24th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Sir John McLeay) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr. CALWELL presented a petition from the aboriginal people of Yirrkala praying that (1) the House will appoint a committee, accompanied by competent interpreters, to hear the views of the people of Yirrkala before permitting the excision of any land from the Aboriginal Reserve in Arnhem Land, and (2) no arrangements be entered into with any company which will destroy the livelihood and independence of the Yirrkala people.
Mr. CAIRNS presented a petition from certain electors of the Commonwealth praying that the Government (1) support the United Nations resolution for a nuclear test ban treaty, (2) ensure that foreign bases are not permitted on Australian soil, and (3) in response to the call of the United Nations, declare Australia’s willingness to enter into an agreement not to manufacture, test, station or acquire nuclear weapons.
Petition received and read.
Mr. BEAZLEY presented a petition from the aboriginal people of Yirrkala praying that (1) the House will appoint a committee, accompanied by competent interpreters, to hear the views of the people of Yirrkala before permitting the excision of any land from the Aboriginal Reserve in Arnhem Land, and (2) no arrangements be entered into with any company which will destroy the livelihood and independence of the Yirrkala people.
Petition received and read.
.- I move -
That the petition be printed.
In accordance with the requirements of Standing Order No. 132 I inform the House that I intend to submit a notice of motion in connexion with the petition.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Mr. TURNER 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.
A similar petition was presented by Mr. Peters.
Petition received and read.
A similar petition was presented by Mr. Costa.
Motion (by Mr. Davidson) agreed to -
That Government business shall take precedence over general business to-morrow.
Debate resumed from 27 th August (vide page 559), 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 “.
.- I wish to compliment the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) on both the content of the Budget and the manner in which it was presented. The new form of the Budget documents, I am sure, will be much clearer than was the old form that we have known up to date, and will considerably aid those who have the task of studying these documents and understanding them. I look forward to further improvements in the form of presentation of the Budget in future years. I advise any honorable member who is closely interested in the study of the form of the Budget to examine the report of the Public Accounts Committee on this subject. That report deals with the matter in a comprehensive fashion.
This Budget was well received throughout Australia. In that way, it has been a remarkable budget. Since it was brought down, business confidence has risen considerably, employment has gone up, investment has increased, profits have risen and the stock exchanges have shown an improving trend. All that is quite an achievement. 1 particularly welcome the emphasis placed on rural matters in this Budget, because the Australian economy still depends ultimately and fundamentally on the success of rural enterprises. I believe that more could be done and should be done, but we are satisfied, in the circumstances, with what is being done by the present Budget. The concessions to rural industries contained in this Budget undoubtedly will improve the efficiency of primary production, especially production for export.
One of the most sincere compliments that could be paid to both the Treasurer and the Government that framed this Budget was paid by the Australian Labour Party in claiming that the Government had filched its ideas from that party. As practising politicians we know that any good idea has a thousand fathers. It is untrue to say that the Labour Party sired these good ideas. If we dig deeply enough I am sure we shall find that most of the good ideas and the sound propositions put into effect by this Budget came from the industries concerned. That was their origin.
The debate on the Budget, which has been in progress now for a couple of weeks, has been noteworthy because it has revealed divisions in the Opposition’s ranks. We have seen no coherent policy or programme advanced by the Opposition. In fact, there have even been divisions in the minds of individual Opposition spokesmen, because some speeches contained completely contradictory statements. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) spoke at great length last night, telling a tale “ full of sound and fury but signifying nothing “. The Leader of the
Opposition (Mr. Calwell) and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition disagreed about the interpretation of a speech made by the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia, Dr. Coombs, in Western Australia a short time ago, dealing with the growth of the Australian economy. The Leader of the Opposition cited Dr. Coombs as saying that Australia could have an annual rate of growth of 5i per cent, and in the next breath he went on to say that under this Government the rate of growth has in fact averaged only 2 per cent, annually over the past ten years. The plain implication of that statement by the Leader of the Opposition was that Dr. Coombs had alleged that the rate of growth in Australia had been only 2 per cent. However, last night the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, quite correctly, pointed out that Dr. Coombs had in fact said that the rate of growth was somewhere between 4 per cent, and 4i per cent, annually. That is not the only difference in the statements made by those two honorable gentlemen, but it is a significant one. To allege that the Australian rate of growth was one-half of what it was in fact was to make a very serious error.
Last night the Deputy Leader of the Opposition also stated quite soundly that there was a gap between our export earnings and our import expenditure. It was unusual to find the Deputy Leader of the Opposition stating a proposition without qualification or equivocation. He said -
Due to the inadequacy of export earnings it is necessary for us to have a tremendous capital inflow.
The honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) advocated also in clear terms, that the greatest stimulus possible in an economy like ours is to put more purchasing power into the hands of people whom we can be sure will use it. He advocated that an additional £80,000,000 be put into circulation. It is very difficult to reconcile those two points of view. Either we have a stable economy aand a reasonable cost level or we have wild, runaway inflation. Which does the Labour Party really want? Does it really want to have a very high and inflationary rate of spending in Australia, or does it want to preserve a stable economy that will allow our export industries to survive against intense competition from overseas? This policy - or what goes for a policy - of the Labour Party is extremely dangerous. I will explain the extent of the danger a little later. It is very poor for a party which has pretensions to office and which is supposed to be the alternative government of Australia to put forward seriously a proposition which is designed only to appeal to the pocket nerve of Australians. This is an insult to the Australian elector whose vote is so eagerly sought by Opposition members that they are willing to go to any lengths at all to buy it. That, so far as one can understand it. is the Labour Party’s attitude to domestic affairs at the present time.
So far as its policy - or what goes for a policy - on defence and externa] affairs is concerned, I remind the House that recently the Labour Party had a conference in Western Australia. It issued a statement on defence matters after that conference. That notorious newspaper, the “ Sydney Morning Herald “, referred to the “ cloud cuckoo land “ proposals put forward by the Labour Party following that conference. The newspaper also spoke of the “ broad and largely meaningless generalities “ contained in the defence statement adopted by the conference of the Labour Party. I would have thought that that time, above all other times, would have been the occasion for the Labour Party to come forward with a clear statement of its attitude to the defence of Australia.
We know that the Labour Party lies under a peculiar stigma in regard to defence. It is alleged that the Labour Party is prepared to wage a holy war against fascism at any time at all, but is not so keen to launch an attack or to support an attack on communism. The defence of Australia must be the defence of Australia against all comers, no matter from what quarter they may come. I would have thought that, as the Labour Party had this millstone hanging around its neck, the conference in Perth would have been an appropriate occasion for a clear statement of its attitude to the defence of Australia against military aggression. But no such statement was made. Following the conference, the Labour Party gave an ambiguous and equivocal statement which will satisfy no one and which will give no one confidence in the party’s intentions. In this debate not one speaker from the Opposition side has risen to clarify that statement and let us know where the Labour Party stands on the defence of Australia.
There are three matters which can be discussed in association with this Budget and which give me some concern. I raise them now in order to bring them to the attention of the Government and to urge the Government to give them the closest possible study and consideration. The first concerns the export of brains from Australia. Over the last ten years we have lost 80,000 people to the United Kingdom. A large proportion of that number - nobody knows how many, because no survey has been made - can safely be said to have been of a highly skilled type which we need in Australia. How many such persons in addition to that 80,000 went to live permanently in other countries nobody knows, because no survey has been made. But we can assume that we are losing a large number of graduates and highly skilled people in various occupations through permanent settlement overseas. It is most unwise of us to allow this drain to continue and, indeed, to intensify, as I feel sure is happening.
We should set about retaining our skilled people in Australia and attracting more such people to Australia from Overseas. No doubt that can be done in many ways, but one way in which we can do it is by putting emphasis upon the provision of post-graduate facilities in our universities. If we were to adopt the idea expressed by the celebrated economist, Gunnar Myrdal, whose work is well known to honorable members, we would find that a process of devoting our resources towards the encouragement of higher learning would not cost us much at all; in fact, it would possibly show a profit. Professor Myrdal, when speaking about aid for underdeveloped countries, advocated the provision of higher training facilities - postgraduate facilities - for Asian and African students rather than the provision of graduate or university type training, because he says this is their greatest need. In his well-informed opinion the greatest need of under-developed countries is for the training of post-graduates. He recommends the restriction of training abroad mainly to those of graduate level and to persons already well established at home who want to learn some particular technique. This could be done by a change in our ideas about giving aid to Asian people, which at present includes bringing many of them here for training at university level. By changing that system and putting the emphasis on the training of graduates rather than under-graduates we would be serving the interests of the Asian people and also doing something to strengthen our own institutions in Australia and retain our highly skilled people.
The second matter which gives me concern is caused by a shortage of capital in Australia, which was remarked upon by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) last night. We have insufficient risk capital - insufficient venture capital - in Australia and, by coincidence, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, in its annual report, which has just come into my hands, has something to say on this very matter. It is not speaking about capital in general, but about the consequences of a shortage of venture capital. The report states -
The goal of full industrial development can be attained only if industrial leaders have the vision and ability to turn the knowledge which science provides into activities of economic consequence.
It says, further -
The Australian manufacturing industries, which have expanded so remarkably under the stimulus of overseas and local investment and through the ready availability of overseas technology, face particular difficulties in using Australian discoveries as sources of new processes and products.
The particular difficulties faced by Australian industries are very largely due to the absence of capital which can be used for risky ventures. This is a matter to which the Government should give urgent attention. We all know that many processes which were developed by the C.S.I. R.O. were not developed by Australian manufacturers. They were developed by over seas concerns and we re-imported them into Australia in the interests of overseas firms. This is also happening in other quarters. Processes developed in Australia, which should be employed for the benefit of Australians and Australia, are being exported and lost to us. The Government should make an urgent study of this matter in collaboration with our banking institutions and with the leaders of business and science.
But this trend does not affect only Australian innovations; it affects a much wider field. For some time, I have been interested in the possibilities for Australia of a new process for preserving meat. This is the dry freezing method. No plants using dry freezing are in operation in Australia, despite the fact that we produce the cheapest meat in the world and also produce cheaply many other commodities which could be treated by dry freezing. In addition, our transport problems are second to none in the world and dry freezing offers advantages in transportation. The product requires no refrigeration, is extremely light and can be transported in ordinary vehicles and ordinary ships.
Large scale plants started operation this year in Canada and a plant is operating in New Zealand, but there is none in Australia. The Australian industry is treating this new process with the utmost caution. I do not condemn the industry for doing so; I believe in caution myself. But I do take a most serious view of the fact that there is no risk capital available in Australia to take up an idea such as this, to give it a trial, to test it and to determine whether it would be commercially successful. Therefore, I urge the Government to study the questions and to see that our shortage of ordinary capital does not have the effect of denying to us the opportunity of starting new industries, whether they come from overseas inventions or from Australian developments, provided they offer us some hope for improving our economy.
I do not intend to speak in detail about the dry freezing process. It is sufficient to say that an agricultural economist of the Marketing Economics Division of the United States Department of Agriculture claims that freeze drying will be a two billion dollar or four billion pounds business by 1970. A two billion dollar industry by 1970 would represent only 2 per cent, of the total amount spent on food and beverages in the United States. But this would be a very considerable industry and there is no reason why Australia should not have aspirations to get a corner of that market in the United States and to look further for other markets for products processed in this way.
The third matter to which I want to refer is rural development. We have heard much from the Opposition about the prospects of developing the north of Australia, and it is a wonderful alibi. The Opposition has no plan at all for raising the levels of production on the land in Australia. It has no idea of assisting the great export industries, whether they are producing minerals from below the soil, or agricultural goods or pastoral commodities. It has no plan at all. If effect were given to its views the result would be extremely damaging to the prospects of our export industries. Inflation in this country would be kicked along and would add to our already high cost structure.
Development of the north has its place. With the advance of technical developments it will be possible in future years to tap the rich potential of northern Australia. There is no shadow of doubt about that, but at the moment anybody who puts development of northern Australia before development of the Gwydir area either does not know anything about rural development or has never seen Gwydir. Investment in northern New South Wales, of which Gwydir is a large part, would be ten times as valuable as investment in the north of Australia. In Gwydir we already have transport facilities, communication facilities, trained people and the richest soil, acre for acre, in Australia. The black soil plains, which stretch out west from the range and which are bisected by three river systems, are so rich as to be able to produce anything. I concede that that is a big claim, but proof of it lies in the fact that to-morrow a party of 100 or 200 advocates of the New State Movement will visit Canberra. They are people from my area of New South Wales. The New England New State Movement is in existence solely because the people of the area know of its richness and its potential. They know that its potential is far from being fully exploited. They want to see the area developed.
Something must be done to develop this part of Australia. It is of no use putting forward pie-in-the-sky ideas, as Labour supporters have done in the course of this debate. We must get down to a firm plan for development of the well-watered and inhabited areas of the continent. We must see that the resources of those areas are fully exploited and developed. New South Wales has a Labour administration. I need say no more than that. Having a Labour administration, it follows that there is no development and no interest in the northern part of the State. Transport and communication costs between the north of New South Wales and the industrial centre of the State in Sydney - 500 miles from where I live in the centre of Gwydir - are too high to allow of more rapid development than is at present taking place. Administration costs are too high. We need in that area what the New State advocates seek - arn administration closer to the scene. There is justification for bringing the administration closer to the scene. There is justification for establishing new industrial centres in the northern part of New South Wales.
It seems to me that the only way to get the kind of development that we need in the area is to move administration closer to the area. I have heard some Victorians speak rather scornfully about this district, but you could fit a couple of Victorias into the proposed State of New England. This is a very large tract of country. It would have a greater potential than all of Victoria. The area is extremely well watered and has good dam sites which are suitable for irrigation purposes and power generation. On the western slopes, of course, we could irrigate the whole of the black soil country if we had the necessary dams constructed, and if the Government of New South Wales showed some interest in the matter.
This is an important and urgent matter. In the lands to the north of Australia there are 3,000,000,000 people, half of them starving. We talk about populating Australia. We will have 30,000,000 people in 40 years’ time, and the countries to the north of us will have 6,000,000,000, and they will be starving. The area is already confused and unruly. Who knows what the future holds for Australia, having in mind its position adjacent to the Asian area? The only way in which we can save Australia from what would probably be the greatest catastrophe in the history of man is by strengthening our country and giving these Asian people all the aid we can. The
Leader of the Country Party (Mr. McEwen) has for a long time advocated the giving of assistance to Asian countries, and he has persuaded the richer countries of the world to agree to talk seriously about instituting commodity agreements which will enable the Asian countries to obtain more income and buy things for themselves from other countries, so improving their standards of living. Next year a conference will be held, under the aegis of the United Nations, at which this subject will be discussed.
But we must go further. We must see that there shall be a massive infusion of aid in Asian countries so that they shall be able to make use of their own resources. They can produce enough food for themselves. It is possible for the people of Asia, using their own resources,- and with the present high standards of technical knowledge, to feed themselves, if they are given the proper technical assistance and appropriate aid. It is Australia’s task to see that this aid is given to Asia and that Australia itself is made as strong as possible and our integrity preserved for future generations, for our children and our grandchildren.
.- I was shocked and surprised to note the insular attitude of the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Ian Allan) with regard to the development of our north. He stated a few minutes ago that the development of northern Australia has its place - he said this in a leisurely manner - and that it will be brought about in years to come, but that northern Australia should not in any circumstances be developed before Gwydir. Despite the statements he made in the latter part of his speech, he does not seem to appreciate that unless we develop northern Australia as quickly as possible some one else is likely to develop it for us.
– And Gwydir, too.
– Yes; some one else is likely to develop not only northern Australia but also the electorate of Gwydir. The honorable member’s remarks indicate the most extraordinary, most stupid and most insular attitude that any person could adopt, and I am surprised that a member of this Parliament should take such an insular and selfish attitude, being able to see only a little way ahead in time and no further than his own electorate. Australia is a big country, and we must consider it not from the point of view of our own particular interests but from the point of view of the welfare of the whole of Australia.
The Budget introduced by the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) is one which was born in a spirit of disunity among Government members. It is also a budget of discrimination. It shows a complete lack of understanding of the economic requirements of this country. Disunity is the underlying reason for the presentation of this patchwork Budget, which lacks any central theme or economic plan. The little policy that is evident in the Budget has been stolen from Labour. This shows how bankrupt the Government is of ideas of its own. We all know, of course, that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Let us note the various ways in which the disunity that exists amongst Government members is demonstrated. Let us consider how they are fighting among themselves. It is bad enough when disagreements exist and are confined within the party room, but we have seen in this House - we saw it time and again during the last sessional period - members of one of the Government parties interjecting while members of the other Government party were making speeches. When an attack was made last week on the Country Party, we heard members of the Liberal Party in this Government laughing. This shows the degree of disunity that exists among them.
I remind the House also of the dispute concerning redistribution of electoral boundaries, with the Country Party demanding a gerrymander, whilst the Liberal Party wants a different kind of gerrymander to suit its purposes. As a result, the Government has not been able to reach any agreement concerning redistribution, and its members are fighting bitterly among themselves. One consequence is that there will be threecornered electoral contests. The Government parties cannot agree to nominate one candidate to oppose a Labour candidate. They fight bitterly among themselves to see who will represent the Government.
This is creating even further disunity and contributing further to the disintegration of the Government forces.
The Treasurer is an advocate of unbridled inflow of foreign capital into Australia. He does not seek to guide foreign investment into new industries that will help Australia and enable us to reduce our imports, industries which will help Australians to increase their know-how and improve their techniques. He allows foreign capital to come in willy-nilly, with the result that Australian industries are taken over by foreign investors. On the other hand, the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen), a member of the Government and, in fact, the Deputy Prime Minister, warns against the policy being followed by the Treasurer. Surely this is an extraordinary thing to happen in a government which declares that it can govern this country. If it cannot govern itself, and its members cannot agree among themselves, then surely they are not fitted to govern this country.
We know, too, of course, of the disagreements on tariff policy among Government supporters. There are three distinct bodies of opinion. Some members of the Government advocate protection, in the same way as the Labour Party does, to further the interests of Australian industry. Then there are those who would have two bob each way, advocating on the one hand protection of industry and, on the other hand, free trade. The Minister for Trade himself is in that category. And thirdly, there are our friends in the Country Party advocating completely free trade. There are three different policies advocated by members of the same Government. No wonder there are so many switches and changes in tariff policy. We all remember the disagreement among Government members last year with regard to Britain’s proposed entry into the European Common Market. On that matter there were three lines of thought among Government supporters. The disunity to which I have referred is becoming stronger week by week, and as a consequence the ability of the Government to bring forward a cohesive and integrated policy is diminishing week by week.
Let me refer again to discrimination. As I said in the beginning, this is a budget born of disunity and discrimination. There is discrimination against married pensioners, as was shown so effectively last night by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Allan Fraser). Married pensioners will not get a sprat out of this Budget, yet single pensioners will get a 10s. rise. Nobody begrudges that rise to single pensioners, but those people who are both pensioners and married are objecting very strongly indeed to the discrimination against them. I should think that many honorable members as well as myself are receiving letters from constituents who are married pensioners, objecting to the discrimination shown by this Government.
There is . also discrimination against certain returned servicemen who are receiving repatriation benefits. The usual practice has been that when the pension rate for totally and permanently incapacitated returned servicemen is increased, the general rate of pension is increased also. However, this time that practice has not been followed and returned servicemen in receipt of pensions at the general rate are not to receive any benefit. Surely this is another example of discrimination.
The discrimination against the family that has occurred over the years is continued. I feel that I can speak with some authority on this question, because the electorate of Mitchell is not only the largest in New South Wales, but probably includes more young people with young families than any other electorate in New South Wales, and possibly in Australia.
– And it is the best represented.
– I quite agree. Young people with families are finding to-day that they simply cannot make ends meet. Wives with young families are forced to go to work. Nobody objects if a young wife wishes to go to work, but in many instances she is forced to work to make ends meet. It is the only means by which she and her family can subsist. Accordingly, the Labour Party feels that this is one of the most important problems which has to be faced to-day. Surely it is time that we gave some assistance to family groups. We can do this only through social service benefits or tax rebates. If we attempted to do it through industrial awards, the family man would not be employed. We have to find some other way of doing it, and the most effective way to assist is that used in most European countries. I refer to child endowment.
There must also be a complete overhaul of our income tax rates, and particularly of the deductions applicable to families. That is another device which can be used to help the family man in his dire plight to-day. We cannot overlook the discrimination inherent in the 5 per cent, income tax deduction, which is being continued this year. That deduction is iniquitous because it gives a small benefit to the little man - only a sprat - but gives a great deal to the man with a large income. A man rearing three children and earning from £20 to £30 a week receives very little benefit from the 5 per cent, reduction of his tax, but the man earning £4,000 to £5,000 a year, with no family, benefits more than anybody. That is iniquitous. Surely this is a problem which must be faced up to by this Government. I repeat that the only ways in which we can solve the problem of the family man are to revise the income tax schedules or to increase child endowment rates or social service benefits. All honorable members must face up to the problem of ensuring that future generations of young Australians will be given an opportunity to have good food, good schooling and good upbringings. These can be provided only if the family is kept together as a unit. They cannot be provided if this Government perpetuates its policy of deliberately trying to break up family units by forcing wives to go to work who would prefer to stay at home.
I turn now to the speech made last night by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies). He used the hoary technique of misrepresenting his opponent’s argument and then replying to his own misrepresentation. It is time that the Prime Minister’s method of argument was exposed for the arrant humbug that it is. His central charge last night against the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) was that he had been dishonest in presenting the Labour Party’s case against this Budget. As the Prime Minister admitted, that is a very serious charge to make. He justified his own lack of parliamentary manners by accusing the Leader of the Opposition of the same fault. The Prime Minister said this -
Time after time in his speech the Leader of the Opposition made allegations of dishonesty.
We heard from the honorable gentleman repeated allegations of dishonesty.
That was a completely dishonest statement by the Prime Minister. The Leader of the Opposition and other members of the Opposition have no need to accuse this Government of dishonesty. The charge against it is not that it is dishonest, but that it is unimaginative and incompetent. In point of fact, the Leader of the Opposition made only one charge of dishonesty against the Government, and that was in relation to defence. He amply justified that charge in his speech. In another part of his speech the Leader of the Opposition said that the Treasurer had neither the courage nor the honesty to explain to the Parliament or to the people why his budgetary calculations of last year for a deficit of £118,000,000 proved completely inaccurate. We are still waiting for an answer to that charge and for an explanation of his miscalculations. Where are the repeated allegations of dishonesty which the Prime Minister used as an excuse for a grossly personal attack on the Leader of the Opposition? I defy the Prime Minister or anybody else to find them in our leader’s speech. I have never heard charges supported by such a dishonest argument as that used by the Prime Minister last night. In the report of the speech, over four columns of “ Hansard “ are used to show that the Leader of the Opposition had been dishonest, in the Prime Minister’s view, in claiming that this year’s deficit would be over £300,000,000. He said that this was the central claim of the Leader of the Opposition’s speech and said that the Leader of the Opposition knew that the claim was false. What did the Leader of the Opposition say? Let us look at what he actually said, not at what the Prime Minister chooses to claim that he said. I quote from the “ Hansard “ report of the Leader of the Opposition’s speech. The honorable gentleman said -
So we come to the Treasurer’s latest masterpiece . . . This Budget provides for the greatest peace-time deficit in Australia’s history, however that deficit may be measured. The excess of expenditure ordinarily charged to Consolidated Revenue Fund over receipts will be £62,500,000 compared with less than £40,000,000 last year. The “ cash “ deficit, the concept so beloved by the Treasurer until this year and now not even mentioned in his plans this year, will be about £58,000,000. Now he has given us a new definition of “ deficit “ as - “ the difference between the amount which Budget outlays add to incomes and the amount by which current receipts of the Budget reduce them “.
On the basis of this wonderful . . . definition, the deficit will be £309,000,000, compared with £254,000,000 last year, and only £52,000,000 in 1960-61.
That is what the Leader of the Opposition said. In other words, he carefully gave three separate calculations of what the deficit might be. The Prime Minister spoke as though the Leader of the Opposition had given only one - the last. Of course, the Prime Minister missed the point, and wilfully misrepresented the argument. Why did the Leader of the Opposition give these definitions of “ deficit “? He had to make the calculations himself, because the Treasurer refused to make them for us.
The Leader of the Opposition pointed out that in every other Budget speech made by the present Treasurer and his immediate predecessor, the deficit or surplus of each financial year had been treated as the central point of economic policy. Last year, the part of the Budget speech in which the Treasurer discussed the deficit and its effects on the economy extended over three or more pages of “ Hansard “. On that occasion, the deficit was to be £118,000,000. This year, as the Leader of the Opposition has pointed out, the Budget speech contains no direct reference to the deficit result. To find out what the deficit is to be, we have to go to the tables attached to the speech and make the calculations for ourselves. The Leader of the Opposition and every other member of this. House has had to do that. Yet, last evening, the Prime Minister, referring to the deficit, said -
The Treasurer explained this, I thought, in the simplest terms, and, of course, the figures establish it.
That statement, as I have demonstrated, and as the Leader of the Opposition showed, is quite untrue. Nowhere did the Treasurer explain the deficit. He was afraid to do so, because he no longer trusts his own forecasts and calculations. Nowhere did he use the word “ deficit “. Where he had to mention the deficit, he called it a gap.
The Leader of the Opposition’s figure of £309,000,000 was, in the context of his speech, completely correct and accurate. As he explained, and as I have demonstrated, this was the figure arrived at by one of the three possible methods - I repeat that there are three possible methods - of calculating the deficit. Yet the Prime Minister ripped out of context what the Leader of the Opposition had said and used it as the basis for his entire argument last evening. To cap this irony of ironies, Mr. Deputy Speaker, the Prime Minister used this grossly dishonest method in charging another man with dishonesty. This was a cheap debating trick worthy only of the man who used it.
Let us now have a look at another piece of the Prime Minister’s humbug. I refer to his suggestion that he is the champion of education in Australia. Let us have a look at the history of Commonwealth scholarships. I have here figures supplied by the Commonwealth Office of Education. In 1959, 3,031 Commonwealth scholarships were granted, compared with a total of 23,462 students who sat for matriculation in 1958. The ratio of the number of scholarships to the number of students who sat for matriculation was only 12.8 per cent. In 1962, 4,096 scholarships were granted, compared with 34,959 candidates for matriculation in 1961. In 1963, 3,834 scholarships were granted and 38,250 students, it is estimated, sat for matriculation in 1962.
– What was the percentage of scholarships granted in 1963 compared to candidates in 1962?
– The percentage of scholarships fell from 12.8 per cent, in 1959 to 11.7 per cent, in 1962 and only 10 per cent, in 1963. This has been a considerable drop, yet the Prime Minister, in so many words, tells the House that he is the champion of education in this country! Commonwealth scholarships - one of the most important aspects of education in this country - actually declined in number in 1963 and, as I have shown, there has been a serious fall in the ratio of Commonwealth scholarships to candidates for matriculation. Surely this represents a deterioration rather than an advance in the standards of education in this country.
Education is one of the most important aspects of the humanities to-day. It is imperative that we educate not necessarily the people with the most money, but those with ‘the greatest ability. We must do this as a matter of human necessity, because there is nothing worse than that a person with ability should lack the opportunity to use it. Furthermore, it is essential that we be in a position to ensure that every person who has ability is fully educated, so that the economy of this country can develop at the highest possible rate. We need brains to build and develop this country, and we must educate our young people accordingly. The provision of Commonwealth scholarships is one of the most effective ways of doing this.
I now want to refer to a paper by Professor P. H. Karmel, entitled “ Some Economic Aspects of Education “. Statistics given in this paper show that Australia ranks fifteenth among 23 Western and Eastern countries listed, in terms of current and total expenditure on education expressed as a percentage of the gross national product. The countries listed include the United States of America, the Netherlands, Canada, Sweden, Italy, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, Norway, Austria, France, Belguim, Denmark, Ireland and Switzerland, all of which rank above Australia. The only countries that rank below Australia are West Germany, Iceland, Yugoslavia, Turkey, Portugal - one of the most, backward countries - Spain, Greece and Luxembourg.
– Where is this information given?
– It is given by Professor P. H. Karmel in his paper entitled “ Some Economic Aspects of Education “. Surely, Mr. Deputy Speaker, this is an indictment of the present Government’s policies. When the Prime Minister looks at the percentage of Australia’s gross national product devoted to current and total expenditure on education, and considers this Government’s record in relation to Commonwealth scholarships, surely he cannot claim to be the great white father of education in this country.
The Reserve Bank of Australia, in its annual report for the financial year 1962-63, has stated -
In the longer run, growth depends on many factors; but with the advance of science and technology, standards of education and the upgrading of skills have become of increasing importance.
That, in itself, is the case for education - a case of human need and absolute economic necessity.
This Government is rigidly committed to a policy of supreme balance in a developing economy. It cannot appreciate the fact that a developing country cannot reach the optimum of development without a little economic imbalance. Dr. H. C. Coombs, the Governor of the Reserve Bank, said in Perth last June that Australia could have an annual growth rate of 5£ per cent, without serious inflation, without radical changes in taxation levels and saving habits and without radical problems in the balance of payments. Under this Government the rate of growth has averaged only 2 per cent, annually. Surely this is another indictment of the Government’s policies.
If we are to have the optimum economic growth; if we are to build the dams, the bridges and the factories that we need; if we are to develop our north; if we are to take water to the dry inland; and if we are to give a new fair deal to the family men, the aged and the infirm, we must have bold economic policies of vigour and imagination. It is obvious that this Government cannot provide those policies, but Labour will.
– The honorable member for Mitchell (Mr. Armitage) has charged the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) with a number of things to which perhaps I should refer at this stage. I think he said that the Prime Minister twisted the words of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) relating to a record deficit.
– I said he distorted the statement of the Leader of the Opposition.
– Let us have a look at the speech of the Leader of the Opposition, a part of which the honorable member read. I am not very clear on what the honorable member set out to prove, but he implied that the Prime Minister was dishonest or had distorted a statement by the Leader of the Opposition. The honorable member read a passage from the speech made by his leader, and said it began with these words -
On the basis of this wonderful definition-
The actual statement was -
On the basis of this wonderfully succinct definition, the deficit will be £309,000,000, compared with £254,000,000 last year, and only £52,000,000 in 1960-61.
He left out the word “ succinct “.
– That is one of the three definitions that the Leader of the Opposition gave.
– 1 have put the record straight by stating the exact words used by the Leader of the Opposition. Let us see whether the Leader of the Opposition returns to that one definition. He went on to say -
Thus, we have the spectacle of a Treasurer . . to restore full employment, himself proposing a deficit of more than £300,000,000. . . In our view, this increase of over £200,000,000 . . Why, then, the record deficit?
As I understand it, the honorable member for Mitchell seeks to show that the Leader of the Opposition gave three separate definitions and that the Prime Minister dealt with only one of them, but I suggest that the Prime Minister dealt with the definition which appears three times in the speech of the Leader of the. Opposition. Then the honorable member went on to say that the Prime Minister poses as a great champion of education.
– So he does!
– Well, he started off in a little place called Jeparit, which is, I believe, in the electorate of Mallee. He worked his way up the hard way with the aid of scholarships, just as the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) did. Both started in this way and worked their way up. It is evident that the honorable member for Mitchell was deliberately trying to bring down the Prime Minister from the high position of prestige which he enjoys in this House, in Australia, and in the rest of the world. The honorable member cannot do it, and when he is brought to book for his statements he does not like it. The Prime Minister set up the Murray commission and this year £17,900,000 will be allocated to universities. I remind the honorable member for Phillip (Mr. Einfeld), who is now interjecting, that no Labour government has ever allocated funds for this purpose. As far as I know, Commonwealth scholarships were instituted by this Government. Of course, the honorable member for Phillip and the honorable member for Mitchell go through their electorates handing out the bounty of the Commonwealth scholarships which this Government has provided and for which provision has been made in this Budget.
I should like to cite a statement by the Leader of the Opposition which is pertinent to the Budget. As all honorable members know, the Leader of the Opposition was in the United States of America recently. While there he called on President Kennedy. Amongst other things, he told the President that his grandfather, Mr. Calwell, left America just as the Kennedys entered it. We know that the Leader of the Opposition has a very warm corner in his heart for the Americans and that he knows his American history. We on this side say that the Budget which is before us provides for a continuation of Australia’s rapid and almost incredible rate of growth and development. I notice that Opposition members are now leaving the chamber. Perhaps they do not want to be reminded of what the Leader of the Opposition said. His discussion with President Kennedy is reported in this way -
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.
Mr. Calwell told White House press correspondents later that Mr. Kennedy had shown a very keen interest and a very deep knowledge of Australia They had discussed Australia’s growth.
Proudly the Leader of the Opposition told President Kennedy that Australia was progressing faster than the United States progressed during its greatest developmental period. We must remember that the United States is the greatest physical power on earth, that it has a population of almost 200,000,000 and that up to this time it had developed faster than had any other country.
Now, who is kidding whom? Where is the real dishonesty? Was the Leader of the Opposition kidding the American President or is the Labour Opposition kidding us about this Budget? Of course, this Budget provides for a continuation of the rapid growth in which all Australians have great pride, and none more than the honorable member for Mitchell and the honorable member for Phillip. When they speak at public functions in their electorates we can imagine their statements about this magnificent country, of which they are so proud and which has achieved tremendous growth by reason of correct financial direction.
In this debate, Opposition members have made petty-fogging little criticisms of the Budget, but there has been no real criticism of the wonderful situation which exists in Australia. Of course the Leader of the Opposition waited until he got overseas before admitting that Australia was progressing at a rate faster than the United States achieved during its greatest developmental period. He would not make such a statement when dealing with this Budget. Instead, he said -
The faults of the Budget are those of the entire Government, and are imbedded in the barren philosophy for which it stands.
This Government has been in office since 1949. For fourteen years it has managed to give Australia the greatest rate of growth in the history of the world. Even the Leader of the Opposition said that Australia’s rate of growth has been faster than America achieved during its greatest developmental period. Where does this put members of the Opposition in this debate? Of course, they are kidding the Parliament and the people of Australia. There is no need to ask why they are doing that. They are playing miserable politics.
– Where did the Leader of the Opposition say that?
– The distinguished Government Whip asks me where this statement was made. It was made in the White House in Washington. The despatch came through on 21st July. The Australian Ambassador to the United States, Sir Howard Beale, was present to see that there was fair play. Of course, the United States naval communications station was not mentioned. The Leader of ti Opposition’s grandfather left the United States a few generations ago, just before the Kennedys got there.
– That is the only thing that prevented the Leader of the Opposition being President of the United States.
– The Leader of the Opposition’s grandfather came from the United States. Now we know why the Leader of the Opposition went through such agony when the 36 faceless men nearly refused to let him support the establishment of the United States naval communication station in Australia. The Leader of the Opposition, of all people, would like to see the Americans helping us protect Australia. What agony of mind he must have suffered, waiting in the shrubbery until 3 o’clock in the morning to get his directions from this anti-Australian executive! He did everything he could to get the executive to agree to the establishment of the naval communication station. Everything that we have heard from the other side of this chamber in this debate falls absolutely flat when we know that the Leader of the Opposition has boasted about Australia’s growth and development.
Let me get down to the more day-to-day, mundane details of the Budget and what it actually means in respect of growth and development. We are to accept 135,000 migrants this year. If they were to cost us only £2,000 each to settle, that would be a total charge on the whole country of £270,000,000. But they will cost three times that much, so the outlay will be nearer £1,000,000,000 for housing, roads, schools, electricity services, water supplies and so on. Each migrant who brings a family or begets a family creates more jobs. Honorable members opposite advance a stupid argument about migrants creating more unemployment. The truth is that migrants create employment. Of course, the more academic types on the Opposition side will agree with that.
Everybody knows that housing is the basic indicator of prosperity in any economy. The effects of housing start in the timber mills and mines and go through the steel works, the roadmaking industry, all the trades, the furniture factories, the carpet industry and all the industries producing household equipment and appliances. Housing creates a demand for many things. An enormous lift to housing is provided in this Budget. In those two matters alone - immigration and housing - there is a great impetus.
I refer also to the raising to 35 per cent, of the limit on the funds that savings banks are permitted to lend for housing. That action will put a further £16,000,000 of credit annually in the hands of the savings banks, including the Rural Bank of New South Wales and the State savings banks in other States. They are the experts in this field; they know how to do this job.
– The amount will be £70,000,000, will it not?
– It will be £70,000,000 over a period, but £16,000,000 in one year. Then there are the special projects under section 96 of the Constitution. In spite of all that is said about the States having to carry out their own works projects, section 96 says that the Commonwealth may contribute to any special work in any State. Such special projects now in progress include railway construction. The standardgauge railway line from Melbourne to Albury put £7,000,000 into the annual income of the railways immediately, and at the same time speeded up transport. The railway projects include the Mount Isa railway, the line from Kalgoorlie to Kwinana, starting at Koolyanobbing, and the standardization of the line from Broken Hill to Port Pirie which is to cost £20,000,000. Then there is the brigalow lands development in the Fitzroy basin. A railway line will take coal from Moura to Gladstone
Other projects include work on coal ports, oil search subsidies, the Chowilla dam - the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly) is starting to look pleased - and the Blowering reservoir which will provide more water for South Australia. The Commonwealth is providing one-quarter of the cost of the Chowilla dam and half of the cost of the Blowering reservoir in interestbearing loans. The honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison), in speaking about northern development, said that he was astonished and staggered. I can understand his being staggered. He saw a photograph of members of the Parliament travelling around the north. Members of his own party made one trip and then pulled 3ut because of public criticism about the high cost. I refer to this matter because (he honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti) asked me what I was doing at the Ord River the other day. I will now tell him. At 9 a.m. on 1st August, 1959, exSenator Wardlaw from Tasmania, the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Stokes), the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. King), Senator Maher, Mr. George Pearce, Senator Branson, Senator Drake-Brockman, Mr. Peter Browne, Mr. H. V. Halbert, a number of experts, and representatives of the Australian Broadcasting Commission and the press, landed in the desert near Ivanhoe station. They were met by Mr. Charles Court and two or three of his senior officers, including his director of works and hydraulics engineer. This visit by a party of back-benchers followed an offer by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) - a very far-sighted offer, if I may say so - in 1958 to grant £5,000,000 for the development of the north of Western Australia. Twenty-one days after that party arrived at that place the first Ord River diversion dam agreement was signed. The Western Australian Government, through Mr. Charles Court, ‘phoned me and said: “ We do not forget our friends. We invite you to represent the Commonwealth at the opening.”
Let us think about this for a moment. Mr. Christian of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization told a meeting of the Australian and New Zealand Association for the Advancement of Science that there was an estimated annual production of £50,000,000 in the north. I think that estimate has been far exceeded already by the increase in beef prices, the mineral discoveries and so on. That £50,000,000 is subject to the rural multiplier of four, so it goes through the community and is wealth shared by every person in Australia.
That is apart from the fact that development is the best defence of this country. If we spend a maximum of £250,000,000 a year on defence, or even if we can spend £300,000,000, that is only a drop in the bucket compared with the expenditure of the giants on their space programmes, intercontinental ballistic missiles and so on. Our role is development. More than half of this continent - three-quarters of it in fact - had hardly been touched until this Government began its work. The scene at the Ord River the other day was like a Namitjira painting, with the purple hills, the red scarps of Kelly’s Knob and the great stretch of water backed up by the Ord River diversion dam. The Prime Minister brought to the gathering a message from Her Majesty the Queen asking that Australians go on with this sort of work. The Ord River project should be a symbol of the enormous work that has to be done in three-quarters of Australia. It represents a challenge to a vigorous people. This is what the Prime Minister said -
He said that a few days previously he had been at Monticello in the United States. He said that, at the home of the great Thomas Jefferson, he made this remark to the people of America -
When the U.S.A. was established and when, in the early part of the nineteenth century, Thomas Jefferson became President, he presided over a nation of 5,500,000 people.
Continuing his speech, he said -
We, to-day, have 11,000,000 people. We know what happened in the case of the U.S. We know that there you have a country roughly of our area which, within a measurable term of years, will have 200,000,000 people and will be, as it is now, the greatest physical power in the world. All I want to say to you is that there is nothing that has happened there that cannot happen here. With 11,000,000 people, twice the population we had 40 years ago, with the clear prospect of having 20,000,000 in the lifetime of quite a few of those present to-day, we can look forward with confidence to our future, provided, of course, that we keep in our minds that nothing is impossible. .
Nothing is impossible. But what about honorable members opposite, who knock us? They point to trivial, pettifogging things and take an un-Australian line. This speech of the Prime Minister ought to be read together with this Budget, which sets out what is to happen this year. It was received, of course, before it was published, with all sorts of prophecies by the press, building up everybody’s hopes. Then, when it did not do exactly what each of the pressmen present here had worked out and thought it ought to do, it was attacked. For a day or so values on the stock exchange fell, and then honorable members opposite fell on the carcass of the economy and tried to tear it to pieces. “ Hansard “ is full of the dreadful things they said - things which were un-Australian and which really hurt Australia. They said those things with a certain amount - in the words of the Prime Minister - of yearning, hoping that those things would come to pass. But what they said is not true. We have a great nation. We have a nation which the Leader of the Opposition boasts about when he goes to see President Kennedy. So, this speech of the Prime Minister, when it is read carefully together with this Budget and, if you like, taken together with what he said at Casino the other day, bears out what I have said. I am not talking about the south only, but about the whole of Australia, whether you take a line from Sydney to Melbourne, or flood mitigation on the north coast or works such as the Blowering dam.
The Commonwealth Government is now entering a completely new period. Whereas in 1938-39 the federal Budget was £80,000,000, to-day it is over £2,000,000,000. This Budget provides huge amounts of money for special projects. In 1938-39 works of this nature were matters for the States. The States had uniform taxation and the New South Wales budget was almost as large as the Commonwealth Budget at that time. The States hardly knew that the Commonwealth existed, but to-day the Commonwealth acts a new role. The Commonwealth is a directing force, with its financial ability, its priority and its planning and, further, the States retain their autonomy. We have such matters as flood mitigation on the north coast and the brigalow land development. While talking about that, let us consider what that development is for; it is for the production of beef. There are six or seven separate projects in Australia, each of’ which, if properly developed, will put Australia far ahead in the export of beef. There is no limit to the market for beef, all the knockers notwithstanding. Any one of these projects would leave the Argentine for dead. There is the spear grass country, which is some of the toughest of all, but Townsville lucerne would lift the carrying capacity of that country eight times, from 3,500,000 beasts to 26,000,000. That would greatly increase our beef export capacity. It would give us an enormous lead. There are areas in the Kimberleys, on the Barkly Tablelands, in the Queensland wet tropics, the channel country and the Brigalow land itself each capable of development like the spear grass country. Already our beef exports to the United States of America leave the rest of the world for dead and give us an enormous income. Let us remember that fact when the Commonwealth is doing those jobs.
I repeat that the Prime Minister’s speech, together with the Budget, writes a new chapter in the history of CommonwealthState relations. Let us remember that we are not to be caught and will not be caught like the Americans have been, with their high-priced, stored commodities, such as wheat and butter, which they cannot sell. The other day the American farmers said “ stop “, and voted for a price for wheat of 1 dollar 25 cents price per bushel, provided they could be sure no control was exercised over supply and production. They voted for 1 dollar 25 cents per bushel without control, instead of 2 dollars per bushel which was promised to them if they agreed to control. To that proposition the Americans said, “No; let us produce at a price “. Australians have already shown that they can produce the cheapest beef and the cheapest rice. Look what rice means to the people to the north of us, in Asia. We can produce the cheapest rice in the world. Let us go into our empty areas, and let us keep the cost of production down to the value of the improvements, stock and so on. Let us say to our people: “ You produce. We will sell your products.” Look at the expansion of our Pacific trade, which is now at a figure of over £600,000,000 and is rising rapidly, whilst the value of our exports to the United Kingdom and Europe is less than £400,000,000 and is falling slowly.
Thus, we should see that our future lies in the Pacific, with our beef, rice and dairy production. Having been right throughout the world tasting all the various cheeses the Japanese decided the
Other day that they liked our cheese best. They said, “Australian cheese is nearest to our palate “. Our exports of cheese to Japan in the last three years have risen from 250 tons to 1,358 tons and, this year, 5,000 tons, while the Japanese keep their milk for home consumption. These are the possibilities. Let us not take notice of the knockers and people who try to run this country down. Of course, with a budget like this, a continuing development budget, we have what the Leader of the
Opposition suggested - the fastest expanding country in the world. We are all proud of it, and so are honorable members opposite. So are the people who follow them at the polls. They are all proud of Australia and proud of Sir Robert Menzies, the Prime Minister, who has had a record period in office. This is the truth. Then we have the miserable disposition of Opposition members who say that the Prime Minister last night distorted what the Leader of the Opposition had said. This country deserves a Prime Minister like Sir Robert Menzies. Australia has people who know his value. He has stood up to election after election. The Opposition knocks Australia or the Budget or the financial situation and find tiny faults with what the Government has done, but that does not get honorable members opposite all the votes from the trade unions. The right wing in the trade unions - and D.L.P. supporters if you like - will keep this Government in office.
Honorable members opposite can hope and yearn. The honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison), for instance, was staggered when he saw a picture in the press of federal members going to the north for the opening of the Or-d River project. What contribution did honorable members opposite make to that function? A small group of them made an appearance at a cost nearly twice that of the party the picture of which the honorable member for Blaxland saw in the press. Honorable members opposite defended their limited patronage of the function on the ground of costs. The honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti) distinguished himself by his act of discourtesy to the Government of Western Australia in walking out at the dinner which it gave to the Prime Minister. That was not a very fine exhibition on the part of the Australian Labour Party. This Budget is a declaration of faith in Australia. We are probably the most fortunate people on earth, and to live here is the great desire of many people on earth. We have the greatest number of applications from emigrants in any country. Yet, honorable members actually criticize the fact that people want to invest in Australia. The honorable member for Banks (Mr. Costa) said something about General Motors-Holden’s Proprietary
Limited and implied that the Labour Party did not like the kind of investment represented by that organization. But he forgot that Mr. Curtin wrote a letter to Mr. Hartnett of the General Motors organization and said, “ Without any regard for the nationality of ownership or the origin of capital, we want this great motor industry in Australia “. An Opposition member alleged that we brought General Motors here. But it is here and we like to see the great motor industry developing so that there will be competition and every one in Australia will be able to own a motor car.
The Budget for this year was introduced at probably the period of Australia’s greatest development. Contained in it are the financial arrangements that will make Australia grow and grow and grow. I am very proud to stand here on behalf of the rural community and the business community and say that this is a very great Budget indeed.
.- It is quite apparent that the honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate) is at odds with his leader, the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies), when he refers to the dinner in the Ord River district, because the Prime Minister on that occasion complimented the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti) for acting as he did. As a matter of fact, the people of Western Australia, particularly those who live near the Ord River project, wonder why the honorable member for Macarthur, who is a back-bench member of the Parliament with no more standing than any other backbench member has and who has had practically nothing to do with the north, should have been invited to the dinner at the Ord River project in preference to the local member. The people of Western Australia realize that this was a low, political stunt pulled by the Liberal Government of Western Australia.
I rise to support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). The amendment is a motion of no confidence in the Government. We are sorry really that it has become necessary for us to move the amendment and we find no pleasure in doing so. We would much rather be able to applaud the Government for bringing down a good budget, and if it had brought down a good budget, we would have been the first to have congratulated it. We realize that a good, strong budget would be of great benefit to Australia, but unfortunately for Australia this is not a good budget. In many ways, it is a very bad budget. It is certainly not a budget that we are prepared to accept as being sufficient for the needs of Australia or the Australian people. This is such a bad budget that the amendment condemning the Government is well warranted and is a very proper proposal to put before the House. There is no doubt that most of the people will strongly favour our amendment and will expect it to be carried in no uncertain manner. If we judged by the very poor display of honorable members on the Government side of the House, it would be quite natural to expect that the wishes of the people would be met.
If the Budget were of little importance to Australia, the Opposition might have been inclined to sympathize with the Government parties’ rather than attack them. We realize the sad and sorry state in which they find themselves at this time. The differences between the Government parties are so great that the Government has neither the inclination nor the ability to give proper attention to the affairs of the nation. We may feel sorry that the Government parties are in such a mess, fighting amongst themselves and with no likelihood of an early settlement of their differences; but they should not allow their bickerings and strife to interfere with the welfare of Australia, as they are. In these circumstances, our motion of no confidence is very well put.
I found it interesting last night to hear the Prime Minister during his speech tell honorable members opposite that the Opposition’s amendment must be defeated. It would seem that he is worried and not certain of receiving maximum support from those who sit behind him. We can understand his worries, because almost every day the newspapers report that the Liberal Party and the Australian Country Party are at odds on various issues. The Prime Minister makes a statement. The Leader of the Australian Country Party and Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) becomes hostile; so the Prime Minister withdraws his statement. Then the Australian Country Party does something that upsets the Prime Minister. And so it goes on. We can understand why the Prime Minister is so worried and is afraid that all this bickering might burst open in the House and bring about his defeat.
The Australian Labour Party is very fortunate. When it becomes the government after the next election, it will be a government with only its own policies to follow. It will not be a mixture of parties and policies as this Government is. It will nave the advantage of being able to govern without the pangs of eternal bickering and strife, which cause so much suffering for the Government at present. The people are looking forward with great confidence to the good government that the Australian Labour Party will give to them after the next election.
The Budget provides some small benefits, but it fails in too many important issues to be deserving of any credit. Many of the benefits that the Government has at long last decided to provide should have been provided long before this. The benefits it has restored should never have been withdrawn and in restoring them the Government has either admitted its error in withdrawing them or has submitted to pressure. The amendment so ably moved and spoken to by the Leader of the Opposition clearly sets out the ways in which the Government has failed to provide for the needs of Australia. It is in the following terms: -
That …” 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.”
Of course, the amendment does not contain all the matters for which we consider the Government should be condemned. We have of necessity been obliged to keep it reasonably short. However, during the course of the debate, members of the Australian Labour Party have very convincingly dealt with the differences that we have with the Government. But at no stage have Government supporters advanced any worthwhile answer to our charges.
In drawing up the Budget, the Government has followed its usual practice since the 1961 election of adopting parts of Labour’s policy. But in doing so, the Government has watered down Labour’s proposals. On this occasion, for instance, the Government has used our policy in regard to the payment of a subsidy on superphosphate. It has to some extent purloined our policy of removing sales tax from foodstuffs. It has made some improvement in social services, but in the process, as every honorable member will agree, it has made a complete mess of the whole system of social services. Before the 1961 election, we promised the farmers of Australia that a Labour government would restore the subsidy on superphosphate of £3 a ton. Labour promised further to subsidize payments on nitrogenous, potassic and mixed fertilizers, including trace elements. I say that Labour would have restored the subsidy because there was such a subsidy when Labour was in office, but this Government removed it. In 1961 the Labour Party said that if it became the government the subsidy would be payable on all phosphates purchased on and after 1st January, 1962. We knew that assistance of this kind would help farm development and would promote increased production of a wide range of export products. We knew that it would help to build up farm strength which would be required to cope with adverse marketing conditions. Now, two years after Labour’s declaration on this matter, the Government has decided to implement our policy. The Government has only now agreed to pay the subsidy of £3 a ton on superphosphate - something that Labour promised to do two years ago.
In his Budget speech the Treasurer said, as though this had never been thought of before, that the purpose of the bounty was to stimulate increased use of superphosphate as a means of improving the productivity of farm lands and pastures. That purpose is the same as the purpose outlined by the Labour Party, although the Treasurer has used different words to express it. Either this Government has taken two years to see the wisdom of our proposals or, more likely, it has introduced the subsidy purely to save face. It has denied the farmers of Australia the assistance that they would have received under a Labour government - assistance to which they were properly entitled and which Labour would have restored to them two years ago. Invariably the Australian farmers have received more help from the Labour Party–
– What rot!
– Can the honorable member tell me when this was not so? Farmers have received great help from the Labour Party, either because of its policy when in government or because of thi pressures that it has applied when in Opposition. Constantly we have forced the Government, as has been the case with the subsidy on superphosphate, into a position where it could not any longer refuse to provide assistance. Many Country Party members, such as the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Nixon), sit idly by and allow their Liberal Party colleagues to override them on these matters which are so important to the farming community.
The proposal to increase the wool promotion levy has been a hot potato for the Government for some time. The Government has very carefully avoided the issue so far, but it cannot avoid it any longer because the Labour Party has made public its views on the subject. Now the woolgrowers want to know where the Government stands in this matter. Farmers in Western Australia have strongly criticized the proposed increase in the levy. At Katanning recently the president of the Farmers Union flatly told Sir William Gunn that the wool-growers could not afford to pay an increased levy. At every other meeting in Western Australia the wool-growers have left no doubt as to where they stand on this issue.
When Sir William Gunn discovered how hostile the wool-growers were to the proposal, he stated that he hoped to meet the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) and the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen) to-day to ask for a Commonwealth subsidy for wool promotion. The Government’s decision in the matter will be a very interesting one. Perhaps the Government will decide that it can do no less than the Australian Labour Party has been prepared to do. It may even be prepared to raise the ante a little. All we can do is wait and see, but, whatever happens, the wool-growers should be grateful to the Australian Labour Party. Whatever assistance this Government decides to provide will be the result only of the steps taken by the Labour Party and because we have placed the Government in the position where it must do something.
Some Government supporters have claimed that the wheat farmers of Australia should be forever extremely grateful to the Government for what it has done for them. While that may be the feeling in some States - I cannot be certain that it is - I am sure that no such feeling exists in Western Australia. A report that appeared in a newspaper last week is worth reading. Under the heading “Wheat Men Attack New Govt. Plan” appears this enlightening statement -
West Australian wheatgrowers yesterday criticized the lack of support they had received in trying to have the wheat export guarantee price extended to 150,000,000 bushels under the new wheat stabilization scheme.
More than 200 delegates from every wheat district attended a special meeting called by the Farmers’ Union wheat section to discuss the plan.
They attacked the Federal Government for not having given adequate consideration to their requests made through the Australian Wheatgrowers’ Federation and State bodies.
They said they had been told to increase their efficiency to meet overseas marketing problems. They had done this in every possible way.
Having met the request they expected a fair deal from the Government.
They felt they had been let down because, under the new plan, the yield divisor figure would be increased, giving them less money for their wheat.
Wheat Section president D. W. Maisey said after the meeting the Government had penalised wheatgrowers by using increased production as an excuse to raise the divisor. “ Wheatgrowers showed to-day how strongly they feel on this issue,” he said. “They believe this is the raw deal to beat all raw deals.”
That article does not indicate that the wheat-growers of Western Australia are wildly enthusiastic about what this Government is doing.
I wish to take the opportunity to point out that since this Government came to office there has been a considerable rise in farm costs of production compared with gross income. In 1949-50 farm costs represented approximately 44 per cent. of gross farm income. In 1961-62 costs had risen to approximately 65 per cent. of gross income. Admittedly gross income has risen considerably, but not in the same ratio as costs. The percentage increase in gross income from wheat since 1949-50 is the lowest of all farm incomes. So I cannot see why the wheat farmers of Australia have any reason to be grateful to this Government.
I now turn to the matter of sales tax. In 1961 the Labour Party said that if it were elected to power it would progressively reduce indirect taxes and would gradually remove sales tax on all foods. We listed the items of foodstuffs from which sales tax would be lifted immediately. Strange as it may seem, we now find that this Government which opposed our proposal two years ago, has belatedly removed sales tax from most of the items mentioned on our list. So once again we have the old situation of the people of Australia receiving benefits at the hands of this Government several years later than they would have received them had Labour been in government.
This Government has taken no steps whatever to remove the obnoxious and completely unfair sales tax on freights. One would expect representatives of country electorates to be campaigning for the removal of sales tax on freights, but country representatives on the other side of the House are silent. The payment of sales tax on freights is a privilege that this Government reserves for country people in particular. Country people do not simply pay a flat rate of sales tax on a particular item; they are obliged to pay the ordinary tax plus a tax on the freight charged for delivery of the goods from their place of manufacture. The retailer is obliged to pay the tax on the freight and that tax is passed on to the consumer. If a retailer buys from a manufacturer in the city he pays one rate of sales tax, but if he buys from a manufacturer in the country he pays an additional amount of sales tax. I have raised my voice on this matter on other occasions in this House. I see no reason why there should not be some uniformity in the incidence of sales tax. There can be no valid reason why people in country are&S should be obliged to pay much more by way of sales tax on certain items than are people in the metropolitan areas. We hear a lot about decentralization. We hear moans about people not going from the cities to the country areas and we hear moans about people from country areas drifting to the cities. This trend for country people to drift to the city will continue until governments do something about the matters I have mentioned. If this Government is honest in its desire for decentralization it will do something immediately. It can make its contribution to decentralization by ensuring that sales tax is imposed on a uniform basis and that country people do not have to shoulder an added burden.
Now I wish to refer to social services. The remarks of the Treasurer on this subject, when considered in the light of the actual facts, are very hard to understand. The Treasurer said that each year the whole position with regard to social services is completely reviewed. He went on to say that it is always a matter of deciding what changes of benefits will, in prevailing circumstances, do most to provide justice as between various classes of beneficiaries and promote the maximum social welfare. From those remarks we can assume that the whole position was reviewed before this Budget was prepared and that the Government arrived at certain decisions. We can assume that the decision to make alterations in some benefits, and to make no changes in others, reflects the view of the Treasurer and other members of the Government as to social justice and social welfare for pensioners. Some of the decisions certainly warrant appeal. If such decisions were made in courts of law the legal eagles in this Parliament would be falling over themselves to appeal against them.
The Treasurer admitted that some 300,000 married pensioners will receive no benefit at all from this Budget. They will receive no increases, and, in the view of the Treasurer and other Government members, they are doing quite well with their pensions at the present rates. We on this side of the House welcome the increases that have been granted, but we can see no reason why the base rate for a married pensioner should be different from that for a single pensioner. As a result of the Government’s failure to increase the pension rate for married pensioners, ridiculous situations arise. We find, for instance, two married pensioners living together and receiving £5 5s. each a week, while two single pensioners, living together in an identical house, paying the same rent and meeting the same costs for other items, receive £5 15s. a week each, plus 10s. a week as supplementary assistance. In fact, the two couples could be living in the same house, under the same conditions, and the married couple would receive the lesser amount. The result is that the married pensioner couple must try to exist on £2 a week less than the amount that this Government says the two single pensioners should receive How can this kind of discrimination between pensioners provide social justice and social welfare? It is absolutely and completely wrong; married pensioners should receive the same base rate of pension as single pensioners. I suggest that the Treasurer should reframe these provisions immediately and ensure that the same base rate will apply to all pensioners. The Government will receive no credit for what has been done in respect of these pensions. Married pensioners will naturally object, and single pensioners, who, in the vast majority of cases have a sense of fair play, will protest at the shabby treatment this Government has meted out to their married friends.
The Government has made it very clear that it is firmly convinced that married age and invalid pensioner couples are not entitled to anything further. It says that the existing pension of £5 5s. a week is enough to live on. We on this side of the House are of a different opinion. We have said, and we re-affirm now, that all age and invalid pensions should be increased, whether individual pensioners are married or not. and whether pensioners are living together or alone. We see no reason for the discrimination and no reason for prescribing a lower base rate for married pensioners. We certainly do not subscribe to the view that marriages of long standing should break up so that the couples concerned can receive a few extra shillings a week. Yet this would appear to be the view of the Government, and in line with its ideas of social justice and welfare. The Government will find it very difficult to convince married pensioners living together that they are £2 a week better off than two single pensioners living together.
It gives us some satisfaction to see that on this occasion the Government has decided, as a result of pressure brought to bear on it by members on this side, to make some increases in widows’ pensions and allowances. It is certainly not before time, and the widows of Australia and their dependants can be very thankful that the Government’s majority was almost completely wiped out at the last federal election. If the Government had retained anything like its old majority there is no doubt that it would have treated all the requests from various organizations for justice to widows as it has previously done, and there would not have been any increases at all in widows’ pensions. However, there is still discrimination even in this field as between A class widows and B and C class widows. I am referring now only to the base rate and not to the allowances. I am referring to the amount a widow receives in her own right. The A class widow will receive £5 15s. a week, while the B or C class widow will receive only £5 2s. 6d. Admittedly there has been an increase, but B and C class widows still lag 12s. 6d. a week behind A class widows and single age and invalid pensioners, and 2s. 6d. a week behind individual members of a married age and invalid pensioner couple, both of whom receive a pension.
Here you can have a really ridiculous position. A widow aged 59 and in very poor circumstances will receive £5 2s. 6d. a week, while a much younger widow, perhaps twenty years her junior, will receive £5 1 5s. Another widow, aged below 50 years and in very poor circumstances, will receive £5 2s. 6d. a week. A few months later the first widow will reach the age of 60 and then will receive the age pension of £5 1 5s. a week, being classed as single, while next door a couple consisting of a wife aged 59 and a husband aged 65 will receive only £5 15s a week between them, because only one of them is a pensioner.
Then you might have a position in which a B class widow receiving £5 2s. 6d. a week lives with her mother, also a widow but because of her age receiving £5 15s. a week as a single age pensioner. In such a case we would have two widows living together and receiving £10 17s. 6d. a week between them, or £11 17s. 6d. if they are paying rent, while two single pensioners in the same place receive £12 10s. a week between them and two married pensioners receive only £10 10s. a week. It is not only silly but also quite unfair to have different base rates. If the Government, after its deliberations, has decided that the needs of single age and invalid pensioners entitle them to £5 15s. a week, then it is only proper that all other base rates should also be raised to £5 15s. a week, whether the pensioners concerned be married or single or whether they be widows. Then additional amounts required to meet special circumstances, amounts such as supplementary assistance and child allowance, could be treated separately. But there should be no differentiation between the base rates.
There are several other matters coming under the heading of social services which this Government has apparently thoroughly reviewed and in regard to which it has not been prepared to make any alterations, lt has apparently made a thorough review of child endowment payments and has decided not to do anything about them. How can Government supporters say they are promoting social justice and welfare in refusing to grant an increase in child endowment, having in mind the decline in purchasing power of the amounts paid as child endowment? In 1941 parents received 1 Os. a week for each child after the first, and the payment to-day remains at 10s. a week. The only way to measure the value of child endowment payments, maternity allowances and other social service benefits is to consider what they will buy to-day and compare that with what they would have bought at some previous time. It is of no use to tell the person receiving child endowment that there has been no reduction in the rate of payments. All the recipient is interested in is what may be bought with the amount that is paid by way of endowment. As a matter of fact this Government has actually reduced child endowment, maternity allowances and funeral benefits, if one considers the decline in the purchasing power of these payments. If, for instance, 10s. in 1941 would buy two and one-half tins of some particular baby food, and to-day it will buy only one tin, then it must be agreed that the Government has reduced the amount of child endowment that it is actually giving to parents.
Similar considerations apply in the case of the maternity allowance. This Government has refused to make any increases in this allowance. If you compare the value of the payments of £15, £16 and £17 10s. that were made in 1943 with the value of the same payments to-day, it must become obvious that this Government has actually reduced the amount given by way of maternity allowance. It is equally obvious from what we have seen of this Government that it is opposed to child endowment and to maternity allowances and, if it had the courage to accept the consequences, would remove them altogether.
.- I rise with great pleasure to support my colleagues on this side of the House in their enthusiastic and wholehearted support of the Appropriation Bill 1963-64, now referred to as the Budget. This bill is designed to continue Australia’s dramatic development and its prosperity. Equally as wholeheartedly as I support the bill, I condemn the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), which I regard as completely futile. It is without substance and certainly without realism.
After listening for five days to this debate, one can look back over that period and make a panoramic survey of the speeches for and against the bill, and one can sum up the qualities of the speakers. No doubt my analysis is a little biased because of the side of the House on which I sit, but I feel that I can say without any equivocation that honorable members on this side have spoken very conclusively, have been very convincing and have produced substantial material to support their arguments. They have been very forthright and have spoken with great conviction. They have produced a number of good reasons why they support the Budget proposals. On the other hand, when one considers the speech of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Collard), one finds that he and his colleagues opposite have been very ill at ease, have been lacking in conviction and have been completely unable to produce a sound argument.
– And had no enthusiasm.
– The honorable members have had no enthusiasm in supporting the futile amendment. I believe that the amendment is considerably embarrassing to honorable members opposite. Taken by and large, it constitutes what I regard as a desperate bid by desperate men to make an impact on the community. However, to use’ a colloquialism, I feel that they have fallen flat on their faces.
I appreciate that members of the Opposition have the right to criticize. That is a very healthy right, and one which is cherished in a free democracy. Good and justifiable criticism by Opposition members demonstrates that they are playing their parts as responsible members of the Parliament. The general public also has a right to criticize, and so have the newspapers. We welcome the criticism that we have encountered, but we realize that the people generally are influenced very little by it, because they realize that the Budget is a good one. It is designed to assist every section of the community, and will do so.
The Budget is not an irresponsible budget. It has been produced by responsible men of great administrative ability, great integrity and great capacity for thought. Their decisions have been taken following an exhaustive series of consultations with various sections of the community. It cannot be said that this Budget was drawn up without great thought having been given to the consequences of the measures contained in it. Let us not overlook that in preparing a budget the responsible Ministers have to withstand many pressures from groups such as those we have seen in the precincts of the House on occasions and those of whose existence we know because we receive correspondence from them. A great deal of courage is required by Ministers in ensuring that a budget is worked out in accordance with the proper priorities for financial allocations. This Budget has been produced by responsible men who are dedicated to the interests of Australia and to ensuring its development and prosperity.
We listened to a lamentable and, in my view, unattractive speech by the Leader of the Opposition. Honorable members opposite have had to follow him like sheep. In my opinion, his speech was the work of imaginative script writers. Perhaps one could call them ghost writers. It was filled with flowery phrases and misleading statements. In general, it was a classic example of misrepresentation and humbug. A word in the amendment which intrigues me is “ adequate “. The first condemnation of the Budget is couched in language which I do not quite understand and reference is made to “ adequate provision for defence “. What does that phrase really mean? I am certain that not one honorable member opposite can tell me.
– They do not want us to know.
– Of course they do not want us to know: The amendment is clouded in mystery. On what basis would you estimate adequacy? I believe that the dictionary meaning of the word is “ sufficiency “. What would be sufficiency in terms of defence? Would it be spending £1,000,000,000 or £2,000,000,000? Who can tell? If you cannot explain their meaning, why use such words? The use of the word “ adequate “ is quite futile. Who is to judge what can be regarded as adequate defence? Certainly not honorable members opposite, because they have no experts to inform them of the modern concept of defence and of the requirements of fighting forces. Can any one imagine that the Opposition is fitted to criticize the defence policy of the Government? It is torn asunder by its left and right wings. Even during the life of this Parliament, some Opposition members have made utterances indicating that they do not support any defence spending at all. 1 read in “ Hansard “ a statement by the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) that there should be no spending for warfare, as it is a bloodthirsty operation. There should be no such spending at all, he said. I think the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) said some time ago that defence spending should be related only to the provision of uniform railway gauges. These statements are worthy of repetition. The honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) said that all that we needed to defend Australia was something like a police force and that after we had established a police force we could send for the boys from the United Nations if we found ourselves in some kind of difficulty. What a scandalous attitude for any responsible person in this House to adopt! Then we come to the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant). He said that we had no need of any defence capacity because we should never be afraid of the hordes that may or may not come down from the north. There you are! These are the views of people who, in effect, are setting themselves up as critics of this Government and telling it that in the Appropriation Bill 1963-64 it is not providing for adequate defence. We on this side of the House can rightly and properly say that the proposed allocation of £251,671,000 is based on the best advice of our defence and diplomatic experts. Therefore, the members of the Cabinet who are charged with the responsibility of determining the amount to be allocated to defence know what they are doing.
The amendment proposed by the Leader of the Opposition alleges that the Government has failed to make adequate provision for housing. Again, the word “ adequate “ is used. This Government recognizes that housing, as other honorable members on this side have pointed out, is the most important issue that we face to-day. It is an issue that transcends many others that are discussed with great gusto in this House. The Government is doing something about housing. It is providing £97,000,000 this financial year for expenditure on housing. Savings banks are approving housing loans at the rate of £100,000,000 per annum. The Government has extended from 30 per cent, to 35 per cent, the proportion of depositors’ funds that the savings banks may use for housing loans. I know that the increase in the number of dwelling units made available to the community during the term of office of this Government has been mentioned previously, but it is worth repeating. In 1949 - the year when Labour went out of office - there was one house, flat or home unit to every 4.1 persons. This year, there is one to every 3.7 persons. The period of almost fourteen years during which the Menzies Government has held office has seen more than 1,000,000 new dwellings constructed. At least 36 per cent, of all the buildings now standing have been built during the last fourteen years. That is a record to be proud of. During the same period, the population has increased by 27 per cent.
The degree of home ownership in Australia may have been mentioned already, but it, too, is worth repeating. In 1947, 54.8 per cent, of Australia’s homes were owned or were being bought by the occupiers. By 1961, the proportion had risen to 75.5 per cent. This is the world’s highest rate of home ownership, Mr. Speaker. I ask the House: Does this splendid record support the Opposition’s claim, as set out in the amendment, that this Government fails to make adequate provision for housing? Of course not.
What is the position in New South Wales, a State with a Labour government? Living there, as I do, but not believing in the motives or the policies of the Labour Government of that State, I can claim, quite rightly, that the housing situation there is parlous compared with the situation in other States. For argument’s sake, one could contrast the position in New South Wales with that in South Australia, where, I am led to believe, a home can be purchased on a very low deposit of about £50 and then paid off over 25 years on very reasonable terms at a low rate of interest. That State can show New South Wales a very good example. One can search Sydney or any other town in New South Wales in vain for a house or a flat at a reasonable rental. If any place is available, the rent will probably be anything from £10 10s. a week up. Young couples cannot afford this.
Why has the present situation arisen in New South Wales and only in that Stale? There is seething animosity between landlords and tenants because of the provisions of the outmoded and unjust State Landlord and Tenant Act. I make that assertion without any fear of contradiction by people who really know what they are talking about. This situation is the result of Labour ruthlessly playing politics by protecting tenants and seeking to gain their votes as a consequence. The Landlord and Tenant Act makes the investors of private capital afraid to build homes for rental. This is because they never know when the Labour Government, if it continues in office, will come down hard on landlords and impose all manner of restrictions that will force investors virtually to write off the capital they have invested. All this has a very important bearing on the circumstances of young couples - the people for whom we should provide homes. Because of the ruthless provisions of the New South Wales Landlord and Tenant Act, homes are not being built and there is no accommodation for rent or purchase that young couples can afford. This is an absolute disgrace to the New South Wales Labour Government.
I say that this is a good Budget, Mr. Speaker. It provides relief for all sections of the community. I am very pleased to note the relief and assistance to be given to the rural section of the community, because, if we have a prosperous rural community, the country as a whole prospers automatically. Of course, we all would like to see even greater spending on social services, cuts in personal income tax and company tax, abolition of the pay-roll tax, and so on.< But this Budget is not an irresponsible vote-catcher. It is another segment of this Government’s budgetary programme, which is designed to ensure for this nation and its people national development in an economic climate of long-term stability, consistent with the preservation of a high standard of living and continuing prosperity and happiness, all commensurate with personal and national security.
Before my time expires, I would like to discuss unemployment. So much has been made of this by Opposition members that a firm reply is required to contradict the statements that they have made. The amendment proposed by the Leader of the Opposition, in part, runs like this -
The House is also of the opinion that the Government’s failure to provide for full employment . . is wrong and unjust.
I claim without any fear of rightful contradiction that this is no ground for censure. This Government, over its fourteen years of office, has had a wonderful record in respect of employment. If one looks through the statistics, one will find that, with the exception of one month in one year, unemployment has never been in excess of 2 per cent. I claim that this is a wonderful record. Examination of the records of other countries reveals that ours is better than most. The only countries that have a better record in relation to employment are those that are under Communist dominance. We know that they ensure that their labour force is profitably employed because it is regimented. If they have men and women who cannot be profitably employed in some lucrative business those people are sent to the salt mines. That is the form of regimentation which operates in those countries and which would be introduced by the Opposition if, God spare us, it ever occupied the treasury bench. It would ensure full employment, my word it would!
– There are no salt mines here.
– You would find them. I think there are some in South Australia.
When talking about unemployment, the Leader of the Opposition - that prophet of gloom and doom - rubbed his hands like Uriah Heep, the character in Dickens. Some little time ago he prophesied that the number of unemployed would very soon reach 150,000 or 200,000, but the highest number was 131,000, and that number existed for only a very short period. How disappointed and how frustrated must members of the Opposition be because the prophecies of that prophet of gloom and doom have not been borne out! What do honorable members opposite say? They ask, “ Where are the unemployed? “ They become terribly concerned because they cannot find the unemployed. They can see their meal ticket being taken from them gradually. The Leader of the Opposition said that a pool of unemployed was a feature of the Australian economy. He was alleging that a pool of unemployed was one of the objects of the Budget. He claimed that the Government believed that a pool of 100,000 men and women out of work was necessary for a stable economy.
– The Treasurer said that.
– The Treasurer did not say that. The Leader of the Opposition said that the Government appeared to believe that cost stability depended on an unemployment figure of at least 100,000. Last December the Leader of the Opposition predicted that by the following April there would be 100,000 people out of work. How sad he must have been when he found that in April the number of unemployed was only 85,000, or 15,000 fewer than the number he had predicted! The latest figures show a continuing and dramatic drop in the number of persons registered for employment. The Leader of the Opposition, with his prophecies of gloom and doom, cannot take a trick.
Far from accepting a pool of unemployed as an essential ingredient of our economy, the Government has shown itself to be deeply concerned with unemployment generally and with juvenile unemployment in particular. I claim that unemployment is an emotional issue which Opposition members use to the utmost. They say that we are inhuman if we talk about unemployed persons in the way in which perhaps I am referring to them now. They use all sorts of adjectives to describe the labour position. They talk about the disastrous labour position and the shocking labour position. One Opposition member even said that what he called the present dreadful unemployment was caused by the cruel Federal Government. It is the general stock-in-trade of the Opposition to talk about 100,000 persons being out of employment. The Communist Party uses the technique of repeating over and over again something which it wants the general public to accept. Opposition members are using the Communist technique by saying again and again to the general public, “ There are 1 00,000 people out of work “, hoping that eventually the people will believe them.
Statistics can be made to tell any story that we want them to tell, and the Opposition has manipulated the employment statistics to suit its purposes. However, taking the statistics, it is interesting to note that in January, 1953 - January is the worst month in the year from an unemployment point of view - the number of people registered for employment represented 2.2 per cent, of a work force of 3,600,000. In January, 1963, the number registered for employment represented 2.3 per cent, of a work force which in the intervening ten years had increased to 4,300,000. Despite this increase of 19.4 per cent, in the work force there was an increase of only .1 per cent, in the number of persons registered for employment. In terms of the position in other countries, that is a remarkable achievement.
The honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly), who now occupies a position on the Opposition front bench, has been a severe critic of the Government in relation to the incidence of unemployment and has made many wild charges, hoping no doubt that they will stick. He has said that in Australia we have unparalleled unemployment when we should be prosperous. What nonsense he and his colleagues speak when they describe the position in that way! I wonder how closely they have studied the unemployment position. Are they satisfied that the 78,000 unemployed persons of whom they make so much are 78,000 people who are really suffering hardship? I challenge them to show me any appreciable number of people who are suffering hardship at this time and who are able, ready, willing and available for work.
– Come to my electorate.
– I shall go anywhere you wish. I challenge you to point out those people to me. If honorable members opposite really took a keen interest in the unemployment question of which they make so much they would know that in New South Wales insufficient men are available to provide a labour force for the water board and proper staffing for the Department of Railways. As to females, a lady told me not so very long ago that she had been to employment bureaux and had advertised for a housekeeper. On one occasion she went to the electorate of the honorable member for Grayndler to interview a lady who had advertised that she was available for work. The lady who was looking for a housekeeper also telephoned other ladies who had answered her advertisement. One had said to her, “I suppose you send your washing out? “ The lady who had advertised replied, “No, but I have a very good washing machine which does everything up to the point of spin-drying the clothes “. To this the lady who was looking for a job said, “You still have to take the clothes out of the machine and hang them on the line “.
– Don’t be silly. This is Parliament, not a kindergarten.
– What I have said is true. That is typical of the demands made by some people who say that they want work. In fact, people like that just do not want work. I repeat that if anybody can show me the hardship that honorable members opposite talk about, I shall be quite willing to go and see it - no matter in what State it is - and be told all about it. Mr. Speaker, it gives me very great pleasure to support this Appropriation Bill and to speak strongly in opposition to the amendment.
.- Much of the propaganda that has been put forward by the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Cockle) is hardly worth replying to. In fact, in his closing remarks it became just laughable. Even his comrades did not believe him. Contrary to his feelings, I support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). I agree entirely with the reasons that our leader advanced for moving that amendment. In spite of the attempts by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) to discredit the Leader of the Opposition, our leader’s speech on the Budget, which was delivered on 20th August, received unstinted praise from all sections of the Australian press and the people of Australia generally. In fact, the great national response that came from the people and the press threw the Government into a panic. Each and every speaker who has risen from the Government benches has described the speech made by the Leader of the Opposition as a political speech. There is an old saying in the political field that if you cannot beat a man by fair means, then character assassinate him. That is precisely what honorable members on the Government side are trying to do, not only to the Leader of the Opposition but also to other members of the Opposition. The Leader of the Opposition, in his opening remarks, said -
This Budget is post-war Liberalism at the end of its tether. The leaders of post-war Liberalism sit here without a single original idea among them, without a single inspiration to light the last hours of their glory, activated only by an unquenchable thirst for office and motivated only by unconquerable conceit of their own importance. Behind them sits a listless, lifeless party - a party without a policy, without genuine principles.
Those remarks were made on 20th August. On 24th August the following article appeared in the “ Taxpayers’ Bulletin “: -
An “ Inadequate “ Budget. At the August meeting of the Council of the Taxpayers’ Association of N.S.W., the Budget was fully discussed. Subsequently, Council issued the following statement: -
The 1963/64 Commonwealth Budget might be suitable for a highly developed country with all its resources fully employed and concerned mainly with preserving the status quo; it is a completely inadequate document to present to a young nation like Australia currently facing not only the problem of under-production in many important sectors of the economy, but the need for rapid development if it is to survive and maintain itself in a strongly competitive world. It is, in short, a cautious, old man’s Budget that ignores a young, ambitious man’s needs.
Mr. Holt has given no lead to the nation; there is no theme in the Budget to inspire the private sector of the economy to shake off the lethargy of the post-November, 1960, period and resume its proper expansionary role. Far from encouraging the return of a vigorous spirit of national confidence and enterprise, it, in effect, rejects this as if it were of no account in the present national circumstances.
The Taxpayers Association could not be regarded as an organization that would support the Australian Labour Party. The contrary would be the case. I suppose honorable members on the Government side would describe the remarks that have been made about the Budget as political remarks. Some honorable members opposite probably would go so far as to say that those remarks were inspired by Communist influence. However, it can be said with a good deal of emphasis that the views expressed in that journal are the views held by the majority of people in this country and that those people will express their political disfavour of the Budget at the ballot-box at the first available opportunity.
This state of affairs stems from the fact that the Government has failed to redeem its election promises. The Government promised to restore full employment. That promise was made by the Prime Minister during the last election campaign. He said that he would restore full employment within twelve months. Yet to-day, if the true figures were revealed, they would show that between 70,000 and 100,000 people are out of work. If we speak of these matters, we are said to be emotional. But emotion is involved. What must be the emotions of the people who are forced to live on social service payments? The unemployment position compelled Dr. Coombs, the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia, to say, “ Unemployment in this country is still too high “. But, of course, Government speakers say that there is nothing wrong with the situation. The Government has failed the parents of Australia by refusing to increase child endowment.
Contrary to the views expressed by speakers from the Government side of the House, although more money has been made available for housing, the extra money will not have any worthwhile effect on the housing shortage, particularly as it affects low-wage earners, because the Government has not solved the basic problems confronting the industry, which are high interest rates and the deposit gap. The honorable member for Warringah referred with some gusto to the importance of the home-building industry to this country. I ask him and all other Government supporters why they did not think about the importance of the home-building industry to this country before they introduced the credit squeeze and put hundreds of builders throughout Australia into bankruptcy.
In spite of the drama that the Prime Minister put into his remarks on education last evening, voices and newspapers scream at the Government to do something about the education facilities in Australia; but to no avail. The Prime Minister says that the concern of teachers, school committees, parents and other people interested in education is not real; that they are nothing but pressure groups. It is up to those people to show whether or not they are pressure groups. I believe that they will do that at the right time and in the right place. I noticed honorable members opposite as the Prime Minister was making that threat to the people who are interested in improving educational facilities in Australia. Their faces were very downcast . because they know what they will have to face when they get back to their electorates.
References made to national development, particularly as it applies to the Northern Territory, by Government speakers during this debate highlight the lack of planning by the Government in relation to the north of Australia, although they praise highly the amount of money that has been spent in the Northern Territory. It is, without doubt, a sad state of affairs that in this country 100,000 families are wanting homes; to the everlasting shame of this Government, on its own admission, 70,000 people are unemployed; parents are clamouring for increased child endowment; and the educational system is a shambles.
Perhaps the most disturbing feature of our economy to-day is the plight of the school-leavers. The parents of boys and girls leaving school to-day cannot look forward to the employment of their children in desirable jobs, although the children may possess outstanding qualifications. Some weeks before the Budget was brought down there were many predictions about the favours it would extend to many sections of the community. The press claimed it would be a small man’s Budget, but perhaps it would be truer to say it is a small Budget. How wrong the press was. It was not difficult for me to predict that the man in the street would not be going into raptures of delight about what the Budget would give him. Down the years experience has taught him to expect little or nothing at all from a government of this calibre. Indeed, it is true to say that the Budget has done nothing to help the economy overcome unemployment. Instead, it seeks to intensify the problems of the workless and the homeless by bringing more migrants to our shores. The Government therefore deserves the criticism and condemnation arising from the deficiencies of. this unrealistic and inadequate Budget which the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) has presented.
Much has been said during this debate about unemployment. I have a clear recollection of statements made by speakers on the Government side of the House when trying to vindicate the credit squeeze of 1960. I recall the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) saying that the economy of this country cannot be reconciled with full employment. I recall the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Malcolm Fraser) saying that full employment and the economy of this country cannot go hand in hand. I must say that these were very emotional statements. In other words, the Government says that the only way in which it can control the economy in this country is by having a pool of unemployed - a pool of misery. To judge from the remarks of speakers on the other side of the House during this debate, unemployment is, of course, the policy of this Government. The honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Lindsay) said -
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.
He must have been fighting fit when he said that. I invite the honorable member for Flinders to go into some of the housing commission areas in his electorate and tell the people there that perhaps they do not want work. I invite him to ask the women there whether they are prepared to fight. Perhaps they will tell him that they are prepared to fight for decent living conditions and for the right of their children to have some of the good things and the gains of progress that the honorable member for Flinders enjoys.
Only a few days ago I spoke to an officer at the Commonwealth Employment Service. He asked the age of a man for whom I was trying to get a job. I said that the man would be over 45 years of age and the officer replied that he would have to have extra good trade qualifications before he could be placed. So in a country like Australia a man of 45 years of age would have to have extra good trade qualifications before he could get work. The image that the honorable member for Flinders tries to create is the image that was created during the depression of the 1920’s and 1930’s. The same sort of thing was said in those days - that the unemployed do not want work and that they are the sick and the invalid. Boys who left school during that period never knew what it was to have a job until they enlisted in the army in 1939. History has the bad habit of repeating itself, and to-day the children of those men are finding that they cannot get jobs. So much for the policies of this Government. The truth is that it does not know how to cope with unemployment. It is not prepared to put in hand national works in a big way. As a consequence we still have this pool of misery.
During his speech the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Bury) informed us that unemployment must be treated scientifically. That is the stage which the Government has reached - to treat unemployment scientifically. I ask the honorable member for Wentworth what brand of science he is going to bring to bear on the question of paying the rent of the unemployed families? By what form of science is he going to provide food and clothing for them and, when he proceeds to treat the question of unemployment scientifically, what formula is he going to use to give jobs to the school leavers at the end of the year? Science has given the world many great advances in the fields of medicine, industry and defence, but I know of no scientific formula that has taken from our midst the tragedy of hunger and poverty and the degradation which these twin brothers of unemployment cause. The honorable member for Wentworth went to some length to explain the causes of the horrifying numbers of unemployed in America. He said this feature of the American community was due entirely to automation and intense mechanization. In that regard I ask whether, when he starts to treat scientifically the question of unemployment, he will tell the House what formula the Government intends to use to combat and overcome the threat of automation and intense mechanization that is insidiously creeping into all aspects of industry and commerce in this country? These are the questions that the people desire to be answered. They are the things that the little man - the man in the street - is interested in, and these people are emotional about their condition. These are the questions that this Budget has not answered and which no speaker on behalf of the Government has answered. The reluctance of honorable members opposite to debate the question of unemployment is evidence that they are ashamed of the action they took to help the Government create a pool of misery for 100,000 people in this country.
The attitude of those who have spoken in support of the Government with regard to northern development invites reproach. The Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck), after many years in possession of that portfolio, says that the development of the north is a practical problem in a tough, hard country, and one wanting a commonsense approach. Every honorable member on this side of the House will agree with that. Brains and not just money are needed to overcome such difficulties as economic production and the marketing of the products of industries in the north. This is what the Minister says after a period of office of twelve years; and it is exactly what we on this side of the House have been telling the Government since I have been a member of this chamber.
The Minister accused the Leader of the Opposition of proposing to squander millions of pounds on northern development That is entirely untrue. The Opposition has at all times advocated that a master plan for the development of the Northern Territory and the northern parts of Western Australia and Queensland should be evolved. With the knowledge that this has not been done, in spite of requests from all sections of the community, we will continue to press for a planned approach to the problems of the north. Wewill continue to advocate that a planning authority be set up to evolve a master plan of organized development in these areas. Reports which are available outline the research that has been carried out on many aspects of Northern Territory agricultural, pastoral and other kinds of development. Numbers of these reports have been produced by Governmentsponsored committees. But how many of the recommendations contained in them have been implemented, and what has happened to the recommendations of the scientists? We know about the HumptyDoo project. This should have been called the Humpty Dumpty project because, like many other ventures, it fell off the wall and all the Government’s forces and men could not put it together again. It is a wellknown fact that the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization research station at Katherine reported a considerable time ago that improved pasture management could sustain 60 head of “cattle to the square mile without pasture deterioration and with weight added to the cattle daily in the dry season. This discovery meant that the huge pastoral holdings could be broken up into smaller lots of about 10,000 acres. But little has been done to profit by the discovery and the pastoral holdings are as large as ever. The Minister said that substantial private enterprise development is needed. I ask: What has been done to compel the big pastoral companies who take all and give nothing to undertake pasture improvement?
I may well ask: What has been done to promote the peanut-growing industry? I remember being told, in 1957, that agricultural scientists reported that 1,250,000 acres of peanuts could be grown in the Northern Territory each year. This acreage could return 600,000 tons of peanuts and 250,000 tons of peanut meal, including peanut oil. The Minister said that the northern region turns off nearly half of Australia’s export beef cattle. In view of this, we on the Opposition side of the House are entitled to ask: What has the Government done to promote the peanut industry? Peanut meal is a valuable cattle food and a ready market is available for it in the Northern Territory.
What has the Government done to implement the discoveries of our scientists? The scientists told us that a stable agricultural industry could be established in the Northern Territory, capable of producing grain sorghum, rice, peanuts and cotton, bringing in an income of £50,000,000 annually to that area and providing the basis for a high living standard for a population of 250,000 people. We are entitled to know why nothing has been done. There is no question about the mineral resources of our northern regions, but these rich deposits have been sold to overseas interests with the result that most of the huge financial potential of our mineral deposits will be lost to this country.
Let me say this briefly: If what I saw recently in relation to roads for beef cattle is any indication of the Government’s planning, it leaves much to be desired. Perhaps one of the greatest criticisms that can be levelled against the planning for these roads is that, according to evidence given on oath, the planning and siting of these roads was not even referred to the Legislative Council of the Northern Territory. Instead of plans, we have statements in the press such as this -
NT CHIEF WANTS ASIAN MIGRANTS.
The Northern Territory administrator, Mr. Roger Nott, has advocated a quota system of Asian migrants to help increase the population of Northern Australia.
I ask Mr. Nott to say how they will live, what they will eat and where they will work. A member of the Legislative Council for the Northern Territory said the Government should offer incentives to encourage people to live in the north. With this I agree. There is one incentive that could be given immediately and that is the establishment of a television station. If people are dedicated enough to go there, they are entitled to some of the amenities that people enjoy in other areas.
Much emphasis has been placed on the exciting stage of our development. These are favourite words of the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies). I venture to say that it would be much more exciting, realistically exciting, if we had an organized plan of development for the north, if we had a national roads plan, a national housing scheme and a national health scheme, and if we had a government with the courage, imagination and enterprise to carry out these schemes. But unfortunately Australia does not have a government of this moral calibre and therefore development in these areas will languish in the years to come as it has in the past.
.- The honorable member for Gellibrand (Mr. Mclvor), who has just resumed his seat, has done nothing to convince me that I should support the motion of no confidence moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), or that I should not support the Budget. I think I can prove quite easily to honorable members opposite that they made a grave error in their assessment of the economic situation when they moved the motion of no confidence.
I recall last year, after the Budget was introduced by the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), there were cries of “ stagnation “ by Opposition members and by certain people outside the House who have a vested interest in inflation. We called the Budget a budget of stability. What were the results at the end of the financial year? I will give the factors in the business world from which we can gauge the effect of the Budget, The retail trade had a record year, with higher sales than had ever before been recorded. Motor car sales were higher than the peak in the 1959-60 boom. The stock exchange was buoyant throughout the year. This was the result of the Budget, not the lamentable result forecast by the Opposition. In this situation, I certainly cannot take heed of the honorable member for Gellibrand, who wishes me to support the Opposition’s motion of no confidence. The Opposition showed itself to be incorrect in its forecast last year and I suggest that it will be just as incorrect with its forecast for this year.
The present conditions make it much easier for the Treasurer to frame a budget. Overseas balances are healthy, bank liquidity is at a high peak, the employment situation, whilst not altogether satisfactory, is at least improving, and the loan market is buoyant. It is logical, therefore, to assume that the Treasurer would look at areas in the economy that need assistance. It is logical to assume, also, that he would look at the anomalies in social services and the - ‘general taxation programme^. Th.at.is.exactly-.wb.at he did.
He recognized also that the rural industries, which earn the export income of this country, had been facing a cost price squeeze and needed some assistance. I and other members of the Australian Country Party and other Government supporters have been almost praying for a subsidy on superphosphate. 1 would like to pay a tribute to the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) for his fortitude in putting up with our representations. I have been making representations since I have been in the House and for some years before that representations were made by the honorable members for Indi (Mr. Holten) and Wimmera (Mr. King).
The 20 per cent, investment allowance will assist the man on the land to increase his productivity. It will encourage him to buy new machinery and modern plant and he will, as the Treasurer said, have a 40 per cent, allowance in the first year. I am sure that this allowance and the superphosphate subsidy will mean an improvement in productivity through the years ahead. I was also very pleased to see that the capital of the Commonwealth Development Bank will be increased by a further £5,000,000. This will give the bank a working capital of about £70,000,000.
Since I have been in the House, I have been quite critical of Reserve Bank control of bank lending, particularly in the term lending field, and I will give a fairly typical case. It is my belief that shortterm lending imposes a squeeze on the farmer. Let us consider the case of a farmer who borrows £5,000 for five years, and this seems to be the average term that is available to the man on the land to-day. I know that the legislation permits a longer term, but I know of many people who are lucky to be given three years. A man who borrows £5,000 over five years is compelled to pay back £1,000 a year.
– What rate of interest does he pay?
– The normal rate of interest, and do not interrupt. If he borrows £5,000 for fifteen years from some other organization such as the Rural Finance Corporation, in Victoria, his capital return each year is about £330, or one-third of the amount he must repay if he borrows, for a period of five years.
The farmer is in a different position from the manufacturer. When the manufacturer borrows money on short-term to produce an article he can add the capital cost of his borrowing to the price of the article and still get his profit, but the farmer selling on the export market cannot do that and should not be expected to repay his borrowings in the same time as the manufacturer is expected to repay his.
I have heard a lot in this debate and since I have been in the House about tile costprice squeeze on rural industries. Several factors have contributed to this situation. No doubt falling export prices have been a major contributing factor. This can be proved with figures, but I do not propose to give them at this stage. If primary products had maintained the buoyant price levels of some years ago the cost-price squeeze would not be affecting the farmer to-day. I hope that the slight fall in the Sydney wool market will not be reflected in this season’s wool sales generally. We need a buoyant wool market in Australia. When we know that each Id. per lb. in the price of wool is worth £7,000,000 to our export earningss we can understand how valuable the wool industry is to this country. One bright prospect in this field is the possible signing of international commodity agreements. We all hope - even the Labour Party, I am sure - that the Gatt subcommittees now working out a programme for dairy and other agricultural products will come up with a suitable answer.
The continued rise in freight rates has been a problem for the farmer. This is a matter which I hope the Victorian Government will look into when it brings down its budget. I hope that the Victorian Treasurer will give some consideration to the settlers in the far-flung areas of Victoria. I have in mind particularly the Shire of Omeo, which does not have even a railhead. Farmers in that area are penalized by transport regulations and high freight costs. If the Victorian Government can see its way clear to reducing freight charges to the far-flung areas of the State which are not served by rail it will have done something worthwhile. The Commonwealth has set a fine example in introducing a bounty of £3 a ton on superphosphate. .
Another problem that affects the farmer is tariff protection. Nobody in this House would say that to give tariff protection to an efficient industry is not a proper and sensible course. As a Country Party member I recognize that the home market is our best market and that secondary industries provide employment for many people. Therefore I believe that some tariff protection is necessary. However, tariff protection has been increasing because of wage rises and so has contributed to the cost-price squeeze. The increased wages bill consequent upon decisions of the Arbitration Commission has a vital effect on the cost-price squeeze. I am somewhat disappointed that the committee appointed to inquire into the economy has not been directed to investigate the effect of Arbitration Commission decisions on the export industries and the economy as a whole. This matter has been debated here before and is due to be debated again. I have not yet had an opportunity to speak on the subject. I agree with Mr. W. G. Gerard, president of the Australian Metal Industries Association, who is reported to have said -
Next to the Federal Budget a decision of the Commission is the most important event to occur in our economic life.
I believe that to be true. My criticisms of the Arbitration Commission relate first to the criteria used by the commission in arriving at its basic wage decisions. The consumer price index is one matter to which the commission pays attention. I agree that this should be so. There is no better way of finding out the cost of living than the Australian way but I do not think the commission should pay regard to the capacity of an industry to pay or to what the economy can afford. To base a decision on the capacity of industry to pay leads to inflation. An increase in wages should be related to skill, responsibility, capacity to work and hardship. I think hardship is a very important element. If a certain section of wage earners is suffering hardship the commission should be empowered to raise the level of wages paid to that section. Most certainly productivity should have a bearing on the wage level.
The automatic increases in wages that seem to flow from Arbitration Commission decisions are ‘ dangerous to - our economic system. I am’ ‘aware that the full bench of the commission said that automatic increases should not follow its decisions, but the facts of life are that automatic increases have followed each decision of the Arbitration Commission in the past few years. Mr. J. T. Ludeke, a barrister, has said that the full bench of the Arbitration Commission granted increases to metal trades workers in April and since then the decision has been trundled from one tribunal to another as the reason why increases should be granted in other awards. That is so. My investigations show that up to the end of June there have been 199 applications for variations of federal awards. In 166 cases margins were increased, mostly by 1 0 per cent. Only two applications were refused. Several stays of orders have been granted.
Nothing in the economy is more important than decisions of the Arbitration Commission. The commissioner’s recent margins decision has already affected 634,000 workers under federal awards and 297,000 workers under State awards. At this point of time I do not think claims for workers under Queensland, New South Wales and Victorian awards have really got under way. The effect of Arbitration Commission decisions is aggravated by irresponsible State governments.
– We heard that 50 years ago.
– It still applies. In its editorial of 7th June, 1963, the “Sydney Morning Herald “ - Labour’s favourite newspaper - pointed out that the situation is aggravated by the Heffron Government’s unprincipled additions to gratuities for long service and their extension to short-service employees,
I have further proof of the pudding. In Victoria we have a near crisis in the State Electricity Commission. The unions have served fourteen demands on the commission. The unions want a 50 per cent, rise in margins to bring them into line with margins paid to electricity workers in New South Wales. It may be all right for the Labour Government in New South Wales to give these hand-outs - I know that is its policy - but some fair criteria should be applied. I would not object to increases in wages if the workers were hard up or if they were doing more than a usual day’s work. Those would be fair criteria to apply, but capacity to pay is not a fair criterion.
When a rise granted to workers in the lower scale is automatically applied to workers in the higher echelons there is complete disparity. I do not think it is fair for a 10 per cent, increase in margins to be granted to a man with a margin of £500 a year and also to a man with a margin of £5,000 a year. In the first case the increase is £50 and in the second case it is £500. That is not fair to the economy and it is not fair to our export industries. Each job should be judged on the skill of the worker, his responsibilities and the other factors I have mentioned. The application of wage increases right through the scale is inflationary and any benefit gained by the original applicants is soon lost.
I know that there are many anomalies in the present system. I do not think the present arbitration system can remove all of the anomalies. The wage system in this country is like a dog chasing its tail. Wages constantly rise and the effect of rising wages on the export industries is absolute and immediate. What happens? A rise is granted to one body of workers and is immediately applied right through the scale. Immediately the manufacturer applies to the Tariff Board for further protection because his profits have been disturbed. Additional tariff protection is granted and therefore the capacity of industry to pay is increased. The unions note the increase in the capacity of industry to pay and the whole business starts over again. They apply for another wage rise, and so it goes on. We are losing the full benefit of proper and just wage arrangements. I want to stress again the fact that I am disappointed that the committee inquiring into the state of the economy has not a term of reference covering this matter, but I hope that the commissioners, if I may call them such, will find something in the terms of reference to allow them to assess the effect of Arbitration Court decisions on the economy as a whole.
I want now to deal with a very important part of the Budget which affects particularly the electorate of Gippsland. I have told this House before of the importance of the timber industry to Gippsland. There are 66 sawmills in my electorate, employing 1,800 men. This is a big industry. It cuts about one-third of all the scantling produced in Victoria. I have been pleased with the proposals of the Treasurer to assist the industry. The first proposal to which I refer is that concerning the implementation of paragraph 473 of the report of the Commonwealth Committee on Taxation, which reads -
The Committee recommends that the planting or tending of trees for felling and the extraction of timber from either plantations or indigenous forests should bc regarded as primary production up to and including the transportation of the logs to the mill for primary conversion, that is delivery to the mill skids.
This, of course, will be of advantage to the fallers, the men in the bush. Let me here pay a tribute to the men who work in the bush. I know how efficient they are in their activities with log carriers. They put up with all sorts of conditions. They have to contend with bad weather and bad roads and bad luck, but they keep the mills supplied with logs throughout the year, including severe winters. This provision will give these people the right to average their incomes over five years if they so desire. It will also give them the benefit of a 20 per cent, depreciation allowance on their equipment. I suppose there would not be any vehicle that would depreciate at a more rapid rate than a log-carrying truck. Such a truck is driven into the bush, a bulldozer pushes logs up to it, something goes wrong with the operation and the truck is damaged. These men are in trouble with their trucks all the time. It must be remembered that they travel over bad roads to the mills. They deserve this consideration, and I congratulate the Treasurer for carrying out the committee’s recommendation.
The 20 per cent, investment allowance will also apply and will be of much benefit. It will apply not to the log trucks but certainly to the bulldozers and even the chain saws. Despite the cry of the Opposition that no encouragement is given to the timber industry, this Budget certainly gives every encouragement to it. I am pleased also at the decision to carry out the recommendation of the committee contained in paragraph 482 of its report, which is in the following terms: -
The Committee recommends that Section 124f, which refers to a depreciation allowance should be amended so as to extend its application to mill buildings and housing for employees located in the logging area.
I have some slight worries about this, however. The reference is to the logging area. In this connexion I can speak only about conditions in Victoria, particularly in my own electorate. The Forests Commission of Victoria, following the experience of the 1939 bush fire, has adopted a policy of not allowing people to live in logging areas. The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Cleaver) and I have already approached the Treasurer on this point. We want to arrange for a wider definition of “logging area”. Perhaps the term “ milling area “ could be used instead.
If the term “logging area” is retained, only about three mills out of 66 in my electorate would receive any benefit. No doubt similar considerations would apply in other States. I can only suppose that the Treasurer was thinking of villages or small towns in which there are saw-mills and a certain number of houses. Heyfield is one such place, and another is Swift’s Creek. In such places the mills have built perhaps 100 houses. Heyfield is a rural area and supports a strong dairy industry, but the fact remains that the houses occupied by mill employees would have little resale value if the logging areas were cut out. If this section is to be of any benefit to the timber industry the area covered must be extended in some way. I have mentioned Swift’s Creek. Another such place in my area is Bruthen, where there are a couple of hundred houses which will have no value when the logging areas have been cut out. If this provision is to be of any value, its application should not be confined to what are now considered as logging areas. I trust that the Treasurer will study this matter closely. I believe there are great opportunities for Australia and Australians in the decades ahead. I congratulate the Treasurer on the introduction of this Budget. I heartily support it.
Sitting suspended from 5.56 to 8 p.m.
.- This is a decisive period in the history of Australia. This is a time of great urgency for this nation, in a world of change and challenge. For the first time in our history we have a land boundary with an Asian neighbour. Business as usual, or less than usual, is not good enough for Australia. Our duty is to occupy, develop and defend this- nation.
This year’s Budget is hopelessly inadequate to meet these requirements. In other years our pioneering forbears made the pace in the development of Australia. Our numbers then were few but the spirit was immense. The palsied hands of this Government are not likely to guide our ship of state to a position where we can fulfil our destiny and play our role in this great southern continent. In the days of great challenge in the past there were statesmen at the helm of this nation, men giving leadership to the people and encouraging them to discharge their responsibilities to our development. The great days of the turn of the century when patriotism and the national spirit were strong have passed, and those virtues seem to have been in their death pangs since 1949. It will be left to a Labour Government, led by a great Australian - the Leader of the Australian Labour Party and the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) - to bring the ship of state through troubled waters to safe anchorage.
The weaknesses of this Budget are well known. Last night they were exemplified when we heard the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies), a man gifted in oratory and histrionics, a man with a capacity to make a good case in debate, use the unlimited time at his disposal to make a bitter personal attack upon the Leader of the Opposition. This attack was not in character with the Budget debate and had nothing to do with the Budget. Having used up his venom in that way, the Prime Minister changed tack and came about to launch an attack upon the school teachers of Victoria, who are not represented here. The teachers of Victoria presented a case to the Australian people. Naturally, it deserves to be debated and considered by the Parliament.
Because a budget was being discussed and the financial affairs of the nation were being considered, I feel that the Prime Minister had a responsibility not to spend his time on a personal attack on the Leader of the Opposition and to say in a sort of postscript that he approved of the Treasurer’s Budget speech. He should have spent his time from beginning to end in making a case for the Budget. We all know that it was left to the Leader of the Opposition to state a case for Australia - for its development, defence and security and for social justice for the well-being of our people.
The Budget is noteworthy for its omissions, which include failure to provide full employment, justice for married pensioners, a plan of action to develop north Australia, effective means to decentralize industry and adequate housing, health services and education facilities and failure to bring about measures for the security and defence of Australia. These omissions concern serious matters of the highest priority which should demand the attention of any government concerned with producing a financial policy to endure for twelve months. Other notable omissions include increases in child endowment and action to provide an improved funeral benefit.
The Budget clearly shows a lack of leadership by the Government. The Government’s policy has been erratic and without consistency. When we look back over the years and consider what has taken place, it is little wonder that some Government members have been quite tepid in their support of the Budget. Some have said that it is not a bad Budget. When they say that, they have in their minds the horror budget, the little horror budget and the credit squeeze. By those standards, this is not a bad Budget. We concede that there are elements in this Budget which might be acceptable. When a plank of our platform is stolen in order to improve health services and social services, that is commendable. But when the measures do not go far enough the Government deserves the condemnation of the House. The Government has accepted our proposal for a superphosphate subsidy, and that is quite welcome. But the Government has carried on in such a way that our financial leaders and the community generally cannot plan twelve months in advance with the Budget as their basis. That is one of the fundamental weaknesses of the Budget. A budget should be so drawn that it will inspire confidence, especially in view of the great challenge that is facing us. Having inspired confidence, it should provide a blueprint of action so that our financial leaders and those who wish to develop this country can work with some knowledge of what will happen in the future.
This year’s Budget is based more or less on a guess - on the estimate of a deficit of £58,000,000 after providing for loan raisings of about £300,000,000. Last evening the Prime Minister went to great pains to talk about the £300,000,000 that is to be raised by loans. His guarantee to the people was in these words -
The Treasurer estimated it - he cannot be precise at this stage- at £300,000,000.
This is the sort of financial pattern provided for the people of Australia. This is what they are supposed to hitch their wagons to. This is the imprecise guesswork for this year’s Budget. Last year the Treasurer estimated a deficit of £118,000,000, but finished the year with a surplus of £16,000.000. This is an error of £134,000,000.
– That is not much OUt
– It is not much when you say it quickly. That is the sort of thing that occurred last year and which seems to be inherent in this year’s Budget. If private companies tried to fashion budgets on those lines to suit their purposes, we would find the names of those companies listed with those of the mushroom, fringe financial institutions which have gone bankrupt, dragging with them many unfortunate people who have lost their money in their undertakings. I refer to the type of companies that this Government has allowed to develop and flourish and take with them in their financial failures the money of the ordinary people.
For the few reforms contained in the Budget the Australian electors should be congratulated. Had they not used the lash at the last general election, the brand of laissez faire, the sort of indifference, the casual attitude and the torpor that has characterized the conduct of the Government since 1949 would have persisted. The electors removed quite a number of members who sat on your right, Mr. Speaker, and replaced them by active, energetic advocates of the people. Because of that, the Government has adopted certain planks of Labour’s policy, particularly with respect to social services and the subsidy on superphosphate, and has given a measure of assistance to widows and single pensioners, extended investment allowances to the man on the land and removed the sales tax from foodstuffs. These are desirable features of the Budget and they are welcomed by the electorate But this does not go far enough to meet the challenge of the development of Australia. If Australia is to develop as it should and if we are to hold our position in this great southern area of the world, much more vitality, energy and honesty, greater clarity of purpose, and more determination must be shown in getting on with the work that this Government should be doing.
This Budget exhibits other features, too. The Government has responded to some degree to the cold draughts of the last general election, but the Budget reveals the stresses and strains of the struggle between the Australian Country Party and the Liberal Party of Australia - a struggle that has led to bargaining, jostling for position, arguments about whether a redistribution will be accepted and speculation about whether certain candidates will oppose others. It must be said to the credit of the Country Party that on this occasion it has emerged in a fairly satisfactory position. But there is no clear pattern of the Government’s policy. Twelve months before the last general election, there was utter complacency. Now we find a great deal of expediency in the Government’s policy.
Honorable members will have noted that in other days when the Government budgeted for a surplus, it said: “ We cannot give a subsidy on superphosphate. We cannot afford it. We cannot take the sales tax off foodstuffs, because the financial situation will not permit that to be done.” Those things could not be afforded when the Government was budgeting for a surplus. Yet, on this occasion, budgeting for a deficit, it has introduced a subsidy on superphosphate, removed the sales tax from foodstuffs, increased social service benefits and given relief here and there! The circumstances in which this is done indicates clearly that the Government’s actions are dictated not by a policy based on clear thinking and proper management, but by political expedience and a wish to win the votes of the people without regard to economic facts. If the measures that I have just mentioned could not be adopted when the Government was budgeting for a surplus, how can they be adopted now, when the Government is budgeting for a deficit of £58,400,000 and also for the raising of £300,000,000 on the loan market? These points seem to answer all the arguments that the Government can put up in defence of this Budget.
I support the amendment proposed by th° Leader of the Opposition as a censure on the Government. I believe that censure is called for. There should be moved in this Parliament a motion that expresses the views of the mass of the people, so as to bring into the Parliament the living voice, as it were, of those outside this place and to express their emotions and feelings concerning the problems that beset Australia at present. Some honorable gentlemen opposite appear as roaring lions in their electorates. They agree wilh everything that their constituents say about the difficulties and disabilities to which the people are subjected in respect of development, decentralization, luxation, social service problems and many other things, but then they appear here as lambs and make no attempt to make their voices heard on these important matters. They are content in this place merely to agree with everything that is said by those who sit on the front bench on the Government side of the chamber. What a mockery this makes of our system of democracy. Every elected representative in this place ought to speak up and give to the House the refreshing views of the people whom he represents.
The views that I have expressed concerning this Budget are not the views only of Opposition members and supporters of the Australian Labour Party. These views have been widely expressed in some of the country’s most responsible publications. The Melbourne “ Age “, on 1 5th August, concluded a very interesting editorial with these words - . . the extra £5 million for northern development this year will be absorbed by projects already in being, which required increased expenditure in the normal course of events anyway. Developing Australia’s north is a national challenge which will never be met by small spending on comparatively small projects.
On 22nd August, in a very well reasoned editorial, not coloured by party political views, the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ expressed national thoughts. The concluding sentence of the editorial read -
But Labour’s zest for national progress and development is the handsome garment that the Government has so far failed to steal.
The taxpayers of Australia are far from satisfied with this Budget. Under the heading, “ An ‘ Inadequate ‘ Budget “, the “ Taxpayers’ Bulletin “ of 24th August, in its leading article, stated -
At the August meeting of the Council of the Taxpayers’ Association of N.S.W., the Budget was fully discussed. Subsequently, Council issued the following statement:
The 1963-64 Commonwealth Budget might be suitable for a highly developed country wilh all its resources fully employed and concerned mainly with preserving the status quo; it is a completely inadequate document to present to a young nation like Australia currently facing not only the problem of under-production in many important sectors of the economy, but the need for rapid development if it is to survive and maintain itself in a strongly competitive world.
That is the sort of argument that the Opposition has been using. If this nation is to go forward, we must adopt a new outlook. The level of expenditure that sufficed in earlier times and in the easy days of peace is not sufficient now. We must put this nation in top-gear to meet’ all the problems that we face.
Is this Government to be content with happenings of the sort that have occurred in recent times since the problem of West New Guinea has arisen? We recall the Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley) and the Minister for External Affairs (Sir Garfield Barwick) visiting Indonesia and having talks. The silence of Dean Maitland could be matched only by their subsequent silence in this Parliament. The only act worthy of note throughout the whole of that troublesome period when the difficulties over West New Guinea were at their height was attributable to the Minister for Defence, who, viewing the troops of aggression in Indonesia, wore what was alleged to have been an Indonesian uniform. Is this Government so complex in its make-up and its attitudes that it is satisfied with that sort of thing? Are we to be content to sit back and allow such incidents to happen without gearing this nation to make an effort and develop Australia to meet the challenge that confronts it?
On 27th August, in a statement about the economic stimulus required in Australia, Mr. D. R. Lysaght, chairman of the Commercial Banking Company of Sydney Limited, said -
The margin of registered unemployed applications over the registered vacancies at the end of June, 1963, indicated a comparatively small improvement in the position over the year.
The introduction to the report and financial statements of the Reserve Bank of Australia for 1963, which was written by the directors with a full knowledge of the charter to provide full employment in Australia, is in these terms -
A recovery of economic activity was in train at the beginning of 1962-63. Expenditure and employment were rising but there was still a substantial degree of unemployment of labour and physical capacity and private expenditure on plant and equipment had not revived.
Imports rose sharply in 1962-63.
However, unemployment is still too high. It is necessary to follow through with policies to encourage the growth of economic activity and to realise the potential for expansion of the economy presented by the high level of new entrants to the work force in years to come.
Nor can we overlook the need to raise the quality of the work force, at all levels of industrial and commercial organization. In the longer run, growth depends on many factors; but with the advance of science and technology, standards of education and the up-grading of skills have become of increasing importance.
This supports the Labour Party’s view that the work force should be fully employed and that higher education should be provided so that we can win from all boys and girls the maximum that they can contribute towards the development of this country. What has happened in the past has been far from satisfactory. The broad question of national development has not been tackled as it should have been. There has been timidity and caution. There has been a gamble on what should be done. I should like to see all people who are willing and able to work given the opportunity to do so.
The development of the north calls for the immediate establishment of a north Australia authority. Last night the Prime Minister went to some trouble to tell the House that this is not a particularly desirable course, that it is not necessary, that there are other means of developing the north. But national development, as 1 see it, means using all the resources and manpower that we have for the development and effective occupation of this nation. At present there are surplus capacity, unused manpower and untapped resources. It is the duty of a government worthy of the name to get to work immediately to use these resources. Let us look over the pattern of Australia. This Budget contains nothing to excite those who wish to see rapid development. Some reference was made to the Ord River project but not one penny piece has been provided in this Budget towards the cost of construction of the major dam on the Ord River. There is no indication that money will be found in the next two years. Add to that the time of planning and the time of construcing the major project and what will you have? This project is nothing but a publicity stunt perpetrated on the people of this country in the name of national development. This is far from satisfactory.
On the rich and beautiful land which has a supply of water provided by the Ord River diversion scheme five men have settled and applications for seven other allotments closed at the end of July, so twelve people will go on the land in that area, ls that the finish of the project? Will a few more canals only be constructed? What kind of development is that? Why cannot something be done about harnessing the Gascoyne River which could serve the Carnarvon area? Already settlers from all over the world are making a good thing out of the rich land there. We should be developing the remainder of the north for Australia. What has Queensland done to deserve its fate? Development in that State has been sadly neglected. Nothing has been done about the Nathan dam; nothing has been done about the Fitzroy-Dawson river system; nothing has been done about the Burdekin and, in particular, nothing has been done about establishing a steel industry in Queensland which would attract population to the north and at the same time develop the area. Nothing has been said about that and nothing will be done about that.
– Where would you locate the steel industry?
– A north Australia authority would consider all the resources available. If it is good sense to send Australian iron ore and Australian coking coal to Japan, surely it is good sense to transport iron ore from Western Australia to Queensland to serve a steel industry in that
State. That is the only way in which we will have mass population in the north. We will not be able to do it by any other means.
Let me turn to the other promises which have been made, and refer to the Northern Territory. The Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) made a most effective case, for which the Prime Minister gave him credit, for nothing having been done in the Northern Territory. There can be no equivocation here. Responsibility for developing the Northern Territory rests upon this Government and upon this Parliament. What has been done? Go to the Roper River, the Victoria River, the Daly River and even the Katherine dam and see the possibilities there, but nothing has been done. One or two pilot farms have been established to make production tests which have been made 100 times previously. What the area can produce has been proved over and over again.
I should like the Government to change its attitude, to step out and do something new. We lack fossil fuels for cheap power production in the Northern Territory so I would like to see electricity produced by nuclear energy. If we take our industries to the north the population will follow. But if we wait until we get the population there first we shall be following the defeatist line of the Postmaster-General (Mr. Davidson), whose words seem to sum up the Government’s attitude. He is reported on page 336 of “ Hansard “ of 3rd April, 1963, in this way -
If you want to provide a really good communications system of railways and roads for our enemies to get right to our heart, that is the best thing you can do. As a man who has had some experience in these matters, I can think of nothing more dangerous than to provide an efficient transport system for our enemy to use to get to our heart without having a proper defence force to ensure that we can use that transport system.
– Who said that?
– Those are the words of the Postmaster-General who believes that the north is expendable. Do not provide roads, do not provide railways, do not provide transport because you will let the enemy get to the heart of this country. That is a strange philosophy. The Minister for the Interior (Mr. Freeth) spoke along similar lines a few -days ago. These are the melancholy facts,associated with.the Government’s attitude and record in this important matter of national defence.
Let me turn now to the question of balanced development, of this Commonwealth Government meeting the States and providing cheap telephone calls, for one thing, to assist industry to become established in country towns. The Government has increased telephone charges and made it more difficult for industry to go into country towns. That represents the whole pattern of behaviour of this Government. Consequently, on behalf of the Opposition, I say that we welcome this opportunity to invite honorable members opposite to join with us in a vote against this Administration which has failed the people so lamentably over recent years. The censure motion embodied in the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition brings to this chamber the considered views of the Australian people. The Budget presented by the Treasurer has dismayed the great majority of the Australian people, whose fond hopes for a new deal in work and wages have faded into oblivion.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I stand in complete awe before the capacity of the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti) to brew from this excellent Budget the kind of fantasy to which he has treated the House for the past 30 minutes. It was delightful fantasy in the best Jules Verne manner. The day will come, as the years unroll, when the things to which he has directed attention will be practical; but we are living in a great big practical world. The things to which the honorable gentleman referred are desirable, but at this stage they are impractical in anything like the form to which ha directed our attention.
Despite the fact that we have before us a motion of no confidence in the Government, I cannot recall a budget which has evoked so little public criticism or against which it is so difficult to sustain a reasonable argument. One thing I must say about members of the Opposition is that they are consistent. They invariably sing the same song.-: They ‘hope that ultimately repetition will pass for conviction. To-night we heard from the honorable member for Macquarie the same theme song as was sung by his leader - this is good political tactics - namely, that the Government’s provisions for defence, education, housing, health, social services and everything else in the whole catalogue of government responsibility are inadequate. I should like to hear a definition of the word “ inadequate “ when applied to any of those things. The fact is that members of the Opposition are complaining about all these things - they want more of everything, well knowing that to be impracticable - for the sake of making an argument that might be reasonably sustainable to those people who do not think very deeply about these problems.
We have heard the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) talking about defence and castigating the Government for not buying things off the shelf. Nobody ought to know better than he that in defence to-day the things you buy off the shelf are already half-way to obsolescence. So one has to presume that in this field the Labour Party would have us begin that way. The Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) magnificently demolished that argument last night, as he did the Labour Party’s argument on education. The Prime Minister proved beyond doubt that no other government has done nearly as much for education as has the Liberal-Country Party Government that is now in business.
The Opposition charge on housing is equally empty. I should like to keep to the contents of the Budget. When one looks at the statistics one sees that whereas in 1947, 55 per cent, of Australians’ homes were privately owned, to-day 76 per cent, are so owned. One-third of the houses and flats in this entire continent have been built during the fourteen years’ tenure of office of this Government. In 1949 there was one house or flat for every 4.1 persons in Australia. Despite the fact that the population has increased by 3,000,000 in the intervening years, to-day there is one house or flat for every 3.7 persons. Since 1949 this Government has provided or earmarked £957,000,000 for housing. It might be well to remind the House that housing is primarily a State responsibility. This Budget will mean the release into, the ‘ community of a further £72,000,000 for additional housing. It will bring with it all the usual benefits that flow into the other trades associated with housing development.
If we extract the special pleading from individuals or groups whose private interests have not been particularly advantaged by this Budget, we find that the Budget has been received quietly and favourably. The Budget is not a grab-bag from which everybody is entitled to expect individual benefits. It is a document which embodies the judgment of the Government in balancing this country’s needs against its capacity to provide. As the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) has pointed out, it is quite timely in this day and age for us to look ahead and make prudent provision for this country’s future in an uncertain world. The Opposition has made the charge against us that this is not an adventurous budget. But I venture to suggest that if one looks dispassionately at what is going on in mineral exploration and development, in oil search and, happily, oil production, in water conservation, in rail standardization, in the construction of beef roads, in land settlement and in works at coal ports, and adds the £20,000,000 that will be put into the economy under this Budget on precisely described developmental works, one finds that there is enough commercial and real-life adventure in this country for anybody who thinks or anybody who is not completely devoid of feeling.
In the overall content of the Budget, it is not expected that this catalogue of real achievement by this Government during its period of office will earn praise or even credit from the Opposition; still less should one expect that at a time when a censure motion is before the House. Of course, there is always room for complaint in any economy. As long as it remains true that the satisfaction of one human desire leads to the development of another, and as long as it is true that Australians are a growing nation in a developing country, there will be things that need to be done and changes that need to be made.
I feel sorry for the members of the Labour Party, who are concentrating, as they always do, on the .deficiencies.’ .By doing that they become miserable, depressed and pessimistic. Finally they talk themselves into believing that things are bad, despite every indication in the economy to the contrary. It is not a bad idea to look now and again at the real level ot achievement in this country and to realize that there are not unlimited resources to be devoted to the task of development, as the honorable member for Macquarie seems to think there are.
It is not long since the Budget presented to this House was about £1,000,000,000 a year. This year the Budget contemplates an expenditure of £2,280,000,000. That figure is an increase of £197,000,000 on the figure for 1962-63. When one looks at that enormous amount close up, one sees that it is heavily loaded with fixed commitments. More than half of it is to be spent under four headings, each of which grows inevitably year by year. The States want £450,000,000; defence takes £250,000,000; social services expenditure runs to £411,000,000 and expenditure on works and services is £182,000,000. One cannot brew out of that kind of budget too much of an argument for giving to development more than the share that the Government envisages as a consequence of the Budget. The Budget provides for about the maximum rate of public sector growth that is prudent, and room for sweeping tax concessions and increased benefits of a more personal kind simply does not exist. The Leader of the Opposition admitted that in the damaging suggestion that he will seek benefits for some people at the expense of Others, within the tax structure.
The Leader of the Opposition would like to be a Robin Hood, pillaging the allegedly undeserving and distributing the results to the allegedly deserving. But that suggestion is not nearly as good as it appears when one looks at the figures. In this country 3,000,000 taxpayers earn under the average weekly income of £24. Another 1,000,000 people earn between £24 and £40 a week. One would presume that the Labour Party would like neither to help nor to raid that group of people. There are 400,000 people who earn more than £2,000 a year. So, if one looks . closely,, at the Labour Party’s proposal, one sees that it means - that 400,000 people will be plundered for the benefit of 3,000,000 people.
There is one by-product of this proposal to which I think the House and the people of Australia ought to pay attention. The Opposition is demanding employment opportunities, but these come only through the development of industry and the investment of capital. This venture capital for the development of our industries does not come from the man on the average salary; it comes from the man in the higher income bracket. It may well be that once again the Labour Party will do as it has so often threatened to do; it will kill the goose that lays the golden egg. I hope that those people who are in the threatened group in this community will remember well what the Labour Party has said about its future tax policy.
Constantly throughout the year and throughout this debate the Opposition has concentrated on unemployment. I know this is a difficult subject, but let me say with emphasis that Labour has no monopoly of concern for Australian men and women who are out of employment. Nobody will deny that the Labour Party had the right or even the obligation to press the Government, but in aiming at the Government the Opposition has hit the people. In the face of rising indications of economic activity on every hand there is a hesitancy in buying and in investment. There can be no doubt that the Opposition’s constant campaign has inhibited the growth of confidence in this community. The Leader of the Opposition preaches that recovery is a matter of basic consumer demand and then he proceeds to spread gloom and depression to the point where £230,000,000 can flow into the banks against a rainy day instead of flowing into the kind of consumption which he says will stimulate activity and employment.
The Labour Party talks of 80,000 unemployed as though this was a body of people condemned to continuing unemployment. If it is permissible to paint this completely erroneous picture of unemployment, using a statistical figure of 80,000, it is equally permissible to point out that the Commonwealth Employment Service is putting people into employment at the rate of 30,000 a month. So, if one applies the statistics of this situation they prove that unemployment in this community is turned over once every three months. We are dealing with a human problem, and we know that that kind of statistical conception is completely false on both counts. There are not 80,000 people condemned to perpetual unemployment, nor are they turned over every three months. This we know, because the fact is that the opportunity for employment varies with the individual, in respect of age, skill, location, aptitude and a lot of other circumstances besides. It is an unhappy fact that a very large number of those who are unemployed are unskilled and can, in general terms, in an industrial economy, be employed only as adjuncts to skilled workers. The difficulties are therefore clear before this country, because Australia is starved for skilled tradesmen in almost every category.
There are enormous difficulties in providing suitable employment, for instance, for young women available in ones, twos or threes in country towns spread throughout the country. What point and what virtue is there in suggestions that Government policy ought to embrace the starting of country industries to employ these people, when in fact many of them are so young that their parents, rightly and properly, will not allow them to leave home? No decision of the Government in regard to the economy or industrial policy will provide the necessary kind of employment under acceptable conditions for these people. If you go through the anatomy of this unemployment problem you find countless groups of the same kind, for whom it is extraordinarily difficult to provide reasonable employment, regardless of what steps are taken.
We are gratified that there has been a big drop in unemployment during the month of July. There will be another drop in this month and a further drop in the months to come. But looking at the total of unemployment alone is not enough. It must be remembered that the economy has absorbed a 40,000 increase in the work force within recent months. When you look at the figures to-day you find that registered unemployed stands at only 1.8 per cent, of the work force and that the hard core of those truly suffering hardship represents .8 per cent, of the work force. When you realize that this is a better figure than has been achieved, despite enormous efforts, in the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Canada and no doubt other countries, this country’s record is clear and this Government’s record is clear. We are faced with an enormously difficult problem and the Government, despite what the Labour Party constantly says, has done extraordinarily well with it. Of course, as the number of unemployed registered decreases the problem of further reduction of the number will become vastly more difficult. I want to pay tribute to the extraordinary efforts of the officers of the Department of Labour and National Service, who go to wonderful lengths to rind suitable occupations for those who have special needs - the physically handicapped, and many others, who have special needs for special employment. In a matter which touches the Australian conscience so closely as this does it is easy to get the problem out of perspective. The honorable member for Macquarie referred to Mr. D. R. Lysaght, a leading banker, who recently said -
The employment situation is a good gauge of economic performance.
This is factual enough, but he went on to talk about the margin of registered unemployed over the number of registered vacancies and tried to draw the inference that this was an indicator of economic activity, but tor the reasons I have mentioned those two figures are not necessarily and, in fact, are hardly ever statistically related. Getting the facts of the unemployment situation out of perspective will do nothing so much as to injure those whose re-employment awaits the complete restoration of confidence in Australia.
It is easy, at this time, to talk about more impetus, but there is also a need for prudence in not over-stimulating trends towards expansion and development which are already running strongly in the Australian economy. There has been general satisfaction about relief to primary industries still hard-pressed by the levels of cost of production and the difficulties of overseas markets, but still, mark you, earning the great bulk of this country’s export income. The primary industries and the economy generally will benefit from the superphosphate bounty, the investment allowance, the further availability of loan moneys through the £5,000,000 addition to the capital of the Development Bank, and so on. These benefits will be cumulative on others which arise from the long series of fine legislation which stands to the credit of this Government. I refer to the abolition of the federal land tax, the 20 per cent, depreciation allowance, the continuance of dairy and wheat stabilization schemes, the provision of funds for research programmes, assistance to State extension services and a long list of other things of that character which have brought stability to country industries.
There are also benefits to secondary industries, particularly the ability to retain more of earned profit without attracting undistributed profits tax, because this is the source from which industrial development capital comes and it is a good thing that it should show up in this Budget. The fact is that every indicator of economic growth is moving steadily upwards. Personal consumption, which in 1962 was £4,742,000,000 moved up to £4,993,000,000 this year. To this, in the coming year, must be added the effect of recent wage increases, the engineers’ award, the removal of sales tax from foodstuffs and things of that kind. Net farm incomes have been rising. In 1962 farm income was £465,000,000 and in 1963 it has moved up to £545,000,000. In this industry, which is not notorious for the profit it makes, you may depend on it that this rise in income will produce an equivalent rise in spending. I come now to manufacturing and selling. Investment in manufacturing stocks increased by £67,000,000 over the figure one year ago. Commercial inventories are up by £29,000,000, and all of this adds to demand and to employment.
A steady stream of favorable company reports has been issued. The stock market, the most sensitive indicator of the state of the economy, is rising. I am happy to see in the Budget provision for an increased intake of migrants. This country needs people for its defence and its development and to provide a greater home market, because only as we expand the home market can our industries be given the chance to keep to economic production and be enabled to compete in the external markets which mean so. much to our economic security in the future. If it were a toss-up between the cost of an expanded migration problem and budget benefits I would settle every time for migration. Our population is rising at the rate of 200,000 a year. Before the end of the year it will reach the 11,000,000 mark. I cannot help casting my mind over other countries with similar kinds of populations and looking at what they have done. I refer to Holland, Belgium, Switzerland, Denmark and so on. Of course, it may be said that they are hard-by a market of 200,000,000 people. But these countries have brought prosperity to their people and won an unassailable place in the world’s markets by applying themselves to the problem in hand. Australia is in proximity to a potential market of 1,000,000,000 people, whose capacity to buy, and perhaps to buy from us, will steadily rise as time goes on. This can be a great country if only we do not listen to the little Australians, the knockers to whom the honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate) referred in such trenchant terms this afternoon.
It has been very interesting to hear the Australian Labour Party condemn the inflow of overseas capital under uncontrolled conditions. I listened with some sympathy and respect to the Leader of the Opposition on this issue, because we would all like to see a partnership between Australian and overseas capital. However, without putting limits on it at the moment, I believe we are moving towards this desirable state. Increasingly, Australians who are prepared to back development in their own country are seeking the partnership of overseas capital and are getting it. It is pertinent to point out in passing that continued investment in Australia by people who arc backing their faith in this country’s future with hard cash makes absolute nonsense of the gloomy -predictions of Opposition members, and I do hope that they will take notice of this.
I spoke earlier of dramatic and adventurous developments in Australia. This is happening not least in the field of technology. There is in King’s Hall, as honorable members will have noticed, an exhibition of advanced technology, in which the Commonwealth Department of Supply is heavily involved. I direct the attention of honorable members to it. lt covers guided weapons, space vehicles and other equipment of this exotic kind. Whatever thoughts honorable members may have about the need for or value of excursions into space, the fact is that we are deriving enormous benefits from the technology that flows into industry from these efforts. This technology will form an essential part of Australia’s industrial future. Perhaps we have been fortunate in having some real estate at Woomera that was not much good for anything but a rocket range. Out of our possession of this range and the development of a technical competence, we find ourselves in the company of the United States and a number of European countries looking to space development at present in terms of weather and communications. But who knows what else there may be in the future? We have on our side good friends, geographical advantage and scientific capability surpassed in quantity but not in quality anywhere else in the world. Australia can easily become the focus of science and industry in the southern hemisphere, if we have the wit, the wisdom and the will to take up the kind of advantages that lie before us.
Sir, this brings me to correct firmly but not unkindly, I hope, some misapprehensions voiced in this House last week by the honorable member for Bonython (Mr. Makin). He said that there were too many industries in this country that lacked uptodate equipment, that in many industrial establishments to-day the equipment is of war-time vintage and that more efficient and up-to-date equipment is needed if our factories are to work efficiently. Evidently, the honorable gentleman has not noticed the industrial revolution that has gone on in Australia since the years when he presided over the war production effort here. One need look only at the tens of millions of pounds of capital investment in new facilities by the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited and the heavy industries generally in Australia or the tens of millions of pounds that have flowed into the re-equipment and expansion of the automotive industry to understand that Australia’s productive equipment is in good shape.
Production records were not made on the Snowy Mountains by antiquated equipment. A completely new automotive engine plant recently opened in Melbourne is the finest automotive engine plant in the world to-day. The Lithgow Small Arms Factory is an example of modern production engineering that has excited the interest and approbation of production engineers all over this and other countries. The Government Aircraft Factory and its partner, the privately owned Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation, are part-producing and part-assembling the most sophisticated aircraft in the world to-day. The techniques and equipment are available and the aircraft could and would be produced in Australia but for the fact that tooling-up for the production of 100 aircraft is economically impossible.
The honorable member for Bonython went on to say - lt would be well if we had some authoritative body, experienced in the higher branches of engineering, to examine the various Australian industries to learn to what extent they would be able to undertake the responsibility of producing our essential needs in time of crisis.
Since this responsibility belongs broadly to the Department of Supply, which I have the honour to administer, I would be glad to invite the honorable gentleman to accompany me on an inspection of any aspect of the department’s work so that he may see what is happening. The laboratories of the department are not only involved in current defence production but they are also making contributions to technology in many fields, and these contributions are recognized throughout the world as of high standard. The productive capacity of the Government’s factories is maintained at good standards, despite the difficulty of keeping them fully employed. The state of industry generally is well known and in this my department has the widest possible asistance from industry itself through a series of industry advisory committees devoted to various types of production. On these committees sit the leaders of industry themselves, and the Government is grateful for their willingness to serve.
There is a joint war production committee which keeps all these matters in constant review. The availability of essential raw materials is known and provided for.
The department organizes an annual industrial mobilization course and to this are invited key members of the services, leaders of industry and commerce, the Public Service and other interested bodies. These people are able to see and hear at first hand what is going on in Australian industry and how it would be dovetailed into a possible war effort.
Time does not permit me to tell the whole story of what is happening in this field. However, the details I have given to the House to-night are indicative of the kind of conditions that exist throughout Australian industry. We have long had a situation in Australia in which we have depended for our export income on the primary producer. I believe the time has come when we should share the burden of earning this country’s external income between our primary and our secondary industries. Both sides of this House have a great responsibility. The Australian Labour Party on its side has a responsibility to preach a little restraint to its members who may be looking for concessions at a time when this country needs nothing more than a little extra effort ploughed into its future security and greatness. We on this side of the House also have a responsibility, as management generally has, to see that industry is operated efficiently and is kept up to date. In these matters, I assure you, Sir, that the machinery is established and is able and willing to keep industry operating efficiently. I am constrained to say, in answer to the honorable member for Bonython and others who may be concerned about this situation, that the defence of the country and its economy are in perfectly good hands.
.- When I returned to this chamber the Minister for Supply (Mr. Fairhall) had already com,menced his speech. But I returned in time to hear him suggest that this is one of the few budgets to have evoked no criticism. The Minister is obviously out of touch with the general opinions throughout the country. He certainly has not taken the opportunity to read the press criticism and he has no understanding of the needs of the average person. He must be aware that people living on fixed incomes are most critical of the Budget. He must be aware that those who expected but did not receive tax concessions from the Budget are most critical. In addition, those people who may be regarded as the traditional supporters of the Government are most critical of certain aspects of the Budget.
The Minister said that in his opinion no section of the Australian community should expect individual benefits from a measure of this nature. It may be possible for honorable members on this side of the House to concur with that view so far as certain aspects of the Budget are concerned but we say quite frankly that in 1963 people who were unemployed had every right to expect something from the Budget. Certainly those people who are living on fixed incomes had every right to expect some benefit from this Budget. The average wageearner who is struggling to maintain a family - very often on a salary very little in excess of the basic wage - had every right to expect some tax concessions in the Budget. I refer principally to married pensioner couples who will not receive any increase in their pensions. I think it may be fairly said that all sections of the community to which I have referred had every right to expect from the Budget some of the benefits which the Minister for Supply would deny them.
Obviously the Minister for Supply is in the same category as many of his colleagues who have grown away from the people of this country. This fact has been brought to the attention of Government supporters on numerous occasions and they should be fully aware of it. Honorable members opposite no longer have a clear understanding of the problems that confront the people of Australia. When this Government was very nearly defeated at the polls in 1961 - it was saved by the preference votes of splinter parties - it realized for a brief period that it had grown away from the people of this country; that it did not understand the problems affecting the great mass of average citizens. The Government learnt a lesson from the election in 1961 and for a brief period - a brief period only - it endeavoured to solve some of the problems that its administration had created over the years. But now the Government is again adopting the old dogmatic attitude that it is right and that nobody else in the community can be right in these matters; that the points of view that have been expressed continuously over the years by members of the Opposition are not worthy of consideration. Many sections of the Australian community may have been silent so far about this Budget, but I assure Government supporters that the people are awaiting an opportunity to express their opinion of the Budget at the polls in 1964. Nobody knows this better than honorable members opposite. If they did not agree that this is so they would have accepted the challenge thrown out by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) to test public reaction at the polls. They are not prepared to accept that challenge.
I did not disagree entirely with what the Minister for Supply said about his own department but I am sure that the Minister is fully aware that my friend the honorable member for Bonython (Mr. Makin) speaks with some authority when he refers to the inadequacy of the training provided for workers in industry. I am quite prepared to accept the view expressed last week in a notable speech by the honorable member for Bonython. I am sure that the Minister for Supply, who dealt with this matter tonight, must know that there is a great deal of substance in what the honorable member for Bonython said.
I support the motion of censure that has been moved by the Leader of the Opposition. As you are no doubt aware, Mr. Speaker, this is the second motion of censure that has been moved by the Opposition this year. The first motion was moved on 2nd April last. On that occasion the Opposition put forward certain proposals for consideration by the Government. The Budget indicates that the Government has been prepared to accept some of the proposals put forward by the Leader of the Opposition last April and supported by those who sit behind him on this side of the House.
The Labour Party has suggested that the people of Australia should be given an opportunity to express at the polls their disapproval of this Budget but, as I have already indicated, the Government is not prepared to accept the challenge. It most certainly will wait until 1964, when it will be forced to go to the country. In 1961 - about twenty months ago - the Government was elected on the preference votes of a splinter party. Since that time it has had every opportunity to stabilize the economy, to restore full employment and to maintain the living standards of the mass of the people, but not only has the Government not been able to restore the confidence of the electors generally, in my opinion - this is the opinion shared widely throughout this country - it has not been able to attract back to its ranks those who have always been regarded as its traditional supporters.
Let me illustrate what I mean. As the Leader of the Opposition said, the stock exchange remains lifeless and almost disinterested in the economic approach of this Government. The Associated Chambers of Manufactures, despite what the Minister for Supply said, has indicated that 50 per cent, of factories in Australia, covering a wide range of industrial activities, are still producing at well below the limit of their capacity. In addition many companies have reported that lack of orders is restricting their ability to increase production. That is the state of affairs that exists in the community to-day. This is not the opinion of the Opposition in this Parliament; it is the opinion of those who support the Government and who have supported it since it gained the treasury bench in 1949.
It is clear that this Budget will not make any notable contribution to the solution or even to the partial solution of some of the problems to which I have referred. Apart from a handful of useful proposals there is nothing in the Budget that will lessen the burden of the high cost of living for the mass of the people - those who are obliged to live in this country on moderate incomes as well as those who are compelled, very often through no fault of their own, to live on fixed incomes. 1 believe that a budget can be assessed, favorably or unfavorably, only by the extent to which it reaches out into all phases of our social and economic life. We should ask such questions as this: Does the Budget provide a solution to some of the problems that have confronted the country in recent years? These problems were touched on most effectively this evening by the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti). He referred to the high level of unemployment, to the need for improved educational opportunities and for improved social service and repatriation benefits, the necessity to provide suitable and adequate housing, which involves the provision of cheaper money, the desirability of a national plan for the development of our resources. In the opinion of the great majority of the Australian people the Budget will not achieve these objectives.
The Minister for Supply (Mr. Fairhall) endeavoured to chide the honorable member for Macquarie for having referred, amongst other matters, to unemployment. Then the Minister himself devoted at least ten minutes of this time to this all-important question. Of course all honorable members on the Government side have very guilty feelings about this matter of unemployment, and we can appreciate that they do not want to have the subject raised in this Parliament. They know that unemployment has persisted at a high level throughout the term of office of this Government. If any one wants to argue that point with me I shall substantiate my contention in a few moments by references to the figures of the Commonwealth Statistician.
We believe that nobody should be unemployed in this country. There is no reason why anybody should be unemployed in a young, developing country such as Australia. Every young man or woman who is able and willing to engage in employment should have an opportunity to do so. The fact is, however, that for many years this Government has allowed the number of unemployed in the community to fluctuate between 150,000 and something slightly fewer than 100,000.
– A lot less than that.
– At this moment the number may be fewer than 100,000, but let me remind the House that the honorable member for Mallee has referred to this matter before, giving credit to the Government for the fact that unemployment has reached what he has claimed to be a low level, only to find a few months later that the number of unemployed has again risen to unexepected heights. If my contention has to be substantiated, let me refer the honorable member to his own leader. I should not say his leader, because I am referring to the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies), and I realize that at the moment the members of the Country Party would certainly not wish to have thrust upon them as their leader the present Prime “Minister. ‘I have some knowledge of the “ Situation’* in
Tasmania and the tactics that are being employed by people in that State in their endeavours to establish a Country Party. I know of the suggestions that have been made to people they have wanted to support such a party. I know of some of the insinuations and accusations that they have made against Liberal Party members, and I can appreciate that the honorable member for Mallee would not wish me to refer to the Prime Minister as his leader.
When the Prime Minister was appealing to the people of Australia to return his coalition government at the last election he had this to say, when referring to the fact that 100,000 people were unemployed, “ By this time next year many of us will be wondering what the argument was all about “. That, of course, was just before the election of 1961, and less than twelve months later the number of unemployed had risen to 137,000. We were not wondering then what the argument was all about, and we are not now. But we are wondering what this Government intends to do to reduce the number of unemployed in Australia. This is what happens as a result of the policies followed by the present Government: Unemployment reaches a record level, it is reduced slightly, twelve months later the position is back to where it was at the beginning. Throughout the whole time this Government has been in office there has been a high level of unemployment, with a consequent loss of revenue to the country. It would be very interesting, I am sure, if some honorable member, particularly on the Government side, would tell this House the extent of the loss in revenue as a consequence of 100,000 people being unemployed over a period of three or four years. Actually there has been a high level of unemployment for longer than that, but I suggest that even if you consider only the last three or four years you will find that the loss in revenue has been quite staggering. Unfortunately this Government has reached the stage at which it is quite content to maintain unemployment at a level of between 60,000 and 100,000 or more.
I am not impressed by arguments that are advanced tq the effect’ that there will always be some’ seasonal workers iri this country who will be included from time to time among the numbers of unemployed. The great majority of those in seasonal employment have no option, because they cannot secure other employment. At this stage I would join with the Minister for Supply in paying a tribute to the officers of the Department of Labour and National Service. If it were not for their efforts the level of unemployment would, I am sure, be far higher than it is at present. But the fact remains that the department directs people into seasonal employment. I suggest that in this respect honorable members should study the figures for Queensland, which is possibly the State with the greatest number of seasonal workers. One sees the number of unemployed reduced temporarily, but a few months later, when the seasonal work is completed and the employees have no option but to register again with the Department of Labour and National Service, the number of unemployed rise to their former levels.
The people who are unemployed at present are not only those who regularly engage in seasonal work in Queensland, Tasmania or some other State; there are also many people who, as a consequence of the policies of this Government, have not been able to obtain permanent employment. So I remain completely unimpressed by the prediction so often made by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) that next month will be better. We can never be certain that this will be so. Perhaps next month we will see a reduction in the figures. We on this side of the House sincerely hope that the figures will be reduced, because until full employment is restored in Australia the Opposition will regard it as a duty to raise this subject in the House at every opportunity that presents itself.
There is one aspect of the Budget which is pleasing to me, although it may not be accepted by every honorable member. I believe that the stepping up of the immigration programme to bring to Australia 135,000 immigrants next year is something for which this Government deserves commendation. I have always supported the immigration programme, but ( there is nothing more calculated to ,’destroy it than. a high level of unemployment. I have had the opportunity to see the work overseas of the officers of our Department of Immigration. I have the greatest confidence in their ability to attract the right types of people to Australia. In many of the countries from which we have drawn immigrants conditions have improved immeasurably and they now have full employment. How difficult it must be for our immigration officers to attract people to this country, where there is a high level of unemployment, from places where people enjoy full employment. We can attract now only those people who are moved by a spirit of adventure to make a new home in a new place, or those who are confident of their ability to compete on the labour market even at times of high levels of unemployment. By its deliberate policy of fostering unemployment, this Government places in jeopardy one of the greatest ventures that the Australian nation has ever fostered - immigration. It must be fully aware of the situation.
A feature of the present unemployment, already referred to by some honorable members on this side of the chamber, has been the phenomenal increase in the numbers of unemployed people living in country areas. Despite what was said in an interjection by one honorable member to-night, the fact remains that in July there were increases in the number unemployed in three out of the six States. Whilst there may have been an overall reduction in unemployment, so far as concerns those people who are in receipt of unemployment benefit, their numbers increased in three of the six States. Let me quote the figures. During July, recipients of unemployment benefit - commonly referred to as the dole - increased in South Australia by 36, in Western Australia by 353 and in Tasmania by 256. These figures show that although there has been an overall reduction in unemployment as a result of some seasonal employment, in three States unemployment has increased. I await with great interest the report of the Minister for Labour and National Service which will show the unemployment figures for August. Knowing all the risks of prophesying, I predict now that not all the Australia^ .States will show a reduction in unemployment. , [
Time does not permit me to deal adequately with the question of social service benefits, which I mentioned briefly in opening. This Government is completely uninterested in the people who are on fixed incomes. We do not detract from the merit of the increase in the payment to single pensioners, but we believe that to delay for a further twelve months an increase in the payment to married pensioner couples indicates a completely uninterested attitude on the part of this Government. I am completely unimpressed by the argument that two-thirds of the pensioners of this country are single, or will be classified as such by the Department of Social Services. At least one-third of our pensioners will be on the base rate.
I am pleased that there will be further opportunities to debate various aspects of the Budget. I refer particularly now to repatriation benefits. I had hoped to deal briefly with that subject and point out to the House that although the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) in his Budget speech announced an increase of 10s. for totally and permanently incapacitated ex-servicemen, both the Treasurer and the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Swartz) know as well as every honorable member on this side of the House that very few totally and permanently incapacitated ex-servicemen will benefit from that increase. How often have I heard the Minister say here that the great majority of totally and permanently incapacitated exservicemen receive, in addition to the special rate pension, a part service pension? This Government will increase the special rate pension but will reduce the payment in respect of the service pension. So far as we are aware on this side of the House, not one honorable member opposite has risen to protest against such action. It is not the first occasion on which the Government has sought to reduce the service pension because of an increase in the special rate pension.
In every aspect, this Budget does not meet the requirements of the Australian people. It is notable for what it does not do, rather than for the few concessions it makes. We admit that there are a few small concessions for the. Australian community. In my opinion, the points made by the Leader of the Opposition in presenting the’ case for the Opposition were well taken.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– In one of his concluding sentences, the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard) aptly described his own speech. He used the expression, “ Notable for what it does not do “. It is notable that the honorable member submitted no constructive suggestion in his speech. He spent nearly all the time allotted to him in discussing unemployment. That is a vital subject. This Government is concerned if any one is unemployed, but the honorable member made no suggestions for meeting the unemployment position better than we have done. He has forgotten entirely the many extra millions of pounds we have included in the Budget for extra development, extra works and extra housing so that we can provide for the employment of an increasing population.
The honorable member commends the immigration programme. If we are to expand and develop, we must of necessity have more tradesmen, more trained artisans, for industry so that there can be employment for those with whom the Government is particularly concerned - that is, those who have no trade upon which to lean.
The honorable ‘member ridicules the argument about seasonal unemployment. He does not know conditions in Queensland or he would not do that. Many Queensland industries are definitely of a seasonal character and workers go from one industry to another as the season affords them opportunity to do so. In the sugar industry, for instance, harvesting begins in June and ends about Christmas, and there is no possibility of employing in that industry throughout the balance of the year all the workers needed at harvesting time. They must go elsewhere. The meat industry is in a similar position. The great production of the northern State, which I know so well, depends on seasonal employment. We must have seasonal employment. However, it is not always possible to engage men in one industry as they finish in another. The arbitration tribunals have always taken cognizance of that fact and have loaded wages in seasonal industries when fixing rates.
The honorable member for Bass said something derogatory of the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies). Let him be assured that the Prime Minister is the leader of this Government and that all honorable members on this side of the House are behind their leader in support of this Budget. There is no question about that. We all on this side are equally determined to defeat the Opposition’s proposed amendment, which really constitutes a censure motion.
– That is a qualified statement!
– The honorable member cackles a lot, but I cannot make out what he is saying. I have not sufficient time to listen to his cackling.
This Budget provides for progress and development. It takes account of costs, which are a vital factor in every industry, whether primary or secondary. This Budget will maintain and improve the high standard of living that Australia has enjoyed under this progressive Government. This Budget takes account of the needs of primary and secondary industries and gives them confidence that there will be increasing employment. For these reasons, we’ on this side of the House are proud to support the Budget.
My purpose this evening, Mr. Deputy Speaker, is mainly to deal with matters that concern the Department of Primary Industry, which I administer. I hope that my approach to this debate will be accepted as progressive and positive. I want to discuss the trends in the value of rural exports. I trust that this will be of interest to honorable members. These trends set the pattern in the industries with which the Department of Primary Industry is concerned.
Despite a reduction in the volume of exports - seasonal circumstances always affect production - the value of exports of rural products in the financial year 1962-63 was £820,000,000, or £3,000,000 higher than in the previous financial year, and higher than in any year since the boom year of 1950-51. The increase of £3,000,000 was due mainly to improved export prices for wool, meats, sugar and dairy products. The volume of exports of rural products was about 6 per cent, lower than in the financial year 1961-62. Estimates suggest that 35,000,000 lb. less wool was exported last financial year than in 1961- 62. Although the volume of exports of rural products was 6 per cent, lower last financial year than in the previous one, it was 50 per cent, higher than in 1950-51.
Income from exports of rural products has increased substantially in the last five years, reflecting both improved marketing conditions overseas and expanding production at home. Although the volume of wool exports is estimated to be slightly lower in 1962- 63 than in the previous financial year, improved prices have resulted in an export total of £407,000,000 worth of wool last financial year, or £10,000,000 more than in the previous financial year, and more than in any of the last six financial years, except 1959-60. Last financial year, wheat exports were valued at approximately £124,000,000, or 22 per cent, less than the record achieved in the previous financial year. We all know of the greater production but returns vary according to the delivery dates under various contracts. Nevertheless, the 1962-63 export value was higher than that of any other year.
Improved marketing conditions and higher prices in 1962-63 resulted in a record total of £46,000,000 worth of exports of sugar. The mills absorbed all the cane that was grown. The industry, of course, had to meet the additional harvesting and processing costs, but further employment was provided as a consequence. The 1,800.000 tons of sugar produced was 30 per cent, above the 1961-62 level and raised the value of exports well above that of any previous year.
The figures for meat exports are interesting. Improved prices and a higher volume of exports in 1962-63 raised the value of exports £23,000,000, or about 30 per cent., compared with 1961-62. The United States of America took 81 per cent, of our exports of beef and 52 per cent, of our exports of mutton. Our meat exports to that country in 1962-63 totalled £75,500,000 - an all-time record. This reflects the rapid expansion in the meat industry in recent years. The overall total of exports of beef to all countries in 1962- 63 was £97,000,000 - a new record. This includes beef, veal, mutton and lamb. The United Kingdom, which used to take such a large percentage of our beef, last financial year took only 17 per cent, of our exports of beef and 1 1 per cent, of our exports of mutton. But it is still the largest buyer of our lamb, and in 1962-63 took 66 per cent, of our exports in that category. Seasonal circumstances affect any industry but there has been commendable promotional activity in all sections of the meat industry.
Let us look at the picture in the dairy industry. The overall value of our exports of dairy products rose by 7 per cent, in 1962-63, compared with 1961-62. The increase was due to rises in the volume of exports and to improved export prices for dairy products generally. Domestic prices for dairy products have remained static in recent years. The Australian Dairy Produce Board has chosen to leave domestic prices, in the main, unchanged. In 1962- 63, exports totalled £43,000,000. This was well up to the level achieved in the last five or six years. Butter, which accounts for more than half the value of our exports of dairy products, has consistently comprised about £25,000,000 worth of our exports of dairy products in recent years.
The board is to be commended for its activities. It is continually seeking new markets. Honorable members will know that the United Kingdom fixed a butter quota for Australia of 62,000 tons and then during the last financial year increased it by 5 per cent., bringing it to 65,100 tons. This was very fortunate for Australia, because even though that was equivalent to the greatest export volume to the United Kingdom that we had enjoyed for years, we still had a surplus because of seasonal circumstances and increased efficiency in the industry. Other countries could not meet their quotas and the United Kingdom wanted to import a greater quantity than was originally intended so we were allotted a quota for an additional 10,000 tons. That will remove any immediate cause of concern from the dairy industry, because it will take up all our surplus butter.
As I have said, to provide for the future the board commendably has sought other markets. Its actions in South-East Asia are interesting. In Manila, it has taken part in converting a factory to a milk re-combining factory. The plant is capable of producing 1,800,000 cases a year, which is equivalent to nearly 5,000 tons of butter. It has been operating quite satisfactorily except for some delay caused by a strike in the company which delivers tins to the factory. The board has also arranged for a factory to be erected in Thailand. It will be completed next February and production will commence next April. This factory will have a capacity of 1,000,000 cases of condensed milk a year, which is equal to about 2,000 tons of butter.
As I announced to-day, the board has completed a third contract with a merchant in Singapore which provides that the board and the merchant will each hold 50 per cent, of the shares in a new company. The company has contracted to take from Australia all products required for the factory for at least the next fifteen years. The Singapore Government has announced that pioneer status will be granted to the company, Asia Dairy Industries Limited. This is a great asset to the company. It grants a five-year exemption from income tax and duty-free entry of raw materials. This will enable the company to compete more readily with other organizations and to exploit the market to greater advantage for Australian producers, who, under the contract, will deliver all the produce necessary. The factory must commence operations by next April to meet the conditions of the certificate of pioneer status. I am very pleased that this factory, which will re-combine milk, will use 1,700 tons of butter oil, which is equivalent to 2,060 tons of butter, and at least an additional 4,000 tons of skim milk powder. So already in those three countries of South-East Asia we have factories under contract or actually operating.
Apart from that the Government has passed legislation to grant a bounty on exports of processed milk products so that we can compete in that field with other countries which are subsidizing their exports. As a result of the Government’s action, during the last financial year we sold the equivalent of 5,624 tons of butter fat as processed milk products, which was a considerable increase over sales in the two preceding years. The position generally in the dairy industry is satisfactory. It is being assisted very creditably by the promotionminded board, which is right on the ball.
There has been record production of cheese but sales have not accounted for our increased production. On 30th June, 1963, there were 6,000 tons of cheese on hand. The board has been active in exploring new export outlets and its promotional activities in Japan resulted in sales to that country being 2,265 tons in 1962-63, compared with only 40 tons in 1957-58. In addition, it has entered into a joint arrangement with New Zealand and Japan to supply cheese at special prices for the Japanese school lunch programme. To date Australia and New Zealand have each shipped 250 tons to meet that programme. The board is also negotiating with the Indian Government to establish cheese processing plants in India which will use Australian cheese in addition to local production. Exports of Australian cheese to countries other than the United Kingdom in 1962-63 more than doubled - rising to 11,849 tons from 5,372 tons in 1961-62. This indeed is a satisfying story. The department with which I am associated, the Department of Trade and the Australian Dairy Produce Board are always on the alert for new markets so that we can improve the position still further.
This Government has helped industry by price stability. The gross national product in 1962-63 was 8 per cent. greater than in the previous year. As the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) stated -
Prices were generally stable through the year so that increase can largely be regarded as growth in real terms.
I agree wholeheartedly with his statement. Nowhere is this stability and growth more apparent than in primary industry. Net farm income for 1962-63 is estimated at £570,000,000, the highest since 1952-53. In 1959-60 it was £448,000,000; in 1960- 61, it was £480,000,000 and in 1961- 62 it was £465,000,000. The increase in net farm income in 1962-63 compared with 1961-62 was £105,000,000. The steps the Government has taken in this and previous budgets have resulted in increased production and increased values to primary producers. We recognize the value of their exports to our economy. The value of our rural exports in 1962-63 was £820,000,000, an increase of £3,000,000 over the previous year and the highest since 1950-51. However, there was a fall in the volume of rural exports, which was 6 per cent. lower than for the previous year. This shows the effect of the increased efficiency of the producer, the use of the latest scientific methods, and the value of research in so many industries in which the Commonwealth Government is playing its part. In that way we are holding the cost line, which is essential for rural prosperity and development. The Government’s policy has been successful in holding costs despite the allotment of increasingly large sums for development. The cost-holding effect in the Budget is shown in the abolition of the sales tax on food, which will help every family in Australia. That concession will cost the Government £9,000,000 this financial year and £11,500,000 in a full year. Do honorable members opposite suggest that that is not of assistance to families? The abolition of sales tax on foodstuffs is also of value to some rural industries, notably the dried vine fruit growers who were anxious that this tax be removed.
The Government has also assisted the primary producers by the provision of the superphosphate bounty which will cost £7,000,000 this year and £9,000,000 in a full year. This is how we pursue the task of keeping costs at a reasonable level. It may be worth emphasizing that the Government expects the whole of the £3 a ton bounty to be passed on to the consumers. In case there is any doubt, in the minds of country people about what the manufacturers will be allowed to do, let me repeat that the Government expects the whole of the bounty to be passed on to the consumers. We have taken other action to keep costs at a reasonable level. For instance, the farm investment allowance will cost £1,000,000 this year and £3,000,000 in a full year. We have also provided for depreciation on fencing erected for pest prevention. For that item £60,000 is allowed in this Budget, and it will cost £300,000 in a full year. Then there is the 10 per cent. special depreciation allowance on country telephone extensions. Anyone who represents a country electorate knows of the miles of wire that a subscriber or prospective subscriber sometimes has to erect if he wants to have this very necessary convenience. So, we are allowing such a person to write off the cost at the rate of 10 per cent. per annum. That provision will cost £10,000 this financial year and £50,000 in a full year.
I have mentioned research. Let us look at the amounts included in the Budget for research. The sheep and wool research provision this year is £3,200,000; the amount for cattle and beef research is £483,000; the amount for dairying research is £307,000; the Commonwealth contribution for wheat research is £275,000; and the tobacco industry will receive £162,000 for research. There are also some minor grants, such as £15,000 for barley research. In addition to those grants, in order that the knowledge gained through research may be imparted to producers, we make extension grants. The general Commonwealth extension services grant is £300,000 this year. The States receive the bulk of that grant. Very little is retained by the Commonwealth, through the Department of Primary Industry, for grants for special purposes. We have increased the Commonwealth dairy extension grant from £250,000 to £350,000. We are always watching the interests of primary producers. That is not all we do. The budget of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, which does such a creditable job, has been increased from £9,400,000 last year to £10,600,000 this year. I think it can be truly said that more than half of that amount is used in the interests of rural industries.
Of course, all these primary products have to be marketed. So, associated with research programmes and the other matters I have mentioned, we have the activities of the Department of Trade. No doubt my colleague, the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen), will deal adequately with that subject later in this debate. However, I want to mention briefly the amount that has been set aside in this Budget for the Overseas Trade Publicity Trust Account. The amount for the United Kingdom is £418,000. For countries other than the United Kingdom there has been a considerable increase from £460,000 last year to £701,000 in this financial year. That is quite apart from the £4,250,000 to cover the activities of the Department of Trade. So, in addition to helping to keep costs down, we are assisting considerably in the advancement of marketing possibilities.
The full extent of the 20 per cent, farm investment allowance announced in the
Budget speech is subject to a clarification which is to be made by the Treasurer. In view of the rate of increase of investment in farm machinery this allowance will tend to assist primary producers in many ways. It will encourage them to purchase the latest scientific machinery and help to keep their expenses as low as possible.
Estimates made by the Division of Agricultural Economics show that investment in farm machinery and equipment has averaged about £57,000,000 a year for the past five years, in spite of a tendency for net farm income to fall as it has been doing until last year when there was a very substantial rise of £105,000,000. Honorable members opposite seem to forget that the expenditure of that £57,000,000 on machinery assists employment in many industries. New tractor purchases have averaged about 16,500 a year, their value being between £20,000,000 and £23,000,000. The Commonwealth Statistician collects some details of the value of other farm machinery sold, but the coverage of those sales is not complete. The figures of some of the minor manufacturers are not included in the statistics that I have given to the House.
As my time is running out, let me say that the general picture shows that this Government has displayed a continued and sympathetic interest in primary industry. Right through, we have sought to stabilize markets. We have increased our expenditure on the trading side in order to assist primary producers to market their goods. We have definitely kept the cost structure static. That has enabled primary producers more readily to compete overseas, where markets are becoming more and more competitive. I emphasize that we depend to a great degree on exports of our products.
.- Once again we have witnessed the delightful personality of the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann). He made his contribution to this debate in a friendly and informal way, as usual projecting no acrimony across the chamber. His speech took the form of a friendly chat. Of course, all those rather attractive characteristics are looked upon in a very favourable light by us. But we cannot help experiencing a pang of sympathy for him because of the bemused state in which he finds himself as the result of his dual role as Minister for Primary Industry and a peanut farmer. He cannot make up his cwn mind whether he owes his loyalty to the dairy farmers who are bitterly opposed to the manufacture of margarine from peanut oil, or whether he owes it to the peanut growers who are prospering from the production of peanut oil for the manufacture of margarine.
– There is no conflict there.
– There is; and the Minister’s speech, like his Government’s policy over the years, shows a lack of definitiveness. In the first place he mentioned the dairy industry and cited lorne figures, but he neglected to deal with the real problem facing the industry, which is that of supply in excess of the quotas recently negotiated on the overseas market. The excess supply will be greatly aggravated thes year by the good seasons enjoyed in the country. I did not hear the Minister mention any marketing scheme for primary producers. I have on one or two occasions raised this subject with him during questiontime. I have inquired whether his Government would be prepared to do something for the primary producers, particularly the potato and onion growers, who are numerous in the Oxley electorate. They are finding it very difficult, with sharply fluctuating prices, to gain a worthwhile return from their industry. The Minister’s usual reply to that question is that constitutionally this Government cannot do anything in the matter whereas the State governments can do something positive about it.
During the last State election campaign this subject was raised with State Country Party members, and their reply was that this matter was right out of the sphere of the State government and wholly within the ambit of the Federal Government. So we find a bit of pushing and shoving, and in the meantime the primary producer receives no satisfaction. The Minister for Primary Industry skates completely around those questions which are essential to primary industry in Australia to-day. He mentioned sales tax and quoted, I think, a £9,000,000 saving this year for the people, and a £11,000,000 saving last year. It is one thing to proclaim the removal of sales tax but it is another thing to pass on the benefit to the consumer public. Quite obviously, up to the present day, the consumer public has not received a very great proportion of this benefit. In the instances where the consumer public has obtained some benefit it has clearly not been commensurate with the reduction in sales tax. It was anticipated that this would happen. Immediately after advice came through that sales tax on foodstuffs was to be removed, a report came from the cake and biscuit manufacturers that they had all the time been contemplating an increase in the price of those commodities and that the removal of sales tax would eliminate the necessity of increasing the price to the public, which would remain the same, with no benefit to the public.
The Minister mentioned myriads of statistics. In interpreting these statistics, as was obvious to any one who listened closely to him, as I am sure we all did, he delved deeply into the world of phantasy to grasp some figure to suit the arguments that he wanted to advance in the House. All too often his arguments deviated far from the basic problems which to-day confront primary industry. Not the least of these problems is the high cost of production, which has largely been caused by this Government’s apathy in attacking the extortionate profit margins being charged on many commodities and implements used by the primary producer in his industry. Until the Government shows some positiveness in this direction I cannot see that it will have any cause for satisfaction.
This Government has lost the confidence of the electors. We have seen too much vaccilation in its approach to the every day complexities of economic life. I am sure that until we get some positiveness from the Government those problems will continue to lie heavily on the community. It is significant that three Budgets have been brought down in this House since the Government made its determined and belligerent stand against the nation with budgetary policies which savagely mauled Australian business activity and confidence. The three Budgets subsequently introduced manifested the keen but incompetent desire of the Government to retreat from the position of strength which it occupied in 1961. In effect, the dilution of government economic action, which commenced! almost as soon as the Government resumed office in circumstances which indicated a clear vote of censure upon the Administration, is a frank admission of miscalculation in formulating policy. If the Government is obliged to retract policies shortly after their introduction because of electorate pressure, as it did in the early days of this Parliament in 1962, such policies are radically harmful and unnecessary. Sufficiently effective results could have been obtained in the first place by a more modest approach to the problems which then presented themselves. Although the Government is endeavouring, with as little loss of face as possible, to extricate itself from the muddle caused by the debilitating policies of 1960-61, the initial damage has left hostility which is difficult to pacify, and which, indeed, is constantly revived by the poor economic strategy still being applied.
It becomes quite apparent from the trend of the debate from the Government side of the House that because the gross national product of this country increased by 8 per cent, last year the Government is now prepared to rest on its oars. It feels that this increase is sufficient to lift this country out of the doldrums back to persevering prosperity. What the Government does not seem to appreciate - this is obvious from the comments made by the Minister for Primary Industry - is that the 8 per cent, increase in the gross national product last year cannot be looked upon as being an achievement beyond all previous records. It merely lifts it above depression level; it merely eases the economy out of the trough into which it has fallen and in which it has wallowed for so long because of the policies inflicted on the country by the Government. The Government must realize that despite this increase in the gross national product which has now been attained the figure is still below that which would have been attained if the average annua] increase in the gross national product from 1954 to 1960 had been maintained through the succeeding period up to the present. In the 1954-1960 period the average increase was 4.3 per cent., and following that we would have had a level ‘of 1.5 per cent.’ ‘higher than that which was attained last year. This quite clearly exposes the fact that the Government has not obtained a high level of prosperity in the community. In fact the community is still struggling at well below the average level of activity.
The rise in the gross national product! has been mainly due to two factors, the increase in the investment in the motor vehicle sector and the rise in stocks. These increases were clearly anticipated. It was anticipated that immediately following a rather sharp and serious depression there would be a sudden increase in spending in the community. We would expect an expansion in these fields at an early stage, but it could be expected to be short-lived and this is precisely what is occurring. Motor vehicle sales have been falling off over the past six months and retail sales, although picking up, are showing no remarkable forward movement. If you discuss the economic position of the country to-day with businessmen you find that the average assessment of the situation is that there is a complete lack of confidence due largely to the poor way in which the economy of the nation is being handled. The Australia and New Zealand Bank Limited makes a pertinent point of the slow movement and less than peak performance, which are well below what we might have expected had the economy been operating freely and fully. In its quarterly survey for July, 1963, the bank says -
Retail trade has returned to a rate of growth little higher than the rise in population, which is disappointingly low in a period which should reflect the buoyancy of economic recovery.
The pertinent point is that activity is below what could be expected, taking all the circumstances into consideration. It is below what could be expected solely because the public has completely lost confidence in those who administer the nation. The increase in our gross national product, if the average rate of increase under normal circumstances were reached, would be about 6 per cent, this year. The fact that the economic movements I have mentioned are losing their velocity is an indication that we will not reach the average rate of increase. But an increase of 6 per cent, in our gross- national product, is- not too much t& expect.-‘ - Dr.’ ‘ Coombs pointed’ out recently that Australia could have an increase of 51/2 per cent. in its gross national product each year without any radical alteration of the present economic structure.
The Government, of course, expects that there will be no major increase in the gross national product in the ensuing year. It has provided an amount of £11,000,000 for sickness and unemployment benefits. This is only £2,000,000 less than the amount allocated for this purpose in 1962-63. Expenditure under this head in 1962- 63 exceeded the allocation by £1,700,000, so we may take the allocation for this year as a conservative estimate. If we compare the allocation for this year with the expenditure for last year and work out the relationship of unemployment trends over the past twelve months, to what can be expected in the next twelve months, it would appear that we can expect the average monthly unemployment figure in 1963- 64 to be 65,000. With seasonal adjustments, we can expect unemployment to be around 83,000 or 85,000 in the peak period in January next year.
The devastating factor in unemployment is the high number of juniors who are unemployed. Last year, the monthly average ran at 30,138. This year, we will be faced with a far more difficult problem. We will have a large number of juniors of about fourteen years of age leaving school, as they normally would. But also leaving school will be a large number of young people who decided, when the adverse effects of the Government’s economic policy became apparent, to continue their schooling for an additional year or two, hoping that in this time the economy would reach a more normal state. They continued with their schooling until they obtained the junior or senior certificates in Queensland, or the equivalent in other States. They did not necessarily want to attain this level of education, but they were compelled to remain at school because of economic pressures. They will now be at the end of their educational tether, so to speak. They will be compelled to say: “ I did not want to go this far and I do not want to go further, Therefore, I must place myself on the employment market and try to find a job.”
Their numbers added to the numbers of children, leaving school in normal circumstanceswill make competitionkeen and jobs difficult to find. The young people with the lower standard of education will be unable to obtain work easily because those who were compelled to remain at school will have a higher educational qualification and will be given the jobs that are normally given to those with a lower standard of education. The youngsters with the lower standard of education will be on the employment market looking for jobs for some time. I remember that the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) quite some time ago said that he would rectify the junior employment position within seven or eight months if given the opportunity. He and the Government have been given the opportunity, but the problem persists.
The problem of unemployment will become further complicated. I note that the Government hopes that a record number of migrants will be attracted to Australia next year. With increased migration and the increased number of juniors on the employment market, it is obvious to the most casual observer that the unemployment problem will be very much more aggravated and jobs much more difficult to find. The monthly average of unemployment last year was about 87,176 and the vacancy notifications were about 43,209 a month. For five months a record number of vacancies was notified to the Commonwealth Employment Office and for each of the remaining months an extremely high total of vacancies was notified. Despite all these notifications of vacancies and despite an increase of 8 per cent. in the gross national product last year, which was a high velocity movement, only a few chips were knocked off the massive problem of unemployment. This problem lies lethargically upon the community because of the Government’s complete inability to frame a policy that will deal effectively with it.
With aggravated unemployment and with a decline in the economic movements that were responsible for increased velocity of the gross national product, there will be a slowing down in the rate of recovery in 1963-64. The most disappointing aspect of this is that the people who are now unemployed are the people who cannot afford to be unemployed. They are the battlers, the unskilled people and the people on the basic wage level or capable of earning a lit le more than the basic wage. They have extremely heavy commitments. They may have a commitment to pay for a house or to pay rent. They may have medical expenses, educational expenses and a host of other expenses which tie down the working man.
My contention that most of the unemployment in the community to-day is amongst the unskilled workers is borne out by a statement in the quarterly survey for July, 1963, of the Australian and New Zealand Bank Limited. In this survey, the bank said -
Analysis of the statistics shows that a relatively high proportion of those registered for employment is in the unskilled group, which would find difficulty in obtaining employment except in periods of high business activity.
Surely the Government could adopt a more humane attitude and take some positive steps to lift these poor people out of the severe economic straits in which they find themselves.
Another factor that must be considered when we look at unemployment and the economy generally is the large amount of dormant growth in the community. The fact that this potential to move forward is static is a clear indication that the capacity of industry is not being fully utilized. It is a clear indication that there is a severe strain on the economic structure of the country. A young country like Australia should be viable and should not be held back in this period of its development. A terrific cost is involved in a large amount of unemployment and in an economy that is moving generally below its capacity. As an example of this I mention the high cost of unemployment. Since 1959, unemployment benefit has cost Australia £38,200,000. This is more than twice the Budget allocation for the whole of the Northern Territory. Yet the Northern Territory is a vast area that urgently needs and demands development. It demands expenditure to help ameliorate the living conditions there so that more people will be willing to settle and to develop the area in the future.
Last year a total of 200,982 people received the unemployment benefit. That number is almost ten times the population of the Northern Territory. While in receipt of the unemployment benefit those people were not engaged in productive employment. That is a disgraceful state of affairs. Australia cannot afford such a strain on its economic structure. The people who are out of work are not happy with their situation. They would quickly and willingly exchange it for a more active part in the development of this country if only they were given an opportunity to play that part.
Let us not be under any illusions: The business people of this community who generally and traditionally are regarded as supporters of the Government are far from happy with the situation that prevails. They are far from happy when they walk into their factories and see row upon row of silent machinery where once the clatter and rattle of the wheels of industry turning at full velocity gave a happier hum representing increased productivity, increased economic development in the country and, of course, profits for the shareholders. To-day it is rather disturbing to find that fewer people are working on the machines; that where formerly half a dozen people were engaged, now perhaps only one person is engaged.
I have in mind particularly the situation that exists in the textile industry. In the electorate of Oxley there are three large woollen textile mills. It is disturbing to go through those mills and compare the complete or almost complete lack of activity in certain sections with the hum of activity that used to prevail when the mills were at peak production. It is disturbing to realize that when those mills are not running at full capacity not only is the cost structure increased but also a certain number of people are out of work and are waiting at the employment office for their dole. This surely is a most disturbing feature.
This Government must accept full responsibility for the situation with which the textile industry is confronted to-day. The industry is reeling from the blows delivered by this Government. When import restrictions were lifted in 1960 the textile industry was one of the first industries to be set back on its heels. A flood of textiles came into this country from overseas. Included- in that flood were textiles from Italy containing a large quantity of non-virgin fibres made from worn-out material that had been teased and re-processed. The textiles that came in were not manufactured under award conditions as we know them. The people of Italy do not enjoy the living standards that we enjoy. The materials were manufactured by a contract system under which a man, his wife and children operate a loom beneath their home after the man has finished his normal day’s work. How can Australians compete against such conditions of manufacture? How can we compete with the cost structure of a country such as Italy? How can we compete with textiles manufactured from inferior materials? The imported materials have a gaudy style and offer strong competition to the Australian product because they are presented with an Italian label and Italy is regarded as one of the fashion centres of the world.
Following on the effects on the textile industry of the removal of import controls, the industry was set further back on its heels by the credit squeeze. The result of these heavy blows was large-scale retrenchments. It is interesting to point out here that the textile industry is the second biggest employer of labour in Australia. That is an important fact to remember. The textile industry is of vital importance to many people in the community. The industry puts a lot of money into circulation. It puts a lot of money into the pockets of the workers. After the setbacks experienced with the lifting of import restrictions and the application of the credit squeeze the industry was fortunate to obtain the protection of an emergency tariff. But the emergency tariff had hardly become operative when an application was made to the Tariff Board to eliminate the emergency protection. The application was successful but the report on it was most amazing. Dealing with this matter the Tariff Board reported -
The Board is aware that it may be difficult to devise and administer legislation which would ensure that all fabrics containing reclaimed wool are clearly labelled as such. Nevertheless, it believes that such a provision would afford protection for both the customer and the Australian manufacturer of woollen piece goods and that advantages would accrue to both if some means can be found to deal with this problem.
But no means have been found, because the Government has not endeavoured in any way to introduce legislation to protect this industry. I am firmly of the opinion that this industry, which produces under the high living standard that we enjoy in this country, needs the protection of legislation. We must do all in our power to maintain our present standard of living. We must not allow that standard to be destroyed or undermined by the importation of goods from countries with low standards of living. I believe firmly in the necessity to afford tariff protection to the textile industry. The industry cannot be said to be inefficient. It has proved over the years that it can produce quality goods at reasonable rates, taking into account costs of production.
It is important to bear in mind that this industry is an important import replacement industry. Honorable members opposite are continually harping on the need to develop import replacement industries. Surely one of our primary objectives should be not to undermine an industry that has given so much to the country.
Statistics compiled by the Commonwealth Statistician in July of this year confirm the contention of the industry and the unions representing workers in the industry that it is being set back further and further. In May, June and July of 1961 production of woollen woven cloth amounted to 2,324,000 square yards, 2,045,000 square yards and 2,219,000 square yards respectively. But in May, June and July of 1962 the respective amounts produced were 2,130,000 square yards, 1,739,000 square yards and 2,040,000 square yards. Those figures clearly indicate the nose-diving decline in production in this industry.
If time had permitted I would have referred to the plight of a number of other industries. I wanted to refer to the coal industry, which is certainly suffering to-day because of lack of Government interest. Large numbers of people associated with the industry are out of work because of developments in the industry and because the Government is taking no positive action to resuscitate the great coal-producing areas of Australia. Unfortunately lack of time prevents me from discussing these matters.
If we are to have a flourishing and thriving Australia we need a government with a national outlook: We need a government that prefers deeds to hypocritical and complacent verbosity. It is no good performing the ostrich act, as the Government is endeavouring to do. The hard facts of life must be faced if the battle for economic stability is to be won. Positiveness in grappling with the problems of our nation is needed to replace the dithering procrastination of the past.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The speech of the honorable member for Oxley (Mr. Hayden) hardly warrants a reply. He spent most of his time indulging in cheap gibes and sneers at the very able speech of the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann). I think only two points that he raised are worthy of mention. He criticized the Government for its proposal to abolish the sales tax on foodstuffs, and he suggested that the saving thereby effected by manufacturers would not be passed on to consumers. If the honorable member had kept himself aquainted with the facts he would have known that the saving has already been passed on. The prices of biscuits, cakes and ice cream have been reduced. The suggestion made by the honorable member for Oxley was extraordinary when one remembers that his leader has said that when a Labour Government comes into power it will abolish indirect taxation and add the amount thereby lost to revenue to direct taxation. That is the policy enunciated by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell); yet the honorable member for Oxley says that the proposal in the Budget is useless because the savings will not be passed on to the community.
Then the honorable member proceeded to criticize the Government because of the employment position. Time after time we have heard it said in this House that while the Chifley and Curtin Governments were in office in the post-war period we had full employment. The actual figures show that in June, 1947, when Labour was in officeand Labour had then been in office for a number of years - the number of unemployed represented 3.2 per cent, of the work force. It is well known that prominent Labour members in this Parliament at that time were patting themselves on the back for having achieved what they described as full employment. If we had 3.2 per cent’. of the work force unemployed at the present time we would have 135,000 people unemployed. The fact is that there are fewer than half that number unemployed. The figures for June, 1963, show that the number of people not gainfully employed represented 1.8 per cent, of the work force.
As Mr. Monk, the president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, has stated, every country must have at least 1.5 per cent, of its work force unemployed at any particular time, because some seasonal industries could never be carried on if every one on every day of every week of every year was in a job. As we know, shearers work for nine months of the year; and that fact is taken into account when their remuneration is fixed. For the other three months they are technically unemployed, and, consequently, they go on the list of persons not in employment. I remind the House that I am not giving my own view now, when I refer to 1.5 per cent, of the work force being unemployed; I am giving the view of the accepted leader of the workers in Australia, the president of the A.C.T.U., Mr. Monk, who is a realist and says that it is nonsense to suggest that everybody can be employed every day of every week. If we deduct Mr. Monk’s proportion of 1.5 per cent, from the existing proportion of 1.8 per cent., we find that we now have to try to find employment for 3 per cent, of the work force. The Budget does much to provide additional employment.
I now pass from the unimportant speech of the honorable member for Oxley to the speech of the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti). The latter criticized the Budget because he said it does nothing for manufacturers or for commerce. An examination of the Budget shows that about £200,000,000 additional purchasing power is being made available to the public this year compared with the amount available last year. The actual figure is £197,000,000. That money ha3 been distributed in various directions. For instance, civilian widows with children are to receive another £3 a week. That money will be spent. It will be paid to the men who are selling food and clothing, and from them it will go to the manufacturers of food and clothing, who supply the retailers.
Let us pass to the superphosphate bounty.
This will represent a saving to the farming community of about £11,000,000, That money will not go into the old oak chest. The farmers will buy additional superphosphate, providing more work in the superphosphate industry, or they will buy more machinery, which will provide more work in the farming machinery industry and more profits for the machinery manufacturer. To say that commerce and industry will not benefit from this Budget is just shallow nonsense. It is something that would be said only by a person who does not look beyond his nose.
Another criticism we have heard from a number of Labour speakers is that this Government has done very little to implement the recommendations contained in the report of the Ligertwood committee, the Commonwealth Committee on Taxation. I took the trouble to get a copy of the report of that committee. Although its recommendations are not numbered, and in some cases there are about three recommendations in one paragraph, to the best of my ability I have counted the recommendations made by that committee. According to my estimate there were 66 recommendations, and I find that in this Budget and the previous one 28 of those recommendations have been carried into effect either wholly or in part.
Let us have a look at those recommendations. The committee recommended a greater retention allowance for private companies. In other words, it recommended that companies should not be subject to the 10s. in the £1 tax until after their profits had exceeded a certain amount, which was termed a retention amount. Although the recommendation of the committee was not implemented in the actual terms recommended by the committee, the retention allowance was increased from 50 per cent, on the first £1,000 to 50 per cent, on the first £5,000, and then 45 per cent, on the next £5,000 and 40 per cent, on the balance of the income. The Government has, therefore, dealt with that recommendation and implemented it to a very substantial extent. Then there was a recommendation that the prescribed period should be extended; and that has been implemented. We now come to the concessional deductions. The Ligertwood committee recommended that legal expenses not exceeding £25 should be an allowable deduction for taxation purposes. This has been granted. It recommended that fees for preparing an income tax return should be an allowable deduction, and this also has been granted. It recommended that certain concessions be made in relation to repairs and alterations, and that recommendation has been granted as implemented. Other recommendations made by the committee which the Government adopted were that certain bad debts, the cost of discharging a mortgage, and the cost of lease documents be allowable deductions. The recommendation concerning losses incurred by embezzlement has been accepted. The recommendation by the committee as to rates and taxes on ownyourown flats has been accepted also. The committee recommended a simplified basis for separate net income, and that has been accepted. The anomaly which existed whereby the parents of winners of Commonwealth scholarships were penalized because the value of those scholarships was regarded as income has been removed on the recommendation of the committee. The value of those scholarships is no longer regarded as income for the purpose of income taxation. It was a recommendation of the committee that there be an allowance in respect of a housekeeper who cares for the invalid wife of a taxpayer. That has been accepted. The recommendation of the committee that medical expenses in respect of dependants, irrespective of their separate net incomes, should be an allowable deduction has been granted in part, and will operate where a dependant’s separate net income does not exceed £65.
Time will not permit me to go through this report fully. Either last year or this year the recommendations of the committee have been substantially implemented. It is regrettable that Labour members make statements which are repeated parrotfashion by members of the public, without taking the trouble to ascertain the truth. I have here a copy of the “ Taxpayers Bulletin “, in which one would expect to find accurate information. The recommendations of the Commonwealth Committee on Taxation are mentioned and there is a reference to “ the Treasurer’s adoption of .’the ‘scant few of ‘these *»
That statement has been taken from something said irresponsibly by a Labour member.
I pass to the remarks of the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard). His was an extraordinary method of criticism. He said this was a bad Budget and went on to accuse us of stealing Labour’s policy. One would have thought that if we had stolen Labour’s policy he Would have applauded this as a good Budget. Apparently he does not have very much faith in Labour’s policy. He criticized the proposal for increased benefits to pensioners. The Budget is designed to give social service benefits to those most in need. Over many years we had been troubled by the situation of a married couple receiving between them a pension of £10 10s. a week. One spouse died, and the income immediately dropped from £10 10s. to £5 5s. a week, although the same rates and taxes, the same repair bills and almost the same household expenses had to be paid. Some honorable members had been urging for a considerable time the payment of a special benefit to meet cases of that kind, where only one pension was coming in to the home. A few years ago the Government tackled the problem in part by providing a supplementary pension, but payment was limited to single persons paying rent. This proposal augments that provision and provides for an additional payment to be made in all cases where there is only one pension coming in to the home, whether the recipient is one of a married couple, a single pensioner, a widow or a widower. The honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Allan Fraser) suggested last night that this is an attack on marriage. That is arrant and utter nonsense. The extra allowance is paid to a married couple if only one spouse is in receipt of a pension. For example, a man of 65 years in receipt of a pension, married, to a woman of 59 years not eligiblie for a pension, will receive payment of the extra 10s. Similarly, it will be paid to widows and widowers to cover the situation where one spouse dies and the income drops suddenly but almost the same expenses have to be met. I can remember the honorable member for Eden-Monaro following other lines than these he follows now. At times when I have urged this reform here he has supported’ it and said, “Hear, hear! “
– Supported what?
– The payment of an additional amount where there is only one pension coming into the house.
– I am afraid you are doddering.
– You should take the trouble to refer to some of your statements in this respect. The honorable member has criticized us because we have not dealt with this problem. Now that we have dealt with it, he is ungracious enough to attack us on the futile ground that this is an attack on marriage.
The Budget is designed to continue the growth and development that has been taking place in Australia ever since the Menzies Government came into office. Most of us recognise that a country must go either forward or backwards. It cannot stand still. During the term of office of the Menzies Government this country has continually progressed. This Budget will foster growth and development, but before they can be achieved two things are essential. One is capital and the other is manpower. The capital situation has never been better. Savings bank deposits have increased from £1,735,000,000 in June of last year to £1,970,000,000, in June of this year, an increase of £235,000,000. Therefore £235,000,000 more spending money is available to people at call. They have only to go to their savings banks and the money is made available to them. The volume of money in the hands of the public at present is £342,000,000 more than it was at this time last year. Those figures show that there is ample capital available to achieve the growth at which we are aiming.
The other factor necessary for growth is manpower. The Government has increased the immigration target by 10,000. There seems little doubt that this year we will bring in at least 10,000 more migrants than we brought in last year. Honorable members may be interested to know that although the average number of applications by people in the United Kingdom wishing to migrate to Australia is between 4,000 and 5,000 a month, during January,
February and March of this year 93,000 applications were received. That represents almost two years’ intake.
– What was the country?
Mr. WILSON__ The United Kingdom
Migrants from there will do me. They are the best possible types. One of the reasons for this large upsurge in the number of applications to migrate to Australia is the improved housing situation here. At present, only one State is giving Australia a bad name in the housing of migrants. That is the Labour-governed State of New South Wales. In South Australia, we have virtually no problem in housing migrants. Although we have taken more than twice our pro rata quota during the last three months, the migrant hostels in that State arc half empty. The reason is that our migrants are being housed almost immediately on their arrival in South Australia.
There are three means by which this is done. First, the South Australian Housing Trust provides the best possible kind of house - either brick or brick veneer - for purchase at prices ranging from £3,400 to £5,200. Deposits range between 5 per cent, and 10 per cent., according to the ability of the migrant to pay, with a minimum deposit of £200. Repayments to meet interest and amortize capital range from £3 14s. a week to about £5 a week. Under this scheme, the Housing Trust provides 500 homes a year for migrants.
Secondly, private builders are advertising houses of the best type for sale on a deposit of £75. One big building corporation is providing houses on a deposit of £1,000 for people in certain categories with instalments payable at the very low rate of £3 16s. 3d. a week. This corporation provides migrants with flats on their arrival in Australia until they have had time to select the house that they want. From the time the migrant leaves the United Kingdom, he knows that he will have somewhere to live, because he will be able immediately on arrival to occupy a flat in which he and his family will be well cared for. Within a week or two, or perhaps a month, after choosing a house, the migrant and his family can be in occupation of their own home, which they will pay off by instalments, as I have pointed out, of only £3 16s. 3d. a week.
Thirdly, accommodation is provided by private sponsors. About 80 per cent, of the houses in South Australia are privately owned and are occupied by the owners. Not all are fully paid for. Some are subject to a mortgage payable in instalments. Many of these houses are bigger than the owner requires for his own use, and he is able, if he sponsors a migrant, to provide accommodation in his own home for the migrant and his family until the newcomers have saved enough to put a deposit on a home.
I understand that the position is almost as favorable in Western Australia as in South Australia and that Western Australians really have no problem in relation to the housing of migrants. The position is not so good in Victoria as in South Australia, but it is not bad. When we look at New South Wales, Sir, we find that the housing situation there is completely chaotic. Migrants who go to migrant hostels in that State find it impossible to get accommodation elsewhere either for rent or for purchase. New South Wales receives its quota of loan moneys and Commonwealth grants. What has it been doing with the money? Why has not the Labour Government of New South Wales been doing in relation to housing what the Liberal and Country League Government in South Australia has been doing?
– The New South Wales Government has been spending all the money on the Sydney Opera House.
– I do not know whether that is correct, but I do know that the Labour Government in New South Wales is not spending the money on housing. That attitude is creating a very bad image of Australia in the minds of prospective migrants overseas. New South Wales does not receive its pro rata quota of migrants. However, those migrants who go to that State run straight into this difficult housing situation. If the problem in relation to the housing of migrants can be overcome in South Australia and Western Australia and almost solved in Victoria, representatives in this House who come from New South Wales ought to see that the New South Wales Government spends more of its loan funds and Commonwealth grants on housing.
This Budget, Sir, is one of the finest that any government has presented. It is sound. It spreads the benefits widely through the community. It helps those most in need, and in helping them it will inject into the economy a great deal of additional purchasing power. This will stimulate industry and commerce and give Australia what I believe will be the most prosperous year in its history.
– Mr. Deputy Speaker, I support the amendment to the motion for the second reading of this bill proposed by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) as a censure on the Menzies Government for the inadequacy of its Budget proposals. I propose to discuss that part of the amendment that deals with the Government’s failure to face up to its responsibilities for the development of northern Australia, which embraces my electorate of the Northern Territory. I believe that the present Commonwealth Government, by its neglect of development of the Northern Territory, has badly failed the people of Australia. This Government has completely shut its eyes to the economic and defence value of that part of Australia. Development of the north would contribute greatly to the defence potential of that part of the continent and to the security of Australia as a whole. The present empty spaces in the north pose a threat to this nation.
The Government’s present thinking is tragically reminiscent of the thinking of the government of similar political persuasion that was in office in the days immediately before World War II. Apparently, the present Government has not learned the lesson of the experiences of those days, although the policy that was followed then very nearly resulted in the loss of Australia as we know it to-day. Neither the Government nor the ruling body of the Liberal Party of Australia appreciates the danger of our present position. Liberal policy on the development of northern Australia was set out in a report that appeared in the Melbourne “ Age “ on 14th November last year. This report is illuminating, and I am sure that honorable members will be enlightened by hearing what the governing body of the Liberal Party thinks about northern development. The report is in there terms -
Canberra, Tuesday. - Private enterprise should be encouraged to develop Northern Australia, the federal council of the Liberal party decided today. The council said governments could provide funds for developing the north only at the expense of urgently-needed public works such as roads, schools, hospitals and water conservation.
Such an attitude on the part of a national government charged with the task of developing the whole of Australia is very poor indeed. Neither the federal body which controls the thinking and the policy of the Liberal Party nor its Country Party counterpart has faced up to the fact that funds must be committed to this task if the achievements that we all wish to see are to eventuate. The Country Party apparently prefers to spend any available funds in the south, where the dividends would be greater than they would be from investments in the north. The Government has adopted the policy of allowing private enterprise to lead and following behind. Such a policy in this day and age can result only in stagnation and lack of development. We need bold thinking and bold action to get the wheels of development turning. The Government must not be content to follow the lead of private enterprise. It must do some realistic thinking on this problem.
I contend that the steps that the Government has taken for funds to be spent in northern areas have been influenced purely by political motives. How else can you account for the fact that the Northern Territory, the Commonwealth’s own responsibility, has received only pence whereas Western Australia and Queensland have received pounds? I do not begrudge Western Australia and Queensland the money which has been made available to them, and I believe that it has not been sufficient to meet all their requirements, but I believe also that adequate funds must be provided for the area for which the Commonwealth is primarily responsible and where the potential for development is equally as great as it is in those States. That is little enough to expect.
Last night the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies), in what was to be his reply to the charges made by the Leader of the Opposition, barely mentioned northern development His only reference to it was by way of congratulating the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) for his contribution to northern development. This is not the first time that the Prime Minister has sidestepped this issue. Only recently, when in Kununurra in Western Australia for the opening of the Ord River diversion dam, the Prime Minister, in effect, said that the challenge of northern development must be met and tackled sooner or later. The only omission from the Prime Minister’s speech then was a mention of when this would be done - the most important aspect. He did not give any indication of when the Government would adopt a policy to develop the north or of when the problems would be tackled.
The Prime Minister has refused repeatedly to entertain the idea put forward by many influential people, organizations and newspapers in the community that a north Australia development authority be set up. He has dodged this issue repeatedly. Only recently two State Premiers who head governments of the same political complexion as his own sought some assurance from the Prime Minister, just as other interested parties have done. The Premiers of Western Australia and Queensland have asked the Prime Minister to set up such an authority but he continues to remain silent or non-committal. The plain fact is that the Prime Minister knows that if he accedes to the request he will be committed automatically to a long-range policy of development and to providing the funds necessary to finance that policy. He prefers to retain his freedom to dispose of the funds that are available from time to time to the best political advantage.
I turn now to the speech made by the Minister for Territories last Thursday evening. He is recorded in “ Hansard “ as saying that already £50,000,000 had been spent on northern development, but looking through the items of expenditure that he mentioned it will be seen that well over £40,000,000 of that sum has been expended in Western Australia and Queensland. The Northern Territory barely received a mention. Later in his speech the Minister referred to the fact that for Northern Territory development, as distinct from northern development, the Commonwealth has been committed to the extent of £50,000,000, of which £40,000,000 has been expended in the fourteen years that this Government has been in office. At first sight, £40,000,000 seems a very impressive sum, but when you spread it over fourteen years you find that barely £3,000,000 has been spent annually for development and civil works construction. That sum is only equivalent to the amount that any fair-sized business undertaking in the community would spend on its own capital expansion. A sum of money which appears substantial is devoted to the provision of services. This is in line with the Government’s policy of “ You lead, we will follow “. But the provision of services is totally inadequate to meet present-day requirements in the Northern Territory. Provision has been made for the construction of a considerable number of houses in Darwin but the services, such as subdivisions and so on, are so far behind that it will be many months, if not years, before the houses are built. The same position applies to water reticulation, schools, hospital facilities and the like. It is time that the Government set to work seriously to overtake the backlag and bring the situation up to date.
In his speech the Minister revealed the weakness in the Government’s approach to development. Before reading an extract from the speech let me say that the Minister, when mentioning the sums that have been allocated to the area, conveniently omitted to state that a substantial proportion of the funds is raised within the Northern Territory itself by way of revenue. The Northern Territory receives no credit for the supply, in part, of the funds for its own development. The Minister conveyed the impression that all the funds for the development of the north come out of the pockets of southern taxpayers. That is not the position. I can show that the Northern Territory contributes substantially to the financing of its own works programme. I want to quote a passage from the speech made by the Minister for Territories. I think it is a classic illustration of the thinking of the Government on development. As reported at page 471 of “ Hansard “, of 22nd August, the Minister said -
I will admit, and I think all my colleagues will admit, that a good deal remains to be done in each of these fields.
He was speaking of fields of development. He continued -
In particular, we see the dominant need for improved roads and all other transport facilities. We see the need for research and investigation. But we still have to face the underlying problem of costs. In my own experience, on successive occasions I have seen the prospect of major investment in mineral enterprises in the Territory hover on the balance of costs and then come down on the wrong side. There is no local fuel, pending the breadthrough in nuclear power. The freight on imported fuel is high. Steel, cement and machinery go up the coast of Australia on one of the most expensive transport systems in the world. The cost of local treatment of ores is high and the cost of shipment of ores is high. In agriculture, to give one example, the superphosphate that leaves the works in the southern States at approximately £13 a ton becomes over £30 a ton on the inland farm. My own view is that the most direct, valuable and immediately effective support for northern development would be a form of aid that directly attacked this problem of costs.
The Minister admits that the costs problem is the initial problem involved in success or failure in establishing enterprises in the north. But what has been the Commonwealth Government’s contribution by way of the construction of railways to Queensland and South Australia in order to meet that costs problem? What has been its contribution by way of subsidy on freight on the Commonwealth shipping service in order to meet that costs problem? Does the Government not appreciate the basic fact that subsidies, in one form or another, are necessary in a pioneering area?
In Victoria the State Government subsidizes the supply of electricity to an aluminium smelting works to the tune of £3.500,000 per annum. That is equivalent to the average annual amount spent on the works programme of the Northern Territory over the last fourteen years. That subsidy is paid to attract a valuable industry to that State. All States adopt the same practice. I can only ask what any one of the Australian States would have done in the case that the Minister for Territories quoted in his speech, namely that of a mining company failing to establish itself in an area because of the costs factor. Any one of the States would have rushed to the aid of the company and contributed, by way of subsidy, to its establishment. A State would have deemed the payment of a subsidy well worthwhile in order to secure such a valuable industry.
Let us consider the exploitaiton of the bauxite deposits at Gove by French interests, which is taking place at the present time. These deposits could have been developed fourteen years ago if the Government had done as I suggested at that time, and channelled the bauxite from Gove through its
Bell Bay treatment plant in Tasmania. At that time the Commonwealth owned a half interest in that plant; but, of course, it sold its interest, and the bauxite deposits have had to lie idle for fourteen years, awaiting the arrival of French interests to investigate them and eventually, we believe, to develop them. Instead of the bauxite deposits being used in the interests of Australia, most of the profit and a lot of the revenue derived from them will go to overseas investors. On the other hand, many of the problems that we are now facing in regard to the aborigines in that area would not have arisen. We would not have had petitions from the aborigines who are apprehensive of their future. Had the first course been followed, their future would have been assured.
The Government has failed to take the lead in development. It has failed to provide subsidies so that development can take place. Let us contrast the attitude of the Commonwealth Government with that of the Western Australian Government, which subsidizes heavily the carriage of developmental materials on its State Shipping Service. When vessels of the State Shipping Service take goods from Western Australian ports to Darwin, which is 200 miles beyond the furthest Western Australian port of Wyndham, the Commonwealth and the residents of the Darwin area pay the full freight rates that are applicable. But the Western Australian Government is prepared to subsidize heavily the carriage of developmental materials to its own people in Western Australia, who make substantial savings in that respect. The Western Australian Government also subsidizes many other industries in that State, such as iron ore and oil. The Governments of Queensland and South Australia also rely heavily on subsidies as a means of attracting industry. I believe, Mr. Speaker, that the Government stands condemned for its failure to face up to reality in the development of the north. I agree with the censure motion embodied in the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). I trust that when that amendment goes to a vote to-morrow night it will be carried.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Haworth) adjourned.
House adjourned at 11.18 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 28 August 1963, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1963/19630828_reps_24_hor39/>.