity and justifies the claim that it is a splendid national memorial which has few, if any, equals in the world. The statutory authority for this development was first given by the provisions of the Australian War Memorial Act 1925. Under that act, the memorial has been managed by the Board of Management, and the whole of Australia owes a debt of gratitude to those men who, as members of the board1, have over the years given themselves in a completely honorary service to the task of developing the memorial to its present position.
The Government has reached the conclusion that the time has arrived when the memorial should be vested in a board of trustees, to be held in trust on behalf of the Commonwealth and the people of Australia. It would thus be placed in the same position as the Imperial War Museum in Great Britain and similar memorials and institutions throughout the world.
The original proposals for the reestablishment of the memorial along the lines set out in the bill came from the present Board of Management. Further, in the preparation of the bill, the Government acknowledges gratefully the assistance and advice of the chairman of the board, LieutenantGeneral the Honorable Sir Edmund Herring. This follows previous practice. In the preparation of the original act of 1925, the then government enjoyed the advice and assistance of the Australian War Memorial Committee of those days, and the subsequent amendments to that act were effected with the advice of the Board of Management of the memorial.
The present act deals with the management of the memorial and with the administration of the Australian War Memorial Fund. This fund is a trust fund which, although it was formally constituted in its present form under the present act in 1925, had its origins in the Trust Fund Australian War Records Publications Account, which was set up in the years immediately following the First World War. That account was made up of moneys received from Australia’s share in the War Office Cinematograph Committee’s profits; funds to the credit of the Australian Imperial Force Publications Section in London; sales of publications and official pictures, and the exploitation of films and of the Australian War Museum by the Australian War Museum Committee; and voluntary donations from members of the public and organizations.
As far back as 1924, the Australian War Memorial Committee had suggested that a bill be prepared to cover the vesting of the collection of war relics, as well as the trust fund, in a board of trustees. The building for the memorial had not then been constructed and the war relics had not been transferred to Canberra, which was to be their eventual home. The government of the day did not accept the suggestion. At a meeting of the committee later in the year, the following resolution was passed -
After full discussion it was decided to recommend to the Minister that the time is not yet ripe for the collections to be completely vested in a Board of Trustees; but that, subject to Ministerial control, the Board (to be constituted) should be given executive authority in regard to the management of the Memorial, and full control of the Trust Fund.
The present act, passed in the following year, accordingly gave the board two kinds of function, one to be exercised subject to ministerial direction and the other independent of ministerial control. The former - that is, controlled by the Minister - relates to the administration of the memorial and the latter, the independent function, relates to the control of the fund. The board was given executive powers in relation to the memorial, but its powers of management were made expressly subject to directions of the Minister. Section 12 of the act vested the fund in the board, but the board’s powers in relation to the use of moneys in the fund were not subject to ministerial direction.
The main stages in the development of the memorial are now completed. Further developments will occur, but the basic groundwork has been firmly laid. The Government feels that there is no longer any valid reason for the retention of ministerial oversight of the detailed administration of the memorial. The proposed Board of Trustees will be constituted on the same lines as the present Board of Management -the Chief of the Naval Staff, the Chief of the General Staff, the Chief of the Air Staff and nine other members, appointed by the Governor-General. The functions and powers of the Board of Trustees will, in effect, confer on it the authority to manage the memorial on behalf of the Commonwealth without subjugation to ministerial authority as can be seen from a perusal of clauses 13 and 14. The board will be a body corporate. Members of the board, apart from the three ex-officio members, will hold office during the pleasure of the Governor-General. The board will be required to furnish to the Minister such reports as he requires and its annual report will be tabled in both Houses of the Parliament. By this means the board will account for its stewardship.
The authority of the Board of Trustees to administer the Australian War Memorial Fund is set out in part III. of the bill. The fund as it is at present constituted is continued in existence and is invested in the Board of Trustees. The purposes for which moneys in the fund may be applied are at presented limited by section 13 of the act to the acquisition of relics, records, &c, for inclusion in the memorial. These purposes are extended by clause 18, however, to allow the board to apply the moneys more freely for the purposes of the memorial. This is in accord with the purposes for which the fund was originally formed.
I direct the attention of honorable members to the fact that the fund does not include any moneys from Consolidated Revenue. The moneys in it originally were received from the sources which I indicated earlier. Since 1925, the fund has, under the control of the board of management of the memorial, grown considerably, with proceeds from the sale of the Australian official histories of the two world wars and other publications by the board. The moneys to the credit of the fund, which stood at £19,500 in 1925, have grown to over £130,000, whilst the memorial has, in the meantime, been greatly enriched by exhibits and relics purchased by the board with fund moneys. The Commonwealth will, of course, continue to bear its general financial responsibility for the memorial and its particular responsibility for the cost of the provision and maintenance of the buildings and the immediate surrounds and also staffing costs. The board will be required to keep proper accounts and records of its transactions in relation to the fund and these accounts and records will be audited by the Auditor-General. The bill also provides that the board will not be subject to taxation in carrying out its functions, particularly those functions, such as the publication of books and other material, through which the income is earned for the purposes of the fund.
I would like to refer at this stage to another aspect of the bill. Clause 16 empowers the board to delegate powers to individual persons and committees. Such a delegation will be in writing under the seal of the board. This provision will enable the board to follow the procedure, found necessary in the past by the board of management, of carrying on its detailed work through committees. In particular, the detailed administration of the financial provisions relative to receipts to and payments from the fund necessitate the board’s appointing a finance committee to carry out this work on its behalf. The provision for delegations under the present act, section 9, is far too unwieldy and requires the delegation to be in writing under the hand of each member of the board. It has been found that the provisions of section 9 have not been applied in their entirety when, in some instances, the board has decided to delegate authority to a committee. For this reason, provision is made in clause 28 of the bill for the validation of all purported delegations which have not complied strictly with section 9. It has of course been accepted procedure that committees would report to the board on their actions, so the board has still retained an oversight of the acts done by its committees.
The bill provides a regulation-making power and provides, in particular, a power to make regulations governing the conduct of persons on the land or in buildings forming part of the memorial. It is intended that this will enable the making of regulations to control minor acts of misconduct within the precincts of the memorial prejudicial to the interests of the memorial. These are matters which, in similar institutions in other places, are dealt with under by-laws made by the trustees. It is not intended that any regulations of this nature be made immediately, and I sincerely hope that the need will never arise.
With the enactment of this statute, the present board of management will no longer exist. I feel that this should not be allowed to pass without acknowledgment of our appreciation for the sterling contribution made by the men who have served and currently serve on that board. Distinguished Australians have been associated with the board since the inception of the memorial. We as Australians should be proud of their contribution and appreciative of their selflessness. On behalf of the Government, I acknowledge with gratitude the work of the retiring members - Lieutenant-General the Honorable Sir Edmund Herring, who is chairman of the board, Lieutenant-General Sir Reginald Pollard, Air Marshal Sir Valston Hancock, Vice-Admiral W. N. Harrington, Senator S. K. Amour, RearAdmiral Sir Leighton Bracegirdle, Sir Gilbert Dyett, Mr. W. A. McLaren, Mr. C. E. W. Bean, Mr. E. C. Riley, Air ViceMarshal W. D. Bostock and Mr. G. M. Long. The bill does not provide for the automatic appointment to the board of trustees of the retiring members of the existing board of management. I sincerely hope, however, that all retiring appointed members will be available for appointment to the board of trustees.
I am confident that through this legislation the Australian War Memorial will develop further and will assume greater significance in the eyes of all Australians as the Commonwealth memorial of those Australians who have died on or as a result of active service. It will take its place as part of the Australian heritage. For these reasons I commend the bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr.Haylen) adjourned.
.- I move - [Customs Tariff Amendment (No. 37).]
The Customs Tariff Proposals, which I have just tabled, are consequent on recommendations by a Special Advisory Authority, whose reports I shall table later this day. Temporary duties are imposed on glazed ceramic tiles in sizes of 6 inches by 6 inches of all colours, but not including white tiles or tile biscuit, and cycle saddles. The temporary duties will operate in addition to the normal duties but will not be imposed on goods in direct transit to Australia on 17th July and 20th July, 1962, which are entered for home consumption on arrival.
The normal protective needs of these industries have been referred to the Tariff Board for inquiry and report. The tem porary duties will operate only until such time as the Government takes action upon receipt of the final reports of the Board. I commend the proposals to honorable members.
Reports on Items.
– I lay on the table of the House reports by a Special Advisory Authority on the following subjects: -
Glazed ceramic tiles.
Ordered to be printed.
In Committee of Supply: Consideration resumed from 22nd August (vide page 645), on motion by Mr. Harold Holt -
That the first item in the Estimates, under Division No. 101 - Senate - namely, “ Salaries and allowances £34,000 “, be agreed to.
Upon which Mr. Whitlam had moved by way of amendment -
That the first item be reduced by fi.
.- Mr. Chairman, the honorable member for Lyne (Mr. Lucock), who spoke last night, did not try to justify anything contained in the Budget. lt appeared to me that he resorted to abuse of the Opposition. In my opinion, that was a very poor way in which to proceed. He said it would be a tragedy for Australia if the Australian Labour Party ever regained control of the treasury bench in this Parliament. That is contrary to the view of many people in Australia, because only a few months ago a majority of them voted for the Labour Party. It obtained 300,000 more votes than all the other parties put together. It was only because of the activities of inefficient splinter groups that this coalition government was returned to power and is now able to flout the will of the people. If it had not been for gerrymandering and the coming together of splinter groups, the party which really should be governing Australia to-day - the Australian Labour Party - would be in office. The opinion expressed by the honorable member for Lyne is not held by all the people. Eminent businessmen and other people who really count in this country do not think as he does. I recently read the annual report of the Capel Court Investment Company (Australia) Limited, in which the chairman, one of the most eminent businessmen in this country, stated -
It is appropriate to emphasize that, whilst in days gone by the emergence of a Labour Government would have been regarded by trade and industry with the deepest concern, the same fears would not be entertained under present conditions. The fact is that the Labour Party has attained greater maturity and outlook and has abandoned many of the extremist policies propounded in earlier times. In any case, previous Federal Labour Governments have never done anything to undermine confidence in the soundness of Australian currency, and have acted in strict accord wilh British principles of honour and integrity.
The “ Sydney Morning Herald “ does not have such a bright opinion of the Govern- ment. Referring to the Budget, the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ stated -
With a complacency that borders on contempt for both the Opposition and the public, the Federal Treasurer has ignored the opportunity that the Budget could have provided to set Australia firmly back on the road to rapid economic growth. Mr. Holt’s drab and unimaginative proposals for 1962-63 might even provide the epitaph for his inglorious record as a public financier.
The “ Sydney Morning Herald “ never wrote anything like that about the late Mr. Chifley, at any time. The inglorious record of the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) is, I think, equalled only by the inglorious record of the Government as a whole. The Treasurer described the Budget as the Government’s instrument of policy - I think that would make any one smile - but I have examined the Budget very carefully and I am unable to find in it any policy, plan or reason for hope. The Treasurer’s Budget speech was the most pointless statement of policy that I have ever listened to in the thirteen years that I have been in this Parliament.
The most significant thing about this Budget is that it is a complete contradiction of the Budget that was introduced last year. It will be remembered that when we suggested budgeting for a deficit, the Government ridiculed that suggestion. Last year the Labour Party suggested a budget deficit of about £100,000,000, but the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and the Treasurer described the suggestion as being ridiculous and absurd. They said that such a deficit would cause price increases, inflation and a further breakdown of confidence and would aggravate the serious unemployment position. But what do we find now? We find that the Government is doing what it said, twelve months ago, would be wrong. It is budgeting for a deficit of about £100,000,000. This is another example of what the Government has been doing in pursuance of its stop and go, on and off policies. It is wrong to-day but right to-morrow to do various things.
Unemployment, which has been a serious handicap to our economy for a long time, is still a serious problem. The Treasurer mentioned unemployment in his Budget speech, but did not propose any plan to correct the situation. We know that for many families in Australia the future is very uncertain and obscure. Unemployment is as serious now as it was before the Government introduced, during the last session, various economic measures which it claimed would stimulate consumer spending, restore public confidence and end the recession which is now nearly eighteen months old. We all remember what the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) said during the last general election. He said he would budget for a £110,000,000 deficit, the amount which he thought sufficient to enable all unemployed persons to be reemployed, but he was ridiculed by the Prime Minister and the Treasurer for suggesting what they termed an extravagant remedy. However, now we find the Government doing the very thing which it said was ridiculous and impossible.
If we turn our minds back to August of last year, we will remember that the public was alarmed at the growing number of unemployed, which was then about 100,000, but the position now is almost the same as it was then. One can imagine what a difference it would make to our economy if the 100,000 people who are unemployed were in employment and receiving, on an average, the basic wage. They would be earning about £100,000,000 a year, and that money would be spent mostly in retail shops. That kind of spending would stimulate the economy, but a budget which provides for a deficit without offering a plan to ensure that the money will be spent to the best advantage will not do so. The Government dawdles on, and apparently expects that the present degree of unemployment will continue. It is budgeting to spend £15,000,000 this year to support people who are not in work. In my opinion, that is a complete waste of money. The sum of £15,000,000 will be wasted in making to unemployed people payments which will not be adequate to sustain their families.
Yet Government members still have the audacity to express satisfaction at the level of employment. It is well known that the Government and its supporters prefer to speak about a high level of employment rather than about full employment. They believe that a pool of about 100,000 unemployed - the position seems to be balancing at that figure - is a good thing for the policies which they pursue. This
Government and its supporters believe that if there are 100,000 hungry people standing at factory gates and waiting for jobs the conditions of the people working in factories can be controlled because the workers will say, “ Notwithstanding that we need better working conditions and wage justice we had better not ask for them because we do not want to become unemployed like the 100,000 people waiting outside “. That is the deterrent which the Government applies against the workers who are afraid to ask for their just rights.
Other comments have been made on this subject. I do not like always to quote other opinions, but when one has an eminent opinion I believe that it should be repeated. On 19th June this year the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ editorial, referring to the slow reduction in unemployment had this to say -
Any reduction in the level of unemployment is welcome as a measure of relief from social distress, so that the improvement during May announced by the Minister for Labour and National Service can be received with modified pleasure. Modified it can only be, despite Mr. McMahon’s usual attempt to gild the lily. The fact that 3,398 people in Queensland, obviously absorbed by seasonal tasks, and a net 1,233 in the rest of Australia found employment is nothing to crow about, when there are still 93,916 waiting to find work.
We have another comment by the same paper which vindicates the Labour Party’s claims. The Government has suggested that we have exaggerated the unemployment position, but we have done nothing of the kind. Labour men who meet workers in their offices know how really serious the position is and that it is always understated by the Minister who refers only to the number of people who are registered for employment. I know a tremendous number of people who do not register because they have a few pounds in the bank and try to struggle on until they get a job. We never learn the true position from the Minister. The editorial of the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ of 2nd July, 1962, makes the following vindication of Labour’s claims: -
In May, 1961, the figures for registered unemployed for the first time topped the 100,000 mark. The figures for May, 1962, just announced, are 93,916, having fallen by no more than about 8,000 in the last twelve months. This, however, is not the whole story. Working on the figures to July, 1961, our Financial Editor, calculating from the known fall in those employed and from the estimated expansion of the working force, placed the number of unemployed at approximately 177,000, as against 113,400 registered. These figures, conservatively estimated, were not seriously challenged.
Upon this basis he now calculates that the real number of unemployed at present is more than 143,000. It is doubtful whether the public realizes even yet that official figures are not the true measure of this running sore.
We claim that always has been the true position. In reality the figure of 90,000 mentioned by the Minister should be about 143,000. But still the Treasurer, speaking for the Government, made no mention of any plan to remedy the position in the Budget speech.
A few days ago the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti) asked a question of the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) relating to unemployment. I was amazed at the Minister’s reply. So that honorable members will understand the Government’s thinking on this matter I shall read the question and the answer. They are in these terms -
– My question is addressed to the MInister for Labour and National Service. In view of the fact that his last published statement revealed that almost 12,000 school leavers were unemployed, will he now tell the House how many boys and girls who left school at the end of last year are at present seeking employment. Because of this serious social and economic problem, will the Minister say what he intends to do to provide employment for our young people whose ranks will soon be joined by the school leavers of 1962?
– I have made it clear to the House that over the period November to June nearly 62,000 school leavers registered with the Commonwealth Employment Service for employment. I do not keep all the facts in my head and I cannot be expected to, but I can say that fewer than 2,300 young men now remain registered with the Commonwealth Employment Service.
So 2,300 young people of sixteen years of age who have just completed their schooling and are ready to go into industry and take their place in the community are on the dole. Any Minister who expresses satisfaction at that - that is what he did - is very easily pleased. In fact, he shows how completely out of touch he is with this very serious matter.
The next important item to which I shall refer, because it will relate eventually to unemployment, is the effect on Australia of Britain’s entry into the European Common Market. The United Kingdom is our best customer for our primary products, and to lose such a customer would strike a serious blow at our economy with the result that additional tens of thousands of workers would be thrown into the unemployment pool. I do not like repeating statistics but the ones that I shall mention were quoted by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) and they relate to the matter under discussion. This is one way in which the people of Australia will learn how we stand. I hope I do not become boring by mentioning these statistics, but I believe that they are important. When Britain joins the Common Market our export of metallic lead ores and concentrates valued at £11,000,000 will be affected as also will our export of butter valued at £20,000,000; sugar valued at £18,000,000; dried fruits and raisins valued at £5,000,000; canned fruits valued at £11,000,000; fresh apples and pears valued at £5,000,000; wheat valued at £14,000,000; beef and veal valued at £24,000,000, and canned meat valued at £10,000,000. Those are our main exports to the United Kingdom and their total value is about £120,000,000. That is a very substantial sum.
The goods which I have mentioned now enter the United Kingdom free of tariff and, when they are in competition with goods from any foreign country, the foreign goods are dutiable. I shall mention some of the preferences to indicate the great disadvantage which Australia will suffer in the event of the United Kingdom entering the Common Market. Take sugar as an example. Sugar from other countries is subject to a duty of £3 15s. sterling a ton, which is the equivalent of £A.4 13s. 9d. If we lose that advantage against competing sugar, which is largely beet-produced, and in addition are confronted with a tariff of £2 or £3 a ton imposed by the Common Market countries to keep us out, how can we hope to sell our sugar? In effect, it will carry a £6 a ton surcharge, if I may use that term, not to mention the great difficulty we have of being 12,000 miles from the market.
We shall be confronted with the sams problem with our fruit. At present our fruit is free of duty, whereas fruit from other countries is subject to a tariff of up to 8s. 6d. a cwt. When the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) first spoke about this matter last year, he said that up to two-thirds of our export trade to the United Kingdom certainly would be affected. That means that we shall have to find new markets for about £80,000,000 worth of exports. But, strange to say, neither the Prime Minister, the Minister for Trade nor any other Minister or Government supporter has ever suggested where we shall place our erports when our United Kingdom market is closed to us. They are standing by hoping that something will turn up, as it does from time to time.
– Like Micawber!
– That is right. Government members may ask what I would do about this problem. I certainly would act differently from the way in which the Prime Minister, the Minister for Trade and the Government have acted. All they are doing is crying, and they believe that unless every one else cries they have opposition to their policies. They regarded the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Bury) as a cuckoo in the wake. When he did not cry they kicked him out. If you do not cry along with the Government, you are sacked. When the Government brought down the Budget it d.id not give any honorable member any cause for laughter. No member of the Government will be laughing about the Budget. Honorable members on the Government side have to be careful about not being too happy over what will happen in the Common Market. There is not a shilling for any one in the Budget.
To continue my remarks on the Common Market: The Government’s greatest mistake was its failure to take action earlier than it did. The Six - Germany, France, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg - which form the Common Market, entered into agreement on this matter back in December, 1957, when the treaty was signed. Before then there were very many years of discussion. Surely Australia had its foreign affairs officers and trade officials in Europe then. They should have known something about this, and surely the Government would have been wise to take some counter-measures or undertake some project to meet the situation that was bound to arise. It was common comment in Europe that the United Kingdom would enter the Common Market. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) were overseas in those years; they made their annual visits abroad. Surely they must have heard something about the Common Market. They should have taken some notice. A school boy would have foreseen some consequences for Australia. Any sensible government surely would have taken some action to offset the effects of the United Kingdom’s entry into the European Economic Community.
I suggest that the Government should have taken action a long time ago, when we first heard about the Common Market. The United Kingdom was always likely to join the Common Market. There is no sentiment when it comes to business. If the United Kingdom can trade better anywhere else, then sentiment will not save Australia. That is for sure.
The establishment of an overseas shipping line, which is ridiculed by the Government, would be one step that could be taken. That would be not only a great thing for shipbuilding in Australia and give employment to seamen but it would also have a wonderful effect on Australia’s economy. Look what it would do for the Australian economy generally. If we established a shipping line and built our own ships here in Australia we would soon not have enough people to do the job. At least we would not have 100,000 people out of work. The Government should not complain if it costs a few more shillings to employ Australian workers. If we are going to buy things on the cheap we must forget about our standard of living. If we are going to look around for something a bob or two cheaper than the Australian article, Australian shipping or the Australian worker, we might as well forget about our standard of living.
Time will not permit me to deal fully with the establishment of an Australian shipping line, but we know that it is costing Australia nearly £200,000,000 a year because we have no shipping of our own. Any one who goes about the ports will find that every little country trading with us sends its own ships to our shores. One can see Swedish, Norwegian and Danish vessels in our ports; the Swiss have no seaboard, but I believe they have their own ships. Australia, as the world’s tenth trading nation, should have its own vessels. If any country should have shipping to take its exports overseas it should be Australia, because we depend so much on shipping for our national livelihood. This is something that could be developed at greater length.
I firmly believe, also, that our own Australian national resources should be developed with Australian capital so that the capital gain accruing in Australia would remain here. My friend, the honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters) has raised this matter on many occasions. He has pointed out where we are going with this overseas investment. He said that about £1,500,000,000 of foreign capital is invested in Australia and the dividends and profit from this investment cost Australia £147,000,000 annually. We lose that out of our economy. Honorable members can imagine the difference to Australia if that profit were staying here. Also, because of the reciprocal taxation agreement, Australia loses tax on those dividends. The shareholders would pay probably 5s. or perhaps 10s. in the £1 on those dividends and so we are losing about £40,000,000 a year in taxation. It would mean much to the Australian economy if this money stayed here. The people bringing capital to this country do not bring material; they do not bring the bauxite, chemicals or steel that we produce here. They are exploiting the wealth of Australia and we are losing the benefit, just as we will do if commercial oil is discovered in this country. The discovery will be of no benefit to Australia from a capital point of view. The profit will be made by some one overseas.
The Government should initiate a vigorous sales promotion scheme to encourage the sales of Australian manufactured goods and primary produce at home and abroad. Australia is not doing enough in the field of sales promotion. We should establish a credit plan to finance exports from Australia to those developing countries that cannot at this stage meet their commitments. I believe that we should look at that proposal so that we can assist Asians, Africans and South Americans to buy from us. I suggest that the Government would need at least a £100,000,000 scheme to do this. The Americans finance their cus tomers in the form of what they call foreign aid. They give away many millions of pounds worth of goods to foreign countries but it is in a way a means of support for American industry. I believe that we should do the same thing. Why are we always a begging nation? Why are we always a debtor nation? Why should we not be a creditor nation? The Government is not doing much about this. It certainly has the Export Payments Insurance Corporation, which has about £26,000,000 tied up in current accounts. This is not bad, but it is not nearly enough. 1 suggest that the amount should be somewhere in the vicinity of at least £100,000,000 so that we can finance some of the nations that would like to buy our goods. When they get accustomed to using our goods they would demand more of them and our trade would increase. That would be a good thing.
Another matter that should be examined is the unused capacity of Australian industry. The Government should learn what goods that are now being imported could be produced here. I know that according to the Australian Industries Development Association - an organization set up by this Government - Australia has the industrial capacity to produce £272,000,000 worth of goods that are now being imported annually. Why should we not look into that aspect?
The European Common Market would not be such a threat if we had a government that stood for Australia. Instead, this Government stands for every nation except Australia. I believe that the Government should refer the matter of unused industrial capacities to the Tariff Board and allow the board to examine what could be done in the way of reducing imports by producing more goods in our own factories and employing Australian workers on Australian standards. The Government does not stand for anything like this. If it can borrow £1 overseas it turns its back on the Australian £1. We will never progress while the Government continues to do that. I wholly disagree with the honorable member for Lyne (Mr. Lucock), who said it would be a bad thing for Australia if the Labour Party ever regained the treasury bench. When we look at the history of the Labour Party in government - the few times we have been in office - we find we have a proud record. In 62 years of federation, the Labour Party has been in office for only fourteen years. Anything worth while that is enjoyed by the people of Australia came from the Australian Labour Party while it was in power. Honorable members can examine every aspect of the statute-book, and they will see that everything worth while th_t is enjoyed by the people came from the Australian Labour Party. The honorable member for Lyne reviled the New South Wales Labour Government last night. I remind the honorable member that the people have returned Labour governments in New South Wales for 21 years and will keep on doing it. The New South Wales Government was returned by the people last year with a greatly increased majority, while this Government just saved itself by the skin of its teeth. You cannot fool the people cf Australia all the time.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– Time and international conferences have decided that if we wish to discuss anything but straight economics during the discussion of the Budget, it has to be done in this dilatory and rather disunited fashion. I think we all regret that, but we know the circumstances that give rise to this position. Unfortunately, a debate of such a nature on anything other than straight economics is liable further to blur the vision of the public - I say this in a friendly way - already distorted by the special pleadings of the Minister for External Affairs (Sir Garfield Barwick) in this chamber on Tuesday.
I will state at the outset that what I have to say will be said with malice towards none and in the hope that we can continue on a basis of firm and solid friendship with our next-door neighbours, irrespective of race, creed or colour, in order to advance a little in our time, if we can, the progress, peace and prosperity of all mankind. These are high ideals. We may disagree on how they can be achieved, but they are ideals which are in the minds of all members of this Parliament, together with a desire for the best possible security for our own country. As I say, they are ideals that we keep in mind but, unfortunately, the world to-day is still a world of power politics, where might is right. Therefore, idealism has to be mixed with a very large dose of realism.
The recent agreement on West New Guinea - or Irian Barat as it will shortly be called on the maps - will, we hope, as the Minister said, usher in an era of cooperation between Indonesia and Australia, but, on the other hand, there is no guarantee that it will usher in that era except the promise of rulers who have already broken their word to Australia within the last two or three years, from the time of the Subandrio negotiations onwards. They are rulers whose speeches at the moment are more likely to cause more alarm and despondency than any progress towards peaceful co-existence. I think we all realize that the agreement opens up for Australia many grave new problems of defence, diplomacy and our own administration of East New Guinea.
Although I realize that the Minister for External Affairs was in a very difficult position and probably could not say a lot of things he would have liked to say, nevertheless there is as much danger in underplaying the situation in its presentation to the Australian public as there is in overplaying it. I feel that it is desirable to be factual in this case.
If an editorial in “ Muster “ is correct, this is an unhappy ending to an unhappy affair. If we look facts in the face, Indonesia has treated us with soft words and contempt. The Dutch feel that they have been deserted by their allies and have not hesitated to say so. Many Papuans feel they have been betrayed and are wondering if new Sultans of Ternate and Tidore will again raid the McCluer Gulf in search of riches and slaves and extract tribute from them. Last January, after the Government had announced that there was no emergency, and when Dr. Soekarno, the President of Indonesia, first told us the naked truth and said that he was prepared to take West New Guinea by force, I wrote an article which was entitled “ Wake up Australia”. I am sorry that the prophecy I made then has come true so quickly. I said in that article -
Never has so little been told on so many great issues in Foreign Affairs. There must be an end to this policy of drifting from crisis to crisis and dealing with each one hour by hour, as it arises.
Never at any period in her history has Australia been more threatened with isolation in the South-West Pacific, if not with something far worse.
And never have Australians been less prepared to face the international intricacies and problems crowding in upon them.
Since then, events in our region of the world have moved with remarkable swiftness. In the last two months, Laos has been, as it is called, neutralized. This is a standard pattern of routine for a Communist take-over under the Pathet Lao. Viet Nam is under grave attack, not only by guerrillas but in many other ways. Already we hear murmurs that South Viet Nam should be neutralized like Laos, and it would be a happy solution. This would mean the end of South-east Asia so far as freedom is concerned. How is South Viet Nam to be defended so long as the Ho Chi-minh trail through the southern province of Laos is unbroken and Teephone, within the Laotian borders, remains the supply base for the guerrillas, I do not know.
Finally, we have this agreement on West New Guinea. Australia, for the first time in its history, now has a continuous boundary with another nation - one which is at present under very strong influence from Russia. This nation now controls all the sea and air routes to our north except round the eastern end of New Guinea. I agree with the Minister for External Affairs that this is no time for recriminations, but it is very definitely a time for stocktaking. Perhaps he will forgive me if I say that I have some forebodings.
We will all agree that it is desirable - as the Minister for External Affairs said - to try to establish peaceful co-existence with our next-door neighbours, but we should also remind Australians, as Lord Home warned Britishers last year, that peaceful co-existence as interpreted by some people is neither peaceful nor co-existence. I regard Lord Home as one of the best statesmen in Great Britain to-day. Both Lord Home and Mr. Adlai Stevenson, the United States representative at the United Nations, warned the world, between last Christmas and the New Year, that the United Nations was adopting double standards. In the article to which I have referred, I wrote that Lord Home and Mr.
Adlai Stevenson had warned us that the aims of the United Nations were - being betrayed by the double standards being adopted by many Afro-Asians and the Reds towards their own actions as compared to those of others.
The article continues -
Nevertheless, if the use of force is to be condoned in defiance of the Charter and the right of self-determination is to apply only to certain nations and not to others, Articles I and II - which deal with keeping international peace - become meaningless.
I said then, and I still feel now, that at the beginning of this year when the threat of force was first made Australia should have taken action under Article 35 to bring that threat of force before the Security Council. The Minister said it would be no use doing that because Russia would use the veto. If that is so, if vetoes are going to be enforced, the people who enforce them should be brought out into the open in their full colour. I think we made a mistake in not bringing the matter before the Security Council. In other words, I think we have been playing “ chicken “ with a few dictators and our bluff has been called. Therefore it is most unwise not to have some forebodings and not to have a policy of clear-cut action in the event of certain circumstances arising. I do not suggest for a moment that we should have used force, as the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) suggested in an hysterical fit at the beginning of the year, but I do feel that in the United Nations we could have supported the Dutch on the moral issues in the New Guinea problem, even if this did not produce any definite results. An editorial in yesterday’s “ Daily Telegraph “, which supported the the Minister wholeheartedly, stated -
It would be equally a mistake to assume that the ranting of a few members of Parliament and jingoistic exhortations from people with axes to grind indicate any widespread anti-Indonesian feeling in Australia.
I have no objections to the Indonesians. I have a lot of friends among the Malays. Indonesians are basically the same race. They are a delightful and charming people; but I think I should - and I do - warn Australia of the people who are leading the Indonesians. Dr. Soekarno is not a Communist, but he is a great admirer of Communist methods. Then there is Dr. Semoean, the father of the Indonesian
Communists, at present in charge of the Bapekan, a committee of four which controls all State authorities - that is, it controls every one. There is Hutomo Supardan the leading Communist economist in Indonesia, who holds a very powerful position in the Supreme Economic Council. There is a Communist Party of 2,000,000, the biggest Communist Party outside Peking and Moscow. Mr. Aidit is at the head of it. He is the only leader of any big political party who had not been under house arrest, up to a week ago, since January. The President went to the Communist Party congress and praised the party highly for what it was doing. The Russians are building a school of oceanography, which is a blind for a submarine base at Ambon. Mr. Khrushchev has visited Java. The chief of the Russian naval staff has been in Indonesia. The Minister knows that the chief Air Marshal of the Soviet, Marshal Vershinin was there.
I do not think the Minister feels very happy about the agreement and I do not think that any Australian can feel very happy about it. I do not think the Minister for Defence feels very happy about it, after being made to look foolish by General Nasution, and I do not think the Minister for External Affairs felt very happy when Dr. Subandrio met him and took him from the airport to Djakarta along a route lined with Russian flags in honour of Air Marshal Vershinin. No more did an Australian feel happy when he was in a mess at Djakarta recently and saw along the walls murals depicting, first of all, Indonesia gaining her independence; second, the conquest of New Guinea; third, tanks entering Darwin. I do not want to over-emphasize these things. They were probably done out of exuberance, but they are straws which do show which way the wind is blowing. I only hope that, now that the West New Guinea problem has been settled they will disappear. At present there is no sign that they will.
All will share the hopes of the Minister for External Affairs, but I do not share the “ satisfaction “ that he expressed in his letter to the Netherlands Foreign Minister, on behalf of the Australian Government, that a peaceful settlement of the West New Guinea dispute had been reached. I do not criticize him; I know that he has to use diplomatic language, but do not let us take it literally. The Minister also wrote -
The Australian Government hopes that the faithful execution of the agreement of 15th August, 1962, by all those concerned to 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 have had so much at heart.
As he wrote that, Dr. Soekarno was making his independence day speech on 17th August in which he said -
The people of the Territory might freely decide to leave or remain in the Republic. But this selfdetermination is going to be what we call internal self-determination - self-determination among ourselves - not external self-determination.
Later he talked about Dutch puppets and Indonesian patriots. It was not a speech that one would have wished him to make at that time; in fact, it almost seemed as if he wanted to tear up the agreement before the ink on the signatures was dry or the United Nations had ratified it.
Then honorable members will remember that General Nasution met a delegation ofDutch newsmen at the Konigshofen Hotel in Bonn early in January. They asked him about self-determination for the Papuans and he replied that self-determination of all the peoples of the former Dutch East Indies had already been decided on 17th August, 1945, when Dr. Soekarno and Dr. Hatta had proclaimed the Indonesian Republic. Those two statements, one in January and the other just recently, showing no change of heart, do not hold out very great hope for self-determination as we understand it, or as we understood it was to be under the agreement. The only hope for the Papuans is that the Russians, who desire to outflank the Americans in South-East Asia - that is their interest in Indonesia - will give Indonesia the money to make West New Guinea a showpiece. That would help the Russians in the further conquest of the Pacific, which is the target of their layer strategic plan. Whether that will be done only history will show, but in the meantime we remember statements by Dr. Soekarno about the myth of the Papuans; that they are merely a sub-group of the Indonesian peoples themselves, and we might well ask ourselves how long, if that is true, North Borneo, Timor and our half of New Guinea will be left undisturbed. I believe, however, that if our half is disturbed, it will be disturbed more by infiltration and subversion than otherwise.
Indonesia herself is not in a position to do anything for West New Guinea. She is financially on the rocks. The rupiah is the most worthless currency in Asia. It has gone from the official rate of 45 to the dollar to 900 to the dollar on the free market. Retail prices increased by 50 per cent, in the first quarter of 1962. Her production of rubber, palm oil, rice and all other things has been going down, and the most fertile island in the world had to import 1,000,000 tons of rice this year in order to feed her people. The president of Indonesia’s bank has said it will be 1965 before the country can get back to anywhere near sound finance, which means another two years of inflation and strangulation. America has offered assistance. What the United Nations is going to do I do not know, but still that is the position which has to be faced. Then finally, as I say, Russia may provide the finance, as well as the Martian hardware that she has already provided.
We must remember two other statements of Dr. Soekarno, which again fill me with foreboding. One was -
We do not care for world opinion. We are settling a long-delayed dispute.
His other statement was, “The time has come for Asians and Africans to act con.certedly against continuous aggression on Asian soil”. Peking Radio recently said that it agreed with Dr. Soekarno that the Indonesians should hold a second AfroAsian conference in Bandoeng.
I do not want to waste any time in grieving over what has happened in the past. It is of no use bringing up the question of whether a part of the Dutch East Indies should be the subject of a valid claim by Indonesia. If this proposition were accepted in principle, of course, Canada would now become part of a larger North American nation. As I say, it is of no use to go over these questions, but I do make the comment that we have wavered between declaring, at the beginning of this year, that there was no emergency, to the opposite extreme when the Minister visited Djakarta recently, contending that New Guinea was a world peace peril. Early in August, two or three weeks after the Minister had visited Djakarta, Dr. Soekarno said that his order for the liberation of West New Guinea would go forward even though The Netherlands claimed to have accepted peaceful settlement through the Bunker proposals. When that statement was made two or three weeks after his visit, I find it hard to believe that as a barrister the Minister could say in this House that his representations were received attentively and receptively. He also said that Dr. Subandrio had stated quite definitely to him on two or more occasions that Indonesia had no territorial ambitions in East New Guinea. Where have I heard that phrase before?
My mind goes back to another period in history, and down through the echoing corridors of time I seem to hear a faint “ Hell Hitler “. Mr. Chamberlain was a very sincere man, as I know our Minister is, but he came back from Munich with his famous statement “ Peace in our time! We have saved our country from war.” But any one on the continent who remembers those times will tell you that one of the main causes of World War II. was the fact that we did not stand up to the German dictator at the time of the march on the Rhine, but went on appeasing him until he got it into his mind that we were not prepared to fight for anything, so that finally we were faced with the ultimatum - fight or surrender. I hope the same kind of thing is not happening to-day, but I am very fearful that the times are getting very like those of the late 1930’s.
When I saw the headline “Solomonlike Decision “ over an article referring to U Thant, the acting Secretary-General of the United Nations, it reminded me of certain Sunday school rhymes about the period of the First World War. Most of them were not quotable or printable, but I think I can quote this one -
Solomon he was a wise man,
Oh, he was very cute.
Two women brought a child to him
To settle their dispute.
Oh, he was very wise, I said,
He cut the kid in half
And proved which was the mother
By the one who did not laugh.
That little rhyme seems to apply rather aptly in the case of New Guinea. For all these reasons 1 believe that we in this House should say to Australia, “Wake up “. At least let us keep a watch on the ramparts. While we hope, as every one else hopes, that we will be able to establish friendly associations, I say again that it is the 64-dollar question who rules Indonesia. Certain influences that have been gaining strength have been seen even in the recent Asian games. Israel and Nationalist China were not allowed to send representatives to those games. The influences are infiltrating even into the world of sport.
Mr. Aidit, the leader of the P.K.I., the Communist Party in Indonesia, said, quite frankly, at the party’s last congress, “We now have our young men armed and trained and equipped “. Let us hope for the best, as I have said, but let us not be foolish enough to shut our eyes to the march of events, particularly over the next twelve months. What can Australia do? As I said, I would not suggest for one moment, as the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) has proposed, that we should use force. But I think we should have stood up for the moral principles, and I still think that when this agreement comes before the United Nations for ratification our delegates should direct attention to the matters I have mentioned. They should point out how the agreement was made under duress, and that no notice was taken of the Dutch representatives even when they pointed out to the United Nations that West New Guinea was being subjected to aggression. We should point out how the matter developed until now Indonesia will claim a victory, even as red China claimed a victory in Korea over the American troops. We should make sure that these matters are put fairly and squarely before the United Nations, and we should warn the delegates there that if this is the way the United Nations proposes to act, with a double set of standards, ethics and principles, then, although we will be sad to do so, we will have to seek some other way of finding a path to progress and the peace of mankind.
We should point out that the United Nations has already advocated selfdetermination for Gabon, in Africa. I do not want to compare the two countries in any way that might be disparaging to either, but if Gabon is entitled to selfdetermination, then so is West New Guinea. In the present circumstances, with provision for self-determination in the agreement and the way in which that has been interpreted by the Indonesian President, the United Nations has a very big task to see that the agreed arrangements are followed fairly and squarely. As for our part of New Guinea, 1 agree with the excellent remarks of the honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner) with regard to what we can do along the lines of the Foot report. I think the two-year time limit recommended in the Foot report is too short to establish representative government. Why lay down two years for the Australian trust territory of New Guinea and prescribe the year 1969 - allowing seven years - for the Indonesian territory in West New Guinea? However, we can go a long way towards implementing the recommendations of the Foot report and speeding things up. I would urge honorable members to read the speech of the honorable member for Bradfield on the subject, although I may not agree 100 per cent, with his views.
We must decide also the question of political asylum. I do not blame the Minister for not announcing a decision on this question, but I do question the intimation that we were not even going to consider the matter. There are 2,000 Chinese involved. Do we know whether we are going to allow any of them to come to our part of New Guinea? There are also, I understand, 12,000 or 14,000 Eurasians, and there are the Papuans themselves. The problems of land tenure in our section of New Guinea will not be easy to solve as far as refugees are concerned, but the Government will have to face them and will have to formulate a definite policy on the matter.
There was one other aspect of the Foot report that I wanted to mention. There was a recommendation that we should design a Papuan flag and get somebody to write a Papuan national anthem. When the Dutch did this in relation to West New Guinea, they were ridiculed by Dr. Soekarno, who said that the national anthem of that territory was an Indonesian folk song. Well, the national anthem of Malaya is a Malayan folk song. It is called “ Terang Bulan “, or “ Bright Moon “, and it refers to a lover who sat on the bank of a river with his girl, and it tells how a crocodile came up and pinched the girl. The origin of the tune is immaterial but the recommendation was made in the interests of unity of our two sections of New Guinea.
Finally, there is one other thing that I believe Australia would be very wise to do and very foolish to delay doing. I refer to a very necessary overhaul of our defence programme and policy to bring us to a state of preparedness and effectiveness in keeping with our overseas responsibilities and the demands of national security. Without setting myself up as an armchair general, I suggest that the first priority should be of three Australian Regular Army battle groups, with first and second reserves fully equipped and ready to move at very short notice. My second proposition is that the Citizen Military Forces would not be operational without six months’ continuous training, and that they are not by any stretch of the imagination fully equipped. If your economic policy is successful in achieving full employment you will not usually find it easy to get suitable recruits for a regular army. That is another reason why I again say that I think one year’s continuous national service training, with two years follow-up in the C.M.F., would produce the best backing for our three battle groups in the Australian Regular Army. Of course, there would be other priorities in connexion with the Navy and the Air Force. I have been told that this country cannot afford to do these things. I say we cannot afford not to do them. I do not know whether members of this Parliament realize it, but these events in West New Guinea have caused more serious disturbances in the minds of Australians than anything else has for a very long time past. We have had traditional associations with New Guinea from the time when we first took over New Guinea territory from Germany and especially since the last war.
This is a question on which Australians want their members of Parliament to talk. The people, even if they do not agree with what their members of Parliament say, want to know that their parliamentarians are interested in the matter. If what I have said offends any one, I am sorry. But I believe, as an Australian, that I should say these things, and I would rather be out of the Parliament than silent on this national question at this juncture.
.- Mr. Temporary Chairman, the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) displayed before the committee a very interesting aspect of the situation in the Government parties. His remarks appear particularly interesting when we recollect that, last Tuesday evening, the Minister for External Affairs (Sir Garfield Barwick) addressed honorable members in this place in a very optimistic mood and assured us that, as a result of his visits to the countries which the honorable member for Chisholm has just discussed, Australia was in no peril and we could continue along our way without further considering this new and enlarged Indonesian empire. In the last few minutes, we have seen further evidence of the dissension which is bursting asunder the parties opposite. We have seen further evidence of the extent to which they fail to agree on major aspects of important issues such as foreign policy.
I am very glad that the honorable member for Chisholm introduced this issue of foreign policy into the Budget debate. Foreign policy is a very important issue, and we have to consider just where this country stands to-day as a result of being harassed and dragged along by the regressive foreign policy, based on negative values, which this Government has pursued so obstinately throughout its term of office. One has only to think back a little to recall the standing and stature which Australia enjoyed in the eyes of the world when Dr. Evatt represented this country in foreign affairs and led our delegations to the United Nations. In those days, Australia had an enviable position which it has not been able to attain again since the advent of the present Government.
In Dr. Evatt’s time as Minister for External Affairs, Australia was in the enviable position of being able to determine its own foreign policy independently. It then represented the rallying point for the small but numerous nations which, though small in geographical size and young in years as nations, have large populations and have banded together in the United Nations to form a very formidable power bloc. I refer particularly to the Afro-Asian nations - the nations which largely surround us and to which our future is inextricably tied.
They are the nations which we must expect to look to us for guidance and assistance, and we should be directing our foreign policy at them instead of adopting the negative and regressive kind of policy which this Government always adopts when confronted with an international situation of significance to this country.
We should have a foreign policy of which we can be proud and which will contribute to this nation’s welfare. But, instead of formulating such a policy, the present Government hesitates and looks over its shoulder to see what the powerful people who give it patronage would do.
– What rubbish!
– I ask the honorable member to name one instance in which the present Government has formulated an independent foreign policy. Every aspect of its foreign policy has been designed to appease the powerful friends of whom Government supporters speak so often. When Australia was represented at the United Nations by Dr. Evatt, the small nations looked to this country and accepted it as the harbinger and the herald of a new era in the history of world affairs and international relations. It is all very well to adopt a patronizing attitude towards these newlyformed nations of coloured people who, for so many years, have suffered under the colonialism which has been inflicted on them. These nations have now emerged as powerful influences in the world. We must realize this and accept the course of events and the situation that now exists.
We must be duly cognizant of the feelings and demands of the people of these new nations, because we owe them a great obligation. It is undeniable that the colonial powers of the world derived great profits by exploiting these countries for many centuries. Now that these new nations have suddenly gained their independence - their rightful independence as our brothers - we should stand shoulder to shoulder with them in the Afro-Asian part of the world instead of setting ourselves apart from them and adopting a foreign policy based on ideologies which are not in accord with the outlook and views of the people of the Afro-Asian area. We are European by race, but geographically and historically - this will increasingly be so in the future - we are tied to the Afro-Asian bloc. We shall have to begin thinking as the people of that bloc think, because our whole future is inextricably tied to theirs.
Honorable members opposite may believe that their leader, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), has made a great contribution towards the re-establishment of the friendly relations with these Afro-Asian countries which we enjoyed when Dr. Evatt was Minister for External Affairs, but I remind them that the Prime Minister did nothing to infuse enthusiasm for Australia into the Asiatic and African people when he supported South Africa in its iniquitous apartheid policy, which was based on fascist-like suppression and the segregation of races purely on the ground of skin colour. Not only the people of the Afro-Asian part of the world, but the people of the whole world, expressed their ire at our Prime Minister when he allowed himself to be pushed into supporting such a policy.
– That is completely false. The Prime Minister did no such thing.
– The right honorable gentleman immediately changed his attitude when he received from his harassed subordinates in this Parliament who were carrying on for him while he was overseas communiques which advised him of the true tenor of the feelings of Australians and their disgust at and opposition to his activities. That is an undeniable fact which honorable members opposite, including the Minister who interjected a few moments ago-
– That is false, and the honorable member knows it to be false.
– I ask the Minister what contribution this Government has made to the welfare of Papua and New Guinea. Let him tell the committee how much has been done in New Guinea over the period of some 50 years or more during which Australia has administered New Guinea territory, and particulary during the period of about thirteen years for which this Government has administered it. How many doctors, trained engineers, qualified chemists and fully trained nurses are there? How many hospitals have been established?
How close are the indigenous people to being in a position to run their own country if Australia were to move out of it? We do not want to see repeated in New Guinea the sort of bloody debacle that occurred in the Congo.
– The Minister seems to think that this is humorous. We stand indicted and condemned in the eyes of the coloured races of the world because we have allowed the situation which exists in New Guinea to continue for such a long time and have not made any worth-while contribution to the welfare of the indigenous people. They are our brothers, and we should now be trying to formulate a policy which will draw them close to us and ensure that their representatives sit beside ours in the United Nations as representatives of a brother nation. The people of New Guinea look to us for guidance and we want them to help us in the international field. I sincerely suggest that no one in this Parliament or in Australia generally labours under the misapprehension that Australia is greatly loved as a result of the policies of this Government towards the indigenous peoples of New Guinea. Let any one who thinks otherwise explain the riots which took place in the Pacific Island Regiment. Let such a person explain the widespread riots which expressed the dissatisfaction of the people of New Guinea at the continuance of the colonialist form of administration to which they are subjected. Let him explain why, on the occasion of a cricket match between an Australian team and a native team in New Guinea, natives sitting on the sidelines were calling out: “ Go home, Australians. Go home, Europeans. “ Newspaper reports of this incident appeared throughout the nation. This is the sort of thing for which we must answer. The obstinate and shortsighted policy which this Government adopts towards the people of New Guinea, with a complete lack of appreciation of their feelings and needs, is to be deplored. The Buka Island riots provided another example of the way in which the people of New Guinea view this policy.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– Before the suspension of the sitting, I was referring to the maladministration of Papua and New Guinea by the Government. I was about to discuss the Buka Island riots, which made headlines in the newspapers early in the year. The people on Buka Island suddenly had imposed upon them a demand for the payment of taxes. This was unreasonable to these people and, in their primitive state, it was incomprehensible to them. The attitude of the Commonwealth Government in forcing these primitive people to pay taxes was unreasonable and inflexible. It was a bludgeoning and showed no appreciation of the psychology of the primitive people on Buka Island. The Government tried to deflect the Opposition’s criticism of its handling of the incident by implying that we were’ belittling the efforts of the police and the police natives employed to suppress the riot. That was not the point of the Opposition’s argument, and it is still not our point. As with other outbreaks expressing the dissatisfaction of the native people in Papua and New Guinea, this riot was created by the Government’s obstinate, short-sighted and ham-fisted handling of the administration of the Territory.
– They do not have1 a vote.
– That is so. Although the native people do not have a vote and have no rights, the Government is prepared to force them to contribute to its coffers from their meagre sustenance. The Government should project itself into the minds of the coloured people. It should try to understand the problems as the coloured people see them and not try to apply a well-developed academic point of view to these people, who have absolutely no appreciation of these opinions. The native people cannot understand why they should suddenly, overnight, be lifted into an advanced stage of civilization. Of course, they should be raised to an advanced stage, but it is stupid to try to do so overnight.
To the indigenous inhabitants of Papua and New Guinea, it is grossly unfair that the Government has not spent more money and exerted more effort in the development of the Territory. Last night, a Government supporter said that the Government had made a grand financial contribution for the coming year towards the development of the Territory. An amount of £20,000,000 is to be expended on 2,000,000 people, or approximately £10 a head for the year. Let us look at the amount that has been set aside for expenditure on Canberra. It is £22,000,000 on approximately 60,000 people, or about £300 per head per year. This is just for the city itself and does not take account of the huge amount that will be spent in maintaining government offices, paying salaries and wages and meeting a host of other expenses of the Public Service. Most of the £20,000,000 allocated to Papua and New Guinea will be used to pay the wages of European public servants in the area, and a very small amount indeed will be left for the development of the Territory. Very little money will be available to advance the native people to the point where self-determination would be possible.
The people of Papua and New Guinea must regard the situation as unfair when they realize that last year Australians spent £471,000,000 on cigarettes and various alcoholic beverages. This expenditure, of course, cannot be held against the Government. However, when only £20,000,000 is available for the development of the Territory, the frittering away of £471,000,000 on these commodities must seem unfair to the indigenous people. Our treatment of these people must appear unfair and unjust to our Afro-Asian friends who, as a result, probably view us with suspicion. This, in turn, must cause a deterioration in our relations with those nations.
Our relations with our Asiatic and African neighbours have not been improved by the Government’s refusal to sign an undertaking with the United Nations to keep Australia free of nuclear weapons. These nations must regard Australia with suspicion when they learn of its refusal to sign this undertaking. They must regard us as possible antagonists and as potential aggressors in any future hostilities. There is no possibility of Australia being regarded as a neutral nation. Let no one be under the misapprehension that, with this Government in power, Australia will ever be neutral. The United Nations refuses to consider using Australian forces as a police force in any area of civil strife in the world. This is because of the biased, partisan attitude adopted by the Commonwealth Government in international affairs. This is an attitude which places Australia in a subsidiary position to more powerful nations, particularly our great and powerful friends in the United States of America. The Prime Minister readily speaks about our friends in the United States of America, but this great and powerful nation was not afraid to leave Australia by itself when the Indonesian situation developed and forced this Government to make a volte-face on that issue.
– Do you want a war in New Guinea?
– We know that the honorable member for Richmond is a perennial interjector. If he had stayed awake, he would have heard the arguments leading up the point I have made, and would have had no trouble in understanding what I am saying.
The failure of the Government to speak openly for peace has left us in a most vulnerable position in relation to other nations. As the honorable member for Parks (Mr. Haylen) has pointed out before, peace is indivisible. It belongs to every nation, and all peoples of the world want peace to-day. Let us make no mistake about that. We do not want any world conflagration. We do not want the young people to be slaughtered on the battlefields. We want peace so that our families may develop into happy communities. Peace is earnestly desired by all peoples of the world.
The people of Berlin to-day are sick and tired of being used as the pawns in international politics. They are sick and tired of being a sacrifice and of being pushed about on the checker board of international politics. They are demanding peace and they are criticizing both sides in international affairs. We know what happened in Berlin when a young lad was shot whilst trying to escape across the Berlin wall. The people of Berlin are disgusted and tired of being used in the machinations of the powerful nations in international politics. This is the important point to emerge from the present situation in Berlin.
The rank and file people of the world earnestly declare that they want peace. More than 40,000 signatures have been presented in this chamber in petitions that claim that the people of Australia, in common with the people of other nations, desire peace. Why should the Commonwealth Government ignore the exhortations of the rank and file people who so earnestly desire peace? As the honorable member for Chisholm pointed out, the Commonwealth Government for too long has played chicken, and its bluff is now being called. We must realize that Australia, with a population of 10,000,000, in a world of many billions of people, cannot be an aggressive world power. It has not the same influence in the world as have the many countries with much larger populations. Our contribution to international affairs in far too many cases is hardly a grain of salt in the great ocean of international affairs. A population of 10,000,000 is hardly a unit in the vast populations which throng the world to-day.
The Commonwealth Government, in pursuance of its policy of making itself subordinate to the dictates and desires of overseas governments, has placed Australia in a very unfortunate position. As I said earlier, this Government should pursue a policy in international relations similar to that pursued when Dr. Evatt represented this country at the United Nations. Australia should be the rallying point for the small nations of the world. We should be showing them, as we did before, the great gains which can be achieved. We should be showing them that together we can create a common interest in the AfroAsian area to achieve goals unsurpassed by anything that has been achieved to date. Co-operation is a very important factor. I think that we will be excluded from the European Common Market area. If we are going to insult and generally upset our near neighbours in the Afro-Asian area there will be nothing to prevent their forming a common trading community of their own, as has been suggested by some of those nations. Where will Australia be if she is excluded from this community because of the policies of this Government? I ask honorable members to cast their minds back to the report which the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) gave to the House, in which he said that he hardly rated any attention from the press of the United Kingdom when he visited that country .recently for discussions on the
European Common Market. I am reliably informed that when he was in the United Kingdom on that occasion one of the major coverings that he received in a London newspaper was a single column of approximately 4 inches. At the same time, the marriage of a county cricketer was given greater coverage. This shows how important Australia’s peril and Australian affairs are in the eyes of the world.
If honorable members opposite believe that they present a homogeneous front and a unified government, how do they explain the constant criticisms that emanate from their own ranks? The honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) is a regular critic of the Government’s defence policy. We have seen the former Minister for Air ejected from his portfolio because he dared to disagree with the dictates of the powerful Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies). We have heard also the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) and the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes) disagreeing strongly with the Government’s European Common Market policy. We have heard the Minister for Supply (Mr. Fairhall) criticizing Government policy on deficit budgeting. What sort of front is that for the Government to present to the nation? This is a disorganized, disunited front. It is a front which is incapable of presenting a constructive policy for the development of Australia.
I need hardly go into the details of the Budget because they have been so well covered by my colleagues. It is a barren budget, a dismal budget from a tired, old government which is worn out and which has lost any conception of new ideas. This Government has much for which to answer to the people. Lack of foresight and total lack of planning epitomize the Government’s outlook. Members of the Government wish to think of themselves as free agents. Laisser-faire is their established policy. In this complex world, such a policy is an anachronism. It is ineffective, so the Government introduces numerous ad hoc measures. Consequently, the economic development of the nation is like a patchwork quilt; neither rhyme nor reason is apparent. We have a haphazard conglomeration of temporary expedients introduced as panic measures in an endeavour to cover up the numerous and serious flaws in the administration.
Here we have, in effect, a poor unimaginative, uninspired firm which no longer deserves the patronage of the shareholders in this vast and great enterprise - Australia. There have been objections against the miserable performance of the Government and these will be voiced by the electors at the next general election. Its term of office at this moment is extremely tenuous. It retains office by compelling sick supporters to leave their beds. The incapacity of these men to attend in the chamber threatens to send the Government tottering to its doom. This is a dying government. With waning abilities, it seeks to inflict a waning future upon Australia. But this is a lusty, vigorous young country which will reject these proposals of the Government. In order to save Australia, the Government must be removed from office. I have no doubt that at the next general election this will be done with great alacrity by the voters of Australia.
– Government supporters are united on this proposition - and their view is shared, I think, by most of the electors of Australia - that Labour provides no alternative government. It would be a disaster if honorable members ever achieved power. What they would do would depend not on what they have said in this debate nor on what they say they would do, but on what they are. Labour is not to be trusted either to do those things which it says it will do or to refrain from doing those things which it says it will not do. In those circumstances, we must vote for this Budget.
The Budget has merit. But I must confess that I find it a somewhat disappointing and inadequate document. I do not think, in point of fact, that it is worthy of the Liberal Party. This is ironic because a great number of the criticisms which have been made of the Budget by honorable members opposite, particularly by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) stem from remarks which have been made from this side of the House over past years. I shall not waste much time on the jackdaw of Werriwa. Let him strut if he likes in his borrowed plumes, whether he uses them for decorative pur poses or to conceal the real socialist feathers underneath.
The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) described this as an “ adventurous “ budget. This is not quite the word that I would have used in regard to it. The right honorable gentleman based his description of it largely on the deficit of £118,000,000. I ask the committee to consider whether this deficit of £118,000,00 really exists. I am not questioning the accuracy of the Estimates although in the past it has usually been seen that the result was more favorable than had been forecast. What I am saying is this: Even if one accepts the Estimates at their face value they do not support the contention that there is a deficit of £1 18,000,000.
If honorable members look at page 1 1 of the document accompanying the Treasurer’s Budget Speech they will see that the Consolidated Revenue Fund has for this year, on the Estimates, a surplus of £51,000,000, which is the amount to be put aside for the Loan Consolidation and Investment Reserve. Even this surplus of £51,000,000 has been struck after charging in to revenue £168,000,000 of capital works. The figures I am using are supported by the official statement. Also, about £75,000,000 of capital works which are included in the allocations for the States have been charged to revenue. Some allowance, of course, has to be made for the writing off of Commonwealth assets over and above the provision which is made in the Sinking Fund for so doing. But I think the conclusion is inescapable that, by any normal method of accounting, the Consolidated Revenue Fund has a surplus exceeding £250,000,000 for this year.
The so-called deficit of £118,000,000 has been produced only by charging in capital items. What would one say, for example, of a firm which d-id this? Would a man think, for example, that in the year in which he built his house out of capital he had incurred an immense income loss? It is queer accounting, although it has become traditional, I am afraid, in the queer presentation of Commonwealth accounts. It is queer accounting to mix up capital and revenue items in this manner. It will be said - and said rightly - that the money has to be found for these capital works. That is true. It is also true that in finding it there will be some effect on bank liquidity, because the money so found will be, in a sense, an accretion to the net liquid assets of the community. But I say that, since the Reserve Bank has powers both through the special accounts and its normal open market operations, it is able to control this liquidity by other methods.
The banking system at the present time is abnormally liquid, and surely nobody looking at the state of the economy would want that liquidity to be diminished. I think it is almost certain that the Government is planning for a maximum level of liquidity in the banks for the coming financial year. If this be so, then the addition of £118,000,000 to these liquid resources will not be of any great practical consequence either way. It is a kind of theoretical figure that is without much practical effect. I would say that when the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) based his description of this Budget as adventurous largely on this cash deficit of £118,000,000, which is concealing a very considerable real surplus, he was drawing the long bow a little.
It is true, indeed, that the expenditure this year will be greater than that of last year by some £88,000,000. I refer honorable members again to page 11 of the appendices to the Budget speech and to the redemption figure there included, which decreases by £12,000,000 the nominal increase of £100,000,000. This is not a great amount when you measure it against the increase in the working population and the expansion of Australia. It is not an abnormal amount, but I do regret that in calculating it there has again been some attempt to do a little bit of double counting. I refer to the roneoed sheet which the Treasurer distributed with his speech. I mention this as a small matter; not a big one. The Treasurer looks at additional expenditure on rail projects and counts it in in this great increase in capital expenditure, but he omits the £4,000,000 spent on the rail project - corresponding work - in Victoria. If you were to do it really accurately, you would count in that £4,000,000 spent in Victoria on the same basis as you would the expenditure on the Western Australian rail project for the coming year. This is a small matter and I do not want to press it, but there was perhaps a little bit of dressing up in order to produce an effect which seemed to be a little bit greater than it really was.
The Budget is not without merit, but has it gone far enough? I would be inclined to think that it has not. Let us look at the unemployment situation, in the first place. At the beginning of this year, we had an unemployment peak of round about 130,000, and on the latest figures it is down to about 90,000. This is some improvement, but it is not much better than the normal seasonal improvement which might have been expected over the period. It is said - I think with justice - that the figure is likely to come down to 70,000, or even lower, before Christmas. I hope and believe this will occur, but the January and February figures are likely to show a rise to the vicinity of 120,000. Franki)’, that is not good enough.
I agree with the contention made by honorable members that the figures for unemployment in Australia are low, compared with the overseas figures. I find myself very much in agreement with what the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes said yesterday - that we have a high standard here and we should not be ashamed, but rather should be very proud, that our normal unemployment ratio is lower than that in most countries overseas. Of course, there are difficulties in international comparisons. I am not going into the technical points, but there are difficulties of measurement. When one looks at the- other side of the picture, it does not look quite so good. If we look at the total of private employment between June, 1960, and June, 1962 - the latest period for which figures are available in terms of absolute employment - we see that the number of people in private employment increased by only some 40,000 during those two years. That is not enough, because during that time there have been something like 200,000 people added to the potential work force and, in addition, I would say from experience that during that time there has also been some decrease in the numbers of rural workers and those privately employed.
I would have thought we should have been aiming at a total employment figure considerably higher than that which we have achieved. If you look at the picture over two years, there has not been much increase in productivity. During this time - I refer to the recent publication on the Australian balance of payments - there has probably been something like £400,000,000 of overseas investment in Australia. Our production should also be increasing in accordance with the increase in the working population. It should be increasing also through the application of new techniques. I do not think it is safe for us to be satisfied in Australia with anything less than a 4 per cent, or 5 per cent, annual increase in the total volume of production. In fact, I say that we need a higher mark than the one envisaged in the Budget and need to raise our sights.
I do not think the Budget gives sufficient emphasis to the necessity for growth in Australia or sufficient emphasis to the necessity for maintaining that economic growth as a condition of increasing our population through migration and a condition of having a high rate of employment throughout the community. I do not want to say the Budget is without merit. I simply say that I do not think it has gone far enough. May I list some of the things - I am sorry that I will have to give them in outline only because time will not permit me to analyse them - and some of the principles on which it seems to me that the Budget does not face up to the realities of the situation? The first of these principles I have already enunciated. Secondly, I think the Treasury has created an unreal antithesis when it implies you have to have either a boom or a depression. It is wrong to say that there cannot be a middle course. The Treasury’s thinking seems to be that if you do not have a boom you must have a depression and if you do not have a depression you must have a boom. I am sure this arises from a very wrong approach to the savings situation in the Australian community.
In the presentation of this Budget some antithesis seems to have been presented between the real interests of the rural community and the real interests of the secondary industries. I do not believe that there is this necessary opposition. I believe that in the long run both have the same interests. Perhaps there is a lack of appreciation of the need to insulate certain features of our economy against ungovernable movement overseas, and perhaps there has been an undue reliance on overseas investment as a means of keeping our economy on its feet. Growth and stability - we should have both. But looking at the history not only of this Government but’ also of its predecessors - this is not something in which either party can take pride - there has been a lack of growth when there has been stability, and a lack of stability when there has been growth. This in itself imposes technical troubles like the technical trouble of riding a bicycle slowly. This is not always easy to do.
Let- me now come to more specific matters which I hope I shall have an opportunity to develop during the debate on the Estimates. The first is the place of defence in our economy. The Budget provides, I think, an additional 3 per cent, expenditure on defence. This is not much. It is not much greater than the increase in the work force. I know that the Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley) has been ill and I know that the Estimates are not in their final form, but frankly this is not enough. I am not one of those who believe that Australia faces major difficulties by reason of the change in circumstances in New Guinea, but I am one of those who believe that Australia continues to face major perils because of the Communist thrust southward towards us.
The Government must make up its mind to increase the defence vote considerably to bring it into line with what is being spent per capita or as a percentage of national income by what the Prime Minister calls our great allies. It is not enough to fiddle with an additional £6,000,000 or £7,000,000. History will not wait. The Government has not made up its mind. It is playing very perilously with the security and the survival of this country.
In my view we must think, and think now, in terms of an economy which can produce for defence a very much larger and more acceptable amount. This is unpleasant. This is something which people may not like, but because it is necessary for survival, it is the Government’s duty to give the lead in regard to it. With the exception of a little flurry of sincerity at the time of the Korean War the Government’s defence policy has been inadequate during the whole of its life.
My second point relates to savings which, I am certain, are at the root of our economic troubles. At present the ratio of savings is at least satisfactory because the economy is working at a slow tempo and many people still remember that a few months ago it was working at an even slower tempo. The present savings ratio leaves nothing to be desired. But this is not the problem. The problem is to create an economy and a psychology in which the savings ratio will be satisfactory in times of full prosperity. If the Government does this, and only if it does this, will it be able to achieve its objective of the real combination of growth and stability.
This Budget has lost opportunities. This was a time surely to think in terms of a better transport system for Australia. I do not mean simply a few more roads or a few more railways and a couple of ships. What I mean is a complete re-thinking by the States, perhaps under the chairmanship of the Commonwealth, on our whole transport system. It is here, for example, that we can really help to reduce costs in rural industry. It is here that we can really save our economy unnecessary outlay. You do not do that overnight but you must make a start on it.
The Government should have done more in relation to education. Only recently I think it was the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon), who stated in this House that there could be labour shortages in various categories of skilled workers even through there might be an overall labour surplus. Very true indeed! But what are we doing about it? I know that education lies within the province of the States, but I am not moved very much by doctrinaire considerations of that character in relation to a matter of such prime importance. Perhaps we could co-operate with the States. Certainly, the first move must be a conference with the States. It is not only a question of spending more money on education although that may or may not be necessary. I shall not go into that aspect. I believe that we should take the initiative and give leadership to others in trying to repair some of the defects in our national set-up, whether those defects lie within the province of the States or within the province of this Commonwealth Government. In such matters it is up to the Commonwealth Government to give the lead.
I was happy when I noticed in the Budget a proposed increase in subsidy for organizations engaged in the search for oil. I was a little less happy when I found that this was co-related with a decrease in the rate of subsidy. As was said by a prominent oil executive in Australia recently, the decrease in the subsidy may do two things. It may decrease the rate of exploration and it may accelerate the drift of ownership of oil properties from Australian into overseas hands. Either of those prospects would be undesirable. I was sorry to hear the addendum to the relevant Budget item.
Many anomalies could have been cleaned up by this Budget without any great expenditure of money. I have in mind the fields of social services and housing. As to housing, we must do more than we have done because the demand for housing will increase in three or four years with the increase in the numbers in the age groups of those people who will want houses. This is a consequence of the high birthrate just after the war. We should be making some provision for this. These are all matters which do not necessarily mean any great expenditure of funds this year. Many of them involve only the proper co-ordination of policy with the States.
Provision should have been made for some increase in expenditure, the greater part of which, perhaps, might have been directed into the defence vote. But over and above any increase in expenditure there surely was room for cleaning up some of these anomalies and for getting steerage way on to the economy again.
In considering the Budget two possible approaches can be made by honorable members from this side of the House who are united in feeling that the Labour Party offers no alternative government. It is possible to give to the Budget the seal of approval - which is perhaps a little more than one may feel - and be one of the “ Thanks, Harold, you are magnificent “ school. On the other hand if you belong, as I do, to “the school that believes that revitalization of the economy can come only from this side of the House, you become one of those who say to the Treasurer, “ Harold, you can do a little bit better “.
I believe that the Labour Party and its policies which are not necessarily the policies enunciated by the Opposition in this House, would be disastrous for Australia. But the Government has to get steerage way; it has to bring people in behind it to support it. It is a mistaken policy to pretend for this Budget an enthusiasm that we do not all feel.
Unfortunately, Australia is not living in a vacuum. We are living in a highly competitive world, and the competition is not only economic. We are living in a world where, unless we can show that our way of life is consistently better than the way of life of other people - and better in all respects - we may find ourselves in danger of a take-over. I have spoken of the possibility and the danger of a political takeover from the other side of the House. That is a very real danger and would be a real disaster; but it would be only a small danger and a small disaster compared with what we would suffer from a take-over by international forces which are waiting on Australia’s doorstep. We must restore the full dynamic to our ideas - our democratic and our non-socialist ideas. I do not believe there is any inherent difficulty in this, but I also do not believe that the present document put before us quite measures up to the standard of responsibility required of the Government. It is not enough to meet the dangers that face us.
I do not mean only that it is necessary for us to increase the provision for defence and to do so resolutely and quickly. I mean also that it is essential for us to restore to the economy the full rate of growth. I would not feel happy if the economic rate of growth were less than 4 per cent, a year. I would not feel happy if the increase in the number of persons in employment were less than the increase in the potential work force. I am not happy with the present outlook - I admit that it is an improved outlook - but I do not join in the extravagant condemnations or the knocking of Australia. I do say that we can, we must, and we will, do better.
.- The honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) expresses the fear that Australia could become the victim of a take-over.
This country is being taken over by forces outside our borders without one blow being struck. No country similar in population and resources to Australia has during the last twelve years bought from outside its borders more goods that it does not need and that it cannot afford to buy. The result is that Australia now finds it difficult - indeed, almost impossible - to obtain those goods that are essential to the growth and development of our industries.
Before I sit down, Mr. Temporary Chairman, I intend to prove that my statements are correct. I believe that credits are preferable to debits, that surpluses are much preferable to deficits and that profits are much more beneficial to a country than losses. I believe that debits, deficits and losses are the results of failures, maladministration and disastrous methods of government. Credits, profits and surpluses are the results of bountiful seasons, good administration and the kind of government that a country should have. We find that the Government, after what honorable members opposite claim to be twelve years of the greatest prosperity that this country has ever experienced, is budgeting for a deficit. Last year the Government said that it would not budget for a deficit even though 140,000 people were unemployed. The Government’s view was that the putting to work of 140,000 people did not justify the incurring of a deficit ( of £100,000,000 or £110,000,000. To-day ‘the position has changed. The medicine that was too drastic for a sick economy last year becomes the medicine that must be taken this year. The Labour Party, of course, agrees that Australia’s economy is so sick that it needs the stimulus of drastic measures. We believe that because of maladministration in the past and the problems and disabilities that have been created by this Government during the period of prosperity, the Budget should provide for a deficit. But we do not believe that the moneys covered by the deficit should be spent in the way that the Government will spend them. The Labour Party believes that if there is to be a deficit it should be used to increase the purchasing power of the vast masses of the people.
The Opposition claims that the Government stands condemned upon its diagnosis of the ills of this community and the remedies that it has prescribed for those ills. Last year the Government said, “ No deficit, but we will reduce income tax by 5 per cent.”. A flat rate! It said, “We will introduce emergency tariff legislation and institute quota restrictions on imports. We will reduce the sales tax upon motor cars and by those means, within twelve months, everybody wanting a job will have a job.” The result was disastrous. Every one wanting a job has not got a job, and so the Government has adopted the electoral proposal of the Opposition and now says, “ We are going to budget this year for a deficit “. But it is not going to spend that money in the same way as Labour would do. Labour would increase child endowment and pensions. Labour would increase all types of social service payments. It would increase the wages of the average man so that people who had needs to satisfy would create a demand for goods and other people would be absorbed in employment.
But this Government does the reverse. When it has something to give away, it does not give it to the people who are in need and who could make the best use of it. The Government gives anything it has to give away to those who already have so much that their every need is satisfied. They have a home and furniture. Their children are being educated. They wear the best clothing and eat the best food. When they receive an acquisition to their wealth, they cannot and do not use it in such a way as to promote business or industrial activity or to provide employment for our people.
This Government stands indicted because, after twelve years of prosperity at home, it says it is necessary to have a deficit of fi 18,000,000 to stimulate industries and put people back to work. That is bad enough. But what is a deficit? After all, if at the end of a period a deficit is not redeemed by the creation of new wealth in the community, it will be funded and become an addition to our national debt or obligation. So future generations will have to pay for what we have as well as for the day-to-day services in their day and age. That is serious. But, of course, that debt is owed to Australians within Australia and to that extent the position is not as serious as it would be if the deficit were owed to some overseas country. However, this Government does not give the people of Australia one deficit; it gives them two deficits. It gives the people a deficit of £118,000,000 at home, and it emphatically declares that the deficit abroad for the next year will be greater than £118,000,000. It will be at least £200,000,000. That £200,000,000 of deficit overseas will be added to the accumulated deficit that this Government has built up down the years.
I have here a reply to a question that I asked some time ago. In effect, I asked what was the deficit both in trade and finance overseas with various countries of the world, during the Government’s term of office. Listen carefully to these figures. On 9th August the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) replied to my question and told me that between 1948-49 and 1960-61 our exports to the United Kingdom were valued at £3,434,000,000 and our imports were valued at £4,191,000,000. Our exports to the United States of America in the same period were £853,000,000 and imports totalled £1,299,000,000. Our exports to Canada were valued at £157,000,000 and imports were worth £295,000,000. Exports to Communist countries totalled £377,000,000 and imports were valued at £102,000,000. In our trade with other countries, exports totalled £5,776,000,000 and imports £4,046,000,000. The reply given to me added -
Over the period 1948-49 to 1960-61 Australia’s balance of payments on current account showed a deficit of £1,734,000,000 with the United Kingdom, £1,114,000,000 with the United States of America, and £255,000,000 with Canada. It showed a surplus of £1,218,000,000 with other countries.
This was an overall adverse balance of payments of £1,911,000,000. That was the increase in our indebtedness to other countries under this Government’s administration up to 1961. What has it done in 1961-62? It exported overseas £187,000,000 worth more of goods than we imported. We sent out £187,000,000 worth more of the blood, sweat and toil of the people of this country than we received from overseas countries.
– Is the honorable member sure of that figure?
– I am sure of that figure. I have the official documents here. We sent out £187,000,000 more than w« imported and we showed a loss on our trading activities of £8,000,000. In his Budget speech the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) said -
Externally, a good many uncertainties overhang world production and trade in 1962-63 and there could be some falling back from the very high point our exports reached last year. On the other hand, imports are certain to increase considerably as industrial activity and demand rise here.
Last year we had a deficit of £8,000,000, with exports at an all-time high level and imports at a very low level. The Treasurer has now said that this year we will not export nearly as much as we did last year, and we are going to import a vast quantity more than we did last year. What will that mean? It will mean that our overseas deficit will increase again this year.
Let me quote now the words of the Minister for Trade. Speaking on the Budget, the Minister said -
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.
According to the Minister for Trade, it was absolutely essential to spend £800,000,000 to buy the requisites for keeping Australian workers in employment and enabling Australian industries to expand. By that he did not mean payment of freight; he meant payment for aeroplanes and equipment of that type that were coming to this country. No employment was provided for the people of this country by the expenditure of that £800,000,000. But in addition to that there are the invisibles. We must pay freight on imports into this country. In the year before last £173,000,000 was paid in freight, and last year, because of the reduced imports, £154,000,000 was paid in freight. This year, because of the increased imports that must come to this country, the freight will be much more than £154,000,000 - it will approach £200,000,000.
Of course freight is not the only invisible. We have to pay interest on the debts that we have built up overseas. Last year instalments and interest charges on those debts amounted to £56,000,000, for which we received nothing in return, because the policy of this Government was to put this nation in pawn to the financial interests overseas. Added to that were investments flowing into this country from overseas. During the period of the present Government’s occupancy of the treasury bench the investment of foreign capital in this country has increased from about £300,000,000 to about £2,000,000,000, and upon that increased investment the annual dividends payable overseas amount to approximately £200,000,000. Last year they amounted to £151,000,000. It is true that not all of that amount was paid out in dividends. Some of it was ploughed back, that is, reinvested in this country, but ultimately the burden on Australia to repay these amounts must become greater. Therefore, I say that this Government has got this country into a position where, because of the amounts that have to be paid annually overseas, we owe more than any other nation with a similar population and similar resources.
Honorable members have only to look through the documents that are issued by the United Nations in connexion with the economies of all nations of the world - they are available to everybody - to find that no other country has been placed in pawn to the extent that Australia has by this Government during the past twelve years. Why did the Government place us in pawn? What did we get in return for these accumulated debts? We got all kinds of goods which we not only could not afford but did not need. To mention a few examples, Mahatma long-grain rice was imported from Arkansas, United States of America; peaches were imported from California; pears were imported from other parts of the world; packaged peas were imported from Holland; vegetables of all descriptions were imported from all sorts of countries outside Australia; we have imported canned chicken, canned pork, canned this and canned that. These are all primary products, and the importation of such goods must affect the farmers of this country and destroy basic export industries.
Sir, this Government has not developed Australia’s primary industries in proportion to manufacturing industries, which do not provide exports. Could there be a greater indictment of the Country Party than this? I cite the net farm income of this country from figures published in the official documents. For the year 1953-54 it was £499,000,000; for 1954-55 it was £447,000,000; for 1955-56 it was £443,000,000; and so it goes on until in 1961-62 it was £472,000,000. There are now fewer farms, farmers and farm workers producing farm incomes. That is the sort of solid foundation upon which this Government is building the future prosperity of this country! Australia is gradually being captured - not too gradually - by foreign forces, yet not a blow is being struck in its defence. All sorts of commodities have been accepted by Australia in return for portions of our industry, portions of land, and portions of all kinds of other wealth that exists within this country. Those commodities not only were not needed, but have tended to destroy Australia’s secondary industries and prevent the expansion of primary industry and primary production, and have been continuously, despite protestations of members of the Country Party, reducing the farm income of Australia.
It is impossible for this Government to answer this indictment. It evades the question of the accumulated overseas deficit and says our overseas funds are all right. Why are they all right? It is because the Government buttresses them with loans, because it buttresses them with investment capital that is used to buy goods for which the people of this country must pay in the indefinite future, and on which they must pay a toll to foreign financial exploiters. That is the method by which this Government conducts the business of this country. There is nothing complicated about it. All that Australia suffers from is the Government that sits upon the treasury bench, exploiting every resource of this country in the interests of the predatory financial interests that have put it into power in this country, to the detriment of the vast masses of people of this country. This Government has pawned Australia for future generations to redeem by their work and toil. Not only will the present generation pass a burden on to future generations of Australians; it will never be able to enjoy the full product of its toil and labour because of the big amounts to be paid overseas.
Last year our imports totalled £893,000,000, of which practically £500,000,000 was made up of invisibles. Last year our exports were approximately £1,000,000,000 and the invisibles were £500,000,000. That is to say, we had to pay £500,000,000 without getting anything in return for the people of this country. No country - not even “ Australia Unlimited “ - can carry burdens such as that, and in those circumstances no country can progress or profit.
.- Mr. Temporary Chairman, I must take issue with the honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters) on a couple of matters to which he referred. He said that if the Labour Party was in power it would increase child endowment rates to some unspecified level, and would also increase age and invalid pensions. The honorable member for Indi (Mr. Holten), in a magnificent speech here the other day, pointed out that an increase of only 5s. a week in child endowment rates would mean a total increase of £34,000,000 a year. If this were added to the deficit of £118,000,000 which this Budget is designed to produce, very little would be left out of the amount of £160;000,000 which Opposition speakers have said would be the extent of the deficit if a Labour government was in power.
The honorable member for Scullin talked about Australia’s trade losses. He said nothing at all about other countries. Doesn’t he know that the United States of America, for instance, suffers a trading loss?
– The United States of America does not suffer a trading loss.
– Well, I have it on one authority that it does, and I accept that authority.
– It is quite wrong.
– Order! There are too many interjections. The last speaker was heard almost in silence throughout his speech, and similar courtesy should be extended to the honorable member who is now speaking.
– Thank you, Mr. Temporary Chairman. Australia has enjoyed the confidence of overseas investors, who have sent their money out here and have seen Australia grow. We can increase our population and provide employment for the increased population only by inducing overseas investors to spend their investment capital in this country. The honorable member spoke also of overseas freight rates. This is a hardy annual of Labour supporters. He said that our bill for freight rates amounted to £154,000,000. As the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) pointed out the other night, even if we established an overseas shipping line there is no certainty that our freight charges would fall below the level at which they stand now. The honorable member expressed concern because there are fewer farmers in this country than there used to be, but he does not give the farmers who are here a single pat on the back for the increased productivity they have achieved.
I would also like to take issue with the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth), who was the last speaker on this side of the chamber. He claimed that the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) had said that our economy must be run at either boom level or bust level. The whole tenor of the Treasurer’s speech proclaimed the Government’s objective of stability. At no time did he say that the country can be run only on boom and bust levels. The whole basis of this Budget is stability. The Labour Party, of course, thinks that the Budget is not inflationary enough. The members of the Labour Party have no regard for those responsible for the greater part of our export income. They do not care one iota about the difficulties that farmers must face in meeting their costs. This was obvious from the speech of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam), who did not mention primary producers at any time in a speech that lasted more than one hour. Doesn’t the Labour Party know that the farmers earned more than £800,000,000 in export income last year? Does it want to jeopardize our position in overseas markets and place us in a situation in which farmers will not be able to sell their goods at all in overseas countries? We all know that if the Labour Party ever managed to place its representatives on the treasury benches they would welcome an inflationary boom, because then the farmers would be forced to come and ask them for subsidies, and in this way they could gain control of the country’s production. This would be a further step forward in achieving their goal of socialization of the means of production, distribution and exchange.
The honorable member for Scullin referred to the economies of various countries. Let us have a further look at the economies of a few overseas countries and see what their objectives have been and what the results of their policies have been in the past few years. West Germany has had the twin objectives of expansion of production and maintenance of price stability. In 1960 inflation got a bit out of hand and sent wages spiralling. Wages increased by 11 per cent. One result was that the price of wheat in that country is now £53 10s. a ton, while the price of Australian wheat in London is £33 a ton. That is the kind of result that inflation produces.
France had an economic policy of rapid expansion at any cost, and it found that the cost was lack of price stability. As a consequence, France was forced on two occasions since World War II. to devalue the franc. If Labour occupied the treasury bench in this Parliament Australia would find itself forced to devalue the £1 within a very short time. In the United Kingdom credit restrictions operated from 1955 to 1958. When they were removed prices increased rapidly and there was a deterioration in the balance of payments.
I believe we could well model our economy on that of Switzerland. Stability has been the keynote of that country’s economy. Prices and costs have remained stable while national productivity has expanded. I believe that the Budget we are now considering will give us stability of costs and prices for the next twelve months, as well as providing a good deal of money for national development. Perhaps the Opposition would like to see a situation develop in Australia such as that in the United States of America, where a pricking of the inflationary bubble caused an 8 per cent, level of unemployment. In Australia the level reached slightly more than 3 per cent, at the worst period. We were not happy about that, of course, but it was not a bad position when compared with the situation in other countries. It was a pretty good performance for a young country like Australia, when an oldestablished country like the United States of America suffered unemployment to the extent of 8 per cent, of the work force. The Treasurer said that stability means steady growth and a balance between current supply and demand, with stable costs and prices. I submit that we cannot afford to jeopardize our position. We must hold the line and maintain a stable economy.
The second important aspect of the Budget is the provision for increased national development. Last year we provided about £10,000,000 for national developmental projects, while this year the amount has been increased to £27,000,000. During the winter recess I accompanied other members of the Parliament on a tour of the northern parts of Australia. As one of my colleagues has said, we southerners are often twitted about our lack of interest in the north. I had a look at some of the projects that have been started in the north, and I was very impressed with what I saw. I would like to tell honorable members that the Government of Western Australia has been spending 27 per cent, of its total budget roads commitment on development in the north-west of that State, where I think there are only about 1,500 or 2,000 people. Imagine the amount of development that Queensland could have had if, during its 40 years of socialist government, it had spent 27 per cent, of its budget roads commitment on northern development. Queenslanders would not now be crying out to us to step up the pace of development in the north of that State.
I saw the Pilbara iron ore deposits. I have heard honorable members in this Parliament talking about selling our birthright in the form of our natural mineral deposits. I can tell the committee that I flew over some hundreds of square miles of pure iron ore. There were mountains of the stuff covering acre upon acre. If the three companies that are active in the area operated from now until doomsday they would hardly even scratch one corner of those deposits. The Western Australian Government, through the agency of its Minister for the
North-West, Mr. Charles Court, has drawn up a plan to co-operate with these free enterprise companies in the development of the area. The companies are to build towns, hospitals, schools, railways, ports and roads. This is the way to develop a country. When the necessary facilities and services are provided we will see industries established. We cannot expect to have industries established in such remote areas unless we provide something for them beforehand. Private enterprise will do the job successfully with the co-operation of the Western Australian Government, which has certainly not been lacking.
I had a look also at the Camballin irrigation scheme on the Ord River in the Kimberleys. There is an area of at least 500,000 acres of irrigable country in that district, and I was very impressed with the way in which the research farm has experimented with the growing of cotton, safflower, castor oil and many other commodities. We produce only 3 per cent, of Australia’s requirements of cotton, and this is certainly one product that could be grown very satisfactorily in the Kimberleys area. Cotton will no doubt be one of the basic crops grown in the area when the Ord River scheme is completed. There are more than 500,000 acres of irrigable country there. It is an amazing sight.
The party then went to the Northern Territory, where my visit was very short. We visited one station where the manager told us that, within six years, the herds carried will increase from 40,000 head to 75,000 head. This increase in carrying capacity will be achieved by better means of animal husbandry, better subdivision and more water bores. This sort of development demonstrates the potential of the area, which, I think, will one day produce far more wealth than one can credit now. We also inspected the Belmont research station, where a great deal of work is being done on the crossing of different kinds of foreign cattle, such as the Afrikander and the Brahman, in efforts to evolve a tick-resist ant type that will do well in the north. Magnificent work has been done at this research station, but there is a long way to go.
We visited also Bryan Pastures and the Katherine research station, where the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization is working on the development of tropical grasses and the problem of tropical diseases. The organization is to be congratulated on this work. There is no doubt that with respect to agriculture the northern areas are immediately on the verge of a major break-through. Over the next few years, we shall see tremendous changes in the north. We know that members of the Australian Labour Party talk about the north a lot. I point out that while they talk, these developments are taking place.
I see that in this Budget the Government has provided for the expenditure of £1,750,000 on the development of brigalow lands in Queensland. As a farmer, I am very much impressed by the fertility of the brigalow area. The brigalow tree puts nitrogen into the soil, and there is no doubt that it greatly enriches the soil in the areas where it grows. I am greatly interested in the proposal for the expenditure of this large sum on the development of the brigalow lands, and I should like to be assured that, with the co-operation of the Queensland Government, local men will have some say in the expenditure of the money. I have seen what can happen in these development schemes. We have in the Orbost area in my electorate a land settlement scheme administered by the Victorian Government. The local Land Settlement Committee has been completely deprived of a say in the spending of the funds allocated, and I know that the local men are not altogether happy about the manner in which the money is being spent. I suggest that the Commonwealth Government make sure that local men with practical experience in the brigalow country have some say in the way in which the funds allocated to the development of the brigalow lands are spent.
Like the honorable member for New England (Mr. Drummond), and also the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes), who asked a question on the subject the other day, I direct the attention of the Treasurer to the restricted volume of finance available to farmers. Several senior members of the staffs of two banks accompanied the party with which I recently toured northern and north-western Australia, and I discussed this problem with them. They said frankly that long-term lending to farmers is not attractive enough to the banks. We must do whatever we can to make more finance available in this field.
People in my electorate have come to me seeking finance for what were absolutely sure-fire propositions for the banks, which were asked to provide a little extra capital, for example, to increase productivity or to promote efficiency. But the farmers just could not get the money from the banks. There is something wrong with the financial arrangements between the Reserve Bank of Australia and the trading banks if this sort of situation cannot be suitably dealt with. We see what happens, also, when a farmer who has, say, two sons but not enough land to settle both tries to obtain money from a bank in order to buy land on which to settle one of the sons. The bank will not lend the money. As a result, the second son is lost to farming and is forced to go to the city to get a job.
I ask the Treasurer to look at these problems. The term over which the banks lend to primary producers was extended from three to eight years, but most farmers consider that the term is still too short to be satisfactory. Farmers need to borrow for longer terms extending up to twelve years, but the banks are not interested in lending for terms longer than eight years.
– I thought that the Commonwealth Development Bank of Australia was supposed to solve that problem.
– That bank is doing a lot to solve the problem, but, again, the possibilities are limited. It is a development bank; I am talking about ordinary trading possibilities. The Commonwealth Development Bank of Australia is designed to provide funds for the development of land. I have succeeded in obtaining financial assistance for people who wish to clear land, but the problem about which I am talking now is purely a trading bank problem.
We hear a lot in this chamber about the redistribution of electoral boundaries, Mr. Chairman. My electorate, I am very pleased to say, will not be affected by the changes proposed. Therefore, I can speak on this subject without fear of being charged with a display of unusual self-interest. Honorable members on both sides of the chamber have discussed this matter. Like a number of those who have discussed it, I am alarmed at the trend towards the weakening of the rural voice in this Parliament. Every time there is a redistribution, the number of representatives of country areas is reduced and the number of city members is increased. This is neither right nor fair to country people. Most of them, after all, contribute materially to the national income, and they should not be deprived, by redistributions, of their voice in this Parliament.
I am very pleased to note that a total of £91,000,000 is to be allocated to housing this financial year. My electorate of Gippsland produces 30 per cent, of Victoria’s requirements of scantling timbers. I am sure that the expenditure of £91,000,000 on housing will greatly lift the housing programme. The timber industry in Victoria has tremendous internal problems. I know, from talks with representatives of various sections of the industry, that all sections are doing their best to solve these problems. One of the greatest problems, of course, was presented by large imports of timber. I, for one, am very pleased that quantitative restrictions on Douglas fir and other timbers were imposed the other day, on the advice of the Special Advisory Authority associated with the Tariff Board.
I am a little disappointed about several features of the Budget. I am sorry that it does not provide for a subsidy on superphosphate. This would have directly reduced farmers’ costs and assisted them no end. I am sorry, also, that the Treasurer could not see his way clear to remove the sales tax from some foodstuffs. This would have greatly assisted primary industry, particularly the producers of dried vine fruits, in the electorate of the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull).
Mr. Chairman, this Budget will give stability to the economy. It provides for the continued expansion of trade and continually increasing productivity. We are now on a stable base. As a result of this Budget, unemployment will be reduced, despite the picture of gloom and doom painted by the Opposition. I submit that this Budget, far from being one of stagnation, will bring security to all.
.- Mr. Chairman, I am very pleased to have an opportunity to address the committee on this Budget. Before I discuss the points about which I am concerned, I want to tell the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr.
Nixon), who recently visited the northwest of Western Australia, that the progress and development in that area of which he spoke have been achieved largely as a result of plans that were laid by a Labour government of Western Australia, together with pressure brought to bear on this Commonwealth Government, not only by Labour members of this Parliament generally, but also by me when I was formerly a member of this chamber. What this Government is doing even now is only a flea-bite compared with what should be done in the north of Western Australia and in the Northern Territory. However, I do not want to say too much about that matter; I would rather deal with it when the Estimates are being debated.
The honorable member for Gippsland spoke about shipping freights and said that if we had our own shipping line, freight charges would be increased. I think that is-
– A true statement!
– I would not know whether it is true until it has been tried. But I point out to the honorable member for Mallee that when the Commonwealth line of ships was established by the Hughes Government, shipping freights were reduced by 50 per cent., and it was possible to break the shipping combine. That happy situation continued until the Bruce-Page Government came into office and sacrificed the shipping line at a give-away price. I mention that for the information of the honorable member for Gippsland, who probably was not very old when it happened and would not know very much about it.
The Budget has been rightly referred to as the Treasurer’s recipe for stagnation. That is a good name for it. It is a most unimaginative Budget. It does nothing to correct the blunders which have been a part of the disastrous policies of the Government. An economic stimulus was urgently needed, but the Budget did not provide it. As a matter of fact, it sent busness even further into the doldrums. Only a short time ago, the Commonwealth Statistician reported that employees in private industry fell by 74,300 in 1961. Despite the claims of the Government, the position has not improved much. In April, 1962,
The Australian Industries Development Association reported -
Employment in manufacturing industry is still nearly 50,000 below the level of a year ago.
That is only in manufacturing industry. The report continued -
A.I.D.A.’s Survey of Stocks for 1961, which was published in mid-March, indicated a build-up of £329 m. in the value of stocks held in 1960-61. We estimate that only about £75 m. of these stocks have been liquidated since.
The report also said -
Until stocks are reduced to more normal levels, no steady demand for manufactures can be expected, and until manufacturing industry can return to a steady rate of balanced production, and so absorb the unemployed, provide work for the growing labour force, and keep costs to a minimum, we cannot expect any vital return of public confidence and demand.
The Budget has done nothing to allay the fears expressed by this association. We still have more than 90,000 unemployed in our midst. The honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) drew attention to this and said that the figure had been reduced from 130,000 to this level. But he was honest enough to say that this was only a normal seasonal reduction. He pointed out that the figure would rise to 120,000 when school-leavers joined the work force at the end of the year. That is not a very happy situation to have in prospect.
According to the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon), more than 2,000 of those who left school last year are still unemployed. Many school children went back to school because they could not obtain employment. The Department of Labour and National Service on 29th July reported that 23,349 juveniles under the age of 21 years were still unemployed. That is an increase of the number of young people seeking employment. It is scandalous that so many of them are out of employment. The economist, John Eddy, in an article published in the “West Australian” on 28th June, 1962, which was headed “Budget and the 1 5- Year-Olds “, said -
An unusually large number of children turned 15 this year and many of them will be looking for jobs after Christmas. Their number of 215,000 is equal to 5 per cent, of our total work force of 4,300,000.
This year’s peak of 15-year-olds is nearly 40,000 more than last year. It is also 16,000 more than next year’s quota will be.
Tt results from a sharp jump in the birthrate In 1947. There was a marked increase in marriages in 1946 and 1947 after men returned from the war.
With still about 2b per cent, of unemployment in Australia, let us hope that the August federal budget will take account of the need to remove the last remnants of our recent artificial pause in industrial growth.
Nothing could be more frustrating for the new generation than inability to obtain useful work.
The need to adopt measures in this Budget that would provide work for young people was utterly disregarded by the Government. This is a serious challenge to the Government, but it is doing nothing about it. Every person unemployed means so much unused capacity. There should be no unemployment in a young, developing country like this where so many works of a development nature have to be undertaken.
The Government has created a pool of unemployment. In recent years, it has paid only lip service to the ideal of full employment. Its intention is clear. It wants a pool of unemployment, the depth of which will depend upon how much the public will stand. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) said that there should be a pool of unemployment to discipline the workers. He said this publicly and his idea has now been put into effect. The “ Australian Financial Review “ - a most unbiased newspaper - of 14th August drew attention to the rising incidence of unemployment. It said - “
Under the Menzies Government there has been a rising trend in the incidence of unemployment.
In the period July, 1946, to July, 1950, when Labour Government economic policies were predominant in their effects, the average level of registered unemployed applicants in July (excluding the 1949 strike-affected July) was 20,632.
The newspaper pointed out that in the next six years of the Menzies Government, from 1951 to 1956, there was a rise in the average level of unemployed to 30,088, and the average for the last five years from 1957 to 1962 was 71,747. This shows that the pool of unemployed is gradually being increased rather than-
– Why do you not relate that to the work force?
– This is an unbiased newspaper. If you want to query what it has said, query the newspaper. This statement in the “ Australian Financial Review “ supports the charge made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam). At page 312 of “Hansard” he said that the fi 3,000,000 provided for unemployment and sickness benefits for this year, as compared with the expenditure last year of £15,900,000, allows for 35,000 persons to receive the unemployment benefit. This means that at least 100,000 persons will be unemployed at the end of the year when the school children leave school. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition claimed that this was a conservative estimate. It is conservative, because the honorable member for Mackellar has said that 120,000 persons will be unemployed. The figure could be even larger than this. The 1961-62 Budget allowed f8,630,000 for unemployment and sickness benefits, and the expenditure was £15,904,879 - much more than the amount allowed. It is quite possible that the amount allowed in this year’s Budget will be exceeded.
There have been six drops in the stock market since the Budget was announced. This is reported in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “. I will not go into the details.
The Government should have pumped more purchasing power into the community by increasing social service benefits. The honorable member for Mackellar also mentioned this aspect. If social service benefits had been increased, the economy would have been stimulated. Pensioners, mothers with children, widows and invalids spend what they get on consumer goods and so stimulate business and create employment. This Government stands condemned for its inhuman treatment of recipients of social service benefits. It has refused to grant increases to pensioners, including widows and mothers with children. This illustrates the utter disregard of little people by this Government.
Every recipient of social service benefits has been short-changed since this Government has been in office. The increases that have been given have not kept pace with inflation. The benefits have been continually dragging behind costs. People are paying more for the shrunken benefits which they now receive. For years, due to inflation, taxpayers have been passing into higher income tax groups without getting any real increase in the value of their wages. As a result, they have been paying more in taxation and getting less back in social service benefits. That emphasizes the big lie of 1949 when the Prime Minister said that the value of social services would at least be maintained and, indeed, increased. He said that pensioners could rely on his party for justice. They have not got justice from this Government. When people were contributing to the National Welfare Fund in 1949 they believed that the money they paid would be returned in value. That has not happened because of the depreciation of the value of money resulting from this Government’s financial policy. People have been paying good money and getting bad money in return. The £1 is worth approximately 7s. 6d. to-day compared with 20s. in 1949.
The Government stands condemned also for its callous disregard of families. Every true Australian will agree that the native born is the best migrant. But since the existing maternity allowance was fixed, the basic wage has risen from £4 16s. a week to fl4 8s. a week. That allowance needs to be increased threefold in order to give the same purchasing power as it gave when the Labour Government was in office. From the inception of the maternity allowance until this Government came into office, the allowance was always sufficient to pay the expenses associated with the birth of a child. It will not do that now. Economic reasons prevent newly married couples from having their first child. Both have to go to work in order to establish a home, and the wife usually has to work for some time after marriage before the home can be established. In 1900, the average Australian family consisted of four children; it now consists of 2.19 children. Married couples are doing little more than replacing themselves numerically. That is only natural because the family’s spending power is reduced as each extra child comes along.
A newly married man in receipt of f25 a week, after deducting income tax receives a net f22 8s. 8d. This gives him and his wife £11 4s. 4d. each. When the first child comes, tax is reduced by 8s. 3d. a week and the couple receives ‘5s. child endowment. Cash received each week then totals £22 16s. and income drops to £7 12s. for each member of the family.
Taking reduced taxation and child endowment into account, the arrival of the second child reduces the income to £5 19s. for each member of the family, the third child reduces it to £4 18s., and the fourth reduces it to £4 4s. 2d. It can be seen that there is no encouragement to have children. The bigger the family the less it receives relative to its needs. Inflation under this Government has forced wageearners into higher income groups for taxation purposes but less can be purchased with the same amount of income. In 1949, a family on the basic wage with two children paid 16s. a year in taxation. Today, that family would pay £20 16s. As a result of inflation, people are paying more in taxation and are receiving less for it.
More than 50 per cent, of the children born in Australia in 1894 were at least fourth in their families. This percentage has now dropped to 18 per cent. Fewer than one Australian couple in five is interested in having a family of four whereas about 60 years ago two couples in five were so interested. Surely, in order to lift the burden off the family the Government should increase child endowment. In 1948, when the basic wage was £5 15s., a family with five children received £2 per week in child endowment. To-day, with a basic wage of £14 8s., the same family receives only £2 5s. The basic wage has gone up two and a half times. In order to obtain the same value from child endowment to-day, a family of five should receive £4 10s. instead of £2 5s. Surely, these figures clearly indicate that something should be done in regard to child endowment.
Some time ago, the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council investigated nutrition levels in our community. It found that 73 per cent, of families with two children enjoyed a firstclass diet, but that only 62 per cent, of families with three children enjoyed that standard. For families with four children the figure was 38 per cent., with five children 27 per cent., and with six children 16 per cent. Big families cannot afford fat, fruit and milk products in adequate quantities which they need in order to give their children a decent standard of living. They must settle for bread and cereals as substitutes. This applies not merely to a few isolated cases, but to the community as a whole. If you have four children the odds are six to four against your being able to feed them well. If you have five, the odds increase to seven to three against your being able to give them a decent standard of living.
The Government has turned a deaf ear to the plight of the pensioner. Science has so improved health standards that people are living longer than was the case 60 years ago. That is good. However, we should be concerned about not only how long they live, but also how they live. If a majority of pensioners are suffering poverty and are in dire straits, this is a reflection on our society. It has been suggested that a country’s standard of civilization can be assessed by the way it treats its old people. If that is so, Australia has not a very high standard of civilization. Science is helping aged people to live longer, but the policy of this Government is making their additional years a misery to them. Pensions have not kept pace with the cost of living. The Commonwealth funeral benefit is still £10, as it was when it was introduced in 1943 by the Labour Government. The basic wage was then £4 16s., whilst it is now £14 8s. So, to restore its value, the funeral benefit should be increased to £30.
It is important to compare our expenditure on social services with that of other countries. We are often told that we have a high standard of social service benefits. That is not true. During 1956-57, Australia spent 9.1 per cent, of its national income on social service benefits. Following are the percentages of national income spent on social services by other countries: -
Some countries, of course, spend a smaller proportion of their national income on social services than we do. For instance, Ceylon spends 4.2 per cent., Iceland 7.9 per cent., and Tunisia 5.7 per cent. These figures are available in a document titled, “Cost of Social Security”, issued by the International Labour Organization for 1961. The social services expenditure that I have cited for Australia of 9.1 per cent, of national income includes expenditure by the States and public authorities generally on social services. I repeat that this Budget has been rightly referred to as a recipe for stagnation. The speech of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition pointed the way to an immediate ending of the suffering and economic stagnation which the policies of this Government have created. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition put forward a dynamic policy, designed to provide the conditions for growth and planned national development which would secure prosperity and justice for all in this country. This Government cannot survive for much longer. The people are slowly but surely waking up to it. The skies are brack with the Government’s chickens coming home to roost. When they do come home to roost, this Government and its followers will get it where the chicken got the a?:e.
– Mr. Chairman, the honorable member for Stirling (Mr. Webb) did not break much new ground. I was hoping he would give me some leads, but he kept to the theme which most honorable members opposite who have spoken have followed during the course of this debate. His principal theme was unemployment. Members of the Opposition say they are in favour of full employment, but they deny that we on this side are in favour of it. I remind you, Sir, that the whole of this Budget is designed to create full employment. The honorable member for Stirling mentioned social services. I propose to say something in that regard and to give some comparisons a little later on.
The debate on the Budget has now progressed far enough for us to have a pretty clear idea of the policies of both the Government and the Opposition. The policy of the Government was summarized by the
Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) in his Budget speech when he said -
The Government is determined to follow through with its expansionary programme until the economy is operating at the highest level of activity we can hope to sustain.
That is the milk in the coco-nut. That, in precise terms, is what we stand for. The whole of the emphasis in the Treasurer’s Budget Speech was on national development, stability of costs and prices and full employment. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) - I will quote his exact words and later make some comments on them - said -
The Budget was obviously the work of men demoralized by their own failure.
What an extraordinary statement by the acting leader of the party which left this country in a deplorable condition when it left office in 1949! The Labour Government left the Australian economy in the most deplorable condition in which it had ever been. It was still in power four years after the war had ended, so there was no excuse for it at all. It was not as though the Labour Government had been caught up in the aftermath of the war. It was still in office four years after the war ended, yet we still had complete controls in many respects. Commodities were dreadfully scare. Pensioners and people on fixed incomes were on the point of starvation, because they could not purchase goods which could be obtained only on the black market. There is no denying that. Commodities of all sorts were still under control. Building materials and capital issues were under control, and nobody can deny that black marketing was rampant at that time. Yet the party which was responsible for those conditions charges us with being a failure. It is very interesting also to notice that at the time of which I speak there was no effort whatever by the Labour Government to bring in a programme of expansion - for which the Opposition now tells us it stands - although that was the time when expansion of industry was the most vital thing that could have been attended to. At that time the Labour Party was preoccupied with its idea of making Australia a socialist state, and it applied the. whole of its efforts to that purpose. The Labour Government was thrown out of office because it tried to nationalize the banks of this country.
The Labour Party still has only one cure for economic ills. That is apparent from all the speeches made by honorable members opposite. It believes that all economic ills can be cured by a system of government controls. When something got out of hand, Labour would shut the door, so to speak, by putting a control on. That is the only method that honorable members opposite can suggest for adjusting the economy. They would not attempt to reach stability by having a free economy, although a free economy is the only field in which you can get full production. They want to control the economy by government edict.
During this debate every spokesman for the Labour Party has pressed for increased social services, and the member for Stirling was no exception to that rule. Honorable members opposite want increased age and invalid pensions and increased child endowment. We all want to see the recipients of these benefits living comfortably. Although the benefits with which they are now provided do not represent complete living allowances, they are higher than ever before in our history. It is interesting to note that in 1949, just before Labour went out of power, it made no promises to give and in fact did not give anything in the way of additional social service benefits. There was no increase for the age pensioner, no increase in child endowment and no assistance whatever in the way of medical benefits.
I recommend honorable members to read the speech that was made the other night by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), in which he made some very interesting comparisons. [Quorum formed.] In 1949 the Labour Party spent £74,592,000 on social services, and last year the Government spent £358,230,000. On repatriation services, Labour spent £12,083,000 in 1949, against this Government’s expenditure of £77,100,000. In expenditure on health there is a staggering difference. Labour spent a miserable £6,185,000 in 1949, and last year we spent £82,400,000. What I have said will indicate who has the better record in the field of social services. 1 repeat my question: In what way has this Government failed? I challenge any one, either in this place or outside, to point to any failure on the part of this Government.
Ever since the Government came to office over twelve years ago the country has progressed more than it did in any other period in its history. The people now have more goods and services than before, their standards of living are higher, employment opportunities have been greater and the old, young, sick and unfortunate have all been cared for as never before by any previous government.
Another feature of the Labour Party’s criticism of the Budget is that although previously we denounced its proposal for a deficit of £100,000,000 we now are budgeting for a deficit of £118,000,000. But the Opposition does not mention that its proposal related to a period of only four months and that its proposed deficit was at the rate of £300,000,000 a year. Leaving that aspect aside, the important point is the things on which the deficits are spent. Labour’s policy and programme as enunciated by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition indicates that Labour would use the proposed deficits in hand-outs to make the Labour Party politically popular. This Government, however, will spend the proposed deficit on work-providing projects of permanent value, designed to increase production and to lower costs.
– Name them.
– I shall later. Our proposed deficit will be used also to stabilize prices and so increase the real standard of living. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition also stated -
The largest single amount we would spend would be used to increase child endowment and pensions.
Not one word did he utter in the whole of his speech about any project that Labour would initiate. A careful study of his speech will reveal that he said that the Labour Party would plan for this and would plan for that; but there was no reference in specific terms to any new project. He ridiculed our efforts to keep costs and prices stable. The Labour Party wants to increase consumer spending without giving the incentive to increase basic production. The people are not fools. They will not be taken in by this kind of clap-trap. They want to be sure that when they receive their wages or their pensions the money will buy the goods that they need. They do not want to receive inflated wages and pensions which cannot buy the goods they need because the cost of the goods has been inflated beyond their means.
As I have indicated previously, the Budget is designed to maintain the progress, expansion and development which have been the keynotes of this Government’s policy since it was elected. To do this effectively it has been necessary to keep a very watchful eye on the movement of costs and prices because nothing would destroy basic progress more than would violent fluctuations in our economy. This has been no easy task in the last ten or twelve years. The world has been living on a razor’s edge and there have been many occasions on which firm action has had to be taken to prevent runaway inflation. This Government has never hesitated to take the necessary action.
Some people to-day ridicule the boom period of 1960. If ever there was a boom, that was it. I was able to observe it at close quarters. No one can deny that at that time the share prices of companies rose to an astronomical figure, far above their real value. In the real estate field, in which I have had a lifetime of experience, it was staggering to see, every Saturday, auction sales to which people would go to purchase blocks of land at almost any figure, not because they needed the land, but because they thought that they could make a profit by re-selling it on Monday morning. That was the kind of thing which was going on.
As every one knows, new companies were springing up in mushroom fashion and taking over old established companies. The people were borrowing irresponsibly from cash order and finance companies in a mad splurge of spending. Finance companies were springing up everywhere, wildly borrowing money through deposits, or by issuing notes and debentures at fantastic rates of interest, even up to as much as 15 per cent. These companies were advertising freely in the newspapers. Imports were soaring and our overseas balances were in jeopardy. This Government did not hesitate to take action, unpopular though it was, to rectify the position. No government would have been worthy of its salt if it had not taken action at that time to prevent that state of affairs continuing. I am convinced that this Government’s action saved the Australian economy. Unless the action had been taken the economy, as surely as we are here to-day, would have collapsed and presented all of us with very much greater difficulties than we are experiencing to-day.
I am convinced that the Government was extremely courageous in the action that it took. This action has had the effect which was expected of it because now costs and prices have been stabilized, wild borrowing and lending have ceased, savings bank deposits have increased tremendously, imports have eased and overseas balances have improved. Unfortunately, in this march of progress some people have been hurt. That could not be helped. Although some unemployment occurred the Government has taken action to eliminate it. As every one knows, in February the Government reduced personal income tax and made the reduction retrospective. It made a special non-repayable grant to the States of £10,000,000, and an additional grant of £5,000,000 for housing advances. It reduced sales tax on motor vehicles, increased war service homes loans, introduced a 20 per cent, investment allowance on new plant and did many other worthwhile things. As I have said, these measures have had the desired effect and the economy is showing progress and stability.
The principal point I want to make here is that most of these benefits are continuing, as the Treasurer indicated in his Budget speech. In addition, the proposed deficit of £118,000,000 will mean the injection of much new money into the community. This includes an additional £6,900,000 on defence expenditure, an additional £3,000,000 for the search for oil, an additional £17,000,000 for development projects in the States and an additional £26,000,000 for the States to spend themselves. Then, of course, as the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Nixon) has said, £91,000,000 has been allocated for housing purposes. I have not enumerated everything that the Budget contains but I have indicated what kind of budget it is.
I know that there are different points of view on what a budget should do. People are entitled to have their own opinion. That is their democratic right. After all, every one does not see a matter in the same light. But frequently you will find that people do not think of fundamentals. Very often they are swayed by party political prejudices, believing that the other party is always wrong irrespective of what it does. In these cases catch cries sometimes become facts in the minds of the people. Then very often people are swayed by selfish motives and do not concern themselves with what is best for the nation so long as what is done suits their own purposes. Many people have such selfish motives. Then there are some who have an obsession about a particular matter and believe that if something is not done about it the rest of the programme will fall to the ground.
Let us be clear about our objectives. I would say that all our efforts should be directed first, and above all else, to building a new nation; secondly, to preserving our democratic way of life; thirdly, to cooperating with other nations to keep the peace and preserve freedom for all; and fourthly, to increase our standard of living by evenhanded justice to the individual. Australia has a population of only 10,500,000 but bears a heavy responsibility. After all we are in the Pacific, adjoining the eastern nations, where more than half the world’s population resides, but we are on the boundary fence. We are attached to western democracy. We have all the know-how handed down by tradition to us and yet we are completely uninhibited. We have the grave responsibility of occupying a vast continent, one of the last on earth to be developed. We have a responsibility not only to the free people of the world but also to the many young countries that have gained independence in South-East Asia in recent years. Unless we build here a new nation that is pledged to freedom and democracy, we are not doing our duty.
I put it to the House that our primary object should be to establish the basis upon which a great nation can be built. Just as surely as we are in this House to-day Australia in time will become a great nation with a population of not 10,500,000, or 20,000,000, but of 100,000,000 or more. All we who live in this time, we who in the Parliament of this country to-day are legislating, are laying the foundations upon which this new nation is to be built. We must not make errors; we must not allow this country to drift into a condition that is not in line with our ideals and our free way of life. Therefore, the greatest responsibility rests upon us to lay the foundation to-day for this great new nation. Everything depends upon us. This is basically what is contained in this Budget and is the policy of this Government in its approach to national affairs.
I invite honorable members to examine how the Government is laying the foundation. Look at what has already been started. The Government has spent £200,000,000 on the great Snowy Mountains scheme. This is an average of £16,600,000 per annum. Labour spent only £2,500,000 on it. The Government has carried on this scheme until £200,000,000 has been spent. The Government has provided for Commonwealth aid for roads the sum of £352,000,000 with an average annual expenditure of £29,300,000. Labour spent a mere £8,900,000 per annum. For war service homes the Government has provided £382,000,000 at an average rate of £30,500,000 per annum. Labour, when it was in office, spent only £16,200,000 per annum. Those figures give some idea of the difference in approach of the two parties. Labour is pre-occupied with its socialistic ideas, consumer spending and its handouts to gain political favour. We, as I have said, are trying to develop this country by increasing its production and by giving work by establishing the basis for projects by which the nation can develop.
Think of some of the other national works, in addition to those I have already mentioned, for which we on this side are responsible. Great water conservation schemes have been initiated by the Government in co-operation with the States. A grant of £5,000,000 was made to Western Australia mainly for the Ord River diversion dam. The Government provided funds for work on the Mount Isa railway in Queensland. Great improvements have been made in the nation’s coal production to the point where the coal industry has developed an export market. Under a Labour government the industry had no export market but had plenty of domestic troubles - communism was in charge of the mining unions at the time. To-day a great export trade is being developed as a result of the assistance that this Government has given.
Standardization of railway gauges is another developmental work for which the Government has provided money. Funds have been made available for beef roads construction which will be of much assistance to primary production in Australia. The Government has concentrated on the production of uranium and on supporting the Atomic Energy Commission; encouragement has been given to the mining industry. No one can deny the progress that the Government has made. We have concentrated on those things. One need only point to the search for oil and the unprecedented expansion in oil refineries since this Government took office to realize the importance that the Government attaches to the oil industry. These are only some of the great works that have been started and are still being undertaken.
Honorable members have heard the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and the Minister for Trade (Mr, McEwen) emphasize what the Government has done to try to increase our export trade. Last year Australia’s export income was £1,070,000,000- the highest in our history. This was a direct result of the work that the Government has done. Some people may not realize the significance of this increase in our export trade, but we cannot hope to build this country, free to undertake those tasks of high ideal that I have just mentioned in the developing of a new nation, unless we first build our export trade so as to provide the means of obtaining the capital goods needed for our development. It is vital for the future of this nation that this work be kept going.
Everything turns on the question of trust. It is important on the world scene that the actions we take in this country should receive the commendation and trust of the other nations who are committed to the same kind of life as we are. I claim, and no one will deny, that the reputation overseas of this Government - indeed the reputation overseas of its Prime Minister - stands at an all-time record. No one can deny that overseas investors invest in Australia with every confidence in its future - because they believe Australia has stable government and is represented by people who have the right thoughts for its future.
This faith could easily be destroyed if the Australian people were foolish enough to put into power a government that would run on socialist ideas and would destroy all possibility of building within a reasonable time a great new nation, as we are bound - indeed obliged - to do.
.- The speech of the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer) would be humorous if it were not so serious for the many little people who have been hurt by the actions of this Government. His whole theme was that we have never had it better. I invite the Minister to come back to my electorate any time he likes - the sooner the better - and address the record number of unemployed there. He might tell those 808 unemployed the same things that he has been telling us this afternoon. His speech would be small comfort to them. What they are looking for is jobs. They want to work. They would not agree that under this Government we have never had it better than at present.
I wish to speak for a group of people in the community - the farmers - who certainly would not agree with the Minister. Farm income has fallen by 3 per cent, from £485,000,000 in 1960-61 to £472,000,000 last year. This is of vital concern to all of us. We in Australia are dependent upon primary products for up to 80 per cent, of our export earnings; and upon our earnings depends our ability to pay for imports.
It is essential to our standard of living that the farming community should be prosperous. But what has happened in this connexion? In 1949-50, the last year of the Labour Government’s administration, farm incomes totalled £444,000,000. Compare that amount with the returns over the past four years of the Menzies Government’s administration. In 1958-59, farm incomes totalled £455,000,000. The total rose to £465,000,000 in 1959-60 and to £485,000,000 in 1960-61. Last year it fell by 3 per cent, to £472,000,000. What a sorry record that is for this Government! Down the long years from 1949-50, when the Labour Government went out of office, farm incomes have risen by only £28,000,000, or 6 per cent. This was during a period of good seasons and good overseas markets.
Last year, the Commonwealth Statistician published a consumer price index going back to 1949 and showing that £100 in 1949-50 bought goods which to-day cost £189. Applying this yardstick, the farmers with their £472,000,000 last year had in real income little more than half what they had in 1949-50, when Labour went out of office. Of course, the farmers realize this. Earlier in this sessional period, I told the House of a meeting of more than 200 farmers that was held this year at Ulverstone in north-western Tasmania. That meeting passed a resolution urging the Government to take steps to stabilize the position of small farms. Those farmers realized there is no progress and no stability under this Government, as is claimed by honorable members opposite. It is about time the Government and its supporters came down from their ivory towers, went out among the people and learned the true position in the country.
Farmers’ incomes are a true indication of the stagnation in the Australian economy. As I pointed out earlier, the farmers have in real income little more than half of what they had twelve years ago. On behalf of these people and the Tasmanian Potato Marketing Board, I submitted a request for a subsidy for potatoes shipped to Ceylon, because we wanted to ensure a foothold in the Asian market. But although the Government talks so much about developing Asian markets and has spent thousands of pounds on trade delegations and trade promotion, it describes as dangerous any attempt actually to open up trade. It turned down that request. This Government failed the farmers then.
Still, we tried again and sought an extension of the higher guaranteed price of ls. 6d. per lb., less processing charges, for export lambs shipped to the United Kingdom from the expiry date of 1st December, through the months of December, January and February. That request was rejected, too. Practically all lambs on the mainland will qualify for the higher price. Why discriminate against Tasmania and make Tasmanian producers take the lower price simply because of the later Tasmanian season? Tasmania’s main export season is from December to February. This discrimination is against the spirit of federation, and is totally unacceptable to us. We have put up with enough from this Government.
In Tasmania, we grow the best lambs in the Commonwealth of Australia. They arc even better than the Canterbury lambs in New Zealand as is proved by the awards we have won in the United Kingdom. Yet this Government will not allow us even to stamp our lambs as a Tasmanian product. Then it has had the audacity to discriminate against Tasmanian producers and has made us take the lower guaranteed price. Our farmers need stability. More than any one else, they need to get out of the rut of stagnation.
No matter what Government supporters say to the contrary, there can be no denying a lack of stability when we consider the Australian sheep industry survey, published last week by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics. Let us look at a property in Tasmania with a capital value of £102,862, engaged in merino wool-growing. The net farm income from such a property has fallen in the three years from 1957 to 1960 from £6,728 to £4,332. The important factor is that the return to capital and management has fallen from £5,972 to £3,514, or from 5.91 per cent, to 3.36 per cent.
On a property engaged in growing crossbred wool, with an assessed capital value of £26,991, the net farm income has fallen from £1,548 to £969, which is little more than the pay received by a hired farm hand. It certainly provides nothing for managerial skill, administration of the property and so on. The return to capital and management has fallen from £792 to £151, or from 3.02 per cent, to .55 per cent.
In the case of a crossbred fat lamb property - this is where we, as a State, are being discriminated against in the payment of the higher guaranteed price - the position is even worse. On a property with an assessed capital value of £28,498, the net farm income has fallen from £1,391 to £1,181. The return to capital and management has fallen from £635 to £363, or from 2.1 per cent, to 1.29 per cent. There is no need for me to remind the committee that wool is our biggest export earner. In view of this, the Government will have to give serious consideration to the facts brought to light in this most recent survey. Surely, it must grant Tasmania the higher minimum price for export lambs to stabilize the industry in Tasmania.
One thing is certain: The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann), who is in charge of war service land settlement, should immediately review the commitments he expects soldier settlers to meet in respect of sheep blocks on which they have been settled. Under the present arrangement, the settler must find annually an amount which would represent at least 6 per cent, of the total capital investment in his holding. “Yet the survey shows that the farmer on a merino wool-growing property is receiving only 3.36 per cent, and the farmer on a crossbred wool-growing property only .55 per cent. The settler on a crossbred fat lamb property receives only 1.29 per cent. It is impossible for the settlers to find 6 per cent, to meet their commitments, and in all fairness to the men concerned the Minister should review this matter.
I was particularly interested to read in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ a report on action that is being taken in New South Wales. The report shows that this problem is not peculiar to Tasmania, but is also apparent in other States. The New South Wales Government has made a concession to struggling soldier settlers engaged in wool-growing and fat lamb raising. This follows the setting up of a committee by the New England Soldier Settlers Association, including representatives of the University of New England. The article goes on to state -
The report of the committee says that in many instances ex-servicemen who had settled on sheepraising blocks since 1955 had no chance of succeeding, whatever their efforts or capabilities.
Then the report quotes the Minister for Lands in New South Wales as having said -
The Lands Department’s change in policy would reduce the annual commitment of many settlers by as much as £800 a year. 1 turn now to the question of loans for rural purposes and here I would like to quote from a letter written by a group of primary producers in one part of my electorate. Dealing with this problem of bank loans for primary producers they say -
. we would like to mention that there is a desperate need for short and long term loans in the farming sector. There is the strange fact that in times of plenty loans are easily obtained, but when rural industry needs these loans most, they are restricted or have to be reduced.
The rural industry, if to maintain its livelihood and competing abilities with elsewhere in the world, needs capital or protection. When banks are not prepared to assist to any extent, farmers are at mercy of merchants, brokers, etc., for credit and are sitting ducks for high interest rates. It is absurd that the banks indirectly advance monies to farmers through this sector of enterprise, enabling this sector to gain profit on interest rates - ali this adding to unnecessary greater production costs in primary industry.
Mr. Chairman, the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes) raised this matter in a question directed to the Treasurer on Tuesday last when he referred to the growing need in rural industries for finance on a term equivalent, for instance, to that of the usual housing loan. In his reply the Treasurer said, among other things -
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.
Of course we all know about these other institutions. They include hire-purchase companies, pastoral companies and insurance companies. We all know, from trying to help farmers, how practically impossible it is to get loans through the normal banking channels. As my constituents say in the letter to which I have referred, they are sitting ducks for higher interest rates when they are forced to go from the banks to these outside finance institutions.
Consider the position of a person who wants to borrow £10,000 for, perhaps, the development of some land. If he is unable to get it from the Commonwealth Trading Bank or the private trading banks, he is forced into the hands of, say, an insurance company. He must insure himself for £10,000, and so the high premium on this policy is added to his repayment of principal, plus interest at 6, 7, or even 8 per cent. That makes money so dear that it is practically impossible to-day for any one to do any fresh developmental work or try to set up his sons or daughters on farms.
One could go on and give numerous other specific instances, but time does not permit. However, I do urge the Treasurer to adhere to the assurance he gave to the honorable member for Barker that this matter would not be overlooked when the next review was made of the banking policy of this Government.
I should like now to turn for a few moments to Commonwealth and State financial relations. In view of the unemployment in my State of Tasmania, which rose from 3,000 in May to some 4,000 in July, I repeat the plea that I made last year for the cancellation of the interest bill that is payable by Tasmania, from its own taxation revenue, on money lent to it for State works.
I remind the committee that in June, 1959, the Premiers’ Conference devised a new scheme of grants to replace the tax reimbursement grants which had operated since 1946. This new arrangement was to operate for a six-year period, commencing with the fiscal year 1959-60. The view has been held by the State of Tasmania that the basis adopted for calculating the new grants is of particular advantage to the non-claimant States, which as members know are New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Queensland. This opinion has been confirmed by the very definite improvement that has taken place in the revenue positions of those nonclaimant States.
The claimant States, Western Australia and Tasmania, do not derive the same relative benefit from the new grants, and their ability to achieve satisfactory budgetary results will continue to depend upon the receipt of substantial special grants. A study of the Budget papers over the past two years reveals that every mainland State will receive Commonwealth assistance for special projects and that Tasmania is excluded from such benefit. Certainly we did get a grant for the immediate relief of unemployment, but despite this the figures are still mounting. In my electorate alone the number of unemployed increased from 575 in May to an all-time record of 808 last month. The Bishop of Tasmania, the Right Reverend G. F, Cranswick, criticized the unemployment relief hand-out by this Government as only a temporary measure, and went on record as saying that to pay unemployment benefit is merely to tinker with the symptoms of this social malady rather than to deal with the causes.
This Government could make a major contribution by cancelling the interest bill that is payable by Tasmania, at least on that money that has been lent to us for our State works programme from Commonwealth revenue. If the interest bill were remitted we could finance more developmental works and so reduce unemployment. This should be done if we are to be denied special grants. In this connexion the Budget papers show that in the twelve years ending this financial year the Commonwealth has provided, mainly from revenue, £916,000,000 in support of State works programmes. These revenues, taxed from the people, have not been given to the States; they have been lent to the States at current bond interest rates, involving the States immediately in burdens of repayment of principal and interest which will continue down the next 53 years.
Under the policies pursued by this Government since it took office at the end of 1949, some £2,461,300,000 of revenue will have been used to support Commonwealth and State capital works up to the end of June, 1963. Of that figure, £1,545,200,000 has been expended upon Commonwealth works and, as I have already indicated, £961,000,000 on State public works.
It is little wonder, Mr. Chairman, that throughout the term of the Menzies Government, while the public debt of the Commonwealth has fallen by £282,000,000, the public debt of the States has increased’ by £1,880,000,000, as is shown at page 92 of the Budget papers for 1962-63. Over the same period the annual interest bill of the Commonwealth has increased by only £3,500,000 per annum, while that of the States has risen from £35,000,000 to £130,000,000, as is shown at page 94 of the Budget papers.
This constitutes a colossal burden upon State budgets. A very large portion of this interest represents interest on the total sum of £916,000,000 contributed from revenue in support of States works programmes. The effect in the case of Tasmania is that whereas the public debt of the State on 30th June, 1949, was only £37,700,000, it is now £194,000,000, which represents an increase in the interest liability of the State of more than £6,000,000 per annum.
It would revolutionize the finances of the State of Tasmania if the Commonwealth were to cancel that portion of its public debt which represents moneys provided from revenues subscribed by the taxpayers, raised without interest, and upon which the States are now to pay interest in addition to repaying the principal by instalments. The very least that the Commonwealth, which is both the issuer and the holder of the Commonwealth bonds in these cases, should do is to cancel the interest liability of the States. The release from this obligation would provide ready money for the States, enabling them to proceed with developmental works and to initiate projects which would not only relieve unemployment but would give a general stimulus to the economy of each State.
Unemployment is indeed a serious problem, but the Government is evidently prepared to live with it. Let me cite to the committee the peak figures for unemployment in the various years since the little horror Budget was brought down in March, 1956. They will show that the Government is quite prepared to put up with a situation in which a high level of unemployment continues. In 1956, the number of unemployed rose to a peak level of 38,000. In 1957, the maximum number of unemployed was 59,000 in December. In 1958, the level reached 75,000; in 1959, the top level was 82,000; the maximum was slightly lower in 1960, being 69,000; in 1961, it reached 116,000, and the number of unemployed now stands at 90,000 persons. This rapid increase over the last couple of years was caused primarily by the lifting of import restrictions in 1960 and the change in the Government’s credit policy. The lifting of import restrictions affected industries throughout the length and breadth of Australia. In my own State of Tasmania it affected mainly the textile industry, the timber industry and the paper industry. In the case of the paper industry the establishment most affected was Associated Pulp and Paper Mills Limited at Burnie.
I have said in this House on many occasions that the timber industry is one that has suffered greatly from the stupid and short-sighted actions of this Government.
In Tasmania alone some 2,000 people were thrown out of work, and to-day we find that 500 or 600 key men have left the industry for good. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) now takes credit for the protection that the Government has given to industries. He seeks to remedy the damage that he did. But the measures he now announces, like all of his measures, will be ineffective and will do nothing to assist the problems of the timber industry. The honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Nixon) is trying to interject. I am pleased to see him showing interest in this matter. He spoke about the timber industry and said how pleased he was about quantitative restrictions. I would like to quote a message from a letter sent to the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) by the Tasmanian Timber Association of Launceston -
Whilst we agree with the principle of import licensing and the recognition by the Government that import licensing can now be used to protect local industries, the quotas of timber imports fixed for the July-December, 1962, period are greatly in excess of requirements and will do nothing to alleviate the acutely depressed condition of the Australian timber industry. In fact, the reluctance of importers to leave any part of their quotas unused could lead to excessive accumulations of imports, with prolonged and serious complications for local producers.
During 1961-62 the volume of imports approximated 293,000,000 super, feet. This quantity was sufficient to allow free choice of timbers and, during the last three months of that year, a substantial build-up in stocks of imported timbers. Despite the large stock accumulation at the commencement of the first licensing period, import quotas have been fixed at a rate approximating 342,000,000 super, feet per year - or 17 per cent, higher than in the preceding twelve months and this only on the assumption that the proportion of unlicensed timbers does not increase. In Victoria-
This will interest the honorable member for Gippsland, because a good deal of scantling timber is produced in his electorate - - the competitive position is even worse as the quotas fixed represent a rate approximately 33i per cent, higher than for the preceding twelve months.
It is difficult to see how these import quotas can be reconciled with the principle that import licensing was introduced in order to protect the local timber industry.
The communication goes on to point out that there is every likelihood that quotas will have to be fixed for the first six months of next year; and in view of the depressed state of the industry we ask now that lower volumes of imports be set for that period.
Apart from unrestricted imports from lowwage countries in recent years, our timber industry has been affected by the decline in home-building, particularly in Victoria. The circumstances of the home-building industry constitutes a barometer of conditions in the timber industry, because a rise or fall in housing figures directly affects the timber market. Such fluctuations are felt particularly in Tasmania, which sells 81 per cent, of its exportable timber to Victoria, which is the State that has been hardest hit in the matter of availability of finance for housing. Exports of timber from Tasmania to Victoria fell from 60,000,000 super, feet in 1959-60 to 45,000,000 super, feet in 1961-62, a drop of 25 per cent.
Let us look more closely at the housing figures for the various States. In New South Wales 29,522 houses were built in 1960, whilst in 1961 there was a very small drop to 28,522. In South Australia, 9,379 houses were built in 1960, whilst in 1961 there was also a very small drop to 9,119. In Victoria 24,456 houses were built in 1960, but in the next year, 1961, the number fell by 5,806 to 18,740. In New South Wales the numbers fell by about 1,000, and in South Australia by fewer than 300, whilst in Victoria, to which State we supply most of our timber, the number fell by 5,806. Had conditions in Victoria been similar to those in New South Wales, where one house was built to every 102 people, 28,728 homes would have been built in Victoria. In South Australia one home was built to every 106 people, and on this ratio Victoria would have had 27,644 houses built. These figures clearly indicate that Victoria is getting a raw deal, which in turn means that Tasmania is suffering an acute depression in its timber industry. In fact, unless something is done to stimulate the homebuilding industry, the prospects for the timber industry not only in Tasmania but in all other parts of Australia as well are extremely bleak.
In Canberra this month nearly 60 representatives of the building industry from all States met to prepare a common policy for meeting Australia’s housing requirements. Their solution was that the present liquidity ratio of all savings banks be reduced from 70 to 65 per cent., on the strict understanding that the extra 5 per cent, so released will be ear-marked exclusively for home finance. and that such an arrangement must be on a permanent basis. Unfortunately, these gentlemen were not in possession of the real facts or they would have known that the banks are already operating at a level of 80 per cent., or even higher, with direction of funds into Commonwealth securities or the Reserve Bank. The banks, therefore, do not want to give any practical help for housing with their money. If they did, they could restrict their allocations to the Commonwealth Government and the Reserve Bank to the statutory limit of 70 per cent, and release up to £100,000,000 in additional funds for housing. It is high time that the Government faced its responsibilities with regard to housing, particularly in respect of home finance in Victoria.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Mr. Temporary Chairman, I was very glad to see the honorable member for Braddon (Mr. Davies) take such an interest in Victoria’s problems. It is always good to see Tasmanians taking an interest in Victoria. We Victorians, too, like to help our sister State, which is so close to our shores, and I am glad to see the way in which representatives of the two States can co-operate in the solution of mutual problems.
I was glad, also, to see the honorable member take a refreshing interest in the problems of the rural industries, for there has been so little mention by Opposition speakers during this debate of rural problems. Indeed, until I heard the remarks of the honorable member for Braddon, I wondered whether all Opposition members had forgotten that there were people who lived on the land. We listened for a long time to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) when he took part in this debate, but we heard not one reference by him to the rural industries. Nor, until the honorable member for Braddon spoke, did any other Opposition member mention this important sector of our economy. Government speakers in this debate, on the other hand, have shown that they realize that, as a result of this Government’s economic policies during the last two or three years, the people who have benefited most are those who live on the land.
Surely the benefit to country people is demonstrated by the fact that in the financial year ended 30th June, 1962, our exports reached a record level of £1,080,000,000. This happened only because we have gone out of our way to achieve a stable price level, which has benefited particularly th’ose people who produce the commodities that we export. Furthermore, this stable price level has been achieved at a time when prices in the United Kingdom, the United States of America, many countries of western Europe and other countries to which we export, are rising possibly more rapidly than at any stage during the past ten years. The advantages of a stable price level in Australia are surely demonstrating themselves month after month. One would have expected honorable members opposite to mention these two important factors of our economic policy, but not once was there any mention by Opposition speakers of the important rural sector of our economy until we heard the refreshing speech made by the honorable member for Braddon.
Opposition speakers have concentrated on manufacturing industry. As the representative of the Fawkner electorate, I am particularly interested in manufacturing industry, which plays an important part in my electorate. Therefore, I shall take on the Opposition on its own ground by discussing the situation of people at present engaged in manufacturing industry. I begin by saying that this Government’s economic policy is designed to help private enterprise. With that in mind, let me discuss the economic environment as it is at present. I do not want to go into the past and keep harking back to what happened in 1960 or 1949, or at any other time in the past. Let me take the situation as it is here and now. I say to any privateenterprise undertaking engaged in manufacturing industry in Australia at the present time, “Look at the wonderful economic environment in which you find yourself “.
Let me run through a number of important aspects of manufacturing industry to-day. First of all, the manufacturer has full access to raw materials produced not only in Australia but also in any other part of the world. Absolutely no controls are imposed, and he can import raw materials from any place from which he wants to get them. Secondly, he has full access to new machinery and can obtain for his manufacturing processes the most modern plant obtainable from any part of the world. In fact, we encourage him, by means of special investment allowances, to buy new machinery with which to manufacture his product. Thirdly, any manufacturer in Australia who considers that he faces undue competition from imports can have his case for protection heard speedily by the Special Advisory Authority associated with the Tariff Board and can obtain promptly a determination on the question of whether the competition that he faces is fair or unfair. Not for many years have decisions been available to manufacturers more promptly than at present. Indeed, some people may say that we have gone too far in this respect.
Fourthly, the manufacturer has full access to finance for development. Capital issues are not now controlled in Australia, and they never will be, I trust, while we have a government of the political complexion of the present one. Not only has the manufacturer full access to new money on the stock exchanges of Australia, but also, if he has a good case, he can obtain through agencies such as the Commonwealth Development Bank of Australia and insurance companies funds with which to increase the size and scope of his business. As we well know, over the last ten years, there has been no time better than the present for the manufacturer to approach the banks and obtain increased supplies of working capital for his business.
Probably one of the most important factors for any manufacturer who has to estimate his costs for the purpose of determining whether he ought to manufacture a particular article, or for the purpose of submitting a tender for the supply of equipment, is a stable price level. No time has been more favorable than is the present for the making of these estimates. They can be made more easily now than in the past because we have a stable price level and also stable wage rates. The estimation of costs and future selling prices has never been more easy than at present. Next, labour and materials are available for any expansion programme. Various shortages such as were found in the past do not now exist.
The next point is that there are no changes in tax rates. So often in the past, we have been told by manufacturers that changes in tax rates made it difficult for them to plan ahead. This Budget makes no change in the rates of taxes. This, also, should make it easier for the manufacturer to plan ahead. Finally, in estimating sales, the manufacturer can plan for a gradual increase in sales on the home market. With a programme of steady immigration and with increasing population, the home market is growing the whole time. Also, there are opportunities, if the manufacturer chooses to take advantage of them, for increased sales overseas as a result of the many incentives that this Government gives him to increase his exports.
All these things, Mr. Temporary Chairman, convince me that at no time over the last twelve years has there been a better economic framework within which to manufacture than there is at present. The one thing that any manufacturer needs to do is to get out and sell. In the past, he has not had enough incentive to do that. Selling has been too easy since the Second World War. But now, the one thing that the manufacturer needs to do is to sell, both on the home market and overseas. If every private enterprise manufacturer does his best to sell, there will be no more of this talk of lack of confidence in the Australian market. The Government has provided the necessary economic framework. The time is now ripe for private enterprise to take full advantage of the magnificent situation in which it finds itself.
We heard the Deputy Leader of the Opposition grumble about some problems which he said existed in this field of private enterprise. He said that share prices on the stock exchanges are low. Anybody who heard the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Freeth) detail last evening the results of the operations of companies that have published their balance-sheets in the last month will know what good results are being achieved. Each day now, we see reports of companies producing better results than ever. All this shows how conditions are improving in the industrial field. As we were told yesterday by the honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner), every indicator shows that throughout the entire range of activity, except possibly in the field of housing, the situation is improving.
At this point, perhaps I may digress for a moment and discuss some of the matters that were raised by the honorable member for Braddon, particularly housing. Even if the rate of house construction at the moment is possibly not at quite as high a level as it was two years ago, the annual rate of commencements of new houses and flats is more than 86,000. Figures published this morning show that in July, authorizations of new houses and flats were nearly 8,500. This suggests that the building rate is in excess of 86,000 a year. The Australian Industries Development Association suggested a target of 93,000 homes a year, and already we are very close to that figure. So, even if the housing rate does reach 93,000, as I am confident it will in the next few months, the timber industry in Tasmania would seem to be geared at too high a level. Even with a high rate of home construction, it will find difficulty in selling all the timber that it can produce. It should be looking for other markets.
The Opposition has made much of the need for full employment. I have always believed that we must make certain that we achieve full employment, but I would add the word “ useful “. I believe we should have not only full employment but also full useful employment. We should ensure that every person who is in a job is doing a job that is needed by the community. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition spent some time establishing that in some industries the work force is lower than it was in 1960. What he did not say is that in many instances production in those industries is greater than it was in 1960 and that there has been a marked increase in productivity in many industries over the last two years. The task for Australia to-day is not to get back to 1960, as the Deputy Leader of the Opposition would have us believe; the task is to reach a production figure in excess of the 1960 figure. We must find many new avenues of growth in order to employ the additional work force made available by the increase of productivity that we have experienced in the last two years.
I remember well that the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) spent some time in 1960 saying that the Australian work force was unbalanced, that there were far too many people in private enterprise and not enough in the public sector of the economy. He said that there were shortages of telephones, post offices, schools and so on. But what has the Government done in the last two years? It has effected a change in the distribution of man-power so that the various bottlenecks in the public sector that were holding up private enterprise are now being overcome. There has been a transfer of labour into some of the public sector for this very purpose. Now that we have done this, what is the cry from the Opposition? It is that the Government is bolstering up the economy with public works. Surely the Opposition cannot have it both ways!
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition said more than once: “ We will plan ahead. We will have a wonderful scheme of planning that will solve all our problems.” On what criteria will he decide that certain industries will grow at a certain rate and that other industries will grow at a different rate? How will he arrive at these targets for growth? He has not given us these details. But he has mentioned one matter and this may perhaps be taken as the way he will plan for growth. Let us examine his plan for a nationally owned overseas shipping line. This was also mentioned this afternoon by the honorable member for Stirling (Mr. Webb). If this is to be one of the ways in which the Opposition will plan, we should inquire as to whether it is the most economical way of achieving the best use of Australia’s resources.
As the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) told us last night, the effect of the featherbedding of our coastal shipping trade is that it costs two and a half times as much to send copper concentrates from Port Augusta to Port Kembla as from Port Augusta to Japan. If the intention is to establish a subsidized overseas shipping line, let us consider some of the costs that the Australian taxpayer would have to meet. The first point I want to hammer home is that, to achieve a balance-of-payments saving of £200 a year the Australian taxpayer must pay £360 a year, a ratio of 5 to 9. The figures I am about to give are based on a paper prepared by the chairman of the Australian National Line, Captain J. P. Williams, entitled “The Problems Facing Australian Shipping in the Next Decade “. I will not go into the detailed figures; I have a summary that has been prepared from the detailed figures. The wonderful planners and economists opposite should keep these figures in mind.
For every £1,000 of freight received by an overseas vessel trading between, say, continental and Australian ports about £270 is spent in Australia at the moment. The net drain on our overseas balance of payments is £730. If we were to have an Australian vessel operating between the same ports, it would be found that the Australian vessel would spend £530 overseas. The net gain, therefore, to the balance of payments would be £200 for every £1,000 of freight earned. That is a saving of 20 per cent. But in order to achieve this saving we would need to have an investment of £6,600, assuming that the ship were built in Australian yards at Australian prices. This, of course, includes the subsidy of one-third, which is already being paid by Australian taxpayers. In order to do this, we would need to find an interest charge of £170 a year on the building subsidy. The difference in operating costs must be subsidized, and this has been estimated at £190 for every £1,000 of freight earned. Let me repeat that, in order to achieve a balance-of-payments saving of £200 a year, the cost to the Australian taxpayer would be £360 a year. On the larger scale, in order to achieve a worthwhile saving in the balance of payments of £10,000,000 a year, we would need a subsidy of £18,000,000 a year and a capital investment of £330,000,000.
We should compare this with the way that the Government has tried to increase exports. One matter that has been mentioned here is our aid to the export of coal. For an investment of £35,000,000 in coal ports in New South Wales and Queensland, we can increase our coal exports by £10,000,000 a year. An investment of £35,000,000 in Australian-built ships for an overseas shipping line would produce a balance-of-payments saving of £1,000,000. The same amount could be used to obtain an increase of £10,000,000 in our exports of coal. Surely, it is better for the Government to invest in the most economical way rather than the uneconomical way proposed by the Opposition. I think, in the history of this Government, we have gone out of our way to spend the Australian taxpayers’ money on an economic basis. The Opposition’s proposal for a government-owned overseas shipping line would be one of the most uneconomic ways in which to spend the Australian taxpayers’ money. The Opposition should have another look at some of these figures before they endorse these proposals. Everything that the Government has done has been done to help increase our exports and improve our balance of payments. We have used the criteria of useful work for the work force, an economic return for the taxpayers’ money, and a smoothing out of bottle necks which have hampered private enterprise,
One other thing I want to say before I conclude: During the whole of this debate on the Budget we have been thinking of the problems that we will encounter if the United Kingdom should join the European Economic Community. In a long speech, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition gave his views on this subject. He emphasized, quite rightly, the political aspect that will be faced if the United Kingdom joins the Common Market. But neither he nor any member of the Opposition has said where the Labour Party stands on this issue. Do they believe that it is to Australia’s advantage for the United Kingdom to join the Common Market or do they not think that? Let us have some courage from members of the Opposition and let them say where they stand on this issue. I have said on more than one occasion, including the 8th March, 1961, that I thought that the political advantages of the United Kingdom’s joining the Economic Community were such that it was vital that it should do so. I have stated that it is in Australia’s interests that the United Kingdom should join the European Economic Community. I think the political advantages are such that they do not need much further debate. But not one member of the Opposition has done anything but sit on the fence with regard to this issue. I wish the Opposition would show a little more courage. I wish honorable members opposite would say where they stand on the political issue even if they are not prepared to say where they stand on the economic issue. I hope that before we finish our discussion of this Budget and of the Common Market next week we shall have some courageous statement in this respect from one member of the Opposition.
– Perhaps it would be appropriate if I commenced on the note on which the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Howson) finished. He challenged us to indicate what we think of the United Kingdom’s entry into the European Economic Community as a political issue. I remind him that the one outstanding Britisher whom we all admire in the United Kingdom, Sir Winston Churchill, is opposed to the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom with respect to the political advantages - not the economic advantages - that will flow from the entry of the United Kingdom into the European Common Market. That was stated clearly on television the other night. The honorable member for Fawkner has asked for a political decision on this matter from the Opposition. My answer is that the greatest leader the United Kingdom has produced has said that it would be bad, from a political point of view, for the United Kingdom to join the Common Market. I always like to listen to the contribution of the honorable member for Fawkner. One of his statements with which I concur was that he favoured the useful employment of the whole of the Australian work force. The Opposition believes in that objective, too. That is why we object to the necessity to provide £13,000,000 in this Budget for unemployment benefit.
The honorable member spoke about the increase in productivity. I have heard honorable members on the Government side of the chamber say that increased productivity should be the basis of increased improvements in wages and conditions of employees. However, the present basic wage was fixed as at June, 1960, taking into account only productivity increases for 1959-60. We have now almost finished the year 1962, and the Government is talking about stabilizing the present situation. Since the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission last fixed the basic wage there have been three minor falls in the cost of living in the last three quarters despite the fact that the court added 12s. to the basic wage on the occasion that I mentioned. In his Budget speech the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) referred to the question of employment and production but the Opposition does not agree with the way in which he stated it. He said -
In 1961-62 there were big increases in employment, production and the volume of trade and, generally, expansion appears to be proceeding steadily. But there is still some way to go. Unemployment has to be reduced further. There is still a fair amount of plant capacity which could be taken up and there is always new labour coming forward and new plant being installed.
The Treasurer also said -
To cope with this formidable task of absorbing labour, it is clear that there has to be a substantial and continuing rise in the demand for labour - directly, as on building jobs or in transport and the service trades or, indirectly, through the demand for goods back along the lines of production..
In another part of the Budget speech, the Treasurer took credit for the fact that over £1,000,000 was to be spent this year in providing new diesel traction for the South Australian Government. Nobody would know better than the honorable member for Fawkner that with technological advances in transport less and less man-power is required. So, the Government has taken action which will have the reverse effect on employment to that which is desired. Some honorable members on the Government side of the chamber realize that if increases of productivity are not matched with increases of the purchasing power of the community the present stagnation will, continue. That is a fact which the Government does not appear to understand.
I do not disagree with quite a lot that the honorable member for Fawkner said concerning productivity and the need for increases. The following statement appears in the Department of Trade publication, “ Survey of Manufacturing Activity in Australia “, under the heading of “ Basic Materials “: -
Employment in the group did not increase by as much as output did, as a number of industries, due to the special conditions of the recession, made significant recoveries in production without the need for commensurate increases in employment.
One of the things that we do not seem to understand in this country is that every time we re-equip we get closer to outright automation. Every move that is made in re-equipment, whether in rail or road transport or in the air or in manufacturing, brings us closer to automation. Do not think that I am condemning automation and re-equipment. Such a policy has to be followed if we are to succeed as a secondary industry nation. But the problem that this Government does not seem to understand is this: We are not getting full employment and full productivity except in the six capital cities. Like the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Howson), I do not want to go back beyond the last thirteen months. I shall deal with the period from July of last year to July of this year. If we look at the monthly reports issued by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon), we find that over that period the number of unemployed fell from 113,000 to 90,000; or by 1,900 a month. If we analyse those figures, we find that although there were 23,300 fewer people out of employment, 17,000 of them lived in the six capital cities. The fall in unemployment represented by the other 6,000 is the diminution of a small force stretched across Australia. In the majority of the areas concerned, the number of unemployed is increasing. In answer to a question this morning, the Minister for Labour and National Service gave the figures for the country towns and provincial cities, but he did not go as far as I propose to go. This is one of the national problems that the Government is not facing. If the belief of the honorable member for Fawkner is correct, and the Government wants productivity for any money it expends, the first problem to solve is that of getting some return for the £13,000,000 it is pouring down the drain in unemployment relief.
When the Minister produced a report in February of last year, he made a statement that caused me some concern. We know that there is an increase each year in the number of school leavers. The flow of young people from the schools begins in November of each year. In the report that I have mentioned, the Minister referred to a record number of unemployed - to 131,496 people actually listed as waiting for employment. We are getting close to
November now, and we have 90,000 unemployed. In his report of last February the Minister said -
It is now, I think, well understood that a number of factors operate to make difficult a confident interpretation of the employment figures available for individual months in the November, 1961- February, 1962, period.
I suggest that the Minister will be in exactly the same position this year. The Government has merely budgeted for an amount of £13,000,000 to be spent on unemployment relief. It knows that that money will go down the drain, but it appears to be doing nothing effective to reduce unemployment. The Minister mentioned the question of unemployment in country towns this morning, but the Government is doing nothing at all about it. We can forget about the clearing of an area in the Fitzroy Basin, the money being spent on the Mount Isa railway line and the money being advanced to South Australia for the purchase of new railway equipment. We can forget almost everything the Government has done in an attempt to reduce the unemployment that is spreading across the face of this country. It is increasing month by month.
When the Minister was replying to a question in this chamber not long ago, dealing with the man-power position in the coastal towns of Queensland, he referred to what was happening in the meat and sugar industries and said there had been a great falling off of unemployment there. What he should have referred to was the result of automation in those industries in Queensland. In July oflast year, 3,051 men were picked up to meet the requirements of those industries, but this year just over 2.000 were picked up. In other words - let the Minister disprove this if he can - in the period from July oflast year to July of this year the number of men required in the meat and sugar industries has fallen by about 1.000 as the result of automation. Let us look at the impact of that.According to the report issued by the Minister, there has been a fall of only 6,632 in the number of unemployed in places outside Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth and Hobart.
The Prime Minister came into this chamber to answer the splendid case made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in this debate. In reply to the charge by the
Deputy Leader of the Opposition that this Government’s approach to unemployment was callous, the Prime Minister referred to the increased benefits that have been made available by the Government to unemployed people and he said -
Opposition members have my deepest sympathy when confronted by these figures, when they have it. demonstrated that this argument about callousness to the unemployed is hypocritical drivel.
The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) was quick to pick up the lead given by the Prime Minister. He said -
There 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.
That is this Government’s only answer to the unemployment question, yet the honorable member for Fawkner demands a full return for the money that is being spent.
Let us see what has happened between July of last year and July of this year. In 1961 Bendigo had 383 people on unemployment relief and in 1962 the figure was 452. In Wangaratta, in 1961 there were 152 people on unemployment relief and in 1962 there were 384. We would not expect a doubling of unemployment at Wangaratta, where there are so many industries. The figures are similar throughout the country. At Rockhampton, in Queensland, in 1961 there were 192 people on unemployment relief and in 1962 the figure is 374. In Townsville there were 257 on unemployment relief in 1961 and in 1962 the figure is 344. These are not the numbers of people actually unemployed, but of those on unemployment relief. Money is being spent on them without any return. At Maryborough the number receiving unemployment benefit rose from 198 in 1961 to 320 in July, 1962.
I heard the honorable member for Cowper (Mr. McGuren) plead for expenditure on flood mitigation. He said -
Never at any time has any Government supporter seen fit to ask the Government to do something to mitigate this flooding and the consequent heavy damage . . .
In the last ten years in the Clarence River area some £2,500,000 has been lost in milk production. That is enough to pay for the scheme that is needed there.
The honorable member for Lyne (Mr. Lucock) took the honorable member for Cowper to task, but if the honorable member for Lyne analyses the position he will find that in the towns of Kempsey and Taree alone - I do not think the proposed alteration of electoral boundaries will take those towns out of his electorate - not less than 600 persons were receiving unemployment relief in July of this year - an increase of almost 50 per cent, on the July, 1961, figure. The honorable member for Lyne has not considered that aspect.
I agree with the honorable member for Fawkner that if money is to be spent it should be spent on something productive. The Minister for Labour and National Service in his July report on employment made a comparison between the position in 1946 and the position in 1962. I remind him that we are dealing with human beings. Surely to deal with the problem merely in terms of a comparison between 1946 and 1962 is to get down to the lowest rung on the ladder. As we have claimed repeatedly, the Government has treated the unemployed callously.
Apart from the 50 per cent, increase in unemployment during the last twelve months in Taree and Kempsey, as the honorable member for Lyne well knows, a vast number of children will be leaving school this year. Regarding the 600 unemployed on the basis of 200 single persons and 400 married men with two children - the family unit referred to by the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister - we find that the planned expenditure for this year in unemployment relief in those two towns alone is well over £200,000. If we consider the whole of the north coast of New South Wales from Lismore to Maitland, we find an increase of more than 350 in the number of persons receiving unemployment benefit in July, 1962, as compared with July, 1961. In the north coast area 2,500 people are receiving unemployment benefit. Let us regard this number on the basis of 500 single men, 1,000 married men with no children and 1,000 married men with two children. Without taking into account the school leavers for whom jobs will have to be found, £1,000,000 will be spent on unemployment relief in 1962-63. If you try to tell me that this £1,000,000 is being spent profitably, I have yet to learn the value of money.
Let me pass now from the policy which this Government has adopted in relation to unemployment relief to the matter of education. There is such an imbalance in education that I marvel that the Cabinet stands for what is going on. When replying to the remarks of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition on this question, the Prime Minister, who commented really on only two matters, unemployment and education, had this to say -
The second particular comment that I want to make - I might well make 50, but I will limit myself - is that the honorable gentleman said in his projected budget there would be an emergency grant to the States for education.
Whenever the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) introduces a budget he makes a great play on the number of job vacancies. To-day, for the first time, the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) made some reference to the need to educate people for jobs. I do not think that any other member of Cabinet has done so yet. What is happening in the field of technical training to-day is tragic. I have heard the Minister say often that many children remained at school this year instead of seeking jobs. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition knew the true position in relation to education before he made his speech because we had discussed it. He knew the deficiencies which exist in the Australian system of technical training.
Taking Orange in New South Wales as an example, I point out that as soon as boys are trained they have to leave the town to find jobs. The number of persons receiving technical training is falling. The statistics published by the Commonwealth Employment Service - they are available to all honorable members - give an idea of the shocking state of our education system, so far as technical training is concerned, after twelve years of this Government’s administration. Taking the Prime Minister’s own State of Victoria as an example, we find that there are at present 17,481 males out of employment, of which number 474 fall into the categories of skilled metal and electrical staff. But at present Victoria has 1,206 job vacancies in these categories. Yet the Prime Minister brushes off the matter of technical education which was raised by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition!
Evidently this Government has lost its power to think in terms of what is best for Australia. Evidently this Government has lost its power to think of the need for technical training. The Minister spoke about children remaining at school because they had no chance of getting a job. That is a national tragedy. I do not care what amount of money is spent on technical training. Even if the amount ran into millions of pounds, it would be money well spent. We should implement some co-ordinated Commonwealth and State training scheme designed to advance technical skills. The Commonwealth should find the money. Then, instead of children remaining at school because they cannot get jobs, we would be able to give technical training to those who wanted it. The nearer we come to automation, the greater will be the need for highly skilled technicians.
– I agree with you.
– Yes, but the Government is doing nothing about it. Do not tell me that it is a matter for the States. The Prime Minister dismissed this matter by asking us what we would do. Even if £10,000,000 was needed to give technical training to every boy who wanted it, and who otherwise would be compelled to remain at school because he could not get a job, it would be the best £10,000,000 ever spent in Australia.
Let me refer now to the honorable member’s desire to have productive expenditure. There is not one member in this place who would not agree with him. Ministers and honorable members on the Government side have mentioned planning. During the war when every shilling and every ounce of man-power had to be considered, we set up the National Works Council to co-ordinate expenditure and productivity. What was necessary in war-time is more than ever necessary now. The national requirement, about which the honorable member for Cowper spoke, that £1,000,000 a year be expended on unemployment relief on the north coast of New South Wales is an issue that can only be dealt with on a basis of co-ordination between federal, State or local government. You, Mr. Chairman, know that only last week in the town of Kempsey, in which already 302 people are on the dole, the local council had to sack eight more of its employees. The only reason was that it did not have the money to pay them. Just as a national council was required in wartime, so it is required now so that we can get the very thing that the honorable member for Fawkner is talking about.
We must have a co-ordination arrangement between the Commonwealth Government in Canberra, the State governments and shire and municipal authorities to ensure that, instead of pouring £13,000,000 in unemployment benefit down the drain - dead money - we get some return for the money. As the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen) pointed out, the weekly amount paid1 in unemployment relief to a man with a wife and two children is half the basic wage. If that amount of £13,000,000 were set aside and, if need be, an equal amount added to it, a coordinating authority could then make sure that some return would be forthcoming for the money expended. The Deputy Prime Minister and the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) adopted a callous approach and said, “That is what we have done and that is the answer”. The unemployment benefit for a man and his wife is £7 2s. 6d. a week - 48 per cent, of the basic wage. I have never heard of anything quite so stupid as for the Deputy Prime Minister to admit that we are paying men 48 per cent, of the basic wage for no return at all. If we had a co-ordinated system between the authorities that I have mentioned the other 52 per cent, could be added and we could get a full return. That is why the Deputy Leader of the Opposition said that the Government’s approach was callous. On behalf of the people in Kempsey, Taree and all the north-coast towns I say that the position is hopeless. Under this Government’s policy they have no future.
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Sitting suspended from 5.57 to 8 p.m.
– The Budget we are now discussing states the economic policy of the Government for 1962-63. [Quorum formed.] The design of this Budget is to promote the growth of opportunities both for employment and for the greater use of Australian resources. It is supplemented by an effective banking and financial policy to iron out industrial and business fluctuations during the course of the year. The Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) having delivered the Budget, it is the responsibility of the Ministers and members on this side of the chamber both to explain its purposes and to justify it to the Australian people. Sir, I am sure we can do that.
Before I come to the Budget itself, I should like to make two comments about the speech of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam). First, his speech was delivered from a very lofty perch. There were plenty of illustrations from current statistics. It was plentifully larded with statements taken from most of the weekly journals and financial periodicals that are available to us. But what I found singularly lacking in the speech of the honorable gentleman, just as it was singularly lacking in the speeches of all other members of the Opposition, was a feeling for humanity, a feeling of warmth and a feeling that the Labour Party acted for the common man and in his interests. Having hopped off bis perch, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition immediately afterwards jumped into the pan. He said that this Government had been guilty of immorality in its approach to full employment. We state clearly that 2 per cent, of unemployment except at the seasonal peak is too high, and the Treasurer has stated that the action we have taken is designed to reduce the number of unemployed. But when the Labour Party was in office, it regarded 5 or 6 per cent, as normal. If our actions are immoral, what adjective does the Opposition use to describe its own ideas that three times the present number of unemployed is normal?
Secondly - I regret to say this - I think the Deputy Leader of the Opposition indulged, particularly in Melbourne, in personal criticism of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies). What the Deputy Leader of the Opposition - this brash and very ambitious young man - has to learn is that the people of Australia will not tolerate personalities from a young man and criticism of a great man who has successfully led Australia over the past twelve years.
As I see it, there are two questions exercising the mind of the average Australian to-day. What I want to do to-night is to attempt to answer those questions and to satisfy queries about them. Before I do that, Mr. Chairman, might I make one comment? When we are considering our problems, we should not think that it is for the Government alone to carry out the task of re-establishing and maintaining the economic health of this community. There are others as well as the Government. They include the manufacturers, the commercial interests, the retail traders and the trade unions themselves. They have a task to play just as importantly as the Government. The task should not be left to us alone.
As I see it, two questions are exercising the public mind to-day. The first is this: Is the stimulus given by the Budget sufficient to achieve our objectives - to open up the way for greater opportunities to the manufacturers and to ensure greater opportunities of full employment? The second question is complementary. Will the stimulus that is given, and will the activity that follows, be sufficient to permit the absorption of the increasing number of young people leaving school and the growth in the work force that will take place during 1961-62? These, in my view, are the two main problems that face us.
Here I want to state my political philosophy and the cardinal principle of LiberalCountry Party philosophy. We believe in full employment. We do not believe in spouting out statistics. To us it is not statistics that matter. They are but illustrations of a trend and indicate to the Government the action it should take. Why I want full employment - and why I am sure my colleagues want full employment - is because we do not want the suffering and frustration that comes to those who want a job, need one, cannot find one and consequently have to register with the Department of Labour and National Service and, in some cases, apply for unemployment benefit. My view of full employment is that this is a desperately human problem. I cannot understand those who do their best to create difficulties and a climate of pessimism so that unemployment will grow. 1 turn now to the question that I want to answer. Is the stimulus given by the Budget big enough? We have budgeted for a deficit of about £120,000,000. Sir, I would like to put this in context. Looking at Australia’s present economic position, every objective observer would be compelled to admit that what is called the economic structure is sound. We have favorable overseas reserves. Our trading position is good. Our costs are relatively stable. If you look at the whole of the structure, you are compelled to say that it is probably one of the strongest, if not the strongest, in the whole of the western communities. This being so, and if we want increased activity, what is the ingredient missing? I shall come to that later.
We have a sound economy and the Government has budgeted for a deficit of about £120,000,000. Again, I remind the committee that it is not the job of the Government to go it alone and try to do everything on its own. Others have to join with us - the manufacturers, the commercial interests and, in particular, the Australian Council of Trade Unions.
If we look at the figures and at what has happened when we have had deficits in other years, we find that in 1958-59, when the Government budgeted for a deficit of £110,000,000, the number of wage and salary earners rose in the year by 50,000 and unemployment fell. In 1959-60, when the deficit was £61,000,000, the number of wage and salary earners rose by 106,000 and unemployment fell again. If you study the figures to see what has usually followed deficit financing, you will see that usually a budget deficit is followed by a fall in unemployment and a large rise in the number Of wage and salary earners. I think, too, that it is fair to say that the larger the deficit, the bigger the impact and the greater the fall in unemployment. So I think we are entitled to claim that, as this is the biggest deficit we have known, the prospects of a large rise in the number of wage and salary earners is very real and, secondly, that the fall in unemployment should be substantial. I know you cannot always gauge exactly the impact of a deficit because you can never tell just how much people will save, nor can you tell just how much they will spend. What you can say, in the case of a deficit of this kind, is that it must have a stimulatory effect, and in my view the stimulatory effect should be sufficient to achieve the Government’s objectives.
I move on to the second part of this problem. I have stressed, and I want to stress again, that the job is not for the Government alone; the job is there for private industry, for the trade unions, and for consumers. Let us look for a moment at the consumers and ask whether they can afford to spend a little more. The Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) stated in his Budget speech that during the course of the next few months there would be something like £90,000,000 or £95,000,000 in taxation reimbursements flowing into the community. Savings are at an all-time high and are increasing, and there has been a reduction in personal taxation of 5 per cent. In those circumstances no one can argue that there is not sufficient money to permit a large increase in consumer expenditure. There is sufficient, and if the consumers wanted to go on a spending spree it would be found in little or no time that we could quickly have another boom.
Let us turn now to the manufacturers and see what we have done for them. I mention here that the amount of the concessions made by the Government in February and in this Budget will, in a full year, cost the revenue £75,000,000. But let us look further at the manufacturers and see what has been done to provide an incentive for capital investment. In the first place we have given them a 20 per cent, investment allowance, which means they can claim as a deduction from earnings of 20 per cent, more for the manufacturing equipment that they buy than they actually spend in purchasing it. Secondly, protection by way of quantitative restrictions of imports may be imposed by the special tariff authority - call them quotas if you like. We intend to vest in the Tariff Board power to impose such restrictions, if it thinks they are desirable. They are provided with the money and then with the incentive to equip and, secondly, protection of the local market.
I now turn to the trade union movement. I find it strange that members of the Opposition should be claiming that this is a stagnant economy. Even now the trade union movement is claiming a 54 per cent, increase in margins for skill and a big increase in the basic wage. Within the course of the next few months it will argue before the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission that so great has been the increase in productivity and prosperity that they are justified in claiming not a 5 per cent., not 10 per cent., but a 54 per cent, increase in margins. Any one who, in the face of that, claims that the prospects are not bright and that the economy is stagnant, takes a different view from mine. I wonder if the Opposition will state its views to the Arbitration Commission.
This brings me to the answer. I have stated that the structure of the economy is sound; 1 have stated that I believe the Government has given incentives to the consumer and to the manufacturer. What then is the missing ingredient? I was pleased to-day to listen to my friend, the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Howson), debating this matter, and I am sure that what he said is correct. The trouble with us to-day, Sir, is that there is too much gnashing of teeth and wringing of hands. There are far too many people who proclaim that we have difficulties in front of us for which they cannot see a solution. For my part, if I were a businessman, I would regard it as the essential feature of selling and good merchandising to go out and sell my product rather than wail about my problems. This is the ingredient that is lacking.
The great chambers of manufactures and commerce, and the retail traders, in their monthly journals, are all too prone to become involved in the higher realms of economics and to discuss the most academic questions such as the prospects for balance of payments and the future growth of the work force. They always tend to adopt the attitude that our problems are insoluble. The same old problem is academically discussed over and over again and in the process the difficulties become multiplied until finally it does look as though they are insoluble. Too much publicity is given to these matters. In my view, if these great associations spent more of their efforts in creating a psychology favorable to growth and favorable to spending, they would do ever so much better than by employing a few economists to give them an analysis of abstract theories of economics. This, Sir, is the missing ingredient.
We have all a part to play. The Government has, I think, played its part, lt is now up to the other sectors of the economy to take some share of the responsibilities.
I should make, here, this one reservation. Australia is a great trading country and we have a tendency to move to extremes. Many people are now complaining that the consumer is not spending enough. That may perhaps be true. I do not want to advocate that the consumer should spend all he earns, because we still need savings if our developmental programmes are to be continued, and we still need savings if we are to restrain inflation and. consequently, to prevent costs rising and difficulties emerging for the primary producer. I mention that one reservation. I do say in conclusion in this part of my speech that we have a vigorous, healthy community. The structure of the economy is sound. The opportunities are there for rapid and widespread development. It is up to us now to get on with the job; if we do, I predict that this sensitive and difficult problem of employment will quickly be put into perspective.
I hope that what I have said about the stimulatory effects of the Budget deficit will satisfy at least honorable members on this side of the chamber.
The second question I want to debate to-night is this: Is the stimulus sufficiently great to absorb the increase in the work force during 1962-63 and, more particularly, those who are about to leave school? I well remember that just before the last election many people were making predictions that we would not be able to absorb the school leavers who registered with us over the Christmas period or, to put it more precisely, far too many people were claiming that the young people leaving school had no prospect of getting employment. What are the facts and where does the truth lie? Although the Commonwealth Employment Service registered 72,500 young people for employment last year fewer than 5,250 are now registered. That was accomplished at a time when all the critics, including members of the Labour Party, were proclaiming that the problem was insoluble.
Now, Sir, what of this year’s school leavers? I look at the problem in this way. People say we have had a large increase in population, a large increase in the number of school leavers, and that we cannot solve the problem. Let me state in precise terms what the problem is. You can never gauge precisely the number of school leavers or the increase in the work force. We have, to-day, it is true, something like 90,000 people registered for employment, and we believe there will be an increase in the work force of between 85,000 and 90,000 during the course of this year. But we can never say precisely what the increase in the work force will be or how many schoolleavers there will be. What we do is take the number of fifteen-year olds in the community and from that draw certain conclusions. Although I take no personal credit for it, being a bachelor, I can tell honorable members that since 1 have been the Minister for Labour and National Service the number of fifteen-year olds has increased from 175,000 in 1960 to 195,000 in 1961, and it is estimated to be 205,000 this year. What is important is that we have now reached the peak; we expect that the number next year will fall to about 200,000, and we do not expect a further rise to commence until 1965. What is important for me as the Minister for Labour and National Service is that in 1958-59, the first year in which I administered this portfolio, we registered through the Commonwealth Employment Service 39,667 schoolleavers whilst last year we registered 72,376, and we expect to register about 75,000 this year.
I ask myself this question, therefore: If last year, in more difficult economic conditions than we are experiencing to-day, and with roughly the same numbers of people registering with us, we successfully placed nearly all of those people in employment, should we expect any great problem in quickly placing the new school-leavers in employment this year? The outlook this year is undoubtedly better. So I can say with conviction that if we solved the problem without great difficulties last year our prospects should be much better this year. I have no doubt about this. I am sure that this problem of placing schoolleavers has got out of perspective. We. have three good months ahead of us, and the numbers of school-leavers out of employment will drop substantially below 5,000 before the end of October. Those who consider there is a problem, and who prefer to be defeatist, ignore the facts. They fail to appreciate what has been done and the nature of the problem. So, I answer the second question, whether I think that the stimulus is great enough to permit us to absorb the 1962-63 school-leavers more easily than last year. The answer, providing we all play our part, is an emphatic affirmative.
– But you have always been wrong, anyhow.
– Have I? If you look at the statistics and at every forecast that has been made, you will see that they have been right. If you would like to bet £10 in respect of every forecast, I will take the bet. Of course when one mentions money one can always shut you up.
There are several matters relating to employment that I want to mention. The first relates to the employment of males. I have the relevant figures before me, and what I am glad to be able to report to the committee is this: Since the end of January this year the number of registrants for employment has fallen by 41,000. This is a healthy figure. I know that people will criticize it, and I personally realize that it is not quite good enough; however, no one can deny that in the few months that we have had to deal with the problem, the placing of 41,000 people in employment has been good. The important aspect to which I want to direct attention is that 32,500 of those 41,000 have been males. Women are important, of course, although again I do not want to say very much on that subject, being a bachelor. Of course women are important, no one denies it; likewise no one will deny that we regard the male breadwinner as being more socially important. We should regard the placement in employment of 32,500 males as a reason for satisfaction.
The second point I want to make relates to the creation of job opportunities. I have heard it said that sufficient opportunities are not opening up quickly enough and that we have a stagnant economy. The fact is that we have now more than 9,300 vacancies registered with us each week, which is about the highest level of job vacancy registrations that we have ever recorded in July, with “two possible exceptions under boom conditions. This is not a sign of stagnation but of growth. Just as important is the fact that we are placing people in jobs at the rate of 6,900 a week, the highest ever recorded in the month of July. So, Sir, far from being depressed about the position, I say these are signs of a growing and dynamic economy. Looking at the position in perspective and taking all the facts, surely any objective and decent-minded person would say that this is a sign of growth - opportunities are opening up. Let us give up wailing; there is no necessity for it.
The only other matter I want to mention relates to the oft-repeated statement that we will have a large number of unemployed with us after the Christmas vacation. I think the committee will know - and certainly honorable members on this side of the committee will know - that it is unusual for employers to recruit labour over the Christmas period and during January. If the number of school leavers registered with us has grown from 39,667 in 1958-59 to 72,376 in 1961-62, and 70 per cent, of those have registered over the Christmas period, surely it cannot be expected that registrations for employment will be stationary or that we can prevent the number of registrants for employment from growing over that period. Of course the numbers will grow. All sensible men will know that under to-day’s circumstances if a young person wants a job he will come to us to register. He knows that that is the best and easiest way to get a job; and he knows, especially if he is acquainted with the facts
I have given, that he will be placed in employment fairly quickly. It is not, therefore, a matter for wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth and of howling about the problem which will emerge during January and February. It is in the very nature of things that the problem will arise. That is no cause for thinking that the problem is not capable of solution. It can and will be solved quickly.
When I consider vital industries where job opportunities must be opened up if we are to have full employment, I think of the textile industry, the motor vehicle industry and the building industry. I have not time to deal with textiles and motor vehicles; the committee knows enough about them already. I shall mention the building industry, and I shall read part of an article that appeared in this morning’s “ Sydney Morning Herald “ -
The total value of new buildings approved in Australia in July was a record £62.5 million.
If you look at the record of housing commencements you will find that the figure for this year is also a record one. This means that job opportunities are opening up. I would also like to quote an extract from the July, 1962, “ Survey of Trends “ issued by the Bank of New South Wales and the Associated Chambers of Manufactures. A forecast is made about prospects for the future in these terms -
There is widespread optimism that the general business situation will improve during the next six months and the expectations now given are more favourable than those of the last survey and are strongly optimistic.
This forecast, I believe, could well turn out to be right. I see no reason to disagree with this expression of view. Surely here, too, is reason for confidence.
So I conclude on this note: I have asked two questions. The first is: Is the stimulus great enough? The Government has done its part, and it is now up to the manufacturers, the commercial interests and the trade unions to join with us in reducing the number of unemployed quickly. The second question is: Do I think there is a real problem with regard to the young people? There is a problem to be solved, but I am certain that we can quickly solve it. The structure is sound, the money is there, and what we want is confidence in our future. With that confidence I have no doubt that we will see a declining rate of unemployment and real prospects of employing those of our young people who come into the work force this year.
.- Mr. Chairman, any sane person must welcome the statement by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) that the Government’s policy is designed to achieve full employment. What is regrettable, however, is that he has not told us when he expects this to be realized.
Any sane person must hope that the Minister is right in his forecast that unemployment will fall. But, unfortunately for him, certain statements made by him last year are on record. I see that the Minister is now leaving the chamber. Since he was betting, it might have been a good thing had he stayed to hear about his former forecasts with respect to unemployment. Speaking on television on 3rd December, 1961, just before the last general election, the Minister said -
Jobs should be more readily available this year than last year.
Only a sharp decline in business confidence will slow up the placement of these young people in jobs.
Only the irresponsible and grossly false utterances of Mr. Calwell and his supporters can shake business confidence.
The critically important fact about employment is that the number of people registered for employment fell by 16,887 during the three months to the end of October and the number receiving unemployment benefits fell by 13,559.
These figures clearly show that more and more people are being placed in employment and I am positive that this favorable trend is continuing.
At the time at which the Minister said that, the number of people unemployed, according to his own figures, was 100,057. At the end of the same month, it was 115,936, and, at the end of the next month, it was 131,500. The Minister said on 3rd December last, for election purposes, that the favorable trend that he claimed was then apparent was continuing. . Yet unemployment rose in the next two months by more than 31,000. So, if honorable members over here do not regard it as axiomatic that the Minister’s forecasts are accurate, perhaps this is because we remember that the forecasts made last year were not accurate.
The second thing that I should like to say about the Minister’s remarks is that every budget involves a series of policy choices. The Minister has not vindicated the policy choices which this Government has made over the last few years. The Budget can be discussed effectively only by an analysis of the policies chosen and an analysis of the conditions in which they were applied. The Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) has tended to discuss the Budget in the light of doctrines, particularly the doctrine of free enterprise versus public investment. He claims that the Budget will produce currency stability, on the assumption that there is no answer to the assertion that currency stability is the most important aim of policy. In the light of this assertion, he has claimed in the past that budgets have produced currency stability.
The Minister for Labour and National Service has not mentioned this evening a vital passage in the Treasurer’s Budget speech. Speaking of business attitudes during the period before this Budget was brought down, the Treasurer said -
Confidence is vital . . . and if apprehensions such as these exist it is for the Government to meet and allay them as far as it is able.
The Treasurer does not admit that in his judgment this adds up to a lack of confidence. Clearly, these fears are descriptive of the policy changes over the last two years. Why should not the people fear that the Government will say there is a boom and suddenly reverse its policy? That is what it did in 1960, and the people fear a repetition. Those to whom the right honorable gentleman referred expect over the next two years more of the same sort of policy that resulted from the Treasurer’s acts of judgment over the last two years.
The right honorable gentleman gives the impression of being nonplussed at the reversal of his popularity, beginning in November, 1960. But there is something for the Treasurer to contemplate: If we foster great expectations which events belie, we must count on deep disillusionment. The community is deeply disillusioned about the Treasurer’s judgment. First, there was his judgment on hire purchase in the Australian economy. Anybody who recalls the debates which took place on that subject in this Parliament in recent years will remember that, at a time when hire purchase was rising constantly in the Australian community, the Australian Labour Party opposed the way in which that field of finance was being managed and warned about certain of the consequences which that management would have. After years of supporting the hirepurchase boom and applauding it as evidence of the prosperity which he had produced, although this great structure of hire purchase was commonly associated with usurious rates of interest, the Treasurer suddenly rounded on it in November, 1960. At that time, the Labour Party warned the community that this hire-purchase activity was affecting all interest rates. The Labour Party was concerned about hirepurchase irresponsibility. But the Treasurer said nothing about it until he had conjured up a new name for it. When he did, he spoke, not of the irresponsibility associated with the whole structure of hirepurchase finance, but of the irresponsibility of fringe financial institutions. He had conjured up a new name which concealed the fact that he was rounding on his own error of judgment about the whole structure of hire purchase.
Hire-purchase finance had a disastrous effect on imports in this country. The Minister for Labour and National Service has said a great deal about stability this evening. But the Government’s policy decisions of November, 1960, were not made purely on the basis of the internal position in the Australian economy. They were made because Australia could not pay its way internationally. The terrifying situation that had developed was in part a consequence of this whole structure of hire purchase in the Australian economy. Hire purchase has many virtues, but it means, among other things, that people purchase at a rate beyond the capacity of their current purchasing power. If the goods which they purchase are imported, or have a high import content, the country itself begins to purchase at a rate beyond the capacity of its purchasing power. This was what led to the policy decisions of November, 1960.
Everybody here knows that the Australian Labour Party repeatedly warned, dur ing the period when hire purchase was intensely popular, that this form of finance could have dire consequences. One of the Government’s claims which is not correct is its standard claim that it is a Government which does not hesitate to follow unpopular courses if it believes that those unpopular policies are right. A lavish policy of foreign borrowing and of continual purchasing abroad at a rate beyond our capacity to pay represents a very simple road to cheap, temporary popularity.
In the light of the normal political history of this country and of the normal changes of government, the Australian Labour Party would have been in office by 1960 had it not been for the existence of the Australian Democratic Labour Party. The Australian Labour Party would have had to impose controls. Every gentleman sitting on the benches opposite would, in that event, have contrasted the free economy which existed from 1951 to 1959 with the sort of economy which the Australian Labour Party would have brought about by legislative enactment. But the political wheel did not turn normally because of the support given to the Government by Democratic Labour Party voters. The Government had to reverse its own policy and clamp down on imports. It had to face the unpopularity of reversing policies which had led to a condition pre° viously described by it as prosperity and now described as the unhealthy boom of 1960. Did we hear it described as the unhealthy boom of I960 in 1960? No, it was a period of free enterprise being given free play, and we were invited to call it prosperity.
Characteristic of this boom period was constantly rising share prices. There was a constant importation of new money by borrowing to create constant capital gains in the selling of shares. Having applauded this tendency for years, a sharp switch was made to denounce it. The lists of share prices before the credit squeeze and after the credit squeeze show striking figures. We see as characteristic of falls in prices, a drop from 98s. 6d. to 21s. 6d. Many supporters of the Government lost thousands of pounds in this reversal of Government policy. The defections of many Liberal voters that took place in Broadmeadows and other electorates, going across the top of the Democratic Labour Party vote, are a sign of the alienation of the Government’s own supporters.
The present state of mind of the Treasurer is one in which he is surprised that, when an atmosphere favorable to speculation was destroyed by the credit squeeze, he could not engender another atmosphere favorable to speculation. Savings are at a very high level, but investment and expenditure are not adequate. Another of the past characteristics of the Treasurer was his constant reference to foreign borrowing as if it were a creative achievement. The worst of his policy judgments was the lifting of import controls while he was borrowing abroad. The fifth table in the publication on national income and expenditure for 1961-62, at page 18, shows that in 1953-54 in our foreign financial transactions we had a surplus of £1,000,000; in 1954-55, a deficit of £236,000,000; in 1955-56, a deficit of £212,000,000; in 1956-57, a surplus of £115,000,000; and then deficits in succession of £152,000,000, £181,000,000, £224,000,000 when he took off import controls, £369,000,000 after he took off import controls, and in the last financial year, £8,000,000.
Surely we are not invited to regard it as an act of wisdom that he took off import controls when the country could not pay its way to the tune of £369,000,000. The Australian Labour Party recognizes that import controls are extremely unpopular. In all the years that the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) had to administer them, he showed quite clearly that they were extremely distasteful. But at least they were responsible. When the country is not paying its way, it is an act of common wisdom for import controls to determine that the goods being imported are significant. In February, 1960, import controls were lifted, and the trade position got out of hand. Are we to regard the act of the Treasurer in February, 1960, as an act of good judgment when he had to adopt some other means as quickly as November, 1960, to cut the flood of imports for which the country could not pay?
The Treasurer did not choose to reimpose import controls. I do not believe that there was any reason for failing to re-impose import controls other than sheer pride. The re-imposing of import controls would have been an admission of the error in February, 1960. So, he chose to cut imports by the credit squeeze. The difference between the credit squeeze and import controls as a device for cutting imports is very simply explained. Import controls are a selective instrument; they also do not tend to creat unemployment. Credit restrictions tend to create unemployment.
The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) was very angry that certain Opposition members had called this a callous decision. He chose to say that the gravamen of the Labour Party’s criticism was that the level of unemployment benefit was a callous decision of the Government. He demonstrated that the level of unemployment benefit now is better than it was in the period of office of the Labour Government. That is not the point of callous decision at all. The point of callous decision was the decision to use mass unemployment as a device for reducing imports instead of using import controls. Import controls mean that the community shares the loss; the credit squeeze meant that some people who had their incomes drastically cut and could not purchase were chosen as the victims; they were chosen as the people who should bear the cost of the cut in our imports. That is the point of decision that we regard as a callous decision. Unemployment was used as a device to reduce imports instead of a rational selection of significant goods being used for this purpose.
The Treasurer tends all the time to talk in ideological terms instead of analytical terms. He starts off in these questions with a dogma. His ideological commitment to private enterprise stopped him in a boom period from asking where the economy was going. Now it causes him to look past mass unemployment to the concept of the stability of the currency.
– Don’t you think “ mass unemployment” is an emotional term in the circumstances?
– I think 130,000 people is a mass of people.
– Relate it to the work force
– But 130,000 is a mass of people and I call that mass unemployment.
– It is a loose term.
– I am sorry. I do not have to use your terms. I use the terms that I select.
– You must be fair!
– Goodness gracious ms! I am not allowed to say that the Government produced 131,500 unemployed. We know that the number existed.
Instead of discussing this feature of the economy, the Treasurer speaks of the stability of the currency. The period of the greatest stability of the Australian currency was from 1926 to 1941. In 1926, the basic wage was £4 5s. In 1941, the basic wage was £4 5s. The only variation was a variation downwards during the depression when the basic wage was £3 and some odd shillings. That was a period of wonderful stability of the currency. And what on earth was the good of it? We had unemployment varying between 200,000 and 400,000. If we chose to make 400,000 people unemployed to-morrow, we would have a wonderful stability of the currency. But are we to accept that the whole aim of economic policy and the feature to be applauded is that the currency has been maintained stable? We have never yet in all Australia’s economic history had a period in which full employment was associated with a stable currency. The Australian people have had experience of two conditions. They have had experience of very high levels of unemployment and they have had experience of inflation. Of the two, I think they would prefer inflation.
The whole art of government is to find some balance in the economy. It is not to claim some wonderful achievement if the purchasing power of the £1 stays steady when it stays steady because large numbers of people have no incomes or very low incomes and cannot compete for the purchase of goods. There is no sense in applauding free enterprise as free enterprise, nor in attacking it as free enterprise. There is no sense, in ideological terms, in applauding or attacking public enterprise. The processes of public and private enterprise are subject to rational analysis. For instance, cars are commonly produced by private enterprise and they are not more important than the roads that they run on. The community needs both. Alcohol and comic books are invariably the products of private enterprise and are not more important than water schemes or school construction. There is no case for encouraging private or public enterprise because of an ideological commitment to either. What needs to be encouraged is what matters to the community.
I will be perfectly prepared to say that a private publishing house which is turning out many text books which are helping to create technicians in Australia is doing a piece of printing which is much more important than the Government Printer printing the “ Gazette “. But surely we should analyse anything that is happening in the economy, whether the result of public or private investment, in rational terms and not in ideological terms. There is a very sensible statement in a publication of the Committee for Economic Development in Australia on this subject of the role of private and public investment as follows: -
If, in inflationary situations, governments find it necessary to reduce expenditure, they must balance the relative merits of personal consumption expenditure, private investment, current expenditure by governments (including defence) and public investment. At first sight, there may appear to be a stronger case for having a reserve or backlog of public works, which can be used to increase employment and stimulate activity in times of depression, but the question then arises as to whether the undertaking of such works serves the ends of national policy better than increased expenditure in other directions. If the answer is negative, the case for the expansion of the public works in question falls down; if the answer is positive, it is necessary to ask why the public works have been deferred in the first place. On balance, therefore, it is doubtful whether public investment has any stronger claims than other forms of expenditure to be treated as a counter-cyclical weapon. The most that can be said is that a continuing high rate of capital formation in the public sector, if properly co-ordinated with taxation and borrowing policies, will have a stabilizing effect on the economy in general; and that it is sometimes possible to use public investment 10 stimulate activity in localized depressed areas or industries or to help correct a fundamental disequilibrium in the nation’s balance of payments.
The Treasurer does not make it clear in his Budget speech whether he wants full capacity use of plant and full use of labour. Capacity use of plant and labour is the characteristic of boom periods in his experience and he cannot really envisage it as being other than part of an unhealthy boom, because he rejects rational decisions on imports or rational decisions on what industries the Government should encourage. Although unemployment has varied from 60,000 to 130,000 since the November, 1960, emergency measures were introduced, the Treasurer’s judgment on the period is that we should look at it as a period of currency stability. After years of not worrying about the price level, while the basic wage moved from £6 9s. a week to over £14 a week, we suddenly learn that stability was the aim.
If stability is the great desideratum every item of the Government’s policy from 1949 to 1959 was wrong, because there was certainly no stability of the currency in that time although there was a very high level of employment. The Labour Party believes that there should be a clear commitment to full employment. The Labour Party believes that when there is unemployment or idle capacity an excess of Government expenditure over receipts is by far the surest way of expanding economic activity. When output and employment are at full stretch the Budget should be balanced. Full use of the labour force is the point where additional labour effort or transference of labour effort can be commanded only at steeply rising cost. It is for the Government to find the point of balance, and the Government has not been skilful.
On the subject of deficit finance the Government has not been very clear. It has advanced several explanations for inflation over its period of rule. The first was that it was all caused by the Korean war. The second, which has been advanced during this debate, is that the inflation of 1962 was really due to the Labour Government of 1949. But inflation had its real roots in the Fadden era. You can have the same effects as are produced by ill-timed deficit financing by means other than the Government’s creating its own new money, which is the essence of deficit financing. These effects can be caused as they were caused by Sir Arthur Fadden during his period as Treasurer. The report of the Reserve Bank of Australia for September, 1960, shows that at 30th June, 1952, the trading banks held £147,000,000 in government securities. In June a year later they held £277,000,000. If the Government draws loan money from the general public, money in circulation, and uses that to finance government projects, including State projects, then the people who have subscribed to the loan have surrendered their purchasing power. They do not compete with the Government for labour and materials and the tendency of the loan is to be anti-inflationary. But if you bring new cheque money out in subscriptions to your loans, even though it is not called deficit financing, and even though the money comes from a private trading bank, it has the same effect as deficit financing. That happened at various times during .Sir Arthur Fadden’s period as Treasurer. The result was an inflationary shock in the community. That is part of the explanation of the inflation that continued into the 1950’s.
The Labour Party believes that there is a need for equity in taxation. We do not believe, as we said at the time, that the ideal way of stimulating purchasing power by tax cuts is by flat-rate tax cuts. We believe that there should have been differential tax cuts or other measures allowing for family responsibility. The Treasurer and the Minister for Labour and National Service have always effected the remission, through tax cuts, of much more to the bachelor than to the married man with children. The man who is most likely to spend money received through tax cuts is the man with children. The bachelor is more likely to save the money. We believe that the Government’s tax cuts, as a whole, were unwise. If the tax cuts of the last three or four years had not been made it would have been possible greatly to have increased child endowment, which is an excellent device for stimulating purchasing power. The Labour Party believes that the Government does not examine social services closely enough as a device for redistributing purchasing power.
The Labour Party believes that there are problems of sale of primary produce that will have to be faced. One which is connected with the Common Market is the disposal of butter. It might be a very good thing if we were to examine the possibility of having a level of purchasing power generated by social services which would enable people with families to buy more butter.
The Government has wished to avoid making policy choices, especially to avoid applying any economic controls. Hence, the economy drifted to a crisis point in November, 1 960, when drastic controls were forced on the Government. Selective import controls would not have led to unemployment. This unemployment nearly overturned the Government. The Government is deluding itself if it imagines that, because Australia has only 2 per cent, of unemployment, and that percentage is quite low compared with nearly every other country in the world, it is insignificant. New Zealand has i of 1 per cent, unemployment. It has had virtually full employment since 1938, irrespective of whether it was governed by the Labour Party or the nationalists.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– Mr. Chairman, I must compliment the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) on his language, but I regret that I cannot compliment him on his reasoning. When I hear him speaking I long for the return of the traditional trade unionist to the Labour Party - the traditional trade unionist who found an affinity with the working people of our country, who used his energy and talents in the fields, the factories and the workshops and who understood the faults and frailties of society from that point of view. The academic approach leaves me cold in circumstances such as these. That brings me to say that it is obvious, from this exhaustive and exhausting debate, that in all the vast and intricate machinery of a modern democratic government there can be no more formidable task than the preparation and presentation of a budget. I have nothing but compassion for the man who undertakes that responsibility from time to time.
During the last twelve years we have had two Treasurers, and both of them have ap plied themselves to their task with consummate skill. All their natural tendencies were to give concessions, to be magnaminous with regard to concessions. All their natural inclinations were to increase expenditure from time to time. But every Treasurer - as those of us who understand the working of democracy know - must bow to the inevitable. He must face up to the stern realities of the situation which confronts the people of our country from time to time. Perhaps the committee will be good enough to note that I used the term “ modern democratic government “. If I may say so, that is not without significance. The autocracies and the totalitarian forms of government are free or they free themselves from very onerous responsibilities. To the best of my knowledge and belief, no communistic government has to concern itself with the preparation and presentation of a series of documents called, euphoniously enough, Budget papers, which set out in precise and detailed terms, in advance, the revenue which is to be sought from the people and the expenditure it is designed to meet. No communistic government has to temper policy to promote the economic circumstances which will render both possible of achievement within the space of a single year and, usually, within the space of a single harvest. But these are the primary responsibilities of every democratic government. They cannot be evaded or postponed indefinitely, no matter what other pressing problems may confront the elected representatives of the people.
In modern democratic society no budget can be judged on its presentation. A budget is deliberately designed to achieve certain objectives, and the time for judgment, apart from a close and critical examination, is when it has achieved or failed to achieve those objectives. That is the critical point, but it is usually obscured by the premonitions of success or failure which immediately follow its presentation. This Budget has been no exception.
I suppose there was a time when a budget could be confined within the strict limits of revenue and expenditure adequate to maintain the essential services of government at a bare minimum level. But all that has been changed by the paradox of modern society, when the popular demand is for a reduction in taxation and, at the same time, for a general extension and expansion of the services of government in all their forms. It is manifestly impossible to reconcile a reduction in revenue with an increase in expenditure without tapping, temporarily perhaps, the credit resources of the community, of the people. But the general public remains unconvinced of that and, unhappily, their dubieties are accentuated by the conflicting political philosophies and ideologies which are present even here in this place. For example, the socialists believe - and the valiant among them can be brought to admit it - in production for use, not for profit, as the complete solution of every social and economic problem. [Quorum formed.] Mr. Chairman, the intention of the honorable member who called for a quorum was, of course, to waste my time, but this gives me an opportunity to repeat a few words. I said that the socialists believe - and the valiant among them can be brought to admit it from time to time - in production for use, not for profit, as the complete solution of every social, economic and political problem. To that end, they favour punitive forms of taxation and the confiscation of the property of the people, to destroy the profit motive and to yield allegedly illimitable and everlasting revenue, adequate for all purposes of government expenditure.
It is to be presumed that after the profit motive has been ruthlessly destroyed, government expenditure will continue to be a first charge on Consolidated Revenue and that Consolidated Revenue will continue to be a first charge on the people of our country, whose opportunity to meet it has been destroyed. But that has never been made very clear. In addition, Sir, the socialists are in a position to induce and encourage the credulous to believe that the credit resources of the community can be tapped without restraint, without the inexorable debt charges and the ultimate day of reckoning when debts of every kind have to be paid.
All that is inconsistent with the bitter experience of the people in communistic countries where it is popularly supposed that there are no inhibiting factors, no restraints on revenue and no restraints on the utilization of the credit resources of the people to meet unlimited expenditure, but the fact remains that in communistic countries they still cannot feed their people adequately, they still cannot clothe their people adequately they still cannot house their people adequately, they still cannot educate their children nor can they develop their country, in spite of the fact that all these resources allegedly are available to them without restriction and without restraint.
Political parties opposed to socialism are in a less favourable position. They must face up to the stern realities of simple arithmetic which compel them to acknowledge that expenditure is impossible without revenue and/or adequate arrangements to meet the deficit which must ensue when revenue falls short of what is required for public purposes. It is in that confused atmosphere that a democratic government opposed to socialism is required to prepare a budget, conscious of the popular demand for a reduction in taxation in all its forms, conscious of the popular demand for increased expenditure in all its forms and conscious of the utter hopelessness of attempting a reconciliation without resort to the Reserve Bank to meet from time to time what is considered to be a manageable deficit. This is an Herculean task, and its increasing magnitude can only be measured by a consideration of the growth in our federal expenditure, decade by decade, during the first 60 years of federation.
In 1901-2 when the total population of our country was 3,773,801, federal expenditure from the Consolidated Revenue Fund was £11,300,000, or approximately £3 for every man, woman and child in the country. Ten years later, by 1910, when the total population was in the vicinity of 4,455,000- the census was not taken until the following year - expenditure increased to £16,200,000 or approximately £3.6 per head of the population. The next decade was nearly four years old when the nation was plunged into the First World War, but in 1919-20 when the population of our country was a little more than 5,000,000, federal expenditure rose to £49,700,000 or approximately £10 per head of our total population. By 1929-30 when the population was still less than 6,000,000, expenditure had increased to £78,600,000 or approximately £13 per head.
Then followed the decade of depression and desperation ending in the outbreak of the Second World War. In 1939-40- no census being taken until 1947, when the population was 7,579,358 - federal expenditure rose to £109,000,000, or approximately £15 per head. By 1949-50, with the population only slightly in excess of 8,000,000 people, the expenditure was £566,600,000, or approximately £70.8 per head of the population. This was the final year of office of the previous socialist government.
Then followed the first decade of the present composite Government. By 1959-60, when the total population exceeded 10,000,000 people - far sooner in the century than any one had ever believed to be possible - federal expenditure had reached the staggering total of £1,431,000,000, or approximately £143 per head of our total population. This was more than double the expenditure rate in the final year of office of the socialist government. With our total population standing at well over 10,600,000, estimates of expenditure in the 1962-63 Budget total £1,725,815,000 on items ordinarily charged to the Consolidated Revenue Fund. There is additional expenditure which will exceed over £2,080,000 this year, but that figure of £1,725,815,000 represents an increase of £82,787,000 on expenditure for the previous year and amounts to approximately £163 per head of our total population. That is, every man, woman and child can be accredited with a part in this expenditure of not less than £163, measured against £3 at the beginning of the century. Expenditure of the kind is impossible under socialism. The sources of government finance dry up immediately a socialist government is elected to office. That is our contemporary history, yours and mine, Mr. Chairman, and it is the contemporary history of every country in the world to-day.
If the Budget is to be judged by the revenue which has to be found by the people of our country, then this is a record budget, because it is, for all practical purposes, a record peace-time revenue. If the Budget is to be judged by the expenditure, which is three times the expenditure that astonished the community only twelve years ago, then this is our greatest budget. If a surplus has lost its traditional virtue and a budget must be judged on the dimen sions of the deficit, then this Budget must be described in superlative terms, because it provides for a deficit of £118,000,000. But, except superficially, no budget can be judged on its presentation. It can be judged only on its purposes. The purposes of this Budget provide the only areas for controversy and disputation. This Budget is designed to continue, and even to accelerate, the most dynamic period of developmental history we have ever known, when the standard of living is higher than it has ever been, when the greatest work force we have ever had has been gainfully employed on terms and conditions more remunerative and more congenial than they have ever been before at any time in our history, when opportunities for advancement are available to the ambitious, and when we have moved into the proud position of one of the top ten or twelve trading nations on the face of the earth. lt is designed to avoid a repetition of the disaster that threatened all the export industries of our country when, caught in the toils of an arbitration system that was encouraged to ignore falling export prices, their rising costs of production reduced prices below the point of profitability. Australia’s export industries pour out from the fields, factories and workshops goods to meet the demands of the markets of the world, and when export parity prices fall, as they do from time to time, our industries multiply the physical volume of their production to meet that grievous situation.
Last financial year, as we were told by the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen), they earned no less than £1,080,000,000. Eighty per cent, of our export income, as honorable members know, comes from the primary industries, from our arable and grazing land. The people who bring those lands to production represent a meagre 1 1 per cent, of the total work force of Australia. Eleven per cent, of the work force lifted the volume of rural production to record levels, of a gross value in 1960-61 of £1,375,000,000, and because we have no control over prices, and prices fall increased the volume of production to earn £1,365,000,000 in the following year. Eleven per cent, of the work force is belting out the produce of the land and is earning for Australia sums of that magnitude. The total work force is estimated at 4,300,000. The number of people engaged in primary industry is estimated at only 500,000 and that proportion of the work force has built up the resources of our overseas balances and has made them, as far as possible, adequate for all our import purposes.
The Budget is shaped to maintain our balance of trade at a favorable level, adequate for the purpose of providing all our manufacturing industries with raw materials and the capital equipment necessary for effective operation, without involving the nation in the debt penalties which are inseparable from an unfavorable trade balance. The Budget is planned to restore conditions of full employment to a work force anxious and willing for gainful employment and to create employment opportunities for the young who, in increasing numbers, will be leaving school in each successive year.
So I could continue, but my time is running out. I want to say that every informed member of the Parliament knows that though rates will remain constant, payments from the National Welfare Fund - from whence come all our health and social service pensions, allowances, endowments, benefits and ancillary services - will move up this year to £387,574,000. This is an increase of £22,382,744 in the current financial year. However, the public will be encouraged to believe the contrary, that there has been no change in social service expenditure. War and repatriation expenditure this year, though the rates remain constant, is estimated at £110,701,000 - an increase of £6,363,000 over last year’s figures. Those two vast sums total £498,275,000, which will be made available by 10,600,000 people who will pay income tax this financial year. This huge sum is equivalent to 91 per cent, of the income from taxation to be levied an,J collected this financial year. To that total must be added the aggregate amount diverted to social welfare in six States of the Commonwealth and the two Territories. Thus the magnitude of the welfare commitment of the people of our country can be fully appreciated and recognized. It is a commitment which can be made only when the work force is fully employed and when all our industries - primary, secondary and tertiary - are geared to maximum and profitable production.
The Budget is designed to achieve that end, and the task is not beyond a resolute people. The task is not beyond a community that up to this period in our history has stood up manfully to all its social, political and economic obligations and responsibilities. The alternative to this kind of budget is the socialist philosophy which destroys the profit motive and marches men and women out to the fields, factories and workshops to work for the State. This philosophy means that the State will be beggared to the degree that all the satellites of the Soviet Union have been beggared. Those countries cannot find adequate resources for the normal functions of government and cannot feed, clothe and house their people or develop their resources. That is the difference between the two philosophies. That is the fundamental cleavage between the two ideologies. So long as we remain free men, a free people, it is our manifest duty to stand up to our democratic responsibilities. If and when we surrender our freedom and surrender ourselves to the socialists, we shall become mendicants of the socialist state; and God help us all!
.- After listening to the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton) for 30 minutes, one is inclined to think that Guy Fawkes had something. Fancy a member of the Country Party speaking in this place about democracy, social spirit and compassion - a party pledged to plural voting, flogging and hanging - a party of gerrymandered electorates and mismanagement of electoral procedures, and a party which does not know what democracy means. The Victorian Country Party and Liberal Party, if anything, are the worst of the lot. We listen to this kind of platitudinous and cliche-struck nonsense from the Minister for Social Services for half an hour every time he rises in this chamber. It is a great pity that he does not turn some of his skill with words to thoughts for people instead.
This evening I rise in my place, having heard two Ministers of the Crown holding forth as to exactly why and how and what they have been doing to the country. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) made great play about confidence. He claimed that we should all have confidence. His view is that if anything is wrong with the country, it is everybody else’s fault. I wonder what he means by confidence. I wonder whom he will start with in attempting to gain some confidence. To-day, a rather historic occurrence took place in the Parliament of South Australia. A motion was moved in that Parliament by the Leader of the Opposition condemning the Federal Government for its policies and calling upon senators from South Australia to vote against this Government. That motion was carried unanimously in the South Australian Parliament by members of the Liberal-Country League and the Labour Party as well as independents.
We do not need to seek any further than the party of the Minister himself to find plenty of critics who believe that this Government is ruining the country and should hand over to somebody more competent. In this debate we have found that honorable members on the Government side are an unhappy, lot. The honorable members for Wentworth (Mr. Bury), Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) and Barker (Mr. Forbes) were full of criticism of certain aspects of the Government’s policy. The honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) was deeply critical and concerned about the Government’s foreign policy and defence policy. The honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Stokes), who is here by the grace of a few Democratic Labour Party voters, was also critical of defence policy. The Australian Country Party is completely unhappy about the redistribution of electoral boundaries and other matters. On the question of confidence, if we on this side have no confidence in the Government, at least we are in good company. We had the support at the last general election of the majority of the people.
If I want to turn to anything to find words to indict this Government, I have only to look at its own publications. These condemn the Government out of its own mouth. The White Paper on National Income and Expenditure for 1961-62, tabled by the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) only a week or two back, contains a number of points which condemn the Government and show that it is ruining the country, with its constantly expanding population and growing human needs. The document contains such comments as this -
On the other hand, it is estimated that company income decreased by £25,000,000, farm income by £13,000,000 and indirect taxes less subsidies by £26,000,000.
At page 4, we find this statement -
In 1961-62 estimated expenditure on personal consumption increased by £80,000,000 or by about 2 per cent., compared with an increase of 5 per cent, in 1960-61.
Is there anybody in this Parliament who is prepared to say that the needs of the community are less this year than they were last year or the year before? We find also from this document that expenditure on durable goods, including 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. One can find throughout such documents ample evidence that the Government has created a position in which the machinery of the country is unable to keep pace with the growth in population. On these grounds alone, there is good reason to have no confidence in the Government and to condemn it.
With every other citizen in the community, I want to look at the general picture and see what it is like. What is the general picture of Australia to-day? After thirteen years of almost unchallenged pow:r in this Parliament, with complete control over the banking system and finances, the Government has nobody to blame but itself f«-r the present situation. For thirteen years it has been in absolute control. If we examine the position in Australia to-day, we find it is desperate in many fields and heartbreaking in most of them. We have ample evidence of private wealth and public poverty.
I suggest that honorable members take a look at a chart that was published in ti. 2 Melbourne “ Sun News-Pictorial “ only a week or two back, dealing with private streets in Melbourne. They are an archaic and medieval survival, maintained by the Country Party in Victoria. There are 1,200 or 1,400 miles of streets in the outer suburbs of Melbourne which are unfit for traffic and cause heartbreak and misery. The Treasurer steps into this chamber and makes great play about a few beef roads in north Queensland. He should drive round his own area. Some time this week, I think, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) will open a magnificent new hotel in Melbourne. It would be as well if the right honorable gentleman looked at the streets and the public environment that the policies of this Government are preserving and exaggerating.
In Australia there is increasing control of Australian industry from overseas. The collapse of Commonwealth and State financial relationships has meant that the State governments get less. The more expensive forms of public enterprise have been left with no revenue and receive no consideration from this place. We find that, because of the Government’s usurious attitude, interest rates have reached the stage where they are strangling public enterprise in the form of local government activities, railways and State works and are making homeownership almost impossible for a great proportion of the population. Nobody can justify the financial attitude this Government is perpetuating in the Budget documents.
There is a doctrinaire approach to the problems of the nation. There is constant speechifying by such persons as the Minister for Social Services and the Treasurer, who speak continuously of stability, boom, expansion and growth. They quote statistics frequently, but what they do not do is to speak of our 11,000,000 citizens as people. This, of course, is the point of departure between the philosophies of the Australian Labour Party and our political opponents. We are concerned with public policies directed to the benefit of the people as individuals. We are not concerned with the cliches and ideologies that the Minister for Social Services was breathing here only a few moments ago.
I express the heartfelt disappointment of honorable members on the Opposition side and, I presume, on the Government side also, at the failure of the Minister in charge of the welfare State to devote one sentence, so far as I can recall, to a consideration of the general problems of social services and of the people who live in misery and hardship on the miserable pensions squeezed from this Government. The general direction of social service policy is such that it is creating and continuing hardship in the community. There was no sign from the Minister that he understood these human problems.
One of the things that disturbs us is the extraordinary waste of human talent that has been produced by this Government’s policy. This comes in two forms. The first is unemployment, and the second is the neglect of the educational resources of the nation. Previously in this debate, a number of speakers have amplified the needs of Australian education, but we cannot reiterate too often or make it too clear to the people that we on this side believe that with education, you hold up a torch for the future. Turning to unemployment, it is evident that the disastrous policies of this Government are inhuman. The tragedy of unemployment seems to be completely lost upon honorable members opposite. I must admit that I was shocked by the interjection of the honorable member for Higinbotham (Mr. Chipp) who, referring to the remarks of my colleague, the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley), said “ You are using mass unemployment as an emotional term “. I only hope that every honorable member gets emotional at the thought of unemployment. If you turn to the figures or go to the employment offices, you find that an increasing number of people are drawing unemployment benefits for longer and longer periods of time. For every one of those people this is, first, a blow at personal morale and, secondly, a hardship on their families. Thirdly, and possibly more important for the future, it is a tremendous waste of public talent and human resources.
After all, the most important national endowments that we have are the skills in the hearts, hands and brains of the people of Australia. These are our principal resources. We can import the raw materials to build, we can import rubber and petrol, but we cannot import skills of that kind. So every person out of work is a national tragedy. I would think that 100,000 persons - the number now out of work - would be almost equivalent to the work force of an area such as Newcastle. If we removed Newcastle from the Australian scene, that would be regarded as a national calamity; yet under the policies of this Government there has been removed from the work scene of Australia a work force equal to that. When this Government took over the administration of Australia on 10th December, 1949, there were some 700 people drawing the unemployment benefit. I believe that, at the present moment, about 45,000 people are receiving unemployment benefit and, of course, more than 90,000 are registered as unemployed. In addition, there are those who have declined to register, and those whose registrations have not yet been disclosed because of the failure of the statistics to keep up with the system. So, I have no doubt that there are well over 100,000 people out of work. The figures have risen steadily since 1949; they are on record, and cannot be denied. If one could turn back the clock one would find that when this Government took over the treasury bench in 1949, in all Australia there were fewer than 1,000 people on the unemployment benefit. Nothing that the Government has done since then has been as disastrous as its departure from the policy of full employment. We, on this side of the chamber, regard that departure as a national tragedy and a national waste as well as a personal tragedy for those involved. We will not tolerate this any more than will the people of Australia. How can there possibly be talk of confidence when this is happening to human beings? The thing that disturbs me about the philosophizing of Government supporters such as the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes), who may be regarded as the Government’s chief ideologist, is their failure to consider the human element in public policy. Therefore, Mr. Chairman, we on this side of the chamber believe that there is ample reason for supporting the censure motion that is before the committee.
As I pointed out earlier, this Government has been in complete command for nearly thirteen years, and in that time what has it achieved? Australia is one of the richest nations of the world. Statistics show us that in resources and capital per head of population we rank in either fourth or fifth place in the world. So, it is fair enough to measure us against the rest of the world and I think it is fair enough to say that we are one of the worst governed, worst developed and worst organized countries in our class. If honorable members turn to the records they will find that even the United States of America - the spiritual home of the honorable the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton) - has a broader social security system than we have in Australia. Canada has better hospital insurance. Great Britain has an allembracing medical benefits scheme that leaves ours in the shade. Australia devotes a lower percentage of its national income to education than do about 20 or 23 nations of Western Europe, America and Asia, and these include even Japan. This cannot be tolerated. Australia’s expenditure on education is approximately 2 per cent, of the national income, but in other countries it is as high as 7 per cent. This Government has taken no steps to control monopolies, although in the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Canada efforts have been made to do this.
One of the most disturbing features of the Budget this year is the apparent readiness of the Government to accept unemployment as a continuing feature. Its estimate of expenditure on unemployment relief is something like £13,000,000. It has been calculated that this allows for an unemployment pool of about 80,000 people. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) said in his speech on the Budget, “ But you must have estimates”. He did not think so two or three years ago. If you turn back the records you will find that the estimate for unemployment benefit was about £8,000,000, bat that the Government subsequently spent £13,000,000.
From a plain reading of the record it is obvious that this Government expects a continuing level of unemployment of somewhere between 80,000 and 100,000, yet New Zealand, as the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) pointed out earlier, has managed since 1938 to retain full employment despite changes of government, despite war, despite the threat of the Common Market and everything else. In this country no steps have been taken to control capital gains whereas the United States which, as I pointed out earlier, is surely the home of the capitalist spirit of honorable members opposite, has done something about this as have most European countries.
It is in taxation policies that this Government is most mischievous and most reactionary. Taxation is the measure of public, community, or co-operative effort. It is from the taxation paid into public revenue that nations develop their cooperative enterprises whether they be roads, hospitals, schools, social welfare services, health services or such undertakings as civil aviation. I think it is fair to say that if you examine the taxation rates of other nations and compare them with those of Australia, you can only come to the conclusion that the Government is not as concerned with public policies and the development of social welfare and all the things that go with it as are the administrations of equivalent countries.
The Australian Labour Party is not a low taxation party. It believes in equitable taxation. If I knew that an increase in income tax rates would result in the provision of a better school for my children to attend and better social services for the aged people in my electorate, I would be happy to pay an additional £60, £70, £80, £90 or £100 a year. I point out that in West Germany 34 per cent, of the gross national product is taken in taxation whereas in Australia the figure is only 22 per cent. In Austria it is 33 per cent.; Finland, Norway and France, 32 per cent.; Sweden, 31 per cent.; Luxembourg, 30 per cent.; Great Britain, 29 per cent.; the Netherlands and Italy, 28 per cent.; the United States, 26 per cent. Surely to honorable members opposite who are so constantly quoting the spirit of the United States, who like to hitch their wagon to the foreign policy star of the United States, that is ample demonstration of a failure by the Government of this country to take up the challenge of developing the public sector of community life. In Denmark 24 per cent, of the gross national product is taken in taxation, and in Canada, Ireland and Belgium the figure is 23 per cent. It is only in the notoriously conservative countries like Japan, Greece, Portugal and Spain that a lower proportion of the gross national product is taken in taxation.
The same thing applies in the rates of taxation. One of the more distasteful features of this Government’s taxation policies is the way in which they protect and preserve the very wealthy. As has been pointed out, the flat rate rebate of income tax has given much to the wealthy and nothing to the people who really need it. Under this system whereas the wealthy man gets 143 times 13s. 6d. as a rebate for his wife, the man on the basic wage gets perhaps only 143 times 2s. The person who pays a lot in rates and is earning perhaps £3,000 a year gets a bigger rebate on his rates than does the person on £1,000 a year. This, in general terms, is the Government’s taxation policy.
The wealthy man in Australia retains 33 per cent, of his income, but in the United Kingdom it is only 11 per cent, and in the United States only 9 per cent. Our taxation policies favour the wealthy and take from the people in the lower income groups. In relation to direct taxation we are again in a miserable position when compared with the rest of the world. The Labour Party believes in direct taxation so that the people who have the ability to pay because of their capital or their income will do most of the paying, but in Australia we collect only 47 per cent, of our taxation revenue in direct taxes. In New Zealand the figure is 73 per cent.; in Norway and Sweden it is 67 per cent.; in the United States it is 65 per cent.; in Austria it is 59 per cent.; and so it goes on down the scale. These are points which I think every Australian should consider. Honorable members on this side of the chamber have very strong feelings about these things.
I turn now to the pattern of thinking of Government supporters. They talk of growth. What exactly do they mean by growth? Surely these are the things by which you measure growth - housing, immigration, public investment, and perhaps a higher standard of living. What tests would you apply? Let us take housing. Here we find that although our population has been rising at the rate of about 250,000 a year, the number of houses commenced has been declining. The following figures are for the twelve month periods ending in March of each of the years stated:- 1955, 60,445; 1957, 52,656; 1958,51,490; 1959,48,380; 1960,45,155; 1961, 39,801; and 1962, 37,519. The figure to June, 1962, was 36,676. There can be no fairer test of the development or growth of a nation than to see how the average family is doing. The average family is obviously not moving into a new home, or .is not commencing to build a new home. There are a number of reasons for this. One is the high unemployment level and another is the difficulty of obtaining housing finance.
The Government used a deliberate policy instrument when it introduced its economic measures in 1960. The speech made by the Treasurer on, I think, 15th November, 1960, is in the record for all to see. That speech shows that he made a sharp stroke at both the housing industry and the vehiclebuilding industry, and in doing so he struck at the standard of living of the people who want housing and at the employment capacity of the nation. So in its doctrinaire approach to the question of growth and stability this Government has surrendered all consideration of human needs and has struck bitter blows at hundreds of thousands of people.
I would remind honorable members opposite, most of whom do not represent electorates such as those that we on this side of the chamber represent, that they should consider the number of people aged 65 years and over who were forced into retirement by the Government’s policies. When they lost their jobs and reported to the various employment offices they received no consideration at all but were simply told to go on the pension. There is, of course, a greater degree of unemployment than the official figures have shown.
One significant set of figures is that showing the rate of marriages. This has fluctuated in the following way: -
Surely the rate of bouse construction and the marriage rate are measures of growth. Obsessed with this mystique of stability, the Government has struck so many bitter blows at the Australian economy that it will take us many years to recover.
There are many matters to which we would like to invite attention at this time. There are many things that we ought to do. We ought to re-cast the taxation and financial policies of the nation. We ought to throw overboard the usurious approach to interest rates and the use of interest rates to control housing development and public expenditure. We should enter the overseas shipping business. The fact that we have not already done so staggers me, and I hope that we will have adequate opportunity to debate the matter before very long. I say definitely that the answers to questions asked in this House of the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) have been unAustralian in context, by inference and by implication, as have been statements made by the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Nixon). What is wrong with these people who profess to be Australians? This country runs one of the world’s best airlines. It is generally agreed that Qantas Empire Airways Limited can hold its own with any other airline operator in the world. Do these critics of Australian enterprise think we cannot find people to run a shipping line that would hold its own amongst other shipping lines in the world?
We of the Labour Party believe that public enterprise is a measure of selfconfidence and self-respect. As far as I am concerned, the Commonwealth Bank, Trans-Australia Airlines and the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority are instruments of public policy, created by, and, in a way the creatures of, this Parliament. The success of those enterprises is a measure of the confidence this Parliament has in its ability to handle the affairs of the nation. The socialist concept of public ownership is a doctrine of selfrespect, and we have no hesitation in proclaiming our complete confidence in our ability to manage public enterprises. Honorable members opposite who are continually decrying the ability of Australians to do such things as run an overseas shipping line are un-Australian, and they should leave this place and go elsewhere. The average Australian should have this question put before him fairly and squarely and concisely. If this were done I am sure that he would reject the Government’s attitude out of hand.
I also suggest that the Government should re-orientate its policy on growth. We should take a look at our citizens and see what they need for a higher standard of living. We should see that our gradually increasing national wealth is given to the great majority of our citizens and not disbursed through capital gains to shareholders, land speculators and others. We should provide for a dramatic reduction in interest rates, so that potential home-owners, private businessmen and State and local government enterprises will not be hamstrung as they have been during the last century.
I would make one more comment before concluding.
– Hear, hear!
– The honorable member for Bruce says, “ Hear, hear! “ I would just remark, in his present condition, that if he landed in the Northern Territory the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) would probably declare him a ward.
– He would not get a vote in the Northern Territory.
– That is right. Let us turn our attention for a moment to New Guinea. The Minister for Trade has been orbiting the world for some time pleading for somebody to come and buy his goods. I suggest that honorable members turn their attention to New Guinea, where there are 2,000,000 potential customers. For every five Australians there is one person in New Guinea who, if his standard of living were raised, would be able to absorb some of our available exports. The market in New Guinea could be built up to the stage at which it might take as much as 20 per cent, of our surplus production. The simplest and most direct way of overcoming some of our problems of markets would be to raise the living standards of the people of New Guinea, by some progressive and visionary policies in finance and development.
Mr. Temporary Chairman, the Budget debate usually gives us an opportunity to speak on many topics. However, we in Australia are living at a time of crisis. Our trading policies have brought us to the point of stagnation in many industries. The Minister for Trade is so obsessed with his desire to look after the people he represents that he has done irreparable damage to the people we represent. We believe that an overall plan should be devised to rehabilitate our economy. The failure of the Govern ment to act to control overseas investments in Australia will turn us into a virtual financial colony of foreign investors. If the Government continues in this way, the hardships and difficulties that flow from its policies will take us many years to overcome.
.- I do not wish to take up much of my valuable time in answering the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant). However, I must make a few remarks about his opening comments, in which he criticized the Country Party members of this Parliament for complaining about the forthcoming electoral redistribution. The honorable member for Wills should be the last one to criticize members who desire to retain their voice in this chamber. If my memory serves me correctly, there was an article in the Victorian daily newspapers recently to the effect that a couple of Opposition members of this Parliament were very disappointed that in a particular district a certain number of voters were being shifted from one electorate to the other. I seem to recall that the honorable member for Wills was one of those members.
I have taken out some figures giving the sizes of various electorates. I note that the electorate of Wills covers an area of 7.62 square miles. That is not the smallest electorate in Victoria, but I ask honorable members to compare it with the electorate of Wimmera, which covers 10,506.83 square miles, lt is just on 10,500 square miles larger than the electorate of Wills. I suggest that all country representatives should carefully consider the redistribution that has been recommended. It will be noted that I speak of country representatives and not Country Party representatives. If Australia is ever going to become a great nation, we must ensure that the rural areas continue to have an adequate voice in this Parliament. We have a very good chance of becoming a strong nation if, first, we keep the present Opposition exactly where it is - that is, in opposition - and, secondly, we retain adequate representation in the Parliament for rural areas. When I speak of representatives of the rural areas, I do not mean to suggest that they must necessarily be members of the Australian Country Party.
On the whole, Mr. Temporary Chairman, Victorian members are not affected greatly by the redistribution proposals made by the Distribution Commissioners. This is chiefly because Victoria is to gain a seat, whereas some of the other States will lose a seat. Nevertheless, the principle of adequate country representation applies equally in Victoria. Although the number of seats in that State is to be increased, the additional seat will not be a country one. It will be a metropolitan one. Furthermore, the country electorates, with the exception of, 1 think, three, have been enlarged both numerically and geographically. This reminds me of that famous old saying: “The rich get richer and the poor have kids”. This saying may be related to electorates as well as to people.
As I said earlier, I believe that if we are to make this country strong, we must have strong representation of the rural areas. When I speak of strong representation, I am thinking, not of the quality of the representation given by individual members, but of the overall number of representatives of country areas. It has been said from time to time that “ One vote, one value “ is the policy of the Australian Labour Party. That may be so, and such a policy is fair enough in terms of a small organization or of representation by delegates at a State conference, for example. That principle is sound enough when those whom one represents number only half a dozen, a dozen, twenty or 30. The principle doss not apply, however, when one represents 40,000 or 50,000 people.
I believe that all Australians are entitled to proper representation in the Parliament, Mr. Temporary Chairman. They can have proper representation here only if they are able to get in touch with their respective members readily, regardless of political colour. My electorate is a moderately small one by comparison with those of my friends, the honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Brimblecombe), the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) and the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Ian Allan). Quite a number of Australian Country Party members represent electorates with areas larger than that of my constituency. However, I find that it takes me anything up to two months to visit all the centres in my electorate and cover it thoroughly. I believe, as I said a few moments ago, that all electors are entitled to be able to see their representative readily, regardless of his political colour. If country electorates are to be gradually enlarged numerically in order to raise the quota of electors to the same level as that of metropolitan seats, country people, naturally, will not receive proper representation, because the number of members representing country areas will be reduced.
In this Budget debate, there has been a lot of discussion about unemployment. I believe that the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) answered most of the challenges by the Australian Labour Party on this subject. So help me Bob, I believe that honorable members opposite truly are shedding crocodile tears! Labour members repeatedly complain about unemployment. In my opinion, they are doing untold damage to their own colleagues, because they are creating in industry and in the man in the street, a lack of confidence. Let us not blame the Government for this. The opposition is to blame, for the statements of members of the Australian Labour Party are helping to cause chaos and lack of confidence in industry.
We must bear in mind, Mr. Chairman, that honorable members opposite require, if they are ever to regain office, disturbances and difficulties such as those caused by increasing unemployment. Opposition members know very well that the higher the level of unemployment goes the better is their chance of transferring to this side of the Parliament. Therefore, one of their aims is to promote unemployment. The suggestion that the present Government composed of members of the Liberal Party of Australia and the Australian Country Party believes in a high level of unemployment, and considers that high unemployment will keep it in office, is just ridiculous. The real situation is just the reverse.
Getting back to the Budget, Mr. Temporary Chairman, I suggest that we should reflect on what a budget really is. Those Opposition members who criticize the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), and deny the points made by him and other honorable members on this side of the chamber, should ask their respective wives what a budget is. Those Opposition members seem to work on the principle that the Government has not budgeted for a sufficiently large deficit. Apparently, they suggest that it does not matter how big the deficit is so long as more money is spent. Opposition members say, also, that there is nothing of value in his Budget. What is a budget, Mr. Temporary Chairman? The smallest child at school will appreciate that the word “ budget “ implies the assessment of the funds available and the determination of the manner in which they shall be distributed. The Treasurer, before he throws his money about, decides, rightly, how it is to be expended. He allocates the funds, not as the Opposition would like, but in the manner in which they can be most usefully expended.
When we are determining how we shall expend our funds, we could perhaps look first at measures designed directly to help industry and the people, secondly, at measures designed to promote investment, and, thirdly, at measures designed to develop this country and build a very strong nation. I believe that this Budget makes provision for all those things, . Mr. Temporary Chairman. We propose to increase expenditure on welfare, on capital works and on the development of the north. When I speak of development of the north, I do not mean development only of Queensland, on which honorable members opposite, from whom we hear so often on this subject, seem to concentrate. They all seem to think only of the development of Queensland and not of the north generally. We on this side of the chamber are not concerned only about Queensland. We are concerned about the northern part of Australia as a who’s.
I think it is as well at this stage to have a look at some of the items included in the Consolidated Revenue Fund. Last year, £85,201,166 of revenue was derived from customs, £265,607,203 from excise, £148,817,831 from sales tax, £537,345,194 from income tax paid by individuals, £282,688,192 from income tax paid by companies, £60,971,561 from pay-roll tax, and £19,825,992 from estate duty and death duty. These were the main items of tax revenue. To the sum of this revenue we must add the earnings of the business undertakings such as the Post Office and the Commonwealth Railways.
I turn now to the expenditure items. Expenditure on defence totalled £203,077,706 last financial year. The estimate for the current financial year is £210,000,000. The only criticism that I would make here, if I made any, is that the amount could be larger, because of the importance of the proper defence of this country. We must be sure that we have effective defence forces. Expenditure from the National Welfare Fund last financial year totalled £365,191,256, and the estimate for the current financial year is £387,574,000. The figures for repatriation are £104,338,394 and £110,701,000 respectively. Departmental expenditure, including expenditure on bounties and subsidies, totalled £139,403,665 last financial year and is expected to be £148,041,000 in the current financial year. Expenditure on capital works and services was £161,592,399 last financial year and the estimate for the present financial year is £180,977,000. Payments to or for the States totalled £396,561,575 last financial year and are expected to reach £422,575,000 this financial year. Broadly speaking, those are the increased expenditures that are proposed this financial year.
The Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton) earlier this evening discussed the National Welfare Fund. I should now like briefly to deal with one or two points concerning this subject. I think it was the Minister for Supply (Mr. Fairhall) who, earlier in this debate, discussed the cost of living and showed how it had fallen in the last four quarters. Since the cost of living has fallen, I suppose, if one took a technical point, one could say that the Government would have been quite justified in saying, “ Since the cost of living has gone down so much, the expenditure on welfare should go down in proportion “. But the Government has not reduced expenditure on welfare. It has retained the present level of age, invalid and repatriation pensions and of other social service benefits.
The Treasurer mentioned the fact that 47.7 per cent, of tax revenue went into the National Welfare Fund in 1949, whereas to-day the proportion has increased to 72 per cent. The honorable member for
Wills, a few minutes ago, criticized this Government’s expenditure on education and compared it with expenditure on education in various other countries. If we were to spend as high a proportion of the total tax revenue on education as is spent in some of the countries that the honorable member mentioned, we would spend all our revenue on welfare and education.
The honorable member for Stirling (Mr. Webb) criticized the various rates of pension. But he did not say that the A class widows’ pension during the reign of the last Labour Government was £2 7s. 6d. and to-day is £5 12s. 6d. He did not say that the age pension increased from £2 2s. 6d. to £5 5s. Opposition members refer only to the points that suit them. I believe that the best security any pensioner can have is a safe Australia, both economically and politically. Whilst this Government remains in office, Australia will certainly be sound politically. Our safety can be assured only by having a strong defence force.
We all realize that our population must increase and that we must develop both northern and southern Australia. Australia is chiefly a primary producing country. We should remind ourselves that Australia is the only free white country that has room for development. This is most important. The coloured races far outnumber the white races, and Australia is the only country in which the white races have room for expansion. We on this side of the chamber believe that there are only two ways in which Australia can be developed to the standard we would like it to reach. The honorable member for Mallee has reminded me that the first requirement of decentralization is to decentralize political representation and the second is to have a general land development scheme both in the north and the south.
There is no need for me to remind honorable members of what the Government has done to develop Australia. The Government has taken a broad view of this matter. I mention briefly that money has been set aside for beef roads, that money has been allotted to the Snowy Mountains scheme in New South Wales, and that money has been set aside for the clearing of brigalow land. We cannot overlook these matters. They are very important projects. Whilst we are speaking about northern development, we must not forget about southern development. I could speak for quite some time on the urgent need to develop some of the areas of Victoria, including portions of my own electorate. j
– Go ahead.
– The honorable member challenges me to do so. I have many other matters that I wish to discuss, without dealing with this subject. Southern development is a subject that could be dealt with by itself. The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes) knows all about the success of the Australian Mutual Provident Society’s scheme in his area. The type of country developed in this scheme stretches into my electorate in Victoria, and a similar development scheme has been undertaken there.
Time is running away from me, and I want to refer to an article in the Melbourne “Age” on Monday, 20th August. The article is headed “Six-point Scheme for Market Threat. Mr. Whitlam Calls for Action Now.” I should like to read portion of this article, because it is very important. It says -
The Deputy Leader of the Federal Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) tonight outlined a six-point plan for meeting the harmful effects on the Australian economy should Great Britain enter the Common Market.
The plan is then outlined. I have not the time to deal with all six points.
– Do you agree with them?
– If the honorable member will wait for a moment he will learn whether I can deal with them. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition’s first point was that we should have inquiries into the most vulnerable industries. His second point was that we must give assurances that the burden of any damage sustained by the vulnerable industries will be borne by the whole nation. His third point was that we should get on with the job of making international agreements for primary products. I have not the time to deal with the remaining points, but they can be answered. My friends of the Opposition want to know whether I agree with them.
– Order! If the honorable member addresses the Chair, he will do better.
– 1 will take your advice, Sir. The first and second points of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition can be taken together. If the Deputy Leader would cast his mind back for some months, he would recall that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has already given assurances that the Government will look after the vulnerable industries. The third point relates to the making of international agreements. What does the Deputy Leader of the Opposition think that the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) has been doing? Has he ever heard of the fifteen-year meat agreement, of the international wheat agreement, of the international sugar agreement or of the Japanese Trade Agreement? These are just a few of the agreements negotiated by the Government. Are the primary producers complaining about these agreements? I would not think so.
Let us consider the Japanese Trade Agreement. The honorable member for Calare (Mr. England), wants to know who voted against it. The agreement was signed in July, 1957. I think it was on 29th August of that year that the then Leader of the Opposition, Dr. Evatt, moved a motion, which was seconded by the honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters), in these terms -
That the following words be added to the motion: - “ and the House expresses its disapproval of the Agreement in Commerce between the Commonwealth of Australia and Japan “.
The original motion moved by the Minister for Trade was carried by 58 votes to 32. The list of those who voted against the motion is fairly long. It is rather strange, but the honorable members who voted against it all came from the one side of the chamber. This is most important; all the primary producers in my electorate are keen to know all about the Japanese Trade Agreement. They know that it has been successful and has assisted them materially.
Those who voted against the motion were the honorable members for Bass (Mr. Barnard), Wills, Yarra (Mr. Cairns), Melbourne (Mr. Calwell), Watson (Mr. Cope), Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean), Kingsford-Smith (Mr. Curtin), Grayndler (Mr. Daly), Eden-Monaro (Mr. Allan Fraser), Parkes (Mr. Haylen), Gellibrand (Mr. Mclvor), Kennedy (Mr. Riordan),
Lang (Mr. Stewart), East Sydney (Mr. Ward), Stirling, Port Adelaide (Mr. Thompson), Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron), Shortland (Mr. Griffiths), Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson), Dalley (Mr. O’Connor), Darling (Mr. Clark), Grey (Mr. Russell), Werriwa (Mr. Whitlam) and Bonython (Mr. Makin), and the tellers were the honorable members for Griffith (Mr. Coutts) and Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti). Those 26 members are still members of the Parliament.
As I have said, I have not the time to go through all the six points raised by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, but I suggest to him that, when referring to such important industries as the primary industries, he should forget some of his academic qualifications and get down to the practical side of Australia’s problems, particularly in the field of primary production.
– He did not mention it.
– He did not mention it because he does not know how to mention it.
I would like to bring one other matter before the committee, and that is the matter of estate duty. Many people regard estate duty as an innocuous tax. I would like to give some comparisons because it has been said in a newspaper circulating in my district that Victoria has the lowest rate of estate duty in the Commonwealth. The statement was so worded that it included the Commonwealth, and people are now blaming the Commonwealth for high estate duties. I have not sufficient detail to give the figures for all the States, but I would like to compare Victoria with the Commonwealth. In 1955-56, Victoria received £7,000,000 from this duty and the Commonwealth received £12,000,000. Victoria has a population of fewer than 3.000,000 people, whereas the population of the Commonwealth exceeds 10,000,000. In 1956-57, Victoria collected £7,000,000 in probate duties whilst the Commonwealth collected £14,000,000; and in the following years the collections by Victoria and the Commonwealth, respectively, were 1957-58, £8,000,000 and £16,000,000; 1958-59, £8,000,000 and £15,000.000; 1959-60, £9,000,000 and £ 1 6,000,000 and in 1960-61, £11,500,000 and £19,500,000. Those figures indicate that the Commonwealth rate is far below that of Victoria.
I assume that the Minister who was referring to this matter in the Victorian Parliament was comparing the rates in the various States. Surely, Commonwealth probate duties must be the lowest in the Commonwealth. Notwithstanding that fact, I believe the time has come for the Commonwealth to revise its rates of estate duty, particularly in respect of investments in export industries, having regard to the importance of expanding those industries. This is an instance in which the Government could encourage investment in important industries generally. Consequently, I was very disappointed that the Treasurer made no reference to this matter in his Budget speech. I urge the Government to give due consideration to this matter.
The next subject about which I wish to speak concerns bounties and subsidies which have been reduced from £29,000,000 to £26,000,000. My Opposition friends will say that this is bad. In one sense it is. However, the reason why this provision has been reduced is that the Wheat Prices Stabilization Fund will not require as much money in this financial year as it did in the previous year. Last year the amount required was £12,000,000, whereas this year it is expected that £7,500,000 will be sufficient. That would more than account for the difference in the provision for bounties and subsidies in the two years. In view of that fact the Government should have given consideration to the provision of a superphosphate subsidy. If the £3,000,000, approximately, by which the allocation for bounties and subsidies has been reduced were used as a superphosphate subsidy it would be very helpful not only to the wheatgrowers but also to all those primary producers who depend on the use of superphosphate.
A bounty paid on superphosphate used by wheat-growers would not be a total loss to the Treasury. Under the wheat stabilization plan, the cost of production is the basis on which the price of wheat is fixed for sale, first, on the home consumption market and, secondly, on the export market in respect of the 100,000,000 bushels for which the price is guaranteed, A bounty on super phosphate would reduce the cost of wheat production. This would reduce the cost of maintaining the stabilization fund and also the cost of the 100,000,000 bushels for export. Also, it would tend to reduce the cost of wheat to the Australian consumer and thus reduce the local price of bread, which is the staff of life. These would be the consequences of introducing a superphosphate subsidy. 1 am glad to see the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) in the chamber, because he has been rather sarcastic as far as the wheat industry is concerned. If he is afraid that my proposal would put too much money in the wheat-growers’ pockets, I remind him that occasionally the wheat-grower has a good season and becomes a very valuable contributor to the Treasury in income tax. The more he earns, the more tax he will pay. So, I suggest that the Government should give consideration to providing a superphosphate subsidy, preferably during the present sittings of the Parliament but at least later this year.
Very seldom do I speak in a budget debate or on the Address-in-Reply without referring to the Postmaster-General’s Department. I do so because I believe that the department is most valuable as far as rural people are concerned. I refer not only to the “ cockies “, as some of my friends opposite would call them, but also to people in country towns because country dwellers do not enjoy the same facilities in telephonic and general communications as are available to city people. Country people are entitled to such services on a reasonable scale. They do not want luxury services, but many country dwellers are not getting a reasonable telephone service. Several centres in my electorate have no telephone service at all, yet they had one 60 years ago. This is not the fault of departmental officers nor of the Postmaster-General (Mr. Davidson) or of the Government. It is due to circumstances.
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Mr. Temporary Chairman, why do we hear members of the Australian Country Party complaining about the high costs of production and how we must stabilize costs, as did the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. King)? It was the Country Party and the Liberal Party which defeated the prices referendum put forward by the Chifley Government in 1948 in order to stabilize prices for all time. In 1948, the basic wage was £5 9s. a week. We were told by the then Leader of the Opposition, who is now the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), that the States could control prices and that healthy competition would keep prices stable. Yet, due to the Country Party’s talk against that referendum, the basic wage has risen from £5 9s. a week in 1948 to almost £15 a week to-day.
The honorable member for Wimmera spoke about wheat stabilization and other rural matters. If it had not been for the Australian Labour Party there would be no dairy-farmers on the land to-day. The honorable member then started to tell us what a great organization the PostmasterGeneral’s Department is. It is a socialist organization, and it suits honorable members opposite to be socialists sometimes. They are socialists when they want subsidies. The honorable member said that he wanted a superphosphate subsidy. At the last general election the Labour Party promised to provide such a subsidy and that promise would have been implemented by now if the present Government had not been returned on Communist Party preferences.
On 7th August last, when the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) presented this Budget of despair to the House it was blatantly obvious to all honorable members that his speech lacked inspiration and sincerity. This was so much so that the Prime Minister, his Cabinet Ministers and his other supporters sat on the other side of the chamber with sick stares on their faces. They reminded me very much of the permanent inmates of Madame Tussaud’s waxworks museum in London, so enthusiastic were they about it! There is no doubt that this document would have been better presented in Sydney’s Rookwood Crematorium to the strains of the “ Dead March “. There was not one enthusiastic look from the other side of the chamber when this despairing document was presented.
Let me read what some of the newspapers had to say about this Budget. Like the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr.
King), I will quote the Melbourne “Age**’. It said -
The 1962-63 Budget brought down must rank as one of the least exciting documents yet presented to Australia.
The Melbourne “ Herald “ wrote -
The Federal Treasurer presented the 1962-63 Budget with a speech which contained its own built-in explanation for a stationary program. It was a speech that tried hard but unsuccessfully to reconcile the obvious need for encouraging confidence and enterprise with a reluctance to put more spending power in the hands of the people.
The Melbourne “ Sun “ commented -
To many people who look at the Budget it must seem to be a timid document lacking all the imagination and zest that these times require.
The Brisbane “Courier-Mail” stated -
Mr Holt’s Budget leaves much to faith and hope as a treatment for unemployment.
The Brisbane “Telegraph” had this to say -
The Budget is a pallid and unenterprising document.
The Adelaide “Advertiser” said -
A colourless Budget.
The Hobart “Mercury” stated -
The insipid document which the Treasurer read to Parliament classifies itself as a nothing Budget. The nation did not expect anything but stodginess and conservatism.
The comment by the “Sydney Morning Herald “ was -
With a complacency that borders on contempt for both the Opposition and the public the Treasurer has ignored the opportunity that the Budget could have provided to set Australia back on the road to economic growth.
The Sydney “ Sun “ had this to say -
As a national prospectus for 1962-63 the Budget is a dismal document lacking both courage and enterprise.
The people of Australia were looking to this Budget to revitalize our run-down economy. They were looking to it to restore the confidence which had been shattered by this Government by the implementation of the infamous credit squeeze two years ago. This Government has exhibited a cold indifference to the real needs of the age and invalid pensioners and the widow pensioners. Recipients of repatriation benefits have been treated shabbily and, once again, the mothers of Australia have been left out in the cold by the refusal of the Government to increase child endowment.
This document of despair does not reveal one ray of sunshine for the 130,000 unemployed people - the unfortunate victims of the credit squeeze which was deliberately planned and conceived by the Government. When the Government planned the credit squeeze it knew quite well that unemployment would follow. Even the AttorneyGeneral (Sir Garfield Barwick), during a television interview in Queensland, admitted that unemployment was greater than the Government wished for. That is a statement that I would like the Attorney-General to interpret. When he has a few minutes to spare, I would like him to say what the Government actually did wish for when it implemented the infamous credit squeeze.
I wish to refer now to the serious problem of unemployment in more detail. At present, 93,000 people are registered as unemployed, but there would be at least another 40,000 unregistered, giving a total of at least 130,000 unemployed people in Australia to-day. Many of these people are ex-servicemen who, when they fought in the last war, were promised a new order. They were told that they would have nothing to fear after the war in regard to poverty, distress or despair. Were those promises, made by the allied leaders, only a gimmick to get a concerted war effort or were they made in all sincerity. The point is that if this is the new order, it is no different from the old order of unemployment, poverty and despair. Many of those out of work are new Australians who were presented with rosy pictures of Australia in order to get them to come here. They sold their worldly possessions and severed all their ties with their friends in their native lands in order to come here. A great many of them are unemployed to-day. beause of the false picture that was painted for them overseas, because of the propaganda initiated by this Government in order to bring migrants to this country.
Many of the men who are out of work to-day are bread-winners. They are paying for their homes and have hire-purchase debts for household goods and other essentials. As every one knows, it takes the average wage-earner a couple of years to get out of debt following unemployment, even if he is lucky enough to find a job after a few weeks. From time to time the Prime Minister and members of the Government have expressed deep sympathy for the unemployed. I, too, express my sympathy, but, unlike that of the Prime Minister, my sympathy is based on practical experience on what it is like to be out of work.
During the 1930’s with a young wife and a baby, I was unemployed for three years. I received 14s 2d. a week in the form of dole coupons. I paid 6s. worth of those coupons for a tiny room, leaving me with 8s. 2d. a week on which to support my wife and baby. I express my sympathy for these people because I know what unemployment is like. But does anybody dare to suggest that the Prime Minister knows what it is like to be broke and out of work? Of course not! He has never been through the mill. An honorable member on the Government side interjects to say that I will be out of work after the electoral redistribution. I might be out of work after the redistribution, but at least I will be fighting to return a Labour Government and to push the numskulls opposite out.
I vividly recall that during a television interview in Sydney last year the Prime Minister, in answer to a question by one of the members of the panel, said that if the unemployment figure rose beyond 80,000 the Government would have to concern itself with the problem. To any person of reasonable intelligence that statement would indicate that the Government is satisfied to have a permanent army of 80,000 registered unemployed in Australia. At a later stage, when the Prime Minister was having a talk to the nation on television, he appealed to the general public to spend their money and go about their affairs in a normal manner, as though nothing had happened. That request indicates the Prime Minister’s complete ignorance of the normal reaction of any person working for a living in times of uncertainty.
Is it not only natural that a man, working in a plant where retrenchments are taking place or have taken place, believes it might be his turn next week or the week after? The first thing he does then is to button up on his spending in case it is his turn next week, so as to have a few pounds to tide his wife and family over until he can find another job. That is why unemployment keeps snowballing - because of uncertainty and lack of public spending. This situation was created deliberately by this Government two years ago when it implemented the infamous credit squeeze.
The truth is that this Government is afraid of prosperity, and the people of Australia are afraid of their prospect for future prosperity under this Government. There is no doubt that the popularity of this Government has waned considerably since it was elected on Communist Party preferences last December. It has waned so much that the Government is not game to face the wrath of the people in the Batman by-election to be held next Saturday week. Even the most untrained mind in this House would realize that the coalition between the Country Party and the Liberal Party is fast breaking up. The marriage of convenience between these two parties is fast going on the rocks, so much so that it reminds me of the old song entitled “These Wedding Bells Are Breaking Up That Old Gang of Mine “. The first two lines of that song go like this -
There goes Bob, there goes Jack, down to lovers’ lane;
What they did to Les Bury, ain’t it but a shame.
I wish to refer now to the flat rate reduction of 5 per cent, in income tax. This rebate is unjust, unfair and inequitable, as I shall illustrate. The latest figures issued by the Commissioner of Taxation reveal that the total number of taxpayers is 4,037,862. The 5 per cent, flat rate reduction in income tax gives the following concessions: -
The total amount of money involved in this concession is £30,000,000. There are 3,564,844 persons, or 88.2 per cent, of the taxpayers, who receive salaries of less than £1,500 a year and they will share £15,000,000 of the £30,000,000. The remaining 473,000 taxpayers, or 11.8 per cent., will share the other £15,000,000. Is that equity? Is it fair that 88.2 per cent, of taxpayers should share £15,000,000 and the other 11.8 per cent, should share the other £15,000,000? Let me give an illustration. A person paying tax on a salary of £1,000 a year receives a concession of 2s. a week whereas a person paying tax on £5,000 net receives a concession of £1 12s. 7d. a week.
When the Treasurer introduced this concession he said that it would channel £30,000,000 into circulation as a stimulus to the economy and a remedial measure for unemployment. That was certainly wishful thinking. It illustrates the absolute ignorance of the Government of what a person in the higher income bracket would do with his rebate. 1 believe his rebate would go into the bank and stay there. A person on a salary of more than £1,500 a year does not need a rebate. The Government would have served its purpose of putting the whole of this money into circulation if it had given the £30,000,000 to those in the lower income brackets, particularly the men with families. They need the money and would certainly put it back into circulation.
I should like to refer now to age, invalid and widow pensioners. This most neglected section of the community has been forgotten completely in this Budget. From time to time in this chamber comparisons are made between the amount some government paid many years ago and what this Government is paying to-day. An argument such as that never has and never will serve any useful purpose. Two questions only should be borne in mind. One is: Can the economy afford to pay more than £5 5s. a week? The answer to that is, I believe, a definite Yes. Secondly: Is £5 5s. a week enough for a person to live on in keeping with our Australian standard of living? I believe that the answer to that question is a definite No. If any honorable member disagrees with me, let him get up and say so. Let him tell the House if he thinks that £5 5s. a week is enough for a person to exist on in these times of high prices.
Last night my colleague, the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly), told us of the exorbitant prices of meat, sugar, groceries, bread, and so on. Does any one imagine that anybody can live on £5 5s. a week? Surely the Government could have given these pensioners another 5s. a week. Even though that would have been a meagre amount it would have been a godsend to these people in their struggle to survive. These are the pioneers of this country and they deserve a lot better treatment than they are getting at the present time. My electorate and the electorates of Dalley, West Sydney and East Sydney in the metropolitan area of Sydney, probably have more pensioners than in any other portion of New South Wales. The representatives of those electorates are in a position to know what trials the pensioners suffer in order to try to exist. I repeat that I believe that even a paltry increase of 5s. a week would have been a godsend to these people, but this Government has overlooked their needs.
The mothers of Australia have been refused assistance by this Government since 1950. Child endowment to-day remains at the same rate as it was twelve years ago, despite the fact that the value of the £1 has decreased by one-half since then. Has this Government endeavoured to increase child endowment as a means of populating this country? Plenty of mothers would be willing to bring more children into the world if they could afford to do so. I do not complain about the immigration programme. I very much favour it, but I believe that an Australian baby is just as good as a migrant brought from overseas. What is the Government doing for the mothers of Australia? It gives a young woman with a child 5s. a week. Just, imagine what it costs to keep a child to-day! It would cost at least £2 per week to feed and clothe a child of even two years of age. When there are more children in the family the drudgery becomes even greater, particularly for people in the lower income bracket.
Time and time again my colleague the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr.
Allan Fraser) has appealed for an increase of child endowment, but the Government has followed the same policy in this Budget as it has followed throughout the past years.
In conclusion, Mr. Chairman, let me say that the popularity of this Government which was returned to power at the last election on Communist preferences, is fast diminishing. The fact that the Government has squibbed the issue in Batman proves that it knows this to be so. It is afraid to face the electors of Batman on this Budget. The Government is fast going on to the rocks and the people have lost all confidence in it. Shortly they will be looking for the return of a Labour government committed to a policy of full employment, committed to a policy designed to restore confidence and prosperity, committed to a policy to develop the northern parts of Australia and committed to a policy to build more schools and hospitals and to give additional funds to the States for education. That is what the people will be looking for at the next election. They will sound the death-knell of this mismanaged and incompetent Government.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
Motion (by Mr. Opperman) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- I rise to-night for two reasons, first, because I shall not be participating in the Budget debate, and secondly and more importantly, because of developments to-day in the South Australian Parliament. Mr. Frank Walsh, the Leader of the Australian Labour Party - the State Opposition - successfully moved in the House of Assembly that an approach be made to all members of the Senate requesting support for the proposed standardization of the railway gauge between
Port Pirie and Broken Hill. The resolution passed was in these terms -
That South Australian Senators be requested to consider moving in the Senate the following further amendment to the motion that the Budget Papers be printed: “but that the Government be requested to make provision therein for adequate funds to enable the standardization of the railway line between Broken Hill and Port Pirie to be carried out in conjunction with the State of South Australia.”
A copy of the resolution was to be submitted forthwith by the Clerk of the House to each South Australian senator.
I know that the resolution is directed to people in another place, but I want to point out it has the support of the Premier of South Australia, Sir Thomas Playford, who gradually is following the lead given by the rightful Premier of the State, Mr. Frank Walsh. This is a critical time in South Australia as is apparent when the Leader of the State Opposition, supported by the Premier, takes the lead in requesting action by the senators in this Parliament.
I have risen to-night to bring this resolution to the notice of all South Australian members and to ask them what they intend to do about it. I pay tribute to my friend and colleague the honorable member for Grey (Mr. Russell), who for many years has battled continuously to have this urgent project undertaken. Only a few days ago he asked the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) about a letter which the Premier of South Australia claimed had been sent to him by the Prime Minister indicating that the standardization scheme had been postponed indefinitely. In reply to the honorable member for Grey the Prime Minister intimated that the Premier’s statement was not correct. He promised to have inquiries made into the matter and stated that perhaps the letter in question would be tabled in the House. I do not think any further reference has been made in this House to the matter. The Premier of South Australia claims that the Prime Minister has informed him that this scheme definitely has been abandoned. The Prime Minister is hedging:
The South Australian Parliament has had enough of this. It wants to know where this Government stands. It has asked the senators to take some action about the matter. I suggest that we should ask South Australian members in this place also to take some action about the matter.
For instance, let us ask the honorable member for Sturt (Mr. Wilson), the honorable member for Boothby (Sir John McLeay) - I wonder what he thinks about this - the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly) and the Minister for Immigration, the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Downer), where they stand. Of course, one must not forget the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes). He barks a lot and play acts in this House. This is his chance, if he is game, to stand up for his State and to do something about this project.
We, in South Australia, want to know why we are treated in this way. We do not begrudge the help which has been given to other States in relation to standardization of railway gauges. We are pleased that Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia have been assisted in their projects and plans, but let me point out that those three States originally would not come into the arrangement. From the commencement South Australia was behind the scheme, and now it has been pushed into the background. Could this be because South Australia consistently votes for the Labour Party in federal elections? We have sent six of the eleven South Australian members to this place. After the proposed redistribution of electoral boundaries probably we shall have seven out of eleven members here. In addition, repeatedly we send three out’ of five senators to this Parliament. Has the Prime Minister decided that nothing is to be gained by assisting South Australia? Does he think: “ I cannot get anything out of South Australia. The people there will not vote for me so why should I help them? “
I am always doubtful of anything that Sir Thomas Playford does because I am not one of his supporters, but I am glad to see that at long last he and his fellow Liberals in South Australia have been intelligent enough to follow the lead given by Mr. Frank Walsh, the Leader of the State Opposition - the man who should be Premier - in sending a request to the senators in another place. Members of the South Australian Parliam:nt have lined up on a non-party basis because this matter is urgent. In the short time at my disposal I do not intend to discuss at length the urgent necessity for this railway line to be made of standard gauge because, as I have said previously, the honorable member for Grey consistently has brought this matter before the Parliament. Now is the time for those honorable members who have been saying so often how loyal they are to their State to remember that they are South Australians. This is their opportunity and I hope that the honorable n.ember for Boothby, the Minister for Immigration, the honorable member for Barker and the honorable member for Wakefield will avail themselves of it.
Some South Australian senators were members of the Government’s rail standardization committee i.nd they recommended that this work be carried out. Perhaps one can excuse the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) on this occasion, but the South Australian members of the committee now are on their mettle. The South Australian senators who have been urging that this work be done now have an opportunity to show where they stand on the matter. Who was the Minister who set this great scheme in motion? Who was the man who brought together the disgruntled States which were opposed to the scheme when it was mooted? It was none other than the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward). With the great vision for which he is noted, he brought plans for the standardization of the railways of Australia to the practical stage.
I am very pleased to see that the lead in this matter has been given by the Leader of the Opposition in the South Australian Parliament who, in my humble opinion, is the best member ever to enter that Parliament and the man who rightfully should be Premier of South Australia. He was not prepared to stand idly by and just growl, mumble and groan as Sir Thomas Playford has done. Frank Walsh took the lead and moved the resolution which has been carried unanimously by the South Australian House of Assembly. A copy of that resolution has been submitted to each South Australian senator. I hope those who sent the copies to the senators do not forget to send a copy to each South Australian member of this House.
I trust that some good will flow from the passing of this resolution. The Premier has agreed that the need to do this work is urgent. He has intimated that in his opinion the Commonwealth Government has shelved the scheme indefinitely. We want to hear from the Prime Minister what he wrote to Sir Thomas Playford and what he told him. What are the views of the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Opperman) on this matter? Does he intend to shelve it indefinitely? Will he produce the letters? Is Sir Thomas Playford telling lies, or is the Prime Minister telling lies?
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Mr. Speaker, I rise at this time to take the opportunity, which has been denied me during the day because we have been in committee, to put the record straight on a reference made in the Sydney “ Daily Telegraph “ of to-day’s date to the speech that I made in this chamber yesterday. During that speech I referred to the fact that when the artillery was used in close support of the infantry the artillery fired ahead of the infantry and the infantry advanced behind that fire. The newspaper columnist wrote that I said that the artillery fired behind the infantry. I know that sometimes the Royal Regiment has been called “ drop shorts “ but I assure the House that the odd round that falls behind the infantry does so purely by accident and not by design. I might add that our gallant soldiers do not need the stimulus of having rounds dropped behind them in order to achieve their objective. I want to put the record straight because some people might believe that the way mentioned in the newspaper article is the normal way in which Australia sends soldiers into action.
.- Mr. Speaker, I desire to direct the attention of the House to a situation which I consider is grossly unfair and places an added and uncalled-for burden on country people. I refer to the very high charges for trunkline telephone calls about which I have received numerous complaints from various people and organizations in country areas of Western Australia. These people have asked that the charges be reduced to amounts that are fair and reasonable for the service that is supplied.
Surely no member of this House would be prepared to suggest that a charge of 15s or 12s. 6d. for a trunk-line telephone call from a country area to a person in the capital city of that State is fair and reasonable? It seems that people in the country areas of Western Australia, and no doubt in the other States, are being penalized because they are prepared to live in those areas. This is especially so in the larger States. People in some of the farming, pastoral and mining districts of Western Australia, which are not a great distance from Perth, as distances in that State go, have to pay 15s. for a three-minute call to Perth.
We must appreciate that people in those areas do not make trunk-line calls simply for the purpose of having a social conversation with people in the metropolitan area. Invariably the call is urgent and important. It may result from a break-down of harvesting, shearing or mining plant; from a serious illness or a serious accident; or from the fact that urgently-needed supplies have not arrived on the due date in some of the more isolated areas. Whatever the reason is, we can rest assured that the call is completely necessary.
The charge is 15s. for a three-minute call. Any additional minutes are charged for at a lower rate. In many country areas the first three minutes of a telephone call often expire, or almost expire, before conditions are good enough for parties to hold a conversation. I agree that the Post Office officials do everything they can to ensure good conditions and that the time charged for is used. However, on a number of occasions it is very difficult to make good contact and get the message through quickly and accurately.
The charge for a call over a distance of about 400 miles is 15s. - the same amount that is charged for a call from one capital city to another. Many business people who make calls from one capital city to another because of business requirements are able to charge the cost of the calls to their expense accounts. Invariably the cost is passed on to the consumers. However, the people to whom I am referring have to carry the whole burden themselves. People in the cities make local calls from one side of a city to the other - a distance of several miles - and talk for half an hour about a game of bridge or golf or a binge at a club. The cost of such a call is only fourpence. Country people in Western Australia who want to telephone firms or relatives in Perth on very important and urgent matters have to pay 15s. for the first three minutes, and if they wish to continue the call they have to dig more deeply into their pockets. Sometimes it is claimed that the high charges are necessary to meet the cost of the call. If the charges made are not sufficient to meet that cost the charges for city calls should be increased to make good the deficiency. Many calls in the cities are unnecessary and frivolous and last longer than is necessary.
The country people, by their very existence in country areas, the work that they perform and the goods that they produce, make it possible for many people in the cities to live in luxury with no worries. Country people should be relieved of paying these high charges, which can be described only as unfair and exorbitant. This Government includes several members of the Australian Country Party. They should join me in condemning these unfair charges, unless they believe that the country people have no ground for seeking reduced charges, or unless they believe that the charges are fair and reasonable.
To-night the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. King) spoke about the poor telephone services that country people have. I do not know why he is only complaining now. This Government has had twelve years in which to rectify that position. It appears that the Government is all talk and no action. I sincerely hope that it will do something about this matter. I suggest that these high charges, like many other charges that country people have to meet for goods and services, should not be imposed on them simply because there are fewer people and greater distances in the country than in the cities and therefore costs are higher. In fact, charges in country areas should be lower than in the cities because there are fewer amenities in the country than in the cities. This Government has done very little, if anything, in its Budget for country people, so I sincerely trust that it will do something about these charges to which I have referred and give the country people some relief from these exorbitantly high telephone charges.
.- First of all, I support the case submitted by the honorable member for Kingson (Mr. Galvin) and would remind the House that the Government is basing its claim for support for the current Budget on the argument that it provides for great developmental works in Australia. The dispute between the Commonwealth and the Liberal Government in South Australia in respect of the railway from Broken Hill to Port Pirie arises out of the last measure introduced in this House by the Chifley Labour Government prior to its defeat in 1949. To show that the Premier of South Australia has been particularly concerned about the failure of the Commonwealth to proceed with this work, I remind the House that South Australia took action in the High Court to try to compel this Government to proceed with the work under the agreement with the Commonwealth into which it had entered as a result of a decision of this Parliament. Because the High Court gave a ruling which, in effect, said that no time limit was fixed for the commencement of this work, South Australia found itself in the position of being unable to force the hand of the Commonwealth Government. Evidently it has taken every action possible to try to get this Government, which claims to be greatly concerned about national development, to undertake the work of building this standard-gauge railway. The project was provided for in the legislation to which I have referred and which the Government, apparently, is determined to shelve.
The main matter to which I wish to refer concerns the challenge by the yacht “ Gretel “ for the America’s Cup. I should imagine that there is not one Australian who is not hoping that “ Gretel “ succeeds in the race for what is virtually the world trophy for yachting. Some people will always avail themselves of the opportunity to have a guzzle at public expense; and 1 note that our ambassador in the United States of America has been desperately organizing such a function. I understand that it is to be held at Newport in the United States of America on 14th September next in a mansion called “ The
Breakers” which was built by the Vanderbilts. According to press reports, Sir Howard Beale has had a terrific problem on his hands because the list of 1,000 invitees originally proposed for this banquet has had to be trimmed down to 300. I suppose the accommodation problem is one of the matters that concerned him.
Every one knows that when Sir Howard Beale was a member of this House he was commonly known to all honorable members in the chamber as “ pin head “. So, honorable members will probably understand why he is having quite a problem in reducing the guest list to 300 and determining who should attend.
– On a point of order: The honorable member for East Sydney is offensive in referring to an ambassador in those terms. I ask him to withdraw the remark.
– Order! I ask the honorable member for East Sydney to restrain himself.
– A strange thing about the banquet that has been arranged by Sir Howard Beale is that the Australian Embassy officials are reported to have refused to disclose the names of those invited. If only 300 are to be invited from the social elite of the United States of America one can imagine the type of people who will be attending. There is to be an all-Australian menu - rock oysters, barramundi, strawberries, beef and lamb to be flown from Australia - and the banquet is to be finished off with Australian wines. Australian floral decorations are to be flown from here by jet. One would imagine that at this banquet some tribute would be paid to the crews that will be taking part in the contest; but, strangely enough, though the banquet is supposed to be associated with the race it is not known whether the crew of the selected American yacht or the crew of “ Gretel “ will be present. The races are to start the following day and I should imagine that the crews will be preparing for the contest rather than taking part in a banquet.
What is the cost and the purpose of this banquet? Of what use is it to Australia? Sir Howard Beale is known to be extravagant at public expense. He entertains in bohemian style, according to reports. All guests sit on the floor, and he has some rather strange habits regarding those who call on him. He loves to hit the high spots when he does not have to pay. I think it is time that this Government gave some explanation. Has it approved of this expenditure? Nobody would object if after the contest was over - because obviously the crews could not participate before the contest - or at the conclusion of the series of races, some entertainment was provided for the crews. But, evidently, the crews are to be the last consideration. This banquet is for the snobocracy of America who will be entertained by Sir Howard Beale at the expense of the Australian public. It is about time the Government gave some explanation of this matter and told the House whether it has approved of this expenditure.
In the few moments at my disposal I want to refer to the Attorney-General and Minister for External Affairs (Sir Garfield Barwick). On 21st August, he was asked a number of questions about the Government’s intention to introduce legislation to deal with monopolies and restrictive trade practices. The Attorney-General, believing himself to be an eminent barrister who can put it over the rank and file of the Government, said that the Government had not undertaken to do this. He said that the matter was mentioned in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech a few years ago and that the Government was going to examine it. Every one in this Parliament knows that the Governor-General’s Speech is prepared by the Government and is regarded as a statement of Government policy. The Government undertook to introduce legislation to deal with monopolies. I joined in the criticism of the Attorney-General and asked him a question about information claimed to have been sent to him from the Sydney City Council in a letter from the Lord Mayor, directing the Minister’s attention to restrictive trade practices and asking for some action to be taken a-t the Commonwealth level. When I examined “ Hansard “, I found that instead of replying to the question the Attorney-General said -
The honorable member’s questions all depend upon the first one. To the best of my knowledge, I received no such evidence.
All honorable members know the evasive style that he adopts to hide his incompetence. I am not questioning the reliability of “ Hansard “, but I listened very attentively to what the Attorney-General said; and my recollection is that he said, “ I received no such evidence “ and did not say, “ to the best of my knowledge “. I am not blaming the “ Hansard “ reporters or suggesting dishonesty on their part, but I am suggesting that when the AttorneyGeneral left this chamber and found that he had slipped again, he added those words as a protection so that he could not be accused of having lied to the House. I have since obtained copies of the correspondence and shall read the letters to the House. This is the letter which was sent by the Lord Mayor, dated 21st February last-
Dear Sir Garfield,
I attach herewith information concerning the prices submitted as a result of tenders being called for re-inforced concrete piping.
There have been many other occasions on which piping has been purchased in small quantities which do not necessitate the calling of lenders.
The similarity in prices submitted and the rotation which applies in certain cases, notably 18-in. Class “S” piping, causes me to suspect the operation of a cartel in the industry which, if applied to Government bodies, might be very detrimental to the public good.
This information is forwarded for your consideration in view of reports that you are considering legislation to cover activities of monopolies and cartels.
The letter of acknowledgment received by the Lord Mayor was as follows: -
My dear Lord Mayor,
Many thanks for your letter of 21st February bringing to my attention the result of tenders called for reinforced concrete piping.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Mr. Speaker, I am deeply distressed that I have to bring before the House a very sad matter, but I feel that the nation requires factual evidence of the accelerated disintegration of the Government parties in the Parliament. It is time that this was brought to the public’s notice. It has been obvious for a considerable time that a process of slow within the Liberal Party and the Australian decay and slow destruction has been at work
Country Party, but the process has been accelerated and disintegration is happening so quickly that the people of the nation should be told about it, to confirm their worst fears. All of them are shouting their fears from the housetops.
In the past few days we have heard members on the Government side being extremely critical of the speeches made and the policies announced by the leaders of the Government. The honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth), for instance, criticized every facet of Government policy. It is a terrible state of affairs when supporters of the Government sit in the House and criticize all features of the Government’s policy. The practice is growing. I shall show how the disease begun by the honorable member for Mackellar is spreading far and wide within the Government parties. When we speak of the Liberal Party, we speak of a political party which has been for a considerable time the second strongest party in Australia.
The honorable member for Mackellar criticized the Government viciously on all matters of policy. The honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) criticizes the policies of the Government every time he stands in his place and speaks. As if all this were not enough, honorable members recently had the privilege of listening to the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes), who disagreed with the Government on many features of its policy. Recently we had the spectacle of the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) - I shall not say much about him because he is away sick - going overseas, in the most doubtful company that one could find, to espouse the cause of fighting Britain’s entry into the European Common Market, although his Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) says that that is not the policy of his party. What is happening to this once great party - a party that for many years was the second most important political party in this country?
If all this is not enough, let me say what happened recently to the well respected member for Wentworth (Mr. Bury), who had the courage to speak up. Although he was a member of the Cabinet team, his conscience was pricked and he spoke out because he could not possibly conform to Government policy. When he had the courage to put forward his point of view he was sacked immediately. Disintegration is taking place within this party. To-morrow there will be one or two more defaulters. Honorable members know what happens when parties start to disintegrate. Years ago the Liberal Party was known as the Nationalist Party. When that party had disintegrated sufficiently, it was decided to call it the United Australia Party. When that party began to decay, Mr. Speaker, it was decided to call it the Liberal Party, in the hope that, with a name like that, the people would not believe the party members to be as illiberal as they were and would give them support. I wonder what will be the next name of the Liberal Party when the process of disintegration is complete.
– The “ No Hope Party “.
– That would be appropriate, because it offers no hope for Australia. It is sad that a party which at the last general election polled only 300,000 fewer votes than the great Australian Labour Party should be disintegrating as we watch it. That is very sad for us on this side of the House. We are very distressed and we feel very strongly as we watch this disease, with consequent, disintegration, growing within the Government’s ranks. As representatives of the people, we feel it is a very sad situation indeed. We will have to turn our eyes away so as not to watch it too closely.
What is happening with the Australian Country Party? That party has been married to the Liberal Party for a considerable time. It is an unhappy marriage, but nevertheless they have been together. Now what is happening? In the past few days we have heard members of the Country Party say that the Government’s ideas on the redistribution of electoral boundaries will not be acceptable to them. This marriage is about to break. That is sad for those who do not believe in divorce or, at any rate, in easier divorce. It is sad to see this marriage breaking up before our very eyes. This is a matter of grave concern. You, Mr. Speaker, know more than any other member of this House, because you hear more speeches, how great is the difference of opinion between these parties.
The honorable member for Higinbotham (Mr. Chipp) was insulted and upset this evening when the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) said that a pool of 130,000 unemployed people was mass unemployment, yet the other day both the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) said that we should deduct 40,000 from the figure of 90,000 unemployed, because 40,000 of the unemployed were unskilled workers. They said we should regard the pool of unemployed as consisting of only 50,000 people. The honorable member for Higinbotham did not agree. He was insulted by the statement of the honorable member for Fremantle that 130,000 breadwinners are unable to earn their livings because the Government will not provide employment for them. The honorable member for Fremantle said that that was mass unemployment.
If the 130,000 people to whom he referred could hear me to-night, they would weep tears of blood upon hearing of the terrible decay that is taking place in the Government parties. I appeal to you, Mr. Speaker, to use your influence and to do what you can to hold this team together. It is pitiful to see it breaking apart. Ask them to forgive and forget, and to regard each other with fraternal love and affection, so that they will not be divided and broken up, and so that they will cease to be a disintegrated rabble. I again ask you, Mr. Speaker, to use your influence to bring them together, in love and affection, for the unity and betterment of the human race.
– I listened almost with tears in my eyes to the speech of the honorable member for Phillip (Mr. Einfeld). I can assure you, Sir, that we have all been deeply moved, although in different ways. I shall not try to emulate the honorable member. I rise to refer to a matter which has been the subject of discussion between me, the Treasury and the Commissioner of Taxation, through the Treasury, for some time past. I am not one of those people who, even by implication, condemn everything that the Government has done. I am interested in education, and the Government has done a good deal for education in the Commonwealth. Unfortunately, however, some matters are so illogical and so anomalous as to lead one to believe they would be corrected once the anomaly was pointed out.
This matter has been brought sharply to my mind by a letter I received to-day from the Diocesan Registrar of the Anglican See of Armidale. He points out that no sales tax is charged on supplies received by church schools, and goes on to say that the church at Armidale, like many other churches and some non-denominational groups of publicspirited citizens, conducts a hostel for highschool children. The parents of many of the children attending high schools in the country live some distance from cities and towns, and the children must board at the centres in which the high schools are situated. It seems an extraordinary thing to me that because a church, as in the case of the Diocese of Armidale, runs a hostel for high-school children and not as a straightout church institution for children of a denomination, it cannot get the same relief from sales tax as is given in respect of supplies to church schools.
This matter was brought to my notice in the city of Tamworth, if I recall rightly, by a Presbyterian group of citizens. They are working in a public-spirited way. Such hostels are purely non-profit-making concerns. They give children from country centres a place where they can be kept under reasonable control and supervision. The accommodation is better than any that the children could get if they were scattered about through hotels and boarding houses. Without reflecting on those places, I can say they are not places where groups of school children usually should be.
The requests of the groups to whom I have referred were rejected, although it was admitted that they were running a school and had the boarding school arrangements associated with it. Unfortunately, this sort of pinprick causes the public to refer to bureaucracy in terms which do not do justice to the majority of public servants, and does not help any government. It is a matter that has been referred to again and again by me and no doubt by other honorable members, but since it has been somewhat forcibly brought to my notice I feel constrained to mention it again. At the same time, I say to the honorable member for Phillip that I pay a tribute to this
Government for the tremendous amount it has done for education. It has done more than others have had the courage to do.
The removal of pinpricks of the sort I have mentioned would cost the Treasury only a relatively small amount. Publicspirited citizens should not be refused this concession when they are trying to help children from outside districts. The fact that they are knocked back almost overwhelms me. I ask the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Opperman), who is at the table, to bring this matter to the notice of the Treasurer and through him to the Commissioner of Taxation to see whether it is possible within the four corners of the law to rectify this matter without delay. If it is a matter of interpretation, surely the position can be set right.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.33 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
n asked the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
The Ordinance prescribes as compensation where the death of the worker results from injury:
in the case of a worker whose wages exceed £668 per annum
These amounts are payable only to true dependants who at the time of death were in actual receipt of support from the deceased. If a worker dies leaving no such dependants but leaving people who are, or would be in the future, dependent upon him by native custom, the Ordinance prescribes a maximum amount of £100 to be distributed among such dependants by native custom. No minimum is prescribed in this case.
The amount of weekly pay of the worker at the date of the injury, which is deemed to include the value of rations and accommodation supplied to the worker and accompanying dependants, or the following sum, whichever is the lesser:
£184 10s. per annum. In addition the employer is liable for the cost of such medical treatment as is reasonably necessary in relation to the injury to a maximum in this case of £350. 4. Yes; see answers to 1, 2 and 3.
d asked the Minister represent ing the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
– The Minister for National Development has supplied the following information: -
n asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Samuel Allen and Sons Limited, Townsville - Fined £100.
United Stevedoring Proprietary Limited, Melbourne - Fined £100.
Overseas and General Stevedoring Company Proprietary Limited, Townsville - two cases -Fined £250 and £100.
North Queensland Stevedoring and Wool Dumping Proprietary Limited, Townsville - Prosecution failed.
Burns Philp and Company Limited, Brisbane - three cases - Fined £100 in one case and in the other two cases prosecution failed.
In 54 cases warnings were issued to employers. Twelve cases are currently under consideration.
s asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following replies: -
National Biological Standards Laboratory, Canberra.
The Laboratory controlled by the Department of Pharmacology at the University of Sydney.
The Commonwealth Laboratory, Department of Customs and Excise, Melbourne.
The Commonwealth Serum Laboratories, Melbourne.
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following reply: -
s asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following replies: - 1 and 2. Chlorpromazine hydrochloride has not been removed from the list of pharmaceutical benefits. Certain restrictions have been placed on the supply of this drug as a pharmaceutical benefit on the recommendation of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee.
n asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Geneva and will be discussed again at the forthcoming General Assembly.
asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
If West New Guinea is handed over to Indonesia, is the Government prepared to reconsider the previous intimation that it is not prepared to accept Papuans and Eurasians now living in West New Guinea who might wish to transfer their domicile to East New Guinea?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
I am unaware of the “ previous intimation “ by the Government on this matter. If any requests are received under the heading of political asylum, they will be entertained and decided on their particular merits from a very high humanitarian point of view in accordance with traditional British principles.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 23 August 1962, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1962/19620823_reps_24_hor36/>.