24th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Sir John McLeay) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr. KEARNEY presented a petition from certain electors of New South Wales praying that the Government take urgent and immediate action to -
Petition received and read.
Petitions in similar terms were presented as follows: -
By Mr. DRUMMOND from certain electors of New South Wales.
By Mr. DALY from certain electors of New South Wales.
By Mr. LUCHETTI from certain electors of New South Wales.
By Mr. MINOGUE from certain electors of New South Wales.
Mr. DALY also presented a petition from certain citizens of the Commonwealth pf Australia praying that age, invalid, service and widows’ pensions be increased by £1 a week.
Petition received and read.
Mr. COURTNAY presented a petition from certain citizens of the Commonwealth praying that the Commonwealth Government remove section 127 and the words discriminating against aborigines in section 51 of the Commonwealth Constitution, by the holding of a referendum at an early date.
Petition received and read.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. Will the right honorable gentleman consider making further funds available for the extension of the comprehensive water scheme in Western Australia? Has he received a further request from the State Government for this purpose?
– I would not like to give an answer by the book about the second part of the question. I know there have been messages from the Premier of Western Australia. As to the first part of the question, this is a matter to which, as the honorable member knows, the Commonwealth has in the past made pretty considerable contributions. Whether any further contribution should be made is plainly a matter that ought to be taken into account by the Government, and particularly in relation to the Budget provisions.
– I preface my question to the Minister for Labour and National Service by referring to the current wave of industrial anarchy which once again is being indulged in by the Waterside Workers Federation, during which the whole of Australia has been held to ransom by a 24- hour nation-wide stoppage. Individual ships are being rendered idle almost every day and a continuance of this militancy has been threatened. I ask the Minister: Is the port of Sydney again illegally idle to-day? If so, does the Minister know the length of the stoppage? Is this stoppage occurring at a time when there is a grave shortage of waterside labour in the port of Sydney? Is the action of the Waterside Workers Federation in utter contempt of the arbitration system and its machinery to provide justice in the settlement of industrial grievances? If so, does the Minister consider that this stoppage is in contempt of an order of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission? Could the Minister advise-
– Order! The honorable member’s question is becoming far too long. I ask him to frame his question.
– Can the Minister advise the House what action is contemplated to require this trade union to observe the industrial laws under which it is registered?
– It is true that this morning the Sydney branch of the Waterside Workers Federation decided to call an illegal strike, and by a decision reached some time this morning the strike is to be continued for 24 hours. What is obvious is that this does indicate a state of “ anarchy “ - I use the word used by the honorable gentleman who asked the question - within the Waterside Workers Federation, because this strike was called without the knowledge of the executive of the federation, which yesterday was conferring with shipowners in an attempt to achieve a solution of some industrial problems. Equally, too, the 24- hour nation-wide stoppage last week was called without the approval of the Australian Council of Trade Unions and without any discussion with it. I have pointed out here on more than a dozen occasions that this indicates a state of anarchy within the federation itself, and that it is under the leadership of the Communists. The federation and branch leaders on this occasion are not losing their salary or pay, but they are depriving the waterside workers themselves of their day’s salary and also of the right to be paid attendance money. The leaders suffer nothing; they impose a penalty on the rank and file.
What has happened is that in the middle of January this year the bans clause on the Sydney waterside workers branch expired and does not now exist, sp the organization is not in contempt of an order of the Commonwealth Industrial Court. What it is inviting - and I mention this, as it ought to be known to the House - is action by the steamship owners under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act to have the bans clause imposed under section 109 of that act, and it is certainly inviting penalty action against those who wilfully provoke these strikes throughout Australia.
– I preface a question addressed to the Prime Minister by stating that yesterday the Prime Minister gave an outline of information that his Ministers and he had given to the House with regard to the proposed United States Naval Communications Station in Western Australia. I ask the right honorable gentleman whether he is aware that a question was asked on 16th March, 1961, and that in his reply the Minister for Defence is reported on page 285 of “Hansard” of that date as having said -
There has been no request from the United States Government to this Government for any station of any sort in the north of Australia.
I ask the Prime Minister whether he is also aware that on 17th May, 1962, he said this with regard to this station -
Present plans provide for an eventual population in the area, to operate and maintain the station, of approximately 450, including both United States and Australian personnel.
Does this mean that the station will be jointly operated and controlled by the two countries and that each will have a say in the making of all decisions? If so, will this provision be incorporated in the proposed agreement mentioned by the right honorable gentleman on 17th May, 1962?
– Nothing that I said yesterday is to be altered in any way. I then put the House, if I needed to, in possession once more of all the statements that had been made on this matter by the Minister for Defence and myself. The honorable member appears now to be tremendously interested in certain details of this matter. I am delighted to think - I repeat, delighted to think - that when the bill comes before the House we may hope to have the full advantage of his full views on this matter. Nobody will receive them with more interest than we will.
– I ask the Minister for External Affairs whether it is a fact that the Australian Government has conveyed its sympathy to Indonesia with respect to the disastrous eruption of Mount Agung on the island of Bali. I further ask: What’ tangible assistance has been offered by Australia?
– The Government has expressed its sympathy for those people who have suffered from this natura] catastrophe, and we have authorized our ambassador at Djakarta- to offer £25,000 to the Indonesian Government by way of assistance for these people.
– I ask the
Prime Minister whether he is aware that this week is being recognized in many fields as equal pay week. If he is so aware, is he turning his attention to this allimportant question of equal pay for equal work whian has had lip support from many members of his own party, with a view to so arranging this year’s federal Budget commitments as to provide for a pattern being set by his Government in applying equal pay for equal work in the Commonwealth Public Service?
– I confess to what, perhaps, may be brutish ignorance. I did not know that this was equal pay week; but I do know that the decision of the Government on this matter has been stated. This question obviously involves a matter of policy and I do not propose to add to that decision or to subtract from it at this stage.
– I address a question to the Minister for Air. Does the Royal Australian Air Force or the Treasury make adequate provision for the future of dependants of air crew members who are killed during service with the R.A.A.F.? Does the compensation compare favorably with the amounts awarded by courts in cases in which civilians are killed in accidents?
– Briefly, there are three main ways in which the dependants of R.A.A.F. officers killed on service are looked after. First, under the Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act they receive a lump sum payment in the same way as do public servants. That sum has recently been increased to £3,000. Secondly, all R.A.A.F. officers are required to take out insurance and the Commonwealth Government subsidizes the first £1,000 of that insurance. Nearly all officers carry considerably more insurance than that. Thirdly, there is a pension payable to the widow of an R.A.A.F. officer who is- killed while on service. This pension is equal to five-eighths of the pension for which her husband was contributing and is worked out on the basis of the amount he would have received had he continued to pay the contributions until he was 60 years of age. This means that the pension varies according to the rank of the officer. For example, the widow of a squadron leader would receive a pension of about £940 per annum. In addition, there are other smaller payments, but the widow and other dependants can accept this compensation without in any way relinquishing the right, which every one has, to appeal to a civil court. It is for the court to decide whether there was any negligence, and if it so finds it may award the compensation in a similar manner as would be adopted in the case of a civilian claim.
– I direct my question to the Postmaster-General. Will the honorable gentleman investigate the possibility of using the additional facilities already in existence at Rockhampton for the purpose of establishing a second national broadcasting station in that area?
- Mr. Speaker, the question whether a second national station should be established in that area is one to which I have not given attention. However, the Australian Broadcasting Control Board and the Postmaster-General’s Department are constantly seeking to improve the alternative service. I shall have the question looked at and give the honorable member further and more detailed information as soon as I can.
– My question is addressed to the Prime Minister and concerns Manus Island. Is there any reason, by way of convention of government, which would prevent those documents which describe the negotiations between Australia and the United States of America over the retention by the United States of Manus Island as a security base, from being made available for scrutiny? In view of the fact that this House will be given an opportunity in the near future to consider this country’s defence relations with the United States, will the right honorable gentleman see whether the documents to which I have referred can be tabled?
– I could not answer this question off-hand because I do not know off-hand to what extent there are special circumstances attaching. But if these documents are properly capable of being produced they will be produced.
– What about the Brisbane line?
– We had a royal commission about that and Eddie ran away.
– I ask the Minister for External Affairs whether he will explain the reason why Australia’s representation at the United Nations has been reduced from a full-time ambassador at New York to that which will be carried out by the Australian Trade Commissioner in Canada on a part-time basis. Does the Minister not think it unwise to lower the status of this important post. Also, does not such lowering represent loss of prestige?
– Mr. Speaker, I answered this question yesterday. May I point out that the gentleman whom I have appointed as our permanent representative in New York is not the Australian Trade Commissioner at Ottawa but our High Commissioner in Ottawa. The post has not been reduced in status, nor is it intended in any respect to lower itsstatus. I am satisfied that the present representation is full and complete.
– I desire to ask the Minister for External Affairs a question. Was he correct in stating, in answer to a question yesterday, that Australia has no alliance, military commitment or obligation for the defence of Malaya? If so, what was the meaning of the Prime Minister’s reply to the Leader of the Opposition on 1st September, 1960, that the Australian Government had exchanged letters with the Malayan Government “ to associate itself formally with those provisions of the agreement which are applicable to the Commonwealth Strategic
Reserve “? If there is no commitment, were the Australian troops in Malaya for realistic jungle training during the emergency? In the interests of Australia’s reputation and the security of our allies and ourselves, would it not be advisable to state our decision clearly and unequivocally?
– I was correct in what I said yesterday. I will answer in full a question which I anticipate will be on the notice-paper, and this will, I think, satisfy all the matters the honorable gentleman has raised, including suggestions that the Government is not tender about Australia’s reputation.
– I ask the Prime Minister a question. Will the right honorable gentleman confirm or deny whether the special function which the proposed naval radio communications centre at North West Cape will have, and which no other existing station in the Indian or West Pacific oceans has, is that its signals will be capable of being heard by submerged submarines - for example, by the nuclear-powered Polaris submarines which can remain submerged for long periods and which can fire missiles while submerged? Can he say whether British submarines equipped with Polaris missiles under the Nassau agreement between President Kennedy and Mr. Macmillan will be among the allied ships with which he told the House on 17th May last that the station will provide communications’?
– I must confess to some astonishment. If the United States of America desires to set up with our complete approval a naval communications station, does anybody suppose that it wants to communicate only with ships on the surface? It wants to communicate with the vessels of its navy. The trouble about honorable members opposite, who have become bemused by their recent experiences, is that they think “ Polaris “ is an ugly word and that all they have to say, therefore, is “ Ah, it can communicate with a Polaris submarine “. I jolly well hope the United States will communicate with all its submarines, however they may be armed.
What is the purpose of this station? The whole suggestion that has been made is that the fire of submarines will be directed from an Australian post and that this station will be a sort of naval base. Therefore, I ought once more to make it quite clear that this station will not be a military base, it Will not be a weapons base, it will not be a radar or tracking station; its purpose will be, not to provide navigational assistance but to convey messages relevant to the navy from One point to another. The whole advantage - it is a considerable advantage to the United States, I am thankful to say, and not insignificant from our point of view - is that it will enable communications with naval forces on the surface or under the water to be made in this part of the world, which concerns us among other people, as well as in other parts of the world. This station will fill a gap in the United States naval communications system around the world. I shall never cease to marvel at any Australian objecting to such an extension of the effective activity of the greatest free power in the world.
– I ask the AttorneyGeneral, as the Minister representing the Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization in this House, whether State and Federal laws provide that action may be taken, generally speaking, to recover debts incurred by government employees, particularly debts incurred to public institutions, but that no legislation exists to provide for the recovery of debts incurred by employees of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. Assuming that the Commonwealth does not intend to enable people to escape their just responsibilities, I ask the honorable gentleman whether any consideration has been given to bringing employees of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization into line with other State and Commonwealth employees.
– I am not familiar with the matter raised by the honorable gentleman. I do not represent in this House the Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. I think that honour falls to my colleague, the Minister for the Interior, to whom I will convey the information supplied by the honorable member in order to see whether the matter may be given some attention.
– I ask the Minister for Trade whether he has seen a report in to-day’s press that Denmark is vigorously campaigning in the United Kingdom for a greater amount of Danish bacon and butter to be allowed into that country. Is the Minister aware of the television campaign now going on in Australia on behalf of Danish Plumrose pig meats? Will the Minister inform the House how much pig meat has been imported into Australia in the last twelve months and what action the Government is taking to preserve the Australian market both at home and in the United Kingdom?
– I am aware that the Danish Government and Danish industry are campaigning to sell in the United Kingdom more Danish agricultural products including dairy products and pig meat. Australia is doing the same thing in respect of its products. As for Australia’s competitive position in relation to that of Denmark, we are covered contractually by the United Kingdom-Australia Trade Agreement, under which we enjoy certain preferences. Those preferences cannot be abrogated unilaterally so long as the agreement stands. To the extent that the Danish campaign goes further than a commercial promotion campaign, I think the Danes take the view that, having joined with Britain in a free trade area for industrial products and being largely exporters of primary products, they should have better access to the market of their trading partner for their primary products. We all can understand their position, but our position is contractually protected by the United Kingdom-Australia Trade Agreement. When I visit the United Kingdom shortly I will discuss with the United Kingdom Government the future of that agreement.
As regards the importation into this country of pig meats, I am not aware of the television campaign referred to by the honorable member. No doubt something of that nature is going on if the honorable member has heard about it. Importation into this country of pig meats has been very modest compared with our total consumption of them. In the first seven months of 1962-63 a total of 472 tons was imported. The total importation in the previous year amounted to 14 tons. I know from representations made to me that those imports of pig meats came principally from New Zealand and were primarily for the purpose of making good a shortage of pig meats for conversion into ham for the Australian Christmas trade.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Social Services. I ask him whether his attention has been directed to a report in to-day’s “ Sydney Morning Herald “, which states, referring to a que£ tion that I asked in the House yesterday -
The Federal Government would not grant special telephone rate concessions for blind people, the Minister for Social Services, Mr. H. S. Roberton, said in the House of Representatives to-day. . . .
Mr. Roberton said telephone concessions for the blind had been considered from time to time, but the Government had decided not to grant them.
Is that report not in direct conflict with the Minister’s actual reply which according to “ Hansard “ was that the suggested concession would again be considered in the normal way at the appropriate time? Will the Minister clarify the position by officially correcting this published misstatement?
– My attention has been directed to the report m to-day’s “ Sydney Morning Herald “. I regret to say that it is wrong and that it is evil. The honorable member for Maribyrnong addressed a question to me and I answered it in two simple sentences. I said -
I say in reply to the honorable member for Maribyrnong that it is true that the question of providing a telephone service for blind people at concessional rates has been considered from time to time by both the Postmaster-General, when it was his responsibility, and myself since it has become the responsibility of the Department of Social Services.
That is the end of the first sentence. In the second sentence I said -
Up to this time, the Government has not been able to grant the concession, but I can assure the honorable member that it will again, be considered in the normal way at the appropriate time.
– I ask the Attorney-General: Why has not the law been amended to prevent a hire-purchase company from obtaining judgment in the Canberra court for goods which have been sold to people in Sydney, Adelaide and elsewhere? May I remind him that after I exposed this matter in the House last year he gave a specific assurance to the House on 8th November that the matter had come to his attention many months previously, that he did not like what was going on, and that he had already arranged for an ordinance to stop it? I ask him: As he then said, “ 1 am not talking about what I shall do, I am talking about what I have already done”, why has he not done it? Why is this company still able, even to-day, to issue process out of the Canberra court against poor people in various States who have no means of defending themselves in Canberra?
SSr GARFIELD BARWICK. - On the occasion when this matter was previously mentioned I told the House that I had given instructions for the preparation of an ordinance to amend the Court of Petty Sessions Ordinance to prevent the issue of such process and to confine the jurisdiction of the court to certain cases, excluding the type of case that I wished to exclude and which I agreed with the honorable member ought to be excluded. I said on that occasion that the matter had been discussed in the committee of Attorneys-General, to see whether we could make this change through an amendment of the Hire-purchase Agreements Ordinance, and that at that time we had not found a method of doing it. After I had made this statement in the House the matter was taken up again with the committee of Attorneys-General. A preference was expressed for making the change through an amendment of the Hirepurchase Agreements Ordinance. This, after discussions with the States, has been arranged, and I myself have signed the necessary papers for the amendment to be put into effect. When it goes through the ordinary channels it will be put into operation - and very soon.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Primary Industry. He will be aware that following the recent passing of Tasmania’s very able representative on the Fruit Industry Sugar Concession Committee the vacancy was filled by a New South Wales appointee although the former Tasmanian representative had had four years of his term to complete. Is it a fact, however, that the Minister has indicated that in matters directly affecting the berry fruits industry a producer appointee may attend meetings of the committee? If that is so, is there any valid reason why a producer appointee should not have a vote on any specific issue affecting the berry fruits industry or, indeed, the pineapple industry in Queensland?
– When Mr. Crane passed away and a vacancy occurred on the Fruit Industry Sugar Concession Committee, I decided to appoint a representative of the citrus industry, who happens to come from New South Wales. That industry is a very large one and is very much concerned in this issue. Up to then I had not been able to make an appointment from that industry. Tasmania has another representative on the committee. He could still make representations on behalf of the Tasmanian berry fruits industry. However, I directed the committee that in any matters affecting the berry fruits industry a representative of that industry should be co-opted and be able to put his case to the committee. I have also received strong representations from the pineapple industry in Queensland, which is of some magnitude. Most of the pineapples are grown in my electorate. I was not able to appoint a representative of the pineapple industry to the committee, but I indicated that a representative of that industry should be co-opted when matters affecting it were under consideration. The honorable member has asked me whether such representatives could have a vote on the occasions when they are co-opted. I do not think that is possible, but I will have a look at that point and see whether the matter can be arranged. I would say that on the face of it that is not possible, but such representatives can state their cases.
F.I09’8/63.- R.- m
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy. I refer to reports that orders are being placed in United Kingdom shipyards for the construction of four submarines for the Royal Australian Navy. Can the Minister inform the House what inquiries, if any, were made about having the submarines built in Australian shipyards?
– Order! The Minister representing the Minister for the Navy is not in attendance.
– I preface my question, which I direct to the Postmaster-General, by stating that about two years ago the Postmaster-General’s Department completed a very fine brick building at Young to house the automatic telephone exchange. Can the Minister inform the House when the automatic exchange will come into operation? It seems a scandalous waste of money or illogical planning that such a large structure should not be put speedily to the use intended. Is it a fact that similar circumstances exist in a number of other country towns?
– I do not know the present position regarding the installation of equipment in the Young exchange. I can find that out and inform the honorable member. I point out to him, Mr. Speaker, that the installation of all the equipment that is required in a fairly large exchange is always a lengthy process. Generally it takes at least eighteen months after the time the building is handed over to the engineers for equipment to be installed. Probably that is the position with regard to this exchange; but I will find out definitely and advise the honorable member.
– I direct a question to the Postmaster-General. The Postal Department has brightened up the latest issues of telephone directories by using pictorial covers. If his department wishes to maintain the goodwill that this face lift is intended to give, will he ensure that the next issue of the directory for the north coast of New South Wales does not have a picture of sheep on the cover? This area of New South Wales does not contain any sheep at all, but is one of the largest and richest dairying, banana, cattle, timber and sugar cane areas of Australia. Any one of these subjects would be welcomed on the cover of this telephone book.
– Mr. Speaker, when the Post Office began putting pictorial covers on telephone directories we knew this problem would develop. It is not possible in all cases to use covers that indicate various aspects of the districts concerned, but we are constantly looking for subjects which will typify particular districts. As new country directories are issued and we use pictorial covers more and more it is our intention to take cognizance of the matter that the honorable member has just raised. We will see whether we can do what is fitting in the case he has mentioned.
Debate resumed from 26th March (vide page 43), on motion by Sir Robert Menzies -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- Mr. Speaker, the House is resuming the debate on the States Grants (Universities) Bill (No. 2) 1962 and, as honorable members are probably aware, the purpose of this measure is to make supplementary assistance available to certain universities, in addition to the triennial grants made to them in the years 1961, 1962 and 1963. Only three of the six States are beneficiaries under the provisions of this measure. They are New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.
This measure provides for a total payment of £420,000 to the three States I have mentioned in respect of three universities. The University of New South Wales, for example, will benefit to the extent of £242,500. Monash University will receive £114,000 and the University of Adelaide £63,500. As the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) said in introducing the bill, these grants will give the universities concerned an assured income. I am sure all honorable members agree that the innovation of the Murray committee and the new system of making these grants available to the States is advantageous, because it enables the universities to plan their expenditure ahead. However, I think many honorable members share with me the view that not only does this arrangement give the universities an assured income but also it gives them an assured deficit. At present there is a tremendous number of problems besetting the universities. Up to this point of time the new arrangement has been quite ineffective in satisfactorily resolving those problems.
I will mention a few of the problems which are in evidence for all to see. First of all, for example, there is inadequate forward planning even so far as university sites are concerned. We know that, if a State wishes to acquire a site for a new university, as each year goes by sites become more and more expensive. If economy is to be achieved it is vital for universities to be able to plan ahead. Forward planning should be the order of the day in respect of the acquisition of university sites. In addition, evidence has been revealed regarding the insufficiency of funds for university buildings, including those which provide residence for students. The proportion of resident students in universities appears to be declining at an alarming rate. In addition to these problems there is a great shortage of trained personnel throughout Australia to-day. The report of the Australian Universities Commission made substantial reference to this fact in recent times.
During the course of this debate mention has been made of the insufficiency of scholarships provided by the Commonwealth. We ar-e all well aware of the fact that, despite the increasing demand for Commonwealth scholarships, the number available has remained fairly static. Other factors which need a great deal of ventilation include such things as the high failure rate among university students and the inadequate output of university graduates - graduates who are required to meet Australia’s future needs. There is no need for me to reiterate all the figures in this regard, as they are pretty well known to people throughout the Commonwealth. However, I have here some figures in respect of the number of graduates in pure and applied science per million of population.
This is just one example which vividly underlines this critical problem that confronts us at present in regard to graduates. The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics has 232 graduates per million, the United States of America 281, the United Kingdom 162, West Germany 153, France 111, Italy 96 and Australia only 79.
Not much needs to be said to indicate that we do have problems in this regard. Most honorable members would agree that there is much to be done. We - I refer to this Federal Parliament - need to see the problems of our universities from a national stand-point. The whole of this business has long since passed the constitutional dividing line where State and Commonwealth Governments can get mixed up and one is never able effectively to pinpoint the responsibility for these things. We must see this question from the stand-point of the needs of the Australian nation, particularly so far as science and1 technology are concerned. We must have regard to the decades ahead and realize that there must be an accelerated programme devised for our universities if we are to overtake the leeway which characterizes the position at the present time.
For many years to come, Australia, with its 1 1 ,000,000 people, will be a numerically weak nation. For this reason, if for no other, we must ensure that our resources - and particularly our academic resources - are effectively developed. We must see to it that the Australian people are cleverer, as a consequence of their university opportunities, than are their counterparts in other parts of the world. This is made necessary by the fact that our numbers are so small. Each of us must prove to be a lot more effective in the future than hitherto. It would appear that this Government is using the Australian Universities Commission - as some one said - as a kind of buffer or shock absorber. I refer now to the Prime Minister’s second-reading speech, in the course of which he had this to say -
In recent months, the commission has received many requests that it should recommend to the Government increased grants for the present triennium. After close and painstaking examination of the various proposals, the commission recommended to me that the special problems involved in establishing two rapidly growing new universities - the University of New South Wales and Monash University - and in planning a new constituent part of the University of Adelaide on a new site at Bedford Park justified supplementary grants of the amounts indicated in clauses 3 and 4 of the bill for the purposes mentioned there.
We on this side of the House take the view that it is important that this Parliament should be made aware of the requests from the universities with which the Government has been inundated. This filtering process, whereby the Australian Universities Commission receives all the representations and then passes them on to the Prime Minister who informs the House that many proposals have been made and that he has accepted a few of them, is not good enough. We are the elected representatives of the people and we, like the Australian people themselves, have a right to know the details of the requests with which the Prime Minister and the Government have been inundated. We demand to be informed of the position. To what extent at present are our universities frustrated? The administrators of the universities - ‘the people whose job it is to know the position - have endeavoured to make their voice heard. That is one of the purposes for which they are being paid. We believe that what they have to say should be known in this Parliament. I invite Government supporters who will follow me in the debate to tell us why the Prime Minister has not been frank with this Parliament and disclosed the real extent of this problem which has been demonstrated by the appeals from various university chancellors and others who have capacity, skill and an understanding of the situation. It is not yet too late for this information to be made available so that the necessary steps can be taken to overcome the problem.
The fact that the Government has failed to face up to these things has resulted in a great deal of hardship for many young Australians and a tremendous amount of disillusionment and disappointment for their parents who had great hopes and aspirations for the future of their children. It is no joke to keep youngsters at high school for five long years, thereby denying the family budget of the benefit of the income to be derived from their labour. In many cases this is a real sacrifice. It is just not good enough that when these young people attain a worth-while pass at a university entrance examination they find that because of the Government’s failure they are thrown on the academic scrapheap. Surely this Government has been in office long enough to accept full responsibility for the existing position. Every possible step should be taken to correct it and prevent its recurrence.
The Australian Universities Commission submits proposals triennially but perhaps it might be worth while if this Parliament were acquainted of the position at least every twelve months, particularly because in the commission’s last report attention was directed to the fact that the report of the Murray committee was inaccurate and failed to anticipate the trend in demands for university education. If the position is moving so dramatically that the experts cannot identify the trend and prepare adequately for the future, it is vital that the matter should be reviewed as frequently as is possible. Although the Government, through the Universities Commission, has been inundated with requests for assistance over and above the triennial grants, only three of, I think, eleven Australian universities are beneficiaries under the terms of this legislation.
The growth of demand for university education is such that whereas at present 7 per cent, of people in the 18 to 22 years age group are attending university, this figure will increase to 13 per cent, by 1970 and to 19 per cent, by 1980. To date every expectation in relation to this matter has been an under-estimate. In the circumstances the Government should be aware of the position which will exist by 1970 and the way in which it will deteriorate by 1980. We cannot postpone consideration of these problems because too many young people will lose their educational opportunities once and for all.
I am pleased to note that all sections of the Australian community are now showing evidence of their concern. Organizations of farmers, teachers, parents and many professional groups are now combining in yet another attempt to compel the Government to face up to these problems. On 25th May another great national education conference will be held in Melbourne, designed to encourage the Commonwealth Government to face up to its responsibilities, not only to universities but to primary and secondary schools as well. Having ascertained the needs of education, which surely must be the first thing to do, this Government could set about underwriting the States which now are mere spending agencies for the Commonwealth because the Commonwealth has usurped so many of their taxing powers. The Commonwealth’s responsibility in this matter is clear.
At present there are 65,000 university students. The indications are that this number will increase to 96,000 by 1965 and to 140,000 by 1970. According to the Australian Universities Commission this prediction involves the need for a new university to cater for 8,000 students every two years. From what we have seen of Government planning to date it does not appear that we shall be able to fulfil this requirement. The universities are imposing quotas so that many qualified students cannot gain admission to them. Clearly we need a crash programme to overcome this grave problem. No words can indicate the importance of this matter to the nation. As a result of the triennium recommendation of the Universities Commission, £94,000,000 has been expended in the last three years. That is a lot of money, as we on this side of the House concede, but anyone who has a knowledge of this problem will concede also that this has done nothing more than maintain the status quo which existed when the Commonwealth Government first became dramatically involved in university education in 1957 following the report of the Murray committee. It is beyond comprehension that a country which can afford the luxury of allowing one industry to earn a profit of £15,000,000 of which £11,600,000 is repatriated overseas cannot afford to provide the fundamentals necessary to education. That is too absurd for words and not worthy of any government tempted to call itself by that name.
Let me refer now to the capacity of universities. The figures which I shall cite appear on page 74 of the last report of the Australian Universities Commission. Table 57 indicates that the University of Sydney has a capacity of 10,000 students but that was exceeded in 1960 when 11,850 students were enrolled. By 1964 that university will have 15,000 students, so its capacity will be exceeded by no fewer than 5,000 students. Does that represent a fair go for the young Australian men and women of the future who will lead us in all our technological and academic pursuits?
According to this report, the capacity of the University of New South Wales is 10,000 students, but by 1964 the number of enrolments will reach 12,000. So the capacity will be exceeded by 2,000 students. This state of affairs is not confined to New South Wales but prevails also at the University of Melbourne, which has a capacity of 10,000 students. It had 11,073 enrolments in 1960, which means that the capacity was well and truly exceeded at that time. Despite the establishment of the Monash University, the University of Melbourne will have 12,500 students by 1964, or 2,500 more than the Universities Commission says is its optimum capacity.
The commission’s report in drawing attention to this state of affairs sets out a number of proposals which time will not permit me to elaborate. The bottleneck often occurs in the first-year classes, and the report indicates the manner in which first year bottle-necks may be overcome overseas. It states - . . note should also be taken of experiments in the creation of special non-faculty service departments that take over the first year service load and thereby give relief to the departments offering full degree courses. When the point is reached that a new university institution is required, the extension of this system might lead to the development of tertiary institutions possessing some of the general features of American senior colleges, but associated in Australia with parent universities.
Ideas of this kind arc being explored in Canada . . .
So a great deal could be done if more funds were made available by the Government for sites, buildings and the encouragement of training of suitable personnel for teaching purposes.
When I speak of sites, my thoughts turn to the announcement by the Minister for Education in New South Wales a few weeks ago that it is the intention of the New South Wales Government to proceed with the acquisition of a third university site for Sydney at West Ryde. Although the New South Wales Government hopes it will get the site for £1,000,000, many people say the cost will be between £2,000,000 and £3,000,000. It is a matter of great concern that this Government has already indicated that it will not co-operate in making available additional funds for the acquisition of this 332-acre site.
While I am dealing with the subject of sites I suggest that consideration should be given to using Commonwealth-owned and Commonwealth-leased land to minimize the expense involved. In my own electorate there is a huge military area which is hardly being used. Thousands of acres of such land could well be used to establish universities and university colleges. I suggest also that the establishment of a university, or one of those ancillary bodies to which I have referred, at Kurnell, where Captain Cook first set foot on Australian soil, might well be considered. What a wonderful memorial it would be to Captain Cook to locate a university in that area, which is being connected with Sydney by a great six-lane bridge. Kurnell will be brought to within nine miles of the heart of Sydney. Comparatively inexpensive land in that area could be made available. The Prime Minister has not yet visited the birthplace of the Australian nation but, having regard to the suggestion I have made, he may be prepared to consider a visit.
I shall try to curtail my remarks as much as possible, because many honorable members on this side of the House have a lot to say about universities and the Prime Minister’s White Paper on education. But the situation I have described is rather disastrous and is in sharp contrast with the position that prevails in the United Kingdom. I have in my hand a bulletin issued by the United Kingdom Information Service which states -
Britain is to have seven new Universities . . .
It indicates the places where they are to be established, and then continues -
At the moment there are 22 degree-giving, selfgoverning universities in the United Kingdom - 16 in England, four in Scotland, one in Wales and one in Northern Ireland.
Further on the bulletin states -
The universities now get three-quarters of their income from direct grants out of public funds. At the begining of this year the Government stepped up the grants so as to enable the universities to increase the total number of students by about a third- to 135,000- by the mid-1960s. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has also spoken about a possible expansion to 170,000 university students by the early 1970s.
That is the sort of thing which is happening in other parts of the world. I commend such a vigorous programme to the consideration of this Government.
Let me make a few brief remarks about the increase in university fees. I am not sure what fees are paid by university students, but I do know that a young friend of mine recently paid £160 to a university for his first-year studies in law. He had to pay ancillary expenses, too. Having enrolled, he is now confronted with problems which result from overcrowding. This young lad is required to attend not only during the daytime but also on three nights a week because of the failure of this Government adequately to foresee the tremendous demand that has arisen for university accommodation. In reply to a question on notice last year, the Prime Minister indicated that university fees had increased by from 20 per cent, to 33i per cent, at the University of Queensland, the University of Sydney, the University of New South Wales and the University of Adelaide. All those universities have increased their fees for the 1963 academic year. The sad aspect of this matter is that not only Australian students but also some overseas students are affected. Is this Government setting out to discourage university students by allowing fees to be increased? Is that the Government’s deliberate policy, or has this just happened? I remind honorable members that the total amount of fees paid by students increased from £697,000 in 1950 to £3,039,000 in 1960. That is a fantastic increase which cannot be conducive to encouraging young people to undertake university education. What is to become of the free university concept? Does this Government plan to abandon it, or has the Government just been guilty of default, lack of interest and a failure to declare where it is going in this respect?
In the few minutes remaining to me I wish to refer to the shortage of staff. In its report, the Australian Universities Commission referred to the student-staff ratio and in Table 6 at page 10 of its last report indicated that in recent years there has been a very serious deterioration of the availability of teachers. The report states -
In spite of the increases in the grants provided by the States and the Commonwealth during the triennium. there has been no overall improvement in the teaching resources in the State universities. This is a matter which has caused concern to the Commission, and the reason for the lack of improvement is clearly to be found in the fact that student numbers as a whole have increased far more rapidly than was anticipated either by the universities or by the Murray Committee.
I want to say, Sir, that the high failure rate in universities at present could well be a reflection of this Commonwealth Government’s failure to ensure that funds were available in the past to enable the employment of an adequate number of teachers in 1963. Let us look at the position in relation to Commonwealth scholarships. In 1961, 563 holders of Commonwealth scholarships failed in their first year at university, and 842 of those awarded scholarships in that year failed in later years. This was onesixth of the total intake of Commonwealth scholarship holders. I do not know whether or not it is bad teaching that is at fault.
– Bad students.
– The honorable member says that bad students are to blame for that failure rate, but I remind him that the students concerned won scholarships because of their academic prowess. They were promising young people who were forced to attend university classes at night time, who were forced into large classes and who could have only an impersonal relationship with their teachers because of the size of the classes. I cannot identify the reason why one-sixth of the holders of Commonwealth scholarships of J 961 failed. Maybe the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Chaney) can identify the reason. However, I have good reason to think that the fault lies in student-staff relationships, which were alluded to in alarming terms by the Australian Universities Commission, and also in the inadequacy of numbers of teaching personnel, which produces large classes. It is a shocking reflection on this Government that for many years there has been little increase in the number of Commonwealth scholarships awarded annually. The level remained at 3,000 scholarships for a long time. I think it has been raised by a few hundred recently and now is approaching 4,000, but this is still pathetic compared with the tremendous demand for these scholarships. In 1953, 2,734 Commonwealth scholarships were awarded when there were 7,210 applicants for them. In 1961, 3,872 scholarships were awarded when there were 16,746 applicants.
Why has the Government turned its back on the obvious need to do something about education. The scholarship allowance is miserable enough anyhow. A means test applies to it, and if a parent has an income of £14 a week or more the amount of the allowance is reduced considerably. So I ask the Government to take heed of these things, because the issues involved affect the welfare of the Australian people and in the future might even decide the destiny of this great country.
.- It is appropriate, Mr. Speaker- [Quorum formed.]
– It is appropriate, Mr. Speaker, that I should follow in this debate an honorable member from New South Wales, since probably most of the criticism in respect of the Commonwealth’s attitude to education comes from that State. A lot could be said about why this is so, but I do not intend to deal with that matter in my speech.
I have great pleasure in giving full support to the bill, which is designed to provide for an additional grant of £420,000 to three universities. The Opposition is very keen to be critical of the Government, claiming, in effect, that the Government does nothing for education. That assertion is, of course, a very long way off the beam. This Government is to be commended for the magnificent job it has done during its term of office to ensure that education is one of the things that gets attention in accordance with its proper place. But, of course, the Opposition would like the Commonwealth Government to take over complete control of education and so deprive the sovereign States of one of their main rights - that of ensuring that education for the people in the States is administered by each State Government concerned.
– But from where do the States get the money?
– That is a good question, and is quite easily answered. The States get their money, as we know, through tax reimbursements and grants from the Commonwealth. It might be of interest to the honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson) to learn that over a period of twelve years New South Wales has received from the Commonwealth by way of grants something of the order of £2,250,000,000 for expenditure on matters of State concern, including education. A large amount has been spent on education by the New South Wales Government but, of course, more should be spent. That, however, brings in the question of how the New South Wales Government arranges its expenditure priorities
I want to deal with what the honorable member for Hughes had to say about State sovereignty and his challenge to the Commonwealth Government to spend more money on education. He said that education is a critical problem which faces us at present. I remind him that it is not a critical problem which confronts the Commonwealth, because really the Commonwealth Government should not intrude into the field of education if the Constitution, with its division of responsibilities as between the Commonwealth and the States, is properly carried out. As the honorable member for Hughes knows, the responsibility for education is firmly and squarely placed by the Constitution upon the shoulders of the sovereign States. There is no question about that. Honorable members opposite wish, however, to make a political football out of education.
Let us pinpoint where the responsibility for education lies. We say that the sovereign States should accept their responsibilities to ensure that the money they receive back from the Commonwealth is allocated correctly as regards priorities. Any one who followed what happens in New South Wales would find that there was something irregular in the expenditure priorities of the New South Wales Government. That government spends a lot of money on prestige projects in preference to spending more on the education which honorable members opposite say is so important. I repeat: This Commonwealth Government has done a magnificent job during its term of office in supporting education, particularly at the tertiary level.
– I thought you said that the Commonwealth was not supposed to do that.
– I am saying that the Government has gone out of its way to do something for education although it is not its responsibility. If the Commonwealth entered fully into the education field there would be murmurs of concern from the State governments, and rightly so.
– Every one of the Premiers has asked for this assistance several times.
– The Premiers have asked for assistance, but if the Commonwealth assists the States in this way it must see where the money it has provided goes. It must have supervision of the spending of that money. Surely when the Commonwealth Government commenced supervising the expenditure of the money it had made available to the States the governments of the sovereign States would be concerned that the Commonwealth was intruding into their domain. When we hear honorable members condemning this Government for what they say that it has not done one looks back and asks what the Federal Labour Government did for education during its years of office up to 1949. We find that the Federal Government, when it was Labour in character, did absolutely nothing for education.
– It did absolutely nothing!
– What about the Australian National University?
– Money was first made available for universities in New South Wales by the Commonwealth Government in the year 1950-51, and that was done by the Liberal-Country Party in coalition government. The extent of the assistance was £500,000. Since 1951, the Commonwealth has spent £27,000,000 on universities in New South Wales.
I am dealing only with New South Wales, because that is the State from which the greatest pressure comes. In that State, £6,283,000 was spent as late as last year.
As I have said, the Federal Labour Government did nothing to assist education or universities in New South Wales whereas the Menzies Government, during its period of office, has done a magnificent job and has made available £27,000,000. The honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds) referred to the problem which now confronts the New South Wales Government in establishing a third metropolitan university at Ryde. No one quibbles about the site as long as the university is eventually built and will do the job it is required to do. But the fact remains that the New South Wales Labour Government has been very remiss in discharging its responsibilities. It has been in office for about 22 years, and it knew years ago that there would be a premium on accommodation in universities. What did it do? It did nothing until 1960, when a committee was appointed to examine the tertiary educational position in order to see what could be done to provide additional accommodation at universities.
The committee which was appointed examined those things that had to be examined. In August, 1961, it furnished a report in which it stated that there was a grave need for a third metropolitan university, and made recommendations accordingly. Twenty months later nothing had been done by the New South Wales Government to provide for this third and very urgently needed metropolitan university. It is now three months since it decided on the site for the university, and nothing has been done in that time. That indicates what degree of urgency is attached by the Labour Government of New South Wales to the need for additional accommodation for tertiary education. It decided on a site after twenty months of doing nothing. There is no evidence at this stage of its getting on with the job. I have read that the authorities have considered that extensions should be made to the University of New South Wales and also to the University of Sydney in order to make provision for those students who require tertiary education. The statements of those authorities are all without purpose. To my mind, they are all without the sincerity which this matter requires.
The honorable member for Hughes referred to the fact that a crash programme was necessary and asked where the money for it was to come from. He said that the Commonwealth Government had refused to give the State governments the money for this crash programme. If the New South Wales Labour Government were sincere in its propaganda about the urgent need for improved facilities surely it would have found ways and means of getting the necessary money. Surely it could have turned to good account the money which is now being made by clubs from poker machines, and which is being frittered away in all sorts of extravagant causes. If the need really existed the State Government would get the money. Surely it could get money from its lotteries. We have been told that the Sydney opera house will cost £15,000,000. Originally it was to cost only £3,500,000. The Labour Government is going to obtain the sum of £15,000,000 from lotteries. If there is this great urgency - and I agree that there is - to provide additional accommodation and teaching staff for educational purposes surely the necessary money could be found. I hate to talk in terms of lotteries and poker machines, but there is the means of getting this money if, in fact, the New South Wales Government is really sincere in saying it is concerned over its inability to provide necessary educational facilities for young people.
I conclude on this note: In reply to honorable members opposite who have contended that this Government is failing to meet the needs of education I say that the Government has done all that could be expected of it to help the States in the matter of education. Education is a State matter, and the sooner it is recognized as a State matter and not one for buck-passing to the Commonwealth Government the better it will be for those school children who proceed through the primary, secondary and tertiary levels of education. I have great pleasure, as I indicated earlier, in supporting this bill.
.- After hearing the bemused, vague generalizations of the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Cockle) I suggest to him in all seriousness and in a quite friendly manner that next time he speaks on the subject of education he should do a little more research into the facts of this broad and very important subject and establish the case that he wishes to present. In the first instance, he claimed that the right to deal with education belonged exclusively to the States. On many occasions his Government has taken action in some field and immediately that action has been criticized the Government has said, “ This has been done in the United States of America and therefore it is correct “.
In relation to the subject of the Commonwealth taking an interest in education in the States, apparently he does not know that the United States Defence Forces Education Bill has been introduced into the Congress of the United States of America, and has been passed. This legislation, briefly, provides for the entry of the federal Government into the sphere of education throughout the United States of America. I had not intended to deal with this aspect of the matter until later in my speech, but as it has now been raised I think I should point out that the Australian Government should give serious consideration to this act of the United States of America. There is much in it to commend it to this nation.
Education to-day is one of the most important facets of our community life, preparing, as it does, ‘the leaders and future leaders of the nation as well as preparing an intelligent nation generally. Those are matters which I should like to mention briefly a little later. At this point, I want to answer some of the criticisms that the honorable member for Warringah made freely, wildly and irresponsibly during his address. The honorable member mentioned that the priorities of the Government of New South Wales on the subject of education were all wrong. Apparently, he is not aware, and no one has taken the trouble to inform him, that the Government of New South Wales, compared with other State governments in the Commonwealth, provides a greater amount of money for education, and that the number of matriculants and university graduates in that State is greater than it is in other States.
His claim that the last federal Labour Government did nothing for education is such an insupportable and fantastic exaggeration that it hardly bears consideration, but in case some one should happen to read his speech and think that it was an authoritative statement, I quickly point out that it was the Chifley Labour Government which established here in Canberra the Australian National University which has grown into such a great asset for this country. Incidentally, it was members of the party he supports, sitting in this House and then in Opposition, who opposed and criticized that proposal. Again, it was the Labour Government which introduced the system of scholarships to universities, at the instigation of John Dedman, who was then a member of the Government. It is rather a critique of this Government that although in 1949, there were 3,000 of those scholarships, to-day, a good many years later, there are only 4,000. This is an increase of a mere 1,000 although, according to the increase in the number of students at universities, the figure should be at least 6,000 and probably much higher than that.
We have to realize the amazing rapidity of technological development in Australia and throughout the world and the important events which that development heralds. We must appreciate, too, the fact that nations have increased in importance because this development has been propagated within their boundaries while other nations which did not do this have lost importance. There is, too, the fact that nations to-day are struggling to gain importance in the first instance, or to regain it in some cases, by encouraging technological development by fostering education, which is a clear indication of the need for every nation to take a very sincere intelligent and serious interest in tertiary education, as well as in education generally.
The fact is that in the future - and the not so distant future at that - the strength of a nation will depend not so much on the size of its population as on the mental capacity of its people. Here, in this country, we have already seen the early effects of this development in the defence forces, where, around Sydney, a guided missile defence set-up has been established. As this kind of thing develops throughout the n-tion and the world we will find that defence will be based not on legions of troops but on a comparatively few highly skilled men. Again, with the development of automation in our everyday life and the leisure this will bring for the average member of the community, it becomes obvious that the need for people to use such leisure to the best advantage will be of prims importance. The humanities will again come into very important consideration <n the ethos of the community. Therefore, I think it is a rather sad commentary, and certainly not an encouraging one, on the state of affairs in Australia that, according to the report of the Australian Universities Commission, by 1964 - less than twelve months away - all but three of the universities of this country will either have reached or exceeded their optimum capacity.
In Queensland, the State from which I come, the optimum capacity of 10,000 students will have been achieved in 1964, and by 1966 it will have been well and truly exceeded by almost 50 per cent. By that time, approximately 14,000 students will be in attendance at the university. That number will not include approximately 4,500 external students who will also be enrolled at the university. The fact that the universities are to suffer from the effects of the optimum capacity being exceeded is an indication that the law of diminishing returns will impose itself on each of the establishments concerned, with detrimental results for the community. It will be a most unsatisfactory state of affairs when the number of students in a class is beyond the maximum that is satisfactory. When that happens, we shall have inferior lecturing to the students, not because the lecturers are inferior - I would not suggest that for one moment - but because the classes are beyond a manageable size. There will be inferior intellectual or educational attainments by the students because they will be unable to have the more intensified or concentrated attention of the lecturers, again because the optimum size of the establishments will have been exceeded. These things must have a cyclical or chain effect on the community.
We do not want inferior standards within the community. I hope that our aim is to establish the best possible qualifications which can be attained. That will not be done if the situation of which I speak is to persist. I am afraid the situation not only will continue but will be accentuated. According to the report of the Universities Commission, the student-teacher ratio in 1957 was 19.7, and in 1960 it was 20.1. To the outsider, the relationship is more apparent than real. Those figures do not show just how seriously aggravated the problem has become for students and lecturers. Dr. Cairns, who is the honorable member for Yarra in this House and a former lecturer at the University of Melbourne, has told me, on a number of occasions when we have discussed this problem, of the great amount of worry it gave him and of the difficulties it caused him in his endeavours to make personal contact with his students. It might be satisfactory for a lecturer to address a class of 300 to 400 students on a particular subject, but when the tutorial classes are in operation and the lecturer is endeavouring to make personal and friendly contact, to explain the problems which are confronting each student and to build up a relationship which will benefit both the lecturer and the student, the fact that the classes often consist of 30, 40 and even more persons presents many serious difficulties. In fact, it renders impossible any hope of making the very necessary contacts with the students.
One of the fundamental aims of the universities is to have such contact and to build up personal relationships within the tutorial discussion groups, as well as to stimulate intellectual deliberations. But those things are not being achieved, and in fact they cannot be achieved, while the present student-teacher ratio exists and increases. I am informed by members of university staffs that a ratio of approximately ten to one would be much more reasonable. The present position is due to a shortage of funds.
It is proposed by this bill to make available additional funds to three of the smaller universities. I do not intend to discuss those universities, because they have already been dealt with by other speakers, but this shortage of funds has brought in its train many inequitable practices. They are to be deplored and they have been introduced by the university administrations reluctantly. They are not happy at having had to resort to such practices. In the first place, we have seen the introduction of quotas. The system of quotas is preventing many students, from entering universities to-day, although previously they would have had sufficient qualifications to enter. As a result of the quotas which have been foisted on the universities against their will prospective students are being excluded because there is insufficient money in the community to support an adequate system of tertiary education. I heard the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) say last evening that several of the senior lecturing staff at the Australian National University had told him that if quotas of the kind that exist to-day had operated in their day they would have been prevented from entering on tertiary education. This is a critical commentary on the system, and it brings out the salient fact that quotas are unrealistic and do not serve a purpose worth while for the community.
Another factor is the raising of entrance qualifications for admission to tertiary educational institutions. This is another development which has come out of the shortage of funds available for this form of education. I think that, with respect to Queensland, this shortage of finance is highlighted when we consider the fact that the State and Federal contribution to the University of Queensland was approximately £68 a year for each student in the triennium from 1958 to 1960, and has fallen to £67 a head in the triennium from 1961 to 1963. This is unrealistic and I do not think that it is the least bit fair to the university itself, to the students, to the State or to Australia as a whole. Quite apart from the fact that the cost of equipment must increase, there looms quite large the fact that there is a continual demand for the purchase of new and improved equipment to enable the universities to keep pace with the latest scientific research work. Unless the necessary money is available, the universities will suffer. More students will have to use each available piece of equipment and each item will be retained much longer than is necessary. In many instances, this will mean that outmoded equipment will be forced on the universities for the training of the young people who will be the technological leaders of this country to-morrow. We do not want this to happen. We do not want university training to lag and fall into decline because things like this happen, as they are happening now. Therefore, it is obvious that something must be done quickly to overcome the present trend in the universities. The present situation is evidence of a pattern which is revealed prominently in the community at present.
The Federal Government is not accepting its full responsibility. I repeat, as I stated earlier, that the Commonwealth is quite capable of accepting its full responsibility for providing more finance for tertiary education and, indeed, education generally. The Commonwealth is quite capable of playing a more important and practical part in education at all levels in the Australian community. Statements designed to provide a defence for the Government on the ground that the Constitution will prevent such action are quickly rebutted. We have already seen the Commonwealth Government interpose itself in the field of housing, despite earlier disclaimers that constitutional bars might have prevented such action. I repeat that the United States of America, under its defence legislation, has introduced a particular educational system effectively and with great benefit to the community in that country. This is a course which this Government should consider.
I suspect that the Australian Universities Commission may very well be a front, shall we say, for the Federal Government in the Government’s endeavours to avoid a great deal of criticism which it believes would otherwise be directed at it. The degree to which the funds provided for the universities in the last two trienniums have fallen short of what the universities asked for is ground for much criticism, and I urge the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) to consider seriously the need to reveal the figures to this House so that we may consider what has been requested, what has been provided and what should have been done. I regard the report presented in 1961 by the Committee on Higher Education in New South Wales as a challenge to the complacency of the latest report of the Australian Universities Commission. The New South Wales committee was established by the Government of that State. The honorable member for Warringah who preceded me, and who was so critical of the New South Wales Government, would be well instructed if he were to listen to my remarks concerning the report of the New South Wales committee that I have just mentioned. This report reveals some of the details of these matters to us. I think it is a great criticism of the Australian Universities Commission to be told by this report, first, that the division of capital funds between the States had been made on the basis of actual 1960 enrolments and not on the most up-to-date figures. Detailed figures are given to show that although the three New South Wales universities requested £2,160,000 for essential programmes of site purchase, servicing and development, only £820,000 was provided. That was far short of the amount sought.
– Less than half.
– Much less than half. For running costs, the total grants were £4,680,000 less than had been requested. By these and similar statements, the report of the New South Wales committee documents with precision the deficiencies of the recommendations of the Universities Commission and indicates the urgent need for supplementary grants when it says -
We have thought, however, that one principal function of the Committee has been to provide evidence which may cause a review of the grants proposed by the Commission, and that therefore our calculations must be on a conservative basis.
Those comments in the report of the Committee on Higher Education in New South Wales reveal serious shortcomings. The amounts granted to the universities were savagely reduced compared with the amounts sought.
– Who are members of the Australian Universities Commission - business men?
– As the honorable member for Barton has reminded me, the representation of academics on the Universities Commission is overshadowed by the presence of the business leaders who are members of the commission. I believe that these business leaders are not representative of all sections of the community. They certainly are not representative of the large sections which have recourse to the universities and depend on those institutions and look to them for their future and for the proper development of this country. There should have been much wider representation on the commission.
Another factor is that the commission has seen fit to recommend financial assistance to the universities so much short of that sought. It is a shame that the only figures that we can obtain are those given in the report of the Committee on Higher Education in New South Wales. These, of course, relate only to the universities in that State. I believe that the increases in the number of graduates in the various faculties of all the universities throughout Australia will give us an indication oi what will be needed in the future. In the period 1957-61, the number of graduates in the Australian universities increased as follows: - Economics-Commerce, 78 per cent.; Science, 77 per cent.; Engineering, 56 per cent.; Arts, 55 per cent.; Medicine, 10 per cent. In the period 1962-66, the following increases will occur: - EconomicsCommerce, 129 per cent.; Science, 155 per cent.; Engineering, 135 per cent.; Arts, 97 per cent.; Medicine, 54 per cent. The prominent feature which gives rise to consternation and which we must consider is the fact that the percentage increase was much lower in the period 1957-61 than the percentage increase in the period 1962-66 will be. Notwithstanding this lower comparative increase, the finance, facilities, equipment and a host of other things so necessary to effective tertiary education are slipping behind the present requirements of the community. How much more serious will the position be in the period 1962-66 unless this Government is prepared to step in and make a notable contribution?
The States are limited in providing funds. In fact, the sums that they can provide are controlled by the actions of the Commonwealth Government. Honorable members opposite, supporting the present Government, constantly put up the defence that there are constitutional bars to the Commonwealth’s taking a greater part in education, particularly tertiary education, but that defence is quickly debunked. As I mentioned earlier, a number of parallels to the present situation in Australia can be found in other countries. The Commonwealth Government has a responsibility for the future of this country, and our future depends very largely on the educational facilities available. We do not want a second-rate educational system because it will mean second-rate standards throughout the country in technology, industry, culture and a host of other fields. We want the best that we can possibly achieve.
Previous speakers have mentioned the high failure rate. This can be related to the standards that we must achieve. The failure rate has increased rather sharply over the past few years. The increase can be attributed to quite a number of causes. One was mentioned by the honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson), who pointed out that because of the shortage of facilities, the present overcrowding and other circumstances which I have mentioned, many who enroll as full-time students in universities are crowded out of day classes and are forced to attend classes in the evenings. We have the unfortunate situation in which many students are forced to work part-time and are thus prevented from concentrating on their studies. In the United States of America large amounts of money have been provided so that promising university students may be paid and be not subjected to these distractions. This enables them to achieve the intellectual or academic development which is so necessary to the future of their country.
These are matters that should be considered here. The commission should undertake a searching investigation of rates of failure. In particular, it should investigate failures in the faculty of medicine. I referred earlier to the increases in the numbers of graduates in various faculties. In the faculty of medicine, in the period 1957-61, the increase was 10 per cent., a very low figure and only one-fifth of the next lowest increase, which was 55 per cent., in the faculty of arts. It is estimated that in the period 1962-66 the increase in the number of graduates in the faculty of medicine will be 54 per cent. The increase in this faculty will still be the lowest of increases in all faculties. The next lowest increase, 97 per cent., will be in the faculty of arts.
There is a serious shortage of doctors in this country. They are important people in the community. They make a great contribution to the health, and therefore to the strength, of the community. Why is there such a high failure rate amongst students in this faculty? Is it because of the calibre of the student or the type of course that is undertaken? Has the course become more difficult as the years have gone by?
If this is so, why has it been necessary? Why has the course become more difficult than it was in previous years?
– Or is there a darg?
– Is there a darg, as the honorable member for Barton suggests? I was trying to find a delicate expression by which I could bring this salient consideration to the notice of the people of Australia. The important point to come out of this debate on tertiary education is that the ideal, aim or objective of this Government and of the State governments should be the attainment of free tertiary education for the people. The aim should not be to impose upon universities a system whereby they are forced to increase student fees. We saw the ideal of a free university operating successfully for a number of years in Western Australia. Unfortunately, this state of affairs no longer exists. It has been replaced by a system of charging fees, which are rather high. It is a very expensive undertaking for a working-class family, particularly a family with a number of children, to send a child to a university. It involves a great sacrifice, and it is a wonderful commendation of working-class people that so many of them do manage to send children to universities. In fact,I think that statistics are available to show that the greatest awareness of and keenness for tertiary education are in the working class.
The encouragement of increases in fees will establish a preferential system of tertiary education, whereby only a selected and privileged few will be able to enjoy its benefits, and the loss to this country will be immeasurable. Young people from the working class have made great achievements in the field of education. Such persons will be eliminated from consideration. Although they are keen to make their contribution to Australia’s development, they will be prevented from undertaking tertiary education because their parents are not in an affluent enough position to meet the heavy demands for fees, which vary from one faculty to another. Fees in the faculty of medicine are higher than fees in other faculties. It is grossly unfair that workingclass people should be deprived of the opportunity of tertiary education, because it has been proved definitely that intel lectual ability and not status in life determines capacity to graduate at university level.
I conclude by strongly criticising the Commonwealth Government for not being more realistic in its approach and more forthright and virile in planning for education, including tertiary education, so that there will be no lagging behind by any section of the community and no preferential treatment for one section to the disadvantage of another, and so that all universities will get equal support and encouragement from the Government. The Commonwealth Government is best situated for providing this assistance. If it fails to give the assistance, if it takes a short-term view, thinking only of the moment and not of five years, ten years, or two or three decades hence, it will fail future generations of Australians. It should endeavour to earn a hallmark of quality in the annals of this country by making a major, worthwhile contribution to tertiary education. It can do this by taking notice of some of the proposals that I and others have made.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
[4.32]. - I direct attention to clause 1, which reads - (1.) This Act may be cited as the States Grants (Universities) Act (No. 2) 1962. (2.) The States Grants (Universities) Act1960,* as amended by the States Grants (Universities) Act 1962,t is in this Act referred to as the Principal Act. (3.) Section one of the States Grants (Universities) Act 1962 is amended by omitting subsection (3.). (4.) The Principal Act, as amended by this Act, may be cited as the States Grants (Universities) Act 1960-1962.
I move -
Omit the clause, insert the following clause: - “ 1. - (1.) This Act may be cited as the States Grants (Universities) Act 1963. “ (2.) The States Grants (Universities) Act 1960- 1962* is in this Act referred to as the Principal Act. “ (3.) The Principal Act, as amended by this Act, may be cited as the States Grants (Universities) Act 1960-1963.”.
The amendment has been circulated by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies). It is necessary to amend clause 1 in order to allow for the fact that the bill was introduced in 1962 and is now being debated and carried to completion in 1963.
.- The Opposition accepts the amendment, which, I should think, merely points to the time that has elapsed since this Parliament went into recess last year.
Amendment agreed to.
Bill, as amended, agreed to.
Bill reported with an amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Debate resumed from 26th March (vide page 14), on motion by Mr. Harold Holt -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- The amount involved in this measure is comparatively small. The bill provides an additional non-repayable grant of £5,000,000 for expenditure on employmentgiving activities, bringing non-repayable grants for this purpose in this financial year to a total of £17,500,000. The measure itself is comparatively trivial in its significance. It is, in fact, not only trivial, but, in the light of the circumstances that face this country, it is tragic.
In introducing the measure the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) took the opportunity to give a resume of the economic health of the Australian nation as he saw it at the moment. I would crave the same indulgence to describe the state of the nation as the Opposition sees it, and this picture, I suggest, will be different from the one which the Treasurer painted. As I have said, £5,000,000 sounds a lot of money to people who are used to contemplating expenditure in terms of hundreds or thousands of pounds, but it is very little in terms of national expenditure. The aggregate expenditure by the Commonwealth and State Governments is about £2,000,000,000 per year, so another £5,000,000 is an increase of only one-four hundredth, and in terms of what the Treasurer called the purpose of this payment, it is grossly inadequate to meet the situation which he suggests should be remedied.
The financial year has been in progress long enough for us to make some sort of comparison between the nation’s destiny, as the Treasurer saw it when he brought down his Budget in August, and the position now existing as the result of events that have flowed during the six months of the financial year that have now passed. It will be remembered that when the Budget was introduced the Treasurer claimed that the £118,000,000 deficit that it provided for would have certain effects. The right honorable gentleman said -
Here, however, I state it chiefly as signifying the determination of the Government to follow through with its expansionary programme until the economy is operating at the highest level of activity we can hope to sustain.
In other words his thesis was that by spending £118,000,000 more in the course of the financial year than the Government proposed to raise, the economy would be stimulated by increasing the purchasing power of the community. I think that the Government is entitled to be judged and criticized on the events that have occurred in the six months since.
What has taken place in those six months is very well documented in Treasury Information Bulletin No. 29 of January, 1963. To that must be added also the statement which the Treasurer made on 26th February, 1963, about the results of the loan which opened in February and which closed on 19th February having reached a record peace-time total of £120,600,000. If the Treasury document is read in conjunction with what has transpired on the loan market and compared with the intentions of the Budget, it is painfully obvious that the stimulus which the Government stated the economy needed - we on this side of the House maintain it still needs that stimulus - has not been forthcoming. What appears to be buoyancy in the loan market is simply an indication of lack of confidence and indecision on the part of some investors who, in other circumstances, would have chosen to put their money into the more hazardous field of private enterprise. It was on the assumption of private enterprise investment that the Government planned its deficit budget. What has happened, of course, is that more money has gone into the loan market than the Government anticipated would go, but there has not been, in the aggregate, the increase in total expenditure that the Government envisaged, and in consequence the Australian economy is flagging.
I do not want to dwell upon circumstances that are only too familiar. Unemployment, which this Government claimed it would reduce quickly to negligible proportions, is still somewhere in the region of 100,000 people. We have just concluded a debate in which the theme of the argument
Was that there is insufficient expenditure in one particular field of education. That is true of the whole field of education. It is true also of other forms of public development. Health, transport, power and irrigation are sufficient examples. But that does not seem to be realized, and certainly has not been pin-pointed by the Treasurer, although it can be found within the confines of the Treasury bulletin to which I have referred. We have, as t said earlier, the pitiful example of what might be called doles for holes. The Government is providing £5,000,000 for any purpose at all that will quickly find employment for people. The old theory of the pre-depression days that the quickest way to get people to work was to get them digging holes or making roads or something of the kind, is again being applied. Surely that is not the way that a nation such as Australia ought to plan its economy in 1963!
The rather tragic circumstance is that so many of the things that require to be done are constitutionally the responsibility of the States. The responsibility for such things as education, health, transport and power, still comes within the province of the States, but the responsibility for organizing the major part of the finance, both through annual tax grants and by loans, devolves on the Commonwealth. This is the only sensible and intelligible way in which it can be done.
What was the spectacle that we saw in Australia during 1962? After all we are still in the first quarter of 1963. In August, 1962, the Government saw that the economy needed a stimulus, and insofar as it was able to do so, it gave that stimulus directly by greater expenditure at the Commonwealth level and indirectly by the flow of taxation and loan money to the States. However, when honorable members compare - as they can and should - the record in January, 1963, as shown by the Treasury bulletin, with the record for a similar period in 1962, shown by a corresponding bulletin twelve months ago, they will see just what degree of stimulus has been given to the economy during the last six months in particular. The tables in the bulletins are identical in their compilation. On page 11 of “ Treasury Information Bulletin No. 25 “, issued in January, 1962 - roughly twelve months ago - the Treasury publishes the overall financial result of transactions within the Consolidated Revenue Fund and outside that fund during the first half of the financial year 1961-62. This information discloses that total disbursements for the six months from July, 1961, to the end of December, 1961, amounted to £933,900,000. For the six months from July, 1962, to the end of December, 1962, a period when the economy needed a stimulus, the total expenditure was £966,400,000 or, in round figures only £33,000,000 more than the amount spent during the corresponding six months of the previous year. We of the Labour Party suggested as long ago as the last general election, and more recently during the Budget debate, that the economy needed a greater stimulus than that if all our unemployed were to be absorbed and if certain slacknesses that were evident in the economy were to be taken up. I suggest that the fact that only an additional £33,000,000 was injected into the economy as a result of Budget provision during the first six months of this financial year than was expended during the corresponding period of the previous year, when the state of the economy was not so bad, is a clear indication that the Government has failed properly to diagnose the situation.
When we look at the other side of the government programme, as we should - I refer to the activities of State governments - we come to similar sets of figures which again should be considered having regard to the times and the circumstances obtaining. On page 29 of the most recent “ Treasury Information Bulletin “, that for January, 1963, we find that the total revenue of the six States for the first half of the financial year 1962-63 was £369,100,000, or £14,900,000 more than their revenue for the corresponding period in 1961-62. Yet in the first six months of the financial year 1962-63 the States spent only £15,000,000 more than they did in the corresponding period of the previous year. Again, in view of the unemployment that still exists in the States, I think we might well ask whether that is an adequate increase. When we come to consider the other part of the programme of the States we again find a rather distressing result. Under the heading “ Loan Funds “, the Treasury states -
During the first half of the current financial year net expenditure from State Loan Funds . . . totalled £80.4 million, £10,100,000 less than during the corresponding period of 1961-62.
I know that many honorable members on the Government side are prepared to argue that this proves the inefficiency of State governments, but it is tragic to think that in a country that claims that it wants more school buildings, more hospital buildings, improvements in its power and irrigation facilities, improvements in its public transport and improvements in roads throughout local government areas to meet the needs of a growing population, £10,000,000 less was spent by the States during the first six months of this financial year than was spent during the corresponding period1 of the previous financial year. I would not want to draw the sort of comparison that some honorable members opposite have drawn even so recently as during the debate on the States Grants (Universities) Bill (No. 2), which has just concluded. It is very easy to seek to score a political advantage, but I remind honorable members that the total expenditure to which I have referred is expenditure by the aggregate of the States, some of which are governed by Labour governments and some of which are governed by non-Labour governments, but all of them charged with important constitutional responsibilities to provide the community with all the public facilities to which I have referred. I think all of this points to one salient fact. After all, the Commonwealth Government is primarily responsible for the finances of this country. It is of no use sheltering behind the old rigmarole that the actions of the States are based upon decisions of the Australian Loan Council. The Loan Council makes its allocations according to the limit which the Commonwealth Govern ment says can be raised by the financial machinery during the year. By the way this Government’s assessment of the potentialities of the loan market this year was not very accurate, for reasons that I might expand a little later. The really tragic fact is that no proper forward planning is being done for Australia at the moment. As one honorable member said last night, we have been debating in 1963 the need for providing things that should have been thought about in 1953. Are we to suggest in 1973 the things that we should have been doing in 1963? It is high time this paralysis in the community was overcome. We must get away from just thinking of doles for holes and set about planning for the needs of the community. It is high time we set about planning for the need’s of a population of 10,000,000, which will increase at the rate of something like 200,000 a year and which will be faced with problems of youth, problems of age and problems of basic development. With the growth of our population, more and more responsibility will be cast upon the government of the day to see to it that forward planning is undertaken. No forward planning is being done now.
As to the results of the Government’s last Budget, I repeat that the present financial year has already progressed far enough for us to know that the Government has not in fact done what it said in August, 1962, it proposed to do. Again I ask honorable members to compare the figures published in the “ Treasury Information Bulletin “ for January, 1963, with the figures projected for the year 1962-63 by the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) in the Budget speech which he delivered in this House on 7th August, 1962. Already we know that up to February, 1963, more money has been raised on the loan market than the Treasurer thought it was possible to raise during the whole of the financial year 1962-63. The Treasurer has stated that he does not propose to seek any more money on the loan market. The postulate behind the Government’s thinking at that time - and this is where the great deficiency occurs - is that there would have been more private spending than there was, but nevertheless there was need also for public spending, and the Government was prepared to fill that need by resorting to the issue of what are known as treasury-bills, or a Budget deficit. It would appear now that the Government will not require the Budget deficit of something of the order of £120,000,000 that was contemplated in August, 1962. It would not matter very much from the point of view of the sort of philosophy expressed from the other side of the House if the deficit were not required provided the spending were in fact done by somebody else, but the spending is not being done by somebody else in the Australian community at the moment. The only reason why the loan market has been so successful from the Government’s point of view is that other markets are not satisfactory from the private investor’s point of view. This rush to buy government bonds has not occurred because suddenly investors have decided that those bonds are very much different from anything else. The investors think in terms of the rate of interest that prevails. In my view, that rate of interest is far too high and has been far too high for a very long time. There is investment in government bonds now only because people do not want to hazard their money anywhere else.
We saw the rather disgraceful spectacle yesterday of the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) in the course of his second-reading speech on this bill, trying to show how prosperous Australia is by reference to the most recent figures published by the Commonwealth Statistician in relation to what are called the quarterly estimates of national income and expenditure. It is true that the results for the second quarter of 1962 were better than those for the second quarter of 1961, but what we were not told was that the figures for December, 1961, were devastatingly low. To say that there has been an increase in production and an increase in activity because the economy is rising from the low level to which it had fallen, and to seek to take credit for that, is, in my view, entirely to distort the statistics. Everybody knows that we in Australia are now only getting back to the level of activity, in terms of total employment, that operated two years ago, despite the fact that in that time the population has increased by nearly 500,000. Activity in Australia in 1963 is not as high as it ought to be, and is not as high as it would have been if the Government had done what it claimed in August, 1962, it would do.
It is easy at times to gloss over some of these things, but we still have in Australia a hard core of about 100,000 unemployed people. There is still capacity in industry that could be utilized without increasing employment at all. Those in employment could work longer hours. All these matters are referred to in a Treasury bulletin. It can be seen that the average number of hours worked by those in employment is slightly greater than in the previous quarter, but in Australia there are still 100,000 people able and willing to work who cannot find employment. Honorable members on this side of the chamber believe that already the seeds of retribution in the years to come have been sown. The Government and the country are not planning far enough ahead to absorb into employment those who will be seeking employment in the years to come.
The Government has appointed some kind of committee of economic inquiry. This inquiry was suggested nearly twelve months ago, but it was only recently that personnel could be got to man the committee. There may be reasons for that. It is not the responsibility of that committee to diagnose the ills of the Australian economy, although it may be able to help in many respects. That task is the direct responsibility of this Government. Apparently the Government is prepared to some extent to admit that that is so, because the Treasurer said yesterday that in the course of spending this £5,000,000 - what I have called a dole for holes - the States will confer with the Department of Labour and National Service to ensure that the money is used to make available the forms of employment that can most quickly be resorted to. But we should not have to resort to that kind of emergency planning. The planning should be continuous, because it is a big job in any economy of 10,000,000 people to find 100,000 or 110,000 extra jobs every year, particularly if the nature of industrial processes is changing. Everybody knows that in the long run you can get greater output per head only if you replace man-power by machines. It is the problem of private industry to determine what it believes should be the ratio of machines to man-power. It is, and always will be, the problem of society to find ways to ensure that those who are made redundant through no fault of their own will be found active and useful employment somewhere else. That is not being done in the Australian economy at the moment
If honorable members read the statement by the Treasurer they will find that he wants to take great praise to the Government because the motor car industry is now booming back roughly to the point that it had reached two years ago, when its progress was halted by the Government. I hope that by now it has been realized that it is better to keep people making motor cars than to have them not doing anything at all. If the Government comes to a decision that a limit should be set to the number of motor cars produced annually in the Australian economy, it should give more than a week’s notice of its intention. If honorable members look carefully at the Treasury Information Bulletin they will find that, consequent upon the so-called boom in the motor car industry, there was a rise in Australia’s import bill. The rise that has taken place in the last six months is quite significant. Australia is a country which depends for what it can import upon the prices it receives for a few basic primary products such as wool, wheat and meat. We do not have much say in determining those prices. If we cannot determine the income we shall get, we should be sensible about how we spend what we get when we get it. Sometimes that is all the logic there is behind import controls in this country. They are a recognition of the fact that you cannot as a nation any more than as an individual buy everything that some fellow who calls himself an importer can bring into the country under licence. There are things coming into this country that, in the view of the Labour Party, we could very well do without. Perhaps some of those imports are trivial, but some of them are significant and are destroying Australian industries which have been great places in the past for the absorption of labour.
It is probably difficult to hazard a guess at what the pattern of Australia’s economic development will be by 1970. All the planning in the world will not necessarily provide a perfect answer to the problems that we face, but in our view there will be a better answer if there is some attempt at planning than none at all. As always, there will be a big responsibility on the Government in these things, whether some people like it or not. The Australian Government, the United States Government and the United Kingdom Government, whether Tory or Democrat, Labour or Liberal, are undoubtedly the biggest total spenders in any of these economies. A government has responsibility for the care of the population as a whole; it must see that justice is done to all sections; it must weigh the needs of the young against the needs of the aged; it must balance the number of hospitals required against the number of schools required at any one time. In that sort of context it is tragic that there should be any waste of economic resources. In Australia at the moment there is a waste of economic resources so far as manpower is concerned and we are not getting a maximum utilization of the technical resources that are at our disposal. In terms of what needs to be done to-day, we should have a shortage rather than a surplus of man-power. It is popular at times to talk about growth, but the growth we need is obviously not being realized when in 1963 we have only the same level of activity as we had at the end of 1961 and when aggregate spending by the States, which are charged with the constitutional responsibility for carrying out the sort of function that I have mentioned, is scarcely any different now from what it was twelve months ago. It is about time that the annual wrangle of the Australian Loan Council was turned into a systematic planning of the programmes of the Commonwealth, States and semi-governmental authorities. Until that is done the people as a whole will suffer.
I would ask honorable members to ponder over some of the documentation I have referred to this afternoon. I ask them to look at the Budget speech of the Treasurer in August, 1962, and see what he claimed would be the position of the nation by June, 1963. They should then ask themselves now, almost at the end of March, 1963, looking at the evidence for the first six months of the financial year, how far off the beam he will be by 30th June, 1963. If he is off the beam - unfortunately I think he will be - it will be the nation whose destiny is in the hands of the Government that will suffer.
.- The honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean), who has just resumed his seat, gave his usual interesting and informative speech. He expressed his dissatisfaction with the progress and the condition of the Australian economy. I do not disagree with him on this point. I believe every one of us should be dissatisfied with present conditions and with our rate of progress. If we ever reach the stage of complete satisfaction, our progress will stop. I hope every one will go on being dissatisfied and will go on looking for better conditions in the future. However, dissatisfaction with the policies of the Government is an entirely different matter. The Government has done a job in Australia that is unsurpassed in the world. We have a record of employment that is second to none in any Western country. I understand that we will bring into Australia more than 125,000 migrants in this year. That does not suggest any shortage of employment or surplus of manpower. It does suggest expanding economy and shows that we fu ve plenty of jobs to offer to people who have the skills needed in an industrial community.
The honorable member for Melbourne Ports dealt at great length with planning. Planning is very good if it is flexible, but very often the type of planning envisaged by the honorable member and his colleagues is a totally rigid form of socialist planning that has never worked and never will work. According to the honorable member, the plans put forward by the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) when he introduced the Budget last year fell short of the mark in one way or another, as most plans in this sphere do. Yet the honorable member invites us to put all our faith in long-range planning. He cannot have it both ways. If he complains about one plan not proving satisfactory, how can he expect long-range plans to be the total answer to all the problems of Australia? Of course, he cannot. We must have plenty of plans; we must have short-range and flexible plans. If we do not, we will never be able to spend any money or achieve anything. Planning is very necessary; but not rigid planning based on some socialist hypothesis. That is not a practical proposition.
I agree with one main point made by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports. He spoke of doles for holes. I agree that that is a very telling phrase. I remind the House that this bill does not make a survey of the Australian economy; it is a bill to amend the State Grants (Additional Assistance) Act. It makes available the sum of £5,000,000 to the States for the creation of employment. The issue it raises is whether we should be parcelling out money to the States to mop up employment, to provide jobs whatever their value in order to be able to say that there are sufficient jobs to go around, or whether we should be spending money from the Commonwealth’s coffers to create works that in turn will offer employment opportunities to those who are at present unemployed. Should we regard this money as a form of welfare, as a form of relief payment, or should we regard it as a form of constructive spending - as a form of productive spending, if I may put it that way. Obviously, in this instance, it is simply a form of relief payment intended to tide us over temporary unemployment difficulties by creating more jobs.
The States are to be the administering authorities. I disagree with this principle. I believe that the States by their nature will spend the money in the capital cities. The bulk of the money will be spent where the bulk of the unemployment is, and that is in the capital cities. This will accentuate the trend, which is already so disastrous, towards the centralization in the capital cities of people and industry. Honorable members opposite say that is all right. Of course, from their point of view it is all right. The more concentration they can have in the great industrial complexes in Australia, the happier they are. That suits their socialist philosophy. But it does not suit me and it does not suit honorable members on this side of the House. We want a balanced development of Australia. We want the development of the natural resources of this continent so that it may be made as strong and wealthy as it possibly can be.
The bulk of this money will be spent in the capital cities and principally in Sydney and Melbourne. Those two cities already contain, within a radius of 100 miles of thencentres, half the population of Australia. By spending this money there, we will increase the tempo of growth in those cities and distort even further the pattern of the development of Australia. I do not believe we should do this. I believe that the Commonwealth, which is the money-raising authority of the federation, has a responsibility to ensure that the money it raises from the people is spent as fruitfully and as wisely as possible. Therefore, if the Commonwealth is prepared honorably to discharge its responsibilities it cannot simply pass all the money over to the States, which find it completely impossible to spend the money outside their capital cities. The Commonwealth must realize that vast congregations of people such as we have in Sydney and Melbourne are uneconomic. The cost of providing services to these vast aggregations of people is out of all proportion to the cost of providing services to cities of, say, 500,000 people. When cities grow beyond a certain size they become a heavy drain on the economy. It is impossible to produce exact figures to show what these costs are and to illustrate the benefits that may be set against those costs, but anybody with any experience of these matters will tell you that cities with a population density of the order of that of Sydney or Melbourne have long passed their peak of efficiency and are now a heavy drain on this country’s economy.
From the economic stand-point it is in the Commonwealth’s interest to see that decentralization of industry and population takes place. But this problem has another facet. We live in a dangerous age. This is an especially dangerous era because we have now learnt to live with the bomb. We have reached a nuclear stalemate and the likelihood of small wars with the combatants using conventional weapons is greater now than at any time since the end of the last war. Australia’s vulnerability in terms of conventional war is extremely high and is getting higher all the time. Our major industries are concentrated in two small areas - Sydney and Melbourne. Our other industries are scattered around the perimeter of the Commonwealth. Our capital cities are separated one from another like a chain of islands, each at a great distance from the others. Australia is in a highly vulnerable position and we could scarcely withstand a Pearl Harbour type attack. It is not nice to contemplate military aggression against this country but this is something that we must bear in mind.
We live in troubled times and who can say that in the next 10, 20, 30, or 50 years we in this region of the world will not be involved in a military upheaval? We know that this Asian region of the globe is subject to tremendous tensions due to population growth and rapid emergence and development of countries. Those countries naturally are unstable in their early formative period and in many cases are being propelled towards aggression by the forces of the Communist empire. As I have said, Australia is vulnerable and if the Commonwealth is to discharge its responsibilities faithfully it must make some effort towards decentralizing industry so that this nation will have some resilience in the event of being faced with military aggression and so that it will be able better to withstand attack.
Because the great cities of Australia are an increasing drain on our economy and because they represent a threat to our military security the Commonwealth must do something to decentralize industry and population. The problem of decentralization is highlighted to-day by the way in which the Commonwealth has made grants to the States. Over the past few years the Commonwealth has put money into projects in the north-west of Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory. When I think of this I am reminded that people have not changed much over the years. The attitudes of people towards the tropical zones - the area north of the Tropic of Capricorn - have not changed much since the bursting of the South Seas Bubble. People still are prepared to invest money in wonderful schemes associated with the rich tropical areas of this country when in fact the same investment would yield a much greater return if it were made in the more congenial southern areas of the Commonwealth.
I cannot prove that one particular project in the north would yield less than a particular project in the south for the simple reason that no survey has been made of Australia’s natural resources. The Commonwealth should make such a survey before it embarks on any further schemes to develop resources that lie above the Tropic of Capricorn. In fairness to the remainder of the Commonwealth and in order to pursue a common-sense policy of development and decentralization, the
Commonwealth should appoint an advisory council to survey the entire continent and to establish priorities for development. I am confident that investment in a number of areas in the southern part of the continent, where transport facilities and the amenities of civilized living already exist, would return a greater dividend than investment in the far north of Australia, however attractive the tropics may be.
So I suggest to the Government that it establish an advisory committee and draw up a programme for the development of our roads system, for the development of harbours and for the building of dams and other water conservation schemes so that whenever we do have a spell of unemployment we will have ample reproductive works to which persons seeking employment may go. Then we will know that the money being spent to provide jobs for Australians is being spent in the best interests of Australia and in the best interests also of those unfortunate enough to be unemployed at a particular time.
The Commonwealth is reluctant to take action within States, no doubt because it wants to preserve the spirit of federation, but what is our present federation? We have one money-raising authority - the Commonwealth. We have six spending authorities. That is the reality of the situation. We have one government which owes a special responsibility to the people of Australia and we have six governments which do not have such a high degree of responsibility. In fact I regard the Government of my own State of New South Wales as being of little more value to that State than a city council, established on a grand scale, would be. The attention of the New South Wales Government is being concentrated more and more on the welfare of the citizens of Sydney and its immediate environments, while the rest of the State can go hang so far as it is concerned.
It is true, as Sir John Latham said in his judgment in the income tax case, in 1942, that if the Commonwealth were to pass an appropriate grants act, all State powers would be controlled by the Commonwealth - a result, he said, which would mean the end of the political independence of the States. I do not advocate the complete destruction of the States - far from it. But I do advocate the strengthening of our federal system, and ve will achieve this only by compelling the States to accept their full share of responsibility to the Australian community.
This is an important issue. I hope the Government will not perpetuate this system of handing money to the States, to be spent as they wish, or of making grants to the States for particular projects, the relative value of which has not been assessed as against that of other projects which could be carried out in other parts of the Commonwealth.
.- The honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Ian Allan) made one or two comments to which I think I should reply. He referred to development in country areas, and in this respect he mentioned the decentralization programme which he considers necessary in terms of to-day’s economy. I fully agree with those remarks of the honorable member, but I remind the House that decentralization schemes in this country have been carried out only at the instigation of Labour governments in the States. For a demonstration of this fact we have only to look at Queensland, which is a very large State and the most decentralized in the Commonwealth. As honorable members are aware, Queensland had a Labour government for many years. However, people in various parts of Queensland have had to face problems similar to those that have confronted people in the cities, about whom the honorable member for Gwydir spoke, I thought, rather patronizingly. He seemed to consider that people in the metropolitan areas, who work in secondary industries, are more or less unimportant in the Australian scene.
– He did not say that.
– He did not actually say that, but I believe he implied it. I believe that all good Australians, whether they live in the cities or the country, would reject such a thought.
Only in post-war years has Australia really started to make progress in the field of secondary industry. The old adage, that Australia rides on the sheep’s back, contains, I think, less truth to-day than it did 30 years ago. I realize that the wool industry is a very important one, as are all Australian industries, but I have noticed a tendency on the part of some honorable members in this House, particularly those of the Australian Country Party, to give undue emphasis to the importance of the wool industry. As Australians we should all adopt a co-operative attitude. We should put all our fellow Australians on an equal footing in respect of opportunities. Those who live in the cities do not enjoy the opportunities that many people imagine they do. However, I do not intend to labour that point further.
The honorable member also spoke of balanced development. This is something that has been completely lacking in the policy of the present Commonwealth Government. In fact, the Australian Labour Party fought the last election on the issue of development. It contended that the Government had not achieved the development that was necessary, particularly in the under-developed areas of Australia, having regard to the fact that it had occupied the Treasury bench for twelve years in an expanding economy.
The bill that has now been presented by the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) follows on a bill which he introduced on 7th March, 1962. In his second-reading speech on that bill, which was the States Grants (Additional Assistance) Bill 1962, the Treasurer said: -
The amounts to be paid to each State which arc shown in the schedule to the bill are as follows: -
The grants, which I should emphasize will not involve the States in interest and repayment, are intended to provide finance for employmentgiving activities, mainly in the works Yield. However, each State will be free to exercise its own judgment and to use its share of the grant in whatever direction it thinks proper. But the overriding general purpose of the grants is to provide employment.
That was twelve months ago, and now we see further action being taken along the same lines. The simple fact is that the Government has not been able to cope with the problem of unemployment. As the Treasurer has told us, this grant is being made for the purpose of absorbing the unemployed. Naturally I welcome the grant. I believe that any grant in the present circumstances must be welcomed by all members of this Parliament. It certainly will be welcomed by the various States that will receive the money. But it does appear quite obvious that the actions which have been taken during the last twelve months have not achieved the results that the Treasurer hoped for when he introduced the original legislation. In January of this year we saw that the numbers of registered unemployed were at practically the same level as they had been in February-March last year, when they reached a record of 131,000.
On many occasions in this Parliament both the Treasurer and the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) have said that we were acting prematurely in attacking the Government on the unemployment position. We were told that the unemployment was temporary. The honorable member for Gwydir has told us again this evening that we have only temporary unemployment. I just do not know exactly what these honorable gentlemen mean by temporary unemployment. If the Government cannot, after this Twenty-fourth Parliament has been in existence for more than twelve months, bring about a greater improvement in the unemployment situation than it has done, then I believe there is no hope for it. It seems obvious that it is quite incapable of coping with the problem.
As I have said, while we welcome this grant, we do not think it is a panacea for the ills of the Australian economy. It is merely a palliative which will not get at the root of our economic ills. We believe in a planned economy. The honorable member for Gwydir said that the Labour Party’s policy of a planned economy envisaged a socialist economy. I do not hesitate to admit that the policy of the Australian Labour Party is one of democratic socialism. If honorable members opposite can look at the policy, constitution, rules and platform of the Australian Labour Party and see in them anything that is not Christian, either they are closing their eyes to the true position or they are trying to misrepresent the policy of the Labour Party.
They - particularly the members of the Australian Country Party - are always willing to adopt socialism - although they may not use that word - when they get into difficulties in their industries. They look to the Government for a subsidy, but it is not socialism then. I cannot see what difference there is between a government giving assistance to primary producers, such as the dairy farmers, and a government taking its place in the economy in any other way.
– Do you not like the subsidy to the dairy industry?
– I appreciate that subsidy very much; of course I do. I am trying to point out that I cannot see what difference there is between government assistance to an industry when it is called a grant and government assistance in another sphere when it is called socialism. I should like some enlightenment on the Government’s attitude to that matter.
My State of Queensland received the lion’s share of these grants in the first instance. Of the £10,000,000, Queensland received £3,340,000. This additional grant has brought the total for Queensland in 1962-63 to £4,240,000. The reason given for that when the Treasurer introduced these grants was that Queensland was suffering more severely from unemployment than was any other State. That was one of the reasons why the Government suffered such a severe reverse in Queensland in December, 1961. Perhaps the reason behind the Government’s granting these moneys was that it realized that it had to do something about the unemployment situation before it lost any more support from the people. As I said, Queensland received the lion’s share. As a Queenslander, I was very pleased to see that because, despite what honorable members opposite may say, we do not want to see unemployment. On many occasions they have made the rash statement that we wallow and delight in unemployment in the Australian economy. They say that we thrive on unemployment. An Australian Labour Party government was the first government in this country, and practically in the world, to introduce full employment. We talk about programmes for full employment to-day-
– When was that?
– You can talk as much as you like, but you cannot deny figures. When this Government assumed office in 1949 fewer than 9,000 people were unemployed in Australia. They are the facts and figures.
– What about the coal strike?
– Yes, the good old one, the coal strike. When honorable members opposite have no answer, they have to throw up the hoary one about the coal strike when about 300,000 people were unemployed for about three weeks. That is something that could happen to-morrow and to any government. Be honest about it.
– They cannot be honest.
– Of course, they cannot be honest. They do not know how to be honest. I am not very happy about the way in which these grants to Queensland have been spent by the Queensland Government. Queensland suffered severely from unemployment throughout 1962 and in the previous year. On 13th November last I asked the Treasurer whether he knew the way in which the grants were being spent by the State governments. I also asked him whether it was a fact that the Queensland Government had expended less than one-quarter of the money that had been given to it under the grants. The Treasurer replied that no strings were attached to these grants and that he was not aware of how the money had been spent. However, he wrote to me a couple of days later and verified my statement that of the amount of £3,650,000 that had been granted to Queensland up to that time less than £700,000 had been spent by the State Government. Yet in Queensland throughout the year there were people who had been dismissed from the Works Department and various other government departments on the ground that no funds were available.
On that occasion I accused the Queensland Government - and I accuse it again - of withholding those funds for spending just prior to the 1963 State election. The State Government is spending the money now. I think that has been a breach of faith with the Federal Government. I should like to see these grants spent at the time they are made by the Federal Government, or within a reasonable time thereafter. They should not be used for any cheap political purpose such as that for which the Queensland Liberal-Country Party Government has used them.
– What about New South Wales?
– I do not know about New South Wales. I am dealing with Queensland at present. The Government should look into this matter. If the Government cannot find any better solution to Australia’s economic problems than handing out doles, as these grants were quite rightly described by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean), it should see that these doles are spent by the governments to which they are given and not used for any cheap political stunts.
These grants would not be necessary if the Government had not got itself into a mess in 1961 through its own mismanagement and its own inability to plan the economy. It is time that it realized its mistake and got itself out of the mess.
– You were a bit lucky. It brought you here, didn’t it?
– I think I will be here again, too; but I would not be too sure about you. I wish to point out one or two relevant facts about the grants that have been made to Queensland. The Queensland Government has made great play of them. It has stated that the unemployment position in Queensland warranted them on the occasions on which they were made. I shall quote a statement made by the Queensland Premier, Mr. Nicklin, when speaking at the meeting of the Australian Loan Council on 28th June, 1962. In a plea for special aid for Queensland he said -
It will take massive assistance to overcome the lag which has developed in Queensland and to place us on an equal footing with other States . . .
The lack of development has been reflected in, and associated with, a higher level of unemployment in Queensland during recent years than in any other State.
This position is often dismissed on the basis that Queensland’s unemployment problem is essentially a seasonal problem.
Let me state quite categorically that over the last three years the Queensland percentage of the work force unemployed has been below the Australian average in only one month. Obviously it is more than a seasonal problem.
– That was inherited from a Labour government.
– What did this Government inherit from a Federal Labour government in 1949 and what has it done with that inheritance? To-day Queensland still has the highest rate of unemployment. It is about 3.8 per cent, of the work force. So, you can see, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that these grants of £4,240,000 to the Queensland Government have had little effect. The problem of unemployment confronting this Government or any government in Australia will need far more positive steps than have been taken by this Commonwealth Government in the past if it is to be solved.
Whilst I welcome this additional grant, I do not believe that it is the answer to Australia’s economic problems, and the greatest economic problem is unemployment. It is no good for us to compare unemployment in Australia with unemployment in other countries. The Australian Labour Party believes that 100,000 is far too many people to be out of work. I see unemployed people every day of the week. In Queensland 6,000 youngsters are still out of employment. If these grants represent the only plan that this Government has to obviate that position, the sooner the Australian people dismiss it and return a government formed by the Australian Labour Party, which has the know-how to cope with these problems, as it has proved in the past, the better it will be for the Australian people and the progress and prosperity of Australia.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, I am pleased to enter into this debate to support the special grant to the States to relieve unemployment throughout Australia. From honorable members opposite we have had, as usual, this concentration on the dismal outlook of Australia because of unemployment. I do not like this attitude that we are developing, when we talk all the time in terms of unemployment; let us have a more positive approach and talk of the number of people employed in this country. If we look at the position from that angle we find that about 98 per cent, of our work force is employed; and that is a very fine record compared with that of any other free country in the world. There is no justification for comparing employment levels in countries with a free economy with those in countries with a planned or controlled economy.
The honorable member for Bowman (Mr. Comber) said that the Australian Labour Party believes in a controlled economy. He said that with a controlled economy a Labour government would have full employment. What does “ full employment “ mean in a controlled economy? Does it mean that a Labour government would compel a man to work whether he wanted to or not? Is that what honorable members opposite mean? Does it mean that if a man has not a job in his local town he could be compelled to travel to the other end of the State to take a job? Is that what honorable members opposite mean by a controlled economy? Of course you could get full employment under those conditions, but this country, which believes in free enterprise and the freedom of the individual, does not want to be pushed to those ends. If the Opposition is going to push that sort of dogma down the throats of the Australian people it will never be on the treasury-bench. I certainly hope it never will be.
– You said it. We never said it.
– The honorable member for Bowman said it. This Government realizes that it has a responsibility to the unemployed and that there is an unnecessarily high degree of unemployment in Australia at the moment. For that very reason we have taken it upon ourselves to give a special grant to the States to help them overcome unemployment. These grants have been split up among the States according to the degree of unemployment in each State. As the honorable member for Bowman said, Queensland has had the lion’s share of this special grant; and I believe there is justification for that because in Queensland, owing to seasonal conditions and lack of industry, there is difficulty in maintaining employment all the time. One of the major reasons why there is a lack of employment opportunities in Queensland is that that State had to suffer a socialist government for 40-odd years and during that time, because of the penalties and awards which that government imposed on industry, it could not attract large-scale industry to Queensland. It is only now, after the Country Party and the Liberal Party have been in office for six years in Queensland, that industry is moving back or considering moving back to that State. The main concern of industry in this regard is what the result of the next Queensland State election will be. Industry is watching for that result because Labour in Queensland is controlled by the left-wing section and the militant socialist group of the Labour Party. Industry is concerned that if the Australian Labour Party got into control in Queensland the boys behind the scenes, who control the Labour Party, would do everything possible to socialize industry.
We have accepted some responsibility for employment in Australia, but we do not accept the full responsibility for it. The community as a whole has to accept some responsibility; and industry and the State governments have to accept their responsibility to try to maintain employment. How can you expect to have a high degree of employment in New South Wales when the Government of that State is imposing more onerous conditions every day on employers. That Government is trying by political means, and not through the Arbitration Court, to impose a 40-hour week on agriculture. It is the only State in Australia which would have that. Such an award would make it more difficult for people to employ agricultural workers and consequently fewer could be employed. Look at the attitude of the Government of New South Wales towards long-service leave. It is making it more difficult for industry to employ people and now there is talk of a 35-hour week. How can industry in New South Wales employ to the maximum under those conditions? It is little wonder that unemployment has increased in New South Wales, when that State has a Labour government.
I believe that this grant to the States is becoming built into their financial structure and that it is nothing more than a supplementary tax reimbursement grant to them. The longer this system continues the more the States will use this money for their own devices. When we first gave this grant it was done in the hope that the money would be used foi relieving unemployment throughout the State: As a member of the Country Party - a person who specializes in Country Party affairs - I want to give the point of view of the country areas of N:w South Wales. Little of this money is going into those areas, in which there is a high degree of static unemployment. I refer to my own area. Judging by the figures I have, unemployment would be as bad in my area as in any other part of the State, but the proportion of this grant going to my area does not represent a fair share. When we gave the States this money it was given on the understanding that it would be distributed according to the degree of unemployment throughout the State concerned. First of all we gave a special grant of £10,000,000 to the States. Of that sum New South Wales received £2,400,000, of which £500,000 was given to the local government authorities. That dic distribute the money a little throughout the State as a whole, but where did the rest of it go? It went into the coffers of the New South Wales Treasury.
In July last year the Commonwealth Government decided to make a further grant of £12,500,000 to the States and £3,044,000 of that sum went to New South Wales. Where did that money go? It went straight into the Consolidated Revenue Fund of New South Wales and not one penny of it was distributed throughout the areas where there is a high degree of unemployment, where country people have not job opportunities and young persons, if they are to get jobs at all, may have to travel 500 miles to Sydney because there has been no encouragement to bring industry to the country areas. This creates a tremendous social problem in the country areas of New South Wales and particularly in my own electorate. Yet we find that there has been no major allocation of the grant to help those areas. That money, which went into the Consolidated Revenue Fund in New South Wales, did nothing but offset the losses on services around the city area. I refer particularly to the transport system, in which the buses lost £2,000,000. Of the £3,000,000-odd which we gave to New South Wales no doubt £2,000,000 went straight into balancing the budget of the Sydney bus service.
– Can you prove all this stuff you are talking about?
– I am stating the facts. Is it any wonder that New South Wales is having great financial troubles when the government of that State is trying to find £8,000,000 in one year to build an opera house? That is irresponsible spending. We are not against cultural development, but when a Government starts on a project which will probably cost £20,000,000 and penalizes the country areas which need teachers’ colleges, industry and money for flood mitigation, roads and local government, is it any wonder that the country people are concerned. None of that money went to the country areas. A second grant of £5,000,000 was made on 12th February of this year of which New South Wales will receive £1.600,000. Because of pressure from local government authorities and the badgering of State Country Party members, the New South Wales Government consented to give a portion of this grant - £750,000 - to country local authorities. It is now 27th March and as local government authorities in New South Wales still have no idea of how much money each will receive they cannot plan their spending. Eight or nine weeks have elapsed in which there has been a high degree of unemployment in some country areas but local government authorities which are keen to do something have not been given the green light because the State Government is fooling around instead of deciding how the grant should be allocated.
Let us look at some of the ways in which the State Government is spending money. Last year it made a special grant of £50,000 to the Cessnock Council. Of course, Cessnock gets a good share of any grants because it is in an area which is politically favorable to the New South Wales Government. Recently, the State Government made a grant of £35,000 to the same council, which has not yet spent one penny of the previous grant of £50,000. How will you relieve unemployment by special grants if these Labour local government authorities will not spend them? If we adopt the practice of making special grants to the States we must lay down some conditions as to how the grants shall be spent. Let no honorable member claim that this is something novel, because we attach conditions to other grants. The Commonwealth aid roads grant is a case in point. We stipulate that 40 per cent, of that grant must be spent on country roads other than main highways and trunk roads because we found on previous occasions that a great proportion of the grants was spent in city areas and the country areas did not receive a fair share. I believe that a proportion of the special grants - say, 40 or 50 per cent. - should be earmarked for local government authorities to spend in developing country areas. If that suggestion is not acceptable then the grant should be distributed according to the degree of unemployment throughout a State. That is the only way in which local government authorities will obtain a fair share of a grant. I do not claim that the total grant should) be spent by local government authorities. Perhaps it could be spent more wisely by other bodies.
The honorable member for Gwydir (Mf. Ian Allan), in a first-class speech, indicated how financial assistance was necessary in country areas to overcome the great problem of unemployment. He suggested that it might be better for the Commonwealth to make a special direct grant for certain capital works and by-pass the State Government completely. There may be wisdom in that suggestion. In any case, the present arrangement must be altered because it is nothing more than a supplementary tax reimbursement grant to the States. The country areas must receive a fair share of the grants which are made. As a member of the Australian Country Party I am proud to state a case on behalf of country people; nobody else in this place seems to do so.
Sitting suspended from 5.59 to 8 p.m.
.- Before the suspension of the sitting for dinner the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) attacked the honorable member for Bowman (Mr. Comber) for having advocated a policy of full employment - a policy which the Chifley Labour Government laid down and which this Government, when it assumed office, said it would pursue. But with the passage of the years full employment began to be described as overful employment and eventually the term was forgotten. The honorable member for Richmond ought to be one of the strongest advocates of full employment, because if we could get every available man into employment the consumption of butter would rise following a substantial increase of spending power within the community. The honorable member was critical also of the New South Wales Government and said in effect that that government was spending money in the Cessnock area and similar areas where it should not be spent. My understanding of the second-reading speech of the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) is that this money is to be expended in areas where there are serious pockets of unemployment.
We are discussing a bill which is designed to make certain funds available for the relief of unemployment. We discussed a similar measure at the beginning of last year and the matter was raised again during the last budget session. But during the past two years the number of registered unemployed has remained in the vicinity of 100,000. The last figure issued by the Department of Labour and National Service shows that 96,042 persons are now registered as unemployed. Clearly unemployment is becoming chronic. What is needed to rectify the situation is the adoption of a policy of full employment. It is all very well for the Treasurer to rise in his place here and say that the number of unemployed is diminishing. Admittedly, it has diminished; but when 2.2 per cent, of the estimated Australian work force is registered as unemployed - the figure for Queensland is 3.8 per cent. - something more than these annual grants is necessary. If it was possible for the Chifley Government to inaugurate a policy of full employment and for that policy to be followed for many years, it should be possible in a young country like Australia, with its expanding economy, to adopt such a policy for the future.
Everything was going great guns until the credit squeeze of November, 1960. The brakes were applied to the economy, confidence was destroyed overnight, and unemployment raised its head with a vengeance. I hold no brief for Japan, but that country, which has not a Social Democrat or Labour government, proposes to increase production and to improve the living standards of its people by 100 per cent, in ten years. Yet here in this young country a credit squeeze was imposed and nearly 100,000 members of the community are now unemployed! It is about time that the Government had another look at the situation because, as I said earlier, unemployment is becoming chronic.
At a press conference on 29th August, 1961, when 113,000 persons were registered as unemployed the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) said -
We are fractionally short of full employment.
Fractionally short of full employment when 113,000 are out of work! On 30th July, 1961, a month earlier, the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) said, during a Brisbane television programme -
We did not anticipate that unemployment would reach these proportions.
The Government did not anticipate that level of unemployment when it applied the credit squeeze in November, 1960, yet now, more than two years later, 96,000 persons are still registered as being unemployed! The current figure is so close to 113,000 that it does not matter. The Government has just let things drift. What hope has the man who is out of a job of getting another one? Annual grants are all very well but the millions that are poured out do not result in all the unemployed being absorbed into employment. Quite a considerable proportion of those who are out of work are not fortunate enough to secure employment.
The Treasurer spoke about confidence, but how can these 96,000 unemployed persons and their wives and children have confidence? The sooner this Government returns to a policy of full employment and the sooner all those who are unemployed are absorbed into useful employment the better it will be for the country as a whole and for all sections of the community, including supporters of the Government. The record subscription to the recent loan demonstrated that people who had money to invest had not invested it in industry but preferred gilt-edged securities because the confidence they had before November, 1960, had not been restored. In the press in February, 1962, we read that the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen) had visited Queensland on the 26th and 27th January of that year and had said that schemes to hasten Queensland’s development had been placed before them. The people of Queensland have wanted to know ever since what those schemes were, because they have not seen any visible evidence of them.
As I said earlier, 3.8 per cent, of Queensland’s work force is registered as being unemployed, yet supporters of the Government talk about Queensland’s potentialities! The word “potentialities” smells to high heaven at least in the nostrils of the people of Queensland. Queensland does have potentialities, and it is an indictment of this Government and its counterpart in that State that those potentialities have not been developed. I remind honorable members that the Country-Liberal Party Government in Queensland has been in office for the past seven years. I have said several times already that 2.2 per cent, of the estimated work force of the Commonwealth is unemployed and that in Queensland the figure is 3.8 per cent, or 50 per cent, higher than the Australian average. But when the Opposition talks about unemployment in Queensland it gets the brush-off and is told that the unemployment is seasonal. We have been getting this excuse for the past two years. The cause may be seasonal, but one thing we know is that unemployment in the slack season is becoming worse each year and that the slack season itself, in both the sugar industry and the meat industry, is lengthening.
The Treasurer, in the speech with which he introduced the bill, made much of national prosperity, of the build-up in our overseas balances and so forth. That is all very well. In fact, it is good. But it is not of much interest to the man who has no job. The voting of millions of pounds each year for the relief of unemployment, as I said a while ago, does not mean that every man who is out of work gets a job. One of the complaints of Queensland people against the Queensland Government is that that government has not been spending the money that should have been spent in the relief of unemployment. The charge has actually been levelled. It is believed that the Queensland Government is hoarding that money because a State election is due in Queensland at the end of May or in early June, with the idea of making a big splash with it just before the election and perhaps assuring the return of the Nicklin-Munro Government. Either the Queensland
Government is hoarding that money for political reasons or it is completely bereft of the capacity and the imagination which are needed to inaugurate major public works. In order to provide employment it should embark on a project of the nature of the Snowy Mountains scheme, a major project started by the Chifley Labour Government in association with the New South Wales and Victorian Governments. We in the Chifley Government realised that 90 per cent, of the people employed are employed in the private sector and that any government, to pursue a policy of full employment, must gear itself so as to be able to take up any slack that develops in employment generally. The result was that in the time of the Chifley Labour Government there was no falling off in employment. The present Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) inaugurated the immigration scheme and we were able to absorb migrants into the Snowy Mountains area, and into immediate employment. They did not have to live in hostels and draw the dole. There was a job to be done and we had the men to do it. The Great Southern Water scheme in Western Australia was another great public work started for the purpose not only of development but also of taking up the slack in employment.
Most of the seasonal unemployment to which speakers on the Government side refer from time to time is found in the northern and central areas of Queensland and affects men engaged in the sugar industry and the meat industry. Major public works ought to be inaugurated in those areas in order to provide employment during the slack season, and if the Queensland Government has not the capacity to inaugurate such works the onus is on this Commonwealth Government, as the national government and the controller of the pursestrings, to collaborate with the Queensland Government in taking the necessary action in that direction.
The unemployment position in Queensland is serious and is growing worse each year for seasonal workers because of increased mechanization in industry, particularly on the sugar-fields. The cane cutter is on the way out. The operations of sugar mills have been speeded up. Mechanization, or the can pack system, as it is called, has been introduced into the meat works, which will mean that the number of workers required will decrease. A man is not going to remain idle for more than six months of the year in an area where he has his home, most likely, and where he knows he cannot get work. He will do as lots of Queensland workers are doing - he will drift away to the south, to work like fruit picking in Victoria, after the sugar and meat seasons finish in Queensland. In future, if the season continues to shorten and the slack period continues to lengthen, the worker in either of those industries will jump an aeroplane south and fly back to Queensland when the season starts again. That will mean that there will be a drift of population from the north of Queensland, which is a vital part of the Commonwealth from the point of view of defence. How vital it is was demonstrated during the last war. It is imperative to retain the sugar industry on the coast and to retain population in the north.
If the private employer cannot or will not provide the necessary capital it behoves the government to step in and start major public works to enable these people to get alternative employment in the slack season for the sugar and meat industries. We are not suggesting the provision of work which would be merely a waste of money. We do not suggest that men should be put on to chipping grass along the footpaths or anything of that description. There are plenty of advisers in both the Commonwealth sphere and the State sphere to give us advice on worth-while major projects which should be carried out. I know that we have a few such projects waiting to be launched in Queensland, and we will have something to say about those next week. We suggest that in areas where there are pockets of unemployment public works should be inaugurated to provide employment for some people throughout the year, and should be speeded up to provide extra employment during the slack season. In that way, when a man finished his work for the season in the meat and sugar industries he could find himself another job.
The north is crying out for development. The honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Harding) represents the city of Townsville. They call Townsville the “Newcastle of the north “. Why, every summer there, there is a shortage of water! Industry in the area is flat out getting enough water to carry on. If secondary industries are to be established there, and Townsville developed, an increased water supply is vital. If it is the intention to convert bauxite from Weipa into alumina, never mind about thermal plant - get a hydro-electric plant, which provides the cheapest possible electric power for the production of alumina. The Burdekin should be dammed, as advocated by the honorable member for Herbert, thus providing hydro-electric power and a guaranteed water supply irrespective of how industry in the area might increase.
On 19th February last, the Brisbane “ Courier-Mail “ published a report of the statement by Mr. J. R. James, secretary of the Queensland Employers Federation. It is a lengthy report and I do not propose to do more than read some extracts from it. Mr. James dealt in his statement with the unemployment position as revealed by the figures for the end of January. He dealt, particularly, with the employment of youth, and said that many of the 10,202 juniors under the age of 21 years registered for work on 1st February were not 1962 school leavers. He said -
A number of them left school some time before and are virtually unemployable.
This was not a statement by a trade union secretary, but a statement by the secretary of the Queensland Employers Federation. There are 10,202 juniors under the age of 21 registered for work, and many of them virtually unemployable! What an indictment of the Queensland Government and what an indictment of this place too! What a wonderful outlook for those juniors who are unemployable! What a wonderful outlook for their parents also! Mr. James is a man who knows what he is talking about. The report continued -
In Brisbane yesterday a Universal Travel Company spokesman said 155 girls had replied to an advertisement last Saturday seeking an office girl, aged 15 or 16.
In Mackay yesterday the Mayor (Alderman Binnington) said the rise in Mackay’s unemployment from 547 in January to 1,292 on February 1 was “ critical “.
That is a pretty hopeless outlook for the youngsters. There were 155 girls applying for a job. There were 1,292 unem ployed in Mackay on 1st February. With regard to the question of youth employment it is quite obvious even though it is not recognized in some places by some people that this country has reached a crisis. The position Will grow worse each year.
I quoted last year and I shall quote again a statement by Mr. Gibson, the regional director of labour and national service in Queensland made, at a dinner given by the Institute of Business Management. He said that the teen-age population in 1970 would be double that of 1950. He said that the general population increase would be 25 per cent, and that the number of people in the age group from twenty to 24 years would be 61 per cent, greater in 1970 than lit was in 1950. This is occurring in a period of increased mechanization, automation, electronic brains and the computer. It is a period in which the clerk is on the way out. In connexion with youth employment, Mr. Gibson referred to a population explosion by 1970. It is here now. There are 155 girls looking for a job with a travel agency. The onus is on this Government to do something to-day because to-morrow will definitely be too late. If the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) and the Treasurer have any plans with regard to the future over and above those which the State governments might have I say that they should let the House have them and, if not the House, then the country. The parents of the 10,200 youngsters who are looking for work in Queensland should at least be given some prospects for the future.
It is all very well to provide £3,000,000 or £4,000,000 for the relief of a section of the unemployed. It is all very well for the Treasurer to talk of increased production. But how much of that is due to the increase in employment? How much of it is due to increases in mechanization, and how much is due to the coming of automation? The people - particularly the parents - need to know the Government’s plans to meet the crisis which confronts them. Whether we like it or not, the crisis exists. The number of unemployed remains at 100,000 each year. 1 urge the Government not to fob off this problem by saying that the unemployment is seasonal. The Government should act now and give Queensland a Snowy River project and create opportunities for our youth. I support the bill.
.- The Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), in introducing this measure - the States Grants (Additional Assistance) Bill - said -
The purpose of this bill is to authorize the payment to the States of an additional nonrepayable grant of £5,000,000 for expenditure on employment-giving activities, bringing the non.repayable grant for this financial year for this purpose to a total of £17,500,000.
The honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan) has just said that the Government should do something about unemployment. Surely the provision of £17,500,000 as a non-repayable grant in one financial year is doing something that no government has ever done before in the history of this Commonwealth. I should not have entered this debate but for certain things that have been said by Opposition members which I think are quite wrong. I think they are a mls.presentation of what other members have said and they need correcting. The honorable member for Kennedy said that the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) was opposed to full employment. What the honorable member for Richmond stressed was that the money that had gone to New South Wales and, perhaps, to some other States, had not been distributed in those parts of the State that required it to overcome unemployment. He said that most of the money that had been paid to New South Wales had gone into Consolidated Revenue. Even the greatest Labour supporter and the closest friend of the honorable member for Kennedy must admit that he, perhaps quite innocently - I hope it was innocently - completely misconstrued what the honorable member for Richmond said.
These things should not happen in this House. When it is pointed out that a member has made a statement which is completely wrong then the member who made the statement should right it by saying that he was not quite sure what had been said and that he was sorry for misrepresenting what had been said. This has been done on many occasions by honorable members on both sides of the House since I have been a member. So far, at least, members of the Opposition cannot say that I have taken any particular side on the question before the Chair. I have only been speaking in favour of a colleague whose statement was grossly misrepresented. The money proposed to be granted to the States in this bill must do a tremendous lot towards creating employment if it is used by the State governments in the correct manner. In reply to Opposition members who are interjecting I say that I am not concerned whether or not the money is received by a Labour State government. Do not start this parochial business. I do not care whether the money is received by a Labour government, a Country Party government or any other kind of government. This is the Commonwealth Parliament. Some people appear to think it is a State parliament. The Commonwealth has made a grant to the States and I believe that every State, irrespective of the nature of its government, should distribute the money to those areas in which it is most urgently required.
– Are you satisfied that £17,500,000 is enough?
– I am satisfied that it is the greatest contribution of this kind that has been made in the history of this Parliament.
I now want to rebut a few statements that have been made, and then I want to say a few words concerning what I have in mind on this question. I listened carefully to the speech of the honorable member for Bowman (Mr. Comber) who made an attack on the Australian Country Party. It seems that Labour always wants to attack the Country Party. Labour members are frightened of the Country Party. The honorable member for Bowman said that the Country Party accused the Labour Party of socialism. He went on to suggest that the Country Party’s policy of stabilization of primary industries and assistance to the primary producer was a form of socialism. The fact is that whoever has been the Minister responsible for primary production in this House, whether he has been a member of the Liberal Party or the Country Party, has stated that the Government would not implement any stabilization scheme for primary industry without the holding of a poll at which a -majority of the growers approved of the scheme. But what about Labour socialism? Labour socialism is introduced upon the approval of the executive of the Labour
Regardless of what the members of the Labour Party or the people think about it, the things that are socialized will be those that the executive of the party, if it is in government, tells it to socialize. If the Labour Party is so keen on socialism, why not haye a referendum? Why not go to the country and advocate socialism? Ask the people, “Are you in favour of this country being run under socialist rule? “. Then we could see what the vote was. Or, when we went to the polls in the normal way, the Labour Party could come out in the open and say, “ We are socialists “, instead of hiding that fact at election time and only mentioning it at other times.
Something has been said to-night about the unemployment being brought about by the so-called credit squeeze. Several honorable members opposite have said that the unemployment was caused, and such grants as these we are now discussing have been made necessary, by what has come to bc known as the credit squeeze.
– How many bankruptcies have there been this year?
– The honorable member may continue to interject if he wishes. I shall wait till he has finished and then go on with my speech. The statement to which I have referred, and which has been made in several speeches, may be true to some extent, but honorable members opposite have to remember that inflation was running wild in this country. It started to do so at the time to which the honorable member for Kennedy referred a few moments ago, when he said that we had a state of overfull employment.
– You will have to say you are sorry later, because he did not say that.
– “Hansard” will show that what I am saying is correct. In 1960, / inflation was at a very dangerous “ level in this country, and the Government did two things. It abolished import licensing as a first measure. The next thing it did was to place some control on credit, commonly known as the credit squeeze. First of all, I want the people of Australia and those in this House to know that I supported it right up to tha hilt for the simple reason that I had the good of Australia and its future at heart.
What was the position in Australia at that time? There was inflation. We had a high standard of living, certainly, but we also had a high cost structure. In metropolitan areas, from which most of the members of the Labour Opposition come, the people who were buying goods also were selling there, on the same Australian market. But the primary producers, quite a number of whom I represent, had to buy everything they required to bring about their production on the high-rate Australian market and they had to sell a very large portion of their primary produce in countries with a lower standard of living and lower price structure. That position could not continue. If members of the Labour Party and also Government supporters want employment for the people they should take special note of this point.
The money that was being made available by the building up of overseas credits was being derived from primary products that had been sold overseas, and if we could not keep the flow of those products going it would not be possible to provide for secondary industries the 40 per cent, or 50 per cent, of raw materials that they need from overseas. They need even more than that, I know, but I do not want to state a higher figure at the moment. If we had not had those primary industries to send goods overseas we could not have bought the raw materials that the secondary industries required. If inflation had continued, there is not the slightest doubt that the whole structure of economic primary production would have broken down, and with that would have come a chaotic position, for the simple reason that secondary industry would not have been able to secure raw materials. So, to-day things are on a much more even keel.
I do not say that the honorable member for Kennedy is wrong all the time, but I think he said that if we could only employ these unemployed men in gainful occupations - I believe that is the way he put it - things would be very good. I do not know what the exact unemployment figure is, but let us say that it is 100,000. If we could only get those people in productive employment, Australia would be in a stronger economic state than ever before in its history. I do not want in any way to speak against the unemployed of this country.
– Not much!
– I have not spoken against them at all. Surely you can be fair. Most Australians believe in a fair deal, but the interjections which are being made now do not represent even the rudiments of a fair deal. I have not said anything against the unemployed and I do not intend to say anything against them now. I say that they fall into different categories. We have the unemployed man who is an excellent citizen and who, if he were only given work, would do it well. He is of the type that we call the genuine, legitimate workman, who has meant so much to the progress of this country. A large portion of the unemployed come within that category, but there are some people amongst the unemployed who are unemployable.
– Who are they?
– A certain percentage, perhaps not a very large one, are unemployable. They never have been able to keep a job and they never will. So they register as unemployed.
There is another category which consists of persons who follow what is known as seasonal work. Sometimes they have a very good run. Perhaps they work at grape picking at Mildura, work on the cane-fields, or something along those lines.
– What did you do before you came here7
– I was not a Labour union secretary or organizer.
– Order! I remind the honorable member that he should address the Chair. Honorable members must cease interjecting.
– I was speaking of the people who are seasonal workers and who take a job such as picking grapes or working on the cane-fields. They make big money for a short period, but they are unemployed for a certain number of months in the year because there is no work available of the kind which they follow. They also register as unemployed.
In addition, there is the category which includes people such as those who went to Mildura for the seasonal fruit picking. More than a hundred of them were in the local gaol on a certain week-end. This also happened last year, and when I mentioned it the honorable member for Port Adelaide (Mr. Thompson), who, I am sorry to learn, is not very well and is not here to-night, said to me, “What an indictment against the worker it is to say that at Mildura 117 people were booked for all sorts of offences, and that it took so many hours for the watch-house keeper to book them in, when they went to the district to get work “. Of course, it was an indictment against the worker, but it was not my indictment. The indictment against these workers was that, having gone to Mildura to secure work as grape pickers, they committed all kinds of small offences, including drunkenness. Opposition members are interjecting. A good gauge of the effect of a speech on them is whether they are interjecting. If a speech does not affect them, they say nothing.
I rose really to refute one or two statements that had been made. Let me point out that Opposition members will vote for this bill. All they say is, “ We want more and more money “. An illustration of this can be found in their attitude to the grant for homes for the aged. The Government makes a grant of £2 for £1, but Opposition members say: “That is not enough. We want £3 for £1.” However, when Labour was in office, it did not grant anything for homes for the aged. It did not even think of doing so. But once this Government does something, Opposition members jump on the band wagon and say, “ We want more and more “. I want to deal with one other matter. This is most important. The honorable member for Kennedy made a special feature of the splendid job being done by the Japanese. Most honorable members opposite speak against Japanese trade but he did not.
– Against a trade treaty that is destroying Australia.
– Against the Japanese Trade Treaty, but we did not hear anything from the honorable member for Kennedy about that. Now and again the honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters) speaks against it as most members did previously but if his executive hears him, he will be in trouble. When speaking to this bill, the honorable member for Kennedy said that Japan has done a wonderful job and is employing all its people. But what hours do the people of Japan work? We must remember that production begets production, and the hours of work in Japan are infinitely longer than those in Australia. I am not here to praise Japan. Anybody who wants Japan’s conditions, standard of living and general structure, instead of the Australian system, can have them. If I wanted to misrepresent what the honorable member for Kennedy said, I would say that he said he preferred Japan to Australia, but he did not say that.
– Why do you say that? Why do you libel the honorable member?
– If I wanted to misrepresent him, I would say that, but he did not say that. All he said was that the conditions in Japan are such that Japan is making tremendous progress while Australia is lagging behind.
I listened very earnestly and very closely to the speeches of Opposition members. They said the Government has not done anything to overcome unemployment. The statements of Opposition members, if heeded by people throughout Australia, will cause only more unemployment. I have heard the remarks of that great American, Abraham Lincoln, quoted in this House by Labour members. I want to refer to a statement he made. It is in the following quotation: -
Some gentlemen from the West were excited and troubled about the commissions and omissions of the Administration. President Lincoln heard them patiently and then replied: “ Gentlemen, suppose all the property you were worth was in gold, and you had put it in the hands of Blondin to carry across the Niagara River on a rope; would you thake the cable, or keep shouting out to him ‘Blondin, stand up a little straighter, Blondin, stoop a little more, go a little faster, lean a little more to the north, lean a little more to the south’ . . .”.
Of course not. If the prosperity of the country were in the hands of Blondin, as it is to some extent in the hands of this Government, you would co-operate, not for the good of some political party but for the good of this great Commonwealth of Australia.
.- I am pleased to associate myself with this measure which provides additional financial assistance to the States for the relief of unemployment. I agree with the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) that no honorable member will vote against it. The only objection we on this side of the House have is that the amount is inadequate; it should be more.
– Not enough!
– The honorable member for Mallee will remember that last year a similar measure provided £12,500,000 for the relief of unemployment. When I spoke then I complained about the inadequacy of the amount. That was the attitude of the Australian Labour Party. Our criticism was that the amount was inadequate for the task of getting the unemployed back to work. Our criticism has been proved to be correct, because within a few months the Government has had to bring down another measure to increase the amount from £12,500,000 to £17,500,000. We say that this amount is still inadequate. What is needed to take up the slack in unemployment is a planned public works programme such as that suggested by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean). This would stimulate the economy and work would be available for our people.
In August last, when a similar measure was before the House, the number of registered unemployed was 93,128. That the £12,500,000 was inadequate is demonstrated by the fact that, instead of unemployment being reduced the number of registered unemployed has increased from 93,128 to 96,042. Surely this supports our contention. Of course, the figure given as the number of unemployed is not correct. As we know, many people who become unemployed do not register for work. They prefer to look around and try to get jobs or they accept part-time work rather than register. They hope to find work quickly without having to register. In addition, many people are working for only two or three days a week and they are not included in the official figure. Further, the figure does not include people who have been brought out from other countries and who are in migrant centres waiting for work. There are so many of these people in Western Australia that the Government is paying portion of their board in hostels because no room can be found for them in migrant centres. All these people are not included in the number of registered unemployed. As I have said on other occasions, the figure given as the percentage of the work force unemployed is not correct. The so-called work force includes employers and self-employed persons.
The niggardly amount that has been provided to relieve unemployment will not be sufficient to get the unemployed back to work, assuming, of course, that the Government really intends to provide work for the unemployed. About eighteen months ago, the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) said -
We confidently expect to restore full employment within 12 months, without any of Mr. Calwell’s grossly inflationary proposals.
At that time, unemployment was heavy. It is about the same to-day as it was then. This shows clearly that the Prime Minister does not know where he is going. In my view, and in the view of many people, the Government is prepared to regard the figure of about 90,000 as being the acceptable number of unemployed. This Government follows the lead of the Metal Trades Federation. A report in the “West Australian”, of 3 1st May, 1962, reads -
National leaders in the metal trades to-day questioned the wisdom of a policy of full employment.
Mr. W. G. Gerard, President of the Australian Metal Industries Association, as reported in the “ West Australian “, of 11th February, 1963, said -
Australians would have to get used to the idea that there always would be 70,000 to 80,000 people out of work.
If applications for employment stayed at 2 per cent, of the work force - about 86,000 - Australians would be doing well by world standards.
Those remarks give some idea of what the people who support this Government think about unemployment. Those remarks are a fair indication of the attitude of honorable members opposite, and particularly the attitude of the honorable member for Mallee in view of some of the remarks he made a few minutes ago.
I doubt very much whether the people of Australia will accept this Government’s policy that there should be a pool of unemployment. I do not think the people of Australia will agree that there should be a permanent body of Australians forced to live at less than a reasonable standard because they cannot get jobs in keeping with their capabilities. Year by year the unemployment position is worsening. The situation to-day is much worse than was considered reasonable prior to the disastrous c-edit squeeze of 1961. The numbers of persons in receipt of unemployment benefit for a few years prior to 1961 were -
But, in 1961-62, the year of the credit squeeze, the number rose to 52,267. The figure has now dropped to 40,482. At present the number of persons in receipt of the unemployment benefit is far greater than the average in the years prior to the 1961 credit squeeze.
– It is about double.
– Yes, it is now roughly double the average of those earlier years.
I was surprised to hear the honorable member for Mallee say that he supported the credit squeeze. That was a most irresponsible statement. I wonder whether he supported the infliction of misery and suffering on the 131,000 persons who were unemployed as a result of the credit squeeze. Did he support the infliction of misery and suffering on their dependants? Did he support the breaking of many hundreds of small business people and the creation of hundreds of bankrupts as a result of the credit squeeze?
– He probably auctioned the goods of the bankrupts.
– Perhaps that is partly why he supported the credit squeeze. The facts are that the repercussions of the credit squeeze are still with us. You cannot regulate the economy as you would turn a tap on or off, which is what this Government attempts to do. The Government’s policy is a stop-and-go policy. We have never had any clear indication that the Government has departed from that Stopandgo policy. It is easy to apply a credit squeeze, as was applied by the Government in 1961, and then render lip service to the principles of fair dealing and say that the squeeze is over, but it is a lot harder to restore confidence. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) provided figures to show how funds were flowing in to Government loans at the expense of private industry, which has not yet had its confidence restored following the 1961 credit squeeze. Does the honorable member for Mallee support the fact that private industry does not have sufficient confidence in this Government to get going again at full strength?
Loss of production throughout Australia due to the credit squeeze was estimated by reliable sources to be of the order of £250,000,000 a year. It is difficult to pick up a loss of that magnitude. Business interests have lost confidence and that confidence has not been restored. One way to make the economy buoyant again so that confidence will be restored is for the Government to see that funds are pumped into the States so as to get the people back to work as soon as possible. The economy needs a further shot in the arm - one that will do some good; not the type of benefit that is provided in this legislation. This bill provides an additional grant of £5,000,000 to the States, bringing the total grant (luring this financial year to £17,500,000. That amount is too small and Western Australia has been discriminated against in the allocation of the money. I direct the attention of honorable members to the fact that the £17,500,000 will be allocated to the States as follows: -
Western Australia will get much less than any other State. It will get less than Tasmania, which has a smaller population than Western Australia, although I concede that the unemployment position in Tasmania is worse than it is in Western Australia. There may be some justification for giving Tasmania a grant larger than the amount granted to Western Australia. But Western Australia will get much less than South Australia, where the unemployment position is not as serious. According to the latest figures, 1.6 per cent, of the work force in South Australia is unemployed but in Western Australia 2.5 per cent, of the work force is unemployed. The unemployment position in Western Australia is getting worse. At present 7,122 persons, representing 2.5 per cent, of the work force, are registered for employment. That figure of 2.5 per cent, is .3 per cent, higher than the Australian average of 2.2 per cent. At the end of February, 1962, there were 6,777 persons registered for employment in Western Australia. That number represented 2.3 per cent, of the work force - .3 per cent. less than the then average for Australia of 2.6 per cent. Compared with the rest of Australia the unemployment position in Western Australia has worsened and the percentage of the work force now unemployed in that State is higher than the Australian average. This fact warrants something more being done to get the people of Western Australia back to work. The policies of Liberal governments have meant an increase in unemployment in Western Australia. I direct attention to a special survey of unemployment conducted by the “West Australian” which, on 5th October, 1956, reported -
Whereas two years ago normal unemployment in this State was assessed at a total of 1,400, it is now assessed at about 2,000. Nine months ago there were 2,111 unemployed, but a gradual slowdown in home building in January and a drastic reduction in State Housing Commission construction in the next few months caused a rise to 5,300 unemployed in July. Since then the trend has been downward, particularly during last month.
At the time of that report between 1,000 and 2,000 persons were out of work but now the number is about 7,000. The position is gradually worsening due to this Government’s policies. The increase in unemployment in Western Australia justifies a larger grant being made to that State in order to relieve the situation.
This Government is shirking its responsibilities to provide employment for our young people. The honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan) dealt very well with the subject of unemployment as it affected the youth of Australia. The latest figures show that of the 96,042 new registered as unemployed, 21,145 are under the age of 21. This is a scandalous situation. lt reminds one of the pre-war years, when the unemployed youth of this country were known as the lost legion. Many of them were unemployed for years, and the first full-time jobs they had came when the war commenced and they were needed to fight for their country. Before then, besides those that were unemployed there were many who had finished up in dead-end occupations. Those who went to the war were told that there would be a better way of life for them when the war was over - that there would be a new order. Well, a policy of full employment was in operation for a time after the war, and they did have a better way of life than did their fathers and mothers before them. We had full employment, and there were jobs for all who wanted them. Now we see a drifting back to the old idea that there must be a pool of unemployed, and the youth of Australia has contributed quite a large proportion of that pool.
The honorable member for Mallee said, if I quote his remarks correctly, that the Labour Party is always making attacks on the Country Party. One of his colleagues said that we were concerned only for city interests. I raised a matter in this House about twelve months ago which concerns the country people. I referred to the comprehensive water scheme in Western Australia and suggested that it should be extended to the central and southern areas of that State. The Commonwealth Government had previously provided Western Australia with funds, on a £l-for-£l basis, for the first stage of the original comprehensive water scheme. That first stage ha9 now been completed and it has conferred great benefits on country interests. I again raised the matter yesterday in the House by way of a question addressed to the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies), and 1 was given a non-committal answer. It does not appear that any additional funds will be made available for the second stage of that scheme.
This is something that the Country Party should be interested in, and it is surprising that not one member of that party has mentioned the matter during this debate, the subject of which is a bill to provide additional funds to the States for the relief of unemployment. This debate should have given members of the Country Party an excellent opportunity to advocate the provision of funds for the second stage of the comprehensive water scheme. I have with me a letter from the General Secretary of the Farmers Union of Western Australia. He says, among other things -
It is felt that even if the Comprehensive Water Scheme had been fully implemented there are still numerous areas outside the scope of this Scheme in which the shortage of water is an acute problem.
Naturally agricultural development cannot take place satisfactorily without an assured supply of water, and we feel that every effort should be made in an endeavour to improve the water supply situation on as wide a scope as possible throughout this State.
That letter is signed by Mr. Sullivan, the general secretary of the Farmers Union, who asked me to raise this matter and to try to have funds made available for the provision of additional water supplies for Western Australian country interests. The first stage of the comprehensive water scheme has been, as I said, of tremendous value. It has enabled the numbers of stock carried in the areas involved to be greatly increased. It has given an incentive for more intensive rural development, and it has fostered the growth of country towns, which, of course, is a move towards decentralization, which the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Ian Allan) tells us is so necessary. The implementation of the second stage of the scheme would extend these benefits to other areas, besides making work available for those in Western Australia who are unemployed. It would also result in an upsurge in rural production, which is of very great importance to Australia.
Any increase in primary production enables us to increase our export income. Western Australia exports a greater value of goods than it imports, and the extension of this water scheme would enable that State to increase its exports still further. I ask the Government and the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer), who is now at the table, to have this matter again considered by Cabinet, and I urge that finance be provided to speed up this very important work.
Northern development should also be hurried along. The £5,000,000 that was allocated for the construction of the diversion dam on the Ord River has almost been spent. The Premier of Western Australia said only the other day that the work will have to slow down, so it is clear that additional funds will be required to keep the work going. I expect that we will hear something about this when the Budget is presented, but it is important that some earlier statement be made about this matter, and that steps be taken to ensure that the work does not slow down. In my view, it should be speeded up rather than slowed down.
Those are some of the points I wished to raise in this debate. I sincerely trust that the Government will take note of my remarks and that something will be done about the things I have mentioned.
With regard to the bill generally, I merely conclude by saying that whilst we support this provision of additional funds to the extent of £5,000,000 for the relief of unemployment, I think we have shown that the amount is inadequate, and that the Government should carefully consider increasing it, so that we may enable our people to get back to work.
.- It is again my pleasure to follow the honorable member for Stirling (Mr. Webb), a Western Australian representative, in a debate in this House. To-night we have again listened to the honorable member belittling the amazing developments that have taken place in the State that has sent him to this House as a representative. We would, of course, expect him to vote for this additional grant of some £5,000,000, which will be distributed among the States. It includes additional provision for Western Australia, and naturally we would expect the honorable member to vote for it because, if he did not, a lot of people in his own constituency would want to know why. But I thought that many of us would have expected him at least to give a meed of praise, on behalf of Western
Australia, to the Government which has done so much for the western State by way of grants and other financial assistance in recent years. However, I shall return to the honorable member for Stirling a little later.
I want to remind the House of the intention of this bill, which is to provide £5,000,000, lifting the total to a figure of £17,500,000 for the current financial year, for the provision of employment-giving opportunities. We have never denied that there have been difficulties, and we have analysed them and put our analyses before the House very frankly. Honorable members on both sides of the House have done this, although we have heard undue emphasis, of course, from members of the Opposition. It is their task to emphasize the situation. This matter has been looked at over recent months, and it would be well, I think, for me to point out at this stage that even so-called friends of the Government, those who are attached to the Taxpayers Association, some of the practising accountants of Australia, have heaped criticism upon the Government. They are free to do so, of course, and we welcome it, but we smile at times, particularly when their forecasts turn out to have been incorrect. Some months ago an editorial appeared in the journal of the Taxpayers Association advocating a waitandsee attitude. The association, it was said, was fearful of what would be shown by the unemployment figures at the end of the year. Well, we have waited and we have had a good look at the situation, and I hope the Taxpayers Association is now big enough to say that its forecast was wrong, and that our economy to-day is a good deal more stable than the association thought it would be.
– With 100,000 unemployed!
– We will come back to that, too. As usual, the honorable member for Phillip is exaggerating the figures. I suggest that he come back to realities and get the latest figures.
In his second-reading speech the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) dealt, as we would expect a competent Treasurer to deal, with the current economic stability of
Australia. It was a speech that we would gladly share with any of our constituents. Students of the Australian economy could find in the Treasurer’s speech of yesterday the answer to many of the questions that might be raised. I do not need to read the figures and assertions of the right honorable gentleman. I direct particular attention to the speech.
I claim that we are experiencing to-day a rising stable economy. We have a situation which is the confirmation of the forecast of the Government’s advisers. The Labour Party’s claim in this debate has the same pattern. As my colleague from Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) pointed out a few minutes ago, Labour has the same cry. Her Majesty’s Opposition says, “ Not enough “. Only a few moments ago the honorable member for Stirling said that this is an inadequate grant. This £17,500,000 given to the States as a non-repayable, interestfree grant for the specific purpose of providing employment opportunities is no insignificant amount. This is additional to other special grants. The honorable gentleman from Stirling well knows how the Western Australian Government has benefited from the national viewpoint of the present Commonwealth Government. He well knows that the development of the Kimberleys area, the Ord River scheme, to which he has referred and which was recently inspected by Her Majesty the Queen, and other development in the difficult areas of Western Australia would never have been possible without the grants and generosity of the Commonwealth Government.
The honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan) dealt with his State of Queensland. It is not within my province to argue with him on some of the claims that he made, but I take him up on one general statement. He said - people sitting behind me will bear Out the accuracy of this quotation from his speech - that under the Chifley Government Australia had full employment. That is what he said. Let us take a few moments to examine the trap into which the honorable member for Kennedy fell. I quote from the Commonwealth Statistician’s figures for unemployment from all causes in Australia. In June, 1947, the proportion pf wage and salary earners unemployed was 3.2 per cent. So we have a member of the Opposition asserting that in 1947, under a
Labour government, Australia had a position of full employment with 3.2 per cent, of the work force unemployed. Compare that with to-day’s figure of 2.2 per cent. Those are the facts.
I return to the honorable member for Stirling. I remind him that the State he represents is facing a most exciting period because of its industrial expansion under a Liberal government. That government is working in close partnership with the Federal Government. It is revealing completely its hopes and ambitions and bringing before the Federal authorities plans that are concrete - plans that are not figments of the imagination but have been prepared thoroughly. It has convinced the various Commonwealth departments and Ministers that these schemes for national and industrial development warrant the co-operation and assistance of this Government. These schemes are numerous. They reach into the future.
– What about the comprehensive water supply scheme?
– We played a part in that and we probably will play a part in it again; but that will not be to the credit of the honorable member for Stirling. Has he forgotten the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited’s integrated iron and steel industry, which will carry on for year after year from this year, influencing industrial expansion on the western coast? Has he forgotten the State Electricity Commission’s project at Muja where employees will be called for in increasing numbers for several years yet? Has he forgotten the debate in this House not many months ago in which every true Western Australian should have praised the Government and been excited beyond measure with the prospect of the rail standardization scheme and the infusion of about £40,000,000 into the economy of the State that we represent? Has he forgotten the La Porte titanium oxide plant at Bunbury where millions of pounds will also be injected into the Western Australian economy? Alcoa of Australia Proprietary Limited, at Kwinana in Western Australia, will face a total cost of construction works of between £10,000,000 and £12,000,000.
When the employment demands of the various organizations were assessed, the labour authorities in Western Australia had to compile a schedule of positions for skilled tradesmen, quite apart from unskilled workers, which were beyond fulfilment with the normal labour that was offering. For that reason, again in close co-operation with the Commonwealth through the Department of Immigration, the Western Australian Government sent its own mission to the United Kingdom. Well does the honorable member for Stirling know how successful that mission was. But in this debate to-night he claims that we now have too much labour in Western Australia. He tries to build an argument on this point: The fact that temporary accommodation for 100 or so people has been sought in metropolitan hotels indicates that a mistake has been made, that our unemployment situation is terrifying and that Western Australia needs much more by way of a grant for employment-giving activities.
– Are you satisfied with the unemployment position?
– Yes, I will answer that one. I have no fear. Do not lead me before I am ready. I come back to the hostel situation. What is happening is nothing more than this: Because that mission was so successful in London and elsewhere and these all-important tradesmen, who are required not only in Western Australia but also in every other State of the Commonwealth, are flowing in quickly, we want a hostel free to welcome those who have just come off the ship. If there are 100 or so whose papers, documentation, placement and accommodation have not yet been finalized, where is the room for criticism if a wise government or department puts them temporarily into hotel accommodation? The honorable member for Stirling has no ground for his criticism. He should be praising that situation.
– I did not criticize it.
– The Western Australian unemployment figures issued by the Department of Labour and National Service may be a few points higher than the Australian average. That can be explained. There is nothing alarming about that. Some people write in the press about an unemployment problem. I for one am happy to come back, as I said a few weeks ago in Western Australia, and say, “ What problem? “. It virtually does not exist in Western Australia. How do I support that statement? I put it to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker - and I look at my friend from Stirling - that these are just a few of the experiences that we have in my electorate and other electorates in Western Australia: We have tradesmen who are seeking apprentices and who are unable to find them to fill the vacancies that are offering. We have young people who have passed what we call the Junior Certificate, which is called the Intermediate Certificate inother States. They have their eyes on certain jobs, and sometimes it is weeks or months before they can be re-directed to jobs for which they are better suited. The honorable member for Stirling well knows that young people cannot be taken from school and put into the job of their choice. They have to be directed and guided. Our Department of Labour and National Service gives very valuable assistance to young people who leave school.
We find also that there are companies looking for unskilled labour. Very often they have to go through a long list to obtain their requirements because - let us face it - in every State in Australia to-day we have, on the books of the employment offices, men and women who, unfortunately, are disabled. I have the greatest sympathy for these people, but we have to live with the fact, when we are dealing with the figures of unemployment, that there are thousands of people who cannot take the jobs that are offered to them. We need to use our rehabilitation services and, while we are doing that, through the Department of Social Services, we will increase the available facilities. We will construct more buildings. 1 hope that statement will be confirmed, because these people deserve our sympathy. I have great pleasure in emphasizing to-night that there are certain companies in Australia which should be publicly praised for the efforts they are making to absorb their portion of these unfortunate disabled people.
We must not forget that, in addition to the disabled workers, there is a group of self-appointed seasonal workers. These people, as you will know, Sir, if you have ever had anything to do with their income tax returns - as some honorable members may have in their previous professions- are among the high income earners. After they have completed their seasonal work they return home to mother - go back home to the fold - and, naturally, they enjoy the months in which they live with their families; but they quickly register with the Commonwealth Employment Office, and thus inflate our unemployment figures. They are not anxious to seek work and, if they do seek it, they seek it for a time only. Do not forget that seasonal and disabled workers and, in the early months of the year, the first intake of young people who are desirous of finding work, are the influences which push up the unemployment figures. I will conclude by saying that all of us - whether members of the Opposition or not - should certainly support the grant of £5,000,000 which this bill provides.
Wc can say what we like, but the employment position is improving and the number of unemployed has come down considerably. The demand for labour is more than constant and is reaching a point where the employment offices are going through list after list trying to fill the demands of certain industries. Our young people this year have been absorbed into industry at a faster rate than ever before. In Western Australia - whence the honorable member for Stirling (Mr. Webb) also comes - we face an exciting future. It is a fantastic future which faces Western Australia. Industrial development and employment-giving opportunities will abound. We ought to be grateful to the Government which has done so much for us and which again, in this gesture, is on sound grounds. I believe we have to accept this measure with good grace. Of course, we would like more money. We could spend it, but, in this particular field, this grant of £5,000,000 will be invaluable in the remaining months of this financial year in helping not only Western Australia but also all the States which participate in it.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, I join my colleagues in supporting this bill. I have no intention of following the lead given in this matter by the Country Party Whip, because I want to make some pertinent observations on this important measure and the matter with which it proposes to deal. It will fail to achieve the purpose for which it has been introduced. I want to quote some authorities who are severe critics of the Government’s proposals and the way in which it has dealt with the serious unemployment that is facing this country.
The proposal now before us is to provide to the States an emergency grant - a nonrepayable grant- of £5,000,000. We know that this sum will take the total of nonrepayable grants made to the States in this financial year for the purpose of relieving unemployment to £17,500,000. This is in addition to the tax reimbursements and the loan allocations which have been made to the States by the Australian Loan Council.
Notwithstanding all the efforts that are being made by the present Government - in a panicky way - to relieve unemployment, the number of registered unemployed in Australia to-day is greater than it was on 9th December, 1961, when the people registered an overwhelming vote of no confidence in the present Government and of confidence in the Australian Labour Party. Unfortunately, because of the redistribution arrangements that were made, Labour was unable to gain a majority of the seats in this House. The people of Australia have voted against the present Government and have expressed their hostility towards and lack of confidence in it. But the Government, realizing in its heart the true position, has become panic-stricken. In an effort to relieve the situation it has made these special grants of money to the States. But its efforts have failed and the confidence which the Government hoped to inspire in the community generally is not forthcoming. The honorable member for Stirling (Mr. Webb) quoted the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Cleaver), who said that the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) stated some time ago that it was his Government’s intention to restore full employment to this country within twelve months. A period of fifteen months has passed since that statement was made and unemployment is still at the fantastically high figure of 2.2 per cent, of the work force throughout the Commonwealth and 3.8 per cent, in Queensland. As the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) said when introducing the bill, its provisions have been occasioned principally by the large unemployment existing at the present time in Queensland and Tasmania. As I am a Queensland member I am sure that you, Sir, will be tolerant and allow me to stress the position which exists in that State.
According to the latest figures available Queensland has 22,500 registered unemployed and of these more than one-third are under 21 years of age. This, in itself, is tragie. There seems to be no hope of a large percentage of the people in Queensland obtaining constant employment. The efforts being made under this scheme - I called them panicky - suggest that although this Government has handed over large sums of money to Queensland the Government of that State has no plan for the permanent employment of the large number of the unemployed. In fact, in view of the forthcoming State election, the Government of Queensland has been hoarding the money paid to it by the Commonwealth Government and has not been expending it as this Government intended. Queensland has been hoarding the money, with the view to making a splurge, as it were, on the eve of the State election. That is what is happening now. Unfortunately the money will be expended in such a way that it will not provide continuity of employment. It will be used on jobs from which, as soon as they are completed, those engaged on them will be dismissed.
In other States developmental works are being carried out, but they are employmentdemanding works which will create a great deal of employment and improve the economy of those States. That will not be the case in Queensland. There the money is being spent on certain worthwhile projects, particularly in the building line, but, unfortunately, we do not seem to be able to use the money on employment-creating projects.
I was amazed at the contribution to the debate of the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Ian Allan). He stated that he was opposed to expenditure on developmental works north of the Tropic of Capricorn - rather an odd statement for a Country Party member to make! In view of the honorable member’s standing in the councils of the Australian Country Party his contribution to the debate may be regarded as of some importance. I have been reliably informed that should a vacancy occur in the Ministry, which normally would be filled by a member of the Country Party, the honorable member for Gwydir will be well in the running for the appointment. If he takes into the councils of the nation his view that money should not be spent on developmental works north of the Tropic of Capricorn, Queensland certainly will be in a very unfortunate position because more than one-half of that State lies north of the Tropic of Capricorn. I thought it had been admitted by all members of this Parliament that our northern areas needed development. I have heard the honorable member for Stirling stress at length the need for development in the Ord River and Kimberleys areas, which are both north of the Tropic of Capricorn but presumably such projects meet with hostility from the honorable member for Gwydir, that leading member of the Country Party.
Criticism has been levelled at the amount of money which has been made available and it has been stated that the grant will be spent in the cities, thereby defeating the policy of decentralization to which so many honorable members subscribe. If this grant is to be spent immediately to relieve unemployment, as the Commonwealth Government has requested, it must be spent in the cities because in the main that is where unemployment exists. A large portion of the grant must be spent in the city of Brisbane because, as the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) has said, it is the peculiar situation which exists particularly in Queensland that has necessitated the presentation of the bill which we are now debating. Notwithstanding the Country Party’s contention, this money must be spent where it will do the greatest good in relieving unemployment, and that is in the cities where unemployment is so rife.
Of the 22,500 unemployed in Queensland more than one-third are under 21 years of age. This is a very sorry commentary on the Government’s policies. We have been told by leading figures in Australia that we are living in uneasy times and that it is possible that in the near future we shall be called upon to defend our country. If such an eventuality arises, the people who will be conscripted first into the armed services and required to man our front lines will be those for whom this Government is failing to find employment because, as I have said, in Queensland alone a large proportion of the unemployed are under 21 years of age. The
Government is showing very poor administrative ability. Possibly it is not entirely to blame because it has asked for the co-operation of the Country-Liberal Party Government of Queensland but that Government is failing miserably to provide for the vast number of unemployed.
Only recently I read with consternation in the Brisbane “ Courier Mail “ of an advertisement which had appeared for a girl to sell newspapers behind the counter tff a newsagency in Rockhampton. No fewer than 106 girls up to the age of seventeen years applied for the job. The majority had passed their junior university examination and some had been out of work for three years. This is a sorry commentary on the position which exists in Queensland.
Very severe criticism has been levelled at the Government, and particularly at the Treasurer, by the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) who is a member of the Liberal Party. He is reported in the “Courier Mail” of 13th February, 1963, in this way -
Over the last two years it is apparent that the Treasurer has to some extent misjudged the financial situation.
Over that period there has been persistent underemployment of our productive capacity, and our rate of national development has been somewhat disappointing.
The Treasurer has consistently under-estimated (he amount of financial stimulation which the economy requires.
The economy is not collapsing, but it is languid. It is disappointed at its own lack of impetus.
Business has sickened a little from hope too often deferred. To-day there are altogether too many presages of stagnation in the air.
Immediate remedies are required, some of which lie in the sphere of the Loan Council and need to be applied next Thursday.
Let me point out that the Australian Loan Council was scheduled to meet in Canberra on that day.
– Do you agree with everything that the honorable member says?
– I agree with some of his statements. I agree that business has sickened a little from hope too often deferred; that the Treasurer has consistently under-estimated the amount of financial stimulation which the economy requires; and that the economy is languid. I wish that the Treasurer would take a little more notice of the severe criticism which has been directed at him by the honorable member for Mackellar and by other back benchers on the Government side, but it appears that in his ivory tower he is completely unapproachable and is not prepared to accept criticism from any Government supporter. However, I am sure that the people of Australia know of this criticism because the honorable member’s letter to the editor of the “ Courier Mail “ appeared in a large number of leading daily newspapers in the capital cities.
– You believe every letter you read in the newspapers too, I suppose?
– I believe that this letter was written by the honorable member for Mackellar in good faith and I believe that his criticism of the Government was justified.
Let me now introduce a new note into this debate by referring to methods which could be adopted to provide permanent jobs for our unemployed. I am alarmed when I go into some of the big retail establishments in the cities to find on all sides goods made in almost every country except Australia. While driving through one of the principal cities of Queensland recently I was amazed to see outside a service station a huge advertisement stating that imported tires cost less than those made in Australia.
– Where was your transistor radio made?
– Some transistors are made in Australia. I do not own a Japanese transistor radio. I pride myself on refusing to buy many goods which are made outside Australia. I will go out of my way to buy Australian-made articles. I shall digress for a moment to illustrate my point: I was recently in a certain place where I was given a delightful cup of coffee. The lady of the house asked me would I like a second cup and I assured her I would. When I asked the brand of the coffee she told me that it was packed in the United States, so I refused the second cup.
Our balance of trade has deteriorated very badly during the last twelve months. For the seven months ended in January, 1962, the value of our exports exceeded that of imports by £126,000,000, but for the seven months ended in January, 1963, the value of imports exceeded the value of exports by more than £40,000,000. When the amount of bullion and specie involved is taken into consideration, we find that for the seven months ended in January, 1962, the value of exports exceeded that of imports by £133,000,000 but that for the seven months ended in January last the value of imports exceeded that of exports by £37,000,000. In other words, within twelve months our balance of trade has deteriorated by more than £170,000,000.
That state of affairs cannot be allowed to continue. We must promote the development of Australia’s secondary industries. That would be the soundest way in which to absorb the unemployed and to provide for a stable economy. It is idle for people to initiate a campaign to buy Australian-made goods if immediately they refuse to implement it themselves. Every Australian who wants to see unemployment disappear from the face of this continent could say “ I want Australian-made goods “ when he goes to the shops. If that happened, our balance of trade would not be as disastrous as it is and employment in Australian factories would increase. The honorable member for Mackellar said that our productive capacity was being under-employed, that our manufacturing industries could produce far more than they are producing. If a demand for Australian-made goods was created by the Australian people themselves, notwithstanding the attitude of this Government, which is dominated by the Australian Country Party and which seems to be quite happy to allow goods made in other countries to be imported, the state of affairs to which I have referred would rapidly disappear. As I said a moment ago, I was horrified to see a Brisbane businessman flaunting the advertisement “ Imported tyres cost less “. Every Australian motorist should be proud of the fact that he can drive on tires made in Australia. It is a shocking thing that people should fall for the idea of buying imported goods.
I wish to return to the development of Queensland, which would offer scope for increased employment and production. I was quite surprised to hear the Minister for Air (Mr. Fairbairn), who represents the Minister for National Development in this place, say to-day in reply to a question that no comprehensive plan has yet been submitted by the Queensland Government for the development of the valleys of the Burdekin River and the Fitzroy River. I first entered the Parliament in 1954 and, as a result of speeches delivered here from time to time since then, was under the impression that firm proposals had been advanced in relation particularly to the Burdekin River; but I am astonished, as I said, to learn that the Queensland Government has not submitted a comprehensive plan for the development of either of those areas. Queensland has had a CountryLiberal Party Government for the last six years.
– It is the best thing that has ever happened.
– It has been a disastrous thing. Queensland has the highest unemployment figures in the Commonwealth, largely as a result of Country Party government. I should have thought that the Queensland Government, led by Mr. Nicklin, would have submitted comprehensive plans to this Government for the development of those important areas. But the Minister for Air has said that nothing has been done, and I am compelled to accept his statement.
It is a sorry state of affairs for Queensland that the government of that State has been so negligent as not to bring the potential of these two areas to the notice of this Government. The rivers themselves are large. I think the Fitzroy River has a catchment area greater than the area of Victoria. It is a very fertile area and is subject to excessive rains at certain times of the year. A great opportunity is presented for the development of the Burdekin and Fitzroy areas, but the Queensland Government has failed to present plans for development to the Commonwealth Government. Grand opportunities await governments that are prepared to grasp the thistle, as it were, or to deal with this thorn of unemployment which is pricking the Australian economic body.
The development of the Snowy Mountains hydro-electric scheme is rapidly drawing to an end and the highly trained technical staff is being disbanded. That staff could be used for the planning of developmental works in
Queensland. It makes one sad to learn that some of the highly trained technical staff of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority are now engaged on the planning of a scheme on the Mekong River in SouthEast Asia. It is wrong from a national viewpoint that these officers should be allowed to leave Australia to plan the development of other countries when so many opportunities await them here. All that seems to be lacking is planning on the part of the Commonwealth Government and/ or the State government involved.
I appreciate that the Government is granting another £5,000,000 to relieve unemployment, but I should have hoped that it would be aware of the apparent permanency of unemployment within Australia. The level of unemployment has risen since the last election. The Prime Minister said that it would fall, but his assessment of the situation has been quite incorrect. The Government must make a new approach to this important matter. We refuse to admit that automation is already with us, but included in the amounts approved by the Australian Loan Council in February was a sum of £1,000,000 which was made available for bulk loading facilities at the sugar ports of north Queensland. That is an example of the way in which automation is eating into employment in Queensland. Already the sugar towns are dying and the population is decreasing, notwithstanding that the sugar industry is producing more sugar each year. This year the value of sugar produced will be greater than that produced in any other year of the industry’s history. Sugar worth £100,000,000 will be produced, but fewer men will be engaged in the production and the shipping of it than were engaged last year. Automation is rearing its head in this country and is causing unemployment, but trie Government is doing nothing to meet the situation. The Government and many other people must face up to this issue, because automation and misgovernment on the part of the Commonwealth Government and the Queensland Government are responsible primarily for the unemployment which is so prevalent in Queensland. I hope something can be done to inspire this nation to achieve a greater degree of confidence and development, but quite frankly I believe the only thing that can be done is for the people to elect a Labour government.
.- So long as there are workless people in Australia the Labour Party will sympathetically receive legislation which is designed to provide work and wages for the unemployed. The Opposition believes in a policy of full employment. Full employment is, with the Opposition, an article of faith. At all times the Labour Party has worked constructively in an endeavour to see that our people are employed in local government works and in State works. Indeed, when Labour was in charge of this nation our firm policy and our actions were along the lines of providing useful employment and maintaining full employment. The bill, which is to provide a nonrepayable grant of £5,000,000 to the States in order to help them to provide work, is accepted by the Opposition. We, however, criticize the measure for a variety of reasons. While not opposing the bill we voice criticism regarding the management of the economy and the failure of the Government to provide full employment. The bill provides for a further instalment in the restoration of the economy, which was deliberately damaged by this Government.
The Australian Labour Party believes that there must be a new approach to the problems facing the nation. A number of speakers on the other side have claimed that we should not be so concerned, that we should be satisfied. The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Cleaver) was complacent about the matters implicit in the bill. He was smug. He exuded the selfsatisfaction that seems to form part of the character of the present Administration. No longer is there a keenness on the part of the Government to provide full employment; but because of political considerations arising from the will of the people as expressed at the ballot box at the last general election, and the lash administered to it on that occasion, the Government has been providing money for the relief of unemployment. The Australian Labour Party says that something better is required. It says that the mere provision of relief is like running water into a tank that is punctured in many places. That is not satisfactory. It does not achieve the longrange purpose that ought to be achieved.
Other speakers opposite have, in their self-satisfaction, expressed great confidence in the economy. They have said that all is well. But the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) himself knows that there is much wrong with the economy. From time to time he has uttered doubts in this place regarding the state of the economy. His action in appointing a committee to investigate the economy is ample proof of the position - if proof other than the existing unemployment and the obvious failure of the Government to develop the country were required. Like Mr. Micawber, the Prime Minister has never been in a hurry to do anything. In October last year he declared that a committee would be appointed to examine the national economy; but no action to appoint the committee was taken until 14th February of this year.
Members of the Government, particularly the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) and some other Government spokesmen, have constantly expressed the view that all is well with the economy. After the effects of the credit restrictions, which brought about a serious situation - and a serious loss of confidence which still grips this nation - the Minister for Labour and National Service declared that within a few months all would be well. He said that all would be well by “ next March “. The March to which he was referring was not March of this year, or March of last year, but March of the previous year. He said that the economy would by then be back on an even keel and that everybody would be back at work. Such optimistic views of some of the people opposite are not shared by the country at large. They are not even shared by all members of the Government parties. In this connexion I cite as a witness the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Bury), who made a statement which was reported in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ of 26th February last in the following terms: -
The Australian economy had picked up a good deal after the shock treatment of 1960, but remained listless, Mr. L. H. E. Bury, Liberal M.P. for Wentworth, said yesterday.
Mr. Bury was speaking at a luncheon meeting of the Constitutional Association of Australia at the Trocadero “Surely something vital is missing - vitality Itself”, he said. “ After the great immigration surge of the fifties and the big industrial expansion and equipment boom which culminated in 1960, it is difficult to discern to-day the kind of dynamic pacemaker which causes an economy to forge ahead.”
Mr. Bury said Australians could not afford to become “ a nation of Micawbers, waiting for our future to turn up.” “ Some of us have been bewitched by the phrase Australia Unlimited ‘, but many overlook that this applies to potential and not to time “, he said.
This statement, I repeat, was made by Mr. Bury, who is the honorable member for Wentworth in this House. It is one of the truthful statements emerging from the Government side. In these matters of building for permanence and for expansion and development the Government has failed miserably all along the line. Despite the lessons learned over recent times and the great challenges that face the nation - the importance of development, the importance of being self-sufficient in matters vital to our security - the Government is satisfied to play along continually with something like 100,000 unemployed, providing some relief work and so on. The remedies it proposes for the present situation might well be attributed more to political considerations than to humanitarian considerations or to a realization of a need to develop the nation.
It has been stated here to-night that the Opposition has no positive proposals, but the Opposition has in fact put forward positive proposals. In leading for the Opposition in this debate the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) made it quite clear that it is necessary in this country, as in any other country, to plan ahead, to plan for development, to see to it that money is spent on useful work in which people can be gainfully employed. All these self-satisfied people opposite - and I include the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony), who spoke in this debate with reckless abandon - do not face the real position. The honorable member for Richmond seemed to be concerned about everything but the 502 unemployed in the Lismore area. He discussed everything except a practical proposal to get those 502 people in his electorate back to work. He said nothing about their permanent and useful employment. He said not a word in criticism of the Government for making available money which, ‘he claims, has been misspent. If money provided by the Commonwealth to relieve unemployment has been misspent by New South Wales or any other State surely the Commonwealth Treasurer and the Commonwealth Government which makes the money available should supervise the manner in which it is expended, and surely the Treasurer or the Government should be called to account.
– The honorable member for Richmond did not give one single instance of the misspending of any of those grants.
– That is so, and he did not make one comment on the alleged misspending. One would have thought that he would have put forward some constructive proposals to deal with the problems in his electorate and in the nation as a whole. One would have thought that he would have brought to this chamber a proposal that instead of this money being spent on relief work it should be spent on such projects as flood mitigation so that the people living along the Richmond river, the Clarence river and all the other rivers on the north coast of New South Wales, who have helped so greatly to build the prosperity of this country, would be saved from future flooding. The Commonwealth, in turn, would be saved from spending money on relief for those whose properties have been devastated by the floodings which occur from time to time. Not one syllable, not one sentence, not a word was said in regard to this. Yet this is a live question.
The honorable member for Cowper (Mr. McGuren) repeatedly has brought this matter to the attention of the Parliament. He has asked that instead of this useless, wasteful way of spending money we should be constructive. Instead of giving alms to those who have suffered because of floods let us deal with the local people, let us join forces with the local people, let us join forces with the State of New South Wales in its flood mitigation proposals for the purpose of bringing relief to the area concerned. If any one in this country were remiss in this matter, if the local people had failed - and they have not - if the State of New South Wales had failed - and it has not - then, again, the responsibility would fairly rest upon the honorable member for Richmond to come forward and speak up on behalf of the people of his area.
We hear quite a lot from honorable gentlemen of the Australian Country Party about rural development. Extraordinary figures have been revealed in Commonwealth censuses concerning the depopulation of our countryside. Whereas at the time of the 1947 census 31 per cent, of Australian people lived in country districts, only 21 per cent, of them lived there at the time of the 1954 census and only 18 per cent, at the time of the 1961 census. It is not a valid reply to say that this is the position only in New South Wales or in Tasmania which have Labour governments. The worst situation in this nation is in Queensland where there is an anti-Labour government formed by the Country Party and the Liberal Party which must share responsibility with the Country Party-Liberal Party Government of the Commonwealth of Australia. The only people who ever raise their voices in this place about the travail of Queensland and the problems of unemployment in that State are the new members from Queensland who have come to this place to speak with vigour and power for their people and their State. In doing so they join forces with the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan) and the honorable member for Leichhardt (Mr. Fulton). They constantly bring these matters to the attention of the Parliament.
There are serious problems facing the man on the land. In addition to all the difficulties that we have referred to, there is the problem of a Country Party Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) permitting the importation into Australia of the products of the soil such as oranges and peas and chickens, thereby causing unemployment in the countryside. One would expect that more sympathetic treatment would be meted out. Mr. Deputy Speaker, the figures concerning unemployment in country districts are an indictment of this Government. The proposals now being made to provide an additional £5,000,000 will not meet this situation. The honorable member for Swan referred with great satisfaction to the township of Bunbury. There are 223 registered unemployed there. In Queensland the figures are staggering, startling and a disgrace to this Administration. They are as follows: -
Here we have a State with an anti-Labour government sharing responsibility for its unemployment position with the anti-Labour Government of the Commonwealth of Australia. The Opposition is not satisfied with that state of affairs. We shall never be satisfied with that state of affairs. We want the constructive development of this country. We want the sort of thing that the honorable member for Cowper has constantly talked about. We want flood mitigation in order to save the people. We want water conservation. We want irrigation. We want to get on to the job of developing this nation. We cannot do that by the spending of this petty amount of £5,000,000 for unemployment relief. We want a broad imaginative programme to provide life-giving waters for the dry inland and for the servicing of this nation. Water resources authorities have directed attention to these matters in recent times. Every one in this country except the Government seems to be receptive to their ideas. The Opposition will not be content until something is done about these matters.
Quite recently it was my pleasure, as chairman of the National Development Committee of the parliamentary Labour Party, to visit central Queensland. There we saw a veritable treasure chest of wealth untapped. All that is required to develop those resources is a government prepared to do something in the matter, and the finance. If the will existed and the money were forthcoming the workless in that area could put their hands to the plough, so to speak, and get on with the job of development. The local people know what the projects are. There is the Dawson-Fitzroy project. They know, as the leaders of industry know, what can be done with the pyrites of Mount Morgan in developing industrial activity there. They know what can be done with the Port Alma salt near Rockhampton. They know how power can be obtained. All those projects could help to develop the nation. These things are known to all. There would be no problem about the finance required if this Government had the will to get on with the job. By its own actions the Government has shown that deficit financing means nothing to it. It was also demonstrated, when the Government went on the market for money in this country of recent date, that the people were not backward in making money available for such works. The Labour Government, in time of war, had no difficulty in finding money for the prosecution of the war and for the transition from war to peace. All these things can be done again, Mr. Deputy Speaker.
May I make a few practical proposals that ought to be debated in dealing with these matters? First, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I say that there is need for planned work of a reproductive nature. The point made by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports about dole and holes is not sufficient. Secondly, Mr. Deputy Speaker, the Commonwealth Government ought to be prepared to support private enterprise in the development of this nation. It ought to take a share with private enterprise in developing Australia. If that were to be done, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I am satisfied-
– Order! That is the fourth time that the honorable member has improperly addressed me.
– I am sorry. I did not notice your return to the chair, Mr. Speaker. I respectfully withdraw the words. I have been so intent on trying to impress members of the Government with the strength of the Opposition’s case and to penetrate the closed ears of some honorable members opposite that I overlooked your presence in the chair. The Opposition believes, Sir, that if the Commonwealth Government were prepared to come to the aid of private enterprise in quite a number of instances, take-overs by overseas companies would not occur.
However, some of our primary industries have found themselves at the mercy of entrepreneurs from overseas and have been prepared to sell out, or have allowed themselves to be taken over, so that good Australian companies have fallen into the hands of companies from overseas.
Another matter that should be taken up by the Government is the urgent need to cut interest rates. Money for the development of this country ought to be available, and it should be available at cheaper rates to those who wish to develop Australia and to provide employment for our people. There should be financial leadership, which is essential if Australia is to advance. That leadership could come through the Development Bank and would aid the speedy development of the nation. I believe that in each community there should be a specialist provided by the Commonwealth Tank for the purpose of giving financial guidance <ind leadership to those who require finance and an opportunity to develop the areas in which they live. There are many matters that could be supported in a number of communities. There are people who are prepared to go ahead with developmental projects but are unable to obtain the kind of advice that they require.
A matter which disturbs me, as it must disturb most honorable members, is the tragic fact that there are approximately 100,000 registered unemployed. They are people who are receiving payment for remaining in idleness, but who ought to be paid for working. We all must appreciate that it would require perhaps only the doubling of the amount now being received by the unemployed persons to set them off doing jobs to develop this country. If that money were to be found, the people who are at present unemployed would become producers. They would be taxpayers and would thus be helping to build up the economy. But there seems to be a tendency here to think that it is sufficient merely to provide some relief for the time being. Sufficient unto the day is certainly the evil thereof in this instance. The present position is not helping Australia, nor is it developing Australia. These makeshift proposals are not at all satisfactory. There ought to be planned development in such things as railway construction, road construction, harbour works and industrial expansion. Those are matters that call out for attention at the present time.
I have asked the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies), on a number of occasions, to give some attention to these matters, and he has said that he would look into them. Only yesterday I asked him, in this House, whether he would be prepared to help private organizations to establish industry in country districts with a view to relieving unemployment. He did not answer the question. Instead, he expressed satisfaction with the employment situation. Surely, if private industry is prepared to attempt to provide work in our country districts and to help the people there, it is natural to expect the Prime Minister to do something about the provision of funds. The much-maligned Labour Government of New South Wales has given leadership in this respect. It has provided a development freight rate which is designed to reduce by 75 per cent, the cost of transporting raw materials to industries operating in regional markets. It has provided 60 per cent, of loans for the erection of factory buildings in areas where local bodies were prepared to contribute 30 per cent, of the loans, and 75 per cent, of the cost of technical services where local bodies -vere prepared to meet 25 per cent, of the cost; and it has extended freight subsidies to country engineering plants to a maximum of £100 per employee. Additional staff is to be appointed to the decentralization section of the Department of Industrial Development and Decentralization, and it has been decided to sponsor an exhibit at the Sydney Trade Fair this year. There is an urgency in these matters, Mr. Speaker, and the Commonwealth Government ought to do something about them.
My colleagues who represent the coalminers in New South Wales and other States can remember the promises that were made by the Prime Minister in 1949. He said that, whatever happened, there would be full employment for the miners and that the mining communities would not suffer if they built up their coal production. Records in coal production have been made. Yet, we have the Minister for National Development (Senator Sir William Spooner), in a statement that he made recently, expressing concern about the position. Dealing with the unemployment problem in the Cessnock district he said -
There are now less than 1,800 coalminers employed there. In June, 1954, there were over 6,800. The majority of the men who have sought other jobs have found them in the steelworks . . .
Those were figures conceded by the Minister who, on other occasions, had said that there was no crisis in the coal-mining industry. Opportunities could be made to provide work for these people who have made their homes on the coal-fields and who have established themselves as good citizens. Some of them have become leaders of the communities in which they live and have played their part in every respect.
When we appreciate that about £90,000,000 has been spent in this country in the search for flow oil and that this year £20,000,000 will be spent in this search, surely it is obvious that there should be opportunities for the development of methods of winning from coal and shale the by-products which are necessary for Australia’s defence and security. In the First World War, Newnes, in the Wolgan valley, provided the oil for our Navy. In the Second World War, Glen Davis helped substantially to provide petroleum products. There is now an oil-field at Moonie and we know something of its capacity, but we should not put all our eggs in one basket. I believe that our shale deposits ought to be exploited and developed in the interests of the nation. In addition, to do so would provide work for our miners and stability in our mining areas.
The Commonwealth ought to help in the work of local government. The honorable member for Richmond should pay attention to the words of Alderman Manyweathers, the Mayor of Lismore, who is president of the Local Government Association of New South Wales. He stated in a broadcast speech -
It is difficult to understand the thinking of many of those in authority. Local government is exhorted and expected to give service. As a matter of fact the test of a “ good “ council is the extent of the service given, its progressive outlook and its eagerness to extend its services to all residents within its area.
These services cannot be given without the wherewithal to do so and yet local government must go cap in hand to those who hold the purse strings begging for the right to borrow what it needs and when it gets that right then it mus plead with the lending institutions to take an interest in local government affairs and lend the money.
– This is the New South Wales Government, is it?
– The statement I have read represents the attitude of the Commonwealth Government. The amount of money to be made available for local government through loan raising is determined at the seat of government, the National Capital, at the meetings of the Australian Loan Council. The honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Nixon) will learn some of these facts of life if he has merit and remains here long enough.
I have quoted the words of the Mayor of Lismore, who speaks with the support of local government bodies. I can only hope that his statements will be heeded by honorable members on the Government side and that his comments will be considered. J am pleased to support the bill because it will give relief to a number of people who urgently require relief at the present time, but I hope that a broad, bold and imaginative programme will be brought down to provide permanent employment for the people of this country.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Business of the House- Use of Commonwealth vehicles - Fruit Industry Sugar Concession Committee - Australia Mouse, London - Commonwealth-owned Cottages at Cessnock - Butter and Margarine.
Motion (by Mr. Fairhall) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- The first matter to which I wish to refer is the conduct of the business of the House. As honorable members are aware, the Parliament was in recess for just on four months. We returned to the business of conducting the affairs of the country only yesterday. We are provided with what is known as the “blue sheet”. This lists the business to be conducted during the day. I examined this sheet yesterday and discovered that at the foot of it was tha following statement: -
At approximately 9.05 p.m. the sitting will be suspended until the ringing of the bells to enable honorable members to hear the Queen’s Speech.
The Queen’s Speech lasted for about a quarter of an hour. Some honorable members wanted to avail themselves of the opportunity to speak on the motion for the adjournment of the House last night. They wanted to bring forward very important matters that had accumulated in the four months that the Parliament was in recess. The document states that it is issued for the guidance of members and carries the following note: -
It is not a formal document and the business listed is subject to change.
However, if there is a vital change, such as that which occurred yesterday, the Government should at least have the courtesy to advise the Opposition of its intentions. The Government did not do so yesterday. I waited for some time in my office last night for the bells to ring, but they did not ring. Some time later I found out that the House had adjourned at eight minutes to nine o’clock. This is a scandalous state of affairs. The Government treats the Parliament so contemptuously as to adjourn the House on the first night of sitting at eight minutes to nine o’clock, although many important matters remain to be dealt with. I hope that the Government in future will see to it that the Opposition is advised of its intentions in regard to the conduct of the business of the House and the period of the sittings.
The other matter to which I want to refer concerns the use of Commonwealth motor cars. Some time ago, a friend in Brisbane posted to me an extract from a newspaper - I think it is known as the “ Sunday Truth “. An article in the newspaper was headed -
Mr. Freeth is generous to politicians.
It related how a car had been used by Senator Sir Walter Cooper. Having received many rebuffs from the Government when I have made requests on behalf of some of my colleagues who were in need of motor transport, I was very interested and immediately raised the matter wtih the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Freeth). On 16th January, I received a communication from the Minister. Because my time is limited, I will read only an extract from the letter. The Minister for the Interior said -
Sir Walter Cooper is entitled to car transport between his home and the airport when travelling to and from Canberra to attend sittings of Parlia ment. This privilege, as you will know, is extended to all members of the Parliament who have been Ministers;
In the concluding part of the letter, the Minister said -
Sir Walter Cooper has been granted use of a Commonwealth car for official purposes in the Brisbane metropolitan area. This is the only respect in which his entitlement to a Commonwealth car differs from that of other members and senators.
I immediately wrote back to the Minister. In my letter of 25th January, I said -
I should be pleased if you would let me know what is meant by “official purposes”. Does this mean that a Commonwealth car is provided only on occasions when Senator Cooper represents the Government at a function, conference, etc., or where he is engaged upon some work on behalf of the Government?
It was some time before I received a reply to my further inquiry. However, in his reply the Minister said -
The term “official purposes” has not been specifically defined for the purposes of the availability of Commonwealth vehicles. However, in its general sense it could be taken to cover journeys in relation to Parliamentary or Government business and for transport to conferences, functions, etc., when representing the Government.
I still wanted some clarification of one or two points in the Minister’s letter and I again wrote to him. In my letter of 1st March, I said -
You state that the meaning of the term “ official purposes “ has not been specifically defined but that “it could be taken to cover journeys in relation to Parliamentary or Government business and for transport to conferences, functions, etc., when representing the Government “.
Ii is not clear, however, whether the Parliamentary business to which reference is made is Parliamentary business undertaken at the request of the Government or Parliamentary business associated with Senator Cooper’s normal duties as a Senator.
I received a further reply of 7th March from the Minister, in which he said -
Further to your inquiry of 1st March the term “ Parliamentary business “ used in my letter of 25th February is used in the general sense of “ business as a Member of Parliament”.
I do not think it practicable to make any more detailed definition, just as it is not sought to provide a detailed definition of “Parliamentary purposes” for which free air travel, office accommodation and other facilities are given to Members.
I wrote a further letter to the Minister. I said -
Your reply of the 7th March, 1963, whilst not specifically saying so, implies that when Senator Cooper requires a car at any time in the Brisbane metropolitan area he may order one with no questions asked.
If this is so, will you explain why Senator Cooper is the recipient of this special privilege which is available to no other Senator or Member.
That letter was sent on 15th March, but since then there has been complete silence in regard to the reason for granting this privilege. Time will not permit me to read all that the newspaper related about the use of a car on one occasion in Brisbane.
I remind honorable members that when Senator Brown had a black-out in the Senate some time ago and was in a very weakened state, he made a request to be provided with a car to take him from the airport to his home, but this request was refused by the Government. When Senator Amour, who is suffering from war injuries, required a car for transport whilst conducting his duties in this Parliament, the only advice he could get from the Minister - this was by interjection in this House - was that he ought to resign from the Senate. Senator Amour has already intimated that he intends only to complete his present term of office. Honorable members should keep in mind that Senator Amour was fully fit when he entered the Senate. It is only in recent years that his war injuries have come against him and he has been handicapped in his attendance to his duties in the Senate. But he is not mentally retarded. He is a very active senator and a very active member of the Labour Party. But the Minister for the Interior advised Senator Amour to retire. There should be no discrimination in these matters. If the Minister advises a Labour supporter suffering from war injuries to retire because he needs special transport facilities, the same advice should be given to a Government supporter who has the same special need for government transport.
Let me quote the newspaper article to which I referred earlier. Accompanying a photograph is this report -
The picture on this page shows one example - Lady Cooper, wife of Queensland’s Country Party Senator, Sir Walter Cooper, carrying a piece of fruit cake to a powerful Commonwealth limousine while a Commonwealth chauffeur stands by at the open door.
Lady Cooper had been on a quick errand to buy a 4/6 piece of medeira cake from a Manly grocery store less than a mile from her home last Friday morning.
I repeat that apparently there is discrimination in the allocating of Commonwealth cars for use by disabled members of this Parliament. In view of its attitude to Labour members the Government has behaved improperly in granting this special concession to a member of one of the parties that constitute it.
– The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) having raised the matter at the beginning of his speech, I feel that I should say something about the business of the House. The honorable member referred in critical terms to tha fact that last night the House rose in order to enable honorable members to hear the farewell speech of Her Majesty the Queen. What a moving and appreciated speech it wasl It had been suggested to me earlier in the day that honorable members would find it convenient to adjourn at about 9 p.m. last night rather than return to this chamber for about another hour. I mentioned this matter to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam). Had objection been taken to the course that was proposed I would have given every consideration to an alternative proposal, but it was my understanding that the course adopted met generally the wishes of honorable members.
The honorable member for East Sydney has said that the effect of adjourning early last night was to deprive him of an opportunity to speak on the motion for the adjournment of the House. He claims to have been waiting for four months for an opportunity to raise matters of urgent national importance. He has taken the first opportunity available to him - you have given him the first call, Mr. Speaker, in this adjournment debate - to place those matters before us to-night. One can only assume that had we not adjourned when we did last night, but instead had returned to this chamber after hearing Her Majesty’s speech - that would have been something of an anti-climax - .the powerful speech that would have been addressed to us then by the honorable member for East Sydney on a matter of urgent national importance would have been on the sama topic as that which he has brought before the Parliament to-night. The honorable member has had all these last few months to consider the whole range of Government policy and activity and the most important matter that he can bring before this Parliament is a miserable attack upon a man disabled in the service of this country - a man who has given long and distinguished service, both as a member of the Senate and as a member of Australian governments. As a Minister for Repatriation, Senator Sir Walter Cooper earned the respect and affection of servicemen throughout the Commonwealth. Nevertheless, the honorable member for East Sydney launched an attack on this man and his wife, who in her turn has given the kind of help - unpaid, voluntary help - to her husband that most wives give to those of us who represent the people in this place.
– What about Senator Amour?
– It is true that the Labour Party on one occasion took advantage of the forms of the House in order to discuss the transport problems of Senator Amour - something that was regarded by the Opposition as an urgent matter of public importance. At least the honorable member runs true to form in some respects. I leave it to the House and to the public to judge whether these matters raised by the honorable member justify the importance that he attaches to them.
Let me refer now to the business of the House. Listening to the honorable gentleman one would think that the Government was trying to avoid having the House sit - trying to reduce the times of sittings and so forth. Of course, that is not the case. The reason why the House did not meet until yesterday is well known, but this does not mean that there will be fewer sitting weeks of this Parliament at this time of the year than is normally the case. Indeed, in order to meet the circumstance that has arisen consequent upon Her Majesty’s visit the Parliament will, for the first time in my recollection, sit in the week of Good Friday and will sit, again for the first time in my recollection, in the week of Easter Monday. In that and other ways we shall see to it that the Parliament has available to it for normal parliamentary discussion approximately the same time that has been available in other years. But again, to hear the honorable member for East Sydney, one would imagine that everything would be different if Labour were in office - that this House would be kept almost continuously in session. One would think that this Government is culpable because the Parliament does not sit frequently enough. We have not had a Labour government in office for many years, I am glad to say, but one is able to get an idea of what would happen under Labour from the form of Labour governments in some States.
I do not want to appear critical of the New South Wales Government - it will run its affairs just as we run ours - but I did read towards the end of last year that when the Legislative Assembly rose on 7th December, 1962, for the Christmas recess it had sat for 45 days during that year. That number compared with 64 sitting days in 1961. The Legislative Assembly sat for the first time in 1962 on 10th April. Well, even with the delay that we have had this year we are doing better than that.
I am sure, Mr. Speaker, that before this sessional period is concluded you will feel that it has continued for long enough and that you have heard enough from us. In order to set an example which I hope will be followed by other honorable members, and so that we may make the best use of the time available to the Parliament, I will not wait for the little white light to come on. I simply say that honorable members can judge for themselves whether the honorabe member for East Sydney and those who sit behind him should have brought us back as soon as they have if the issue raised by the honorable member is the most momentous and serious issue that he can bring before the Parliament.
– I shall be very brief. The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), with his usual sense of chivalry, decency and honour, has brought up in this place a matter which he considers contains some element of party political discrimination. I made careful inquiry, and as far as I can ascertain, the only other people who obtain the use of Commonwealth cars beyond the terms specified in the Richardson report, and outside specific occasions, are two members of the Opposition party. One is Senator Amour, to whom the honorable member has referred. He is allowed the use of a Commonwealth car to go to his office in Sydney. The other is his colleague, Senator Kennelly, who is allowed the use of a Commonwealth car for official purposes in Melbourne - beyond the terms of the Richardson report. I think that should dispose of this pretty contemptible matter that the honorable member for East Sydney has raised.
But the honorable member is not above asking favours for himself. Not very long ago - almost on the same day on which he attacked somebody in this House about the use of a Commonwealth car - he asked for and was granted the use of a Commonwealth car for his wife to go and change her clothes in preparation for some function she was to attend.
– You are a liar! Produce the facts.
– Order! The honorable member must withdraw that remark.
– -I withdraw it.
– The matter is on record if the honorable member cares to pursue it. Senator Sir Walter Cooper was granted this car because he has given a tremendous amount of service to this country as Minister for Repatriation. He has identified himself with ex-servicemen’s organizations and other movements, and with repatriation, to such an extent that even after he ceased to be a Minister he found that there were considerable numbers of calls on his time. Quite apart from his physical disability, it was thought quite reasonable to grant this request. I do not think that any one who knows Senator Sir Walter Cooper will begrudge him the use of the car for the many extra duties that he has to perform by virtue of the fact that he once gave service as a Minister for Repatriation and did a tremendous amount of good for ex-servicemen throughout Australia.
.- I wish to raise a matter which is of current interest and is urgent, this being the first opportunity I have had to do so. I refer to an appointment to the Fruit Industry Sugar Concession Committee. This is a committee with about twenty members, including five growers’ representatives and a num ber of canners’ representatives, as well as representation for the Queensland sugar industry. The appointment was made, I regret to say, to replace a Mr. Crane, of Tasmania, who died suddenly a few weeks ago. He was in the first year of his second fiveyear term. There has been a Tasmanian on this committee for the past 30 years as the direct representative of the berry fruits industry. Tasmania grows a substantial proportion of all the berry fruits grown in Australia, and there was every justification for Tasmania having direct representation on the Fruit Industry Sugar Concession Committee. Imagine the disgust, disappointment and resentment of the Tasmanian producers when the Minister appointed Mr. J. H. P. Blick, of New South Wales, to succeed Mr. Crane. We are not petty enough to say that we have anything against Mr. Blick. We do not criticize his experience or his ability. But we are against the appointment of a mainlander instead of a Tasmanian. We are opposed to the breaking of a 30-year-old tradition by the present Minister. Tasmania has had a direct representative on this committee for all that time. Different governments have acknowledged Tasmania’s interest in the berry fruits industry.
– Do you know that Mr. Blick is a Liberal Party organizer?
– He was a campaign director for the former Minister for Repatriation.
– My colleagues have made some interesting interjections. I was not going to delve into that angle of the situation. It was an aspect of the matter that I did not know about. However, it makes the appointment rather more-
– Understandable. I will put it that way. I would like to say this to the Minister: We have able and experienced men in Tasmania, leaders of the berry fruits industry, who could readily have taken Mr. Crane’s place. Mr. Crane was a splendid representative. He was an able man who was alive to all the problems of the industry, which, I may say, is full of problems. I feel sure that the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Falkinder) would, if he spoke his mind, agree with what I am saying on this subject.
– I asked a question about it to-day.
– I know you did. Many of these berry fruit growers are in your electorate, and the others are in my electorate. The Minister knew that Mr. Crane had four years left of his second five-year term. Surely courtesy demanded that another Tasmanian be appointed to finish the five-year term.
The Tasmanian Farmers Federation, which has 6,000 members in Tasmania, has fought hard, through its secretary, Mr. R. Curtis, to persuade the Minister in the last few days to review this appointment, but the Minister has refused the request. He excuses his attitude by saying that there is a Tasmanian canners’ representative on the committee. Well, this has always been so, but we say that we have lost our direct representation for the berry fruits section of the industry, and that is something that we definitely oppose. That is why I have raised the matter in the House tonight.
A Liberal senator, in another place, Senator Henty, has also taken this matter up with the Minister. His representations have been added to those of the Tasmanian Farmers Federation, the honorable member for Franklin and myself, this being the first chance I have had to bring the matter up in the House. We now urge the Minister to have another look at the matter, because we think his decision shows discourtesy to our State. It is rather an insult, in one respect, to our berry fruit growers. Apparently it is thought that none of them is good enough to have succeeded Mr. Crane. Whilst I have nothing against Mr. Blick personally, the Minister’s appointment of a New South Welshman to the committee is regarded by our growers and other producers as an insult to the Tasmanian berry fruits industry. I hope the Minister will review his decision, because when Tasmanians lose anything they fight mighty hard to get it back.
– It has been interesting to hear the remarks of the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie), but
I suggest that before he tries to make a case as he has done to-night he should get his facts straight. He started off by saying that this is a committee of twenty members, including five growers’ representatives and some others. I can tell the House that this is a committee of six members. It has two growers’ representatives. There is one proprietary canner on it and one co-operative canner. There is also a representative of the sugar industry, because it is from the sugar industry that these concessions are obtained. The chairman comes from my department. Until the present time the representation on that committee has been the chairman from my department, the sugar industry representative, two Victorians and two Tasmanians. Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia have no representative to-day. New South Wales now has one. The honorable member for Wilmot resents that.
– Is Blick a Liberal organizer? That is what we want to know.
– I have never heard such a thing. If you think politics come into it, that shows how contemptible you are. Mr. Blick is the manager of the fruit section of the Producers Co-operative Distributing Society Limited in Sydney. He was recommended by the citrus fruit growing organization. Even at the time of the re-appointment of Mr. Crane, Mr. Blick was recommended to me very strongly. What I want the House to remember is that whoever is appointed, and whether he is from Tasmania, New South Wales or any other State, he has to represent all the noncanning fruit interests of Australia. I considered that Mr. Blick should be appointed in the interests of the citrus industry, which is very much concerned in this matter, much more concerned than the berry fruit growers from the financial point of view.
The berry fruit growers have not been neglected. If their interests are being discussed in any way, their representative is to be co-opted by direction from the Minister to the chairman of the committee. Their interests will be served faithfully. As I mentioned in answer to a question asked by the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Falkinder) this afternoon, the pineapplegrowers made strong representations to me.
Their industry is a great one both for domestic sales and for export sales. But I was not able to concede a representative to the pineapple industry. Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia still have no representation on the committee.
– Was Blick a campaign director for the Liberal Party? That is the question that we want answered.
– I repeat that the fruit industry representation on the committee is one representative from New South Wales, two representatives from Victoria, and Tasmania still has one representative. That is the total representation. I have no intention of reviewing that position because I consider it eminently fair. The members of the committee are men of good repute. They will give good service to the industry. They will represent faithfully all the canning fruit growers and the non-canning fruit growers of Australia in making their recommendations to the Minister.
– Mr. Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.
– Order! Does the honorable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. I apologize for misleading the Minister about the committee.
– He was not misrepresented, Mr. Speaker. He is apologizing for his misstatement.
– Why not be a bit Christian for a change? I am standing up to apologize to the Minister for misleading him.
– Mr. Speaker, I raise a point of order. It was not a misrepresentation on my part. That is all I said. Is the honorable member in order in making a personal explanation?
– Order! I think it is customary, when an honorable member wishes to apologize for an error in a statement, to give him the right to do that: but I ask the honorable member not to debate the matter.
– I was referring to another committee in the industry when 1 mentioned the twenty members. I am sorry. I mixed up my notes. The Minister is quite right about the size of the Fruit Industry Sugar Concession Committee. I did not do that deliberately. I apologize for misleading the House.
.- After listening to the debate that has just taken place, 1 still do not know whether Blick was a campaign director for the Liberal Party. That is what I was anxious to find out.
– He was.
– He was, was he? As other members on this side of the House have said to-night, this is the first opportunity that I have had to bring to the notice of the Parliament a matter that I think is worthy of being raised here; that is the treatment that I was given by the staff of Australia House when I arrived in London on 8th November last after attending the conference of the Inter-Parliamentary Union in Brazil. I arrived in London-
– What about Skripov?
– Every time you open your mouth I realize the urgency of the need for this Parliament to pass birth control laws.
– Order! The honorable member must withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw. I arrived in London at 10 p.m. on 8th November last. I believe that it is the duty of every member of this House, when he arrives in an overseas country, to inform our trade office or our embassy at the first available opportunity of his presence in the country. So, at 9.30 the next morning, 9th November, I reported to Australia House and announced my identity. I signed the visitors’ book, disclosing that I was a member of the Commonwealth Parliament, my room number and the address of my hotel. I inquired for mail and I was told that there was no mail there for me. I went to Australia House again on the afternoon of that day, Friday the 9th, and again inquired for mail as I was told that there were two mail deliveries per day; but again there was no mail for me.
Honorable members opposite are laughing, but this is no joking matter. Had this happened to them they would have screamed much louder because it is obvious that they cannot take what is dished out from this side of the chamber from time to time. I went to Australia House again on the Saturday morning and was informed again that there was no mail there for me. I requested the girl at the mail desk to make a check. She did that and said that there was no mail for me. On the Monday I again went to Australia House on two occasions and inquired for mail, only to be informed that there was none there for me. I was confident that there would be mail there from my office and my constituents in the Hunter electorate, but the girl said that there was no mail for me.
At 6 o’clock that night, the night before I left for Europe, I was interviewed at my hotel, the Strand Palace Hotel, by a senior mail officer of Australia House. He had a number of letters for me which he informed me had been there for a week prior to my arrival. He said that they had been in an upstairs room. He asked me whether I had inquired up there. I said, “ No, I inquired at what I thought was the normal place for any intelligent man to inquire - the mail counter”. He then apologized. I asked him whether I would be unreasonable if I lodged a complaint. He said, “ No, you would not be “. I said, “ I intend to raise the matter in the National Parliament when I get back”. At least I am a man of my word. I was told that an error had been made and that I should have inquired upstairs for the mail. I was then offered a car to be driven to the London airport the next morning. I said that I did not want a car, that I did not expect red carpet treatment, and that I would hire a taxi. That is what I did. Only three weeks ago several of my constituents complained to me about an international travel organization known as Micro Tours, which, through its methods of business, has left a number of Australians stranded overseas and against which, as a result of those methods, action has been taken by Scotland Yard. When these constituents of mine - they are respected citizens who over a number of years have been able to set aside sufficient money to travel to Europe - asked at Australia House whether Micro Tours was a reputable travel organization, they were told that it was, although at that time Micro Tours was being investigated by Scotland Yard. One of the members of that organization has been or is about to be arrested for defrauding a large number of people.
If Australia House is misleading worthy Australian citizens I think it is time this Government made inquiries as to whether the establishment can be improved. I know that Sir Eric Harrison has not been in good health, but surely during his ill health, some one else over there could have ensured that Australia House was run in such a way that there would be no cause for complaint by any Australian going to the Mother Country. I think the treatment given to me was an insult to my electors and an insult to the Australian people. I hope that there will be no repetition of such treatment, not only of members of Parliament visiting the United Kingdom and attending Australia House, but also of any respectable Australian citizen seeking advice or assistance from this responsible body of people which is supposed to be looking after Australia’s interests over there.
Before concluding I want to refer to the intention of this Government, which has been brought to my notice, of increasing the rents of Commonwealth cottages at Cessnock. The cottages are not in good repair and no repairs have been done to them for many years. The cooking and heating appliances in them have to be supplied
– Have they lights on?
– Yes, they have lights on. The cooking and heating appliances have to be supplied by the tenants, but I understand it is the intention of the Government to increase substantially the rent of these cottages. I remind honorable members that much has been said in this House this evening about unemployment throughout Australia. In my opinion no area in the Commonwealth is suffering more from unemployment to-day than is the Cessnock area. The unemployment among the school leavers there and among retrenched mineworkers who have spent almost a life-time in the industry is shocking and proves the lack of planning on the part of this Government.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Mr. Speaker, I wish to refer to censorship practised by the Government in a most malicious way designed to take a nutritious product from the breakfast tables of the people in this country. 1 refer to margarine, and I have here an article which appeared in a Sydney newspaper a day or so ago under the heading “Bias in Butter Booster”. In the past margarine has been stated to be a good source of vitamin A, but this article states -
Because of political pressure, the Commonwealth Health Department’s latest publication on food docs not mention margarine.
In the past, the Department rated margarine equally nutritious as butter.
In the Department’s just-issued daily food guide pamphlet “ Keep Fit with Food “ butter is championed as a good source of vitamin A and fat.
Omission of any reference to margarine follows the Department’s publication of the controversial food booklet, “Eat Better for Less” in mid- 1961.
In ‘. table margarine was listed as having equal food value as butter.
Rural interests re-acted angrily, and Country Party M.P.’s demanded withdrawal of the booklet.
The latest publication, “ Keep Fit with Food “, advises on selection of foods providing all essential nutrients for good health.
It was prepared by the Department’s Institute of Anatomy and replaces a similar one issued in 1955.
The 1955 issue gave butter and table margarine equal billing in a scries of five food groups the Institute advised for consumption each day.
The article continues -
Defending the booklet in Parliament, the then Minister for Health, Dr. Cameron, said: “ We are heading for a very dangerous state of affairs if statements are to be suppressed because they are commercially and politically undesirable.”
The Department continued publication of the booklet and printed extras to meet public demand.
In the past fortnight the Department issued, “Keep Fit with Food”.
There are many people in the community who desire margarine for health purposes. A report from the committee which investigated the dairying industry stated that margarine was more nutritious than butter and was in many ways beneficial to the health of the people.
– I rise to order, Mr. Speaker. Can the honorable member for Grayndler tell untruths?
– The point of order is not upheld.
– I have mentioned the report from the committee which inquired into the dairy industry and extracts from the report are available. Butter is pricing itself off the tables of this country because it is not now subsidized as it was in the time of the Chifley Government so that it would be available to the community at a reasonable price. When the Labour Government was in office we maintained the production, distribution and sale of butter by subsidizing the price and so making it competitive despite the high cost of production.
This Government has forced pensioners and others to buy margarine because they cannot afford butter on the small pensions paid to them. Let it be remembered that in answer to a question by the honorable member for Cowper (Mr. McGuren) not long ago it was revealed that members of the Australian armed forces were being issued with margarine. In answer to a question asked by the honorable member for Oxley (Mr. Hayden), as reported at page 47 of “ Hansard “ of 26th March, the Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley) admitted that the Government had been issuing margarine to the defence forces in various quantities over the past few years. He said that in 1962 12 tons of margarine was issued to the Australian Navy, 12.5 tons to the Army and 9 tons to the Air Force. If margarine is such a poor product why is it being issued to the forces who are being trained to defend this country? Honorable members opposite boast that they represent free enterprise but every time competition appears in industry they seek to destroy it by restrictive control. We are told that competition is necessary in order to bring prices down, yet the efforts of members of the Country Party in this Parliament are directed to destroying competition in order to protect the people whom they think should be protected, at tha expense of other members of the community who cannot afford to buy butter.
When the royal banquet was held in Canberra some of the best table decorations were made out of margarine. That was to indicate to Her Majesty, I suppose, the value of this great product to the community. Many people here admired the table decorations because they were set up in such a splendid way. One product which was given prominence at the banquet by Country Party members of this Government was margarine, which now they seek to condemn and to take from the tables of the people by a most vicious form of censorship.
I wonder whether the Postmaster-General (Mr. Davidson) consulted the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) about whether he should delete from this booklet all mention of margarine and its qualities. He has done something similar with the Australian Broadcasting Commission and with the television stations. To keep this product off the tables of the people there has been censorship of this publication by the Department of Health, despite the advice given by the Dairy Industry Committee of Enquiry, which stated that margarine is more nutritious than is butter.
Do not forget that the Labour Party is not opposed to giving the dairy farmer a fair return for his efforts. We believe that butter should be available to the people at a price which is fair to both the consumer and the producer. If this Government followed a policy which was just to both those sections of the community, it would not have to try to restrict the sale of margarine by the censorship of certain publications. It would then be able to make butter available at a price which would result in increased consumption. It would not have to stoop to the use of censorship in order to take margarine from the tables of people who cannot afford to buy butter because it is so highly priced as a result of this discredited Government’s economic policies. What a tragic position it is that censorship of this kind is imposed on a publication by the Department of Health and that a product which has been praised by dieticians is denied to the people of this country by a Government which preaches free enterprise and claims to have the health of the people at heart.
Will the Government tell the people why it sponsored the use of margarine at the royal banquet? Will the Country Party deny that its policies have priced butter off the tables of the people? Will the Country Party state why it will not increase the subsidy on butter so that it will be available to. the people at a reasonable price and so that they may use it in preference to the margarine which it now seeks to take away from those who cannot afford the higherpriced product? Let the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) rise in his place and tell us why the Army was supplied with margarine. Why is it that every man who carries an army kit to-day has a packet of margarine? Why has this been allowed when we have Liberal Party and Country Party Ministers who claim that they are opposed to margarine on nutritional grounds? It was left to the honorable member for Cowper (Mr. McGuren) to direct the attention of this Parliament to the hypocrisy of the Country Party members in equipping our armed forces with products, among them margarine, which they now seek to condemn by the policy of censorship which has been adopted by the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann), sponsored no doubt by the Minister for Health (Senator Wade), the Postmaster-General and other interested people who masquerade as representatives of the country people.
I ask Country Party members to reply to my questions. They have an obligation to the people. Let them stand in their places and defend, if they will, this product which was placed before the Queen but which is not regarded as good enough for some sections of the Australian community.
– I could not let pass this opportunity to reply to the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly), whose inaccuracy to-night was up to his usual standard. He suggested that the Department of Health had made an error of judgment by not referring to margarine in one of its booklets. I believe that the department has shown a good deal of wisdom, because margarine does not deserve a place in any health booklet. Perhaps the department finally has accepted the advice that the Country Party has been giving for many years - that margarine is not fit to be on any person’s table when there is plenty of butter in this country.
The honorable member for Grayndler spoke as he did because he is the tool of the margarine companies and their spokesman in this House, But the honorable member for Grayndler is not alone in this. The Labour Party as a whole is involved. There is a strong rumour circulating in
New South Wales, which I believe to be true, that the Labour Party in that State was given £25,000 by the margarine companies to ensure that the production of margarine there was not controlled. This matter was brought to the notice of the Australian people and of the New South Wales Government by the Australian Dairy Produce Board as long ago as February last year, when New South Wales was producing almost twice as much margarine as the legal quota permitted.
– You prove it!
– The Australian Dairy Produce Board proved it. When the New South Wales representative was confronted with this issue at a meeting of the Australian Agricultural Council he stated that he would give attention to the matter. Nine months elapsed and nothing was done. When it appeared that a crisis was arising in the Agricultural Council because Queensland and Victoria, which were genuinely and honestly policing the margarine quotas, objected to what was going on in New South Wales, that State realized that it had to do some face-saving or be tossed out of the Agricultural Council. So the New South Wales representative said that his government would introduce legislation to police the production of margarine in that State. The complaint by the Australian Dairy Produce Board and the other States was that New South Wales was producing above its quota of table margarine by packing the product into 56-lb. blocks, calling it commercial margarine and sending it to other States, where it was packed into i-lb. and 1-lb. packages and sold. Under section 92 of the Constitution it could be sent interstate. Control had to be exercised in the State concerned, but New South Wales said that production could not be controlled because it was commercial margarine.
The new legislation in New South Wales provided that all margarine produced in that State had to be packed in i-lb. and 1-lb. packets. The funny part about this matter is that right at the end of the legislation were four lines which stated that the provision relating to bulk blocks of margarine being sent interstate would not be proclaimed until the Government considered it wise to do so. The bill was passed almost five months ago, but to date the very guts of the legislation has not been proclaimed, and the margarine producers in New South Wales are producing more margarine now than they ever have done. They are completely by-passing the legislation. The fact is that the New South Wales Labour Government has no sympathy whatever for the dairy-farmer. All it is concerned about is getting the cheapest possible food to the people of that State, without having any consideration for the butter producers.
– The Army is buying margarine.
– I shall deal with the Army in a minute. That question can be answered quite easily. In fact, it has been answered but these people will not listen.
– You want subsidies and quotas. You want it both ways.
– We look after the farmers, do not worry about that, but you people do not seem to want to do so. The honorable member for Grayndler said that the committee of inquiry stated that margarine was nutritious and so on. It said nothing of the kind.
– It did!
– That is a lie. It did not say that.
– Order! The honorable member will withdraw that remark.
- Mr. Speaker, will you allow me to qualify it? The report merely stated that evidence to that effect had been given to the committee. It was given by the margarine interests. In the summary and conclusions of the report not one word was said in favour of margarine.
Let us come now to another matter which was raised by the honorable member for Grayndler. He stated that margarine was used by the Army in its manoeuvres in the Singleton area last year. Margarine was used because in the combat packs, which had to last for three days, fat had to be carried in tins. The troops were out on operations and there was no refrigeration to’ keep it cool. Margarine was the only fat which could be obtained in 1-oz. tins.
No butter was being packed into 1-oz. tins, so margarine was the only alternative. The only margarine which was used was in the combat packs. None was used in the camp. Altogether £100 worth of margarine in combat packs and £1,400 worth of butter was used for the whole operation. It is the policy of the Australian Army to use butterat all times, because if soldiers are to have the strength to fight they must have the very best product. There is no doubt that the very best food for nutritional purposes for the benefit of human beings is what nature itself produces. Butter is a natural product; it contains protein, butterfat and all the amino acids. Margarine does not contain those ingredients; it contains such ingredients as whale oil. Who would compare whale oil with butter-fat? Honorable members opposite are interjecting. I ask you, Mr. Speaker, whether it is of any use my talking. They do not seem to want to hear the facts.
It is quite obvious that members of the Australian Labour Party are spokesmen for the margarine interests of Australia. Opposition members always vote for the benefit of the margarine companies, which are making exorbitant profits. Marrickville Margarine Proprietary Limited, which is situated in the division of Grayndler, consistently pays a dividend of 15 per cent. But what dividend on capital invested is obtained by the dairy-farmers of New South Wales? They are lucky if they receive 2 per cent., but members of the Labour Party have no consideration for them and are content to let the margarine producers go wild and produce as much of that commodity as they like. Every increase of 4,000 tons in the margarine quota means that 1,000 dairy-farmers are denied a high price for their product and are forced to accept the lowest overseas price or even less. We cannot sell all our butter overseas now. At a time of crisis in the dairy industry, with a possible expansion of the European Common Market and a world surplus of butter, we have a government in Australia - I refer to the New South Wales Labour Government - which is interested only in producing more margarine and says, “To heck with the dairy industry. Let it overproduce and sell on the cheapest possible market.” Honorable members opposite do not care about the dairy-farmers but are interested only in the city people who load up their party funds with the big donations that we hear about.
– Who gave a subsidy to the dairy-farmers?
– Honorable members opposite do not like what I am saying. We are the only people who stick up for the dairy-farmers. I am glad that the honorable member for Grayndler brought up this matter to-night, because he has given me an opportunity to state a few facts.
– I claim to have been misrepresented and wish to make a personal explanation. The honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) said that I cited certain figures which were not accurate. I should be pleased to present him with proof of my statement about the report of the Dairy Industry Committee of Enquiry. What I have said is verified by the fact that margarine is now under royal patronage.
Motion (by Mr. Adermann) put -
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Sir John McLeay.)
Majority . . 1
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.29 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
son asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice -
What profit or loss has been incurred by the national shipping line each year since its inception?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
Since its inception in 1956 the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission has recorded the followingprofits: -
y asked the Attorney-General, upon notice -
Ordinance of the Australian Capital Territory for intention to defraud?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
International Labour Organization Convention.
m asked the Minister for
External Affairs, upon notice -
In what respects have the mainland States brought their laws into closer accord with the 1957 International Labour Organization Convention No. 107 and Recommendation No. 104 concerning the Protection and Integration of Indigenous and other Tribal and Semi-Tribal Populations in Independent Countries, since the statement in relation to the Convention and Recommendation was tabled by the Minister for Labour and National Service in the Parliament on 7th December, 1960?
– 1 ne answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
The application of this Convention varies from Slate to State. A summary of the position in the States is as follows: -
New South Wales. - As was recorded in the 1960 Statement, the Convention and Recommendation are inapplicable to New South Wales.
Victoria. - The situation in Victoria has not changed since the publication of the 1960 Statement.
Queensland. - There has been no alteration of the position in Queensland since 1960. However, a committee has been appointed to examine all aspects of aboriginal welfare and advise the Government as to the manner in which the present status might bc amended, with the ultimate determination that the policy, aimed at integration or assimilation, shall be accelerated.
South Australia.. - The situation is still that while South Australian law generally conforms to the spirit of the Convention, it docs not comply with the Convention’s specific requirements in all respects, as most of the provisions of the Recommendation are not applicable to existing conditions. However, since 1960 the position in the State has moved much closer to the provisions of the Recommendation following the enactment by Parliament last year of a new Aboriginal Affairs Act which, inter alia, repealed the previous legislation. The new act abolishes all restrictions and restraints on aboriginals as citizens except for some primitive full blood people in certain areas, it provides machinery for rendering special assistance to aboriginals during their developmental years and encourages their assimilation, it places all aboriginals under the same legal provisions as other South Australian citizens with the same opportunities and the same responsibilities. Many of the clauses of the old act which had discriminatory provisions with relation to aborigines do not apply under the new act, and the present position is that only so far as liquor is concerned is there any restraint upon aborigines. Except for this provision, and also in so far as their conduct on reserves and institutions is regulated, all other provisions in the new act confer direct benefits and not restraints. It is also provided in the act that training programmes for men and women shall be implemented much more fully than in the past and the Aborigines Department (now to. be known as the Department of Aboriginal Affairs) is being re-organized for the administration of these additional responsibilities.
Western Australia. - While there have been no amendments to the Native Welfare Act since 1960, the amendments made in 1960, enabling land to be provided to aborigines for industrial, commercial and domestic purposes as well as for agricultural and pastoral purposes, have now been brought into effective operation. Administrative action has also been taken to make additional assistance for housing available for aborigines, and to finance all forms of education for aborigines, including university education.
d asked the Attorney-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Questions 1 to 5 are based on a complete misapprehension which earlier I tried to dispel. The honorable member’s questions refer to costs incurred by Senator McClelland other than his party and party costs. I was at no time concerned with those costs. I have already stated in answer to a question by the honorable member (“ Hansard”, 27th November, 1962, question 8, page 2617), that I did not have any knowledge that Senator McClelland incurred any costs over and above his party and party costs covered by the court order. I also told the honorable member that the offer did not “refer to costs other than those covered by the court order” (question 7, “Hansard”, page 2617). In fact, the offer was expressly stated to be to make a contribution towards Senator McClelland’s party and party costs.
The answer conveyed by the solicitors for Senator McClelland was: “ We wish to make it quite clear that at no time has our client or any one on his behalf sought any assistance from the Commonwealth in respect of costs, and our client does not propose to accept any amount”.
y asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1 and 2. The information is not available.
d asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -
Will he have a statement prepared and made available showing (a) the amount initially paid in respect of each class of Commonwealth social service payment, (b) the present rate and (c) the amount it would be necessary to pay now to maintain the original purchasing power of each class of benefit?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Age Pensions. - Introduced, 1st July, 1909. Initial rate - 10s. per week. Present rate - £5 Ss. per week.
Invalid Pensions. - Introduced, 15th December, 1910. Initial rate - 10s. per week. Present rate - £5 5s. per week.
Maternity Allowances. - Introduced, 19th October, 1912. Initial rate- First child, £5; second and third child, £5; each other child, £5. Present rate - First child, £15; second and third child, £16; each other child, £17 10s.
Child Endowment. - Introduced 1st July, 1941. Initial rate - First child, nil; each other child, 5s. per week. Present rate - First child, 5s. per week; each other child, 10s. per week.
Widows’ Pensions. - Introduced, 30th June, 1942. Initial rate- Class A, £1 10s. per week; Class B, £1 5s. per week; Class C, £1 5s. per week. Present rate - Class A, £5 10s. per week; Class B, £4 12s. 6d. per week; Class C, £4 12s. 6d. per week.
Wives’ Allowances. - Introduced, 8th July, 1943. Initial rate - 15s per week. Present rate - £2 7s. 6d. per week.
Children’s Allowances. - Introduced, 8lh July, 1943. Initial rate - 5s. per week. Present rate - 15s. per week.
Funeral Benefit. - Introduced, 1st July, 1943. Initial rate - £10. Present rate - £10.
Unemployment, Sickness and Special Benefit. Introduced, 1st July, 1945. Initial rate - Sixteen to seventeen years, 15s. per week; eighteen to twenty years, £1 per week; ^ adults and married minors, £1 5s. per week; spouse, £1 per week; first child, 5s. per week; each other child, nil. Present rate - Sixteen to seventeen years, £1 15s. per week; eighteen to twenty years, £2 7s. 6d. per week; adults and married minors, £4 2s. 6d. per week; spouse, £3 per week; first child, 15s. per week; each other child, 15s. per week.
Supplementary Assistance. - Introduced, October, 1958. Initial rate - 10s. per week. Present rate 10s. per week.
s asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following reply: -
y asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
Can the Minister inform the House of the nature of Australia’s obligations for the defence of Malaya and whether any commitment has yet been entered into in respect of the new Federation of Malaysia?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
The following is the position in regard to Australia’s obligations for the defence of (a) Malaya and (b) Malaysia: -
Australia’s commitments in relation to the defence of Malaya are the same as they have been for some years now and as they have been explained to Parliament in the past (e.g., in the Prime Minister’s statements of 20th April and 16th June, 1955).
In 1955 the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia deployed forces in Malaya as part of the Commonwealth Strategic Reserve in order to contribute to the maintenance of peace and security in the South-East Asian area.
In 1957, when Malaya became independent, the United Kingdom, which prior to Malaya’s independence was responsible for defence and internal security in Malaya, concluded a defence agreement with Malaya under which it assumed treaty commitments for the defence of Malaya. (See United Kingdom Command Paper No. CMND263.) Whilst Australia ls not a party to it, it is associated with the agreement as appears from the letters exchanged between the governments of Malaya and Australia in 1959.
The following is the text of the letter dated 21st April, 1959, received by the Australian High Commissioner in Malaya from the Malayan Prime Minister: - “ I refer to your letter of 24th March, 1959, the terms of which are as follows: -
I wish to refer to the agreement on External Defence and Mutual Assistance concluded on 12th October, 1957, between the Government of the Federation of Malaya and the Government of tha United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
As you know, the Commonwealth Strategic Reserve referred to in the Agreement, its Annexes and the letters exchanged in connection with the Agreement, includes Australian forces which are or may from time to time be serving in the Federation. Accordingly, the various provisions applicable to the Commonwealth Strategic Reserve, in particular the provisions dealing with the status of forces, apply in respect of these Australian forces.
I should be grateful if you would confirm that the foregoing is the understanding between the Government of the Federation of ‘Malaya and the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in respect of Australian forces serving in tha Federation. If so, I would suggest that this letter and your reply be regarded as placing that understanding on record.
On behalf of the Australian Government, I take this opportunity of conveying to you and to your Government the assurance of our continued interest in, and concern for, the well-being of the Federation and its people.’
In reply, I confirm that your letter correctly sets out the understanding between the Government of the Federation of Malaya and the Australian Government and, in accordance with the suggestion contained in your letter, agree that your letter and this reply be regarded as placing that understanding on record.”
As I said in answer to the honorable member yesterday, there is no formal military alliance between Australia and Malaya. But the security of Malaya is of direct concern to Australia, a circumstance which would undoubtedly influence the Australian Government in deciding whether or not the Australian component of the Commonwealth Strategic Reserve should assist in the performance of the obligations incurred by the United Kingdom under the agreement on Externa] Defence and Mutual Assistance to which the Malayan Prime Minister referred in his letter which I have quoted in full.
With regard to the second part of the question, the Federation of Malaysia has not yet come into existence. This is scheduled to happen on 31st August, 1963. There is at present no constitutional relationship between Malaya and the Borneo territories. The defence and internal security of these territories are still an entirely United Kingdom responsibility and Australia at present has no obligations there. What the position will be after Malaysia comes into being has not yet been discussed with the Malayan Government. The United Kingdom for its part has already indicated to the Malayan Government that after Malaysia comes into being, if will extend the defence obligations now existing in respect of Malaya to the new Federation of Malaysia.
d asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Attorney-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions ore as follows: -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 27 March 1963, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1963/19630327_reps_24_hor38/>.