24th Parliament · 1st Session
MR. SPEAKER (Hon. Sir John McLeay) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr. BENSON presented a petition from certain electors of the Commonwealth praying that the Government ease the financial position of age, invalid and widow pensioners by providing (1) a pension rate equivalent to half the basic wage and subject to future basic wage adjustments, and (2) an allocation of additional finance to enable the State Housing Commission to build low-rental houses and units for pensioners and elderly people.
Mr. STOKES presented a petition from certain citizens of the Commonwealth praying that the 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.
Sir ROBERT MENZIES (Kooyong -
Prime Minister). - Mr. Speaker, last evening the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) proposed an amendment to the motion for the second reading of the Appropriation Bill 1963-64. The terms of that amendment constitute a motion of no confidence in the Government. We feel that this is a matter that ought to be treated as if it were, in technical terms, a noconfidence motion and that, in the present state of the House, the amendment is not one to be treated as a formality. Therefore, until it has been disposed of, there will be no answers to questions without notice.
Debate resumed from 20th August (vide page 333), on motion by Mr. Harold Holt -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Upon which Mr. Calwell had moved by way of amendment -
That all words after “That” be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof: - “while approving of such benefits as are contained in the Budget, and particularly those for primary producers and social service beneficiaries, the House condemns the Government for its failure to make adequate provision for defence, education, housing, health, social services and northern development. The House is also of the opinion that the Government’s failure to provide for full employment and for increases in the rate of child endowment which has remained stationary in respect of the second and subsequent children since 1948, is wrong and unjust. For all the foregoing reasons the House is of the opinion that the Government no longer possesses its confidence or the confidence of the nation “.
.- Mr. Speaker, I support the amendment proposed by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) last evening. It amounts to a motion of censure on the Government because of the hesitant, unimaginative Budget presented to the House by the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) just over a week ago. This Budget represents a notable failure to give justice to many sections of the Australian community which have long been denied it, and an even more notable failure to take the opportunity to adopt a bold, imaginative and scientifically prepared plan for Australia’s overall future development. This last omission is all the more momentous for all who appreciate the critically important issues that must be solved immediately if we as a nation are to survive as a community or retain the right to direct our own future development in this very large and as yet almost naked continent.
I am sure that the Australian people, in the face of the Treasurer’s lamentable failure, will be particularly heartened by the bold, broad outline of Labour’s challenging policy given by the Labour leader last evening. In view of the wide publicity given to the speech made by the Leader of the Opposition last night, and to the proposals contained in it, I feel no need at this stage to go over those proposals in detail. But let us remind ourselves that the more notable proposals outlined by the Labour leader included a more equitable structuring of the tax scale, planned national development and increased social service and repatriation benefits to render justice to many who have been denied it in this
Budget. The Labour leader also proposed that there should be a gradual abolition of the pay-roll tax which adds to the cost of our production and inhibits our ability to compete in export markets. Further, he proposed that there should be established a national housing plan for Australia, and that this plan should be backed by a home finance commission. Labour also proposes the establishment immediately of a programme of financial aid, the extent of which would be gradually increased, for secondary, technical and primary education and all other education not catered for as yet by the Government’s own provisions for universities.
The Labour Party also proposes to undertake, immediately on coming to power, a national inquiry into the needs of all fields of education in this country. Finally - and I have not referred by any means to all of Labour’s proposals - we propose to implement a new and effective defence policy.
Already we have noticed that Government speakers in this debate have, quite understandably, felt some embarrassment and even hesitancy about supporting the Budget brought down by the Treasurer just over a week ago. They have realized, of course, that the major proposals in that Budget were filched directly from the proposals contained in the Labour leader’s policy speech delivered before the last election. In one sense one can say that even though the Government was nominally successful at that election the policies that it has put into operation are in substantial part those of the Labour Party. When one recalls the derision that greeted these policies when they were announced by Labour spokesmen before the last election one can quite understand why Government speakers who are now required to get up and, in slavish fashion, support the Budget, must feel a good deal of misgiving, and why their support for the Budget is somewhat insincere and they appear unenthusiastic.
As for the Australian Country Party, its members in this Parliament have not been limited by any overall consideration of a fundamental policy. They have no overall fundamental philosophy to follow. Theirs is a purely pragmatic, opportunist outlook. They support what will give them immediate gains. They support the party or parties likely to return some gain foi the narrow interests that they serve. As a matter of fact, at the present time, as we have all seen, they are prepared to stand the Liberal Party up in order to extract from it the most that they can. This is in accordance with their narrow political viewpoint.
This Budget has in some quarters been called a budget for the bush. It may be a Country Party budget but it is certainly not a budget for the country. As for the members of the Liberal Party, they obviously resent and detest the fact that they have to depend on the Country Party to stay in office. All of this adds up to the fact that this Liberal-Country Party coalition not only has not a consistent, stable, overall policy, but also, by virtue of the political make-up of the coalition, finds it impossible to have such a policy. Frequently we find the two parts of the coalition pulling in different directions.
Having shown that much of the Government’s policies in recent months has been taken directly from the proposals in Labour’s policy speech delivered before the last election, one needs to remind the Australian people that although the Government has belatedly adopted important features of Labour policy it has nevertheless failed to adopt the overall, fundamental attitude that drives Labour policy forward. It has by no means embraced anything like the full scope of Labour policy. I think the Leader of the Opposition last night rendered an important service to the Australian community when he showed that there are vast fields on which Australia’s development and indeed its survival depend. In all the fields of education, defence, exports, trade, national development and planning for Australia’s future, the policies of the Government and the Opposition are vastly different, and we are anxious to make this clear to the Australian people. We do not get any enjoyment from the Government’s implementation of our policies in part and in proxy. We invite the Australian people to support the overall Labour policy which will bring defence, survival and economic development to our country.
When we are making what judgment we can of the economy at present, we must take notice of what may be called objective observers. The Government could hardly claim that the National Bank of Australasia
Limited is likely to be pro-Labour. I am sure that the Government and those who support it, decreasing in number as they are, would have regard for the recently published judgment of the bank. The “ Sydney Morning Herald” of 13th August - only a few days ago - reported that the bank’s monthly summary of Australian conditions showed that only 18 out of 34 items taken as important indicators of manufacturing activity had recorded increases in June.
The Australian people have been told by the Government to look with optimism to the future. The Government would undoubtedly like the people to forget the past and look to the good indicators. But not all the indicators are good. Some are good but unfortunately many are not. The bank drew attention to the fact that, even as recently as June, only 1 8 of the 34 indicators of manufacturing activity showed an increase. It also drew attention to the fact that not only have we more than 78,000 unemployed persons, officially, but almost as importantly - this does not contain the same human element - a substantial amount of the manufacturing and business capacity of the Australian economy is unused.
We are all, unfortunately, conscious of the way in which the Government’s policies in late 1960, pursued through 1961 and belatedly into 1962, depressed important sections of our economy. One still wonders, flabbergastedly, why the Government depressed the building industry, particularly the home-building industry, which was all but squashed at a time when the country desperately needed all the population it could gain. Recently, I had the privilege of travelling overseas. Talking to fellow Australians abroad and to others, I realized how naked this great continent of Australia really is. People in Asian, African and other countries say, “ You have such a large continent but you have so few people in it “. If only the people in Australia would realize how desperately urgent the need to populate our country is, they would advocate and support policies vastly different from those of the Government. If there is any one single inhibitor of population growth, more devastating in its effect than any other, it is this Government’s policy in relation to home-building. This has caused many immigrants to return to their home countries. The reports that have gone overseas have deterred many people from coming to Australia. Employment and the availability of homes for occupation are two most crucial issues. Yet they are the areas in which we have the greatest deficiencies.
When we go on to look at the indicators of the level of Australian economic activity, we note that net private capital investment has increased, but only by a very small amount in proportion to the increase in our population. It has not increased as one would expect it to increase after the period of recession through which we have just gone. In the quarter ended June, 1963, net private capital investment amounted to £137,400,000, compared with £132,800.000 in the June quarter of 1962. In other words, net private capital investment, which is still the mainstay of employment and development, increased by less than £5,000,000 in that period of twelve months. One recognizes the significance of that comparatively small increase when one remembers that in June of last year we were still well in the trough of recession. Let us look at other indicators. The figures show that in July - as recently as last month - bank advances totalled £1,088,000,000, compared with £1,094,000,000 in the previous month. In other words, bank advances were £6,000,000 greater in June than they were in July. Since March last the monthly advances by banking institutions have been almost stable. Where is there evidence of increased momentum in Australian economic activity? Where is the increased productivity, to which we all look forward so much, to come from? As yet the signs of it are not obvious. Maybe they will come.
One has to remember that the Australian economy, with the revival that has occurred, has been dependent very substantially upon, of all things, the motor vehicle industry which was one of the two main industries marked out for near extinction in the measures of 15th November, 1960. We were told then that Australia could not afford the tremendous boost in sales of motor cars and that other important aspects of the economy were fundamental to the development of Australia at that critical stage in our history. Yet the figures show that in the financial year that has just concluded the motor car industry not only revived but surged right up through the ceiling. As a matter of fact, the figures show that there was an increase of £63,000,000 in motor vehicle sales during the last financial year, in contrast with an increase of £37,000,000 - I speak from memory - in food consumption. So, the increase in food consumption was not much more than half the increase in motor vehicle sales.
It is not only a case of drawing off skilled man-power, capital and raw materials that are located in Australia. It is a case of adding continually to our import bill. We have been reminded that during 1962-63 our imports increased by 8 per cent., but there was very little increase in our exports despite the boosting campaign that has been carried on by the Government. The Government sits by almost impassively, watching these events happen. One moment it deals crushing blows at the motor car industry, and the next moment it adopts a completely laisser-faire attitude, saying in effect, “ Let it go; let it drift “. Before 1965 - if this Government should still be in office - or possibly before J 964, the Government will be forced once again to use sledge-hammer tactics to control the Australian economy and avoid financial ruin. This is not meant to be alarmist talk. I am simply outlining the pattern that we have been through. The pattern is revealing itself again and the Government does not appear at this stage to be prepared to take any action in the matter. Many honorable members, including myself, asked the Government, after it had meted out punishment to the motor car industry in 1960-61, whether it would, in view of its experience, indicate to the industry what it regarded as a reasonable level of production and consumption for motor cars in Australia. Why did the Government wait until people had invested their hard-earned cash in these industries before belatedly telling them that the industries were not operating in the national interest? The Government’s action was devastating to people with private assets to invest, just as it was no doubt devastating to the big investors. Does the Government really wonder why it is taking so long for the confidence of the people to be revived? Does it wonder why the people are not making full use of their purchasing power? The Australian people are not all that much short of purchasing power. We have noted that fact in the past. But they are very reluctant to spend their money, even on essential things, because they do not know when the Government will again belatedly come in with its sledgehammer stop-go policies.
Other aspects of the Government’s policy do not get sufficient attention. There is the almost immoral failure on the part of the Government to deal with tax evasion. This matter was brought to its attention in the report handed down by the Commonwealth Committee on Taxation in June, 1961. The committee pointed out that the formation of bogus companies and partnerships, as well as other sharp business practices, resulted in the Taxation Branch being defrauded of £14,000,000 a year. But nothing has been done about this. When the report was tabled the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) waxed most enthusiastic and eloquent. He said that he would take retrospective action to deal with tax evasion, but, of course, he reckoned without the back-room boys - the big people who support the Liberal Party and the Country Party. Those people had to have their say. Apparently their voices are still effective because tax evaders are still defrauding the country to the tune of £14,000,000 a year. But what about the ordinary taxpayer? I dare say that sitting in the galleries this afternoon listening to me are many people who have recently had the unhappy experience of having their claims for taxation deductions in respect of education and medical expenses and gifts to charity disallowed by the Taxation Branch at the behest of this Government. Instead of dealing with the big boys who are defrauding this country of millions the Government has instructed that the most intense scrutiny be given to every claim made by the ordinary wage and salary earner; it was on last year and it is on even more this year.
– The honorable member may say it is nonsense, but let him go into his electorate and hear what the people say.
The Government is well aware of the extortionate profits being made by drug companies in Australia. Many of them are making high profits on drugs supplied under the pharmaceutical benefits scheme. I note that the cost of the scheme is estimated to be £30,400,000 this year compared with £28,500,000 last year and scarcely more than £20,000,000 about two years ago. By questions in the House my colleagues and I have directed attention to the fact that the cost to the Government and ultimately to the taxpayer of many drugs supplied under the pharmaceutical benefits scheme is four times as great as the cost of similar drugs supplied under the British health scheme.
I have said that in some quarters this might be called a Country Party budget, but it certainly is not a budget for the country. It makes no provision even at this belated stage for encouragement of the establishment of industries and the settling of population in our country areas. Professor Copland has just directed our attention to the unhappy state of affairs that whereas 53.9 per cent, of our population was located in the metropolitan areas in 1954, the proportion bad risen to 56.12 per cent, in 1961. However, the rural population decreased from 21 per cent, of the total population in 1954 to 17.8 per cent, in 1961. In country towns in practically every State you hear the same bitter complaint. People ask, “ When will the Government help us to establish industries? “ In a number of the countries that I visited the governments are granting taxation concessions and making advances from development banks to encourage and support new industries in the outlying areas. These devices are open to this Government but it has not used any of them.
We never hear a member of the Country Party asking in this place for investment allowances and taxation concessions for industries establishing themselves in country towns. That is why I claim that the Country Party represents a very narrow section of rural interests. The substantial interests - those which would give employment to adults and the hope and opportunity of employment to young people leaving school - are left untouched by the policies of the Country Party in particular and of the Government in general.
Why is not the same treatment given by this Budget to industries being set up in country towns as is given to farmers? The farmers - good luck to them - may claim as a taxation allowance in the first year 40 per cent, of the initial cost of any improvements they make to their properties by way of capital investment. But no similar encouragement is given to industry. In country towns throughout Australia you hear people asking when industries will be established there. When will the Government stop the rot of country towns? When will it put an end to the damage that is being done to public utilities and private concerns in country towns by people moving to the already overcrowded metropolitan areas? As you stand off Australia and look back on it you see the spectacle of one-half of the population being located in half a dozen cities. We have the extraordinary situation of a great continent with, so to speak, a few spots of population. Is that the way to plan this nation’s development?
The essential difference between our policy and the Government’s policy lies in the fact that we believe fervently in the urgent need for a plan of development and for leadership by the Commonwealth Parliament, which has in its hands the main means of implementing such a plan. The Commonwealth Government has at its disposal the instrument of taxation. It can grant concessions or it can impose punitive measures if these are necessary. It can encourage investment in country areas, on the one hand, or it can discourage investment in the overcrowded cities on the other hand. It can make loans through its own banks, particularly the Commonwealth Development Bank. When I interjected the other night and stated that the £5,000,000 increase in the Development Bank’s funds, proposed in the Budget, was paltry, I meant exactly that. The Labour Party’s vision of a development bank is infinitely greater than this Government’s view of it.
There are all sorts of other ways in which this Government can assist the country areas, even without reference to the States. I believe that the Commonwealth should co-operate with the States in this matter, because they can do so much by way of transport concessions. The Commonwealth Government could make loans to industries. That is not unheard of overseas. Many foreign governments make loans to industries setting up in country towns because they realize how important are those industries, not just for the country towns but also for the people living in them and ultimately for the nation as a whole. I am glad to note - this is in line with what I have already said - that the Government proposes to make some increase in its immigration target. It is a very small increase but nevertheless it is an increase. I would most earnestly impress upon this Parliament the fact that people overseas know about and wonder at our comparative lack of population. We can do a lot better in immigration if we are prepared to put first things first. But if we are to go on wanting new cars every year or every second year and pursuing that kind of consumption policy in Australia, we will not be able to build up our population as we need to, or even to support the migrants who are already coming here. Certainly we will not be able to create the lasting employment opportunities that these people need or to give them the new training, or in many cases retraining, that they must have if they are to establish themselves in this Commonwealth. If any one wants to be really enthused about this task of bringing people to a continent and making sure that they are trained or re-trained to fit them to meet local requirements; if any one wants to see an example of houses being provided on a grand scale under the most difficult conditions. I invite him to go to Israel. There we can see a prime example of a country that is really determined to go ahead, although faced with all the privations and difficulties in the world. And it is going ahead. Also we can see what the British administration is doing in Hong Kong, not with selected migrants, many of them trained workers, such as we have the privilege of attracting, but with people who have to be taken as they come - displaced persons, old and young, and disabled persons as well as healthy people. The Hong Kong authorities have done that and they are making a much more impressive job of it than this Government has ever thought of doing.
I cannot understand why this country has been so hesitant about going ahead with a full-blooded housing scheme. I made inquiries a week ago on behalf of a resident of this city who transferred to Sydney. I tried to get accommodation there for him and his wife and five children. I found that the lowest rental for any available three-bed room home was ten guineas a week. What worker with children, and with a wife who is unable to go out to work, can afford that rental? It was good to hear our Labour leader last night giving a bold, imaginative, stimulating and challenging policy to confront the Australian people. I am sure that at the next opportunity they have they will grasp it.
.- The honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds) ended on a note that may be remembered to-morrow. I wonder how much of the rest of his speech the people will be able to remember. He started off by saying that honorable members on this side of the House have been hesitant in supporting the Budget. That was his first mis-statement. If he stays in the chamber a little longer he will discover how wrong he was. If he was present yesterday he will know that only four honorable members on this side of the House have spoken in this debate so far. The honorable member went on to disparage everything to do with Australia. Here again, mis-statements flowed throughout his speech. I would be thoroughly depressed if I had to live in the Australia which he depicted. I will be content with the Australia in which I live to-day, with its smooth advance towards to-morrow, when we will be able to look back and say that its advancement has always been spectacular in spite of the premonitions of the Jonahs. I would like to congratulate the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) on what is probably one of the best Budgets he has produced. He has steered us on a forward course. What is all important, he has steered us on a course of confidence. This is a Budget which gives relief where relief is necessary. It gives stability whilst at the same time giving a forward impetus, and I do not know of anything better than that which a budget can do. All branches of the community are going to benefit somehow. Some will get direct benefits as provided for in the Budget whilst others will gain immensely from provisions which are designed to give a stimulus. I am glad to see that the small family man in particular will benefit.
It is no wonder that honorable members opposite are only half-hearted in their criticism. It is peculiar that although almost every member of the Opposition who has risen so far has disclaimed the Budget, all have said one thing in common - that we have stolen our proposals from the Labour Party’s policy. Therefore, if they disclaim the Budget they must admit that what they were going to put up was a rotten budget. In any case, if what we propose was stolen from them, they must think it is good and, therefore, they should say it is good. Last night, when there was a full attendance on both sides while the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) was making his speech, one could see from the expressions of boredom on the faces of honorable members opposite that they were only half-hearted in their condemnation of the Government’s proposals. I feel, too, that the Leader of the Opposition himself also saw the futility of the attack he was attempting to make. In fact, he almost woke up his own supporters during the last half of his speech when he gave a full-dress rehearsal of what presumably would be - I think he stated it would be-his policy speech for the 1964 elections.
This debate is not to last very long, but many honorable members will want to take part in it and we shall hear their views on numerous subjects. I should like to say again that the Budget is very good indeed. It provides for additional social service benefits, proposes to give still more help to the family man and provides for extra help for housing, primary production and national development as well as assistance to businesses and companies. These subjects account for the majority of the proposals contained in the Budget; but I believe that one of its greatest provisions is the proposal to step up our defence measures. I do not think any member of the Opposition who has spoken so far has failed to say that we are doing nothing in this respect. I am glad to see the Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley) at the table. I congratulate him on the Budget provision for the expenditure of an additional £41,000,000 on defence. I want to devote most of my time to the Army section of the Defence portfolio. I do so now because I need more than the ten minutes which I would be allowed during the debate on the Estimates. In any event, it is always doubtful whether one can get the call during that debate.
I made a speech on similar lines on 21st March, 1957, but in those days, I think, it fell on rather deaf ears. In 1957, our then Governor-General, Sir William Slim, said -
My Government has directed special efforts towards the development of the most efficient defence system that our resources can sustain.
That was in a disturbed time. The Korean war was over, but there was a war in Viet Nam, and the Middle East was in a state of turmoil because Nasser had risen. Morocco, Cyprus and the Yemen were trouble spots. In those days the trouble spots were far distant from our shores and in general we were more optimistic about getting help if it was needed than we are to-day. Tha world is still very disturbed, but there is one great difference between our position then and our position now. The trouble spots are close to our shores. We know that if we need help it will be given to us willingly, but we know also that effective help may take a little time to arrive. Another point is that our friends, although they are willing to help us, expect us to do more for ourselves.
On 22nd May of this year the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) made a statement on defence, which was welcomed both inside and outside Australia. He promised the three services the best of equipment and the necessary increases in strength. The strength of the Navy in personnel will be increased by 400, from 13,900 to 14.300. That increase should not be too difficult to achieve. The number of Air Force personnel will rise by 1,860 - from 16,440 to 18.300. The Army increase will be the steepest and probably the hardest to achieve. A rise in the number of personnel from 21,000 to about 24,000 is to be achieved by June, 1965. and that is to be followed by a further rise of 3,500, making a total additional strength of about 7.000 men. In my view, the Army is perhaps the most important service, because it will be required to back up the striking power of the other two services.
I would like to point to one of the fallacies in the speech of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). He said yesterday that all of our defence equipment is obsolete or obsolescent. I remind him that we are now getting the very best of equipment. Had we purchased a lot of equipment in the past, that equipment might now be obsolescent or even obsolete, but all of the services are now being provided with the most advanced equipment, which will remain operational for quite some time to come.
To return to the increased strength of the Army, we are told that the main portion of the increase is to go into a third regular battle group. This increase may be very hard to achieve. At present, we have the very low proportion of 1.8 per cent, unemployment overall in Australia.
– Too much!
– As the interjection indicates, Mr. Speaker, some Opposition members think that 1.8 per cent, is a very great deal of unemployment. I shan not repeat for the benefit of the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen), who is sitting at the table on the Opposition side of the House, something that I heard three times yesterday. I consider that 1.8 per cent, represents a very low percentage of unemployment. We have to remember that included in that 1.8 per cent, are a certain number of people who perhaps are unwilling to work, the sick and the invalids and also a large number of women who, I think, would not be very useful in a fighting army. So we have probably only about .5 per cent, of the work force from which to select recruits for the Army.
To-day the Army is a career for which men must be educated. No longer is it enough to have brawn for bayonet fighting or for throwing grenades. The men of the Army these days are a band of skilled specialists, as we readily see from time to time when recruiting advertisements are published in the newspapers. The defence review envisages a Regular Army Reserve reconstituted to ensure that its members are physically fit, up to date in their training and ready to serve wherever they may be required. The maintaining of this reserve will require the recruitment of men to replace those who go on the reserve, in addition to the recruitment of 7,000 additional men to raise the Regular Army strength to 28,000.
This will present us with a considerable problem, because, in my view, training of university type is needed for a large number of those who serve in the Army. Men who go on the reserve will be turned out as very good tradesmen and each man will require, as it were, a market for his qualifications near to the location of his reserve unit so that at the minimum cost in time and difficulty he can undertake refresher courses. We have to consider also the Citizen Military Forces, which we possibly could say at present have more chiefs than Indians, to use a phrase adopted by my friend, the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Chaney), on a number of occasions, though perhaps not in this context. If C.M.F. units are situated near Regular Army units, much benefit will result. Army pay and conditions are good these days and there are plenty of opportunities for sport. We all like sport, and sport is something that one can get as much of as he likes in the Army.
The location of the quarters of the third regular battle group will be all-important. In 1957, we spent £1,000,000 on the construction of magnificent barracks at Puckapunyal for one armoured regiment. I think that the provision of this barracks at Puckapunyal, miles from civilization, was a mistake, although it can be said that the location was in the heart of a very good training ground. With modern methods and facilities such as sand tables, training can be given effectively without the use of large training grounds. Therefore barracks should be sited more conveniently to large centres of population and training given on training grounds elsewhere when necessary. I imagine that the cost of quarters for the new brigade group will be £5,000,000 or more. Therefore, it is essential that the right site be chosen. I point out that the Royal Australian Navy and the Royal Australian Air Force do not appear to find it so difficult to get recruits. They can afford to be selective and they turn down many applicants for every one that they accept. I do not think that this is due to the glamour of ships and aeroplanes. I think it is probably largely due to the fact that most units of those services are stationed either in or near capital cities.
All Australia is open in choosing a site for the quarters of the new brigade group. I am sure that the members of the General Staff are well aware of the many likely sites available and that, as they are the experts, their choice will be welcomed, wherever the chosen site may be. As one who served in the Army for 21 years, I trust that the new formation will not be located in the bush or at some small town. A contented soldier is a good soldier. We have to reckon with the fact that many wives will be attached to a large group of men who form a brigade group. The environment in which the wives live, not only when their men are away training, but every day, greatly affects family contentment, and this, in turn, largely influences the contentment of the soldiers. As I have said, the contented soldier is a good soldier, and Australia wants the best soldiers it can get.
Recruiting for the new brigade group will be difficult. 1 have no doubt about that. Therefore, I emphasize that the choice of a site will be all-important. The whole of Australia will be wanting this plum that selection as the site represents. I trust that the Minister for Defence, who is now at the table, the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer) and the officers of the General Staff, with their minds on the best possible initial recruitment, will think carefully about the choice of a location, keeping in mind, also, future employment for men who pass out to the reserve and cooperation with the Citizen Military Forces. Having in mind these considerations, I urge that the new group be quartered near a capital city.
I have outlined fairly briefly my reasons for saying that I regard this as a very good Budget. I could have expanded greatly on the reasons why I support it. As a member of a number of committees of members on this side of the House, I thank the Treasurer for incorporating many worthwhile features in this Budget. Any censure, I believe, should be directed at the Leader of the Opposition for the stupidity of the budgetary policy that he announced on behalf of the Australian Labour Party. However, perhaps such a policy is only what we have come to expect. The honorable gentleman’s amendment to the motion for the second reading of this bill was really in two parts. In the first, he congratulated the Government on its Budget and, in the second, he attempted to censure the Government. It is perhaps fortunate that though he and his supporters are very good at jumping on band-waggons, they are always so wrong in their premonitions. I wholeheartedly support this Budget, Mr. Speaker.
.- I wish to support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), which concluded with the words - the House is of the opinion that the Government no longer possesses its confidence or the confidence of the nation.
There is much that could be said about this Budget. One could talk about the state of education in Australia and about housing conditions. One could say that it is a crime to find in New South Wales alone 37,500 people waiting for homes, and between 75,000 and 100,000 families throughout Australia waiting for homes. This is one of the scars on the Australian scene for which the present Administration is responsible. One could talk about the unemployment situation which is a running sore on the Australian scene. One could deplore the fact that the number of unemployed is constantly between 70,000 and 100,000. One could speak about our health services and our hospitals or about the plight of local government authorities, and by all these things one could show that the Government has failed the Australian people.
However, I want to speak of a matter that I have previously raised in this House. I have been raising it on and off for the last five years. Together with my colleague, the honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters) and others I have been directing attention over the years to what I believe has been the greatest blunder made by this Government. We believe that the Government has sold this nation’s heritage. It has been selling Australia at pawnbroker rates of interest. The Leader of the Country Party (Mr. McEwen) has at last realized the danger to the Australian economy of the Government’s policies in this direction. We agree with him that the problem is a particularly difficult one.
Let me deal first with our overseas balance of payments. Just look at the record of the Government. Between 1st July, 1950, and 30th June, 1963, the Government had a deficit balance of overseas payments amounting to £1,904,000,000. The Department of Trade is largely responsible for watching Australia’s interests with regard to our overseas balance of payments, and now we find that it is the Minister for Trade, the Leader of the Country Party, who is so concerned about foreign investment in Australia and about foreign investors taking over many co-operative businesses, such as butter factories and flour mills. They have also taken over many Australian industries, and I will refer to that aspect of the matter later.
In dealing with two of the most important countries to Australia in respect of trade I shall give the House some idea of the negative policies that have been pursued by this Government. During the period to which I have referred the Government has run up a deficit balance of £1,644,000,000 with the United Kingdom alone. I may say that, of the total amount, invisibles account for £852,000,000. When speaking of invisibles I remind the House that these include transport charges for Australian merchandise, which is carried in large part by overseas shipping lines. Invisibles also include payments to overseas insurance companies to cover goods transported from Australia to other countries. There is also, of course, the outward flow of dividends on investments made in Australia.
This deficit balance with the United Kingdom has not been arrived at only during the period when it was feared that Great Britain might enter the European Economic Community. The deficit has been incurred over a number of years, including years before there was any suggestion of Great Britain joining the European Economic Community. During this same period that I mentioned the deficit balance with the United States of America has amounted to £1,188,000,000. The total deficit with the two countries is about £900,000,000 more than the overall total deficit, with all countries, of £1,900,000,000. Luckily, we have had a favorable balance with such countries as France, Belgium, Japan, even Communist China, the Soviet Union and some other Communist countries. We have had credit balances of payments with those countries, the greatest credit balance having been with Japan.
As I have said, our deficit balance with the United Kingdom has amounted to more than £1,600,000,000, and with the United States to nearly £1,200,000,000. How has this been paid? It has been paid by reducing our overseas reserves, by increasing Government borrowing overseas and also, of course, by what is called new capital inflow. In regard to this new capital I want to deal specifically with the same two countries, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. During the period under review we have had a pretty rough trading deal with those countries. We find, however, that United Kingdom companies investing in Australia pay no income tax at all to the Australian Government on profits made from such investment. The individual British investor now pays a maximum of 3s. in the £1 on profits from money invested in Australia, while our own Australian investors in this country are paying, even after they have been given the benefit of a 5 per cent, tax rebate, 12s. 8d. in the £1. As for the United States of America, there was a time, during the Chifley administration, when we had an equitable rate of taxation on United States investment. Companies paid 7s. in the £1, while individual investors paid up to 15s. in the £1 on dividends received to the extent of £8,000 or more. Now there is a flat rate of 3s. in the £1.
During the period to which I have referred United Kingdom investors, because of the very favorable double taxation agreement which has benefited them, have saved something like £100,000,000. Since 1953, under the double taxation agreement with the United States, American investors in Australia, according to my conservative estimate, have saved about £35,000,000. I mention these figures just to give some idea of the concessions available in this country to overseas investors. When I speak of overseas investors I am referring particularly to British and American investors. I am not singling them out for attention; the fact is that about 90 per cent, of foreign investment in Australia comes from the United Kingdom and the United States of America.
What have we gained from these two countries? We have had very unfavorable trade balances with them. It has been quite a one-way traffic, even, in the case of the United Kingdom, before there was any fear of that country joining the European Economic Community. It has been said by the Deputy Prime Minister, the Leader of the Country Party, that we are selling out our heritage. Many members on this side of the House have been warning the Government for at least five years, and some for longer than that, of the dangers of selling our heritage to overseas interests. To appreciate those dangers we have only to look at what has happened in other countries. It is hardly necessary to remind honorable members of what happened in Cuba. That country was controlled by overseas investors. However, let us not refer to Cuba; after all, one is not considered quite respectable if one raises the Cuban question in discussions of world affairs, because that question has been clouded with colour politics. Let us refer, instead, to Canada. I want to refer honorable members to an article in the “ Sydney Morning Herald” of 20th May, 1963, written by a very distinguished American, Walter Lippmann. It is headed “ Canadian Industry Dominated by U.S.”, and reads as follows: -
It cannot make for the kind of good relations we need to have with Canada that a total of 52 per cent, of the capital invested in manufacturing and in mining is controlled in the United States. In certain key industries, the control is even greater: rubber, 90 per cent.; agricultural machinery, 55 per cent.; automobiles and pans, 96 per cent.; electrical apparatus, 67 per cent.; smelting and refining of non-ferrous ores, 66 per cent.
The article continues -
I have an impression from talking to certain Americans with interests in Canada that they are beginning to realize how undesirable and potentially dangerous is the excessive United States control of Canadian industry.
That article was written by an esteemed American newspaper correspondent, Walter Lippmann. But warnings about control are also given by other people. All th? Australian Labour Party has said is that, with overseas investments, we must control our destiny. We must determine what we need and what we do not need. We do not want an indiscriminate inflow of foreign investment. We must determine the priorities. Mr. Warren McDonald, general manager of the Commonwealth Banking Corporation, said that we do not need portfolio investment coming into Australia; it is hot money and can flow out at any time. To-day, one-third of all new foreign investment coming into Australia is portfolio investment and it receives the same liberal taxation concessions as does capital coming in for basic industry. I am now referring to portfolio investment which comes from Great Britain and North America, and more than 90 per cent, of it comes from those countries.
I want to give the House some figures on tie outflow of dividends on foreign invest ments. I will deal first with public borrowing, which is the lesser of the evils because the money is purchased at a fixed interest rate. The ruling rate at present is about 5 per cent. We are also able to determine the purpose for which these foreign loans will be used. However, no determination is made of the purpose for which private capital inflow, which comes in under the Rafferty’s rules of this Government, will be used. The truth is that some foreign investment in Australia is earning more than 400 per cent, on original capital.
Let me give some idea of the interest that is paid on foreign investment. In 1950, the interest on public authority loans was £19,000,000; last year, it was £33,000,000. This is an increase of 73 per cent. Dividends and profits remitted overseas in 1950 amounted to £14,000,000. I have not the exact figures for the last financial year, but in 1962 the figure was £58,000,000. This is an increase of 310 per cent. The dividends on portfolio investments in 1950 were £6,000,000 and at the end of 1962, £13,000,000, an increase of 110 per cent. When considering overseas control, we must also look at the outward drain of our capital. The dividends on royalties and copyrights in 1950 were £2,000,000 and in 1962, £15,000,000. This is an increase of 650 per cent. The last three items in the private sector - dividends and unremitted profits, dividends on portfolio investments and royalties and copyrights - showed an increase of 290 per cent, in the period from June, 1950, to June, 1962. Yet during the same period, the gross national product rose by only 170 per cent. This is an inflationary era. Tha Government created inflation by increasing indirect taxes and indirect costs. Inflation increased by only 170 per cent, in the period I have mentioned but the outward flow of dividends and so on increased by 290 per cent. I have already mentioned that interest on government borrowing, which is the lesser of the evils, increased by 73 per cent. If we must have foreign investment, let us have government loans and let us determine the purpose for which they will be used.
It is very difficult to obtain facts and figures relating to overseas control and overseas interests in Australia. The statistical data is not available and a search for the facts is difficult. In Canada and other countries the statistical data is far superior to that available here. That is a situation that we in the Australian Labour Party must correct. We must see that this statistical data is provided, so that we will know the extent of the control exercised in this country by overseas investors.
I refer honorable members to a particularly informative book. It is called “ The Economics of Australian Industry “, edited by Alex. Hunter. I shall read briefly from Part 5, which deals with overseas investment in Australia and which was written by E. L. Wheelwright, senior lecturer in economics at the Sydney University. Mr. Wheelwright says -
Official Australian sources are quite inadequate. They consist of the “Economical Bulletin ot Overseas Investment “ and the “ Balance of Payments Statistics “.
He went on to say -
The only major industries that are almost wholly Australian owned are steel, paper, cement, glass and sugar refining - older basic industries.
The newer, strategic industries of motor vehicles, heavy chemicals, petroleum products and aluminium, are all owned predominantly by overseas companies, as are smaller but important industries of tobacco, paint, soap and industrial gases. Wherever we look in the other industries we find at least one overseas company in a dominant position, from rubber products to television sets, from washing machines to power cables, from drugs to food processing.
Do I hear a murmur from members of the Australian Country Party? Surely they must agree with their leader, who is concerned about the food processing industries of Australia being taken over by overseas interests. Why do the members of the Australian Country Party not join with the members of the Australian Labour Party in ensuring that overseas interests do not take control of these industries? That is what we in the Labour Party have been talking about. We are concerned about this matter. Mr. Wheelwright considers that already overseas interests control between 33 and 40 per cent, of Australia’s manufacturing industries.
Here is another challenge and another warning to the Government: A statement by Professor John Ewing, associate professor of international trade and marketing at the Stanford University of California, was reported in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ of 19th August, 1963, as follows:-
Unless the flow of overseas capital was regulated, Australia would soon find itself in the same position as Canada, dominated by American interests
Have we not warned honorable members opposite long enough? Are we not warning them now? Have we not sounded the warning that Mr. Wheelwright gives in the book from which I have quoted? Surely every supporter of the Government should have a look at this question. The newspaper report of Professor Ewing’s statement continued -
No matter how great the capital inflow, outside domination was not good for Australia’s economy.
Let me challenge the Prime Minister with this part of the report of Professor Ewing’s statement -
To suggest that all forms of restriction dissuaded foreign investment was nonsense. Japan and Mexico had restricted foreign investment to partnership with local capital, guaranteeing local interests, but this had certainly not stopped foreign investors investing in either country.
That is what Professor Ewing said; but the Prime Minister smugly says: “ Foreign capital is a sensitive bird. If you interfere with it, it flutters away.” That is the attitude of the leader of the present Administration. We have said that we have to consider what we need and what we do not need. The balance-of-payments problem cannot be solved with the ease with which we switch off a light. Planning is needed.
Therefore, I want to say what we of the Labour Party would do. Labour would seek to expand our export trade by finding new markets and extending our present markets. Our policy should be to get out and sell. We should not tie ourselves to our old British and American markets, in which we have had a raw deal. I have given the balance-of-payments figures over the last fourteen years. We have to go out and find new markets in Asia, Latin America, Afirica - in fact, all over the world. We cannot tie ourselves down to our old markets. We should set up trade commissioner posts in many more countries than those in which they exist at present. We should develop our own export banking and insurance corporations to finance our exports and to enable us to sell on credit, :f necessary. If we have to sell on credit, let us sell on credit. If our competitors are selling on credit, let us sell on credit. We must have an export bank to finance this nation’s exports.
We should establish an Australian overseas shipping line to assist in transporting our goods to our new and old markets. We know - I challenge the members of the Australian Country Party on this - that primary producers are being exploited by overseas shipping monopolies. The only way to beat them is to establish our own overseas shipping line to carry our exports. We should be highly selective in our imports. We must discriminate against non-essential goods. We must determine, on a planned basis, what is to come into this country and what is not to come in.
We should have an inquiry into industry to examine the possibilities of creating industries to promote import replacement. We should work on the principle that everything that can be produced by our own workers with our own materials should be produced. We should plan Australia’s future rate of growth and the application of industrial priorities. If our balance of payments is not sufficient to pay for necessary capital equipment or urgently needed technical know-how, we should raise overseas government loans - I said earlier that I prefer loans to private capital - or, if necessary, permit private overseas investment to enter the country. The private investors would receive certain guarantees. Private overseas investment should be allowed into the country if it is required to create, expand or develop a sector of Australian industry. New foreign investment should not be allowed in if it has a restrictive franchise. I ask this question: What has the Government done in its export drives about overseas firms in Australia which have restrictive franchises and will not export their goods?
Overseas industries already established in Australia should be told that if they do not export their products their favorable taxation concessions under the double tax agreements will disappear. When a firm is exporting its goods, a more favorable attitude should be taken. We in the Labour Party are not dogmatic on this question; we are flexible. We want planning on this issue. We do not want the Rafferty’s rules system that operates under this Government’s administration.
Portfolio investment should not receive any concession under the very favorable double tax agreements that I mentioned earlier. It will be necessary to review completely the double tax agreements that we have with Great Britain, the United States and Canada. The double tax agreements should give incentives to special selected investments that we need. A Labour government would adopt a tougher policy in respect of certain foreign investment that the Menzies-McEwen Government has allowed to infiltrate our country during the last fourteen years. The McEwen part of the Government is now aware of take-overs. It wants to do something about them. So I challenge members of the Country Party to join with the Labour Party on this question in an effort to change the present Government policy on foreign investment in Australia. We of the Labour Party will join with the Country Party on this issue. Talk is cheap. The Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) reminds me of a boxer who performs very well in the gymnasium but is a complete failure when he gets in the ring. At Country Party conferences the Minister for Trade looked like a first-class boxer; but when we get him in the ring here he is a tame little fellow and he could not beat Ben Bolt.
We should have a thorough investigation of all aspects of overseas infiltration and take-overs of the Australian economy. We have warned the Government for years. I and many other honorable members have spoken about these matters and warned the Government about them. Let us control our own destiny. Surely history has given us sufficient examples to make us take heed. So I say this to honorable members on both sides of the House: If you have faith in Australia and if you want to protect its interests, for heaven’s sake control this foreign investment that is taking over Australia’s heritage more and more every day.
– Mr. Deputy Speaker, it is quite interesting to follow the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren) in a debate. We are becoming quite used to his dissertations on foreign investment in this country and his ideas on how it should be controlled. I remind him that when the last Labour Government went out of office in 1949 it was relying on 20 per cent, of foreign investment in Australia, whereas at present the figure is down to 18 per cent. The honorable member for Reid has not yet answered the question posed in those figures. We are not mortgaging our heritage to the extent imagined by the honorable member. The honorable member also spoke about seeking markets overseas for our products. He said that we should go out and endeavour to find markets in South America and in other countries. When the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) went out after new markets and signed the Japanese Trade Agreement the honorable member for Reid voted against it. In his speech a few minutes ago the honorable member said that Japan was one of our best customers, but a few years ago he voted against expanding our trade with that country. I urge also that the honorable member bring himself up to date on the subsidies that we are paying to shipping companies to take our products to South America. The Government is busy extending our markets overseas and is making progress in that respect.
The honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds) waxed eloquent about the virtues of the Australian Country Party. We of the Australian Country Party welcome his remarks. He said that our party had a narrow-minded approach to matters affecting Australia. He accused us of being members of a cockies’ party. We do not mind criticism of that kind. The Country Party represents an influential section of the community and it welcomes the honorable member’s criticism. However, when he accuses members of our party of narrow-mindedness the honorable member should realize, as more and more members of the community are realizing, that this great rural party represents a section of the community whose export earnings help to keep in employment the people whom the honorable member is supposed to represent in this House. Eighty per cent, of Australia’s export earnings come from primary products. Those earnings pay for the goods that are brought into this country and which help to keep our great work force employed. We believe in a balanced approach to these problems. This is in the forefront of our thinking at all times.
I think the people of Australia are becoming more and more conscious of the value of rural production. In whatever newspaper or magazine you pick up, you will see some article about the rural economy. The honorable member referred to export earnings of primary industries. It is true that the volume of our exports declined a little last year; but our export earnings increased due to the efficiency of the people in our primary industries.
– And China bought our wheat.
– Exactly. We welcome that. We will sell our products to anybody who is prepared to buy them. If my party can be said to be narrowminded in its approach to the problems that confront us to-day and if it is a party that represents industries that earn 80 per cent, of Australia’s export income, I am proud to be a member of it.
I propose now to refer to some of the measures contained in the Budget. The first matter I turn to is the superphosphate bounty. I welcome the provision of this bounty. I do not think anybody taking part in this debate has yet referred to the wool industry, but if one industry will benefit extensively from the superphosphate bounty it is the wool industry. I concede, of course, that the wheat industry and other industries also will benefit. I concede too that the bounty will be of greatest benefit in the southern States. It should help to increase production there. That is all to the good of Australia as a whole. But I think the Government could have gone a little further towards encouraging increased production north of the 24th parallel. It is well recognized that most soils in the north suffer from a deficiency of nitrogen. It is true that certain subsidies apply to one nitrogenous fertilizer, but greater encouragement should have been given to the people who are using more and more nitrogenous fertilizers, such as urea. If we are sincere in our approach to the problem of development of our north let us extend some assistance to the people who use nitrogenous fertilizers in that area.
The honorable member for Barton spoke about the Commonwealth Development Bank. I remind him that it was due to the agitation of honorable members on this side of the House that the Development Bank was established some years ago. The bank has done a wonderful job in assisting industries that could not obtain credit from other sources, but I have one complaint about advances made by it. The terms of the bank’s loans are not long enough. Most loans are short-term loans, and a short-term loan does not enable our agricultural potential to be developed to the utmost. As Australia suffers from adverse seasonal conditions and other problems, a loan repayment period of eight years, which seems to be the maximum, is not long enough. If 25 years is considered to be a reasonable time for development of the brigalow lands why is any shorter period considered to be reasonable for the development of properties that are already partially developed? I hope that this matter will receive close attention by the Government. I know that the subject will be more fully discussed by some of my colleagues.
Dealing with special developmental projects, the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) in his Budget speech said -
Some months ago we agreed to join with New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia in constructing, under the River Murray Waters Agreement, a big storage reservoir on the Murray River at Chowilla in South Australia. The cost is estimated to be of the order of £14,000,000 and of this the Commonwealth will find one-quarter.
However, the Commonwealth will find onehalf of the cost of constructing the Blowering reservoir. Thirty years ago the Border Rivers Development Commission was set up to control the waters of rivers on the border between New South Wales and Queensland. This is not something new. At long last the Queensland and New South Wales governments have agreed on the basic principles for a development scheme and have decided to approach the Commonwealth Government for assistance. The estimated cost of the scheme is about £19,000,000. If it is ever completed about 60,000 or 70,000 acres will be irrigated. This is a worth-while project. As the Commonwealth Government has assisted similar schemes in other States, I suggest that it give very serious consideration to this proposal when the joint approach is made by the Queensland and New South Wales governments. I know the area in question pretty well. Part of it is in my electorate and part of it is in the electorate represented by the honorable member for
Gwydir (Mr. Ian Allan). Recently a border rivers project association was formed from thirteen authorities in border river towns which support the proposal I have advanced. I repeat my request that the Commonwealth Government consider it seriously.
Let me now deal very briefly with defence. I am pleased that the Government proposes to increase its annual expenditure on defence by £54,000,000. Our defence policy has been criticized by the Opposition. In fact, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) devoted quite a good deal of his speech to this subject. Our record in defence refutes the criticisms which the Opposition has levelled at us. Above all others, members of the Labour Party should be the last people to criticize a defence policy, because only a few weeks ago, when this House was discussing the construction of a certain defence installation in Western Australia, the Opposition, by direction of the 36 faceless men who were then in Canberra, proposed an amendment to the relevant legislation which, if carried, virtually would have put an end to the work. How serious is the Opposition in the matter of defence?
I understand that only a certain sum is made available each year to schools for the purpose of training cadets, which means that not every schoolboy who wishes to be trained receives training. If additional funds and equipment were provided all boys in secondary schools who wished to undertake this training could be trained fully, because they remain in these schools for three or four years. Then, after leaving school, they would be a source of recruitment for the Citizen Military Forces. The Government should consider that aspect because if boys are trained when they are young and keen in most cases they will join voluntarily in C.M.F. training.
Let me advance another suggestion in this regard. Although school cadets enter training camp with members of the C.M.F. they receive no payment. If they were given a token payment of even a few shillings a week they would feel that they were part and parcel of our defence programme, they would be more interested in defence and they would become most acceptable recruits for the C.M.F.
The next matter to which I wish to refer is taxation. In view of the uncertainty of the loan market, particularly as a result of the measures which were introduced recently in the United States in relation to loans, and in view of the proposed increase in expenditure on defence and social services, the Government was wise not to reduce income tax. However, the removal of sales tax on foodstuffs is most welcome. After all these years I am sure that my colleague the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) is really happy. I congratulate him on the success of his fight to have the sales tax removed from dried fruits used in cakes.
Now let me refer to estate duty. I am opposed in principle to estate duty but the proposal to lift the exemption rate from £5,000 to £10,000 will afford some relief to the dependants of a deceased person. We pay taxes while we live and our estate is taxed after we die. In view of the inflated value of land to-day, estate duty becomes a great burden on the deceased’s family. How often do we read of probate being granted on an estate worth, say, £100,000? This is a large amount of money, but most of the assessed value of the estate is due, in many cases, to the present inflated land values. Often a deceased’s dependants are left without ready cash because estate duty absorbs practically all of it. I congratulate the Government on the step it has taken in this instance which will afford some measure of relief.
The honorable member for Barton accused the Country Party of not mentioning decentralization. I have been in this Parliament since 1951 and I know that every speech made by the honorable member for Mallee at least contained some mention of decentralization, as did the speeches of other members of my party. It is only in recent months that Opposition members have tried to hop on the bandwagon of decentralization because it is a popular issue. But we are sincere in our approach to it. We cannot override State rights. We assist the State governments in every way that we can. But we want to go further.
– What have you done for industries in country towns?
– I agree with the honorable member for Barton that something must be done to decentralize industry, not only from the business point of view but also from the social aspect. The drift to the cities which the honorable member mentioned is becoming a really acute problem. We want these young people to be employed in the country areas. We want them, and particularly the girls, to be kept there. There is nothing for them in the country at the present moment. There is one way in which we can help. It is a bigger problem from the social angle than in any other way and we have to look at it from that point of view.
– It is an economic problem mainly.
– It is tied up with the social aspect. The Government should give serious consideration to this question. -The simplest way to decentralize industry is to subsidize freights. That can only be done in conjunction with the State governments. We cannot do it directly. We would have to act through the States.
– You could give investment allowance as you do with farmers.
– Yes. We have heard the criticism that tax concessions for education expenses only benefit wealthy country people who can afford to send their children away to school. I suggest that honorable members opposite take note of what is being done by the Country-Liberal Government in Queensland in regard to education. That Government has decentralized education to an extent which no other State in the Commonwealth has ever attempted. It is bringing education to tha people, but there are still a few in the far western areas who have to send their children away to be educated because of the lack of local facilities. I know this from experience. I was in that position at one time and my children had to be sent away if they were to receive proper education. I had to struggle to do this, but I was determined to see that they had sufficient education. I did not get any of this relief and I did not consider myself one of the wealthy people about whom honorable members opposite talk. My experience was in the depression years and as I know something about these things, I say that this concession is very welcome. Of course, some people who can well afford to send their children away to school will receive the concession because you cannot discriminate. Nevertheless, it is a very welcome concession.
Another important matter is the depreciation allowance on telephone lines to primaryproducing properties. There are thousands of miles of private telephone lines in my electorate as there are in the electorates of some other honorable members. These lines pass through many private properties and along highways, roads, stock routes and so on. I have been trying to find out whether this provision for depreciation on telephone lines will apply to a line erected on property other than your own. The Postmaster-General (Mr. Davidson) may be able to explain the position. If depreciation on lines erected on other properties is not allowed it should be, because there arc people in my area who have spent as much as £2.000 or £3,000 on telephone lines - not just for gossiping but for business reasons. They should be given this allowance. I realize that a start has to be made somewhere, but I know of a group of three or four people who last year spent £5,000 to erect their own telephone line. They have had it for one year. It was built to the specifications of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department and was an excellent job. I think that consideration should be given to allowing those people one year’s depreciation on the cost of that line and that they should be allowed to start from now at the original value of the line less 10 per cent. I know that this might be difficult to arrange, but I think some method should be worked out so that people who have had to struggle and borrow money to do this work can be allowed depreciation on telephone lines erected in the last few years. Some retrospectivity should be allowed.
The Budget is a good one and will give relief to all sections of the community. 1 say this in spite of the claim by our friends opposite that it is a farmers’ budget. It is a recognized principle that if you have a prosperous rural community the rest of the community prospers automatically. That is fundamental. If we are to give concessions let us give them to those people from whom the flow of prosperity will go right down through the community. Let us start with those who will generate the flow of prosperity. I do not think that country people are being given any undue concessions at all. They are merely getting something that they should have received earlier in view of the fact that costs, although relatively stable for two years, have been mounting against them for many years.
I welcome the Budget concessions most heartily. I suppose that individually they are not great, but collectively they are considerable. I believe that the good effects which flow from this Budget will be felt more quickly than those which flowed from last year’s Budget, although that had a very stabilizing effect on our economy, without retarding development. I wholeheartedly support the Budget.
.- I am glad that the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) is regarding the speech of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) as a motion of censure upon the Government and I am pleased to support the lead given by the Leader of the Opposition. It is obvious to me, and I think to almost every one, that this Government is fast falling apart. It is dissipating and it looks dissipated. Members of the Country Party and of the Liberal Party bicker outside the House and they are so far apart that they snarl at each other even while in the chamber. I notice that while the Country Party member for Maranoa (Mr. Brimblecombe) was speaking there were only about four Liberals in the chamber to hear him.
Tremendous divisions exist between the Country Party and the Liberal Party. We had the instance, only this year, of the great division between the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) and the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Bury), who was then one of his ministerial colleagues. They were so far apart that they could not stand each other and the Government had to kick one of them out of the Cabinet. Then we come to the great dispute now existing over redistribution. The gerrymandering weighs heavily in favour of the Liberal Party, but it is still not bad enough for the Country Party. The two parties are in complete disagreement on it. They cannot reach any agreement. Then there is the other great disagreement between the Country Party, headed by the Minister for Trade, who is Deputy Prime Minister, and the Prime Minister and the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) upon this very important matter of overseas investment. The electoral row between the Country Party and the Liberal Party has reached the point where they are now threatening to oppose each other’s candidates in certain electorates. It looks as though history will repeat itself. We remember a previous occasion when an honorable member for Wimmera rebelled against the Government and it was kicked out of office. That could happen again. Then we have the dispute over the electorate of Indi. This is the kind of government that the people of Australia are putting up with at the present time. I could mention a lot of other matters, but to me this Government looks like a fagged out, defunct Government which surely must soon go into oblivion. Only yesterday we had an example of the friction which exists between its parties. When the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren) asked the Treasurer a question about the very important matter of overseas investments in Australia, the Treasurer said -
Last Thursday the House had a debate on this topic. At that time I expressed the general views of the Government, and my colleague, the Minister for Trade, made his own contribution.
They are miles apart on these very important national matters and the people of Australia are suffering from this bickering that is going on so strongly between the Country Party and the Liberal Party.
I come now to the Budget itself. I think the discrepancies in it must further weaken that confidence of the community which is needed to develop our national resources. I believe that speedy expansion is necessary if full confidence is to be restored and if full employment - the position is still serious in that we still have 78,000 unemployed - is to be restored. The total of 78,000 unemployed is far too great, and it is deplorable to think that so many are in this position. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) also admits that thousands of the young people who left school at the end of 1962 are still looking for employment. The Government’s boast of prosperity unlimited is just an empty boast. Prosperity unlimited might be enjoyed by just a few, but to the vast majority it does not exist. As honorable members know, last year the Treasurer budgeted for a deficit of £118,000,000. When he boasted that he had a surplus of £16,000,000 instead of a deficit of £118,000,000- he was only £134.000,000 out - the first reaction we had was from big business, which always gets the rake-off; it wanted big taxation concessions. Those interests claimed that further tax deduction would stimulate consumer spending. There are more ways of stimulating the economy than giving taxation reductions to people who already have plenty of money.
Before offering some suggestions on the matter, I think it wise to examine how last year’s surplus, to which I have referred, came about. The 1962-63 Budget provided for a loan raising programme of £211,000,000. The Government succeeded in raising £317,000,000. Some of its loans were over-subscribed for certain obvious reasons which, in my opinion, were not wholesome. Because of these unexpected over-subscriptions, the Government obtained over £100,000,000 more than it sought. In addition to that, as is usual in such circumstances, the gross national product rose sufficiently to increase the taxation yield by several million pounds. That is how the Government came to be £16,000,000 in credit instead of £118,000,000 in debit. One comment that one must make in connexion with this £16,000,000 surplus is that it was evidence of very bad planning. Fancy drawing up a plan that was only £134,000,000 out. That fact alone condemns the people responsible for the plan.
I believe that housing development and national development in the Commonwealth sphere, in the States’ jurisdiction and in the local government sphere should be financed by a national credit system or by national credit notes issued at a very low interest rate, certainly at a rate not exceeding 1 per cent. I do not think it is right to pile up a heavy national debt based on high interest rates. Some of the loans mentioned by the Treasurer were raised at 5 per cent, and 6 per cent, interest. I think that the building of a nation on the present private banking monetary system at high interest rates is sheer, unadulterated rookery. We have only to look at our present national debt to see the way in which we are drifting under this system. Our national debt now stands at £4,541,000,000. Details of how that debt is made up are worthy of mention when we are discussing this important matter. The Australian content of the national debt is £3,829,000,000. The balance is made up of £426,000,000 owing in the United Kingdom, £224,000,000 owing in the United States of America, £28,000,000 owing in Canada, £26,000,000 owing in Switzerland, £4,000,000 owing in the Netherlands and £4,000,000 owing in Germany. At the moment, the overseas content of our national debt stands at £710,000,000. The total amount of interest payable on the national debt last year was £186,208,000. After looking at the figures mentioned in this Budget, I should say that the interest bill next year will be £200,000,000. The overseas content of our interest bill amounts to £32,000,000.
It is completely wrong for us in a country like Australia to be living to-day on to-morrow’s income. I do not think any nation could ever become a Utopia while it continued to have a national debt of the dimensions of ours. I have mentioned an interest debt of £1 86,000,000-odd. It is increasing at the rate of £10,000,000 a year. In my opinion, if justice is to be done to our people and the economy is to be stimulated, rather than adopt the policy that this Government is pursuing we should be granting greater increases in social services. The Leader of the Labour Party has put forward a very sound policy for Australia. He emphasizes the need for national security on the defence side, and on the side of social security he plans an increase in social service benefits together with all round increases in benefits for every member of the family.
I should like to mention another matter which I believe to be very important. My colleague, the honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters), and others have been emphasizing its importance for a number of years, and I mention it now at the risk of being accused of engaging in repetition. The Government is afraid of armed aggression. I think the most serious threat to Australia’s future is foreign investment. The foreign control of our capital resources is an important matter and represents a problem that requires immediate attention. But this Budget makes no mention whatever of the Government’s policy in this direction. The
Australian Labour Party is not unconditionally opposed to foreign investment in Australia. There is a kind of foreign investment that we must have, and we welcome it, but we cannot be satisfied that all the foreign investment that is taking place at the moment is trustworthy. We should have a proportionate say in the control of all resources in Australia, and I should like to give a simple illustration to emphasize the importance of exercising care in this matter.
First, I mention General Motors-Holden’s Proprietary Limited. This company has been operating in Australia for a number of years. It is an entirely American company. I have nothing against the American people, but this company was established mainly with Australian capital and American know-how. Since its establishment, this company has made profits as high as 900 per cent, per annum on its original outlay, the annual profit sometimes exceeding £15,000,000. None of the shareholders in this company resides in Australia. All the benefits from its operations go out of Australia. I maintain that this is the wrong sort of foreign investment and is unwanted in Australia. The kind of foreign investment which the Labour Party encourages and welcomes is the investment in an industry recently established in the Wee Waa district in north-west New South Wales with the help of the State Labour Government. Several cotton growing farmers and their families came to Australia from California, acquired lami at Wee Waa and are developing small cotton fields to give us the necessary raw materials for the production of cotton goods in Australia.
– They are very successfully established.
– Yes. The financial significance of that cotton project is infinitesimal, compared with the huge financial earnings of the Holden organization, but in my opinion the cotton project is of more benefit to Australia. I say that because the Holden organization is owned by absentee investors, while the cotton growers are residents. The profit of the cotton growers stays in Australia. They spend their earnings with us and pay their taxes here. But what happens to the profit of the Holden organization? Every penny of its profit goes out of Australia. Because we have reciprocal taxation agreements, that company pays its taxes elsewhere than in Australia, so that as far as our economy is concerned its profit is worthless. The Holden manufacturers claim that we get revenue from the sales tax imposed on their motor cars and that income tax is paid on their workers’ wages, but if the company were Australian-owned we would have also the benefit of the tax paid on the profits of the company.
Several references have been made to the view of this matter expressed by the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen), which is the same as the view that Labour Party members in this House have been expressing for years. I am glad that we have made a convert of the Minister, who, speaking at Orange, said -
Australians must not be content working for overseas owners and selling Australia out bit by bit.
The Labour Party agrees with that view. Many fields of industry in Australia have been penetrated by overseas investment. I believe that the failure of the Menzies Government to establish an Australianowned shipping line presents as serious a threat to Australia as the amount of foreign investment here. The Minister for Trade failed to mention the lack of an Australianowned overseas shipping line and thus showed his inconsistency on this matter. Why does he complain of certain overseas investment in Australia and fail to complain about the operations of the overseas shipping monopoly? Australia does not own or control one ship operating overseas, and this state of affairs permits very substantial inroads to be made into our economy - more substantial than those I have previously mentioned. It is more important to us to have an Australian-owned overseas shipping line, I believe, than to have Australian ownership of the company manufacturing the Holden motor car. The Minister’s failure to direct attention to our need for an overseas shipping line has led me to be suspicious of his sincerity in this matter.
I have often heard the boast that Australia ranks eleventh amongst the world’s trading nations. It is amazing that we should have such a high trading rating and yet not own one ship to carry our products to overseas markets. Surely the Minister for Trade must see the menace of the overseas shipping monopoly as plainly as he sees the menace of excessive foreign investment in our aluminium, bauxite, chemical, petroleum and mining industries. Overseas investors control some of the best pastoral and sheep land in Australia, in addition to having a complete monopoly of our motor industry.
The latest official information I have in connexion with overseas shipping costs was given in October, 1960, in an answer supplied by the Minister for Trade. He said that freights cost Australia £126,000,000 a year. At the same time, in answer to another question, he said that invisible payments overseas cost us £110,000,000 a year.
– Is that additional to freight costs?
– Yes, I presume it is. I take it that that £110,000,000 would cover insurance and the exchange that we must add when we pay our overseas shipping debts.
In the last ten years our balance of payments has been £1,600,000,000 to our disadvantage. If we had a national shipping line, I believe this disadvantage could be halved. In 1960-61, our transport costs on imports were £157,000,000, and in 1961-62 they totalled £154,000,000. If we owned enough ships to take at least a half of our exports to their destinations and return loaded with imports, our balance of payments with other trading nations would be much more favorable. I believe that an Australian-owned overseas shipping line is urgent and essential. It could eliminate the loss to our national economy represented by freight payments. We should also have a national insurance scheme. The savings to Australia on freight, insurance and exchange would approximate £100.000,000. There is also to be taken into account - as I mentioned in relation to the Holden organization - the loss through taxation, due to absentee ownership of shares in shipping companies and the consequent payment of taxation overseas.
With the establishment of a national shipping line, the necessary ships should be built and maintained in our own shipbuilding yards. Imagine the boon that this would be to Australia’s employment position, which has been a serious problem for a number of years. I venture the opinion that a well-planned shipping programme would not only be a step towards abolishing unemployment in Australia, but would create employment for many migrant tradesmen wishing to come to Australia. A new market would be created for many of our own basic materials, which would be used in the construction and maintenance of our ships. Earlier this year a committee of the Labour Party suggested the establishment of an Australian - owned overseas shipping line, and in my opinion this is necessary and possible. Such a line should be kept free from overseas investment of the kind referred to by the Minister for Trade. We have here the docks and yards necessary to build and service our own ships. We have proved our capacity to do so. We have all the essential materials. We have the skills, and we certainly have the need. Why does this Government leave such an important industry to be owned and controlled overseas? When one looks at the Commonwealth “ Year Book “, one finds that many countries that are much smaller than Australia have their own international shipping lines which are used in trade with Australia. We are the eleventh largest trading nation.
– Have we no ships of our own trading overseas?
– We have none now, although we have had some in the past. We all know that during and after the First World War we conducted an overseas shipping line, which was not sold but was given away by a government of similar political persuasion to the present one. As a result, the overseas shipping monopolies had no competition. What happened during the Second World War? By legislation that was said to be designed to rationalize services, a government of similar political persuasion to the present one hamstrung the small Australian national shipping line The expansion of our own shipping line has now been limited by regulation so that it has no earthly chance of competing with overseas monopoly lines.
– Does the honorable member suggest that this is the Government’s deliberate policy?
– I am sure that this is deliberate policy because the members of this Government are answerable to the big financial monopolies, not only in Australia but also overseas, that dictate to them. Those are the interests whom this Government represents. Those interests have their own personal representatives in this place among Ministers. We know that.
Probably, the Minister for Trade could answer some of the questions that arise in relation to these matters that I have mentioned. We do not want Australia to drift into the kind of mess in which Canada finds itself. More than 60 per cent, of all industry there is owned and controlled by foreign capital. What is the result in terms of unemployment? In Canada, 9 per cent, of the work force is at present unemployed and has been for five or six years. The Diefenbaker Government, which was so successful a few years ago - it was given the biggest majority even given to a Canadian government - became white-anted by this sort of thing and consequently was tumbled out of office recently, just as this Government will be tumbled out of office at the first opportunity that the people of Australia have to get rid of it. Unemployment of more than 1,000,000 people in a country like Canada is shocking. Any unemployment at all in Australia is shocking, because this country is crying out for so much development.
Finally, I should like to mention briefly the drain imposed on our resources in paying profits and dividends to overseas investors. The relevant figures are very difficult to get, because the Government seems .o try to conceal them. I placed several questions on the notice-paper in my efforts to get the figures that I wanted in relation to overseas investment, but I have found the task of getting satisfactory answers to such questions very difficult.
– Perhaps the Government is ashamed of the situation.
– It should be ashamed of the position, too. I can only estimate the total of overseas investment in Australia, because I have been unable to get the proper figure. So far as I have been able to ascertain recently, £1,800,000,000 of overseas capital is invested in Australia. I understand that dividends on this capital investment transmitted overseas total about fi 50,000,000 a year. All this money goes out of Australia and is not added to our gross national product. Under the reciprocal tax agreements, which I have mentioned previously, we receive nothing by way of tax on this money. I think that I would perhaps be underestimating if I put Australia’s loss of tax revenue on these funds at between £30,000,000 and £40,000,000 a year. The investors to whom these profits are paid pay tax on the money in their own countries. The loss of tax revenue is serious for a small country like Australia.
– Who introduced that principle?
– This Government is responsible for perpetuating that principle now.
I believe, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that the Government deserves the censure that the Australian Labour Party has directed at it in the terms of the amendment to the motion for the second reading of this bill. The disgruntled members of the Australian Country Party who are condemning the Government because they are getting such a raw deal from it should cross the floor of the House and assist the Opposition to get rid of this anti-Australian Government that is doing so much serious harm to the Australian economy.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, because the theme of this Budget, without any qualification, is action for growth, I find it extremely difficult to avoid suspicion of dishonesty on the part of the Opposition in proposing the amendment to the motion for the second reading of the bill - an amendment that amounts to a motion of censure on the Government. I turn to the speech made last evening by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) and I remind the House that he used extremely strong words in his amendment in phrases such as - the House condemns the Government for its failure to make adequate provision for defence, education, housing, health, social services and northern development.
I do not think it will be necessary for me to use many words or to speak at great length to show that under as many of those headings as I have time to deal with there is no sound foundation for his condemnatory attitude. If I have time, I shall deal with all those matters. The amendment also contains these words - the House is of the opinion that the Government no longer possesses its confidence or the confidence of the nation.
At the very outset, I suggest that “ condemnation “ and “ censure “ are indeed strong words. If there is no positive foundation for their use, the Leader of the Opposition has misled the people. I find that he said -
My duty, as I see it, is to speak for Australia. I speak as leader of the Australian Labour Party . . .
I concede that he may speak as leader of the Australian Labour Party, but I assert very positively that he has no right to speak for the people of Australia. If ever he wins the appointment of Prime Minister of this nation, let him then usurp that authority and so speak. But let him speak in this House now as Leader of the Opposition and not wrongly anticipate the attitude of the Australian people.
The Leader of the Opposition said -
The faults of the Budget are those of the entire Government, and are embedded in the barren philosophy for which it stands. This Budget is post-war Liberalism at the end of its tether.
How foolish is his choice of words? What is the record of this Government over the last thirteen years? The way in which the people of Australia assess the Government’s record is shown by the number of times they have returned it to office. How foolish can the Leader of the Opposition become? Where is this barren philosophy? There is no evidence of it to-day. The honorable gentleman spoke of my colleagues who sit in the ranks of this Government as being a team of men who have lost their vision. I fail to see that that is so, and I am sure that the Autsralian people recognize that this is a government of virility and new ideas, as is indicated by this Budget. Notwithstanding the criticism voiced by the Leader of the Opposition and those who sit with him on the other side of the House, this Budget has been well received by the Australian people, as I shall prove.
The Leader of the Opposition, as is apparent to those who listen to him, is hopelessly confused about the new method of presenting the Budget documents and the old, although he will never acknowledge this. In recent years, he has been accustomed to taking his figures from and assessing the Budget on the one set of documents that used to be presented, but this House has now intimated its pleasure that the Budget papers be presented in a new form - a very helpful form. As a consequence of the change, the Leader of the Opposition has become hopelessly mixed up. His proposed deficit of about £100,000,000 of some years ago was arrived at after provision for loan borrowings. The honorable gentleman now claims that this financial year the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) has forecast a deficit of more than £300,000,000. In making this claim, the Leader of the Opposition does not honestly present the statements made by the Treasurer, who intimated that he has budgeted for a deficit of £58,400,000 after allowing for what was, in my opinion, a most conservative estimate of loan raisings during the financial year. I will turn to this point, I hope, a little later.
In this speech I am saying to the people of Australia, and to the members of this honorable House, that in my frank opinion there has been a most dishonest presentation by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). I hope that in my speech I can contrast, to some extent, the Opposition’s criticisms on a number of points with the public assessment of this Budget. I want to contrast what the Leader of the Opposition has had to say, on behalf of his party, with the reception of the Budget in the daily press, as we have seen it, which has given us the opinions of leaders of the community. Then I would like to outline the current economic position in Australia. Under that heading I hope to deal with overseas balances, with the problem of unemployment, with public confidence in general and with company progress as we see it in industry and commerce. Then, if my time permits me, I would like to direct attention to several other highlights of this important Budget.
Let me revert again to the Opposition’s criticism. It is most important that I speak in this way, because, I repeat, the Leader of the Opposition, choosing very strong words, talked of condemnation and censure. He turned his attention to the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt). He referred to the Treasurer’s ability as a forecaster and said, “ Who would dare to believe now in any forecast made by this erring Treasurer? “ In contrast to this criticism, the genera] public, through the press of the nation, has referred to this 1963-64 Budget as the Treasurer’s best budget to date. It has been referred to as an even-keel budget. We see headlines in the press such as, “ Pensions Up. More Money in House Loans. Holt Avoids Boom Risks.” I think it is important for me at this stage to read an extract from an article in “Weekend News” of Saturday, 17th August -
Firstly, there is the increase in Government spending, the biggest annual rise on record, which will multiply through the economy.
Housing, the sector which has such a high labour content and calls on such a wide variety of factory benches, will get a really significant impetus from the freeing of more than £100,000,000 of savings bank funds for housing loans.
Secondly, there is the pattern of the other stimuli which seems to have been woven to inject money into particular soggy spots.
Without doubt, the superphosphate subsidy, the miscellany of tax concessions for the timber-getting and milling industries, the new 20 per cent, investment allowance for new plant and equipment, and the other minor generosities with expenses of significance to smaller businesses, should provide measurable boosts to activity in thousands of country centres of Australia.
Again, the Government’s choice of boosting personal income by the big increases in some social service payments and repatriation ensures that the stimulus goes into the economy as a whole, through the hands of basic consumption spenders.
Then the Leader of the Opposition said that the Treasurer’s Budget was just a budget of slogans and slipshod promises. But what is the attitude of the community? The people realize that because of the provisions of this Budget food will be cheaper. They can see that civilian widows will receive the greatest humanitarian lift in the history of this Commonwealth, and that rural health, the importance of which has been emphasized on all hands, not only by my colleagues of the Country Party but also by every other person interested in primary production, will be improved.
Another heartening sign is to be found in the fact that representatives of the motor vehicle industry have said that such industries will be encouraged still further by this Budget. Also, as the article 1 have just read shows, governmental spending will give a prime stimulus to our future economy.
I proceed further and I find that the Leader of the Opposition has taken the Treasurer to task for the proposed deficit of £309,000,000. Let me refer to the deficit that the Labour Party proposed during the election campaign in 1961, when the country was horrified after adding up the cost of the Labour Party’s proposals. The suggested deficit then was a definite one after loan raisings. Here we find the Leader of the Opposition trying to compare the Treasurer’s proposed deficit of £58,000,000, or £309,000,000 before loan raisings, with his own party’s proposed deficit of £100,000,000 in 1961. In my view the Treasurer’s estimated deficiency of £58,000,000 after loan raisings has been more than well received by the general public. Again I say that, bearing in mind the attitude of the United States Government to investments made outside that country, it is wise for this Government at the present time to be as conservative as possible in calculating any estimated deficiency.
The Leader of the Opposition, in his attack on the Government, and particularly on the Treasurer, said that this Budget has in it the seeds “of inflation. The difficulty for him is that no one else seems to be able to find these seeds. It amazed me to hear the Leader of the Opposition make this claim, when a few years ago his theme was. “ Spend more, be more venturesome “. On this occasion he does not seem to be satisfied with a budget which the general public has accepted as being fair in the light of present-day circumstances.
The Leader of the Opposition promised certain things if Labour was returned to power. Somehow I feel that such a possibility is receding further and further into the distance. The Australian people can surely find no inspiration in the speech made last night by the Leader of the Opposition. However, he promised that if Labour were, through some circumstance, returned to power it would reconstruct the whole schedule of income tax rates. I find in the community no enthusiasm at all for this promise.
– Oh, you have been around the community!
– Yes, I get around my electorate. You might have time to prepare talks about education and criticism of a few other matters, but I endeavour to get among the people in the community and I think I have the right to speak for them. I find that the public fears Labour’s hatred of success in private enterprise, and that companies and individuals with a sound record of business activity would immediately be depressed if a Labour government came to power. Big business would be hit hard with heavier and heavier taxes. These things are evident in almost every speech we listen to from members of the Opposition. The public has not been heard to complain about current taxation rates. There is in my area of responsibility no protest at all at this Government’s imposing current tax rates which by comparison with other countries are not heavy and onerous.
The Leader of the Opposition speaks of the needs of the great Australian family having been entirely overlooked - “ overlooked altogether “, he said. Let me repeat this word “ altogether “ that was used by the Leader of the Opposition in his enthusiasm. I can find no support for this claim in public reaction. I emphasize that the family has been helped. Food will become cheaper because of sales tax remission. The single pensioner, who is a very needy person, is going to benefit considerably. Civilian widows are to be given the greatest humanitarian lift in social service benefits that has ever been granted in this country. The disabled workers have been considered. Education allowances have been increased. Are these not contributions to help the family man? But the Leader of the Opposition tries to mislead the Australian public by saying that the great Australian family has been overlooked altogether.
Finally, when he turned to housing, he appeared to give no recognition at all to the consistent house building that has occurred in this country. I will return to housing later because of its importance. I noted also that the Leader of the Opposition said there had been no real planning by this Government. This is amazing. If he were speaking the truth, he would say that a true analysis shows that, under this Government, we have gained a stability that is the envy of other nations, there has been remarkable progress in development works and there has been an outstanding population increase. These are the items that will be written large when the history of this period of administration by the Menzies Government is written.
– It will be a black history.
– How can my friend from Phillip support his leader when he makes extravagant claims of this kind. I know that the honorable member is an honest man, and I express my surprise that he can support his leader.
I turn to the third section of my speech in which I said I would endeavour to underline the current economic position in Australia and deal with overseas balances. We who have been in this House for only a reasonable period - seven, eight or more years - can remember when difficulties were encountered and overseas balances were below £300,000,000. Where do we stand to-day with overseas balances? On this subject, members of Her Majesty’s Opposition are very silent. They have no room to criticize the economy of the country when they take a look at the position of our overseas funds. The press of yesterday under the heading, “Overseas Funds Rise Sharply”, said -
At £634.2 m., the reserves are £8.1 m. higher than at June 30, their highest point since 1951.
These overseas balances are a demonstration of Australia’s stability amongst the trading nations of the world. I do not need to say more than that.
I come now to unemployment. Here again I am quite mystified at the way Opposition members can turn their words. Again we have the glib tongue similar to that of the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly), to which I referred yesterday. The most recent report issued by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) must have been a sorry disappointment to each of the ‘ honorable members opposite. The report of the Minister showed that at the end of last month the unemployment figure was down to 78,000, and this represented a distinct improvement. How appropriate it would have been if it had been reversed, if unfortunate circumstances had taken the figure a little higher! How then would Opposition members have squealed with delight, for we must unfortunately say that, according to the presentation of their attitude in other debates, they simply revel in a rise in unemployment. Instead of accepting the conditions and recognizing that the Government has bent every effort to reducing the unemployment figure and instead of giving encouragement to the community, they have been prophets of doom.
Alas, the Leader of the Opposition, on behalf of those who sit with him, has again and again failed in his predictions. He tries to criticize the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt). But what of his predictions? Where is the great pool of unemployed of 100,000 or more predicted by the Leader of the Opposition? What about his statement that this figure would go on and on? I suggest that the figure of 78,000 at 31st July last should be reduced by deducting certain classes of people. We should deduct those who seek only seasonal work, for that is the pattern of their living to-day. Many of them like to travel away from home and to engage in seasonal work of one kind or another. Then they return home to register at the Commonwealth Employment Office for a month, two months or three months. We should recognize that these people are free to choose seasonal work rather than permanent work. We should also deduct the halt and the maimed who are unfortunately to be found in our community and who are so difficult to place in employment. When we deduct these categories, we find that the number of unemployed comes down to a figure that is not so alarming. Do not try to suggest that I am saying I am not concerned about men and women who cannot find employment.
– You are sympathetic, but you do not want to do anything.
– I am sympathetic, but I am a realist and I want to point out that the figure can be accounted for.
Proof of what I say is to be found in the fact that there are vacancies in so many industries throughout Australia to-day. 1 wonder whether Opposition members ever really turn to their newspapers and look at the increasing number of vacancies that’ are advertised in the press. Companies cannot find the men and women to place in special jobs. Have honorable members not had the principals of industries telephone them to express concern at the fact that they cannot find a boy suitable for an apprenticeship? Expanding industries in my electorate just cannot find young people who are keen to be trained, who are keen to be apprenticed or who are keen to take up cadetships. Then we have the pleasure of Australian industries at the decision announced in the Budget to increase the immigration target. The increase of the departmental immigration target to 135,000 per annum has been hailed with delight by certain sections of industry which have been seeking skilled tradesmen.
I come now to public confidence. I suggest to the House that this is apparent on all sides. If we turn to the section “ Personal Consumption” in the White Paper entitled “ National Income and Expenditure 1962-63 “, we find this interesting information -
By far the largest component of gross national expenditure is expenditure on personal consumption. In 1962-63 it increased by £245 million, or about 5 per cent., following a 3 per cent, increase in 1961-62.
I ask Opposition members kindly to note the following statement: -
The consumer price index showed only a very small rise of 0.2 per cent, in 1962-63, suggesting that personal consumption expenditure at constant prices also rose by about 5 per cent.
All items of consumption expenditure shown in the table below increased in 1962-63. The largest increase occurred in purchases of motor vehicles, £63 million; “ other services “, £59 million; food, £37 million; and dwelling rent (chiefly that imputed to owner-occupiers), £29 million.
Then, under “ Fixed Capital Expenditure “ the following statement appears: -
Expenditure, on dwellings increased by £23 million, or 8 per cent., in 1962-63. . . .
Private expenditure on other new building increased in 1962-63 by £32 million, or 14 per cent. . . .
These facts taken from the White Paper completely prove the claim that public confidence is evident on all sides.
I come now to company progress, for after all, whether or not the Opposition likes to see a company succeed and make profits, this Government recognizes that there can be no success and no increase in employment if companies are not operating successfully and if the public does not invest in companies. The Treasurer, in his Budget speech, said - . . there is no present justification for sweeping ta. deductions to stimulate spending or to encourage investment.
Company progress in this country indicates that confidence is already here. The “ Sun “ newspaper of Friday, 1 6th August, contains a table which gives company reports at a glance. The ordinary earning rates of a number of companies are listed. The latest ordinary earning rate of one company is 16.6 per cent., compared with 15.2 per cent, in the previous year; for another one the figures are 20.2 per cent, and 13 per cent, respectively; for another 25.2 per cent, and 18.6 per cent.; for another 10.2 per cent, and 6 per cent.; for another 37.4 per cent, and 21.1 per cent.; for another 13.5 per cent, and 10.1 per cent.; and for another 14.9 per cent, and 13.5 per cent. Those are just a few figures taken from this table which was published only a few days ago. Australia is building 1,000 motor cars each day. Great praise is due in this respect to a company that is constantly under criticism by members of the Opposition. I have not time to quote the relevant newspaper article in detail. Its heading indicates that we have progress, development and industrial expansion in this country.
In my own State of Western Australia remarkable things are happening. I would not be a real spokesman for my State if I did not take this opportunity to direct attention to the fact that only a month or so ago an agreement was signed for the establishment of a salt industry at a place called Useless Loop in the Shark Bay area. A Japanese company is expected to import 1,600,000 tons of salt from that area during a seven-year period from January next year. Capital expenditure for initial production is expected to be about £750,000. That information appears in a bank analysis. When I read on in that document about the expanding economy of Western Australia I find this statement -
Western Australia’s beef exports to the U.S. in the financial year just ended were more than 60 per cent, higher than in the previous year. The Australian Meat Board’s preliminary figures show that a record of about 10,800 tons worth about £3,500,000 went to the U.S. market in the twelve months ended 30th June. This was the biggest export of beef ever made by this State to one country and three times as much as 1960-61 exports to the U.S. Last year Western Australia exported beef worth £2,000,000 to the U.S. It is believed that beef will be the State’s third most important dollar earner for the year, being exceeded only by wool and crayfish.
There is an indication that the State from which I come as a privileged member is benefiting from the developmental projects undertaken by this Government. In future years Western Australia will see the standard gauge railway, new industries on the western coast and the expansion of the Ord River scheme where a diversion dam was opened recently. Western Australia represents a very good indication of the rising economy of the whole of Australia.
In the moments remaining to me, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I shall refer to some highlights of the Budget. I said that I would return to the subject of housing. I have time only to say that Australia’s homes are acknowledged to be the world’s best. The Treasurer’s recent announcement of a building rate of 90,000 homes a year is more than significant. I remind the House that it should never forget that that rate must be compared with the increase in the number of households, which is less than 60,000 a year at present. My colleague, the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck), is now in the chamber. I direct attention to the fact that under his leadership the Territory of Papua and New Guinea will attract £25,000,000 in this year’s Budget. That is a magnificent achievement. It is worthy of the House’s highest praise. It is another indication of the way that this Government takes up its responsibilities in this Budget. The Budget demonstrates to all the people of Australia that the economy is sound and that the future of the country is well vested in the Menzies Government.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, I support the censure motion that has been moved, on behalf of the Opposition, by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). I suggest that what he said last evening in criticism of the Budget can be distilled from these words from his speech -
This Budget is quite remarkable for the trifling attention it pays to, the general state of economic activity, so one ‘has largely to guess at its aims and assumptions.
When one looks at the documents that now accompany a budget when it is presented, it should not be difficult to realize that a budget is more than a statement of figures. A budget, if its impact is to be comprehended, should also be a facing by the Treasurer of the facts of the Australian economy. It is equally true that the effects of the Budget cannot be seen by merely looking at the Budget alone. I suggest that that is the difficulty that is facing the Government on this occasion. The Government is trying to lull the community into thinking that all is well when, if you scratch a little beneath the surface, you will see that there is much that is unsatisfactory.
First, the Government and its Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) should not be able to bury the mistakes of last year as easily as they have attempted to do. Just twelve months ago, when the Treasurer brought in the Budget for 1962-63. he said -
That was described then by him, and by everybody else who understood what that statement was supposed to mean, as a deficit of £118,328,000. At the end of the financial year, as we all know, the outcome was not a deficit of about £118,000,000, but a surplus of £16,000,000. In other words, at first look, the mistake was £134,000,000 in a total of £1,700,000,000.
Since that time, attempts have been made to camouflage that picture. I direct the attention of the House to what the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Cleaver) described as the new method of presenting the accounts. Last Tuesday evening the Treasurer said that he had appended to the Budget speech a new table. He called it “ Table 6 “, and said that it would repay some study. He also said -
Incidentally, it also shows that, contrary to much that has been said, the Budget of last year had, in these terms, a quite strong expansionary influence..
I endeavoured, as the Treasurer suggested, to make a study of Table 6, to see whether I could deduce from it that last year’s Budget had a quite strong expansionary influence. I suggest that the table shows no such thing at all. All that it shows is that, instead of having to find £118,000,000 from treasury-bills, in fact the Government received £100,000,000 more than it had expected to receive from loan moneys.
You cannot evaluate the situation merely by looking at the Budget alone. You must look at the entire Australian economy in perspective. What had to be asked then and has equally to be asked in the future is: Why did the loan market appear to be as responsive as it was and why were the calculations which the Treasurer made on 7th August, 1962. found to be so wrong on 13th August, 1963? I suggest that the reason is that total activity in the community by private individuals was so much les3. Public activity was no greater than had been anticipated, but because private activity was so much less the total output of the economy was less than it should have been.
A lot has been made of the fact that what is called the gross national product ha-, increased by 6 per cent., 7 per cent, or 8 per cent, this year compared with last year. There is just a fleeting reference to the fact that in the previous year there was that great decline from former levels. The Government talks about growth and stability. I suggest there are three paradoxes in the present situation; and they reflect the differences between the attitudes of the two sides of the House about certain fundamental matters. The first contradiction or paradox concerns the Government’s confidence that this year it can encourage at least 100,000 newcomers to these shores. Old Australians, if you like to call them that, are worried about the proposed influx of migrants because already 80,000, and perhaps as many as 100,000, Australians cannot find work. In that situation there is a contradiction that requires a little more examination than has been given to it. The second contradiction as I see it in the Government’s thinking is that for the first time in the field of social services the Government has apparently recognized that the circumstances of people vary. It is providing what is called a differentia] pension. If the Government is to indulge in thinking of that kind why does it not take into account the fact that the circumsances of a family person are different from those of a person without a family? Surely, that is the logic behind child endowment. Child endowment is a recognition that the industrial wage needs to be augmented by a social wage according to the family circumstances of the community. But under this Government child endowment has remained at the same monetary level for thirteen years despite the fact that in that time the value of money has depreciated by 50 per cent.
The third great contradiction - this goes to the root of the structure of this Budget - relates to what might be called the imponderable effects of the loan market. Those imponderables have made the Treasurer cast his Budget this year in a way entirely different from what he did last year and in a way that bears out what the Leader of the Opposition has said - that the Government really does not know precisely where it is going. The Government should have been able to do better than make more than a vague guess at what the return from the loan market would be in 1963. But, because the mistake was so great in 1962, the Government did not want to hazard any kind of guess in 1963 as to what the circumstances might be. If you are only guessing you are leaving a great deal out of the total economic picture.
– Can you name any government that does much more than guess?
– I think other governments guess a little more accurately than does this Government. I suggest that this Government should endeavour to limit the field in which guess work operates. It should be planning more systematically the economy as a whole. Take these great things about which the Government tails - growth and stability. The quotation that I propose to read is not from a decision of the Federal Labour Conference; it is from a recent publication of what might be called a privateenterprise organization. Despite what the Government may say about encouraging growth, there is no doubt that in Australia at the moment a good deal of the potential of growth that has been achieved in the past is not being utilized. I propose to read from a publication of the Victorian Chamber of Manufactures entitled “Economic Service “ and dated 31st July, 1963. Under the heading, “Decline in Factory Employment during June. Unused Capacity in Many Industries “, the following statement appears: -
The decrease in factory employment recorded in the latest Chamber Survey, taken at the 28th June last, represents a significant reversal in the upward trend of employment which had been evident since the middle of 1961.
Overall employment in the factories covered by our Survey declined by 0.2 per cent, during June, and is now 3.0 per cent, below the level of November, 1960.
In other words, it is all right to talk about more growth; but even at this stage we are not utilizing all the potential that is available. The Treasurer need not bother to interject; I will make this speech.
We on this side of the House have on numerous occasions said that there are structural problems inherent in the Australian economy. Those problems have been obvious for a long time to anybody but the Government. Because nothing has been done in the past all that this Government can do now is console itself month by month in the knowledge that the unemployment figure is not getting higher. We on this side of the House have always said that if our economy is to expand the problem that we should be facing is one of a shortage of man-power, not a surplus of man-power. Except occasionally for transitional reasons there should not be in Australia a considerable permanent pool of unemployed. Australia should be capable of absorbing not only all the people who are bom here but also those people who want to come to our shores to make a new life.
– What should the percentage of unemployed be?
– Nobody should be unemployed. There should always be far more jobs than people seeking them. But that is not the situation at the moment. At present in Australia there are about 25,000 job vacancies and about 80,000 people seeking to fill them. In an economy such as ours if you plan development properly there should be far more jobs than people to fill them. Every person, no matter how little his skill may be, should be able to find work. The Government tries to brush off this matter lightly, but is there not something wrong when the monthly figures of unemployment show that 12,870 females who could fill professional, semiprofessional, commercial, clerical and administrative positions are out of work? They are skilled, not unskilled, people. That figure indicates that at least one aspect of unemployment has not been grappled with. It may be that sometimes unskilled persons are hard to place in employment, but something is seriously wrong when month by month the figures published by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) indicate that many skilled and semi-skilled people cannot find work.
There is a second disturbing situation in our economy. The Australian Industries Development Association recently has brought out a very interesting series of publications relating to investment in Australia. In a publication issued in June, 1963, the association states -
Although investment in housing and in motor vehicles for private use are major stimulants to activity in other important sectors of the economy, it is investment in the productive sectors - primary and manufacturing industries - which are of major importance to employment and productivity.
The article goes on to suggest that there are deficiencies in the provision of investment in these fields. I suggest again that honorable members study the documents which have been presented recently, particularly “Australian National Accounts, National Income and Expenditure, 1948- 49 to 1961-62”. That document covers virtually the lifetime, financially, of this Government. The stagnation of the economy is apparent when you study table 73, “ Private Expenditure on Fixed Capital Equipment, by Type of Asset “, which appears on page 90. According to the figures over recent years, expenditure in this field has remained almost at a dead level. In fact, if you exclude the vast expenditure in the motor vehicle field there has been a considerable drop in private expenditure on fixed capital equipment.
Incidentally, there is reason to be apprehensive now because the factors which brought about a clamping down on activity in the motor car industry in November, 1960, are becoming apparent again. In November, 1960, we on this side of the House said that it probably was better to make motor cars than to do nothing with our productive capacity. If the Government intends to suggest, as it did three years ago, that, in the interests of balanced development, one industry which is developing too quickly should be slowed down, some reasoned statement should be made to the House. Treasury Information Bulletin No. 31 of July, 1963 - another of the documents which are available for consideration - indicates that in the period July, 1962, to May, 1963, there was an increase of nearly £200,000,000 in imports compared with the corresponding period in 1961-62. The major items in respect of which the increase took place are petroleum products and oils, which rose by some £13,000,000; vehicles, parts and accessories, which rose by some £50,000,000; and “other machines and machinery “, which rose by £24,000,000.
A good deal has been said in the House in the last few days - I do not intend to amplify it at present because I do not have the time - about foreign investment. The honorable member for Swan spoke with a certain amount of bragging about the height of Australia’s international reserves. It does not do to look only at that aspect and to ignore the fact that during the last twelve months the value of imports has increased by something like £200,000,000 compared with the previous year. We have been able to pay that increased amount and to maintain our foreign reserves at the same or a higher level only because there has been an inflow of capital. The pressure caused by these imports has been occasioned by the new upsurge in the motor vehicle industry, which, we are now told, is producing at the level of 1,000 cars a day. In the aggregate, about 370,000 new vehicles are produced annually. That is a volume of production which the Government regarded some time ago as being beyond the capacity of the Australian economy to absorb and as taking more of the available resources than was justifiable in terms of total development. The Government should make some statement about that situation. Does it think that the level of production reached by the motor car industry in 1963 is a healthy one? Should the industry be encouraged to go on to even greater heights? Or are we to have the same experience as we had in November, 1960? Surely if any lesson is to be learned from the experience of November, 1960, it is that you cannot turn off the tap of our economy at one point without affecting other points. That aspect has been overlooked by the Government.
We on this side of the House claim that a budget should be concerned with what might be termed the work, the welfare and the wealth of the community. As to the work of Australia, all is not well. We have unemployment when there should not be unemployment. If we are to expand we must re-orientate the whole of our education system. It will be agreed that the welfare of the community ultimately depends on the purchasing power of the ordinary families in it. We have been told that the Government has done a great thing in allowing the banks to make additional finance available for housing. But even at the level at which they are permitted to lend at present the banks are not lending to capacity, as the honorable member for Phillip (Mr. Einfeld) pointed out last night.
It is time the Government asked itself this question: “ May there not be some people in the community who require houses and whose problem is not the availability of finance but the cost of finance? “ The average wage of a skilled man in Australia at present is in the region of £24 a week - under £1,300 a year. Is not such a man, with a wife and perhaps two or three young children the central feature of the Australian economy? What is his capacity, with an annual income of less than £1,300, to buy a house when land in the metropolitan areas of Sydney and Melbourne costs anything up to £2,000 a block? When the cost of putting a home on the land - if he can buy land - is £4,000 and when his problem is, as it is in 99 cases out of 100, that he cannot pay cash but has to seek mortgage finance of £3,000 or £4,000 at a minimum interest rate of 61 per cent., is he not being asked to pay something like £5 or £6 a week out of his income of £25 a week? Do you think he then has the capacity to allow himself and his wife and family to live at a standard that is regarded as decent and normal according to our way of civilization? 1 suggest that these are the forgotten people, so far as this Budget is concerned.
The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Cleaver) bragged about a reduction of £11,000,000 in sales tax on food as though it were pennies from heaven, but if he had read his national income figures a little bit more closely than he did he would have found that the total expenditure on food for the year ended June, 1963 was £1,193,000,000. What difference is made in the standard of living of the Australian community by abating the sales tax by £11,000,000 when expenditure on food is £1,193,000,000? That is the perspective in which supporters of the Government regard the Budget. They take an isolated tidbit out of the Budget and imagine that it is bestowed on the community as a whole. How many widows will benefit from the Budget? Perhaps 30,000 or 40,000, but there are something like 2,000,000 or 3,000,000 families in Australia. What comes to them from this Budget? We, on this side of the House take a different view of the needs of these people and I think that this probably typifies our differences with Government more than anything else. The Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), somewhere in his Budget speech - I cannot just lay my hands on it - suggested that the greatest stimulus to economic activity in Australia is increased profits. I disagree with him and say, as the Leader of Opposition (Mr. Calwell) said last night on behalf of this side of the House, that the greatest stimulus possible in an economy like ours is to put more purchasing power into the hands of people who can be guaranteed to spend it.
I suggest that nothing would stimulate the uss of the unused capacity of manufacturing industry in Australia more quickly than to do now what Labour suggested doing two years ago: That is to put another £70,000,000 or £80,000,000 into circulation through increased child endowment. That was the central plank of our platform then and it is the central plank, but not the only plank, of our policy now. We say that this Government is being recreant to the Australian people because it is not grappling with the problems that face it. A miscalculation was made last year of the activity of the economy. If the finances for the year 1962-63 had turned out as the Budget for that year had forecast, the total production in Australia would have been some £200,000,000 greater than the present Budget shows it to have been. On this occasion, because fingers were burnt last year by inaccurate projections, the Treasurer is more cautious and has camouflaged the real situation. He may have to resort to deficit finance to the extent of more than £58,000,000. I hope he will have to do this because, if he does not, it will simply show that there has been a continuation in 1963- 64 of the circumstances of 1962-63; that private enterprise, the so-much vaunted mainspring of the economy, has not had confidence in the Australian community and and that our economic activity in total has languished. Then it will be up to the Government to give the economy the necessary stimulus, which we suggest is to increase the purchasing power of the people.
Sitting suspended from 5.50 to 8 p.m.
– Mr. Deputy Speaker, I would like to congratulate the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) for having restored the balance a little in his analysis of the Treasurer’s Budget speech because, as I understood it, his leader claimed last night that this Budget would produce a record amount of inflation. This afternoon the honorable member for Melbourne Ports said that in his view we should inject more purchasing power into the community and give a bigger stimulus to the economy. This is very interesting. Here we have the Leader of the Opposition giving us his views - it must be admitted without any refined analysis of the Budget - about the degree of inflation that is going to follow and then the alternative Treasurer proposing that if he had his way there would be rather more Government expenditure. I do not find this at all inconsistent with the announcements of Labour policy that came from the recent Labour conference in Perth, because from the announcement made on any subject of policy the public could draw whatever conclusion it wished. Indeed, when one listened to the Leader of the Opposition last night, one could only conclude that he had given away any attempt to do what responsible Oppositions do at Budget time, that is to make a reasoned analysis of the state of the economy and to produce some kind of alternative budget. Instead, at a rather high-speed gabble, he was full of words but lamentably short on arithmetic and he produced an election policy. Indeed, that was all his speech was.
He started off by complaining that the Liberals had stolen some of Labour’s policy and then, because he claimed the Government’s proposals had been stolen, he generously approved of them. On examining that claim I found that during the election campaign in 1961, there was no reference by the Labour Party to a superphosphate subsidy. That proposal was kicked around a little in the Grey by-election campaign, it is true; but it was being kicked around by every one at that stage. It was not a part of Labour election policy. In its 1961 election policy, as it affects the farmer, Labour claimed that it would provide not less than £13,500,000 as a dairying subsidy. That was remarkably generous. But this Government has not provided less than that amount as a dairying subsidy for very many years now. Indeed, this year the amount will be considerably more. The members of the Labour Party claimed that they would use import restrictions to protect the timber industry. That is a rather negative approach We prefer to do something a little more constructive. We are encouraging the timber industry to expand by allowing it depreciation on its capital as a primary industry. We find that we have allowed the farmer particularly, because he will be the main beneficiary, a generous increase in the amount of exemption from death duties. Was this ever in Labour’s policy? I have never yet known Labour to show any interest in preserving the estates of the farming community. Members of the Labour Party are all for breaking up such estates.
We have some very interesting and constructive social service ideas in the Budget. I congratulate the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton) for producing something which I know has been very dear to his own heart for some years and very dear to my heart, too. I refer to the separate pension for the single pensioner. It has not been practicable for the Government to provide such a pension hitherto, but it has been recognized for quite a long time as something which we should institute at the first available opportunity. I recall that in this House in 1954 - I was not the first one to do this - I advocated that there should be a separate income for single people larger than twice the pension which a married couple got. As far back as that time, the honorable member for EdenMonaro (Mr. Allan Fraser) attacked the idea. He said, “ Does the honorable member wish to discourage matrimony? “ Indeed, this is the attitude of the whole of the Labour Party. Here is a system of social services which has been accepted all over the civilized world, yet we find that the honorable member for Eden-Monaro thinks that it will discourage matrimony and lead to immorality. That is typical of the cynical approach of the Labour Party to social service problems. I am sure that the pensionable community will not quickly forget the cynical remarks of the Leader of the Opposition as reported at the Perth conference of the Australian Labour Party - remarks not made in this House when he was accusing us of stealing Labour’s policy but when he was saying, in effect, to his own party: “You can forget the age pensioners. There are no votes there. By the time they have reached the pension age they have made up their minds how to vote. Let us forget about them. Let us concentrate on other things.” Now, when we bring in this very good improvement in our pension programme, all he can suggest is that we have stolen Labour’s policy.
I said earlier that the Leader of the Opposition was lamentably short on arithmetic. When I look through his Budget speech, I am rather alarmed at some of the sinister implications in it. In the first place, he accused the Treasurer of budgeting for a deficit of over £300,000,000, and he arrived at this remarkable conclusion by completely ignoring the effect on the Budget of loan raisings. A more dishonest approach could not be found, because he compared this quite fictitious figure of £300,000,000 with deficits that were contemplated in previous Budgets. It is true, as I have said, that the honorable member for Melbourne Ports did restore the balance a little bit. Then the Leader of the Opposition proposes to restore the purchasing power of the £1. I imagined that in order to do this he would propose to withdraw some money from circulation, and I waited to hear from him on that point. But, of course, since it was not really a Budget speech at all but an electioneering speech, he put forward no valid proposition as to how he would reduce the deficit. Instead, he gave us a great series of indications as to how more money was going to be spent.
I would like to have a brief look at some of these extra expenditures. He said that the people of Australia were going to be told openly and frankly what burden they must bear in defence. I will say a little more about that in a moment. At present the defence expenditure is £250,000,000 a year. I cannot imagine that he would achieve much more effective defence without more expenditure. Making a guess, I have put down a nominal increase of 10 per cent. - another £25,000,000.
He said that he had noted that the Government had done nothing for child endowment. I was not quite clear in my mind about the extent to which he was proposing to increase child endowment. The honorable member for Melbourne
Ports (Mr. Crean) obligingly supplied that figure. He thought that another £70,000,000 or £80,000,000 spent on child endowment annually would be a useful contribution to the economy. So there in two hits we have an expenditure of £100,000.000 over and above what is proposed in this Budget.
The Leader of the Opposition said a little about education. He promised that the Labour Party would do more to stimulate and foster education in Australia. It will be seen from the White Paper that expenditure on education in Australia - both capital and recurring expenditure - has increased from £152,000,000 in 1958 to £237,000.000 in the financial year just completed. That is an increase of 55 per cent., or an average increase of 1 1 per cent, per annum. If that normal trend, according to this Government’s policy, carries on, there will be an increase of £23,000,000 next year. I hardly think that if the Leader of the Opposition were going to carry out his promise he would be content with that. He would need at least another £50.000,000 for education to carry out his promises.
– Be careful with your calculations.
– I am being fairly conservative. Then the Leader of the Opposition promised, in a generous way, all kinds of social services. Those items are on the expenditure side, but what do we find when we come to the revenue side? We find some very interesting items. First of all, there is going to be a steady reduction in pay-roll tax, a tax that now brings in over £60.000,000 a year. I suppose one could expect a reduction initially of at least £15,000,000 to £20,000,000, because this tax is going to be entirely eliminated in a short time. We find a promise to reduce the sales tax still further. We find a promise to reduce the burden or the incidence of income tax on the lower income groups.
– It will be redistributed.
– This is very interesting, and I want to devote a little time to it. I searched the speech of the Leader of the Opposition to discover what groups he would probably consider in his reduction of income tax. I find that he said the average wage and salary earner receives about £1,200 a year. On present rates of income taxation, if it is desired to raise an extra £100,000,000 without increasing the tax paid by people earning from £1,200 a year downwards, one would have to increase the tax by 40 per cent, on all incomes above £1,200 a year. That is a very interesting thought.
But this is only the beginning. The Leader of. the Opposition promised, not only to increase expenditures enormously by the means I have outlined but also to reduce all other taxes. I cannot do any precise mathematical sums on these things, because the Leader of the Opposition did not do them, but I have shown the trends and the kind of mess that the proposals of the Leader of the Opposition would bring this country into if he ever had the opportunity to carry them out.
It will doubtless be suggested that you get an increase of revenue by normal processes each year as production goes up and as population increases, but if you look at the expenditures proposed by the Leader of the Opposition and at the fields of taxation which he proposes to abandon, you see that the burden of taxation which he must impose on the community, particularly the higher income groups, will be enormous. Otherwise he will have a budget deficit of colossal proportions. These are the only conclusions one can arrive at if one examines the proposals of the Leader of the Opposition as budget proposals should be examined. This further demonstrates the fact that he was obviously electioneering.
I want now to return to the problem of defence. The Leader of the Opposition said that he is going to tell the people openly and frankly what defence burden they must bear. That is an interesting proposition. I gathered that he is a little reticent about it at this stage, either because he does not yet have a defence policy or he is frightened that we might take something from him. I do not think he need worry about that. So far as I have been able to discover, his defence policy is unattractive to the ordinary common-sense individual. Before he left for a tour overseas, he said that the Labour Party had a defence policy based on four propositions. The first proposition was to increase Australia’s self-reliance and to lessen dependence on her allies. I give him full marks for that because he outlined two ways in which he would increase Australia’s self-reliance. He is going to advocate a nuclear weapons ban in the southern hemisphere. This would increase Australia’s self-reliance all right, because the United States Government has indicated quite plainly that it could not guarantee our defence if there were such a ban. This, I suppose, is one ingredient of the Labour Party’s defence policy.
Then he has undertaken - this policy was approved at the recent Perth conference of the Australian Labour Party - that his party will renegotiate the treaty for the establishment of a communications station at the North West Cape. The Labour Party will demand joint control of that station. The Leader of the Opposition and his supporters have said that joint control does not mean joint operational control. They are not going to sit at the transmitters and censor every message that goes out. This is to be, if you please, joint political control. What do they mean by “joint political control “ ? If they simply mean consultation, then we have consultation with the Americans on the use of the base. If they mean something more than that, they can only mean the right to veto the use of the base under certain conditions and on certain occasions. The Americans have said that they could not consider that arrangement for one moment. Twice now the Leader of the Opposition has said - even in America - that he intends to renegotiate this treaty. A wonderful way in which to achieve self-reliance in defence is to antagonize our allies, or to make it impossible for them to defend us.
The honorable gentleman said that we must be ready ourselves to meet any threat to Australia. By how much would he increase defence expenditure? What level of expenditure has he in mind? He will not tell us. I suggest that he will not tell us because he has not anything particular in mind. Let us suppose, for the sake of argument, that he would raise Australia’s defence expenditure. We have, I suppose, at a rough estimate, about 50,000 men in our permanent armed forces. With forces only of that size, are we to be completely self-reliant while Indonesia has 250,000 men under arms? Can the Leader of the Opposition contemplate not merely doubling defence expenditure but spending four or five times as much as at present? Could we ever withstand the strain that would be imposed on our economy by our trying to match the expenditure of other countries that might threaten us? What level of expenditure would be required?
The interesting thing to note is that the second proposal in the Leader of the Opposition’s defence policy was based on an increase in Australia’s industrial development, particularly in the shipbuilding and the aircraft industries. This sounds fascinating! The aircraft industry in Australia is going along fairly well, and so is the shipbuilding industry. But if we are to put modern ships and aircraft into service quickly, “we cannot afford to build them in Australia. The cost per unit would be too high if we were to build up-to-date ships and aircraft quickly. This has been proved with the kind of destroyers that we are buying from the United States of America. We find that we can get modern aircraft as they come off the production lines overseas. How much longer would we have to wait for those aircraft if we were to manufacture them in Australia? First, we would have to get licences to build them here. It is true that when we have obtained the modern aircraft that we require, our own aircraft industry is encouraged to manufacture spare parts for the airframes and engines. But we cannot expect to make an immediate contribution to our defence merely by encouraging the shipbuilding and aircraft industries. If they are to be encouraged and made the basis of our defence policy, inevitably our ability to provide the armaments that we need to meet our immediate defence requirements will suffer.
The Leader of the Opposition added, for good measure, that he would re-organize our defences in a way that would permit rapid mobilization and expansion of our forces in an emergency. What does that mean? Whatever it means is said in a lot of words. Does the honorable gentleman propose to reintroduce national service training or some form of compulsory military training? All that I have heard from the Australian Labour Party in the past has been quite vigorously opposed to such an idea. What kind of permanent armed forces does the Leader of the Opposition propose? We hear nothing about this from the Opposition.
The fourth defence measure proposed by the the Leader of the Opposition, I think, is really the most absurd of all. He proposes to develop the vulnerable northern and western parts of the continent. This proposal, mark you, is part of a defence policy! The present Government has made a very valuable contribution to the development of northern Australia. The north is moving ahead to-day as it has never moved before. It is coming to life rapidly. But we do not pretend that this is part of a defence policy. This is part of an economic and developmental policy. To translate such a policy and say that it is to be Labour’s defence policy is grossly to distort reality. The Opposition is merely preparing itself an excuse, as it were, and saying that instead of spending money on defence it will adopt under the guise of a defence policy an economic and developmental policy.
In plain truth, as is apparent as soon as one considers the matter, the development of new industries in the north, such as the aluminium industry on the Gove Peninsula and at Weipa, land settlement of the kind being undertaken in the Ord River area and the development of a prosperous cattle industry by the provision of beef roads make the north, not less vulnerable, but more attractive to others and therefore, perhaps, more vulnerable. These activities contribute greatly to our defence potential, but they certainly make the north more attractive to anybody who has evil designs on it. This proposals by the Leader of the Opposition is the most stupid and idiotic kind of proposal that could be included in a defence policy. Yet the Leader of the Opposition has described his proposal as an integral part of Labour’s defence policy.
I believe that this Budget has struck an excellent balance, Sir. It is tuned to the needs of the economy. Indeed, I think that this is one of the most beneficial budgets with which I have had the pleasure of being associated during the life of this Government. The differences of opinion, the bewilderment and the confusion in the ranks of the Opposition over the economic consequences of this Budget, I believe, arise entirely out of the fact that Opposition members cannot fault the economic benefits of this Budget. The Leader of the Opposition had to resort to a miserably dishonest piece of mathematics in which he left com pletely out of calculation all loan raisings. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports went to the other extreme and suggested that we should pour money into the economy. I think that we have quite clearly struck something like a happy medium, Mr. Deputy Speaker.
– You have struck at the families of Australia.
– This is very interesting! We have increased purchasing power by reducing sales tax, and this is something that honorable members opposite apparently approve. How have we struck at the families of Australia? This is a most interesting approach. In one breath supporters of the Labour Party propose to tell the people of Australia what additional burden of defence they must bear, and, in the next breath, those same Labour supporters propose to tell the people that taxes must be reduced. I have never known a more two-faced proposition. It is quite irresponsible. We have reached a stage at which, as I have said, Opposition members abandon all attempts at making an honest and businesslike assessment of the Budget and devote their time in this debate purely to electioneering. This Budget has my full support, Sir, and I am very happy to be associated with it.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Freeth) stated, very inaccurately, that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) was opposed to increases in age pensions at the time of the recent federal conference of the Australian Labour Party in Perth and now, in this House, expresses himself in favour of increased age pensions. In reality, the Perth conference of the Australian Labour Party decided that the party’s policy would favour a pension of £5 10s. a week for all age pensioners irrespective of whether they were married or single and that in 1964 the party would1 again look at the question of pension increases. The Leader of the Opposition was a party to that decision by the conference and he was in favour of it. So the Minister’s statement is inaccurate. He misrepresents what happens in the Labour Party.
The Minister, however, is not the only member on the Government side of the House who has been guilty of inaccuracies or misrepresentations down through the years. I shall endeavour, by means of rather voluminous references to statements made by Government supporters, to show how their attitudes conflict and how they mislead the people of Australia by their statements from year to year. We have heard from honorable members opposite, for instance, remarks of this kind: “ The Budget is, and always ought to be, an occasion for the stocktaking, on the economic side, of our national affairs “.
The Government of Australia has submitted fourteen annual Budgets since Labour ceased to govern in 1949. The speeches of the Treasurer in introducing the various budgets outline the economic history of Australia. When introducing the first of these Budgets in 1950 the Treasurer said -
In times like these real and substantial progress is always made. Population grows, industries are built, new resources are opened up, and these are permanent gains. Obviously, under circumstances such as the present, we should obtain from abroad- and note this carefully - as much as we can, both of equipment and of material for production, and of finished consumable goods.
That was the Treasurer’s speech in 1950. In 1951 the Budget speech contained these remarks -
During the year prices of basic materials and foodstuffs rose by 27 per cent. The whirlwind of rising prices may be exhilarating for the few who can ride it out, but for many inflation can become a whirlwind which even more rapidly engulfs their savings and ultimately their jobs. This disaster we are determined to avert.
In the 1952 speech the Treasurer said -
There is still inflation in the sense that prices and costs are rising. During 1951-52 Australia’s international currency reserves fell from £843.000,000 to £362,000,000, a drop of no less than £481,000,000. A drain of this magnitude on our external reserves is quite without parallel in previous experience. What is more remarkable is that it should take place in a year when seasonal conditions were relatively good, and when wool prices, although reduced from the extraordinarily high levels of 1950-51, were nevertheless higher than for any other period before that record year.
After making those statements the Treasurer said - lt is clear the broad conditions have never been more favorable for enterprise.
The Treasurer said in 1953 -
We have arrested inflation. We must now press on with the great tasks of developing our resources, expanding our industries, increasing our population and building up our national standards of life.
The Budget speech of 1954 contained these comments -
Altogether 1953-54 was a period of stable, genuine and widespread prosperity. Perhaps never before in our history have we had a year to equal it.
Now we come to 1955, and in that year the Treasurer, having, perhaps, not a very good memory, said -
For several years past Australia has enjoyed substantial and increasing prosperity. I emphasize that it has been substantial prosperity and not the illusory kind that goes with mere abundance of money. Seasons have been good; employment and earnings have been high; production in many industries has increased; supplies of most kinds of goods have been adequate; until recent months prices generally have been stable.
Later in his speech he said -
Let me sum it all up by saying briefly that the main task before us is to hold our prosperity, for surely it is something worth holding. It is a real and genuine prosperity.
How long did the prosperity continue? The Treasurer in 1956 complained about the recurrence of inflation and said -
Costs and prices have been tending to rise for the last couple of years, and latterly the rate of increase has become more rapid. The movement has reached the stage at which it is beginning to affect seriously the relative economic position of people and classes of people and to disturb the competitive position of firms and industries. It is also at the spiralling stage in which the cost or price increase affecting one commodity sets in train a series of cumulative cost and price increases multiplying the original increase.
– Are these Sir Arthur Fadden’s speeches? You keep referring to “ the Treasurer “.
– I will get to you in a minute. The right honorable gentleman quite rightly wishes to dissociate himself from the conflicting statements of Sir Arthur Fadden. If Sir Arthur Fadden were here he would want to dissociate himself from the conflicting statements of the present Treasurer.
The Budget speech of 1957 made this contribution to Government declarations -
To-day it can be said that inflationary pressures have been reduced and the movement of costs and prices has slowed down. There has been some increase in unemployment.
The speech of 1958 was happier. It contained these statements -
During 19S7-S8 our economy taken as a whole made notable progress. Total employment rose and, although unemployment increased to some extent it did not at any stage reach large proportions. This country is not lagging and depressed. It is, on the contrary, highly prosperous, and it is moving ahead.
In 1959, happier still, the Treasurer said -
Over the last ten years our national motto “Advance Australia” has proved a sterling reality. It is our aim and great task to make it no less a reality in the decade which lies ahead of us.
Alas, the note from there on becomes less happy. In the 1960 Budget speech we find-
Prices and costs rose sharply over the last year, and so far the rate of increase does not seem to be slackening. Shortages of key materials and of some kinds of labour have appeared - clear signs that, once again, our efforts are in some directions over-reaching our resources. The recent rate of imports also suggests that, notably though local supplies have increased, they are failing to match the rise in demand, and this, in consequence, is spilling over into demand for imports. Speculation in shares and other securities and in land is disturbingly active and prevalent. The past fifteen years have seen progress in Australia without parallel in our history. The course of that progress has been far from smooth and yet, basically, it has been remarkably continuous. It has gone forward, seldom faltering, on a strong current oi energy and initiative.
The weird Budget stories continue. The 1961 speech contained the following: -
The boom which was running so strongly at the time of our last budget, and gathered momentum in some directions later in the year, receded some months ago and with it went much unhealthy speculation in land and shares, the over-strong demand for goods, material and labour, the rapid increase in costs and prices and the threat to our external position, which have been its worst features. Our economy is far healthier for being rid of these things. To-day the Australian economy is, I believe, basically stronger than it has ever been.
The Treasurer also said -
The Government found it necessary to take sharp measures to remedy conditions which were plainly heading us into danger.
The measures referred to were those that rapidly increased the number of unemployed to well over 150,000. The Treasurer went on -
Our sympathies are strongly with those who, through the turn of events, find themselves unemployed.
The Treasurer again became happier in 1962 and said -
By most tests, this country is in a position of great strength to-day. Production and sales are improving in most branches of industry and trade. Externally our position is as good as we have known it for many years. Capital is flowing .’n, money for investment and current spending is abundant. Employment, though not as high as we would like it, is certainly high.
The last of the fourteen Budgets was delivered last week and in it the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) dwelt upon growth. He said: “ The essential thing is growth. We have to increase our primary production. We have to increase our secondary production. We have to depend less than ever upon the importation of goods.” I agree with the right honorable gentleman, but we must realize that the Budgets of the Menzies Government tell the story of inflation unequalled in the history of Australia, of unemployment unequalled since the depression, of a shortage of homes and of the danger of international insolvency. The Government asserts that it has achieved stable, genuine and widespread prosperity, that our national motto “ Advance Australia “ has proved a sterling reality and that the past fifteen years have seen progress without parallel in our history.
In view of the conflicting statements, it is no wonder that the Government early in 1963 appointed a committee to make a full and thorough inquiry to find out what was happening to the Australian economy and what should be done in the future to correct disabilities. That, of course, is the object of an inquiry. Everything in the garden is lovely. It is so lovely that experts must be appointed immediately to tell us what to do about the garden. That is absurd; it is utterly conflicting.
I would now like to compare the economy under this Government with the economy under Labour. Labour was in power from 1945 to the end of 1949 - a period after one of the greatest wars in history and a period after the Labour Government had defended the country against the aggressors who were attacking our shores. From 1945 to 1949, the Labour Government put back into industry more than 1,000,000 men and women who had been taken out of civilian occupations to serve in the forefront of battle. It converted to civilian production thousands upon thousands of factories that had been used to manufacture war equipment and munitions. During that period, the Labour Government was able to increase rural production per head of population from £35 in 1945-46 to £82 in 1949-50. It was able to increase overall production - that is, secondary and primary production - from £89 per head in 1945-46 to £176 per head in 1949-50. The basic wage in 1946 was £4 16s. and in 1950 it was £6 9s. Relatively, the increase in production was not as great as it would appear to be, but nonetheless it was immense. The real value of the increase in production was over £50 per head and more than £200 per family of four.
What happened when this Government took office? In 1949-50, the value of primary production per head of population was £82. In 1961-62, it was £96. The basic wage in 1950 was £6 9s., and in 1962 it was £14 8s. The value of the £1 had diminished by at least half. This meant that the £82 in 1949-50 was in reality equivalent to more than £164 in 1961-62. The value of primary production in 1961-62 was £96 per head. Overall production was not as bad as this. In 1949-50, it was £175, and in 1961-62 it was £322. But the £175 is worth more than twice this figure or £360-odd. Therefore, the overall production per head of population under this Government has been reduced by about £40. Per family, the reduction is nearly £200.
We may well be asked, “ How, then, was it possible for wages to be paid and for vast profits to be paid to private enterprise “ ? Obviously, the money did not come from the production of the people of this country. Production per head of population was diminished greatly by the policies of this Government. The money came from borrowing. It came from increased indebtedness overseas. Under this Government, our indebtedness overseas increased by £1,900,000,000. This Government is dishonest when it says to the people, “ The gross production of Australia has increased by 8 per cent.”. What does it mean by the gross production of Australia? The factor determining the progress and prosperity of the country is the production per head of population. Gross production includes the cost of materials that go into secondary industries, the cost of materials bought overseas and the cost of primary products that go into secondary industries. That, of course, does not show the prosperity of the country in any way.
We are told that deposits in the savings banks have increased. But if the diminished value of the £1 were taken into account, we would find that there was not much difference between the value of the savings bank deposits in the days gone by and the savings bank deposits now. The savings bank deposits did not come from the prosperity of the country. They did not coma from the production of our workers. They came from the £1,900,000,000 that was brought into this country from overseas. This Government has reduced the conditions of the people during the period it has been in office. If it continues on its merry way, what will happen in the next ten years? Production per head of population under this Government has decreased more than it ever did in the past and overseas debts have accumulated more rapidly than they ever did in the past. In the next ten years will the overall value of production per head be reduced by £80, instead of £40? If the government of this country continues in the hands of honorable members opposite for another ten years, will that £1,900,000,000 of overseas indebtedness become £3,800,000,000? No, it will not, because before that time has passed disaster will have overtaken the country. The outgoings from this country required to pay for the servicing of debts overseas will be so much greater than the amount that we can induce overseas investors to lend to us that every year, instead of there being an accretion to our wealth, our expenditure within the country will diminish, despite our increasing indebtedness. Of course, that means disaster.
The gentleman who is the financial leader of the country - the Treasurer - knows those facts. He has bad his attention directed rudely to them by the Leader of the Australian Country Party and Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen). The Deputy Prime Minister knows the path that Australia, as a nation, is taking. He knows that that path is not the path to prosperity. I have proved that not with, figures of my own but with figures taken from an official document of this country. This document is headed “ Net Value of Production of
Primary Industries and Factories: Australia. NOTE. - Depreciation and certain Maintenance Costs have not been deducted.” These figures are set out for every one to read. They tell the story of the economic decline of Australia under the present Government.
The Minister for the Interior told the Australian people in his speech to-night that the Labour Party does not stand for the defence of this country, and that the Liberal Party and the Country Party would defend Australia against aggression or attack. Yet this Government would surrender this country to the overseas exploiters without taking any action at all! It would sell Australia bit by bit. Every one knows that not only defence but also the standard of living of the people, educational and hospital facilities and the development of the north depend upon the level of primary and secondary production. I tell members of the Country Party that all those things depend particularly on primary production because primary industries produce the essential materials that go into the secondary industries and Australia needs to sell primary products in order to buy overseas goods which we cannot produce but which are needed to carry on our secondary industries and to employ increasing numbers of people.
However, the Liberal Party, with the Country Party sitting idly by, has allowed the primary production of Australia to diminish by £67 per head of population over a period of twelve years. On the basis of an average family of four people, the value of primary production has decreased by £268 per family, in the currency of 1961. That is what an acquiescent Country Party has permitted the Liberal Party, acting in the interests of overseas and internal, but generally international, financiers, to do to this country. The Australian Country Party should rise in rebellion against the Government’s complacency. I admit that at Orange recently the Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the Country Party raised the standard of revolt. I also admit that he raised it at a place called Lakes Entrance at a meeting of the Country Party.
The Minister for the Interior said that the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) spoke with two voices; that ho used one voice at Perth and one here. I have demonstrated that the honorable member for Melbourne spoke with the same voice and in the same terminology here and at Perth. The Deputy Prime Minister speaks with one voice to a Country Party conference at Lakes Entrance, to the people of Orange, and to the overseas manufacturers when he is away in London. He says that the survival of Australia depends on the increased production of our farmers and on the inflow of capital. But when he comes into this House and sits in juxtaposition to the Treasurer and the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) - those pillars, bastions and staunch upholders of free enterprise and the unlimited exploitation of the people of Australia by capitalists, no matter whence they come - he changes his tone and the lion of the Country Party conferences becomes the lamb of the Cabinet room, where members of the Liberal Party and the Country Party lie down in accord.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, I am afraid I must confess that the superior mathematical skill of the honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters) has left me completely confused with figures. I seem to recollect that early in his speech he supported some of the statements made by the Treasurer of the day in the last ten or twelve years. I would not like to misquote the honorable member for Scullin, but I think that is what he said. In my simple reckoning, I find it very difficult to understand how he supported those statements when he voted against every one of the budgets that were introduced during that period. We find strange friends in strange places. Be that as it may, the most peculiar thing we find here to-night is the Labour Party supporting quite strongly, for some reason, the Country Party - a party which Labour has regarded as its antagonist ever since I came into this chamber. I know very well that there is no genuine support for the Country Party by the Labour Party in the country electorates. Members of the Labour Party have always been our opponents. They have never supported us in any of the moves that we have made to help the country people whom we have claimed, in and out of season, to be essential to the continuance of the stability of this country.
Any analysis of the Government’s Budget proposals must be made against the background of this rapidly developing country with an established manufacturing and commercial community enjoying a high standard of living. The immediate task, therefore, is to maintain and strengthen the country’s stability, to correct anomalies and to encourage further development in the export industries upon which greater demands are being made to provide the funds for imports, the majority of which are required for industrial expansion. The Government wisely has acknowledged the value of primary exports as a complement to secondary industry growth for national benefit in its help to the rural sector. This benefit will be shared by all, as it has been traditionally. I mentioned a few moments ago that the rural sector of the community is the staple sector that is so vital in an economy such as ours. For quite a number of years strong representations have been made with a view to having this fact brought to the notice of the people who live in the cities - the people who are not engaged in rural activities or may not be living in rural parts of the Commonwealth. But we are delighted to find over the last few years an awakening to the position that the rural industries occupy in this country, an awakening to their importance to the general economy. We welcome that trend and the assistance that is provided to the rural sector in the Budget proposals. The Opposition, however, by its proposed amendment, shows scant consideration for these issues. After devoting almost half his speech to a criticism of the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) devoted the rest of his somewhat nebulous speech to a recital of political gifts without touching the core of administration - the proper and efficient allocation of taxpayers’ funds for the immediate and future benefit of all sections of the community. But the Government has done that, as the Budget Papers show.
The Government has set an immigration target for 1963-64 of at least 135,000 permanent and long-term arrivals. That number will include 45,000 British migrants to be brought to this country under the assisted passage scheme. Does the Labour Party endorse that action? The Opposition has not criticized some aspects of the Budget, and I think it is fair to ask whether it endorses some of the Budget proposals. By their silence I gather that honorable members opposite do endorse some of the Budget proposals. The Government will assist the States by guaranteeing their borrowing programmes, which will be increased in the current year by £17,000,000 to a total of £272,000,000. Of that amount New South Wales will receive £82,500,000, which is £6,000,000 more than it received in the previous year. Semi-government and local government borrowing programmes wi.’l total £122,800,000, of which £37,000,000 will be raised in New South Wales, which is £4,500,000 more than was raised in that State last year. Does the Labour Parly approve those provisions? I gather from their silence that honorable members opposite approve those borrowing programmes and the assistance which the Commonwealth has been giving to the States for many years past. The private savings banks are to be permitted to lend up to 35 per cent, of depositors’ funds in housing loans. Bearing in mind that some of the finance raised under the borrowing programmes to which I have just referred will be applied to housing, one can see that a great fillip has been given to housing in this Budget.
The proposal to introduce a bounty of £3 a ton on superphosphate will provide a stimulus to the wheat and wool industries. That stimulus is well deserved. To-day the Australian wheat farmer is producing the cheapest wheat in the world and selling it at below cost of production in supported markets overseas. He has increased his production year by year despite the unfavorable position which the industry has been placed. The wool industry has increased production but unfortunately prices for wool in the last few years have not been very satisfactory. The average wool-grower will tell you that he is carrying on to-day and showing not much more than a 5 per cent, return on his capital. The superphosphate bounty will prove of great assistance to the wheat and wool industries. In fact, it will be welcomed in all rural areas. The wheat farmer will be able to increase his acreage. He will not be forced to restrict his use of superphosphate. Ultimately, the Commonwealth as a whole will benefit. Every sector of the country will benefit because it is traditional that when the rural industries are thriving those engaged in them are good spenders and every body shares in their prosperity.
Primary producers will be granted an investment allowance on new plant and equipment. That allowance will be of great assistance to primary producers who are forced to replace at high cost their tractors and other farm machinery. Of course, the money that they pay for their plant and machinery goes to the secondary industries of Australia and ultimately filters through to the workers in those industries. Looking around this chamber I see men who have been employed in heavy industry, and I am sure that they realize that money spent by primary producers on machinery means so much in the pockets of the workers in heavy industries. Here is another example of how assistance to one branch of industry is reflected throughout the Commonwealth.
The Commonwealth Development Bank, which was established some years ago, has done a prodigous amount of good in assisting people who had know-how and ability but who lacked financial security. The bank has been utilized by people not only on farms but also in small businesses and industries. The bank to-day has an honoured place among Australia’s banking institutions. We welcome the news that a further £5,000,000 will be provided towards its capital. Its total resources now will be about £70,000,000. Members representing country electorates are frequently approached by constituents seeking assistance to obtain more finance to carry on their every-day needs. This is particularly- the case with people who are starting out in life - men who have a little plant and some know-how, energy and courage, but who cannot provide the security necessary to enable them to borrow from private banking sources. They are the people who will be able to take advantage of the Development Bank and the increased funds that have now been provided for it.
On going through the Budget Papers one is naturally disappointed in some respects. It would be an unusual Budget if it pleased every member and satisfied every need of every member. So I feel constrained to pass a few remarks about some of the things about which I have complained in years gone by. I am pleased to see that the Postmaster-General’s Department is to receive a greater allocation of funds for works and services this year. Over the years since 1949 and even before I entered the Parliament I have made representations to succeeding Postmasters-General urging that some consideration be given to small nonofficial post offices. In those days we did not know what rural automatic telephones were. We had small non-official post offices which could go out of existence at the drop of a hat. When that happened the subscribers were cut off and were forced to resort to the costly expedient of having private lines into the parent exchange. This expedient was resorted to where practical but not in many cases. As the years passed, more and more non-official post offices were closed. In the past twelve months five non-official post offices in my area have been closed and subscribers on those exchanges have been forced to go on to party lines after having enjoyed a private line for up to 40 years. Those small lines are a temporary expedient until a rural automatic exchange is established. I pay a tribute to the Postmaster-General (Mr. Davidson) and to his department for the great improvement that has taken place in postal and telegraph communications. The honorable member for Phillip (Mr. Einfeld) is interjecting. He cannot expect any praise from me. I am giving praise where praise is due. The Postmaster-General and his department have done a magnificent job. The department has doubled and re-doubled the number of trunk lines available. People who live in the luxury of capital cities, such as Canberra, may dial direct to Sydney. When you do that I ask you to spare a thought for people who live out in the country. Because of their isolation, because of their continual fight against flood, fire, drought and disease, and because the welfare of their families may be involved, the people in the rural areas regard satisfactory telephone communications as vital. I know that the Postmaster-General is sympathetic to the pleas that I have made to him and I hope that the additional funds which it is proposed to allocate to his department will enable him to assist in the direction which I have indicated.
I pay tribute to my colleague, the honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Brimblecombe), who to-day appealed for more school cadets. An increased number of school cadets is, I believe, a very desirable and worthy objective. In certain small country centres where the lads were most keen about the school cadet corps they found that training activities were suddenly at a standstill because no instructor was available or for some similar reason. It would be excellent if more encouragement could be given to the school cadet scheme.
While dealing with proposals in relation to the Army, I must not allow the opportunity to pass to make my hardy annual plea on behalf of rifle clubs. They have been battling for years. At one stage they were a part of the Army and then they became a reserve body. Most rifle clubs are made up of ex-servicemen and young people who, week after week, attend the clubs. They maintain a high standard of training and discipline. If ever the school cadets want to be taught how to load, aim and, if necessary, to fire a rifle, they should go to a member of a rifle club. I would have no hesitation in allowing any son of mine to be trained by a member of a rifle club. I believe that you can count on the fingers of one hand the number of fatalities which have occurred in rifle clubs during the time that they have been in existence. Safety is the very keynote of their training.
Another hardy annual proposal which is raised by certain honorable members is that the petrol tax revenue should be returned to the States. In his speech, the Leader of the Opposition stated that it was a part of Labour’s policy to return the petrol tax revenue to the States, but when Labour was in office it refused to take any step in that direction. However, it would be useful to try to provide an average price per gallon for petrol. It seems ridiculous that premium grade petrol costs 4s. 3d. a gallon in Canberra and only 3s. 8d. or 3s. 9d. in Sydney. The cost of petrol rises the further you go from the capital cities into areas where roads are bad and where people must have motor cars or some form of private transport because there is no public transport. Any action to alleviate the present position would be welcomed in all rural areas.
I shall not detail the developmental projects which are mentioned in the Budget speech but I shall direct the attention of honorable members to the fact that despite the claim of the Leader of the Opposition in his proposed amendment to the Appropriation Bill that the Government has neglected the northern areas and certain developmental projects, we can point to a whole host of such projects which have been undertaken in the last few years and which have been welcomed, particularly in Queensland. I have in mind the construction of beef roads, the clearing of the brigalow land, the provision of facilities at coal loading ports in New South Wales and Queensland, the allocation of funds for the Mount Isa railway, the construction of the line between Kalgoorlie and Kwinana and that great project in Western Australia on the Ord River. The Commonwealth assisted the Murray River storage scheme to the extent of providing one-quarter of the cost plus an advance to New South Wales of that State’s share. The New South Wales Government is never tired of complaining that it does not receive enough money from the Commonwealth. A study of the relevant documents will reveal continual complaints.
One project which has pleased me greatly and in which I have taken a very keen interest since its inception is the Snowy Mountains scheme. I am delighted to learn that at last the Blowering reservoir may be built. I say “ may “ because I understand that the relevant legislation has yet to pass the House, but I have no doubt that it will. The history of the Blowering reservoir is surprising. In 1947 New South Wales agreed to construct the reservoir on its own, with its own money and using day labour. In .1950 an appropriation bill was introduced in the New South Wales Parliament and that was the end of the matter. The New South Wales Government has not done a thing since then. For years the commissioner of the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Authority has been pleading with New South Wales to commence operations. The cost of the hydro-electric section of the Snowy Mountains scheme is charged against the electricity that is generated, and the water which is turned out at the point where the Blowering reservoir should be located is made available to New South Wales free of charge. For all those years the New South Wales Government has done nothing to build the reservoir or to arrange reticulation to the farms in the area. It has made no attempt to use the water which has been available. All that it has done has been to complain that it does not receive from the Commonwealth the money that it needs. Meantime, however, money is being spent in various ways in and around the city of Sydney. The State Government is spending money on useless projects while there is this crying need for a reservoir.
– What are the useless projects?
– I shall tell you in a moment. I remind honorable members that after the Treasurer had presented his Budget one of the first comments came from Mr. Renshaw, the New South Wales Treasurer and Minister for Decentralization, who represents a rural electorate in that State. He, of all people, said that the Budget provided no incentive for decentralization of industry. Heavens above, is it not helping decentralization of industry to carry water into the back country of any State? Is it not helping decentralization to provide amenities for the people living in outback areas? I mention the case of the Burrendong dam which is being built near Wellington, New South Wales, at a cost of about £16,000,000. With a project costing that amount of money New South Wales could not spare the miserable sum of £30,000 to destroy the dead timber around the edges of the dam. It would have been left as Burrinjuck was left if the local people had not done the job themselves. If the dead timber had not been cleared from the edges of the dam a valuable tourist attraction would have been destroyed, boating facilities would not have been available and the amenities to which country people believe they are entitled would have been denied them. The very object of decentralization is to make it possible for people in country areas to live in decent conditions and to enjoy some of the amenities of city life. This was an instance of how decentralization could have been approached but was not in fact approached, yet the New South Wales Minister for Industrial Development and Decentralization claims that this Budget, which provides for the construction of the Blowering reservoir, gives no incentive for the decentralization of industry. Somebody has asked what other things are being built in and around Sydney, the money for which might have been devoted to projects that would make for decentralization. I have no objection to an opera house as such, but I have the strongest objection to £12,000,000-plus being spent on an opera house. As the honorable member opposite says that the figure is £15,000,000-plus. If that is so I shall stand corrected. But in fact nobody has the faintest idea what it will cost. It is said to be an experimental job. The money is being spent on what has been described by one author as a concrete tomb and by another as a cross between a filling station and a Japanese pagoda, whilst many of the suburbs of Sydney and most of the country towns of New South Wales remain unsewered. I am giving the facts. No-one knows what the cost of this project will be or when it will be completed. While people people are waiting for sewerage in adjacent suburbs and others are waiting for water supplies in country towns or for dams or reservoirs such as I have referred to, this type of thing is going on.
I wish now, Sir, to pay tribute to the Department of Civil Aviation, which has done a remarkable job. The department did a remarkable job in my own home town. In conjunction with the local shire council it established an excellent aerodrome there at a cost of some £60.000. That is the type of thing this Government has been doing, and it all means decentralization. The establishment of aerodromes makes possible quick transit between the country and city, and wherever the Department of Civil Aviation has done these jobs it has done them well. This Government, through the Australian National University in Canberra, has established a field station of Mount Stromlo observatory in the mountains near Coonabarabran. This promises to be one of the best sites for an observatory in New South Wales if not in Australia.
I again commend the Postmaster-General (Mr. Davidson) and his department upon the proposed establishment - the matter has not been finalized yet - of a television transmitter on the Warrumbungle mountains, in probably one of the most ideal situations for covering a large area of country that has been found by his department.
There is one part of the speech of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) during this debate which I caution honorable members opposite to note. It sounded most insignificant and does not appear to have great point, but I am afraid there is a deep overt meaning behind the words. He said -
We will approach the two great problems of housing and education at the only level on which they can be efficiently dealt with - the highest level - the level of this national Parliament. We will not seek refuge … in our outmoded nineteenth century horse-and-buggy Constitution. We will accept responsibility;
If that means anything, to my mind it means that he is plugging for unification which, as we all know, is the ultimate goal of socialists. There we have a hint that if Labour gains office it will bring this matter forward. We have seen what has happened in New South Wales. We have seen the development of shire council amalgamation. This ultimately means control by the Department of Local Government. We have seen the development of county councils for the supply of electricity under the control of the Electricity Commission of New South Wales. We know that there is a proposal for a planning authority in New South Wales to displace the County of Cumberland Council and to embrace the whole of the State. The Commonwealth Minister for Health (Senator Wade) has recently experienced what the New South Wales Hospitals Commission can do. The commission has absolute control of the hospital boards of New South Wales. It has the right, largely, to appoint the members of those boards. Then there are the pasture protection boards under the control of the Department of Agriculture.
So we find the foundation of unification being gradually established throughout New South Wales. Soon the State Government will control all these activities. The ambition, ultimately, is to centre the whole of government responsibility in Canberra and that will be a sorry day for Australia if it ever comes. As I have said, the Leader of the Opposition has now hinted that housing and education will be included in the unification proposal. When the Leader of the Opposition says that the Labour Party will not seek refuge in the outmoded 19th century Constitution but will accept the responsibility, the intention obviously is to incorporate housing and education under Commonwealth responsibility at the very outset.
There has been no criticism in this House such as there has been outside it regarding the alleged slow rate of recovery in the Australian economy. There has been reference to unemployment but I point out that despite our remoteness from markets, the influx of migrants, our increasing population and the consequent increase in the number of those seeking jobs, we have the highest standard of living in the world, the shortest working hours, and falling unemployment. I invite honorable members to look at the assets of this country. We have almost unlimited bauxite and iron ore reserves amounting to thousands of millions of tons. We have the cheapest steel in the world, oil in workable commercial quantities, and coal sufficient for many years to come. No other country at this stage of its development provides such opportunities. We are looking after the aged and sick and the sufferers through war service and all this with a better allround living standard. Other nations are bursting to invest in Australia and to exhibit their goods in trade fairs. Their people want to come to Australia to live and prosper. It is like a gold rush to this rich continent with its stable LiberalCountry Party Government.
– I wish to support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), which is in effect a motion of want of confidence in the Government. For a boy to acquire technical skill is to place his foot on the first step of the ladder to industrial leadership. It is most important at this stage of our national development that young men should be trained in craft skills through our apprenticeship system. But we find that the number of apprentices in industry has been increasing at an average rate of only 17 per cent, over the whole of Australia in recent years. One of the most serious problems facing the community is the number of young people of both sexes seeking employment. According to reports it has been impossible to find work for at least 20,000 young people who left school in 1962. Does not that give one food for thought? That brings one to the point of asking what the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) is doing about it. Wordy appeals by the Minister will not find jobs.
The combined Metal Trades Federation has for the past two years been warning the Minister about this emergency. The Government has been warned, yet the employers have not yet taken their full quota of apprentices, and it has not done anything positive to place school-leavers in industry. Talk and more talk seems to be the policy of this Government, but action is needed so that these children will be given their chance in the future. The secretary of the Employers Federation, Mr. Self, shifted the blame on to the Government when he declared in a recent interview that the Government’s economic policy, coupled with the credit squeeze, had been responsible for the serious shortage of apprentices. He said that this would certainly result in a serious shortage of skilled artisans in five years time. Of course the trade union movement, jealously guarding the rights of these lads, is justifiably suspicious not only of the actions of the Minister but also of the Employers Federation. Practical experience warns them that neither of them is playing the game on this apprenticeship question.
Some years ago, a Commonwealth and State inquiry into the apprenticeship system was instituted by the present Government, after much pressure had been brought to bear upon it by the industrial members on this side of the House. After a protracted inquiry, that committee brought down a good report - one which befitted such a representative body. It contained many recommendations and it stated that the practical aim of trade apprenticeship is the development of manipulative skill and the acquisition of wide experience of the materials, processes and products. In this way mature judgment and production are achieved. The report also stated -
To this end the workshop training must be supplemented by appropriate classroom instruction. The apprentice must be given some practical acquaintance with other trades closely allied with his own, and reasonable attention should be given to his cultural development and recreative pursuits The need for instruction to accompany practical training arises again from the evolutionary changes that have taken place in engineering. The introduction of complicated tools and of technical processes and of the very wide range of engineering materials, all unknown to a previous generation of craftsmen, imposes the need for definite instruction which will enable the apprentice to acquire quickly the supplementary knowledge which would otherwise take a lifetime to acquire.
I suggest that the present Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) give deep consideration to that definition. In all, 90 recommendations were submitted by this committee. One of them was that apprenticeships should be completed by about the age of 21 years but that there should be provision for their continuance to the age of 24 years. Another was that apprenticeship authorities should be authorized to grant exemptions from the entrance rules for particular trades at times when such trades are abnormally short of apprentices or tradesmen. Another was that where youths in country areas are prevented from attending technical colleges only by the cost of transport - I am sure members of the Country Party will aline themselves with me on this - they should be given government financial assistance to enable them to attend. Still another recommendation was that where youths are anxious to learn trades when no apprenticeship facilities are available in the area in which they reside a living away from homo allowance should be paid.
The committee also recommended that, pending the establishment of suitable technical institutions in country areas, a system of supplemented correspondence education should be extended. Another recommendation was that if employers, including governments, are not absorbing apprentices in sufficient numbers to maintain the required force of skilled tradesmen in a trade, the apprenticeship authorities should consider ways and means of rectifying the position. That is one point to which the Minister should give serious thought in order to prove to the people of Australia, especially the fathers and mothers of the thousands of unemployed school leavers, that he is sincere in the statements that he makes from day to day. One interesting suggestion which might help the Minister to make up his mind comes from the Amalgamated Engineering Union. It is that a system of subsidies or tax rebates could make it worthwhile for employers to take on a full quota of apprentices. Another recommendation was that the Government should both encourage and enable children to take technical courses in secondary schools which would be a basis not only for a skilled trade but also for future industrial administration. I mention those suggestions to impress upon the Minister that the organized trade unions of Australia are sincerely trying to help find a solution to this problem.
I notice also that the employers’ representative has stated that employers would like to help, that they realize the need for taking on more apprentices. This spokesman for the employers also says that everything points to a great shortage of skilled labour in five years’ time unless industry is enabled to take on a greater number of apprentices. But this is all talk, without any action. Nothing at all is being done. It seems to me that this spokesman for the employers is talking with his tongue in his cheek. There are strong rumours current that these self-same employers are about to put before the appropriate authorities a scheme which has the full support of the Department of Labour and Industry, which comes under the control of the Minister for Labour and National Service. This scheme has been well thought out, and its launching is being well timed. It now awaits only the O K of this self-same Minister who has been making such earnest appeals to all and sundry. Then everything will be set for an all-out attack on the trade union movement and the apprenticeship system generally. This scheme is called “The Training for Skilled Occupations “ and, for audacity, it would be hard to beat. One of its aims is -
To employ any unapprenticed male of nineteen years or over for the purpose of giving him practical training in any of the trades covered by this log at rates of pay-
The words, “ At rates of pay “, are underlined - from time to time prescribed by part I of the Metal Trades Award 19S2, as varied for male juniors or tradesmen’s assistants as described by classification 290 in the said award as the case nay be until in the opinion of the employer-
Again, the words “in the opinion of the employer “ are underlined - ie has attained proficency as a tradesman. The trades to be covered are the trades within the industries and callings of the engineering metal working md fabricating industries in all their branches and If industries allied thereto.
This application to the appropriate authority will really be in two parts. The second part of the application seeks to vary the metal trades award. It provides -
Delete paragraph (1.) of sub-clause (f) proportion of clause (7) apprenticeship, and insert in lieu hereof the following: -
(1.) An employer shall not employ apprentices in excess of the proportion hereinafter prescribed. Subject to this sub-clause the proportion of apprentices who may be taken by an employer shall not exceed one apprentice to every one tradesman in the trades concerned for the purpose of ascertaining the number of apprentices. The number of tradesmen shall be deemed to be the average number working during the immediately preceding six months, and in ascertaining such proportion an employer actually working in any workshop shall be deemed to be a tradesman. Any person who is for a term not exceeding two years taking practical training in a workshop in continuance of a course of training for professional work shall not be taken into account in calculating the proportion of apprentices to journeymen.
Honorable members can see from that just how the employers are organizing their forces to take every possible advantage of the serious situation which has been brought about deliberately by this Government. It should be pointed out that all metal trades awards provide for a ratio of one apprentice to each three tradesmen or part thereof. It must also be pointed out that statistics show that 51 per cent, of the employers are not taking the proportion of apprentices permitted them under the existing award.
This being the case, it is very difficult to imagine how an increase of the proportion of one apprentice to one tradesman could induce employers to take more apprentices than they do at present. It is a fact that something like 25 per cent, of the employers are not taking any apprentices at all. That prompts a question as to what effect the proposed alteration of the proportion will have on the employer who is not taking any apprentices. The cure appears to lie with the employers’ organizations which should see that their members absorb their full quota of apprentices, rather than attempt to obtain some cheap publicity for themselves by increasing award provisions when such provisions could have no effect whatever. That is another cheap trick by the employers.
The metal trades unions feel that the por-tion of the claim which deals with adult training is a most dangerous provision and shows the average employer for what he is. The real effect of this provision is to reduce the existing tradesman’s margin, to destroy the present apprenticeship system and to transport into the award the provisions of the Tradesmen’s Rights Regulation Act. If this application is granted, the result will be the utilization of unskilled and, in some cases, unskilled junior labour in some functions which are normally part of the work requiring the skill possessed by tradesmen. Thus trade functions would be paid for at whatever rates the employee was receiving at the time he was chosen to undergo this period of training. As an example, a junior process worker of 19 years of age, with an award rate of £11 7s. a week, could be placed in some aspect of a trade normally performed by a tradesman on an award rate of £19 19s. The junior process worker could continue at £11 7s. a week for whatever period of time the employer might require him. This could be done under the provision which seeks to establish the period of training as the period which the employer may determine. The employer, of course, gets an open go. The employee being trained is competent to perform trade work. An apprentice of about 19 years of age could reasonably be expected to have commenced his fourth year. His award rate would be £13 10s. a week, as against the £11 7s. a week of the junior process worker.
It is clear how this nefarious scheme is expected to work. It is expected to destroy the apprenticeship system and so make more profit for the master. Anyone can see that from the point of view of wages alone, the unions are sure to resist the application. They have good reason to resist when we take their estimation that it means a reduction of 66s. 6d. a week in the minimum margin. Further, it will tend to depress or reduce margins generally. The unions will also resist strongly the proposed attack on the apprenticeship system - a system which ensures that lads who become apprenticed are adequately trained in all functions of trade work, and that on completion of their time they are fitted to take their places in any section of their industry and to undertake any type of work which may be required of them.
There is no provision by the employers in this scheme - which is the meat in the application - for any technical training whatever. This, of course, is a dangerous threat to at least one State system of daylight training. It would mean that the employer would be exempt from the decisions of the New South Wales apprenticeship authority. It cuts across all the principles of the apprenticeship system.
The situation that is proposed in this application means that there would be no extensive training. There would be no attempt to ensure that the persons selected by the employer to undergo training would at its conclusion be equipped to perform any type of work other than the one function on which they had been employed. In the result it would mean that the employee could be on a grinding machine, an emery wheel or a drilling machine for the rest of his life at the munificent rate of the award. The boy would be working at slave rates on one specialized type of work for the rest of his life, because the employer considered that his purpose had been served if he had that particular function performed for him. In other words, the employer would obtain his production and avoid the cost of employing a tradesman by using as an excuse this period of so-called training.
This is a direct attack, without any frills, on all tradesmen, and will not be taken sitting down. The employers wonder why so many strikes occur in industry. These are the pin-pricking tactics that are operating all the time. I feel I must warn the Minister that tradesmen generally, and in particular members of my union, the boilermakers union, are very much concerned about the action of the employers, in co-operation with the Department of Labour and National Service, in instituting these proposals, which can only mean industrial unrest for long periods.
May I suggest that the Minister use his influence to have this application withdrawn before it is too late. Is the Minister aware that the Australian Council of Trade Unions - the leading organization in the Australian trade union movement - has already called a meeting of unions with members employed in the metal industries? The meeting strongly expressed its opposition to the metal trades employers’ log for adult training, which is activated by profit motives. The meeting also expressed the view that the obvious intention of the applicant employers is to create a false impression of a skilled labour shortage. We continually hear in this Parliament about a shortage of skilled labour. I can tell honorable members that there is no shortage of skilled labour. There are skilled tradesmen in most engineering unions looking for work. This is the studied policy of the employers, aided and abetted by the attitude of the Commonwealth Government. It is a blatant refusal to utilize the services of thousands of school leavers who will be available for constructive apprenticeships. We have to remember that in another few months 85,000 boys and girls will be leaving school. How are they going to get on when there are 20,000 boys and girls left over from last year, still searching for apprenticeship or other employment? There will be a total of 100,000 youngsters under the age of 21 years unemployed. What does the Minister for Labour and National Service say about that?
The metal trades unions in conjunction with the Australian Council of Trade Unions resolved that the aims of the applicant employers are a reduction of 66s. 6d. in the minimum margin for tradesmen’s work, which would tend to reduce margins generally - an unregulated and haphazard workshop dilution of tradesmen’s awards and a direct assault on the invaluable indentured apprenticeship system.
I am very much concerned about the incidence of unemployment in Australia, despite the assertions of our so-called able Treasurer. We hear about the ability of our Treasurer. Last year he budgeted for a deficit of £118,000,000 and ended up with a surplus of £16,000,000. That means an error of £134,000,000. I do not think that any one who makes a mistake to the extent of £134,000,000 is very able.
– It is a good job that he is not a bookmaker.
– That is right. If he were a bookmaker he would get short shrift.
One of the worst features of the maladministration of this Government is the constant fear of unemployment which is present in the minds of all in our community. Every family fears the spectre of unemployment that appears round the corner. Despite the firm promises of our Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) during the last election campaign that, if elected, he would abolish unemployment, the situation has deteriorated to such a degree that unemployment has almost reached saturation point. We all know how our Prime Minister poses and makes grand speeches in which he tells all sorts of stories. He is the best story-teller in Australia to-day. The monthly statistics released by the Minister for Labour and National Service point in no uncertain manner to the fact that this Government’s policy is aimed at the formation of a permanent army of unemployed numbering about 100,000. There is no question about that.
When the Budget for 1962-63 was presented last August, the Treasurer recognized the general lack of confidence in this Government and acknowledged that if such apprehension existed the Government had to meet and allay it as far as possible. So the great Budget miracle was worked. The Treasurer planned for a cash deficit, so he said, and then managed to work his miracle of achieving a surplus at the end of the financial year. If this was not a confidence trick of the highest order, I do not know what is. During my life, I have heard of many confidence tricks that have been worked, but I have never before heard of one that netted £134,000,000. It cannot be denied that the 1962-63 Budget completely failed in its chief objective of stimulating the economy. What a lovely word “ stimulating “ is to our Treasurer! He stimulates everything. He comes into this chamber and tries to stimulate the world. Press reports with large headlines told us what he was to give the people of Australia by means of this Budget. In reality, what is the Budget that we are now considering? It is a damp squib. Nobody except single persons is to receive anything. The Treasurer proposed to improve social services by giving single pensioners an increase of 10s. a week in pension as a reward for their ability to remain single. He has left married pensioners wondering whether marriage was worth while after all! This is the way in which our Treasurer proposes to stimulate the community.
– It pays to live in sin!
– It pays to stimulate.
The unfortunate unemployed have been completely disillusioned by this Government. They still face the dreary, deadly outlook of depending on the miserable unemployment benefit from week to week without any hope of finding work. I had the unpleasant experience of depending on the dole for many years during the 1930’s.
– For how many years? Was it not eight?
– It was more than eight years. In fact, it was ten years. I was an unfortunate victim of the attitude of the employers, who objected to my being a militant trade unionist. They boycotted me although I was a first-class tradesman and had all my higher trade certificates. Because I had the stomach to stand up for my rights, I was denied the right to work. That is why I was on the dole collecting a miserable pittance for years. However, when war broke out, tradesmen were wanted and I was sent a letter in which I was told that I could star* work at such and such an establishment at a certain time and that if I was not there at that time something would happen to me. So I went off to work. I was very handy for the employers when war broke out, although for the previous ten years they had considered me to be not worth feeding despite the fact that I had all my higher certificates in my trade. The Australian Country Party was a miserable participant in that kind of boycotting.
At a time when 100,000 persons in this country are permanently unemployed, we find that time-and-motion studies are being made in Commonwealth defence factories in an endeavour to prove to the satisfaction of the Government that more efficient methods can be adopted. The Government brings out to Australia experts who arc exported from the United States and pays them high salaries in an endeavour to find out whether some one is loafing on the job and whether a man over 50 years of age can work fast enough under modern conditions of employment. Under the so-called efficient methods recommended by these experts, large numbers of men and women could be laid off. These recommendations amount to nothing more nor less than the old practice of speeding-up that was adopted in years gone by. The idea is to see whether the worker can do 48 hours’ work in 40 hours. This practice is older than the hills, Mr. Speaker. It is still the favorite method of the time-and-motion experts. They always like to see somebody else work faster so that they can loaf longer and keep themselves in highly-paid jobs.
These time-and-motion studies are undertaken in order to establish the right atmosphere to enable this Liberal-Australian Country Party Government to sack men whom it considers are not working as fast or as hard as they should be working. This Government, when it sacks workers, blames the unions for causing the sacking. This, of course, causes industrial trouble and establishes an atmosphere in which the press is able to intervene and demand that the employees work a little faster or do a little better instead of always loafing and trying to dodge work that, in reality, is being done most assiduously. This sort of campaign is a favorite practice of the employers in their endeavours to bring about circumstances in which they can sack their employees and induce the general public to believe that the sackings took place because the dismissed workers did not work as hard as they should have done or because they were loafing on the job.
As a result of my own experience, I can assure honorable members that most strikes are engineered by the employers in this matter for reasons of their own. Trade unions do not believe in strikes. They use the strike weapon only when all avenues of negotiation have failed them. I repeat that an important feature of the policy of the trade union movement is that it does not believe in strikes, and I hope that that fact will sink into the minds of honorable members. The trade unions believe that all avenues of negotiation should be tried before the strike weapon is brought into use.
Some time ago, the Prime Minister announced to all and sundry that the chief objectives of the Government’s policy were firm and clear. He said that they included strong and continuous industrial growth, stable costs and prices and a balanced external payments situation. He said that the Government realized better than did most people the need to keep up the underlying-
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Mr. Speaker, I think we all were delighted to hear that the honorable member for Kingsford-Smith (Mr. Curtin) has never had it so good.
– This will be funny!
– I hear the voice of the honorable member for Grayndler piping up rather softly. He seems to have lost that look of semi-respectability that he displayed early this afternoon after his election to the executive of the Australian Labour Party in this Parliament, as a result of which he will be entitled to sit on the Opposition front bench. At least we can say that the honorable member for Kingsford-Smith, when he read his speech, was much nearer to understanding what he was reading than was his leader when leading the Opposition’s attack on the Budget last evening. One or two things that the honorable member for KingsfordSmith said are very important. For instance, he said that there is no shortage of skilled tradesmen.
– That is very true, too.
– I am glad to have such ready and willing confirmation by the honorable member of what he said. The group of workers with which the honorable member no doubt is most familiar is that generally classified under the heading “Skilled metal and electrical”. The honorable member says that there is no shortage of skilled tradesmen, but statistics published on 2nd August show that throughout Australia there were then registered 1,523 skilled metal and electrical workers who were seeking employment, and 4,884 employment vacancies. If he looked through the whole of the statistics relating to unemployment, the honorable member could not find a more inappropriate group of workers from his point of view, because in fact there is a shortage of these skilled tradesmen. All I can say is that if some of the honorable member’s friends are unemployed they certainly cannot be among the most sought-after groups in the community.
The honorable member, like many of his colleagues opposite, including his leader, made great play on the figures relating to unemployment. The fact is that on 2nd August there were, in the whole of Australia, slightly more than 78,000 unemployed. This represented 1.8 per cent, of the work force. Of course the Leader of the Opposition says, in airy fashion, that these figures are false, that they are quite phony. Anybody could make such a statement. The fact is that nobody has yet produced any better or more authoritative or more carefully worked out figures than these. Of the 78,000 unemployed, 46,000 were males and 31,000 odd were females. Of the total number of nearly 47,000 males unemployed, 31,000 were either semi-skilled or unskilled manual workers. Of the females, 9,000 out of 31,000 were in the same category. Whatever the Opposition might say about unemployment, it becomes clearer the more we look into the details of the position, that it is not a general situation but one which requires substantial, wellplanned measures if we are to deal with it. It is not just a matter stimulating the economy at large. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) said, I understand, that he would like to inject immediatetly a further £70,000,000 of purchasing power into the economy. He would like to do this by increasing payments to pensioners and by increasing child endowment and others of his pet social services. He wants to stimulate the economy further, despite the stricture of the Leader of the Opposition about inflation and the threat presented by this Budget. In fact, the Leader of the Opposition said that this Budget provides for the greatest peace-time deficit in Australian history. However that deficit may be measured, the honorable member for Melbourne Ports apparently wants an immediate further stimulation of the economy.
Let us look at the character of the unemployment problem. Of the total number of unemployed 23,000 are persons under 21 years of age. These are not easy to place in employment in a community which has moved from a situation in which there was a shortage of people in the lower age group offering for employment to one in which the balance has swung to a very plentiful supply of young people. The ratio of young people to old has increased very considerably in recent times and this, by altering the character of the work force, raises great problems in absorbing into satisfactory occupations the new young persons offering for employment.
We find also that of the 23,000 of these persons who are unemployed slightly more than 14,000 are females. I remind the House that these are young females under 21 years of age. A big proportion of them are young girls on farms in the country, or living in country towns, whose parents, quite naturally and understandably, do not want them to go somewhere else to work. Throughout the country there are large numbers of young folk in country towns where there are few employment opportunities. You cannot solve all these problems by waving a wand or by simply stimulating the economy. You must adopt carefully thought-out measures to deal with the situation.
One of the great problems we are going to have to face is that of training, not only training young people coming into the work force but also re-training those who are displaced. If the Leader of the Opposition had dealt with some of the problems of this nature that are coming up in the Australian community he might have been much more convincing. There are quite a few of these problems in relation to unemployment which the Government has already begun to tackle. One of them relates to training and retraining. The honorable member for KingsfordSmith obviously would view this process of re-training with great suspicion, but I would like to show how necessary it is to train workers in the first place and then also to re-train them for other occupations. During the time I have been in this House I have mentioned this problem from time to time. It is becoming more and more important as time goes on.
In considering many problems connected with unemployment in Australia we can be guided by experience in the United States of America. This experience can be of value to us, not just because it is American experience but because we can see in it the effects of advancing industrialization. It shows how the labour force changes with advances in technology. These are problems that we will have to face in the future. I am going to deal with the experience of the United States in the years between 1947 and 1962, during which, of course, there was an enormous increase in the labour force, with a very much larger increase in national income.
During this period there was a great increase in population and an enormous increase in output of material and goods of all kinds. The number of what might be called blue-collar workers went up and down, but in 1962 it was roughly where it was in 1947. There were still about 24,000,000 blue-collar workers. In the same period the number of those whom we generally understand as white-collar workers increased by more than 50 per cent. It rose from 20,000,000 to 30,000,000. That is the kind of thing that is going to happen here. It has already begun to happen, and it will continue to happen to an even greater degree. That is the sector in which the increase in the work force will take place. I believe that the Leader of the Opposition would do well to give some attention to problems of this kind, which are going to arise in Australia.
In the same period, from 1947 to 1962. it was found in the United States that the number of man-hours required to produce a ton of steel fell from 14.7 to 10.9. The number of man-hours required to construct an ordinary automobile fell by half, from 310.5 to 153. In 1947 it took one man. on the average, one hour eighteen minutes to mine a ton of coal. In 1 962 this figure had dropped. to half an hour. Wheat is a familiar commodity in Australia. In 1947, in the United States, it required about twenty man-minutes to produce a bushel of wheat, whereas in 1962 it took only seven man-minutes.
During this same period, of course, the purchasing power, the effective standard of living, increased. In 1947 it took the average working man about 31 weeks of work to earn enough to buy a new car; in 1962 it took him just over 24 weeks. In 1947 a man had to work 180 hours in the United States to earn enough to buy a refrigerator; in 1962 it took him only 83 hours.
These are the kind of figures that it would be interesting to hear the Leader of the Opposition discuss instead of hearing him raking up all these phony problems, such as the unemployment problem, which, when closely analysed, could certainly not be solved in the terms that he proposes.
What is the situation in the economy at the moment? It is virtually one approaching full employment, although a few thousand persons might still be absorbed by special measures. Industrial production is rising and the number of houses and flats under construction is one-third greater than in 1961 and 11 per cent, greater than in 1962. The Leader of the Opposition spoke about calculated risks involved in the Budget. One of the calculated risks is the very considerable stepping up of the housing programme which is envisaged by the change in the savings bank ratio from 30 per cent, to 35 per cent., with all the stimulation of the building industry that this will involve. The fact is that at the beginning of August with all these extra houses to be constructed, only 1,891 skilled building operatives were registered for employment, and against this there were 1,155 vacancies. If the Opposition seeks to increase further the rate of construction of houses, as is suggested in many of the speeches of Opposition members, it must first attract the labour required to do so and train the labour along appropriate lines.
Immigration is running at a higher rate, and it is always an expansive influence. It is now running at the rate of more than 125.000 a year. The target is going up to 135,000, and about 100,000 British people are said to be still waiting to come here. Then we come to stability for further progress. “ Stability “ is a word that seems to have an ill-odour nowadays. In the days of inflation and excessive price movements, stability was a valued objective. Now that the people have stability and all the benefits that go with it, they abuse it. One of the great by-products of stability has been a very large increase in Australian exports.
Probably at no time in our history has there been so near full employment with such a sound balance-of-payments position. Part of this, of course, may not be due directly to Government policy, but a great deal of it is. In a year when economic activity was increasing, we added £65,000,000 to our international reserves. As well as doing this, we reduced the amount of Australian currency held by the International Monetary Fund. In the course of the last year, we joined that small band of countries of whose currency the International Monetary Fund holds 75 per cent, of the quota or less. It is easy to be critical, but never has there been a more solid foundation for further economic progress.
The Leader of the Opposition, as time progresses, becomes more honest. At one time he spoke about reducing taxation as a stimulus, and before this Budget was presented he said, “I would not reduce taxation “. Now he comes out quite frankly - let us acknowledge this - and is honest enough to say that what he is propounding would involve a huge increase in direct taxation. One thing an increase in direct taxation does is to dampen down incentive.
He talks of his policy being stolen by the Government. Of course, no idea that the Leader of the Opposition has ever propounded in the economic sphere has been original or has been his own. That is fair enough; it is not his sphere. But it is certainly true that, if the Opposition had a sound idea and expressed it, even at the wrong time and in the wrong place, the Government would nevertheless adopt it. Any bright idea that came from the Opposition - and this is not a very common occurrence - could well be incorporated by this Government in its sane and sensible policies.
The Opposition made great play of education. Despite the agitation for the Commonwealth to fiddle around with education, most people closely connected with it accept the fact that education, particularly in the primary and secondary school stages, ought to remain a State responsibility. Most parents and citizens associations think the same way. They do ask, of course, that greater revenue be made available and some associations ask for an inquiry into primary, secondary and tertiary education. Of course, the Commonwealth has gone far already in the field of tertiary education, but, in order to dodge some of this current agitation, many of the Premiers put a good face on it and suggest they would like some Commonwealth inquiry. However, it is noteworthy that at the last Premiers’ Conference, and indeed at the preceding conference, the majority of the States asked for increased revenue grants and not for special education grants.
On the whole, most of us will agree that, subject to their being given education suitable to their particular aptitudes, it is generally desirable that young people should stay longer at school. It is also desirable that all those able and willing should be able to go to universities. We need something to fill the bad gap that now exists in education between the leaving certificate and the university, because many of our potentially most useful citizens fall between those stools. We need to give special attention to diploma courses and to special training for those who suffer from physical and mental disabilities.
We should not write down what Australia is doing in the field of education. Every government, whatever its political complexion, is in this picture. In 1962-63 we spent on education about 3.5 per cent, of the gross national product. This is an increase since 1949, when we spent about 2 per cent. This is a direct statistical comparison which is valid. International comparisons are not valid, because the basis of calculation is different and national incomes are not comparable. But certainly we can compare what happened in Australia in one year with what happened in another year. However we look at it, a great deal has been done, although more may certainly remain to be done.
Out of a total expenditure by the States of £733,000,000 in 1962, £168,000,000 was spent on education, and of total loan funds of £220,000,000, £45,000,000 was spent on education. One of the significant points - this is often overlooked - is that every two years expenditure by the States on education has increased by 25 per cent. Increasing expenditure by 25 per cent, for one avenue of government every two years is not a bad performance, however we look at it. In 1963-64, the Commonwealth will make available to the States an additional £52,700,000. As well, the States still have their own sources of revenue. They have sources of revenue that they would tap if they were convinced that they needed to raise extra money for education or for any other purpose. This attempt to load all the ignominy on to the Commonwealth is just evasion of responsibility. The States now spend approximately 28 per cent, of their consolidated revenues and 20 per cent, of their loan funds on education. For reasons which are obvious and well known, the funds available to the States last year did not increase at the same pace as in previous years. That was explained by the Treasurer last year. But this year the rate of increase has been stepped up. This provides every opportunity for the States to allocate a greater percentage of their funds to education this year than in either of the last two years.
The lesson to be learnt from this is obvious. Those most directly concerned with education should now turn to their State governments. The State governments have finance in varying degrees and, in fact, are in a position to make substantial increases in the funds available for education. Let us take New South Wales, my home State. Receipts from the Commonwealth this year were increased by about £15,800,000, and revenue from its own taxation should increase by about £10,000,000. So this year the New South Wales Government will be flush with money. It is now in a position to appropriate for education, if it sees fit, substantially more than it appropriated last year. Do not let us overlook the fact that what the States spend on educaion depends very much on the regard that each State pays to education.
It is well known that for many years successive Tasmanian governments have been very keen and far-sighted in the matter of education. In the year 1959-60 - I have just looked up the figures for that year - Queensland spent £10 9s. Id. per head of population on education, and Tasmania spent £15 12s. lOd. This is a State matter, a matter of State choice. It so happens that the order of priorities in Tasmania is such that the State Government spends on education 50 per cent, more per head of population than the Queensland Government spends. The Western Australian Government also spends a high proportion of its revenue on education. Its expenditure per head of population is just a little below that of Tasmania. Its expenditure on education shows that it has a keen interest in it. The expenditures by other State governments fall in between the Queensland and Tasmanian expenditures. The very differences between the States in how they treat education and the priorities that they give to it show clearly how much room for manoeuvre the State governments have in providing funds for education, if they choose to live up to their responsibilities.
It is also urged that we should have a national inquiry into education. Very often the extent to which education policy has been reconstructed under the present Liberal-Country Party Government is forgotten. We have had an inquiry into university education. Since 1950 financial asistance to the States for universities has amounted to £18,000,000. The Commonwealth Government has also provided £3,500,000 for the Australian National University and £4,000 for the Commonwealth scholarships. In 1949 the figures were very low. But we had not got around to these thoughts; the agitation had not begun. Do not let us overlook what has been done. Now the Australian Universities Commission is conducting a full inquiry into tertiary and technical education. That report will be available very shortly. When it is received, the Government will give it very careful attention. Only a person who would wish to leap into the dark would propose any specific line of action before the report of that inquiry is presented.
In the field of primary and secondary education, there is not now and never has been any reason why the individual States should not conduct their own inquiries. The experts in this field are either working for the States or can be hired by the States if they are outside the State services. There has never been anything to prevent the States doing the job. We have seen what happens when education is unified. We have done a lot of it in the sphere of university education. But what does it mean? It means very largely that, although the Commonwealth does not by any means provide the major portion of the funds that the universities now have, it is the Australian Universities Commission, which has been set up by the Commonwealth, which has to put a uniform foot-rule over every university in the country. One might well ask whether that sort of standardization which implies that the ideas of one body should prevail throughout the Commonwealth, is a sound basis on which to proceed, and whether that is the kind of thing that we should force upon our young children in their primary and secondary education, with the result that it gets far beyond the influence of popular opinion and becomes a remote centralized affair.
This Budget is sound in the circumstances in which we are now. Nothing that the Labour Opposition has said suggests anything to the contrary. In fact, if anything, the Leader of the Opposition praised the Budget by saying that the Government has stolen things from his previous policy statements. It is very sad to see the way the Leader of the Opposition presents his case in some respects, particularly the things that he says about the Treasurer, such as the suggestion that he does not know the score. Speaking of the Treasurer he said -
Perhaps his advisers will not let him believe the truth. To be charitable to him, I do not think he understands just what is happening.
I say to the Leader of the Opposition it is very doubtful whether he understood what he read.
.- I support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), in which he states -
I listened very intently to the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Bury). His words of praise of the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) suggest that he may be trying to get back into favour with the front benchers. I wish him luck.
I was surprised that in the preparation of the social services part of this Budget the requests made by various organizations and honorable members on this and the Government side of the House were not taken into consideration. Requests have been made in connexion with age pensioners. Anomalies exist. For instance, an age pensioner who pays rent can receive 10s. rent allowance, but an age pensioner who owns his own home cannot. The majority of pensioners in the second category are paying rates. Sometimes the local government authority gives them some relief in respect of the payment of rates, but they still have to pay for their services and for repairs to their homes. That is a discriminatory provision that should have been removed. All age pensioners should receive the 10s., instead of making a distinction between a pensioner who pays rent and a pensioner who owns his home.
In this Budget a similar anomaly appears in another form. It appears that it is a crime for age pensioners to be married. A married pensioner couple would be better off if they were separated. They could obtain this increased social service benefit by living together although not being married. That is wrong and unjust. I thought something might have been done about child endowment. We should try to increase the birth-rate by encouraging people in this way. But since 1948 nothing has been done to increase child endowment payments for the second and subsequent children. Much has been said and more will be said about pensioners and the social services part of the Budget.
I would like to refer to northern development. Various committees and deputations from State and Federal governments have visited the north of Australia and all have agreed that we should do something to develop our north. But so far we have had only words. We know that after the last election the Government rushed in and provided £6,000,000 for beef cattle roads in the north without knowing how much those roads would cost. Now the Government has discovered that the amount provided was not sufficient. Additional finance has been provided, but still it is not sufficient to pay for the roads that must be built if the beef cattle industry in central and northern Queensland is to be put on a firm basis. No definite step has been taken to establish a ministry or a committee to deal with the problems of northern Australia. I know that a certain amount of work has been done on the Ord River. I have seen that work, but it is not enough. No endeavour has been made to provide tax concessions as an inducement to people to stay in the outback. It is anomalous that a taxpayer living in some of these remote areas should receive the benefit of a zone allowance whilst pensioners living in the same areas receive no concessions or allowances.
Development of northern Australia is essential. This development could be assisted if units of the Army, Navy and Air Force were stationed there. After all, if we are ever to defend Australia our forces will be required in the north because there is nobody to the south of us whom we need fear unless we are frightened of the penguins. If units of our armed forces were stationed in the north not only would the men become acquainted with the terrain over which they would have to travel but also the medical service personnel would become acquainted with the various tropica] diseases that can afflict one in the north. They would have an opportunity to extend their knowledge in this field. If forces were stationed in this area a great deal would be learned about communications and transport. It is no good looking at a map and wondering whether tanks will be able to go through. They may get through if it is not raining, or they may not. We know how some tanks were bogged near Mackay not long ago. The stationing of defence units in the north would aid considerably in its development.
If we look at the history of America we will see that the establishment of army outposts led to the building up of small populations in those areas. The same thing could be done in northern Australia, because if units of our armed forces are placed there civilians will go to live there in the knowledge that the armed forces will have to be supplied with food and vegetables, as they were during the last war when large units were stationed in northern Queensland. People were supplying those units with vegetables and other commodities. That kind of activity could assist the rural development of northern Australia and at the same time give units of our services an opportunity to realize what the terrain of the north is like and the difficulties which they would have to face in medical services and communications. Unless something is done to develop our north I do not know how long we can hold it. If the populations of the countries to the north of Australia continue to increase as they are doing, we are living in a fool’s paradise if we think we can hold northern Australia while doing nothing about developing it.
We must encourage more migrants to go to the north. At present most of our migrants slowly find their way to the cities which provide the environment to which they have become accustomed. We must encourage people to go to the north. At present we are not doing anything in this regard. It is expensive for people to move to the north. They receive no allowance for extra fuel costs or for the cost of fertilizers and things like that. They do not receive any taxation concessions. At one time a man could move to an unsettled area and live there for many years without anybody being aware that he was there; but to-day as soon as you settle in a place, no matter how remote it is, you are forced to pay land tax and other State taxes. No encouragement is given to people to go into remote areas.
As a federal member I prefer to talk along general lines but I know of a few particular cases of people who have sought assistance in settling in outback areas. I know of a man who wanted to move to an area just outside Cooktown. It was quite a good area. He sought financial assistance from the Commonwealth Development Bank and at first the bank thought his idea was rather good. But the next day the bank had changed its attitude because the man had mentioned that he wanted to grow tobacco. The bank knew that a good deal of tobacco was grown in the Mareeba area and it did not want to encourage the growing of tobacco in another area. But the man was not given any encouragement to try growing, for example, citrus fruits. They grow quite well in that area. But what is the good of growing anything if there is no market for it? At present there is a market for tobacco, and it will grow there. But if tobacco was grown at the outset in the area and it was later found that there was over-production of tobacco, the growers could turn to vegetables which can be grown in the area as adequate irrigation is available from nearby rivers which are never dry. The man who approached the bank had all the equipment that he needed, but he needed finance to build barns and a home. He did not receive any encouragement from the bank. He is still seeking finance in order to go into this area and help develop it. The Government should encourage such men. If it does not encourage them we will not get anybody there.
It is impossible for private enterprise to develop the area because it would first have to build roads and communications. It would have to provide power and water supplies. Private enterprise cannot and should not be allowed to do that kind of thing because that is a government responsibility. It is up to the Government to encourage people to go into this area, but first the Government must develop roads and communications and provide water and power. Water can supply the irrigation needs of the area as well as its electric power needs. If we are to do anything about the north now is the time to do it, otherwise we may be too late. If we do not develop our north we will not have any right to hold it against people of other lands who may want to come there and provide for themselves a better life than they now enjoy.
Housing is a subject that has been talked about by many honorable members. It is impossible these days for a young married couple to find the deposit to place on a house. Although a married couple may obtain finance of £3,500, that is not sufficient to buy a house at to-day’s prices. It may be enough for a small two-bedroom house but most houses cost between £4,000 and £5,000, and a person wishing to buy at that price would have to make up the difference between the price of the house and the available finance of 3,500. They cannot possibly manage. Young couples marry, and instead of living normal married life both husbands and wives have to go to work. Consequently, they do not enjoy the family life on which this country is based. We want to see husband, wife and children playing their part in our future development. In present circumstances young wives are forced to work for ten, twelve or even fifteen years to help to save sufficient money to buy a home. The Government’s main objective in the field of housing should be to make homes available to young people on a small deposit and at low interest rates.
Education has been dealt with adequately by my colleague, the honorable member for Phillip (Mr. Einfeld). He pointed to the need for additional Commonwealth funds to assist education. The States are doing their best. They are allocating as much as they can to education, but unless they receive more help from the Commonwealth they will not be able to cater adequately for their education systems.
I have not yet learned from the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Swartz) the number of ex-servicemen who have applied for repatriation benefits since his recent visit to Thursday Island. I know that he left Mr. McLeod, one of his officers, in the area to deal with ex-servicemen’s problems. I hope that the Minister’s plan has been successful. He certainly received a right royal welcome from the people there and they will expect something from him. I am concerned particularly about the number of ex-servicemen from the Second World War, now aged between 40 and 50 years, who are suffering from heart trouble. I know that medical men have stated that the proportion of ex-servicemen suffering from this complaint is no greater than the proportion nl civilians, but I should like another survey to be made of this matter because many exservicemen in my electorate, fellows who were in my own unit and who are younger than I am, are suffering from heart complaints which possibly would never have arisen if they had not been in the services. They were young and healthy when they joined and were healthy when they were discharged, but now many of them have contracted heart trouble. Some attention should be given to this matter, if not by the Minister himself then by his departmental officers. The ex-servicemen concerned, in the main, have young families dependent upon them. They are suffering a good deal, but their complaint has not yet been accepted as being war-caused.
– The department cannot properly say that it is not due to war service, either.
– The medical men claim that they cannot possibly say that it was. Also they cannot possibly say that it was not. If the department implemented the provisions of the act the ex-servicemen would be given the benefit of any doubt. I know many genuine cases of fellows who have suffered heart attacks. I know also that they endured hard times during the war. The Government should give close attention to the question of whether a heart complaint should be accepted as a warcaused disability.
– The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), replying to the Budget speech of the Treasurer (Mr.
Harold Holt), claimed that he was performing his duty to speak on behalf of Australia. Of course, this was not a factual statement, because we know that the speech which he read had been prepared for him by what is commonly known now as the 36. His criticism of the Budget was expected, but it proved to be mainly synthetic and based on some fundamental errors of judgment.
– Who prepared your speech?
– I did, if you would like to know. I will give you a copy of it later. Criticism of the state of the economy seemed strange, coming from the Leader of the Opposition who, only a few weeks ago, when he was overseas, praised Australia’s development. An article in the “Sydney Morning Herald”, of 25th July, 1963, under a Washington dateline of 24th July, 1963, is in these terms -
Australia’s Parliamentary Labour Party Leader, Mr. A. A. Calwell, told President Kennedy yesterday that Australia was progressing at a rate faster than the United States achieved during its greatest developmental period.
Apparently he was then stating his own views, which were quite correct and proper, but the speech he read last night, which obviously had been prepared for him, was completely in conflict with the views which he had expressed previously. Such hypocrisy should be exposed to the Australian people so that they will know the value to place on the little policy speech which the Leader of the Opposition made.
Two simple facts illustrate Australia’s phenomenal progress. They are, first, that our population has increased by more than one-quarter in the last ten years, and secondly, that average real wages hive risen by more than 30 per cent, during the same period. The Leader of the Opposition stated that he was dealing with facts but he failed to make any mention of these facts, which are of overriding importance to the Australian people.
He fell into the fundamental economic error of stating - at least this is the inference I drew from his speech - that instead of increasing taxes he would make adjustments in rates on some basis or other but that at the same time would increase expenditure extensively on many items such as social services. If his theory, without an increase in taxation, were applied to the present Budget we would finish up with a deficit, not of £58,400,000, but of several hundred millions of pounds. This could produce within this financial year a situation of galloping inflation which could have a disastrous effect on our economy. This Labour Party policy, if it is such, applied in this way, could end our period of stability and slow down our rate of development. There would have to be that or a very substantial increase in taxation.
– That is what you said last time.
– It is very sound and applies again this time. During his speech the Leader of the Opposition referred to the employment situation, but he did not tell the House that if his policy, as I have outlined it, were applied it would have the direct effect of causing severe inflation, a cessation in the present improvement in the employment situation and greater unemployment. If we look at another aspect we see that the criticism of the Government’s defence policy by the Leader of the Opposition could be almost laughable if it were not dealing with a serious subject, because during the whole post-war period the main political parties in this House have differed violently in their attitudes towards defence. The Government has asserted the need for the maintenance of modern, effective defence forces and the Australian Labour Party has consistently advocated the reduction of defence expenditure to the barest minimum In fact, a special federal conference of the Australian Labour Party, which was deeply divided at the time, only just gave grudging approval to the establishment of the United States Naval Communication Station at North West Cape and appended to that approval conditions which can only be described as being dangerously ambiguous.
It is also a tragic fact in relation to our defence system that the Australian Labour Party has failed to recognize that the true enemy of Australia and of every free country, and the sole threat to the peace of the world’, is international communism. It has failed to recognize that the pattern of international communism is uniform, whether in Berlin, Laos, Cuba, the Indian frontier,
Tibet, northern Malaya or anywhere else. In the whole of the period since World War II. the Labour Party’s defence policies have exhibited three main characteristics. The first has been the cutting of defence expenditure to the bone. The second has been the pursuit of isolationism, rejection of defence pacts with powerful allies or, on the other hand, the use of security forces in forward areas - I have not yet heard during this debate any honorable member opposite deny that these have been Labour’s aims. Thirdly, there is the worsening of Australia’s relations with certain other countries. The simple fact is that if Labour had been in power in recent years, or if the present Government had heeded the advocacies of Labour, Australia to-day would be virtually defenceless. However, to-day we have a sturdy, hard-hitting and solidly based defence system, which has been achieved despite the strenuous and continuous opposition of Labour.
Dealing with another very important aspect of the Budget, the Leader of the Opposition appears to be equally astray in his survey of the present economic situation. I therefore intend to cover some of the aspects of the economy, as all the main economic trends and indicators at the present time reveal a most heartening position indeed. Looking quickly at the economic situation in the immediate post-war period, we find that in common with other countries in the free world we have gone through various phases of economic adjustment. We have seen phases of tension and disturbance in the economy. We have seen changing emphasis so far as economic activity is concerned. We have seen periods of scarcity on the one hand and periods of surpluses on the other.
We have seen a casting off of restrictions and, at the same time, the maintenance of some tolerable form of control exercised by governments. We have passed through a phase of boom, on the one hand and of depression on the other. But underlying the whole of this post-war era there has been steady development. This is particularly true of the last eighteen months, when expansion has broadened and we have achieved the ultimate goal of seeing together in the economy the development of stability and growth going hand in hand. I think this conflicts with the rather dreary picture drawn by the Leader of the Opposition, depicting a backward country with its economy stagnating and suffering from the economic ills which he clearly outlined as being the result of bad administration. The facts which I have stated and will state, clearly indicate exactly the opposite to be the true picture, because all the economic indicators show the change which has taken place and continues to take place in the economy.
The figures we have just received indicate that during the last year factory production rose by 8 per cent, and employment in manufacturing industry rose by 3.7 per cent. The figures for motor vehicle registrations for the last recorded month indicate a trend which is still continuing. I refer to May of this year, when motor vehicle registrations numbered 30,784, compared with 27,373 for the same month of the preceding year. That is typical of the trends during the earlier part of the year and at the present time. The figures relating to house and flat construction show a heartening and steady increase. For the first three months of 1961, 19,000 houses and flats were constructed throughout Australia. For the first three months in 1962 the figure rose to 23,000 and for the first three months of this year it rose to 25,500.
Another interesting indicator, which shows the steady upward movement of the economy is the high figure of the hirepurchase debt. We know that under circumstances of boom we use that debt as a yardstick to indicate something which should perhaps be checked. But in a period of stability it is a good indicator of the wealth of the community and it is interesting to know that the last recorded figure - for May, 1963 - showed that the debt has risen to £407,000,000. That is an increase of £2,400,000 over the figure for the same period in the preceding year. Again, the indicators of the wealth in the community, which is continuing to show a steady upward trend, completely refute the figures given and the statements made by the Leader of the Opposition in relation to the economy. All the indicators clearly show the same trend.
If we look at retail sales excluding motor vehicles and other items associated with the motor vehicle industry, we find that in May, 1961, they reached a figure of £220,000,000. In May, 1962, the figure reached £232,000,000, while in 1963 it increased to £237,000,000. So, there has been a steady and continuous upward movement. The same heartening picture can be seen in the fields of production. These figures are most significant because they indicate the state of our economy and show what a firm basis we have for expansion m the future. During the last year rural production reached a record figure. In the great wool industry production increased by 30 per cent, over the 1954-55 figure, and although it was slightly under the figure for the previous year, with the higher price the return showed an increase for the year. In the wheat industry, another rural industry of great importance to Australia; there was a very substantial yield and a very substantial production figure for the year. Production was the highest since 1930-31 and the yield was 19 bushels to the acre, with a record crop of 307,000,000 bushels. We had a record quantity of 230,000,000 bushels for export, and practically all of it has been disposed of, assisted, very substantially of course, by the export of approximately 116,000,000 bushels to mainland China.
If we look at the figures for the other grain industries we find that in all cases they either held the average figure or increased. Again, all the indicators clearly show that in the meat industry, production of beef, veal and lamb was higher, despite adverse climatic conditions in certain States. What is perhaps more significant is that the prospects for these industries in the immediate future are reasonably good. Even in the dairy industry where there are some great difficulties to be faced, there was an overall increase in the volume of production and at the same time a very heartening movement towards diversification. In this industry, we know that in the future we will have to face problems associated with the situation in Europe. Nevertheless the dairy industry is on a very sound basis at the moment. With increasing production and great diversification, it will be able to move steadily forward.
The same heartening pattern appears in the sugar industry. Last year that industry had a record season when the return from sugar increased from £34,000,000 in 1962 to £57,000,000. Prospects for the continuation of this particular trend are very good indeed. The same type of picture can be seen on examining the indicators for other basic industries. Coal production was up 10 per cent, last Vear on production for the previous year; iron production was up by 10 per cent., and steel production exceeded 4,000,000 tons for the first time. Other basic industries also showed increases in production. Again, we are moving into a production era with new industries such as bauxite and, of course, oil, which we can hope will be a very large industry. During 1962-63, expenditure on capital equipment increased by 4 per cent, over the figure for the previous year. All these facts give a complete answer to the story which the Leader of the Opposition told about a decadent economy.
The same pattern obtains right throughout the whole of the monetary system. The public and the banks generally are in a very high liquid position. The total volume of money in the community was 8 per cent, higher last year than it was in the previous year. Trading bank deposits increased by 5 per cent, over those for 1962 and savings bank deposits increased by a similar figure. Bank overdrafts also increased by 5 per cent, during the same period. All economic surveys taken throughout the year, both private and government, talk of a period of financial adjustment and consolidation. In the Government sector, the loan situation was completely buoyant. As honorable members know, during the year we finished with a Budget surplus of £16,000,000 instead of an estimated deficit of £118,000,000. This has been criticized by the Opposition, but whilst there are some very sound reasons for this upward movement it does show confidence in the Government, which I think is the most important factor in our economy at this time. Government expenditure for the year was 6 per cent, higher than in the previous year whilst the expenditure by public authorities last year was 4 per cent, higher than that of 1962.
I come now to the external situation. We had an excellent season last year. The value of our imports for the year was £1,034,000,000, one of the highest figures yet reached. When speaking of imports, we must remember, of course, that by far the greatest proportion of expenditure on imports is devoted to the purchase of raw materials and capital equipment. At the same time, our export income reached £1,067,000,000, which was slightly higher than that for the previous year. Allowing for the balancing factor of invisible debts compared with the net apparent capital inflow, we finished up with a favorable trade balance of £33,000,000 and a net monetary improvement of £74,000,000 for the year. This is a very satisfactory position indeed which again indicates something in complete conflict with what has been stated by the Leader of the Opposition. Our gross national product for last year was 8 per cent, higher than for the previous year, and we were very pleased to hear the statement by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) just a couple of days ago that the number of persons registered for employment fell during the month of July by 3,276. He also indicated that job vacancies are at a record level at the present time. All of these things indicate that there is a very heartening movement towards a continuing phase of development during the present financial year.
To summarize the economic trend, we see that at the present time industrial production is rising, our total investment, particularly investment within Australia - which is a significant point that people overlook - is increasing, consumption is still strong, liquidity is satisfactory and prices are steady. That is a most heartening situation to have as we move forward into a new phase of development for the future.
In the field of international trade, of course, there are some great problems. When the Atlantic Charter was drawn up many years ago, it sought a world in which peace and prosperity for all would come through a reduction of barriers to trade and commerce. We know that has not been realized. The Havana treaty set up the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade sixteen years ago, again with the laudable objective of reducing barriers to international trade, but we know that despite the efforts that have been made during the period that has elapsed since then there are still many obstructions in the field of international trade to-day apart from tariffs, which are agreed to by the signatory nations to Gatt, and by unilateral agreements. Other barriers of which we all know exist to-day as they did many years ago. For instance, export and import restrictions are used as barriers to international trade. In some cases quarantine regulations are used, as are minimum pricing arrangements, variable levies and a wide variety of other minor factors, and these place a restraint on international trade.
These are all problems between nations of the free world. There are other problems that exist between the nations of the east and the west. Apart from those problems we see also the emergence in the world of what can be called an era of economic regionalism. The formation of the European Economic Community, the European Free Trade Association and groups in South America and Central America and stirrings in Africa and Asia, are evidence of this tendency towards economic regionalism. At the same time, there are still three main trading blocs throughout the world. They are the United States of America, the Soviet Union, and the European Economic Community. We are faced, to-day, too, with the problems of pressure from lesser developed countries for greater access to the markets of the richer industrialized countries. These problems pose difficulties for primary producing countries such as Australia and New Zealand. Many efforts are being made to stabilize this situation and remove these barriers to international trade. The present Kennedy round of negotiations in Gatt is one movement. Another, which perhaps is of more importance, will be the United Nations conference on trade and development which will take place in the near future. Australia is playing a very active part in these important international negotiations.
AH the problems that I have mentioned with relation to international trade require complete understanding and tolerance on the part of Australia as a nation and all members on both sides of the House. They also require that a degree of vigilance be exercised if the hopes of the Atlantic Charter are to be realized. The alternative to realization of these ideals, of course, could be disastrous in the future; but we have the satisfaction of knowing that none of the problems I have mentioned so far is incapable of solution.
Finally, I want to refer quickly to some aspects of the Budget which may have been overlooked in the mass of matter which has been placed before the House. The Budget sets a quickened pace for a new era of national development, rising living standards, wider social services and strengthened defence forces. It releases very substantial new funds for housing. Assistance to the primary producer should result in increased productivity and more stabilized costs. Taxation concessions have been made in the fields of sales tax, estate duty, education expenses and medical expenses. The minimum taxable income has been raised from £105 to £209, and other concessions assist private companies and many other sections of the community. Extensive adjustments of a unique nature will be made in the fields of repatriation and social services. At a later stage I will be introducing a bill to implement the repatriation proposals in the Budget and I will deal with those proposals in detail then.
In another important field, that of housing, the Budget provides a major breakthrough. The savings banks now will be in a position to lend many millions of pounds more for this purpose. There is a record of achievement that should be referred to in relation to housing. More than one-third - in fact, approximately 36 per cent. - of the over 1,000,000 houses and dwellings now standing in Australia have been built in the fourteen years of office of the present Government. In the same time the population has increased by 28 per cent. In 1947, 54.8 per cent, of Australian houses were owned or were being bought by their occupants. By 1961, the percentage had reached 75.5. This is the world’s highest home-ownership rate. In 1949, there was one house or flat for every 4.1 persons in Australia. To-day, with 3,000,000 more people, there is one house or flat for every 3.7 persons. The Commonwealth Government has provided from its own funds, apart from funds originating from lending agencies such as banks, insurance companies and so on, a total of over £1,000,000,000 for housing up to June, 1963. This includes £411,000,000 for war service homes, £460,000,000 for the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement, and £51,000,000 for housing in the Commonwealth Territories, Through the whole of this Budget there is this increasing trend, as we see in the case of the vote for the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. A record sum of £25,250,000 is being provided for the Territory.
A new organization - the National Materials Handling Bureau - is being set up under the Department of National Development and will work closely in conjunction with industry, the armed forces and Government departments. Many developmental projects have been announced in this Budget in addition to those included in last year’s Budget. In that Budget provision was made for the Mount Isa railway, for beef cattle roads in three States, and for the development of the brigalow areas in Queensland. Other land clearance projects were provided for, together with facilities for coal ports, the standard gauge railway in Western Australia, and increased finance for oil search.
Quite a lot has been done in recent years for primary producers. In the present Budget some further activity is seen in this field. There is the very welcome superphosphate bounty of £3 per ton. There is also the additional 20 per cent, investment allowance for new plant and equipment other than road vehicles. Additional capital of £5,000,000 for the Commonwealth Development Bank will be provided. All these provisions will be of assistance to the primary producers of this country.
If I had time I could go through quite a list of other points which I am sure would be of great interest to members of this
House, but I will conclude by saying that, as demonstrated by the trends and indicators I have quoted, this Budget is designed to maintain stability and promote development.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Griffiths) adjourned.
The following answer to a question was circulated: -
Overseas Investment in Australia. (Question No. 3.)
What was the total overseas investment in Australia during the years 1960-61 and 1961-62, respectively?
What dividends were paid on these investments, and what amount of the dividends was retained in Australia during these years?
Identified private overseas investment in companies in Australia was £232,000,000 in 1960-61 and £132,000,000 in 1961-62.
Total income payable overseas in respect of the total of private overseas investment in Australia was £120,000,000 in 1960-61 and £101,000,000 in 1961-62; of these amounts £60,000;000 and £33,000,000 respectively was retained in Australia. These figures include income on private overseas investment in past years; it is not possible to provide statistics of income payable in respect of overseas investment made in a particular year.
House adjourned at 11.16 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 21 August 1963, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1963/19630821_reps_24_hor39/>.